Reeling Reel Off

Sun. November 2, 2008 12:00 AM
by Feature Column

ChicagoPride.com contributors picks apart the program of 2008's LGBT film festival prior to their favored films scheduled screening

Chicago, IL—-Showcasing experimental, short, full-length and independent motion pictures from around the world, the 27th presentation of Reeling: The Chicago Lesbian and Gay International Film Festival, opens November 6. Per its precedent, the festival's '08 exhibition affords an opportunity to view as-of-yet unreleased gay cinema as well as films that may otherwise never make it to the silver screen. Yet with 129 movies on the marquis, each presented only once at one of six different venues during a ten-day period, completely accommodating Reeling's celluloid-crammed calendar will prove challenging-—and theater tickets are expensive! So if you can't go to every movie than what movie should you go to?

Editor at Large Jason P. Freeman and featured blogger Michael Lehet have a few suggestions:

Breakfast with Scot
Opening night feature; Thursday, Nov. 6; 7:30 p.m. at Piper's Alley

Reeling says , "Sports commentator Eric (Tom Cavanagh of NBC's Ed and Scrubs) and his lawyer boyfriend Sam (Ben Shenkman of Angels in America) happily live a gay—-but discreet-—lifestyle. That is, until Scot, Sam's brother's dead girlfriend's abandoned kid ... flaunting purple boas and full makeup, flamboyantly turns their world upside down..."

Freeman says , "A well-produced, well-developed and well-told, albeit fast-paced, film that's endearing, charming and cute. Noah Bernett, as the orphaned Scot, steals the show. Definitely worth watching."


Playing Friday, Nov. 7; 9:00 p.m. at Landmark

Reeling says , "Winner of the audience aware at Outfest, the debut feature by writer/director David Oliveras is the tale of two star-crossed lovers ... an unexpected romance [between them] unleashes both positive and negative consequences for both..."

Freeman says , "Learning that this is Oliveras's first film isn't surprising; it shows. The edits are blunt. The symbolism seems misplaced, if not unnecessary, and the conclusion is contrived. Yet the resolve resounds. Where Watercolors fails in execution, it thrives in evocation. Compelling, provocative and heart-wrenching, Watercolors is everything that Beautiful Thing should have been and everything that Brokeback Mountain was supposed to be. It's one of the best, if not the best, movie featured at Reeling this year."


Playing Saturday, Nov. 8; 9:45 p.m. at Landmark

Reeling says , "Critically-acclaimed director Yen Tan (Happy Birthday) directs a sensually contemplative and beautifully scripted story about the sexual tension that builds between two men brought together by the death of their mutual friend..."

Lehet says , "A spiritual three-way, with a dead man in the middle—a very touching story of the love of a man from the point of view of someone who had never met him versus the person who spent the most time with him, that wasn't a boyfriend. This film will get you frustrated in the beginning but make you cry in the end."


Otto; Or, Up with Dead People
Playing Sunday, Nov. 9; 8:00 p.m. at Lakeshore Theater

Reeling says , "...odd story served up by aggressively-queer writer/director Bruce LaBruce who strikes a hilarious chord with a sex-laden tale that explores the homoeroticism of full-body engorgement..."

Lehet says , "If you're looking for a quirky film, this is the one you're looking for. As a zombie who can't remember his past after recently 'converting,' Otto gets entangled with a film crew creating a zombie documentary and becomes the inadvertent star of their film. LaBruce provides an interesting twist on a story of an outcast, hiding in plain sight, and trying to reintegrate back into society. Shot on video with the look of a vintage German movie, scenes will make you clutch your pearls and scratch your head, while being disgusted at what you're watching. You'll be delighted by this film, if you stick it out."


Playing Wednesday, Nov. 12; 7:00 p.m. at Landmark

Reeling says , "Welcome to the most competitive, sequins-laden beauty pageant in America, featuring ... the top drag queens from each state fighting it out for the title of Miss Gay USA..."

Lehet says , "Following four men who go to extraordinary lengths to fulfill the dream that each of them has, this documentary gives a glimpse at a different side of drag. You'll be surprised at the amount of time, effort and money spent, and you'll discover the reason why they really compete. Although a bit drawn out, you will get an interesting view into the complex world of a man becoming a woman and competing for the title of Miss Gay America."


Playing Friday, Nov. 14; 7:00 p.m. at Film Row Cinema

Reeling says , "Three women of three different generations ... share intimacies about their lives and loves in the steam room of their local gym..."

Freeman says , "Reeling's wrong; the three lead characters' mutual use of the sauna is this movie's mutest point-—in bringing them together, it's a forced and unusual dynamic that really holds no major significance. However, the lead-ins and the storylines are so strong, the awkwardness is easily overlooked. Steam engages the gay factor as a common denominator among life's prime variables without trying to solve the problem. Instead, it seeks a better understanding of the equation. Very well done, and definitely worth watching."


Look for daily Reeling reviews and updates on Freeman's editor's blog, At Large.
Listen to Freeman and Lehet discuss a pre-screened selection of Reeling's headlining films as guests of the Feast of Fools podcast, originally airing on the internet October 28, 2008.
Learn more about Reeling and this year's featured films at www.reelingfilmfestival.org.

Reeling: The 27th Chicago Lesbian and Gay International Film Festival runs November 6-16, 2008.