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Back to the SHADOWS FILM FEST page last update 29.Jul.02

back to the top CRAZY RICHARD
dir-scr Dean Francis, Katrina Mathers
with Richard Viede, Katrina Mathers, Dominic McDonald, Bonnie Smith, Geoffrey Smith, Nick Farnell, Dean Francis, Adam Howden, Dylan Ettridge, Paul Harris, Natasha Maugueret, Gerard Cogley
World Premiere London L&G Film Fest Apr.02 02/Australia 1h04 2 out of 5 stars
viede and mathers on the beachREVIEW BY RICH CLINE
It's impossible to describe this film, which blends and bends genres faster than you can define it. It begins as a documentary about former child star Richard (Viede), who went through a drug overdose and now years later is trying to resurrect his career on the saucy soap I Can't Even Think Straight. As the doc crew gets closer to him, we realise that this is actually a doc within a doc--because the crew itself gets into the story, examining and manipulating celebrity to get a sensational scoop. Soon one of the filmmakers (Mathers) is so intricately involved in the story that she doesn't know here to turn. Because of the outrageous style of filmmaking, we quickly realise that most of this is fiction--a mock-doc wrapped in a documentary submerged in a comedy spoof. Most of the people are eerily believable; some (most notably McDonald's TV producer) are comedy sketch characters, while others dip into Spinal Tap-like moments of inspired improvisational silliness. The layers of meaning are more darkly clever than they are humorous, looking at voyeurism and the whole concept of reality television. Viede is a terrific centrepiece--magnetic and hilariously camp. While Mathers' descent into virtual madness is both compelling and blackly funny. It's all somewhat repetitive and bombastic, but it looks terrific, copying the visual textures and kinetic editing of tabloid TV to bring us the real story in all its scandalous glory. And as it starts to dip into themes of privacy and addiction, it gets a little more scary than funny. [themes, language, violence] 10.Apr.02 llgff
back to the top GYPSY 83
dir-scr Todd Stephens
with Sara Rue, Kett Turton, Karen Black, John Doe, Paulo Costanzo, Anson Scoville, Carolyn Baumler, Stephanie McVay, Michael Cavadias, Susan Childs, Andersen Gabrych
London Apr.02 llgff; US 24.Oct.03 01/US 1h34 4 out of 5 stars
turton and rue as smith and nicksREVIEW BY RICH CLINE
Starting out as a rather clunky indie road comedy, this little film turns surprisingly insightful as it progresses to its unexpected conclusion. It may be 2001 in Sandusky, Ohio, but at age 25 Gypsy (Rue) is stuck in 1983, the year her mother left her and her father (Doe). She's a Stevie Nicks wannabe whose best friend Clive (Turton) is a teen Robert Smith clone. Then they hear about the "Night of a Thousand Stevies" karaoke contest and head to New York to find stardom. But along the way they discover who they really are ... with help from a has-been lounge singer (Black), a loutish frat boy (Constanzo) and a runaway Amish man (Scoville). At the beginning, there's just a bit too much goofy '80s stuff going on to even remotely take the film seriously, especially in the way Gypsy and Clive dress! But then little themes start to show--Clive's family worrying about his burgeoning sexuality, Gypsy's longing to find out what happened to her mother. And as they hit the road, things get even more introspective, playing on the '80s surfaces to examine the real people underneath. Rue and Turton are very good in the roles, undermining the wackiness with real emotion and sensitivity. Their voyage of discovery takes them in the obvious directions, yet we still feel their astonishment at it all. As a result, the film is engaging and entertaining ... then ultimately thoughtful and haunting. And it shows that first-time director Stephens is a filmmaker worth keeping an eye on. [adult themes and situations, language] 31.Mar.02 llgff See also: EDGE OF SEVENTEEN
dir-scr Luiz De Barros
with Leonard Du Plooy, Herb Klein, The Baroness, Bryan Bath, Shirley Lee, Brent Quinn, Sudley Adams, Ruth Barter, Nicholas Molenaar, Guy Raphaely, Mark Schwingel, Federico Sanchez
London L&G Film Fest Apr.02 00/SA 52m 2 out of 5 stars
This is indeed a remarkable journey, documenting the life of a South African black man (Du Plooy) who lived most of his adult life as a white woman called Granny Lee, the disco queen of Johannesburg! With skin lightened by vitiligo it wasn't too difficult for this gay man to live a life that would have been impossible for blacks during the Apartheid years. The film begins with his/her death at age 81 in a car crash, and then traces back through his early years and his eventual transformation into a larger-than-life diva. Testimonials from friends and neighbours are very telling, especially with such varied memories of Du Plooy from his different incarnations. Slightly less successful are the dramatised segments, in which actress Barter plays Granny Lee in various situations, including a gruesome reconstruction of the fatal accident. More interesting is Klein's extensive photographic record, documenting Lee's outrageous clothing, energy and personality, right up to a rather creepy audio message he recorded for his own funeral. Sometimes moving and always outrageous, Granny Lee's life was obviously much more colourful than this slightly timid film. [themes, language] 16.Mar.02 llgff
back to the top TREMBLING BEFORE G-D
dir Sandi Simcha Dubowski
with Aharon Feldman, Shlomo Riskin, Steve Greenberg, Nathan Lopes Cardozo, Meir Fund, Shlomo Ashkinazy, Naomi Mark, Yaakov Meir Weil
UK 30.May.03; US Nov.01 sliff 01/US 84m 3 out of 5 stars
The intense themes in this doc make it both intellectually challenging and powerfully moving as it examines orthodox Jews who are trying to reconcile their deeply held faith with their sexual orientation. These are people who cannot imagine themselves not being religious, and yet their faith can't give them any answers. Many try to, as one says, "rid myself of my homosexuality" and have ongoing trouble accepting the fact that they can't change something so profound about themselves. Others battle with broken relationships and misunderstandings. The personal testimony throughout this film, combined with honest comments from rabbis and psychotherapists, gives it a real punch. This isn't a struggle between religious and secular values; it's a grappling within the soul for a sense of self, for an understanding of G-d and His purposes. The film gets bogged down a bit in its dramatised silhouettes of various Jewish rituals, and it's also rather rambling and repetitive. But the central themes are so important that it demands to be seen. And it has important things to say to society at large as well. [15 themes] 16.Mar.02 sliff
back to the top THE TRIP
dir-scr Miles Swain
with Larry Sullivan, Steve Braun, Ray Baker, Alexis Arquette, Sirena Irwin, Jill St John, Art Hindle, Christina Cameron Mitchell, Julie Brown, Dennis Bailey, Alejandro Patino, Geoffrey Rivas
UK Apr.02 lgff; US 9.May.03 02/US 1h35 2 out of 5 stars
braun and sullivanREVIEW BY RICH CLINE
There's a fantastic love story at the heart of this film, but writer-director Swain tries so hard to spice things up with a quirky period vibe and goofy slapstick that the romance is simply overwhelmed. We start in 1973, when the ambitious right-wing writer Alan (Sullivan) meets liberal activist Tommy (Braun). Sparks fly, but it takes a while for Alan to admit that he could be attracted to a man. Four years later they're still a happy couple ... until one of Alan's early writing projects comes back to haunt him. And then finally we jump to 1984 for the climax, as Alan and Tommy take that road trip across Mexico they've always talked about. This is a very strange, frustrating film. We're drawn into the characters and situations by some good acting (some is not good at all) and very realistic situations, all underscored by the political climate of the day. But the politics are rather heavy handed. And this is nothing compared to the cinematic cliches, in which the film drowns trying to create the period. It mixes zany things from all over the '70s and '80s as if they were afraid to leave something out, then failing to resist the urge to add anachronistic postmodern dialog that immediately snaps us out of the scene. As if this weren't bad enough, some of the characters are embarrassing cartoons--namely Tommy's queeny pal (Arquette), Alan's fad-obsessed ex-girlfriend (Irwin) and his drunken kleptomaniac mother (St John). All of this conspires to make the film impossible to believe for a second, despite excellent work from Sullivan and Braun. As a result, the love story is still somehow tender and touching. [adult themes, language] 27.Mar.02 llgff
R E A D E R   R E V I E W
"I had the pleasure of seeing this film in three different film festivals. The audience laughs so much you miss so many great witty one-liners. I had to see it again just to catch them all. I travel a lot (all the time actually) and I'm a huge supporter of gay films so I always check out the film festivals in each city I'm in. Luckily The Trip is a huge film festival favorite so it has been playing all the major ones. I thought this film was dramatic, heart-breaking, sexy, exciting and laugh-out-loud funny. The story spans the early 70s and 80s and it's part love story, part history lesson. It's the first gay film I've seen that shows a long term gay male relationship. I recommend this film to gay kids coming out of the closet. Take your parents to this film; it will help them understand our/your struggles with being gay and the consequences of not being true to one's self. This film has its flaws but it has something for everyone." --Jake, London 29.Jul.02
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2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall