The 2016 Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival has a little for everyone this year. One of the city’s biggest showcases for LGBT stories has competition screenings, retrospectives, diversity panels and even a VR workshop (all of which you can find in their 2016 film guide).
Among the festival offerings are a handful of films we’ve been lucky enough to see elsewhere. Below, we’ve gathered thoughts on some of the titles we can guarantee are valuable additions to your Outfest screening schedule.
Clea DuVall has been a familiar face in movies and on TV since she was in her teens (she recently told Indiewire that her schooling mostly came from her working experiences, not high school or college), and she’s finally made the jump to directing with a Sundance breakout that spins “The Big Chill” into unexpected new directions. Starring a cast of other big indie names (many of which she considers to be close friends), DuVall mixes together an amiable group to tell a tricky story, with pretty charming results. The film’s plot centers on a long-time group of friends who decide to stage an intervention on two of their own, convinced that they need their assistance in breaking up a toxic marriage. It’s funny and sweet and wonderfully easy to watch, and DuVall natural talent behind (and in front of) the camera shines through in every frame. — Kate Erbland
Stephen Dunn works a delicate balance with his “Closet Monster,” an imaginative spin on the coming-of-age tale that blends together both straightforward storytelling and recognizable emotional beats with creative flourishes. Those flourishes — including a talking hamster and a series of fantasy sequences — are treated with the same equanimity as the rest of the more reality-rooted elements, allowing “Closet Monster” to retain an authenticity that other, similar features may not be able to hold on to with such grace. The film follows young Oscar Madly (played in younger years by Jack Fulton and as a teen by the wonderful Connor Jessup) as he tackles relatable issues like family trouble, wrestling with his sexuality and figuring out his professional ambitions, all gussied up by wonderful acting and creative spirit. — KE
It may seem reductive to compare French filmmaker Catherine Corsini’s “Summertime” (“La Belle Saison”) to the acclaimed “Blue is the Warmest Color” simply because both revolve around the ups and downs of lesbian lovers awakening to their mutual desires. But it goes much further than that: Both movies find a young, provincial woman falling for an older intellectual, while grappling with the means of expressing her identity, sexual or otherwise. Writer-director Corsini (“Three Worlds”) adopts a quietly unassuming approach in her 1973-set portrait of the life of 23-year-old Delphine (Izïa Higelin), who lives in the French countryside with her stern parents as they look down on her apparent inability to find a husband. After fleeing to the city, she meets 35-year-old Carole (Cécile De France), who’s in a relationship with a man but quickly falls in love with Delphine. Corsini does a fine job of illustrating their evolving lust, as the movie climaxes in the countryside, where Delphine must confront her traditionalist roots once and for all. Elegantly shot with a keenly intelligent screenplay, “Summertime” is an involving drama that takes place in the past but nevertheless feels strikingly contemporary. — Eric Kohn
“Women Who Kill”
A giant step up from “The Slope” and “F to the 7th,” the popular web series that writer-director Ingrid Jungermann created prior to this feature-length debut, “Women Who Kill” follows straight-faced podcasters Morgan (Jungermann) and Jean (Ann Carr), a former couple whose popular digital show finds them profiling the eponymous murderers. The film walks a narrow line between realism and metaphor. The podcast maintains a high-concept premise with the kind of specificity that fits today’s narrow-casting media landscape, but it’s also a clever metaphor for the overly serious, moody disposition that finds these characters constantly on the verge of another feud. Even as it’s sometimes tonally uneven, the movie has a remarkable unpredictability. Largely shot on Brooklyn street corners and crammed apartments, “Women Who Kill” uses the contained setting to foreground its characters’ anxious lives. With a deadpan style of the Jim Jarmusch variety, the movie shuffles between eerie noir tropes and pitch-black inner city humor. Yet even as the particular atmosphere breaks no new ground, the narrative is quietly progressive for its complete absence of central male characters. — EK
Chris Kelly is a comedy guy, but that’s not all there is to the newly-minted feature film writer and director. The longtime “SNL” writer (he first joined the show in 2011 after three attempts) has crafted some of the sketch comedy show’s best bits — yes, he co-wrote last year’s smash hit Adele sketch —and he’s even penned a pair of “Broad City” episodes, but for his first film, Kelly went a bit more serious. In “Other People,” which opened Sundance earlier this year, Kelly adapts his own life to the big screen, and the feature sees Jesse Plemons playing a version of Kelly (in the film, he’s known as David, but Kelly is fiercely honest about how much he pulled from his own life for the film) who is dealing with the impending death of his mother (played, incidentally, by “SNL” alum Molly Shannon). The film blends fact and fiction, humor and drama with some very moving (and funny! it’s still funny!) results. — KE