Mama Mia (Movie Thoughts: Dating My Mother)

dimsIn 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.

Boy Meet Bwoy (Movie Thoughts: Bwoy)

dimsAbout 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.

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War Stories (Film Thoughts: BPM)

bpmI 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.

Love And Sex In Belgium (Film Thoughts: Even Lovers Get The Blues)

even-lovers-gets-the-blues-dvd-coverThere’s a lot of sex going on in Belgium. Or so it seems, based on Laurent Micheli’s ‘Even Lovers Get The Blues.” When a group of friends loses one of their own, things go haywire and a lot of bed-swapping goes on. Maybe I am dense, but I found there were a lot of characters in the film, and there was not much (any) exposition to these characters that I was confused a lot of the time about who is who among here. That’s why I really did not care much for any of these people, and when they had the inevitable showdown at the lake, nothing registered. I like some of the artsy elements in the film, but over all I was very much unmoved by it.

Madrid Man (Movie Thoughts: Marica Tu)

41EO0KR2mPL._BO1,204,203,200_‘Marica Tu’  is a movie by Spanish filmmaker Ismael Nunez which is based on a comic book by Julian Almazan. Set in Madrid, it is the story of a gay man Julian who arrives to the city and meets Carlos his first night, and embarks on a relationship with him for two years, only for them to break up because Carlos gets a job in Seville. Julian then embarks on a couple of casual affairs, refusing to commit to anyone.

That description seems slight, and the film is – clocking in at a scant 53 mins. We barely have time to know any of these characters, and we really have no understanding about Julian’s relationship with Carlos, so when he frets over their break up, we don’t care. But all is not lost here – I enjoyed the atmosphere of what Gay Madrid seems to be, although, really, that us probably my only take away from the film.

Love Begins With One Hello (Film Thoughts: Hello Again)

helllo_1507045388I remember seeing ‘Hello Again’ off-Broadway at Lincoln Center many years ago, and I remember disliking it. Even though I liked the performances (Donna Murphy! John Cameron Mitchell!) I really was put off by Michael John LaChiusa’s score. I have always been a purist when it comes to musical theater – I’m old fashioned, please don’t mind me – and it took me a long while to get adjusted to the ‘modern’ composers whose themes are more discordant, and tuneless.

So maybe it’s that maturity that made me appreciate the score now, more than twenty years later, and actually, it really has grown on me, and I even like it a lot now. Or perhaps it’s the MTV effect. Paired with the great visuals in the film, the music resonated more. The show was inspired by Arthur Shnitzler’s La Ronda, and features vignettes of people engaging in sexual acts, all done elegantly, so there’s nothing smutty here.

s592I loved this movie, and I had reservations. It was perfectly cast with a cast with blazing screen presences, voices that life the score, and sensuality that is needed to essay the score. I cannot think of anyone who is a weak link – everyone was perfect. To my eyes, the male cast was perfection – starting with Gerald Nolan Funk and Al Calderone. And has Cheyenne Jackson ever been sexier on film? I was mesmerized by Tyler Blackburn (Where has he been all my life?) and thought T R Knight was best with his scene from the Titanic.

And of course, Audra McDonald. She sizzles on screen as she does on stage. You cannot take your eyes off her, and when she sings, angels would take notes. I hadn’t known that Rumer Willis (of Demi and Bruce) was good like this good, and Martha Plimpton always delivers.

The vignettes, to me, played like music videos, and probably better suited for this medium. Some of the sexuality seems tempered, but I guess that wasn’t really the point of the film. But to me, the whole was very enjoyable, and when the credits started to roll, I wanted more.

Gallivanting I: Germany and France (Movie Thoughts: Die Geschwiter/Basier Caches)

Some quick hits on some flicks.

diegI really liked Die Geschwiter (Brother and Sister) which is set in Berlin and touches upon a couple of issues. Written and Directed by Jan Kruger, it is the story of a gay man who finds himself involved in the life of a brother and sister who are illegal refugees from Poland and Russia. He initially gives them a place to stay, then he gets romantically involved with the brother, but are they really just brother and sister? And is he really gay, or is he just being used? We never really get direct answers for some of these questions, and that’s not the point perhaps. We get a glimpse of life where refugees are discriminated, and I learn here that this type of thing doesn’t just happen in America. This was thought provoking and also engrossing.

baiserFrom France comes Baisers Caches (Hidden Kisses) which is about a gay teenager from suburban France. It is a story about young love, homophobia, bullying. This was really disturbing to me – do these stories still exist in this day and age? I thought the younger generation now do not care about the sexual orientation of people their age? While the film does provide a nice ending, I was really bothered by some of the bullying scenes. At least it gives a positive message for this younger generation.