Friday, November 08, 2013

Film Festival - day 1

Who's Afraid of Vagina Wolf?
Festival synopsis:
At her 40th birthday party, Anna wears her trademark Vagina outfit: a full size, bright pink, poofy costume, shaped like a large vulva!! In her 20s, she made several successful short films, but now life is dismal. She lives in a friend’s garage and is quickly wearing out her welcome. The only work she gets is dancing in her Vagina costume at small venues screening her old films. At one such event, she meets the sleek lesbian, Katia, who motivates her to make a film based on Virginia Wolf. Anna is smitten. She quickly writes
a screenplay, casts her longtime lesbian friends (Guinevere Turner and Carrie Preston of
True Blood) and recruits a grassroots film crew. As filming proceeds, Anna’s neurotic insecurities blossom out of control, causing cast and crew to walk out, and her eviction  from the garage. Homeless and down, she is surprised by the appearance of the one person  who can give her unconditional love. With renewed self-esteem, she edits her film, reconnects with her cast and crew, and is able to accept herself and the love she’s been longing for. This is a funny, quirky, sexy romp that will surely make you laugh and warm your heart.
My review:
This film's theme was familiar: the main girl is obssessed with a girl who's not interested in her and ignores another girl that's really interested in her.  This film also delves into the concept of whether or not someone can have personal success and career success at the same time, or if one must preclude the other.  While this film was entertaining, the 'story' wasn't fresh and I didn't find any of the actors' performances to be strong.  Oh, and the actress playing Katia had the most annoying fake accent.  I still don't know what country she was supposed to be from.  3 out of 5 stars.

No trailer found.

I'm So Excited!
Festival synopsis:
A psychic, a hit-man, a dominatrix, a crooked business person and a soap star (no, it is not the start to bad a joke), these are among the passengers aboard a disaster-prone aircraft in Pedro Almodóvar’s bawdy, mischievous, mescaline-laced new comedy of bad manners. When a Spanish flight heading for Mexico City is found to have defective landing gear, the crew decides to forego panicking in favor of a mile-high party. Presiding over the party is a trio of flamboyant male flight attendants, squeezed into slightly overstretched
uniforms, who manage to keep the banter lively: Joserra, a high-strung motor-mouth incapable of telling a lie; skinny tequila- and tablet-fueled Ulloa; and the overweight and
repressed Fajas, who carries with him a portable altar at which he prays for passengers’ souls. With a candy-colored exuberance that only an Almódovar film can have, get ready for a one-way ticket to binge-drinking, pill-popping and other such things people shouldn’t do with their seatbelts fastened. It is going to be a bumpy, but very fun ride. 
My review:
This film had all the makings of a hilarious comedy, but somehow never reached its goal.  The best part of the film is when the gay male flight attendants decide to put on a 'performance' to distract the passengers from anticipating a crash landing, by lip-synching and dancing to the Pointer Sisters' song "I'm So Excited!".  This film needed 3 or 4 more scenes like that.  Still the film was entertaining and had lots of quick, humorous moments.  3 out of 5 stars.

Free Fall
Festival synopsis:
In this moving and sexy drama, Marc is shaken to the core when he meets fellow police officer, Kay, on a training course and begins to develop feelings for him. When Kay asks to be transferred to Marc’s unit, the latter’s well-arranged life begins to sink into chaos. Torn between his love for his pregnant girlfriend Bettina and the rush of a completely new
experience, his life spins increasingly out of control. He soon finds himself estranged more and more from his family, but running away with Kay is not an option. Then one day Kay disappears without warning and leaves no forwarding address. It dawns on Marc that
his absence has ripped a gaping hole in his life. With his situation in free fall, Marc can no longer satisfy ever yone’s expectations - least of all his own. Director and co-writer
Stephan Lacant showcases the peculiar blend of homoeroticism and homophobia that exists in a mostly male environment like a police force. Most refreshing of all, no one is an out-and-out villain in the film, except perhaps a society that hinders people like Marc from
being their true and fully realized selves. 
My review:
This film's theme is certainly not new, but it was told in a modern way.  I thought the acting was very good.  Marc's struggle was aptly communicated without words and without over-acting.  Kay's head-over-heels feelings for Marc seemed genuine and idealistic.  My only fault with this film, and many with the same theme, is that it portrays a man who seems totally straight who is "turned" gay by seductive lover, when gay people know that is not how it happens.  The film would be more accurate to have shown Marc stealing glances at hot guys a few times, then reprimanding himself and suppressing his feelings, and THEN being seduced.  Despite this, the film was well done.  4 out of 5 stars.

Stranger by the Lake
Festival synopsis:
n a picturesque lakeside spot in southern France, men sunbathe and hunt for anonymous sexual encounters in the nearby forest. Handsome young romantic Franck finds himself striking up a friendship with obese Henri, but his eye and libido are more tickled by the 70s-porn-mustache-sporting and dangerously lethal Michel. One evening, Franck witnesses Michel drowning one of his conquests, which he discovers does little to negate his
attraction. Alain Guiraudie’s idiosyncratic, steamy mix of the comic and the tragic in this existential thriller was one of the most sexually explicit surprises at Cannes this year. Part beguiling love story, part noir murder mystery, Stranger by the Lake depicts an idyllic mini-universe where murderer and silent witness have to abide by a set of peculiar codes
and rituals. While its graphic scenes of gay sex are what will grab headlines, what is most impressive is the film’s unique ambiance of eerie atmospherics that are at once crisp and observant, and oddly dreamlike, or nightmarish. It is a provocative and accomplished effort by one of France’s most overlooked auteurs.
My review:
This film was shot entirely outdoors, with only 2 locations: the shore of the lake where gay men come to nude sunbath, and a wooded area adjacent to the shore where the men would 'cruise' and hook-up.  The scenery was pretty, the acting was good, and the story was compelling but unfortunately incomplete.  Franck becomes infatuated with a good-looking man named Michel at the lake and is determined to hook up with him. Despite witnessing Michel drown another man in the lake, Franck continues to pursue Michel.  No motive is ever given for the drowning.  Franck wants to have a relationship but Michel just wants a casual thing.  When Franck witnesses Michel murder 2 other men, he goes into hiding in the woods until dark.  The film ends abruptly without suggesting whether or not Franck gets out alive or not.  There is no closure to the story, and rather than leaving the ending up to the individual to ponder, the viewer is left wondering why the film  has no ending.  There is a LOT of male nudity and some actual sex.  3 out of 5 stars.

1 comment:

cb said...

I really miss the North Carolina G&L film festival. I saw so many good things there.

Here in Minneapolis- I'm not sure we even have one.