Outfest Reviewing: Hit So Hard and The Wise Kids
It's film festival season and Los Angeles' premiere LGBT film extravaganza Outfest kicks off July 7 and runs through July 17 right here in SheWired's back yard. Over the next week or so we'll be posting reviews of Outfest films, so even if you aren't in the LA area, perhaps you can check out the flicks when they hit a film fest near you! First up is the documentary Hit So Hard, about Hole drummer Patty Schemel, and The Wise Kids, a coming of age story set against the backdrop of a conservative Christian church.
It's film festival season and Los Angeles' premiere LGBT film extravaganza Outfest kicks off July 7 and runs through July 17 right here in SheWired's back yard. Over the next week or so we'll be posting reviews of Outfest films, so even if you aren't in the LA area, perhaps you can check out the flicks when they hit a film fest near you!
Hit So Hard
Screening during Outfest at 8:30 pm on July 14, 2011 at the Ford Ampitheater.
I would like to shake Patty Schemel’s hand. The former Hole drummer has been through hell and back and lived to tell the tale in this revealing, memorable, and affecting documentary. Now, being born in ’93 I missed out on most of Hole’s heyday, but after watching Hit So Hard, I genuinely feel like I have lived through the Hole experience.
Hit So Hard follows out musician Patty Schemel from childhood until today, covering just about every base possible through a detailed array of video clips and interviews with Patty’s closest friends and family. Through the years, Patty’s hand-held camera has managed to capture many personal moments that almost seem like an invasion of privacy to behold. Footage of Kurt Cobain, one of Patty’s close friends, playing with his baby daughter only months before his suicide is tragic to watch, but tragedy just about goes hand-in-hand with Hole and those connected with it. Co-founder and guitarist Erik Erlandson put it perfectly when he compared band life to sailing on a boat. "Some, like former bassist Kristen Pfaff, who died of a drug overdose, drown. But the boat goes on and others like Patty who may have seemed all but left for dead are able to survive,” Erlandson said.
That’s not to say that Patty didn’t give survival a run for its money -- several stints in rehab and an extended period of homelessness made sure of that. It is genuinely difficult to watch a woman, who in later interviews seems so strong and confident, destroy herself and struggle so painfully with substance abuse, but it also sends an incredibly powerful message. Patty’s story is an inspiration to those who believe they are too far gone to ever recover. Hole fan or not, there is so much to be taken away from Patty Schemel and Hit So Hard.
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The Wise Kids
Screening during Outfest at 1:45 pm on July 9, 2011 at the DGA.
Well meaning, slow moving, but ultimately affecting, The Wise Kids is a strong addition to the Outfest lineup. The Wise Kids follows Brea, Tim, and Laura -- three best friends from church --on their last summer before leaving their small town for college. It’s a summer of discovery as the teens struggle with their own secrets and insecurities. Tim is finally acknowledging his homosexuality; preacher’s daughter Brea is beginning to doubt her faith; and Laura’s passion for religion is driving her crazy with worry for her “troubled” friends. It’s a simple story that avoids being too dramatic and depends on character more than plot. And while this leads to some slower moments, the characters are so true and endearing that the only thing I found myself wanting was to know more about them then was revealed.
As Tim, Brea, and Laura, Tyler Ross, Molly Kunz, and Allison Torem give some of the most impressive teen performances this year. Ross is beyond adorable and gives Tim a beautiful amount of self-love and confidence. Kunz’s character is the most quiet and introverted, but watching her work through her self-doubt provides one of the most interesting character journeys in the film. Lastly, Torem supplies a huge amount of fiery intensity in a captivatingly realistic performance, and her dedication to Laura and her beliefs lead to some of the most touching scenes in the film. Writer/Director Stephen Cone is also near-tear inducing as church worker Austin who’s got a few secrets of his own. Cone has obviously put everything into this project, and The Wise Kids certainly deserves recognition.