Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Seattle Festival of the Gays 2006

So there were three big unavoidable, inescapable, highly anticipated lures to the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival this year:

1) Opening Night Film - SHORTBUS by John Cameron Mitchell, the long-in-the-making sophomore film from the maker of Hedwig and the Angry Inch

2) Midnight Madness with Peaches Christ, featuring Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill, AND special guest Tura Satana (OMG!!!!)

3) Finally, FINALLY getting to see the infamous Loving Annabelle, the Moviepie review of which has gotten Vickie on the shitlist of hundreds of not thousands of lesbians who love the film (many sight-unseen, it seems).

The fest is solidly half over now, so I'll report on what I've seen (while I clutch my Faster, Pussycat! lunchbox in anticipation for this Saturday night).

SHORTBUS (6/8) - Everyone wants to know about the sex. Yes, there are many bits and pieces in this film, in various combinations, or sometimes even solo. The surprise for many viewers is that SHORTBUS, it turns out, is not simply graphic for the sake of being graphic. The film actually had a lot of heart and emotion (which shouldn't really be too surprising if you've seen Mitchell's Hedwig, either as a stage show or in movie form). SHORTBUS was actually quite funny, and if you can get past the opening montage which throws lots of people getting busy right in your face, you will ready to move on to the rest of the film which gradually focuses on three main characters all dealing with their own sexual and intimacy issues. I liked it. I liked it a lot. And so did the audience.

FOR THE LOVE OF DOLLY (6/8) -- This and Camp Michael Jackson reminded me of those shows that you can sometimes catch on VH1, like "Bon Jovi's Craziest Fans Ever". The Dolly doc had an undercurrent of sweetness and charm, probably because with Dolly herself as the object of affection, it is hard to avoid. The fans are hardcore, from a gay couple from Texas who hand makes porcelain dolls in her likeness (and finally get to meet Dolly onscreen!), two women best pals who are a bit over the top, but seem to find a kindred spirit in the country star as though they know her, and a mentally and physically handicapped man who blossoms when talking about his love for her. And Dolly seems nothing but nice. It's hard not to be moved by this doc.

CAMP MICHAEL JACKSON (5/8) -- Then there are the Michael Jackson fans who held court (so to speak) outside the California courthouse where he was on trial for child molestation and conspiracy charges. In some cases, these people QUIT THEIR JOBS to stand outside every day, hoping to get their number picked in the daily lottery for the few seats available to the public. Many of them were there for MONTHS. These fans are just as rabid as the ones in Dolly, yet considering the background of the trail, there is an overall creepiness about the whole thing that takes away from the enjoyment of the whole surrounding freakshow. I'm just saying.

THE GYMNAST (5/8) -- I'll say this: The Gymnast is a gorgeous looking film. There are two beautiful woman doing Cirqe du Soliel-esque stunts hanging from ribbons of fabric from the ceiling. Their physical prowess is impressive and fluid. The love story between the two is a little less convincing. Jane (Dreya Weber) is a 40-something ex-Olympian unhappily married yet trying to get pregnant. Serena (Addie Yungmee) is a beautiful younger modern dancer, a Korean-American who is lesbian, yet has not come out to her adoptive parents. It seems like there are more stories going on, but the film is so subdued, as though entranced by its own visuals, that it never really sparks. Still, pretty good; definitely better than...

LOVING ANNABELLE (3/8) -- I give this infamous movie one more slice than Vickie, mainly because I was (unintentionally?) entertained for most of the duration. I was asked later by someone who did not attend the screening if it was a comedy, considering that I mentioned that people were guffawing through much of the movie. I said that if you took away the audience guffaws, Loving Annabelle would clearly be a drama. It is basically Catholic-schoolgirl-crush porn (with consequences, thank goodness), but a drama nonetheless. And there's a porcupine owned by a girl who pets him with oven mitts. You gotta like that. As the credits rolled, I asked a restless woman sitting near me, "Is it just me, or is there a little bit of an EWWW Factor to this whole movie?" She answered, "A little bit? More like a whole LOT of EWWW Factor!"

More to come...