Revisiting a cult classic: “But I’m a Cheerleader”

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One of the nice things about blogging for the Buffalo News is having the opportunity to write about some neglected gems set to screen in Buffalo. Case in point: “But I’m a Cheerleader.” Here is a recent piece.

Long before Natasha Lyonne appeared on Netflix’s ultra-popular “Orange Is the New Black,” the actress gave the best performance of her career in 1999’s underrated “But I’m a Cheerleader.” Funny, satirical and featuring a wild cast in supporting roles — RuPaul, Mink Stole, Bud Cort — director Jamie Babbit’s film screens at Hallwalls at 7:30 p.m. July 11 as part of its “Reel Party: A Queer Film Party for Anyone Who Likes Film and Fun” series.

The story of a high schooler whose parents send her to a conversion therapy camp to “cure” her lesbianism, “But I’m a Cheerleader” was greeted with mostly negative reviews upon release. But in the years since, the film has deservedly achieved cult status. And even the late-’90s haters admitted that Lyonne and costar Clea DuVall gave note-perfect performances.

See www.hallwalls.org for more information on the screening, and the series.

A “Shortbus” party at Hallwalls

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I love to highlight films/events/what-have-you at Hallwalls, and here is a great one: “Reel Party,” billed as “A Queer Film Party for Anyone Who Likes Film and Fun,” at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 25.

The series actually kicked off in February, and it’s a unique mix of comedy (the great Kristen Becker kicks things off at 8 p.m.) and cinema. April features John Cameron Mitchell’s wildly funny Shortbus, an appropriate choice for a party atmosphere.

The Hallwalls site has all the details; cost is $8 general, $6 for students and seniors, and $5 for members.

Note also that the Buffalo Film Seminars will screen Wes Anderson’s Royal Tenenbaums tonight, April 15. So you could conceivably see Grand Budapest Hotel before or after for a Wes double-feature.

The week in Buffalo cinema: “Seconds” at Hallwalls

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John Frankenheimer’s Seconds is “one of those movies.” In other words, it is a cult classic that, if you’re lucky, you happen upon, and then cannot get out of your head. It is a strange, disturbing, downright eerie film that feels both ahead of its time (it came out in 1965) and also wonderfully dated.

Rock Hudson stars in the film, which is nicely summarized by the Criterion Collection folks; it was released by Criterion last summer:

Rock Hudson is a revelation in this sinister, science-fiction-inflected dispatch from the fractured 1960s. Seconds, directed by John Frankenheimer, concerns a middle-aged banker who, dissatisfied with his suburban existence, elects to undergo a strange and elaborate procedure that will grant him a new life. Starting over in America, however, is not as easy as it sounds. This paranoiac symphony of canted camera angles (courtesy of famed cinematographer James Wong Howe), fragmented editing, and layered sound design is a remarkably risk-taking Hollywood film that ranks high on the list of its legendary director’s achievements.

The crisp black and white photography should look especially cool at Hallwalls, which is screening the film at 7 p.m. tomorrow (February 11) as part of curator John Massier’s “Long Nights, Bright Paranoia” series. It kicked off last week with 1953’s Invaders From Mars, and follows up Seconds with Alex Proyas’s underrated Dark City and Alan Pakula’s The Parallax View.

What a fantastic series of films — and a nice way of brightening up the ugly February cinema calendar.

48 Hours of Short Films in the Queen City

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One of the reasons I wanted to start a film site for my own writing was to occasionally spotlight some local projects, screenings, etc., that I think are worthy of some attention. (Buffalo Spree continues to be a great source for calendar events like this, of course, and so is the Buffalo News Gusto section, which I have the pleasure of occasionally contributing to.) See: Hallwalls’ recent Jazz Noir series (returning in the fall), Squeaky Wheel’s annual Outdoor Animation Film Festival (July 27 and August 21), and, a very cool project happening from June 21 to 23, the Buffalo 48 Hour Film Project.

I must admit I was unfamiliar with the 48 Hour Film Project concept until I saw some Facebook posts; for its Buffalo incarnation, “filmmakers from all over the Buffalo area will compete to see who can make the best short film in only 48 hours. The winning film will go up against films from around the world.”

This is a perfect event for college kids and others with a passion for film- and video-making, and I would expect some great work will come out of it.

You can find all of the details here, but note some key dates, all taken from the website:

 

Open Audition Casting:

Saturday, June 15

Noon–4 p.m.

Pierce-ArrowFilmArtsCenter, 1635 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo

 

Kickoff

Friday, June 21

6–7 p.m.

Pierce-ArrowFilmArtsCenter

 

Dropoff

Sunday, June 23

5:30–8:30 p.m.  

Pierce-ArrowFilmArtsCenter

 

Premiere Screenings

Wednesday, June 26–Thursday, June 27

7 p.m.

Market Arcade Film & Arts Centre, 639 Main Street, Buffalo

Tickets for the screening will be $10 and can be purchased at the Market Arcade.

 

Wrap Party

Wednesday, June 26

Directly following the screening

Cabaret Restaurant, 490 Pearl Street, Buffalo

 

Best of Screening

Wednesday, July 17

7 p.m.

Helium Comedy Club, 30 Mississippi St, Buffalo

Tickets will be $10, and available to purchase online directly through Helium’s website or at the door.

Wednesday Round-Up: “Alfie,” Bradley, Kafka, and “Vice”

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A pretty diverse mix on this Wednesday, May 29. Incidentally, many of these have already been re-Tweeted by me at Twitter.com/FilmSwoon. If you’re not following me there yet, you should be.

  • For those in Buffalo: Hallwalls’ Jazz Noir series comes to a close tomorrow night with an iconic sixties classic: “Alfie.” Michael Caine is easy to imitate, but pretty hard to duplicate, as Jude Law discovered.
  • Grantland has posted an ESPN “30 for 30” documentary short on former Sabres goalie Clint Malarchuk. It’s titled “Cutthroat,” so you pretty much know where this is going.
  • Also on Grantland, Mark Harris calls Bradley Cooper “the smartest star in Hollywood” — even after the disaster that was “The Hangover Part III.”
  • Speaking of Bradley Cooper: I’m not sure David O’Russell’s upcoming “American Hustle” will have elements of comedy, but with this wardrobe and hair, I have to think it will.
  • I’ll be sharing thoughts on Steven Soderbergh’s “Behind the Candelabra” soon; here, the supposedly retiring director talks about a recut of his fascinating second film, “Kafka,” a notorious flop.
  • The cool U.K. music site Louder Than War looks at ex-Stone Roses manager Gareth Evans.
  • Mondo can always be counted on for killer posters. These, for “The Silence of the Lambs,” might be two of the creepiest they’ve conjured.
  • Lastly, I’m about to re-read Thomas Pynchon’s “Inherent Vice,” which Paul Thomas Anderson is currently shooting, and part of the reason I want to dive back into the tale of Doc Sportello is to try to trace who is playing who. Check out the cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Benicio Del Toro, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Martin Short, Josh Brolin, and possibly Sean Penn. The best site for keeping track of the additions is the phenomenal “definitive Paul Thomas Anderson Resource, Cigarettes & Red Vines. Every day seems to bring a cool new cast addition.