For what is objectively a very well done movie, it is surprising that Brandon Alexander III’s “First Period” is as much of a flop as it is. Most elements of the film like the set, writing, music, and cinematography were well done, if not the most interesting, but somehow when it was all put together, this film was like an awful Superbad remake with vagina jokes instead of penis jokes.
I can understand how scenographically, many of the choices made about the set made sense, but sometimes the set elements were more interesting than the characters on screen; for example, when Cassie (played by Brandon Alexander III) left for her first day of school, I was distracted by the massive red roses on the poorly hung wallpaper behind her. While the roses added to the 80s aesthetic the film had, it was generally overwhelming and often more entertaining than the characters.
Of course, the set was more entertaining than the characters because they were annoying and boring. Besides having an all white cast (because of course, people of colour didn’t exist in the 80s), Cassie was the definition of emphasized femininity with the added bonus of having no filter. In this film meant she made way too many jokes about sex that were less funny and more cringe worthy. Her description on the First Period Movie website even says she is “the fresh-faced new girl who doesn’t take “no” or “get off me” for an answer”.1 Terrifying implications about consent aside, I will never understand why the writer felt the need to make Cassie want to star in a child pornography magazine, because it was not humorous at all; it made light of the trauma actual sexual abuse victims have gone through, and it reinforced the idea that the victim was “asking for it”, because Cassie literally asked for it.
(Continuing this trend of desperately unhealthy views on sex, Other Heather is in a very scary relationship with her teacher, Mr. Klein, who comes equipped with what is colloquially known as a “pedophile moustache”.)
Maggie was a flat character with approximately three character traits that didn’t change during the (entirely too long) 100 minutes movie. The only thing I appreciated about her character was that Dudley Beene, who appears to identify and express himself as a male, played her. Instead of making transphobic jokes at Maggie’s expense, the movie ignored the fact that the role of Maggie (a presumably cisgender girl) was played by a man. Maggie simply was Maggie, the awkward girl at school. This is perhaps a step in the right direction for transgender representation as it lessens the stigma of seeing transgender people on screen.
The costuming, music, and cinematography were all right, but nothing extraordinary. I wouldn’t comment on them at all except that they were the only things in this film that didn’t make me deeply uncomfortable. They fit the 80s vibe the film had going on and they didn’t distract me by being noticeably poorly done, so props to the crew for giving the cast a mediocre background of make a fool of themselves in front of.
This film made me deeply uncomfortable. If I’m being honest, at the end of the movie, I walked away and took a shower because it made me feel dirty. I was horrified by the child pornography jokes and the generally cavalier attitude this film had towards safe sex practices and healthy sexual relationships. I was bored by the (appallingly unoriginal) story and annoyed by the characters. The best that I can say is that some elements weren’t as bad as they could have been. It was just not a good movie, and I am disappointed by the fact that I spent actual money to go see it.
The experience of going to a film festival was interesting but not particularly ground breaking for me. The Screening Room is essentially like any other movie theatre, where I went in, watched a movie, and left. The only new thing about the experience was having the movie introduced to me by one of the film festival organizers, but really, that’s not something that changed the experience so much that I am now in love with film festivals.
I was seated in the back of the theatre, beside a person who appeared to be biologically male; however they were dressed in a very short dress with thigh high stockings and heeled boots. While I am all for people embracing whatever makes them comfortable, they were extremely fidgety, constantly fixing their tights, or messing with their hair. I can appreciate how nerve wracking it must have been for them to be out in public and feel like they were being judged but it was very, very, annoying to keep being hit by their elbows when they went to adjust something or another. It was also a little terrifying when they started moaning halfway through the movie. They had been commenting on things all throughout the movie, but as we neared the climax of the story, they made a noise that was weird combination of a moan and a cheer. I was worried that perhaps they were sick until I realized they were just expressing happiness at the main characters finally defeating their enemies, but all in all, it made for a very odd viewing experience.
- Alexander III, Brandon. “First Period – a New Film by Charlie Vaughn.” First Period – a New Film by Charlie Vaughn. First Period The Movie, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015. <http://www.firstperiodmovie.com/>.
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