Joe Reid's Festival Diary, Day 3: 'G.B.F.,' Mira Nair & 'Deep Powder'
I found myself quite charmed by director Darren Stein's hyperactive G.B.F., a high-school movie about gay teens and their so-called "allies" in a high-school environment that's nearly as dog-eat-dog as Stein's 1999 flick Jawbreaker (I've written before about my love for Jawbreaker, so I was especially excited to see what Stein had up his sleeve). In its own ragged, endearingly ham-fisted way, G.B.F. offers ideas and perspectives on not only gayness but teenagers in general. We've got out gay teens being treated as objects by supporters, detractors, and themselves, and that idea of transactional friendship spreads well beyond the gay characters in G.B.F.. Like its spiritual ancestor, Mean Girls (which gets referenced multiple times, almost as a diety), G.B.F. presents a spoonful of shallow to help the thoughtful second-wave gay-visibility medicine go down. And when that "shallow" involves Megan Mullally as a hyper-supportive mom watching Brokeback Mountain with her son, you pretty much cannot go wrong.
When I spoke about What Richard Did on Day 1, I talked about one of the great joys of film festivals is to be able to spot young talent before it ascends. One of the reasons I was so interested in catching Deep Powder was because I've had my eye on star Haley Bennett for a while. At least since she stole the show in Gregg Araki's Kaboom! a couple years ago. I'd been obsessed with the idea of Bennett getting the role of Johanna Mason in the Hunger Games sequel, in fact, but Deep Powder only reminds me that she looks SO much like Jennifer Lawrence that it might have been too strange (and besides, I eventually moved on to shilling for Emmy Rossum to get cast as Johanna Mason and hi, I'm digressing because I am positively EXHAUSTED after three days of nonstop movies). Bennett and Shiloh Fernandez are the biggest reasons to catch this movie, as the central pair of mismatched lovers -- she a prep school nihilist; he a working-class striver -- in this inspired-by-tree-events tale from the early 1980s about a drug run to Ecuador gone bad. Though I was also struck by the confessionals from the prep schoolers sprinkled throughout the film.
To end the afternoon, I hopped over to the Tribeca Talks event with Mira Nair and Bryce Dallas Howard. Howard served as interviewer for this rather wonderful conversation with a filmmaker who continues to make such interesting films. Nair's The Reluctant Fundamentalist opens soon, and Nair wasn't shy about discussing the challenges that came with making a movie about post-9/11 racial tensions. Her quote about one investor telling her that any film with a Muslim protagonist was worth only a couple million dollars of budget was met with gasps by the audience. Nair told stories of her childhood in India, her early days in New York, and left Bryce with some advice to give her dad about his concerns about growing older (don't get that ponytail, Ron!). She even mentioned that she's working on a Monsoon Wedding musical for the stage. The audience could not have been happier to hear it.