Gimme more - Page 2

Short takes from Frameline Film Festival

Languor in SF: Director Travis Mathews' "I want Your Love"

Beauty (Oliver Hermanus, South Africa/France, 2011) The destructive toll of repression, psychological and otherwise, is vividly illustrated in Oliver Hermanus' stark minimalist drama. Francois (Deon Lotz) is a middle-aged Afrikaaner husband and father living an entirely concealed double life: the hidden part acted out in secret orgies with other men as successful, privileged, and closeted as he. (When one member of this very exclusive "club" brings a black lover along, the reaction makes clear how sharp South Africa's race/class divisions remain.) Francois' control of that schizophrenic existence is masterful — until he spies Christian (Charlie Keegan), a model-handsome new corporate colleague, a close friend's son, and eventually his younger daughter's boyfriend. Despite all those red flags, his obsession builds toward a shocking, uncontrollable explosion. A deliberately chilly and unpleasant work of art à la Michael Haneke, Beauty weighs the consequences of living a lie, and finds them aptly repellent. Mon/18, 9:30pm, Castro. (Harvey)

 My Best Day (Erin Greenwell, US, 2012) Sans name stars or a catchy plot hook, Erin Greenwell's indie comedy attracted little attention at Sundance, and it's kinda buried in the Frameline program — a pity, since its uncontrived, even-handed balance of gay male, lesbian, and straight protagonists would have been perfect for a higher-profile slot. Not to mention that it's totally goofy, funny, surprising, and sweet. Over the course of one Fourth of July in Bangor, Penn., a motley assortment of hapless but endearing characters circle one another warily, desiring everything from family reunion to crush-realization to acknowledgement of a closeted relationship. They're all delightful, although there's no getting around the wholesale scene stealing of Ashlie Atkinson, whose motorcycle- and slutty local-girl-covetous refrigerator-repair dyke dials down her "Muffler" in Another Gay Movie (2006) to create a character of nuanced comic beauty. My Best Day is unpretentious but so low-key skillful and open-hearted that in the end it feels ever-so-slightly profound. Tue/19, 7pm, Elmwood; June 20, 9:30pm, Castro. (Harvey)

Keep the Lights On (Ira Sachs, US, 2012) At times almost too intimately painful to watch, Ira Sachs' autobiographical drama charts the long-term disintegration of a relationship between a filmmaker and a bright, adored but addicted and duplicitous soulmate. When expat Danish documentarian Eric (the exceptional Thure Lindhardt) first hooks up with publishing-biz newbie Paul (Zachary Booth), they have sexual chemistry and more. But the Manhattan life they build together is increasingly hole-riddled by Paul's mood variances, unexplained absences, and other signs of serious drug usage. Sachs lets the narrative be controlled by the empty spaces such a habit leaves for concerned loved ones — time and circumstances often leap forward without full explanation, placing us in Eric's frustrated position as a man in love with a man whose returned love is both genuine and entirely untrustworthy. Keep the Lights On is unabashedly difficult viewing. But it's also the best (as well as the first gay-focused) feature Sachs has made since his equally unsettling 1997 debut The Delta. June 20, 6:30pm, Castro. (Harvey)  


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