For its 11th year, the Portland Lesbian & Gay Film Festival sticks to its familiar, successful modus operandi—offering up a slew of films "that are made by, about, and [are] of interest to the lesbian, gay, bi, and trans community." Below are our impressions of the films we were able to check out; for more info, see Movie Times on pg. 55, or hit plgff.org.
Brand Upon the Brain! (dir. Guy Maddin; Sat Oct 13, 7 pm, Cinema 21)—Canada's craziest filmmaker, Guy Maddin, has outdone himself with Brand Upon the Brain!, a silent black-and-white film that will be performed three times in Portland, with one showing specifically for the Lesbian & Gay Film Festival—complete with an 11-piece orchestra, live foley artists, and narrator Karen Black. Beautifully shot and achingly bizarre, the film details the story of a younger version of Guy Maddin (Sullivan Brown), who, along with a boy and girl detective (both played by Katherine E. Scharhon), investigates strange markings that have been appearing on children's necks. Don't miss this event—you'll never see anything else like it. COURTNEY FERGUSON
Colma: The Musical (dir. Richard Wong; Sat Oct 13, 6 pm, Hollywood Theatre)—A few miles south of San Francisco, three recent high school graduates (played by much older actors) struggle to get out of their vapid hometown. After a promising beginning, the musical's songs all start to sound alike and, eventually, become replaced by bogs of theatrical dialogue. Can you really call it a musical if over half isn't set to music? WILL GARDNER
No Regret (dir. Leesong Hee-il; Mon Oct 15, 9 pm, Cinema 21)—Anyone who sits through this film will attest to the irony of the title—it's hard not to regret wasting two hours of your life on an ill-conceived, indulgent film that is both adolescently moody and incomprehensibly violent. A (hot) rich man falls in love with a (hot) orphan turned male prostitute, but the callboy is understandably suspicious of his wealthy admirer. Love will win in the end, but not before the characters prove the intensity of their feelings with fistfights, car accidents, and, weirdly, live interment. ALISON HALLET
The Bubble (dir. Eytan Fox; Tues Oct 16, 9 pm, Cinema 21)—A group of hip, Tel Aviv twentysomethings spend their days working service jobs and their nights partying. All feel relatively safe in their "bubble" of Western-influenced hipsterdom, until Jewish Noam (Ohad Knoller) meets Ashraf (Yousef "Joe" Sweid), an Arab hottie. A poignant, Romeo and Juliet-like love story plays out as Arab/Israeli tensions bring the reality and futility of ongoing prejudice to their doorstep. BRAD BUCKNER
Nina's Heavenly Delights (dir. Pratibha Parmar; Fri Oct 19, 7 pm, Cinema 21)—Most LGBT romantic comedies make the mistake of being gay, gay, gay first and foremost—neglecting critical things like character development, plot, and dialogue. Luckily, Nina's Heavenly Delights is several things before it's gay, gay, gay—it's a food movie (Nina, played by Shelley Conn, is a young Indian woman in Glasgow who takes over her late father's curry house, and enters a cooking competition in his honor), a family drama, and a peek into the Indian culture of Scotland. Against that rich backdrop, Nina falls for Lisa (Laura Fraser), a girl who's dating her brother. (P.S.—My screener copy crapped out with 25 minutes to go. If anyone knows whether Nina [A] gets the girl or [B] wins the competition, drop me a line!) AMY J. RUIZ
Shelter (dir. Jonah Markowitz; Sat Oct 20, 8 pm, Cinema 21)—A young straight surfer bound for art school has trouble coming to terms with coming out. Visually impressive surfing sequences help make this otherwise-been-there film more tolerable. WG
The Witnesses (dir. André Téchiné; Sun Oct 21, 6 pm, Cinema 21)—Set in Paris in 1984, The Witnesses provides a French take on the first bomb-drop of HIV. Everything is très bien between Mehdi, a strutting Algerian detective (Sami Bouajila) and Sarah (Emmanuelle Béart), a chesty writer with postpartum depression and whopping silicone lips—until Mehdi starts bumming 18-year-old Manu (Johan Libéreau), who subsequently develops AIDS. It's all pretty iconoclastic, but the platonic relationship between Manu and his older admirer, doctor Adrien (Michel Blanc), is where the movie really breaks new ground: It's actually okay for gay older men to befriend cute, really young ones, even when their motives are confused. MATT DAVIS