Sunday, June 21, 2009

Frameline 33 (SF LGBT Film Festival, 2009) - Day 3

Frameline 33: San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, the world’s premiere showcase for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender cinema, runs June 18-28, 2009, with screenings in San Francisco at the historic Castro Theatre, Roxie Theater and the Victoria Theatre, and in Berkeley at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood. Tickets are available via the website 24 hours a day, via fax, or in person at the Frameline Festival Box Office Counter.

Day Three at Frameline 33 began with the traditional matinee screening of FUN IN BOYS SHORTS and FUN IN GIRLS SHORTS, which I was able to pre-screen, as well as two more short subject programs which screened today: CALLING ALL NERDS AND ART FREAKS and GET HAPPY, all of which I have previously posted comments about.

I began my 'live viewing' day with THE BUTCH FACTOR (dir. Christopher Hines, USA, 2009, 88 Mins.). Executive Director, K.C. Price introduced the film, with ever increasing comfort with the audience. No, he has not yet adopted the flirtatious quality that previous Festival Director Michael Lumpkin exuded, but he is warming up to us. Anyway, the documentary attempts to discuss masculinity as expressed by gay males. Though there are a couple fascinating interviews, most notably from Vincent Calverese, who works in the SF Sheriff's Department and has been a highly visible member of the "film event community" as he has been the escort-bodyguard of many a special guest. His commentary describing the reactions and role of being a gay corrections officer was fascinating, particularly in comparison the the majority of the rest of the interviews. As much as one would appreciate the eye-candy, there really wasn't much to be learned from gay softball-rugby-rodeo-football players, etc. It was as if just saying "I'm a gay rugby player" was proof of something? Ironically, the film ends up being about as shallow as the topic that the participants are denying it is. If masculinity is to be defined by actions and appearance, which with only a couple exceptions in the film seemed to be it's thesis, then I do not know how you can discuss that, without even broaching the topic of the sexual positions involved in when truly "expressing" one's sexuality. In other words, and to be a bit crass, it's all good and well to say, "Hey, I'm a big, butch gay guy!", but how do you handle that in the passive role, sexually. Anyway, that has been a topic in the past, which is why this documentary is probably best enjoyed as a jock-film. Director Christopher Hines was present, however, I was not able to stay for the Q&A, as I had to charge off, down the street, to make it for the next feature.

LITTLE JOE (dir. Nicole Haeusser, USA, 2009, 87 Mins.) As much as I so highly anticipated this documentary about "the iconic" Joe Dallesandro, by the end of the film, I was questioned the film's inclusion in an LGBT festival (as if working with Andy Warhol is all it take to have "gay creds"?), and I actually became a bit tired of listening to Mr. Dallesandro. The film takes its format from THE KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE, which was the 'monologue' by and about Robert Evans. In LITTLE JOE, Dallesandro is the sole voice, interspersed with clips of his work, and he has done an incredible AMOUNT of work, mostly in Europe. I think it would have befitted the subject to have a second or third opinion chime in, and during the Q&A, the question did come up, and he said that THAT film could be made after he's dead. (He did receive a less than overly enthusiastic standing ovation when he approached the stage for the Q&A.) Oh, and this was one of those Q&A's that I dread. It began as a "reporter from the Bay Area Reporter", whose name I didn't recognize nor remember, rushed the stage to ask Dallesandro's opinion on gay marriage. Yawn. This was followed by a series of "fan comments", which weren't really questions, but compliments. I was sorely disappointed by the event, only to be extremely, pleasantly surprised and moved by the next film.

DARE (dir. Adam Salky, USA, 2009, 90 Mins.) This is the expanded, feature version of the short of the same name, which screened at Frameline in 2005, and I apparently wasn't overly impressed with. However, Adam Salky and screenwriter David Brind, have done a truly exceptional job of fleshing out the situation and characters into a surprisingly moving portrait of three teenagers, exploring their physical and emotional selves. Emmy Rossum and Ashley Springer are the best friends who begin to compete for the affections of Zack Gilford. I know, the plot sounds a bit trite, but Zack Gilford's performance as the "big man on campus" who doesn't want to be physically "used" anymore as a stud, but loved for being himself, was simply amazingly so deeply felt, that by the climax, I was actually moved. (This really surprised myself, as I don't have much sympathy for the "painfully beautiful".) Not to mention the truly exceptional scene leading up to it, was nearly as provocative as Bertolucci's THE DREAMERS. And the surprises didn't stop there! During the Q&A, Ms. Rossum proved to be the saltiest of the four speakers (Salky, Brind and Gilford were there, also). When I asked how she would compare her past experiences in multi-million dollar budgeted films (PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE, etc.) to an indie, the three men interrupted with adoration and she replied with, "Yes, wearing push up bras and riding motorcycles fucking rocks, but so does a great script!" This program was a great evening!

I then hauled back down the street for GREEK PETE (dir. Andrew Haigh, UK, 2008, 70 Mins.). The director, Andrew Haigh, describes the film as a "narrative documentary", which is what could be more accessibly described as "scripted reality." The subjects of the film are documented and at times re-enact episodes from a year in the life of London callboy, "londonboyPete". Now, the concept is sort of fascinating, but Haigh's subject isn't all that intriguing. Even with the extensive editing, there is still a camera awareness from the 'cast' which belies the format. I simply did not find "Pete" or his friends that endearing or likable enough to engage myself in this "documentation" of their lives. Also, for a 'narrative documentary', there is a lack of character arc or plot, however, that may have been part of the point...?

Maxxxxx says
re DARE: "I love you, too!"

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