Wednesday, October 17, 2007

SLGFF #3 - Trans trauma and TV drama

I was slightly intrigued to go to see Monday night's "International Centerpiece" The Witnesses, but opted out of Emmanuelle Beart's ducky lips and instead decided to check out Another Woman (Un Autre Femme) (6/8). Apparently made in 2002, this film pre-dated the award-winning Transamerica by a couple years. In Another Woman, Nathalie Mann (appearing in the opening credits as the gender-free N. Mann) plays Léa, a nervous woman who is a bit of an overachiever at her newish job in Geneva. Léa gets an offer to really prove herself to the big boss by scoring a sought-after business trip to Paris to land a particularly big contract. But Léa freaks out, initially refusing the opportunity. Turns out that Léa not only has a secret past in Paris, but she also has a family... that is an ex-wife and children.

Her family hasn't seen their husband and father Nicolas in ten years, so Léa makes the choice to re-enter her family's life. Anne (the excellent Micky Sébastian) freaks out when she finds out that this mysterious woman Léa, who has made friends with her daughter, is actually her ex-husband. She goes through the range of emotions from disbelief, to anger and betrayal, to hesitantly recognizing the person beneath the skin whom she fell in love with, to somewhat uneasy acceptance. Others, like Anne's longtime boyfriend Pierre, don't react as well. Nathalie Mann is very good as Léa/Nico, and her encounter with a male co-worker who fancies her is particularly well played-out. He simply wants an affair with his beautiful co-worker, while she freaks out over the fear that he may find out her previous identity. Many of the reactions portrayed are very realistic and complex. Though the film seems to drag on a bit, and ends with a closing shot that is both cutesy and eyeball-rolling, Another Woman is certainly a worthy addition to the small-but-growing list of sympathetic transsexual-themed films.

After taking a night off, I decided to check out one of the "Gay TV Dinner" events at Central Cinema (which my pals and I like to call Cinnamon Grill... but that is a whole 'nother story). This is a small neighborhood theater with some cushy seats sidled up to tables, where you can eat and drink while enjoying anything from a classic to a new release film. For the fest, there are three special presentations where 70s gay-themed TV shows are shown, with a set menu to enjoy. Wednesday's theme was "Predatory Lesbians and Teen Tales" featuring the 1974 “Flowers of Evil” episode of Police Woman, and a 1976 episode of Family, starring, among others teenage Kristy MacNichol as the tomboy daughter Buddy. Police Woman oozed with cheese... the plot involved a passel of lesbians running a killer nursing home where all the patients were drugged and eventually killed. Classic moments included one of the deranged lesbians getting a full-on, head-snapping bitch-slap from her dominant girlfriend in order to make her shut up, and the lip-quivering mastermind (who "looked like she should drive a diesel truck") whisper something apparently so crass and unspeakable to one of the police officers, that we can only be tantalized wondering what sort of horrible language the lesbians know. At one point, gorgeous Angie Dickenson looks wistfully off into the distance and says, "I had a college roommate once...", which invoked hoots from the audience.

Family, however, was more serious minded, involving son Willie's best friend Zeke getting arrested at a gay bar, and basically getting outed to everyone because of it. Willie's response is harsh, while Willie's parents are more sympathetic to the neighborhood kid they've all known for years. Mom basically gives Willie a talking-to, letting him know that he is being a complete ass by pushing his best friend away. It was actually really well done, despite some dated costuming choices, and made me a little teary-eyed at points. I've heard Family is out on DVD... I'd kind of like to check out more episodes.

[2007 Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival]


Vickie said...

Wait. You've never seen Family????

OMG, I used to lurrrrrrrrrrrrve that show!

Linda said...

No, I've never seen Family! My Kristy MacNichol associations are just about entirely related to the film Little Darlings. :)

I think I'll (wait for it, Vickie) start renting Family on DVD! Remember, that is how I like to watch my TV, even if it is 30 years after-the-fact!