Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Childhood memories

I visited my parents' place over Mother's Day weekend earlier this spring. I normally stay in a room on the second floor, but since my dad moved some of his office stuff into that room, I stayed in another. And, thus, I saw something that I hadn't seen in a very long time.

In the twilight of time between then and tomorrow, the small stool caught the soft hue of nearby light. The legs, four pillars of foundation, still stood willing and ready for the weight of a young child's imagination. I knelt down, knowing that while it may not hold my physical weight, it would still support the dreams and aspirations of a lost adolescent. I cried.

My childhood name was written across the top of that stool.

I don't know if it was the emotion of seeing something I cherished from my half bottled-up youth, or if it was a nod to the time spent alone as a kid while sitting on that stool pondering the reasons why my body didn't match who I thought I was. While I remember many of the toys and items I had as a child, I have realized I cherished the ones where gender didn't matter.

My sister had the Barbies and stuffed animals, along with makeup and a small toy house. I had the Matchbox cars, the Shogun Warriors, and a number of other boy items. We both had sporting equipment, along with watercolor posters made by our mom that had our names and other things that started with the same letter. Mine was K, her's was L.

We both had kites that we flew when the wind was swift enough to keep our dreams afloat. In the winter, we had sleds that let us slide along on journeys we'd never taken. And when we could, we both rode our bikes wherever our little legs could take us.

My sister and I had Christmas stockings with our names labeled across the top. We both received similar ornaments from our grandmother, mine often resembling a boy's toy, but not always.

My sister and I shared a collection of 45's that we played on our little record player. We both loved the song "YMCA".

And my sister and I both had stools with our names on them. I remember her's breaking at some point, which we fixed, but if I'm not mistaken, mine weathered the years quite well. Sure, it still shows its age, but it has remained sturdy throughout the years.

I've broken down crying while writing this entry amazing four months shear awe of the power of emotion I felt that night. And I'm not sure if the tears are good or bad, whether I'm crying from the memories of a happy, yet unfulfilled childhood, or if it's the sight of something dear to my heart that interlaced that childhood with the power to keep that little girl inside me alive.

Perhaps this weekend I shall fly a kite and see.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Pride(s) and Frameline 2010

I meant to write this entry shortly after SF Pride, but I was super busy in the weeks following then. Since today was Oakland Pride, I figured I would finally finish it.

I was a little sick the week prior to and including SF Pride, the same time that the Frameline Film Fest was running. This year I decided to take in as movies as I could, along with a wide variety of topics and languages.

As with most independent films, it can be tough to find a movie that has great acting, a great script, great editing, and great directing. Typically, though, you get a couple of items, but never all of them.

Bi Request - Friday, June 18th

This was a collection of shorts set around a bisexual theme that I saw with a number of friends. One section featured portions of the web series, Rose by Any Other Name with a lesbian who starts dating a straight guy. It was mainly about their friends reactions to the two starting to date. It has pretty good acting and writing, but the story ended too soon as it's part of a series that was too long to showcase in a "shorts" series, but too short to be featured by itself.

Curious Thing was a nice little documentary with interesting voice-overs combined with a visual side story. In Between a Kiss was interesting as a girl gets caught by her boyfriend as she slips in to see her girlfriend.

There were a few other shorts, but nothing really worth mentioning. One had a French boyfriend sleeping around on his girlfriend with a guy, another was about a female porn performer, and the last was a stoner short about Wayne and Garth in San Francisco.

Elvis & Madona (imdb link) - Saturday, June 19th

In this Portuguese film, Madona has a run in with her previous pimp, but in the process meets Elvis, the girl of her dreams. Madona comes across as somewhere between Drag Queen and Male to Female transsexual, but however she identifies, she falls for pizza delivery girl, Elvis, who in turn falls for Madona. The two lovebirds make their way through a number of difficult times, culminating with Madona's show. There was such a diverse setting of scenes...everything from a campy drag show (that went on even after a shooting) to the series side of the two visiting Elvis' parents. Overall, I liked it, although it had a little more camp in it than I would have preferred.

A Marine Story (imdb link) (website) - Saturday, June 19th

Just a few hours after Elvis & Madona, I caught what I would consider to be the best film of the film fest, A Marine Story. This stars the same actress and director/writer from The Gymnast (which I never saw), which is supposed to be a fairly good film, as well. A Marine Story had good acting and a good story, and it made for a good movie. I was worried a little at the beginning that it was going to come off a little too Red State-ish for me, but it turned out well. At some point, I'm hoping I can get my parents to watch it.

It is the story of a marine that is kicked out of the service for being a lesbian. She returns to the town where she grew up and slowly starts to come out to the people she associates with. In the process, she also inherits a local female youth who needs to be polished into shape before she's semi-forced to join the military. The movie takes a few expected turns (a la Hollywood), but overall it made for an enjoyable experience.

Paulista (imdb link) - Sunday, June 20th

In this Portuguese story, a young woman named Marina leaves the countryside and runs off to the big city of Sao Paulo in order to earn work as an actress. She stays with a woman named Suzana who is just starting a relationship with a man she knows from work. Marina seems to fall for a punk rocker, while Suzana grows closer and closer to her new boyfriend. The main draw for me was the Suzana character, a post-op male to female transsexual. Her character went through many of the situations that MTF's go through once past transition. I loved the story, acting, and the settings, but the editing between scenes and the story's ending really brought this film down for me. I was left there at the end going "NOOOOOO!!!!!!". I was really hoping they had more resolution, and it almost made me wonder if the writer either didn't know how to end it or they ran out of time filming it.

Plan B (imdb link) - Monday, June 21st

In my third film to watch with subtitles, I went in thinking it was going to be a romantic comedy, but it ended up being a little more series and way more artsy that I expected. (I'm not sure if the distant reference to Plan 9 From Outer Space influenced my thoughts or not.) The Spanish film had a great story and some fantastic acting, but the writing had a lot of gaps, and the editing was poor. This film probably could have been half the length just from all the super slow times. I actually fell asleep near the end of the film due to so many lulls in action and dialogue, but woke up before the superb ending.

Elena Undone (imdb link) (website) - Friday, June 25th

I was expecting a lot from this film since it had two fairly attractive women playing lesbians in love with one another. Even the movie "poster" has the two of them basically naked, but not showing anything significant. I'm not sure if my higher expectations lead me to be disappointed in this film or if me not feeling well also contributed. I was also in a bad mood from earlier in the day, but still, the story was horrible and they focused way too much on the two women being wrapped up in one another. It's sorta like making a trans-movie and totally dwelling on the trans-people (which can be boring), instead of focusing on how their journey affects those around them. They set up some supporting characters with potential for great conflict, yet all of that was dealt with in such short order and far less degree of difficulty. Also, the director has us believe that the very obvious gay narrator is, in fact, actually straight. I actually fell asleep in this one, too, and was utterly bored trying to finish it. The ending was also pretty corny, as well. Like I said, though, I wasn't in the best of moods, so perhaps that clouded my judgment on this film.

Lost in the Crowd
(imdb link) (website) - Saturday, June 26

This was a fantastic documentary about trans and queer youth living on the streets of New York City. The filmmaker initially intended to film a different subject matter, but stumbled upon the story of a number of at risk youth. The youth include gay men and a number of trans women who find varying degrees of success with the cards they have been dealt. The documentary was filmed over a number of years, and unfortunately, the filmmaker was unable to reach several of the youth she had filmed in previous years. I wish this film were slightly longer than the 75 minute running time listed, but it was definitely worth seeing. I even had one of my teammates and her girlfriend decide to watch it with me at the spur of the moment, and even they liked it and found it deeply touching.

I'm glad I had the opportunity to see seven of this year's films, but I really wish I hadn't been sick the week of the film fest. I watched about half of the films by myself, but later found out I knew a number of other people at the films who were watching them by themselves, too. It can be so hit-or-miss at these independent films, though, but at least a few turned out to be really great and very touching.