The recent TLA Releasing DVD of the highly erotic 2018 drama "M/M" proves both that gay-oriented films can successfully present the same themes as mainstream fare and that remakes can do a good job updating the source material, This tale of young Canadian (Matthew) in Berlin becoming obsessed with hot German stud (Matthias) is a highly stylized 21st-century version of the 1992 Bridget Fonda/Jennifer Jason Leigh thriller "Single White Female" ( a.k.a. "SWF").
"Female" center on the Fonda character fairly literally ending up with the roomie from Hell when she selects the Leigh character to share her digs. Like Matthew, the Leigh character transforms her new friend into the object of her obsession.
The accolades for "M/M" director/writer Drew Lint include the "Best First Narrative Feature" and "Outstanding Artistic Achievement" awards at the 2018 FilmOut San Diego.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "M/M" highlights the distinctly German surreal qualities of the film.
Our story begins in the Apple Store style apartment of Matthew. This tightie-whitie clad guy with the best bed head (no pun intended) ever is waking up when Mom calls from Canada, This establishes that our boy is a lonely lad with an active dream life.
The story fully develops as Matthew checks Grind'r while on his job as a pool boy at what either is a bathhouse or a very cruisy aquatics center. Good humor ensues as the app. explodes with photos of numerous Mr. Right Nows. However, Matthew makes eye contact with a clearly interested (and aroused) Matthias,
The especially strong indications at the end of "M/M" that all of this is an (aptly wet) waking or sleeping dream are a large part of what make the film unique.
The courtship/stalking begins with Matthew following Matthias into the locker room; this leads to several other instances of trailing the prey.
Things get even weirder as Matthew cuts his stylish 'do and changes his wardrobe to more closely resemble the man of his dreams. Taking things to the next level in a very modern fashion further fuels the obsession.
A boyfriend in a coma development turn takes things in a new direction as Matthew gets a chance to more fully slip into the shoes (and the bed) of Matthias. A not-so-guilty confession is admitting to fully losing track of the action at this point; this is more the fault of your not-so-humble reviewer than of Lint. The old-school lesson is to not blink or you may miss something.
Things become more complicated and tense as Matthew more fully immerses himself in the life of Matthias; the awesome ambiguity regarding all this is not knowing the extent to which reality splits from fantasy when (if not before) The Man From Atlantis steps into the shower.
"M/M" definitely will satisfy viewers with an interest in the erotic adventure of hot twinks; it also has enough suspense and twists to hold your attention on a higher cognitive level, All of this amounts to the movie being a good choice for a solo or couples night in on a cold night. The extent to which it inspires a Midwinter's Dream depends on the viewer.
The TLA Releasing DVD of the 2018 film "Boys" once again proves that gay-themed films can have broad mainstream appeal. This mixed coming-of-age and belated quarter-life crisis tale of everyguy Jonas largely is relatable to males all along the Kinsey Scale of sexual orientation.
The timelines of "Boys" alternate between the present in which Jonas is an early-30s Grind'r slut with a long history of hooking up with Mr. Right Now that is catching up with him and his mid-teens in which he is coming to terms with liking other boys "in that way." An incident in the present often triggers a flashback that helps fill in gaps.
The true beginning of our story is the first day of high school for freshman (in both senses of the word) Jonas. Comparable to many gay-themed coming-of-age films, the ninth-graders are gathered for an opening of the academic year assembly when new boy in school Nathan makes a grand entrance. Of course, he and Jonas lock eyes.
This leads to older-man Nathan manipulating things so that he and Jonas share a desk in their history class; this involves an interesting bros before hos conflict that is relevant to the present of Jonas.
The friendship without benefits between Jonas and Nathan goes to the next level when Nathan the corrupter convinces a willing Jonas to sneak a smoke and a smooch. This leads to a very cute romance complete with at least partial parental approval.
Meanwhile in the present, Jonas is released from police custody only to find that his live-in boyfriend is less-than-pleased to see him. This leads to Jonas finding himself homeless but not himboless.
The well-crafted extended climax (no pun intended) commences with Jonas seeking shelter at a local hotel. The cute and seemingly flirty desk clerk creates expectation of a room-service scene; however, what unfolds is much more compelling.
We learn that the desk clerk is correct in stating that he and Jonas have a history; these boys heading out for an evening of fun does end up with Jonas waking in a strange bed with no idea of where he is; stating that he subsequently experiences a walk-of-shame is a tremendous understatement.
This leads to the final pieces of the puzzle coming together in a manner that fully ties together the past and the present. We learn about how Nathan becomes the one who got away and hope that Jonas gets a variation of a second chance with him, Minimally, the aforementioned "morning after" provides our boy a wake-up-call that has potential to fully transform him from boyhood to manhood.
The most awesome part of this is that the closing scene that provides the sense of redemption also symbolizes recapturing lost innocence.
The gay-themed Dekkoo streaming service adding the 6-episode inaugural season of the stand-up program "OUT on Stage: The Series" on January 17, 2019 is VERY refreshing because it is seemingly is the only current forum for performers are not afraid to go there. The career-ending "objectionable" humor of many performers makes it refreshing to see these comics boldly go where many men now fear to tread. This site describes this as society going from fuck 'em if they can't take a joke to fucked if you tell 'em a joke.
Host Zach Noe Towers is a queer as fuck funny man who clearly loves his job. An amusing aspect of his role is following the seemingly obligatory gesture in the gay world of greeting people with a hug. The sincerity of this ritual with each guest reflects both the regard of Towers for him and the quality of the humor from that person.
Towers supplements his hosting privilege with a good set in the second episode. He shows good instincts regarding not beating a funny bit about "do overs" to death. His time on stage also includes a hilarious "trans-ginger" joke.
The diversity and the quality of "OUT" starts strong with with the first set in the first episode. Asian-Jewish man Jared Goldstein is a gay man's Julia Roberts (whose appeal still remains puzzling decades into her career) in that he is so adorable that he can get away with saying anything. Unlike Roberts, Goldstein is actually likable and cute.
The delight of Goldstein begins with this man who clearly has Asian features sharing that he is Jewish; he goes on to mine wonderful humor from his diverse background to the extent of commenting that his father is a typical Jewish man by marrying an Asian woman.
An unexpected omission is Goldstein not making a Kevin Spacey joke when discussing being a child in an adult world while performing on Broadway at the age of 12. For the record, your not-so-humble reviewer has a long-term online friendship with Anthony Rapp and has high regard for him as a person and an actor. At the same time, one can imagine Spacey arguing in his upcoming trial for groping a bus boy on a Massachusetts island that he just wanted to see if that 18 year-old was THE man from Nantucket.
Learning just now that that the Twitter handle of second performer Ranier Pollard is @RanierstheBest assuages any bad feelings about disliking his set. The question of whom does he have to fellate to get a spot may be literal in his case.
Pollard comes out in a muscle shirt and makes an obvious "gun show" joke. He then flexes and kisses his biceps. Much (if not all) of his performance centers around white people being afraid of black people. This includes asserting to be notorious and then stating that he is partially joking. There is no memory of any gay-oriented humor.
Good ole Southern boy Kyle Shire (who does not mention the Dykes of Hazard) is the first-episode clean-up act. His message that gay men come in all shapes and sizes arguably is the most positive message in the two watched episodes.
Shire also provides amusing commentary regarding straight people simply being labelled as such and gay people not having it that easy. The breeders in the audience get educated about the wide category of animals to which gay men are assigned. This takes thing well beyond the hankie in the back pocket system of the '70s.
The second episode of "OUT" ends with hard-to-pin down Brendan Scannell, who plays Heather Duke in the "Heathers" TV series. Even in this age of gender fluidity, this guy who has an overall twink appearance wears nail polish seems to directly straddle the fence. (Not that there is anything wrong with that.) He does a decent job, but Towers upstages him with a post-performance reference to a "pubes on the face" joke. A drum roll is apt in noting that Scannell should have seen that one coming (pun intended).
An entertaining bit from an unrecalled "OUT" comic about the limited fish in the gay dating sea and the clarity of that ocean perfectly describes the challenge of finding performers for "OUT." There is a limited population of gay comics. This is further narrowed by the folks who are willing to restrict their careers by being so out and proud.
The numbers shrink further when limiting the pool to folks with an amusing way of sharing an interesting perspective. The program does a good job separating this wheat from the chaff.
As mentioned above, "OUT" provides a good chance to watch edgy but inoffensive humor from the comfort of your own home. Friends of Dorothy will relate to most of the performances; folks who pride themselves on not being narrow both will have cause to feel good about themselves and enjoy enlightenment.
The TLA Releasing September 11, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 drama "Sodom" is a textbook example of quality art-house gay cinema. It centers around a relevant relatable theme and has good humor. Other attributes include a strong live-stage vibe and most intimate scenes being much more erotic than pornographic.
"Sodom" commences with the highly symbolic scene of 20 year-old footballer (my people call it soccer) Will being the victim of a homoerotic prank by his teammates during a trip. He is heavily made up, stripped of even his socks, and handcuffed face-front to a lamp post on a relatively quiet street.
This image prompts the first of many societal observations; the comment this time is that it is amazing that all-male organizations such as fraternities and sports teams that outwardly project aggressive masculine heterosexual images often involve at least copious naked horseplay and regulalry impose actual sexual domination on group members.
A related aspect of this supports the gay fantasy that at least 50-percent of men desire sex with other guys; personal and societal pressures are the culprits regarding sublimating these urges into what they can consider acceptable outlets such as team showers and fraternity hazing.
An amusing personal experience regarding the hang ups of guys who identify themselves as fully straight involves a high-school friend. This guy being a star wrestler and enjoying running naked in the gym hallways should have been a tip off back then.
This buddy shared several years ago that he sees a dominatrix every week. Further pressing prompted confessing that these sessions involve a strap-on. Pointing out the enhanced pleasure and humiliation benefits of being on the receiving end of the real thing prompted a "he doth protest too much" freak out.
Our regularly scheduled post continues with well-off 30-something man Michael discovering Will on his way home after an evening out. A team effort gets a still cuffed Will partially covered and into the apartment of Michael. Some of the aforementioned eroticism enters the picture in the form of a fully dressed Michael having a drink with a barely dressed and shackled Will. As expected, this leads to completely consensual sex with the restraints intact,
Micheal and Will sharing not-so-intimate details of their lives after having sex reflects the odd truth of old-school gay hookups, It is amazing that a guy will volunteer every small detail related to sexual activity within minutes of meeting a potential "buddy" but will not even share general information about his work or where he grew up.
Will literally and figuratively gets an out but quickly returns for another erotic scene, The rest of the story that comes out is that Will is not. The story that is familiar to most gay men is that Will has a history of messing around with a buddy, is engaged to a woman, and has mixed emotions.
The initially revealed story of Michael reflects both the rushed nature of gay relationships and the sad experience of many couples all along the Kinsey Scale. Many years with a soulmate lead to things getting stale; this prompts Michael to look for love with too many faces in all the wrong places. This leads to the soulmate becoming the one who got away.
The sweet portion of "Sodom" has the connection between the boys seemingly being strong enough for Will to realize the wisdom of "to thine own self be true" and to seriously considering uprooting his life to build one with Michael, This relates to several experiences that many of us have,
Any positive new relationship is exciting and can produce a high; a strong connection greatly enhances that sense. On top of that, travel magically increases the impact of any experience and can make the impractical seem feasible.
For his part, the prospect of a life with Will makes Michael believe that there is a way that he can recapture his past happiness.
One spoiler is that "Sodom" not being a Hollywood movie and young and cute Will not being doe-eyed or completely hairless prevents the road to a happy ending from encountering more bumps. Will coming down from his high and starting to think more clearly creates some doubt regarding his willingness (no pun intended) to upset the Adam's apple cart in ways that include telling his teammates where he spent the night and informing his fiancee that he cannot marry her because he now plays for the other team.
The final round of commentary in this post begin with the sad statement this time that staying in the closet has such a long tradition because it allows many men to adequately have their cake and eat it as well. The collateral damage from that is that the "other woman" is denied the desired relationship.
The rest of the story is that one cost of the tremendous advances in gay rights is the form of angst of guys like Will and men like Michael who fully embrace the idea of literally or figuratively putting a ring on it. NONE of the advancements should EVER be reversed, but this requires that guys who suppress their desire for intimacy with guys man up and choose a side in a manner that minimizes the emotional pain of those whom this affects.
The Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the 2017 gay-themed drama "Brotherly Love" offers insight into the mind of a nice 20-something guy on the cusp of taking his final vows as a Catholic brother. His dilemma is the extent to which his love of God conflicts with his love for his fellow man.
Another interesting aspect of this one is that it follows the pattern regarding the inverse correlation between the quantity of male nudity and the quality of the film; in this case, the limited amount of lewdness corresponds to this film having a solid mix of heart and humor.
The festival accolades for "Love" include writer/director/star Anthony J. Caruso taking home the Best Actor and the LGBT Film honors at the 2017 IndieFEST Film Awards. This 30ish guy plays Brother Vito Fortunato, who spends his days preparing to fully devote his life to God and his nights hitting gay bars with wild manchild best friend Tim.
The following YouTube clip of the Breaking trailer for "Love" nicely summarizes everything that makes the film entertaining in ways that include taking a moderate tone regarding a subject with which many devout Catholics struggle.
At the heart of the matter, "Love" addresses an unfortunate side effect of relatively new societal and legal equality for gay men. Vito being able to be openly gay presents him with the issue of reconciling his option of having a full life with Mr. Right (or a night with Mr. Right Now) with his desire to fully devote himself to the man upstairs. His supervisor and his two peers accepting his sexual orientation is nice to see.
A related theme is that Vito knows that God does not hate fags; the issue is that this deity requites that those who fully commit to doing his work downstairs take vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. Vito, who has tasted his share of forbidden fruit, is having the most trouble with the first two requirements.
The internal struggle of Vito ultimately distresses him to the point of reverting to his old habit of consulting with his former teacher Sister Peggy. Her nun sense solution is for Vito spend his summer working at a Catholic facility for AIDS patients. The manner in which the stars perfectly align regarding this trip either is divine intervention or movie magic.
Caruso does especially well portraying the relationship between Vito (who brings tons of baggage on his trip) and cute volunteer gardener Gabe Rimes (whose last name seems to have an extraneous letter). Gabe is a sweet and relatively wholesome guy who is a stranger to the alleys of Austin. Whether having a full life is something that he can do without Vito (make it without him) takes center stage.
The prelude to Gabe inviting Vito to see his double wide involves the boys engaging in friendly bantering as Vito engages with the clients inside while Gabe spends long hours hoeing out back. Many of us can relate to the Saturday night of Gabe consisting of watching "Golden Girls" reruns alone. An aside regarding this is that that series provided a bonding experience for gay men in the '80s. They would gather at bars to watch it during that not-so-enlightened era.
Watching Gato have a low-key first date is equally sweet and charming. Although "Love" does not address it, this courtship reflects that relationships in which sex does not immediately happen have the best chance of long-term success.
We also get to see a relatable senior-citizen gay couple; their bickering is hilarious, and they follow the pattern of many committed couples across the Kinsey Scale in that they show that opposites attract. The story of how they met is a "Loving" highlight.
We further get a twofer in terms of the tried (but not always true) methods of persuading someone to share a shower and to sleep in a bed rather than on the floor. A related note is that sometimes an act of kindness just is an act of kindness.
The best news is that this Summer of Love shows that some form of guiding influence provides two righteous dudes the opportunity for a happy ending.
Breaking almost always includes at least one bonus feature; they do especially well this time with a Caruso-hosted "behind-the-scenes" look. A highlight of this is a festival trailer with several alternate scenes that include some actors and sets that differ than those that appear in the final version.
The Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the 2016 drama "Play the Devil" combines the two best genres in the Breaking catalogs; edgy indie films and gay-themed movies about mutual objects of affection facing strong internal and external pressures. The copious symbolism and social commentary are icing on the cake.
The accolades for this one include major wins at the Nashville and Woodstock film festivals.
The following YouTube clip of a festival trailer shows how tone and style perfectly convey the nature of the central relationship.
"Devil" begins with the mother of all non-sequiturs that writer-director Maria Goven artfully ties into the final moments of the movie, which qualifies as the mother of all symbolism in films. These opening scenes are of two young guys apparently engaged in a rite.
The action then shifts to teenage prodigy/thespian Gregory stealing the show with his starring role in a high school non-musical with an aptly strong "Equus" vibe. This leads to successful middle-aged businessman James (who has a daughter in the cast) coming backstage after the performance to nag (pun intended) James to attend a party at his house. The combination of the overture and this being a Breaking release makes it abundantly clear that James wants to get Gregory on his casting couch and that that effort will succeed.
The early scenes further establish that Gregory fits several stereotypes in both his impoverished community on Trinidad and in inner-cities in the United States. He is a bright, ambitious, likable teen living with his loving grandmother because his parents are not equipped to raise a child. Gregory also has an older brother with a drug habit and a live-in girlfriend.
The pure methods of James regarding his relationship with Gregory include a desire to mentor him and to use his resources to help him pursue his dreams, which clash with the aspirations that his grandmother has for him. The impurity comes via desiring benefits from the unlikely friendship.
The not-so-subtle seduction escalates to James luring Gregory to his luxury beach house for a sleepover. The more subtle response of our boy clearly shows that he accepts with full knowledge that the older man wants something other than gas or grass for that ride.
Getting Gregory into bed does not require plying him with wine (drugged or otherwise). At the same time, our innocent seems to be acting mostly out of obligation and has serious regrets the next morning.
Gregory wanting to end things, but James wanting more relatively free milk drives much of the conflict in the remaining portion of "Devil." Multiple desperate times leading to desperate measures in the form of accepting further assistance from James does not help.
All of this occurs in the period leading up to the annual Carnival festival, which centers around a confrontation with a symbolic devil. The nature of the event this year is particularly personal for Gregory.
The drama this time begins with the two worlds of James colliding in a manner that may end him up in divorce court and estranged from his daughter. We also see that he once again makes a misdirected civic-minded gesture.
This leads to the inevitable final confrontation between James and Gregory. Even folks who are unfamiliar with the nature of Breaking releases know that this conversation will either end with a kiss, bloodshed, angry words, or some combination of the three. The final outcome is more surprising.
The appeal of "Devil" is the aforementioned substance of the film. Most of us want someone younger and cuter; many upstanding members of the community with an outwardly ideal life that includes a loving wife and offspring feel repressed in one or more ways, and help always comes at least with a sense a obligation. The almost impossible challenge relates to achieving a measure of joy in a manner that does not leave scars.
The DVD bonus features include a "making-of" film and a separate extra that has interviews with Gowan and producer Abigail Hadeed.
The Dekkoo Films August 28, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 gay-themed thriller "The Year I Lost My Mind" (nee "Jahr des Tigers") from writer-director Tor Iben provides a good chance to add a mildly erotic Hitchcockian thriller to your Halloween season viewing schedule.
"Mind" is the first (but definitely will not be the last) feature film for Alexander Tsypilev, who plays a literal peeping Tom. We meet this excitable 20ish boy buying a mask for a presumably nefarious purpose and soon learn that his preliminary objective is freaking out his sister on returning to the home that they share with their mother. We almost as soon discover that Mom is indulgent of Tom largely based on her understanding that he is not like other boys.
The real fun (and Hitchcockian element) begins when Tom and his partner-in-crime commit a daytime break-in of the apartment of studly 20-something gay-studies professor Lars. The kicker is that Lars (who apparently is a comatose sleeper) is taking a cat nap during this homo invasion and never wakes up. This encounter immediately triggers an obsession for Tom.
The following YouTube clip of a SPOILER-LADEN trailer for "Mind" provides a strong sense of the character study aspect, obsession, and overall suspense of the film.
The Hitchcockian vibe begins with the threat hitting close to home rather than the spooky isolated house. That setting and the related sense that someone has been in your home contribute to the familiar angst. We also get the element of fixation/obsession for which Hitch is famous. This is not to mention the building suspense that leads to the climax (no pun intended). One spoiler is that the outcome is not one that would ever enter the mind of notorious (pun intended) womanizer Hitchcock.
Another twist on Hitchcock is that Tom regularly returns to the scene of the crime both when sound-sleeper Lars is home and is away. Meanwhile, Lars gets direct and indirect evidence that a Goldilocks comes into his home while he is away. Those of us who have had a sniff-freak roommate can relate to Lars being perplexed regarding his underwear disappearing.
Ala Hitchcock and filmmmakers who emulate him, Iben has Lars almost catch Tom red handed. One twist is that it Tom likely fantasizes about being caught with his pants down but is unsure how Lars would react to finding him in that state.
One of a handful of inevitable outcomes commences with Lars literally and figuratively waking up and Tom being the one who gets away. This leads to Lars commencing a manhunt that concludes with deliverance. The lesson here is that boys will be boys.
An equally compelling portent revolves around Tom haunting a very busy wooded gay cruising area where he alternates between being the hunter and the prey; this setting also is one of two in which he acts on his deepest desire. The surreal elements of the trips into the woods are a highlight.
Much of the depth comes from the symbolic aspect of the masks, other psychological elements, and Lars providing gay-history tidbits. This is not to mention the depiction of male aggression being tied into sexual desire.
All of this amounts to a film that supports the theory that the erotic aspects of any movie typically have a converse relationship with the quality and depth of the film. "Mind" additionally successfully fuels paranoia related to losing intimate apparel and being sure that a personal item is someplace other than its prior location.
The Breaking Glass Pictures August 14, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 coming-of-age drama "Porcupine Lake" honors the spirit of equal time. This tale of big-city awkward tween Bea spending the summer near the titular body of water in rural Canada and entering an "its complicated" relationship with local girl Kate is a variation of the coming-of-age of a questioning boy bonding with a guy who is more sure about himself.
The following YouTube video of the Breaking trailer for "Lake" fully conveys the indie spirit and the new love vibe of the film.
Our story begins with Bea and her school-teacher mother arriving at the gas-station/diner that her father is running in the wake of inheriting it from his father. It seems that the family is reunited for the summer several months after Dad moves from Toronto to fulfill his family duty. Ambiguity regarding the level of estrangement between Mom and Dad is an intriguing element of the film.
Middle-class Bea literally soon catches the eye of upper-lower-middle-class Kate, who quickly makes a move on her future summer friend with possible benefits. Kate definitely is the aggressor in this relationship. It is equally clear that she is more developed on every level than Kate.
The primary focus is on this vacation romance in which Bea sells cheap trinkets outside the diner and Kate deals with her somewhat shameless family that includes aptly named teen stud Romeo. This playah does not let being a baby daddy affect his dating life.
Although the girls dream of a life together, Bea is more realistic than Kate. It is interesting that the fantasy of the local girl essentially includes a life of luxury in Westchester with her math teacher.
Writer/director Ingrid Venninger shows throughout "Lake" that she knows of which she writes; this is particularly true in separate scenes in which Bea expresses the extent to which she will go to be with Kate and Kate makes a heart-breaking breaking effort to escape her environment.
As indicated above, one of the nicest things about "Lake" is that is shows that both boys and girls do cry. One apparent difference is that boys who like other other dudes are much less comfortable acting on it and definitely are more reticent about activity that indicates that the opposite sex does not interest them.
The feature-length "making-of" documentary "The Other Side of Porcupine Lake" shows the love of Venniger for the project and the support of Breaking for the production. Getting to see every aspect of making this shot-on-location film that features locals with no acting experience is fascinating.
It is equally interesting to see multiple thespians audition for the primary roles. Although most hopefuls do a good job, one can easily understand the casting decisions. Seeing the actor who plays "Dad" with a significantly different look provides further entertainment.
One highlight is watching Veninger first find and then arrange to use one building for "Lake." The most fun comes on seeing a presumable prod. ass. literally strip down and take one for the team as Veninger puts him through his paces.
The other extras consist of additional audition footage and separate cast and crew interviews. The enthusiasm of the kids is fun.
The Dekkoo Films July 31, 2018 DVD release of their eponymous LGBTQ streaming service web series "Paper Boys" further proves that their boys fully understand the mind of the modern gay man (and boy). Copying reviews of past great Dekkoo reviews of their fare from Unreal TV 1.0 to this site is a current homework assignment.
The first sign that "Boys" and (Dekkoo) is a cut above the competition is an early scene in which a random boy coming across 20-something artist Cole stripped to his designer briefs in the course of changing clothes in an airport bathroom does not lead to a wham, bam, thanks dude encounter. Cole is newly arrived in San Francisco from New York and is freshening up for a job interview.
The impetus for the trip is a party celebrating the engagement of best friend Daren to Rebecca. This "happy" couple is putting Cole up on an air mattress in the living room.
The drama begins with Daren confessing to Cole that the engagement is a mistake and strongly indicating that he would like an out (mostly likely in more than one way). A more direct form of fantasy soon enters the picture (pun intended) on Cole discovering that his sketchbook is enchanted. This bewitching activity is in the form of everything that Cole draws coming true. The best scenes involve the artist and Daren testing that power.
Additional homolicious drama is in the form Cole confessing that he is a potentially long-term house guest as part of an arguably extreme effort to avoid his New York summer boyfriend Max. Subsequently running into Max in San Francisco teaches Cole that fleeing the scene of the crime is not always the most effective exit strategy.
This leads to Coren visiting the apartment of Max and his roommate Kalvin. Kalvin and Darren spending an entire party bonding in the bedroom of Kalvin provides an additional indication that Darren is realizing that he likes boys better the girls. Dekkoo further shows its quality in this regard by not having this outwardly straight guy engage in drunken or otherwise spontaneous sex with either Kalvin or Cole.
The drama amps up on the truth (if not Darren) coming out, This occurring in one of the worst possible ways is very true to a Millennial sensibility. The roughly final third of the series addresses the fall out, which includes the impact of the relationship between Cole and Darren. .
Aside from having a likable and attractive cast tell an interesting story with a fun touch of magic, "Boys" is notable for its 21st century morals. One aspect of the enhanced acceptance and legal rights that gay men have is that that opens the door for men who view themselves as straight to at least take the field with the other team every so often. This relates to seeing that the grass is pretty green on that side of the fence and having greater freedom to at least discuss exploring options.
An associated theme is the greater opportunity to take a relationship with a close male friend to a more intimate level; that guy being openly gay increases the chances of an actual bromance. The potential pitfall being that what is experimentation and fun and games to the rookie often means at least a little more to the veteran pitcher or catcher.
Dekkoo enhances the experience of the show with a special feature that likable and attractive producer/director/writer Curtis Casella hosts. Among other things, Casella shows us alternative scenes and explains why they end up on the cutting room floor.
The Dekkoo Films October 9, 2018 DVD release of "Testosterone Volume One" aptly depicts treats and actual and figurative tricks regarding modern gay life, This scope of these four short films includes the bittersweet aspects of any first love, the agony and the ecstasy of being a boy who likes other boys, and a dark comedy about regicide of a queen.
The following YouTube clip of the Dekko trailer for "Testosterone" is a music video that provides a sense of the highly stylized and equally emotional themes of the films.
The first film "End of My World" by Kamil Krawczycki is notable both for being the first gay-themed short film from Poland and the most relatable movie in the group, Dreamy 20-something Filip is very despondent regarding his recent break-up with arguable soulmate Eryk. Some of the angst relates to Eryk disappearing without a trace immediately after pouncing on an opportunity to end the relationship.
Filip claiming a mental health day leads to a montage of despair that prompts flashbacks of his life with Eryk. These scenes particularly ring true regarding all forms of first love but also apply to every relationship. Associated aspects are one person being more in love than his or her counterpart and failed efforts to salvage what no longer is a great thing.
The title of "World" reflects the feeling associated with a relationship ending; other themes are one ending leading to a new beginning and whether Mr. Right Now can become Mr. Right. The latter ties back to the issue of one person being more in love than the person with whom he or she makes the beast with two backs.
The bigger picture this time is Poland being roughly 20 years behind the United States regarding gay rights. Societal acceptance seems to be at toddler stage, and young gay men are struggling with the extent to which they are comfortable coming out; we see how this option being so new can strain a relationship in which one boy is comfortable walking down the street holding hands and the other is at the stage that spending the entire night together is a big deal,
"The Surf Report" is the most odd of the films. It continues the theme of a literal lost love. In this case, surfer "K" apparently hitches a ride to Rock Rock Rockaway Beach in New York where he has very surreal experiences. Meanwhile, the efforts of boyfriend to find this little merman aptly include visiting a psychic who has shades of Whoppi Goldberg in "Ghsot."
The time shifts and very creative cinematography in "Report" make the film especially compelling.
Dekkoo continues doing a good job with the continuum in having "It Gets Better?" This one starts out ambiguously with a clearly distraught middle-aged man watching a streaming video of a younger guy pouring out his heart regarding his distress related to being gay. A highly probable interpretation of all this is that the older man is the father of the younger one.
We soon learn the story of the older man. The theme generally is that he is older, wiser, and somewhat happier than the Millennial. This narrative includes the most erotic (rather than pornographic) scenes in any "Testosterone" film.
Dekkoo chooses wisely in breaking from the trauma, drama, tears, and recriminations in the first three movies by ending things on a light note. Describing the dark comedy "Killer Friends" as being student-film caliber merely refers to the indie and micro-budget vibe. Even before watching it, you know that writer/director Zach Noe Towers casts himself in the starring role.
One puzzle is why Dekkoo includes this not-so-good movie with the others. It seems that there must better comedic options than this short by this YouTube star, who is an unambiguously gay version of Jake Paul.
The premise of this film by Millennials for Millennials is that 20-something Jill is so fed up with former college friend/current roommate Scott that she recruits her boyfriend Brian and their mutual friend Heather to kill Scott during a camping trip. A major plot hole is why Scott warrants this treatment rather than ending his roommate agreement with Heather and she and her friends merely becoming the ghosting trio,
The biggest flaw in this vanity project for Towers is that he both plays it so over the top that he way out Paul Lyndes Paul Lynde. Further, most of his line are very predictable regarding things such as repeating an absurd insult or revealing a secret just as the subject of that remark falters in his or her conviction to kill him. One spoiler is that Scott is such a flamer that it seems that the others do not need to douse him in a combustible substance to Michael Jackson/Richard Pryor him.
This perhaps last-day-in-the-life-of film quickly becomes a Looney Tunes cartoon in that every attempt to snuff Scott boomerangs on the attacker. One fully expects Brian to order a cannon from Acme, to have that weapon arrive within seconds, and then to have the barrel flip around and fire in his face when he aims it at an oblivious Scott.
The bottom line regarding "Testosterone" is that three out of four truly is not bad. Further, good intentions exist regarding including "Friends." As mentioned above, it ends things on a light note that contributes diversity.
Best friend of edgy indie filmmakers Breaking Glass Pictures continues demonstrating compassionate good instincts regarding sensitive coming-of-age Euro films. The August 7, 2018 DVD release of the 2014 Danish drama "Speed Walking" roughly coincides with the reviewed MUST-SEE Breaking release of the 2017 French dramedy "My Life With James Dean." "Dean" tells the overlapping stories of an independent filmmaker having a comically horrific experience screening his first feature and a gayby experiencing his first true love.
The international and timeless appeal of "Walking" stems from modern audiences from all over the world being able to relate to at least portions of the experiences of 14 year-old Martin in 1976 small-town Denmark. This credibility also reflects director Niels Arden Oplev stating in an interview on the DVD that the film is based on the real-life of the author of the memoir on which "Walking" is based. The strong acting by the main cast further helps sell the story.
An alternative context is that the coming-of-age, the large number of quirky characters, the role of death, and the moderate element of assorted forms of sexuality make "Walking" seem like a John Irving novel.
The following YouTube video of the SPOILER-LADEN Breaking trailer for "Walking" provides a storng sense of the above elements.
We aptly first meet Martin engaged in the titular sport with best friend (with benefits?) Kim. Raucous horseplay in the locker room subsequently ensues, and the boys then go on to have a typical school day. This all occurs in the period in which Martin is in the final stages of preparing for his confirmation.
Everything changes on a completely unprepared Martin arriving home; Family friend Lizzi tearfully tells the boy that his mother is dead. This leads to Martin facing his bereaved father and his 16 year-old brother Jens, who is almost completely out of his mind.
The rites of passage in the form of losing a parent and formally declaring himself to God while also having a range of sexual urges combine to prompt Marin in transitioning from a boy to a man. Anyone of either sex who fully shares a life with an adult male knows that the truth is that the inner boy always asserts himself.
The female object of the affection of Martin is classmate Kristine. Our grieving horn dog uses his recent loss to his advantage regarding his pursuit of this girl. Further, Kim is following a bros before hos attitude in giving Martin first crack at Kristine.
The numerous memorable moments in"Walking " further make it notable. We get Martin showing his lack of game (but not necessarily lack of success) in trying to get some on multiple fronts, losing it in an unexpected (but very symbolic) manner at the funeral of his mother, and having a cute and loving intimate encounter with a terrific humorous element. Another highlight involves Martin and his crew trying to catch his father in the act.
Oplev provides an especially good payoff in having the mayhem lead to the Confirmation;; young blonde Martin wearing an ascot and an open shirt makes one think that he has a mystery to solve.
More fun, tears, and recriminations come in the wake of the Confirmation. A jealousy-fueled heartbreaking betrayal equally affects Martin and viewers, we get a moment in which we see Jens living one fantasy of teen boys, and Martin finds that he has one last rite of passage to endure.
The central theme regarding this eventful 108 minutes is that every male of every age needs a mother. This role often falls to someone other than the person who gives birth to you. She is who listens to your problems, supports you regardless of whom you love, and cleans you up without judgment when drinking too much results in covering yourself in a soup of every possible bodily fluid except blood.
TLA Releasing artfully combines travelogues and universal love stories with the recent DVD release of the 2018 drama "Grimsey." The spoiler is that you will ache to board the next flight to Reykjavik on seeing this one.
The following YouTube clip of the Releasing trailer for "Grimsey" reflects the awesomeness of promos for indie films in that they consistently accurately reflect the themes and the tone of the film., In this case, the scenery and the angst of lost love receive equal attention.
The largest theme this time is the long tradition of a gay man abruptly ending what his boyfriend often thinks is a stable and mutually loving relationship. Combined cowardice and justification that simply vanishing is kinder than confronting everyone from a fuck buddy to a genuine partner with the awful truth prompts simply not returning messages and never seeing the person again. Learning that the love is one-sidedl without discovering why can devastate the rejected boy.
The hut guy in "Grimsey" expresses the above sentiments this in highly relatable voicemails to the one who ran away. Not knowing for sure that the other person is alright and not being told the reason for the radio silence is torturous for a man who has the sensitivity that being boyfriend material requires.
Bruno in "Grimsey" has it even worse than usual. Photographer boyfriend Norberto simply does not return from a trip to Iceland, A police investigation confirms that Norberto never boards his scheduled flight home, However, there is no indication of intentional or accidental bodily injury.
A distraught Bruno flies to Reykavik to find his boo but meets local tour guide Aranu, who joins the quest. This being a gay-themed movie ensures that Bruno is the object of the affection of Arnau. However, another truth of gay life comes in the form of Bruno being so obsessed with his mission that he is oblivious that the handsome and sweet guy next to him may be his actual Mr. Right. Most gay men can relate to being on both sides of this type of relationship.
Amusing support for the theory that every gay man knows each other leads to Bruno travelling several hours across Iceland in search of Norberto; although he initially is reluctant to let Arnau tag along, a sweet gesture indicates that Bruno is open to the idea of moving on.
That journey leads to the titular island that literally and figuratively is the end of the road. It is equally apt that this is the point at which Bruno must decide whether he is going to fish or cut bait, The final word on this subject is that the outcome may be that Norberto is the one who gets away.
The relatability of "Grimsey" continues to the the final scenes. The lesson here is the same as the one throughout the film in that a good man is particularly hard to find when your dating pool is limited to 10-percent of the population and many eligible candidates are married. This makes it important to go the extra mile to find Mr. Right.
'My Life With James Dean' DVD: Charming MUST-SEE French Film on Indie Flicks and Gay Boy Coming-of-Age
Breaking Glass Pictures impressively outdoes itself regarding the August 28, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 French dramedy "My Life as James Dean." The only criticism is that Breaking does not make this beautifully shot film with a solid soundtrack available on Blu-ray.
The best way to think about this one is that it retains all the style and humor of a classic French film while adding a splash of a Michael Chabon or John Irving novel. We get outrageously comical characters going to extremes to pursue overlapping passions.
The mention regarding accolades this time is that the lack of them is astonishing; one cannot imagine festivals passing this one over.
It is not surprising that relatively new indie filmmaker Dominque Choisy knows of what she speaks regarding the film screening aspects of "Life." It is surprising that a woman has the depicted insight regarding regarding young gay love.
The metaness of "Life" begins with this film having the same name as the fictional film of 20-something first-time director Geraud Champreux around whom the Choisy film is centered. Personal metaness relates to frustrating efforts to arrange screenings of an exceptional indie film of a 20-something righteous dude.
The opening scenes are of Champreux riding a bus to a small Normandy town to host a screening of his film about a man who believes that he is Dean. The comic misadventures begin with losing a modern lifeline when he arrives at his destination.
The audience next gets a glimpse at the life of a first-time indie filmmaker when no one is there to greet Geraud. His subsequent encounter with locals at a bar is the first of many "Northern Exposure" style incidents that reflect the personalities of quirky small-town folk.
Our man temporarily without a country manages to find the theater where his film is to be shown only to be told that his appearance is a surprise and that no screening is scheduled. This discussion includes commentary on the overall sad state of modern cinema in which commerce typically trumps art.
The next stop it the hotel that is the best guess regarding where the woman behind the invitation is putting up Geraud. This brings him in contact with disaffected Jill-of-all-trades hotel employee Gladys,. Her amusing lazy dismissive approach to her job is very familiar to frequent travelers.
The penultimate piece of the puzzle comes when Geraud meets box-office worker/projectionist Balthazar. This canard odd can be considered the very late-in-life brother of mop-topped tall and lanky slacker-type character actor Hamish Linklater.
Another meta moment occurs when the first moments of the fictional film mesmerize Balthazar to the extent that transference results in his falling in love with an unresponsive Geraud. This innocent small-town boy also most likely never having felt the touch of another man is another factor.
The final piece of the puzzle comes when booker Sylvia van den Rood belatedly shows up and subsequently ensnares Geraud in her personal drama that is responsible for neglecting him. This coincides with a sweet declaration of love by Balthazar.
Balthazar outdoes himself in putting himself on the line by showing up uninvited for a booty call. Being given the boot not deterring him is another notably sweet moment in the film. This is relatable to the perk of being a gay man in the form of sometimes being the pursued one in a relationship. We all desire to feel wanted and loved.
The subsequent screenings set the stage as our core group of three and various hangers-on travel through the area.
The biggest surprise comes when casual conversation with the parents of Balthazar leads to a surprise reveal that is a potential game changer. The subsequent developments reinforce that the French are amazingly much more casual about sex and nudity than Americans.
Choisy keeps the fun going to the end as Geraud helps two fugitives as he figuratively rides off into the sunset. The final scenes fully seal the deal regarding the quirky charm of "Dean."
The TLA Releasing DVD release of "French Kisses" provides a good chance to see a variety of styles and themes related to gay boys (and men) in love. These shorts also support the theory that the best movies are the ones with the strongest live-stage vibe.
The films about teen boys have their merits that extend beyond seeing seeing attractive young guys either often in deep thought or extreme joy. They reflect the angst that most boys who like boys experience when they discover that aspect of themselves. Mainstream cinema increasingly addressing this theme reflects its importance in society.
The films that focus on males who are adequately physically developed to shave at least every other day shows the wisdom of not sending in a boy to do the job of a man. In the case of the selection in "Kisses," the movies with the more mature themes in every sense have the most depth and the most compelling stories.
"Herculaneum," which is a highly symbolic title, arguably is the most relatable film in the set. It revolves around two 30-something guys who repeatedly hook-up through a web-based cruising site. The largest theme is the disparity that often exist regarding the attitude as to a sex act, especially when it comes (no pun intended) to gay men. No one should expect that a casual encounter will lead to a long-term relationship, but what is merely a bit of fun to one guy may have even a little more significance to the other.
The real truths come out in the climatic (pun intended) scene in "Herculaneum." Our boys finally are enjoying the intimacy of sharing a bed for the night after having at least two home runs. The pillow talk includes learning basic information such as the professions of the men that typically is shared before the genitals of one person are inserted in the orifice of another. A related aspect of this is the reasonableness of the expectation that a man whom another man allows him to penetrate him in the most intimate manner possible will have lunch with the pentratee.
The next most relatable movie is "Ruptures," This one initially seems to be a documentary by and about 20-something Gabriel largely is about relationships in the context of the relationships of his peers.
A "chance" encounter with ex Andre while these guys were boys in Brazil dramatically shifts the narrative in every sense of that term. Gabriel literally turns the camera on Andre to ask about his feelings regarding their relationship; the gist is that Gabriel hurts this nice guy, real bad.
Gabriel falsely stating that the camera is off allows the audience to witness the sex, lies, and videotape associated with the reunion of the young lovers. we further witness Andre turning the tables on Gabriel.
Most of us lacking personal experience regarding the final film in the set is a good thing. An evening in which a middle-aged man host a younger man for dinner proves that visits like that are fun until someone ends up duct-taped on the floor while the other guy tries to break into your safe. The surprising part is that this is in not the end of this tale of a rent boy turned rough trade.
A teen experience of a friend of a friend (REALLY) shows that such occurrences relate to some. The price that this closeted high school boy pays for bringing a hookup home while his parents are out for the evening includes the trick (pun intended) of being left tied naked face down on the bed in the master bedroom and the house being robbed. A valid perspective regarding this is that something that is devastating if it happens to you can be hilarious when someone else is the victim.
The concept of the Margin Films documentary "Gay Hollywood Dad," which premieres August 2 2018 at the New York Asian-American Film Festival a day before debuting on Amazon Instant Video, is laudable and has great potential. The sad truth is that 29 year-old filmmaker/titular single parent Quentin Lee sacrifices the opportunity to share his unusual experience to promote his career. "Dad" also suffers from being produced with eye toward being a reality web series.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Dad" shows how the film starts strong before becoming standard reality show fare. One can only fear Lee creating a series titled "The Real Toddlers of Los Angeles" featuring his son Casper.
The central concept of "Dad" is strong. As Lee states at the beginning of the film, his desire for a child that is biologically his prompts choosing surrogacy., We remain on course as we meet gestational carrier Crystal Primavera as she prepares to give birth in her home state of West Virginia.
The veering into reality TV territory roughly 5 minutes later is where things start taking a turn for the worse. The cast of stock characters include aptly named Adrian Ho, whom Lee identifies as his partner. The apparent reality is that Ho is not figuratively or literally prominently in the picture. His conspicuous absences include not accompanying Lee to witness the birth of the baby or on separate trips to meet the grandparents.
Further, Lee comments that Ho is more comfortable than him regarding going home with Mr. Right Now. All of this points to Ho being more fuck buddy than life companion.
The "plot" when the gang gathers at Chez Lee is that Lee wants a 100-day celebration of the birth of Casper. The explanation of the reason that Chinese people celebrate that milestone is interesting. The drama begins with debates regarding the venue and the budget for the event.
One uncomfortable TMI moment during the party involves Lee telling the group that his sperm was used in the process of that lead to the birth of Casper. This is contrast to the more appropriate option of stating that he is the biological father.
Lee comes across much worse minutes later as we see him in the back seat of a car sharing that he is too drunk to drive; he adds insult to injury by joking that he looks forward to Casper being old enough to be a designated driver. It also is presumed that this too polluted to operate a motor vehicle father of an infant does not have anyone staying at his home that night to help care for the baby.
The popularity of Lee further falls when he discusses not having as much time as desired to film babies on a prior film project. This creates an impression that his motives for having Casper include having as much time as needed with this "prop" for the upcoming horror short "In Halloween" that Lee heavily promotes to the extent of including most of that film in "Dad."
Things calm down from there as Lee brings Casper to Hong Kong to meet the grandmother of the child and celebrate her birthday. Not much drama ensues during that trip.
More drama ensues during a Christmas week Vancouver trip to meet the generally grumpy Grandpa. It is clear that this man is overdue for a visit from four ghosts.
Lee wraps up "Dad" with a discussion of taking Casper on the red carpet during a film festival. This ties into discussing the infant liking some restaurants better than others. Speaking as one who often comes close to grabbing a loudly beeping game console or a streaming device playing a children;s video from the hands of a toddler and smashing it on the floor at a restaurant, Lee should not drag his son to dinners as if the boy is a chihuahua in a Louis Vuitton purse. The general rule should be that no one under 10 should eat anyplace that does not advertise on Nickelodeon.
The bigger picture is that "Dad" is squandered on an affable man who clearly loves his son but seems to not have properly adapted to his new reality. An average 'mo with a 9-to-5 job and actually must let his bundle du joie greatly disrupt his life seems to be a better subject for this theme.
The Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the 2017 French drama "Hidden Kisses" awesomely puts the Breaking edge on an otherwise light story of two high school boys in love. "Kisses" being a TV-Movie both explains the slight "After School Special" vibe oand further proves that the French are much more progressive and cool than Americans.
The 21st-century centric drama begins when "new boy in town" 15 year-old everyteen Nate meets a mystery boy for the titular buss in a dark greenhouse during a large party. An unknown person takes and uploads a photo in which only Nate is identifiable. The picture going viral among students, parents, and faculty simultaneously forces Nate out of the closet into a hostile environment and triggers speculation regarding the identity of the other boy.
The fallout extends to straining the previously close relationship between Nate and his widowed police chief father Stephane. Stephane still loves the sinner but is not fond of the sin and has difficulty accepting his new normal.
Meanwhile, Nate is subject to increasingly vicious bullying at school and is experiencing the heartbreak of his secret boyfriend ignoring him. This culminates in a brutal beating with an equally horrific emotional element. The latter reflects the same insecurities behind real-life gay boys and men yelling "fag" om the mere sight of an effeminate man and throwing the first punch in a dark alley behind a gay bar.
The next round of drama occurs when the rookie mistake of not clearing a browsing history results in identifying the other boy in the photo. This both forces him to come to terms with his sexuality and to contend with his enraged father, who believes both that he literally can beat the gay out of his son and that conversion therapy is effective. The related emotional abuse is equally painful to watch.
The film not being a product of Hollywood (or Logo) and this not being the '90s allow for "Kisses" to not conclude with a fairy tale (no pun intended) ending with our princes slow dancing at the prom while their smiling peers, teachers, and parents circle around them. However, both boys survive the traumatic aftermath of being outed and get a quantum of solace; they additionally get one adorable scene that provides some hope for greater societal enlightenment.
"Kisses" addresses the good news regarding this issue; boys coming to terms with liking other boys should be spared the scorn and torture of the generation before them. The bad news is that the reality is that coming out as a teen (and often as an adult) still likely comes at least with the price of nasty looks and comments behind your back.
The TLA Releasing May 29, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 gay-themed psychological thriller "Boy Undone" is adequately freaky to earn the "guerrilla" label with which it is associated.
The following YouTube clip of the official "Undone" trailer highlights the dreamlike tone of this highly stylized largely silent film.
The real action begins with the titular young man waking up dazed and confused naked in a strange bed in a strange home. His success in getting himself together is thwarted when his cunrecognized host feels free to strip and top this guy who simply goes along with the program.
The portion of the story that comes out fairly quickly is that "Host" found "Boy" unconscious on the bathroom floor of a wild gay club with entertainment that includes nearly naked go-go dancers. On a related note, the edge of "Undone" includes our stars frequently in every stage of arousal and explicitly engaged in the full range of homosexual activity.
The rest of the story is that "Boy" has complete amnesia regarding his name and every aspect of his life; this includes how he ends up naked in the home of "Host." The strong assumption among this newly formed couple is that a severe trauma is the root of the problem.
Despite the aforementioned regular nudity, there is no doubt that "Host" wears the pants in the relationship and that "Boy" remains a confused puppy even weeks after being picked up (presumably) in a puddle of urine, A blatant example of the metaphor is "Boy" curling up on the floor beside the bed of "Host."
Surreal images that are a mix of the known and unknown and that are accurate to an undetermined extent trigger some sparks of memory; sleuthing of "Host" further helps solve the mystery.
Ultimately finding the missing link triggers further drama and does not explain everything. Men who watch the interrogation scene that elicits that information are dared to not look away.
This copious psychological trauma and drama illustrates how our past shapes our future and that we sometimes must completely break down to become the person whom we want to be. It further shows the aspect regarding some of us being wolves and others lambs that lambs sometimes lead themselves to slaughter and cannot resist coming back for more.
The TLA Releasing June 12, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 drama "Al Berto" is among the new generation of Millennial-centric period pieces that center tales set in game-changing eras around groups of 20-somethings. In this case, the titular writer/trust fund baby converts his family mansion in Sines, Portugal to a Bohemian-style commune where he and his friends create their art and practice freeish love in an era in which the nation is transitioning from a dictatorship.
The numerous accolades for this film include the Best International Award at the 2018 FilmOut San Diego festival.
The numerous relatable international and timeless themes in "Al Berto" greatly contribute to its appeal. The titular character represents a trifecta of ill will regarding providing the locals a focal point for their general frustration and adjustment to the new normal. He is an outwardly lazy rich kid, spends his days in idle pursuits that include writing poetry, and is gay. The object of his affection being fellow trust fund baby Joao does not help matters.
A member of the group coming from a modest background and having a mother who regularly reminds her of her roots provides an interesting perspective. The issue here is whether the poor girl down the hall is a member of the inner circle or merely either a mascot or a charity case.
Writer/director Vicente Alves de O does equally great jobs with the two related primary themes of "Al Berto." Our sensitive soul is simultaneously contending with coming to terms with the world actively fighting his effort to create a Utopia while also trying to have a first real relationship with a guy. Having limited people skills does not help matters.
The drama predictably amps up in unpredictably ways. This includes attacks on two fronts after some hope of lives of peace, love, and understanding. A great aspect of that hope for the future is the arrival of an adorable group that really help get the party started.
"Al Berto" further speaks to teens and 20-somethings from 2018 by showing that having passion and a large group of like-minded folks has a long tradition. It also reminds those of us with a few more years on us that we both used to have those ideals and act on them in a manner that illustrated that we did not care about the narrow-minded views of the adults who were the same age as our current one.
Lithuanian Filmmaker Romas Zabarauskas on His Work and Campaign to End Sexuality-Based Discrimination
The blessing regarding the (mostly) guys who make indie films is that knowing their work provides a cool one-percenter feeling of being one of the elite relatively few who are in on the awesomeness; the curse is that the appeal of these labors of love and the men who make them elicits righteous indignation that the studio systems prevents them from making widely distributed films that have the integrity to which every director and writer should aspire. This particularly is true regarding young lion Lithuanian auteur Romas Zabarauskas.
The (reviewed) semi-autobiographical Zabarauskas film "You Can't Escape Lithuania" discusses the extent to which this triple threat producer/director/writer will go to get his vision in front of audiences. The reel-life Zabarauskas refers to the real incident of his sire offering a nude photo of himself as a crowd funding premium to make a movie. One cannot imagine Affleck and Damon issuing similar "junk" bonds if faced with a lack of funds for "Good Will Hunting."
On top of this, Zabarauskas uses both the media of film and the exposure (no pun intended) that his movies provide to further his cause of shedding light on the government-supported rampant discrimination against homosexuals in Lithuania. This is particularly so in the (also reviewed) superb 2011 film "Porno Melodrama," which is light on the former and moderately heavy on the latter.
Logistical considerations required conducting a recent interview with Zabarauskas over email. The American tradition of doing everything in a half-assed manner requires mostly just pasting the submitted questions and received answers below with minor editing.
1. You “escaped” the repressive culture in Lithuania to attend film schools in Paris and New York; why did you go back?
Think global, act local. As a filmmaker, I need to work with the context I know best, and at least for now it's the Lithuanian one.
It's also not a selfless choice. I feel happy by meaningfully contributing to positive changes here. And despite many challenges, LGBT+ community and culture is getting stronger and more colourful here in Lithuania. It's exciting to be part of it.
2. Can you provide any sense of challenges related to dating a more reticent man in such an oppressive culture considering your activism, your films, and posing for widely circulated nude photos?
My boyfriend accepts me for who I am, so it's all fine. And although our culture is indeed oppressive, I consider us both very privileged – we don't face any danger or abuse, we hold hands in the middle of Vilnius and rarely receive any insults for it. As for my "nudes", ya wish – it was only one photo and not widely circulated, simply sent for the backers of my last film to make the crowdfunding campaign more fun and eye-catching.
3. Your films address the above; to what extent are they auto-biographical?
It would spoil my secrets if I'd tell you which things are real and which aren't. Some of the craziest things in You Can't Escape Lithuania are true, I can tell you this much... And the shooting of this film indeed became surreal when reality and fiction started to mix. But perhaps that's a subject of another movie to make.
4. Your films indicate that your parents strongly support your art; has that enthusiasm waned regarding the controversial and explicit nature of your films?
No, my family stays truly supportive. But do you really think my films are that controversial? Rather tame I would say, by today's standards. At the same time, it's hard for me to imagine a film without some sexual exploration. Filming other people's feelings, thoughts, intimate moments – that's somewhat erotic in itself.
5. Speaking of which, have you had any concrete sense of your films (especially “Porno” and “Escape”) impacting reform in Lithuania?
I don't consider my films educational or trying to make a straightforward point for tolerance and equality. But they certainly did contribute [to] promoting LGBT+ visibility and culture in Lithuania. Otherwise, I take credit for pushing some famous people to voice their support for the LGBT+ equality, and others – to come out. I do some social initiatives aside from my movies which might have contributed to changing attitudes more directly. For example, a year ago I published a book "Lithuania Comes Out: 99 LGBT+ Stories". That was truly groundbreaking – never before there were so many Lithuanians coming out so openly, and from such different backgrounds.
6. Do you think that a fear of being outed prevents gay politicians in Lithuania from being more supportive of reform?
Might be! I think that in general most of our politicians are either truly backwards, or pretending to be – in order to be elected. Not much hope here, but it will still change for the better sometime in the future.
7. As a citizen of a repressive country, what do you consider the purpose of Pride? Is it to too show that there are many mainstream gay men and lesbian women who simply want equality and mean straight people no harm or is it an excuse for hairless 18 year-olds to roller skate only wearing Speedos and overweight hairy middle-aged men to parade in dresses?
Well, I see nothing wrong in people expressing themselves in different ways! For me, the purpose of Pride is to commemorate [the] Stonewall Riots and continue the global campaign for LGBT+ equality. We need to remember our history and keep writing it further.
8. What are you working on, and what does your future hold?
I'm currently working on my upcoming film The Lawyer. It will only be ready in 2019, so there is not much I can share with you now, but if you're curious – follow our page on Facebook and be the first to know!
As the above responses demonstrate, Zabarauskas is a bright and committed guy who is committed to the cause and providing inspiration and a voice for his repressed brother. One can be sure that he will be an influence if the Lithuanian government fully joins most of the world in the 21st century.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: The recent DVD release of this entertaining and educational documentary makes this holiday season a particularly apt time to repost the following review of the February 2015 theatrical release of the film. The story of involuntary martyr Matthew Shepard is a true Christmas fable. This nice young man inarguably did nada to deserve his brutal fatal beating, and the incident prompted an almost literal world of good.]
"Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine," which begins the jump from film festivals to mainstream theaters with a February 6 2015 opening at the New York AMC Empire Theater and a February 13 2105 opening at the Laemmle Noho Theater in Los Angeles, nicely achieves the dual documentary objectives of being educational and informative. The well-executed premise of this Run Rabit Run Media production is that filmmaker Michelle Josue offers an intimate portrait in the best sense of that term of a close friend, who is well known as the innocent victim of an especially brutal hate crime.
Josue stating at the beginning of the film that she wants to share how her friend Matt Shepard becomes Matthew Shepard for whom most of us weep appropriately sets the tone for the movie. A spoiler is that Josue nicely achieves this objective to the extent that she makes this reviewer mourn not having the opportunity to spend an afternoon drinking coffee with Matt (rather than Matthew) and having a wonderfully quirky conversation.
"Shepard," which has won numerous festival awards, is a true labor of love in which Josue gives us a look at the 20-something guy who is a textbook victim of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. For the benefit of folks who do not know this story, Shepard was a sweet young gay guy who approached two not-so-sweet (or so gay) young guys at a Wyoming bar one night and ended up brutally beaten and left to die while tied to a fence for the offense of trying to befriend them.
Josue does her job well in not making any bias regarding her subject apparent; she merely documents the life of this all-American kid through sharing her own memories of this high school friend, home movies of our subject, and interviews with his parents and friends.
We also see still photos of Shepard and hear Josue read writings of his that include a wonderfully goofy list of his favorite things. One spoiler is that said inventory does not include raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, or brown paper packages tied up with string. A related spoiler is that we learn of periods of disabling sadness in the life of Shepard.
Josue shares the characteristically quirky way that Shepard introduces himself to her while they are at a Swiss boarding school for American students. Anyone familiar with a prep. school knows that living with your peers often creates life-long bonds; the element of being several thousand miles from your native country can only enhance that connection.
Highlights of the film include learning of Shepard having a particularly treasured stuffed animal, watching a home video in which a roughly 13 year-old Shepard playfully expresses annoyance at his younger brother filming him, and hearing the father of Shepard discuss his surprisingly loving response to Shepard coming out. It is incredibly sad that the elder Shepard will never get a chance to be an awesome father-in-law to the sweet and kind man whom Matt seems destined to have married if not prevented from reaching that stage in his life.
Josue further redirects public attention to a prior brutal attack on Shepard that is eerily similar to the fatal one and that arguably leads to circumstances that contribute to his death.
At the risk of this review becoming bloggy, a personal experience a few years before the attack on Shepard further shows how easily this type of thing can occur.
A group of us who were in the Dallas area for a business conference were walking back from a Rangers game when a very straight and ultra-conservative colleague completely innocently put his arm across my shoulder. Not knowing the rules, I returned the gesture without comment from anyone in our group. Apparently one guy making this gesture is a show of friendship but returning it is gay.
A few minutes later, a couple of guys driving past in a pick-up yelled "FAGS!" This prompted me to instinctively respond "it takes one to know one." ("I know that you are, but what am I?" would have been equally apt.)
The driver then immediately slammed on his brakes and put the truck in reverse. We ran across a field and fortunately were not pursued.
It is worth noting as well that the story of Shepard is comparable to that of civil rights icon Rosa Parks; it is well known that a compelling desire to sit (rather than any intent to buck the system) is the only reason for the famous act of Parks. Similarly, a desire to be social seems to be the only reason for the incident that makes Shepard an international figure. Another common characteristic is that both individuals are someone who would likely give up their seat on a bus to someone who needs it.
The TLA Releasing October 2017 DVD release of the 2016 S1 of the dekkoo web series "I'm Fine" makes a perfect companion to the (reviewed) December 2017 release of the Dekkoo Films "Coffee House Chronicles: The Movie." Both projects take equally honest and amusing looks at gay dating in the 2010s.
The following YouTube clip of a "Fine" trailer highlights the drama and the trauma of the queer as folk boys living in West Hollywood whose lives are the things of which the series is made.
"Fine" centers around 30-ish Nate, who is suffering the pains of being on the rough end of a tough break-up with kickball jock Joey. The love-hate relationships among his friends help (and hinder) his navigating these tough times and provide the audience great entertainment.
The shifting narrative begins in the wake of the aforementioned breakup and later establishes that Natey begins when Joey stands up for Nate during an amusing confrontation at a party from Hell. Subsequently entanglements hilariously ensue when Nate encounters Joey and a date in the immediate afternath of a disastrous hook up regarding which many gay man can relate. One lesson regarding that wham-bam-thank-you-sir is that taking one for the team is difficult when your heart is not in the game.
The indications of writer-director Brnadon Kirby being in the head of the viewer are particularly strong in one scene. On arriving at a coffee shop to meet Joey, Nate orders a beverage with extra flavoring only to have the barista repeatedly harangue him; this is on the heels of a similar Starbucks experience in which being challenged about requesting extra peppermint syrup and then being asked if they should add a shot of insulin prompted changing the order (and disliking the drink).
The ensuing events are equally relatable but more pleasant. The adorable young guy in line behind Nate concocts a cute approach and makes a charming sincere expression of a desire to get to know him better. This type of encounter is fairly common during the period that one is young and cute and is especially nice when it leads to a good relationship.
Yet more relatabilty ensues when best friend Jeff confesses his attraction to Nate; suffice it to to say that the impulsiveness of Nate causes this tricky situation to explode in a manner that affects their entire group.
As alluded to above, the importance of productions such as "Fine" and "Chronicles" is that it shows the vast numbers of gay men who lack many reference points that their experiences are typical for men who date men and yearn for sharing a dream home with Mr. Right.
The bigger picture is that folks who are at the hetero end of the Kinsey Scale see that gay men do not connect as easily or as regularly as pop culture often suggests; these breeders further learn that hurt feelings when the one whom you love does not share those feelings and/or moves onto someone else lack sexuality boundaries. The one who got away still is the one who got away.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Fine" is encouraged to email me; you also can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.
As the Unreal TV review of the recent tla releasing DVD of the 2016 gay-themed Mark Bessenger film "Confessions" notes, that release roughly coincides with this site learning of the tla DVD release of the 2014 Mark Bessenger film "The Last Straight Man." "Man" is much more revealing than "Confessions" both visually and in terms of titular breeder boy Cooper meeting up with his boi Lewis once a year for a night of passion. Suffice it to say, ample proof exists that Bessenger knows that of which he films and writes.
"Man" opens with the hotel suite bachelor party for Cooper on the night before his wedding to a woman; Lewis begging off when the stripper offers him a lap dance provides the first clue that he is not like the other boys in attendance.
Things take a stereotypical gay porn turn when Lewis hangs with Mr. Cooper after the party, and the latter prompts the two of them watching gay porn. A game of truth in which the dares come later further bring newly admitted biboy Lewis (who tells a tale that deserves a place in "Confessions") and clearly curious Cooper closer to the climax of the evening.
A good time being held by all leads to our stars meeting in the same suite every year for a night in which the boys catch up, reveal more about each other, and Cooper increases his knowledge of the joys of gay sex. The latter is fully in line with the theory that every man who has sex with another man has a "gay age" that reflect the timing and degree of his experience in that area. Suffice it to say this time, an off-screen scene in which Lewis guides Cooper through having an enema is one of the most amusing in this highly entertaining film.
Bessenger expertly combines the erotic, the pornographic (suffice it to say that Lewis portrayor Mark Cirillo speaks softly and carries a big stick), the serious, and the silly. Our characters awesomely address this in a scene in which retail store owner Cooper suggests that romance novelist Lewis base a book on their story, and Lewis responds that that plot is better suited to a melodramatic play or a movie.
On a larger level, Bessenger awesomely presents issues of the Kinsey scale of sexuality, the related complicated aspects of feeling love for another man while being far enough at the gay end of that scale to have sex withhim but not far enough to abandon a heterosexual life style to be with him, and denying happiness for what you think is the greater good.
Having characters who are past their doe-eye days further adds substance to this story far beyond it being one in which Lewis lusts after Cooper based on high school showers and Saturday night sleepovers only to have a hairless emo Cooper bring him to Heaven only to later break his heart. Our heroes are big boys in every sense of the word and have spent enough time on the street corner to know the score even if they will not admit it to themselves.
The special features include (what surely are terrific) interviews and deleted scenes.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Man" is strongly encouraged to either email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy,
Foreign gay-themed art-house film division of tla video tla releasing making the 2016 Lithuanian drama "You Can't Escape Lithuania" available on DVD on July 11, 2017 provides North American audiences a chance to see a potential Millennials cult classic. The most meta aspect of this film is that writer/director Romas Zabarauskas has an actor play writer/director Romas Zabaraukas. Additionally, early scenes refer to the fictional Zabarauskas making the real-life film "We Will Riot" by the real Zabarauskas.
The real Zabarauskas goes full-on 21st century in revealing early on that his fictional counterpart bares far more than his soul in a crowdfunding promotion to obtain the money for his latest film; the real Zabarauskas shares that this is a "ripped from the headlines" aspect of the film but does not provide the photos.
The following YouTube clip of the theatrical trailer for "Lithuania" fully conveys the modern sense and sensibility of the film.
Please note that all future references to Zabarauskas are to the reel one.
Zabarauskas and his visiting Mexican boyfriend Carlos are lounging around the apartment of the former in the titular nation when movie star/friend Indre shows up with literal blood on her hands. The gist of her story is that roughly 10 years of frustration with her mother leads to to Indre accidentally killing her and then fleeing the scene.
The literal exit strategy that Zabarauskas develops is to have him and Carlos assist Indre with an equally literal run for the border so that she can hide out until the heat cools down. Much of the drama regarding this is Carlos objecting to being caught up in the drama.
The filmmaker in Zabarauskas soon comes out in the form of deciding to use the video camera on his smart phone to make an avant-garde movie about their adventure. This does not sit well with Indre, who ultimately gets Zabarauskas to see her side of things.
The manner in which Zabarauskas pursues a fleeing Carlos and persuades him to stay with the group at this early stage is one of the best scenes in "Lithuania."
Insight that is very awesome from the perspective of someone from the era in which the score is kept at sporting events and not everyone goes home with a trophy is the realization of Zabarauskas that his mother has been protecting him from the harsh realities of life at least since high school.
It is less awesome to learn that the father of Zabarauskas shows far more hatred than can be understood on learning that his son likes other boys. This proves that all of us need a loving parent in our life.
A fun scene with gay-porn potential involves Carlos going off to prove that bears are not the only ones who perform a certain bodily function in the woods and Indre temporarily fleeing as a traffic cop approaches to help Zabarauskas change a flat tire. The cop expressing great interest in Zabarauskas and commenting that he knows that this stranded motorist is a gay filmmaker evokes thoughts that one or the other is going to end up bent over the hood of the car with with his hands cuffed behind his back and his pants around his ankles. Learning the extent to which that happens requires watching the film.
At least one encounter during the involvement with the officer has great significance for our trio of outlaws. It further prompts the soul-searching that begins with the symbolism related to Indre killing her mother and Zabarauskas both deciding to actively help her escape and to bring Carlos along for that ride and another.
The drama further heats up when the group stops for the night. Both Zabarauskas and Indre further bare their souls and effectively run off into the sunset in a scene that is far from a Hollywood ending. The scenes after that remove most of the ambiguity regarding that walk into the woods.
Although very few Millennials even accidentally commit matricide (or patricide), they (and many Gen Xers) can see themselves in the folks whose family drama continues haunting them and who discover that they are not as special as believed. The overlying cynical aspect of this is that we end up paying for "it" in one form or another.
These musings regarding the Breaking Glass Pictures May 16, 2017 DVD release of the 2015 Chinese coming-of-age film "Utopians" is a perfect first regular Pride Month post following yesterday's general article on modern gay-themed films. Producer/director/writer Scud has his cast literally and figuratively bare all regarding their actual and ideal sexual identities. "Utopians" also is notable as a film that breaks the general rule that provides that the degree of nudity and depictions of sex are inversely related to the quality of the movie.
The opening scene in which completely naked soon-to-graduate college student Hins (whom daring Chinese actor Adonis portrays with good insight) engages in equally erotic and perverse bisexual S&M play sets the tone for the rest of the film. Hins soon resumes his everyday life by attending a lecture with his steady gal.
The trouble/awakening begins with new professor Antonio Ming displaying a large slide of two naked intertwined men, asking the males in the class embarrassing questions about their sexuality, and announcing that he is gay. He goes on to discuss how the enlightened citizens of ancient Greece approached the titular perfect society through embracing both homosexual activity and sex between male teachers and their male students.
This openness intrigues bi-curious Hins to visit the professor in his office and to further bond over mutual love of a Japanese author who writes about gay relationships. An attraction to Hins and a desire to help this student realize his true self and to shed his related inhibitions prompts Antonio to invite his new friend for an afternoon frolicking on a boat with him and a group of young naked men. This outing (pun intended) includes watching Antonio have sex with one of his guests.
The seduction of Hins by Antonio reaches completion during a trip to Bangkok that also involves Antonio surrounding himself with naked young men. Hins fulfilling a promise to a repressed and already jealous Joey creates the central drama of the film.
The fully consensual sex between an adult Hins and an even older Antonio results in this pair becoming guests of the state. Scud uses the fact that either one of these lovers being female would have avoided any legal proceedings to emphasize his points regarding the attitude of society towards homosexuality.
The trial prompts further awakenings and results in Hins learning a proverbial deep dark family secret that further alters his sense of self; Scud makes the audience wait until the final scene to determine if the kid is alright after everything that he has been through.
The copious DVD extras include a 'teaser trailer' for the Scud film "30 Years of Adonis," a great Q Fest introduction of "Utopians" by Scud followed by an interview with Q Fest producer Thom Cardwell, deleted scenes, and a "making-of" feature.
An episode in the 2001-2002 13th season of "The Simpsons" perfectly expresses the true current state of Gay Pride. The titular nuclear family is attending a Pride parade when the marchers start chanting "We're here! We're queer! Get used to it!" Eight year-old Lisa responds that the group marches every year and that the general populace is used to it.
The view of Lisa is consistent with that of your not-so-humble reviewer roughly since the era of the aforementioned "Simpsons" episode. The Gay Rights movement has made such strides by the beginning of the 21st century that skinny hairless boys only wearing a Speedo and rollerblades and fat hairy bearded middle-aged men wearing dresses merely show off and do not help the Pride movement. If anything, these acts reinforce the stereotypes that require Pride parades.
This criticism is presented in the dual context of Pride Month 2017 and Breaking Glass Pictures releasing gay-themed films that reflect the spirit of Pride and the related concept that quality films from this genre present universal themes. Unreal TV is honoring this through a month-long series of retweets of Breaking DVD releases.
Breaking Co-President Richard Ross eloquently expresses the above sentiments in an Unreal TV interview earlier this year. This conversation includes how the themes in the breaking films "Retake" and "Lazy Eye" of seeking closure or a new beginning with the one who got away can apply regarding any variation of romantic relationship.This shows that Philadelphia literally should throw this man a parade next June.
On a larger level, Unreal TV is on Team breaking because their films avoid gay stereotypes. The young guys are neither doe-eyed nor have over-scrubbed skin. Further, all the men accurately reflect real-life gay men in that they are average blokes whose sexuality is not the center of their lives. Further, most of them desire the same stability and happiness for which we all strive.
This reflects the universal nature of the gay experience that shows that the fact that a boy likes other boys is no basis for either fear or condemnation. Releases from breaking and similar art-house film distributors prove that sexuality truly should be a non-issue for most of us.
Unreal TV 2.0 evolves from http://classictvdvdreviews.blogspot.com/ (which stillis up.) Both sites are labors of love dedicated to preserving the golden and silver ages of television and film and celebrating new content that values art over commerce. The same principle applies regarding boutique hotels.