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Reel World 

Wednesday, Mar 31 1999
Remembrance of Things Fast
Turbulent Arts, the upstart San Francisco distributor of John Greyson's Lilies and other deliciously edgy fare, has linked with Hollywood mover and shaker Clive Barker to produce Love and Taboo, a unique compendium of 15 original shorts by lesbian and gay filmmakers. Each director will choose the work of a queer composer -- from Freddie Mercury to Tchaikovsky, k.d. lang to Stephen Sondheim -- as the inspiration for his or her piece. The only other instruction is that each short involve a taboo love relationship between two entities, a guideline wide enough to encompass everything from a lesbian affair to a man and his poodle to a movie director and his girlfriend's angora sweaters.

The closest precedent for an omnibus film like this is the package of three half-hour films produced and distributed by then-unknown Todd Haynes' Apparatus Films a decade ago. Mark Smolowitz, Turbulent Arts' founder, told Reel World he's counting on a mix of well-known and unknown gay and lesbian directors for Love and Taboo. "We want to include some emerging and lesser-known talents," Smolowitz said. "They often get steeped in long periods of development" trying to get cast-contingent feature films off the ground, and get stuck polishing their fund-raising skills rather than developing their filmmaking chops.

"We can offer them a chance to exercise their creative muscle," says Smolowitz, who freely acknowledges that Love and Taboo will also afford his staff the chance to hone its skills by physically producing 15 individual films.

The plan is to nail down all the helmers by mid-May, although Bill Condon and Barker have already announced they will direct installments, with Barker also helming a wraparound. Barker, of course, made his name with well-executed horror novels and television shows, so his role as executive producer of Condon's Gods and Monsters was a bit of a shocker. As for his continued inroads into queer cinema, Smolowitz's only comment is, "I will tell you, Clive Barker is an inspirational man."

In other news, Turbulent Arts will also produce Who's the Top, the long-awaited feature from Jennie Livingston (Paris Is Burning), to be shot in San Francisco. Steve Buscemi is informally attached to the film, depending on his schedule, and he'll be in the fund-raising trailer Livingston is shooting this weekend in NYC. Meanwhile, Turbulent Arts opens Paulina at the Cinema Village in Manhattan Friday, April 2, for a minimum three-week engagement.

You don't have to be a moron to go to United Artists' Alexandria on Geary, but you're guaranteed to walk out dumber than when you entered. I recently caught a matinee of The Thin Red Line, preceded by half a dozen annoying TV commercials, including that bloodless video-game-style U.S. Marines ad. Next up was an interminable parade of imbecilic trailers, lowlighted by Ron Howard's locally shot EDtv, which rips off MTV's The Real World and then adds name actors. Isn't that the definition of an oxymoron?

By Michael Fox

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Michael Fox


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