Friday, June 16, 2006

30th San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, aka Frameline 30

Last night was the gala opening of the 30th San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, or as they are so aptly marketing it, "Frameline 30". (Frameline is the sponsoring organization of the festival.) It opened with a bit more ceremony than usual, but included the traditional review of festival trailers of the past fifteen or so years, a welcoming speech from the President of the Board of Directors, a nifty little presentation from state representative Mark Leno and then the introduction of the co-directors, Michael Lumpkin and Jennifer Morris. They gave a brief overview of what was in store for the next ten days, before introducing Maria Maggenti, the director of "The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls In Love" and tonight's opening night feature:

"Puccini for Beginners" (dir. Maria Maggenti, 2005, USA, 90 mins.). This is a very cute and fairly successful farce involving lesbians and would-be bisexuals. Elizabeth Reaser (who am I not familiar with) plays an emotionally ambivalent lesbian, whose fear of commitment actually drives her away from a girlfriend, into the arms of a man. And another woman. At the same time. Oh, and it is NOT a spoiler to reveal that the man (Justin Kirk, "Angels in America") and woman (the fabulous Gretchen Mol) are by sheer coincidence, a couple who have just split up. Needless to say, chaos ensues. The plot, as is typical for farce, is pretty contrived. However, the performances are so appealing that I didn't mind. I LOVE Gretchen Mol! She literally sparkles on screen! She approaches that fine line of being 'cute' (and you know I HATE 'cute') but you can see that she is thinking about what she is doing all the time, which keeps me from writing her off. Elizabeth Reaser is a bit overwhelmed by Mol and Justin Kirk, technique-wise. This is a pretty easy job for Kirk, as the character really doesn't have that much depth and is mostly a plot device for Reaser's sexually conflicted character. Reaser does get the short straw in the film, as she is asked to be ambivalent about everyone she is surrounded by, and that is really hard to play. She is ably supported by two best friends, who are hysterically played by Nina Benko and Jennifer Dundas. They are a mini version of "Sex and the City" pals, but Benko in particular plays her role as a high powered 'lipstick lesbian' with such ferocity she just eats up the screen whenever she is on! Even with the unfortunate moment of the projector bulb burning out halfway into the flick, the audience ate this up! (The director, who has as much charm as most of the characters on screen, entertained us with little behind the scene stories during the technical difficulties.) I did not stay for the Q&A as I had an open bar to get to!

The opening night party was held at the SF Design Center, south of Market. I am beginning to really like this place as a party destination. It isn't as easy to navigate as the Regency Ballroom Center, but it is airy and open and never really feels cramped. Keeping in the theme of the film, there was a string quartet playing for the first half of the evening, which really lent a classic and lovely atmosphere to the event. There was an unfortunate soprano, however, but she only sang twice. Later, a DJ eventually started mixing, which wasn't objectionable. The catering was unusually outstanding! Hugh Groman Catering had the most amazing BBQ ribs! There was also a fabulous chicken penne pasta, but I don't remember who served that. The only restaurants represented were millennium, Blowfish Sushi and Citizen Cake. Of course, Absolut Vodka was pouring! Woo hoo!

After dropping off my new best friends from Tallahassee, Florida, Dianne and Marie (Dianne is the director of "Annie Dearest" and has a short screening on Sunday) at their hotel, I caught up with the Castro Theatre gang at Aunt Charlies in the armpit of the Tenderloin, where we closed the place. It was a blast of a night!


Maxxxxx said...

re "Puccini for Beginners": Hahahahaha!
re Opening night gala: "Breakfast? Breakfast?"

Anonymous said...

Oh... You're one of those Aunt Charlies queens. That explains alot.


A person who has never been to THAT hole. Not even after a show.
Never. Ever. No sirree bob... Not catching me there. Nope.

Jay, the Angry Little Man said...

To anonymous:

Methinks the lady protests too much!