November, 1999, Margaret Cho is home in San Francisco at the Warfield Theater. Cho structures her monologue loosely on her professional life's trajectory: doing stand-up, cast in an ABC-TV ...
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November, 1999, Margaret Cho is home in San Francisco at the Warfield Theater. Cho structures her monologue loosely on her professional life's trajectory: doing stand-up, cast in an ABC-TV sitcom, losing 30 pounds in two weeks for the part, the show's cancellation, a descent into booze, pills, and self-loathing, and a resurrection into her own voice, her own shape, and being the one she wants. Along the way we visit Karl Langerfeld in jail, a lesbian cruise ship, a TV Guide photo shoot, a hospital, bars, and her family's Polk Street bookshop. Takes on being a fag hag, speeding up felatio, casual daily racism, and her mother's phone messages highlight a scabrous, brilliant performance.Written by
I... am a fag hag. Fag hags are the backbone of the gay community. Without us, you're nothing. We have been there... dragging your sorry ass through the Underground Railroad... We went to the prom with you...
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The idea of concert films has always stuck me as a bit odd. What's the point of paying to see a MOVIE when really you're just seeing a stand-up routine or concert like something you'd see on HBO--since the "live, in person" aspect is missing, what's the point? Aren't movies all about seeing something you couldn't see in a play or on a TV show? I still haven't resolved this cinematic question for myself, but I can tell you that this movie is more entertaining than 99% of what Hollywood studios produce. I defy anyone to see this movie and not have a great, gut-busting time (prudes excepted, perhaps). So much of what's been written about this film says that it's essentially just about her experience with her failed sitcom, but, in fact, that's just one of several set pieces of the film. The best bits have to do with Cho's mother (her imitation is both hilarious and a bit touching), and Cho spends a lot of time on gay-related bits (many of which are genuinely funny). But what I discovered about Cho through this movie was that one of her greatest strengths--what sets her apart from her peers--are her facial expressions, which are versatile and always dead-on. Many times, the punchline is not a snappy line, but rather, Cho's dead-on facial expression. Finally, I knew why, at least in this case, a concert film format was appropriate: unless you had front row seats to the show, there's no way most audience members at the live show could enjoy Cho 100%, but the movie camera allows us to see her every facial movement (before erupting in laughter). Unlike an HBO comedy special, this film does have a serious emotional throughline--that being Cho's quest to accept herself and be happy. The comedy gets raunchy but is always funny; the entertainment value of this film--made on the most simple terms--far surpasses that of most movies made today. Highly recommended. (p.s. when I saw the film in Los Angeles, Cho was on hand at the theater to take tickets herself; she is deservedly very proud of this movie).
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