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Image + Nation: Oct. 22nd, 2009

SYLVAIN RICHARD is a film critic at Arts & Opinion. Here are his ratings for the 2009 Image + Nation film festival, always out of 4, reserving 2.5 or more for a noteworthy film, 3.5 for an exceptional film, 4 for a classic.


Sylvain Richard Among Sylvain Richard's best ever films = (The Wall: Milk: The Passion of the Christ: Wizard of OZ: Gone With the Wind: 13 Tzameti: Broke Back Mountain: 2001 Space Odyssey: Modern Times: Metropolis) 5 favourite directors = Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorcese, Takashi Miiki, Oliver Stone and Woody Allen .


2.7 -- TRAINING RULES, Dee Mosbascher, Fawn Yacker
57 min. documentary investigating homophobia in sports. Rene Portland, head coach of Penn State's women's basketball coach, strictly enforces three rules: NO drinking, NO drugs and NO lesbians.

2.5 -- GIRL ON GIRL, Various directors
Second collection of shorts (8); title says it all.

2.7 -- THE BUTCH FACTOR, Christopher Hines
Documentary examining what constitutes masculinity amongst gay men.

2.5 -- OUT OF THE BLUE, Alain Tasma
Family melodrama about a middle aged woman who leaves her husband of 22 and falls into a reluctant romance with a younger woman. Good performances. Predictable plot.
3.8 -- HANNA FREE, Wendy Jo Carlton
Touching and sensitive human drama about acceptance and letting go. Wheel chair bound Hanna (Sharon Gless of Cagney and Lacey) resides in a nursing home along with her life long friend, companion and lover Rachel -- on life support just a few rooms over. Rachel's daughter has forbidden Hanna to see her saying she is not family. Compares favourably to "On Golden Pond."

2.5 -- LESBOMANIA, Various directors
First of two collections of shorts (nine) giving us an ecclectic and flavourful look at "girl action."

2.3 -- TO DIE LIKE A MAN, Joao Pedro Rodrigues
Insightful drama into the troubled world of drag queens, transvestites and transsexuals. Concerns a fading drag queen coping with many personal problems inlcuding being poisoned by his silicone implants. Engaging characters in a film that runs long at 130 min.; editing and scenario were sub parr.

Low-budget indie zombie comedy. Virus hits all-American town of Port Gamble. Campy, fun, diversionary and escapist; joins the large pool of blood that makes up the world of zombies.

2.0 -- CHAMPION, Shine Louise Houston
Hard core lesbian porn about a rising (tough and tattooed) MMA wrestling champ.

1.0 -- THE GOOD AMERICAN, Jochen Hick
Documentary about German expatriot Tom Weise, who co-founded RENTBOY.COM, host tothe annual HUSTLABALL. Graphic and explicit. Editing and script tended to jump around.

2.3 -- CHEF'S SPECIAL, Nacho G. Vellila
Comedy about relationships: a gay chef with two children who come back into his life when their mother dies; a lovelorn and gorgeous maitre d. seeking the right man, and a former soccer player who is afraid to admit he is gay. Unconventional couplings make for hilarious moments but film falls short of being noteworthy.

2.5 -- FIG TREES, John Greyson
Experimental film that mixes documentary and an avant garde opera. Centers on Aids activists Tim McCaskell (Aids Action Now) and Zachie Achmat (Treatment Action Campaign). Complex and multi layered, allegorical allusions and excessive details make this hard to follow.

2.5 -- END OF LOVE, Simon Chung
Drama centering on 22-year old Ming from three periods in his life: leading up to rehab, rehab and release from rehab. Well constructed plot, average performances.

2.7 -- SOUNDLESS WIND CHIME, Hung Wing Kit
Lyrical drama of a relationship between a Chinese immigrant in Hong Kong and a German Swiss. Use of time lapse sequences distracted from narrative flow.

3.6 -- SHANK, Simon Pearce
Gritty, violent and erotic thriller about a Bristol U.K. street gang youth coming to terms with his homosexuality and the feared reaction of the other gang members. Though we clearly see the inexperience of cast and crew (average age is 19 and film contains many continuity errors), the overall result is very impressive and Simon Pearce, at 22, shows up as a very promising director.

3.0 -- FRUITFLY, H.P. Mendoza
Musical in the same vein as RENT but with an element of queerness. About a Filipino performance artist searching for info about her biological mother. Catchy, versatile melodies and meaningful lyrics.

3.1 -- OY VEH! MY SON IS GAY!, Eugeny Afineevsky
Jewish comedy touching on the maternal instinct to see her son happily married. Yet son is involved with someone -- a Catholic-Italian-American man. The reaction of parents to discover is e hilariously side-splitting. Parents are played by Saul Rubinek and Lane Kazan, with top-notch comedic performance from rest of cast.

Canadian documentary meditating on the issues of LGBT human rights, homophobia and gay pride here and abroad. Shocking scenes of extreme homophobic reactions versus celebratory gay pride parades in Canada, Brazil and U.S.A. Shows that despite advances since the 70s, there is still a long way to go.

2.1 -- EATING OUT: ALL YOU CAN EAT, Glenn Gaylord
Sex farce somewhat on a Cyrano de Bergerac concept -- with a gay theme. At times a bit lacking in taste but does offer humorous moments and even occasional gems of wisdom.

1.9 -- RAGING SUN, RAGING SKY, Julian Hernandez
Inspired to an extent by the Greek myth of "Orpheus and Eurydice" and the Mayan myth of "Popul Vuh." A surrealistic search for true love that comes across as three hour romp from one encounter to the next. Only at the end do we see the allusions to the mythologies. Little character development and poorly constructed.

2.6 -- REDWOODS, David Lewis
Sensitive drama filmed in the gay resort town of Guerneville, CA exploring two men, each at the crossroads. Everett and Miles have been together for eight years and they have an autistic son named Billy. Their relationship has grown stale. Miles and Billy go to Seattle to visit Grandma. Writer Chase arrives in town. An immediate chemistry develops between Chase and Everett. New love in old growth. Delicately and convincingly handled.

2.5 -- DARE, Adam Salky
Teen comedy exploring confusion, longing, thrills and lust. The machinations and intimacies of three friends -- Alexa, Ben and Johnny. Funny and poignant, tangled yet poetic.

3.0 -- ANDER, Roberto Caston
First Basque language gay film. Ander is a farmer in his forties and still single living with his mother and soon to be married younger sister. On occasion with his pal(s), he visits local single mother prostitute. One day, while tending the herd, Ander has a serious accident that incapacitates him. To help out they hire a young Peruvian immigrant. A disquieting and somewhat homophobic attraction develops. Slow paced, sensitively handled. Set in the pastoral and rugged beauty of Basque countryside.

2.7 -- I CAN'T THINK STRAIGHT, Shamim Sarif
Delightful comedy about the collision between traditional sexual values versus lesbian/homosexual ssexuality. Palestinian-Christian Tala meets Muslim Leyla and they fall madly in love. This forces each of them to take the bold step to face their respectively traditional families. Excellent performances. Hilarious moments.

2.0 -- GIVE ME YOUR HAND, Pascal-Alex Vincent
Atmospheric surreal drama following twin brothers as they hitchhike their way to Spain. Loose editing and script failed to engage.

2.2 -- DREAM BOY, James Bolton
Shy and nervous new boy, Nathan, and Roy, rough and ready neighbour and local school bus driver develop a strong attraction for each other. Found the film to have neither foundation nor a sense of direction; too many twists and turns from Americana to illicit the abusive etc. Stilted performances.

2.3 -- AND THEN CAME LOLA, Megan Siler, Ellen Seidler
San Franciscan lesbian take on the far superior German film "Run Lola Run." Well placed inclusion of animated sequences. Humour added a bit of salt and pepper.

2.8 -- THE BIG GAY MUSICAL, Caspar Andreas, Fred M. Caruso
Eddie and Paul are appearing in their first off-broadway production -- a gay take on the biblical Genesis story. Eddie is worried over his parents' reaction as he has not yet come out of the closet. Paul is seeking out who he really is. Wonderful and engaging song and dance numbers while addressing very important issues in a delightful and entertaining way

2.4 -- HOLLYWOOD, JE T'AIME, Jason Bushman
Delightful bittersweet comedy about an Adrian Brody lookalike (and he really does resemble) -- still haunted by recent breakup with former lover -- who leaves Paris for Los Angeles in pursuit of the "Hollywood dream." Paris scenes are in B&W in contrast to LA which are in colour. Believable characters somewhat undermined by commplace scenario.

3.0 -- BANDAGED, Maria Beatty
Slow burning psychological drama involving a desperate and frustrated young woman recovering from an attempted suicide caused by an overbearing father who is a surgeon preparing a weird skin graft to repair her severely damaged face. He hires a nurse with a sordid past to care for her. A forbidden and passionate love affair developes between her and the nurse. Despite abrupt ending, erotic scenes and music poetically rendered.


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Film Ratings Page of Sylvain Richard, film critic at Arts & Opinion - Montreal
Festival Nouveau Cinema de Montreal, Oct. 10-21st, (514) 844-2172
Festivalissimo Film Festival - Montreal
2008 FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL (Montreal) North America's Premier Genre Festival July 3-21
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