Monday, October 15, 2007

Out On Film, 2007 - Day 5

Out On Film, IMAGE Film and Video's annual LGBT film festival continues at the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema here in Atlanta. Unlike the cinematic orgies that take over San Francisco's film festivals with no less than TWELVE screenings throughout the day, EVERY day, IMAGE F&V has scheduled only four or five screenings during the weeknights: two pair at a time. So, I'll only be seeing one or two features a night, up until closing night this Thursday. Tonight's double feature went from overtly literal to obscurely non-linear:

WHIRLWIND (dir. Richard LeMay, USA, 99 mins.) A small posse of 30-somethings allow trouble to enter their tight circle in the form of a handsome libertine, who shakes up their world. I think we've all been there. Or at least I have, to the point that I found the script by Richard LeMay and Jason Brown to be almost embarrassingly direct and honest. I was squirming in my seat during the film, first from the nearly invasive nature of the all too recognizable situation, and later, from the wincingly simplistic confrontations and resolutions. What began as a complex deconstruction of a small group's dynamics turned to simplistic "I love you"s to resolve their conflicts. The sociopath that throws the group into turmoil becomes just that: a villain whom we want to see hurt. Deeply. The black and white distinction between good and bad treads the fine line of soap opera. The cast gives oddly uneven performances. Since the ensemble is continually in different one-on-one's with each other, it is difficult to tell (on a single screening) whether there is a lack of chemistry or rehearsal that makes some scenes click, as well as scenes that fall flat. Overall, they are an appealing bunch of guys who are quite quick with the one-liners. I began to believe that as the script became more simplistic that the cast began to emotionally step away and allow the words to carry the scenes. Considering the emotional catharsis that each one is faced with, there are no tears, yelling or gnashing of teeth, which would have sent it over the top. However, had the characters been allowed to physically perform, I think the script would have been revised for more subtle verbalization. However, with all that carping aside, the first two-thirds thrilled me and the final third made me wince, in that way that "Boys in the Band" does. That said, I will definitely add this to my collection once it is released on DVD to screen for MY posse! (The production values appeared to be fine, given that it was projected in the WRONG aspect ratio! argh! But I don't want to digress...)

ONE TO ANOTHER (Chacun sa nuit) (dirs. Jean-Marc Barr and Pascal Arnold, France, 95 mins.) Oh, those wacky Europeans! They think they are so clever with their non-linear murder mysteries, featuring naked boys and a girl! Oh, and yes, the four boys (who are in a band) and the girl all sleep with each other. The boys are bisexual. Oh, and yes, one boy is the girl's brother, but they're French, so I guess it's ok that THEY are sleeping with each other, too. (They are in their 20's, by the way.) After her brother is killed, she goes on a conquest, sexual and otherwise, to find the murderer. She (actress Lizzie Brocheré) maintains a pout through out the film, regardless of where in the timeline she is, which makes it a bit confusing. The four boys (Arthur Dupont, Pierre Perrier, Nicolas Nollet, and Guillaume Bach) are simply beautiful! However, they are so physically similar that I had a very, VERY difficult time telling them apart. In fact, at one point, I thought the film was going to veer into 'David Lynch territory' and we were going to find out that they were all actually ONE person or that the brother never existed, or... Well, I don't know. It wasn't that my mind wandered, but the style and technique of the script required constant intellectual effort, while the visuals were all too sensual. The cinematography is simply gorgeous, as are the subjects being photographed. The production design and costuming are so simplistic, that following the leaps back and forth in time became a guessing game at points. I have never complained about subtitling, but this was one time where 'reading it' was sort of annoying as some of the poetic asides were so jarring, I found myself trying to quickly re-read it to make some sense of what was being said. I think that all of this visual, structural and scripted slight-of-hand is just a way to disguise a fairly simple story, which we find out is based on a real event. I had a good guess of "who did it" merely half way through the film, and I was right, which sort of annoyed me, as there was so much work to do just to keep up with the plot in case I was wrong. If you're in the mood for such 'action', I would suggest Bertolucci's "The Dreamers", as it goes into the same lascivious territory, yet with a much more sophisticated screenplay.

Maxxxxx says
re WHIRLWIND: "Cranky bird!"
re ONE TO ANOTHER: "Sweet, sweet eye juice!"

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