(*homocinematically inclined)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Reverend's Reviews: PTown to Shakespeare

Everyone from the Pilgrims to Eugene O'Neill to John Waters has called Provincetown, Massachusetts home at one time or another. The small community at the tip of Cape Cod, affectionately dubbed "PTown" by locals and the thousands of tourists (many of them GLBT) that descend on it each summer, currently hosts Pulitzer Prize-winning writers Norman Mailer and Michael Cunningham.

As Mailer declares in the new documentary PTown Diaries, out on DVDthis week from Cinema Libre Studio, "Provincetown is the freest place in America." It also is described by the film's narrator, out actor Alan Cumming, as a historic "place of refuge" for those who have long sought tolerance. No wonder PTown boasts a significant year-round GLBT population and is considered by some to be the San Francisco of the east coast.

Director Joseph Mantegna (no relation to the actor, Joe Mantegna) became intrigued by PTown's extensive, colorful history while shooting a prior documentary focused on Mailer's life and work. Politicians, hippies and drag queens are spotlighted, as well as same-sex and straight parents with children who vacation there. Mantegna lets a few sequences set in gay and lesbian clubs go on too long, but the film otherwise serves as an intriguing travelogue for those of us who haven't yet had the pleasure of visiting PTown.

Also available this week on DVD are several gems from last year's GLBT film fest circuit. Alan Brown's extraordinary Private Romeo(Wolfe Video) is an all-male, modern version of Shakespeare's classic Romeo and Juliet. The prose remains the same, but the love story has been given a same-sex makeover set against a military school backdrop. Brown also gives the climax a decidedly more positive spin than did The Bard. The movie's cast is excellent, so much so that its members were collectively honored with the 2011 Outfest Grand Jury Award for Outstanding Actor in a Feature Film.

Tomboy(Wolfe Video) also won a number of high-profile awards and received a brief theatrical release in major cities. This touching coming of age story by French writer-director Celine Sciamma stars impressive teen newcomer Zoe Heran as a girl who presents herself as a boy to her schoolmates following her parents' move to a new community. Unpredictable yet humane throughout, it is a must-see for women, men and teenagers alike.

Finally, the rockumentary Hit So Hard: The Life & Near Death Story of Drummer Patty Schemel(Well Go USA Entertainment) relates the challenging coming out process endured by the drummer of Courtney Love's band Hole. More than that, it provides a glimpse at the little-known gay and lesbian players in the contemporary rock music industry. The film is well worth checking out whether one is a Hole/rock-n-roll fan or not.

Reverend's Ratings:
PTown Diaries: B
Private Romeo: A-
Tomboy: A-
Hit So Hard: B+

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Rage Monthly Magazine.

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