Friday, November 09, 2007

Film festival summary: day 2

My level of film society membership allows me to purchase all my film screening tickets for the entire festival on Thurs morning when the box office opened at 8:00 am. Since some films tend to sell out and I didn't want to take the chance of missing even one, I arrived at the box office at 6:50 am and was the 3rd person in line. Fortunately for me the 1st and 2nd people in line were John & David, two guys I met during last year's RBIFF, so we got to chat about what films we saw on Wed evening as well as the films on our respective lists. It was only 32 degrees outside and I was happy I'd taken Spouse's suggestion to wear my heavier coat and stick a hat in my pocket.

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

Another Woman
French actress Nathalie Mann is captivating as a woman with the ovaries and heart to reconnect with the family she abandoned a decade ago when she was a miserable man. Desperately unhappy, Nicolas left his wife and kids to discover his true nature and never returned. Living under the radar in Geneva, he painstakingly transformed into Léa. Three years after her final surgery, this new woman has the chance to return home to Paris on a work assignment. Reluctant and terrified to face her past, she is nonetheless drawn into the lives of her children. After concocting a ruse to befriend her daughter Emmy, a budding classical pianist, Léa is suddenly back in her old home, meeting her son Lucas, her “widow” Anne, and the new man of the house, Pierre. Overwhelmed trying to juggle the truth, Léa eventually “comes out” to a shocked Anne and declares her intention to claim her paternal rights. Tenuous new connections break as the confused and frightened family closes ranks against the intruder. Legal hassles force Léa to start a more authentic life in Paris, but young Lucas stays curious about her, hoping to find the father he never knew. This inspiring film is a must see for anyone seeking a whole and integrated life. Liberally based on a true story, Another Woman is a lost gem that stays true to the transgender narrative yet transcends to universal themes.

I loved this film. The actress playing Lea was exquisite. You could literally see what was going on in her mind by her facial expressions and body language. She could speak without words. The film showed the agonizing difficulties and decisions made by those who want/need to transition, as well as the difficulties they encounter afterward, illuminating the price to be paid by everyone who wishes to live authentically. Truly a touching, yet not overdone story. If you liked 'TransAmerica', you'll adore this film.

Itty Bitty Titty Committee
Wickedly talented director Jamie Babbit once again has her finger on the pulse of queer culture with this wry romantic comedy in which anarchic punk twenty-somethings vivaciously vandalize patriarchal symbols under the name of the C(I)A (Clits in Action). Fresh out of high school, mundane lesbian Anna has no direction or motivation. Having recently broken up with her girlfriend, she is the maid of honor at her picture perfect sister’s wedding and works a monotonous job at a plastic surgery clinic. It’s not until she meets foxy Sadie as she’s spray painting empowering statements on Anna’s office window that she wakes up and finds a purpose. Intrigued, she follows Sadie down a seedy back alley to her guerrilla girls’ headquarters and meets the other members—angst-laden artist Meat, brainchild Shulasmith and ally transman Aggie. Even though these rebels are a bit slapdash, their down-with-the-man attitude and infectious style has the precocious baby-dyke fired up and joining the fight! As the estrogen flows during a crucial road trip, frolicking friends and alluring glances ignite a steamy romance between Anna and Sadie that could upset the delicate order of the C(I)A. Set to the inspiring riot grrl music of Sleater-Kinney, Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, Itty Bitty Titty Committee isn’t your traditional feminist film: instead, it’s an ode to grrl power for the gender-bending queer punk generation.

This film was a lot of fun! As passionate and serious as these anti-male-dominated-society grrls tried to be, they tended not to stray too far from reality and didn't take themselves too seriously. There were lots of hard laughs for me, starting with the name C(I)A and ending with the take-over of the Marcy Maloney TV set! In addition to all the fun and laughter, I also enjoyed the themes of friendship, loyalty, betrayal, and purpose. 4 stars.

The Curiosity of Chance
This loopy, unlikely teen comedy tracks the exploits of a charming, queer dandy in the stultifying world of high school during the tacky ’80s. Though it’s set “somewhere in Europe,” Brickland International High School is much like any secondary educational institution: full of teenaged barbarians that just want to drag a guy down. Popular kids, fashionistas and bullies sporting thin ties and mullets make for a grim welcoming committee as Chance glides into school on his first day decked out in top hat and cane. His fashion sense and quick wit are almost all he needs to deflect ennui and homophobic threats, particularly from football jock Brad Harden, who predicts that exposure to fags will soon have all the real men fantasizing about Patrick Swayze and Rick Springfield. Luckily (and naturally?), Chance befriends the school’s other biggest misfits, sassy Twyla and nerdy Hank, who help him through the thickets of high school hell. A “chance” night out at a local drag bar, a little detective work and an unlikely allegiance with straight dreamboat sports jock/wannabe musician Levi, and Chance seems poised to rock both the school and his own world. Brisk, colorful and awash in classic ’80s pop music, this quirky feature from Russell Marleau is a gay bubble-gum delight.

This film was funny and entertaining, with all of its 80s music, clothes, and hair. What I found to be most refreshing about this film was Chance's early self-identification and self-acceptance as gay. Unlike Zach in 'Shelter', Chance knows who he is and what he wants, and feels no need to apologize to anyone. If only more gay teens were able to have such confidence! The film had no shortage of drool-inducing eye candy in the form of Brett Chukerman (a la 'Eating Out 2') and Tad Hilgenbrinck. 4 stars.

Drag Queen name of the day: Georgia Peach

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