(*homocinematically inclined)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Reel Thoughts Preview: Scottsdale International Film Festival

Amy Ettinger has been producing the exciting ScottsdaleInternational Film Festival for an even dozen seasons, and this year, you will find a lot of interesting films from all over the world that you won’t see anywhere else. In addition, three films will particularly appeal to the LGBT community.

From France comes the hilarious gay Jewish farce Let MyPeople Go! Reuben is a daydreaming mailman who is living a wonderful life with his handsome Finnish lover. Three days before Passover, Reuben’s life gets split in two like the Red Sea when he comes into a pile of money, gets into a fight with his lover over the ill-gotten gains and must rush back from idyllic Finland to his crazy family in France. Gay Jewish stereotypes are exploded in this wild French farce.

Another film of note is In the Family, a drama that takes on the messy realities of marriage and parental inequality when it comes to the LGBT community. One Life to Live actor Trevor St. John plays Cody and director Patrick Wang plays Joey, a happy couple living in Tennessee with their six year-old son Chip. When a tragedy occurs, Joey finds out just how few rights he has regarding his son, when Cody’s sister moves to take full custody of the boy. Wang’s film resists demonizing anyone as it confronts what a lack of recognized parental and marriage rights can do in times of tragedy, especially in states where the Legislature tries to ban discussion of anything LGBT-related in schools.

Perhaps the most hotly-anticipated film is the illuminating documentary Satan’s Angel: Queen of the Fire Tassels, about a lesbian burlesque artist who is still performing alongside a whole new generation of women. Now sixty-eight, Angel Walker takes the audiences back to the 1960’s and tells them her story of love, addiction and determination that has made her a hero to burlesque performers everywhere. Grounding the film is the tender relationship between Angel and her girlfriend. Satan’s Angel features interviews with dozens of women from the sixties to today, who are happy to tell you what makes Angel such an icon.

Other films to watch for:
  • Struck by Lightning: Glee’s Chris Colfer plays Carson Phillips, a high school senior who knows that there is more to life than his close-minded town provides and is determined to seize it. Unfortunately, he is struck dead by lightning in his school parking lot, so we are treated to his recounting of the hilarious last two weeks of his life. Rebel Wilson (Bridesmaids, Pitch Perfect) plays his best friend, while Allison Janney and Dermot Mulroney play his far-from-encouraging parents.
  • Quartet: This delicious comedy is the directorial debut of Dustin Hoffman, and it features a banquet of wonderful British stars like Maggie Smith, Pauline Collins, Billy Connolly, Michael Gambon and Tom Courtenay as retirees living in a home for former opera singers. Life at Beecham House is thrown into turmoil when Smith arrives; she is the ex-wife of Courtenay, and despite acting the part of an opera diva, she refuses to sing in the Home’s annual tribute to composer Verdi’s birthday.
  • Lore: This drama looks at the effects of World War II and the Nazis’ atrocities from a whole new angle. A group of children, led by the title character, set out on a 900 kilometer trek in 1945 Germany to find their grandmother, after their parents are arrested by the Allies for being members of the Nazi SS. Through their journey, they are forced to realize what their parents’ actions really did to people.
  • The Eye of the Storm: Director Fred Schepisi will present his new drama, starring Charlotte Rampling, Judy Davis and Geoffrey Rush on Friday, October 5th. Rampling plays an eccentric matriarch who lies on her deathbed with plans to give her money to a “German dancer,” much to the dismay for her children, Rush and Davis. Both have built lives of sophistication far from their Australian roots, and they will do what it takes to hasten their mother’s departure before she can disinherit them. Their selfishness turns to something profound when they return home and gain new perspective on their dying mother.
The Scottsdale International Film Festival will begin October 4th and run through the 9th. See their website for more information.

Preview by Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.

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