Reviews

Kate Clinton: DVD Review

By Jeff Walsh

I've always been a fan of stand-up comedy. Hell, I keep threatening to do it.

When I first came out, I devoured the Out Comedy specials that were big deals at the time with Bob Smith, John McGivern, Marga Gomez, and Kate Clinton, to name a few. They were a new breed of stand-up comics, talking about their lives in largely straight comedy clubs across the country, as well as to appreciative gay audiences in urban areas. I remember taking a timid gay friend to a Lea Delaria concert in the early 90s, and sitting us front row center. He had no idea who she was, and I had as much fun watching his horrified face as we became part of her act for a huge chunk of the night.

I remember Kate Clinton as a bookish, proper former teacher, and just seeing her joke that someone "couldn't say lesbian if her mouth was full of one," was so surprising because it was so at odds with her demeanor. I loved her.

Innocent: DVD Review

By Jeff Walsh

"Innocent" is a movie about a 17-year-old character named Eric who is surprised to learn early in the film that his family's vacation in Canada from their homeland of Hong Kong is permanent. They intend to stay.

Eric is dealing with his homosexuality, but is not the shy waif innocent we're used to seeing in movies, despite the film's title. He stars as his cousin's ass in the shower, sleeps with a middle-aged man who sees him buying a gay porn magazine, goes right in for the kiss with his schoolmate, and seems like there might be a spark with a worker hired at the family's restaurant. He may be awkwardly dealing with his sexuality, but he seems pretty clear about it.

The movie, by Simon Chung, seems to lack a central narrative that pulls you through the experience as a viewer. Eric has these dealing with his sexuality. His mother is trying to start a restaurant with the help of someone who seems romantically interested in her. The father is getting some extramarital action on his neighborhood jogs, and ends up returning to Hong Kong in the middle of the movie.

Review: Daphne Rubin-Vega's Redemption Songs

By Jeff Walsh

When I first received Daphne Rubin-Vega's latest CD, Redemption Songs, I went into it thinking it'll be good to catch up on her latest project. But I quickly realized that wasn't the proper mindset.

While I had seen her perform in both Rent and the Rocky Horror Show, this CD was technically her project, reflecting her choices, tastes and personality, and not another situation where she was hired to perform and sing in a certain way.

And, apparently, left to her own devices, Rubin-Vega wants to rock.

Jackass Number Two Unrated: DVD Review

By Jeff Walsh

"Jackass Number Two: Unrated" features another onslaught of clips that dance between the dangerous/stupid and the homoerotic. It is pure devil-may-care bedlam for much of the movie. I'll leave it for other sites to walk you through the dangerous/stupid, we'll focus on the homoerotic.

Let's just say that for a bunch of supposedly straight guys, they certainly enjoy one another's nudity. At one point, they have the old "test of strength" carnival attraction, where someone has to bring down the sledgehammer to send the weight up to ring the bell. In the Jackass world, the bell is removed and Bam Margera sits on top of it, so if the person hits it hard enough, the weight will slam into his balls. But before they even try it, Bam questions why they don't attach a dildo to the weight, he'll pull his pants down, turn around the other way so that if it gets that high, it can penetrate him. So, that's what they do.

Another Gay Movie: DVD Review

By Jeff Walsh

Before I say another word, I need to point out that this movie is not for the younger viewers of the site. In the commentary track, the director mentions wanting to make the "gayest movie ever," and succeeds, but it is way, way over the top. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing.

The movie is about four friends, all high school graduates about to enter college after summer vacation. The foursome are also, to use their term, "booty virgins." So, they all make a pact to have anal sex before the end of summer. The movie is patterned off of both the American Pie and Scary Movie series, so there is nudity, gross-out humor, and parodies of other gay movies throughout.

Totally Joe: Book Review

By Jeff Walsh

With "Totally Joe," James Howe plays with structure and the absence of conflict in a gay teen story. The book is written as a year-long class assignment called an alphabiography, where students have to write 26 entries about their life, starting with the letter A, each with a life lesson that related to what they wrote about. So, by the time we finish the book, we know 13-year-old Joe Bunch from A to Z.

Reading this book, I kept thinking of the Justin character from Ugly Betty. You do watch Ugly Betty, don't you? It is so much fun. Anyway, on Ugly Betty, Justin is Betty's nephew who is just accepted by the family, even though, it seems pretty clear he is completely gay. He is played perfectly by Mark Indelicato.

Company: Broadway Review

By Jeff Walsh

Going into "Company," I had a lot of questions running around my head. Chief among them was: How can I be a theater queen and only now be seeing my first Sondheim show? When I looked in the Playbill, I was surprised how many of the show's musical numbers sounded familiar. Even though I hadn't been to a proper Sondheim production before, I've been to enough piano bars, cabarets, and Elaine Stritch one-woman shows to ensure more than half of the songs were known quantities.

The other pre-curtain pondering was about director John Doyle's staging, whereby there would be no orchestra (repeating the formula he recently used for his restaging of Sweeney Todd). The actors all play instruments onstage to accompany themselves and others during the songs. When I mentioned how this would be a strange hurdle to absorb, to a friend who isn't that fond of musicals, he said, "Oh yeah, unlike them all breaking into song randomly..." Point taken.

DVD Review: "Fixing Frank"

By Jeff Walsh

"Fixing Frank" is an engrossing movie that tackles the subject of conversion therapy. When the movie starts, Frank is in a session with Dr. Apsey, saying things that clearly show him to be a self-hating homosexual. We quickly learn that Frank doesn't really hate himself, but is working with his therapist boyfriend Jonathan on an article to discredit Apsey's practice of helping homosexuals become happy heterosexuals.

The movie is a claustrophobic puzzle that gives each character a positive portrayal. It would have been so easy to make Apsey into a villain, make him a former homosexual himself, or stack the deck against him in many other ways, but Ken Hanes (adapting his stage play to the screen) never takes the easy path. Apsey is compelling and caring, and seems well intentioned.

Spring Awakening: Broadway Review

By Jeff Walsh

Spring Awakening is the newest show on Broadway (at the time of this writing), fusing together the text of a controversial-for-its-time play with a rock score by singer/songwriter Duncan Sheik. Fusing the two elements together made for some great musical moments and some interesting dramatic moments, although they rarely overlapped. First, we are in a Latin class in a German school in 1891, then one of the kids reaches into his jacket, pulls out a microphone, and all of the angst from the previous scene fuels the song as the electric guitar and drums kick into high gear.

I liked both sides of the show, the classic play and the rock concert, although it rarely seemed to fuse into one experience. When it did, such as the close of act one, when the young couple make love on a miniature floating stage, as the singing cast sit around them, rocking them slowly, and singing "I Believe," it was inspired magic, the reason people go to the theater, a moment of pure exhilaration when every element of the production combined flawlessly to create something greater than each of its parts. The cast, the music, and the audience all went somewhere else together in that chorus, and came out the other side better for the journey.

Avenue Q: Broadway Review

By Jeff Walsh

I'll admit up front that I was hesitant seeing "Avenue Q," primarily because the people who talked it up got really excited when The Muppet Show was released on DVD. They reeked of bias. Not that I'm anti-puppet, necessarily. It was always an issue of "but there are all these other shows to see with, like, people in them." My fears ended up being misguided.

"Avenue Q" admittedly doesn't take itself seriously, but it's not self-referential or a send-up of a Broadway musical done with puppets, either. The show stands on its own. The songs are all fun, well-written, and memorable. The strangest thing to process was the puppeteers performing onstage with their puppets on one hand and wands to move the puppet's arms in the other. The natural inclination was to look at the puppeteers, despite them being clad in neutral tones and delivering their performances through their puppets. They often had the same expressions as their puppets, and were fully invested in the role so they were singing fully and passionately (it wasn't ventriloquism). But after a while, you'd realize that the scene, songs, and sightlines were all happening between the puppets and the human actors playing other roles onstage, so you eventually shifted your focus.

Little Miss Sunshine: DVD Review

By Jeff Walsh

Little Miss Sunshine walks a fine line for the duration of the movie. It always seems in danger of being too self-conscious, too precious, or too cutesy, but never crosses the line where you stop being pulled into its world.

Kinsey Sicks "Oy Vey In a Manger" review

By Jeff Walsh

In the grand tradition of Christmas music being sung by Jewish people (See: Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, and almost every CD in the holiday section of your store), The Kinsey Sicks deliver their entry with "Oy Vey In A Manger: Christmas Carols and Other Jewish Music."

'Wedding Wars' Review

By Jeff Walsh

"Wedding Wars" (airing Monday, December 11, 9 p.m. ET/PT, on A&E) is the story of two brothers. Shel is a gay party planner hired to plan his brother Ben's wedding. Ben is marrying the daughter of the Governor of Maine. It's an election year, and the governor ends up going on the record that he opposed gay marriage, which offends Shel. Shel goes on strike and causes a nationwide movement of gays who refuse to go to work.

OK, I'll go on the record right up front that it isn't the most realistic movie, if you're looking for politics. But, that said, if someone like me, living in the Castro in San Francisco, watched this and thought it really hit the mark... then people that really need to see it would hate it completely.

RENT Review

Review by Patrick Martin

"How do you connect in an age where strangers, landlords, lovers, your own bloodcells betray? What binds the fabric together when the raging, shifting winds of change keep ripping away?" -- "Rent", from the rock opera Rent

"Rent rent rent rent rent.....," as the multicultural chorus of 15 blares out at the climax of the violently powerful opening number of Jonathan Larson's amazing rock opera Rent, which has taken American theater by storm. "...everything is rent."

Dueling Gingrichs: Newt's lesbian sister's accidental activism

By Jeff Walsh

Her book is called "The Accidental Activist," and Candace Gingrich is making the most of this accident. Her book tracks her Speaker of the House brother Newt like a lesbian version of the documentary Roger & Me, in which a laid off auto worker tried to meet the head of General Motors. But for Candace, she actually meets her brother. He doesn't say anything of merit, though. Just flip remarks about her busy speaking schedule and an offer for a face to face meeting he wouldn't honor.

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