Metro Weekly

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Reel Affirmations 2008

Review by Will O’Bryan

Rating: starstarstarstar (4 out of 5)
Saturday, 10/25/2008, 11:00 AM
Shorts presentation, $10 at Shakespeare Theatre’s Harman Center for the Arts

AGING HAS BEEN one of those troublesome spots that exposes fractures in the GLBT community. There are seniors who are afraid to reach out to younger generations for fear of being seen as predatory. There are young people who dismiss seniors as an unwelcome reminder that youth is not everlasting. On a more practical level, who will care for us as we age? How will the typical medicines of old age interact with HIV medications? And so on.

Michael Jacoby’s Ten More Good Years (triangletriangletriangletriangle) tackles some of this, though it seems he has ambitiously attempted to tackle it all.

Years begins as profiles of three gay men and one trans woman. They are beautiful, loving, respectful profiles. That is one film, however. The other is a documentary looking broadly at the situation for GLBT seniors in America with the 2005 White House Conference on Aging as a backdrop, with interviews with activists. Jacoby had enough for two documentaries, though Years strains to weave them into one. Instead of simply being a more informative documentary than it would’ve been otherwise, the contrast between these four profiles on one hand, and White House indifference on the other, changes the mood uncomfortably. Years asks audiences to shift gears too abruptly.

Go to learn about Jacoby’s wonderful subjects — ”the artist, the courageous, the faithful, the survivor” — whose stories are heartbreaking, uplifting and a warning of how aging returns vulnerabilities to our lives. Tune out the White House angle to revisit later.

Similarly, 88 Years in the Closet (triangletriangletriangletriangle), suffers a tiny bit from a similar pacing problem. A series of interviews with women on an Olivia cruise about how and when they came out is a distraction in an otherwise stellar biopic of Loraine Barr. This adorable woman who came out at 88 in a Newsweek column is an inspiration, even if she doesn’t see it that way.

”Am I brave?” she ponders. ”I don’t think so. I’m a coward.”

Really, Peter Shafron’s respectful film shows not a coward, but a survivor with humility, grit and charm. Getting a person who was so private that she stayed in the closet till 88 to open up must certainly have been a challenge, but Shafron seems to have put Barr especially at ease.

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