|Elliot Loves. PHOTOâSOURCE: FRAMELINE
The Frameline Film Festival opens tonight, so here is another roundup of films unspooling at the fest:
As a young boy, lonely Pim dresses up in his motherâs tiara and lipstick. At 15, Pim (Jelle Floorizoone) is attracted to his handsome older neighbor, Gino (Mathias Vergels). A scene of them having a sleepover in a tent is highly erotic. North Sea Texas [June 15, 9:30 pm, Castro], set in a coastal town in Flanders, chronicles Pimâs heartache and jealousy as he comes of age. Pim is shattered when Gino finds a girlfriend. And when he develops a crush on Zoltan (Thomas Coumans), his motherâs border, other romantic complications ensue. This stylized film captures the awkward blush of first love and stirrings of same-sex desire, but the filmâs lyrical approach keeps audiences at a distance except for the most emotional moments.
The shorts program, Fun in Boys Shorts [June 16, 11:00 am Castro; June 24, 2:00 pm, Castro], is a mixed bag. The best entry, the inspired Spanish import, Unanimated, features a cartoon character struggling with being different in a real-life world. Other highlights include the sweet prom story, Crush, and Scott Thompsonâs comic turn in Four Pounds. Two entries, however, are more awkward than amusing: 33 Teeth about a young teen with a crush on his neighbor, and Shabbat Dinner, in which two teens hook up while their parents dine in the next room. And two other entriesâTwo Guys in a Backyard, and 7 Deadly Kissesâ are slight and not particularly satisfying.
Executive produced by and featuring Lance Bass, a Laurel, MS native, the inspiring documentary Mississippi I Am [June 16, 6:30pm Castro] showcases many poignant stories by and about LGBTQ Mississippians. It opens with queer youth explaining the stateâs âtight knitâ and deeply religious communities, and how folks will turn their backs on anyone who is âdifferent in any way.â Profiling half a dozen courageous LGBTQ individuals, Mississippi I Am features young lesbians like Jessi, who describes being physically ill because she was lying to her family about her sexuality. Yet Jessi is proud of her traditionalist grandmotherâwho disapproves of her granddaughterâs penchant for wearing menâs clothesâbut remains close to her, even asking Jessi about her love life. Another moving story chronicles Pam, the Pastor for an LGBT church that met in secret to protect the identities of its congregants. Mississippi I Am also details the fight that resulted in a legal battle, which developed when Constance McMillen wanted to take her girlfriend to the prom. It is the testimony by the filmâs unlikely, but empowered, activists that make Mississippi I Am so moving.
The indelible image of a gun, wrapped in a condom and enveloped by a vagina in the opening moments of Mommy Is Coming [June 16, 9:30 pm, Victoria], gives viewers a taste of whatâs to come in Cheryl Dunyeâs fabulous fairy tale recast as an over the top porn comedy. Claudia (Papi Coxxx), an old-fashioned butch, is unable to trust her insatiable girlfriend Dylan (Lil Harlow) enough to let her have sex with her. Dylan wants fireworks and trumpets from sex, and dumps Claudia, who resists losing control. When Claudia visits a Berlin sex club one night, she puts on a mustache and loosens her inhibitions. Becoming Claude, she tries some new things. Later, in guy-disguise, she ends up unknowingly flirting with Dylanâs mother, Helen (Maggie Tapert). Everything (and everyone) comes together one night at a hotel in the big climax. Dunye showcases plenty of wit with the twat, as Mommy Is Coming features some amusing comic bits among the raunchy hardcore scenes. The film also includes some clever direct address commentaries with cast members and various sex club extras that put the filmâs messagesâabout love, trust, and sexâinto perspective.
A real sleeper, Elliot Loves [June 18, 7:00 pm, Victoria; June 20, 9:30 pm, Elmwood] is poignant comedy-drama about the title characterâa motor-mouthed Dominican growing up in New York City. The narrative toggles between Elliot as a kid struggling with his flaky mother and her deadbeat boyfriends, and Elliot as an adult emulating his mother by being attracted to the wrong guys. Deftly chronicling Elliotâs trials and tribulations as he searches for love and validation, this low-budget but heartfelt film directed by Terracino, is just like its title characterâcharming, rough around the edges and totally lovable.
My Best Day [June 19, 7:00 pm, Elmwood; June 20 9:30 pm, Castro] is a slight but sly comedy about a handful of characters in a small town.
The interlocking stories all feature folks with identity issues searching for something. For Karen (Rachel Style), itâs her father, who moved awayâto possibly the next small town over from where she lives. For Ray (Robert Salerno), a scrawny kid, itâs escape from the bullies and a date with Kathy (Haley Murphy). And for gay Eugene (Harris Doran), itâs âmeatless meat.â But these charactersâalong with Latino Neil (RaĂșl Castillo), Stacey (Jo Armenoix), a compulsive gambler, and Meagan (Ashlie Atkison), a lesbian torn between two girlfriendsâall discover nice surprises as My Best Day unfolds. And audiences will be won over by this quirky little indie, if they get into the filmâs offbeat rhythm. Writer/director Erin Greenwell displays an eye for both striking compositions and lovely details, such as a gag involving Meagan calling her girlfriend at work.
Never heard of 1970s glam rock star Jobriath? Check out Jobriath A.D. [June 19, 9:30 pm, Victoria], an absolutely mesmerizing documentary that unearths the amazing, strange-but-true story of super rock would-be superstarâwho never became a star. A talented, unique singer and incredibly accomplished pianist, Jobriath performed in the musical Hair before he created his flamboyant stage persona that one observer called, âout queen-ed Queen.â But whereas the similarly androgynous David Bowie was mostly performing feminine, Jobriath dubbed himself a âtrue fairy,â and perhaps committed career suicide by outing himself. Yet Jobriath A.D. suggests the musicianâs epic fail may have been orchestrated by Jerry Brandt, his promoter, exploiting him. Whatever the truth, this documentary takes twist and turns as it reveals Jobriathâs peculiar family life, and his post-rock star career developments. Featuring incredible performance footage, smart commentaries from queer musicians Stephin Merritt and Jake Shears, as well as contributions from other showbiz namesâAnn Magnuson, Dennis Christopher, Joey Ariasâthis inventive film is a remarkable story of fame, failure, and reinvention.
Luminously shot (in black and white) but languidly paced, Joshua Tree 1951 [June 21, 4:15 pm, Castro] is an ambitious if ultimately unsuccessful film about the pre-fame years of James Dean (James Preston). Focusing mainly on the bisexual actorâs acting exercises and bedroom activities, the film is incredibly gorgeous, but also incredibly dull. From tedious acting classes at UCLA to Dean teaching a casual pickup the difference between active and passive sex, Joshua Tree 1951 is practically too cool for its own good. Writer/director Matthew Mishory does not provide any depth to Dean or make him engaging. Dean moves in with his roommate (Dan Glenn), visits Joshua Tree, and attends naked pool parties given by Roger (Edward Singletary), who helps his career. Itâs all super stylized and completely superficial.
Gay filmmaker AndrĂ© TĂ©chinĂ©âs intriguing new drama, Unforgivable [June 22, 1:45 pm, Castro], has crime writer Francis (AndrĂ© Dussollier) asking bisexual real estate agent Judith (Carole Bouquet) to move in with him. Later, when Francis suspects Judith is cheating on him, he hires her ex-loverâs son JĂ©rĂ©mie (Mauro Conte) to follow his wife. Does Francisâ spying on Judith prompt her to sleep with JĂ©rĂ©mie? Are Francisâ actions a scheme to cure his writerâs block? And what are the ramifications of Judithâs affair? The film remains spellbinding as it slowly reveals the answers.
Worldly Affairs [June 22, 4:30 pm, Castro] is a mostly strong collection of international male shorts. Your Warmth, from Israel, is an achingly tender and powerful story of a young manâs yearning for affection. Equally excellent is Alle Werden, a German drama about a young man who falls for his best friendâs colleagueâunaware of the trouble it may cause. Also from Germany is the outstanding Itâs Consuming Me, a 4-minute video that captures everything about loving someone. It features a great payoff. More or Less, from Brazil boasts an obvious ending, but that doesnât mar this otherwise engaging short too much. Less successful, however, are the Cuban entry Mila Caos, about drag performers, and a juvenile delinquent drama The Wilding, from Australia.
In A Map to Talk [June 22, 9:30 pm, Roxie], Roberta (Moro Andrea) comes out to her critical mother Ana (Mariana Prat), has sex with her girlfriend Javiera (Francisca Bernardi) and then takes them both out on a boat. Confined to the open sea, Ana may try to sabotage her daughterâs relationship, but Javieraâwho is supposed to show Ana how ânormalâ her relationship with Roberta isâmay jeopardize things instead. A Map to Talk boasts a trio of unself-conscious performances as it shows how families and lovers sometimes go along to get along.
Viewers who go on this journey of revelations and seasickness will find this Chilean import a passable time-filler.
Â© 2012 Gary M. Kramer