Reel Affirmations 2007
Review by Kristina Campbell
Rating: (4 out of 5)
Thursday, 10/18/2007, 7:00 PM
Feature presentation, $10 at Landmark’s E Street Cinema
WHAT BUTCH JAMIE lacks in production quality and acting savvy, it more than makes up for in character, humor and charm. Jamie (Michelle Ehlen), a struggling actor who can’t seem to land any of the girly-girl roles she auditions for, finds herself instead cast as a man in an indie film — and, naturally, gender-bending hijinks ensue.
Jamie’s professional nemesis is, amusingly enough, her roommate Lola’s up-and-coming pet cat, Howard, who doesn’t break a sweat at the thought of trying out for the next role and whose demo reel puts Jamie’s lack of a résumé to shame. While this may sound on the surface like a tedious plot device, it’s well played by all (including Howard) and legitimately funny.
Feline foes aside, Jamie’s decision to embrace her outer butch is a good one, particularly given how ridiculous she looks when she tries to femme it up. When she finds it a little too easy to pass as a man in order to play the bland role of Steve in the indie film, her world gets complicated in the form of Jill, a sexy costume designer who is strangely turned on by short, sensitive men with bad, fake facial hair. Meanwhile, Lola’s romantic adventures with Andi, a humorless butch who is immediately at odds with Jamie, add to the film’s comedic tension.
The film is clearly not a big-budget endeavor, but it hits its mark and is fun to watch. The script is clever enough that it’s easy to forget that some of the actors have weak delivery. Instead, we get caught up in rooting for the cynical but well-meaning Jamie, for the confident and kind Lola, and even for the silently menacing Howard, who ends up helping Jamie land her next big break.
With this comes the short documentary On My Skin (), an agonizingly long nine minutes of droning narrative and inexplicably flat visuals that convey the story of FTM transgender Logan Gutierrez-Mock. Telling the story of his search for connection to his ethnic roots, Gutierrez-Mock relates a trip to Mexico ó but while his personal story and his objective are both interesting, he has screen presence better suited to radio and an intonation better suited for print. — KC