by Kevin M. Thomas, @ReelKev
So many movies, so little time.
In preparing for Frameline, the 42nd annual San Francisco LGBTQ film festival, I spent a lot of time watching documentaries and less time on narrative features.
Hoping to catch up, this article showcases some narrative features I’ve seen plus highlights for those that likely shouldn’t be missed.
On the narrative side of Frameline, the movie that still is with me is “Man in an Orange Shirt.” This movie reached me on many levels – from a charming picturesque film that showcases the countryside of England to a time travel piece that vacillates from the past to the present while connecting the stories.
But “Orange” mostly hits me for its love stories in two different time periods – yet they are amazingly pieced together on a beautiful tapestry that took decades to complete.
As soon as we hope for a happy ending for our post-war lovers, the movie jumps forward to present day with lovers with their own angst and issues. Both stories, set 60 years apart, are connected through one character and as the puzzle pieces start to fit together, the audience gets a clearer view of both stories.
Hard to explain without a spoiler alert, but I watched this with my best friend and we were holding each other through most of the movie, cheering for the movie to take certain turns. Whether director Michael Samuels heard us is a secret I will never tell.
For movies I’ve yet to see, some Frameline favorites make their return, as well as some big Hollywood names, draw attention to a few titles.
“The Miseducation of Cameron Post” not only has star power but it has Frameline history. Writer/director Desiree Akhavan made a great impression with her previous “Appropriate Behavior” that I’m hoping she strikes gold again with her Sundance winning story of a young girl sent to “straighten” out. Extra attention is added to the film besides the great buzz for Akhavan but it stars Chloe Grace Moretz, whose resume gets more impressive with each film.
“Everything Is Free” will likely help everyone realize something I already know: Brian Jordan Alvarez is a talent worth following. A hit on YouTube with many comedic series (some his own, some his friends), this movie seems to take a step out of his comfort zone with his character going to Columbia to focus on his craft but seems to lose focus when obstacles follow.
“Ideal Home” would be the one movie that already has its foot in the mainstream – thanks to its never aging star Paul Rudd. He plays half of a bickering couple (with Steven Coogan) that seem harmonious on their TV food show but mud flies when they are off-camera.
“Skate Kitchen” might be described as the modern LGBT twist on the 1990s movie “Kids,” which also has a mostly non-actor cast, bringing raw, natural drama to elevate a story that seems more real than fiction. A narrative debut from documentarian Crystal Mosette, extra attention is brought to the film due to one of its ensemble, Jaden Smith.
“They” bravely tells the story of J, who wants to be gender identified as “they.” It’s hard enough to find your place in this world, but when you’re a teen, the pressure is exemplified. This picture has already received strong notices and premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. You can’t be braver than that.
“Wild Nights with Emily” might just be the Molly Shannon movie we’ve waited for. A true comic genius, Shannon has shown in the past few years her dramatic side in several movies about the LGBTQ community. Now, a starring role at least, in which she plays Emily Dickinson, who is explored through a historian character whose facts about Dickinson may not all be true. But what likely is true is a performance that will continue to have people pay attention to Shannon as an actress and not just comic relief.
“A Moment in the Reeds” looks like a dramatic odd coupling of a Finnish man and his Syria suitor that perhaps might be this year’s “God’s Country” that has appeal on all levels and showcases a relationship that is built upon.
“Hard Paint” seems to be a very textured tale of a young, poor man down on his luck and relies on internet videos to keep him financially stable. When someone taps into his market, a meeting is arranged and the outcome takes a different turn then our character – or the audience – suspects.
“Nina” is noteworthy not only for its story of adoption and bisexuality, but because of it infusions elements of its country of origin Poland, and the struggles lesbians go through.
“Riot” is an Australian Stonewall of sorts. Based upon a true story, the movie takes us back to the 1970s in which gay activist begins in Australia as people like Lance Gowland and Marg McMann decide to fight back for the persecution the LGBTQ community faced up until that point.
While this seems like the best year of Frameline, there are still more movies to see and explore. TO get complete information and showtimes, go to www.frameline.org.