The turn to August gives us three more screenings of the Science Fiction Film Series. See the July article for more information. Be sure to bring non-perishables to support the Metropolitan State University Denver food pantry. We hope to see you there!
August also provides us with the CinemaQ Festival at the Sie Film Center. From the Denver film Society: “CinemaQ is Denver’s only LBGTQ+ Film Festival celebrating the vibrant and diverse stories in the community through a captivating selection of curated movies, panels and discussions, and iconic events. As part of Denver Film, CinemaQ creates transformative experiences for everyone to explore diverse voices, giving visibility of the wide scope of LGBTQ+ experiences through films and programs that entertain, educate, and empower.” The festival runs from August 10–13 at the Sie, and the entire program can be found on their website at www.denverfilm.org. I give several synopses for your attention here (provided by the festival). In addition, I add in one new release and then a book review in the spirit of CinemaQ. As we look around and understand the motives of certain self-important/self-aggrandizing hucksters in our country at this moment, it is helpful to see, hear, and understand the struggles of everyone. This is why CinemaQ, movies such as Shortcomings and books such as Lawn Boy are more important than ever now. See you at the Sie.
In this refreshingly unique comedy, two girls, PJ and Josie, start a fight club as a way to lose their virginities to cheerleaders. And their bizarre plan works! The fight club gains traction, but PJ and Josie find themselves in over their heads and in need of a way out before their plan is exposed. Directed by Emma Seligman, starring Rachel Sennot and Ayo Edebiri, Bottoms is the opening night feature. Thursday, Aug. 10, at 7pm.
Saint Drogo (2023—CinemaQ)
Partners Caleb and Adrian take an impromptu respite to the New England coastal Provincetown, Massachusetts for a winter getaway. While the purpose of the trip is ostensibly to rekindle their floundering relationship, Caleb becomes concerned for his ex, Isaac, who had been working in town for the summer but seems to have gone missing. As the off-season year-rounders remain aloof, Caleb grows more concerned, but his fixation on finding Isaac only widens the schism in his relationship as something more sinister simmers beneath the surface. Friday, Aug. 11, at 9:30pm with a post-film director Q&A.
Alejandro is an aspiring toy designer from El Salvador, struggling to bring his unusual ideas to life in New York City. As time on his work visa runs out, a job assisting an erratic art-world
outcast becomes his only hope to stay in the country and realize his dream. From writer/director Julio Torres comes a surreal adventure through the equally treacherous worlds of New York City and the U.S. Immigration system. Sunday, Aug. 13, at 5pm.
A struggling Asian American filmmaker—and film theater manager—finds himself alone when his girlfriend takes an internship across the country and leaves him behind. Ben (Justin Min) spends his days watching classic movies, eating at a local diner with his gay friend Alice (Sherry Cola), and obsessing over white women (much to the chagrin of everyone around him). When his thin life falls apart, he follows his girlfriend to New York, spies on her, and well, you can guess what happens next.
Ethnic issues, relationship issues, and the general confused state of all the characters pervades every scene of the film, and it adds up to a funny, interesting, and enlightening take on the intelligent and generally lost people of this world. Smart people can be dumb too, and while cringey at times, the film works. We certainly don’t get enough movies where the characters argue over the pronunciation of “nadir.”
Movies about filmmakers and people who love film can sometimes come across as pretentious and self-serving, but this film never reaches that lofty status. The writing is snappy and biting, and the acting is very good all around. The story might sag at points, but the underlying thematic aspects shine. There are very real and urgent concerns amid the witty repartee and the cultural exchanges/jokes/stereotypes. The wrapping may seem thin, but what’s inside is dense. And funny. And worth it.
Opens at Denver theaters, including the Mayan, on Friday, Aug. 4.
Lawn Boy (A novel by Jonathan Evison)
Mike Muñoz is a 21-year-old Washington man trying to find himself—bouncing between meaningless jobs and unemployment while helping his single-mom-waitress and developmentally challenged brother. The questions he asks are timeless: Who am I? What is my purpose? What is the point of it all? And the journey is the thing: The trailer-park poetry of Jonathan Evison is breezy, thoughtful, and always funny as Mike just tries to engage his passion: lawns.
This book came to my attention when it was banned by a Texas school board after a parent complaint—it has been called “explicit,” “pedophilic,” and even “grooming.” I set out to investigate it on my own, and I found a touching, poignant, and downright hysterical take on a young man trying to find himself in a world that is stacked against him. Why the book is banned is beyond me, and to those who made such accusations against it, I say the following: “Read the damn book, idiot.” Of course, then you must actually understand it.
Vincent Piturro, PhD, is a Professor of Film and Media Studies at MSU Denver. Contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter. For more reviews, search The Indie Prof at FrontPorchNE.com.