Gurinder Chadha on BLINDED BY THE LIGHT, Human Dignity, Brexit and the Boss – Leslie Combemale interviews

Writer/director/producer Gurinder Chadha is one of the UK’s most beloved, prolific filmmakers. The fact that she’s female seems incidental. She landed on Hollywood’s radar with Bend it Like Beckham (2002), which threw Keira Knightly’s career into hyperdrive. Among her films is the Jane Austin fan cult favorite, , Bride and Prejudice. She’s developing an animated musical series, Pashmina, for Netflix. I spoke to Gurinder about her new film, Blinded by the Light, about the joy that carries through the movie, the universal power of Bruce Springsteen, and how she believes being a woman impacts her work as a filmmaker.

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GEEK AND YOU SHALL FIND – Review by Leslie Combemale

Geek and You Shall Find doesn’t just follow the history of comic books, it explains the connection they have always had with social justice and a focus on inclusion and representation. This is not fluff, it successfully brings the threads together of why millions of people all over the world flock to comic books stores, conventions, and movie houses, and why they spend thousands on costumes to cosplay their favorite characters that follow the hero’s journey referenced in Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth and The Man With A Thousand Faces.

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THE NIGHTINGALE -Review by Leslie Combemale

Chilling, haunting, bracing, repulsive, heartbreaking…these are all apt descriptors of various parts of writer/director Jennifer Kent’s sophomore feature. It may be excruciating to watch, but it is also spectacularly good, and likely to remain on the top of my best of 2019 list. But I’m not watching it again to make sure. If you are as a viewer triggered by scenes of rape, torture, and murder, move along. This is not the feminist revenge drama you’re looking for.

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ABOVE THE SHADOWS – Review by Leslie Combemale

Loss changes us. Sometimes we face that, sometimes we don’t. That’s something new indie release and winner of the audience award at the Brooklyn Film Festival Above the Shadows explores. A fantasy anchored in the reality of 21st century daily life, it is the story of Holly, (Olivia Thirlby) who, after losing her beloved mother, fades out of sight over time.

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THE QUEEN – Review by Leslie Combemale

Before queer was cool, or even fully legal, director Frank Simon created The Queen, chronicling one of the original and quintessential competitive drag events in history, the 1967 Miss All-American Camp Beauty Pageant. Featuring iconic queen Flawless Sabrina as narrator, and a jaw-dropping bitch-fest scene courtesy of Crystal LaBeija, who was later indelibly captured in 1990’s Paris is Burning, this film is a priceless cinematic artifact of LGBTQ and film history.

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MOUTHPIECE – Review by Leslie Combemale

Mouthpiece is not an easy watch, especially for those still emotionally bruised by the recent loss. of a loved one. However, films that capture grief with a female gaze are too few in number, and there is catharsis for film lovers willing to invest in a viewing. It will stay with you. It might even spur some inner inquiry. Isn’t that what good films should do?

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WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE – Review by Leslie Combemale

It’s summer, yes, but don’t we all have time for a good gothic yarn? We Have Always Lived in the Castle might be the perfect recalibration to bring nihilistic ennui into your summer time fun. The film gets under your skin, making you consider what you would do for the ones you love. It will also serve to make nearly everyone grateful for the family they live with, so egregious is the one portrayed onscreen..

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TELL IT TO THE BEES – Review by Leslie Combemale

This love story, which happens in a small town, in post-war Scotland, speaks to the judgement and fear of imprisonment same-sex couples had at the time, since homosexuality was only decriminalized in England in 1967. It also exposes the lack of agency, and often suffocating restrictions and expectations set for women, while showing that love, and the falling into it, is always beautiful.

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RAFIKI – Review by Leslie Combemale

The word rafiki means “friend” in Swahili. Kenyan same-sex couples often have to refer to or introduce their partners as rafiki in public, and to many of their friends and family. One of the best qualities of this film is that the lead characters, while clearly drawn to each other, genuinely want to get to know each other, and to build their love on a foundation of friendship.

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