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    Films to See During the Final Weekend of Frameline48

    By Gary Kramer–

    It’s the final weekend of Frameline and there are still plenty of films to see. Here are ten titles to check out before the festival ends on Sunday.

    In Throuple, Michael (Michael Doshier, who wrote the screenplay) meets the married but open couple Connor (Tommy Heleringer) and George (Stanton Plummer-Cambridge) and he unexpectedly becomes involved with them. The experience is empowering for Michael, who wants a relationship. While George admits being crushed on Michael, he and Connor agree to see other people and jealousies arise. Michael’s new romance also impacts his codependent relationship with his bestie, Tristan (Tristan Carter-Jones), whose girlfriend Abby (Jess Gabor) has just proposed—the needy Michael drives a wedge between them. Doshier’s character is not always likeable, but the supporting characters are appealing. A speech Abby delivers is gratifying as is watching Connor and George navigate their open relationship. These moments keep the amateurish Throuple watchable.

    All Shall Be Well

    Frameline also gives moviegoers another chance to see All Shall Be Well, a poignant, touching drama by out gay writer/director Ray Yeung. Angie Wang (Patra Au) is bereft after her lover Pat (Lin-Lin Li) suddenly and unexpectedly dies. As Pat had no will, her family assumes control over the funeral arrangements—ignoring what Angie claims were Pat’s wishes. Things get increasingly worse for Angie. who may have to give up the home she and Pat shared for decades. All Shall Be Well lets viewers feel such empathy for Angie because Patra Au’s performance is so beautifully calibrated. She is silent and stoic; her grief and loneliness as well as her pain and memories are all palpable. Yeung’s absorbing film may be modest and understated but it also quietly powerful.


    Riley, the debut feature by writer/director Benjamin Howard, is a well-intentioned story of closeted high school football player Dakota Riley (Jake Holley), who is trying to live up to his dad Carson’s (Rib Hillis) legacy as an athlete. The film plays up the homoeroticism between Riley and his best friend and teammate Jaeden (Colin McCalla), who lives with Riley’s family after being kicked out of his home. The chemistry between the guys is strong, but their dialogues about sex feel forced, not authentic. Likewise, Howard too often overplays things to make his points; Riley’s silently accepting a teammate’s homophobia mirrors his own internal homophobia. The film is better when it depicts its protagonist’s awkward moments with Riley and his girlfriend Skylar (Riley Quinn Scott), or scenes of him being intimate with Liam (Connor Storrie), an out classmate, or a hookup (J.B. Waterman). Ultimately, however, Riley, which is inspired by the director’s own experiences, feels like a not-so-special After School Special.

    Perfect Endings

    The Brazilian import Perfect Endings is a delightful romantic comedy-drama featuring an attractive, playful cast. João (Artur Volpi), is a 32-year-old filmmaker who has just ended a 10-year relationship and now wants some casual sex. But he has reservations and anxieties about many of the guys he meets. João also struggles professionally as the script he is eager to produce requires a rewrite. As he searches for love and satisfaction in his work, João’s emotions may get the better of him. Volpi is charming, even when João is at his most self-absorbed. Director/cowriter Daniel Ribeiro (The Way He Looks) has made an enchanting film that leaves viewers smiling.

    We Forgot to Break Up recounts the rise, fall, and reunion of the fictional Canadian band, “The New Normals,” fronted by Evan (Lane Webber), a transman. Their catchy songs, cowritten first with Evan’s partner Isis (June Laporte), a lesbian, and then with Lugh (Daniel Gravelle), who has an affair with Evan, help the band—which also includes Coco (Hallea Jones) and Angus (Jordan Dawson)—get a record deal and make a video. As issues and tensions arise with the love triangle, success, and even a pregnancy, director Karen Knox’s film hits all the expected notes. It is certainly of value to see a transman of color at the center of this story, and the music is terrific, which is why it is disappointing this adequate film isn’t more offbeat.

    Una Película Barata (A Cheap Movie) is a talky, hourlong drama about Fede (Enrique Gimeno), a gay man, who meets the straight Iván (Jorge Motos) in the park one day. Fede recognizes Iván from years ago, but Iván doesn’t recall the encounter. However, he returns the next day accusing Fede of molesting him. It’s an intriguing set up, but La Pelicula Barata goes in other directions, with Iván helping Fede get revenge on Fede’s ex, Luis (Luis Amália). Later, Fede extricates Iván from a sticky situation where Iván kidnaps his half-sister. Director Osama Chami includes old film clips periodically to comment on the action, but Una Película Barata comes off more as an experiment than a fully realized work. The friendship between Fede and Iván is unusual, and the actors have an interesting dynamic but the storylines never quite gel to make their efforts worthwhile.

    Linda Perry

    Linda Perry: Let It Die Here is an unfiltered look at the singer/songwriter Linda Perry, who rose to fame as the frontwoman for 4 Non Blondes. While friends and collaborators including Dolly Parton, Christina Aguilera, and Brandi Carlisle sing her praises—and Perry’s ex-wife Sara Gilbert adds thoughtful observations—most of this documentary has Perry wrestling with her demons, which include a troubled childhood as well as mental and physical health issues. There are plenty of scenes of Perry singing, scoring films, and producing music, and there is a rousing closing number. But this introspective film also includes some painful and very personal moments that can be difficult to watch. Linda Perry: Let It Die Here may be best appreciated by its subject’s fanbase.

    Haze is an intriguing, fragmented drama about Joe (Cole Doman) returning home (from rehab) one hazy summer to investigate the deaths of eight gay men from a local (and now closed) psychiatric institute. He meets a stranger (Brian J. Sloan)—mostly for sex—and the days blur together. Haze, written and directed by Matthew Fifer (Cicada), unfolds like a fever dream, getting more ambiguous as Joe grapples with his thoughts, feelings, and sobriety. As a series of deaths occur in the area, Joe thinks they are connected, and he pursues that thread while also asking questions about his sister’s suicide from years ago. Shot and edited in a style that obscures almost as much as it reveals, there are many potent scenes as Haze examines psychic and physical pain. Joe learns about the horrors of aversion therapy that was practiced at the institution, but he also asks his lover to hit him during sex, a form of self-hatred, perhaps. While Fifer gets a little too arty in his storytelling, Doman is superb as a man haunted by this past and uncertain of his future.

    High Tide is a bittersweet character study written and directed by Marco Calvani about Lourenço (Marco Pigossi, Calvani’s real-life husband), a Brazilian living in Provincetown during the late summer. Lourenço is depressed as he has recently been dumped by his lover, and has a month left on his visa. He feels that “his life is happening without him.” Things improve when Lourenço meets a tall drink of water named Maurice (James Bland) on the beach. The two men begin a respectful relationship, which buoys Lourenço’s spirits—but it may be short-lived. Calvani gives Pigossi a terrific showcase, and the actor delivers a very affecting, ingratiating performance as a man struggling not to hit rock bottom. He is well matched with Bland, who is thoughtful and caring, and justly bristles at the various microaggressions he encounters. In support, Marisa Tomei (who executive produced), is wasted save for an especially lovely scene where she tells Lourenço about “breaking a heart on the way to opening your own.” Beautifully filmed, and leisurely paced, the modest High Tide is a poignant romance about learning to love yourself.

    A House Is Not a Disco

    Out gay actor Brian J. Smith (Sense 8) makes an auspicious directorial debut with his affectionate documentary, A House Is Not a Disco, about the Fire Island Pines. His film traces a year, 2022, at the gay mecca. Smith interviews a diverse group of people from yearlong residents and seasonal workers to visitors, volunteers, and activists who help create the strong sense of community. There are episodes that recount the Pines’ history, and how it has changed over the decades — including the current impact of global warming — but Smith mainly emphasizes that being on Fire Island provides a feeling of being in a safe, welcoming space where LGBTQ folks can express themselves freely — as one interviewee who rarely wears clothes does. Smith, who uses interviews, archival, and observational footage, tells this story with reverence, celebrating the people that make Fire Island magical. It is the next best thing to being there.

    © 2024 Gary M. Kramer

    Gary M. Kramer is the author of “Independent Queer Cinema: Reviews and Interviews,” and the co-editor of “Directory of World Cinema: Argentina.” He teaches Short Attention Span Cinema at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute and is the moderator for Cinema Salon, a weekly film discussion group. Follow him on Twitter @garymkramer

    Published on June 27, 2024