Reel pride

Posted on 29 May 2008 at 5:05pm
By Steve Warren – Contributing Film Critic

Lesbians at bat and sex docs — What’s playing at Q Cinema

The following films were loaned to Dallas Voice by organizers of the Q Cinema International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. The 2008 fest runs May 29 through June 7 at the Rose Marine Theatre, 1440 N Main St, Fort Worth. 817-462-3368. General screenings, $8. Opening and closing films, parties and passes are priced differently.

For schedule and ticket info, visit qcinema.org.


"Out at the Wedding"
Girl-on-girl tendencies take over in "Out at the Wedding."



"That’s stupid," Alex (Andrea Marcellus) says when Jonathan (Charlie Schlatter), her gay best friend, suggests she hire a lesbian pretend-girlfriend when her sister, Jeannie (Desi Lydic), visits New York.

"Out at the Wedding" has stupidity to burn.

Alex has told her biracial fiance that her South Carolina family is dead because she doesn’t think they’d accept him.

A rumor starts at Jeannie’s wedding that Alex is a lesbian, and she doesn’t correct it. Hence the charade a month later, for which she hires Risa (Cathy DeBuono), who isn’t the only dyke in town by the end of the story.

Marcellus is reminiscent of Felicity Huffman or a cross between Lauras Dern and Linney. And DeBuono has the makings of a lesbian icon, like Patricia Charbonneau in "Desert Hearts."

The stupidity in Paula Goldberg’s script goes far beyond what’s supposed to be: funny-stupid. Director Lee Friedlander has cast good actresses, but the principal Southerners have no drawl at all, y’all. And there’s zero chemistry between Marcellus and her fiancé, the main twosome in this romantic comedy.

The pace is too slow for a wacky screwball farce but some good performances and relatable moments provide enough laughs to help gloss over some mistakes.
— Steve Warren

Grade: C+
Screens May 30 at 7:30 p.m.



Sex Positive
Tony Kushner

Gifted young producer-director-editor Daryl Wein paints a portrait of the world he was born into in "Sex Positive," a documentary that’s the East Coast equivalent of "And the Band Played On," without the all-star cast.

With the religious right calling AIDS "God’s punishment" on homosexuals, it was politically incorrect to suggest we had brought the disease on ourselves. But three men were convinced lifestyle factors entered into the equation and tried to warn the gay community: S/M hustler Richard Berkowitz, virologist Dr. Joseph Sonnabend and singer-songwriter Michael Callen.

They were dismissed as "sex negative" by gay men who would sooner give up breathing than fucking. Berkowitz, as horny as anyone, wrote a booklet, "How to Have Sex in an Epidemic," that offered common-sense suggestions for reducing risk, including the use of condoms, which gay men had never considered.

Berkowitz, 51 at the time of Wein’s interviews, is the film’s central focus. Sonnabend is interviewed but not as extensively, and the late Callen is seen in archival footage.

While Callen is still remembered for his music, Berkowitz, living on welfare, is largely forgotten. This film, in which he’s honest about his flaws as well as his accomplishments, should help change that.

— S. W.


Grade: B
Screens May 31 at 2:30 p.m.



Wrestling with Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner



Gay playwright Tony Kushner was busier than most of us between September 2001 and November 2004, from the evidence in "Wrestling with Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner."

During that period he opens a play ("Homebody/Kabul"), an opera ("Brundibar"), two musicals (including "Caroline, or Change") and a staged reading of an article he wrote, adapts "Angels in America" for HBO and publishes an anthology he co-edited. He speaks at anti-war rallies, a Vassar commencement ceremony, a bank’s LGBT employee meeting and a New York Times gay theater symposium.

Kushner marries his partner, Mark Harris, visits his childhood home in Lake Charles, La., and volunteers on Election Day to protect disenfranchised voters in Florida. At the end he mentions two more plays and a musical he’s working on. If there’s anything wrong with Freida Lee Mock’s documentary it’s that watching Kushner is exhausting.

Hardly a one-issue guy, Kushner is gay, Jewish, progressive, intellectual, funny, artistic, a New Yorker born in the South — and various combinations of these elements show up in everything he writes.

The film ends with Meryl Streep reading a prayer Kushner wrote for an end to AIDS. It’s just the most obvious reason "Wrestling with Angels" merits a loud "Amen!"

— S. W.



Grade: B
Screens June 1 at 1 p.m.

These articles appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 30, 2008.

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