Monday, June 20, 2005

29th SF Intl. LGBT Film Fest - Day 4

Well, I started the day with 2 sets of Shorts Programs and 3 Features. I'll toss the 14 shorts to the end, since it can become sort of tedious, and start with the features.

"Based on a True Story" (dir Walter Stokman 2004 Netherlands 75 min video) This documentary wished to explore the truths and myths behind the real event that inspired "Dog Day Afternoon." In, dare I say, typical Dutch documentary fashion, the making of the documentary is as much apart of the film as the subject is. Though we get a decent number of interviews of the hostages, John Wojtowicz's first wife, Frank Pierson the screenwrighter, Sydney Lumet the director, as well as some harrowing recollections by the FBI agent who eventually brought everyone out, it is the 'interviews' or the attempts to interview Wojtowicz himself (the character Al Pacino played) that reveal more about what that situation must have been like than the witnesses actual recollections. Wojtowicz is... well, crazy. And quite the narcissist. Which would explain why the bank robbery and hostage situation was as unique as it was. His transexual wife (he married bigamously) has died since then, and we only see interviews after the film was released. It's really sort of a fascinating story, as those who tell it seem to hardly believe or yet understand what was happening. And that the man who caused it, is so mentally 'gone' that we can't get a clear picture from him either, except that, THAT is probably why it was so compelling: it just wasn't making any sense! The documentary is sort of goofy and fun in that way. Yes, there was a tragedy involved (his accomplice was killed), however even that doesn't seem to cast a shadow on the novelty of it all. It's well worth seeing! And it made me want to rent/see "Dog Day Afternoon" again. This was the first of what proved to be a great double feature! Following it was:

"Loggerheads" (dir Tim Kirkman 2005 USA 90 min 35mm) Tim Kirkman directed the nearly brilliant documentary "Dear Jesse" in 1998, which explored the North Carolina mindset that had supported Jesse Helms' terms in office. "Loggerheads" is his narrative debut, and is set in North Carolina, and features some of those mindsets found in "Dear Jesse," but explores so much more... It's a complex narrative structure, in which three stories from three years apart are woven together. There is a gay beachcombing drifter, a mother searching for her child she gave up for adoption, and a pastor and wife in denial of their son's lifestyle. The cast is EXTRAORDINARY! Bonnie Hunt, Tess Harper, Michael Learned, Chris Sarandon, Kip Pardue and Michael Kelley fill the cast and do some beautiful work. Hunt and Learned (as mother and daughter) have some exceptional scenes, as does Tess Harper. The editing was particularly great in this. In what could have been a confusing mess, was tightly pulled together and scenes were always completed before the cut away to the next story. We were never left hanging with questions to distract us from the next scene, but it still fed us information that would eventually bring the film to a beautiful and heartfelt climax. It is an exceptional piece of work. The Castro Audience gave it a partial Standing Ovation. It was too sweet to 'jump to your feet' for, but I would not be surprised to see it win the Audience Feature Award.

After "Loggerheads" I had a ticket to pop over to the Parkway in Oakland for "Surge of Power" at 9:15. But I didn't want to dampen the experience I just had with both "Based On A True Story" and "Loggerheads" with a cheesey/campy gay superhero flick. So, I zoomed down Market Street and I just couldn't keep myself from turning LEFT down Franklin to be home by 9:00 pm. ;-)

Now, the 14 Short Subjects. They were presented in 2 programs: "Boys School" and "The Return of the Antipodeans": 1) shorts about guys in school; 2) Australian short subjects. In vaguely preferential order, first the 6 "Boys School" shorts and then the 8 "...Antipodeans":

"On The Low" (dir Luther M. Mace 2004 USA 16 min video) Love between a pair of African American guys in an inner city school. The performances were REAL and gutsy! Not to mention, that there is a certain homogeny in a lot of these 'gay angst in school' flicks where we are presented with a "Beaver Cleaver Comes Out!" story. This had so much more depth and guts to it than the WASPish ready-for-tv stuff that is usually presented.

Speaking of WASPish ready-for-tv stuff, "Ryan's Life" (dir Nick Wauters 2004 USA 24 min video) was unapologetically a pilot. Imagine "Wonder Years" but he is gay. Yes, it was clever and funny and "Ryan" did a really good job, but... we've seen this before. And we'll see it again. Twice in fact in the same day with:

"Shakespeare's Sonnets" (dir Samuel Park 2005 USA 7 min video) and "dare" (yes, all lower case - ugh) (dir Adam Salky 2004 USA 17 min video). "dare" featured 'Zack' from "The O.C." as the bad-boy flirt at school who preys on our broodingly gorgeous, closeted and angst ridden gay hero. Oh, "Shakespeare's Sonnets" had the same plot, but different actors.

"Katydid" (dir Scott Boswell 2004 USA 13 min 35mm) was just an odd bit about twin brothers, one of whom is gay and comes out to the other. I'm sure the director was terribly impressed by his gimmick of having the same actor play both roles. sigh.

"Last Full Show" (dir Mark V. Reyes 2004 Philippines 18 min 35mm) was another odd little bit about an older man's infatuation with a wealthy student. Sort of a Philippines version of "Death In Venice" without the tragedy. So it was... dull.

From Australia, aka the Antipodeans:

"Work It Out" (dir Kym Vaitiekus 2004 Australia 3 min video) Painlessly short vid where two NASTY automechanics are about to beat the pulp out of each other until their boss tells them to kiss and make up. Which they do. DEEPLY. har. har.

"Hitch Cock" (dir Stuart Vauvert 2005 Australia 10 min video) If it weren't for his fabulous style, good technique and great cast, this would be considered terribly sophomoric, but FUNNY! In a 'Rear Window' homage, a man sees a pair of men making out across the street. He then goes into a 'Vertigo' like obsession with the word 'cock,' as it invades his every thought and begins to hallucinate seeing and hearing it from the world around him! It was a hoot!

"Moustache" (dir Vicki Sugars 2004 Australia 13 min 35mm) This was a quirky, yet charming little tale of a husband and wife, whose romantic life is pretty well dead, until... well... her hormones begin to change... ;)

"Shining The Ball" (dir Tom Conyers 2005 Australia 17 min video) They make WASPish ready for tv gay angst stuff in Australia, too, it seems. Pretty, but, yawn.

"Teen Christian Beach Party" (dir Richard Vette 2004 Australia 4 min 16mm) The title held so much promise! But it just didn't deliver. In fact, I can't even synopsis this, as it was such a mess.

"Transient" (dir Craig Boreham 2004 Australia 10 min video) Visually, quite arresting, however something of a drag. It chronicled the 'transient nature' of a relationship... I'm sort of giving it a bit of a disservice here, because it was quite well done. It just wasn't pleasant to sit through. It was almost too real watching the pair drift apart like that...

"Crash" (dir David Moore 2004 Australia 5 min 16mm) NOT ready for tv gay angst flick, as it climaxed with a nasty 'fag-bashing'! Nearly generated hisses and boos, this did. It does have a point to make, as the closeted guy is the one doing the bashing, but... TOO GRIM!

"What Grown-Ups Know" (dir Jonathan Wald 2004 Australia & USA 30 min 35mm) I loathed this thing. Hideously performed. Three characters: Mom, Son and the Manager of the trailer park that they are staying at. Yes, we are talking poor white trash. Mom was played like Blanche Dubois. The Son started off normal enough until faced with his BREAKDOWN SCENE (from out of nowhere). The Trailer Park Manager was sort of hunky and completely aware that he was acting opposite idiots. Which made me laugh! Sadly, the guys in the row behind me felt "...that was the most interesting piece here this afternoon." *bitchslap*

Yes, there is more tomorrow... but starting at the civilized hour of 4:15 PM! :-)

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