LGBTQ streaming: What to watch in December

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December may be focused on the holidays, but this month’s LGBTQ films available for streaming focus largely on gender issues and identity. Here is a rundown of five stylized non-holiday titles to watch.

“The Schoolmaster Games” (now available on DVD and digital)

The Swedish import, “The Schoolmaster Games,” opens with a provocative scene involving a semi-naked student that suggests that writer/director Ylva Forner’s adaptation of Kristofer Folkhammar’s novel is going to be naughty. After all, it is set at an all-male, all-gay academy named St. Sebastian. However, despite the schoolmaster (Johan Ehn) lusting after Charles (Christian Arnold) and even tying him up at one point, most of this film addresses the rivalries and jealousies that develop between Paul (Johan Charles) and Tim (Simon Kling) who are competing for top position in the school’s Winter Procession. While the film touches on valid themes of erotic desire and unrequited love and includes an episode of homophobic cruelty — the schoolmaster has a traumatic past — Forner’s stylish film gets all dressed up only to go nowhere slowly.


“Please Baby Please” (now available on digital)

For anyone who missed it at NewFest, the gender-bending musical drama “Please Baby Please” is a very peculiar, highly stylized but uneven film. Arthur (Harry Melling) and Suze (a very expressive Andrea Riseborough) have a life-changing encounter with Teddy (Karl Glusman) and his gang, The Young Gents. The film, directed and cowritten by Amanda Kramer, is affected with both camp and 50s-era sensibilities that will charm or annoy. Kramer candy-coats each scene and fetishizes its characters — Teddy especially (Glusman oozes sex appeal) — as they pose, fight, sing, and dance. “Please Baby Please” is not just all mood, though. Its characters espouse heady comments about gender, masculinity, and vulnerability. Harry claims he “doesn’t feel a need to act male,” while Suze becomes more masculine over the course of the story. There are also some nifty musical numbers and striking vignettes, from one featuring Maureen (Demi Moore) as a “slum starlet” neighbor, to a scene in a club with a flirty gay character, and another sequence at a Bijou movie theater. “Please Baby Please” can feel like it is trying too hard, but it is a unique and, at times, impressive accomplishment.

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