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    More Films to View as Frameline46 Enters Its Final Weekend

    By Gary M. Kramer–

    There are still plenty of films to catch as Frameline Film Festival continues in theaters through June 26, with many titles streaming online June 24 until June 30. Check out the organization’s website for further details: https://www.frameline.org/

    Meanwhile, here is a rundown of what to see.

    Please Baby Please (June 23, 6 pm AMC Kabuki 8) is a very peculiar, highly stylized, but uneven film. Arthur (Harry Melling) and Suze (a very expressive Andrea Riseborough) have a life-changing encounter with Teddy (Karl Glusman) and his gang, The Young Gents. The film, directed and cowritten by Amanda Kramer (no relation), is affected with both camp and 50s-era sensibilities that will charm or annoy. Kramer candy-coats each scene and fetishizes its characters—Teddy especially (Glusman oozes sex appeal)—as they pose, fight, sing, and dance. Please Baby Please is not just all mood, though. Its characters espouse heady comments about gender, masculinity, and vulnerability. Harry claims he “doesn’t feel a need to act male,” while Suze becomes more mannish over the course of the story. There are also some nifty musical numbers and striking vignettes, from one featuring Maureen (Demi Moore) as a “slum starlet” neighbor, to a scene in a club with a flirty gay character, and another sequence at a Bijou movie theater. Please Baby Please can feel like it is trying too hard, but itis a unique and, at times, impressive accomplishment.

    It Is in Us All (June 23, 8 pm AMC Kabuki 8) has Hamish Considine (Cosmo Jarvis), a British man traveling to Ireland to deal with his late aunt’s house. En route, however, he gets into a nasty car accident that kills one boy but spares another, Evan (Rhys Mannion). As Hamish and Evan strike up an uneasy friendship, Hamish learns more about his family, especially his late mother. It Is in Us All is all about the grief and pain these two solitary characters feel, and how they rely on each other to cope—but it is not especially gay. (There is only some mild homoerotic tension.) Nor is it especially illuminating, as writer/director Antonia Campbell-Hughes goes heavy on the atmosphere, but thin on the plot. Nevertheless, Cosmo Jarvis gives a blistering performance—a scene of him caring for his wounds, in particular, is quite stunning.

    Maybe Someday, (June 23, 1:15 pm, AMC Kabuki 8; also streaming)is a modest, low-key, and engaging drama about the non-binary Jay (writer/director Michelle Ehlen), who has decided to move across the country after separating from her wife, Lily (Janeen Robinson). On her journey, Jay stops and stays with Jess (Shaela Cook), her best friend (and secret crush) growing up. She also befriends Tommy (Charlie Steers), a gay comedian who is funnier off stage than on. Maybe Someday flashes back to Jay and Jess as teens, but the best scenes are the hangout moments featuring Jay and Tommy shooting pool, going camping, or performing in drag. Jay’s friends might lift her spirits, but Ehlen is more interested in having viewers feel the pain of depression and heartbreak. The filmmaker gives a poignant performance as Jay has various emotional responses to the people in her life.  

    My Emptiness and I (June 24, 6 pm, Roxie; also streaming)is a wonderful comedy-drama about Raphaëlle (cowriter Raphaëlle Pérez), a transwoman navigating the dating scene and her gender identity. She wants someone to love her as she is—she is deciding about having surgery—but most men are wary, if not downright obnoxious, about dating a transwoman. Raphaëlle meets regularly with other transwomen and participates in artistic endeavors, such as a play, which help her determine what she wants and who she is. My Emptiness and I is a fantastic showcase for Pérez, and a charming and hopeful love story wrapped in a poignant drama about self-acceptance.

    Girl Picture (June 24 at 6 pm, Castro) is a terrific romantic drama from Finland about three young women grappling with love, sex, and their very sensitive emotions. Mimmi (Aamu Milonoff), a lesbian, and her straight best friend, Rönkko (Eleonoora Kauhanen), work together at a smoothie bar. Mimmi is tough and acerbic, but when she meets Emma (Linnea Leino), a figure skater, she lets down her guard and gets romantic. Emma, whose life has been dominated by sports, falls hard in return and discovers a sense of freedom and rebellion. Director Alli Haapasalo’s film is refreshing for allowing its heroines to make mistakes and behave badly because they are inexperienced and scared. The three leads are all engaging and come across as awkward and real, which is why the film is so gratifying.

    Three Tidy Tigers Tied a Tighter Tie (June 24, 6 pm New Parkway; also streaming) is Gustavo Vinagre’s whimsical comedy about two roommates—sex worker Pedro (Pedro Ribeiro) and student Isabella (Isabella Pereira)—spending the day with Pedro’s nephew, Jonata (Jonata Vieira), who has come to the city for his HIV treatment. Shot during the pandemic, amnesia seems to be the overriding symptom as various characters have memory issues. There is a sweet scene of Jonata cracking a man’s back in Roosevelt Park and a tender moment between Pedro and his client Omar (Everaldo Pontes), but much of this subversive film is addressing issues of race and class—there are several references to “crapitalism”—as well as regression and oppression. Vinagre has concocted a shaggy hangout film with moments of magical realism, as well as a strange musical sequence. This is an ambitious and inventive film. It may not be for all tastes, but it certainly has its charms.

    Esther Newton Made Me Gay (June 25 at 1:15 pm, Roxie; also streaming), is a valentine to the titular cultural anthropologist and dog agility trainer. Director Jean Carlomusto traces Newton’s life, from her childhood and self-awareness about her sexuality and butch identity—as well as her first lesbian experiences—to her activism (“The personal is political.”) Inspired by Margaret Mead and Gertrude Stein, Newton forged a path for queer studies in academia, writing about drag queens and gender roles. Esther Newton Made Me Gay celebrates the life, loves, and influence of this pioneering figure in queer studies.

    The Unabridged Mrs. Vera’s Daybook (June 25, 1:15 pm, Castro; also streaming) is an effusive documentary about San Francisco icons David Faulk and Michael Johnstone, who created the drag character Mrs. Vera and her fabulous, colorful outfits. Director Robert James’ film recounts the backstory of David and Michael, who lived through the AIDS crisis; both are HIV-positive. They thrived by creating a “Daybook” of photographs featuring Mrs. Vera and helped establish the “VeraSphere,” a larger community of fans, friends and followers that join them in the annual Pride Parade. The joy they provide is infectious, and Mrs. Vera’ Daybook celebrates the style and charm of these inspiring men.

    The Sixth Reel (June 25, 3:30 pm, Castro; also streaming) is the latest cinematic piffle from the iconic drag performer Charles Busch. Jimmy (Busch) is a small-time dealer in classic movie ephemera. When his friend Gerald dies, Jimmy and Gerald’s niece, Helen (Julie Halston), hold an estate sale and stumble upon the last reel of a thought-to-be-lost Lon Chaney film. This discovery soon creates a madcap scramble among rival collectors. Will Michael (Tim Daly), the NYU professor, donate it to a museum? Will Doris Pang (Margaret Cho) sell it to the highest bidder? Jimmy dons drag (in classic Charles Busch fashion) to find out. If this slight comedy is about as unstable as nitrate film stock, Busch, working with his co-writer/co-director Carl Andress, generates a few smiles from some barbed one-liners, and the game cast feeds into these Hollywood dreams.

    Petit Mal (June 25, 8:30 pm, New Parkway; also streaming), is an interesting hybrid documentary/fiction about a throuple: Marti (Silvia Varón), Anto (Anta María Otálora), and Laia (writer/director Ruth Caudeli). The strong bond among these three lovers is felt in the opening scenes of them sharing paella and playing word games. However, when Laia goes off for a job, Marti and Anto are bereft. The film shifts into black and white to convey their loneliness—Anto performs a poignant song—and calls with Laia freeze or are dropped. Laia cries and misses her girlfriends when they do connect. Petit Mal artfully examines the difficulties of maintaining an equilateral balance in the relationship, especially as Marti and Anto become closer during Laia’s absence. When they grow angry with Laia for failing to respond to their messages, there is noticeable silence when Laia returns from her trip. Petit Mal examines the singular dynamic of this trouple, and it is hard not to root for them to stay together—if only because they all look so adorable in their matching bear sleepwear.

    Pat Rocco Dared (June 25, 9:15 pm, Castro; also streaming) is an affectionate valentine to the trailblazing gay filmmaker and activist who died in 2018. Rocco started making films in 1966 that featured nude men in sex-positive ways—kissing and cuddling, posing on a freeway, even using a pogo stick! One short, which depicted a loving gay couple in Disneyland, was banned. Rocco’s films were erotic but never pornographic. They depicted a “perfect queer world,” where being gay was not an issue, and that may be why they were so popular. Pat Rocco Dared has out gay filmmaker Charlie David interviewing Rocco about his work. David also probes Rocco about his activism, which includes helping Harvey Milk get elected, coordinating the first Pride parade (not march), helping homeless LGBTQ folks, and documenting transgender lives. One of the best sequences shows how David’s films were influenced by Rocco’s. This engaging documentary should inspire viewers to seek out Rocco’s work.

    © 2022 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, 2022