The Tribeca Film Festival (April 20-May 1) celebrates its tenth birthday this year, and with it comes a barrage of fledgling projects hoping to gain notoriety and distribution. For 2011, we take a look at four of the festival's LGBT offerings and help you navigate this frenzied week in cinema.
Directed by Pierre Thoretton
This documentary traces French designer Yves Saint Laurent's quick ascension into the upper echelons of the fashion industry from the viewpoint of his partner of nearly five decades, Pierre Berg'. Splicing old runway footage, photography, and reels of home video, the director creates a linear biography of Laurent -- narrated by Berg' -- that illuminates the geographical settings, young ing'nues, and, most notably, famous pieces of artwork that inspired the preeminent couturier and his evolving style throughout the latter half of the 20th century. L'amour fou also loosely follows Berg' as he embarks on a landmark art auction of the couple's astounding collection, containing works by Picasso, Matisse, and C'zanne. Despite what its title ('Crazy Love') would have you believe, the documentary characterizes Berg' and Laurent's relationship as one with many formalities. Berg', in particular, cofounded and ran the business side of the Yves Saint Laurent fashion house, and is portrayed as the practical, grounded yin to Laurent's whimsical, fickle yang. He is also resolutely unsentimental as he reflects on his time spent with Laurent. In a sense, the documentary lacks variation in perspective. The number of interviewees is somewhat limited and the narrative is told largely from Berg's purview. To some, that can feel a bit claustrophobic. But, in this way, director Pierre Thoretton delivers an intimate, astute look into one of the great partnerships of our time.
Thu, Apr 28, 2:30PM Clearview Cinemas Chelsea 4
Fri, Apr 29, 9:45PM Clearview Cinemas Chelsea 8
My Last Round
Directed by Julio Jorquera
Octavio, a middle-aged recreational boxer in rural Chile, suffers from epilepsy. He is shown early in My Last Round collapsing and convulsing suddenly on the floor of an empty office. The shot is disturbing, painfully prolonged, and rather unexpected as it follows a somber and austere opening sequence. Much of director Julio Jorquera's debut film is emotionally sparing, rupturing in moments of lust and violence in a deliberately unromantic fashion. As it happens, Octavio pursues Hugo, a handsome, laconic twentysomething who denies his advances at first, but eventually gives in. The two start a somewhat closeted life together in a Santiago apartment, where they fall prey to the repetitive domesticities of partnership. Both become frustrated -- Octavio, who can no longer fight due to a devastating diagnosis, and Hugo, who barely avoids being fired from a job where he is increasingly hit on by the boss's daughter. Without giving away too much, both of these plot threads are teased slowly and persistently in an almost sadistic fashion. The self-destructive fighter bit is somewhat of a clich' (and a recent one for anyone who's seen The Wrestler). Storylines aside, it's striking how heteronormative Octavio and Hugo's relationship becomes. Octavio, in particular, fetishizes boxing not for male-to-male contact, but for the ability to validate his own masculinity. Meanwhile, Hugo seems to tend house for much of their partnership. These are engaging (if not particularly groundbreaking) characters, but the pacing and plot development are really what make this feature compelling.
Wed, Apr 27, 6:00AM (Online) Streaming Room
Fri, Apr 29, 6:00PM AMC Loews Village 7 - 1
Sat, Apr 30, 6:00AM (Online) Streaming Room
The Perfect Family
Directed by Anne Renton
I'm sorry, but this film is a mess, and not of the 'hot' (and therefore somewhat enjoyable) variety. The Perfect Family shoehorns almost every trope of the gay culture-clash comedy into a frenzied 84 minutes, leaving viewers perplexed at how a movie with such a Mad Libs-able setup, and Kathleen Turner, misses its mark so completely. Turner plays Eileen, an extremely devout Catholic mother whose gravely deferential and literal style of spirituality is obnoxiously cartoonish. Eileen has been chosen as a nominee for 'Catholic Woman of the Year' award by the parish monsignor, but she is up against her former high school rival, Susan O'Connor, whose persnickety perfectionism puts her odds of winning 2:1. The film makes no attempt to explain exactly where the 'Catholic Woman of the Year' award comes from, but nonetheless, it is important to Eileen because the recipient is blessed with the prayer of absolution, a confessional panacea that forgives all sins. What is Eileen hiding that is so unforgivable? No time to dwell! Bishop Donnelly is traveling all the way from Ireland to meet Eileen's family and she must render them exemplary Catholics before he comes! From her mother, Eileen's daughter is hiding a) her partner Angela whom she is marrying in a week and b) the baby that she was artificially inseminated with five months ago. Eileen's son is some sort of deadbeat who left his wife and kids (never shown onscreen) for the town manicurist. And Eileen's husband is a recovering alcoholic who has spent the past 25 years drunk. Despite these variables, it would be unwise to expect hilarity to ensue. The film is tonally confused, fluctuating wildly between the dramatic and comedic, but never fully achieving either. The many significant plot points are cast out hastily, developed sloppily, and dropped frequently. One of my favorite lines comes from Eileen, who, in reference to the news of her daughter's nuptials, exclaims 'I don't understand any of this!' For once, I felt like we really connected.
Wed, Apr 27, 5:30PM AMC Loews Village 7 - 3
Fri, Apr 29, 9:00PM AMC Loews Village 7 - 1
Sun, May 01, 5:00PM SVA Theater 2 Beatrice
Directed by Eric Drath
Chronicling the story of the first transsexual tennis pro, director Eric Drath encounters many contradictions in Rene'. But that's to be expected when delving into the public and private lives of Rene' Richards, the sensational '70s tennis star who, with her entry into the 1976 women's U.S. Open at the age of 42, ignited a firestorm of controversy culminating in a Supreme Court ruling on chromosome testing. Did Rene' -- formerly Richard Raskins -- know what public scrutiny and martyrdom she would endure upon her decision to restart her career in tennis? Yes. And no. Onscreen, she is timid and reserved, claiming to have pursued tennis professionally (immediately following her sex change) for the love of the game. In vintage news clips, she responds to hordes of paparazzi with pleas to be treated equally like the other women on the tour. Before this storm, Rene' lead a life as Richard, a man's man who dominated and excelled at anything he set his mind to, including tennis, ophthalmology, and women. Early in life, Richard knew his penchant for dressing up in women's clothes would have to be kept secret. But when that secret became too unbearable to contain, Richards left his wife and son in New York to reinvent himself as Rene' (literally 'reborn' in French) on the West Coast. Rene' is somewhat of an antihero in the documentary. While paving the way for transsexuals in the notoriously closeted and conservative realm of professional sports, her seemingly impulsive stab at family life and subsequent abandonment of her son cast a shadow on what would otherwise be a standard triumph-over-adversity triumph. It is this humanizing and complex portrayal that makes Rene' such an enthralling documentary.
Wed, Apr 27, 9:45PM Clearview Cinemas Chelsea 8
Thu, Apr 28, 8:30PM Clearview Cinemas Chelsea 4
Sat, Apr 30, 4:00PM Tribeca Cinemas Theater 2
For more info on the Tribeca Film Festival, including a full list of films being shown this year, visit its official website here.