STRAIGHT-JACKET: only after he's married Sally does Guy discover Rick.
opportunity, freedom from oppression, and now marriage: gays and
lesbians just want the same rights as everyone else. But does that mean
that they have to make the same movies as everyone else? Wedding bells
may be ringing in the near Massachusetts future, but gay filmmaking, if
the MFA’s 20th Boston Gay & Lesbian Film/Video Festival is any
indication, has already settled down.
It’s only fair to point out
that some of the films purported to be the best or the edgiest weren’t
available for pre-screening. Those promising and unseen entries include Wild Side (2003; May 16 at 7 p.m.), from Sébastien Lifshitz, whose Come Undone was a standout in the 2001 festival, and first-time Irish director David Gleeson’s Cowboys and Angels (2003;
May 20 at 8 p.m.). What remains. however, hardly sets the screen on
fire. With a few notable exceptions, this year’s selections have been
Of course, any assimilation of gays into the mainstream is in itself subversive. In Abigail Honor’s Saints and Sinners (2004;
May 15 at 3:45 p.m.), two persons initiate a process that thousands of
Catholic couples undergo every year. They want to get married in a
church with a priest. The problem is that Eddie and Vinnie are men. Big
surprise: the New York archdiocese won’t cooperate, so in the end Eddie
and Vinnie settle for an Episcopal church and an ex-priest. The
suspense builds as they take their vows, meanwhile wondering whether
the family and friends gathered, many of them traditional Catholics
with reservations about the union, will rise and take Communion. And
will the New York Times print an announcement of their wedding, the first same-sex Catholic nuptials? Saints and Sinners
touches gently on familiar issues of hypocrisy, prejudice, and the power
of love, but it seems less a documentary than a wedding video.
Richard Day’s Straight-Jacket (2004;
May 23 at 7 p.m.), which he adapted from his own play, celebrates both
a gay wedding and the candy-colored cinema of the ’50s. Guy Stone (Matt
Letscher, more Bob Crane than Rock Hudson) melts the hearts of women
and men with his hunky heroes on screen; off screen, he’s vapid, vain,
and insatiably gay. When a tabloid photographs him being escorted by
the police from a compromising establishment, his manager, Jerry
(Veronica Cartwright, more Rose Marie than Thelma Ritter), concocts a
scheme in which he reasserts his straight credentials by marrying ditzy
superfan Sally (Carrie Preston, more Carol Burnett than Doris Day). The
dialogue snaps occasionally, and a subplot involving the blacklist adds
some depth, but the Frank Tashlin–like Technicolor cinematography and
the winking anachronisms can’t overcome the film’s staginess.
Another screwball soufflé, with generous helpings of crude humor, falls flat in Q. Allan Brocka’s Eating Out (2004;
May 22 at 8:15 p.m., with the director present). Straight Caleb (Scott
Lunsford as Clint Eastwood under anæsthesia) is having trouble getting
the babes. Gay roommate Kyle (Jim Verraros) claims that the chicks hit
on him all the time and that if Caleb pretended to be gay, he’d score.
So Caleb plays up to Marc (Ryan Carnes, who’s like Brad Pitt’s
irritating kid brother), on whom Kyle has a crush, to get into the
pants of Gwen (Emily Stiles, a cruder Cameron Diaz), Marc’s "fag-hag"
roommate. Maybe if Oscar Wilde had written it, this hooey could have
been fun, or if the characters had been less crass and superficial.
There’s a phone-sex ménage-a-trois whose tenderness makes the sex
genuinely erotic; still, you’d have more fun eating out than watching
It hardly needs saying that the mismatched couples in
Brocka’s film get sorted out and headed to the happy ending of marriage
(gay, straight, whatever). Less resolved are the lives of sons and
daughters who realize from an early age that they are gay and wonder
how they will break the news to the rest of the world, starting with
their parents, or whether they even should. That might seem an
appropriate subject for a documentary, but you wouldn’t know it from
Swedish filmmaker Cecilia Neant-Falk’s Don’t You Worry, It Will Probably Pass (2003;
May 22 at 5 p.m.), a pointless profile of three Swedish teenage girls
who are blessed by unquestioning and supportive parents and more or
less accepting peer groups. If they nonetheless dramatize their
situation, that’s because they’re typical adolescents: moody, immature,
self-pitying, hyper-romantic, and uncertain of their identity.
Neant-Falk tarts up the self-important banalities with arty montages of
archival footage, home videos taken by the kids themselves, and blurred
images of lovemaking women reminiscent of softcore porn.