Day One #qflixphilly 2014

qFLIX-logo-h-con-white-300x129I was glad to return to the Prince Theater for the first full day of films. Aside from being ridiculously close to my home, I’ve always like the theater layout. It was also a great place for opening and closing since it is a full stage and not just a film theater; having opening and closing at the theaters formerly known as Ritz East always felt awkward for that reason. There were only a few of the typical first-day snafus: projectionists getting used to format switches, getting people out of one show for the next to start, audio volume issues, etc.

To sum it up, this still feels like “the” film festival despite being scaled down. It’s certainly more convenient, not racing around town, but the lack of choice makes using the badge to its fullest harder. One way I’ve compenstated for this is not reading any blurbs or watching any trailers. Until Sunday when there are some scheduling conflicts, it’s really just about showing up and seeing what’s what.

Filmwise it was a rough start with a strong comeback.

REVIEWS

Bruno and Earlene Go To Vegas (1/5)

Except for some competent cinematography, everything about this film felt forced and stilted. Despite two adorable Scots and the use of the word “Chimera”, I couldn’t concentrate on the film or find it believable. It really punts on its climax with a fade-out and no explanation of how the stand-off led to the final scene. This is a case of cargo cult filmmaking: it saw and copied the form of Thelma and Louise without ever really understanding why it was a good movie and what made it work.

Four Moons (4/5)

I had my doubts about going to see a “sneak preview” film from Mexico, but it looks like gay cinema is evolving in our neighbor to the South. This isn’t a glacially placed story of woe with lots of close-ups of eyes. It’s a cosmopolitan telling of four coming-out and coming-to-terms stories. A few absurdly sexy characters helps. What hurts is a few too many twists in one of the threads.  Regardless, as both a film in itself and as a milestone in leaving behind the gay-as-tragedy for coming-out tales, it’s  a very worthwhile film. Let’s see what comes out of Mexico in a few years when they reach their post-gay phase.

Ten Year Plan (4/5)

From a festival-regular director, this is a well made and well acted rom-com centering around a concept I’m at least jokingly familiar with: the pact to marry if neither of two people find themselves in a serious relationship. Perhaps its greatest strength is how little and how central “gay” is. Clearly most of the situations only come up in the gay context, but the fact that the leads are gay (at least one of the actors isn’t according to him) is never an issue.  Perhaps not overly ambitious but definitely enjoyable to watch.

Power Erotic (3/5)

We always must have one on-the-edge-of-porn documentary regardless of what we call the festival. It’s a competent piece that doesn’t completely mire down in titulation about masculinity, dominance, and the fetishizing of those things. It’s weakness is in its experts, I think. There are some real sciency-type questions to ask, particularly from a evolutionary biology perspective, that don’t get asked for lack of the academic heft. Then again, it’s probably hard to get ivy-league talent to agree to be spliced between spanking, wrestling, and verbal domination scenes.

 

Opening Night #QFLIXPhilly 2014

4fa1b38a928fb.preview-620The successor to QFest, the festival formerly known as the Philadelphia Independent Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (PIGLFF), opened last night at the Perlman Theater with the film Such Good People. Two weeks ago I expected Philadelphia wouldn’t have a gay film festival this year. According to producer Thom Cardwell, that was true just two months ago.  Will this seedling flourish in the ruin of the economic forest fire that’s decimated film festivals across the country?

Instead of two weeks of films on multiple screens, this will be a long weekend of films at primarily one screen, the Prince Theater. It’s roughly a tenth of the films and even fewer screenings since feature-length films show only once. One festival attendee looking on the bright side said he’s always felt overwhelmed by the magazine-sized program. I didn’t need to break out spreadsheets and algorithms this year: the schedule fits on a single bi-fold pamphlet.

Cardwell called this new festival a labor of love before introducing the opening night film, and it was also largely an act of charity with films even waiving their rental fees. Two months isn’t much time to throw an event like this, and it’s not much time to raise money and sign up sponsors. The results have been a little disorganized; the website was mostly placeholders until very recently, and the social media presence is minimal. I must keep reminding myself that this is not PIGLFF 20.

Since this is a new festival, there is room for it to grow in directions that the established brand perhaps could not.  There is a New Media track for instance, although it seems to be competing with the film line-up rather than being integrated into it. There are new faces among the old (a few of which were conspicuously absent last night) which may address concerns the previous festival organizers had about audience age skewing older and older. qFLIX can grow into something unique if it can maintain its own identity and not try to live up to the pride (or perhaps hubris) of its predecessor’s claim to being the third largest gay film festival in the nation.

REVIEWS

Given films only show once, I won’t be tweet-reviewing my reviews this year.  Instead, I hope to make daily posts that include short reviews of films seen and events attended that day.  Opening night only had one film as usual, and I did not attend the also-usual opening night party which was held at Tavern On Camac.

Such Nice People (2/5) — This farce/caper film just didn’t make me laugh. The gags, some mildly amusing on their own, feel forced into the framework of the film’s plot. Some scenes just didn’t work at all, especially the ransom drop-off, because characters need to act in mostly-believable and mostly-consistent ways even in comedies. Another thing hobbling this film is never taking its serious plot elements seriously enough; successful comedies like this can skillfully weave serious and slapstick moments to heighten both.  In general and in film, I prefer Ruthless People to Such Nice People.

 

Forty-Nine

Yesterday I turned forty-nine.

I spent that day with my phone turned off and without checking email or social media. My most notable activity was walking in the snow.

I had planned to blog about how forty-nine was the time to decide what my fifty–and fifties–would look like, but you know what? I think I’d rather grab a bite and play some computer games. Ciao!

 

 

My QFest 2013 Schedule and Reviews

QFest 2013It didn’t precisely sneak up on me, but I was (again) a little unprepared for the start of this year’s QFest, also known as the 19th Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (PIGLFF).  So, better late than never …


My QFest 2013 Page


Like previous years, my plan is to tweet-review each film as soon as possible after seeing it.  I’ll move the reviews and update my schedule on the page on a (hopefully) daily basis. I’m also tweeting my day’s schedule before leaving the house, and that tweet will also include a pick of films playing that day that I’ve already seen and can recommend.

Although my tweets are cross-posted to Facebook, I don’t really go to Facebook very much so please use email or Twitter or my blog for festival-related things.

Hope to see you at the festival!

Major Hallo Gila Monster Spaceboy Tom

A particular thing I love about the Internet is how it creates and encourages these Russian nesting dolls of memories and memes: Astronaut Chris Hadfield performs Space Oddity in space and David Bowie tweets to him “Hallo Spaceboy” which the Pet Shop Boys famously remixed and whose video include a few seconds from “The Giant Gila Monster”. Nerdgasm’ed  And now for the gratuitous linking and embedding: 

Chris Hadfield performs Space Oddity.

David Bowie responds.

PSB covers Hallo Spaceboy …

… which includes a few seconds from The Giant Gila Monster