Archive for Provincetown International Film Festival

Laurie Anderson, PIFF-Blessed/Chosen-Grateful

Posted in film, Music, queer with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2010 by thebrooklynsocialite

In Joan Rivers new documentary, despite the over-arching theme of her heroic battle to maintain eroding celebrity, she talks a lot about being chosen. Yes, this works in contrast with the theme, because although as audience members we are asked to feel sorry for her because she is  aging, and has been  somewhat cast aside, the images that we are shown are of her affluence, her heightened privilege. She especially kills her bid for sympathy  when she on several occasions, publicly declares that she is “so chosen.” I think this is a reference to the Jewish concept of being the chosen ones, a concept that does not evade supremacist ideology and one of which, I am not a fan.

I had trouble with this  sentiment and i did not feel sorry for Joan, still I found her to be funny in an off way and I enjoyed the film. It was one of the few that I caught this year at the Provincetown International Film Festival. Kevin Smith was being honored as Director on the edge, so he was in attendance along with Tilda Swinton and the directing team behind the Celluloid Closet and several other queer history greats including Word is Out.

It was fun hearing Smith talk as I have long been a fan of his New Jersey cult classics. He produced a film, that also screened at the festival called Bear Nation. A film about the bear community among Gay men.  A great topic, but the film, however, was not a cinematic masterpiece.

Anyway, the thing which brought me to remember Joan Rivers comments on being chosen, were my thoughts at the beginning of this post and at the end of these two weeks about being blessed. Blesssed I’m afraid is as problematic a word as chosen in this context. I feel lucky at this moment, I’d say I feel blessed but that takes on a very similar religious tone to chosen and I’d rather leave all of that out of this.

What I mean to say is, I feel honored to have sat crouched down on the floor in the penthouse balcony of a very tall hotel next to Lou Reed and AM Holmes, Anthony (from he and the Johnsons) and  the esteemed photographer who took the below picture, at the foot of Laurie Anderson while she played us a song off her new album Homeland. Using her voice disguiser, she performed in the character of her drag alter ego. The whole scene was brilliant and I just sat there, in awed silence, not quite sure if i belonged. Belong or not, I was invited in.

Rather than walking out feeling chosen or blessed, I felt grateful and went home to Brooklyn.

Portrait (c) Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

Whatever Works-Northside-PIFF

Posted in day off, film, queer with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2009 by thebrooklynsocialite

Since last we spoke, I spent a busy few days in Brooklyn, taking in the Northside festival in Williamsburg and Greenpoint (saw a fun band called The Dodos, which confirmed that I am not too old to be pushed around by crowds of hipsters) , spent time with my friends (going to rainy Brooklyn Pride) and feeling guilty that I had no time left to make it to The Brooklyn International Film Festival. Ahhh, my alma-mater suffers, but to make up for it I have traveled all the way to the lost (and found) beautiful end of the known (gay) world. That’s right, Provincetown. The pilgrims landed here, the artists came and planted flags, soon those flags turned rainbow colored and now I’m here for a film festival.

The Provincetown International Film Festival opened last night with Woody Allen’s new film Whatever Works. It was typical Allen with a lot of wildly unrealistic Oedipal scenarios. The basic premise is attractive yes, but why must it always be couched in the notion that anyone, let alone a young, beautiful, perfect-bodied, long haired woman would want to sleep with Woody Allen or one of his stand ins,  in this case Larry David.

Allen is very funny, David is funny, Seinfeld his award-winning show was hysterical, but all three rest upon some very misogynistic assumptions, which in my experience just aren’t true. Usually when the young girl goes for the old guy, he is modelesque not a limping hostile geriatric. Whatever Hugh Heifner would  have us believe this is not a sane norm.

Okay, if you have not seen the film and would prefer not to read the Sony Pictures Synopsis I’ll tell you what happens: Larry David is an unhappy old guy, he has a hot rich wife, teaches string theory and considers himself to be a genius, but he doesn’t appreciate any of it and tries to commit suicide. He fails even at this, and then one day meets a runaway played by Evan Rachel Wood, who begs him to let her stay in his apt and eventually develops a huge crush on him.  She is a southern beauty pageant princess and is ignorant in many ways.  Wood and David serve as an odd couple until both of her parents in turn journey to NYC and try to get her to return to the south. Instead of her leaving they both stay and go through significant transformations.

Polyamory plays a role, along with the concept of New York as re-education camp and the lesson that David’s monologues issue directly to the audience is Whatever Works. This means, maybe your perfect sophisticated wife and great job wont make you happy, maybe a simpleton who worships you will, and maybe not. In his final speech David’s character, Boris Yellnikoff, says basically ‘If your not hurting anyone else do whatever makes you happy, take whatever bit of love you can find in this world.’

Hmmm, almost convincing, except when that translates to sleeping with minors and people who are, I don’t know, your adoptive children.

Jane Lynch Interview

Posted in film, Guide to What's Good with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

Yay! The interview that I did with Jane Lynch back at Providence International Film Festival is finally available online. Here’s an excerpt!

JANE LYNCH studied acting at Cornell University and then went on to act in comedy theater, TV, and film. Her role in The Fugitive introduced her to a wider audience, which led to appearances in major movies and TV sitcoms. However, Jane has remained committed to independent films and to playing lesbian roles whenever possible. She underscores this dedication through her work with Power-Up, a professional organization that “promotes the. visibility and integration of gay women in entertainment.” It was at a Power-Up conference that she first met L Word creator Ilene Chaiken, who asked her to join the cast.

Jane is known for the intelligence that shines through her comedy roles and has recently been honored with the Faith Hubley Memorial Award at the Provincetown International Film Festival. This award is a testament to her talent and versatility. Hilarious yet subtle, Jane is an accomplished actress with many films to her credit, including The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005) and the recently released Tru Loved (2008).

I caught up with her at the Ptown Film Festival in June, where I sat with Jane at a screening of Best in Show, a 2000 movie in which she played lesbian dog trainer Christy Cummings. After the movie we talked about her status as an out actress and her work as an actress on the big and small screens.

Robyn Hillman-Harrigan: It was great to watch Best is Show with you in the audience. It was cool to see that it is still funny for you, even though I am sure you have seen it many times before.

Jane Lynch: I have, but I haven’t seen it in about four years, and we all look so young. There is such a difference in how all of us look eight years later. It was fun to watch it, because it holds up so well. I was really struck by some of the performances. Every time I see a Christopher Guest movie, someone’s performance stands out to me. This time it was Parker Posey who cracked me up.

RHH: I understand that it was made in a very non-traditional way, that you were given strong character descriptions, but no lines.

JL: That’s right. We improvised all the dialogue. We shot a lot of film. The art of this comes not only from our performances, I don’t mean to reduce our significance, but it’s in the editing. Christopher Guest creates these movies in the editing room.

RHH: I love your work on The L Word. What’s it like working with everyone on the cast–with Cybill Shepherd, for example?

JL: Cybill Shepherd is great. She’s usually who I work with. Cybill or Laurel Holloman. sometimes Jennifer Beals. I usually work with just one person. I love doing the show. They write really well, I just come in and do my piece, and then I leave. When I see the episode, it is brand new to me.

RHH: In both Best in Show and on The L Word you play a lesbian character. You are highly respected as an actor within the lesbian community; you have many lesbian fans. Is being well regarded by queer women important to you?

JL: Yes, absolutely. Acting is about human nature, so it is all of human nature that I’m curious about, and I know that historically we have been kind of a silent group and we haven’t garnered much respect or acceptance. This is changing now and I think it is really great that people like Melissa [Etheridge], and Ellen [De Generes] and Rosie O’Donnell stood up and were courageous enough to say, “I’m Gay.” Now the rest of us have had a much easier path. So kudos to them, and if someone looks up to me because I’m open and okay about it and they take strength from that, I think it’s great. Read More

Still to come, my review of Nights and Weekends, which I saw yesterday and Angent Angie’s post on the Jorie Graham reading that we attended last night. xx