Ten Films You Must See at Outfest

From a docu-dramedy on the webcam porn biz to a Thelma & Louise -like lesbian road trip flick, the 2009 Outfest film festival kicks off this week in Los Angeles and is chock-full of hidden gems.




Dare: The sex life of the American teenager has gotten more sophisticated, but the films about that subject have not done a very good job of keeping up. Dare is a refreshing take on the mores of young people coming of age in the era of Gossip Girl, when being young means pretending to be much older and that includes a blasé attitude toward sex. But as the film shows, underneath that veneer are always very adolescent feelings of burgeoning sexuality, abandonment, and even young love. Alexa, played by Emmy Rossum, wants to lose her good girl image, so she ditches her best friend, Ben (Ashley Springer), who is just realizing he is gay, for the popular but troubled Johnny, played by Zach Gilford ( Friday Night Lights ). But the three end up forming an unlikely triangle, one that explores rather than defines the limits of their sexuality. Out screenwriter David Brind tells a clever but still very accessible and ultimately marketable story, and good performances from all, including guest stars Alan Cumming and Sandra Bernhard, make this a solid film.

Sunday, July 19, 8 p.m., Ford Amphitheatre


Drool: The press notes are calling this part Thelma & Louise and part Little Miss Sunshine, but this film is much stranger and more John Waters meets Jamie Babbit's But I'm a Cheerleader. Laura Harring of Mulholland Dr. fame plays Anora, an abused housewife in the South who finds a friend and eventually a lover in her neighbor Imogene (Jill Marie Jones, Girlfriends ). After Anora's husband dies in a freak but nonetheless deserved accident, the two hit the road with Anora's two kids, her husband in the trunk, and nowhere to go. Drool is colorful and weird, and Jones's overly upbeat -- to the point of being scary -- performance contrasts nicely with Harring's almost deadpan approach. Original at every turn, the film always keeps you wondering what lies around the next curve.

Thursday, July 16, 7 p.m., Directors Guild Theater

Tags: film