Yeah, yeah, we know you've heard it all before: As we've declared for the past two years, the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival is tops. And as the festival approaches its 17th season, that's truer than ever. Organizers like to cite numbers -- how it has grown from 7 days to 28, from 20 or so films to more than a hundred, from 20 screenings to 300, from 1500 in attendance to nearly 70,000. Despite those impressive stats, however, what really distinguishes the festival is its continuing commitment to movies you're highly unlikely to see at any of the megaplex chains. Where else, for instance, could you have seen last year's Soul Bowl, a funky little documentary about a longtime rivalry between two Broward County high school football teams? Or such defiantly noncommercial movies as The Zookeeper, which casts Sam Neill in the title role of a drama set in a war-torn Eastern European country, and The Old Man Who Read Love Stories, which plops Richard Dreyfuss into the Amazon rain forest as an aging Hispanic explorer? Or, for that matter, the extraordinary Australian flick Lantana -- with a startling ensemble cast featuring Anthony LaPaglia, Barbara Hershey, and Geoffrey Rush -- that went on to receive rave reviews nationally but never caught on with audiences or the academy? That's what an international film festival should give us. Let's just hope ours doesn't settle into complacency.
Savor Cinema
Photo by Eric Barton
From the outside, it still looks like a church -- which it was when it was built in 1926. Sixty years after opening, the First Methodist Church was renovated and rechristened the Vinnette Carroll Theatre, an intimate space devoted to showcasing small theatrical productions. In the past two years, with the assistance of Broward County and the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, it has undergone another transformation, emerging as a sanctuary for those who worship at the altar of offbeat movies. At first, Cinema Paradiso -- the name is an homage to the Oscar-winning 1988 Italian picture about a small-town theater -- had only occasional screenings. But now the upgraded facility features a full slate of weekly programming. And a recently formed partnership with the independent gay and lesbian newspaper the Express led to showings of such acclaimed gay-themed films as the documentaries The Celluloid Closet and Daddy and Papa. Classic foreign-language titles such as Jacques Tati's Mon Oncle, Akira Kurosawa's Ran, François Truffaut's Day for Night, and Eric Rohmer's My Night at Maud's and Claire's Knee have been resurrected, along with such landmark American movies as Nashville and Raging Bull. The theater, which bills itself as Fort Lauderdale's only nonprofit year-round art house, also schedules monthly screenings of the works of local moviemakers trying to break into the business. And to further its cosmopolitan image, Cinema Paradiso includes a tiny café that serves beer, wine, champagne, and light snacks.
From the outside, it still looks like a church -- which it was when it was built in 1926. Sixty years after opening, the First Methodist Church was renovated and rechristened the Vinnette Carroll Theatre, an intimate space devoted to showcasing small theatrical productions. In the past two years, with the assistance of Broward County and the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, it has undergone another transformation, emerging as a sanctuary for those who worship at the altar of offbeat movies. At first, Cinema Paradiso -- the name is an homage to the Oscar-winning 1988 Italian picture about a small-town theater -- had only occasional screenings. But now the upgraded facility features a full slate of weekly programming. And a recently formed partnership with the independent gay and lesbian newspaper the Express led to showings of such acclaimed gay-themed films as the documentaries The Celluloid Closet and Daddy and Papa. Classic foreign-language titles such as Jacques Tati's Mon Oncle, Akira Kurosawa's Ran, François Truffaut's Day for Night, and Eric Rohmer's My Night at Maud's and Claire's Knee have been resurrected, along with such landmark American movies as Nashville and Raging Bull. The theater, which bills itself as Fort Lauderdale's only nonprofit year-round art house, also schedules monthly screenings of the works of local moviemakers trying to break into the business. And to further its cosmopolitan image, Cinema Paradiso includes a tiny café that serves beer, wine, champagne, and light snacks.
John Wayne was a fag. He was too, you boys. I installed two-way mirrors at his pad in Brentwood. He came to the door in a dress!
John Wayne was a fag. He was too, you boys. I installed two-way mirrors at his pad in Brentwood. He came to the door in a dress!
Sure, there's the $10 cover charge, and the place is BYOB. But how many other strip clubs are open Monday through Thursday, 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. (and even 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday)? Just be sure to bring enough liquor to last you through the night, and enough cash as well. Lap dances in the back rooms run $25 a pop, and if you bring your girlfriend for a little 2-on-1, they'll still charge you $25 apiece. What's this world coming to? Still, we keep going back to that 8 a.m. number. There's just something to be said for leaving the dance clubs at 4 a.m. and still having someplace to go. Someplace where the women are friendly -- sometimes a bit too friendly -- and the bartenders are still serving. Admittedly, it's your beer they're serving to you, but hey, it's cheaper that way. And yes, you should still tip your bartender. She went through all the trouble of finding your beer among all the others and popping the top. And besides, she's awfully cute. The dance parties on Friday and Saturday nights, plus the 18-and-older age limit, as opposed to the tight-ass 21-and-older limit imposed on most bars, makes this a reasonable after-hours spot for guys and girls alike.
Sure, there's the $10 cover charge, and the place is BYOB. But how many other strip clubs are open Monday through Thursday, 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. (and even 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday)? Just be sure to bring enough liquor to last you through the night, and enough cash as well. Lap dances in the back rooms run $25 a pop, and if you bring your girlfriend for a little 2-on-1, they'll still charge you $25 apiece. What's this world coming to? Still, we keep going back to that 8 a.m. number. There's just something to be said for leaving the dance clubs at 4 a.m. and still having someplace to go. Someplace where the women are friendly -- sometimes a bit too friendly -- and the bartenders are still serving. Admittedly, it's your beer they're serving to you, but hey, it's cheaper that way. And yes, you should still tip your bartender. She went through all the trouble of finding your beer among all the others and popping the top. And besides, she's awfully cute. The dance parties on Friday and Saturday nights, plus the 18-and-older age limit, as opposed to the tight-ass 21-and-older limit imposed on most bars, makes this a reasonable after-hours spot for guys and girls alike.
Broward County boasts more gay bars than Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties combined, and while most of them welcome lesbians as well as gay men, it's rare to find a place geared primarily to gals. The market is so precarious that when one lesbian bar opens, it seems another closes. That makes Kicks, which opened in 1999, a relative old-timer. It lives up to its claim, "'Sports' is our middle name," by offering four pool tables and four dart alleys. And sporting events are regularly shown on eight satellite TV screens. You'll find ladies of every stripe in the rainbow flag here, from lipstick lesbians to girl-next-door types, coexisting (or competing, as the case may be) in harmony. Men are welcome too, and more than one gay male has confessed to using Kicks as a refuge from male-oriented bars -- as a place where they can have good man-on-man conversations without the distraction of other men cruising them.
Broward County boasts more gay bars than Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties combined, and while most of them welcome lesbians as well as gay men, it's rare to find a place geared primarily to gals. The market is so precarious that when one lesbian bar opens, it seems another closes. That makes Kicks, which opened in 1999, a relative old-timer. It lives up to its claim, "'Sports' is our middle name," by offering four pool tables and four dart alleys. And sporting events are regularly shown on eight satellite TV screens. You'll find ladies of every stripe in the rainbow flag here, from lipstick lesbians to girl-next-door types, coexisting (or competing, as the case may be) in harmony. Men are welcome too, and more than one gay male has confessed to using Kicks as a refuge from male-oriented bars -- as a place where they can have good man-on-man conversations without the distraction of other men cruising them.
La Bare
Turnabout is fair play. Strip clubs for men dot the South Florida landscape like royal palms; La Bare is a gutsy attempt toward evening out that number. For those of the fairer sex who crave the sight of buff dudes in scanty duds, your day has come. Consider Israel, a 6-foot-2-inch dancer with dark hair and eyes, whose shtick involves a fur loin cloth and broad sword. Turn-ons: sunrises and champagne. Turnoffs: bad breath. (Girls: pop a minty for that confident feeling.) Groups of ten or more women on Fridays get a complimentary bottle of champagne to go with all the six-packs. Admission is just $10 if bought in advance through the club's Website.

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