First out is Cloudburst, starring Olympia Dukakis as Stella and Brenda Fricker as Dot, a couple together for 31 years who must marry to outwit Dot’s granddaughter maneuvering for their house on the Maine coast. They head north to Canada, picking up a hitchhiking hunk along the way. Amusing moments relieve the two-dimensional, overstated characters in this thin story with way too much intrusive background music. Two lame short subjects precede Cloudburst.
Next is a much better film, the documentary Live Free or Die: How the Bishop of New Hampshire Is Changing the World. It profiles Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Anglican bishop who travels to the Lambeth conference in Canterbury, though the church officially, intentionally did NOT invite him. A thoughtful preacher, Gene and others argue persuasively against homophobia and fear, winning approval of the consecration of gay bishops’ at the U.S. 2009 Episcopal conference. Live Free or Die shows why this is long overdue.
At 6 p.m. Sunday Glee-style musical interludes relieve otherwise pedestrian fare in Jamie and Jessie Are Not Together, a story about the distress of two roommates when one moves from Chicago to New York. The opposite happens in August when Zach’s previous lover disrupts his current life by returning to L.A.
Monday at 5 p.m., the beautifully shot, Mary Marie finds two sisters’ camaraderie interrupted by a handyman in an often sweet depiction of the girls’ friendship. Conflict veers off into a trite love triangle, with a surprising conclusion. Next, the superbly acted North Beach, Texas (set in Belgium) finds teenage Pim, neglected by his mother and enamored of his neighbor. Monday concludes with Going Down in LA-LA Land presenting a playful look at the warped LA world.
There’s plenty to choose from, and several filmmakers and actors will attend their programs. All screenings take place at Landmark’s Tivoli Theatre. For more information, you may visit stlqfest.org or cinemastlouis.org/qfest.