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    Highlights From the Closing Weekend of Frameline47

    By Gary M. Kramer–

    This year’s Frameline Film Festival comes to a close June 24 (with select films available via streaming through July 2). Here are nine features and documentaries playing closing weekend to catch before the festival ends.

    Chasing Chasing Amy is an affectionate documentary by queer director Sav Rodgers, who once gave a TED Talk about how Kevin Smith’s film Chasing Amy saved his life. The 1997 film—about a straight guy (Ben Affleck) who falls for Alyssa (Joey Lauren Adams, then Smith’s girlfriend), a lesbian—was both provocative and problematic for its representation of sexual identity. However, for Rodgers, the film presented positive queer characters that brought solace during his difficult teenage years. As Chasing Chasing Amy shows, the film made Rodgers be honest with himself. After coming out as queer and falling in love with Riley, Rodgers comes out as a transman. Featuring extensive and informative interviews with Smith and Adams about their film and its legacy, this is an impassioned documentary about personal growth, and the power of cinema.

    Every Body is an illuminating documentary that presents three admirable case studies to show how binaries about gender need to be reconsidered in a world where 1.7% of the population is intersex. Alicia Roth Weigel (she/they), (Sean) Saifa Wall (he/him), and River Gallo (they/them), recount their experiences as intersex individuals and their advocacy to end the practice of genital surgery without consent. (Each has had unnecessary or unwanted medical procedures.) The documentary also presents the critical case of David Reimer, who was raised—on the recommendation of sexologist John Money—as a female after his penis was damaged during circumcision. Every Body is a commendable introduction to the intersex community, but it is best when it focuses on its three subjects who share and relate to each other’s experiences.

    Glitter & Doom is a joyful musical romance directed by Tom Gustafson and written by Cory Krueckeberg. (They previously collaborated on Were the World Mine and Hello Again.) Glitter (Alex Diaz) wants to run away and join the circus. Meanwhile Doom (Alan Cammish) is hoping to perform his music at a local nightclub, but Boston (Lea DeLaria), the manager, thinks his tunes are too dark. The guys meet cute at a nightclub and perform one of several catchy musical numbers. The songs, sung throughout the film, are all from the Indigo Girls catalog, and both Amy Ray and Emily Saliers have cameos. As the guys fall in love, go camping, and make love, they share their anxieties and dreams. Yet both Glitter and Doom also have to deal with their strong-willed mothers (Ming-Na Wen and Missi Pyle, respectively). This visually striking film features strong vocal performances from the leads, but the flashy editing undercuts some of the power of the images and performances. Nevertheless, Glitter & Doom is still appealing.

    Glitter & Doom

    Hidden Master: The Legacy of George Platt Lynes is a luminous documentary portrait of the gay photographer who may be best known for his gorgeous male nudes. Director Sam Shahid features hundreds of Lynes’ photos including his commercial fashion shots, celebrity portraits, and his sexually explicit pics. (Don Bachardy amusingly recounts how Lynes could literally charm the pants off his models.) Various talking heads recount Lynes’ life—in the 1930s, he lived with Glenway Wescott and Monroe Wheeler—his sexuality, archive, and his importance in American culture. This is a loving, elegant profile of a remarkable, nearly forgotten artist.

    Hidden Master: The Legacy of George Platt Lynes

    Our Son has Nicky (Luke Evans) and Gabriel (Billy Porter) heading for a gay version of Kramer vs. Kramer after Gabriel decides to leave their marriage. While Nicky is devastated, the sticking point becomes the escalating battle for primary physical custody of Owen (Christopher Woodley), their 8-year-old son. Whereas Nicky, the biological father, has been the breadwinner, Gabriel sacrificed his career to parent their child. Both Evans and Porter convey a wistfulness in their sensitive performances. Nicky is obviously hurting and adrift after the life and family that he thought were secure implode. Meanwhile, Gabriel determines what he truly wants in life—and that absolutely includes Owen. Director/cowriter Bill Oliver thankfully never lets his film get maudlin as the drama plays out in ways that reveal the humanity that drives each character. This is a compelling film that takes a thoughtful approach to the idea of loving and letting go.

    Our Son

    Playland is an artfully made queer memory piece/time capsule about the titular late Boston café/gay bar. Director Georden West assembles a queer cast of performers, including Lady Bunny, who reenact scenes from the past ranging from drag performances to opera. The highly stylized vignettes feature fabulous costumes and period details. Equally notable are the voiceovers, archival footage, and news clips that recount anecdotal histories ranging from the publication of Fag Rag, a gay magazine—to pride parades, protests, and racial tensions around busing. This hypnotic experimental film captures a mood and moments in history. However, it will frustrate viewers who prefer a more traditional documentary on the venue. 


    Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed is a fleeting documentary that recounts—for anyone who wasn’t aware—that Roy Harold Scherer, Jr., aka Rock Hudson, was a famous movie star who was closeted and died of AIDS. The film, directed by Stephen Kijak, uses photographs and judiciously selected interviews and film clips to winkingly comment on Hudson’s sexuality, while emphasizing that he could not live openly gay, but could be seen sharing a one-bedroom “bachelor pad” with another handsome actor in publicity magazines. Hudson was also pressured to get married, which he did, days before his 30th birthday, to Phyllis Gates, his gay agent Henry Wilson’s secretary. (She claimed, like several others, not to know Hudson was gay). The actor’s celebrity was cemented by his work in glossy melodramas including Magnificent Obsession and All that Heaven Allows (both co-starring Jane Wyman, and directed by Douglas Sirk), as well as his Oscar-nominated role in Giant. Other key films are showcased, including his part in Pillow Talk where Hudson, a gay man, playing straight, pretending to be gay, is cringey, as well as his playing against type in Seconds, an underappreciated John Frankenheimer film. But off-screen, Hudson had many relationships with men (including Lee Garlington and Armistead Maupin, both interviewed here) that fueled rumors, including a “fake marriage” to Jim Nabors that was reported in the National Enquirer. He also ended up on the FBI watch list. Rock Hudson: All that Heaven Allowed culminates with Hudson contracting AIDS, and how it was kept a secret—even compromising things for actress Linda Evans, whom he kissed on an episode of Dynasty. That Hudson became an unexpected activist by being the most famous person to die from AIDS is a point the documentary makes, but like much of the superficial Rock Hudson: All that Heaven Allowed, it does not provide any real insight.

    Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed

    Taylor Mac’s 24-Decade History of Popular Music, directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, documents the extraordinary and ingenious 2016 titular event at St. Anne’s Warehouse, in Brooklyn. This maximalist “performance art concert” chronicles American culture through songs, storytelling, and audience participation with Mac staging a battle between Stephen Foster and Walt Whitman, reappropriating the racism in songs like “Ghosts of Uncle Tom,” and turning Ted Nugent’s homophobic “Snakeskin Cowboy” into a gay junior high prom for the audience. He also removes one of his 24 stage musicians every hour, signifying the painful losses suffered during the AIDS crises. His imaginative costumer, Machine Dazzle, designs multilayered, eye-popping creations using corks, toilet paper rolls, and even potato chip bags, which have to be seen to be believed. But it is Mac’s unwavering voice—as well as his endurance—that makes this performance so inspiring. Epstein and Friedman’s documentary will have viewers wishing they had attended in person, and grateful to get a glimpse of what was truly a phenomenal production.

    Taylor Mac’s 24-Decade History of Popular Music

    Will-o’-the-Wisp is the latest provocation—dubbed a “musical fantasy”—by out gay Portuguese filmmaker João Pedro Rodrigues. An extended prologue introduces Prince Alfredo (Mauro Costa), whose parents are shocked by his decision to be a firefighter. When Alfredo also meets fellow firefighter Afonso (André Cabral), who trains him, the two men begin a relationship that starts with a seductive lesson in ventilating a victim and segues into a wonderfully choreographed dance sequence. Will-o’-the-Wisp jumps across time and genres as this queer romance plays out, but there are provocative and serious undercurrents as themes about race, class, colonialism, and privilege are raised.


    For tickets, showtimes, and more information, visit

    © 2023 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.” Follow him on Twitter @garymkramer

    Published on June 22, 2023