Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Reverend's Reviews: Partying at the DGA & Eating Out

Gay Hollywood and its supporters were out in force the night of October 20th at the Director's Guild of America. With free cocktails provided by Absolut (who also generously donated $30,000 to the night's beneficiary, the Outfest Legacy Project), director-choreographer Adam Shankman (Hairspray, the upcoming Rock of Ages) and cable TV network Lifetime being honored, and such celebs as Tony Shalhoub (Monk), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family) and full-throated diva/hostess Jenifer Lewis in the house, there was no way not to have a good time.

In accepting his award and reflecting on his successful career, Shankman proudly declared that he was able to coax Tom Cruise into wearing both butt-revealing chaps and a codpiece for his role as a "hair metal" rocker in next summer's Rock of Ages. The openly gay, Jewish Shankman also brought down the house by sharing a letter he received from Crystal Cathedral pastor Robert Schuller when Shankman's adaptation of the pro-Christian novel A Walk to Remember was released. Schuller commended Shankman as the new leading face of Christianity in the US. Shankman was tempted to invite Schuller to meet him at the West Hollywood club Rage to discuss it... "and on Passover."


The Outfest Legacy Project is dedicated to LGBT film preservation and restoration in partnership with the UCLA Film & Television Archive. During her presentation, Outfest's Executive Director Kirsten Schaffer revealed three recently-restored films and announced that the project was a third of the way through its most ambitious undertaking to date: restoration of the 1919 German film Different from the Others. Believed to be the first cinematic depiction of a gay man's life, most prints had been destroyed by the Nazis. To make a contribution toward this and the Legacy Project's other worthy efforts, visit their official website.

Outfest is primarily known for premiering more contemporary LGBT movies during its annual summer festival in Los Angeles. Among these has been the ongoing Eating Out film series created by Q. Allan Brocka (who also serves as an Outfest board member). The latest installment, Eating Out: Drama Camp, is being released on DVD today by Ariztical Entertainment. Brocka returns as writer-director after sitting out the last two films, and Drama Camp is all the better as a result.


An enduring, funny-sexy plot involving confused relationships and secret motives among gay and straight people has here been moved to a summer camp for aspiring actors. Additionally, Drama Camp throws the series' first trans character (played by trans actress Harmony Santana, who recently made an impressive film debut in Gun Hill Road) into the mix. Chris Salvatore and Daniel Skelton return as Zack and Casey from the last Eating Out entry, but their relationship has grown stagnant. Once at Dick Dickey's Drama Camp, whose namesake is played by the hilarious Drew Droege of YouTube's Chloe fame, the partners find themselves tempted by several classmates. Unfortunately for them all, Dickey has forbidden sex at his camp under threat of expulsion.

The Eating Out series isn't known for comedic or sexual subtlety, but what Drama Camp lacks in restraint it makes up for with good humor and hot guys. Brocka gets game performances from his cast, which also includes Mink Stole as Casey's liberated Aunt Helen (who at one point says -- hilariously -- to her much younger lover, "You make me feel like Demi Moore!") and a cameo by fan fave Rebekah Kochan. Brocka also fills the screenplay with witty jabs at pop culture behemoths including Facebook, Betty White, Glee, Neil Patrick Harris, Black Swan and, of course, Lindsay Lohan.

It likely won't be of such lasting, historical value that the Legacy Project will feel compelled to preserve it, but gay viewers today can do a lot worse than Eating Out.

Reverend's Rating:
Eating Out: Drama Camp: B

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Blade California.

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