Day 3 at Frameline, and my back row experiment continues. I’ll give a brief recap for those of you who haven’t read My Day 1 at Frameline. I usually view films from one of the first three rows of the theatre, but have decided that throughout this festival I will try to see how the other half takes in their cinema. So, whenever possible, I have been trying to sit in one of the last rows. In doing this I have met some really nice people, and here’s what they had to say when asked why they chose to sit so far back:
“I was running late, plus I like to have more room to stretch my arms.”
“I just don’t like to have the screen right in front of me.”
“When the movie’s over I want to get out quick.”
“I like to stretch my arms and stand up. I also don’t like to bother anybody while I’m moving about.”
All of those seem like valid reasons to sit in the back row, but I’m still not convinced that it’s a better viewing experience. Anyway, let’s get on with the reviews of Funkytown and Facing Mirrors, shall we?
I’m all for big screen dramas, but there is such a thing as overkill. Take Daniel Roby’s watered down version of Boogie Nights, where melodrama clichés run rampant whilst exploring the lives of those living the disco dream. Homophobia, gay bashing, cocaine, Italian guilt, street drug addiction, infidelity, AIDS; you name it. Unfortunately, all of these topics, and more, are handled in a most uncool exploitive manner. Note to script writer: While fleshing out characters in a movie that is essentially a character study you might want to add a tad bit more depth rather than just slap a bunch of labels on them like “druggie”, “closeted gay”, etc.
On a more positive note, there were some nicely framed shots, as well as some good scene establishing long takes. In the end though, all that did was give the illusion this movie was better than it actually was.
Transsexuals are rarely respectfully represented in film, yet alone Iranian transsexuals. So when one is, the programmers at Frameline take notice. Facing Mirrors is a wonderfully crafted film that hits its mark both in its technical aspects and in its story.
The story is a simple one of a man who was born with women parts and wants to get the operation needed to fix such a dilemma. On his way to get the operation he befriends a woman. While he and his new lady friend try to better understand each other, he must also struggle with his choice to go against his father’s wishes of him remaining his daughter and getting married.
The film’s lead, Shayesteh Irani – whose only other acting gig was as the lead girl in Offside (2006) – gives an exceptional performance. It’s one of those performances that seem so natural that it’s hard to even know she’s acting. The cinematography, too, felt very natural. These two elements – combined with some refreshing uses of voiceovers, scenery, and just well placed shots in general – helped make this story way more than just some unbalanced LGBT movie focused only on message and little on presentation.