Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Gospel According to Paul


I have a new crush-- Paul Festa. He directed the best movie the Contessa and I viewed during the Flip Flop Film Festival (there is a handy link in the previous post). I have been jonesing to blog about this all week.

Apparition of the Eternal Church

There is a great synopsis/review here.

The entire thing was an utter delight. And if that wasn't enough, he did a Q&A at the end. I was struck by how intelligent and sensitive his answers were. Read the above review to get an idea of what I am saying.

I am trying to sort of all the ideas that floated in my head during and after the flick. I rarely see anything so thought-provoking. It was like hanging out with super-smart people for an evening and just listening to them talk and soaking it up.

For a movie almost exclusively about talking heads, it was visually brilliant. He used interesting colors, the subjects themselves were often outlandishly dressed. He was able to edit it so that what people said was in context without being repetitive. I found myself falling in love with a lot of them. Listening and watching them talk in such a candid way was intimate and satisfying. I have never watched a documentary with so many adorable interviewees.

The subject matter was fascinating. People revealed their attitudes about religion, the Church, sin, redemption and gentiles as they spoke about the music. It was as if the music allowed them to be honest and transparent in a way I don't generally see. As a Christian, coming from a very pro-church background, I loved hearing what people from a completely different world thought. I was blown away by how much of the message or the presence of Jesus was communicated through the music. On the other hand, it wasn't unilateral at all. Some people had visions of bondage and funerals. Go see the movie. Its amazing.

Not So Amazing
Last Tuesday, the Contessa and I stayed illegally in the Del Mar for the showing of God and Gays. We had read the write ups in The Metro months ago and were intrigued by the subject matter.

I didn't fall in love with any of the interviewees. After being delighted by the rich humanity of the folks in Apparition, these interviewees were neither as engaged, nor as interesting to look at. They seemed to drone on and on. I found myself having ADD fantasies about the earrings one of the speakers wore and the suspicion that one of the ladies wasn't wearing a bra. The camera had a disconcerting habit of zooming in on the subjects' middles, and sometimes it was hard to tell if the camera wanted us to look at their groins or their hands. On top of that, every once in a while music would come on and we couldn't tell what it was supposed to do, it was just distracting. While the information was interesting (and often tragic) the way it was presented was rather stilted and uninspired. On an intellectual level, I never quite figured out what they were trying to communicate. Granted, it did inspire me to be more sensitive to people coming to the church from non-conventional backgrounds, I wouldn't say it was great cinema.


Hey, I am Oppressed, Too
The church's stringent policy on sexuality isn't just directed at gays. I know stories of straight people turned out of congregations because of straight sex they had. I have ranted about this before, but as a singleton, there is no church-approved outlet for my sexuality (until I get married, that is. Hm, maybe we should legalize gay marriage). We are all renegades...

Soap Box Moment
I am getting very tired of labels. I don't even want to say which labels I am getting tired of, because it would be counterproductive. I know this has been said before, but, dude, we are all frikken people! What made the "Fabulous! Queer Cinema" movie so entertaining was that it was the story of an underepresented group finding themselves on screen. It wasn't necessarily because they were gay. It could have been the story of any number of minorities. "Apparition" succeeded for the same reason. The humanity of the players was unadulterated. It was art.


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