Musical legend Boy George has perpetually been asking his audience if they really want to hurt him and the same question might be applied during the course of “Canary,” a wild, vibrant LGBTQ+ musical drama that employs tunes by the singer himself and is juxtaposed with apartheid violence in 1985’s South Africa. It’s also one heck of a great piece about youth, love and the anti-war movement starring Schalk Bezuidenhout (“Die Spreeus,” 2019) and directed by Christiaan Olwagen (“The Seagull,” 2018). Without question, you are going to want to see this one. I mean, who doesn’t covet a musical that’s ALREADY received major praise at Outfest, Newfest, Inside Out, and qFLIX Philadelphia?
So, you’re a strapping eighteen-year-old boy and accepted to be part of the South African Defense Choir, a troupe otherwise dubbed “The Canaries,” touring around the country and are slowly falling in love with your new best buddy, the queeny Ludolf (Germandt Geldenhuys) whilst bonding over some favorite tunes. It’s typical 1985, right? Oh, wait, there’s also a war going on out there featuring lots of bloodshed and hunky boys! Where do we sign up? Or not? Honestly, is this real life or just a SUPER dramatic theatrical performance or maybe a little bit of both? It’s really up to you, the audience to decide.
“Canary” is pure fire as both a historical piece and over the top lighthearted goodness featuring some of the greatest voices of the raunchy 1980’s. I’m also a massive fan of the other cast mates that include the likes of Gerard Rudolf, Jacques Bessenger and David Viviers. It really does make for one heck of a good film in its essence. What is war, really? Is there any connection between it, art and the LGBTQ+ cause that permeates so much of this film?
The 1980’s made for a period of social peril, financial excess (remember the “greed is good” mantra?) and international sparring in a way that few decades have since. The recipe employed during “Canary” is highly successful in bringing all these elements together to really generate a film that’s simultaneously one hell of a commentary on war and also mucho fun. When can we go see it, you might ask? You’ll just have to research this online and pair up with a cute date on your way to the theaters, popcorn in hand, one might add when you see this menagerie.
I’m a huge fan of historical pieces, but I also love some good pop culture and Olwagen’s film delivers in both regards, making it one of my favorite gay stories of 2019. What’s wonderous here is that this year has been already super solid film-wise for the gay community and who knows what else will be brought to the table over the next six months? I really hope you enjoy watching this film as much as I did and be prepared to sing in those fatigues. I truly mean that, as always. Welcome to South Africa, my friends.
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