One of the things I'm loving about living in Melbourne is all the stuff thats going on. A customer from Perth came into the store yesterday and, not just to make conversation, but in total honesty, I directed him to Federation Square, because EVERY single day since I moved here two months ago, there has been something going on in the vicinity. Be it a Thai culture festival, the Food and Wine festival, the FINA championships, there's always something going on nearby. Last week, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, which backs onto Fed Square, played host to the annual Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and Kit and I made sure to get ourselves tickets. I would have loved to get a Golden Toffee Pass, which would have let me get into any session, but alas, real life, in the guise of work, had to cut in at some point, so I was only able to go to..*shock horror* 10 movies. I guess one of the benefits of being the boss, is that I could work my roster around the films I wanted to see *s* We tried to split our movies between arty intellectual and cheap and campy, and I think we did pretty well, all in all.
We started with Whole New Thing, which I thought was a really sweet film. Unlike some festival films, this wasn't "all about the gay", but rather a film about characters that happened to be gay. The main character Emerson, had a really sweet innocence, borne from growing up outside of "normal" societal mores, and the whole film kind of left me feeling nice and gooey.
In contrast to this was the demurely titled Eating Out 2: Sloppy Seconds, which thankfully was actually better than its prequel (and title) would suggest. Sure, the acting was pretty bad, and there was far too much gratuitous nudity to take it seriously (not that thats entirely a bad thing *S*), but the writing was snappier, the chemistry between characters was better developed, and the whole thing felt a bit more complete that the last attempt. Sure it was cheap and campy, but it was a bit of fun.
El Cielo Dividido (Broken Sky) was our attempt at being arty, which went horribly awry. True, the concept is noble- making a very "art" inspired take on a gay love story- longing glances, minimal dialogue, beautiful cinematography, but unfortunately there was really no substance or story behind it to justify the 2 1/2 hr running time. About a quarter of the audience left at some point during the movie, and I think most of the others were thinking "this should have finished an hour ago"
I had an idea what to expect from The Dying Gaul, and I wasn't too disappointed. Yes, it's always good to see a "gay-themed" movie that doesn't revolve around the gay ghetto and doesn't even mention a club or drugs, but there was still something not quite right about the whole thing. The story was interesting enough, the performances were good, but I still leftr feeling like I'd been watching some kind of tele-feature ala The Hand That Rocks The Cradle.
Aahhh.... Veinte Centimetros (20cm)... where do you begin explaining a film about a narcoleptic pre-op transexual prostitute who lives with a midget small-time hustler, and dreams her life is a technicolor musical whenever she sleeps? Hmmm...actually, I think that pretty much sums it up.
I felt a little guilty enjoying Boy Culture, but maybe that might have something to do with the cute boys. Then again it definitely knows its target audience. Any film whose opening words are (and this is my recollection of them) "the smart ones among you would have guessed I'm a prostitute....I'm gay, and they made a movie about me- try to keep up" surely isn't taking itself too seriously, but there was still some kind of story there. Sure it didn't dig as deep as it could have into the life the hustler with morals, but it was written by Q. Allan Brocka (of Eating Out, and Eating out 2 fame) so we can't expect too much.
On a whim, we decided to wait around for last release tickets to Dead Boyz Don't Scream, and we got what we expected. There was a definite shift in the movie, about halfway through when you could tell all the cast suddenly realised "actually, this movie is the biggest pile of crap ever created...lets stop taking it seriously, and actually have some fun". This is one of those movies thats so bad its good...trying to take the piss out of other movies but failing miserably; drawing a modelling photo shoot out over 10 mins just to get another few gratuitous naked-boy shots in there, and the whole time I was trying to work out- either these guys are the worlds worst actors taking this seriously, or the worlds best actors playing the worlds worst actors...I'm still not entirely sure either way.
A "Citizen Kane" for our time and community as it was lovingly described by Saj, Another Gay Movie can best be described as a gay-themed spoof of American Pie, Porky's and other teen gross-out comedies. Knowing this full well, I wasn't actually expecting to enjoy it. Sure, its been given HORRIBLE reviews, all decrying the raunchy, puerile humour...but GOD, anyone who sees this movie knows EXACTLY what its about. Underneath the stereotyped characters and bodily function jokes however, there was actually and endearing movie. Funny, hey?
The Line Of Beauty is based on the Booker Prize wining novel of the same name by Alan Hollinghurst. It was put to film as a BBC miniseries (think of it as Pride and Prejudice for the gays), and shown as one 3hr production for the festival. I think I would have enjoyed it more had i not have already read the book, but there just seemed to be something missing. I know that film-makers want us to "connect"to the characters, and feel sympathy for them, but to be honest I found the protagonist, Nick Guest too sympathetic in the BBC production. Part of the twisted appeal of his character in Hollinghurst's novel is that you can see he's just as flawed and insidious as the characters he interacts with, even if he doesn't; but in the film adaptation, even while he's snorting coke, and having random sex, theres still a sense of naive innocence about him. I'm not really sure how to feel about this one overall- something in my gut tells me not to like it, but when it was over I still ended up walking away happy ebough, if not completely satisfied
And finally...... Go West, a tale of two lovers trapped in war-torn Yugoslavia. In order to escape the religious slaughter, Serbian Milan convinces his Muslim lover Kenan to dress as his "wife" while they escape to Holland via Milans home town. I found this tale very moving, as it looked into the religious persecution and racial tensions within the Serbia/Bosnia/Herzegovina area. Yet while these hostilities are open, violent and obvious, there is also the continuous underlying hatred of homosexuals which prevents Milan and Kenan from escaping to freedom. Despite visiting his hometown, where he is popular and welcomed, Milan must pretend to have a wife to gain their support. Even to his friend who knows of Kenan's gender and religion, Milan can only ever talk of his partner as "his friend"for fear of reprisal. The only things that I dind't like about this film were the god-awful subtitles (I read a story recently about English subtitling being outsourced to India...I think this is a perfect example of this), and the ending. Invisible cello in front of a strange French Joan Rivers lookalike, isn't the way to finish off a poignant film.
Anyway, all in all it was a great festival. The only problem is theres now quite a few mainstream movies we want to see, but I don't think either of us want to sit in a theatre any time soon, after over a weeks worth of solid movie-going (kind of the same as the dessert hangover, i think)...still, I can't wait til next year. I might even volunteer, and see if i can get some free tix :)