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Showing posts with label Reeling 2010. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reeling 2010. Show all posts

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Groovy LGBT Film Festival: Best of the Fest

Reeling 2010: The 29th Chicago Lesbian & Gay International Film Festival ended last night after featuring many fabulous LGBTQ films over 10 days. I was able to see quite a few of them, and I must once again thank Angelique Smith, Reeling's Director of Marketing and Public Relations, for allowing me to promote the festival here on Deep Dish. I hope everyone enjoyed reading my reviews - and for my final festival post, here are my own Best of the Fest awards:

Best Film: Leading Ladies directed by Daniel Beahm and Erika Randall Beahm
Runner-up: Strapped directed by Joseph Graham
Honorable Mention: The Four-Faced Liar directed by Jacob Chase

Best Documentary: Holding Hands directed by Tonnette Stanford and Katherine Wilkinson
Runner-up: JoJo Baby directed by Mark Danforth and Dana Buning
Honorable Mention: The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls directed by Leanne Pooley

Friday, November 12, 2010

Groovy LGBT Film Festival #20: Holding Hands

I've watched a lot of LGBT movies during the last month - many of them sad, emotional dramas - but the one that came closest to making me reach for a tissue is Holding Hands, an Australian documentary about a gay bashing and its devastating aftermath. On December 3, 2007, a young couple, Craig Gee and Shane Brennen, were attacked by two guys while holding hands on Oxford Street in Sydney's gay district. Craig ended up with a broken leg, a fractured eye socket and a shattered jaw. And when the police did nothing to help find their assailants, the hate crime became front page news in the local paper and led to a protest by Sydney's LGBT community. To make matters even worse, Craig's deeply religious Catholic family refused to visit him during his recovery because he and his homosexuality were an embarrassment. Real nice folks. Fortunately, Shane's family were willing to lend their love and support to the couple, whom directors Tonnette Stanford and Katherine Wilkinson followed for a year as they dealt with the emotional fallout from that one horrible night.

Groovy LGBT Film Festival #19: Undertow

Directed by Javier Fuentes-León, Undertow is a romantic ghost story about Miguel (Cristian Mercado), a young married fisherman who's having a secret affair with Santiago (Manolo Cardona), a handsome painter whom everyone in their village correctly suspects is gay. Sadly, Santiago drowns, but he returns as a ghost whom only Miguel can see and touch (they're now able to hold hands out in public). However, Miguel is soon faced with a difficult decision - will he come out of the closet and bury Santiago's body in order to help his sexy spirit find peace in the afterlife? The movie reminded me a little of 1990's Ghost - but with a gay twist and no Whoopi.

Groovy LGBT Film Festival #18: 'The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls'

I had never heard of the Topp Twins before seeing this fascinating new documentary about them - but now I consider myself a fan. Directed by Leanne Pooley, The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls tells the story of twin sisters Jools and Lynda Topp, the world's only country and folk music-singing lesbian comedy duo. The native New Zealanders have been performing together for over 30 years, and their singing and songwriting talents led to their induction into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame in 2008. However, its the many amusing characters that they portray during their act (and on their 1996-2000 TV series, Do Not Adjust Your Twinset) that I especially enjoyed watching - their wacky sense of humor reminds me a lot of the British comedians, French and Saunders. The Topp Twins are absolutely delightful - and so is their film, which I highly recommend.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Groovy LGBT Film Festival #17: Plan B

This intriguing feature film debut by Argentine director Marco Berger tells the story of Bruno (Manuel Vignau), who comes up with a "Plan B" after learning that his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend, Pablo (Lucas Ferraro), is bisexual. He decides to destroy their relationship and win her back by befriending and seducing the guy - despite the fact that Bruno is straight. At first I wasn't too sure about this bizarre plot, but Berger's screenplay is funny and ultimately quite touching as Bruno begins to question his own sexuality. It also helps that Vignau and Ferraro are such likable actors who are able to make us accept the unexpected feelings that develop between their characters. So what began as a rather cruel and crazy scheme quickly became something surprisingly wonderful as I watched Plan B - and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a gay film with an original twist.

Groovy LGBT Film Festival #16: Fit

Having enjoyed two of Ricki Beadle-Blair's previous projects - Metrosexuality, a 2001 British television drama that he wrote and directed, and the 1995 film, Stonewall, which he wrote the screenplay for - I was curious to see his latest cinematic effort, Fit, which is based on his 2007 play that was developed to help tackle homophobic bullying in Britain's schools. The film version is divided into seven 15-minute episodes and has been described as a "gritty take on Glee" - but instead of a glee club, we've got a high school drama and dance class taught by a new out and proud gay teacher named Loris (wonderfully played by Beadle-Blair). Each episode focuses on one of his troubled students who are struggling to "fit" in at school (the title also refers to the British slang for someone who is "hot" and "attractive").

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Groovy LGBT Film Festival #15: Leading Ladies

It took me a little while to warm up to Leading Ladies, which tells the story of a larger-than-life stage mother, Sheri Campari, and her two 20-something daughters - Toni, a quiet wallflower, and Tasi, the star of an amateur ballroom dance circuit. Sounds kind of familiar, doesn't it? For the film's first few scenes, I felt like I was watching an updated version of Mama Rose, Gypsy and June - which isn't really a criticism coming from someone who loves musicals. However, I was hoping for something a little more original - and then I happily received it as Toni accompanied Tasi's gay dance partner, the adorably flamboyant Cedric, to a dance club, where the movie's infectious soundtrack kicked in with some fabulous dance sequences. It was then that I began to fall in love with Leading Ladies - just as Toni met Mona, a young lesbian who took her for a spin on the dance floor. This rather ordinary film suddenly bloomed into a unique girl-meets-girl dancing delight that completely captured my heart.

Groovy LGBT Film Festival #14: Flight of the Cardinal

Flight of the Cardinal is a creepy little thriller about Grady Wilson (Ross Beschler), the owner of an Appalachian inn who has three guests visiting him for the weekend - his former agent and her husband as well as his boyfriend Andy (Matthew Montgomery). He also hires a smooth-talking local boy, Beetle (David J. Bonner), to help him out at the inn - and one of the first things this charmer does is switch Grady's anti-depressant pills. Yeah, this young man is trouble with a capital T - and he only gets nastier as he plots to destroy Grady.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Groovy LGBT Film Festival #13: Going South

No, this isn't Goin' South, the 1978 western-comedy starring Jack Nicholson and John Belushi. Add that missing "g" to the title and you've got yourself an engaging French drama starring my gorgeous new boyfriend, Yannick Renier. I'm kidding, of course - I've never met the guy - but the 35-year-old Belgian is quite easy on the eyes in addition to being an excellent actor.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Groovy LGBT Film Festival #12: 'Rock Hudson: Dark and Handsome Stranger'

We all know about actor Rock Hudson and the double life that he led. The closeted gay man successfully played a heterosexual movie star for his entire career, and most of his fans - including myself - were quite surprised when he died in 1985 at age 59 from an AIDS-related illness.  Hudson was one of my favorite actors as a kid.  I loved watching all of his romantic comedies (Pillow Talk, Man's Favorite Sport?) - and I never missed an episode of his popular TV series, McMillan & Wife. So I was curious to check out Andrew Davies and André Schäfer's new documentary, Rock Hudson: Dark and Handsome Stranger - and I'm pleased to report that it is definitely worth seeing.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Groovy LGBT Film Festival #11: From Beginning to End

This Brazilian drama is about the incestuous relationship between two half-brothers, Thomás and Francisco. We first meet them as children when they are five and eleven - and their mother and one of their fathers are both a bit concerned by how close the two boys are. I actually found the behavior of the parents very weird in these early scenes because I didn't see anything that disturbing going on between the kids. However, about 40 minutes into the movie - and 15 years later - Thomás and Francisco are all grown up and hopping into bed with each other. So I guess Mom and Dad's suspicions were correct after all.

Written and directed by Aluisio Abranches, From Beginning to End doesn't present its taboo subject in a shameful way. Instead we're made to see the brothers' relationship as a romantic love story, which is easy to do when the adult roles are played by two gorgeous and talented actors - Rafael Cardoso and João Gabriel Vasconcellos. The sexual chemistry between them is so steamy that you can't help but enjoy their "brotherly love". Thomás and Francisco make a cute couple worth rooting for - and a movie worth seeing.

Show time: 9 pm, Monday, November 8, at the Landmark Theater (2828 N. Clark)
Running time: 96 minutes

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Groovy LGBT Film Festival #10: The String

Directed by Mehdi Ben Attia, The String tells the story of Malik (Antonin Stahly), a 30-year-old gay architect who returns home to Tunisia, where his mother (Claudia Cardinale) wants to see him settle down and get married to a nice girl. But he soon becomes intimately acquainted with a gorgeous handyman named Balil (Salim Kechiouche), which leads to all kinds of drama. The title of the film refers to the invisible string that Malik frequently sees himself wrapped up in whenever he gets emotionally upset - and then he has to spin around in order to unwind. And, of course, the apron strings of his mother desperately need to be cut as well.

Groovy LGBT Film Festival #9: Strapped

Strapped was a very pleasant surprise. When I read that it was about a young hustler who finds himself lost in a maze-like apartment building, I wasn't sure what to expect. But after watching the film, I would describe it as a dark and sexy drama that unexpectedly moved me - and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Strapped takes place on a stormy night as a hustler (Ben Bonenfant) goes to a client's apartment for sex. After he leaves, the young man cannot find his way out of "the gayest building on the gayest street in town" as one character later describes it. He then experiences some close encounters with a few other guys while on a surreal journey of self-discovery. All the performances are great, including Michael Klinger as a closeted married man, Paul Gerrior as a kind and older stranger, and Nick Frangione as a sweet and lonely trick. However, I was most impressed by two men making their feature film debuts - the handsome Mr. Bonenfant and writer/director Joseph Graham. I look forward to both of their future projects, and I highly recommend that you check out Strapped.

Show time: 7:15 pm, Sunday, November 7, at the Landmark Theater (2828 N. Clark)
Running time: 95 minutes
DVD Release: If you cannot attend the festival screening, Strapped will be released on DVD on December 7. Click here to pre-order the film.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Groovy LGBT Film Festival #8: Amphetamine

Amphetamine is one twisted flick. This Hong Kong film written and directed by Scud (aka Danny Cheng Wan-Cheung) begins with full frontal male nudity during the opening credits, which is a great way to make an audience sit up and take notice. We are introduced to two attractive young men - Kafka (Byron Pang), a straight swimming instructor, and Daniel (Thomas Price), a gay business executive, who become intimately involved. However, a traumatic incident from Kafka's past has caused him to turn to drugs. and this severely strains their relationship. The movie is a sexy, realistic drama during the first hour of its 97 minutes, but then it takes an extremely dark and bizarre turn, spiraling out of control as if to mirror Kafka's disturbed state of mind. Perhaps this was the director's intent, but I just sat there with my jaw dropping into my lap as I couldn't believe what I was watching. Amphetamine definitely becomes more of a Melodrama with a capital M - but I must confess that I was never bored.

Pang, who was a 2005 runner-up contestant for Mr. Hong Kong, is a fine young actor with an amazing body (which he frequently gets to show off).  He is also able to express Kafka's pain and anguish quite effectively, while Price - in the less showy role of Daniel - is equally as good.   And the cinematography by Charlie Lam offers us some visually stunning scenes.  I am glad I saw Amphetamine - even though the ending made me shake my head in disbelief more than once - and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a wild cinematic ride. Just be sure to fasten your seat belt.

Groovy LGBT Film Festival #7: I Killed My Mother

I wasn't sure what to expect from a movie with such a provocative title - but I was hoping that no one would kill their mother. This French Canadian film tells the story of 16-year-old Hubert (Xavier Dolan), who hates his mother, Chantale (Anne Dorval). She's not a bad, horrible person, but over the years, she and her son have drifted apart and now they cannot relate to one another. Hubert believes that God has given him the wrong mother - and he even tells his teacher that she is dead in order to avoid having to do a report on her. Their relationship only gets worse after Chantale discovers that Hubert has "killed" her off - and that he hasn't confided in her about his homosexuality. I Killed My Mother gives us a realistic look at the growing pains of both a son - who desperately wants to be an adult - and a mother - who still sees him as a child.

Groovy LGBT Film Festival #6: Role/Play

After last year's light comedy, Make the Yuletide Gay, writer/director Rob Williams returns to a more serious vein with his latest film, Role/Play, about two men trying to escape from their troubled lives. Closeted soap opera star Graham Windsor (Steve Callahan) is fired from his show after a shocking sex tape outs him to the world, while gay marriage advocate Trey Reed (Matthew Montgomery) is going through a messy divorce from his husband. As the film begins, these guys meet up at a Palm Springs inn, where they're both looking to get away from the public eye. They initially don't hit it off, but after stripping down to their Speedos and sharing a bottle of wine, well, one thing leads to another. And when you cast a sexy real-life couple like Callahan and Montgomery in the lead roles, you kind of expect the two of them to eventually jump each other's bones (also, the movie's poster features them in a passionate liplock).

Role/Play is a talky drama as Graham and Trey become better acquainted while discussing their individual problems. Fortunately, they enjoy chatting without any clothes on and in between some sizzling sexual encounters. It also helps that Callahan and Montgomery are both very charismatic actors who make you care about their characters. I also liked Jim J. Bullock in the amusing role of Graham's agent and David Pevsner as the inn's owner who doesn't want people skinny dipping in his pool (of course, such a rule is meant to be broken - much to our delight). Jake Monaco provides some nice music for the film - and I especially enjoyed hearing "Lover", a groovy tune from one of my favorite singers, Tom Goss. And, finally, the gorgeous Alexander Inn will make you want to spend a weekend in Palm Springs yourself.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Groovy LGBT Film Festival #5: JoJo Baby

JoJo Baby is fabulous - both the movie and the man. Although he is a living legend in Chicago's club scene, I had not heard of him before watching Mark Danforth and Dana Buning's fascinating documentary. And when it was over, I wanted to spend more time with this wildly creative individual whom I so enjoyed getting to know.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Groovy LGBT Film Festival #4: Children of God

Children of God is an impressive debut narrative feature from Bahamian writer and director Kareem Mortimer. This effective and moving drama tells the story of three very different people - Johnny (Johnny Ferro), an art school student who takes a trip to the beautiful island of Eleuthera to become a better painter; Romeo (Stephen Tyrone Williams), a charismatic young man who hides his homosexuality from his family; and Lena (Margaret Laurena Kemp), the deeply religious wife of a homophobic pastor (Mark Richard Ford) who arrives on the island to preach against gay rights.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Groovy LGBT Film Festival #3: Violet Tendencies

It's hard not to like actress Mindy Cohn, whom most people probably remember as Natalie on the 1979-88 TV series, The Facts of Life. She really hasn't changed much in the last 20 years. Ms. Cohn is still a sweet, fun-loving gal - only now she is surrounded by a lot of hot guys instead of Blair, Tootie and Jo. I think this is definitely a step up in the world.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Groovy LGBT Film Festival #2: The Four-Faced Liar

The tagline for The Four-Faced Liar is "a comedy about drama", which is certainly an accurate description of this first feature film by director Jacob Chase and writer Marja Lewis Ryan. And knowing that these two talented artists are only 24 and 25, respectively, makes me admire them even more for what they've accomplished.

The story is a simple one: roommates Trip and Bridget - he's straight, she's gay - meet a young couple, Greg and Molly, at The Four-Faced Liar, an actual Irish pub in New York City's Greenwich Village. They all become close friends - but then Molly confides to Bridget that her sex life with Greg is kind of boring. She wants to be thrown up against a wall and kissed hard - and soon Bridget is helping her live her fantasy. Of course, this secret affair leads to the "drama" of the tale.