Out­flix con­tin­ues, ‘River’ re­turns, ‘Repa­ra­tion’ de­buts

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - MOVIE LISTINGS -

The 19th Out­flix Film Fes­ti­val, which be­gan Wed­nes­day night, con­tin­ues through Sun­day at the Malco Ridge­way Cinema Grill with 29 of its 32 films — in­clud­ing nar­ra­tive fea­tures, doc­u­men­taries and shorts — slot­ted to screen over its fi­nal three days.

The fes­ti­val is ded­i­cated to films with sig­nif­i­cant LGBT con­tent, a pa­ram­e­ter which, in prac­tice, of­fers room for a great va­ri­ety of sto­ries from all over the world. Here’s a look at three of the films on the sched­ule that I watched in ad­vance:

■ Di­rected by Dana Flor and Toby Op­pen­heimer (with ac­tors Steve Buscemi and Stan­ley Tucci among its ex­ec­u­tive pro­duc­ers), the doc­u­men­tary “Check It” (9:25 p.m. Fri­day) fol­lows sev­eral flam­boy­ant mem­bers of a gay and trans­gen­der Wash­ing­ton, D.C., in­ner-city gang known as “The Check It,” founded by three ninth­graders in 2009 as a way to com­bat school bul­ly­ing and the other abuses and “hate crimes” di­rected at young men with tra­di­tion­ally fem­i­nine man­ner­isms and wardrobes. Ex­plains one mem­ber of the Check It crew: “To walk with us you gotta have a heart ... and a good sense of fash­ion.” At times sug­gest­ing a non­fic­tion ver­sion of “Tan­ger­ine,” the movie’s cen­tral char­ac­ters — in­clud­ing Day Day, Tray and Skit­tles — en­gage in brawls (cap­tured by cell phones), petty crime and worse. Sev­eral mem­bers of the gang make money as pros­ti­tutes on K Street, less than two miles from the White House (a 16-year-old says he plans to quit when he gets “older,” in 11th or 12th grade), but the movie glosses over the seamy and dan­ger­ous to con­cen­trate on “in­spi­ra­tional” story lines that show­case fash­ion shows and box­ing tour­na­ments as av­enues of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and self­dis­ci­pline for the reck­less youths. “Check It” has much to rec­om­mend it as an ob­ser­va­tional por­trait of its par­tic­i­pants, but its square mor­al­iz­ing and some­what comedic melo­drama make it feel some­what like a pi­lot for a re­al­ity series.

■ A Ger­man fam­ily’s va­ca­tion to the Thai re­sort town of Phuket proves more eye-open­ing than ex­pected in “Pa­tong Girl” (3:15 p.m. Sun­day), an ex­cel­lent ro­man­tic drama f rom writer-direc­tor Su­sanna Salo­nen. The younger of the fam­ily’s two sons, Felix (Max Mauff) is a gan­gly col­lege­bound youth who be­comes en­am­ored of the lovely, soft-spo­ken Fai (Ai­sawanya Areyawat­tana), vis­it­ing south­ern Thai­land from her farm vil­lage in the north. “The first time I saw a for­eigner, I cried,” Fai tells the pale Felix. “I thought it was a ghost.” (Fai and Felix com­mu­ni­cate with each other through the shared lan­guage of English, which makes this Thai-ger­man co-pro­duc­tion an easy watch for sub­ti­tle-averse Amer­i­cans.) Since this is an Out­flix film, Fai’s se­cret won’t sur­prise many movie­go­ers, but the rev­e­la­tion and its af­ter­math are well­han­dled (Thai­land is a na­tion of “three gen­ders,” we are told: Men, women and “la­dy­boy”). The film also ben­e­fits from its won­der­ful lo­ca­tions; the wel­come ap­pear­ance of at least one ele­phant not­with­stand­ing, Salo­nen avoids ex­ot­ica in fa­vor of an im­mer­sive tour of Thai­land’s small busi­ness dis­tricts and res­i­den­tial streets, places with their own spe­cial charm and vis­ual fas­ci­na­tion.

■ On the level of es­capism, the most en­ter­tain­ing Out­flix movie may be direc­tor Mika Kau­ris­mäki’s his­tor­i­cal epic “The Girl King” (7:40 p.m. Sun­day), which re­vis­its, in bolder fash­ion, the true-life story of Swe­den’s 17th­cen­tury “vir­gin queen,” Christina, fa­mously dra­ma­tized be­fore in 1933 as

Courtesy of Barn­steiner-film

the thai­land-set ro­man­tic drama “Pa­tong Girl,” star­ring Ai­sawanya Areyawat­tana, will show at 3:15 p.m. sun­day at the malco ridge­way Cinema Grill,

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