July 16th, 2006

Pushing Daisies - Make This Stuff Up

Queer Duck - Movie 2 - Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian Film Festival - 2006

Okay...yesterday there was a slight hiccup and switch of my plans.

While I was getting ready to head into Philadelphia for a 2:30 showing of "Amnesia", I grabbed my tickets for the day and discovered that somewhere along the line, I'd typed up a typo and it was actually a 12:30 showing! (I discovered this at 12:25) Argh!

I checked my program guide and discovered that it would be showing again on Monday...however, it was showing opposite "Queer Duck", which I already had a ticket for. Another however...Queer Duck was showing at the Wilma at 2:30. That may be where the mistake/confusion started. Who knows.

Anyway, it was worth a shot and I drove into Philly for the 2:30 showing of Queer Duck and explained what happened to the guys at the box office and they allowed me to come in to see the movie when I gave them my Monday ticket (I should also be able to use my Saturday ticket on Monday for Amnesia since it's doubtful it will be sold out since apparently there was "plenty of room" at the 12:30 showing).

If you are unfamiliar with "Queer Duck", he started out as a series of short cartoons done in Shockwave Flash for a website called icebox.com. They did a few episodes there and then the series was "cancelled". Soon after, however, Queer Duck got revived as the six or seven episodes produced at the time started to be shown on Showtime after episodes of "Queer as Folk".

There are twenty episodes total nowadays (with more later being produced or at least premiering on Showtime's "Queer Duck" website).

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Anyway, the series is extremely politically incorrect. The characters are all horrible stereotypes of the "Jack McFarland" type. There's one big difference: Queer Duck is funny and isn't a dimbulb like Jack.

The one thing that really made me wonder was the audience...many of them seemed to be laughing at the opening credits sequence (which is on every episode of the cartoon online) as if they'd NEVER laid eyes on "Queer Duck" before! Where have they all been? What could have pulled them into the theatre to see it without this prior knowledge?

Anyway, there were lots of cute jokes and it was basically the same humor as the online cartoon (watch them from the Showtime link above and decide for yourself if it would be worth your time). Apparently, this comes out on Tuesday on DVD (I hate when they program this way at the festival). Netflix it if you enjoy the shorts.
Pushing Daisies - Make This Stuff Up

Another Gay Movie - Movie 3 - Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian Film Festival - 2006

After exiting "Queer Duck", I quickly ran into the parking garage to my car to retrieve my umbrella. It was POURING down.

I got to the lobby of the Prince and waited shortly for controladdict and lucindalunacy to show. We quickly got in line and chatted about movies until curtain. I've added another film to my Netflix queue 'cause it just sounds so twisted from their description: "Brother's Keeper" (documentary by the same filmmakers that did the "Paradise Lost"/West Memphis Three movies).

Before the film, they presented Darryl Stephens (Noah of TV's Noah's Arc) with a Rising Star award (he had a small part in the movie). They said that they wanted to come up with something that was basically the opposite end of the spectrum from a lifetime achievement award...rewarding people just starting out in the business...encouraging them to continue.

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Another Gay Movie (imdb link) (the trailer can be found at youtube.com and there is also an Official Site) was absolutely hysterical. I actually laughed out loud through the whole movie (something I rarely do no matter how funny I might think something is).

It's basically the movie "American Pie" (with elements from other sex driven teen comedies thrown in)...if the guys trying to lose their virginity were all aiming to have sex with men. There are all types/fetishes skewered here with the same irreverence found for the heteros in those other movies (and yes there is a scene parodying the infamous pie-fucking scene).

There are some great cameos/performances throughout, including Lypsinka as the pie-fucker's shocked mother, Graham Norton as the boys' "foreign exchange teacher", and Richard Hatch (from TV's Survivor) as himself (and guys, there ain't no pixels on his genitals this time, if you are into that sort of thing (which I am)).

Also really funny in this movie is Scott Thompson from TV's Kids in the Hall in a twist on the Eugene Levy character from the Pie movies.

Basically, you'll like it if you enjoy the humour of movies like American Pie or Porky's (and maybe a dash of the Airplane/Naked Gun/Scary Movie type of film too). You also need to go in with a sense of humour about yourself and not let stuff offend you (there's certainly stuff here that could offend gays and straights equally...and isn't that kind of nice?). Just go ready to laugh and giggle.
Pushing Daisies - Make This Stuff Up

Love Life - Movie 4 - Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian Film Festival - 2006

After leaving the Prince, I had to haul ass to make it to the Arts Bank on South and Broad (and the awards presentation to Daryl Stephens had eaten up some time).

At least the sun was shining brightly with no sign of the rain that had plagued us earlier.

I got to the theatre just a few minutes before they starting taking people into the auditorium.

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Love Life (imdb.com) was written and directed by damiondietz (who you can also find at http://www.damiondietz.com). I've been a fan of Damion's since I first saw Fag Hag seven (or was it eight?) years ago at the Festival (I saw it twice on the big screen, having enjoyed it so much I dragged Paul with me to the second showing of it, and own both a VHS & a DVD). I've enjoyed all of Damion's work to date and while some may see this as a departure (considering that both "Fag Hag" and last year's entry "Beverly Kills" have a "John Waters"-esque vibe to them), I see that all of his movies have stood completely on their own: "Neverland" is a dark (some might say "Goth") reimagining of the Peter Pan story. The so far never released on video/DVD "Virgin Larry" is much more in the Christopher Guest-type mockumentary style (and his troupe of actors led by the always wonderful Saadia Billman were certainly up to the improv task at hand for that one).

What sets this one apart, primarily, is that it is a drama.

It reminded me in tone/style of Woody Allen's more dramatic pieces ("Another Woman" or "Husbands and Wives" for instance) , Alan Ball's "American Beauty" and even the stage plays of Arthur Miller and William Inge.

It explores the dark underbelly of a marriage of two people who share a lie and live in constant denial of their true selves. Though married, both Mary and Joe are gay and are unsatisfied with their home life (even sleeping in separate beds). Joe's pent up frustrations lead him to the new gardener/landscaper. Mary's drive her to her old college roommate/flame.

A framing device of an interview places most of the movie in flashback, looking back on a day that challenges the boundaries of their relationship(s). When the interview scene is repeated in it's proper timeframe context, the answers that Mary gives about her life and marriage are revealed as a sharp contrast to her reality.

The hand held "shaky cam" gave this film a bit of a rawness and edge as well. It made me feel as if I was spying on the neighbors.

Strong performances by the whole cast are led by Stephanie (Orff) Kirchen as Mary. There are many shots of Mary wherein no dialogue is being spoken but volumes are being shown by the expressions on Mary's face and the visible sadness/loneliness in her eyes. Stephan D. Gill as Joe is also very strong as a man suffering in "quiet desperation" .

Mr. Dietz spoke afterwards and stated that the characters are based on a couple that he knows and that while they are aware of the film's existence they may never admit even to themselves that it relates to their situation.

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I appreciated that this film depicted gay characters of both genders which is something we rarely find in films. We are already so marginalized, it's a shame to polarize us even more away from each other. I also appreciated that none of the characters were the typical stereotypes that we might find in the cinema (even pervasive throughout films made by gays 'cause they are perhaps just a simple shorthand).

It also made me think that this was a movie that could be successful with mainstream audiences. While some straight audiences may cower from the idea of "two men kissing" or whatever, this movie may open the eyes of many married couples (not only those who are gay/closeted). I could see a lot of this relating to any marriage dissolving (example: our friends, Kris and Becky).

It's heavy stuff, but very much worth the viewing.