Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Atlanta Gay Day 2007

I am NOT a photographer, nor a reporter, but I thought I would post just a few shots-and-thoughts to give a general impression of what Atlanta's Pride Parade was like. (Clicking on the pic will give you a full-size shot.)

It is much smaller in scope compared to San Francisco. However, what it lacks in size it makes up for in spirit! San Francisco doesn't have as many (if ANY!) Bible carrying (counter) protesters, shouting at the crowd with bullhorns, who happen to have their OWN bullhorns to shout back with! That was fun!

Since it was 128 degrees out (or at least on the pavement!), there was a noticeable lack of overdressed drag queens.
But there were enough to add a pinch of flavor, if not Southern glamor to the event.

And water gun carrying paraders were always cheered on!

By the time that my friend Chip and a gaggle of gay Episcopalians marched by, the batteries in my camera were DEAD. :( (Sorry, Chip!) They were all covered in blue, sort of like the 'gay dads' group, so you can sort of PRETEND you see Chip in this crowd!

Oh! And it appears that owning a Saturn Sky is IN! I hope they don't become the next Miata. I'll have to trade my [white] Sky in for something else, when that happens.

Amongst the other 'corporate sponsors' was a small contingent from Bank of America. (No, I didn't recognize any of them.)
And there was the usual collection of twinks and bears...

After waiting 45 minutes for the parade to come by my corner (11th and Piedmont), I could only make it through 45 minutes of what promised to be a 90 minute parade. After the Lady Chablis and Leslie Jordan zoomed by, I figured I'd had enough and had to make my way to the nearest Starbucks for a frappo!

Yeah, I was a real Gay Day Party Monster this year.

Perhaps I'll be back having cocktails on top of the Castro Theatre marquee next year...?! (Well, actually, now that I think about it, Friday night was quite a 'party' at our place, in itself! But I'm saving those details for The Book!)

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Monday, June 25, 2007

SF LGBT Film Festival 2007, aka Frameline 31 - Finale

Frameline's 31st San Francisco LGBT Film Festival

Even without actually being swamped in the madness of San Francisco Pride, I continued my tradition of not actually 'finishing' the SF LGBT Film Festival! I did not have access to screeners for the closing night and I did not finish up the 'Dyke Delights' short program, so I decided not to comment on the few films/vids that I DID see from that. However, I did receive the press release regarding this year's award winners:

The Audience Awards went to:
Feature: "Four Minutes (Vier Minuten)", featured on Day 5.
Documentary: "Semper Fi: One Man's Journey" (Oddly enough, I did not see a single documentary this year!)
Short: "Pariah" (Part of 'Fun in Girls' Shorts' which was another program I did NOT see.)

Frameline First Feature ($10K): "Glue"
Michael J. Berg Documentary Award ($10K): "Red Without Blue" (A BIG hit here at the Atlanta Film Festival - though I did not see it here, either!)

The next fest...? I dunno yet! >:)

Maxxxxx says
re "I'll be back!"

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

SF LGBT Film Festival 2007, aka Frameline 31 - Day 10 (preview)

Frameline's 31st San Francisco LGBT Film Festival
screens in San Francisco June 14 through the 24th. I've been fortunate enough this year to have access to screeners of nearly the entire festival (since I'm in Atlanta, now), and I'll be posting 'previews' two days in advance of each day's screenings. Woo hoo!

Ah, Day 10, aka Saturday, or unofficially "Pink Saturday" in the Castro! This is usually when I would start to burn out on films and begin partying with the tourists. Ironically, even from my 'remote location', I only have access to two of the SEVENTEEN (?!) programs scheduled for the day, which would be 'on schedule' for me, if I were IN San Francisco this year. (Say "Hi!" to the gang on top of the Castro Theatre marquee for me!!) I was able to screen the full program of 'Worldly Affairs', aka foreign short subjects, and a few of the submissions in 'Dyke Delights', a collection of short subjects of a lesbian nature. Apparently. [I will post an update with 'Dyke Delights' separately.]

"41 Seconds (41 Sekunden)" (dirs. Tobias Martin, Rodney Sewell, Germany, 2006, 4 min.) One of the shortest, if not most successful films of in this years festival! Two (straight) guys talk and bluff their way about who is the best kisser, until... Well, THAT's a spoiler! The technical effects as well as the pacing of the the actors is great. I don't know how, much less why there are two directors credited. However, they did a great job on his tiny little treasure!

"Anthony (Antoine)" (dir. Jean-Philippe Laraque, France, 2006, 6 min.) This is an odd little jealous squabble between a pair of gay partners who are contract killers. There's is a slight twist at the end, however the entire set-up is just so... odd that it doesn't really go where one hopes, much less expects. It's well done. It's just... odd. There. THAT's eloquently put, huh?

"INVULNERABLE"(dir. Alvaro Pastor, Spain, 2005, 25 min.) I started into this with a wary and weary eye. However, what could have been an 'after school special' is actually a heartfelt and cinematic impressionistic look at how a high school teacher deals with the news that he is HIV+. It is hard to start into, but fairly rewarding by the end.

"Kali Ma" (dir. Soman Chainani, India, 2007, 14 min.) A fairly slight, though no less than pretty to look at 'skit' about a mother who becomes 'kali ma' (fire mother) as she wreaks vengence against the (gorgeous!) boy who is tormenting her son. It's not a terribly well acted piece. However, it is harmless enough and Brendan Bradley is awfully nice to look at.

"Milonga Gay" [no weblink available] (dir. Paul Chernosky, Argentina, 2006, 5 min.) Simply, a five minute tango between several male dancing couples. I like tangos. Though the photography is a bit too dark and grainy to make out the detail one would hope to view.

"The Police Box" (dir. Josh Kim, Korea , 2006 , 4 min.) I didn't understand what was happening in this. Apparently, a boy and girl are competing for the affections of a policeman via a 'police box' where they are leaving messages. I guess. The review copy I had also played a second time, where the director included subtitles of what every production element cost, which was actually more entertaining than the film itself.

"Smalltown Boy" (dir. Moby Longinotto, UK, 2007, 13 min.) This is an effective documentary about a real-life 'only gay in the village' in the form of 15 year old David. He decides to come out (as if there he were 'in' to begin with?) as the 'Carnival Queen' in the village's annual fair. The film gives a really nice portrait of the boy, as well as where he lives. Though I found it to be a bit slim as far as portraying his family.

Maxxxxx says
re "41 Seconds": "I love you, too!"
re "Anthony": "Cranky bird!"
re "Invulnerable": "Sweet, sweet eye juice!"
re "Kali Ma": "Pretty bird!"
re "Milongo Gay": "Doobie doobie doo-ooo"
re "Police Box": "Is it bedtime?"
re "Smalltown Boy": "Pretty bird!"

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SF LGBT Film Festival 2007, aka Frameline 31 - Day 9 (preview)

Frameline's 31st San Francisco LGBT Film Festival
screens in San Francisco June 14 through the 24th. I've been fortunate enough this year to have access to screeners of nearly the entire festival (since I'm in Atlanta, now), and I'll be posting 'previews' two days in advance of each day's screenings. Woo hoo!

The schedule for Friday, Day 9 includes two exceptional features.

"You Belong to Me" (dir. Sam Zalutsky, USA, 2007, 82 mins.) This is probably the best 'gay thriller' I've seen since "Apartment Zero" (which isn't explicitly 'gay', but anyway...). Sam Zalutsky has crafted an uneasy chiller, where the gay component proves to be a necessary device and not just a gratuitous attempt at 'edginess'. Instead, it becomes an integral part of our hero's dilemma. I don't want to leave spoilers, yet I have already said too much! Patti D'Arbanville gives a remarkable performance as the landlady of the creepy apartment building that 'Jeffrey' (played by Daniel Sauli) has moved into, on a compulsion to be near his unrequited boyfriend. Sauli is required to go through a lot of territory in this. Though not actually a likable character, he is nonetheless our hero and we do eventually pull for him, regardless of some of the erroneous choices the character makes. How Sauli is able to fulfill the actions of the screenplay, yet maintain some form of sympathy with the audience must be due to Zalutsky's twisting script and his excellent direction of Sauli and D'Arbanville. Neither of the characters or the performances are allowed to go into grand guignol, but they are creepily and subtly real. Jonathan Furmanski's cinematography and Tamar Gadish's production design create an enveloping claustrophobia and paranoia as we descend deeper into the building and the characters' obsessions. The entire production is coordinated to magnify what a nightmare Jeffrey has entered once the climax starts to really take off! Zalutsky taps into Hitchcock and Polanski and delivers a remarkable little thriller.

"Out at the Wedding" (dir. Lee Friedlander, USA, 2006, 96 mins.) This is fairly appealing on the surface, though it does touch one of my pet peeves in farce. The farce is predicated upon the lies of an individual and not necessarily the relationships between the characters. The irony is that Paula Goldberg's script is actually substantial enough to support a character driven farce, without relying on the mechanizations of 'Alex', who is charmingly played by Andrea Marcellus. In fact, Marcellus appears to be such an intelligent actress that the choices her character makes do not necessarily ring true. However, once the train of lies is unleashed, Marcellus and the rest of the cast make the most of it! Desi Lydic has perhaps the most difficult role in the film, as she must nearly be an arch-nemesis to Marcellus, yet by the film's end, her character arc is remarkably sympathetic. The cohorts to the web of deceit include her exceptionally effeminate gay best friend (Charlie Schlatter), and an exceptionally 'normal' lesbian (Cathy DeBuono) who is forced to assist in the complicated masquerade. In the corps of supporting roles, Mink Stole appears as the Jewish mother-in-law to be and Mike Farrell as the presumably bigoted Southern father of the bride. There really isn't a weak performance in the entire cast. The production has a feel-good appeal to it, and the cinematography and production design are glossily accomplished. The production walks the line of a sit-com pitch, which might be a good thing...

Maxxxxx says
re "You Belong To Me": [panicked screams!]
re "Out at the Wedding": "Bad bird!"

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SF LGBT Film Festival 2007, aka Frameline 31 - Day 8 (preview)

Frameline's 31st San Francisco LGBT Film Festival
screens in San Francisco June 14 through the 24th. I've been fortunate enough this year to have access to screeners of nearly the entire festival (since I'm in Atlanta, now), and I'll be posting 'previews' two days in advance of each day's screenings. Woo hoo!

Oops! I've gone a day late in popping advance notices for the next couple of days of screenings! Thursday (aka Day 8) highlights one of the typically best programs of the festival: the Australian short subjects. Unfortunately, I am posting only a couple of hours before it screens! The program really deserves a higher profile slot than midweek at noon. 'Kan-GAY-roo! - New Shorts from Down Under' is a compilation of five short subjects. I am not sure what order they will screen, so in alphabetical order:

"The Manual" [no weblink available] (Dir. Sarah Spillane, Australia, 2006, 16 min.) This was a surprising little drama linking the psychological treatments in adolescents of homosexuality from two decades ago with ADD today. It also features Jack Thompson, who is great in anything!

"My Last Ten Hours With You" (dir. Sophie Hyde, Australia, 2006, 15 min.) This may have been my least favorite in the program, but only because its drama could easily and perhaps necessarily need to be expanded upon. The couple's situation, that being of spending their last night together before one is forced to leave the continent for work, is fraught with possibilities and character explorations that this fifteen minutes doesn't fully allow. It was nearly a teaser.

"PRADA HANDBAG" (dir. Stuart Vauvert, Australia, 2007, 22 min.) This, on the other hand, is just long enough, though you can FEEL the feature length version bubbling underneath, which would kill the gag, as well as the touching climax! It is the story of self revelation and the 'drag' that everyone uses to hide themselves. Rita Kalnejais, as 'Prada Handbag' is the oddest little creature! The makeup and costume design transforms her character, a victim of extreme propecia, into something of an alien, in what is already the huge and costumed world of drag queens, which she enters. The catharsis she endures is tenuously edited. That climax is the most difficult moment of this short film, yet director Stuart Vauvert somehow pulls it off. I loved this!

"Stray" [no weblink available] (dir. Craig Boreham, Australia, 2007, 15 min.) This is a bit of a melodrama, however, considering that it what produced by a gay/lesbian youth project, the results are quite impressive! Though the story of an innocent lost in the big city has been told time and again, the sincerity of the performances, as well as their ferocity during the violent climax, keeps the short from being trite. Frameline has picked it up for distribution, so it should get some well deserved exposure, well beyond the festival circuit.

"Working It Out" [no weblink available] (dir. Tim Hunter, Australia, 2007, 7 min.) Though not terribly well acted, it is a cleverly written twister about a couple's jealous diatribes in a gym, as they work out together.

Maxxxxx says
re "The Manual": "Sickie-poo"
re "My Last Ten Hours With You": "I love you, toooo."
re "PRADA HANDBAG": "Such a pretty bird!"
re "Stray": "Cranky bird!"
re "Working It Out": "Time for shower!"

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Monday, June 18, 2007

SF LGBT Film Festival 2007, aka Frameline 31 - Days 6 and 7 (preview)

Frameline's 31st San Francisco LGBT Film Festival
screens in San Francisco June 14 through the 24th. I've been fortunate enough this year to have access to screeners of nearly the entire festival (since I'm in Atlanta, now), and I'll be posting 'previews' two days in advance of each day's screenings. Woo hoo!

Oh poo!! I don't have any information on the next two days! (Days 6 and 7, Tuesday and Wednesday.) However, I have a LITTLE bit of information on two of Wednesday night's screenings.

I have seen previous 'episodes' of "Rick & Steve the Happiest Gay Couple in All the World" in it's previous incarnations in previous years festivals. Hopefully, it hasn't softened up for its premiere on LOGO, which is what this program presents.

"Red Without Blue" was quite the talk at the Atlanta Film Festival earlier this spring, though I missed its screening.

Maxxxxx says: "Is it nap time?"

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

A NEW Film Festival in San Francisco?! Woo hoo!!

Snagged from DEAD CHANNEL's MySpace Bulletin:

Vonnegut, Miike, Cronenberg & Spoonbender open Dead Channels!!

DEAD CHANNELS will open on August 9th at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. Be there - or forever hold your piece.

Visit our blog for more information!
Advance tickets will go on sale soon on our website!

CLICK HERE for more...

Saturday, June 16, 2007

SF LGBT Film Festival 2007, aka Frameline 31 - Day 5 (preview)

Frameline's 31st San Francisco LGBT Film Festival
screens in San Francisco June 14 through the 24th. I've been given access to screeners (since I'm in Atlanta, now), and I'll be posting 'previews' two days in advance of each day's screenings. Woo hoo!

I have been fortunate enough to see three of the eleven programs scheduled for Day 5, aka Monday June 18th. All three are 'chick flicks', and two of them are 'musicals', but not at all in any typical sense of the term. The bad news is that those two fine programs are screening in the same time slot. The third is an 'encore' screening.

However, "El Calentito" (dir. Chus Gutiérrez, Spain, 2005, 89 min) is available on home video as I reported earlier for TLA Releasing. Never the less, I think it would be a hoot to see this in the Castro Theatre, with sound A BLAZING!! To save you the trouble of clicking around, I'll just 'repost' what I said earlier here:

Director Chus Gutiérrez has captured the joy, anger and excitement of early 1980's punk. However, this is set in Spain in 1981, on the eve of a military coup. Using that as a setting, Gutiérrez peoples his story with transgenders, lesbians and a 'stuck up virgin,' through which we witness this microcosm of societal change. I know this sounds like I'm reading a bit too much into this perhaps, but it is a cathartic story for the characters involved.

Speaking of characters, the performances are filled with the joy and energy the period calls for. Verónica Sánchez as 'Sara' (aka the stuck up virgin) wanders into this world a wide-eyed innocent and predictably rocks out by the end! She is a charming and appealing performer to be the center of the circus of personalities she comes to know and love. Foremost among this group is 'Leo', played by Macarena Gómez, which could most easily be compared to a punk Goldie Hawn. She is a hoot and fills the screen whenever she's on. Nuria González turns in an award winning performance as the transgendered woman who owns the club at which the girls' band plays. She becomes something of a mother figure to 'Sara' and her character arc concerning her son is played without schmaltzy sentiment. The 'lesbian quotient' of the film is filled by Ruth Díaz, who plays 'Carmen' the leader of the band. Sort of surprisingly, or refreshingly depending on your take, her story is not so much part of shock value as just another aspect of the girls lives. The outside, conservative world is almost demonized, which is the only hesitant flaw of the film. However, Sara's mother is not overplayed to extremes, as are the bar's upstairs neighbors who provide something of a deus ex machina, that is unnecessary during the climax.

The Four Minutes (Vier Minuten) (dir. Chris Kraus, Germany, 2006, 112 mins.) of the climax in the film of the same name, make the hundred and ten minutes that precede it worth every second. This was a tough viewing for me. The film is drenched in greys and is pretty bleak! An 80-something piano teacher, who continues to carry baggage from her actions, or lack thereof, from World War II, takes on a student in a women's prison, who is carrying a whole LOAD of baggage herself, seeing as she is a convicted murderer. There are any number of dramatic conceits in play here, with our student also being a child prodigy pianist, both women have lesbian tendencies, the usual suspects of corrupt or at least inept prison officials and guards. But the bleakness and the sometimes turgid pacing is broken up a bit by the piano teacher's flashbacks, and the student's extremely violent 'fits', both violent and musical.

However, what hesitations I may be expressing as far as the screenplay are minimized by the outrageous and nearly dangerous award winning performances by Monica Bleibtreu, as the teacher, and Hannah Herzsprung, as her disturbed student. Both performances are a bit over-the-top. However, Herzsprung's catharsis during her 'four minutes' is absolutely amazing to behold! Director (and screenwriter) Chris Kraus has worked exceptionally hard to make that moment as believable and spine-tingling as it is by ensuring a certain melodramatic pitch was maintained throughout. Getting through those one hundred and ten minutes of melodrama can feel like a chore. However, the final four minutes are magical!

The third program I've seen from this day is the 'encore' screening of "Tick Tock Lullaby" which was screened on Day 3, and quite enjoyably recommended!

Maxxxxx says
re "ElCalentito": "Doobie doobie doo-ooo!"
re "Four Minutes": "Schiesse!" (Maxxxxx does say "Shit!", but I thought I'd translate this time.)

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