That Reminds Me

Documentary focuses on lesbian hipster Frances Faye

When it was first shown in rough-cut form two years ago, Bruce Weber's documentary collage dealt primarily with his latest fetish object, college wrestling champion Peter Johnson, with occasional interludes about singer Frances Faye. Greatly re-edited, the film is now primarily about Faye, a lesbian hipster whose hard-driving style and witty patter made her a favorite among the top performers of the golden age of nightclubs, the late 1950s and early '60s. With footage of Faye in performance, and interviews with her friends and associates, Weber uses Faye as the base from which to branch out in bizarre directions. Usually the words "I was reminded of" are all we're given before he takes off after such varied subjects as actor Jan-Michael Vincent, explorer Sir Wilfred Thesiger, fashion doyen Diana Vreeland and Robert Mitchum. (Weber was planning to shoot a feature film of the actor when he died, and we see a fragment of what he shot.) Identifying Johnson as precisely the kind of straight athlete Weber desired in his college years but was too scared to approach, Weber reconfigures his quarry as a virtual son to whom he can introduce the sophisticated delights of his world. Well, not all of them: Were Johnson gay, it would be impossible to imagine Weber having any interest in him. After all, what fun is it getting a gay boy into a dress designed by William Ivey Long?

 
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