Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Inside Out Ottawa run down

The biggest films to watch this year

Tab Hunter Confidential
Oct 24, 4:45pm

In the late 1950s, no star throbbed bigger in the hearts of American teens than Tab Hunter. The blond-haired, square-jawed stud was literally mobbed by hordes of young ladies to the point he needed security, years before John and Ringo were even a glint in rabid youthful eyes. But this embodiment of American youthful masculinity was living a double life. While maintaining carefully constructed relationships with several starlets, including Debbie Reynolds and Natalie Wood, Hunter was secretly wrestling with his sexuality.

Based on his 2006 memoir of the same name, the film suffers from the same lack of criticalness shared by other self-produced docs like Buck Angel’s Mr Angel and Joe Dallesandro’s Little Joe. (The production was helmed by Hunter’s partner of over 30 years, Allan Glaser.) But it still provides an intriguing look inside 1950s Hollywood, as well as making creative use of repurposed clips from Hunter’s films and TV appearances as a means of storytelling. Ultimately, Confidential is less about the suffering that living in the closet brings, than it is a look at what rewards can be wrought by pretending you’re something you’re not.

Portrait of Serial Monogamist
Oct 25, 2:15pm

Christina Zeidler’s debut feature follows Elsie (Diane Flacks), a middle-aged TV producer who’s never been single a day in her life, as she decides to dump her girlfriend Robyn (Carolyn Taylor). Though new-found freedom is initially terrifying, she decides to experiment with a period of prolonged singledom. But when she meets Lolly (Vag Halen’s Vanessa Dunn), her quest for solitude begins to crack.

Though it’s both a semi-ironic look at lesbian courting and a who’s who of Canadian art queers (Fay Slift, Keith Cole and Regina the Gentlelady all turn up), the film’s true genius is in how it parallels Elsie’s self-actualization with cities in perpetual construction, something sure to resonate with Bytowne residents these days. Playing out against a backdrop of distant cranes and partially finished condo towers, Portrait surpasses expectations as a dykey rom-com, ultimately becoming a potential lesbian film classic.

Summer (Zomer)
Oct 25, 6:30pm

The Netherlands is usually considered a great bastion of tolerance. But director Colette Bothof’s coming-of-age drama unfolds in that country’s southern Bible Belt; a last remaining stronghold of religious conservatism in the largely secular nation. Anne is an ordinary teen in a tiny town where there’s little to do besides get drunk, ride bikes and egg windows. But everything changes when leather-clad stranger Lena pulls up on her motorcycle at the gas station where Anne works and kindly asks to have her tank filled.

While coming-out stories often aim for feel-good results, this is a more darkly tinged variation of the genre that we’re used to seeing. Rape, suicide, forced marriage and death provide the backdrop for our heroine’s sexual awakening. It’s hardly a sunny portrayal of self-discovery, but Summer succeeds by rendering the realities of small town life in heartbreakingly accurate detail, conjuring memories of a summer you once had where everything changed forever.