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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 10, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 23
Movie Reviews
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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The Gay films of SIFF 2011
by Herb Krohn - SGN Contributing Writer

The Seattle International Film Festival is now underway, and will continue through June 12. Here is SGN's look at the festival's prominent LGBT-oriented films.

Information and tickets can be found at www.siff.net as well as the SIFF box office (located on the second floor of Pacific Place) and SIFF Cinema at the Seattle Center (321 Mercer Street).

Weekend
Rating: Average
Genre: Romance
U.K.
Friday, June 3, 7 p.m., Harvard Exit
Sunday, June 5, 4:30 p.m., SIFF Cinema


Two guys meet, converse, and date (if you want to call it that) over a weekend and forever change one other's lives. While not very complex, not very deep, and nothing unique or new, it nonetheless is a mildly entertaining film. At 96 minutes, it may be a bit too long and does tend to drag. Yet it all takes place over a weekend. It does explore deep topics as the two characters converse about their lives, but it doesn't really satisfy the potential that it could have had as a film. Worthwhile, but don't expect to be too impressed. It seems to be a valid effort in Gay-oriented cinema even if it doesn't really hook the audience on any emotional level, as it is more of a 'been there, done that' film plot.

Circumstance
Rating: Above Average
Genre: Political Drama, Romance
Iran (Subtitled)
Saturday, June 4, 6:30 p.m., Harvard Exit
Monday, June 6, 4:15 p.m., Egyptian


While productions from other parts of the world can often be lacking, the only real complaint with this unusual film is the low-level lighting. It's very dark throughout, making it frequently difficult for the audience to see what is transpiring on the screen. What makes this film really unusual is that it was made in Iran and managed to make it out of the country, circumventing the notorious censorship by a repressive government that is among the world's most hostile towards homosexuality (it is still a crime punishable by death). This is a tale of two women who fall in love, and the storyline is a powerful one, especially coming from Iran. So, while the film suffers from production issues, it remains an extremely significant work of cinema given its context and the subject matter it explores.

Man at Bath
Rating: Bomb
Genre: Relationship Issues
France/New York City (Subtitled)
Screened May 25 and 26


A man preparing to leave for New York on business has a conflict with his boyfriend, and tells him to be gone when he returns. The film follows each of them on their exploits over the next several days, both in New York City and in France. The positives: male frontal nudity (including erections), soft-core sex, some enjoyable male eye candy, and a short 72-minute running time. The negatives: even at 72 minutes, this film is too long, awful in almost every way, and has an almost non-existent, incoherent plot. It is among the worst films screened at SIFF 2011 so far and is not worth the price of admission, unless your idea of a good time is looking at your watch every few minutes because you can't wait for it to end. After feeling compelled to sit all the way through this worthless tripe (just in case it redeemed itself), it made me wonder where and how anyone was able to raise the considerable funds necessary to create such a profound waste of celluloid. Is international Gay cinema taking a step back after finally moving two steps forward? Time will tell. Anyway, this is one not just to avoid, but to run away from!

3
Rating: Very Good
Genre: Romance Drama
Germany (Subtitled)
Screened May 20 and 21


Another winner from director Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run, Heaven). This film centers on a heterosexual married couple who both end up falling in love with the same man, unbeknownst to both of them and the object of their affections. This is a poignant and clever cinematic work of art that explores life, death, and the complexities of love and attraction in unique and masterful ways. As with most of Tykwer's work, this is movie is beautifully filmed with expert cinematography and a complex yet cohesive plot that culminates with satisfaction. Soon to be released, watch for it!

Beginners
Rating: Very Good
Genre: Family Drama
USA
Coming to theaters June 3


This film screened as one of the selections in the 'Tribute to Ewan McGregor' series. The movie stars the actor as a 75-year-old who, following the death of his wife, comes out as Gay and takes a young male lover - much to the consternation of his 30ish son, who has relationship issues of his own. It is a delightful movie about love, life, and aging, told in a sensitive and respectful way that will appeal to mainstream audiences. The performances are rock solid, the production values high, and the plot consistent, realistic, and entirely believable. While it doesn't hook the audience too tightly on an emotional level, it still draws your complete attention and interest. It's a film worth watching, if for nothing else than to witness the evolution of Gay-themed cinema and Gay film characterizations in the USA.

Other SIFF highlights:

Buck
Rating: Outstanding
Genre: Documentary Biography
USA
Wednesday, June 8, 7 p.m., SIFF Cinema
Thursday, June 9, 6:30 p.m., Kirkland Performance Center


The test of an outstanding documentary is whether it can take an audience in on a subject they may have no interest in or knowledge of, and completely absorb their interest intellectually and perhaps emotionally to the point that they are wowed. Buck is one of those films! This wonderful work is a profile of Buck Brannaman, the man who was the inspiration for the film The Horse Whisperer. The film profiles Brannaman from his childhood start, performing rope tricks with his brother and starring in a famous Kellogg's Sugar Smacks commercial in the early 1970s. However, all was not well in the Brannaman home, and we learn all about the adversity that Buck overcame in his own life to become a remarkable cowboy and horse trainer who has radically altered the acceptable ways of training and breaking in horses. Brannaman travels the country each year conducting clinics to teach horse owners how to handle their animals, and how to understand how they think and why they behave as they do. This must-see film profiles Brannaman and how his life experiences parallel the old way of raising horses and how he has changed the entire culture of American horsemanship. There are many lessons to be learned from this remarkable human being and his relationships with both human and horse. Seeing this film will cause you to examine your own relationships and your own existence. It is, without a doubt, one of the best films in this year's SIFF lineup, and among the best documentary films made in recent times.

Venice
Rating: Very Good
Genre: Family Drama
Poland (Subtitled)
Tuesday, May 31, 9:30 p.m., Pacific Place
Sunday, June 5, 3:30 p.m., Admiral


This interesting drama centers on the life of a Polish family who flees to Eastern Poland to try to avoid Hitler's approaching onslaught. The plot centers on the 12-year-old son who resides at a Catholic boarding school, who at the beginning of the film desperately wants his parents to take him on their upcoming trip to Venice, Italy. The war intervenes preventing the travel, so he soon finds himself at his grandmother's country home with the rest of the family, including his cousins and aunts. The basement of this spacious house floods out, and he creates a miniature Venice in the cavernous cellar which becomes a place of refuge for the entire family during the occupation. There are several Jewish characters and families which are central to the story, as resistance to Nazi oppression as well as graphic demonstrations of anti-Semitic brutality and murder are major turning points in the film's plot. Everyone can understand and relate to the view of the world as seen through the youngster's eyes and those of the other children in this story. This film sets the scene and time period with mastery.

My So-Called Enemy
Rating: Excellent
Genre: Documentary
USA/Israel, Occupied Territories (Partially Subtitled)
Sunday, June 5, 6:30 p.m., Harvard Exit
Monday, June 6, 4:30 p.m., Harvard Exit


Building Bridges for Peace is a U.S.-based organization that attempts to undermine hatred, violence, and terrorism by promoting dialogue and understanding between warring factions. This documentary focuses on this effort by examining six Israeli and six Palestinian high school students, who are brought to a home in upstate New York to spend a week engaging in a mediation workshop. It is amazing to watch as these young women interact honestly and directly with each other outside and far away from their home environment. As they could easily be mistaken for a class or a small group of friends, it is remarkable to see how similar they all are, yet an almost unbridgeable gap exists in the midst of it all. The film goes on to follow up on many of the participants after the short weeklong workshop over the next several years. True friendship does take hold between some of them, even across the dividing wall, yet in other cases the women head down their own paths as they mature into adulthood. The heated discussions between these girls delve into the hatred shared by both sides, yet we see that even those with the strongest animosity for the other side are able to empathize with their enemy on at least an individualized basis. Yet they all leave with some lasting change within themselves: the inability - despite their deeply ingrained beliefs - to completely dehumanize the other side. The production values in the making of this film are strong and evident; it flows and keeps the audience's interest throughout. This documentary is one not to miss.

The Rescuers
Rating: Outstanding
Genre: Documentary
USA, Rwanda, and countries across Europe (Partially Subtitled)
Sunday, May 29, 10 a.m., Harvard Exit
Monday, May 30, 4 p.m., Harvard Exit


What is the proper role for foreign diplomats who find themselves in a country where genocide is taking place and they are besieged with pleas for help from those being persecuted? In this fact-based film, we follow Sir Martin Gilbert and Stephanie Nyombayire (a Rwandan activist), who travel across Europe and through time to explore and profile the efforts of the handful of brave diplomats who dared to defy their own governments and risked their own careers and lives to engage in remarkable and heroic efforts to save Jews from Hitler's death grip. Told through archival footage, graphics, and moving maps, as well as contemporary interviews, this is a gripping and compelling story of how a few brave people doing the right thing can have a lasting impact for generations into the future. However, our two guides also attempt to uncover why genocide continues to take place so often in the world as they explore the role of diplomats and the nations they represent in such situations. This must-see documentary examines history, the role of the individual, and the loyalty of diplomats to their home country and to humanity as well as the end result of those who were spared. Many of those profiled paid a huge personal price to save others from the Nazis, who often openly and defiantly violated their own government's policies (a German diplomat and Nazi party member who acted to save Jews is profiled). This film is a fascinating examination of individuals willing to brave enormous consequences and risk everything to save the lives of others.

How to Die in Oregon
Rating: Outstanding
Genre: Documentary
USA
Currently airing on HBO


This standout documentary feature examines Oregon's 'Death with Dignity' law, enacted in 1994, and how it is being utilized by those with terminal illnesses and short life expectancy. The film begins by showing an Oregon resident taking the final dose of drugs to end his own life as he thanks 'the Oregon voters' as he lives out his final moments. This documentary explores a very sensitive and difficult subject with the tact and thoroughness it deserves. The bulk of the film follows a terminally ill Oregon woman who plans to invoke her rights under this legislation when the time is right, and also profiles a Washington state woman who helped lead Initiative 1000 at the behest of her deceased husband, who died a horribly painful death because Washington state lacked such a law at the time. Initiative 1000 passed here in 2008.

The filmmakers also attempt to provide balance in profiling an Oregon man who, when facing a terminal illness, was told in writing by the State of Oregon that they would only offer hospice care or aid in dying rather than treatment for his disease - a response which was quickly reversed due to the controversy. This exposed some of the realities behind the fears of opponents of this innovative law. Going deeper, this outstanding film explores the issues of end-of-life care, societal constructs around death, and the messages that are conveyed about suffering and dying. This film won the top documentary prize at the Sundance Film festival and is a strong contender for Best Documentary at 2011 SIFF. Whether you support or oppose assisted suicide, don't miss seeing this one!

A Barefoot Dream
Rating: Outstanding
Genre: Social Docudrama
S. Korea/East Timor (Subtitled)
Coming Soon


A down-on-his-luck former Korean soccer player is lured to East Timor by a con artist, and quickly learns he is about to be ripped off. He ends up opening a sporting goods store and falls upon the idea of selling tennis shoes on credit to the impoverished youth of this war-torn country. One thing leads to another, and he ends up coaching a youth soccer team as a way to sell the shoes, but when it ends up not working well, he decides to try to get them into an international youth soccer tournament in Japan. With lots of ups and downs, this film is a delightful work that hooks the audience emotionally with the plight of the characters and the situation. It is a demonstration of cinema at its best - by taking a subject and plot that most people would have no interest in, and making it a completely absorbing, complex, and worthwhile film. Based on a true story.

Other SIFF Films of LGBT Interest:

Absent
Friday, June 10, 9:30 p.m., Harvard Exit
Saturday, June 11, 1:30 p.m., Harvard Exit

August
SIFF Gay-La Film Presentation with party afterwards
Thursday, June 9, 7 p.m., Egyptian
Saturday, June 11, 3 p.m., Egyptian

Bi, Don't Be Afraid!
Screened May 22 and 25

Black Field
Sunday, June 5, 9:15 p.m., Pacific Place
Monday, June 6, 4:30 p.m., Pacific Place

Blinding
Wednesday, June 1, 9 p.m., SIFF Cinema
Friday, June 3, 4:30 p.m., SIFF Cinema

Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same
Saturday, May 28, 9:45 p.m., Egyptian
Sunday, May 29, 4 p.m., Egyptian

Do You See Colors When You Close Your Eyes?
Tuesday, May 31, 7 p.m., Admiral Theatre
Saturday, June 4, 11 a.m., Harvard Exit

A Few Days of Respite
Thursday, June 2, 8:30 p.m., Admiral Theatre
Saturday, June 4, 11 a.m., Egyptian
Saturday, June 11, 6:00 p.m., Kirkland Performance Center

Four More Years
Saturday, May 28, 1 p.m., Pacific Place

Funkytown
Friday, June 10, 9:30 p.m., Pacific Place
Sunday, June 12, 3:30 p.m., Pacific Place

Gun Hill Road
Friday, May 27, 7 p.m., Harvard Exit
Sunday, May 29, 3:30 p.m., Admiral

Hit So Hard
Friday, May 27, 9 p.m., Egyptian
Sunday, May 29, 4 p.m., Neptune

Romeos
Wednesday, June 8, 7 p.m., Harvard Exit
Friday, June 10, 4 p.m., Pacific Place

Toast
Saturday, June 11, 6:30 p.m., Neptune
Sunday, June 12, 11 a.m., Neptune

Who Took the Bomp? Le Tigre on Tour
Saturday, June 4, 9:30 p.m., Neptune
Tuesday, June 7, 4:30 p.m., Egyptian



The Gay films of SIFF 2011, part II
by Herb Krohn - SGN Contributing Writer

The Seattle International Film Festival is well underway, and will continue through June 12. Here is SGN's continuing look at the festival's prominent LGBT-oriented films.

For more film reviews as well as a schedule of upcoming films of Gay interest, visit www.sgn.org.

Information and tickets can be found at www.siff.net as well as the SIFF Box Office on the 2nd floor of Pacific Place, and SIFF Cinema at Seattle Center on Mercer Street.

Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same
Rating: Good
Genre: Comedy Farce
USA (Alien language subtitled)

A nerdy Lesbian stationery store clerk who just doesn't quite fit in falls in love with a Lesbian alien who has been sent to Earth by her own world to have her heart broken, as their planet has learned that the feeling of love contributes to the depletion of their protective ozone layer. The aliens look, dress, and talk in a monotone just like the Coneheads of Saturday Night Live fame. Presented mostly in black-and-white to convey a retro theme, only the space and alien planet scenes are in color. It was a delightful and humorous romp that the audience really seemed to enjoy, although the plot and pacing did seem to slow down a bit in the middle. Fun, silly, and at times outrageous, hopefully this film will be released soon.

Four More Years
Rating: Excellent
Genre: Political Comedy
Sweden (Subtitled)

A married conservative political leader in parliament whose party is dropping in the polls has an affair with an up-and-coming openly Gay socialist party member. A night of drinking and talking with the object of his affections results in his waking up in the other man's bedroom and discovering he's Gay. His wife has known this for years (even before they married) and she just accepted it and never confronted him. So now he struggles with what to do and has to make a decision whether to follow his heart or his obligation to his political career and constituents. This is an expertly produced romantic comedy which uses awkward social situations as the primary source of laughs. It is refreshing to see a film that raises the bar of Gay comedy without resorting to the lowest common denominators or bathroom humor to engage the audience. Not to be missed and already released in Sweden, let's hope it gets an American release.

Gun Hill Road
Rating: Poor
Genre: Trans Coming-of-Age
USA

When a career criminal gets out of prison after three years, he returns home to Brooklyn and finds that the pride of his life, his son, is Trans and is beginning to behave, dress, and act like a woman. With lots of violence, use of every old tired cliché, as well as horribly negative ethnic and racial stereotypes and shallow, unsympathetic characters, this film is yet another prime example of the frequent shallowness that still often exists in LGBT cinema in America. However, one redeeming part of this film is the outstanding debut performance of Harmony Santana as the teenaged son Michael (aka Vanessa) who is struggling to come to grips with the emotions of his angry father while at the same time deal with his own gender identity. Santana's performance is destined to become historically significant in American Gay cinema and will no doubt be examined in the future as a noteworthy characterization. The production values and plot are consistent; it's just the exploitation of negative stereotypes that brings this film down.

Black Bread
Rating: Excellent
Genre: Coming-of-Age/Historical Drama
Spain (Subtitled)
Friday, June 3, 9:30 p.m., Admiral Theatre

The family of a Catalonian Red Rebel suffers under Franco's regime in 1944 as 10-year-old Andreu learns the truth of the contradictions of his father's values. Set in a small village, the plot takes the audience through some great twists and turns as it exposes the complexity of human behavior. The entire plot centers on a repressive Gay-themed subplot. Warning: This film has several extremely violent (including anti-Gay) scenes which are critical to the story. The cinematography and characterization of this turbulent period of Spanish history are portrayed with remarkable clarity, as well as the true-to-life performances and the emotional upheaval within the family. This is an example of Spanish cinema at its best.

Littlerock
Rating: Very Good
Genre: Comedy Drama/Coming of Age
USA (Partially Subtitled)

A young female Japanese student who speaks no English is on trip to the USA with her brother. She finds herself stuck alone for several days in the small agricultural California desert town of Littlerock (yes, there really is such a place) where she develops friendships with a group of local guys around her age, even though they barely understand each other. She is taken under the wing of Cory Lawler, a very talkative stoner and irresponsibly dreamy young man (expertly and familiarly portrayed by newcomer Cory Zacharia) who appears to have sexual identity issues. The film really underscores the power of language and resulting communication across such barriers as some of the characters are able to communicate clearly, while others are too self-absorbed to convey their thoughts and feelings adequately. This is an excellent character portrayal film where the performances seem so realistic and are played with both depth and shallowness. It is a shining example of New American Cinema.

Lesson Plan
Rating: Outstanding
Genre: Documentary
USA

In 1967 at a high school in Palo Alto, California, a history teacher named Ron Jones, in response to a question about why ordinary Germans supported Hitler, decided to try an experiment with his students. Jones formed a student organization called the 'Third Wave' on campus to show how easily humans can get caught up in fascism. What transpired in only about five days is a legendary and notorious incident which changed the lives of nearly everyone involved and has become the subject of much sociological and scientific examination. The events that occurred clearly demonstrated that what happened in Germany could, in fact, happen here or anywhere by exploitation of the human desire to be part of a group when manipulated by a leader with a strong or charismatic personality. Through interviews with the actual participants including the teacher, the students themselves, and others, this is a fascinating examination of the appeal of demagoguery which shows that the road to fascism and totalitarianism can be a slippery slope in the right circumstances. This is a must-see SIFF entry which is almost certain to see theatrical release. Technically, this is nearly a perfect documentary in terms of cinematography, use of historical materials, and participant identification in subtitles. Documentary films are seldom as expertly produced as this work of cinema.

Steam of Life
Rating: Excellent
Genre: Documentary/Masculinity
Finland/Sweden (Subtitled)
Tuesday, June 7, 6:30 p.m., Admiral Theatre

In these two Nordic countries, the sauna is a significant community institution for men. Through interviews with naked men of all ages, sizes, and backgrounds in and around sauna baths, the filmmakers explore masculine emotion as the profiled subjects talk openly about their lives, experiences, and emotions. While it is a simple film (and most of the men would not be considered eye candy) it is nonetheless a fascinating and amazing glimpse into the experience of being a man within Nordic culture. This is a film that clearly demonstrates the benefits that SIFF brings to our area.


The Gay films of SIFF 2011, part III
by Herb Krohn - SGN Contributing Writer

The Seattle International Film Festival continues through this Sunday, June 12. Here is SGN's continuing look at the festival's prominent LGBT-oriented films.

For more film reviews as well as a schedule of upcoming films of Gay interest, visit www.sgn.org. Information and tickets can be found at www.siff.net as well as the SIFF box office on the second floor of Pacific Place, and SIFF Cinema at Seattle Center on Mercer Street.

Absent
Rating: Average
Genre: Suspense Drama
Saturday, June 11, 1:30 p.m., Harvard Exit

A manipulative teenager cons his way into spending the night with his swimming coach. A seemingly evil intent is conveyed, especially by the music, but it never really leads to anything of significance in the plot. Billed as a 'Hitchcockian' drama, this film delivers suspense at first, but it is ultimately a big letdown when nothing happens. What does occur at the second plot point certainly never reaches anywhere near what the suspense has hinted the audience should expect. After the situation is radically altered, the teacher begins having second thoughts about his relationship with the student. Was what could have happened exactly what the apparently now-questioning teacher actually desired? Certainly more was expected than delivered in this offbeat Gay suspense film, and the only factors saving the movie are the solid performances and decent production values.

Blinding
Rating: Poor
Genre: Experimental Documentary
Canada

Unusual graphics using an almost rotoscopic cinematography technique are utilized to present three intermixed interviews with a blind writer, an Air Force pilot, and a Lesbian cop. While it is clear that a lot of thought and effort went into producing this colorful visual spectacle, it simply does not work with the subject matter. The film lacks a clear vision of intent and just fails to come together and engage the audience in whatever point the filmmaker was trying to get across. There is never a hook to convey why these characters are related to each other in this film, nor why it would be of substantive interest to the viewer.

Do You See Colors When You Close Your Eyes?
Rating: Very Good
Genre: Road Trip Romance
USA

After the death of one member of a Gay interracial couple, the surviving partner gets together with his deceased lover's Gay twin brother and they decided to embark on a road trip together which the couple had previously planned out to visit together before his death. As they travel to each of these beautiful places (filmed entirely in Washington state), they spread portions of his ashes at each of these locations. At first it seems that they are using each other to fill the emotional gap in each other's lives left by their beloved departed family member, but it evolves to a deeper purpose as they come to know each other. Poignant as well as strained, and told through flashbacks in time, it is nonetheless a well-made film with believable performances and solid productions values (which seems to be a rarity for independent films made in this area, especially Gay films). It is really great to see a locally produced Gay film of high quality.

Romeos
Rating: EXCEPTIONALLY OUTSTANDING
Genre: Coming of Age-Romance/Trans and Gender Identity
Germany (Subtitled)
Friday, June 10, 4 p.m., Pacific Place

By far the best film of LGBT interest screened so far at this year's SIFF, this is a cutting-edge portrayal of contemporary issues facing individuals who are Trans, as well as a multi-gender romantic drama. Miri/Lukas (played by Rick Okon) is a young adult who is transitioning from female to male, although at the very beginning this is not quite clear to the audience. In Germany, everyone must enter either the military or national civilian service at a certain age, so Lukas is moving into a residence hall for national service. An error has been made by the staff in placing him in the female dorm when he is clearly male (or is he still a she?), and the staff refuses initially to redress this problem.

The plot thickens as one of the other women living there is Miri's former Lesbian best friend (or maybe former lover?) and the only one who knows the truth. Lukas clearly does not want to come out as Trans, yet seeks to gain acceptance among the males, especially an attractive closeted Gay male who seems to have taken a liking to him. So Lukas goes to extreme lengths to keep his female gender hidden deep in the closet while he continues toward transition, and we the audience watch in anticipation of the other shoe dropping and everything to come flying outward. This is an extremely complex and provocative masterpiece of LGBT cinema that realistically examines Transism (anti-Trans sentiment) in the Gay and Lesbian community while craftily exposing the myriad issues faced on a daily basis by those who live out similar experiences.

What is even more remarkable about this tour de force of LGBT cinematic excellence is the way in which director Sabine Bernardi conveys this screenplay without resorting to use of old clichés or the usual worn-out negative stereotypes so common in American cinema (compare this film with 2011 SIFF entry Gun Hill Road). Even more amazing is the brilliant and exceptionally realistic and captivating performance of lead actor Okon, who conveys the complexity of this character with such definitive realism (aided by fantastic artistic special effects and makeup) that the audience is left wondering if in reality Okon is male, female, or in transition. It is so wonderfully refreshing to see LGBT cinema at its absolute best in a contemporary feature that addresses gender and sexual identity and the resulting cultural matters in a modernistic, 21st-century way! If you miss the last SIFF screening, this film will have a commercial release through Strand soon after the festival circuit ends later in the year, and will be released on DVD even if it is not shown in theaters. Shout-out to Seattle's Three Dollar Bill Cinema: you should select this one for your 2011 film festival!

Hot Coffee
Rating: Outstanding
Genre: Documentary
Saturday, June 11, 11 a.m., and Sunday, June 12, 9 p.m., Harvard Exit

Everyone remembers the case of the woman who spilled coffee on herself and sued McDonalds for millions of dollars. Was it just another frivolous lawsuit? Not quite! The truth of this case is far different that what has been spun by those of arrogant, indifferent, and greedy special interests in the falsehood of selling 'tort reform' to an unaware American public. The goal is to limit the rights of individuals and severely weaken the civil justice system in our country and to tilt it in favor of large corporations that engage in willful misconduct. This is a must-see film for anyone who cares about preserving the right to redress in court if you are wronged, injured, or maimed by the wrongful or negligent conduct of big business. Don't miss this film!

Tabloid
Rating: Excellent
Genre: Documentary
Saturday, June 11, 3:45 p.m., Admiral

Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Errol Morris returns to the big screen with another new work. This time it is a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction tale involving a case that was highly covered by tabloid publications. The story is about a former Wyoming beauty queen named Joyce McKinney who allegedly kidnapped and raped her Mormon ex-fiancé in the 1970s and became known as the woman who cloned her pet dog in the 1980s. Told in a stylish tabloid format, Morris uses interviews with those involved as well as tabloid reporters in the U.S. and England (where the alleged kidnapping and rape occurred) who have knowledge of some the points he seeks to convey, including the anti-Gay hostility of the Mormon church. It is an interesting, enjoyable documentary which is light-hearted yet also demonstrates how tabloid journalism can sway a story in the minds of the public and the damage it can do. A well-done, finely structured documentary that should not be missed!


'The best' - Beginners is profound
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN Contributing Writer

Beginners
Opening June 10


Writer and director Mike Mills' Beginners is the best film I've seen this year. The followup to the filmmaker's wonderful 2005 effort Thumbsucker, this inventive and surprising comedic drama of fathers, sons, relationships, sexuality, and life is an engaging emotional frolic filled with numerous delights. It is a marvel of storytelling and character, telling a relatively familiar and potentially melodramatic tale in a way that feels different, new, and profound.

Oliver (Ewan McGregor) is in a relationship with quietly eccentric French actress Anna (Mélanie Laurent). They met at a costume party - he was dressed as Sigmund Freud and dealing with an emotional cesspool involving his late father Hal (Christopher Plummer), while she was looking like a dowdy Charlie Chaplin struggling with laryngitis. They find themselves relating on levels both intimate and therapeutic, each discovering an easygoing catharsis in spending time together.

Presented in a smooth, oddly beguiling nonlinear fashion that feels like bits and pieces of Oliver's memories presenting themselves at the most naturalistic of times, Mills handles all of the multifarious tangents of his protagonist's journey with remarkable ease. From his current relationship with Anna to his recollections of his mother (Mary Page Keller) as a child (Keegan Boos) to the dual discoveries of his father coming out of the closet as an old man and dating a much younger one (Goran Visnjic) as well as learning he is fighting terminal cancer, much of our hero's travails weave themselves around the viewer in a way that enthralls.

More than that, the film achieves an emotive authenticity that resonates far beyond the norm. It speaks to universal truths about who we are, what we want to do with our lives, our hopes, our dreams, and our inherent fears, all of which feel strikingly universal. It doesn't matter how surreal some of the corners are that Mills decides to mine and it seems perfectly natural when whimsical idiosyncrasies (like subtitled talking dogs) get thrown into the equation. Everything rings of honesty and truth, making Oliver's self-exploratory struggles all the more reflective.

McGregor has rarely been better. He taps right into this milieu from the start and does wonders with it. He brings Oliver out of his shell and makes him sparkle even when insecurity, rage, or timidity threaten to do him in. He lets his bravery come in stages, allowing him to wrestle with the issues generated by his upbringing in a way I could relate to and feel sympathetic with.

The past has always affected the future (the way we respond to adversity makes us who we are), and McGregor makes this battle innately personal while allowing the audience to join in on it with him, and as such makes the character that much more spectacular because of it.

Plummer equals McGregor, deftly underplaying his role where a lesser actor would have made him the center of attention and taken the excitable and sexually liberated old man into the realm of caricature. His performance anchors the picture, showing multiple sides that allow Oliver to get a glimpse of a life fully lived and not one to be apologized for, even if all facets of it weren't always entirely out in the open.

There's so much more to Beginners than this, however, its sum total not an easily divined equation that can be put forth in a simple mathematical form. Mills pulls the heartstrings but doesn't strum them; he makes his case for living life in the open but doesn't get didactic while doing so. He's taken inspiration from his own family history and divined truths that are as universal as they are remarkable, crafting a stunning work of comedy, drama, romance, and regret that had me silently cheering long after I'd left the theater.


Pride Idol's week 10 a disco inferno
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k.d. lang: Loud and proud - Being butch, coming out, and being the first Gay country star (before Chely Wright)
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U2 plays supersized show to massive audience
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Ewan McGregor and director Mike Mills talk about Beginners - An older generation comes out, and the villain of American history
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A Dyke About Town: Allen Toussaint an amazing songwriter, performer
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Sense and Sensibility - a great adaptation
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Parody Elektra a funny look at Greek tragedy
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International press praises PNB's Giselle
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AIDS at 30 - Special Forum From KQED Public Radio in San Francisco
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Chip Pope to headline Laff Hole
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The Gay films of SIFF 2011
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The Gay films of SIFF 2011, part II
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The Gay films of SIFF 2011, part III
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'The best' - Beginners is profound
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Q-Scopes by Jack Fertig
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Augustana frontman a real rock-star daddy
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Northwest News
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Letters
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Tenor Jonas Kaufmann spectacular in Tosca DVD
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