ST. LOUIS INTERNATIONAL LESBIAN AND GAY FILM FESTIVAL

A schedule and capsule reviews of the fest's offerings

The eighth annual St. Louis International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival begins Sept. 8 and continues through Sept. 16 at the Tivoli Theatre, 6350 Delmar Blvd. Tickets are $6.50 (general admission), $5.75 (students and seniors) and $4 (weekday rush-hour shows); a five-film pass is available for $28. Tickets may be purchased at the Tivoli box office or by phone at 862-1100, ext. 0. For more information, call 997-9846, or access the festival Web site at www.slilagfilmfestival.org.

Capsule reviews are written by Diane Carson, David Ehrenstein, Mike Isaacson, Melissa Levine and Gary Morris. "NR" indicates the program is not reviewed.

Wednesday, Sept. 8

6 p.m.: Opening-Night Reception. Hors d'oeuvres and two beverages (beer, wine, soda or juice) for $10 at the Delmar Restaurant & Lounge, 6235 Delmar.

7:30 p.m.: Bedrooms & Hallways. Rose Troche. U.K., 1998, 96 min. Bedrooms & Hallways has all the makings of a breakout hit — even with straight audiences. The second feature by director Troche, this comedy of gay male manners is radically different from her 1994 no-budget debut film about New York lesbian bohemia, Go Fish. And Troche more than rises to the challenge — marking her as someone sure to crop up on studio short lists of directors of sophisticated adult fare. The clever script by Robert Farrar centers on a shy, just-turned-30 gay guy named Leo (Kevin McKidd) who joins a men's consciousness-raising group to brighten up his life — only to find himself having an affair with one of its otherwise straight members (James Purefoy). Complications ensue when Leo discovers his new amour is the ex-lover of an old female friend (Jennifer Ehle). And when he begins to spark with her, that (as they say on the sitcoms) is where the fun really starts. The principal trio is fine, and Simon Callow (of Merchant-Ivory fame) is quite funny as the painfully sincere men's group leader. But the best scenes belong to Tom Hollander (Saffron's horrid fiancé on Absolutely Fabulous) as Leo's sharp-tongued roommate, who's having an affair with a real-estate agent (Hugo Weaving of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) who loves nothing better than to stage trysts in the houses he's selling. With Heidi Ellis' "The Catch" (U.S., 1999, 10 min.). (DE)

Thursday, Sept. 9

5 p.m.: Beloved/Friend (Amic/Amat). Ventura Pons. Spain, 1998, 90 min., in Catalan with English subtitles. This is one of those movies where you scratch your head and say, "Well, um, what did you think?" Beloved/Friend is a European film, with all that implies: long, deep conversations; elliptical looks; and the pace of a charity golf tournament. The plot involves a male hustler who has knocked up the daughter of the best friend of one of the hustler's male clients. Right. Still, the portrayals of family and loneliness are quite compelling, and there is an honesty to the endeavor that always keeps your attention. Purely for the adventurous and patient. (MI)

7 p.m.: Stages. A program of shorts featuring former St. Louisan Scott Young's "Shooting Star" (U.S., 1998, 7 min.), Samara Halperin's "Shari Shapiro's Slumber Party" (U.S., 1998, 4.5 min.), Jennifer McGlone's "I've Never" (U.S., 1998, 8 min.), Lisa Ganser's "Stalking Mike Hawke" (U.S., 1999, 8.5 min.), Wendy Popadynetz's "People Like Us" (U.S., 1999, 7 min.), Paula Walker's "Seed: A Love Story" (U.S., 1997, 20 min.) and Laurie Schmidt's "Sleep Come Free Me" (U.S., 1998, 18 min.). NR.

9 p.m.: Beauty (Bishonen). Yonfan. Hong Kong, 1998, 101 min., in Mandarin and Cantonese with English subtitles. A gay love story set in modern Hong Kong that dramatizes a real-life public scandal involving pictures of nude or seminude policemen and a wealthy photographer. NR.

Friday, Sept. 10

5 p.m.: Rice and Potatoes. Todd Wilson. U.S., 1998, 58 min. Do you know what a "rice queen" is? He is an older gay man who wants to be with a young Asian man. Fascinating, no? Well, actually, no it's not, as this well-meaning but constantly dragging documentary proves. A series of interviews with men (mostly in their well-appointed living rooms) about their experiences and desires dating or being an Asian man, the film tries to take a matter of personal taste and desire and elevate it to the realm of social order and psychological interest. Problem is, the film's PBS tastefulness runs counter to its essentially Jerry Springer undertow. After the first 10 minutes, you find that most of the interviewees like talking about their intimate desires just a wee bit too much. Like being trapped at the Chinese-food dinner party from hell. With Andrew Soo's "Liu Awaiting Spring" (Australia, 1998, 13 min.), Kian H. Huan's "A Seeker" (U.S., 1998, 6 min.) and Paul Lee's "The Offering" (Canada, 1999, 10 min.). (MI)

7 p.m.: 2 Seconds (2 Secondes). Manon Briand. Canada, 1998, 100 min., in French with English subtitles. Ah, so that's mountain biking — careening down actual mountains at death-defying speeds, the world a stripy blur. (Who knew?) In the opening scenes of this lovely, patient film, we're introduced to the grueling world of competitive mountain biking — and then, with the film's protagonist, we're forced to leave. Considered washed up at 28, Laurie (Charlotte Laurier) is fired from racing. So she packs a bag and returns to Montreal, where she becomes a bike messenger, replacing one kind of speed and danger with another. (You can take the woman off the mountain, but you can't take her off her bike.) It's lonely and painful, but with the help of a moody Italian ex-cyclist and her physicist brother, Laurie learns some lessons about time, speed and, most important, pace. The actual lesbian content of this film may be true to the title — 2 Seconds — but who cares? Laurie is a wide-eyed, French-faced wonder, with a heart as soft as her body is taut. The film is well-drawn, beautifully paced and humane. One fault: Its parallels are a bit too tidy. (ML)

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