Guys and Balls, Gals and Bush

These films are far beyond Spartacus

29TH AND GAY (United States 2005; world premiere) and SLUTTY SUMMER (United States 2004; South Florida premiere): Okay, so they can't all be good. Just because a picture is gay doesn't mean you have to sit through it. Slutty Summer is appalling, self-satisfied amateur stuff that really has no place in a real festival. It's not just Casper Andreas's hackneyed plot about almost-hot waiters, fag hags, and sensitive waifs; it's the fact that the man doesn't have the rudiments of filmmaking down, minor things like pacing, cinematography, and acting. 29th and Gay is a tad better, but not much. A gay schlub faces his 29th birthday with the help of friends in what looks like a perfectly sweet film-student exercise, innocent of craft or polish but also, well, innocent. It's not enough.

FALSA CULPABLE (FALSE OFFENDER) (Spain 2003; Florida premiere): A somber thriller with a lesbian twist, Carles Vila's picture plays like a special episode of Law & Order SVU, with faint echoes of Claude Chabrol thrown in for good measure. A horrible crime happens in the prologue, a deadly late-night pickup that ends in murder. A married woman is railroaded, outed, condemned by the press and then by the courts, and eventually freed on a technicality to await a second trial as her life falls apart. The rest, and there is lots more, is told methodically with almost cruel clarity by this Catalan director who takes his time when he has a good yarn to tell.

ILLUSIVE TRACKS (Sweden 2004; Florida premiere): It is 1945 and the war has just ended. A train rushes to devastated Berlin, a veritable Grand Hotel on wheels carrying a dozen intertwined stories: a man about to murder his wife, his lover about to come out, a pair of old queens bickering, a pair of lesbians who just might make things work against all odds, a young idealist who hopes to do some good even as the world seems to have fallen apart. Here and there are bits of philosophical dialogue that bear Ingmar Bergman's beneficent influence -- though the master would have been appalled at considering Wittgenstein in a religious context. Peter Dalle's directorial touch is uncertain: Hitchcockian leads to soap opera and then to an ambitious comic coda in 1961, as the infamous Berlin Wall goes up.

Peter Berlin
Peter Berlin


April 22 through May 1. Tickets available for individual films or in various packages; prices vary; 866-468-7630
Opening-night gala at the James L. Knight Center, and screenings at Regal Cinemas South Beach and the Byron Carlyle Theater in Miami Beach and at Cinema Paradiso in Fort Lauderdale.

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