Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Third Time's the Charm

On my third day of actually seeing films I finally seemed to get it right. I took today easy on the film side due to that whole it's a weekday and I should be an adult and do professional things. But I took the time to catch two films and I finally chose a selection that left me satisfied and BOTH films could finally pass the Bechdel test. (Gadzooks! Other odd exclamations of shock and surprise!) This was probably aided by the fact that the first film was directed by a woman, and the second was co-written by a woman. See what having women in the conceptualization does to a film? It makes the women actually worth watching! Sigh of relief.

Alright let's dive in.

I started the evening with Sweet Talk. This was an unconventional story and romance. Within the first 3 minutes it had already passed the Bechdel test and I sighed in relief that I wouldn't have to spend the whole movie looking for a well crafted female character, after all, there she is! The protagonist. Delilah arrives at work - answering a phone sex line. And Samson, is a frustrated writer seeking inspiration when he calls her. Delicately crafted as they let their imaginations run wild, confront their limitations, and create an encounter that keeps you glued to the screen well past when the lights turn on. Go see it. And if it doesn't make it to a theater near you - pester Netflix to get it on a small screen for you. It's the sort of film that inspires conversation, and feels almost European despite being filmed in LA. (I mean this as a compliment... Sorry LA.)

I followed up with City Baby. This film felt like a cross between a mid-twenties/thirties coming of age story and an awkward love letter to the city of Portland, youth, insecurities, and the process of accepting one's self. The best compliment I can offer this film is it feels real. Set against the backdrop of the Portland music scene we see Cloey, as she deals with love life, best friend's plans to move away, and the challenges of supporting herself and figuring out her life. We see the boy who never grew up still playing in his band, the professional who lives large, the indie actress, the hairdresser, the mechanic, the awkward family dynamics - it feels like a more elegant sexy version of daily life. Folks in the Mission - this is your kind of film. It hasn't sold out, it's smart, but still well constructed. And the performances are well worth watching.


However to be frank - my favorite part was something beyond the film - the audience's reaction. At one point in the film, our protagonist models for a female photographer, and has a one night stand with her while avoiding thinking of her ex and the rebound. This scene was well done in that it didn't make a big deal of gender at all - it was just a hook up like any other hook up might happen. And the audience didn't make a big deal of the fact that the protagonist could now be read as bi or fluid - it was just part of her and no big deal.

This is something that shouldn't be a big deal. But to see bisexuality in a film as just normal, and not being made into an exotic performance or a falling into sin or other huge plot point is so damn rare I wanted to applaud the film makers and audience for just being cool. Seriously. Go audience at Cinequest! Thank you. That made my night. And for that alone - I want people to watch this. Go watch a film where sexuality is done in an honest way and oh by the way it's a film you should see anyways.

Goodnight all.

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