Presented by Chicago Filmmakers, the 30th Reeling festival continues Friday through Saturday, November 11-12, at Chicago Filmmakers, Instituto Cervantes, and the Portage. Unless otherwise noted, tickets for all screenings are $11, $9 for matinees (before 5 PM), and passes are available for $45 (five shows), $80 (ten shows), $125 (all shows, excepting special admissions), and $150 (all shows and events). Tickets can be purchased online at reelingfilmfestival.org, in person at Chicago Filmmakers, and at the venue prior to the show. For more information, including a complete schedule, see reelingfilmfestival.org.
Cho Dependent Margaret Cho's fifth concert movie is much the same as the earlier ones: there are lots of blunt sex jokes, anecdotes about her gay friends, stereotypes, and her impression of her Korean mother, which is so exaggerated that Al Jolson might suggest she take it down a notch. But instead of the energetic and keen stand-up of her first movie, I'm the One That I Want (2000), which centered on her dangerously unhealthy attempt to lose weight for a starring role in a network sitcom, the bits in Cho Dependent sound like a friend telling you half-believable stories, with punchlines like, "It was the gayest shit that ever happened." (Only Cho's stories are about hanging out with Cyndi Lauper or performing alongside Bristol Palin on Dancing With the Stars.) The comedienne's delivery is getting slower, too, so many of the jokes don't come off. In keeping with title, this isn't the pure stuff, but it'll do if you need a fix. —Asher Klein 85 min. Screening as part of the closing-night program; tickets are $12, or $25 with admission to an 8 PM reception. Sat 11/12, 6 PM, Portage
Going Down in La-La Land In this independent production—roughly the ten-thousandth variation on Nathanael West's The Day of the Locust—a naive young actor meets all sorts of Hollywood hangers-on as he descends from awful day jobs into gay porn. Playing both sides against the middle, the movie tries to be both an exposé of Hollywood corruption and an unironic wish-fulfillment fantasy: the hero may see his friends succumb to prostitution and drug addiction, but through no effort of his own he lands a boyfriend who's rich, famous, and generous with his cash. This is embarrassing by any artistic standard (every other scene feels like it was directed by a different person), though as soft-core gay porn it generally suffices. Casper Andreas directed his own script. —Ben Sachs 107 min. Screening as part of the closing-night program; tickets are $12, or $25 with admission to an 8 PM reception. Sat 11/12, 6 PM, Portage
Leave It on the Floor Booted from home for being gay, a young man (Ephraim Sykes) finds refuge in LA's African-American ball scene, where tight-knit crews of queer and gender-variant people come together to out-vogue one another. The hero becomes romantically involved with two performers from an outfit called the House of Eminence, drawing scorn and eventually grudging acceptance from its histrionic house mother, hilariously named Queef Latina (the enjoyably hammy Miss Barbie-Q). Billed as "Paris Is Burning meets Glee," this feature by Sheldon Larry alternates between musical numbers, which are fairly weak, and soapy melodrama, which is pretty fun. The musical parts improve as the film goes along—particularly affecting is a funeral scene in which family members fight with voguers over what to call the deceased, who identified as female but is claimed by the family as a "son." —Sam Worley 109 min. Fri 11/11, 9:30 PM, Portage
My Last Round Directed by Julio Jorquera Arriagada, this Chilean drama is a close relative of Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler (2008). After Octavio (Roberto Farias), a young boxer, begins to suffer from seizures, his doctor advises him to hang up the gloves, so he and his sweet, quiet boyfriend, Hugo (Hector Morales), move from their village to Santiago, hoping to make a life together. Eventually Octavio is lured back into the ring and Hugo gets romantically involved with a coworker, and as in the American film, the denouement is predictable but still devastating. The tight economy of the direction turns out to be a double-edged blade: the elision of certain plot points, particularly concerning the move to Santiago, had me struggling to catch up, but the emotional tension between the impassive lovers is relentless. In Spanish with subtitles. —Sam Worley 87 min. Sat 11/12, 4 PM, Instituto Cervantes