gaymoviefest 2010

I've been watching an awful lot of gay themed movies of late... like, A LOT of them... and I've reviewed others in the past, so here are some thoughts on what I've been watching.

Oh, and there will be spoilers! And I'm trying a different method of "scoring" them... whether or not I would recommend them to others...

So, in chronological order...

tan linesTan Lines

It's like the casting directors of Home and Away set out to make a "realistic" gay drama, watched some art house movies along the way, got confused, didn't want a happy ending, got confused again... and this is pretty much the result.

It's neither particularly realistic and gritty overall, nor is it a total piece of soap opera fluff. What it really is is fairly uneven, very odd and somewhat less sexy than I think it was intended to be.

It isn't helped by the fact that the lead actor, Jack Baxter (and that's NOT him on the poster) looks like he's about 12, so you end up feeling more than a little bit dirty.

I also have no idea why the hell they felt the need to include Midget's "part time job". You know that it's sketchy and not what he says it is the first time you see him head off to do some "gardening and shit", but it's seriously twisted and honestly doesn't make ANY sense at all!

Overall it's a bit uneven... the script isn't great, the acting is pretty average, and on top of that, the ending is fairly damn depressing. Realistic maybe, but still depressing.

Would I recommend it: Nope... like a few of the other movies on this list, is has moments where you can see the movie it was trying to be, but they're too few and far between.


edge of seventeenEdge of Seventeen

Edge of Seventeen is probably one of the more realistic coming out stories I've seen, even with the retro overlay of it being set in 1984. The lead character, Eric, falls in love during his summer job, loses his virginity... and then the guy never returns his calls.

I'm guessing that at least parts of it are autobiographical for writer Todd Stephens (who is also responsible for the two "Another Gay..." movies) since it has a lot of truth in it. Or maybe he's just that good a writer and Chris Stafford is that good an actor that he can make it feel that real.

It's also one of the first movies I've ever seen where the coming out process actually triggers the physical/style changes in it's main character that I think most gay teens go through to some degree, I know that I did once I started going out... the hair went white blonde, the clothing got edgier and tighter, all that...

I also have to give major snaps to comedian Lea DeLaria, who I've only ever seen being funny/obnoxious in things... she proves the old adage (or maybe it was Joss Whedon who said it), comedy is hard, drama is easy.

Would I recommend it: Yes, thoroughly.


the mostly unfabulous social life of ethan greenThe Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green

Ethan Green's social life may not be particularly fabulous, but it's certainly never dull.

While I've seen a couple of strips from the original comic series, I wouldn't say that I'm really that familiar with the source material for this movie. I'm not sure exactly how, or even if, it stacks up against the comic.

As movie in it's own right though, it's sweet... it reminded me a little bit of The Broken Heart's Club, not so much in storyline, but more in the general feel, even if parts of Ethan Green are much more over the top and farcical.

Farce is a good way to describe it actually... not a true farce in the literal dictionary definition of the word, but it certainly is played for laughs and there are improbable situations and some over the top performances.

But it's a sweet film, Daniel Letterle who plays Ethan is very cute (he does remind me a bit of Noah Wyle though, which doesn't make him any less cute) and it was amusing to see Meredith Baxter as Ethan's mother now that she's come out as a lesbian.

And even though he's probably not conventionally gorgeous, I did have a bit of a thing for Dean Shelton as Punch... but what's not to love about a character who says "I'm a sensitive, globally aware kind of guy who's horny 24 hours a day"...

Would I recommend it: Yeah... it's sweet and fluffy... it's a bit like fairy floss really. Enjoyable while you're in the middle of it, but not especially filling.


otto or up with dead peopleOtto or Up With Dead People

Otto is a zombie. Or maybe he's pretending to be a zombie. Or maybe he's a zombie pretending to be a person pretending to be a zombie.

Actually, I don't think Otto is a zombie... but he may have suffered a blow to the head at some stage.

He is adorably cute in his zombie makeup though, which I'm sure says more about me than I would like.

Throw in a woman who's directing a zombie porno or manifesto or zombie porno manifesto movie, a bunch of people pretending to be zombies, a zombie orgy and the fact that the whole movie is in German, and you can pretty much guess what you're going to end up with.

It's bad, but at the same time, it's kind of so bad it's good... except for the fact that I don't think it was supposed to be as bad as it turned out to be... and good varies depending on your yardstick.

And there's full frontal nudity... full frontal zombie nudity in fact... not that that's an indicator of whether a movie is good or not, it just makes slightly more sense in this film because of the whole "zombie porno" plot like.

But then it is a Bruce La Bruce movie, so you have to expect both weirdness and cock!

Would I recommend it: If you like weirdness, zombies and cock... sure, why not... but don't expect it to actually be "good".


trickTrick

I really enjoyed this movie, even though if you think about it for long enough the whole central premise just falls apart, and it contained yet another annoying female fag hag character.

Gabriel is a showtune writer/composer (gay stereotype much) who shares a tiny New York apartment with inconsiderate straight boy Rich and has to endure self involved fag hag Katherine not realising that she's actually a whiny little bitch who needs to get over him and just die... ahem... sorry, but I really didn't like Katherine.

Anyway, Gabriel sees Mark on the subway, Mark cruises Gabriel and they head back to Gabe's apartment to screw around (hence the title).

Unfortunately the universe has other plans and keeps throwing obstacles at the two sending them on a whole night of searching for somewhere to fuck.

Of course they can't find anywhere and end up being interested in more than just hooking up.

There doesn't ever seem to be a particularly good reason why Mark just doesn't walk away from the whole situation. And I don't think it's ever actually addressed... they just keep wandering around together.

Personally, if that had been me and some random hookup's roommate had come back early and thrown us out of the apartment, I would have just called it a day.

But even with its flaws, it's a fairly sweet movie, and you do root (Australian pun intended) for the two leads to get it together.

Although I was somewhat annoyed at Gabriel for being so much of a doormat with everyone... but that was his character I guess.

Would I recommend it: Definitely... although if you have an aversion to Tori Spelling then you should avoid it.


were the world mineWere the World Mine

What would you do if you discovered that you had the power to turn everyone you knew gay? Would you rush out and make sure that your entire town started getting same sex loving?

And would that play well against the backdrop of a performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream?

Actually it kind of does. Putting aside the moral quandary of "forcing" people to get it on with people who they're actually not attracted to without the aid of fairy dust, it's a sweet movie that attempts to make a number of good points about tolerance and "walking a mile in someone else's shoes before you judge them".

I will say that the poster for this movie is somewhat misleading, if only because the fantasy sequence featured in it only takes up a very, very small proportion of the actual movie.

And honestly, the whole subplot between the main character's mother and the "faded Southern" Avon lady clone is a little bit cringeworthy.

Would I recommend it: Yeah, just don't expect the whole movie to be like the poster.


presque reinPresque Rien

I went into this movie knowing nothing beyond the fact that the two main characters get naked and screw on a beach at some point.

What I wasn't expecting was a fairly angsty storyline with jumps in time and location that are fairly confusing and don't really explain everything that I think they really should have. All of which adds up to a somewhat unsatisfying movie with a particularly m'eh ending.

And while the aforementioned sex scene actually feels about right in the context of the movie, there's also a somewhat unnecessary close up shot of the main character's uncut cock which doesn't really add a lot to the movie. Don't get me wrong... I like a little full frontal male nudity in my pop culture, but I also like it to have some kind of relevance to what's going on at the time.

I've read a few reviews of this movie online that make me think that in part I didn't necessarily "get" parts of it... but given the way that the movie is structured and maybe given the fact that I was watching it in French with English subtitles, maybe parts of it were just lost in translation.

On the other hand, maybe other people are just reading things into the movie that weren't necessarily there.

Would I recommend it: No... it has nice moments, but the fact that it confused me with some of the jumping around in time makes me give it the thumbs down.


eating outEating Out

The main problem I have with this movie is the ending... so this is about to get particularly spoilerific...

There are four main characters in this movie... Caleb (the straight boy), Kyle (the straight boy's gay roommate), Marc (the gay roommate's gay crush) and Gwen (the straight girl).

Essentially Kyle has the hots for Marc who has the hots for Caleb who has the hots for Gwen who has the hots for pretty much any gay boy. Also, Kyle has the hots for Caleb, Gwen has the hots for Marc... and Caleb pretends to have the hots for Marc so that he and Kyle can get into Gwen and Marc's pants respectively. It all gets a bit convoluted and farcical. And there's a completely unnecessary scene with Caleb being "outed" to his parents towards the end.

The problem is that the characters of both Kyle and Gwen are pretty damn unlikeable. Kyle comes up with the whole overly complicated plan, then sabotages Caleb when Caleb and Marc end up hooking up.

At no point does the character of Kyle actually redeem himself so at the end when Marc ends up with Kyle and Caleb ends up with Gwen, it feels totally undeserved. Why should Kyle who has connived and conned and schemed and played everyone actually end up with the "man of his dreams"?

Similarly the character of Gwen is just obnoxious and, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense why Caleb is willing to go through all the drama just to get into her pants (and really, she's not that hot).

Personally I would have been much happier if Caleb and Marc had ended up together (differences in sexual orientation notwithstanding), they were both much nicer characters.

Oh, and I'm guessing the only reason that the version I watched was the "Unrated" version was the fact that you get to see Caleb and Marc's cocks. Which, while nice, didn't actually add a damn thing to the scene given that it comes at the end when they're putting their clothes back on.

And, really, it's written and directed by the guy who not only wrote/adapted Boy Culture but who created Rick and Steve... and I love both of those!

Would I recommend it: Probably not... the Caleb/Marc stuff is nice, but there's too much of it that didn't sit right with me.


holding trevorHolding Trevor

Well this was a thoroughly self indulgent and pointless piece of cinema.

I don't know what point the writer and/or director were trying to make exactly, but I'm pretty sure they failed. In fact, the writer essentially failed to complete the last third of the movie and it's all very vague and I guess the idea was that you could read it more than one way... but essentially it felt to me like it ends on a big fat downer.

But after learning that the guy who wrote it was also the star, the level of self indulgence makes some degree of sense...

And yet again, this movie was pretty much filled with people I didn't really care about. The titular Trevor was okay, but his two friends/roommates... thoroughly horrible people, who do nothing but emotionally and verbally dump on him all the time.

The only real bright spot are the love scenes between Trevor and Efram... they're sweet and tender and fun and funny.

Would I recommend it: Sure, but switch it off ten minutes before the ending and make up your own!


Yossi & Jagger

At only 65 minutes, Yossi & Jagger seems to finish right at about the time it's ramping up, but at the same time it says what it needs to say without a lot of padding and frills and is content to leave it at that.

The closest way to describe it is that it's kind of an Israeli version of Brokeback Mountain... only with soldiers instead of mountains, and without any wives.

I will admit to being highly confused at the beginning of the movie because the titular character of "Jagger" is also called by his real name, Lior. In fact, the whole "Jagger" thing isn't explained until the very end of the movie (I kind of assumed that one was his first name and the other was his surname).

There are a couple of little subplots that make the setting feel more real but at the same time don't really go anywhere in particular, and parts of the ending where Yossi declares his love for Jagger in front of other soldiers made me wonder what would happen to him, but it's never addressed.

It's also an interesting window on a culture where everyone is expected to do military service, which doesn't just mean looking cute in the uniform, but actual fighting and killing. And what happens in that world when you're gay. The movie doesn't answer the question, I'm not even sure it poses it, but it certainly made me think about it.

Would I recommend it: Yes... it's short and mostly to the point, although it's not the happiest movie ever made.


big edenBig Eden

I wasn't expecting a whole lot from this movie... I had a feeling it was going to be one of those "big city guy finds quirky people in the countryside, cringeworthy culture clash ensues"... in fact, I nearly changed my mind at the last minute and watched something else... but I flipped a coin, and it kept coming up heads (no, really... I flipped a coin).

And boy am I glad I went with it. It was nothing at all what I expected and turned out to be the very best movie I've seen so far as part of #gaymoviefest2010!

It's sweet, it has heart, it's centred around seeing what's really there instead of what we wish was there. And that gay men over 30 who aren't stunning beautiful can still find love.

And to never underestimate the kooky folks in a small town.

It was also nice to see a movie where the female characters weren't essentially playing "gooseberry" and none of the drama comes from their relationships with the gay men... the men have more than enough drama of their own without needing to involve the women.

The standout performer without doubt was Eric Schweig as Pike... you totally feel for him and watching him transform throughout the movie is beautiful to watch.

It's beautiful, it's funny, it's sweet, it's sexy in a whole "lingering looks and touches" kind of way.

Would I recommend it: Yes, yes, yes... a hundred times, yes! Don't just sit there, go find this movie.


redwoodsRedwoods

I'm not exactly sure what I'm supposed to take away from this movie. What I do know is that I was phenomenally distracted by Brendan Bradley's enormous chin and incredibly square jaw. Like "I couldn't help but stare at it every time he was on screen" kind of distracted... which isn't so great when he's the lead actor.

So much chin! Attractive... but that's serious chin.

Anyway, as I was saying, I'm not sure what I'm supposed to take away from this movie. The aforementioned Big-Chinned Lead (BCL aka Everett) is in a relationship and they have an autistic (adopted) son. Partner and son go on vacation, BCL stays home and meets Much Hotter and More Interesting Dude (aka Chase).

So all the time BCL and Chase are getting closer and closer and flirting and whatnot, all I can think about is his partner and the son and how he's never going to leave them. And all the way through them doing the deed, I keep trying to work out who's fault it is... BCL for cheating on his partner or Chase for getting involved with someone who is already involved.

When the partner and son come back (additional spoiler alert, skip on to the next paragraph if you want to avoid it), partner says one thing to BCL and the next thing, BCL is packing a suitcase and storming out in search of Chase... and then the writer gets lazy and doesn't bother with the whys and wherefores of "you've got to go back... but I love you" rubbish, he just cuts to five years later. And then the dreaded "gay men die at the end of gay movies" curse kicks in... admittedly it's only happened in three of the twelve movies I've seen so far, but it's an easy out when you can't think of a way to end the movie happily.

I also have no idea what the last scene is supposed to signify... besides, they just looked goofy walking down the hill like that.

And for a movie where one of the lines about Chase's writing (he's a writer) is something to the effect of "when you go off on these little asides, you have a tendency to get a little sentimental"... and, honestly, it's very much a case of a writer writing something as fiction but it being completely on the nose about his own writing. It's very sentimental, and fairly by-the-numbers.

It could have been great though... lose the partner and the son... give them some other reason to not go running off together... follow it up with the same ending. Although, thinking about it, that does end up making it sound a little Brokeback.

Also, enough with the incidental full frontal male nudity. This movie suffers from one of the same problems that something like Dante's Cove does (notice I said "one"... DC has a LOT of problems, most of them aren't found in Redwoods)... the only people who show cock are not the two lead actors.

You want to show dick, be consistent... either don't show any or show everybody's. And if your two leads won't show what Mother Nature gave them, have the less attractive members of the cast put it back in their pants.

Would I recommend it: It's kinda middle ground... if you've seen everything else gay themed, then maybe give it a shot... it's not horrible, but it's not great either. And it's another one that I might suggest you stop 10 minutes before the end and make up your own ending.


dream boyDream Boy

This is not a happy movie... Abuse, incest, rape, murder... not a happy movie at all.

Actually it was fairly hard to watch at times because of that. And because of the father/son relationship, and the religious overtones...

The script is adapted from the book of the same name, which I did read ages and ages ago, but I didn't really remember any of it beyond the school bus and something about a tent. And none of it really came back very strongly as I was watching.

It's one of those movies where the dialogue is very sparse and everything is communicated though looks and movement and some degree of landscape porn.

One thing I will say, which relates to more than just this movie... why would you go down on someone when your friends are in the next room, the door is wide open and they'll be back any minute? Who the hell does that? It's just asking to be busted. I know, I know... it's plot development and whatnot... but as someone who snuck around giving his best friend clandestine blowjobs for the latter half of his high school experience, it's just not something you do!

The two leads, Stephan Bender and Max Roeg are quite good... their performances feel very real, even if the dialogue is occasionally a bit crap.

I have to say that I didn't particularly like the ending... having looked on Wikipedia, it appears that the book ends in a fairly similar way, but it's one of those endings that can be read more than one way... I just found it a little confused (not confusing, I just think the movie didn't really know which was it wanted to end) and not as satisfying as it could otherwise have been. It's one of those instances there a movie misses out from being so sparse and from not using narration to give us a characters inner voice.

Would I recommend it: No... but not because it's a bad movie, it's just a very sad, depressive and painful one, and I don't know that I'd want to wish that viewing experience on anybody.


the tripThe Trip

Like "Were the World Mine", this is a movie whose poster doesn't appropriately sum up the subject matter. It looks as though the whole movie is going to be about two guys on a trip though the American "West"... but in fact the whole thing is a three part period movie that is mostly set in LA.

So not quite living up to expectations there...

Discounting that though, it's not a bad movie. It takes place over three distinct time periods... 1973, 1977 and 1984... the first two of which feature a lot of wigs... wigs that vary in quality... can you tell I was a little distracted by the wigs?

It's also a movie that changes in tone quite a bit as it goes along. The first section feels a little romantic comedy-eske... the middle section is drama... and the last section is pretty squarely in the melodrama/Thelma and Louise mould once it ramps up properly. The last section is also where the poster image comes from and is probably the most "unrealistic" of the three sections.

I don't mean that it's bad... just that it stands out next to the first two sections and takes a risk with pushing the story in a particular direction.

The film makers also decided to frame the three sections of the story against real life events, most notably the Anita Bryant controversy in 1977... partly it does this by using actual news footage as a bridge between the sections, covering the major "gay" news events of the times.

I'm not sure how effective this really is, if only because the story is one that probably could have been set at just about any time with no great change in it's narrative. None of the real world events are so desperately wedded to the plot that you couldn't have set it in 1999, 2003 and 2010, or during just about any time period from the 70's onwards.

The use of news footage did kind of pull me out of the moment a few times, especially during the Anita stuff since the characters are in Los Angeles, and the whole Harvey Milk stuff was happening in San Francisco, it just felt a little false to me somehow.

The two lead actors are quite good though... even with the sometimes awful wigs they have to contend with... and I think I actually prefer Steve Braun with long hair.

On the whole it's a movie with a slightly uneven tone and a particularly unhappy ending.

Would I recommend it: I think this is another one where you stop watching about 10 minutes from the end and come up with your own ending... overall it's not a bad movie, I just didn't like the ending.


a question of loveJuste une Question D'amour

I think I've reached my fill of coming out movies... it's pretty old hat for me now and I'm getting to the stage where I want more from my gay drama than boys who can't tell Mum and Dad that they like cock.

Having said that, Juste une Question D'amour (or Just a Question of Love) is a fairly good example of the genre.

I had a slight problem with the version I was watching though, as the occasional subtitle was missing, but I got the general gist of it all.

The two leads, Cyrille Thouvenin (who kept making me think of That Vampire Movie Guy, but a much prettier version) and Stéphan Guérin-Tillié are both very watchable, and other than perhaps a slight awkwardness to the major love scene, very convincing.

But overall I think there was one line at the end of the movie that kinda "saved" it for me... or if that's not the right word, then it made me more hopeful than I might otherwise have been by the end.

One of the characters (and I'm not saying who) says "Give me more time" (or the French equivalent obviously) which made all the difference.

It was also one of those movies that managed to feel longer than it was somehow...

Would I recommend it: I would... especially as a coming out movie, although whether it would be appropriate for someone who has major issues with their parents or not I'm not sure. Also, hot French boys are hot...


newcastleNewcastle

They're blonde, they're tanned, they're half naked, they're hot... they're surfers...

I started the journey with an Australian gay movie of questionable quality about surfers and I'm ending it with an Australian surfing movie with a lot of homo-erotic and a little bit of actual gay content...

What I really wanted to do was to be flippant about this movie... the boys are all quite cute (even if the lead character does have a bad attitude), there's lots of shots of them in nothing but low hanging boardshorts or less... there's more homo-erotica than you can shake a stick at (lots of slow motion lingering shots of tanned bodies glistening with water... granted they're surfing at the time, but still), and there's the cute alternative little brother who is so very obviously a big homo and having a crush on one of the surfers that seems to be being returned somewhat...

There's lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of swearing, more than a few recognisable Australian actors, lots of beautiful cinematography, and seemingly not much story.

At least that's where I was until about three quarters of the way through the movie.

That's the point that it takes a somewhat radical turn in both tone and feel (unrelated to the gay subplot thankfully), and it turns out to actually be a pretty damn good movie... and I found myself both getting choked up in a couple of spots, but also feeling genuine apprehension and dread at that was happening.

And you know what, even with the radical turn, it works. Yeah, the turn is total and there's some silly fluff about skinny-dipping (Xavier Samuel, Lachlan Buchanan, I've seen your doodles... kinda), and it does seem to end rather abruptly (although there is a nice little tag teaser before the main credit crawl starts)... but I think writer/director Dan Castle can be proud of his efforts... he's made an excellent movie.

Is it a "gay movie"? In truth, probably not... but I can definitely understand why a gay audience will appreciate it.

Would I recommend it: Very much so... come for the hot half-naked surfer boys and the homo-erotica... stay for the strong movie it turns into.


Some final thoughts...

I wasn't sure it was possible to be somewhat homo'ed out... but I could very well be reaching that stage... that's an awful lot of gay cinema!

Pretty much all of these movies are, at heart, romances... well, except maybe Otto and Newcastle, but then they still have boy on boy romance as a plot point, even if Newcastle doesn't develop it that much.

But then, romance and drama are just cheaper aren't they... all you need is a room and two people and you're away.

The other thing that I'm regularly surprised by is usually how mediocre a number of these gay movies are in one way or another. There have been a few surprises along the way... but I had to kiss a fair few toads to find the princes. Again, it boils down to a lot of them being "independent" movies... and as a general rule independent movies are often a mixed bag as far as acting, story and overall quality are concerned.

Without doubt, Big Eden has been the best movie of the bunch... but I think Newcastle is second, but as I said, I don't know how "gay" it really is. Trick is probably somewhat further back in third place, even if I did want to punch Tori Spelling in the face whenever she appeared on screen (mostly that was about the character... mostly). Yossi and Jagger was good too, but it was very, very short.

Now I have three days to seriously mainline Christmas movies...

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