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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Reeling Review #6: See Southern Baptist Sissies at Chicago's LGBT Film Festival

I adore writer/director Del Shores' 2000 film, Sordid Lives, about a young gay man who returns home to Texas for a funeral. It's a hilarious dark comedy with a touch of drama. Shores' new movie, Southern Baptist Sissies, is about four closeted young men in a small Texas town who deal with their sexuality in different ways. It obviously has some similarities to Sordid Lives, but it's a much more serious story with moments of levity scattered throughout. I found the film quite moving, and although many gay men - including myself - were not raised in a Southern Baptist church, I think most will understand and identify with the emotional struggles of the four main characters. To be accepted and embraced for who you really are - by both family and one's self - is something that everyone probably experiences at some point in life.

I enjoyed all the performances in the movie, including the four lead actors - Emerson Collins, Luke Stratte-McClure, Matthew Scott Montgomery, and Willam Belli (RuPaul's Drag Race), who really gets to shine - and sing - as Benny and his drag queen persona, Iona Traylor. I also liked Ann Walker (Sordid Lives) as Benny's grandmother and Bobbie Eakes (All My Children, The Bold and the Beautiful) as the very religious mother of Mr. Collins' character. And then there's Dale Dickey and the always fabulous Leslie Jordan (Will & Grace, Sordid Lives), who provide many laughs as two lonely barflies named Odette Annette Barnett and Preston "Peanut" LeRoy. I could have easily just listened to them carry on a conversation for the entire film.

Finally, I must mention that Southern Baptist Sissies is a filmed live performance of Shores' award-winning play with an audience, which works quite well - especially in the close-up shots. You feel like you're right there on stage with the characters as they share amusing stories and sad memories while looking for love - or at least a really good friend.

Show time: 12 pm, Saturday, November 9, at the Logan Theatre (2646 N. Milwaukee)
Running time: 135 minutes

Click here to read my recent Groovy Guy interview with Del Shores, and click here for my 2009 Deeper Dish interview with him.

For a complete schedule of films at Reeling31: The Chicago LGBT International Film Festival (which runs November 7 - 14), go to You can purchase tickets online (click here) or in person at Chicago Filmmakers (5243 N. Clark) Monday - Friday 10:30 am - 6 pm. You can also get the latest festival news by following Reeling on Twitter and Facebook. And click here to read all my reviews.

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