The longish, gnomic title of Marie-Elsa Sgualdo’s found-footage quasi-documentary collage “You Can’t Do Everything at Once, But You Can Leave Everything at Once” (2013) belies its brevity but underscores its cryptic capriciousness. Clips drawn from the archives of Swiss television are used to illustrate the story of her mother’s childhood, which is described in an elliptical, insouciant voice-over that does not fully conceal the underlying trauma.
As in Guy Maddin’s “My Winnipeg” (2007), the juxtaposition of image and text is odd but apt. There are shots of children at play, on the beach, on a farm, or roughhousing in a schoolyard but the incidents related are like those from a nightmare or fairy tale. They evoke a mood of horror and wonder that seems true both to childhood experience and its recollection.
The story begins with Sgualdo’s mother’s conception on a couch to mismatched parents. Her mother is free-spirited and beautiful (represented by shots of a coltish, teasing Brigitte Bardot); her father is besotted, despairing, and violent. Her mother runs off with another man, and Sgualdo and her siblings are shunted off to her grandfather’s farm.
There her uncle molests her. Her furious grandfather punishes his son by leaving him naked in the middle of nowhere, but the uncle would then avenge himself by killing her dog. Later her father would take her and her two brothers to the marketplace in order to lure in a new wife, who becomes their stepmother.
Sgualdo concludes with a snippet of what looks like an early-’60s TV interview in which a woman says that at 20 she is too young to get married and her life would be over if she had children. It’s better to have adventures, she says, by traveling and “bringing back a movie or something constructive.”
“You Can’t Do Everything at Once, But You Can Leave Everything at Once” can be seen on the Criterion Channel with Agnès’s Varda’s similarly whimsical and profound semiautobiographical fictional feature “One Sings, the Other Doesn’t” (1977) as part of the package “Women’s Pictures.”
Faced with the ongoing post-2016 election anti-LGBTQ backlash, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus decided to leave the sanctuary of their diversity-embracing hometown to venture into Southern states that had recently enacted a series of regressive discriminatory laws.
David Charles Rodrigues’s documentary “Gay Chorus Deep South” follows the chorus’s weeklong tour (along with the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir) of Mississippi, Tennessee, the Carolinas, and Alabama. It focuses on members from that region who were forced to leave because of homophobia and family rejection. Now they come back hoping their music will touch the souls of those they left behind.
Among them is the group’s conductor, Tim Seelig, who 30 years ago had a wife and two children and was the music director for a Southern Baptist congregation. When he came out as gay he was ostracized, lost his home and family, and his life was nearly ruined. Now he returns with the chorus to the church that rejected him. Another chorus member is Jimmy White, whose father disowned him when he discovered he was gay. White hasn’t seen his father in years but hopes he will come to hear him perform back in his hometown.
Perhaps the toughest audience is a conservative talk radio host. On the air, with Fox News silently broadcasting on a TV screen in the background, he and Seelig converse awkwardly but civilly, and agree that despite their differences they both believe in the value of mutual understanding and the healing power of music.
“Gay Chorus Deep South” screens at 7:45 p.m. as part of the newportFILM Outdoor Series at the Breakers, 44 Ochre Point Ave., Newport R.I. It will be preceded by a live music performance by members of Collegium Ancora at 6:30 p.m. and followed by a Q&A with film subjects Chris Verdugo and Jimmy White.
Nobody puts Buddy in a corner
Popular culture of the ’80s and early ’90s would not have been the same without Patrick Swayze. He starred in some of the era’s most popular and prominent films, including Francis Coppola’s “The Outsiders” (1983), “Dirty Dancing” (1987), “Ghost” (1990), and Kathryn Bigelow’s “Point Break” (1991). Just about everyone of a certain age who lived through that time recalls a signature scene from one of those movies (I’m a fan of the moment he shockingly dives out of an airplane in “Point Break,” a stunt he performed by himself). He was a beautiful man whose stunning physical grace and presence seized the screen no matter what the movie. He died in 2009 at 57 of pancreatic cancer.
Director Adrian Buitenhuis’s “I Am Patrick Swayze” (one in a series of his “I Am” docu-biographies about deceased stars, including Heath Ledger and Paul Walker}, features numerous clips from the films, interviews with costars, colleagues, friends, and family members — an impressive list that includes his wife, his brother, Demi Moore, Rob Lowe, Jennifer Grey, and Kelly Lynch — and archival interviews with Swayze himself. Among the ones with Swayze is a famous tête-à-tête with Barbara Walters in which he weeps when she asks him about his father (“Big Buddy” to Swayze’s “Little Buddy”) who died suddenly at a young age.
From the often-hagiographic testimonials emerges a troubling portrait of the actor, a man driven by a need to please an idolized father and driven by the demands of a near-abusive mother to excel at horse-riding, ballet dancing, sports, and acting and to be the toughest and most charismatic alpha male wherever he might be.
But Swayze felt he never could convince Hollywood that he was more than just a sex symbol and a star, though his performance in Roland Joffe’s tepidly received “City of Joy” (1992) suggests otherwise. Maybe that’s what drove him to drink when many of the rival actors of his generation — such as Tom Cruise, his costar in “The Outsiders” — have started the second act of their careers.
“I Am Patrick Swayze” can be seen on DVD ($13.99 from Amazon) and VOD.