Film Previews show TIGLFF has a Beautiful Something for everyone

By : Stephen Miller
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The much beloved TampaBay International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (TIGLFF) is only a week away. The festival now will offer events at different venues throughout Florida’s west coast, though most of the big events from Oct. 2 through Oct. 10 will be at The Palladium – including a show with lesbian comic and chanteuse Lea DeLaria on Saturday, Oct. 3. Movies will play in theaters in Tampa, St. Pete and Gulfport throughout the nine-day festival. Tickets and information are available at TIGLFF.com

Here is a preview of some of the offerings:

Beautiful Something – Feature Film
8:15PM, Saturday, Oct. 3, Palladium Theatre

Bryan Sheppard - and all of the actors in Beautiful Something - bring life and realism to the screen.

Brian Sheppard – and all of the actors in Beautiful Something – bring life and realism to the screen.

It’s refreshing when films trust audiences to make up their own minds about whom to root for, or what the film ultimately says. Is this a film about selfish artists using each other? Is this a film about mindless, shallow sex? Or is it about the fleeting possibilities of true, deep romance.

Beautiful Something explores one night in the lives of four Philadelphia men involved in the art world. All four are looking for sex or – better yet – love. These men all use romance to inform their art, making them question the selflessness of their emotions as they develop new creative direction.

Brian (Brian Sheppard) is a semi-popular poet who’s hit writer’s block and blown through his advances. He pines for his lost love while picking up a trick or two. Jim (Zack Ryan) is a handsome young actor being kept by older sculptor Drew Tiger (Coleman Domingo). Bob (John Lescault) is an aging talent agent touring the streets in a white limo, trolling for sex and connection. Their stories all overlap each other’s at one or two points in this night.

Beautiful Something is a highly sexual film. It’s also highly segmented, with short stories instead of integral scenes. Because this is romance, moments drift into turgid bombast. The film’s photography is gorgeous in its grittiness; it has an ability to let environments and setting speak as much as the dialogue. The acting is strong overall.

Beautiful Something becomes something akin to modern art – intriguing, confusing and entirely worth discussing after witnessing.

Drag Becomes Him – Documentary
12PM, Sunday, Oct. 4, Palladium Theatre

Ru-Paul drag winner Jinkx Monsoon is a fascinating character, worthy of a documentary.

Ru-Paul drag winner Jinkx Monsoon is a fascinating character, worthy of a documentary.

The best documentaries have interesting subjects shot interestingly. Drag Becomes Him has the subject.
For fans of the reality show RuPaul’s Drag Race, season five winner Jinkx Monsoon is a legend. She was a top weekly winner in eight of the season’s 12 competitions; she took the crown in 2013. A high-concept artist who co-writes whole shows, Jinkx puts on an impressive evening. She even has a solid singing voice.

Drag Becomes Him is also about Jerick Hoffer, Jinkx’s alter ego, and how he went into drag, created his persona and worked to win RuPaul. It’s a pleasant little film covering the months before, during and after the big win. Jinkx’s talent makes this watchable.

There are other questions floating around the edge. You’ll wonder how significantly Jinkx’s life changed afterwards. Google repeatedly tells us that without a win, good drag performers can make $500 to $1000 a show. Winners – like season four’s Sharon Needles – have been making $10,000. That’s a hefty raise! The next question might be how many years that sort of fame, income and career last.

Drag Becomes Him instead shows how Jerick’s upbringing was not traditional, middle-class stuff. Dad was mostly absent, Mom went on a drinking binge, and Grandma used to help Jinkx perfect her look before going to Portland clubs to ply her trade and learn more. The surviving family comes together in this doc to talk about the past.

Jinkx cobbles together an intriguing and fun persona from her history, education, talent and hard work. However, to my knowledge, only a small handful of people – like RuPaul – have actually turned drag into a decades-long career; having a reality show definitely helps. Maybe drag’s career longevity is a subject for another documentary. I hope Jinkx is around to show us how it’s done, because she’s extraordinary.

Fourth Man Out  Closing Night Film
8PM, Sunday, Oct. 10, Palladium Theatre

Chord Overstreet, Evan Todd, Parker Young, and Jon Gabrus are four friends managing Todd's coming out in Fourth Man Out.

Chord Overstreet, Evan Todd, Parker Young, and Jon Gabrus are four friends managing Todd’s coming out in Fourth Man Out.

Fourth Man Out is a bit of a throwback to Inside Out and the other coming out comedies of the ‘90s. It explores a bunch of cute, 20-something man-boys and how they deal with one of their own admitting he’s homosexual. How will they call each other “gay” in a derogatory fashion ever again? Can they still make lightly demeaning remarks about women? Did that man-hug just linger a bit too long?

Mainly, how do they support their well-loved friend as he makes this transition in his life?

One of the straight guys already sees the benefit of dating men: “Just once I’d like to go out to a nice dinner and a movie and not have to hold in a fart the whole time.”

Even with the occasional filthy comment and inherent juvenilia, FMO is about simple appeal. Broadway’s Evan Todd (Heathers, the Musical) is a butch gay who fixes motors but has a hard time coming out. His friends are farting, beer swilling dudes who always have his back – if only figuratively. Chord Overstreet ably creates a different character from the one he plays on Glee. Parker Young – who portrayed a great doofus on the canceled TV show Enlisted – is an amiable straight man for this comedy.

Many people will notice that three of these four young men have modeled – it’s an excessively attractive cast. What they may not notice is that this film could’ve been a smidge more daring, especially in 2015. Maybe a straight man would understand why and how his gay buddy finds him attractive. Perhaps the lines between gay and straight don’t need to be defined so rigidly.

Broad comedic moments, a congenial story and some forced conflict affect its heartwarming charm. It’s a soft, pleasant note to end the 2015 festival.

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