Poster Boy: DVD Review

By Jeff Walsh

"Poster Boy" tries to be so many things, you end up wishing it just picked one thing and stuck with it. The movie is about a closeted gay son of a powerful right-wing Senator up for re-election. His father wants him to introduce him at a campaign stop at the son's school. The son has kept a low profile there and doesn't want to be associated with the campaign. Another guy hooks up with the senator's son and decides to out him at the event. And the movie is told with the framing device of the son finally telling a newspaper reporter the whole story of what happened leading up to the father's speech on campus.

Reading that, it sounds like a pretty decent movie, so let's drill down a little further. First of all, let's examine the framing device. Four months after a political scandal, the son is going to tell his story to the press? In politics, there's no such thing as four months for something like this. It would be an entire non-story at this point. The other thing, we have a reporter from a fictional San Francisco newspaper who seems to not get the gist of homosexuality, telling him he's a handsome boy, didn't he even try to hook up with some of the co-eds on campus?

Before The Fall: DVD Review

By Jeff Walsh

I'm not exactly sure how to review "Before The Fall," a German film about a young boxer who is trained in an elite German school during World War II. Part of the problem was that is was on my stack of gay DVDs to review for Oasis, so I went in with some expectations... primarily, that it has something to do with being gay. So, let me be clear up front, there is no gay content in the movie. Nein!

That said, it was a very well put-together story about friendship and standing up for what you believe in, as well as showing how easy it is for fascism to spread unchecked. (A message that is still, sadly, needed.)

The primary story is of a young boxer that comes from a poor family. Someone sees him box and asks him to box for the German military academy, so against his parents' wishes (they are opposed to the Nazis) he goes to the school.

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Transparent: Book Review

By Jeff Walsh

In Transparent: Love, Family, and Living the T with Transgender Teenagers (read excerpt), Cris Beam delivers a compelling glance into the transgender underbelly of Los Angeles, where primarily black and Latina trans girls (biological boys who identify as female) struggle with their identity, their families, their lack of money, and ultimately themselves as they pursue what to them feels natural.

When I started reading the book, my impression was it was going to be a non-fiction book in the tradition sense, where Beam becomes a fly on the wall, like a nature documentarian observing her subjects from a close enough distance to know their essence but not affect their natural patterns. This isn't that book. Beam herself refers to it as a memoir, to dispel any notions otherwise. From the very beginning, Beam plants herself in the book, first as a volunteer teacher at a run-down school for gay youth in Los Angeles, and through the book as a gatherer of their stories, their mentor, friend, and ultimately, one of the girls' foster mother.

Shock To The System: DVD Review

By Jeff Walsh

In "Shock to the System" (out this week on DVD), Chad Allen plays gay detective Donald Strachey in a noir murder mystery set against the backdrop of a gay "reparative" therapy program, and the crazy part is, it's actually an enjoyable, well-written, worthwhile movie.

I'm not sure why, but whenever I would see books like this in the gay bookstore with jacket copy exclaiming thrillers being solved by gay and lesbian detectives, well, I pretty much thought it was silly and a subgenre I really didn't want to know anything more about. I mean, what does being a gay detective bring to the picture exactly?

So, when I got the review DVD for this movie from Here! films, the second Donald Strachey movie at that (after 2005's Third Man Out), I was hesitant. My hesitancy didn't last long.

Looking out...

A regular feature that wraps up news items found elsewhere on the web about LGBTQ youth (and some additional randomness):

Win a signed copy of Alex Sanchez's Getting It!

This seems like one of our rarer contests, since Alex lives in Thailand, but if you want to win your very own signed copy of Getting It, the latest book by Alex Sanchez, the author of the Rainbow Boys trilogy, this is your chance.

Contest winners...

Here are the winners of last week's contest:

Robin De Jesus Interview

By Jeff Walsh

Like many people, I first saw Robin De Jesus when he played the lead role in the movie Camp, which continues to be one of my favorite gay movies. The movie features teens dealing with their emotions, crushes, and sexualities at a summer camp that puts on different plays and musicals the whole time. I felt that he was the heart of the movie, and beautifully captured the awkwardness of that age.

Since that time, I've kept tabs on Robin, seeing if he's in any shows whenever I'm planning to go to New York City and such. This past trip, when I saw the Rent theater, for a moment, I wondered if he was still in the company, but I already had tickets for other shows.

The day before I flew back west to San Francisco, Robin posted a bulletin on MySpace that previews for the new show he's in were starting the following day, so while I was landing in Oakland, he was performing in "In The Heights" at the first preview. The show opens tonight Off-Broadway (Break a leg tonight, Robin!) and sounds like a fun night out at the theater. I'll let you know in a few months.

Getting It: Book Review

In Getting It, Alex Sanchez delivers a poignant story about Carlos Amoroso, a 15-year-old boy who feels that life is passing him by. Unlike his friends, he's still a virgin. Even worse, he hasn't even kissed a girl. And the girl he wants to kiss most, the girl of his dreams doesn't even know he exists.

But when Carlos happens to sees Queer Eye on television, he gets an idea: if he asks Sal, the boy at school everyone says is gay, to give him a makeover, maybe the girl will finally notice him. Just as long as no one sees him talking to Sal and gets the wrong idea. Sal agrees to do it, as long as Carlos pays him and helps him start a GSA at their high school.

Sanchez really captures the awkwardness of adolescence in this light, quick read. Carlos and his friends speak with a shorthand and familiarity that pulls you right into their world and paints them all with a caring and humanity underneath all their hormonal sex talk. The story lets Carlos explore his negative and uncomfortable thoughts on homosexuality, as he slowly becomes friends with Sal.

Rainbow Boys: Book Review

By Jeff Walsh

It was strange to read Alex Sanchez's debut novel "Rainbow Boys" for the first time, knowing it had recently been banned from a summer reading list for its sexual content. Part of me had that at the back of my mind, wondering when it was going to get all hot and heavy… and then I hit the last page, wondering what I missed. It was a copy from the library, so maybe someone tore all the sex scenes out?

I should know by now that even implied sex between two teenaged boys is still too much for a lot of people to handle, but this is just a great book showing people in the early stages of accepting their sexuality taking their first awkward steps forward.

The three main characters are in their senior year of high school. Jason Carillo is the jock who decided to attend a gay youth group after talking to someone on a teen hotline. At the meeting, he sees two classmates (everyone's big fear when attending a local meeting for the first time), Kyle Meeks and Nelson Glassman. Jason isn't as surprised to see Nelson there, since he is called "Nelly" at school, and is flamboyant. But Kyle? That's a whole different story.

Legally Blonde: Pre-Broadway Review

By Jeff Walsh

With an opening song entitled "Omigod You Guys," Legally Blonde: The Musical clearly establishes itself as the latest offering in the trend of popular movies being turned into Broadway musicals. Whether or not you think that's a good idea overall, the real question is whether it will be the next Hairspray or The Wedding Singer? The Producers or High Fidelity?

But, having just gone to the show's opening night in San Francisco, two months before it opens on Broadway (it plays at the Golden Gate Theatre through February 24, details here), the show was certainly a crowd-pleaser. As much as I love to go to the theater to watch an emotional journey, learn about myself, and watch characters make breakthroughs that speak to the universal truths that we all know, well... that kind of expectation would make this show lethally bland. Besides, who would expect anything like that from Legally Blonde?! Duh!

The source material itself was a breezy movie starring Reese Witherspoon that sold itself largely on the spirit of her character and the way Witherspoon sold it so convincingly.

Alex Sanchez Interview

By Jeff Walsh

With the trilogy of books that began with "Rainbow Boys," Alex Sanchez created indelible characters that have helped thousands of gay young adults see fiction that reflected their lives. In his latest book "Getting It," Sanchez has fun with the idea of a straight teenager who wants to get the girl and, after seeing Queer Eye on TV, enlists the help of the gay kid in his high school to help him win her heart.

Sanchez spends most of his time writing in Thailand these days, so we did an interview over Skype recently.

Well, let's start with Thailand. That's interesting to me, because I spent six weeks there and actually wrote my novel longhand down on a beach on Koh Samui.

Oh, cool. When was that?

A little more than ...two years ago? Three? I'm just finishing it up now.

Excellent.

Mika "Life in Cartoon Motion" CD Review

By Jeff Walsh

"Life in Cartoon Motion," the debut album by Mika (released today in the UK, March 27 in the US), is the most assured, infectious first album to come out in quite some time. It is pure pop brilliance.

From the opening strains of "Grace Kelly" to the album's coda of "Happy Ending," Mika takes listeners on an aural journey through many styles of music. But each one is done with such authority, it never has the fractured OCD feel that plagues many albums that switch between many different musical styles.

"Grace Kelly" is the first track of the album, written as a kiss-off to music executives who wanted him to change his sound. The chorus of the song touches on his identity quest

What can I do to help Oasis?

I actually get that question a lot in private messages and e-mails, and I never have all that much to offer ya'll.

I don't really think of us as having relaunched yet, not really. Adrian still needs to roll out some basic features, and I still feel I'm managing a backlog of stuff more than letting the site find its groove. It still feels like I hijacked the front page of your site a bit too much, mainly because you don't have the option of entering through oasisjournals.com yet. I also anticipated launching the site a month and a half before we did, so I have a stack of things I've promised to review and I still feel like I have that hanging over me yet.

But since it keeps coming up, I guess the one thing anyone can do is link to us. From your facebook, myspace, livejournal, typepad, etc., put us there in your favorites. If you blog elsewhere and like something here, link to it.

Brent Hartinger Contest!

OK, to round out Brent Hartinger Week on Oasis, he is going to be giving away the following to TWO lucky winners, both of which will receive the following:

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