by Sara Michelle Fetters -
SGN A&E Writer
The last three days of the 18th annual Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival (SLGFF) are upon us, everything culminating Sunday night at Pacific Place Theater with a gala presentation of director Rodney Evans' latest effort, The Happy Sad. Other titles of note include Whoopi Goldberg's directorial debut, the fitfully funny and surprisingly poignant documentary Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley (also known as Moms Mabley: I Got Somethin' to Tell You) and Linda Bloodworth-Thomason's tragically devastating and intimately perceptive Bridegroom, chronicling a California man barred from attending his partner's funeral by the man's family.
The following are capsule reviews for some of the films playing Friday, October 18, through Sunday, October 20. Visit www.threedollarbillcinema.org for additional venue and ticket information.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 18
Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley (7:30 p.m., Pacific Place)
Wonderful documentary on legendary African-American comedienne Moms Mabley, as seen through the eyes of those she worked with and inspired, including the likes of Bill Cosby, Robin Williams, Sidney Poitier, Kathy Griffin, Eddie Murphy, and Harry Belafonte. A delightful, and somewhat surprisingly touching, film confidently directed by Academy Award winner Goldberg. (***)
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 19
Bridegroom (12:30 p.m., Pacific Place)
Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, the mind behind classic television shows like 'Evening Shade' and 'Designing Women,' makes her directorial debut with this documentary chronicling Californian Shane Bitney Crone and his battle to attend the funeral of Tom Bridegroom, his devoted and loving partner of six years whose life was tragically cut short. As hard-hitting and as intimately personal a statement as to why marriage equality matters as any a person is likely to see. (***)
Frauensee (7:30 p.m., Pacific Place)
As a picturesque, visually resplendent travelogue, Frauensee is rather glorious. As a dramatic motion picture, however, this German Lesbian effort is sadly rather tedious, the movie a rather clunky melodrama of friendship, sexual attraction, lust, and love that rarely goes anywhere of interest. Beautiful to look at, yes, but once the characters start talking about their lives and their problems I couldn't have cared less about a single thing that was going on. (**)
Stranger by the Lake (7 p.m., Pacific Place)
Stunning French import that's never quite what you expect it to be, everything building to a shocking conclusion that took me somewhat by surprise. Writer/director Alain Guiraudie deftly and seductively moves the viewer into smaller and smaller corners right along with his bewildered protagonist, and while certain twists aren't quite as organic as they maybe should have been, overall this is a nicely suffocating thriller that more than gets the job done. (***1/2)
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 20
The Happy Sad (6:30 p.m., Pacific Place)
Director Rodney Evans (Brother to Brother) returns with this rather disappointing drama following two New York couples, one Black and Gay, the other white and heterosexual, who start exploring their relationships in increasingly challenging and intimate ways. While well acted, the movie never feels natural or honest, the character beats and evolutions more contrived, and oftentimes nonsensical, than they are anything else. Frustrating. (**)
Raid of the Rainbow Lounge (11:30 a.m., Pacific Place)
Powerful chronicling of the 2009 raid by Fort Worth, Texas, police on a local Gay bar, an event that spurred the community as a whole to take action producing real change that spread throughout the city - and within the police department. Director Robert L. Camina weaves archival footage and interviews with people who were there with dexterous precision, allowing themes of acceptance, tenderness, reconciliation, and community to come to the forefront with somewhat surprising ease. (***)
The Rugby Player (12:30 p.m., Pacific Place)
United Flight 93 passenger and hero Mark Bingham is chronicled in this powerful documentary that focuses in great detail on his complex and loving relationship with his mother, Alice Hoagland (who is scheduled to attend). Much of the footage used in the film was shot by Bingham, an aspiring filmmaker himself, while interviews and recollections with Hoagland augment the saga beautifully, allowing a full picture of this complex, passionate human being to take shape in increasingly fascinating ways. A gem. (***1/2)
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