Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Poly Styrene RIP

First Ari Up, now Poly Styrene. Not so unexpected, as she had been fighting cancer for awhile, but still.... Aargh. Never met her, never saw her play, but am an admirer from afar of her and X-Ray Spex. And "Identity" is one of my favourite songs EVAHHH!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hit So Hard

Just stumbled on Hit So Hard, which tells the life story of drummer Patty Schemel and had its premiere at SXSW last month. Schemel is an interesting enough subject and, naturally, the doc features interviews with her and other members of Hole. But, my eye is taken by the other names featuring, including Phranc, Gina Schock and Alice de Buhr. Sounds like it's just as interested in investigating the continuing invisibility of lesbians in the music world as in Schemel's struggles with drug addiction. Sounds ace.

I can't embed this extremely awkward Q &A which followed a recent screening in New York, and is most notable for the delicate pas de deux between estranged Hole members Courtney Love and Eric Erlandson, as they avoid any eye contact whatsoever, while standing on the same stage. But, here's the trailer.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Record Store Day 2011

Record Store Day, which is 16 April this year, just gets bigger and bigger. I couldn't have missed it coming, what with all the hoopla on the BBC. Championing independent record stores is a worthwhile endeavour. And, despite the arrival of an untimely spring cold, I will do my best to support it.

While New York gets a special Regina Spektor gig, London hosts all-day events at Rough Trade and a night-time gig at 93 Feet East. And loads of bands and labels are issuing one-day-only releases.

I am intrigued to learn that RSD has an official film, as well, Jeanie Finlay's Sound it Out, which will get multiple screenings.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Sapphic Subversions at Fringe!

Fringe! tattooTonight sees the start of the film screenings at Fringe!, East London's new queer film festival.

My film War With Love is showing as part of the Sapphic Subversions shorts programme.

We will be upstairs at a pie and mash shop (very cockney!) on the oh-so-hip Broadway Market. It starts at 19:30, with repeat screenings later on.

Last night I attended the launch party at the much vaunted Dalston Superstore. Didn't stay long, just enough time to admire the collection of frocks and haircuts on display. Back when I lived in Dalston, it was pretty much a no-go area for non-residents. My, how it's changed!

LLGFF: Roundup

Poster for A Marine StoryWith the festival now finished, here are the last few stragglers.

A Marine Story by wife-and-husband team of Dreya Weber and Ned Farr. Expelled lesbian Marine takes a teenaged tearaway under her wing and tries to get her ready for recruitment into... the Marines. Aside from the repugnant gung-ho politics, I found this surprisingly moving and Weber certainly kicks ass as the heroine.

Break My Fall--This DIY Hackney-based dyke drama (in every sense of the phrase) features a top-notch soundtrack and an uneasy balance of comic and dramatic scenes, as a young lesbian couple's relationship slowly disentegrates.

The People I've Slept With--Hit or miss comedy about sexually active woman who has to find out quickly who the father of her baby might be, from several candidates. The fact that the lead character, played by Karin Anna Cheung, is Asian-American is pretty much the only standout, but Wilson Cruz offers able comic support as her gay BFF.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

LLGFF: Together Alone

This year's just concluded LLGFF featured a coachload of ensemble pieces, such as New York-based comedy The Four-Faced Liar and wartime London drama The Night Watch.

The former, which closed the festival last night and is due out on DVD on Monday, is a witty take on that old trope, the conversion job, as 20-something dyke player Bridget falls for straight girl Molly, while they are, eh, researching a project for a literature class. Yes, somehow Wuthering Heights brings them together. That Emily Bronte.

What is interesting in terms of the structure of the film is that the lesbian character is foregrounded among a group of five: straight couples Trip and Chloe and Molly and Greg, plus Bridget. Far from being the odd one out, Bridget is the link between the groups, as she is the housemate of Trip, who becomes friends with deadly dull Greg.

The film has great fun contrasting the dude bonding of the two straight guys with Molly and Bridget's girl-bonding over Bronte and their emotional heart-to-hearts, while at the same time illustrating Bridget's desire to avoid emotional entanglements with anyone. Of course, it all gets terribly messy, but writer-producer-star Marja Lewis Ryan, who adapted the story from her play, is a real find.

Meanwhile, Monday saw the premiere of the BBC adaptation of Sarah Waters' Blitz-era novel The Night Watch. I found this book a bleak read, with the reversed chronology telling the unhappy ending before finishing with the meeting of two of the main characters, Kay and Helen.

The filmed version kept this structure, though sweetening it slightly. Anna Maxwell Martin, who plays Kay, is physically slighter than I would have imagined, but has a very careworn demeanour that fits with the character's stolidness. The Blitz scenes really come to life, and the non-Kay storylines, which I found less interesting in the book, also stand up well.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

LLGFF: Hey Boy, Hey Girl

After the inter-generational lesbian clash of The Owls, it's interesting to view films pairing young gay men and straight women.

Sasha is a German coming out drama whose titular character comes from a conservative ex-Yugoslav background. His pal Jiao, though disappointed by Sasha romantically, stands by him, as he negotiates the tricky terrain of lusting after his older gay piano teacher, while keeping his budding sexuality secret from his warring parents and the prying eyes of his younger brother. It's mostly played for laughs, with Sasha's fumbling attempts to seduce the teacher contrasted with the desperate aspirations of his mother.

I was very curious to see Heartbeats, the latest from the hotly tipped enfant terrible, Xavier Dolan, and it didn't disappoint. A frustrated menage-a-trois featuring Dolan's Francis and his best pal, Marie, both lusting after the cherubic and sexually ambiguous Nicolas, the film plays as a coming-of-age comedy-drama, with Francis and Marie's relationship coming under severe strain, as their increasingly desperate efforts to gain Nicolas' favours takes its toll. Brilliant use of pop tunes adds to the tension and air of yearning, with Dolan showing a sure hand as writer, director and co-star.

LLGFF + Lacan

Although the truncated London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival is well underway, I have only made the most cursory of visits so far. Oddly, though I have seen fewer films, I have been invited to more parties and what eye-openers those have been! Tonight, for example, I popped into a trans party and re-made the acquaintance of someone I haven't seen for five years. And there was cake!

Sunday night I was rubbing shoulders with the great and good connected to The Owls, Cheryl Dunye's collaborative lesbian thriller. Except it didn't really seem that collaborative: she is credited as director and co-writer and it was her story. But, the cast rewrote the script. It turned out as not much of a thriller, but had some great comic moments and the behind-the-scenes doc, Hooters, was a scream, providing some unintentionally hilarious moments of lesbian processing that had the audience in hysterics.

As it happened, this evening I also bumped into Lisa Gornick, one of the stars of The Owls, and asked her if the shoot was as much of a nightmare as Hooters suggests. She said not, but that it was a one-time experience for her: next it's back to her auteur films, this time not on the theme of babies, as had been the case with Tick-Tock Lullaby. This led to a lively discussion of lesbians and babies and how interesting that experience is to see on screen, and then she dropped the L-bomb: Lacan.

Yes, she said it was about "Lacanian lack". At the festival launch some weeks back, Gornick had told me queer film festivals were all about intellectualising and flirting through the brain, but here it was in evidence. Gotta love those brainy women.