Sunday, June 29, 2014

Frameline 2014

Another San Francisco Pride brings with it another Frameline film fest.  This is my yearly review of the films that I saw.  Long story short:  go see Boy Meets Girl!

Broken Heart Land (IMdb)
I grew up in Texas, Colorado, South Dakota, and Missouri, so when I saw this film about a gay kid committing suicide in Oklahoma, I figured it would be an interesting film.  The story centers on the family of Zachary Harrington after Zachary has died.  The only glimpse one gets of him is his journal entries that are voiced at certain times during the film.

The rest of the movie deals with the family coming to grips with Zachary's sexuality and HIV status.  The film also covers a very interesting political battle over city council seats.  Overall, it was a decent film but the only out people appeared to be the lesbian couple in the political battle.  All of the other gay people still appeared to be in denial and well into the closet.  ( the film.  Every time there was someone bashing gay people, my girlfriend and I stared at each other and pointed out just how gay they were.)

Fun In Girls Shorts

Usually I don't post anything about the shorts programs, but I figured I would mention Marisa Tomei's She Said, She Said (watch the short on Vimeo) about two lesbians going through a divorce.  I thought it was a cute little short, and, with big name actors, I knew the acting would be pretty decent.

Get Animated

Another shorts program, in a category I had never seen at Frameline, was one involving animated stories.  Because animated stories typically allow a wider story to be told than the regular live actor films, especially more sci-fi type stories, I thought this one could be really cool.  I was lured in by the picture in Frameline's movie catalog from a short called Bendik and the Monster (see a teaser on Youtube), which turned out to be the only decent short in this set, both in story and quality of the animation.  The only other one that was semi-decent was Tord and Tord (see a teaser on Vimeo), but that one kinda left you without an answer at the end.  The rest of the shorts weren't worth watching.

Open Up to Me (IMdb / preview on Youtube )

My girlfriend was out of town during the week, so I went by myself to a few films.  In this "slice of life" movie, Maarit, a post-op transwoman, finds herself in a dead-end cleaning job but longs to find a position that utilizes her true skills.  After happening across a married couple struggling with their relationship, she becomes the girl on the side with someone distantly from her past.  Although they had a woman play the transwoman role, the film was decent and showed that our world isn't so black and white, but actually quite gray.

Boulevard (IMdb / Netflix)

With big names like Marisa Tomei showing up for a lesbian short, I was semi-surprised to see this feature with a lot of big names.  Robin Williams, Kathy Baker, and Bob Odenkirk star in this film about an older married man coming to grips with his sexuality by hiring a gay prostitute to hang out with him.  There were a lot of slow scenes and some awkward scenes, but Bob Odenkirk totally stole this film whenever he was in it (which is probably why he was given his own spin-off show later this fall in Better Call Saul.)  Overall, interesting story, but a little awkward and slow.  The only thing saving it are the big name actors.

Songs for Alexis (IMdb / Netflix)

Eighteen year old Ryan Cassata falls for sixteen year old Alexis in this coming of age film set in both New York and San Francisco.  After meeting Alexis in California, Ryan convinces Alexis to spend time with him in New York, but the distance and Alexis' conservative parents end up keeping the two apart.  Ryan uses the experience to put his emotion into song.  The two hook up again at the end of the film and decide to move to San Francisco.

Ryan attended the film and was able to give a personal update since filming ended two years ago.  Sadly to say, Ryan is now single.  This film will probably appeal more toward the younger crowd, but it's very interesting to watch these youth in probably their first serious relationship.  Ryan has had top surgery, but is non-op and non-hormones, which makes him more of an eternal boy without testosterone clogging his veins.

Drunktown's Finest (IMdb / Netflix)

It's always nice to see transwomen play transwomen roles, which is why I wanted to see this film.  Three stories are woven together about Native American lives on and around the reservation.  Carmen Moore, who I see actually is a porn star, seemed to fit the role of the transsexual selling her body for cash.  It was also nice to see the other side of that life with her grandparents.  Overall, this was a decent film and I liked how the stories were woven together.

Boy Meets Girl (IMdb)

I usually see about ten sets of films during Frameline, and typically there are only one or two gems.  This one was it, and was definitely my favorite film of Frameline38.  I laughed and I cried during this movie, and really enjoyed this polished product.  Even my girlfriend, who rarely cries at the movies, was caught wiping away tears at the end of this one.

In this story, Ricky and Robby have been best friends since they were six years old.  They both live in a small town in Kentucky, but what makes it interesting is that Ricky transitioned early on.  When the rich and beautiful Francesca rolls into Ricky's coffee shop, Ricky and Francesca find themselves in an unexpected lesbian relationship.  To complicate things, Francesca is planning to marry one of the locals when he returns from a military tour.  The present day story is interwoven with amusing and heartbreaking flashbacks of their past.  Michael Welch, who attended the film and spoke afterward, gave a strong performance as Robby, and newcomer, Michele Hendley (twitter) did a great job as Ricky.  Out of all of the films, this is the one to see, and hopefully it will do well with any type of moderate release.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

David Alan Grier Loves Transsexuals

My girlfriend, C, heard David Alan Grier on the radio a few months ago and bought us tickets to a comedy show in San Francisco for that night.  She thought he was funny and I had remembered liking him from In Living Color.  It sounded like a fun time.

We had dinner at some little Italian place on Columbus Avenue, grabbed a little tea at Starbucks, then found some decent seats at Cobb's Comedy Club.

A local woman opened up the show and had some decent jokes.  Dave Siegel was up next and did a pretty good job.  He wove his recent relationship adventures into some pretty decent comedy.  C and I related to a number of the tales, including the need for toenails to be trimmed otherwise major screaming can be involved.  One of Dave's defining moments of his time on stage, though, was pointing out the difference between comedy and tragedy.

"Tragedy is your dog dying.  Comedy is your cat dying."

OK, I will admit, I laughed.  C wasn't too happy but probably laughed under her breath.  I'm sure that Dave likely distanced himself from half of the audience, but he did make a point.  Comedy and tragedy can sometimes depend on your point of view.

The final comedian was David Alan Grier.  I was totally ready to laugh my ass off.

Unfortunately, David decided to start off his act with a joke about transsexuals.  The bad part is that it wasn't even a joke, it was just a verbal bashing of a transwoman that he had seen earlier in the day.

"God didn't know whether to make it a man or a woman," said David during his little rant on transsexuals.

I swear, 1 out of every 2 comedians that I see in San Francisco who are not from the Bay Area tend to rip on transsexuals.  The jokes are typically classless and low, and it sometimes feels like any out-of-towner can come here and make fun of transsexuals.

I suppose many feel that transsexuals are the lowest rung on the totem pole.  There aren't many "below" us, and, thus, they feel it is easy to make fun of us.  After listening to David during his bit, one can easily surmise that David does not have a firm grasp on his own life.  It may be because his personal life is not so great that he needs to bash types of people that he thinks are lower.  It may be because he actually thinks his jokes are funny, who knows.

Either way, David probably didn't know that he had at least one transsexual sitting in the audience.  One kinda pissed transsexual.  One kinda kinda pissed transsexual who knows how to throw.

If I had had something soft at my table, I probably would have heaved it, but I only had a drinking glass. While it would have been comedic if I hit him, it probably would have ended fairly tragic for both of us.