Freaked out by the nearly 300 films on offer at the Inside Out fest running Thu, May 17 to 27? Relax. Here are 10 surefire hits. The box office is now open: Call (416) 967-1528, go to the Manulife Centre (55 Bloor St W) or Insideout.ca. Buy these tickets. It’s that easy. Ooh, the admiring looks you’ll get at cocktail parties.
1) Small Town Gay Bar
The debut feature from Torontonian Malcolm Ingram has made a splash at festivals around the world, beginning with last year’s Sundance. This energetic portrait of the oddballs and regular folk who refuse to leave their small towns in middle-of-nowhere USA is like revisiting the first Inside Out 17 years ago, when defiance and a hunger for community were still the strongest hallmarks of homos. The queer frontier is moving out of downtown; great stuff (see main story).
2) Triple X Selects: The Best Of Lezploitation
“Lick it, bitch.” Offensive, hilarious, educational and hot. The wonderful cavalcade of girl-on-girl action culled from blue B-movies of the 1960s and ’70s, will have the audience screaming. It’s smartly put together by director Michelle Johnson: quick paced, funny juxtapositions, groovy music and some truly sexy scenes (screening at midnight on Fri, May 18 at the ROM).
3) The Life Of Reilly
Contrary to what you may think, Charles Nelson Reilly is very much alive — and what a life he has lived. The camp TV queen known mainly for his fey, jaw-clenching laugh and appearances on Match Game and The Tonight Show gives a bravura performance in this adaptation of his one-man show Save It For The Stage. Even if you know that Reilly is a highly sought-after acting teacher and theatre director, you won’t have guessed the depths from which Reilly’s humour arises. One of the chief joys in watching Frank L Anderson and Barry Poltermann’s film is shocking detail following shocking detail of Reilly’s life — so no spoilers here (see it before others spill the bonzo beans). His life is full of bizarre incident, recounted with wit and heart. The piece is beautifully done and can’t be overwhelmed by an intrusive soundtrack. It makes you look forward to being a queer-old septuagenarian (4:45pm, Sat, May 19, Isabel Bader).
4) Rec Room Superstars
This shorts program takes the closet performer in us, cranking up the bad techno fantasies for the world to see. It’s no holds barred: sexy knee fetishes in Hannah Jickling and Kevin Hegge’s Knee For All; climbing under your mattress in Deirdre Logue’s Beyond The Usual Limits; or simply being in a Muslim all-girl band in the Malaysian short Tuesday Be My Friend by Christopher Chong. The US video The Perfect Ones by Nao Bustamante and Matt Johnstone is a Waters-esque tale of an overwhlemed housewife who slips into the punk world. Roy Mitchell and Michael Stecky bring back disco with Men’s Boutique. And in Uropop, Benny Nemerofsy Ramsay gets the piss taken out of… well, all over him. Rec Room Superstars is a fanciful frolic that urges everyone to break free and rock the mic (4:45pm, Sun, May 27, ROM). MV
5) Itty Bitty Titty Committee
In the latest film from But I’m A Cheerleader director Jamie Babbit, a feminist guerrilla group called Clits In Action tries to take on the patriarchy by vandalizing lingerie billboards and plastic surgery clinics. But the group finds itself distracted by the simmering sexual tensions among its members. Despite some wonky characterizations, it’s still a fun romp, with explosions, hot lesbo action and a great soundtrack of riot grrrl rock (closing gala: 7:30pm, Sun, May 27, Isabel Bader Theatre). RS
6) Red Without Blue
This documentary, about a pair of all-American twin boys whose relationship comes to blows when one brother decides to live as a woman, is a journey from the depths of human misery to joys of redemption and reconciliation. It’s remarkable that a story involving child rape, heavy drug use and youth suicide manages to find glimmers of hope around all its sharp edges. While the film deftly portrays the difficult relationship some of us have with our genders, it also proves that some bonds are even stronger (5pm, Sat. May 26, Isabel Bader). RS
7) King & The Clown
With a tragic and tender gay love triangle at its heart, Lee Jun-ik’s big-budget historical epic makes for a strange blockbuster — but in 2005, it became the number-one grossing film of all time in South Korea. Starring a trio of top-draw actors — Woo-seong Kam, Jun-gi Lee and Jin-yeong Jeong — the film deftly juggles low comedy (circus acts and bawdy humour) and simmering passion — very Shakespearean, it’s set in he 16th century after all — as it tells the story of two travelling minstrels caught up in a web of political intrigue when they fall out of then into favour by the king, who is obsessed with the younger minstrel who plays all the female roles (centrepiece gala: 9:30pm, Tue, May 22, Isabel Bader).
Your family’s breaking apart, other kids bully you and you got the hots for your best friend. This Argentinian treasure from director Alexis Dos Santos is one of the best queer films of the year. Set in small town Patagonia, Lucas (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart) is a gawky boy who smokes up and farts his time away in the dusty sun with his horny-as-hell buddy, Nacho. When the two boys get high off glue and cross boundaries one night, their fun times just might be over. Teeming with awkward sexuality, preteen basement parties and the Violent Femmes, Glue is an adorably affectionate film that will charm the adolescent pants right off of you
(9:45pm, Mon, May 21, Isabel Bader). MV
9) The Demented
Even though nothing much happens at the start of Laurent Achard’s atmospheric French feature, a sense of foreboding quickly builds; there’s something in the sad eyes of 11-year-old lead actor Julien Cochelin. As the witness to a grossly dysfunctional family, his performance is heart wrenching. The first time you see him shy away from larger, neighbouring boys, you realize he has a unique ability to convey anxiety and fear — he’s a cipher for life’s petty indignities. The film updates the novel by Timothy Findley (The Last Of The Crazy People), setting it in contemporary rural France. The shocking, unsettling conclusion, especially given recent tragedies that have played out in the media, seems to offer a simplistic observation — that violence begets violence. But the film offers a nuanced critique of society’s ills in depicting the myriad shapes that violence can take, from bullying to friendship, slaps to hugs. Devastating (7pm, Sat, May 19, ROM).
10) Double Dutch party
Two of the dirtiest creative forces in the city — filmmaker Bruce LaBruce and burlesque troupe The Scandelles — have teamed up to create the dizzying short film Give Piece Of Ass A Chance. A munitions heiress in 1972 is kidnapped by radical lesbians and forced to have unnatural sex. It’s so wrong, it’s right. The new short is screened at this dirty party celebrating the spring launch of two queer mags based out of Amsterdam: Girls Like Us and Butt magazine. With performances by The Scandelles, Mikiki from Montreal and DJs Will Munro and JD Samson. Dirty ($15adv; $20 door, 10pm, Sat, May 19, Amsterdam Brewing, 21 Bathurst St).