Per usual there are a whole bunch of terrific documentaries screening as part of NewFest this year and I'm going to give you some quick thoughts on three of them. Right now! Here goes!
The film intertwines the two writer's life-stories, swapping back and forth chronologically and watching the ways they lived and worked and moved through the world both independently and up against one another. They knew each other, were friends and creative antagonists fueled by jealousy -- they inspired each other in intangible ways of how they would and wouldn't be, what their work would show and wouldn't. It's fascinating, especially when you consider how much of the world these two shaped with their work. Melodrama and True Crime, how City and Country Life have been molded clay-like in the American Imagination -- these two men had an awful lot to do with that! To see the way their own impulses were born, formed, and reformed across the span of their tangled up existences was a rare and immediate fascination.
Cured manages to talk to most of the figures involved and draws from a wealth of documentation, and somehow crafts a riveting talking-heads-based thriller out of an outcome we already know beforehand. My jaw still hangs in awe when I see footage of the Mattachine Society's first marches, and seeing how those small (or is that enormous?) steps for humankind pushed hard the dominoes to where I stand today, in their shoes, well one wishes and dreams of being able to summon an iota of their bravery and determination. The fight goes on.
This doc takes precise and deliberate pains to peel off the layers of blood metaphor that've gummed up the idea of Gaëtan all these years, made him more than he ever could possibly have been, and turns him back into a man, a human being, an individual that we lost out of so so many that it still astonishes in the worst of ways. In the process the doc shreds the very idea of a "patient zero" down to nothing, down to the conceptual gibberish it always was -- there is no scapegoat except for human foibles, political cruelty, and science just beyond our understanding. Gaëtan was only a man, one of too many men and women we lost from a nightmare plague, and we should weep for every single one of them. Then and now -- it's impossible not to watch an AIDS doc in 2020 and not see the parallels of societal stupidity making a mess of a simple equation today. Save every life you can and be just decent to one another, everybody.
All three of these are available to rent via Newfest's website right now, through next Tuesday. Go check them out, and while you're at it rent like everything else -- there's so much good shit to watch over there I can't even keep up.