Archive for the ‘Gay’ Category
Tuesday, May 17th, 2011
First Run Features is releasing Best Gay Shorts and Best Lesbian Shorts on DVD May 17th. I think there should be more DVDs like this, that gather up the best short films and present them so film buffs can check them out. Here are the movies on the Best Lesbian Shorts disc:
25 Random Things I Did During My Big Fat Lesbian Depression (****4/10)
Long, self-indulgent…just like the title! Chris Russo basically does a one-woman show that just isn’t terribly funny. Or gripping. Or…anything, really. Poor way to start the set.
At The End Of The Street (*******7/10)
After a breakup, a confrontation between estranged lovers lead to a fight over a table. Which is really, it seems, just an excuse to show up at the ex-girlfriend’s house. Then an encounter with a man that also deals with the table is eye-opening. Polish, with English subtitles.
The best film on the disc. Swedish with English subtitles. A lesbian couple comes apart at the seams on Katrina’s 40th birthday, as she reveals to her partner Sara that she is pregnant with the baby of a mutual friend. Their daughter becomes involved, and a canoe. Poignant and heartfelt.
Parental Guidance (******6/10)
Two little kids have grown-up words stuffed in their mouths as they discuss their parents’ marital woes. The little girl has two moms, the little boy has two dads, and they are all on a camping weekend. The parents are fighting, the kids are precocious, and it all ends very quickly.
Public Relations (********8/10)
A wonderful little movie starring two beautiful young women. Both women work as assistants to horrible women (cleaning their houses, booking their appointments, getting birthday gifts for their rotten spoiled children), and have talked only over the phone from LA and New York. Now their bosses are moving to the same city, and the girls can finally meet and fall in love.
Meh. A lifeguard obsesses over a woman taking swimming lessons in the pool where she works. Dreams and fantasies and so forth. But no one in the movie compels me to more than a passing interest – and at 7 minutes, a film shouldn’t feel “long”.
Tech Support (*******7/10)
A sweet short about two women who connect over the phone when one of them calls for tech support and the other one answers. Some pretty weak “acting” in this one, considering it’s all dialogue, but it works and has a sweet ending. Nice. Included above in this review.
Tools 4 Fools (***3/10)
Even at 8 minutes, this self-indulgent, not-funny dildo infomercial is way too long.
You Move Me (******6/10)
A woman helps her friend move out of her old house after she breaks up with her girlfriend. Apparently they need a massive U-Haul truck for one little trunk full of stuff…and there is some really odd (and possibly offensive) native American role-playing lesbian stuff going on. But it works!
Monday, May 16th, 2011
First Run Features is releasing Best Gay Shorts and Best Lesbian Shorts on DVD May 17th. I think there should be more DVDs like this, that gather up the best short films and present them so film buffs can check them out. Here are the movies on this disc:
Three teenage boys sit on their front porch and watch the pickup football game in the street, each of them fantasizing about one of the players. Well, they are all fantasizing about the same player, who comes to visit them in their daydreams (and sometimes in the bathtub). Interesting, with a surprise ending.
I think the best short on the disc. Two guys hook up at a bar – one of them hopes the one-nighter will lead to more, the other appears to be more interested in a one-off hookup. Great dialogue, good performances, and another (kinda) surprise ending.
Curious Thing (*******7/10)
Interesting look at a gay man (Bernardy) and his straight best friend (Wilkas), and the dynamics in that relationship. No dialogue between the two stars, it’s all narration from (presumably real) interviews with gay men in New York talking about their relationships with straight men.
The funniest short on the disc, this time Wilkas plays the gay man, and his best friend is Jenn Harris. She wants him to help her conceive a baby “the old-fashioned way”, and he obliges. The awkwardness in the bedroom is palpable and hilarious, and the series of revelations along the way make this a really quick and entertaining 12 minutes.
Gaysharktank.com is one of those dating websites where people click through a series of chats to find someone they might want to date. Or hook up with. Or rob. A woman is on there with a picture of her husband, trying to see if anyone has seen him. Another guy is casing out peoples’ houses, presumably to hook up with someone who has stuff worth stealing. It’s an interesting premise, with some scenes that are very funny. It goes on a little long though. 15 minutes? Come on!
My Name Is Love (*****5/10)
Swedish, with English subtitles. Two guys have a chance meeting and share a deep, dangerous secret. And then have an affair. This could actually have been a little better if it were longer. I was interested in the premise…and then it was over.
Mouse’s Birthday (*****5/10)
Weird. Just plain weird. A mouse, a cockroach, and a gay man with a massive mohawk and no shirt dance around and…well. It’s less that 4 minutes long, and I posted it up top on the review if you want to check it out. A note here – the Barry Morse who wrote and directed this short is NOT the same Barry Morse who played Lt. Gerard in The Fugitive fifty years ago. That Barry Morse passed away in 2008.
An award-winning short about two men stuck in a steam room who have nothing to do except talk to each other. Eventually they explore their pasts and…talk some more. Decent dialogue (and there better be, considering that’s all there is) and an interesting talk. But still – it’s just 15 minutes of talking.
Tuesday, April 21st, 2009
“Protect us from committing acts you won’t forgive.”
To hear the review
To hear the review
This seems like an unlikely prayer to offer one’s God. In fact, to me, it seems counter-intuitive. That’s kind of saying to your best friend “I know you would never forgive me for sleeping with your wife, so if you could just keep her far away from me at all times we could avoid that, and I would appreciate it”. It really doesn’t make any sense. Simply the thought itself would likely anger your best friend. Or, at least, it would anger mine. I know this because when I said that previous sentence to him, he was very angry. But wouldn’t your God be angry as well? Wouldn’t it just be easier to renounce your God and move on without that religion?
Well, for me it would. And maybe for you. But A Jihad For Love is about people for whom that decision is simply not an option. Maybe because they live in an area where not being a Muslim is as dangerous as being gay. But mostly because their faith is as strong and as binding as their homosexuality. Like For The Bible Tells Me So, a terrific documentary released last year, A Jihad For Love deals with homosexuality and religion. In this case, it is the Muslim religion rather than Christianity. Both religions offer very interesting perspectives on the gay community. In both cases, it appears to be extremists in those religions that want to condemn homosexuality completely.
Most importantly, however, in both cases a religious case can be made for homosexuality as easily as it can be made against it. This is the reason the Muslims in the film have not turned their backs on their religion. They are fervent believers, and that belief tells them that they are the way they are because Allah made them that way. Almost all of them are aware that homosexuality isn’t something they have chosen to do, or someone they have chosen to be, but rather that they were born that way. And therefore it was Allah who ensured that they would be born that way. And just like the Christian bible, a careful reading of the Qur’an leads to multiple interpretations of the text – either homosexuality is immoral and evil, or it is normal and shouldn’t be punished.
A Jihad For Love doesn’t take a long look at the religion itself. It doesn’t question the religion. It’s just a fascinating look at the people who are caught in the precarious position of being both gay and Muslim. We meet many of these people, gay men and lesbian women, some of whom are willing to come out and speak about their sexual orientation in the context of Islam (one of them, an Imam in South Africa, is a very inspirational figure). Others are willing to speak about their lives, but only under condition of anonymity. Their faces are blurred, and they can’t be identified.
This is the biggest difference between gay Muslims and gay Christians. Gay Christians may be marginalized, and ostracized, and excommunicated and possibly even threatened. But they will likely not die because of their sexual orientation. Gay Muslims face this very real possibility in many countries around the world. Several of the men and women depicted in the movie are seeking asylum on humanitarian grounds, and they are heading for Canada and other safe havens around the world. They don’t want to show their faces because they still have family back in Iran or Egypt or other countries, and they fear that there could be retribution against their families shoudl they be outed.
The point is made in the film that “jihad” doesn’t only mean “holy war”, it means “struggle” as well. And theirs is, truly, a “jihad” for love. For the freedom and understanding to live their lives according to their nature and not according to the extremist elements of their religious affiliation. It’s a painful process, and you can see the struggle in each person as they try to reconcile the two. I like the fact that A Jihad For Love doesn’t talk to a lot of religious scholars, or religious figureheads, but rather lets these people tell their stories in their own words. The whole thing is subtitled – some of it is in French, some of it in Arabic, but the powerful words come through loud and clear.
There are some emotional scenes, like one of a young man on the phone with his mother, unable to see her and not knowing if he will ever see his family again. But the movie doesn’t rely too heavily on emotion either. It doesn’t delve too deeply into the punishments homosexuals face in Islamic nations, and it doesn’t hammer home the negatives. Instead, it shows us a group of people we’ve never seen before, in a heartbreaking situation, and we get a terrific character study that provides great insight into both the gay community and the Muslim community. A Jihad For Love comes out April 21st from First Run Features.
Tuesday, March 10th, 2009
“If it were true that children emulate their teachers, we’d have a lot more nuns running around.”
Milk is the true story of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man ever to win an election for public office in the state of California. He was shot and killed, along with the mayor of San Francisco, by a rival politician in 1978. We know all of this information going into the film, which focuses mostly on 1977 and 78, and the controversial statewide initiative that sought to ban gays, and their “supporters”, from teaching at public schools.
Through a taped statement that Milk (Sean Penn) reads just before his death, we see the movie mostly through flashbacks related to this tape. We also get to see archival footage – Walter Cronkite with the news, Anita Bryant and her crazed crusade against homosexuality – that creates a really great late-70s feel in the film.
The only bone I have to pick with Milk, really, is that it spends too much time introducing us to Harvey Milk. We get to see him hook up with a new boyfriend, move to San Francisco, open a camera shop, and begin to become politically active. But we’re not really getting to know him through all this. The real Harvey Milk shows up when he decides to take on certain local issues, and begins to become a voice for the gay community. I would have been just as happy had the movie started here.
But that’s a small issue when compared to the big picture, which is a very good movie featuring some very, very good performances. Emile Hirsch (Into The Wild) is a former street hustler who joins Milk’s campaign for city supervisor, adn he is almost unrecognizable. He’s also fantastic. James Franco (Spiderman) is terrific as Milk’s steady boyfriend Scott, and I really liked Alison Pill as Milk’s lesbian campaign manager when Scott left.
One actor I found unnecessary and distracting was Diego Luna, who played Milk’s new boyfriend, Jack. A crazy, possessive, lunatic boyfriend, he’s one of those characters who makes you cringe every time he shows up on screen, and makes me want to fast forward through his scenes so I don’t have to share in the embarassment he’s causing himself. But you can’t fast-forward at the theatre, can you?
The best performances in the film, however, are by Josh Brolin and Sean Penn. Of course, the Academy has already acknowledged this themselves, having nominated both for acting Oscars. Brolin is nominated for Supporting Actor for his role as Dan White, the rival politician whose bitter feud with Milk ends with the murder. A brooding, seething presence, Brolin still manages to remain reasonably likeable and utterly convincing. And Penn as Harvey Milk has done some of the best work of his already remarkable career.
Milk serves well as a terrific snapshot of the late 70s in San Francisco. The clothes, the characters, and the actors are all able to create a very convincing 70s gay Castro district scene. The movie also serves as an inspiration for a civil rights movement that still has gigantic challenges in front of it, and it functions as a pretty solid biopic of a very interesting man. I don’t think it deserved to be the Best Picture of the Year at the Oscars, but I do think it deserves to be watched by as many people as possible. It comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray March 10th from Alliance Films.
Tuesday, March 10th, 2009
The first half of Brokeback Mountain is excellent. The camerawork is sensational, and is reminiscent of some of the best work done by Terrence Malick in films like Days of Heaven and Badlands. Brokeback Mountain itself actually becomes a character in the movie, and Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger are almost irrelevant. Ledger, however, gives a terrific performance as a man who is simply struggling to communicate with everyone, including his gay lover Gyllenhaal.
Then the gay sex happens. It’s rather shockingly aggressive, and that sets the tone for the second half of the movie, which is NOT very good. It’s about an hour too long, and we sort of know what will happen before it does. Jake Gyllenhall comes off as more of a sexual predator than a lover, and Heath Ledger spends the last two hours of the film just trying to escape from this man with whom he has had an ill-advised fling.
Brokeback Mountain is much like Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. It starts off great, but by the two minute mark, we get it. No need to make the song seventeen minutes long, just jump to the end and save us some time. The fact that it is being released on Blu-Ray today is excellent though. The magnificent scenery and the filming alone in the first half will make that worthwhile.