Metro Weekly

Best of the Fest

Reel Affirmations 2005

Review by Randy Shulman

Rating: starstarstarstarstar (5 out of 5)
[Critic’s Pick!]

Sunday, 10/16/2005, 9:00 PM
Shorts presentation, $9 at Lincoln Theatre

SHORTS ARE ALWAYS a grab bag. Fortunately, the shorts that comprise this zippy, two-hour assortment are well-worth grabbing.

Things start off with the superior Ryan’s Life (), a sweet coming-of-gay story told in first-person. ”I think there’s a slight possibility that I might be gay,” says Ryan, winningly portrayed by Alex Pakzad. He finds out soon enough after he’s asked out on a date by another boy. It’s followed by Granny Queer: The Late Bloomers (), an offbeat Australian animation that revels in its own silliness. Just as silly is the camped-up three-minute Speak Up (), in which two queens lip sync an argument of cut dialogue from such films as Mommie Dearest, 9 to 5, and War of the Roses. A complete throwaway that, astonishingly, works.

A highlight is the utterly hysterical Billy’s Daddy is a Fudge-Packer (), a parody of ’50s educational films featuring Robert Gant and Family Guy‘s Alex Borstein. The movie is all innuendo — narrated in dulcet tones by DC Douglas — but it’s brilliant innuendo (”Daddy likes to do his own teabagging”). One hopes that Reel Affirmations will do a bonus showing of it at the end of ”Best,” because your laughter is bound to drown out half of the jokes. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.

Little Siren () is a perfect short in which a mother first frets over her 5-year-old son’s desire to dress up as a little mermaid for a costume party and then does a 180, encouraging his gay identity. ”Have you noticed how much gay people love their mothers?” she bubbles to a friend. You’ll never see the punchline coming — but, trust me, it’s a doozy.

The beautifully filmed Dani & Alice () deals with the issue of domestic abuse in a way that’s both alarming and meaningful — not a bad feat for a 12-minute sprint. Director Roberta Marie has crafted a film that grafts a sobering topic onto what seems to be an homage to ’70s blaxpoitation films. It completely sears your soul.

Powerplay () is a frenetically animated whim, in which a master and slave face off for some playtime (the fisting scene alone is worth the price of admission), while Moustache () is a sweet but bizarre story of a middle-aged married couple who learn how to romantically connect with the help of some facial hair.You might think the abrasively filmed, nearly incoherent Drive Me Crazy () is a waste — but watch it closely and you’ll get its ultimately clever point.

The program wraps with two slickly-produced parodies of Hollywood genre movies. With its tough talking women and fey, helpless men (who get slapped silly by the women), The Porcelain Pussy (), a gender-swap takeoff of The Maltese Falcon, is the slightly better of the pair. But it’s hard to resist the Spaghetti Western absurdity of The Sadness of Johnson Joe Jangles (), which features a pregnant man, a newborn donkey, and a life on the frontier that turns so horribly tragic it drives its titular hero to spend his days at the ”Dark Pool of Infinite Sadness.” Clint Eastwood would be rolling over in his grave — if he were dead.

Best of the Fest

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