Friday, February 8, 2002

Video Review: Oliver Button is a Star

(Written for Lavender Magazine, Issue #175, February 8, 2002; never published)

Featuring Tomie dePaola, Ann Bancroft, Bill T. Jones, Kevyn Aucoin and the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus

Get our your hankies (of whatever color)—this documentary manages to be both heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time.

“Oliver Button is a Star” started life as a piece commissioned by the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus for their “Rainbow Connection” concert of 2000 and scenes from that concert are an integral part of the documentary. It is a happy twist of fate that that performance morphed into this documentary. Producers John Scagliotti and Dan Hunt, who also did the “Before Stonewall” documentary, heard about this TCGMC project and thought it might make a good documentary.

There’s a lot to like about it. The four celebrities (DiPaola, Bancroft, Jones and Aucoin) all come across very well. Of the four, Bancroft seems like she got the best deal growing up, but even her experience is bittersweet—what she was, wasn’t okay. DiPaola’s, Jones’ and Aucoin’s stories are just plain heartbreaking, even if you haven’t had the experience yourself but moreso if you have. The home movies of the celebrities are a nice touch.

The Men’s Chorus concert performance of the story with Dipaola as narrator and with a wide-eyed, rubber-faced Chris Mellin as Oliver in an integral part of the documentary. It’s another heartbreaker that ultimately triumphs.

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