Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Out On Film, 2007 - Day 6

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 was a single feature in the TBA slot.

THE WALKER (dir. Paul Schrader, US/UK, 2007, 107 mins.) Well, if and when this receives distribution outside of the festival circuit, it will probably have quite a bit of buzz as hunky heartthrob Woody Harrelson plays a Washington, D.C., gay escort of sorts. (He is 'a walker' with married D.C. wives, which is a term not even I was familiar with.) Harrelson gives the most controlled performance I've seen of his to date. His mannerisms and vocalizations are 'fey' enough, without being camp and offensive. He obviously took the project quite seriously and his work is evident on screen. He is supported by a simply fabulous supporting cast: Lauren Bacall (who may look everyday of her 108 years, but can still deliver a line with PUNCH!), Lily Tomlin (who is terribly under used here), Kristin Scott Thomas (delivering a pitch perfect accent along with an intensely emotional performance!) and Moritz Belibtreu (of "Run Lola Run" fame!) who plays Harrelson's boyfriend. (William DaFoe and Ned Beatty are sorely underused, also.) The performances are all flawless, considering the vague screenplay they've been given. Well, perhaps there is more to the screenplay than what actually made it up to the screen, as well. This incredible group of characters are involved in a murder, the solution of which I still don't understand, and it's the morning after! The point that Schrader seems to be making is that there are unseen powers at work in Washington that use people as pawns. Harrelson and company are a group of gossips, really, and it is through them that news is spread, as well as a solution is found to the murder. But that is where it became pretty confusing. With the exception of the body, the rest of the intrigue behind why and who would commit the crime is all gathered through gossip over canasta, basically. Since the parties that are gossiped about are fictional and never actually appear on screen, the villain(s) remain hidden from our view. The drama is more cerebral than visceral, even if attempts are made on the lives of Harrelson and his boyfriend. Though Schrader takes some nifty jabs at the "current administration", there is no real connection to the present, i.e. never are the terms "Democrat" or "Republican" mentioned, so it would seem he is either implicating either the Republicans or the entire system, as the victim is a lobbyist. It is as if even he pulled a punch from his murderous satire by refraining from naming names. And I think that is where the piece loses its bite. However, with the script set aside, it is still a GORGEOUS looking film! Schrader's crew created (or recreated?) a world of American aristocracy. Nic Ede's costume design, particularly Harrelson's suits, are stunning, as are the hair and makeup designs. The production design and art direction by James Merifield and David Hindle, respectively, is breathtaking to the point of obnoxiously ostentatious! Chris Seager's cinematography is appropriately glamorous or moody. The film premiered at Toronto this year and though Pathe' has picked it up, it remains to be seen whether it will gain actual distribution.

Maxxxxx says
re THE WALKER: "Sweet, sweet eye juice!"

No comments: