Another confirmation that I am ancient – I haven’t an idea who Max Emerson is – apparently he is a very popular YouTube personality, and for some reason he has directed a feature, called ‘Hooked,’ and the film actually brings me back to a time when a lot of ‘gay’ films used to be about male prostitutes. I am not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing, by the way. I enjoy a good male prostitute movie.
But this one, I kind of did not. It’s clunky, for sure, and you can see Emerson’s greenness as a director. Conor Donnaly is cute and not too bad – his hysterics need to be reigned in, but it never really crosses the ‘annoying’ territory. There’s a ‘Pretty Woman’-ish vignette in the middle part that was fun until it felt it had to go to ‘serious’ mode. I think that may be the problem with this, Emerson felt like it is an important issue-based movie when it could have been more fun. There was a point towards the latter part where I got very bored by it. At least, though, we did not get a ‘straight’ character gay-baiting – the hustler here is in a committed gay relationship. That’s progress, I guess.
I loved Ben Baur in ‘Hunting Season’ and I think he has great charm as an actor so I promised to support his projects. He was great in the movie version of ‘Something Like Summer’ and I know he has been traveling the gay film festival circuit with his short ‘Something New.’ Directed by TH Marchbank, Baur here plays a gay man stuck with his ex. He has been replaced by a pretentious twat, and he has been hooking up with a FWB he met through Grindr. When that friend asks him for a date, he freezes and doesn’t know how to answer. We all know they are good for each other. Baur is great here, showing great comedic (and physical) timing and he really is a someone who lights up the screen whenever he is on. This short is funny, and will make you want more.
I had to think about ‘After Louie’ after the film ended, and then its impact hit me. What happens when one spends most of his life fighting a war, and then suddenly it seems like it’s over? Alan Cumming plays Sam, a fifty five year old man who was an AIDS warrior – there was a time he used to go to two funerals a week, he says – and now time has caught up with him in a different way, as he realizes the youth of today enjoys a sexual freedom he never had, and feels bitterness towards that. He meets Braeden, a twentysomething, and all hell breaks lose emotionally – he despairs a couple friend’s marriage, as he obsesses over his ex-lover’s films, trying to piece something out of those, which is kind of a metaphor for how he wants to piece his life together.
Cummings is great at showing Sam’s emotional turmoil even if the heavy-handed dialogue fails. We see the conflict in his eyes, we see the anguish in his happiness, the defeat as he realizes that yes, the fight may now be over, and he has won. I can’t help but identify with his character, for I myself have felt some of those conflicting emotions too. For example, as much as I rejoice Marriage Equality, there’s a part of me that’s not on board with it totally, that yes, it kind of feels like my ‘niche’ factor is gone. That’s why gay bars are becoming extinct nowadays – anybody now can go anywhere.
Vincent Gagliostro directs this without little subtlety, and his script (with Anthony Johnston) has holes, but as I said earlier, it made me think, it made me reflect. I don’t know if everyone else can relate, to be honest, but I guess I should be glad that in this case, I can still be ‘niche.’
Something always crazy happens during a full moon, they say. Matt Alber’s ‘How High the Moon’ is a very straightforward album, though. And (joke coming) perhaps that’s odd because Alber is openly gay. The great thing about this album is how at once you realize that Alber is not your run-of-the-mill wannabe crooner. His styling and phrasing isn’t reminiscent of a Sinatra or a Bennett, like most male crooner are. He definitely does not sound like he is imitating someone, even while his arrangements are steeped in these singers’ influence.
I wish it stood out more for me. I have listened to the album a couple of times and it has yet to make an imprint besides that first impression. Perhaps it is very nuanced that I need to listen more to it, but I ask myself, do I have the time? The ‘moon theme’ is cute, but have been done before, and he actually did a great job of compiling a good collection of lunar tunes. I like his longing ‘Blue Moon’ that has a lot more angst than I am normally used to when I hear that song. But other that that, all’s a blur – like a liar’s moon.
In the late 8os up to the 90s, I used to watch every ‘gay movie’ that came out, and truthfully, a lot of them were not good at all. But I was craving any kind of gay representation on screen that I took it. I only mention this because I just saw ‘Dating My Mother’ reminded me of those movies I used to watch. Well, the idea of the movie anyway. I have to be honest and say that this movie is better than most of that old crap. Written and directed by Mike Roma, this is a low budget film about the bond between a mother and her gay son – a situation ripe for all kind of stories: drama, comedy, horror. This film even has Kathy Najimy in a small role, as the friend of Joan, the mother, played by Kathryn Erbe. Her son, Danny is played by Patrick Reilly, and this film explores their close relationship and what happens when the mother decides to start dating again. Well, that’s a real simplistic way of describing the plot. Danny is also an aspiring screenwriter, and also falls for a (straight) friend. There’s a lot going on here, and for my taste, jokes fall more than they land. But this film is not completely dumb and is in fact cognizant of its shallowness. I didn’t hate it, and Reilly could be charming, because I totally did not hate Danny even though I despised some of the character’s traits. I am sure you could do much better than this film, but it is also easy to get much worse.
About ten minutes into ‘Bwoy,’ I wanted to tell the character of Brad, played by Broadway veteran Anthony Rapp, ‘Gyrl, you in danger.’ Brad is a closeted married man who starts to have an ‘online relationship’ (an oxymoron if there ever was one) with a Jamaican mine via a dating website. Brad is a tortured soul: his son died in an accident, and he is a doctor who feels he could have done something. But everything is in shambles – he works now for a collection agency, and of course, is extremely vulnerable. And you can kind of sense where this story is going. Even so, though, you get entranced because of great performances by Rapp, and especially Jimmy Brooks, who plays ‘Yenny,’ the Jamaican Bwoy. You even understand how Brad falls under his charms. There’s nothing groundbreaking about this film, but tells a compelling familiar story that will keep yu interested, even invested in the outcome.
I am one of the generation who ‘grew up’ with ACT-UP. I remember once going to one of its meetings by mistake. It was at the “Keith Haring Room’ at The Center in New York City in the Mid 80s, and I thought I was going to a group meeting of some sort, and walked in to ACT UP. And I was scared, I was trembling. It was a whole group of very militant people, all garbed in black. of course, I knew what they were fighting for, but seeing their faces and their hostility face to face was an affront i didn’t expect. I ran out of there right away. I couldn’t handle it – their intensity weakened me. I look back at that now and think, can you imagine being on the receiving end of all that energy? Well, darn right, I could, and it was that rage that spurred the action that was needed at the time. I often saw the news reports of their activism, and then I would kind of shake my hand, but with my eyes now, knowing what I know, and after time has passed, I can only view all of as great bravery – hand battle in the war that is still on going.
BPM captures the Parisian energy of the time. Directed by Robin Campillo from his screenplay (with Phillippe Mangeot) this film is a depiction of a war, in the same vein as one would see ‘Schindler’s List,’ for example. While we are fortunate to be living now in a time where much of what was discussed here as battles won, it is good to see how we got to this place. This film tells the story of the activism in Paris that went on, and the loves and battles they lived through. It has the great performance of Nahuel Perez Biscayat as Sean, who is one of the activists who got the disease from his teacher, and his unlikely partner in Nathan (Arnaud Valois) who is negative. They form a bond that is unflinching in its honesty.
But, like all war films, it’s too exhausting to watch for me. In these times where we see resistance in form everyday, it is a reminder that we never do stop fighting in life. This is the opposite of the feel good movie, and I spent the evening after seeing this in deep solitude. I thought about the friends I have lost, the friends still affected by this. I thought about my life – how I survived all of this, and how I still do not feel completely safe from it. I slept with these thoughts, and this morning still could not figure out how to feel, how to write. I think this film is a great representation of the war a lot of people had to go through, and I hope people see it.