By Jeff Walsh
When you watch a movie called "The Big Gay Musical," you know what you signed up for. The only question is, will it deliver? Thankfully, this movie gives you all the laughs, songs, hot guys, and camp that you expect going in.
The movie centers on two actors playing Adam and Steve in an Off-Broadway musical. It has a queeny God, hot muscular angels, and a lot of campy dialogue with double entendres, like this one from their time in the Garden of Eden:
Adam: Last night, you figured out how to pull the skin back! It's so much better that way.
Steve: I know! Now, I really like bananas!
So, yeah, that's the kind of show to expect.
Offstage, the guy who plays Adam is sorting out how he feels about dating, monogamy, and hookups, whereas the actor playing Steve isn't out to his highly-religious parents, who are coming to opening night. With a few other characters and the slutty angels in the show, it ends up being just campy enough, just sexy enough, and with just enough heart to make it fun to watch.
By Jeff Walsh
"Camp Out" is a documentary that follows a handful of gay Christian teens attend the first summer camp exclusively designed for them. Many of the teens feel pulled between the gay community and the God community, with each demonizing the other on a regular basis.
All of the kids are in their mid- to late-teens, and out to their parents. One of the girl's mother was very enthusiastic about the notion of a summer camp where her daughter could explore both spirituality and sexuality.
"You can have both those two together? That's awesome!" she says.
Like any reality show or documentary, narratives begin to form between the kids. There are crushes, friendship, bonds, and situations in which people aren't uncomfortable. This ranges from gay guys who aren't very comfortable doing sports activities to one of the boys feeling uncomfortable by a game of Truth or Dare.
By Jeff Walsh
Bangkok Love Story is a fun, highly stylized gay movie from Thailand that certainly swings for the fences. Everything about it plays for maximum effect. It's sort of a Brokeback Mountain set in the underbelly of Bangkok.
Cloud is an assassin hired to kill Stone, a police informant, but he doesn't pull the trigger. In a gunfight, the two escape handcuffed together and Stone nurses Cloud back together and falls in love with him. (The gay angle isn't really evident before that happens, but if there wasn't a gay angle I wouldn't be writing this, so you know it's coming anyway). Their relationship takes a turn when Stone gives Cloud a bath on a rooftop in downtown Bangkok, which turns into quite a charged, erotic scene on the rooftop.
But nothing about Bangkok Love Story is subtle. Cloud's mother has AIDS, and his younger brother Fog is HIV+, both from his stepfather. Cloud is married, but cannot deny his love for Cloud, who freaks out after their sexual encounter and cuts off contact.
Having watched many gay-related movies, Keillers Park felt as though I had already seen it. We have a closeted gay man, Peter, who's engaged to a woman, and ends up being propositioned by a gay man, Nassim, in a park, they have sex and fall in love. Peter's fiance "discovers" that he's gay when he tries to penetrate her from the behind, because that is, apparently, a sure giveaway. Straight men NEVER have anal sex with women! Of course not...
It seems as though you're supposed to feel bad for the Peter, but he comes off as a bit of a jerk. The only thing that makes you feel bad for him is the fact that his family disowns him for being gay. Other than that, he isn't exactly likable. Though, as far as the story goes, it's hard to tell if it's an intended distaste or poor character writing.
I wouldn't call this movie entirely unoriginal, however. On top of this story line there is a shred of originality. The overlying theme is a murder mystery, and you're plagued with the question of whether or not Peter murdered his lover.
By Jeff Walsh
"Glue" sort of defies every pigeonhole you try and put it into, yet still leads to a rewarding experience. It probably helped that I had no clue what I was putting on, just popped the DVD in and hit play.
The characters fill in pretty quick right from the start. The lead is Lucas, a gangly but cute boy who listens to the Violent Femmes and sings in a band with his hot, hunky friend, Nacho on drums. At this point, my mind starts to assemble what lies ahead... OK, here we go, Lucas is gay, and has a crush on Nacho... but then we meet Andrea, a mousy girl that wears glasses. I try and fit her into my mental version of the movie, that she's sort of Lucas's fag hag, or that she and Lucas both fancy some Nacho, but then why does it seem that Lucas is flirting, too? Who likes who in this thing?
Eventually, I gave up trying to predict things and let the actual movie happen, which is a good thing because the focus and clarity I kept trying to force on the movie never happened. As much as I prattle on about not labeling your sexuality, it was sort of interesting to see it in effect. Lucas and Nacho had a definite physicality between them, at times it seemed homoerotic, other times just familiar. By the movie's end there are a lot of lines and labels crossed, but it's a satisfying journey.
Nathan and Maggie have many things in common: they are both in their 20s, they both have boyfriends, and they both have a weird, complex love for one another.
Nathan is a writer who gets an assignment to write a travel article about Napa Valley and its romantic hot spots. He invites Maggie to go with him.
On the way, the two stop to visit Maggie's best friend and ex-boyfriend. While Maggie is inside making dinner with her friend, Nathan is outside making "friends" with her ex.
After catching up with old friends and making some new ones, the two continue on their travels. Maggie tries to reconnect and get closer to Nathan, but he seems to keep her at a distance.
By Jeff Walsh
Live in Cartoon Motion is a perfect document of Mika's quick rise to fame. In a world of YouTube celebrities, gossip playing a bigger role than talent, and further examples of ADD culture, Mika actually made his name with infectious tunes, a fun live show, and of course, playing the "is he or isn't he?" game with the gay press. (I think the prancing around onstage and sheer bombast of his songs answers the question.)
The DVD features a live concert taped in Paris, an hour-long documentary as Mika travels through Europe, all of the music videos off his first album, and three songs performed acoustic. Seeing that he only has one album to his credit, the Paris show is pretty similar to the show I saw in San Francisco, building up to "Grace Kelly" and closing with the naughty-sounding bubblegum pop of "Lollipop." The concert is almost as much fun on DVD as it was in person. He really throws himself into the songs and projects such amazing, fun energy onstage.
Seeing as Mika was sick and having throat problems while they were filming the documentary, presumably for the Paris show, and when I saw him in San Francisco, it really makes me wonder how good his concert would be if he were feeling well. If this is him on a bad day, it certainly makes you wonder.
Noah's Arc in a nutshell is an African-American, male version of The L-Word with less drama. Having only watched a couple episodes of the first season and not really knowing what had previously happened I found it very easy to jump right into the second season. There were a few things here and there that I didn't understand right away but understood.
Noah is a screenwriter who is finally becoming successful. Many bumps and turns make an already hard process of turning a screenplay into a movie becomes even harder when Noah's lead for the movie wants Noah to change the movie from gay to straight. Things only get worse when Noah's ex, Wade, shows up with a new boyfriend. Wade and Noah have never gotten over each other but is there too much between them to get back together?
While watching Show Me, my first instinct was to love it because it is Canadian and lesbian and I'm a Canadian lesbian.
It's hard for me to say whether it's a good movie or a bad movie. I was biased going into it because of the Canadian aspect. If I was forced to make some kind of decision, I'd have to say it's pretty good for a Canadian movie but as a movie in general it was only okay. I enjoyed it and would watch it again but it won't be one of those movies that never come out of the DVD player.
After shooing away two squeegee kids, Sarah calls her girlfriend Sam to ensure she is going to meet her at the cabin for their tenth anniversary. Sam is busy trying to resolve a hostile takeover and cannot make it up to the cabin. The whole time Sarah is making the phone call the two kids, Jen and Jackson, are staring her down, so she rolls down her window and offers them money. They immediately jump into the car, insist they only want to go to the next intersection, but end up hijacking her.
Please God, when will it end?
That was the only thing I could think of when watching the utter monstrosity known as 29th and Gay.
I wanted to like this movie. I really wanted to like this movie. There's such a lack of authentic gay comedies, I wanted this one to be an indie gem to be treasured.
Needless to say, that was not the case.
James Sanchez is a gay man who has just had his 29th birthday and is feeling the pressure of settling down. He's a wannabe actor who works at an amusement park/movie studio. He has an enormous crush on the coffee boy at the local coffee shop, and engages in several hijinks while spying on him. His best friend and former roommate Roxy, a woman looking for a cause after turning into an activist for no apparent reason, tries to give him sound advice about dating. His other friend Brandon, a flaming queen, drags him out to clubs and hooks up with various boys, leaving James to his own devices. His parents are extremely supportive and try to acclimate to the gay lifestyle that they think their son is living.
Sounds hilarious right?
I'll admit it; the only real reason I wanted to see Loving Annabelle, a film focusing on the taboo relationship between a teacher and a student, was for the high hotness factor. Well, the film did deliver in the hotness capacity, but it delivered in so many other ways as well. I was pleasantly surprised to find this film well constructed and, for the most part, very believable.
Annabelle, played by the talented Erin Kelly, is the daughter of an absentee-mother-type who is also a Senator. When she begins attending a Catholic boarding school she quickly makes a lasting impression among the students and the staff.
Annabelle is rebellious, tempestuous, and unapologetic (hot). Ms. Simone Bradley, played by Diane Gaidry, is quite the opposite. She is closeted and very tempered. Despite their differences, the two fall in love with one another. The film explores their relationship but manages to do so without being too preachy in favor of either side of the teacher/student relationship debate.
By Jeff Walsh
"3 Needles" tells three stories across three continents, all about HIV. The film, which comes out on DVD today, has an impressive all-star cast (Lucy Liu, Chloe Sevigny, Olympia Dukakis, Stockard Channing, Sandra Oh, and Shawn Ashmore) and a sprawling story about how HIV affects so many lives in so many different ways.
When I learned it was had three different stories, my assumption was they would be intertwined into some jigsaw that all came together toward the end. But, in large part is it just three linear stories told in sequence.
While I appreciated the message of the movie, and found each segment interesting, the movie overall didn't seem to provide me with enough of a hook to recommend it strongly to anyone. The film looks great, really taking advantage of its settings in China and Africa especially, and it is all acted well. But for whatever reason, the whole seemed less than the sum of its parts.
By Jeff Walsh
"Shortbus" is a movie that I have a hard time getting my head around. On one hand, it is best known as the movie where the actors all have actual sex and orgasms, which is why it is clearly and defiantly unrated. On the other, it is about what lengths people go through to find intimacy and connection in a world that seems orchestrated against it.
So, I love the themes it explores and what it is trying to achieve, but I just didn't think the combination worked for me. The movie starts with nearly every character in the movie engaged in some form of sexual activity, so there is no crescendo where it builds up to the nudity, it all starts immediately. So, if you're not ready for a lot of gay activity and frontal male nudity, they get you out of the theater or pressing STOP on your DVD player pretty quickly.
For the people that stick around, there are a few intertwined narratives where the characters search for connectedness.
I just had an idea about the contests Jeff has been setting up.
Lots of the movies that have been removed, I would like to see, as I'd imagine everyone else would. And since they are relatively difficult to find (for some people) it'd be nice to trade around the ones that have been won.
So maybe it'll work something like this:
By Jeff Walsh
"The Graffiti Artist" is a small, hypnotic gem of a movie. Nick lives a world detached from other people, just skateboarding through Seattle and Portland, spray-painting his signature tag "Rupture" everywhere he can, stealing what he needs, and crashing where he gets tired.
It's easy to dismiss this movie (in fact, someone watching it with me couldn't stand it, because they said nothing happens and the acting was so stilted), but that wasn't my take on it. I saw the tagging as his version of leaving his mark on the world, the only way he learned how to fully express himself. The constant need to tag seems to be that he has so much inside of him he wants to get out, he just doesn't know how.
At a skate park, Nick can't stop watching this one guy, following him after he leaves. He sees the other kid tag a wall, and then skate away, making eye contact right before he leaves.
By Jeff Walsh
In "Boys Briefs 4: Six Short Films About Guys Who Hustle," the question that never gets answered for me is why this has become such a pervasive image of gay culture. For a while, it seemed impossible to go to a gay film festival without at least half of the stories being about gay hustlers. And, most of the time, they don't have all that much to say.
This DVD is certainly the rule, and not the exception, as far as that stuff goes. Here we have six films and, aside from one, they are all about hustlers who don't really like their situation.
I can't really recommend this collection, because it's all so self-hating and negative overall. The positive moments are too few and far between. In this one, our host pretends to be a hustler, but it's more of the same stereotypical street hustler talk that is pretty familiar at this point.
By Jeff Walsh
I'm always of mixed opinions about short films, for much the same reasons I don't read a lot of short stories. They always seem to fall into three categories: art pieces that barely say anything, pieces that hold promise for a lot more that end too fast, and intricate pieces that would never be able to sustain their "house of cards" structure in a longer form. So, I guess it's safe to say I'm biased going in: to me everything is viewed in relation to its ability to be addressed in a longer form.
"Boys Briefs 3: Between the Boys: 8 Gay Short Films About Hooking Up" is very clear from the get-go about its intentions when its cute Asian host, Erwin Saracho G., starts the proceedings off by taking a shower with the roving camera panning up and down his body, then he towels off, sits down on the edge of the bathtub, and introduces the first film. All of his interstitial content is done in little tight bikinis, or shirtless, and as much as I'm fine with cute naked boys, I guess I felt a bit slighted that it was felt that I needed this stuff to keep me interested. As you'll read, though, sometimes I did.
By Jeff Walsh
"A Love to Hide" takes place in 1942 Paris, as the country is under German occupation during World War II. As the movie opens, we see Sara escaping, and learn to find that she is Jewish, her family was killed, and she barely escaped alive.
She goes to see Jean, an old friend she knows from when their families used to vacation at the same place each year when they were just kids. She always had a crush on Jean, who sets her up to live with Philippe, his friend. Jean's family owns a laundry that has no choice but to deal with a lot of German military officials to stay in business, so it isn't safe to keep her with his family.
As Sara wonders whether her childhood crush on Jean will turn into something again, now that they are adults, she sees Jean saying goodbye to Philippe, and their kiss lets her know her future with him isn't likely to happen.
By Jeff Walsh
There exists a subset of movies that tries to make you think there is a good movie happening at a level that you don't understand. There is vague symbolism, knowing glances between characters, shifts in shooting style, all a clear tip-off to people who "get it." The subset keeps you quiet for fear of dismissing a movie that seems dull and contrived on its face, but where you risk being exposed as a cinema fraud if you say the emperor isn't wearing any clothes.
On the high-end, I've felt this way about critics' darlings like "Syriana" and "Half Nelson," and on the low end, part of me thought there certainly had to be more going on in "Garcon Stupide," a French movie by Lionel Baier. The movie centers on its young protagonist, Loic, who meets guys online and has sex with them. He doesn't want to know their stories; it isn't intimacy, just sex. He lives with a girl who lets him crash for free, and listens to his vague plans to better himself.
By Jeff Walsh
For gay horror fans, "Hellbent" is a dream come true. A killer is loose in West Hollywood, decapitating his gay victims, on the night of a huge Halloween carnival.
The film follows most of the traditional horror conventions: the killer who walks slowly yet always seems to catch his victims, sex leading you to an early death, and the lack of any real motivation for why the killings are happening in the first place.
The movie begins with a gay couple making out in a car near a park. We see silhouettes nearing the car while they pull their clothes off, but with not much room in the back of the car, one decides to hang his head out the window to give them more room. And just as his partner is pulling down his pants, instead of getting head he loses one. Roll title sequence.