Reel Affirmations 2004
Review by Nancy Legato
Rating: (5 out of 5)
Monday, 10/18/2004, 9:00 PM
Shorts presentation, $9 at Cecile Goldman Theater at the DCJCC
WOMEN ON THE Verge brings together one of the best collections of women’s shorts I’ve seen in a decade of reviewing Reel Affirmations programs. The scripts are scrappy, and the women are witty, with nary a miscue among them. Twice-told tales take a front seat in this crop of shorts with the retelling of two old fables, Snow White and Cinderella.
Cherien Dabis spoofs Snow White () by criticizing Hollywood’s treatment of aging women to hilarious effect in Memoirs of an Evil Stepmother. Jane Lynch — whose face you’ll no doubt recognize — plays an aging actress being ousted by her very own gorgeous stepdaughter on her very own soap opera. Struggling with her frustration and anger over her forced retirement, she passively gets drawn into a plot to kill her stepdaughter. Snow White stand-in Valerie (Shaina Fewell), on the other hand, has her own scheme afoot, so expect the unexpected as Lynch and Fewell do battle via their evil minions to hilarious effect.
Debis also wrote Little Black Boot (), which takes on ye olde Cinderella theme. Directed by Colette Burson, Boot has a bit more of the classic touch than does Memoirs, but manages to keep things lively with an updated lesbian twist. Cindy (Carmen Plumb) is a quietly besotted high school student who fears she’ll never get noticed by the enticing Laurie (Danio Ramirez). With help from a fairy friend (J. Anthony Woods), Cindy gets the girl — but will she keep her after the magic prom juice wears off?
When Guinevere Turner returns to the big screen in her own creation, Hummer (), you can expect the humor we discovered in Go Fish to re-emerge in fine fettle. As flashy femme Casey, Turner just can’t seem to stop noticing all the little irritating idiosyncrasies of the potential lovers (random atonal humming, foot-tapping, cell phone usage at the dinner table), but will she finally understand that shy baby butch Bee (T.G. Alpert) is really her best bet for true love? Turner’s script is tuned to a fine pitch, with nary a fallen barb, and Alpert is definitely the cat’s meow as the taken-for-granted diamond in the rough we’re all rooting for.
The Nearly Unadventurous Life of Zoe Cadwauler () proves that truly magical moments can occur between a girl and her guardian angel, in this case a rooster reincarnated as a potential love interest named Red (Kelli Simpkins) who serves as a lightning rod between Zoe (Melanie Lynskey) and the acts of god that seem to follow her throughout her life.
In a slightly more experimental vein, Strange and Charmed () by Shari Friolot brings you… the quark, and all its odd, hypothesized effects on human behavior and emotions. Basically, something has to explain all these people boffing strange bedfellows, when all they really want is someone who fails to return their own attraction, and it looks like quarks will take the blame. Mostly Strange and Charmed is just harmless fun, aided by some fancy inventive photography, but if nicely rounds out the magical theme of the program.
Finally, Roberta Denore’s F*STOP () is the least engaging of the lot, with a harmlessly uninteresting plot brightened by a few moments of trick motorcycle riding as some gorgeous biker chicks help a photographer in a personal and professional rut jump back into the groove.