Sunday, October 21, 2007

RA Closing Night: The Walker (not exactly GLBT "genre"); other GLBT films to watch


On Saturday, October 20, 2007 Reel Affirmations held it’s closing night film “The Walker” and closing night party at nearby Nellie’s.

The film The Walker, produced by European company Pathe and now distributed by ThinkFilm, written and directed by Paul Schraeder, a Washington political intrigue film made in the UK and perhaps France (and the Isle of Man) with Washington DC outdoor scenes. The movie looked great on a full 2.35 to 1 screen – the first scene recalls the mood of 20th Century Fox 50s fashion Cinemascope movies – but soon we see that this is a ruse and we are in a present day political drama. Though the projection looked great, the sound system in the Lincoln Theater is antiquated and the dialogue sounded muffled, making the talky movie hard to follow even with concentration.

At the closing night party, I sampled some opinions and they were mixed. Some people thought that the movie did not belong in a “gay” film festival. Now, the story is about a “walker,” a southern gay gentlemen played by a disguised Woody Harrelson to drive around rich women. It’s a kind of gay “Driving Miss Daisy” but then it isn’t. You think that this occupation, being an adult nanny, belongs in the 50s, but suddenly you see laptop computers, and a boyfriend playing gumshoe with Abu Ghraib photos. Then there is a corpse, and The Walker finds himself accused of murder because, at least, he is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Actually, the movie seems to aim at a moral lesson, as to how easy it is to become a mark if you attract attention to yourself the wrong way; furthermore, previously unrelated matters can come together in unusual ways to get people framed. Now, the audience did cheer at the female cast (including Lauren Bacall. Lily Tomlin, Kistin Soctt Thomas). Other well known starts like Willem Dafoe appear in the movie and get to moralize about being on the right side of history. This is another one of those ambitious independent films that gets big stars and assembles different genres – mystery, political thriller, GLBT, 50s, modern day high tech, drama, thriller. I rather liked it; it’s just too bad about the sound. Ultimately, the film had something to say about corrupt politicians and covering up of torture, a topic more openly explored in a big studio film that opened the same weekend, Rendition, from New Line (dir. Gavin Hood), with a beefy but gentled Jake Gyllenhaal – someone a gay male audience would have relished in a festival.

In the goody line, I met the filmmaker Kimberly Johnson, who made “Soy-n-Sugar: Drama to Realty” that played at the Goethe Institut Saturday Oct. 13. I did not see it and cannot find a DVD for it on Netflix or Amazon. But I’m sorry that I did, because it looks important. (The Washington Blade has a review dated Oct 12, 2007 here. The story is that of a murder of a filmmaker making “Soy-n-Sugar”. It seems timely because the movie world has said a lot about the murder of Theo Van Gogh in Amsterdam for his short film “Submission” which I discussed on this blog on Aug. 11. I hope the filmmaker will get a DVD into distribution.

The party at Nellie’s seemed to be two parties. Upstairs there was a separate group, which we did not know about, and some of us migrated and saw the Red Sox clobber the Indians, 12-2, with shots off the Green Monster in Fenway Park (some singles off the wall), before we realized that wasn’t part of the party.

Of course, there are other films around that might have been selected but weren’t. I discussed “Saint of 9/11” on this blog Sept. 9, two days before the tragic anniversary. There are two recent major films about gay parenting: “We Are Dad” (2005, Indie-Film, dir. Michel Horvat) about a gay male couple in Florida that cares for HIV-infected foster children but then cannot adopt them (and has to deal with the threat of one being taken away for heterosexual adoption) because of Florida’s ban on gay adoption. There is Rosie O’Donnel’s HBO film “All Aboard! Rosie’s Family Cruise” (2006, dir. Shari Cookson) which even Donald Trump would have to admire (he as that ongoing vendetta with Rosie). At the end of the cruise, the gay families and especially the kids have to face brutal anti-gay demonstrations in Nassau. I discussed a couple of “long shorts” about gay parents that were in the festival in the blog entry for Oct. 15.

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