First up was MASTERPIECE: FRANK MILLER'S THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. Let me sum up this extended piece of hero-worship for you. Oh, Frank Miller, you're awesome! You're so great! You're so BIG! Oh God, oh God, oh Goooooooooood! Hnnnnghuuuugh! Umm...sorry about the mess....
Anyway...the movie was actually well produced, and they got some impressive interviews. But there's no one who will challenge whether any of Frank Miller's decisions were perfect and brilliant and one of the greatest works of literature of the 80s. I don't know what this has to offer someone who isn't already a fan, and I don't know what it can add to someone who is already a fan. I guess, other than the scene I described above. And I suppose there's some value to (metaphorically) orgasming to something you love. But that happened in a public theater, dude!
Then I had to run out on the last few minutes of MASTERPIECE (I don't know, maybe once they brought the colorer in to talk about his work, it redeemed the film?) to see THE DAVID DANCE. David is a shy, soft-spoken man. Except when he's on the air, hosting Gay Talk, where he's Danger Dave. Danger Dave is the charismatic hero of the gay community of Buffalo, New York, dishing out humor, sympathy, love and music, while challenging the local Christian radio host who is pushing conversion therapy on gay teenagers. David also loves his sister, but we learn early on that she has passed away (although he still has conversations with her all the time.) We also learn, through a deft process of sliding back and forth in time to reveal details in the right order, that both David and his sister had quite a bit of pain in their lives. His sister was thrice-divorced and yet still childless, so was looking to adopt from Brazil. David is...lonely. At least until he starts up a romance with his new colleague. It's a wonderfully engaging story with people I found very easy to love. And it made my girlfriend cry, but I forgive them, because she was crying because it was so good.
And speaking of people who are very easy to love, there aren't any of those in THE DIVORCE PARTY. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing, I've liked several movies without liking the characters as people, and this is one of them. Kip and Leena are splitting up, unable to withstand the stress of a car accident that Leena still has scars from. Kip is not ready to give up, but Leena wants to have one last big party with all their friends. It's not just the titular Divorce Party, it's also a Farewell Party as she's moving back home with her parent's in Scottsdale. So they have one last big night where Kip tries to win her back and Leena reexamines how she really feels (does she still love him? Is it really just about money and the financial support her parents can give that he can't?) And their friends all try to hook up with someone, because they're the type of young people who figure everyone hooking up at a party is completely normal. Even the uptight virgin seems to accept that's perfectly normal while she's looking for her perfect man (someone with a plan...and money.) It's a well made movie with a satisfying ending, it's just a lot of people I would not really want to go to a party with.
Then after a brief soiree at SP2 I was back at the Camera Cinemas for more movies, starting with the Italian/Slovenian comedy ZORAN, MY IDIOT NEPHEW. Paolo is the kind of man who knows what he wants in life--nothing more than an easy job and a place to get drunk every night (and maybe, to occasionally annoy his ex-wife.) And then, when his Slovenian grandma (or is it his aunt, Zoran's grandma?) passes away, he's left to take care of a nephew he's never met. While Paolo is large and boisterous, Zoran is small, skinny, bespectacled, and...just freakin' weird. This is pretty clearly not going to work out, the state is going to have to find someone else to foster Zoran, until...we learn that Zoran has one amazing skill. He always hits the bullseye in darts. Suddenly, seeing an easy money-maker, Zoran has become very dear to Paolo. And wacky hijinx ensue, of course, including Zoran falling in love. And a bunny rabbit! I like bunnies!
And finally I ended the night with WINTER JOURNEY, a controversial gay Russian film. Erik is a promising classical singer, with an upcoming audition for Schubert's Winterreise. One day on the bus, he is witness to an altercation in which Lyokha, a petty criminal, ends up stealing his phone and dropping a plastic lizard keychain in front of him. Erik is fascinated by him, and when they finally meet (Lyokha, in an insane kind of obsession doesn't care if he's arrested, he just wants his lizard back) Erik's nights of loneliness and drinking vodka are transformed into nights of wild abandon at gay clubs...and drinking vodka. And abuse, and misery (for Lyokha much more than Erik, but they both take a heck of a lot of abuse) but at least a lot more than a glimpse at the possibilities of sexual freedom. As a friend pointed out to me afterwards, it seems that for every country that goes through a process of acceptance of gays, there has to be a period of gay cinema that's all about the abuse and misery of it all. And this is likely to be a classic in the Russian version of that process.
Total Running Time: 471 minutes
My Total Minutes: 356,536