The Conservative Soul: Book Review

by Jeff Walsh

In "The Conservative Soul," blogger Andrew Sullivan (profiled in Oasis back in 1999) makes a heartfelt case for being a conservative. Now, before you start getting defensive, Sullivan says the term conservative has been hijacked and attributed to a set of political beliefs and ideologies that don't even resemble its origin, which he says is rooted in loss and doubt.

"The regret you feel in life at the kindness not done, the person unthanked, the opportunity missed, the custom unobserved, is a form of conservatism," he writes. "The same goes for the lost love or the missed opportunity: these experiences teach us the fragility of the moment, and that fragility is what, in part, defines us."

Sullivan spends a lot of time in The Conservative Soul exploring fundamentalism, and outlining one of the most simple reasons to which I have always attributed its popularity, which is the inherent comfort there is not having to question the truth. By living within strict rules, there is a surrender that is liberating. I think one of the biggest fallacies of fundamentalism has always been that it is simplistic when to its adherents it is the answer to eternal questions.

Naked Boys Singing: Movie Review

by Jeff Walsh

Naked Boys Singing.

Whatever thought pops into your head when you think of that phrase, it's probably a good idea to pay close attention to it.

If the notion of a bunch of naked theater boys singing phallus-centric songs for 90 minutes makes you smile, then you'll probably want to give this movie a tumble. If it sounds like torture, it probably won't win you over.

I must confess, I did see the live stage show twice, once in Los Angeles and once in San Francisco. As soon as I heard there was a Naked Boys Singing movie, my fear was they were going to try and reinterpret it for the screen -- a ghastly, incomprehensible idea. Thankfully, the movie (which is playing major cities this fall and coming to DVD in December) is just a filmed version of the stage show in Los Angeles. But it does bring up an interesting issue.

The Bubble: Movie Review

by Jeff Walsh

The odds are stacked against them from the moment they meet. Noam is a part-time Israeli Army checkpoint attendant. Ashraf is Palestinian. Soon thereafter, Noam lets Ashraf stay in Tel Aviv illegally with his roommates: Lulu, a female clothing designer, and Yali, an openly gay restaurant manager.

Their relationship tries to exist outside of politics, a place that doesn't really occur in Tel Aviv. They find out they actually grew up near one another, but segregation of Arabs and Jews kept them apart when they were young, and that sentiment has only gotten worse since they were kids. Noam's roommates do their best to accept Ashraf into their circle of enlightened left political friends, but the foundation is always shaky.

Director Eytan Fox (Yossi and Jagger) sets this modern, gay Romeo and Juliet right at the biggest cultural, religious rift in the world, but keeps the story at a human level with its small cast of characters. While the weight of reality constantly applying pressure, they still try to share joyful moments together, fall in love, make love, and dance.

Whole New Thing: DVD Review

by Jeff Walsh

Whole New Thing is a fun Canadian movie about a boy named Emerson, who starts middle school to raise his math scores after being home-schooled by his hippie parents all of his life. More accustomed to taking a naked sauna with his parents than socializing with kids his own age, Emerson encounters trouble when he gets to the new school.

Right off the bat, he questions the English's teacher's choice in literature, which gets him noticed by some kids after class. They start by commenting on his long hair.

Bully: So, are you a boy or a girl?
Emerson: Do I have to choose?
Bully: Most of us don't choose. We know.
Emerson: That's boring.
Bully: Are you insulting me?
Emerson: Not at all. I think you're cute.
Bully hits Emerson.

The Kinsey Sicks - I Wanna Be A Republican: DVD Review

by Jeff Walsh

I'd already reviewed this movie when it was playing festivals, but now you can enjoy the amazing spectacle at home on DVD. For all of the discussions on here about LGBT movie nights and movies appropriate for GSAs, this is certainly one that might not be obvious, but brings up a lot of other topics along the way, which would make for a good discussion.

So, for this DVD review, I'm mainly going to talk about everything else they put together and not the feature itself, as I already enthusiastically praised the movie enough. Be sure to go there to read the review of the feature.

The DVD does have a lot of bonus features that will reward your time. There are two separate commentary tracks, one with the Kinseys themselves and one with the crew. It is interesting to see how the show had to be morphed from its looser theatrical origins to be filmed. That is one thing I still can't get over, which is how damned good this thing looks. It is definitely a film and not some videoed performance that they just released after quickly snipping it together.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: DVD Review

by Jeff Walsh

"The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" is a film I'd always enjoyed. For the uninitiated, it is a drag queen road trip movie set in Australia starring Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving, and Guy Pearce. Watching the new "Extra Frills" edition on DVD, you really get an appreciation for what an amazing movie it is. It's a wonder it ever got made.

The costumes won an Academy Award that year, but were largely bought with someone's employee discount at K-Mart, and rarely held together longer than it took to shoot the scene, on the rare occasion they lasted that long. The shoot seemed to hit the breaking point for the leads on several occasions, and they took so long actually climbing in drag to the top of the mountain for one of the final shots in the movie that they had to be airlifted, one at a time, off the mountain by helicopter as the sun went down.

I'm big into deleted scenes, and audio commentaries, and this DVD doesn't disappoint in that regard. While I do wish there were more deleted scenes and such available, the director says pretty plainly that there wasn't much shot that isn't in the final film.

grl2grl by Julie Anne Peters: Book Review

by dykehalo

Phenomenal! Once again Julie Anne Peters had managed to create an amazing book that doesn't just speak to lesbians but to females of all ages. Peters's latest book, grl2grl is comprised of 10 short stories:

Passengers is a story about two girls who go to the same school for the past five years and never speak to one another. The only contact they make is a 20-second stare-down everyday on the train. Tamlyn is popular and into the latest trends; Andrea is the exact opposite. There are so many places Peters could have taken this story, but I don't think any of them would have ended up being quite as good as this one.

To go or not to go is the main theme of Can't Stop the Feeling. Mariah desperately wants to go to her GSA but taking that first step and actually going in is the hardest part. She makes up a plan with an excuse just so she can walk in and walk back out if she wants.

Wild Tigers I Have Known: DVD Review

By andyouwillknowme...

Wild Tigers I have Known, a film by Cam Archer, is about a 13 year old boy who struggles with his longing for another boy. Unfortunately, the edgy and often graphic nature of the film was so distracting that it was hard to sympathize with the character.

The very first scene you have of the main character, Logan, is a very tight shot of him masturbating. It is an extremely long scene, and it is right at the start of the movie. There was very little dialogue and very slow character development.

Other than the fact that it happens to be a topic that I relate to, this movie really doesn’t have a lot going for it. I have seen many GLBT movies, in fact I organize a GLBT movie night every week, and I had a difficult time relating to the main character.

Shawn Ryan: Concert Review

By Jeff Walsh

Shawn Ryan is a talented singer. You may have caught him last summer on America's Got Talent. You can hear him sing standards such as "Moon River" and "Blue Skies" on his website. But live in concert, as Shawn recently performed for a capacity crowd at the Herbst Theatre, he's something else entirely. In fact, he's many things.

Ryan wears his influences on his sleeve, and is quick to note that a shuffle across stage is his Bette Midler walk. A gesture is his Norma Desmond homage. A certain look is Barbra Streisand. Toss in a few more references to Ann Margaret, Judy Garland, and a few others, and after a night of cover songs, my biggest takeaway was: But who's Shawn?

Cut Sleeve Boys: Movie Review

By Jeff Walsh

Cut Sleeve Boys, which bills itself as the first gay British Chinese movie, is about two friends forced to look at their own lives as they grow older in the gay community after attending the funeral of a friend. Their friend had remained in the closet for his entire life, and his funeral doesn't represent the life of the friend they knew.

Mel is still hitting the clubs, but isn't as ready to settle down as his boyfriend Todd. He seems to fear the confinement of a relationship, but the alternative is to dwell in a world where who's hot changes as much as the fashionable clothes he wears.

Ash is very camp, but clear about his intentions. He wants a husband. After running into an old friend who is now a transgender with a hot boyfriend, he decides to turn to his old drag outfits and find a tranny chaser for himself.

The movie, which opens in San Francisco and Berkeley this Friday (and comes out on DVD on November 13), asks interesting questions, but the motivations behind most if not all of the characters is a bit murky.

I Now Pronounce You Boring and Stereotypical...

By Jeff Walsh

Umm, I try not to be overly-sensitive about things. In fact, I sort of hate political correctness, but I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry was just amazing in its ability to cart out every gay stereotype known to man, but tag one little message at the end and get the GLAAD seal of approval (further proof of its uselessness).

Granted, we are shown that this movie exists in a different reality from the start because every girl under the sun wants to sleep with Adam Sandler and he is the hot guy used on their fireman's calendar for February (Was James Mr. January and the calendar gets hotter as the year progresses?). I did like how that was used as a clue to the audience that the movie was not going to exist in actual reality. From the very start, we are given the rules by which the movie will play: Adam Sandler is one of the hottest things going on in this town. I'm fine buying into the conceits of any film, though. But come on, sure Adam Sandler can get any girl now, but I can't imagine that pre-SNL this was the case.

Rufus Wainwright: Concert Review

By Jeff Walsh

Rufus Wainwright suffers from a unique malady: he's too talented. Whereas many artists find a single groove and ride it over and over again, Rufus has no such problem.

If anything, the problem with Rufus is that his material is often so varied, it is hit or miss whether a concert will have enough cohesion to sort of rise above the "bunch of songs" vibe. The last time I saw him do a full set was the night he recorded his live DVD at The Fillmore, and he certainly brought the magic that night.

But tonight at the Nob Hill Masonic Auditorium, the show had a bit of a schizophrenic vibe, with Rufus switching costumes three times offstage and once in front of the crowd, and a set list running everywhere from dirges to pop to Judy Garland to Irish folk songs to Beatles covers to choreographed drag numbers. None of it was bad, it just didn't seem to have that "glue" that could hold it all together.

One To Another: Movie Review

By Jeff Walsh

"One to Another" is an interesting movie about a group of friends that center around Lucie and Pierre, a 20-year-old brother and sister. The siblings and their group of friends have an unique relationship that crosses the lines of friendship, sexuality, and intimacy.

One friend mentions that Lucie found the other better sexually, so he asks if he can watch them next time so he can improve. Even the brother and sister spend time naked together, although never cross the line further. The friends all hang out naked quite a bit. If a movie were to be judged on casting cute, young actors and getting them naked repeatedly, then this would be an easy film to recommend without hesitation.

Kinsey Sicks - Condoleezapalooza: Concert Review

By Jeff Walsh

The Kinsey Sicks ended its recent round of touring with a one-night-only engagement of "Condoleezapalooza," a show has been performed in tandem with "I Wanna Be A Republican" around North America for quite some time now.

The highlight of the show wasn't musical, however. It came toward the end of the night, as Winnie (Irwin Keller) pointed out former members of The Kinsey Sicks in the audience, and then announced that Trampolina (aka Chris Dilley) is joining that illustrious group. The news brought Dilley an immediate, heartfelt standing ovation from the appreciative hometown crowd. Because, after a while, the lines all sort of disappear and we all felt like a good friend announced he was leaving town. So, our loss will be New York City's gain, as Dilley starts auditioning to perform onstage as a boy (or not, he knows his way around in heels).

Kiki & Herb - Alive From Broadway: Theater Review

By Jeff Walsh

For more than 40 years, Kiki and Herb have been consummate entertainers. But you may want to check them out soon, judging from their recent "Alive From Broadway" show at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco (playing through July 29), a testament that not everything improves with age.

Their set-list shows that if you polish something, it can become beautiful and sparkling; but if you polish it too much over 40 years, it can become dull and the seams begin to show.

"Make Yourself Comfortable" is a song my grandmother probably sang along to in the late 1950s, the original recording still young and alive. In concert, though, the magic is all but gone; Kiki preferring to drink her way through one more gig, while Herb lets his seeming contempt for her frustrate him to the point where all the lessons he learned in anger management class drain out of him, his back-up vocals more invective than harmony.

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