Outfest LA 2022 Film Reviews: Chrissy Judy ★★★★ / Please Baby Please ★★★1/2

Outfest LA is back and in hybrid form once again, offering audiences in-person and virtual screenings. With a daunting 200+ selections, it’s impossible to see everything and sometimes decisions as to what to watch come down to educated guesses, coin flips, or a provocative still. I’ll end up watching way more movies than I end up reviewing, so my writing will highlight films which, whether good or bad, moved me in some way.

Todd Flaherty and Wyatt Renner in Chrissy Judy. Courtesy of Outfest.

Chrissy Judy ★★★★

Todd Flaherty, the extremely talented writer, director, editor and star, makes his feature debut with this story of friendship and finding yourself. Chrissy (Wyatt Fenner) and Judy (Flaherty) have been NYC besties and a local drag act for years. Always a hot mess, Judy gets even messier when Chrissy breaks the news that he’s immediately moving to Philly to live with his boyfriend. For the first act, the film felt like yet another “Hey, Grrrl, Hey!” type of story, but Flaherty is too smart to leave things there. There are only so many bitchy retorts and side-eyes I can tolerate before giving up on a story.

Just when you settle into what could easily have been a fluffy camp comedy, Flaherty switches gears and gives us a front row seat to someone spiraling out of control. Judy’s the type of character who will turn right when you tell them to turn left, and as we experience a series of very bad decisions, we begin to appreciate this person unmoored by the loss of his friendship.

Gorgeously directed, Flaherty’s ace in the hole is his gifted cinematographer, and brother, Brendan. While obviously shot on a limited budget, the film look and feels rich thanks to precise framing and stunning black and white compositions. We watch Judy grow throughout, starting as a total asshole to gradually becoming a person of depth, courage, and immense likability. With a gorgeous singing voice on display in a few glimmering chanteuse numbers and the ability to make us love this broken man, Flaherty has taken the frivolous gay archetype and flipped it on its ear. Fenner also gives a heartbreaking performance as the best friend who can’t see a path forward with Judy anymore. Special mention to Joey Taranto as a love interest who has real chemistry with Judy until he turns on a dime in a way so many gay men will find cruel yet relatable. Throughout this wonderful debut, I can almost hear Flaherty saying to the audience, “Ladies, we’ve all had our fun and games, but it’s time to grow up!”

Chrissy Judy screened in person at the 40th Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ+ Film Festival on
Friday, July 15th and is available to stream online until 8am PT on Monday July 18th 2022.

The gang’s all here in Please Baby Please. Courtesy of Outfest.

Please Baby Please ★★★1/2

With a recipe that feels like a mixing bowl filled with West Side Story, Querelle, Mandy, The Wild One, A Clockwork Orange, One From The Heart, Grease, Derek Jarman’s Blue, and any number of films by Kenneth Anger and John Waters, Amanda Kramer’s Please Baby Please tops off that crazy combination with what seems like a Masters Thesis on masculinity. Andrea Riseborough and Harry Melling star as a bored married couple in the 1950s who witness a murder by a vicious street gang, whose Brando-esque leader (Karl Glusman) sparks feelings in our couple regarding their sexual and gender identities. Filmed on soundstages with nary a hint of reality and bursting out into an old MGM Musical vibe at key moments, the film’s arty pretensions may turn off some viewers, but I loved the audacity of Riseborough’s Cookie Mueller meets Gena Rowlands performance, Demi Moore’s memorable cameo as a woman who inspires Riseborough to look at life differently, Cole Escola’s ridiculous yet touching solo song, and Melling’s vulnerability as a person who refuses to conform to society’s expectations of what makes a man. Kramer takes this all so seriously, perhaps too much, and has made what I think is the first campy movie without a sense of humor. In this case, that’s a good and original thing.

By Glenn Gaylord, Senior Film Critic

Please Baby Please screened in person at the 40th Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ+ Film Festival on
Friday, July 15th and is available to
stream online until 8am PT on Monday July 18th 2022.

The 40th anniversary Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ+ Film Festival runs in person and online until Sunday, July 24th 2022. For the full lineup and to purchase tickets head to OutfestLA.org

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