Here’s a look at an interesting new release available to rent from cable and digital providers and a title that has recently become available through streaming services.
Video on Demand
“Saturday Church”: Ulysses (Luka Kain) is a shy teenager growing up in New York and struggling with his sexuality. After the unexpected death of his father, his mother, Amara (Margot Bingham), enlists the help of a very conservative aunt (Regina Taylor) to help look after him and his younger brother while she is at work. This pushes Ulysses to start spending more time out of the house and exploring the city. It doesn’t take long for him to fall in with a group of queer kids, mostly transgender women, who have been abandoned by their families. They take him to a weekly LGBT program for young people known as Saturday Church. Housed in the basement of a church building, it provides a safe space, hot food, and at least one night a week where they can stay off the streets. Ulysses comes into his own with the help of his new support system and is uplifted through the New York ball scene (I would encourage you to complement your viewing of this film with the documentaries “Paris Is Burning” on Netflix and “Kiki” on Hulu). This charming debut feature from director Damon Cardasis is bursting with love, compassion and authenticity. Unbeknownst to me upon first viewing, it is a legitimate musical drama with original music by Nathan Larson from the ’90s rock band Shudder To Think. With the subject matter and characters often bursting into song, the movie was frequently compared to “Moonlight” and “La La Land” on the festival circuit. It may not find as large of an audience as either of those films, but it is just as deserving of your time. Cardasis has not only crafted a true gem but also worked hard to cast trans actors and people of color, while also filling his crew with women. The end result is an uplifting story about being true to yourself and an ode to chosen families. (Cable and digital VOD)
Also on streaming services
“Mr. Roosevelt”: Noël Wells wrote, directed and stars in this independent comedy that won the Narrative Spotlight Audience Award and the Louis Black Lone Star Award at South by Southwest last year. She plays Emily, a struggling comedian in Los Angeles who returns to Austin to stay with her ex-boyfriend (Nick Thune) after learning that the cat they owned during their relationship has passed away. The only problem? He now has a seemingly perfect new live-in girlfriend (Britt Lower) who makes Emily question everything about her life choices. This brutally funny film is punctuated by a lovely score from Guster frontman Ryan Miller. (Netflix)