By Chris Klimek
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Ciara LaVelle
By Scott Foundas
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Simon Abrams
By Alan Scherstuhl
Taxi, un Encuentro
"You want me to tell you what happened that night?" asks the melancholy protagonist of this Argentinean drama, thus prompting the long flashback that makes up the bulk of this slow, bewildering story.
The vehicle of the title is a cab inexplicably commandeered at gunpoint by our unnamed character, played by Diego Peretti, a shaggy-haired, hook-nosed fellow who from certain angles resembles Al Pacino circa Dog Day Afternoon. He's an appealing-enough presence, although the character's personality and behavior remain largely inscrutable.
After stealing the taxi, the man starts picking up fares as if he's the cab's rightful driver. One of his passengers turns out to be a teenage girl who has been shot during a domestic incident. A strange symbiosis develops between the two.
End of story? Not quite, although it might as well be. The movie meanders on, reaching for profundity and coming up short. (Saturday, November 3, 5:30 p.m., Las Olas Riverfront, Fort Lauderdale; Sunday, November 4, 1:45 and 7:45 p.m., Las Olas Riverfront; Monday, November 5, 5:15 p.m., Las Olas Riverfront; 93 minutes; in Spanish with English subtitles)
Some Like It Hot
This 1959 Billy Wilder classic is one of a few oldies the festival has resurrected (among the others is the dreary Exodus), and it's a welcome addition to the lineup. If you haven't seen this gender-bending comedy, well, shame on you. And if you have, you can rediscover how timeless it is.
Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon are musicians on the run, disguised as the newest additions to an all-female band that includes Marilyn Monroe at her slinkiest and most vulnerable. The barrage of double entendres and the snappy editing are just as bracing as ever, making this a case for inclusion in future festival revivals. (Saturday, November 3, 7:30 p.m., DDA Plaza, Fort Lauderdale; 119 minutes)
The festival traditionally includes at least one strong gay-themed feature, and this year it's a slick comedy-drama set in L.A.'s adult film industry. It opens with a telling quote from Ovid's "The Metamorphoses": "Both boys and girls looked to him to make love, and yet that handsome figure of proud Narcissus had little feeling for either boys or girls."
The figure in question is Johnny Rebel, a porn star who becomes the object of obsession for 22-year-old Sean. This aspiring filmmaker gets his first glimpse of Johnny by renting a video labeled Citizen Kane that actually contains Citizen Cum (a film full of the puns that run rampant in porn), and he's so smitten that he manages to get a job in the biz.
While working behind the camera, Sean is pressed into service as Johnny's "fluffer" -- i.e., someone who works on the star off-camera until he's sufficiently aroused to perform. The catch is that Johnny claims to be "gay for pay": a straight man who performs in gay videos because the pay is better than in straight porn.
Johnny, of course, is really Ovid's Narcissus, in love with nothing so much as his own beauty. His stripper girlfriend ultimately comes to realize this and ditches him. Sean, too, is eventually forced to accept this reality.
Until a botched murder sends the story wildly off-course near the end, The Fluffer is highly entertaining and dead-on in its take on the world of porn. It's also packed with inside jokes and cameos by a variety of porn stars and directors, as well as performances by such "legit" players as Robert Wald, Taylor Negron, and Deborah Harry (as the tough-but-tender lesbian proprietress of a strip club). (Saturday, November 3, 7:45 p.m., Las Olas Riverfront, Fort Lauderdale; 94 minutes)
A 65-year-old Senegalese man travels to America in search of his roots in this well-intentioned drama, which has its moments but never fully clicks. The man, portrayed with great dignity by Sotigui Kouyate, is a veteran tour guide at a slave museum in his homeland, and his journey is an effort to understand the story of his ancestors, who were sold into slavery two centuries ago.
The trip takes him to Charleston, South Carolina, where he painstakingly tries to reassemble his family tree, and to the Little Senegal neighborhood of New York City. There, he becomes involved in the lives of his Americanized nephew and the nephew's girlfriend, and with a woman trying to save her pregnant young granddaughter. (Sunday, November 4, 5:30 p.m., Las Olas Riverfront, Fort Lauderdale; Monday, November 5, 3 and 7:45 p.m., Las Olas Riverfront; Wednesday, November 7, 5:45 p.m., Las Olas Riverfront; 120 minutes; in English and French with English subtitles)
You're the One
It takes a while for the components of this black-and-white Spanish drama, set in the late 1940s, to fall into place. But when they do, the film gracefully builds into one of the festival's most emotionally powerful pictures.
Early on we determine that Julia, an elegant blond who could have come straight out of a Hitchcock fantasy, has suffered a great loss. Is it the death of a loved one, the end of a romance? We're not sure, and the movie is comfortable with a degree of ambiguity.
"It's called depression," the woman tries to explain to her bewildered parents. "Whatever," her mother responds. "I don't like that word." Still the wealthy couple agree to send their daughter away to their country estate to recover. There, she is reunited with a friend from her childhood and the friend's precocious young son as well as an elderly aunt who has a sort of Zen mistress's take on life.
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