by David Lamble
The 15th edition of Jeff Ross' narrative-movie circus SF IndieFest unspools at the Roxie (Feb. 7-21). While slim in queer pickings, the 2013 IndieFest does feature two great holdovers from last year's Sundance Film Festival, The Story of Luke and Simon Killer.
The Beginning Queer Bay Area director Brian Tolle (with writer Tom Swift) kicks off his blank-verse short with a male couple verbally dueling about whether they'll hang for a second carnal round.
"I guess I better get going," declares Richard (Liam Vincent).
"Okay," sighs a clearly disappointed Daniel (Jason Frazier). "Well, a shower would be cool."
"Do I smell?"
"Yes, no – I love the way you smell! I offered you a shower because I thought you were going to leave."
In a rare short whose special effects are confined to wordplay, Tolle invokes how truly naked we are after shooting our wads with naked strangers. (Cults, Manholes & Slide Rail Riders shorts program, 2/17, 19)
Photo: Courtesy IFC
Simon Killer At 24, the slightly-built dirty blonde Scottsdale, AZ native Brady Corbet is pushing through the dark side of his acting resume. In Antonio Campos' erotic thriller, Corbet presents himself as a once clean-cut naif now way over his head in the bowels of a Parisian red-light district. As Corbet's Simon slips all moral moorings, are we redeemed by his journey, or do we merely feel like the wretched voyeurs wielding the camera? (2/10, 13)
Inside Lara Roxx begins so badly, with an ineptly filmed porn scene, I nearly shut it off. That said, Mia Donavan develops a playful intimacy with her subject, a Quebec-raised "wild child" who helps destroy her old-fashioned parents' marriage, becomes a teen stripper, and acquires HIV infection working in the LA porn industry.
It was filmed over six years as a series of chatty diary entries. Each time Lara and Mia arrive at a new location – a Las Vegas porn convention, a Quebec hotel for hookers, the private home of a female psychiatric couple – they put a positive spin on Lara's latest calamity: a downturn in her health, a worsening of her multiple addictions, liaisons with even crumbier men. Against the backdrop of the hetero porn industry, the film reveals two women who are ultimately there for each other. (2/17, 18)
The Story of Luke Alonso Mayo's humane family comedy tackles the radical idea that the label "autistic" need not follow one to the grave. At 25, but could pass for 13, Luke's life is in full meltdown: his beloved grandmother, his guardian and best friend, has died, leaving Luke to the tender mercies of his grandfather's uncomprehending clan. The night of the funeral, Luke shares a narrow bed with Gramps, who's rapidly losing it.
Lou Taylor Pucci steers clear of Dustin Hoffman's idiot-savant approach to creating a cuddly autistic guy (Rain Man ), instead producing a canny little guy who seduces or outsmarts everyone blocking his path. Pucci, who was "fag-baited" as a hetero, slightly effeminate New Jersey schoolboy, here invokes his feminine voice to command respect. In this third in a trio of takes on truly special kids (Thumbsucker, The Music Never Stopped), Pucci is a major talent just shy of his breakout moment. (2/16, 20)
Photo: ST IndieFest
Ghosts with Shit Jobs Canadian satire alert: This SciFi humor piece is hosted by condescending Chinese news anchors from 2040. "We bring you people in the West who are struggling to survive, doing jobs that no one in China would do. Are they branded as outcasts and losers, or is there a richness to their lives that news reports don't show?" Ranging from a spunky spoof of the PBS NewsHour to a hipper SNL, this one probably hits the ennui expressway before you discover just what we've left our kids. (2/15, 18)
Faceless Swiss director Tristan Albrecht tracks the 9/11 tragedy through the viewpoint of illegal service-workers at the World Trade Center's famous Windows on the World restaurant. The tale centers on border resident Miguel, as his widow recalls how he endured a deadly pilgrimage from his village to the 90,000-sq.-ft. eatery. Albrecht's vividly filmed doc illustrates the fate of hundreds of undocumented workers whose anonymity adds poignancy to their fate. (2/17, 18)
Antiviral Judging by this debut feature, which got him to Cannes, director Brandon Croenenberg has his famous dad's wit and facility with hair-raising SciFi gags. Like the dystopian thriller Looper, Antiviral opens in a future-shock universe where somebody neglected to spray for zombies. We're sitting in a Clorox-white clinic as celebrity-besotted kids wait to be injected with a disease from their favorite star. Jason Porous sits next to a woman resembling Mama Cass.
"I'm here for Michael Felix. Did you know he used to torment his lovers by packing his foreskin with spices before intercourse?"
I see Justin Bieber watching this one in his workout gym. Antiviral illustrates the perks and problems of Anglo-Canadian satire. The premise is clever, the actors eye-candy, but the execution is excruciating: the polar ice-caps are melting at a faster clip. Catching this one at the Roxie, be aware of ghosts from 1980s Atom Egoyan videos. Celebrity alert for a second-act Malcolm McDowell sighting. (2/9, 12)