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INSIDE OUT 2012 (Toronto) – Capsule Reviews (Paolo Kagaoan)

INSIDE OUT 2012 (Toronto)

Joshua Tree, 1951: A Portrait of James Dean

Directed by Matthew Mishory

A shorter word count is probably better for a movie like Joshua Tree, 1951: A Portrait of James Dean, portraying the star pre-fame. A longer format would just indulge me in making James Dean jokes, specifically targeting James Preston. I understand the deliberate artistic decisions to do or not to do mimicry, like Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe. But when he opens his mouth, the willing suspension of disbelief is violently lifted. I’ve seriously seen Halloween costumes more nuanced that Preston’s performance.

Nonetheless, film criticism is not about bitchiness and is about trying to find the nice things about bad movies, or looking at what could have been. The black and white cinematography doesn’t seem earnest. It’s supposed to obfuscate any part of the scene that might betray the seamlessness of the time period they’re trying to portray. But the frame feels too clean for the 1950’s. There are moments of colour through scenes shot with 16mm or super 8, and those have the grit and the rough texture that fits more with the era. The colour scenes actually make Preston look more like Dean. There’s also Dalilah Rain playing James’ wrangler Violet. Her performance isn’t perfect, but she’s the most period-correct thing in a movie of actors who are too contemporary.

Immediate Boarding (Tur & Retur)

Directed by Ella Lemhagen

Because of Ella Lemhagen’s The Crown Jewels playing this year, the festival took a look back at her earlier, better work. Immediate Boarding is this year’s free, all-ages friendly screening. Released in 2003, it’s like Freaky Friday but with girls who dress up as boys who dress up as girls. Eleven-year-old urbanites Martin and Julia look alike but are polar opposites of each other. One’s a boy and the other is a girl, one’s an inhibited piano player while the other is a messy-haired wild child. They eventually meet at the airport in Stockholm. Julia, who is reluctant to see her mother marry some troglodyte, snatches Martin’s boarding pass to Norrland near the Norwegian border, leaving the latter to fly south to Julia’s new family. And both have to be disguised as each other.

The movie is a bit on-the-nose with its mise-en-scene, showing extremes of sexuality that Julia and Martin have to conform to. Norrland is gruff and manly, where the tomboyish Julia meets Martin’s benevolent rural father Torkel (Jorgen Langhelle of 2011’s The Thing prequel). The south has 2000’s tacky techno-fashion, where Martin enters Julia’s Barbie-pink house, although it does have a workout room for Julia’s step-father to be. But Immediate Boarding exists to showcase Amanda Davin’s performance as both protagonists. She does simple things like drop her voice but her movements and behaviour during the movie’s pathos-filled scenes are signs of what could still be a bigger career.

Dirty Poole: A Documentary about Wakefield Poole

Directed by Jim Tushinski

Dirty Poole: A Documentary about Wakefield Poole is about Wakefield Poole, one of the many homosexuals who were part of the disco generation and had to be renaissance men. Director Jim Tushinsky showed his audience clips from this work in progress, which I can classify within four chunks. The first is his turn from being a Broadway choreographer to becoming what he’s famous for – an art film director whose movies, despite their cinematographic beauty, cross the line towards pornography. The second is a clip that won’t end up in the released product because of multiple copyright concerns. The third captures Poole as one of the gay New Yorkers who exiled themselves to San Francisco, his business smarts hindered by cocaine and crack cocaine use. The last chunk of clips is him visiting Fire Island noting what has changed and what hasn’t.

These clips are satisfying as they are, having no need to go through the perfunctory history lesson that other, more critically acclaimed docs, have to use. Tunshinsky has also expressed a desire to expand on Poole’s Broadway time and failed comeback to choreography. Although he predicts that that part of his life won’t be as interesting as the porn, I would actually like to check out Poole’s other ventures. All in all, I can’t wait to see the final product.

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