Thursday, November 10, 2011

Film festival day

Since I can't take off all 4 days of the film festival this year, my plan was to see as many films as possible on Thurs (my regular day off), see a 1 after work on Fri & Sat, and see as many as possible on Sun since I'm not scheduled to work this Sun.

But what is it they say about the best laid plans? Well, whatever it is, its true.

It appears I'll only be seeing films today.
Our dear friends Bugs & Roger contacted us last week about coming for a visit this weekend, since they have Fri off for Veteran's Day, as does Spouse. So they are coming sometime during the day on Fri and leaving on Sun, so I'm not going to see any films after work on Fri or Sat. If I did, I wouldn't have any time to see Bugs & Roger!

Bugs & Roger will probably leave before lunch on Sun, so I thought I'd probably still be able to catch a few Sun afternoon films, but yesterday at work I got a call from a brand new client who's picked out 6 homes they want to see on Sun afternoon. They are coming from out of state and are shopping in a very nice price range so I'm going to sacrifice my Sun afternoon of films to work with them. Hey, if I told them I wasn't available Sun afternoon, I'm sure they would have called another realtor, and I surely don't want that to happen.

So here are the films I saw today:
Carol Channing: Larger Than Life
Synopsis: With every lyrical word, movements akin to the grace of choreography, and a rich and rarefied storyline that rivals that of any heroine of the Great White Way, Carol Channing’s life could itself be a Broadway musical. Footage from the archives—television appearances, song and dance numbers, and stage performances—show Carol at her best (not that there is a “worst”). Debbie Reynolds, Chita Rivera, Bruce Vilanch and Channing’s devoted chorus of “Dolly Boy” dancers pop up to pay tribute to this amazing performer. Without batting a false eyelash, she effortlessly charms audiences with her hilarity, relentless energy, and unique beauty, reminding us that before Barbra or Marilyn, there was Carol. Channing shows us true love may be the key to youth and vitality. An advocate for many charities including gay rights and AIDS awareness, Channing still lights up the stage with song and dance. Perhaps the most brilliant thing about Berinstein’s bubbly biopic is that you don’t need to love Broadway or even theater itself to love or to be mesmerized by Carol.

My thoughts:
I'm not a huge fan of Carol Channing but this documentary filled a gap in my film schedule and previous documentary's shown at this festival have been very good so I gave this a chance. I liked it much more than I thought I would. The film showed a human side to Channing that amazingly isn't tarnished like so many other celebrities. In fact, Channing's personality and humanity shine brightly, both on and off stage, like highly polished brass. Barbara Walters says in the film that she's never heard or read anything bad or mean about Channing, which is also rare for celebrities these days, especially one who's been performing for over 70 years. It was a delightful and engaging documentary I'd highly recommend.

The Night Watch
Synopsis: “War changes people. Not always for the better.” That’s the common sentiment for a group of lesbians and gay men in WWII London. Adapted from Sarah Waters’ novel, The Night Watch is an achingly beautiful cyclone of missed connections and fragmented pasts. Directed by openly gay Richard Laxton, this film gorgeously moves back in time, from post-war 1947 to 1944 to 1941, revealing a web of connections among a group on society’s fringe. Duncan spent his wartime in jail, lusting after his rakish cellmate, but he can’t seem to free himself from his time behind bars. His sister, Viv, is looking for love with a married man, while trying to forget the ways he has betrayed her. Viv’s coworker, Helen, works as a matchmaker, but a past love triangle with two women threatens her happiness. And when we meet Kay, she spends her time wandering London’s war-torn streets, pulled back to her time as an heroic ambulance driver during the Blitz. Kay’s ex, Julia, is ever more present in her life, especially when Kay runs into a stranger she aided during the war. While so many around them find relief in peace, these outsiders are stranded without purpose, at loose ends, without their pre-war innocence and without the power they enjoyed during the fighting. Desperate characters burst with quiet grace as the layers of their lives peel back to reveal the way forward.

My thoughts:
I really enjoyed the way this film told its stories backwards. Its starts after the war's end in 1947, then goes back to 1944, then back to 1941. Each step back in time gives more insight into the events and feelings that have shaped their current lives. Although somewhat dark and not very hopeful, this film was very well crafted and enjoyable to watch.

Synopsis: Gender identity is explored in Celine Sciamma‘s humorous, heartfelt story of a girl who just wants to be a boy. Ten-year-old Laure and her family move into a Parisian suburban apartment during the summer holiday. Laure, a tomboy who cuts her hair short and wears boys’ clothing (not of concern to her parents) explores the neighborhood and quickly meets Lisa but introduces herself as Michael. Soon Michael meets up with other kids and becomes part of the circle of friends – playing soccer shirtless, running though the forest or swimming in a lake (where a well played piece of modeling clay help in her ruse.) The innocence of her being a boy takes a more mature turn when Lisa falls in puppy love with her….and Michael responds. A tender, captivating story made all the more amazing by the naturalistic and totally believable performance of Zoe Heran as Michael/Laure. And amazing as she is, Malonn Levana as her six-year-old sister Jeanne nearly steals the show from her! A film for all audiences, genders, and sexualities.

My thoughts:
I found both the story and the acting to be superb. Where the film lacked, in my opinion, was the editing. There were too many "artistic" shots of leaves blowing in the summer breeze, etc. However, those were excusable due to the storyline which felt completely authentic and not at all contrived. Then there was the absolutely honest and believable acting of the 2 young girls playing sisters. This is a film I'd highly recommend for the content and acting with a caveat for the editing.

10% Shorts (GLBT-themed short films)
AWOL - Days before her deployment to Afghanistan, Joey comes home to rural Pennsylvania for Christmas with dreams of running away to Canada. Will she do it? Will she make the trek alone?

My thoughts: This film was sad and I didn't see the real purpose. Joey reconnects with her girlfriend and her 2 young daughters at Christmas and asks them to run away to Canada with her. The girlfriend says yes at 1st but changes her mind, breaking Joey's heart. Joey abandons her thoughts of escaping the military in Canada. I didn't understand why this film was made.

Lust Life
- Caught between what was and what could be, a woman who has lost her lust for life in Paris, the world’s most passionate city, takes a chance. Sexy, intimate, and with mood and atmosphere to burn, the film brims with passion just like the setting.

My thoughts: For the life of me I can't remember what this short was about. Sorry, but it was that non-memorable.

Requited - Nicolas struggles to decide whether to go to the wedding of his best friend from high school, Aaron, whom he’s always been quietly in love with. The two had a falling out years earlier after Nicolas inexplicably kissed Aaron’s girlfriend. Nicolas clings to an idealized image of his former friend, subconsciously sabotaging his own happiness in the process. Requited is a realistic slice-of-life that poses the question, “How do you get over something you never had?”

My thoughts: I liked this short because they guys were cute/sexy and because I could relate to the story line, as I imagine many others will too.

Bald Guy
- A lively musical film dealing with a young man’s quest for love and acceptance, this short examines the issue of promoting yourself and loving whomever you want. It’s a film about forbidden and boundless love and the risk of losing everything when you choose to challenge the morally accepted. Oh, and it’s about a bald guy.

My thoughts: The synopsis above is a flourishing way of saying this short is about a young man who tells his parents he's dating a bald guy, which turns into a 10-minute Broadway style choreographed group musical number. It was amusing and enjoyable for the 1st 3 or 4 minutes, but how long can you make "I'm in love with a bald guy" stay funny?

I Don't Want to Go Back Alone
- In this tender short, the arrival of a new student in school changes Leonardo’s life. This 15-year-old blind teenager has to deal with the jealousy of his friend Giovana while figuring out the romantic feelings he’s having for his new friend Gabriel.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this film and found the telling of this tale to be authentic and not at all contrived.

52 - While every gay man has a relationship to the aging process, each reaction is different. The hilarious 52 is one gay man’s nightmare about aging, starring the amazing Scott Thompson (The Kids in the Hall).

My thoughts: Scott Thompson is always funny and this film was no exception. This dream within a dream within a dream farce was thoroughly entertaining.

No Direction - Life in the big world is tough when you’re a Philosophy major fresh from college graduation. Looking for guidance, Jamie falls in love with the GPS in her parents’ car. Cute, quirky and downright adorable are just a few of the many descriptors for No Direction.

My thoughts: While this short had its cute and amusing moments, I wouldn't describe the short as 'downright adorable'. A lesbian with no sense of direction??? I don't think so.

The Maiden and the Princess
- Little Emmy kisses a girl on the playground and is left feeling isolated and alone. The Grand High Council of Fairy Tale Rules and Standards led by Bernard sends her a hetero-normative fairytale to set her down the ‘right’ path in life. With the help of fairy godmother and rogue fairytale narrator, Hammond, Emmy searches for herself amidst this musical fairytale.

My thoughts: Although I liked the concept of expanding the boundaries of what is 'normal', this short suffered from an overdose of camp which wound up being more silly than funny.

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