Several queer-themed films — and a couple of TV shows — are available on streaming platforms, DVD, on digital, and on demand in May. Here is a rundown of what to watch.
On May 2, out co-creators Ryan Murphy and Steve Canals are bringing us back to 1994 for the final season of the acclaimed FX show based on the queer ballroom scene. The final season is an abbreviated one, with just seven episodes, but the anticipation is greater than ever for a show that has grabbed the undivided attention of queer viewers for two seasons. Led by a cast of transgender people of color, “Pose” — which starts during the late 1980s and goes into the early 1990s — touches on themes ranging from HIV/AIDS to sex work, discrimination, fashion, and more. The trailer previewing the final season suggests that the show will continue to shine a light on the challenges facing Blanca (MJ Rodriguez), who heads up the House of Evangelista, and Pray Tell (Billy Porter). Activism is also expected to be a key theme in the upcoming season, which can be streamed via the FX app.
“Tu Me Manques”
Out gay Bolivian filmmaker Rodrigo Bellot’s stunning and impactful film, available on demand May 4, is not to be missed. This multilayered drama, adapted from Bellot’s play, has a conservative father, Jorge (Oscar Martinez), grappling with the death — a possible suicide — of his gay son Gabriel (played by three actors: Jose Duran, Ben Lukovski, and Quim del Rio). Jorge contacts Gabriel’s lover, Sebastian (Fernando Barbosa), to learn about his late son. Sebastian, meanwhile, is channeling his grief by staging a play about Gabriel. Bellot deftly weaves these and other narratives together to immerse the characters and viewers in Gabriel’s world and experiences. (Tommy Heleringer gives a scene-stealing turn as Gabriel’s chatty friend TJ). “Tu Me Manques” becomes transcendent as it addresses how love and fear dictate our attitudes and behavior. The play created awareness in Bolivia about at-risk queer youth, and the film will likely amplify its important messages about love and acceptance.
“The Obituary of Tunde Johnson”
Out May 11, this is an ambitious story about race, masculinity, and sexuality. Tunde Johnson (Steven Silver) is first seen coming out to his parents Adesola (Sammi Rotibi) and Yomi (Tembi Locke) before heading off to meet his closeted boyfriend Soren (Spencer Neville). However, Tunde is stopped by the police along the way, and is shot and killed. Tunde then wakes up in a “loop of experience,” where he relives a half-dozen variations on his “death day.” Much of the drama involves Tunde grappling with his best friend Marley’s (Nicola Peltz) relationship with Soren. The prismatic approach to the storylines of love and death is certainly useful for unpacking issues of fear, courage, and pride. But the film’s emphasis on Soren’s anxiety about coming out shortchanges the impact of Tunde’s story. While Silver gives a strong lead performance, capturing the nuance of his character’s growth and change over each segment, both he and the handsome Neville look much older than their characters, which can be distracting. Ultimately, this timely film about police violence is well-intentioned, but uneven.
“Twilight’s Kiss (Suk Suk)”
Out gay writer/director Ray Yeung’s gentle, bittersweet romance is also available May 11. This poignant drama has Pak (Tai-Bo), a taxicab driver meeting Hoi (Ben Yuen) in a park where Pak was cruising one afternoon. The men slowly embark on a friendship that soon turns into a sexual relationship. However, both men are closeted to their families. Pak is preparing for his daughter Fong’s (Hiu Yee Wong) impending nuptials, while Hoi seems to constantly disappoint his religious son Wan (Lo Chun Yip). A subplot has Hoi secretly participating in a seniors’ group to develop a nursing home for LGBTQ older adults. Yeung’s sensitive film captures the quotidian aspects of these lives that undergo deep and profoundly subtle changes. A shot of Pak and Hoi’s hands clasping or feet touching brims with genuine affection, and an episode where Hoi visits the home of his friend Chiu (Kong To), speaks volumes about loneliness and aging. Yeung’s exquisite, and wonderfully acted film is full of such quietly powerful moments.
Available May 18, this film has Sam (Colin Firth) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci) facing a critical time in their 20-year relationship. Tusker has dementia, and while Sam has been caring for him for the past two years, life as they know it (and knew it) is ending. Writer/director Harry Macqueen does not succumb to too much handwringing with this melodramatic material, and the straight actors playing gay roles give restrained performances, but even as “Supernova” goes more for sentiment than sensibility, it fails to jerk tears. There are some tender, affectionate scenes of the men in bed, but also several cringeworthy moments. such as one speech where Tusker prattles on about stars and galaxies. The film addresses important points — about loving and letting go, and which is worse, being the caregiver, or the one who needs the care? — but mostly “Supernova” feels superficial.
“Why Not You”
This curious drama, available May 18, is set mainly in a small village in Austria. Mario (Thomas Prenn) is a dancer who apparently has feelings for his dreamy gay best friend, Lenz (Noah Saavedra). When Lenz heads to Italy for an acting job, Mario accompanies him. However, while they are having drinks in a gay bar, a group of Muslims open fire, killing Lenz. Full of survivor’s guilt, Mario returns home where he grapples with PTSD. He starts using needle drugs again and soon meets Nadim (Josef Mohamed), a Muslim in the local town, and falls under the spell of Nadim’s Imam (Kida Khodr Ramadan). “Why Not You” is certainly an intriguing character study, but despite Prenn’s committed performance, writer/director Evi Romen never quite makes the narrative jumps credible. Mario is an extremely vulnerable character, but he is mostly adrift without support. A brief discussion of trauma therapy goes nowhere. Moreover, his relationship with Lenz is unclear, as are his relationships with various men and women in his hometown. As Mario’s behavior gets more unpredictable, “Why Not You” loses its focus. Still, this provocative film remains interesting — even as though it is mostly frustrating.
Writer, producer, and star Ryan O’Connell’s funny, sexy, and poignant series based on his book, “I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves,” returns to Netflix May 20. As Season 2 opens Ryan (O’Connell) has not spoken to his mother, Karen (Jessica Hecht) for two months. He is also experiencing a case of writer’s block at work. He does find some joy when he connects with Tanner (out actor Max Jenkins), but there are, of course, complications. Meanwhile, Ryan’s Bestie, Kim (Punam Patel), who is still under crushing debt, meets Harrison (out actor Charlie Barnett) and begins a relationship with him. The season focuses more on how Ryan finds both love and a sense of belonging.