BEGIN BY OPENING the Outfest program and circling the movies whose listings are accompanied by a blurry black-and-white photo of entwined, nude lovers — boy-on-boy, girl-on-girl (depending on your bent). Later, to be well-rounded, go back and circle a few documentaries, or even a few of the movies that seem to defy categorization. If you’re partnered up, silently curse always being the one to arrange these things. If you’re single, wardrobe prep begins now. Here are a few we circled:
Cowboys & Angels — In this thoroughly engaging Irish film, Michael Legge, who played the teenage Frank McCourt in Angela’s Ashes, is superb as Shane, a shy, straight young civil servant new to the big city of Limerick, Ireland. Following a makeover by his gay fashion-student roommate, Vincent (Alan Leech), Shane is soon caught up with the drug dealers downstairs, although he’d rather be wooing Vincent’s beautiful gal pal. Writer-director David Gleeson puts Shane in one clichéd situation after another, only to neatly sidestep our expectations every time. He may be weirdly brave too, for making, in this day and age, a coming-of-age film about the straight roommate, not the gay one. Fri., July 9, 7:45 p.m., at the Showcase.
Superstar in a Housedress — Were he still alive, avant-garde playwright and Andy Warhol superstar Jackie Curtis would wear a purposefully shredded Halston gown to Outfest, and he’d instantly own the room. The brainy one of the mighty Women in Revolt triumvirate that also included Candy Darling and Holly Woodlawn finally gets his due in this documentary by Craig Highberger. Woodlawn, Paul Morrissey, Harvey Fierstein and the fabulously attired Alexis del Lago, among others, tell juicy stories, but what’s likely to stop the hearts of many is priceless archival footage of Curtis’ infamous La Mama and Playhouse of the Ridiculous extravaganzas. Sat., July 10, 2:30 p.m., at DGA 1.
When Ocean Meets Sky — White Party,
T-Dances, AIDS activism — so many of the silly and profound cornerstones of contemporary gay life were born on the narrow beaches of New York’s Fire Island, or so states this fine documentary by Crayton Robey. It’s the post-Stonewall, early AIDS years that dominate Island history and this film — from the wild abandon of outdoor sex in the Pines, to the summer Larry Kramer stood on the ferry landing handing out fliers warning of a new “gay cancer.” As Kramer and his lifelong neighbors share vivid memories of wilder times, nearly all of them, at one point or another, shrug and slowly shake their heads, as if they still can’t fathom how, and certainly not why, they lived to tell the tale. Sun., July 11, 7 p.m., at DGA 1.
Maverick queer filmmaker Bruce
LaBruce (Hustler White, Skinflick)
returns to Outfest with The
Raspberry Reich, about “a cell
of cute, hunky extremists who
death to fascism.”
July 16, midnight,
at the Vista
Brother to Brother — In writer-director Rodney Evans’ excellent (if occasionally didactic) debut feature, a young New York artist (Anthony Mackie) is troubled by his white boyfriend’s apparent racism as well as the homophobia of his fellow black classmates. For perspective, he turns to writer Bruce Nugent (Roger Robinson), a surviving artist of the 1930s Harlem Renaissance. In superbly photographed black-and-white flashbacks, a gifted cast brings to vibrant, sexy life the likes of Langston Hughes, Zora Neal Hurston, James Baldwin and Eldridge Cleaver, and in the process conjures the neatest hat trick of all — making the loves and woes of the past resonate with those of the present. Tues., July 13, 7 p.m., at DGA 1.
On the Downlow— Southside Chicago Latino gangbangers Isaac (Tony Sancho) and Angel (Michael Cortez) are secret lovers. They drive around a lot, talking cartoons and gangster flicks, and some days they drive out to the suburbs and just sit in the car for a while, absorbing the silence. Director Tadeo Garcia and screenwriter Roger B. Domain, making their feature debuts, don’t find a way around a predictably violent finale, but what lingers in the mind isn’t the gunplay but the gentle, sexy ease between Isaac and Angel, and our fervent desire for them to get in that car and drive themselves right out of town. Wed., July 14, 8 p.m., at the Showcase.
Queer eye for the teen Zeitgeist: In the panel “If They Only Knew: Gay Directors and Teen Comedy,” Jamie Babbit (Gilmore Girls) hosts a discussion with Brian Dannelly (Saved!), Todd Holland (Malcolm in the Middle), Jim Fall (The Lizzie McGuire Movie) and Angela Robinson (D.E.B.S. and the soon-to-be-released love-bug movie Herbie: Fully Reloaded) about queer movie and television directors’ special relationship to adolescent identity crises. Sat., July 10, 2:30 p.m., at DGA 2; D.E.B.S. screens at Outfest’s Opening Night Gala, Thurs., July 8, at the Orpheum Theater.
“Homo Horror: Adding Frills to the Chills” — This festival sidebar includes three new slasher and/or supernatural features ( Hellbent , The Sisterhood, Make a Wish), a “Horrorific” program of six new shorts, a “Queer for Fear” panel hosted by Monsters in the Closet author Harry M. Benshoff, and a special screening at the John Anson Ford Theater of Tony Scott’s The Hunger (1983). For times and venues, see online catalog at www.outfest.org.
Outfest 2004: The 22nd L.A. Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, Thurs., July 8, through Mon., July 19, at several different venues throughout Hollywood. For information and schedule, call (213) 480-7065, or visit www.outfest.org.