September 15, 2005

Margaret spills and thrills

CC Toronto Correspondent has found one guilty pleasure at the Toronto Film Festival -- the riotous BAM BAM AND CELESTE starring Margaret Cho! CC has to admit to some degree of trepidation before going into the theatre. As some friends and fellow festival-goers wisely observed, the comedy could be a hit-or-miss affair, ie, it could turn out to be one painful dud. But, much to general relief -- and after some extensive jaw exercise -- CC is pleased to report that BAM BAM AND CELESTE is one outrageous ride of fun. Margaret Cho is Celeste, an overweight, goth punk fag hag who, together with her gay best friend Bam Bam (Bruce Daniels), are stuck in a small town in Illinois. They have been bullied and treated as freaks since high school. Salvation finally comes in the form of a reality show, Trading Faces, an inane makeover show. They make their way to New York, searching for their destiny. Fans of Margaret Cho will find familiar terrain in the film: She has worked materials from her stand-up comedy into the whole narrative (but seriously, who's watching it for a coherent story?). Her fag-hag status, racial discrimination, homophobia, even her beloved Korean mum (played by Cho as well) -- all receive a seriously uproarious workout. Of course, by the end of the film, the audience is supposed to embrace the uplifting message of accepting who you are and chasing your dream. But with a ride this much fun, who would not want to hop on it?

CC went to catch Matthew Barney's DRAWING RESTRAINT 9, which also happens to star his partner and muse Bjork. Bjork wrote the soundtrack for the film. CC had to leave after one hour -- not because it was bad -- but to rush to another screening. If you liked the CREMASTER series, then you would enjoy Barney's latest.

The film CC had to rush to was the Chinese musical, THE WILD, WILD ROSE. It was made in 1960 by Cathay Studio and starred the legendary singer-actress Grace Chang. The film was picked by Tsai Ming-liang as part of the festival's Dialogues: Talking with Pictures series. Tsai was also on hand to introduce the film. As was typical of the films from that period, THE WILD, WILD ROSE was melodramatic, overwrought and unintentionally funny at times. Some of the songs in the film went on to become classics in Asia. This was probably one of the films that inspired Tsai to make his "musicals."

Posted by william at September 15, 2005 4:05 PM