PIGLFF 2008

 Feature Film Reviews | Short Film ReviewsOfficial Website

While I saw plenty of things I liked, no feature film blew my socks off.  Scandalously, my favorite movie of the festival is Affinity, a Lesbian Victorian period piece.  My other guilty pleasure, Clandestinos, was a close second that lost out to the novel-based Affinity because of its obviously stronger writing.  Even so, neither spoke to me as strongly as last year’s Life of Reilly or Boy Culture. The shorts programming was stronger this year and produced my only excellent-rated films.

Five Best Films   

  1. Affinity
  2. Clandestinos
  3. Ciao
  4. Fashion Victims
  5. Mulligans

 

Five Worst Films   

  1. I Dreamt Under the Water
  2. Between Love and Goodbye
  3. Dog Tags
  4. Bangkok Love Story
  5. Were the World Mine 

 

With B-Side out of the picture and PFS still lagging behind on functionality, I once again did my reviews on Twitter [search.twitter.com for PIGLFF14].  The difference this festival is I had a (small) audience thanks to the semi-official twitterer, PhillyLBGTFest.  Hopefully next year the festival website will be super-charged with new features and take advantage of social networking tools like Twitter.  If iPhones and geo-location proliferate, we may even see flash parties.

My motto going into this festival was “All Access Badge, All Excess Festival”.  That rang true on the weekends, but I think the novelty of being home, away from Rockville, led to more sedate weekday activities.  Other than opening and closing, I didn’t do any (scheduled) parties this year.  The Brotherhood of the Traveling Bar officially disbanded this year because of some power-mad policing at the Wilma, but excess did prevail with the first-ever Festival tailgate party.

Cranky geek that I am, let me once again complain about the Black Box with its horrible seating, poor climate control, and subtitle-obscuring low screen.  I got snookered into a film there during PFF, but this year was a Black-Box-free PIGLFF.  I did a few films at the Arts Bank; the seats there aren’t much more comfortable, so I think it’s also on the banned venue list for next year.  Here’s hoping the Suzanne Roberts Theater replaces Arts Bank as a venue.

Aside from the usual suspects (Karen, James, and Paul), welcome to Rick, Jan, and Dean as new(ish) festival goers.  Thanks to the Philadelphia Film Society, the volunteers, and sponsors for another great year.  If you’re not a PFS member, consider joining to support something (along with beer) Philly gets right.  Time to start the countdown to PIGLFF15!

Feature Films

Very Good

Affinity — British bodice-ripping Lesbian medium period piece is an early fest guilty pleasure. Fun for all!

Ciao — Deliberate, well-told character study & rare case of well-directed slow pacing. Nuanced, old-fashioned indie.

Clandestinos — Thanks, Spain, for a fun, quirky, slightly creepy guilty pleasure. Transcends a few really awkward moments.

Clapham Junction — So-British converging stories drama with some surprisingly explicit sex and violence. Brit TV trumps many US movies.

Fashion Victims — So-German fashion farce where Father knows worst. Consistently funny, quirky, and sweet–but in a good way.

Finding, Losing, & Loving Mr. Right — Another fine selection of shorts.  Pick: Wrestling

The Houseboy — Works it with a dark story, good lead, and racy scenes–high marks from me indeed for a film set at xmas time.

Mulligans — Nicely shot kinder-gentler gay indie love child of AmericanBeauty, OrdinaryPeople, and LittleMissSunshine.

Puppy Love (and Lust) — Strong selection, good to excellent, made for a difficult choice for my pick: Country Life.

The Lost Coast — A moody, deliberate nocturnal journey that snared me (but few others) with story, visuals, and atmosphere.

Good

Another Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild — Awful in a good way. Less cohesive than first, more sketch comedy, hit or miss. Typical opening choice.

Boystown — Runs a little slow in the middle but delivers the goods as sort of Spanish screwball comedy noir. Si!

Grimm Love — A rough ride at the end but otherwise artfully shot and well told when not trying too hard to be suspenseful.

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Leave the Closet — Weaker than earlier collections, hits the mark with Alien alum Veronica Cartwright in my pick:  Mommy’s House.

Saturn in Opposition — So-Italian tangled web of friends drama rides the brakes after promising first act. Kleenex alert.

Three-Day Weekend — A mostly-harmless flesh-filled weekend-cabin-getaway dramedy somehow reminiscent of GoneButNotForgotten.

Fair

Antarctica — Starts out funny and sexy, then drags to its anticlimax. Lesbian folk singing and bad drag alerts.

La Leon — Tropical setting, glacial pacing. Good river life angle but mostly a snoozer and confuser with last-frame WTF.

Otto; or Up With Dead People — Has a few good moments but doesn’t approach the sick, smart, sexy of Raspberry Reich. Fair number of walk-outs.

Out in Philly: Season 2 — Fell short of other programs with music video and infomercial entries. Dire Straights, Valentine’s Day were best male, female selections of some rough cuts.

Spinnin’ — Starts out well, quirky and arty, but mires down in cliche, sentimentality, and conceptual repetition.

Sugar Rush — Quirky after-school special that never commits itself to either quirkiness or sweetness to really grab me. Hoped for more Brighton local color.

Tru Loved — Longish after-school special will appeal to most with sugary sentiment & good casting but was a squirmer for me.

Poor

Bangkok Love Story — Grating soundtrack is least of problems for this erratic, over-the-top mess. Rent Bound instead.

Between Love and Goodbye — Unlikeable characters acted poorly in unlikely situations written poorly. Drank away the pain.

Dog Tags — Amateurish and self-indulgent for a centerpiece screening, a cast of unlikeable characters stumble through uninteresting situations.    

I Dreamt Under The Water — A French train wreck, most likely to cause seizures and my first walk-out of the fest.

Were the World Mine — Absolutely not my kind of film. Had I known it was a stagey teen musical, I’d have passed.

Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon — Gave too much face time to the subject. Felt self-indulgent and put me to sleep.

Short Films

Excellent

The Back Room — Touching, well-done short about serendipity and a religious painting bringing about an based-on-appearances odd coupling.

Country Life — Extremely charming Swiss city/country mouse tale, especially the country mouse.

Lloyd Neck — Touching story where the tag-along little sister continues one of this year’s themes:  Out of the mouth (or camera in this case) of babes.

Mommy’s Place — A Yogi-and-BooBoo crime duo come up against Alien-alum Veronica Cartwright in this excellent ghost story short.  Pulls off the sometimes-menacing, sometimes-campy thing very well.

My Last Ten Hours With You  — Struck me as both very Australian and unexpectedly touching look at a move-related breakup.

You, Me & Him — Touching and effective short about redefining family in a way I wouldn’t expect given my notion of Brazil’s macho culture.

Wrestling — Like last year’s Family Reunion, another charming slice of Icelandic gay life.

Very Good

Babysitting Andy — Cute Dennis-the-Menace kind of story where a little honesty tames the savage breast and builds a ramp if not a bridge between some unlikely people.

Getting Lucky — Interesting, layered psychological piece more about what might happen or might have happened than showing any action on stage.

Mr_Right_22 — A man on a blind date encounters an amusing collection of characters, real and imagined, in the bar where he waits for his Mr. Right.

Neurotica — The moral of this story is that you wouldn’t want to be a mind reader in a gay bar!  Filmed in a single take, although I’d guess having most of the dialog as voice-over made for an easier shoot.

Rock Garden — A very odd little gay fairy tale that feels like a geriatric Bjork video.  Yes, I liked it.

Good

Dire Straights — Tolerable piece about drama during a Lesbian wedding.  Imagine that!

Flatmates — Strange little tale of a gay-straight alliance gone too far.

HerzHaft — Young love gone bad where an insistent minor oblivious of the consequences ruins the life of a tempted adult who should have known better.

My Little Boy — A Bent-light short that might lack depth but has excellent period piece atmosphere.

OK — One of many drug-themed films this year, would have been much better without.

Sweat — Watchable bath house walkthrough by a tentative young man unsure of what he wants.

VGL-Hung! — Rough-around-the-edges short where Weird Science means m4msex.com.  No link for the latter since you all have it bookmarked anyway.

Valentine’s Day — Coy little office romance piece that tells its story well if a little slowly.

With Every Breath — Tolerable micro-documentary that just didn’t speak to me.

Fair

Bye Bye Darling — Tolerable short that gets too caught up in its concept and plot twist.

Gay Zombie — A few chuckles but far too long.

Heiko — Another theme this year is serial killers, and this is the least effective of the bunch.

In Twilight’s Shadow  — Lesbian vampires. *yawn*  Good effects for a short but otherwise empty.

Isn’t It Nice: The Sex Dwarf Documentary  — No, it’s not nice to pretend a promo is a documentary.

Love Bite — Telegraphed twist, mercifully short.

Secrets — OK for a teen auto-asphyxiation flick I suppose.

Truth in Love — Random-ish animation set to a gay theme

Mars — Video too static/saturated, audio too repetitive/annoying

Poor

Marcello & Sophia — Something right off of public access.  Send it back.

Straight & Butch — A calendar making me hope for End-of-Days is not a good sign.

The Hammer and the Butterfly — Not awful but put me to sleep.

Get Naked: A Love Letter to Britney  — Since when is a bad dance video considered a short film?

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