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Monday, September 15, 2014

Reeling Review #6: See Appropriate Behavior and BFFs at Chicago's LGBT Film Festival

I like funny ladies who make me laugh. And I was recently introduced to two actresses whose amusing performances in Appropriate Behavior and BFFs are definitely worth seeing.

The delightful Desiree Akhavan directed, wrote and stars in Appropriate Behavior, her impressive feature film debut that tells the story of Shirin, a young Persian woman in Brooklyn who breaks up with her girlfriend Maxine. We then follow her as she embarks on some new romantic - and often awkward - adventures, while at the same time flashbacks reveal the details of her relationship with Maxine (whom she still has feelings for). The film is very reminiscent of Annie Hall with Akhavan as a bisexual female Woody Allen - or "a little bit gay" as Shirin describes herself. And any movie that has a class of five-year-olds filmmakers shooting a remake of a scene from Hitchcock's The Birds is one whose quirky humor I can greatly appreciate. The supporting cast includes fine performances by Scott Adsit (30 Rock), Halley Feiffer and Rebecca Henderson (as Maxine), but Appropriate Behavior is all about the amazingly talented Ms. Akhavan, of whom I now consider myself a fan.

I've also become a new fan of actress Tara Karsian, who co-wrote and stars in BFFs, a comedy about two best friends, Kat and Samantha, who pretend to be lovers in order to attend "a healing retreat for couples in trouble" - and enjoy the nice pool. However, their participation in the intensive workshop exercises soon stirs up some unexpected feelings for one another. Director Andrew Putschoegl expertly directs an engaging ensemble cast that includes Richard Moll (from the sitcom, Night Court), Sean Maher and Russell Sams as a gay couple, and Karsian's actual mother, 87-year-old Pat Carroll, who briefly appears as Kat's mother. But it's Karsian who steals the film with her hilarious performance, and together she and co-writer Andrea Grano - as Samantha - made me care about their characters' evolving friendship while providing many laughs.

I look forward to seeing the next cinematic endeavors of both Ms. Akhavan and Ms. Karsian, and I highly recommend that you check out their current star turns in Appropriate Behavior and BFFs.

Appropriate Behavior
Show time: 7:15 pm, Thursday, September 25, at the Landmark's Century Centre Cinema (2828 N. Clark)
Running time: 95 minutes

Show time: 7:15 pm, Friday, September 19, at the Landmark's Century Centre Cinema (2828 N. Clark). There will be a post-screening Q&A with Andrew Putschoegl.
Running time: 90 minutes

For a complete schedule of films at Reeling32: The Chicago LGBT International Film Festival (which runs September 18 - 25), 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 Reeling reviews.

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