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Screening Room

Festival Films Run From the Personal to the Political

July 18, 2002|KEVIN THOMAS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Outfest 2002 winds up Monday with the 8 p.m. screening at the Regent Showcase (614 N. La Brea Ave., L.A.) of Stanley Kwan's beautifully told love story "Lan Yu." Liu Ye has the title role as an impoverished student from the countryside who falls in love with Chen Handong (Hu Jun, the park policeman in "East Palace, West Palace"), a hard-driving head of a shady Beijing securities company.

To Handong, the slim Yu is merely a hustler, a convenience while he presents to the world a macho facade, even marrying for the sake of preserving a heterosexual image. As the men's tempestuous relationship seesaws, the corruption of contemporary China and the continuing oppression of gays surface in a subtle manner. A stalwart of the Hong Kong cinema, Kwan remains a consummate, evocative storyteller.

One of the festival's many notable documentaries, JJ Martin's "The Self-Destruction of Gia" (Directors Guild, 7920 Sunset Blvd., L.A., Saturday at 9:45 p.m.) is especially compelling. Fashion model Gia Carangi (1960-1986), whose story was also dramatized on HBO, was breathtakingly beautiful, a member of the first generation of supermodels. She was a lesbian, and her occasional use of heroin became an epic-scale addiction. Splendid archival footage attests to her awesome beauty, intelligence and recklessness; friends, colleagues, her therapist, a lover and her mother speak of her charisma and of the horrors she endured in her addiction and excruciating death from AIDS. (323) 480-7065.

*

"Nude Restaurant" (1968), which screens at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood on Friday at 7 p.m. as part of the Museum of Contemporary Art's Warhol on Screen series is all fantasy except for a prologue in which Warhol superstar Viva talks a blue streak. We then move to a restaurant in which Viva, playing a waitress, and her customers wear nothing but G-strings.

Viva, who could look alternately bizarre and exhibit a Garbo-like beauty, has a wit and intellect that cuts through her dazed demeanor and earns her considerable compassion. On the other hand, that same intelligence helps make this nonstop talker appear tarantula-like alongside the passive Warhol males--especially when she's perversely paired with the marvelously woebegone and quite stoned Taylor Mead. (323) 621-1745.

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