This month, we’re proud to feature the guest editor of our June issue, poet Spencer Williams, in conversation about a pair of films that hearken to our theme of trans cinema: Canadian Billy Tipton doc No Ordinary Man and the incendiary short American Reflexxx.
There are plenty of straight and cis films about friendship, but a full-length feature film like By Hook or by Crook—about two trans guys just being friends—is something that, to my knowledge, has no peers.
Films like Céline and Julie Go Boating and Desperately Seeking Susan present female characters whose identities are in flux, evolving, and constantly merging into others.
Sally Potter's Orlando doesn't arc toward transness as salvific, symbolic, or rich with meaning. Instead, the movie’s performance of elusiveness demonstrates the shallowness of gender variance, the empty space where meaning should be.
Desperate Living was never meant to be some prescient allegory of rebellion, yet the film’s anarchy and mean-but-hilarious spirit is welcome and fulfilling in a way that few contemporary films can offer in this current moment.
What Yentl is about—more than it is about Judaism, gender roles, sensitive short kings, the fabric of love, or the Mulan paradox (that is, whether a straight man’s gay desires are redeemed as hetero by the revelation of his love object as a woman)—is Babs’s face.