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Monday 08 November 2010


Gay films galore

Posted in: Movies
By GayNZ.com - 23rd June 2010

The New Zealand International Film Festival has unveiled a strong line-up of gay-themed films. Here's a rundown of the movies to look out for:


 

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GORDON CROOK: A LIFE OF ART
Director: Clare O'Leary
Year: 2010
Running time: 60 mins
World Premiere

Though his jubilantly colourful banners hang at the New Zealand Embassy in Washington and at Wellington's Michael Fowler Centre, Gordon Crook, who settled in Wellington from the UK in 1972, is rarely categorised as a New Zealand artist. His work reflects a distinctly mid-20th-century European heritage. Clare O'Leary's film provides a highly entertaining and informative personal encounter with the frank and charmingly idiosyncratic Crook. ‘Once you've given it a name, you'll never know it,' he avers, and though he quotes from his memoir-in-progress and names a great deal in the process, the film contains profuse evidence that his primary way of ‘knowing' himself and the world is through design, symbol and colour. The film abounds with drawings, collage, photography, painting and the tapestries that he is best known for, and will most likely leave you hankering for one of your own. Interviews with his friend Edith Ryan, former student printmaker Malcolm Cocks, and long-time friend and art dealer Janne Land testify further to his antic, enlivening spirit. — BG


 

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HOWL
Director: Rob Epstein
Year: 2009
Running time: 90 mins
Festivals: Sundance, Berlin 2010

In San Francisco in 1957 Allen Ginsberg's epochal (and enduring) poem “Howl” was put on trial for obscenity. Ron Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (The Life and Times of Harvey Milk) have made an intelligent, impassioned, multi-layered film about the trial, the poem and the poet as harbingers of social revolution in America. James Franco is uncannily right as the young Ginsberg. The film is built around his marvellous reading of the poem, seemingly unrehearsed, buoyed by an enthusiastic audience and the incantatory scramble of the poet's words. Re-enacted scenes from the trial succinctly spell out the still-resonant debates. In an imagined interview Ginsberg muses on his own creative process and personal struggles. Passages from the poem are interpreted in bold, hallucinatory sequences of animation. — BG.

“[The filmmakers'] passion for Ginsberg's genius and their excitement over trying to deconstruct a literary master work is contagious.” — Kirk Honeycutt, Hollywood Reporter


 

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I KILLED MY MOTHER
J'ai tué ma mère
Director: Xavier Dolan
Year: 2009
Running time: 100 mins
Festivals: Cannes (Directors' Fortnight), Toronto, Vancouver 2009; Rotterdam, New Directors/New Films 2010
Best Canadian Feature, Vancouver International Film Festival 2009

This year's prodigy is undoubtedly Xavier Dolan, whose first feature, made before the child-actor-turned-auteur reached 20, has attracted endless hype since it became a Cannes sensation last year. But the hype is justified. It's a fiery, funny picture of a teenage boy and his single mother bound together and defined by their intense dislike of each other. Teachers, our hero's boyfriend and boyfriend's totally preferable Bohemian mother are all drawn into the vortex. Superbly acted by the boy himself and actress Anne Dorval, Dolan's crackling script strikes lightning bolts of recognition for audiences either side of the generation gap, while his energetic directorial style is wittily cribbed from Godard and Wong Kar-wai, ie the best. No mothers are actually killed. No sons either. — BG

“A stunning, semi-autobiographical tour de force… it is a film with the sting of shrewdly observed truth… Hubert (Dolan) is a petulant, floppy-haired adolescent who has grown to hate every single aspect of his mother's life from the messy way she eats to the horrible fashion faux pas that constitute her wardrobe. He isn't shy about telling her. Arguments become shouting matches with Hubert displaying the kind of uncontrollable rage that would have done the late Klaus Kinski proud. ‘We used to talk,' murmurs his mother. ‘I was four and had no one else,' he roars back at her… If I Killed My Mother was just a succession of vicious arguments it would quickly become tiresome. Dolan is only 20 but shows great maturity and assurance as a filmmaker in the way he captures both sides of this complex relationship.” — Allan Hunter, Screendaily


 

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I LOVE YOU PHILIP MORRIS
Director: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Year: 2009
Running time: 102 mins
Festivals: Sundance, Cannes (Directors' Fortnight) 2009

It may sound like stunt casting, but Jim Carrey as flamboyant real-life con artist Steven Russell and Ewan McGregor as the quiet, camp boyfriend for whom he'd say or do pretty much anything are one of the last year's funniest, most strangely romantic couples. I Love You, Phillip Morris, written and directed by the pair who wrote Bad Santa, is a bold, hilarious, truly anarchic joyride. — BG

“Fans of the wacky family-friendly Jim Carrey persona will be duly discomfited by his turn as a gay conman in this sexually uncompromising but blackly funny comedy. The actor, however, has never been better, more beguiling or more expertly deployed than he is here, playing the real-life Steven Russell… Best of all, throughout this madcap yarn, Carrey's Russell is a fittingly unreliable narrator and thus pings the movie randomly through time in occasionally bewildering and ultimately exhilarating fashion.” — Damon Wise, The Times


 

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STRANGE POWERS: STEPHIN MERRIT AND THE MAGNETIC FIELDS
Director: Kerthy Fix, Gail O'Hara
Year: 2010
Running time: 89 mins
Festivals: SXSW 2010

Stephin Merritt may be the greatest American songwriter you've never heard of. Merritt and his band the Magnetic Fields are best known for their 1999 magnum opus 69 Love Songs, a rare triple album that lives up to its high concept and follows a wry, literate tradition of American songcraft stretching back through Randy Newman to Rodgers & Hart and Cole Porter. He's been targeted for his unhip reference points, and the film includes an unexpected and unqualified apology from the New Yorker critic who once accused Merritt of racism. Merritt is renowned for his deadpan demeanour and has been called ‘the grumpiest man alive' by nonplussed interviewers, but this affectionate film, shot over ten years, draws him out of his shell. It's not surprising, though, that the filmmakers find a more forthcoming and animated secondary subject in his long-term bandmate, manager, antagonist and best friend, Claudia Gonson. This broader focus allows Strange Powers to transcend simple hero worship and become a fascinating portrait of a creative partnership. — AL


 

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TO DIE LIKE A MAN
Morrer como um homem

Director: Joao Pedro Rodriques
Year: 2009
Running time: 133 mins
Festivals: Cannes (Un Certain Regard), Toronto, New York, Vancouver 2009; San Francisco 2010

Staggering and indescribably strange, João Pedro Rodrigues' tale of a Lisbon drag queen's late gender-identity crisis sets us up for grunge, angst and melodrama. And then draws us into a woodland fantasia where the spirits of Lewis Carroll and Oscar Wilde seem to preside, and the forest itself is in drag, uncertain of its true nature. — BG.

“The idea of biology as destiny is given a provocative slant in Rodrigues' extravagant, darkly funny and ultimately moving melodrama. With her blonde wig and stout dimensions, Tonia resembles John Waters' late muse, Divine, while the tragic air she carries could be cribbed from Dark Victory-era Bette Davis. In a surreal rural sequence that culminates in a spectacular red lunar eclipse, Tonia and drag diva friend Maria hunt the mythical snipe, but the most mythical creature in the woods might be Tonia herself as she straddles male and female worlds.” — Pam Grady, San Francisco International Film Festival


 

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UNDERTOW
Contracorriente
Director: Javier Fuentes-Leon
Year: 2009
Running time: 100 mins
Festivals: San Sebastián 2009; Sundance 2010
Audience Award (World Cinema), Sundance Film Festival 2010

Favoured with the Audience Award at Sundance in January, this sun-drenched fable tells of Miguel, a macho small-town fisherman intent on sustaining the attentions of his adoring, increasingly bewildered wife and the handsome, bohemian outsider who becomes his lover. Writer/director Javier Fuentes-León tempers his picture of Miguel's increasing alienation from the tight coastal community with lyrical magic realism. Ultimately skirting the oppressive conclusions one fears, he defies – or possibly redefines – machismo with a rousing assertion of love, honour and courage. — BG

“Set in a ravenously beautiful seaside fishing village in Peru, Undertow contrasts the sensuous and free nature elements of the beach with the repressed and closed mindset of the villagers… Fuentes-León's delicately and sensuously illuminates this collision of contemporary sexuality with centuries of dogma and tradition.” — Duane Byrge, Hollywood Reporter


 

Tickets for the Festival in Auckland and Wellington are on sale now through Ticketek. The Dunedin programme will be revealed Monday 28 June followed by Christchurch on Monday 5 July.

Full festival dates:
Auckland Jul 8 - 25

Christchurch Jul 29 - Aug 15

Dunedin Jul 23 - Aug 8

Gisborne Oct 28 - Nov 10

Greymouth Oct 4 - 10

Hamilton Aug 12 - 29

Kerikeri Nov 11 - 24

Masterton Oct 13 - 27

Napier Aug 18 - Sep 5

Nelson Sep 9 - 23

New Plymouth Sep 2 - 15

Palmerston North Aug 5 - 22

Tauranga Aug 26 - 8

Wellington Jul 16 - Aug 1

Whangarei Nov 4 - 17


GayNZ.com - 23rd June 2010

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