By ALAN SCHERSTUHL
By CAROLINA DEL BUSTO
By AMY NICHOLSON
By STEPHANIE ZACHAREK
By R. Scott Moxley
By CHRIS KLIMEK
By Aziz Ansari on Naughty Pics
The film version of John Cameron-Mitchell's glam-rock stage musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch was little-seen even by art-house standards during its original release in 2001 and today appears to be spawning one of those adorable/annoying cults of the Rocky Horror variety. But for those lucky few who saw and truly responded to this singular and electrifying picture, the (genital) warts-and-all documentary Whether You Like It or Not: The Story of Hedwigis purest gold.
We learn all about the peculiar genesis of the film's hapless, transsexual, would-be rock superstar heroine; get examples of Mitchell honing the character as he takes her from truly pitiful gigs in New York's drag-club scene to her illustrious debut on the silver screen; and see a selection of other performers in the role—including former brat-packer Ally Sheedy. As we are introduced to Cameron-Mitchell, we come to see that despite his claims the character is inspired by a baby sitter he had during his childhood stay in Berlin, there's something more than a little Hedwig-like in his own mix of sharp honesty, fast wit, emotional fragility and occasional bitchiness.
For his next picture, Cameron-Mitchell is apparently planning a mix of Cassavetes-style improvised drama and hardcore pornography, a film that mixes tears and money shots like none have before. Whether the project is an instant classic or a fiasco, with Hedwig, he has already given us one of cinema's rawest, most naked and affecting characters.
Whether You Like It or Not: The Story of Hedwig screens as part of the Newport Beach Film Festival at Edwards Island Cinemas, 999 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 253-2880; www.newportbeachfilmfest.com. Tues., 11 a.m. $8.
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