As some of you might already know, 26th London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival has started last Friday. Being a little lazy and busy with other exciting things, I missed the opportunity to see some of the films I have never heard about. Today however, I finally decided to use my press pass and see what it is like this year. And I have to say, it looks like a cinematic treat.
If I was only aware that my press pass has more to offer than just free screenings, I would probably try my best to attend the festival in the previous years. The moment I entered the Blue Room, in which press delegates and industry hangs out, I was welcomed with a free brownie, a book on Marlena Dietrich and feminist movement in queer cinema as well as a DVD. All of them looking pretentious and baring BFI’s proud logo (apart from the brownie, which was produced by unknown by my common taste German sounding company). Then I realised that I also get a lovely discount at all of BFI’s caffeterias and bars and with my one pound hot chocolate and a bag of goodies I went to see my first festival movie.
I still don’t get how this image relates to queer cinema…
Let me start with…
Becomes this festival is all about celebration of human sexuality and identity, I will take this opportunity and write all of my festival reviews in this amazing pink colour. I guess there’s a drag queen in all of us…
So the first film I attended was a French thriller called Notre Paradis which I picked only because there was no other choice of movies at this time. Feeling boosted with chocolate, I took my far end weirdly angled seat and waited for my expectations to be exploded (as promised by the organisers). During the screening I realised two things:
1) There’s not enough queer films being produced these days because BFI is literally taking any submissions to the festival
2) Sometimes 1 hour and 40 minutes seems longer than a lifetime, and this does not only apply to Twilight
Our Paradise is a pointlessly pornographic, chaotically told directorial experiment that goes wrong before it even starts. If some films have no purpose to exists, Our Paradise is the leader of them all.
Our Paradise is a story of two rent boys in Paris, who meet one night and fell in love with each other straight away. Unfortunately, their lives are far from being perfect, however, the desperation to make them such is bigger than morality and soon they commit a series of brutal murders in order to achieve their material dreams. Angelo, a beautiful, young, almost godlike boy acts a sort of bait while Vassilli, a thirty year old man struggling with the inevitable process of ageing holds the knife. We see them prostituting themselves and killing their customers until one night they get spotted by one of Vassilli’s failed victims. They decide to escape Paris and move to Batille, where they meet Vassilli’s friend and her ten year old son. When their lives seems to get stable and safe, in almost Greek tragedy way they learn that once the crime is committed, there’s no escape from its consequences.
Although I somehow managed to summarise the plot (and trust me, I left out a huge bit of it for your own sake), Our Paradise is far from being a logically constructed movie. I believe that the director was inspired by Pedro Almodovar and his new films where crime and passion are brought together to form almost melodramatic and tragic image. Although Almodovar is the master of making the soapiest stories extremely artful and beautiful, Goel Morel fails greatly when attempting the same. Our Paradise is chaotic, unnecessary and almost irritating. The story is unpredictable, but not because it is surprising, but rather because it seems to lose track every ten minutes. For most of the time Our Paradise doesn’t lead anywhere and appears to be a boring compilation of explicit sex scenes followed by brutal murders. The finale is not satisfying and overall the movie strikes us with awful blandness. Counting the amount of blood spilt, Our Paradise should at least taste of something.
fortunately for me, this tasteless dish was followed by a real nostalgia trip…
HIT SO HARD
My brain was saved from rotting by the documentary about Hole’s drummer, Patty Schemel. Patty Schemel was not only one of the first great female drummers, but also one of the first openly gay one. Hit So Hard tells a story of the generation and for the generation it is a real treat.
Although when I was a teenager, Kurt Cobain was already dead, the grunge music was still influential for my growing up. I loved Nirvana more than Hole, but Courtney Love was no stranger to me. I am not going to educate you on the 90s and its alternative music, because this is something that has to be experienced (I feel like I sound really badass right now), however, I highly recommend taking look at it in order to really appreciate Hit So Hard. And when you do, I promise you that there is a lot to love.
If this picture gives you goosebumps, Hit So Hard is the film for you
Although Hit So Hard looks a little amateurish, the camera is not the best and thus the quality of picture is a little rough, it is a truly engaging documentary. Patty Schemel is just a pretext used in order to tell a story of the generation who simply didn’t give a fuck and wanted others to do the same. Although the early 90s were still far from being called a tolerant and liberal times, somehow the movement was born that accepted everything and everyone, that screamed equality and believed in political and moral incorrectness. Courney Love and Kurt Cobain were the obvious voices of the youth, but behind the stage door there was more story to discover.
Hit So Hard raises up all the topics related to the ‘life of a rockstar’ such as drugs, touring, relationship with fans and finally, the fall of the band, however, it also manages to create an intimate portrait of an individual, Patty Shemel in this case and show her public as well as inner life. It is a touching story of acceptance, coming out and self-discovery. It is both beautiful, thought provoking and entertaining, and although it might not be universal, it is definitely a tribute to the generation that changed the world.
The documentary is technically wonderful. Although it talks about many different topics, the transition between them is so smooth and subtle that it keeps us engaging all the way through it. The modern interviews combined with the original footage both from public appearances and concerts as well as private recordings from hotel rooms, tour buses, clubs and homes create the ultimate image of the people behind one of the greatest musical and social phenomenons of the twentieth century. And it makes you Hole fan.