Friday, June 15, 2007

SF LGBT Film Festival 2007, aka Frameline 31 - Day 4 (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!

Frameline continues its audacious programming with 16 programs for Day 4 (Sunday, June 17). Of those sixteen, it was my mixed pleasure to screen two.

Kate Clinton: 25th Anniversary Tour (dir. Andrea Meyerson, USA, 2007, 60 mins.) This performance recording and tribute to stand up comedian, satirist, monologuist (words fail to describe!) Kate Clinton during her '25th Anniversary Tour' is an all too rare pleasure! Her gentle and unexpected delivery of some biting political wit is near brilliance. Watching her on video, for an hour, transcends enjoyment and becomes a study in comic timing and superb vocal technique. In fact, at the half hour mark, the video is quite nearly interrupted by a 'pitch' for the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), which sponsored her tour. So, it is forgivable, yet undeniably, an interruption. However, as part of the transition into the second half of the program, we are introduced to her and her partner in a backstage interview. They're charming and obviously still in love after 18 years! The program continues into darker, political territory for which she is known for. For those who are her fans, it is a rare recording of her brilliance and a teaser for those who are new to her. I must see her, at my next chance!

On the flip side of the comedy/tragedy coin is 25 Cent Preview (dir. Cyrus Amini, USA, 2007, 91 mins.). When this played at the SF IndieFest earlier this year, I was put off by the rough and sleazy look of the trailer and avoided it. However, the film was included in the packet of screeners so generously provided by Frameline, therefore I felt obligated to watch. It is a tough viewing. It took nearly a full half hour for me to fall into, or at least accept the nearly guerrilla-like rawness of the digital cinematography (credited to no less than six people). The performances are ably, though obviously improvised. However, once I succumbed to this raw and bleak look at street hustlers on Polk Street in San Francisco, it became a stunning experience. The film technique expanded beyond the rough edginess of its beginning and revealed itself to be polished, professional and talented. Also, I don't know whether the performers became more comfortable with the shoot as it continued or I became more attuned to the vocal rhythms, but by the end of the film, I was completely involved with the main character's ambiguous, yet definite climatic catharsis. The only slight hesitation I have, has to do with the lead up to that climatic scene. However, if you can get past the cliched villain that is introduced into an overly simplistic psychoanalysis of our two lead characters (played by Merlin Gaspers and Dorian Brockington), that finale is well worth it. It is raw and difficult, yet in the end, it is quite emotionally effective, and that might mean it is something brilliant, considering how it plays against nearly all of MY cinematic aesthetic.

Maxxxxx says
re "Kate Clinton: 25th Anniversary Tour": [Mad cackling!]
re "25 Cent Preview": "Sickie poo?"

1 comment:

cinemaholic said...

Kate Clinton film was a scream! Only made it through that first half hour of 25 Cent Preview and left as did many many others. Also saw the documentary, BEARS, about the 2004 Mr. International Bear contest, It was a hoot, longest lines at tthe candy counter in history! Gotta love them bears,grrrrr! Also really liked Stealth, the Swiss/Polish entry about a brother and sister who reconnect on a road trip to find their polish roots. How come Europeans can make good films with queer characters and Americans seem to have to make being gay the main focus? This has irked me for years and things still haven't changed.