Let’s face it: With well over 100 long and short films at this year’s Reel Affirmations film festival, the Washington City Paper’s critics can only scratch its surface. So in addition a handful of previewed films—and in honor of the seasoned teenager that the fest has become—we offer you a half-assed guide to some of the ones we didn’t see, based purely on rumor, popularity, and what kind of car they drive.
This Stuff Is Sweet
Directed by Chus Gutierrez
A government coup isn’t the only revolution that breaks out in El Calentito, a terrific coming-of-age drama set in the punk underworld of ’80s Madrid. Sara (a charming Verónica Sánchez) is a timid college student who unintentionally cannonballs from her strict parents’ shelter into an alternate universe at a transsexual bar. While the guys are forgettable, the center-stage female cast is strong, making El Calentito colorful, touching, and just plain fun.—Tricia Olszewski
At 9 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18, at the E Street Cinema; $9
Creatures From the Pink Lagoon
Directed by Chris Diani
Campy and self-deprecating, Creatures From the Pink Lagoon is everything the recently released Another Gay Movie wanted to be. Director Chris Diani shoots the film to look like the crappy horror movies of old. The Airplane!-like humor, however, is sharper than the picture. The potential victims here are a group of gay men who gather at a friend’s beach home—“the old Johnson house”—to celebrate a birthday. The revelry, consisting mostly of gossip, is interrupted when one of them finds half an arm minus its owner. The ensuing battle of the queens against the invading zombies is shrill yet sardonic and increasingly blood-spurting, and it highlights the power of Judy Garland and the toxicity of bad cologne. The boys’ love of show tunes, though, doesn’t mean they can’t get tough, and perhaps the best line of Pink Lagoon is delivered when the situation gets critical: “Fuck you, you fucking gay zombies!”—TO
At 11:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Lincoln Theatre; $9
Directed by Juan Carlos Claver
“Aberrations” is how Spanish authorities apparently still viewed homosexuals back in the ’70s, their disorder fixable by therapy. And in Electroshock, a pair of lesbian lovers suffers for it. For all its drama—stabbings, involuntary commitment, romantic angst—Electroshock moves a bit slow, and its timeline and plot details can get a little fuzzy. But the drama’s portrait of ignorant inhumanity is startling, and the unraveling of a criminal case that results is so gripping and poignant you won’t mind the wait.—TO
At 9 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17, at the E Street Cinema; $9
Directed by Luciano Melchionna
Aimless young tough Luca, who’s conflicted about his sexuality, is at the center of this narratively splintered tale of murder and revenge. But is Luca the killer or the avenger? That’s a question director Luciano Melchionna’s time-hopping film doesn’t answer until its literally explosive final sequence. The film’s structural gamesmanship ultimately doesn’t lead to any profound insight into the nature of adolescent hostility, but it does keep things moving effectively.—Mark Jenkins
At 9 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17, at the E Street Cinema; $9
Directed by Ahmed Imamovic
Usually, when a man puts on a dress in a movie, the result is farce. Like most Balkan-made accounts of the implosion of the former Yugoslavia, director Ahmed Imamovic’s powerful film has elements of the absurdly grotesque, but it’s no comedy. Large, muscular Milan is an Orthodox Christian Serb; his slight lover, classical cellist Kenan, is a Muslim Bosnian. In 1992, with the ethnic meltdown threatening them, the two men head west with vague plans to settle in Holland. When pulled off a train by murderous Serbians, Milan fears that Kenan’s circumcised penis will reveal him as a Muslim, so he improvises a disguise: Kenan becomes Milena. It’s a role that Kenan is supposed to play for only a few days, but after arriving in Milan’s home village, the couple gets stuck. Milan is drafted into the Serbian militia, while “Milena’’ must play daughter-in-law with Milan’s father (Rade Serbedzija, the film’s biggest star and one of its producers). The interview that frames the tale (which includes an odd cameo) is a bit heavy-handed, but the main story is complex and poignant.—MJ
At 9 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18, at the E Street Cinema; $9
Directed by Jiri Vejdelek
Homophobia boards an Adriatic-bound bus along with a gay couple in Czech director Jiri Vejdelek’s amiable film, but no major showdown is forthcoming. Instead, all the major characters in this ensemble comedy—and there are more than a dozen—get what they want, whether it’s new love, rededication to longtime relationships, or just a fling. Viewers will probably be less transformed than the vacationers, but this is a pleasant excursion.—MJ
At 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21, at the Lincoln Theatre; $9
Directed by Mark Woolen
For a few minutes, Jam feels like a rock-’em-sock-’em celebration of roller derby’s lingering appeal at the fringes of pop culture (particularly in the Bay Area). But its strength isn’t in the action, it’s in the parade of characters. Out front is a dreamer named Tim Patten, but there’s also a sinister rival, some badass bitches, the mammoth Icebox, a wide-eyed newcomer, and a Latino diehard who shelters an alcoholic lover and a transvestite.—Joe Warminsky
At 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15, at the Lincoln Theatre; part of “Roller Derby Queens…and Kings!”; $9
Directed by Andrea Meyerson
“Who ever heard of a funny lesbian?” asks butch blonde Sabrina Matthews, before proving herself to be just such a creature. Matthews is one of four sisters in stand-up who make Laughing Matters…More! a pleasure for even the uninitiated. Some random highlights: black comedian Renee Hicks riffing on “nigger” snack food and Elvira Kurt, a wiry and wary soul questioning the need for bagged salad mix and lovingly enacting a Canadian military maneuver.—Louis Bayard
At 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15, at the Lincoln Theatre; part of “Women Filmmakers Brunch”; $35 (includes 11 a.m. brunch and screening)
The Life of Reilly
Directed by Frank L. Anderson and Barry Poltermann
“They don’t let queers on television,” said an NBC executive to Charles Nelson Reilly at his first big job interview in the early ’50s. Of course, Reilly didn’t simply make it onto television, he was freakin’ ubiquitous in the ’60s and ’70s, bringing his nutty laugh, bespectacled visage, and outsize personality to Match Game, The Tonight Show, Laugh-In, and too many other shows to count. Reilly turned his one-of-a-kind personal story into a monologue called Save It for the Stage: The Life of Reilly, which Frank L. Anderson and Barry Poltermann filmed during its final two performances in 2004. The result is a small movie with a gigantic personality at the center: Reilly focuses on his dysfunctional Bronx upbringing, but the real entertainment comes from simply watching him work. The fruity guy known for his sailor’s cap and pipe is actually a talented craftsman.—JW
At 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Goethe-Institut; $9
Directed by Yogesh Bhardwaj
This exuberant Indian melodrama was inspired by the true story of a hijra—a traditional cross-dressing eunuch—who became a successful politician. In the spirit of Bandit Queen, the fact-based tale of an Indian woman who transformed herself from rape victim to lower-caste avenger, the movie doesn’t skimp on lurid events or fanciful embellishments. Director Yogesh Bhardwaj faithfully follows Bollywood conventions, alternating scenes of intense violence with song-and-dance numbers, and presenting Shabnam Mousi (“Auntie Shabnam”) as a superman/ woman. Bombay-born Shabnam leaves her hijra family after she’s wrongly blamed for the death of her “mother” and encounters a variety of adventures. With her forceful resolve matched by the powerful muscles under her sari, Shabnam overcomes brutal cops, would-be rapists, a ruthless hitman, and finally a corrupt office-holder. Unlike another recent film about the hijra, the semidocumentary Nine Emotions, this offers little context or anthropological detail. But it just might be the hardest-hitting gender-bending action flick ever.—MJ
At 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 16, at the E Street Cinema; $9
This Stuff, Like, Sorta Sucks
Directed by Allan Brocka
“Forgive me, Father.” That’s the mantra of X (Derek Magyar), the irritating central character of Boy Culture. X is a high-class hustler who prefers business love to the real kind, and even though he’s fallen for a roommate, he’s too much of an asshole to admit it. Arrogant as hell, X and his smarmy voice-over are enough to sink Boy Culture. “I was just being aghast out of respect,” X explains as he reacts to someone’s transgression. Forgive me, Father, but I’m not.—TO
At 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13, at the Lincoln Theatre; $9
Directed by Christian Petzold
German director Christian Petzold’s film is a chic, shallow tease. In sun-dappled Berlin, two female juvenile delinquents meet cute—one sees the other being raped—and undertake an odyssey of cheating, stealing, dancing to techno, and making out. They encounter a TV producer and a perhaps-deranged Frenchwoman who insists the younger teenager is her long-lost daughter. That’s about it. Oh wait, did I mention that the girls make out?—MJ
At 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15, at the E Street Cinema; $9
The Line of Beauty
Directed by Saul Dibb
MP Gerald Fedden (Tim McInnerny) has what it takes to be a rising Tory star in early 1980s England: an aristocratic pedigree; a glamorous, if treacherous, family; and a devoted hanger-on in the aptly named Nick Guest (Dan Stevens), who has taken up quasi-permanent lodging in Fedden’s Georgian mansion. Naturally ingratiating, a Henry James scholar by trade, Nick gets to have it both ways: discreetly sampling the fruits of London’s gay demimonde while also burrowing into the heart of Thatcherite prosperity—where he finds, too late for everyone concerned, the vacancy that lies there. Originally a BBC miniseries, The Line of Beauty is ideally cast (Hayley Atwell is a particular standout as Fedden’s unstable daughter), and for all its three-hour running time, it never drags. But in streamlining Alan Hollinghurst’s prize-winning novel, the film also exposes the shallowness of the author’s estheticism. The beautiful are not, ipso facto, more interesting than the nonbeautiful, and without the spell of Hollinghurst’s prose, it’s hard, really, to give a shit about any of these characters, right up to and including Nick, a Jamesian observer without a Jamesian conscience.—LB
At 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Lincoln Theatre; $9
Directed by Katherine Brooks
This student-teacher romance can pass as a drama, but the central conflict is essentially without conflict. Transferred to an uptight Catholic girls school after getting expelled from the more liberal alternatives, troubled teen Annabelle decides to seduce poetry teacher Simone, who turns out to be an easy mark. Although the final sequence is sobering, most of the film exists simply to stall the inevitable outbreak of frantic passion.—MJ
At 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13, at the Lincoln Theatre; $9
Directed by Georgia Lee
Writer-director Georgia Lee’s unsurprisingly wacky Chinese-American family comedy qualifies for the fest because of the story of middle daughter Julie, a medical resident who falls for an actress and finally realizes why her dates with guys are so dull. Julie’s chapter is the most engaging but gets no more time than those about her despondent dad, her careerist older sister, and her “riot grrrl’’ little sis.—MJ
At 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17, at the E Street Cinema; $9CP
Faker’s Dozen A guide to some of the movies we didn’t see
Stuff That Looks Sweet
Directed by Kirk Marcolina and Larry Grimaldi
This doc about a camp for gay Christian youths sounds like a compassionate alternative to the frightening Jesus Camp. Plus, it’s free!
At 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17, at the Lincoln Theatre; free
Directed by Jean-Marc Vallee
Bowie-and-Floyd-heavy soundtrack to the contrary, this Gemini-winning Canadian film seems a cut above regular coming-of-age/coming-out fare.
At 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Lincoln Theatre; $9
Directed by Jan Dunn
Dogma 95 tackles culture clash and MayÐDecember lesbianism in the UK. Sounds about right.
At 9 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15, at the E Street Cinema; $9
Directed by Susanna Edwards
In addition to receiving accolades for its more cinematic visual appeal, this down-low thriller is filled with “hot sex scenes” and “lots of male nudity.”
At 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18, at E Street Cinema; $9
My Cat’s Balls
Directed by Didier Benureau
Do you really need additional encouragement?
At 9 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15, and at 7 p.m., Monday, Oct. 16, at the Lincoln Theatre; $9
Directed by Brian Hill
Women at a British prison tell their stories through song. You can’t have seen this before.
At 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Goethe-Institut; $9
Stuff That Looks Sucky
Colma: The Musical
Directed by Richard Wong
Even if this didn’t whiff of a West Coast, crazy-summer, low-rent Rent, beware of any film whose title follows this construction.
At 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Lincoln Theatre; $9
Directed by Will Fredo
Single White Female meets bi Filipino male? Eh.
At 11 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13, at the Lincoln Theatre; $9
Deluxe Combo Platter
Directed by Vic Sarin
Even the siren song of Bound’s Jennifer Tilly can’t drown out this film’s ring of crapitude. Fun fact: It was also released on DVD as Love on the Side.
At 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 16, at the E Street Cinema; $9
Eating Out 2:Sloppy Seconds
Directed by Phillip J. Bartell
Risk it if you loved the first one, but it looks as though this may suffer the curse of the sequel. The word “sloppy” is right there in the title.
At 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20, at the Lincoln Theatre; $9
Eleven Men Out
Directed by Robert I. Douglas
“Fresh on the heels of last year’s audience favorite, Guys and Balls, comes this year’s gay soccer film, Eleven Men Out.” ‘Nuff said.
At 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21, at the Lincoln Theatre; $9
Directed by Kenneth Bi
Will Jen’s youngest son turn out to be gay like his two older brothers? Gee, the odds are against it.
At 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15, at the Lincoln Theatre; $9