Thursday, June 28, 2012

Submerged Queer Spaces

Submerged Queer Spaces, dir. Jack Curtis Dubowsky, 2012, USA, 100 min. 
Saturday 6/16, 1:45pm @ Roxie, SUBM16R

Submerged Queer Spaces
I’ll start with the good: Submerged Queer Spaces is an impeccably researched documentary about gay bars, clubs, and other venues that are gone and almost forgotten. It has some good interviews with long-time residents. Unfortunately, those good points were submerged beneath the film’s crippling flaws. The music track was an unrelentingly intrusive, annoying, eclectic mishmash of tuneless awfulness. I was truly shocked to see “(BMI)” in the music credits; I can’t imagine anyone choosing those sounds over the blissful silence overlaid on some of the interviews. The on-site interviews were very poorly mic’ed, picking up abundant street noise and other distractions, and the camera work was shaky. This was clearly a very low-budget production, but sound-cancelling mics and image-stabilizing cameras are cheap enough that there’s no excuse for making a serious film without them. The narration segments with the filmmaker himself were unengaging and emotionally flat. Lastly, although the research was exhaustive — repeatedly noting such minutiae as the original electrical conduits that remain on some of these buildings! — I found one surprising glaring error, a typo in the name of one of the subsequent incarnations of a venue on Market Street, misidentified as Laetia’s when it should be Letitia’s. Certainly not the worst film I’ve ever seen at Frameline, but easily the worst I saw this year. If you get the chance to see this movie, by all means, find something else to do. Must-miss.

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