Saturday, June 17, 2006

30th San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, aka Frameline 30: Day 1

It was a day of mixed messages and mixed feelings after a long evening of mixed drinks and a short night of mixed sleep. (Oh, I could just go on forever!)

"Meth" (dir. Todd Ahlberg 2005 USA 79 min video) is a documentary about methamphetamine addiction in gay men. Primarily consisting of talking-heads, the interviewees wax rhapsodic about the highs associated with crystal. This takes a good third, if not nearly half of the film. And, with only one or two exceptions, the men are all pretty good looking. In other words, it sounds like a good time to me! However, the second half of the feature discusses how out of control the guys were to the addiction, resulting in homelessness, unsafe sex, etc. But the first half is just too fun! The guys readily admit that they miss the fun parts and believed they could have controlled it when they started. However, the message that you can NOT control the addiction is repeatedly stated. Sort of like listening to parents, I might add. It's not a totally successful attempt, in my humble opinion. The exceptionally hunky director (who was present when his previous documentary "Hooked", about on-line cruising for sex, screened two years ago) was not present. However, one of the interviewees was, and he spoke eloquently, if not a bit melodramatically about his recovery since seeing the film at its premiere in Santa Barbara (a scenario which just seems surreal to me). The Q&A did take quite a bit of time and did not necessarily shed any new light on the topic.

"Whole New Thing" (dir Amnon Buchbinder 2005 Canada 92 min 35mm) was the next feature of the day. Briefly, a 14 year old boy develops a crush on his teacher. The production and performers were quite exceptional. The screenplay ANNOYED THE HELL out of me, as the boy was so hideously precocious, witty, smart and pursued the teacher with such entitled aggression, I just wanted to slap him! GAWD he bugged me! And I don't think that was the intention. I think we were supposed to look charmingly upon the 'new generation' of gay boys and admire how well adjusted they are, compared to the closeted history of our generation. So, even though it was so well put together, by the end, I just couldn't stand it. The director was present for a Q&A, however I had to CHARGE outta there to get to the Roxie for:

"Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis" (dir Mary Jordan USA 2006 93 min video) is the biography and profiles the work of Jack Smith, a simply outrageous artist, photographer, actor and film and stage director, who predates Warhol's Factory and actually, out freaks it as well. Ironically, this documentary was so dull, I FOUGHT to keep awake! Though there is a good amount of footage and photos of Smith's work to whet the appetite for MORE, there are endless interviews describing, analyzing and praising his work that they become interfering. I think the director could have allowed the work to stand by itself more than she seemed to trust. He was so avant-garde that I think she felt that the audience needed his work to be explained to us. In THIS audience, there were definite 'groupies' appearing in drag as well as being quite vocal when ever a new talking-head popped up on screen. The flick was maddeningly dull (as evidenced by the man snoring two rows behind me) and fairly pretentious. That said, I would love to get my hands on some of Smith's work! The director was present here, too, but this was another Q&A that I knew I couldn't bear to sit through, which was fine as I had to head back to the Castro for the final flick of the day.

"George Michael: A Different Story" (dir Southan Morris 2005 UK 100 min 35mm) presents to the viewer what a burden it is to be George Michael. Yes. Exactly. He hates 'the camera.' He never feels that he looks good enough to be looked at, though he does like his butt. Yes. Exactly. He never intended to become a pop megastar, though he faces the fact that his talent would allow him nothing less. Yes. Exactly. I did not doubt his sincerity in these series of interviews. However I do question his self-awareness. He does have an uncanny ability to recover from PR disasters, which this film seems to be a part of his latest strategy to build back a U.S. audience after having apparently alienated them with his album, "Patience." I walked into this thinking about how HOT he is. I walked out of it sort of disliking him. I don't think that is what was intended.

Or perhaps I was a bit hung over from last night and just need to sleeeeeep?!


Maxxxxx said...

re "Meth": "Time for shower!"
re "Whole New Thing": "Step up." (I don't know what he means by that either.)
re "Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis": "Shut up!"
re "George Michael: A Different Story": "Such a pretty bird!"

Ed McKie said...

WOW, what a great website! Let me know when you are doing the same for events like Outfest, but try to do in advance so I can know what movies not to miss!
You provide such insight and quality information, excuse my ignorance, but do you do this as a pasttime, or are you really a big time editor that I should revere with a word other than "WOW".
Seriously, great stuff.
I passed on to Todd Ahlberg your kind comments, and I agree, he is quite a hunk... but in my humble opinion, he is one of the most beautiful people I have ever met (on the inside).
Hope to meet you some day.

Ed McKie - just one of the talking heads in "METH"

Jay, the Angry Little Man said...

Thank you, Ed.
And thank you again for coming to San Francisco with the film to speak to us!!

Congrats and good luck with your continued recovery!