Frameline 2013 Report: Day Two – “Bwakaw” and “Interior. Leather Bar”

Bwakaw

fsoSCVfJA1alHEWk0_5uSTbhmPi5CUrHnCru0fN9FVM,0TmuEczkDi46HijiiHu9LfewiY37H2cI5YsSDjaIZrothree-stars15I couldn’t think of a better setting to see this year’s Philippines official Oscar entry than amidst a jam packed theatre full of gay men, most of whom happen to be Filippino. What an audience! Their charged reactions of shouting laughter and amplified gasps made what would have been seen as a straight forward drama in any other setting into one hell of a good time.

When done correctly, I’ll take a film that embraces the esthetics that, to me, define the word simplicity over a convoluted roundabout sideplotty production any day of the week. Give me simple and slow pacing, simple to-the-point dialogue, simple understated performances, some simple sight gags, one or two simple realistic resolutions, and a capable cast to bring it all together and I’ll be as happy as a clam, assuming that clams are happy of course. Can clams be happy? No time to wiki that now. On with the review.

The story is of Rene, an elderly gay man who, whether he likes it or not, is going to learn to turn his frownish demeanor upside down. Of course there are side characters who dart in and out of Rene’s life and whom will ultimately help him come to terms with his life’s path, but it’s Rene’s best friend and dog, Bwakaw, who will have the deepest impact on Rene’s newfound outlook.

Well acted performances all around, and exceptionally well ones by the film’s two leads (Eddie Garcia as Rene, and Princess in her film debut as Bwakaw) made what on paper looks like would be a dull movie into something both engaging and calming.

Interior. Leather Bar.

7X97jx6YLxZVbZKh9IUgnoZgEcOKZoE-ZUrK7KbOFSwHaving only 30 minutes to get from the Victoria Theater to my next screening at The Castro Theatre I spedwalked as fast as I could and was relived to find that not only did I make it there on time, but I had time to take a whizz as well. It was in the bathroom line that I had these two profound thoughts, both of which I feel compelled to share with you now. For the record, as you are about to find out, my use of the word profound is used very lightly, if not completely wrong all together.

1. During events where the attendance of one sex vastly outnumbers the other, would it kill management to temporarily make all the bathrooms unisex? Not that I did a head count or anything, but I would fairly guesstimate that of the 1400 plus in attendance for Interior. Leather Bar. that at least 1375 of them were men. While I’m sure you could imagine the line for the bathroom, I didn’t have to, I was in it. Fortunately, being men and all, we generally tend to our business quickly. even still, with that many men needing to whizz, quick or not, the line was starting to intrude upon the line for concessions, which I could see having the potential to mislead some poor schmuck who just wants a box of milk duds and a soda only to wind up trying to purchase a frothy urinal puck. Okay, I doubt that would happen, but you get my point. The line was ridiculously long!

2. While waiting in line I not only thought of a spectacular spoonerism, but one perhaps most appropriate for the LGBT themed festival. Anyone who knows me knows how big a fan I am of spoonerisms. What’s a spoonerism, you may be asking? Calm down, I’ll explain. A spoonerism is when you take two words, I like to use first and last names of actors, and swap the first letter of the first name with the first letter of the last name. For example: Betty White becomes Wetty Bhite; Samuel Jackson becomes Jamuel Saxson; Brad Pitt becomes Prad Bitt. Get it? Is it stupid, maybe. But is it Fun, Hell yeah. Okay now that you know what a spoonerism is (and my apologies for those who already knew what it was and had to waste three seconds of their life reading my explanation — too bad) try this one on for size – Pop Corn. C’mon, is that not brilliant?

Hey, I almost forgot there’s a review to write.

boshootinginteriorfour-stars4Interior. Leather Bar. is the latest from directors Travis Matthews and James Franco. Yes, the same James Franco, who earlier this year was gallivanting around Oz (Oz The Great and Powerful) and smoking weed with Selena Gomez (Spring Breakers). Now here’s a man I can get behind (oh, you silly intended pun, you).

In 1980 William Friedkin released a film called Cruising in where Al Pacino played an undercover cop whose search for a murderer leads him into the gay club scene. Controversy over Friedkin’s crude depiction of the gay nightlife caused outcry within the LGBT community. It was yet one more Hollywood film demonizing homosexuality. For the record, having not yet seen Cruising, although I plan to shortly, that brief synopsis along with the gay community’s response to the film at the time were relayed to me by another filmgoer who sat next to me at the screening and who referred to himself as an expert in gay cinema.

Anyway, in order for Friedkin to avoid an X rating from the MPAA, he was forced to cut 40 minutes of footage. 40 Minutes that has never been shown. Enter James Franco and Travis Matthews as they attempt to recreate what those 40 minutes were. And that’s where the film gets weird, and by weird I mean it starts to take the form of an improvisational scripted documentary being filmed within an actual documentary of the behind-the-scenes filming of some gay sex and a lost club scene. It’s a multy-layred mind fuck, both in the actual structure of the film and in the ideas and discussions that it will no doubt bring to the table.

I think if it takes a uniquely queer (in this case queer meaning different, or gay. Yep, I guess it can still mean gay) Inceptionesque-layered narrative by a self-identifying straight Hollywood icon like James Franco to wake up the masses as to the damaging influence Hollywood has on our society as a whole when it continues glorifying violence while censoring the beautiful act of two men making love, than so be it. Now as far as this movie being easily accessible to the multiplex movie watching masses, well…. nope… don’t see that happening. And with that this films has made it’s ironic point quite clearly. Brilliant.

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