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Back to the SHADOWS FILM FEST page • last update 15.Apr.02

back to the top THE COCKETTES
dir-scr David Weissman, Bill Weber
with John Waters, Sylvia Miles, Holly Woodlawn, Sweet Pam, Marshall, Scrumbly, Reggie, Dusty Dawn, Fayette, Jilala, Goldie Glitters, Ralph, Michael Kalman, Sebastian, Peter Mintun , Errol Wetson
Sundance Jan.02; London L&G Film Fest Apr.02 • 02/US 1h40 3 out of 5 stars
the gang with divineREVIEW BY RICH CLINE
This surprisingly insightful film documents both the flower-power communes of late 1960s San Francisco and the birth and career of the eponymous musical revue group. It consists of interviews and archival footage that combine to paint an astonishingly comprehensive portrait of this time and place, which makes today's society look repressed and timid by comparison. The Cockettes were a group of "hippy acid freak drag queens" (in Waters' words!) who took the stage as a laugh, trying to blur gender and racial barriers with outlandish costumes and music. Their goal was to live "at the end of imagination"--no limits, no barriers, no rules. And they became a cultural phenomenon even though their productions (including a version of Madame Butterfly performed in fake Cantonese and a musical called Gone with the Showboat to Oklahoma) were amateurish and only worked because everyone--cast, crew and audience--was on acid. Then they try to take their show to New York, and the East Coast literati just don't get it. This is gripping, fascinating stuff, using interviews with the surviving Cockettes to narrate the story. At first it's funny to see middle-aged people reminiscing about days of free love and wild drug use, then it becomes surprisingly moving as they reminisce about friendships and ideologies. And it comes vividly to life due to the sheer quantity of historical footage--from grainy black and white home movies to lurid colour film. Yes, it's rather long for a doc--and it feels it. But the outrageousness of the times are captured perfectly, and there is a surprisingly involving dramatic arc to the story, as the politics give way to uncontrolled freedom, then to huge notoriety, the need to take their new career seriously, and eventually the consequences of all that "free" living. [themes, nudity, language] 12.Apr.02 llgff
back to the top KEVIN’S ROOM
dir Sharon Zurek • scr Lora E Branch, Martha Shaifer, Andrew Spieldenner, Christina Timmins, Zharon Zurek
with Keith Butler, Perry Cavitt, Malik Middleton, Da'non Bolden, Byron Stewart, Stanford Gaylord, Pamela Upsher, Ronda R Bedgood, Robert Barnett, Cynthia Maddox, Bruce Edwards, Lyle Nicholson
London L&G Film Fest Apr.02 • 01/US 1h07 1½ out of 5 stars
gaylord and butlerREVIEW BY RICH CLINE
It's not surprising that this was filmed as an Aids/HIV educational drama. But the stiff production values make it rather unbelievable that this was also a TV series pilot. It centres on social worker Kevin (Butler), who runs a discussion group for gay black men in Chicago. He's a bit disappointed to only have three members, but gets on with it. Charles (Cavitt) is an HIV-positive young professional who has been recently bashed; Teddy (Middleton) is on the verge of admitting to his fiancee (Upsher) that he's gay; and Pharaoh (Bolden) is just checking the group out, and trying to get his partying friend Paris (Stewart) to come along. Between them--including Kevin--they are facing just about every issue known to gay men in America. The problem here isn't the rather contrived all-encompassing approach, it's the way the film is made. Stilted and hokey, the dialog sits uneasily in the actors' mouths, making them look continually uncomfortable. And the production design is also rather amateurish--plain sets, few extras, an oddly contrived sound mix that keeps background noise to a bare minimum, even in a disco! That said, the characters themselves are quite compelling, with a variety that ensures you will identify with at least one of them. Their situations are true to life, even if they're portrayed artificially, so the film gets points for at least addressing themes like religion, family, health and society in a straightforward way. Well, mostly ... as it's made in that artificially squeaky-clean American TV style that doesn't look much like real life. If this were rewritten (by fewer writers, perhaps!) as a character-based drama instead of a preachy issue-based educational video, it would be ten times more effective. [themes, language] 15.Apr.02 llgff
back to the top KM. 0
dir-scr Juan Luis Iborra, Yolanda Garcia Serrano
with Concha Velasco, Jesus Cabrero, Carlos Fuentes, Elisa Matilla, Tristan Ulloa, Cora Tiedra, Silke, Roberto Alamo, Merce Pons, Georges Corraface, Miquel Garcia, Victor Ullate Jr, Alberto San Juan, Armando Del Rio
UK Apr.02 llgff; US 11.Jul.03 • Universal 00/Spain 1h48 4 out of 5 stars
matilla and fuentesREVIEW BY RICH CLINE
This lively and very clever Spanish ensembles swirls around with seven couples through mistaken identity, love and romance, frustration and discovery. There are some common themes, and they are all connected to each other in various ways, but it's great fun watching each little drama unfold. There isn't a central story; all of these people some how arrange to meet someone else at kilometre zero, the point in Madrid's central plaza where all the national highways start. It's the hottest day of the year, nerves are frayed, hormones are on high alert, and everyone is dealing with some degree of desperation. It's impossible to pick a favourite character--all of them are brought marvellously to life by the cast, which ranges from a 16-year-old girl (Tiedra) in love with the fiance (Ulloa) of her sister (Silke), to a middle-aged woman (Velasco) who copes with her empty marriage by hiring an escort (Cabrero) for the afternoon, but gets a rather big shock. The complicated interrelationships are what make it so much fun--we are always one step ahead of the characters, and the comedy is carefully based on the situations without ever getting too silly. A couple of plotlines stretch credibility a bit, but it's so enjoyable and satisfying that you hardly mind. And subtly woven into the stories are some strong messages about respect, love and accepting reality. The nicest surprise is that a film can be this witty, colourful and sweet without ever being glib. [themes, language, nudity] 15.Apr.02 llgff
back to the top WHEN BOYS FLY
dir Stewart Halpern, Lenid Rolov
with Tone, Brandon, Jon, Todd, Jason, Bryan, Matt, Scott, Johnny, Jeffrey Sanker
London L&G Film Fest Apr.02 • 01/US 1h02 2½ out of 5 stars
blame the drugsREVIEW BY RICH CLINE
This documentary about the circuit party scene is kind of a companion piece to the dramatic feature Circuit (also at this festival). Specifically, it centres on three guys attending the White Party in Miami, as well as a number of guys around them. Tone is 21 from Dallas; he's a wild-child addict who's been told by his flatmates that he'll be thrown out if he uses drugs at the party. But how can he resist? Brandon is 23 from Los Angeles; he's a good boy who's never been to a party like this, has no intention of using drugs, and is in constant contact with his mother back home. And Jon is 19 from Orlando; he's bringing his boyfriend Todd (age 35) and their friend Jason along, but there are bad vibes as Todd refuses to be faithful. The film is basically a sea of shirtless muscleboys with nary a chest hair in sight! Everyone says they won't do drugs, but very few stay sober through the night of dancing--a disco of epic proportions that starts off as good clean fun then gets seedier as almost everyone gets drunk, uses drugs and wakes up in the wrong bed. The film charts all this coherently, following the guys through each personal odyssey. It's not particularly subtle--ominous chords of music announce every tone shift and the final segment is more than a little preachy (Friends good! Drugs bad!). But the guys are surprisingly honest, talking about their feelings and examining the issues surrounding these kinds of events. Interesting and provocative--but it seems like watching this film is more fun than going to the party. Mmm right.... [adult themes and situations, language, nudity] 13.Apr.02 llgff
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© 2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall