Monday, November 12, 2007

Film festival summary: day 5

Following is the film society's synopsis (in italics) and my personal thoughts (not in italics) about the 3 films I saw on the festival's final day, Sun:

10% Shorts
1. Prada Handbag

Always an outsider, a young woman finds her niche when she lands a job at a kooky drag bar and assumes the new identity of Prada Handbag. It’s Muriel’s Wedding meets The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert in this glitzy, glam cinematic extravaganza which ravishes the eye and warms the heart.

I thought this short was quite cute and lots of fun to look at. However, the synopsis above is slightly off: the lead doesn't assume a NEW identify of Prada Handbag, that's her actual birth name! There's more glitter, sequins, and make-up than you can imagine, which all add to this 'glamorous' short film. 4 stars.

2. Casting Pearls
A short comedic film which illustrates the difficulties transsexual women face in Hollywood. We see a hectic series of auditions endured by Cassandra, a transsexual actress. Cassandra weathers the horrible, funny and cruel things said by various Hollywood professionals with plucky determination and professionalism, showing that decades of bias can’t hold back the real contributions of transgender people to the arts and media.

This was cute. The entire short film is comprised of these auditions where Cassandra is told in every possible way that she's just not quite right for the part. 4 stars.

3. Airplanes
Airplanes is the story of two teenage girls who secretly hook up one day at a traveling carnival. Although their encounter is brief, like an airplane it’s bound by gravity, and doomed to return to earth. Their relationship is explained through metaphors of flying, yet beauty and simplicity remain.

Maybe I'm too literal, but I did not get the connection between airplanes and these 2 girls who hook-up at the amusement park. Throughout the film viewers are shuttled back and forth between vintage airplane film footage and the girls at the amusement park. One of the girls basically uses the other then kicks her to the curb to be with her 'cool friends'. 2 stars.

4. Kali Ma
When an Indian mother finds out her son is the victim of a merciless bully, she channels the Hindu goddess of creation, preservation and destruction and delivers her own brand of vigilante justice in Kali Ma.

I liked this a lot. The mother might as well have shouted 'Towanda!' like Kathy Bates in Fried Green Tomatoes as she seeks vengeance against her son's bully. But she's stopped from going too far by her son, the victim, who also happens to have a crush on the bully. 4 stars.

5. Pariah
In this award winning short a Bronx teen unsuccessfully juggles multiple identities to please her friends and family. With pressure from her friend to be authentic, butch lesbian and physical abuse from her father for 'coming out', Leigh makes a choice how to live her life.

This was excellent! Such a contemporary story, full of heartbreak and exhilaration, artfully played out by authentic characters. At times funny, at times gut-wrenching, but always captivating. 5 stars.

6. The Saddest Boy in the World
Timothy Higgins, picked last for the team, is the saddest boy in the world. Friendlessness, suburban complacency and prescription drugs have conspired against the youngster to make this his worst year yet. Musical Chairs and birthday cake can’t save him now—at his ninth birthday party, Timothy prepares for a show-stopping suicide.

I'm still trying to figure out why this film was made. Although occasionally humorous, it was sad and painful to see how "the saddest boy in the world" lives. But I don't think I grasped the message behind this film. What did the writer want us to feel, do, say? Oddly enough, I went to school with a boy named Timothy Higgins. 2 stars.

Spider Lilies
In this 2007 Teddy Award-winner for Best Feature, two lonely young women meet in a tattoo parlor and slowly realize that they share a past connection—as well as a torrid lesbian attraction in the present. Nineteen-year-old Jade looks and acts childish, yet makes her living doing private webcam sex shows for those willing to pay to see it. Visiting a tattoo parlor, she decides to get a spider lily tattooed on her arm, which 20-year-old owner/artist Takeko also has. But beyond their attachment to spider lilies, it turns out that these two women share a deeper connection to one another: they first met ten years ago as children living in the countryside. Back then, Jade had developed a powerful crush on Takeko which endures to this day. Can their love turn into a full-fledged adult romance? Directed by Taiwanese lesbian filmmaker Zero Chou, Spider Lilies sees its love-starved protagonists flirt with one another in the present while, via flashbacks, we learn of the heartbreaking tragedy and pain in their shared past. Further complicating their romance is Takeko’s high maintenance brother and an undercover policeman charged with busting the webcam sex ring that Jade is a part of.

I liked the way the story was told in this film, slipping effortlessly back and forth between the present and 10 years earlier. Little by little the pieces of the puzzle begin to fit together revealing to viewers the beautiful and tragic story of the spider lily tattoo. 4 stars.

At her wedding reception, Keren breaks a leg. And bang goes the Caribbean honeymoon. A strange little girl comes out of the sea and follows Batya like a shadow until Batya’s life changes forever. Joy is a maid from the Philippines. She works for a tough old lady and unintendedly reconciles her with her daughter. This is a composite film, made of scraps of humanity, like so many messages in a bottle, verging on the absurd...A portrait of a messy world in which everyone scrapes by as best they can, looking for love, for something to remember or to forget.

This film felt very disjointed to me. I like films with multiple plots running concurrently, but this one just didn't seem to ever come together. There are 3 different stories that didn't seem related to one another in any way. One of them left me wondering if some of the scenes were fantasy or if the character was about to be diagnosed with a mental disorder. And why the title Jellyfish? 2 stars.

Drag Queen name of the day: Tess Tosterone

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