Film Night in the Park, the long-running Saturday night summer movie series that hopscotches from neighborhood to neighborhood, scales back its formerly ambitious schedule this year. Perhaps recognizing that even hardy San Franciscans don’t relish sitting outside during the typically fog-shrouded months of June and July, the programmers have narrowed their focus to four Saturday nights from Aug. 4 to Sept. 22. The limited run, which features Lady Bird, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Black Panther, allows for an unofficial unifying theme: coming of age.
Growing up doesn’t necessarily refer to gaining maturity, mind you. In the movies, the journey usually involves recognizing—and embracing—one’s identity, and destiny. Such is the saga of the adult protagonists of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (Saturday, Aug. 4 at Dolores Park), Stephan Elliot’s 1994 Australian road movie about a pair of drag queens played by Hugo Weaving (who went on to ride the CGI of The Matrix) and Guy Pearce (ditto with the noir stylings of L.A. Confidential) and a transgender woman (the remarkable Terence Stamp, who just celebrated his 80th birthday). Embraced as flamboyantly outrageous on its release, Priscilla is less shocking but just as entertaining and relevant today.
En route from Sydney to a cabaret date in faraway Alice Springs, the trio encounter various forms and flavors of Aussie machismo and prejudice. The heart and soul of the film, though, isn’t the reactions these lifelong outsiders engender in strangers but the ways they acknowledge their sexuality, loneliness and grief. ABBA can only carry you so far, you see. Then again, perhaps we’d all find it easier to be courageous and vulnerable if we were buttressed with Lizzy Gardiner and Tim Chappell’s Academy Award-winning costumes.