"Pink Ribbons, Inc." (First Run Features): Inspired by Dr. Samantha King's book of the same name, Léa Pool's doc "Pink Ribbons, Inc." intends to be a scathing indictment of the commodification of breast cancer and its associated symbol. The timing of the release of "Pink Ribbons, Inc." couldn't be better considering the recent trouble surrounding the Susan G. Komen Foundation and its embattled director, the icy Nancy Brinker.
The doc attempts to be balanced, to make sure that all voices are heard, but it wears its bias on its lapel, like, well, a pink ribbon. Brinker comes off as even more of a caricature than she already is. There's no way she can hold a candle to an interview subject such as writer and social critic Barbara Ehrenreich (a breast cancer survivor herself), who is a more compelling, intelligent and informed, not to mention enraged, speaker. Ehrenreich isn't alone in her anger. The women in the Austin, Texas stage IV breast cancer support group, who tell their stories, provide the doc its raw, emotional core.
The revelatory moment in "Pink Ribbons, Inc." occurs near the halfway point, when Ehrenreich talks about how she "resents the efforts to make" breast cancer "pretty and feminine and normal," because it's none of those things. But the softening of the disease, through the use of the pink ribbon (a symbol whose own history is as controversial as insidious commercialization of breast cancer. Other interview subjects, including Dr. Susan Love and activist Barbara A. Brenner echo Ehrenreich's sentiments and provide their own enlightened commentary.
While the doc makes a point of not singling out the well intentioned, innocent (and ignorant) participants in the various charitable events (i.e. walks, runs, fundraisers), it doesn't hold back when it comes to corporations. The pharma, chemical and energy industries are also held accountable. From those sponsoring pink ribbon products and events, such as Avon, AMEX, Ford, Revlon, Yoplait and the NFL to those (including Revlon, Avon and Ford) whose products are linked to cancer causing elements. Wherever you stand on the subject, you will probably never look at a pink ribbon in quite the same way again. ("Pink Ribbons, Inc." is screening at the Gene Siskel Film Center on State Street in Chicago, June 8-14, 2012.)
"Going Down in La-La Land" (Embrem): From prolific gay filmmaker Casper Andreas (six full-length features in seven years), "Going Down in La-La Land" is the big screen adaptation of Andy Zeffer's novel of the same name. The title, applicable to both a plummet from grace as well as the sex act, is a good indication of the direction the story goes.
(Image: Matthew Ludwinski, left, and Bruce Vilanch in "Going Down in La-La Land")
Young and pretty New Yorker Adam (Matthew Ludwinski), arrives bright-eyed and smooth tailed in Los Angeles to become an actor. Rooming with fellow struggling actor Candy (Allison Lane), he quickly gets a lesson in the harsh realities of Hollywood. Not only is it hard to get acting gigs, but most food service slots are also filled. A receptionist job at a talent agency also proves disastrous.
Flirty photographer/filmmaker Nick (Casper Andreas) hits on Adam and then convinces him to pose for pix. Soon the pair is dating. Nick, who also works in the porn field, gets Adam an administrative job at a porn studio and before you know it, Adam is a rising star. Adam's boss Ron (John Schile) arranges a few escort jobs for Adam, including one with closeted sitcom star John (Michael Medico). But Adam wants to go legit. As Adam and John's relationship develops beyond that of hooker and john, John offers Adam a job as his assistant.
Meanwhile, Nick is in a steady, Tina-fueled decline. And John's bitchy beard Zinnea (Judy Tenuta) could potentially make waves. Wouldn't you know it? Adam's pesky porn past threatens to destroy everything. But a well-earned happy ending is lurking in the wings. Screenwriter/director Andreas continues to improve with each of his films and Ludwinski is an actor to watch in more ways than one. ("Going Down in La-La Land" is available for view on Video on Demand – contact your cable/satellite provider.)