Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Reverend's Reviews: Dare to Support Outfest

The closing night of Outfest 2009 featured the LA premiere of Adam Salky's teen drama Dare, live appearances by the film's stars Alan Cumming (sporting dyed blonde hair) and Emmy Rossum, and a pre-show fundraising solicitation. Outfest, the nation's oldest GLBT film festival and LA's longest-running fest at 27 years, is a non-profit that, like so many worthy organizations, is suffering as a result of the current recession.

Never mind that not all the films shown during this year's Outfest deserve equal support, with the festival's US dramatic centerpiece, Mississippi Damned, being a prime example. Although it won the fest's Grand Jury prize for outstanding US feature film, I found Tina Mabry's autobiographical piece to be an unrelentingly grim, overlong examination of a dysfunctional black family in the American South with little positive to say about its GLBT characters. Despite some excellent performances, Mississippi Damned offers little that hasn't been shown or said before in such films as The Color Purple or Monster's Ball.


Dare is another unfortunate exception to the notion that all GLBT festival films are equally worthy of acclaim. The film has its charms, notably fine performances by Zach Gilford and Ashley Springer as sexually-conflicted high school students involved in a pseudo-threesome with Rossum's character, and Michael Fimognari's excellent cinematography. However, it failed to ring true for me. Perhaps times for teens have changed and I've become out-of-touch, but too many of the sexual scenarios struck me as contrived and Rossum (who was wonderful as Christine in The Phantom of the Opera movie a few years back) struck me as too old for her part.

If not every GLBT film festival entry is an artistic success, is that reason not to support the filmmakers or the festival? Certainly not! Outfest and the other festivals that have happily proliferated across the country since the LA fest's founding in 1982 deserve our community's support more than ever. Please consider financially supporting Outfest (donations may be made online at their official website) or your local GLBT festival before it's too late.

UPDATEDare is now available on DVD and Blu-ray from Amazon.com.

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

"offers little that hasn't been shown or said before..." Did you actually say that? If you review movies I think you would agree that Hollywood is almost completely everything that has been said and done before. Why make that statement about this movie. Finally we have "excellent performances" and a really good movie and your criticism is that it's been said and done before in 2 movies 10 - 15 years apart? I'm sorry but in my eyes if you do something 10 or even 5 years apart I can't see how that's rehashing in any way, especially when we see the same movies year after year with little difference at all with so so acting at best.

NelsonStJames said...

Actually he left out some films. It seems that this seems to be a favorite subject when it comes to either Hollywood, or independent films about the black experience. There are other aspects of the Black experience from the past, the present, and even in the future that I would like to see that doesn't involve dysfunctional families struggling against an apathetic society. We get it already! Life is tough for Black people. It's bad enough that you have to wait YEARS to see any film with a legitimate Black protagonist, or a film with a Black perspective, but man to wait five to ten years just to see a rehashing of the same film you saw back then is really getting old. We really need to expand our horizons just a bit.

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