Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Transgendered Siblings & Zombie Girlfriends

NaFF ~ Day Five
Yesterday I caught the film that got Nicole Kidman and her hubby here on day three, a documentary called Prodigal Sons. I have no idea why Kidman herself chose it (perhaps it was research for The Danish Girl?) but she chose well. The film is from transgendered filmmaker Kimberly Reed and begins by recounting her journey to her 20 year high school reunion. Her hometown knew her as football quarterback Paul. For the film's first several minutes I expected that the movie would be a traditional but queer slanted memoir doc. I assumed it would recount this reunion and disparate reactions to Paul's new identity as Kim and Kim's own struggles with accepting her past (a lot of post-operative transgendered types destroy all photos and pretend that said past didn't exist). I underestimated it.

Prodigal Sons quickly morphs into something much greater. It's a complicated, well judged and rather astounding study of identity (not just Kim's), family history and dynamics, shared phantoms, mental illness, grief, biological and adoptive parenting, and even some old Hollywood history. I don't want to tell you more than the tag line does "a brotherly rivalry between a man and a woman... and Orson Welles" because I'm really glad I went into it blind. There were moments that hit me like a truck emotionally. I assume it will find distribution and get a major market theatrical release and when it does, go. A-

The other film I saw yesterday was called Make-Out with Violence, a real oddity about two brothers and the girls they pine over, one of whom is dead. Here is the trailer.

The film surprisingly won the top honor at the festival (from the jury that included Elvis Mitchell and Girlfriend's director Claudia Weill). I assume that they were responding to its promise and on that I'd agree. I'd definitely like to see a second picture from the Deagol Brothers. I wanted to love it a lot more than I did but it's worth a look.

On the plus side it has a few really terrific moments, solid visual ideas, beautiful cinematography (it doesn't often look like a low budget indie) and an extremely creepy and well performed twist on the notion of "zombies". In the minus column, it struck me as quite messy: too many characters (two of whom could have been extracted from the picture with very minor script changes), dropped implicated plot threads and an overly repetitive structure. But most problematic I thought was its absolutely bizarre sense of pacing. Nick told me he actually liked its arrythmic feel but it didn't work for me. Initially I gave this film a B- but it linger well. So I'm bumping it up to a B. I am a tough grader [sigh]. I think people who tend to respond to unusual takes on horror or dreamy takes on privileged kids (there's a teensy bit of a Sofia Coppola feel going on within the cinematography) will like it a lot more than I did. I hope some distributor picks it up and asks for another round of editing because the Deagol Brothers have something here but some fine tuning never hurt.

more later...


Jason Adams said...

"... people who tend to respond to unusual takes on horror or dreamy takes on privileged kids (there's a teensy bit of a Sofia Coppola feel going on within the cinematography) will like it a lot more than I did."


vance said...

Maybe Kidman thinks she'll get more Oscars should she become a male actor ?

Anonymous said...

Nicole Kidman always has a good taste

Wayne B. said...

"Prodigal Sons" sounds like it could be an informitive viewing, don't know much about the transgendered community personally. It must be hard to go through life feeling as if your physical body doesn't match your internal being... takes a lot of bravery to be able to go through with a huge change like that. I don't understand why some people react with disgust/disdain when it comes to transgendered people; they're just people trying to live their lives with what feels right for them.

Rio said...

Thanks for the heads up will watch out for "Prodigal Sons"