Sunday, June 4, 2006

Crazy Teenagers

(Jean-Marc Vallee, Canada, 129 mins.)

I remember when I lost my mind
There was something so pleasant about that place.
Even your emotions have an echo
And so much space.

-- Gnarls Barkley, "Crazy"


Funny, moving, and highly tuneful, C.R.A.Z.Y. trumps most gay coming-of-age films. Montreal writer/director Vallee pulls off the feat simply by painting an indelible portrait of an entire family, particularly the relationship between stern father and freespirited son, and not just the efforts by the latter to define his sexuality. He also sidesteps (or at least subverts) many of the cliches that have hampered the genre. Worth it for the sequence in the Catholic Church alone, in which Zachary (Marc-Andre Grondin)--the "Z" in C.R.A.Z.Y.-"magines the entire congregation singing along to "Sympathy for the Devil." Totally transcendent. In the end, it's their shared love for music that helps the David Bowie-loving Zac and Patsy Cline-worshipping Gervais (the fantastic Michel C/Yente) weather the storm that is their turbulent family life from 1960 to 1980. One of my favorite films of the festival.

Here's a list of the songs featured in C.R.A.Z.Y.:
Patsy Cline - "Back in Baby's Arms," "I Fall to Pieces," and "Crazy," Charles Aznavour (and Michel C/Yente) - "Emm/(R)ne-moi" and "Hier Encore," Stories - "Brother Louie," Perez Prez Prado, King of Mambo - "Mambo Jambo," Pink Floyd - "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" and "The Great Gig In The Sky," David Bowie (and Marc-Andre Grondin) - "Space Oddity," the Rolling Stones - "Sympathy for the Devil," Roy Buchanan - "The Messiah Will Come Again," Jefferson Airplane - "White Rabbit," Timmy Thomas - "Why Can't We Live Together," Robert Charlebois - "Tout Ecartille," Elvis Presley - "Santa Claus Is Back in Town," Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal - "Minuit Chretien," "Carol of the Bells, and "Del Elisir Mirabile / Elisir D'Amore," and Chorovaya Akademia / Alexander Sedov - "Nine Sili Nebesniye / Ancient Echoes."
Egyptian: 6/16 at 9pm and 6/18 at 1:15pm.
(Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer, USA, 90 mins.)

The Year of Peckinpah--The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, The Proposition, etc.--continues with this Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner. Granted, Quincea/+/-era may not look like one of Sam's films, but it features one of his favorite actor/crew members, Chalo Gonz/*lez (The Wild Bunch, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia), as benificent octagenerian Tio Tomas. The longtime Echo Park dweller takes in 14-year-old Magdalena (Emily Rios) when she becomes pregnant and her part-time preacher father refuses to have anything to do with her. Together, Tio, Magdalena, and gay cholo cousin Carlos (Jesse Garcia) start to form a family when tragedy strikes again...and yet again. Still, the directors manage to pull a happy--or at least hopeful--ending out of their hat. They also gave me the opportunity to have a good cry. Though produced by Todd Haynes (Safe), Quincea/+/-era plays more like a film by Jim McKay (Our Song) set to a reggaeton beat. Recommended.
Egyptian: 6/16 at 6:30pm and 6/18 at 4:30pm.
Directors scheduled to attend.


  1. Thanks for writing up C.R.A.Z.Y. I kept intending to but never got back to it. Contrary to available descriptions of this film, it is not a "Gay coming-of-age" story. I have some concern that even mentioning it, (other than as a caution) furthers what is a misleading description of the film. The central character's sexual confusion/identity is only one element among several others given equal importance in the story. Michel's struggles with life in the entertainment world and its inherent trappings, including his own drug use are given significant focus. The life and troubles of the older brother are explored to an equal degree. The father's relationship to the rest of the family is also important. Every time they get together, over a period of twenty+ years, Dad insists on dragging out the same old Charles Aznavour record and bellowing the words to everyone's chagrin, it's hilarious! Did I mention they are Quebecers? I'm afraid this film will draw an audience expecting to see something it is not, but hopefully leaving with an appreciation for what C.R.A.Z.Y. is actually about. It is a thoughtful and well-conceived family melodrama with many humorous and touching moments. I did enjoy your concise description. We are in total agreement on this one!

  2. I see what you're saying, but have a different take on it. Zac's sexuality is at the forefront of the story, but it's always implied, never defined. We don't get to see him come out of the closet or describe himself as gay. His father, however, suspects the truth early on, and it disgusts him. Zac loves his father, so he internalizes that disgust & spends most of the film living the straight life--girlfriend & everything. But he isn't happy. So it may not be your typical gay coming-of-age story, but that's exactly what I liked about it.