Metro Weekly

Best of the Fest

Reel Affirmations 2009

Review by Doug Rule

Rating: starstarstarstar (4 out of 5) [Critic’s Pick!]
Monday, 10/19/2009, 7:00 PM
Feature presentation, $10 at Shakespeare Theatre’s Harman Center for the Arts

THIS WIDE-RANGING assortment is not as strong as in year’s past, but there’s still plenty to recommend it. It gets off to a cute if meaningless start with A Day at the Beach (), a rudimentary, unsophisticated, computer-animated short that aspires to do little else than fill two minutes with pretty colors.

The thing that surprises you most about the funny, hyper-real Don’t Mess with Texas () is that it was co-written by Ethan Coen (of the Coen brothers). Two hard-core dykes bring their activism into a Texas diner with revelatory results. A funny, sharp crowd-pleaser.

Countertransference () is flat-out wonderful, as a dowdy, mousy shop clerk (Deb Margolin) contends with a strange, seductive therapist and a icy, odd boss. The film seems largely improvised and that’s all for the better, as the interactions between the clerk and these women in her life grow progressively stranger.

There’s a great documentary in Prostitution Free Zone (), a short that details D.C.’s efforts to rid its streets of sex workers. P.J. Starr makes a valiant attempt at conveying the information, but lacks the skills of a seasoned documentary filmmaker. Still, it’s a starting point — and with a little funding and effort a better, more insightful film could sprout from this seedling.

Gevald () is an odd Israeli entry that combines three elements: drag performances in a now-closed Israeli gay bar, The Shushan; a virtually wordless encounter between a lesbian and a former girlfriend, on the eve of her wedding to an Orthodox man; and news footage of Orthodox Jews demonstrating — often violently — against Israel’s gay community (“Homo in numerology is the beast,” says one as a man behind him bleats tauntingly). The movie is like Priscilla meets Desert Hearts meets 60 Minutes. It’s a blend that doesn’t work well.

The comedy Mustache () tells the fetching story short of a middle-aged couple badly in need of something new in their lives. That something new has a gender-bending twist that is as organic as it is delightful.

The program also includes Boycrazy (), Dish (), and James (), which are being screened the next day, Tuesday, Oct. 20, at the Youth Shorts Free at Five program (see review, page xx). Also on the bill is Pride Alive!, a video by Metro Weekly‘s David Uy, shot at the 2009 Capital Pride Parade and Festival.

Best of the Fest
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Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly.

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