Image Nation 2008

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The Lost Coast

Directed by Gabriel Flemming

2008

The Lost Coast begins with a lousy voice over to describe the events of  a lousy Halloween night in which the narrator goes on to say how he discovered a dead body. The film has been described as “moody” and “dreamlike,” but I would rather call it shoddy and forgettable.

The film’s plot is centered around an e-mail that Jasper (Ian Scott McGregor) is writing to his fiancée overseas. The email explains what happened the previous night. We gather from his tone that the events were of some importance, but the film never convinces us to care. If you are interested in HandiCam moviemaking that seems to come directly out of a bad film school, then this film is for you. The sound appears to have been taken directly from the camera, and the cinematographer went missing. Even if you’re able to deal with its Dogme 95-like like approach it still suffers from below-average performances and little character development. Thankfully the film is only 74 minutes long.

*

Alex Ross

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Mulligans

Directed by Chip Hale

2008

For a film that has one of the biggest budgets in this year’s Image+Nation film festival, Mulligans sure does disappoint. A gay boy falls in love with his best friend’s good looking dad who just so happens to be gay. Of course, the son and the mom both walk in on them in the act. What did you expect? Who locks doors anymore anyway, right?

The film exhibits a batch of deal-breaking irritants – among them, a deeply repetitive soundtrack, near-invisible character development and forced, unnatural writing. Many of the performances are rote and much of the dialogue is laughably silly. The only positive comment I can make is the choice of casting for the lead role; Charlie David is not only easy on the eyes but has a great screen presence. Hopefully for his sake (and ours) he will in future stick to acting, and not writing.

**

Alex Ross

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Otto, Or Up With Dead People

Here is a movie that uses the zombie genre cliche has a flexible methaphor for aids and gay bashing, but also explores themes of schizophrenia. Bruce La Bruce`s films are always interesting and worth a look and Otto is no exception. His films dangle along the lines of smut, art, the underground and the indie scene and he remains a true disciple to Andy Warhol. If blood, gore and blowjobs can be stomached, I say give it a try. Taking from the pages of Vagabond, Cecil B. Dimented, My Own Private Idaho and Shadow of A Vampire, La Bruce delivers his most disciplined film in his oeuvre.

*** 1/2

Alex Ross

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XXY

Directed by Lucia Puenzo

Argentina’s submission for last year’s Academy Awards graces this year’s fest, and is a striking, thematically resonant first feature for director Puenzo. In this often gut-wrenching but ultimately sweet coming-of-age drama, a fifteen-year-old medical hermaphrodite named Alex (Ines Efron) struggles with intense feelings of alienation while also trying to weather the tide of her raging hormones and increasing sexual curiosity. This becomes especially trying when her parents – including her fiercely devoted father – invite a renowned surgeon and his troubled son Alvaro (Martin Piroyansky) to board with them, hoping to get a fresh (and clandestine) opinion on Alex’s options. The bond formed between Alex and Alvaro is made compelling through their contrasting struggles with, respectively, difficult biology and emotionally abusive parents. When they come togather by the film’s midsection, it’s a moment both startling and tender. A gem.

* * * 1/2

Simon Howell

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Another Gay Sequel

Directed by Clark Johnson

It must be said that I am emphatically not in this movie’s target demographic – Johnson’s series – and especially this second entry, which compltely eschews the American Pie-isms of the first – makes no attempt at concession to a wider (“non-gay”) audience, nor does it need to do so in order to maintain its popularity. In fact, its complete immersion in gay signifiers both amusing (the many awkward sexual encounters its steadfast its protagonists suffer) and irritating (Perez Hilton) is its stock in trade. By the immortal measure of “doing hat it sets out to do” – in this case, to create a dayglo comedic universe to be enjoyed specifically by the gay community – Johnson’s films must be considered successes.

(no rating)

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La Léon

Dorected by Stantiago Otheguy

Another Argentinian film to go with XXY, this one indebted to Terrence Malick’s slow, contemplative style, while enjoying a stark sense of individuality derived from its authentic supporting cast and location. An abstracted tale of a repressive, quietly violent community that resides in Argentina’s remote wetlands, Otheguy’s directorial debut is presented in luminous, enveloping black-and-white, unapologetic in its use of long takes and quiet contemplation to create an all-encompassing pall of despair and dread. The use of real-life locals to make up the supporting cast adds to the feeling of otherwordliness as we witness their ceaseless routine – ride the titular boat down to the reeds, swing the machete, rinse and repeat. If you want to catch the particulars of its plot, you’ll need a magnifying glass, and it moves at a pace that could be called “deliberate” at best, but the engrossing visuals and pervasive atmosphere make it an intriguing debut.

* * *

Simon Howell

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