The Frameline International Film Festival unspools June 18 - 28 in Bay Area theaters. Hereâ€™s an advance guide to a half dozen hot tickets.
Fun in Boys Shorts Saturday June 20, 11:00 am, Castro and Sunday June 28, 2:15 pm, Castro
This collection of short films includes a few highlights. Dennis Hensleyâ€™s witty and charming Reunion may be the best of the bunch. A twenty year-old itch is scratched when a gay guy reunites with a straight high school hunk he was crushed on and someone acts on his desires. Itâ€™s arch and enjoyable. Another great short about an unexpected night of passion is 13 Minutes or So. This highly worthwhile film concerns two cute straight guys dealing with the morning after. What makes this short so terrific is that it reveals just enough about the characters to make their situation resonate. Alas, the rest of the program, however, is a real mixed bag. Fellow Traveler is a cute entry about a man given a full body search in an airport, but it has an obvious punchline, and could have been better, naughtier. In contrast, Steam appears to be naughty, and has an amusing punchline. Both The Island, from Canada, and the Korean entry Boy Meats Boy are flights of fantasy. The former boasts some clever animation, while the later features a kitschy pop song, but neither is particularly winning. Rounding out the program are two decent films that deal with sexuality in tangible ways. Sucker, by Peter Pizzi, concerns an online dater who finds he wants more from his trick than just sucking his cock and Dish, about a virginal queer Latino teen who is obsessed with talking about sex, but maybe not ready for it. Both of these films made be a bit crudely made, but they each have a point that makes them worthwhile.
Little Joe Sunday June 20, 4:15 pm, Castro
This fantastic, illuminating documentary about Joe Dallesandro and the films heâ€™s made over his storied career Little Joe is great funâ€”especially for anyone who swoons over the handsome actor. (Isnâ€™t that everyone?!) Directed by Nicole Haeusser, the film has Dallesandro sitting in a pinstriped jacket, chain-smoking, and telling stories. His amusing recollections about posing nude, making films, and working with Warhol, Paul Morrissey and others are extremely enjoyableâ€”mainly because he seems to relish talking about his past. He laughs about his famous homemade tattoo, describes a gunshot wound he received as a teenager, and demystifies Warholâ€”explaining how he â€śliterally walked into his careerâ€ť at the Factory. He wonders why the films he madeâ€”Flesh, Trash, and Heat among themâ€”which were loosely based on his life involved him constantly naked and hanging out with transvestites. Fans will hang on every word and likely drool over the many shrewdly integrated clips and photos of shirtless, pants-less Dallesandro that illustrate his running commentary. If the actor demurs about his beauty or confesses he isnâ€™t much of an actor, he is more candid about the depression and addiction that consumed him later in life. Little Joe may appear to be a superficial film but after recounting film after film, Dallesandro ends with an illuminating observation that proves he is not as dumb as people think. Very highly recommended.
Against a Trans Narrative (with Diagnosing Difference) Saturday June 20, 4:30 pm, Victoria
This intriguing and challenging documentary examines the â€śpervasive narrativeâ€ť in the transgender community. Why do individuals undergoing gender reassignment have to â€śpassâ€ť as a man or a woman, rather than be accepted for who they are and how they look? Why canâ€™t they just be identified as â€śtrans?â€ť Director Jules Rosskam poses these questions, and includes discussions about gender that defy easy answers. Included in Against a Trans Narrative are conversations about feminismâ€”e.g., can men be feminists?â€”as well as interviews incorporating ideas about race and sexuality. Rosskam also considers gender privilege and transgender identity. In contrast to these segments, staged scenes address the protocols for women requesting testosterone. Other episodes present dialogues about identity politics, authenticity, and group/community dynamics. In addition, misconceptions about shifting perceptions among transgendered individuals, their partners, and society itself are raised. Rosskam provides considerable food for thought here, even though there are too many points and voices represented in the hour-long documentary. Yet perhaps the most striking narrative is from Willy Wilkinson shrewdly incorporates race, class, sexuality, and gender in a series of transfixing (pun intended) performances.
Training Rules Sunday June 21, 3:30 pm, Castro
The inspiration documentary Training Rules addresses the issue of homophobia in womenâ€™s sports. In particular, the â€śtraining rulesâ€ť of Penn State Womenâ€™s Basketball coach Rene Portland, who tells student athletes: â€śNo drinking, no drugs, no lesbians,â€ť or they are off the team. In player Jennifer Harrisâ€™s mind, it was time to call coach Portland on her discrimination. Out filmmaker Dee Mosbacker interviews various players from the past thirty years whose passion for the game ended with Portland dismissing them on the basis of their sexual orientation. They discuss the fear, pain, psychological abuse and shame they experienced as members of Portlandâ€™s team and how complaining about the policy would likely end any chances of playing for the WNBA. While Portland declined to be interviewed for the film, the testimonies of the women who played for her are quite telling, and often heartbreaking. Training Rules is a fine and very moving documentary.
Mr. Right Thursday, June 25, 9:30 pm, Elmwood and Saturday, June 27, 6:00 pm, Castro
Glossy, good-looking, and very gay, this irresistible British romantic comedy features one straight and three queer couples facing relationship issues. Harry (James Lance) a reality show producer who is living with Alex (Luke de Woolfson), a cater-waiter who really wants to be an actor. Lawrence (Leon Ockenden) is actor on a TV show, and he is dating William (Rocky Marshall), a gay dad who canâ€™t fully commit to the relationship because of his needy young daughter. Meanwhile, Larrs (Benjamin Hart) is a hunk living off artist/gallery owner Tom (David Morris), and Louise (Georgia Zaris), is the token fag hag with the straight (or is he?) boyfriend Paul (Jeremy Edwards). Mr. Right introduces these characters and has them meet and talk and sometimes fuck (chastely). The dramatic centerpiece is an awkward dinner party hosted where several of the relationships come undone, forcing everyone to take stock of their lives and decide if loving their partner is either a risk, or a form of security, however false. Innocuous, for sure, one can take issue that the characters here are all pretty and pretty one-dimensional. Yet Mr. Right is less concerned with the viewerâ€™s long-term relationship; it wants to give folks a good time for 94 minutes, which it does. Viewers will care about the characters, and be mostly satisfied with how things turn out by the time the credits roll.
Lionâ€™s Den Saturday, June 27, 9:30 pm, Roxie
Martina Gusman gives a bravura performance in director Pablo Traperoâ€™s gritty, compelling, and emotionally charged Argentine drama about an imprisoned young woman. Julia (Gusman) is accused of murder, and sentenced to jail, though she canâ€™t quite remember what transpired between her, her lover and his male lover (Rodrigo Santoro of 300 fame). Pregnant when detained, she has her baby TomĂˇs while incarcerated and raises him in jail with other imprisoned mothers. Her love for her child is Juliaâ€™s way of coping with the harsh reality of her situation. Yet Julia also explores intimacy with Marta (Laura GarcĂa), another inmate, and enters into a romantic relationship with her. Juliaâ€™s story, which involves her losing TomĂˇs and eventually becoming empowered in her efforts to get her son back, is standard melodrama. Yet Lionâ€™s Den is enlivened by Gusmanâ€™s fierce performance. This remarkable actress (who is also Traperoâ€™s wife) is riveting whether she is learning how to care for her baby, or inciting a riot in the cell. Lionâ€™s Den places its sympathies squarely with its heroine whose sees herself as the victim of injustice even though this may not necessarily be the case. Even when Juliaâ€™s story may be both contrived and implausible, watching her cope withâ€”and prevail overâ€”her tough situation, is also quite rousing.