Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival: Are We Bears or Are We Samanthas?

It's been argued, persuasively, that the era of the drag queen is over. After Sex and the City, what's the point? Aren't we all Samanthas now? Once-distinct sexual archetypes are ever more blurred in this year's Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, where the SatC template is strongly felt in the gala opening title, BearCity (Egyptian, 7:30 p.m. Fri.), a likable, light-spirited ensemble comedy about a clean-cut young actor who's bear-curious. His initially shameful secret leads him into a netherworld of hairy guys who unashamedly like beer, don't work out, and flaunt their Buddha bellies. But the newbie and the bears—yes, it has a storybook quality—turn out to be richer and more recognizable characters than the easy ursine jokes would imply. The bear scene's Mr. Big wants to settle down. One couple faces a medical crisis. Another pair considers an open relationship. And there's a twink snickering from the side. But amid some predictable laughs, everyone's granted his dignity. You could take the same BearCity plot, cast it with hetero suburbanites, and it would work just as well. SatC figures again in the documentary Florent: Queen of the Meat Market (Egyptian, 7:30 p.m. Mon.), since the HBO series actually shot a few scenes at the famed Manhattan bistro. French immigrant Florent Morellet founded his namesake restaurant on an unlikely block frequented mainly by butchers and tranny hookers in 1985. By the time the neighborhood was landmarked and gentrified, predictably, he got priced out in 2008. But he and his staff are fairly free of nostalgia in recalling the endless procession of boldface names—and shitfaced New Yorkers—who dined there. Open 24 hours, it was a classic soak-up-the-booze Sunday morning sunrise haunt, with spontaneous cabaret acts and occasional fights in the kitchen. Though Morellet is celebrated as a HIV-positive activist, the movie's equally a love letter to the restaurant biz. It triggers regret, not sadness, like that realization when you listen to some great disbanded rock group and think, "Damn, why did I never see them live?" As for the rest of the fest, there are the usual earnest coming-out dramas and don't ask/don't tell snoozers, but also a fun smattering of the campy, the outré, and the unexpected. (Look for Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor as a hot, confused couple in I Love You Philip Morris, Pacific Place, 9:30 p.m. Sat., Oct. 23.) And we have to recommend The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls (Admiral, 7:30 p.m. Thurs., Oct. 21), about which our Gavin Borchert said at SIFF, "Resistance is futile. Don't even try not falling for these adorable twin lesbian political-activist farmer/folksinger/comedians from New Zealand."

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