Wednesday, March 20, 2013

LLGFF: Monstrous Passions

Still from Mosquita y Mari
It's often said that teenaged girls experience emotions in such heightened form as to effect complete transformations in their personalities: little angels turn into hormonal monsters. Or so they say.

Well, taking that notion a bit too literally is Bradley Rust Gray, whose Jack and Diane features two would-be lovers who periodically turn into befanged, beclawed monsters and attack each other. Each stage of the couple's relationship features interludes of menacing hairy ectoplash=budding love. Despite this, I found it funny, engaging and offbeat. But, take away the horror element (which is only a clumsily executed metaphor), and it's not nearly so quirky or standout. Still, it certainly beats The Exploding Girl, by the same writer/director, which I found excruciating. Oh, and Kylie Minogue plays a tattooed dyke cougar type who locks lips with the Jack character. Cue "oohs" and "ahs" from the star-struck festival audience.

Not nearly so dramatic, but a bit more dramatically satisfying is Mosquita y Mari, Aurora Guerrero's delightful SoCal Latina growing pains drama in which two girls from opposite sides of the street try to find a middle road for their relationship. Faced with wildly differing expectations of their futures, Yolanda and Mari use their study time to bond, plot their futures and try to work through their growing intimacy, which finds them experiencing emotions they can't quite express to each other. While foregrounding the girls' relationship, Guerrero is also adept at outlining the family pressures that surround them: the struggle of Mari's mother to pay rent and the hopes Yolanda's family are pinning on her academic prowess. A real find.

Meanwhile back in London, Madrid and Berlin, Andrea Esteban and Paula Alamillo are less concerned with lesbian passions than lesbian definitions in Born Naked, jumping from city to city and chatting to their friends and circles about..... Well, that's where I am slightly lost, because I never figured out what this documentary was about: two 20-something lesbians from Madrid? Or their friends and contemporaries? Or an overview of the queer scene in three European cities? Or was it meant to be a more theoretical consideration of what it means to be queer today?

A bit of back story on the two protagonists would have gone a long way to establishing some identification in my mind. Who are they? Why are they living abroad? What is their connection? It looks great, features loads of people and a plethora of locations, and I spotted several familiar faces, but I really am not sure what the film is meant to say.

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