by Herb Krohn -
SGN Contributing Writer
Each year, the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) brings great films to Seattle from around the globe, and the SGN reviews the best LGBT movies the festival has to offer. SIFF runs until June 13 at various venues around Seattle. For a full list of films, visit www.siff.net. For a full list of SIFF reviews, visit www.sgn.org.
Beautiful Darling: The Life and Times of Candy Darling the Andy Warhol Superstar
Rating: Very Good
June 13, 6:15 p.m., SIFF Cinema
This documentary profiles Candy Darling, a Transsexual who starred in several Andy Warhol films in the late '60s and early '70s before her tragically young death. Capturing the intricacies of an era long since passed, this film uses archival footage of Darling as well as many others from Warhol's films, and adds contemporary interviews with many of those who knew her to recreate her interesting life. It is a fascinating look back at the personal life of this early Transsexual pioneer, the implications of living openly at the time, and is yet another confirmation of Warhol's exploitation of others for his personal gain.
June 4, 6:30 p.m., Pacific Place
June 5, 4 p.m., Pacific Place
Dysfunctional family dynamics abound in this unique SIFF entry, which encompasses a 24-hour time period in the lives of the characters, divided into two distinct segments. The first part explores the experiences through the eyes of the children from these families, while the second half profiles the same time period through the eyes of each of their mothers. Set in Melbourne, every scenario and family suffers from serious issues of dysfunctional family dynamics. Nonetheless, while not particularly pleasant - in fact, it has a downright depressing plot overall - it is nonetheless a very creatively produced and well-acted film which realistically portrays the lives of the characters as well as tying all of their lives together throughout the story.
Rating: Below Average
June 13, 6:30 p.m., Uptown
This is a story of a younger woman who returns from service as a nurse on an aid mission in Africa, where she experienced quite a bit of violence. As she attempts to adjust to life back in Spain, the emotional demons of her experiences in Africa haunt her. She flees her husband and their residence without any warning and takes a job as a security guard at a hotel/sanitarium. She borrows an R.V. to live in from her closest friend, an openly Gay therapist at the facility, and initially parks it at a campground operated by a pervert with a large Rottweiler. After a violent confrontation with the operator she flees, moving the R.V. to a truck stop near a freeway where she befriends the store clerks and restaurant operators. Back at the sanitarium, she begins an affair with a patient who feigns amnesia, while her Gay friend also engages in his trysts while on duty, and of course events cause life to eventually spiral out of control. With all of its complexities, this seems to be a vague attempt to convey a sense of alienation from society felt by the two main characters, yet experienced for very different reasons. While the performances are solid, the plot just never really comes together.
Spain - Subtitled
June 4, 11 a.m., Pacific Place
June 7, 9:20 p.m., Uptown
Five individuals (a therapist and four clients) who meet in group therapy for overweight people seeking to change their lives end up having their lives turned upside-down. The four include a police forensic expert with a fat wife and daughter but a skinny son, a diet pill infomercial celebrity who is Gay and is facing financial ruin for his weight gain, a sexually repressed religious cult member whose thin future husband disapproves of her participation, a very successful businesswoman who is gaining weight out of sexual and emotional frustration while her boyfriend works in the U.S., and the thin therapist who is personally revolted by his wife's weight gain during her pregnancy. What makes this film remarkable is not only the clever and complex plot and the interrelationships of the characters, but the cynical humor and sequencing of the storylines of the experiences of the secondary characters. It is woven together in a uniquely interesting and realistic yet comedic way that incorporates modern stylish cinematography, and is another demonstration of the coming-of-age of Spanish filmmaking. This is a SIFF entry not to be missed!
I Killed My Mother
Rating: Above Average
Coming of Age
Canada - Quebec - Subtitled
June 6, 7 p.m., Egyptian
Another coming-of-age story of a Gay teenager whose estranged relationship with his self-centered mother seems to encompass scene after scene of them arguing and screaming at each other which seems to become tiring after a while. Yet it is often a humorously engaging storyline where the audience as well as the mother only learn about halfway through the film that the central character is Gay. The plot almost entirely centers on the interpersonal dynamics of the 16-year-old teenager with his mother which goes hot and cold, loving and hateful, as well as lots of raging anger coupled with rare moments of affection. While the audience can clearly relate to the boy's issues with his mother, it is not until nearly the end of the film that we are finally given a glimpse into the feelings and motivations of the mother. A worthwhile film which may not encompass anything new, yet still has very strong performances and high-value production techniques.
Rating: Very Good
Coming of Age
Argentina - Subtitled
It is obviously still difficult to come out in many societies in South America, including, apparently, Argentina. Leo is a graduate student at college who cannot perform with his girlfriend. She becomes tired of his inability to get excited during sex and dumps him. He then decides to go to therapy and he befriends a seriously depressed girl from elementary school, who he comes across years later while secretly exploring his sexual desire for men. What is unique about this film is its realism coupled with the strong character portrayals by the entire cast, and a fairly simple plot about a young man's attempt to come to grips with who he is while being very fearful and cognizant of the social stigma of being Gay in his society. It really is an amazing film coming out of Argentina, so it is another example of how lucky we are to be able to view such cinema through SIFF.
At 38 years of age, Mark Hogencamp was brutally beaten one night after leaving a bar in Kingston, NY, leaving him in a coma and resulting in significant brain damage. Hogencamp cannot recall most of the events from his life before the assault. As he recovered, he began to dress and stage GI Joe, Barbie, and other similar dolls into scenes created in his own imagination set in a fictional WWII era European village of Marwencol, which he built and set up in his backyard. In his mind, he creates detailed scenarios of the experiences of his doll characters, many of which are based on people in his life; then he dresses and sets the dolls up and takes photographs of them engaging in the scenario he envisions. What is remarkable are the fine details which go into his creations which are really an amazing work of art. Oh, and did I mention that the motive for the assault on Hogencamp was that he crossdresses? This is a fascinating documentary profile of one eccentric individual's efforts to help himself recover from a terrible injury, and how the damage to his brain has led to his unique creativity.
A woman with an unusually remarkable talent for cooking sets out to be the best chef and eventually succeeds with the help of her husband and her lover. The two males fight with each other, but eventually become willing participants in this ménage à trios love affair that encompasses not only their lives in the bedroom but also their business lives as they end up as the three owners of a restaurant. Eventually they discover their love for each other as human beings without regard to their gender, and they realize that their creativity and productivity is tied in to their tertiary relationship with one another. Besides all of the sexual escapades, this is also a great food film. What goes best together in life also works in film - good sex and fine food, and this clever comedic romance is full of both. It is an enjoyable romp which would almost never be screened in the U.S. without a festival such as SIFF.
Rating: Below Average
Four middle-aged Lesbian friends who were once in a rock band together murder a fifth girl. Later, a sixth Lesbian shows up looking for the missing girl. This is an experimental SIFF entry, and about a third of the way into the film, the actors come out of character and give monologue-type interviews about the film's plot. The film progresses through the plot of how the murder occurred and is interspersed with clips of the actors being interviewed both in and out of character. It is a clever and unique technique, however it just doesn't quite come together in a way that makes it work, and instead seems to detract from the overall continuity of the films plot. While this is a worthwhile effort to do something different, it's not really worth spending your hard-earned film dollars to see.
This is yet another film centering on a ménage à trois, this time involving three early-20s art students in college. One is a very talented and handsome impotent guy, his best friend, who has clever wit but lacks looks, and an attractive female student. They meet, have sex, and it becomes a three-person relationship. We get to watch as they negotiate through various social scenarios, including family gatherings as well as college social events. As the end of college life draws near, they begin to realize that change is inevitable and they have to come to terms with their emotional feelings for one another, while each looks to the future in a completely different way. While voyeuristically interesting, there is really nothing innovative or unique about this film - it's just an average film about an unusual subject.
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