May 11th, 2009

movie popcorn

Catching up with the Tribeca Film Festival

The final two films I caught at the Tribeca Film Festival the weekend before last:

lolitasir joined me for An Englishman in New York, about Quentin Crisp’s years in New York.

Quentin was the big queen whose memoir of his gay life and persecution in England during the 30’s and 40’s, The Naked Civil Servant, was made into a television movie by the BBC in 1975 and later broadcast here on PBS. Servant was a revelation, being one of the first sympathetic, somewhat positive and frank portrayals of gay life on American TV. It starred John Hurt in an especially nuanced performance which established his reputation, later going on to important roles in I, Claudius, Alien, Midnight Express, and most impressively, The Elephant Man.

So in a brilliant bit of casting, they got John Hurt to play Quentin Crisp again 34 years later. The film also stars Swoozie Kurtz and Cynthia Nixon, some big talent for a small indie film, but I guess once John Hurt signed on it was easy to get others.

Hurt gives a wonderful, touching performance, expressing so much with just his eyes, expressions, and posture. You can quibble a bit with the production, which tries to recreate the look, hairstyles, fashions, and energy of life in NYC’s East and West Villages in the 80’s while AIDS and the Reagan Administration’s indifference hit the gay community hard. It’s a good, small movie, not a great, big one. I especially liked Jonathan Tucker as the gay artist Patrick Angus.

Sunday night I caught an encore screening of Midgets vs. Mascots accompanied by danbearnyc. It’s a mockumentary pitting teams of little people and mascots (some of whom are closet furries) against each other in a series of Jackass-style stunts and competitions, for a million-dollar prize for each member. Its only star is Gary Coleman, although Ron Jeremy and basketball legend Scottie Pippin have cameo roles.

Here’s the money quote: It’s one of the most offensive, tasteless, and vulgar movies I’ve ever seen. Right up there with Meet the Feebles or Borat. So of course I thoroughly enjoyed it. And although it was in the Tribeca Film Festival with more than 80 prestigious films, it came in third for the Audience Favorite Award. The first four screenings sold out early, likely on the film’s outrageous premise – this was its world premiere so it didn’t really have much buzz, or much in the way of star power. Then they added a fifth screening which I scored tickets to, and they even had a sixth screening as an Audience Favorite runner-up.

They’ll probably have to recut it for an R rating, I don’t think they’ll try to release it as an NC-17 – it’s that filthy. I won’t say any more about it so you can be as surprised, outraged, and delighted as I was.