A Look at Six Diverse Documentaries Playing at Frameline 37

Future My Love

LapnruMQkZmKnaj1SodATNg9Ij9Tx3YJEbvToHYI0YI,o_d86rUowEVI3-Jru10V85ihabkJdYofsiPWuRGSUVQfive-starsI do believe I just saw my very first non-fi-sci-fi film, and boy, is my brain exhausted.

With understanding ease, this ambitious documentary succeeds in relaying such hefty themes as the future of mankind, the nature of love, and the notion that the world of tomorrow can be lived in a non-monetary system. Part profile on the outside-the-box steadfast ideologies of futurist/genius, Jacque Fresco, and part insightful poetic exploration of one woman’s journey of heart, mind, and soul, this is one movie that is truly life changing. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a sustainable non-socially offensive environment to think about.

Showtime for Future My Love: Wednesday, June 26, 11:30 AM (Castro Theatre)

Codebreaker

5FSnmyfv0C5mUnlRIbyEd_391tjhSQtCs2IFlZ21cDs,A3FCE2CWzHPnbiO_QTbWcjAVUnrApjrqHIHLuoMvv2ktwo-stars1The film’s subject; brilliant mathematician and inventor of the computer as we know it, Alan Turing. The treatment of this man by his government while he was alive; despicable. The treatment given to him in this documentary; eh. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take dull and highly informative, e.g., Ken Burn‘s The American Civil War, over dull, poor use of reenactments, and just informative enough (Codebreaker) any day of the week.

Dramatized reenactments are not uncommon practice in documentaries. When used properly, without any appearances of heavy-handed purposeful manipulations that is, they can be quite effective. Two recent exemplary films in where this technique is used to great effect are Sarah Poley‘s Stories We Tell (2013) and Bart Layton‘s The Imposter (2012). Unfortunately, watching the reenactments used in Codebreaker – which I guesstimate to have been at least 40% of the movie – felt more like watching a scripted two character melodrama.

Had there been more generically typical documentary elements, such as more archival photos and talking heads, perhaps it would have come across as dull, but at least it wouldn’t have been distracting.

Showtime for Codebreaker: Tuesday, June 25, 11:30 AM (Castro Theatre)

Joy! Portrait of a Nun

FOilktbfoD5A6V4DaSFtTqDj-SX2JaTr4t_xaIMWijUone-star2If this is supposed to be a portrait of a nun, it’s an amateurish one at best and one that is made exclusively for those who already know about the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. For anyone else, seeing this will most likely feel like you’ve stumbled upon a random strangers home video.

Does the group Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence mean anything to you? To me, the name conjures up joy. That’s because whenever I spot these sisters (gay men in habits), which is usually during some outside city event or celebration in San Francisco, a great big smile immediately washes over my face. They always seem to be having way more fun than everyone else, which is why people just want to be around them and often gravitate in their direction. But aside from frolicking about, and spreading joy, I’ll admit, I know very little about who these people are.

Rather than do a google search or visit the library, I was hoping to learn about these sisters by way of documentary. Looks like I picked the wrong documentary. Essentially, what I learned about this group is that they enjoy a hippie lifestyle where engaging in promiscuous sex is the norm, even if it contradicts all of their “supposed” positive work that they’ve done for the AIDS community. Yes, I use the word “supposed” because even though I have heard from people outside this film that this group has done tremendous work for those with AIDS, here it was only insinuated. This film left a bad impression with me of the Sisters, which I’m sure wasn’t the filmmakers intentions.

Showtime for Joy! Portrait of a Nun: Sunday, June 23, 1:30 PM (Victoria Theatre)

Born This Way

6CVgaW0lDOwBqLK0d5x0Z4sefloDgW1t9LjXmnQrjrU,l5tWIs9ZnhjdFm3areiWAWnPrhoAs5oosrOKfqqVn5cthree-stars15For further proof that homophobia is still very much alive look no further than the anti-gay climate prevalent in Cameroon, a country with no democracy and little placed values on human rights. There, those found guilty of being gay face prison time of up to five years and a fine of $200,000 francs, if they’re not first killed or beaten up by violent homophobes first that is. Born This Way follows two young openly gay Cameroons, Cedric and Gertrude, as they navigate their surrounding intolerant environments and act as brave voices for future generations of LGBT identifying individuals. Dealing with subject matter such as intolerance, hatred, and religious nuts are more than enough to get me upset, especially when presented as well as they are here.

Showtime for Born This Way: Friday, June 28, 1:30 PM (Castro Theatre)

Turning

pUP8XNpEyNFJgeot84fNxNGBLmDCd8e2VJ0X9Xcr8qQ,_6r7_yUwjZ0TM3CWDn9HBvr4fOGcpVkq5jQkcapUXp0,c3Bi9qBf_3jHiktXB3mo2oIzPHwBgdIHxDUgfd6Jy8E,vYQoN1_Kp_KmS5iyKXevLApSa_g1pp1ewn2tC9LeEtYtwo-stars1I have no doubt as to how strongly this film will most likely resonate with those already familiar with, and fans of, either the music of Antony and the Johnsons or the video artist, Charles Atlas. I, having never heard of Atlas, and having never enjoyed any of the Antony’s music, spent a great deal of this documentary in quiet suffering.

Thankfully, there were more watchable moments, which came in between the songs and took the form of varied confessionals from the stage act’s models. This part of the film was very Vagina Monologue-ish, as each woman told their personal accounts of the hardships they faced while discovering their sexual identities as children. Too bad I had to sit through a concert of melancholy awfulness in order to hear such wonderful and heartbreaking stories.

Showtime for Turning: Thursday, June 27, 7:00 PM (Victoria Theatre)

The Abominable Crime

KrbZStPjywkZtZASFUe-S6go6hhlwoOJP9x5u9W1Fbwthree-stars15There are 78 countries that have laws criminalizing homosexuals, this documentary is about Jamaica’s. Well, not so much a documentary on the actual law, but rather a look at the effect it has on three specific gay Jamaicans, all of which have had to flee their homeland in order to not be killed. Seems as if the sentiments found in Bob Marly’s song One Love” have gone totally ignored by the Jamaican icon.

For the record, this movie has nothing to do with Bob Marley. It’s about the effects that this grossly homophobic-run country has on two particular citizens who, because they were born a certain way, are to be considered criminals. There’s Maurice, a professor of discriminatory law who lives in Toronto with his husband but is willing to risk his life to return to his homeland in order to lead the fight for LGBT rights, and then there’s Simone, a young mother, who fearing for her life after being shot twice (simply for being a lesbian) wants nothing more than to escape to a much less homophobic country.

Just as it is important to the ever fighting struggle for basic human rights to have stories such as Maurice’s and Simone’s told, I believe it is also important to learn about such struggles while appeasing my cinematic sensibilities, be it in fiction or nonfiction. That’s the burden that this cinephile carries with him. With that being said, as coherently put together as this film was, when it comes down to it, I was aesthetically underwhelmed. Still, this is an important subject, and one I hope everyone gets to see, especially those who think homosexuality is a sin. It is my hope that perhaps this movie will help those who feel that way to perhaps be more compassionate to those who are apart of the LGBT community, whether they are in the closet or out.

Showtime for The Abominable Crime: Tuesday, June 25, 7:00 PM (Roxie Theatre)

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Categories: Frameline, Reviews

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