Saturday I saw three movies and went to a party!

Lost in the Crowd: This was a very powerful and affecting film, if very short. It tracks a handful of homeless LGBTQ teens in NYC in 2003 up through 2010. The slow horror of the film is realizing that a significant portion of the kids seen in 2003 aren’t able to be found in 2010 or 2009 or even as early as 2005. I think people who watch a lot of documentaries get accustomed to the usual course of twists and turns, and even if the content of those twists is unpredictable the viewer can at least expect those twists to occur. When people simply disappear from in front of the camera, that’s disturbing. It’s something I don’t recall seeing since I watched Paris Is Burning in the ’90s. This was an extremely worthwhile watch and it has in fact made me decide that I want to be involved in some sort of youth outreach through the LGBT Center in Raleigh. This weekend’s big impression on me was that it isn’t enough to sit around having a good time and it isn’t enough to sit around wishing I’d had a better time of it when I was young. All the progress of the last twenty years makes us feel very comfortable and I can’t let myself be lulled into assuming progress will continue without me; on the other side of the coin, I cannot spend the rest of my life dwelling on the ways my parents’ philosophies have failed to motivate them to accept me. I cannot sit around wishing my parents were more mature. If I do that, I will just wind up bitter and cynical. If I think role models and acceptance would make youth more palatable then I’d better get off my ass and make it happen for someone else.

Howl: This movie was INCREDIBLE. This was hands-down the best thing at the festival and I was simply stunned at how good it was. Incredible animation, fantastic performances in the live-action sequences, surprise cameos and a really affecting, moving and motivating story. When Jon Hamm delivers the closing argument in his performance of the attorney defending Lawrence Ferlinghetti – the publisher of Howl – it raises goosebumps, it brings tears to the audience’s eyes and it gets applause. I have never heard people applaud in the middle of a movie. I have never heard people physically howl at a movie in accolade. It was an amazing film and rumor has it they delayed their release date specifically to show it at NCGLFF. (Films at NCGLFF cannot have already been released; the point of the festival is to show movies one cannot find elsewhere.) When this sees wide release I am going to see it again. Possibly twice.

Bear City: There’s a lot to like in this movie – some snappy writing and some really great performances – but overall I had extremely mixed feelings. Uplifting be-yourself-and-be-loved messages are always welcome, and this movie’s iterations of that are mostly done quite well. However, I had real issues with some of this movie’s messages. I’m sorry, but I don’t see how it’s okay to tell someone who is morbidly obese that he should abandon a desire to change himself and conform to a body type to appease his lover and his friends – a message that would send the audience into the streets if it were directed at a woman in order to pressure her to be thin. I am not a small man – I’m 6’3″ and I weigh in somewhere between 250 and 280 at any given time – and I am someone who has spent the last year trying to find the very fine balance between working on my weight and fitness without obsessing over them (thanks, family history of eating disorders). I am really not OK with a movie in which someone who is clearly unhappy with his body and worried about its future is actively discouraged from taking action to improve himself. Now, that said, the character is discouraged from taking a drastically invasive action to change himself, yes, and none of his friends tell him that he is not allowed to lose weight; but the procedure they so radically discourage also happens to be one chosen by a cousin many years ago and by my mother-in-law a few years ago and by a fraternity sister a couple of years ago, all with tremendous success so their melodrama feels more than a little overwrought to me. The movie works hard to affirm that this guy can be happy and in love and successful regardless of his weight and that is a good message, yes, but it all feels like a reward for listening to his friends who tell him with the same breath that they want him to be happy and that they want him not to do what he wants to do. I think there’s no pretending that it’s OK for someone to pressure his boyfriend to stay morbidly obese because the boyfriend is into that. Again, if the story had been about a boyfriend pressuring the love of his life to lose another three pounds when she or he is already down to double digits, how would we feel about that? How should we feel about a boyfriend begging his lover to keep two hundred pounds, then?

After that, Writing Medic and The Boyf and I went to the tent party out on the plaza where I enjoyed some of the best spanikopita I’ve had in years and tiny squares of dark chocolate fudge that were so rich they had arm candy. I had some truly generous bourbon and Diet Cokes and best of all someone recognized my Miskatonic University t-shirt. Some fellow nancy queen stopped me on my way across the tent for a drink to say, “Is that from Lovecraft? Call of Cthulu?” I said, “Girl, you know it is!” and then I turned around to show him the back of the shirt, slapped him on the shoulder and kept going. Loved it! I also got stopped by a woman who asked what the shirt was about because her dog’s name was similar to “Miskatonic”. The woman with her was like, “No, it’s from those books! I haven’t read them in years!” I had the opportunity, then, to recommend Lovecraft with a footnote that he was very much of his time. So, I got to get a drink on, get some spanikopita and talk Lovecraft with strangers? And hours of good companionship with The Boyf and Writing Medic? Holy shit, that officially made it the best. NCGLFF. Ever.