Another night at the Esperanza for Cine Mujer.
The evening's fare opened with a hour long documentary called “Mom's Apple Pie,” which chronicled the Lesbian Mothers National Defense Fund (LMNDF). As the history of a grassroots activist organization, it was very well done. But I agreed with Alston when she wished they'd done more interviews with the children stuck in the middle of the custody cases which the LMNDF did it's best to advocate for the lesbian mother.
“Pura Lengua” was a slick narrative short (11 minutes). The story involves a woman being rejected by her girlfriend — and anger, mixed with one beer too many, sets into action further degradation. The framing device of the whole piece is when the lead character walks into a coffee shop to give a poetry reading, and when she turns around, the crowd sees her bruised and cut face. We jump into flashbacks The camera work and editing really impressed me. It's nice to see that the writer was also the cinematographer. Writer/cinematographer, that's a double-barrel vocation I would certainly want to aspire to — particularly, if the end result of my work resembled the professionalism of “Pura Lengua.”
Following “Pura Lengua,” we had a reading of a work in progress by Adelina Anthony. It's a theater piece called “Bruising for Besos.” I'd never heard of her before, but she hails from San Antonio's southside, and currently calls Los Angeles home. She had done some sort of comedy act earlier this week at UTSA — I guess this was “Master Sex and Tortillas” I'd seen mentioned somewhere. She's a hell of a performer; and as a writer, she possesses a perfect sense of rhythm. She knows how to pull her punches — hold back so that the understatement carries the emotion and the humor. Maybe 20 percent was in Spanish, and I could follow some of that — but the juicier stuff (doubtless idiomatic phrases) were lost one me, but certainly not the majority of the audience who were laughing in wild-eyed gleefulness: “Did she just say THAT??” Her depictions of love and lust, and the more mundane, non-romantic experiences of a gay Chicana, were wryly and cleverly conveyed to the audience. As Alston whispered to me, “Why are all the good local artists living in LA?” Yeah. I can understand the impetus for the exodus (a great name for a Klezmer band), but it still sucks.
“I Wonder What You Will Remember of September” brought us back into films. It's a sloppy 27 minute experimental documentary which attempts to thematically link the USA trauma of September 11, 2001, with Chile's black day of September 11, 1973, when Pinochet pushed through his coup. It's a good concept. But this film has no focus. The filmmaker has some interviews of her parents who lived through the coup. Her dad came close to becoming one of the disappeared. That should have been the story. Something personal. A family event. Authentic and powerful.
“House of Sand.” This feature-length narrative closed the night. It's a Brazilian film directed by Andrucha Waddington that lasts 103 minutes, that feels like 203 minutes. I'm not opposed to long, slow films. This one is beautifully photographed. The first 45 minutes is brilliant. Set in the first decade of the 20th century, an older man drags his young pregnant wife and her mother into an inhospitable stretch of sand dunes to homestead. He dies and they find themselves trapped. It has certain properties of “The Piano,” as well as some Latin American magical realism novels. The camera work is flawless. And the protagonist and her mother give solid performances. I just looked them up. They are famous Brazilian actresses, and are actually mother and daughter in real life. Both myself and Alston were somewhat disappointed with the film, but as I only talked with Alston as I walked her to her car, we didn't get to hash it out too much. It might have some flaws, but I think it's a great film, if only for it's breathtaking aesthetic elements.
Since this afternoon, I've been getting text messages from Carlos. I don't know how to respond to a text message, nor do I want to know how. Why should I learn how to type with my thumb, when I can just call you and use my voice?
Anyway, he's in Austin, attending the gala opening of “Grindhouse,” the double feature production directed, one by Tarantino, the other by Rodriguez. Carlos was in whichever has zombies.
The first text was something about how he was drinking in a bar in Austin. Then I got some joke about “okay, a hippy walks into a bar.” And then, an hour later, I get something that may have been the punch line. But I didn't quite get the humor. Or maybe a hippy really did walk into the bar. It's Austin, right? An Austin bar where a hippy wouldn't walk into, would have to be located in some parallel universe.
But I hope Carlos has fun. And I hope he gets drunk and makes a scene. Because, hell, Tarantino and Rodriguez clearly don't need more people kissing their asses.