Reel Affirmations 2008
Review by Sean Bugg
Rating: (4 out of 5)
Wednesday, 10/22/2008, 9:30 PM
Shorts presentation, $10 at AFI Silver
WHAT IS FABULOUS? Some of these men’s shorts are nothing but, while some others are something far less. To start, the titular short Fabulosity () is yet another comedic celebration of every hackneyed stereotype you’ve ever known about gay men. There is a certain type of gay man who will love this as unconditionally as he loves Prada, Project Runway and cosmopolitans. I’m not of them.
On the flip side, Neurotica () takes many of the same stereotypes but puts them into some actual characters and — surprise! — manages to create some real laughs. Where Fabulosity plays with faux irony, Neurotica takes some sharp (but mostly loving) pokes at gay life. It’s easily the best film in the program.
Mirror, Mirror (), another strong entry, tells the story of an older man who’s decided to leave a part of his life behind. But that part of him isn’t going quietly. Nicely acted, the piece goes beyond its initial gimmick and into something genuinely moving.
Dolls () is another story of growing up gay, as a teen boy tries to keep some old Ken dolls his single mother wants to dispense with at a garage sale. If she didn’t know from the dolls, she knows when her son asks to go to a Bette Davis film festival. Dolls highlights the tension that creeps into even loving relationships as gays grow up.
If you haven’t yet read a program description for The Red Dress (), then don’t. The film depends on you not knowing why this rather morose looking woman is trying on multiple red dresses. I’m not going tell you, but it’s not what you would expect and it’s rather sweet.
From the disturbing side, we have the German Herzhaft (), the story of a soccer coach who is having a clandestine affair with a 15-year-old team member. The boy’s mother finds out and domestic drama ensues. You can feel sympathy for a boy whose mother can’t accept that he’s gay, but it’s a little harder to have sympathy for the coach who can’t say no to the Lolita (Lolito?) advances of his charge.
Much better is the Brazilian Something Like That () as it follows a young man and woman through a night out on the town. Caio has just come out to Mari, and she wants to find him a friend at a gay bar. Too bad her feelings are more mixed than she lets on. Cute and affectionate, it’s worth your time.
Also playing are Sweat, Just and Romeo’s Kiss.