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Screening Room

Outfest 2001 Becomes More Inclusive

'Hedwig and the Angry Inch' is opening night attraction; 'L.I.E' tells a grimly realistic story.

July 12, 2001|KEVIN THOMAS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Outfest 2001, the 19th edition of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, opens tonight at 8 with a gala premiere at downtown L.A.'s refurbished Orpheum, 842 S. Broadway, with the film version of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch." The principal venue among several will again be the Directors Guild of America, 7920 Sunset Blvd., and as usual there will be a richly varied array of offerings and special events. The best films are so venturesome and universal in themes as to attract increasingly larger crossover audiences.

A homosexual pedophile once remarked in a documentary that men like him would never stand a chance if more parents expressed love and interest in their children. Michael Cuesta's startling, ultra-realistic "L.I.E." (DGA, Sunday at 6:30 p.m.) stars Paul Franklin Dano as a high school student living near the Long Island Expressway, mourning his dead mother and neglected by his womanizing, crooked contractor father. The troubled youth responds to the gruff paternal warmth of a burly, macho ex-Marine (the veteran Brian Cox). Director Cuesta doesn't condone this seemingly unlikely pedophile, yet dares to present him as a three-dimensional human being.

Kate Davis' emotionally wrenching "Southern Comfort" (DGA, Tuesday at 7:15 p.m.), winner of the grand jury documentary prize at Sundance, takes its title not from liquor but from an annual convention of transgendered individuals held in the Deep South. It's an event Robert Eads is determined to live long enough to attend. He's a wiry Marlboro Man type, a 52-year-old farmer in rural Georgia who was born Barbara and is dying from ovarian and cervical cancer. More than 20 doctors and hospitals refused to treat Eads, some saying they feared losing patients. With remarkable intimacy, tenderness and candor, Davis chronicles the final year in Eads' life, during which he began an unexpected romance with Lola, a male-to-female transsexual. Eads is at the center of a small transgendered community concerned with being treated like everyone else. This powerful documentary leaves one major question unanswered: Why didn't Eads and his friends reach out to the nationwide transgendered community for the treatment that might have saved or extended his life?

Romantic and contemplative yet gritty and brutal, Marcelo Pineyro's complex, demanding "Burnt Money" (DGA, Monday at 8:45 p.m.) takes us back to the corrosively corrupt Argentina of 1965 to tell the true story of the handsome lovers Angel (Eduardo Noriega), who hears voices and dreams of emigrating to New York, and the protective Nene (Leonardo Sbgaraglia). A bank robbery misfires bank robbery and they end up in exile in Uruguay, which is just the beginning of their Juannie and Clyde saga.

The success of "Queer as Folk" paved the way for introduction of another series from Britain's Channel 4, "Metrosexuality," whose six episodes--150 fun, fast-moving minutes--screen Friday at Harmony Gold, 7655 W. Sunset Blvd., with its creator and star Rikki Beadle-Blair present. Beadle-Blair plays a flamboyant hairdresser whose 17-year-old son is trying to get his two fathers to reconcile, which sets in motion a soap opera with serious undertones that celebrates the vibrant interracial, polysexual life in London's Notting Hill neighborhood.

A fine example of turning a low-low budget into a plus, Jeffrey Maccubbin's "Flush" (DGA Video, Friday at 9:45 p.m.; next Thursday at 7 p.m. and July 21 at 7:15 p.m.) is a funny, shot-from-the-hip picture that imaginatively interlinks three tales. A middle-aged, neurotic troublemaker (Sarah Conaway) zeroes in on the perfectly nice new young guy (Brett Coy) in her office in her craving for attention and companionship. Meanwhile, her adventurous high school student daughter (Taj Little) comes on to two boys (Shawn Quinlan and William Byrne), insisting that they fool around with each other before they fool around with her. Finally, a young man (Richardson Jones), who happens to be Coy's cousin, is having a difficult time in getting his live-in lover (A. Leslie Kies), an attractive, independent redhead, to say she loves him.

With the poignant "Come Undone" (DGA, Saturday at 7 p.m.), French filmmaker Sebastien Lifshitz takes a classic story of first love, involving a 17-year-old (Jeremie Elkam) falling in love with an equally handsome but somewhat older and far more experienced young man (Stephane Rideau) and experiencing a particularly difficult rite of passage; Lifshitz has effectively experimented with an elliptical, intricately structured style to heighten his film's impact. More on Outfest next week. (323) 960-0636.

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