Writing this two years later, I’d be lying if I said I remembered half of these films. Each festival becomes a blur of scenes and characters, but I do remember each of the five best and worst films from that year:
|Five Best Films||Five Worst Films|
Boy Culture — “Boy Culture” is my first excellent of the festival. It’s complex, funny, sexy, and just plain well done. It reminds me of “Opposite of Sex” with the wry narration and unconventional redefinition of family. The characters here feel real and interesting even if not always likeable–one place where “Coffee Date” fell far short of the mark. This film’s replaced “East Side Story” as my festival favorite.
Eating Out 2: Sloppy Seconds — Very funny and well done with only a handful of clunky scenes and a little heavy on the cultural/topical references. The truly amazing part is the project was started in January and completed last month but looks polished and well-done. Worth tracking down the original and renting based on the merits of the sequel.
East Side Story — The only problem with this film is the low quality of the film itself–it’s a bit grainy and dark in parts. Otherwise it’s a funny, touching movie that equal-opportunity skewerer of gay and Latino cultures. It evoked a similar feeling to “Touch of Pink” a few years back although I would not say they are very similar in the details. I guess it’s the warm-and-fuzzies from family (as a good thing), love, and forgiveness of mistakes that make them feel the same. This is one I may see again especially because I didn’t get to hear the director’s q&a because of festival scheduling issues. … And I did see it again. It was as enjoyable a second time through, and the Q&A with Mr. Portugal was excellent. There’s some real structure and layers here, and his fascination with evolution–of people, neighborhoods, and cultures–shines through. Give this guy a real budget and let him get to it!
Queens — Spanish film does it again. Fun and fast-paced, this screwball comedy surrounding the real-life event of Spain allowing gay marriage won’t disappoint. I think it was just a little too busy though and would have earned an excellent if it had dropped one couple/mother to concentrate on the others.
Another Gay Movie — Like “Snakes on a Plane”, this flick pretty much delivers what’s promised: A spoof of the typical gay-themed movies. It kept me laughing which is what earned it high marks despite being a little formulaic and targeted to the 18-24 (albeit gay or female) demo. The sex here is so over the top we need something like the “fantasy violence” rating to distinguish it from something more, um, penetrating like what went on in “The Raspberry Reich”.
What’s So Funny? Gay Shorts Program
Quinceañera — This well-done if a little slow slice-of-life coming-of-age tale was perhaps a little too slow for my tastes. Funny how the scenes with Jesse Garcia seemed far too short! A friend-in-the-know was pleased how true to the community and culture the film was.
C.R.A.Z.Y. — Cut fifteen minutes from the last third of this film and it’s rating goes up to Very Good. Think of this as a “modern period piece” that will probably never see a U.S. release because so much of that period is music. Getting the rights to show this in the U.S. would cost far more than it did to show it in the entire rest of the world! My other problem with this film is it’s clearly meant for mainstream release; the gay content is primarily offscreen. We never see the big breakthrough between the main character and his father at the end.
Shock to the System: A Donald Strachey Mystery — On par with last year’s “Third Man Out”, the same cast and characters are back solving mysteries. It does have a nice twist at the end.
OpenCam — Ah, here is my guilty pleasure of a film. Lots of nakedness–much of THAT not flaccid adds to a fun story of serial murder, sex, and the internet. It reminds me of a favorite of mine from a few festivals ago, Hard, which is now available from TLA. Not the best acting or production, but very enjoyable nontheless.
Line of Beauty, The — BBC doing what it does best: Well-performed, detail-oriented film. Of the three parts (it was a TV series of three one-hour episodes), the second is clearly the strongest. The first was slow and the last was rushed. Let me state the obvious–this piece is so very-very English not just in period but in the feel of the issues of society and class that run through it.
Young Luv…of a Complicated Kind — A better-than-usual selection of shorts; see separate reviews for each short.
Queer Duck: The Movie — A few less musical numbers would have earned QD:TM at least a Very Good. The one-liners and sight gags are great–well at least once–and more of those instead of grating singing and animated dancing would help. At least I’ve seen the face of Fry and cannot wait for the return of Futurama.
Coffee Date — This movie falls flat despite an interesting premise. The story takes a few cliche turns, and either the editing or the writing makes for scenes that are longer and less interesting than they could have been. I found my mind wandering during parts of the film. There are some great moments for supporting characters, especially the lead’s mother and the love interest’s roommate, but there isn’t enough there to hold my attention for the entire movie.
Keillers Park — Not on my list, I went based on a recommendation from a fellow fest-goer. It wasn’t as bad as I originally thought, but certainly not something I’d want to see again. The ending dragged on and dragged down a film that had a few interesting moments but was otherwise unremarkable.
Gypo — While handling the Roshomon structure well, this film nevertheless falls a little flat, especially in the ending. It lost me (and a good rating) when it switched to one of those first-person steady cams during the finale’s chase sequence.
Two Drifters — Like “A Year Without Love” last year, there are parts of this movie I loved–even beyond those particular parts shown with great abandon on the often-naked hot men in the movie. The scenes in the Walmartish store are examples of some great evocative imagery, but pacing is what kills this film just as it killed “Love”. I didn’t even really mind the last scene as much as some of my friends did: Think the Whoopi/Demi kiss in Ghost gone to a ludicris extreme. I might even forgive some inexpicable actions by characters if the film had been edited down to have a more American (or Spanish) pace.
Out Now — “Summer Storm” this isn’t. I didn’t really empathize with or believe the main character.
Conrad Boys, The — Two things spoiled an otherwise good film: An unnecessary subplot to create peril and a completely out-of-character decision by the lead. The last quarter seems cobbled together and could have been resolved faster and with less “stuff” going on–less is more here. If this movie were a person, I’d say he’s “nice”. As likeable as it was, I just didn’t like it that much in the end.
3 Needles — There are some amazing particulars here: Cast, cinematography, and concept are all impressive–but sometimes the idea of a thing is better than the reality. This should have been a heart-rending, powerful film, but it left me completely cold other than the standard male response to the tribal circumsizing scene. The characters and their plights never feel authentic despite having some of my favorite actresses who I know can really, really act their asses off. Instead try “Darwin’s Nightmare”, a documentary about disasters ecological and human: Introducing a foreign species into Africa’s largest lake wipes out hundreds of species and spawns a one-crop economy with tragic consequences. In particular, the HIV virus is spreading rapidly among the fishermen as rural men die from AIDS and their infected widows move to the lake to prostitute themselves to the fishemen. Poverty, lack of education, and disease can create a terrible feedback loop. The authentic tragedy of it far outweighs the contrivances of “Three Needles”.
Daylight Ghost — So bad it made me laugh…everything here was just awful! The funniest thing was the subtitles which, when intelligable, were way, way off.
50 Ways of Saying Fabulous — My straight friend K. saw this at the Toronto festival and recommended it; boy was he wrong! I wanted to like this movie, but it’s so flat, uninteresting, and unbelievable. There might be a good short in there somewhere, but as is it’s mostly unwatchable. Other filmgoers offered faint praise–it wasn’t as bad as “Cowboy Junction”. I’d suggest “Mudge Boy” instead for a similar if slightly more gruesome story that makes for a much better film.
Vacationland — Ouch. Worst of breed here. Bad acting, low production quality, and a barely coherent story would have made this a snoozer if not for my Starbucks habit getting out of hand before the film.
Amnesia — Amnesia leaves me wishing I could forget it. The lead was a sleepwalker, and the driving the story via a researcher looking into the matter rather than doing the piece first person from the amnesiac made this film even more forgettable.
Dinner Conversation — Four minutes of perfect film
Available Men — Here is a technically well-done short about mistaken identity where the imprecise nature of language leads unexpectedly to the poetically just conclusions.
Attack — Given most people don’t know about the shoelaces, this is all too likely a story. Great short, and I have to say in general the shorts are doing better this year.
Hitchcocked — While the twist wasn’t a complete surprise, the filmmaker did manage to create a sense of Hitchcockian tension throughout the piece even when deliberately playing it tongue-in-cheek.
Davy and Stu — Think “Beautiful Thing” set in a Scottish bog and played out in a handful of minutes. Loved it for just those similarities.
Colorblind — I loved this quirky short. Not generally a fan of voiceover narrative (thank the theatrical release of Bladerunner for that), I think it worked here as the Wolverine/mutton-chopped lead navigates some personal revelations
Hello, Thanks — Cute piece about personals ads which, like online ads, can become more about the writing and introspection than actually finding a date.
Man Seeking Man — While a well-done, interested short–this is comedy? This was the second-to-last of the shorts and I am so glad it wasn’t the last because the ending is more jump-out-a-window than laugh-out-loud.
Cabalerno — I liked this light-on-the-dialog piece and got a touch of nostalgia too. I used to photograph guys I liked from my window and even did some developing on my own for fear of dealing with prying eyes at the photomart. If only we’d had camcorders and digital zooms back then!
BugCrush — Here we have good chemisty, atmosphere, and mystery up until the very end where things fall apart. Maybe fearing PETA backlash, we never get to see what (I think) is happening in the last minute of this short.
Can’t Buy Me Love — This was the weakest of the comedy shorts; the rampant nakedness didn’t make up for unskilled actors, and it could have been cut in half and still told its story.
Running Without Sound — Perhaps concentrating on either the sports theme or the deaf theme would have made this a better short. As is, the feeling here is too diluted.
COLIN: interiors — Long in the middle and too rushed at the end, the “less is more” aesthetic would certainly have helped this animated piece.