Reviews

Special Thanks to Roy London: DVD Review

by Jeff Walsh

When Brad Pitt and Geena Davis won their top acting awards, one of the people they were sure to thank was their acting coach, Roy London. London, who died of AIDS in 1993, had been a successful Broadway actor, playwright, and character actor, but he really found his passion in life teaching other actors.

This DVD is an oral biography, told through the people who knew London best: his students, lovers, and friends. He never allowed his acting classes to be recorded, never wrote down his acting methodology, and, save for two brief interviews shown within the documentary, his legacy only lives on in the hearts and minds of his students... and now this DVD.

It is telling that when describing London, the interviewees (featuring Patrick Swayze, Geena Davis, Sherilyn Fenn, and Garry Shandling) can barely come up with similar basic information about London, such as his height or weight. It becomes clear during the film that his method was about being the teacher each student needed him to be and gladly inhabiting that role to watch them grow as people and actors.

The Masseur: DVD Review

by Jeff Walsh

The Masseur intercuts between two extended storylines. In the first, we see Iliac as a 20-year-old masseur that is having a session with a slightly older gay man. The other storyline in the movie focuses on the death of Iliac's father, which occurred on the same night, and he goes back to his small hometown in the Philippines for the funeral.

While sex work is always a dramatic backdrop for gay films, it does seem that we are missing a normal view of what gay life is in the Philippines. The guys working in the massage parlors always seem to be smart and mature, and their clients lonely and needing intimacy, but most of the time I am left wondering why he can't make money as something other than a sex worker, and why his client can't find a relationship.

I'm not extrapolating here. Iliac doesn't seem to enjoy being a sex worker, and his client does talk about wanting a relationship. But is it because there are no jobs for Iliac in Manila? Is there not much of a gay life there, which prevents his client from exploring his sexuality elsewhere? These are the questions raised that don't really get answered.

Punish Me: DVD Review

by Jeff Walsh

Punish Me is an interesting title to be reviewed on Oasis, merely due to the fact that its "gayness" is apparently due to a sadomasochistic affair between a 16-year-old boy and his 49-year-old female probation officer. The movie, whose distributor's tagline promises "movies from a gay perspective," pretty much gives us heterosexual S&M here, so I was a bit confused by that.

The basic rundown is we see him on the basketball court get knocked over for not passing the ball. In the shower, he lovingly strokes the bruise on his back, and we know he likes the pain. He gets saucy with his probation officer, to the point where she finally slaps him across the face. He likes it and, in a surprise to her, she does too. And so it goes…

So, just a quick review to point this out, given the fact that the DVD box art seems to only show a hot guy with the words "Punish Me." The press materials note that the lead actor was in a popular gay film before, and the female lead is an out actress. And I'm not saying it is necessarily a bad film, just be forewarned, there's nothing gay to see here…

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.

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.

Music with a Twist - Revolutions: CD Review

by peanut_gallery

I am a firm believer in albums -- I believe that they have their own sound that comes from all the songs they have on them put together. Revolutions is all 90's. It is absolutely a throwback to my youth. We all know what 90's music sounds likes, even if we can't describe it- an awkward mix between hair bands of the eighties and the later evolution of boy bands in the new millennium.

In the interest of holding someone's attention, I'll only review the tracks that particularly stood out to me. The first track, Standing in the Way of Control by The Gossip, made me jump when I first heard it. I was completely blown away. It makes you want to dance, and the lyrics are a powerful imperative to stand up and have a revolution. According to Wikipedia, it was written by the lead singer as a response to the United States government's decision to deny gay people the right to marriage.

The second song, Come Over Here, is a slow, moody song that, I believe, is asking all GLBT folk to come out, once and for all.

True Colors: Concert Review

By Jeff Walsh

I go to a lot of concerts. It isn't a rare experience for me. I see the big bands in the huge arenas and the up-and-comers in the clubs. But I have to say, the True Colors Tour was an incredibly rare event.

For those of you who don't know, True Colors was put together by Cyndi Lauper, and at the tour stop I caught in Berkeley, featured The Dresden Dolls, Debbie Harry, Erasure, and Cyndi. (It also featured openers The Cliks and The Misshapes, but to be honest, I was having dinner when they played.) The entire show was about gay and gay-friendly acts getting together to raise awareness. From the moment you entered the venue, when you were given a purple "Erase Hate" rubber bracelet from the Matthew Shepard Foundation, to the big HRC logo above the stage, it was clear that this event was going to be different.

And, throughout the show, the crowd was just delightful. I'd never seen so many people smile at strangers, be generous, loving, and I think all of that amazing positive energy is what transformed the crowd into such a communal dancing party by the time Erasure came onstage. It was a crowd without ego, pretense, or drama (oh, and there were a lot of hot guys, too).

The Curiosity of Chance: Movie Review

By Jeff Walsh

"The Curiosity of Chance" is a gay movie that plays with all the conventions of the teen movies of the 1980s. If Duckie were gay and had his own movie, this would be it (and if that sentence made no sense to you, you really need to catch up on your John Hughes flicks).

From the outcast friends, the bullying jock, the jock that Chance has a crush on, and the caricature of a principal, all of the familiar elements are here. But, for some reason, it never seemed to take those building blocks and go in a different direction. I'm not complaining, but it just seemed the movie was so close to being really unique and amazing, something was missing that prevented it from happening.

I think it might be that according to 80s teen movie archetypes, Chance would have been in the sidekick role. Here, he is the main character, and his story doesn't really have the gravitas around which to spin the whole movie. I mean, can you really "out" someone who already wears top hats, eye patches and such to school? Even in the 80s, I would have to say no, even if you did have a photo of them in drag.

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