It all begins in earnest tonight, the official opening of the 34th Seattle International Film Festival, and somewhere out there, Charlize Theron will be standing on a red carpet, which, if it’s the same red carpet that was rolled out for Sir Anthony Hopkins last year, will be neither red nor a carpet. It will be, as Moira Macdonald of the Seattle Times so succinctly noted, an orange mat. (I’ll be skipping Charlize’s little movie, Battle in Seattle, anyway. Nor will I attend this afternoon’s press conference; one may as well save one’s energies for the after-party.)
There are at least a trio of films I’m eager to see this first weekend, movies that either weren’t screened ahead of time or that I missed: An archival print of the 1947 British noir It Always Rains on Sunday; composer Gustavo Santaolalla’s tango doc Café de Los Maestros; and James Bolton’s Dream Boy, the young auteur’s first film since The Graffiti Artist, which I considered a festival highlight in 2004.
And now for the movies I have seen.
How one takes to the documentary Chris and Don: A Love Story depends almost entirely on whether one finds the garrulous septuagenarian Don Bachardy charming or repellent. I did not find him charming.
Part glorified home movie, part treatise on the dreary obsession elderly queer men have for young male flesh, the film, in what might generously be called a multimedia collage, depicts the predatory (is there any way that it can’t be?) relationship between Christopher Isherwood, aged 49, and Bachardy, then 18, in 1950s Hollywood. It’s mentioned that some of Isherwood’s otherwise liberal acquaintances and neighbors balked at the men’s 31-year age difference, yet there are no real voices of dissent to be heard anywhere in this sycophantic love-fest.