GAY FILM SEEMS like an ironic term. Most gay films I've seen have been so mired in issues of coming-out, discrimination, and AIDS that they've left little room for fun. Perhaps that's why the organizers of the fourth annual Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival have chosen less sober fare to round out its 35 slots.
Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival
runs October 22-28 at Egyptian, Little Theater, and Market Theater
Among them, The Rinse Cycle is a nine-minute comic gem shown as part of "The Secret Life of Homos," a collection of shorts. Directed by Steve Salinaro, the film delves into the insecurities of a 40-year-old Manhattanite who's got the doughy face of Ernest Borgnine and the withering self-esteem of J. Alfred Prufrock. Feeling the X-ray eyes of the young gym boys, our beleaguered hero seeks youth in a bottle of hair dye, and the transformation that follows is exhilarating but short-lived. Sharply narrated with self-deprecating wit, this is one of the most memorable pieces of the festival, a precise coming-of-middle-age story.
THOSE DISAPPOINTED by the last-minute cancellation of Portland Street Blues (1998) from SIFF this past June will have another chance to see this Hong Kong action film. Directed by Raymond Yip, PSB is your typical triad flick, but with a lesbian figure at the head, known only as "13" (Sandra Ng). Melodramatic and overlong, the film's strength is its group of fabulously bad characters. They rumble with machetes, have names like SOB, Coke, and Scarface (a woman, played by the lovely Hsu Chi), and are not afraid of mixed-gender kick-boxing. File this one under guilty pleasures; and it wouldn't hurt to get drunk before seeing it, as the soundtrack provides nonstop karaoke-bar ambiance.
Another nonserious title is the festival's closing night feature, Why Not Me?, a French comedy about three 20-something lipstick lesbians who decide to come out to their parents—together, during a weekend in the country. With the cast populated by Parisian babes, the film is a lot like a gay version of Friends with a healthy dose of P-FLAG consciousness thrown in.
Baby Steps by Geoffrey Nauffts, which highlights the collection of shorts about gay parenthood, boasts Kathy Bates in the role of an adoption agent. As usual, Bates is wonderful, but the film is neither moving nor educational. One gets a better idea of the realities of adoption from reading the snappy columns of Dan Savage.