Wednesday, October 14, 2009

CIFF 09: Give Me Your Hand, plus an Extra Helping of Gay

Sticking more or less to my sequence of screenings means my next review is for the movie that has so far made the vaguest impression on me, good or bad, through the festival so far, give or take Mexico's Academy entrant Backyard. I'm talking about the French drama Give Me Your Hand, starring two twin brothers who are easy to look at but harder to feel much about. I don't know if my pulse exceeded 100/60 at any point while I watched the movie or wrote this review, but I hope you'll enjoy it anyway.

Particularly now that Give Me Your Hand has fulfilled its cycle of CIFF screenings, and if you're hankering for some gay cinema that better earns that designation, I hope you'll consider the documentary Quearborn & Perversion: An Early History of Lesbian & Gay Chicago, programmed for just two bookings at the luminously old-fashioned Music Box Theatre on Sunday, October 18, and Tuesday, October 20. The filmmaker, Ron Pajak, developed the project with funding from the Chicago History Museum, which continues to be a tremendous benefactor to our city's LGBT community. I am experiencing a rare bout of regret for pouncing on CIFF like a jacked-up kangaroo from the instant the Festival tickets went on sale last month, since I'm obligated to an unmissable life event on Tuesday night and a scarcely less missable film on Sunday. Happily, I'm lucky enough to have one more chance to see this fantastic-looking, eye-opening, richly researched documentary, but that's only because of Ron's generosity with screeners. You, on the other hand, should file out to the Music Box to find out how much more there is to Queer Chicago than singing at Sidetrack and breakfast at Big Chicks, not that I'm knocking 'em. But let's learn a little, shall we, and let's give Ron a hand.

Give Me Your Hand ended its three-screening run at CIFF on Tuesday 10/13. It recently played the Quad Cinema in New York City and may crop up at similarly esoteric and gay-friendly arthouses near you—even if it requires a real gusto for quick-trigger labeling to read this film as "gay."

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9 Comments:

Blogger tim r said...

Well, it's only 9am but I've already read the best thing I'll read all day, about a film I've neither heard of nor now feel particularly inclined to seek out. Yoga at Stonehenge in a "gay glade": you rock!

2:52 AM, October 14, 2009  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

Very kind, Mr. Robey. As thanks, here's a picture postcard of some Stonehenge-style yoga. Someone ought to feed the guy in back, don't you think?

3:37 AM, October 14, 2009  
Blogger Colin said...

Ha! I don't think I've ever read any writing of yours that was so precise and witty (in its skewering of a blankly "pretty" movie) and yet so candidly libidinal (other than when you have Sean Penn on the brain)?

Aside: we're having a week of Animation Nation here in Singapore, and I wouldn't have so easily noticed Mary and Max among the listings if not for your hearty rec. Thanks + so stoked!

8:04 AM, October 14, 2009  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Colin: That's interesting. I found the brothers kind of boringly pretty, so I may not have done a swell job of distinguishing the movie's evident infatuation with them from my own rather subdued response. But maybe I have unconscious reactions that are only perceptible if you're not me; Freud shouldn't have lived for nothing!

I wouldn't have paused on Mary and Max in the CIFF calendar if Glenn hadn't told me about it, so I'm happy to pay the favor forward!

10:43 AM, October 14, 2009  
Blogger Colin said...

I guess it's the fact that in all of your writings about queer movies, I've never read any comment about the actors in them remotely close to "easy to look at" or "should contemplate second careers as living sculptures" or that descriptively recounts their exploitative use as your second-to-last paragraph here seems to do. Of course, that may have to do with your site reviews being more loosely jocular than your academic writings, or with the patent seriousness with which most queer movies treat themselves or demand to be treated as compared to an empty photographic exercise like this one seems to be.

In any case, Give Me Your Hand never stood a chance of my viewing it, since it's only rare non-transgressive queer prestige fare like Brokeback that makes it through the national censors here anyway. At least your fun review meant I stood to gain from it somehow.

11:04 AM, October 14, 2009  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

Touché! But I also agree: not only does the film's existence as an "empty photographic exercise" really push you to focus on the comeliness of the actors, but my hunch is that the latter actually prompted the former. Who knows. Maybe Pascal-Alex Vincent would also say, "Really? I think they're kind of boringly pretty." But I really doubt it.

12:11 PM, October 14, 2009  
Blogger adelutza said...

I see you liked The Maid. I saw it at Sundance and I thought it was really great but it hasn't played many festivals since. I was wondering when it'll show up again. I'd be curious to read your review.

1:29 PM, October 14, 2009  
Blogger buff said...

Half my life ago, I went to my first and only CIFF, and I got the tank top to prove it.

I still follow it, now through your eyes and ears, Nick.

I really appreciate your recommendations, especially the gay flicks which I will faithfully put into my netflix queue.

Mega hairy muscle hugs of thanks for sorting out the gems from the junk.

12:50 PM, October 26, 2009  
Blogger Bob said...

I watched the film Give Me Your Hand on DVD last night and really saw a different film. Antoine with the slice in his eyebrow is obviously the brother not unwilling to fight, Quentin the artist and insecure, sensitive one. Quentin attracts a girl to join them, but Antoine is the one that has sex with her and it clearly pisses Quentin off. As Antoine washes his privates afterwards as Quentin seethes, I saw nothing homoerotic. Likewise Antoine refuses to share the last of the girl's cakes. He is the bully of the two. When they both get lucky with a pair of girls in an old Citroen Deux Chevaux it is Antoine who has sex in the car while Quentin makes out, topless only, in a tree. In the "homosexual" encounter we never see the men kiss, and it is not clear that sodomy actually occurs, either. Hakim could be kissing Quentin's back. In any case, it is clear after Antoine puts Quentin in harm's way, and is separated from him, that he is literally sickened by what he has done, and calls out his name from a mountaintop. He even finds no pleasure in a woman whom he probably would have seduced, had the brothers still been together. His relief in seeing his brother at the funeral is palpable. And Quentin's fear in the final frames when he thinks Antoine is lost, is just as powerful. There is clearly love between them. And a desire to separate, but a need to be together. Many twins experience this, even developing a twin's language. To me there was plenty of emotion for two young men. Watch the eyes. B- to me. By the way, the blond Spanish boy is the guy who played Dani in Nico and Dani years ago, a similar tale of two friends who masturbate together but grow apart when one realizes that the other has a crush on him. Not unlike what Antoine might feel knowing his brother's nature.

2:41 PM, April 19, 2010  

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