'Howl': James Franco as gay poet Allen Ginsberg to open Outfest
Documentarians Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's Howl, their debut narrative feature, will be the Opening Night Gala screening at the 28th Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Film Festival (Outfest) at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles on July 8.
Starring James Franco, David Strathairn, Jon Hamm, Mary-Louise Parker, Bob Balaban, Alessandro Nivola, Aaron Tveit, Treat Williams, and Jeff Daniels, Howl tells the story of counter-culture poet Allen Ginsberg (Franco), who became embroiled in a public obscenity trial in 1957 after writing the poem “Howl,” which made the usual sex-crazed prudes go ballistic thanks to lines such as “…who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists, and screamed with joy.”
Howl was the opening night film at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and was screened at the Berlin Film Festival.
Oscilloscope Laboratories will release Howl in theaters and VOD on September 24.
The complete movie line-up for Outfest 2010 will be announced on June 2. The festival will be held July 8–18.
For more information on becoming a member of Outfest, please visit www.outfest.org.
Photo: Courtesy of Outfest.
Wachowski Brothers' Gay Iraq War Love Story
The Wachowski Brothers, best known for The Matrix movies and the Speed Racer debacle, and who are now actually the Wachowski Brother and Sister, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski (formerly Larry), have been shopping around a screenplay about a gay love story set in the Iraq War.
The Wachowskis had previously made another movie featuring gay characters, the crime thriller Bound (1996), their directorial debut, starring Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly as lesbian criminal lovers.
According to reports – the original source was Deadline.com – the project will be rated R and it'll be shot “cinema verite-style,” set in the not-too-distant future with some sci-fi elements to it, while featuring the ongoing Iraq War catastrophe as a flashback. The two men involved in the love story are a US soldier and an Iraqi civilian.
Some have been calling the new Wachowski project a cross between Brokeback Mountain and The Hurt Locker, but – ignoring all the infantile (at times quite vicious) anti-gay cracks circulating online – what this project reminds me more than anything is Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and Eytan Fox's The Bubble (right).
Fox's 2006 drama revolves around the romantic relationship between two men: one Israeli, the other Palestinian.
Gays, of course, remain unwelcome in the US military. It's also worth noting that since the US-led invasion of Iraq, gays have become one of the favorite targets of Islamic fanatics.
According to an Aug. 2009 Human Rights Watch report, “hundreds of gay men have been targeted and killed in Iraq since 2004.”
“Murder and torture are no way to enforce morality,” said Rasha Moumneh, Middle East and North Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “These killings point to the continuing and lethal failure of Iraq's post-occupation authorities to establish the rule of law and protect their citizens.”
Xavier Dolan Bisexual Romantic Triangle 'Heartbeats': Cannes
May 19 update: With his debut feature I Killed My Mother, Quebecois filmmaker Xavier Dolan won three awards at the 2009 edition of the Cannes Film Festival. Dolan, 21, was less lucky at home, where he was all but ignored by the Genie Awards, Canada's Oscars.
Anyhow, he's back at the Cannes festival with Heartbeats / Les amours imaginaires, about a romantic triangle involving two friends (Dolan, Monika Chokri) vying for the affections of the same young man (Niels Schneider). Heartbeats was screened at the “Un Certain Regard” sidebar.
According to CTV, Dolan and Heartbeats received a standing ovation following the screening.
Below are snippets from three – not 100 percent positive – reviews:
“As the writer, director, and star, Xavier Dolan presents a somewhat unusual love story about two friends, one female, one male, who both fall in love with the same guy, both attempting to woo him, but not to much success. … The problem is that the story doesn't have much depth and it doesn't break norm. Dolan uses slow-mo and powerful songs to extended [sic] scenes and moments, but it causes the story [to] drag on a bit more than it should.” Alex Billington at firstshowing.net.
“While Dolan's visual tricksiness and mannerisms wear on the patience, he does achieve occasional moments of visual poetry and, appropriately bearing in mind his age, captures the despair and longing of young heartache. This time he also laces the angst with a dose of caustic humour missing from last year's I Killed My Mother. His intrepid experimentation with visual language is not always successful but suggests great things from the young film-maker in the future.” Mike Goodridge at Screen Daily.
“A hyperstylized “Jules and Jim” update, Canadian actor-turned-filmmaker prodigy Xavier Dolan's French language romance “Heartbeats” (“Les Amour Imaginaires”) is as hip as he intends it. At the same time, this chic look at a bisexual love triangle occasionally feels too entangled in its own cool maneuvers.” Eric Kohn at indieWIRE.
May 23 update: On Saturday, Gregg Araki's Kaboom took home the Cannes Film Festival's first (unfortunately named) Queer Palm, awarded to – what? queers? Actually, it's given to a film's “contribution to lesbian, gay, bi or trans” issues.
About a dozen movies were “eligible” for the award; in other words, films screened at Cannes featuring non-heterosexual characters.
Araki's comedy/sci-fier Kaboom, which received wildly mixed reviews, is set in a university campus where a student (Thomas Dekker), while tripping on some really powerful hallucinogenic stuff, believes he has witnessed a gruesome murder. The student happens to be bisexual (queer). The murder, if it indeed took place, may be tied to the fate of the whole world.
The Hollywood Reporter's Kirk Honeycutt was unimpressed: “This is mostly a sophomoric exercise in black comedy, supernatural excess and apocalyptic silliness mixed in with straight/gay/bi soft-core porn.”
Personally, I have nothing against the “porn” part (it's sex, people, get over it), but the “supernatural excess” does sound like a turn-off. Xavier Dolan's Les amours imaginaires / Heartbeats must have been a strong competitor, but Dolan's film about a bisexual love/lust triangle had its detractors as well.
Of the three major European film festivals, Berlin was the first to honor movies dealing with characters of various sexual orientations. The first Teddy Award was presented in 1987.
Twenty years later, the Venice Film Festival began handing out the Queer Lion, and now there's the Queer Palm.
“I thought that the world's biggest film festival could no longer ignore this sector,” Queer Palm founder Franck Finance-Madureira, told Agence France Presse, adding that “the festival gave us its non-official blessing. We hope next to have a corner in the Cannes Market to attract producers and distributors.”
It's good to have those awards out there, of course – will San Sebastian, Karlovy Vary, and Stockholm follow suit? – but couldn't those guys have come up with a better label for their trophies? I can't think of a single gay or bi/tri/multi-person I know who refer to themselves as “queer.”
Quote: AFP (via The Independent)
Photo: Why Not Productions.
Daniel Radcliffe LGBT Youth PSA
Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe, who'll next be seen with Emma Watson and Rupert Grint in David Yates' Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 in the fall, has done a public service announcement for the Trevor Project, described as “the leading national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.”
In the PSA, Radcliffe, the star of the Harry Potter film series, and of Broadway's Equus and the upcoming revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, raises awareness about The Trevor Helpline, “the only nationwide, around-the-clock crisis and suicide prevention helpline for LGBTQ youth.”
According to the Trevor Project website, “suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15 to 24-year-olds, and LGBTQ youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. Those who come from a family who rejects their sexual orientation are up to nine times more likely to do so.”
To learn more about The Trevor Project's programs and its work toward saving lives, building communities and changing society, visit TheTrevorProject.org.