Sunday, October 14, 2007

Out On Film, 2007 - Day 4

Out On Film, IMAGE Film and Video's annual LGBT film festival continues at the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema here in Atlanta. Today, 1 documentary, 2 features, 3 short subjects. In sequential order:

A LESSON IN BIOLOGY [no link available] (dir. Keno Rider, USA, 20 mins.) Well, first, the opening credits were exceptionally slow and long. At one point, I thought they'd be longer than the short itself. I was wrong there. The film feels longer - longer than its twenty minutes, too. Obviously adapted from a one act play, it would seem to tread, or at least want to be compared to Tennessee Williams. Though set in 1968, the language is peculiarly archaic. The plot regarding the seduction of a teacher by one of his male students could have been more unsettling or dramatic had the student appeared to be 18 or younger. The two performers appear to be near the same age. The imbalance of attitudes between the two is perhaps too askew for the setting. Of course, I wouldn't be surprised to be told that this is a actual recollection and proven wrong. Ah well...

AREA X [no link available] (dir. Dennis Shinners, USA, 15 mins.) This is another one act play brought to the screen. The setting: two men in a bar, one nearly tragically depressed; the other, a hustler. Their confrontation seems almost too short at the end, though there was little room for it to go.

GETTING LUCKY (dir. Christian Lloyd, Canada, 38 mins.) Saving the best for last in this group of shorts, this is another stage-to-screen adaptation, which clocks in at the foreboding length of nearly 40 minutes for a short subject. However, as the director explained after the screening, there are plans to expand it into a feature, which would be fabulous! The film is set at 'Southern Decadence' which is (more or less) gay day in New Orleans. This is the morning after when a Canadian tourist wakes up on the bed of a local pick up, unable to remember the night before. Their interaction explores the vulnerability of being a stranger in a strange bed, as it were. The performances are excellent, most probably due to the fact that the film's director, Christian Lloyd wrote, directed and performed in the play, as well as performing it here on film, with the other original performer playing opposite him, as well. Lloyd allows his character the insecurities of NOT being as drop dead gorgeous as the man he awakes to, which increases his suspicions and fears. The two actors FILL each line and pause with suggestion and dangerous possibilities. The ending is positively sinister in its ambiguity and implications. I LOVED IT!

AND THERE YOU ARE (dir. Doug Sebastian, USA, 105 mins.) Locally produced in Valdosta, Georgia, this was a surprisingly effective comedy about a successful gay male's 'fetish' for straight men and the ensuing heartbreak (as well as the pursuing girlfriends!) such an attraction procures. Roy Kirkland, who wrote and stars himself, does a fabulous job for his first time out! In fact, the back story of the script is that this is based on a break up of his, from which he wrote a poem, turned that into a song and turned THAT into this film, with the help of director Doug Sebastian. The supporting cast, particularly the literal parade of men that Kirkland has affairs with, are perhaps less naturally skilled as Kirkland, but that only strengthens his character and avoids what could have been an exceptionally unsympathetic center of the film. The relationships between him and 'his boys' are genuinely friendly, which is how he gets into such emotional trouble to begin with. Danielle Lalk gives a nearly inspired performance as the girlfriend of his central fixation. Lalk and Kirkland's IM'ing scene over MySpace is a gem of a sequence in itself! The film is understatedly charming, (as is the nearly forgettable title! What's up with that?!)the cast is handsome and the production values belie what must be assumed to be a low budget. The film has gone "straight to video" and is available from TLA Releasing.

As a bit of a footnote, during the Q&A (which I STAYED for this time!), Kirkland described the efforts it took to cast the paramours (mostly students from Valdosta State University) and how those guys are now a bit embarrassed by the national exposure the film is getting. Hee, hee, hee...

The boys in WE'RE ALL ANGELS (dir. Robert Nunez, USA, 90 mins.) are anything BUT embarrassed by their success! Jason and DeMarco are a fairly famous, if not infamous, gay Christian music duo that has found themselves in something of a "no man's land". I was hesitant about even seeing this documentary myself, at first, since the two guys punch a bunch of my personal belief buttons, re: religion, 'gay twinks', opportunists, etc. However, this documentary does a good job in letting you see the guys for who they really are. The film is NOT filled with prayer laden platitudes, but is about two artists who preach about "finding your authenticity" while facing the struggle to maintain their own in a business where they are encouraged to 'sell out' and cross-over to dance and pop music. Physically, the boys are so pretty, that dance and pop seem like a natural fit. Artistically, you see their awkwardness, hesitancy and eventual rejection of those genres as they progress through a pop music management firm. DeMarco would seem to be the business-side of the duo and has no hesitancy in confronting stage management on the quality of production that they are involved in. Jason, in particular, leaves no holds barred in baring himself in front of a camera. His comment regarding gay marriage is priceless! DeMarco is Canadian and in the U.S. on a series of work visas. A marriage would provide DeMarco with citizenship, but in Jason's words, "My man-gina just doesn't cut it!" HA! The guys are ribald, without being profane, which is an art in itself. Their looks also belie their age and maturity. Within the documentary, they partner with a producer who they believe can adapt their sound for "the kids 10 years younger than us". As can be expected, there is a lot of footage of their performances, as well as their recording sessions. Jason displays a near phenomenal tenor and DeMarco displays just as much stage presence. What the film might lack is commentary from the gospel music industry, which does NOT accept the duo as legitimate artists in that music. There is some commentary from dance club producers and mixers, thus proving one of the points that Jason makes in the film, that although not ALL of the gay culture may except them, at least part of it does, whereas NO ONE from the gospel culture accepts them at all. Though I might not find myself running out and buying their cds, I am glad to have seen this, if just to be able to humanize the "Ken and Barbie" of gay gospel music. (The film is produced by Michael Huffington, aka Arianna's ex-husband!)

GLUE (dir. Alexis dos Santos, Argentina, 110 mins.) Winner of this year's Frameline Award for Best First Feature, I actually couldn't finish it, though I know I saw enough of it. Desolate, minimalistic, a view into the void that the teenage protagonist is dealing with, etc. From my personal bias and viewpoint, this is typical of the cinema from Argentina. (I know my friends Sue Jean and Netta would LOVE this!) I just find no satisfaction in witnessing "boredom and family alienation", or as Variety stated in its POSITVE review, "...youth spent in a Patagonian dullsville, where the emptiness of the environment creates an even wider staging ground for self-discovery. Pic captures adolescence replete with the sort of boring chatter and life musings teens think are profound." It just bored me.

Maxxxxx says
re GETTING LUCKY: "Woooooo!"
re WE'RE ALL ANGELS: "Dooby doobie doo-ooo!"
re AND THERE YOU ARE: "Sweet, sweet eye juice!"
re GLUE and the rest: "Is it bedtime?"

1 comment:

R said...

Thanks for the comments about my documentary, "We're All Angels." Your review is very insightful and I can relate to your trepidation about the religious subject matter! Thanks for giving the film a chance and sharing your thoughts. I really enjoyed reading what you had to say.

Robert Nunez
Director/Producer, "We're All Angels"