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Reviewing the movies of Reeling
by Steve Warren
2018-09-26

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Reeling—Chicago's film festival dedicated to illuminating the diverse facets of the LGBT community—kicked off its 2018 edition on Thursday, Sept. 20, and festival organizers are promising a wide range of entries this year.

The following are reviews of a couple of the movies that will run at this conclusion of this year's festival:

—1985 ( *** ) ( Sept. 26, 7:15 p.m. ): What a difference 33 years makes!

This movie is shot in black-and-white to emphasize the time-machine quality ( even though B/W movies had already been virtually obsolete for a couple of decades ), and it will be seen differently by viewers of different ages. For those who were there, it will be wistful, bitter nostalgia; for the younger set, a synopsis should probably come with spoiler alerts, though hopefully not for readers of this paper.

It's Christmastime 1985, and Adrian ( Cory Michael Smith ) has flown from New York to pay his first visit in three years to his conservative Texas family. Though he can't find a way to tell them, it's probably also his last visit.

Learning that his acne-aged brother Andrew ( Aidan Langford ) has switched his after-school activities from sports to theater, and is also a Madonna fan, tells Adrian his difficult footsteps are being followed in.

His parents haven't changed. Dad ( Michael Chiklis ) wants his sons doing manly, godly things and Mom ( Chicago native Virginia Madsen ) wants Adrian to hook up with his old girlfriend Carly ( Jamie Chung ). He does see her, but not for the reason his mother intended.

Adrian's farewell tour may keep you on the verge of tears throughout, or leave oblivious viewers ( though why would they be seeing this? ) wondering what those Kaposi's Sarcoma lesions are on Adrian's chest.

Everything unfolds slowly and subtly in Yen Tan's expansion of his 2016 short. The Malaysia-born, Texas-based gay filmmaker has been turning out excellent product for nearly two decades, and it's time the industry at large took notice.

One minor quibble: Except for the reformed high school bully who appears in one scene, no one sounds like they've lived their lives 45 minutes from Dallas. Perhaps this was to avoid over-stereotyping or to make the story more universal. It lessens the regional authenticity but nothing can take away from the film's emotional authenticity, which packs a real wallop..

—Studio 54 ( *** ) ( Sept. 27, 5 p.m. ): When a time machine is invented, this documentary will make Studio 54 ( 1977-80 ) a top destination. The creators of the Manhattan disco tell the tale. Steve Rubell, who died of AIDS in 1989 and is seen in old interviews, was the face of the club—a gay man who loved the celebrities and the celebrity. Ian Schrager, with whom Rubell became friends in college, was the brains, the man behind the curtain; in recent interviews he says he's discussing those days for the first time. Be warned: this is largely a sad story of those happy times and their aftermath.

For complete festival information including locations, and to buy tickets, visit reelingfilmfestival.org .

Related: www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Reeling-2018-reviews/64102.html .


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