Friday, May 01, 2009

We've moved! New 'Pie, new blog!

Hi there!

Just a heads-up that the Moviepie 'Musings blog has now been incorporated into the new and improved Moviepie website!

All the same coverage, in a brand-spanking-new format.

Click here to keep following along!

Coverage of HotDocs 2009 gets underway tomorrow, with SIFF and the Worldwide Short Film Festival coming in the next couple of months.

Thanks for reading, and please join us in our new digs!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Trailer for Robert Pattinson's LITTLE ASHES

For all of you squealing about Twilight's Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen... check him out as painter Salvador Dali in the upcoming film LITTLE ASHES!

View trailer here:

Synopsis: In the midst of the repression and political unrest of pre-Spanish Civil War, eccentric artist Salvador Dalí (Rob Pattinson) and renowned poet and revolutionary Federico García Lorca (Javier Beltran), find their artistic and sexual freedom in each other. The two form a bond challenged by their fierce ambitions, the struggle between a love for Spain and a love for each other. The film stars Rob Pattinson (TWILIGHT), Javier Beltran (TV's ZOO), Matthew McNulty (THE SHOOTING OF THOMAS HURNDALL) and Marina Gatell (TV's LALOLA). LITTLE ASHES directed by Paul Morrison (SOLOMON AND GAENOR, WONDROUS OBLIVION).

Website for LITTLE ASHES:

Sunday, October 26, 2008

SLGFF 2008 #7 - A Steamy wrap-up

Several of the movies I saw at the fest this year had a theme of Gays and Religion, including Testimony, Save Me, and now Equality U. However, unlike films of the past that seemed testy, hostile, and defensive towards organized religion and the (in)tolerance of gays, these new films all seem to be taking a breather and reaching across the divide in favor of discussion rather than arguing. (Send that message to politicians!)

Equality U (6/8) is a documentary that follows a group of young, mostly 20-something Christians as they take a bus tour across and all around the United States, visiting religious-based colleges and universities that all have explicit policies on the books banning homosexual students. For instance, televangelist Jerry Falwell once said he'd rather have the college he founded, Liberty University, burn to the ground than allow homosexuals. The Equality Ride visited about 20 of the 200 schools with anti-gay rules in order to start a discussion and dialogue. Most students wanted to at least talk, but it was the schools' administrations that were most afraid of dialogue, some literally locking their students inside... and the Equality Riders out. The film never stoops to judge harshly the religions involved, but instead condemns the schools and their leaders for destroying the lives of some of the students that they rejected.

My next film was a domestic drama from France, The New World (Le Nouveau Monde) (4/8), a well-meaning but honestly a bit dull lesbian drama. Lucie and Marion are a lesbian couple that decide they want a baby. Or at least Lucie does, and she wants to get pregnant the "old-fashioned way"—no strangers, no sperm banks, just a friendly donation from someone they both agree upon. Well, they find that generous fellow in an old friend of Marion's. He says he'll be scarce, but once the child is born, his fathering instinct kicks in and he feels part of the family... and Marion, increasingly, does not. I liked the emphasis of Marion's isolation from the biological family unit, but overall the film was slow (even at 70 minutes!) and kind of rambling.

The final weekend featured the 3-story dramedy Steam (5/8) as the fest's second Centerpiece. I'll bet most people who saw the film were excited to see Ally Sheedy again (looking completely adorable and healthy again, as a start contrast to her emaciated High Art self). Alas, ladies, she does not play a lesbian. She is a 40-something single mom who has an affair with her young son's hottie, corn-fed, 20-something football coach, much to the shock and disgust of her ex-husband (who has a young trophy wife himself)... and to the shock and delight of her best friend (played by the bluntly hilarious Chelsea Handler).

The lesbian third of the story involves a young hottie college student (Kate Siegel) who hesitates only half a second before embarking on an affair with a sexy bisexual classmate (Reshma Shetty). Girlfriend is a feminist revolutionary, and forgets to mention that she is bisexual (guess how that is discovered). Our main girl decides to fight the power anyways, much to the disgust of her stereotypically uptight rich white parents. This whole plot felt very cliched, and was (unfortunately for this audience) the least interesting of the bunch.

Leave it to the incomparable Ruby Dee to save the third segment. She plays a widow that struggles with moving on with her life until she meets and befriends a charming widower (the lovely Dick Anthony Williams) who relentlessly courts her until she invites him for dinner. Alas, when she finally meets his adult son and his family, things don't quite go so well.

Despite the fine acting in 2/3rds of the film, Steam doesn't have enough oomph to be really memorable or unique. The three leads are supposedly linked by the fact that they all go to a community steam room to unwind, but it is never really explored. And, by the end, you are just left at the end with a "huh" rather than a "wow!" Still, not a bad way to end the fest (for me at least). [Sorry, Elvira, I just couldn't maintain momentum to see you on Closing Night!]

Saturday, October 25, 2008

SLGFF 2008 #6 - Manly TV dinners

On Friday I took it down a notch. Last year, one of my favorite parts of the Festival of the Gays were the "Gay TV Dinners" at Central Cinema, where old TV episodes featuring gay characters were shown while the audience gorged on beer and a set menu. So this year I made sure to schedule at least one TV dinner, and it just so happened that I could fit in The Last Guy You’d Have Figured…, featuring an episode of Alice from the 70s, and Roc from the early 90s.

I vaguely remember seeing Alice when I was growing up, and how later, when I was older, I always wondering why Mel at Mel's Diner always seemed to be wearing a large rollled-up condom on his head (what was UP with that hat?). Single-mom Alice (cutie Linda Lavin) falls hard for Mel’s ex-pro football player pal, Jack, who is foxy in that blond-feathered-hair kind of way. He is nothing but manly, but after a fabulous dinner date out, he tells Alice he is gay (GASP!). But... but... he is a professional football player!?!! Well, "Kiss my grits!" as Flo would say! This show is interesting in that it could only inadvertently emphasize how thirty years later there are still no pro football players (at least as far as I know) that are openly gay. They still wait until retirement to come out.

The episode of Roc, which ran on Fox, was just as timely, as Roc's uncle (played by Shaft himself, Richard Roundtree) comes for a visit to let the family know that he is getting married... to a man! And worse yet, a WHITE man! Particularly hilarious in this well-written episode is Roc's dad Andrew (played by Carl Gordon), who can take only so much before his line is crossed. In protest, he turns on the blender in the kitchen while the ceremony is attempting to take place in the living room. All in all, my tum was full of TV-dinner fare of meat loaf and mashed potatoes, and the episodes were once again enjoyable choices. Gotta love the Central Cinema!

Friday, October 24, 2008

SLGFF 2008 #5 - A different kind of tolerance...

The first Centerpiece feature of this year's fest, Save Me (6/8), follows a young druggie gay boy named Mark (Chad Allen) who hits rock-bottom in a hotel room, overdosed on cocaine after yet another fling with a random guy. Mark's brother is fed-up, tired of scraping his brother out of the gutter and gives him an ultimatum: Clean up a Christian retreat center that focuses on healing and saving gay men, or the family will basically disown him, putting him back on the street for the last time. Mark very reluctantly decides to go to the Christian recovery center.

Genesis, as the Christian center is called, is run by warm and very hetero middle-aged couple Gayle and Ted, but it is really Gayle (the fabulous Judith Light) that runs the show. She is stern and is the enforcer. The men can always leave, but if they stay, they have to follow the rules. But what no one expects is that Mark will actually embrace his own recovery, as well as Jesus, but also will fall in love with Scott (Robert Gant), one of the other ex-gay recoverees at the center.

Folks at the fest screening were delighted and more than a little star-struck that Robert Gant (best known as Ben from Queer As Folk) was there in person. Believe me, the entire audience of men and women were shamelessly drooling (he is just as hunky in person as on screen), and he is quite the rambler when it came to answering audience questions (but in a nice way—see? I have a crush, too!). He pointed out that the filmmakers were careful to be equal-opportunity when it came to the characters, and never to demonize the Christian characters in the film. In fact, that is what I liked about Save Me—all the characters are flawed and complex, and Judith Light ends up being one of the more sympathetic characters in the story as she struggles with her true love for the men she is trying to help, but is also struggling over guilt for the dead son that she was too late to save. It is a solid film, and will appeal to those that liked the equally sympathetic Mormon vs. Gays tale Latter Days.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

SLGFF 2008 #4 - ¡Viva la Revolución!

The Brits (whom, you could say, invented the sub-group of haughty, intellectually snobby poofters) have always excelled not only in gay cinema, but also in TV shows and series featuring matter-of-fact gay characters. Being gay just doesn't seem to be an issue, so much so that they can move on from the trauma of "coming out" stories to just getting down to business.

Such is the case for the charming and funny TV series Sugar Rush (7/8). Our heroine Kim (Olivia Hallinan), a 15-year-old virgin, seems less traumatized by the fact that she knows she is a lesbian, but is fretting about the fact that she hasn't had sex yet... and is about to explode with hormones accordingly. It doesn't help that her dysfunctional parents have moved her family from the wilds of London to the "safer" and calmer seaside town of Brighton. And now Kim is completely and utterly obsessed with her new best (straight) girlfriend Sugar (the saucy Lenora Crichlow). Sugar Rush is probably the freshest portrayal of teenagers and hormones (gay and straight) since the delightful Swedish film Show Me Love. The kids are practically glassy-eyed with lust, and can barely contain themselves (Kim even considers drugging her friend into unconsciousness so she can have her way... hello, date rape!). Sugar Rush is also fresh for a new generation. There is no soundtrack of sensitive women singers here, it is all Euro-techno-pop and flashy fashion. The show is a lot of fun, fabulously acted by all, and I can't wait to see more episodes beyond the first three that the fest screened.

Unfortunately I decided to stay for the next show, My Super 8 Season (Ma saison super 8) (4/8), a French film about a bunch of sexual and political revolutionaries at the start of the 70s, fighting for the rights of the gays and women. It revolved around Marc (Axel Philippon), who was obsessed with the blank-faced "I'm not gay" gay-boy André (Roman Girelli) while being best friend to feminist Julie (Célia Pilastre). People sleep with each other, the passion of the revolution flares up then kind of peters out, and they all supposedly mature. But it was dull, and (I'm kind of embarrassed to say) cheap-looking. There were bits that were shot in Super 8, which were convincing and great-looking, but the rest was shot on DV, which just brought me out of the moment in time. It looked like a bunch of modern kids dressing up for the 70s and acting like revolutionary hippies. It is a film very similar in theme to Bernardo Bertolucci's The Dreamers, which, funny enough, is also a film I didn't like much. Oh well.

Monday, October 20, 2008

SLGFF 2008 #3 - Homo horror and real-life tragedy

I decided to fill my Sunday at the Festival of the Gays with a reality-check list of films... aka documentaries--with an intermission of a stern lecture. Well, not stern at all, but more on that later.

First up was the Canadian doc She's a Boy I Knew (7/8), by filmmaker and subject Gwen Haworth. I have to admit that I was intrigued by the publicity photo on the right, as it was so arty that it looks like a sensitive indie-rock duo's publicity shot. But that is actually Gwen (right) and her ex-wife Malgosia, whom she married when she was still Steven. Steven was a hockey jock who had a fine upbringing, but never felt right in his body. He struggled and fought against these feelings, even getting married (he was, and she IS attracted to women), until he finally confessed to his loved ones his secret in his late 20s, when he decided to begin his steps toward becoming a woman. However, She's a Boy is not really about Steven/Gwen, but about the friends and family that had to deal with this huge decision by someone they thought they knew. Gwen's sisters, best friend (her adorable guy-friend Roari), ex-wife, and (most touchingly) her parents are interviewed, and they are brutally honest. Gwen's father, a man of few words, struggles to open up, and confesses that he feels like he lost his only son. They tell of the hurt and in some cases betrayal they felt about Steven's decision to become Gwen. And lucky for Gwen, these people were supportive and are still in her life. It is an extremely intimate film, and fascinating in its emotional honesty.

Next my co-horts and I scarfed down some tacos and scurried down to the fabulous Central Library to catch author Harry M. Benshoff's lecture Monsters in the Closet (5/8), based on his book “Monsters in the Closet: Homosexuality and the Horror Film”. There are certainly types of horror movies that are resoundingly queer, like anything with vampires for instance, but Benshoff broke it down with a bunch of funny categories, like "Mad Scientist" and, well, others that I honestly can't remember right now. The fear of the (monstrous) outsider is a common plot in horror films, and Benshoff claims that is easily transferable to society's fear of The Gays. The time period allowed for this lecture was really too brief to get into anything in depth, and it seemed that lots of clips were rushed through without enough supporting explanation (as in, "Um, now WHY is that scene gay?"), but it was interesting and timely enough topic to perhaps spark curiosity in checking out his book.

My last film of the day played to a packed matinee at the lovely Cinerama. For My Wife... (7/8) has resounding local connections, not just politically, but in the city's common memory of horrific events. If you lived in Seattle a couple winters ago, you'd remember this crazy flash-flood of a rain storm that came so fast just around afternoon rush hour, that it created a river with whitecaps down the hilly sidewalks and flooded stores within a matter of minutes. The most talked-about tragedy of the event was the story of audio-book narrator Kate Fleming who literally drowned in her own basement, after getting trapped by water rushing down the stairs. After being briefly revived and rushed to the hospital, Fleming's partner of a decade, Charlene Strong, was denied visitation at her bedside because she was not a legal spouse. She was finally granted permission to be at Kate's bedside in her final minutes after getting permission from Fleming's mother... on the other side of the country.

But this was just the start of Charlene's story. Her side of the tragedy also made the news, and she was asked to testify just six weeks after the death of her partner in Olympia, during the hearings about the Domestic Partnership Registration Bill that has slogged around unpassed in the Capitol for years and years. Her raw, recent personal story made all the difference, and the bill ended up passing by a 2 to 1 vote. This first half or so of For My Wife... is shockingly powerful. I don't think I've ever been riveted by congress people's testimony before (it is amazing the things that some of them said in against the bill, like the standby catchphrases of "bestiality," "necrophilia," etc.). But I discovered there is a Rock Star at our State Capitol, and her name is Rosa Franklin. Married for 57 years herself, her eloquent speech about how she has supported the DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) in the past, but was now supporting the Domestic Parter bill left no dry eyes in the house. The second half of For My Wife... almost comes across as an extended "Where are they now?" extra after the climax of the film (the passing of the bill). The rest of the film is fine, but as Strong finds herself mingling with movie stars at the GLADD Awards and chatting with Gloria Steinem, it starts to feel a bit after the fact, like the story is still waiting for its ideal conclusion, which would be the freedom for gays to marry all across the country. That is my only complaint about the film, however. It is a very strong documentary that will hopefully find a wider audience beyond the festival circuit.