SCREENED AT SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST FILM FESTIVAL
decent documentary about small town gay bars in mississippi. it opens with establishing shots of middle america and then goes into a profile of “rumors” a gay bar in NE mississippi. most of the film focuses on the life of this one bar and it branches off a bit from there – profiling one other bar (crossroads) in a tiny town (under 2,000) in MS, one martyr associated with rumors (scotty), and one hater of all things gay (the infamous fred phelps). just as fred phelps would depict homosexuals as stereotypical child molesters who look like the village people, leftists use fred phelps as their token bible thumping zealot. while it’s true this guy is awful, i think he’s appeared on too many news programs and documentaries by now. i first saw him on michael moore’s “the awful truth” but he’s appeared in several things since then. i honestly think it would be better to ignore the guy so he’d lose some of his power. but i digress…
one thing i found disturbing is that, like phelps, scotty’s brother felt that scotty was killed as part of god’s plan. phelps thinks scotty was sent to hell for his sinning and the brother thinks scotty was chosen as a martyr to make the gay community stronger. this sort of thinking, while it may make each feel better, is so presumptuous and ugly i would know how to begin to denounce it.
for most of the first half of the film ingram uses the music well and tells the story in a fairly efficient way. in the first half i enjoyed the music choices – mississippi queen takes on a new meaning and he had a familiar song about turning away in the context of gays not coming out of the closet. in the second half, though, i think he runs out of material. he has a lot of false endings: he chose music that felt like it was building to a close and he’d play it for its entire length as you might when ending a film. he’d also fade to black during these sequences, thereby giving you the feeling that the film was coming to a close. unfortunately he did this for at least the last 30 minutes which has a tiring effect on the audience. another thing he did, seemingly in an attempt to pad the runtime, was add two montages of interviewees standing outside of rumors while the music played. these, and other, superfluous scenes really detracted from the film. had it been 50 minutes, instead of 81, it could have been a full grade better.
the audience was extraordinarily kind to ingram during the q&a after the film. i was actually a bit surprised that no one challenged him on anything (like the easy choice of phelps as the film’s demon, or the poor editing, or the choice to tell the story of basically just one gay bar, or…)Watched in theater Watched on TV