Thursday, June 21, 2007

SF LGBT Film Festival 2007, aka Frameline 31 - Day 9 (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!

The schedule for Friday, Day 9 includes two exceptional features.

"You Belong to Me" (dir. Sam Zalutsky, USA, 2007, 82 mins.) This is probably the best 'gay thriller' I've seen since "Apartment Zero" (which isn't explicitly 'gay', but anyway...). Sam Zalutsky has crafted an uneasy chiller, where the gay component proves to be a necessary device and not just a gratuitous attempt at 'edginess'. Instead, it becomes an integral part of our hero's dilemma. I don't want to leave spoilers, yet I have already said too much! Patti D'Arbanville gives a remarkable performance as the landlady of the creepy apartment building that 'Jeffrey' (played by Daniel Sauli) has moved into, on a compulsion to be near his unrequited boyfriend. Sauli is required to go through a lot of territory in this. Though not actually a likable character, he is nonetheless our hero and we do eventually pull for him, regardless of some of the erroneous choices the character makes. How Sauli is able to fulfill the actions of the screenplay, yet maintain some form of sympathy with the audience must be due to Zalutsky's twisting script and his excellent direction of Sauli and D'Arbanville. Neither of the characters or the performances are allowed to go into grand guignol, but they are creepily and subtly real. Jonathan Furmanski's cinematography and Tamar Gadish's production design create an enveloping claustrophobia and paranoia as we descend deeper into the building and the characters' obsessions. The entire production is coordinated to magnify what a nightmare Jeffrey has entered once the climax starts to really take off! Zalutsky taps into Hitchcock and Polanski and delivers a remarkable little thriller.

"Out at the Wedding" (dir. Lee Friedlander, USA, 2006, 96 mins.) This is fairly appealing on the surface, though it does touch one of my pet peeves in farce. The farce is predicated upon the lies of an individual and not necessarily the relationships between the characters. The irony is that Paula Goldberg's script is actually substantial enough to support a character driven farce, without relying on the mechanizations of 'Alex', who is charmingly played by Andrea Marcellus. In fact, Marcellus appears to be such an intelligent actress that the choices her character makes do not necessarily ring true. However, once the train of lies is unleashed, Marcellus and the rest of the cast make the most of it! Desi Lydic has perhaps the most difficult role in the film, as she must nearly be an arch-nemesis to Marcellus, yet by the film's end, her character arc is remarkably sympathetic. The cohorts to the web of deceit include her exceptionally effeminate gay best friend (Charlie Schlatter), and an exceptionally 'normal' lesbian (Cathy DeBuono) who is forced to assist in the complicated masquerade. In the corps of supporting roles, Mink Stole appears as the Jewish mother-in-law to be and Mike Farrell as the presumably bigoted Southern father of the bride. There really isn't a weak performance in the entire cast. The production has a feel-good appeal to it, and the cinematography and production design are glossily accomplished. The production walks the line of a sit-com pitch, which might be a good thing...

Maxxxxx says
re "You Belong To Me": [panicked screams!]
re "Out at the Wedding": "Bad bird!"

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