GLBT film has come a long way since 2005's Brokeback Mountain.
Actually, wait. Has it?
What have we, the moviegoers, seen in its wake? Has there been anything semi-insightful since Ang Lee's masterpiece? What does the current success of the Adam Sandler- and Kevin James-driven I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry mean? That audiences are warming to the idea of gay characters in mainstream movies but only if the characters are gay by ruse?
Why aren't more GLBT films of merit making it into the mainstream? Where are they?
We kept these questions in mind as we screened three new GLBT films each scheduled to be shown at this weekend's eighth annual Pikes Peak Lavender Film Festival.
What: Out at the Wedding
When: Friday, Sept. 14, 8 p.m.
Premise: Not wanting to upstage her sister's wedding, Alex avoids telling her family about her new, black, Jewish fianc. Meanwhile, at the reception, Alex's friend Jonathan accidentally implies that she is gay.
Verdict: Though there are some kinda-funny moments in the when-will-the-awkwardness-end sort of way Out at the Wedding largely fails. This film's almost Chuck and Larry-like in its affinity for gay-panic humor. Worse, as if the whole thing didn't already sound like a drawn-out Will & Grace episode, it's clear that Andrea Marcellus, who plays Alex, is trying to channel Debra Messing here. Yeesh.
What: Itty Bitty Titty Committee
When: Saturday, Sept. 15, 12:30 p.m.
Premise: After breaking up with her girlfriend, not getting into college and finding herself at work in a plastic surgeon's office, Anna meets a radical activist named Sadie, who helps open her eyes to the world.
Verdict: Director Jamie Babbit and a handful of promising young actors deserve some credit for this one. It's a sweet-looking flick, and Babbit's direction nicely complements the whole punk-rock, change-the-world-by-undermining-it mentality of the film.
Itty Bitty Titty Committee isn't so much a film about GLBT lifestyles so much as it's a film about a resurgence in feminism that happens to be fronted by a number of women, young and old, radical and conservative, who happen to be gay.Be warned: The language is coarse, the sexuality is high and the idealistic payoff at the end doesn't match the pessimism of the build-up. But it's a pretty fun ride.
What: Red Without Blue
When: Sunday, Sept. 16, noon
Premise: A documentary recapping the lives of Mark and Alex, Missoula-born twins who, together, faced coming out, pretty rampant drug use and a joint suicide attempt.
Verdict: This is the most fascinating of the three movies we screened. It'd be difficult to not be moved by Mark and Alex's attempts to find their place in the world. We watch sympathetically as Mark deals with having his first real boyfriend and as Alex, who now identifies himself as Clair, considers undergoing a sex-change operation.
The only problem here: Too much of this documentary is spent with the subjects staring into the camera, telling the sometimes-shocking tales that affected them as teenagers. It would've been nice to have seen the twins deal with these issues as they age, and over a longer period of time. But that's a minor flaw.
Eighth annual Pikes Peak Lavender Film Festival
The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 30 W. Dale St.
Friday, Sept. 14, 6 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 15, 12:30 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 16, noon
Tickets: $75 for a full festival pass, $35 for a Saturday or Sunday pass, $25 for a Friday night pass, $10 for individual show passes; call the Fine Arts Center box office at 634-5583 or visit pplff.org for more info.