What to Watch: A Keiynan Lonsdale mystery, a poetry movie dream and getting gay with Anime


Whatever your entertainment needs, we got your back (and hopefully your mind) with Queerty’s weekly “Culture Club” column with some of the highlights of new releases, streaming shows, classics worth revisiting, and what to drink while you watch.

The Surrealistic: Summertime

We fell in love with this dreamlike ode to youth, poetry and Los Angeles back at Sundance 2020. Now, after almost two years on the festival circuit, we get to share it with you, dear reader. Summertime doesn’t play like any other movie we’ve ever seen. Director Carlos López Estrada follows a stream-of-consciousness style as his camera drifts from one character to the next, each a real-life young poet living in LA. The dialogue consists almost entirely of poetry written by the cast, each interlude expressing the joys, fears, frustrations and aspirations of its character. That includes a number of queer artists sharing their thoughts on identity, love and rage. In that sense, the movie plays more like a musical and recalls the massive, meandering, character-driven narratives of Robert Altman at his best.

The lush language of Summertime would make it a treasure on the page alone. Fortunately, Estrada allows his young artists to appear on camera, photographed in lush color by cinematographer John Schmidt. The strange format of poetry-as-narrative that Summertime boasts, coupled with Schmidt’s bright hues gives the film a dreamlike quality: everything makes sense on its own terms, but never seems totally real, either. It’s a unique experience at the movies, and one which announces a roster of talented new queer artists to watch.

In theatres July 9.

The Potboiler: Eden

Spectrum cable brings this soapy saga to the screen this week, a teen mystery set in a tropical paradise. When the beautiful Scout (Sophie Wilde) returns from Julliard to her idyllic Australian town, tensions flare between her and her longtime friend Hedwig (BeBe Bettencourt). Something dark has changed Hedwig in Scout’s absence, and before Scout can figure out the problem, Hedwig disappears. Thus begins a mystery that lays bare the small town’s secrets dating back generations.

The plot of Eden recalls both the recent Mare of Easttown and Twin Peaks with its small-town-buried-truth mystery. This show, however, adopts the unusual conceit of showing more or less the same events from different characters’ perspectives. That includes Cam, a mysterious friend of Hedwig’s, played by the always compelling Keiynan Lonsdale. Eden doesn’t quite reach the heights of either Easttown or Peaks, though it does have more than its share of fun twists in store. We recommend it for the appealing cast, the beautiful vistas, and for a premise that keeps the audience guessing.

Streams on Spectrum July 12.

The ICYMI: Sublet

By now, we’ve raved enough about Sublet, the terrific drama from Israeli director Eytan Fox. To recap: On a trip to Tel Aviv, depressed writer Michael (John Benjamin Hickey) rents an apartment from Tomer (Niv Nissim), a gay, handsome, 20-something party boy. Tomer guides Michael around the city, and the two become intrigued with each other. A strange fascination and bond develops between the pair as they come to recognize each other’s pain.

Though a romance, Sublet isn’t a traditional love story, exactly. Nissim and Hickey both give wonderful performances as two men both desperately in need of love, and unable to express it. On the other hand, the movie did romance our hearts through its exploration of the gay generation gap, and how men confront their pain. Give it a watch, and try not to fall in love.

Available On-Demand July 9.

The Crash Course: Sex & the Sitcom

Anyone else addicted to CNN’s decade-in-review series (The Seventies, The Eighties) as we are? Make a note: CNN continues its docuseries run with History of the Sitcom, another nostalgic look at pop culture through the years, as embodied by television. This week’s entry, Sex & The Sitcom, examines the evolution of sexuality on TV through the years—how the world went from “expecting” on I Love Lucy to the sexual frankness of Sex & the City and Girlfriends. The episode also dives heavily into the portrayal of LGBTQ people in series from the coded Uncle Arthur on Bewitched to married dads Mitch & Phil on Modern Family, and how TV reflected the fight for queer rights, and vice versa. It’s an intriguing crash course in the history of television representation, and an entertaining one at that.

Airs on CNN beginning July 11.

The Yearning: Stranger by the Shore

Anime gets gay this week with a tender love story about two young boys who feel an undying attraction to one another. We first meet Mio and Shun as pre-adolescents, as Shun tries to comfort Mio after the death of his mother. Years later, as 20-year-olds, the two reconnect, and old affections flare. The plot of Stranger by the Shore recalls a bit of Moonlight, in that both films explore the nature and allure of masculinity as well as the intuitive way young, queer men often explore sexuality together. Unlike Moonlight, however, gay sex is on full display here, right down to scenes about lube, douching, sexual role and kink. It’s a frank, tender exploration of gay-coming-of-age, one featuring gorgeous animation and passion to spare.

Streams on Funimation July 9. Available with subtitles or dubbed in English, Spanish and Portuguese. 

The Jam: Jaym O’Esso’s “People I F*ck”

A reader email tipped us of to the latest single by pansexual, Canadian songster Jaym O’Esso, a sexy R&B jam all about rejecting romantic judgment. O’Esso channels Janet Jackson and George Michael in the video, itself a throwback to the height of early 90s MTV glam. We’re also living for his rhinestone-studded hair styling which adds glam to his cheeky attitude and flirtatiousness. It’s a delightful and amorous pop track, one which deserves to be heard and celebrated.

Streams on YouTube.

The Sip: Japanese Orange Breeze

via Flickr

Courtesy of our enchantment with Stranger by the Shore, this week’s cocktail blends a bit of Japanese culture and artistry for a refreshing blend of citrus and sparkle.

1½ parts Sake 2 parts Orange juice 2½ parts Sparkling water

Mix ingredients over ice and serve.