The Advocate's 27 Favorite Films of Outfest 2014
BY Daniel Reynolds and Jase Peeples
July 07 2014 8:00 AM ET
Regarding Susan Sontag
Saturday, July 12, 4 p.m. at DGA 1
Filmmaker Nancy Kates presents an in-depth portrait of Susan Sontag, the renowned writer of groundbreaking works like the essay “Notes on ‘Camp,’” Illness as Metaphor, On Photography, and The Volcano Lover. Regarding Susan Sontag traces Sontag’s writing and filmmaking career from her high school newspaper through the publishing of these major works. It also provides insight into her private life through interviews with contemporaries and former partners, including her ex-husband David Rieff with whom she had a son, and details her relationships with women in the latter part of her life. It’s a loving ode to the “Dark Lady of American Letters” that also does not hesitate to show its subject’s flaws.
Sunday, July 13, 1:30 p.m. at DGA 1
As a coming-of-age film about a gay Muslim in Morocco, Salvation Army presents alluring subject matter and an experience that may be unfamiliar to many Western audiences. But the film, which is based on the life of its director Abdellah Taia, is original in many other respects. The actor who portrays young Abdellah is a quiet and often heartbreaking force as a boy searching for identity. Within his own home, the war between the sexes threatens to split the family apart, and in the streets of Casablanca, older men catch his eye and lead him by the hand to dark corners and out-of-sight locales. His obsession with his older brother, a French-speaking aspiring intellectual, shows how incest has layered into his desires, a scent Abdellah inhales deeply when he secretly embraces his sibling’s bed sheets or stays up all night picking off flower petals, whispering, “He loves me, he loves me not.” Whereas the filmmaker’s novel, on which Salvation Army is based, sees this relationship develop to sexual fruition, the film wisely keeps the apple just out of reach. And when the plot jumps 10 years ahead in time, to an older Abdellah who has newly arrived in Geneva, Switzerland, the emotions have both matured and complicated, and the ending, while unresolved, is rewarding for its poetry and honesty.
The Skeleton Twins
Saturday, July 12, 7 p.m. at Harmony Gold
Kristin Wiig and Bill Hader star in The Skeleton Twins, a comedy about a woman and her gay twin that is generating a lot of buzz. Milo (Hader) returns to live with his estranged sister Maggie (Wiig) after breaking up with his boyfriend. After years apart, he is disturbed to find his sibling leading a seemingly perfect life of domestic bliss along with her Pollyanna fiancé (Luke Wilson). Things are not as they seem, however, and Milo gets under Polly’s skin to reveal the tensions brewing just beneath. Directed by Craig Johnson, The Skeleton Twins has already picked up the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at Sundance for its heartwarming and heartbreaking comedy about the relationship between two siblings on the brink.
Space Station 76
Sunday, July 20, 8 p.m. at Ford (Closing Night Gala)
Space Station 76, the final film of the 2014 film festival, is a fun, nostalgia-flavored romp through outer space, which will be appropriately screened at Outfest’s Closing Night Gala “under the stars” in a historic outdoor venue, the Ford Theatre. Actor Jack Plotnick (Girls Will Be Girls, Gods and Monsters) makes his directorial debut with this adaptation of the L.A. stage hit that perfectly blends the absurdist view of 1970s sci-fi with tragedy and farce. Boasting a galaxy-class cast that includes Matt Bomer, Liv Tyler, Patrick Wilson, and Marisa Coughlan, the story takes a hyper-space jump into hilarity when Jessica (Tyler) arrives on Space Station 76, unleashing numerous revelations among the crew from the failing marriage of the outpost’s mechanic whose wife is falling for a robot to the truth about the closeted captain (Wilson).
To Be Takei
Sunday, July 20, 1 p.m. at DGA 1
Actor, activist, Internet sensation, inspiration; George Takei has been all of these and more throughout his life and the documentary To Be Takei takes a fascinating look at the 77-year-old icon’s amazing journey. Directed by Jennifer M. Kroot and Bill Weber, the entertaining and moving film juxtaposes the demands of Takei and his husband/business partner Brad’s daily life alongside stories of Takei’s childhood spent in a U.S. internment camp for Japanese-Americans during World War II to his turn in the groundbreaking role of Sulu on the original Star Trek TV series to his rise as an Internet phenomenon with millions of followers and beyond.
Tom at the Farm
Saturday, July 19, 9:30 p.m. at DGA1
Called “a kinky film noir” by Variety, Tom at the Farm stars and is directed by the 24-year-old French-Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan, who channels both Hitchcock and Tennessee Williams in this psychological thriller. Adapted from the acclaimed play by Michel Marc Bouchard, the film follows Tom, a grieving copywriter who travels to the Quebec countryside for the funeral of his partner. To his surprise, the family is ignorant of his existence, and Tom begins a game of cat-and-mouse with a household that has dark secrets of its own. The suspense is heightened by an evocative orchestral score by Gabriel Yared and the terrifying beauty of the Canadian countryside.
And Don't Miss...
- Longtime Companion 25th Anniversary (Sunday, July 13, 5 p.m. at Harmony Gold)
- The Wizard of Oz 75th Anniversary Sing-a-long (Wednesday, July 16, 8:30 p.m. at Ford)
- Bad Movie Night With Drew Droege and Dave Holmes (Sunday, July 13, 9 p.m. at Redcat)
- Girls' Shorts (Friday, July 18, 9:30 p.m. at DGA 1; Sunday, July 20, 2:15 p.m. at DGA 2)
- Trans Shorts (Sunday, July 13, 4 p.m. at DGA 2; Friday, July 18, 7:15 p.m. at DGA 2)
- Boys' Shorts (Saturday, July 12, 11 a.m. at DGA 1; Saturday, July 19, 7:15 p.m. at DGA 2)
- Discussion With Cast and Crew of Amazon's Transparent (Saturday, July 19, 2 p.m. at DGA 2)
- Discussion With Cast and Crew of HBO's Looking (Saturday, July 12, 4:20 p.m. at DGA 2)
See the full schedule of films screening at Outfest 2014 here.