Another pair of female resisters take charge in Jan Dunn’s Gypo (2005; May 13, 1:45 pm), the first British Dogme 95 film. Tasha is a teenage Romish Czech refugee seeking shelter, along with her mother, from her brutal father and husband. She finds an unlikely ally in Helen, an unhappy 40ish housewife. Helen enjoys Tasha’s “intelligent conversation” and then some. Her xenophobic pig of a husband disapproves. Dunn tells the same story three times from different points of view, holding in suspense narrative twists that prove a little contrived. Nonetheless, her gritty eye and the earthy, spirited performances affirm the film’s authenticity.
Erin Greenwell’s Mom (2006; May 12, 7 pm, with star Julie Goldman and director Erin Greenwell present) might match Dunn’s film in threadbare budget, funky detail, and first-rate acting, but she strays far from Dogme in her embrace of generic conventions — in this case the buddy movie. Straight and humorless, Kelly (Emily Burton) works for a PR firm, dropping in on random households and asking questions like “How would you like your house to smell?” and “If there was more orange juice available, would you drink it?” Her dream is to become a TV reporter. Linda (a hilarious Julie Goldman), her butch and easygoing cameraperson, has ambitions also. She wants to open a tattoo parlor someday; in the meantime, she practices on oranges.
PICK UP THE MIC: Alex Hinton’s rappers are out to provoke, not placate.
They make a strained working unit that’s tested when they’re sent to the redneck town of Little Hope on assignment. The annual chili cook-off has filled all the town’s hotel rooms, and they have to stay at a youth hostel. The comic options get unwieldy, but Greenwell and Goldman keep it light and quirky. And in this successful accommodation of a queer sensibility to mainstream demands, the characters attempt to do the same, with mixed if entertaining results.
Margaret Cho also takes on the buddy movie in Lorene Machado’s Bam Bam and Celeste (May 21, 8 pm). Cho’s Celeste is a self-hating overweight Korean punk wanna-be rejected by her high-school peers in her redneck home town of Dekalb, Illinois. Her only friend, Bam Bam (Bruce Daniels), is an African-American screaming queen with a gift for hair styling. Twenty years later, they’re still languishing in Dekalb until an opportunity to appear on a makeover show that’s part American Idol and part Queer Eye for the StraightGuy takes them to New York — and a final confrontation with their hated high-school tormentors, who are now established Manhattan fashion fascists. I was disappointed that in the end Cho dumps her trashy/whimsical style (she could fit in with some of the photo-collages of Lover Other) for a look that wouldn’t raise an eyebrow at her Dekalb senior prom.
Neither would the folks in Dekalb find Celeste, though it’s clever and inspired, any more transgressive than their basic cable programming. Maybe what gay cinema needs is less acceptance and more hostility. The artists in Alex Hinton’s documentary Pick up the Mic (2005; May 12, 9 pm; Deep Dickollective will perform) — bi, gay, lesbian, and transgender rappers and MCs Dutchboy, Juba Kalamka, Miss Money, and Katastrophe — take on a medium that is notoriously homophobic and misogynistic and try to harness its energy and subversive into self-awareness.
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