A highlight of the QFest’s Danger After Dark sidebar, the debut of Sergio Caballero is pure sui generis—an extreme art film whose brow tilts high and low but never to the middle. Two ghosts, dressed in white sheets, traverse Europe to the end of the world, all so they can be reincarnated as earthly beings. Along the way, they encounter a forest with ears grafted on trees, subtitled talking reindeer, Cocteau-esque special effects, long walking scenes set to Suicide and stunning vistas expertly lensed by budding D.P. Eduard Grau (A Single Man, Buried). An original blend of borrowed elements (notably from Gus Van Sant, Apichatpoing Weerasethakul and Philippe Garrel), this is the kind of thing churls call “pretentious,” but it’s too patently goofy to take too seriously yet too arresting to write off as a mere joke. (Matt Prigge)
Grade: B+ Wed., July 13, 9:30pm. Ritz at the Bourse
Lou Doillon (daughter of Jane Birkin) turns in a surprisingly almost-credible ice queen turn as a Catholic schoolgirl destined for medical school. Instead, she decides to dwell amidst the 1960s Paris underworld as a whiskey-slinging, dandy tomboy, madam and never-nude (well, almost never-nude). The debut of Laure Charpentier has a promisingly sleazy set-up, but so overloads the plot line that nothing sticks—not Doillon’s near-romance with a woman who looks like her late beloved, not her Pygmalion-style makeover of a dim babe, and not her half-hearted third act flirtation with a “normal” life. Eventually, the copious balls Charpentier has in the air come crashing down. (M.P.)
Grade: C+ Wed., July 13, 5pm, Ritz at the Bourse; Fri., July 15, 7pm, Ritz East.
And you thought Philly’s gay pride paraders had it bad. Kaspars Goba’s dispiriting doc on the LBGT movement in Latvia features no shortage of vitriol, with much of the country, it looks like, united in protest against the country’s minimal gay populace. So crushed is their collective confidence that LBGT members are split on the very existence of pride parades, with some arguing that it only fans flames. As anti-gay proselytizers criticize “gay propaganda,” it becomes quickly apparent that the actual propaganda is coming from their side, with an entire country raised from birth to believe lies that wouldn’t even pass muster in the Bible Belt. (M.P.)
Grade: B Sun., July 17, 12:15pm, Ritz at the Bourse.
Jamie and Jessie Are Not Together
Jessie (Jessica London-Shields) pines for her roommate Jamie (Jacqui Jackson). Alas, Jamie is due for a Chicago-to-New York transplant in a fortnight. There are a million Amerindies with similarly unspectacular premises, and the twist here is supposed to be that it’s a musical, or it sometimes is. Truth is, what makes Wendy Jo Carlton’s lo-fi naval-gazer likable isn’t the numbers, which are too few and too modest, but the loose performances (particularly from London-Shields), the occasional sharp writing and a resolving of the central conflict that goes somewhere unexpected and refreshing. (M.P.)
Grade: B- Sat., July 16, 7pm, Ritz East; Sun., July 17, 4:30pm, Ritz East.
My Last Round
Managing to almost seamlessly splice Brokeback Mountain with The Wrestler (with a smidgeon of Fat City), Julio Jorquera’s Chilean drama finds aging, epileptic boxer Octavio (Roberto Farias) starting a relationship with Hugo (Hector Morales), a young laborer. After doctors fear for his health, Octavio finds abstaining from pugilism difficult, all while Hugo, less comfortable with his homosexuality, winds up embroiled in an affair with a female co-worker. Both wrestle with macho roles in a demanding society, and while the plotting is pure hambone, the thick layer of grit—and a performance from Farias that qualifies as “Ledger-esque”—make you think, at least till the unimaginative ending, what you’re watching is as worthy as its inspirations. (M.P.)
Grade: B- Wed., July 13, 7:15pm, Ritz East; Sat., July 16, noon, Ritz East.
What’s The Name of the Dame
Drag Queens, horrendous music videos, and everyone’s favorite Swedish band ABBA, sum up director Allan Neuwirth’s What’s The Name Of The Dame. In this musical documentary, 9 somewhat well known drag queen’s come together to provide their spin on ABBA hits culminating in a production called “Abbalicious.” Meet Betty with a Z, Cashetta, Connie Cat, Eddie, Headda Lettuce, Sade Pendarvis, June Bug, Joie Starr, and Yolanda. Each diva expresses their love of ABBA via music videos. No amount of wigs, lip gloss, and plastic boobs can cover up how much the music videos, “drag.” The overly amateurish videos work as a deterrent to an otherwise interesting view into the world of a drag queen. It’s a shame because despite it’s lack of presentation and artistic flare, What’s The Name Of The Dame’s saving grace is the interviews that profile each performer, a quick lesson on the history of drag, and if one can stomach it, the almighty (d-list) celebrity perspective. Say hi to the likes of ABBA’s Benny Andersson, Joan Rivers, Bruce Vilanch (Celebrity Fit Club), and Christine Baranski (Mamma Mia). Gay and straight audiences and ABBA fans take caution before viewing this unappealing documentary. (J-B Hyppolite)
Grade: C- Sat., July 16, 9:15pm, Ritz East; Sun., July 17, 2:15pm, Ritz East
Neil Barsky’s "Koch" Keeps It Light