BendFilm 4: Gay Comedy, Pioneer Drama

Ewan McGregor and Jim Carrey lock lips (The Sundance Institute)

In his new movie, Jim Carrey is gay. So is Ewan McGregor.

In real life, the 48-year-old Carrey has been married twice, has a 23-year-old daughter, and this spring ended a five-year relationship with sexy Jenny McCarthy. And McGregor, 39 … well, he and his wife Eve have been married for 15 years and have three daughters.

But in “I Love You Phillip Morris,” Carrey and McGregor “hook up” in an outrageous romance based upon a true story.

The film has been showing in Europe and Asia since spring, but because of its explicitly gay content, it had to be re-edited before it could be released in the U.S.  The first general screenings are now scheduled for December.

“I Love You Phillip Morris” is one of two major non-award-eligible features being presented at this weekend’s annual BendFilm festival. The other is “Meek’s Cutoff,” a western adventure filmed in the eastern Oregon desert near Burns and Harney Lake. Both are likely to make a splash well beyond the film-festival circuit.

Carrey and McGregor (celebitchy.com)

“I Love You” is the story of Steven Russell (Carrey), a happily married police officer and church organist who undergoes a dramatic personality change after a violent car crash.

Russell moves from Virginia to Miami and leaps into an extravagant gay lifestyle, which he quickly discovers he cannot maintain without becoming a grifter. Jailed for fraud, he is booked into the state penitentiary,where he meets quiet, sensitive Phillip Morris (McGregor) and falls madly in love.

From that point, his devotion to freeing Phillip leads him through one con after another, not unlike Leonardo DiCaprio in “Catch Me If You Can.”

“I Love You Phillip Morris” screens at 8 p.m. Friday (Oct. 8 ) at the Old Mill Regal Cinema 5.

Meek's Cutoff: Harney Lake wasteland (fanpop.com)

Quite opposite in sentiment and scope is “Meek’s Cutoff.” This western epic recounts a tragic episode in Oregon Trail history. In 1845, three families hired gruff mountain-man Stephen Meek to guide them on the final leg of the trail, across the high plateau and the Cascade Range.

Insisting he knows a shortcut, Meek takes the families and their ox-drawn wagons into a desert of rock and sage, where they become lost. When a native Paiute crosses their path, the pioneers must deal with harsh moral dilemmas: Do they trust their natural enemy? Or a guide who has proven himself unmoving and unreliable?

Written by Jon Raymond and directed by Kelly Reichardt, the movie was described by one reviewer, Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir, as “a quiet, beautiful and terrifying fable. … Its mood of desolation, danger and desperate faith affected me more powerfully than anything else I saw … at (the) Toronto (International Film Festival).”

The Oregon premiere of “Meek’s Cutoff” screens at 10 a.m. Saturday (Oct. 9) at the Old Mill Regal Cinema 5.  It stars Michelle Williams and Bruce Greenwood.

In all, 89 movies will be screened at five locations in Bend and Sisters over four days, beginning Thursday night. Individual BendFilm tickets are $10; a full film pass is $95.  Order online: http://www.bendfilm.org, at festival headquarters in the Liberty Theatre building on Wall Street, or at the door.

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