Sunday, January 31, 2010

Monthly Wallpaper - February 2010: Strange Love

With Valentine's Day at its heart, February is the month for love ... of all kinds.  Therefore, this month's Movie Dearest calendar wallpaper salutes the many kinds of cinematic "strange love", unlikely romances that think outside the box.

And, as seen in several "beauty and the beast" scenarios, sometimes that is outside the species, not to mention love connections that transcend age, class and (surprise) gender differences.  Then there is the undying love (literally) of ghosts and the undead, not to mention the spark of amour that can be ignited between a certain pair of robotic lovebirds.  These may not be your typical examples of film romance, but they sure are some of the most memorable.

All you have to do is click on the picture above to enlarge it, then simply right click your mouse and select "Set as Background". (You can also save it to your computer and set it up from there if you prefer.) The size is 1024 x 768, but you can modify it if needed in your own photo-editing program.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Reverend's Reviews: Saint John Not Quite Heavenly

The Church has many saints, and several Saint Johns. Saint John of Las Vegas isn't currently among this heavenly company, but it is a new movie being released in select cities starting today.

Steve Buscemi — veteran of the gay classic Parting Glances and many other memorable films — stars as John, a compulsive gambler who has fled from Las Vegas following a run of bad luck. Now living in the decidedly less-full-of-temptation city of Albuquerque, John works for an auto insurance company headed by Mr. Townsend (the always-enjoyable Peter Dinklage). John also enjoys a flirtatious friendship with his cubicle neighbor, the excessively optimistic Jill (a great turn by comedienne Sarah Silverman).

Mr. Townsend assigns John to investigate a potential fraudulent claim involving a questionable car accident that took place outside Las Vegas. John is hesitant to return there, but the promise of a promotion lures him. Accompanied by Virgil (Romany Malco), the agency's top fraud-debunker, John confronts his addiction through a series of bizarre encounters with nude militants headed by a full-frontal Tim Blake Nelson, a stripper paralyzed from the waist down, and a human torch (played by an unrecognizable John Cho, who played Sulu in the recent Star Trek reboot) stuck inside his flammable outfit, among others.

Saint John of Las Vegas marks the feature debut of writer-director Hue Rhodes. He states in the press notes that this script was inspired by the "surreal" nature of modern corporate life. The film certainly is surreal at times, and simply baffling at others. I'm still not sure the climax's twist and its aftermath add up logically, but I won't give things away here.

Rhodes' effort sports many of the flaws found in filmmakers' freshman efforts, but there is also quite a bit to like. The performances are uniformly excellent and there is an effective, Tarantino-esque balance of humor and menace. The Vegas and New Mexico locations are attractive and well filmed.

This film is also the first production by IndieVest, a promising new independent company. IndieVest's mission/approach is explained in the press notes thusly: "Whereas most independent films are produced with the hopes of securing distribution after they are completed, IndieVest's model involves raising enough financing from its pool of investors (which includes Spike Lee and Stanley Tucci) to pay for both production and an independent theatrical release."

Saint John of Las Vegas is far from perfect, but so were most of the men and women venerated today as saints in heaven. Like them, Hue Rhodes and IndieVest definitely show potential.

UPDATE: Saint John of Las Vegas is now available on DVD from

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Off the Shelf: Drama Queers!

If you, like me, spent your teen years obsessing over getting into the next high school musical, you'll find a lot to identify with — and enjoy — in Drama Queers!

Author Frank Anthony Polito's fab follow up to his debut novel Band Fags!, Drama Queers! recounts in loving detail the trials and tribulations of, you guessed it, being a "drama queer".  Stuck in the "sorry little suburb" of Hazel Park, Michigan circa 1987, Polito's semi-autobiographical protagonist, Bradley James Dayton, yearns to be a star of stage and screen ... but first he has to graduate from "Hillbilly High".  Complicating matters is his reluctance to be an "openly gay actor", a situation not made any easier when the senior falls for a cute sophomore who also happens to be his chief rival for the lead in the next school play.  And that's just a hint of all the "drama" in this drama department.

Enriching Polito's first-person narrative is a steady stream of pop culture references familiar to anyone who grew up in the 80's, from Jane Seymour's Somewhere in Time monologue to the love theme from Ice Castles. Take it from a fellow member of the Class of '87, Drama Queers! is one "totally awesome" flashback you'll want to take.

UPDATE: Congratulations to Frank and Drama Queers!, winner of the Lambda Literary Foundation Award for "Best Gay Romance" of 2009!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Reverend's Reviews: British Invasion

The British are coming, but this time they aren't sporting redcoats and muskets. Instead, they have Rupert Everett in drag and two hot, female singer-songwriters in their arsenal. Having sampled this assortment, I predict the Brits will have a better run in the colonies in 2010 than they did 230+ years ago!

First up is the DVD release today of the delightful St. Trinian's, from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. One of the highest-grossing independent British films of all time, it features the openly gay Everett and an all-star cast of gay faves including Colin Firth (the current A Single Man), Stephen Fry (Wilde) and Toby Jones, who played Truman in that "other" Capote biopic, Infamous. In addition, British comedian Russell Brand (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) disguises himself in one scene as a flamboyantly gay count.

Everett actually plays two roles in St. Trinian's: the dotty Camilla Fritton, martini-swilling headmistress of the title high school for girls, and her conniving brother. Mr. Fritton has just enrolled his daughter, Annabelle (Talulah Riley), at St. Trinian's, where she is quickly set upon by the school's assortment of troubled teens. These include the Emos (short for "emotionally unstable," Goth-looking girls), the Posh Totty sorority of spoiled pretty girls, and the Chavs, an entrepreneurial clique of multi-ethnic young ladies who have developed, among other things, designer tampons.

St. Trinian's poor reputation draws the attention of Britain's new Minister of Education, who is played by Firth. Intent on shutting the bankrupt, under-achieving school down, the minister's plans are complicated by his romantic history with Camilla as well as the students' scheme to raise money to save their school ... by stealing and selling Vermeer's "Girl with a Pearl Earring" painting. Or, as one of the dimmer girls incredulously inquires, "We're going to steal Scarlett Johansson?"

Indeed, that 2003 movie (which starred Firth in addition to Johansson) and a host of other contemporary British films serve as fodder for some of the best lines and jokes in St. Trinian's. When Ms. Fritton and Firth's Education Minister meet and recognize each other, they declare of their prior relationship, "It was another time, another country." This references the acclaimed 1984 film Another Country, in which they co-starred and Everett played a homosexual spy. St. Trinian's script also includes witty jabs at the Harry Potter series, among other targets.

The movie is based on a series of comical drawings, "The Girls of St. Trinian's," by Ronald Searle, which were previously adapted into successful British film series in the 1950's and 60's. This new, randier version is directed and produced by Oliver Parker, who was behind the recent hit films of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest and An Ideal Husband. With its great cast, funny script and rockin' soundtrack, you definitely ought to check it out.

Corinne Bailey Rae and V.V. Brown are the armed-and-dangerous chanteuses "crossing the pond" to the US. Bailey Rae burst onto the international music scene in 2006 with her pop-rock, self-titled debut album. The CD topped the UK charts in its first week of release and sold nearly 2 million copies in the states. It was also nominated for three 2007 Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

Life dealt Bailey Rae a considerable setback while preparing her follow up, The Sea, which is out today on EMI's Capitol Records. The singer's husband, Jason Rae, died from an accidental drug overdose in 2008. He was 31 years old. An article on Bailey Rae in the January 22, 2010 issue of Entertainment Weekly details her loss and struggle to overcome it.

The Sea is a more melancholy, jazz-leaning recording than her debut, but it is a gorgeous achievement both lyrically and sonically. Bailey Rae wrote most of the songs herself, with collaborators on three of them. "Are You Here" and "I'd Do It All Again" are standouts, and I like "The Blackest Lily" and "Love's On Its Way" a lot as well. I anticipate more Grammy nominations for this album, and they won't be out of sympathy.

Take equal parts Amy Winehouse and Pink, throw in a jigger of Crystal Waters, shake, pour and top with a dollop of Shirley Bassey, and you'll begin to approximate the musical stylings of newcomer V.V. Brown. This Brit's first CD, Travelling Like the Light, won't be released in the US until March 16. However, it will be available for purchase as an iTunes exclusive for six weeks beginning February 2. It is, in a word, FABULOUS, and I'm so grateful to my PR friend Ryan in NYC for introducing me to V.V. and forwarding an advance copy of her CD on to me.

Brown's songs are decidedly retro, sampling 1940's jitterbug, 50's doo-wop and early 90's techno, among other genres. Virtually all of her tunes will make you want to dance and bring a smile to your face simultaneously. My personal favorites are "Shark in the Water," "Bottles," "I Love You" and the title track.

Both V.V. Brown and Corrine Bailey Rae are currently touring certain US cities, so be on the lookout for them should they invade a club near you. And buy their CDs, damn it! The Queen will thank you.

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Reverend's Reviews: Swim Trial

David Oliveras' Watercolors, about a high school art student who falls in love with a hunky if troubled member of the swim team, made quite a splash (no pun intended ... OK, maybe a little) at Outfest, Los Angeles's GLBT film festival, way back in the summer of 2008. It is finally being released theatrically this weekend in Los Angeles and New York as part of a gay mini-fest sponsored by Regent Releasing/here! Films and

The plot of Watercolors is reminiscent of the superior, 1999 British film Get Real, in which a self-accepting gay student also has the hots for a closeted athlete. To Watercolors' detriment, Oliveras turns up the angst and minimizes the humor in his tale of conflicted boy-love. He stacks the odds against Danny (played by Tye Olson, who won the 2008 Best Actor award at Outfest for his work here) and the object of his affection, Carter (Kyle Clare, also quite good). Both are the sons of recovering alcoholics. Carter, a promising athlete, suffers as a result of his father's too-high expectations and turns to drugs. Meanwhile, the bullied, effeminate Danny hones his artistic technique under the tutelage of a compassionate teacher played by camp movie queen Karen Black.

One can't blame Danny for falling for the seductive Carter when the latter ends up staying at Danny's home one weekend. Sexy if unsurprising, almost requisite scenes involving skinny dipping, smoking lessons using a shared cigarette, and tentative same-sex kisses result. And also predictably, things between Carter and Danny end tragically.

Oliveras suffuses his film with odd, unnecessary vignettes of the grown-up Danny fighting with his current boyfriend over his continuing obsession with Carter during an exhibition of Danny's art. The tipsy boyfriend comes across as a jerk, and I kept hoping Danny would dump him instead of begging him not to leave. The movie's finale, intended to be romantic, felt hollow to me.

The best feature of Watercolors — apart from its Speedo-clad swimmers — is the lovely, color-saturated cinematography by Melissa Holt. Also of note is the presence of out champion diver Greg Louganis, suddenly middle-aged but still very attractive, as Carter's demanding swim coach.

Watercolors is playing for a limited time as part of a triple feature with Murder in Fashion, about gay party boy Andrew Cunanan and the killing of Gianni Versace, and Misconceptions, a promising-sounding comedy in which a conservative Southern woman decides to act as a surrogate for two gay men after receiving a message from God telling her to do so. For more information about the fest and these films, visit

UPDATE: Watercolors is now available on DVD from

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Reverend’s Reviews: Gladiators in the Living Room

Kirk Douglas was sexy, to be sure, as the loincloth-clad star of Stanley Kubrick’s epic 1960 film Spartacus. Apart from that loincloth, though, Douglas doesn’t have anything on the sometimes-nude hunks that populate the new Starz series Spartacus: Blood and Sand, which premieres on the cable channel tonight.

Seemingly inspired by the blockbuster 2007 film 300 as much as by historical accounts of a slave uprising against ancient Rome, the series is a stylish if graphically bloody soap opera. A lot of money appears to have gone into Spartacus: Blood and Sand, and its high-powered producers include filmmaker Sam Raimi (best known for his Evil Dead and Spider-Man movies), Rob Tapert (The Grudge) and Steven S. DeKnight (of the beloved Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show).

Newcomer Andy Whitfield plays the title role, although his character doesn’t initially sport the moniker “Spartacus.” Rather, he starts out as an unnamed, happily married Thracian who becomes enslaved by a treacherous Roman soldier with a vendetta against him. Subsequently forced to fight four trained gladiators at once, the Thracian stuns his captors and the audience by slaying all of his opponents single-handedly. A star is born and is christened “Spartacus” (after a legendary fighter) by the crowd.

Spartacus is purchased by the scheming Batiatus (played by John Hannah, who was very funny as Rachel Weisz’s high-living brother in The Mummy movies) for formal training at the ludus (gladiator school) he owns. Batiatus sees his new recruit as having the potential to earn him and his wife (Lucy Lawless, Xena herself, who looks ravishing here) enough money and prestige to be accepted into the upper-echelons of Roman society.

I was able to view the first three episodes of Spartacus: Blood and Sand in advance. While the main plot and setting will seem familiar to anyone who has seen Gladiator or, again, 300, there is enough sex (both romantic and kinky, as well as some lesbian action) and full-frontal male and female nudity to keep more than a few GLBT viewers interested. Gay men, especially, will want to catch the second episode, “Sacramentum Gladiatorum,” which features naked gladiators shaving, strutting and preening in the ludus’s bath. Be sure to have your thumb at the ready over the remote’s “freeze frame” button!

The series is set in a digitally recreated ancient Rome wherein men stand stoic in virtual snow and sunsets, and slo-mo blood sprays out in all directions during the fight scenes. The violence is completely over-the-top, with severed heads and limbs similarly flying across the screen. There is also gratuitous, historically questionable use of derogatory terms for sexual acts and anatomy.

What gives Spartacus: Blood and Sand some sorely needed credibility are the fine performances of its lead cast members. Whitfield makes a fine hero: strong and seething angrily as appropriate while adding a nuanced softness and everyman quality to his role. Hannah and Lawless are excellent, as is Peter Mensah as Doctore, the gladiators’ domineering head trainer. Mensah deserves special credit, as he keeps his and his character’s dignity intact while delivering the scripts’ ripest dialogue.

But if chiseled, oiled men grappling with one another while wearing little more than codpieces get your blood pumping, you won’t want to miss Spartacus: Blood and Sand. For more information, visit the show's official website.

UPDATE: The first season of Spartacus: Blood and Sand is now available on DVD and Blu-ray from

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Awards Watch: The 1st Annual Dorian Awards!

Recently, I and my fellow Movie Dearest Men on Film Chris Carpenter and Neil Cohen were pleased to be invited to join the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association.  The newly formed group wasted no time in giving out its own annual kudos, christened the Dorian Awards, to the best in GLBT-themed film and television.

A Single Man was named both Film of the Year and GLBT-Themed Film of the Year, as well as star Colin Firth for Film Performance.  Glee also won three Dorians, for both TV Musical or Comedy and Campy TV Show of the Year, plus Jane Lynch for TV Musical or Comedy Performance.  On the drama side, Grey Gardens won for TV Drama and TV Drama Performance of the Year for Drew Barrymore.

Other winners include Precious' Gabourey Sidibe for the More Please! Breakout Award, Prayers for Bobby for GLBT-Themed TV Show and BeyoncĂ©'s Obsessed for Campy Film of the Year.  And, taking a cue from its namesake Dorian Gray, the Dorian "Forever Ageless" Awards were given to the film classic All About Eve and gay fave actress Cloris Leachman.

For a full list of all the Dorian Award winners and nominees, see the comments section below.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Reverend's Reviews: Desert Delights

The 2010 Palm Springs International Film Festival ran January 5-18, ending just before torrential rains hit southern California. Chances are the celebratory crowds who attended wouldn't have minded if the storm had arrived earlier. This year's fest featured nearly 200 movies from over 70 different countries, and saw Oscar winners Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren mingling with the likes of Mariah Carey and the super-cute stars of The Big Gay Musical!

Indeed, the festival's 21st annual edition included 20 GLBT-themed movies, an all-time high. It's Gay!La centerpiece on January 14 was the California premiere of I Love You Phillip Morris, in which Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor play imprisoned, star-crossed lovers. The fact-based comedy, co-directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, was enthusiastically received by a sold-out audience. It is scheduled for theatrical release in March.

Other GLBT films from the fest that I was able to screen were:

Eyes Wide Open (Eynaim Pekukhot), an extraordinary Israeli story about two orthodox, Jewish men in Jerusalem who have an affair. One is a married father of several children who works as the local butcher; the other is a younger rabbinical student recently kicked out of his yeshiva due to his homosexuality. As the older man eventually admits of his feelings, "I was dead, and now I'm alive." Written and directed by the talented Haim Tabakman, the film is sure to be controversial and is not to be missed.

Brotherhood (Broderskab), a Danish film by Nicolo Donato features — in contrast to Eyes Wide Open — two neo-Nazis who fall in love with each other. Initially members of a racist, gay-bashing club, the young men gradually come to see the errors of their ways. Of course, their leaders are less than pleased when the relationship is discovered. The movie effectively shows how easily the disillusioned can become conscripted by such ideologies, as well as their hypocrisy.

Paulista (Quanto Dura o Amor?), which had its world premiere at the fest, depicts the romantic successes and failures of several different people in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Writer-director Roberto Moreira pays tribute to both playwright Anton Chekhov and filmmaker Hector Babenco (who cameos) in this sometimes affecting, sometimes heavy-handed dramedy. Silvia Laurenco, as a transgender legal secretary, and the sexy Gustavo Machado, as her would-be husband, give noteworthy performances.

In the documentary Dzi Croquettes, also from Brazil, former members and supporters reminisce about the late gay performance group of the title. The scantily clad Croquettes emerged in the late 1960's, in the wake of a particularly conservative turn in Brazilian politics. They provided subversive amusement to their countrymen and became an international sensation when they eventually went on a European tour. Sadly, AIDS claimed many of the troupe's members in the 1980's and 90's. The documentary becomes repetitive and overlong, but archival footage of the Croquettes' performances and commentary by one of their champions, Liza Minnelli, will keep most gay viewers' interest.

The Big Gay Musical, directed by Casper Andreas and Fred M. Caruso, is a thoroughly silly, occasionally overbearing but ultimately entertaining tale of two gay actors who strive to overcome their personal issues while starring in an off-Broadway production of Adam & Steve: Just the Way God Made 'Em. The musical numbers are fun, the men are hot, and the film's good-natured attack on the religious right is timely. Gossip columnist Michael Musto has a funny cameo, as does Trick's Steve Hayes as God in the show-within-a-show.

The Palm Springs International Film Festival got 2010 off to a fabulous cinematic start! Look for these GLBT films on the big screen in your area and/or on home video later this year.

UPDATE: Brotherhood (Broderskab) is now available on DVD from

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Awards Watch: Golden Globe Winners 2009

Oh, those wacky folks at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association sure proved their populist nature with tonight's Golden Globe Awards. Winners included such box office hits as Avatar, The Blind Side, Sherlock Holmes and, most surprising of all, The Hangover.  Meanwhile, such critical darlings as The Hurt Locker and Up in the Air were left with little to no recoginition, a fact that will surely cloud Oscar predictions for the rest of the season.

See the comments section below for a quick look at all the winners.

Friday, January 15, 2010

MD Poll: For What Movie Do You Yen in 2010?

It's a new year (and a new decade), with plenty of new and exciting films just around the bend. But which one is your absolute must see for 2010?

Is it the latest adventures of Harry Potter, Buzz and Woody, Iron Man, Carrie Bradshaw or the Twilight gang? How about new versions of such old favorites as Alice in Wonderland, Clash of the Titans or Robin Hood? Or do you just want to see more of Jake looking like this?

Make your choice and place your vote in the MD Poll located in the right hand sidebar. The ultimate "must see" movie of '10 will be revealed Saturday February 6.

UPDATE: This poll is now closed; click here for the results, and click here to vote in the next MD Poll.

MD Poll: Global Awareness 2009

The results are in:  your predictions for the Best Picture winners at this year's Golden Globes are Up in the Air for Drama and Nine for Musical or Comedy.  In fact, you were in complete agreement as exactly one third of the 84 votes in each poll were placed for both of these contenders.

Runners up, respectively, were Avatar and Julie & Julia. See the comments section below for the complete results of both polls, and tune in to NBC tomorrow night to see if the Hollywood Foreign Press agrees with us.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Reverend’s Reviews: Streamers DVD a Unique Time Capsule

The late, iconoclastic director Robert Altman wasn’t gay, but several of his films reflect an open-minded attitude toward GLBT people. Although best known for the 1970’s hits M*A*S*H and Nashville, Altman made a string of adaptations of stage plays in the 1980’s. Among them was Streamers (1983), which will be making its DVD debut on January 19.

Written by Tony Award-winning playwright David Rabe, Streamers stars Matthew Modine (in one of his first screen roles) as the leader of several young Army recruits waiting to be deployed to Vietnam. In the interim, they find themselves increasingly torn by issues of race, class and sexuality. David Alan Grier (in his film debut), then-hottie Mitchell Lichtenstein and Michael Wright round out the main cast; all give riveting if occasionally overwrought performances.

The film is most noteworthy today for its startling take on homosexuality in the armed forces a good ten years before military leaders adopted the controversial “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Lichtenstein plays the barely-closeted Richie, who is prone to wearing a non-regulation Greek fisherman’s hat, parading around the barracks in equally unorthodox tighty-whities, and coating himself with baby powder after taking a shower.

Richie also makes no bones about his attraction to fellow draftee Billy (Modine). While Billy vehemently defends his apparent heterosexuality against Richie’s flirtations, cracks begin to show in his macho veneer. Richie challenges Billy at one point with the question, “What are you afraid of?”, and ultimately declares to Billy, “Lies and ignorance offend me.”

Even though he is homophobic, their barracks mate Roger (Grier) takes Richie’s sexuality a bit more in stride. That is, until things become complicated by Carlyle (Wright), a lower class, mentally unstable black soldier who comes on to Richie. Carlyle and Billy end up fighting over Richie — and specifically over whether Billy and Carlyle can have sex — with tragic results. As Carlyle prophetically proclaims, “If I can’t be where there’s free men, I don’t want to live.”

Confined to its single barracks set, Streamers feels stagey at times but the intimate cinematography helps. The men’s’ faces are so close to one another in some shots that they carry a (possibly intentional) homoerotic charge. There is also some great artillery choreography over the film’s opening and closing credits.

Altman, who passed away in 2006, summed up Streamers thusly at the time of its release: “Men — no, boys — from different walks of life thrown together cause enough trauma for any story. Billy, Roger and Richie: all different, yet forced to live as if they were the same. Then Carlyle, the intruder, enters their world and declares it is not his world. He eventually proves it is not a world for any of them.”

The DVD includes retrospective interviews with Modine, Lichtenstein and George Dzundza, who plays one of the men’s drunk, oblivious sergeants. Dzundza’s character has one of the film’s best, most enduringly pertinent lines when he compassionately tells Richie, “There are worse things than being queer in this world.”

It would be good for the original architects of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” approach to gay and lesbian service members as well as those currently trying to repeal the misguided policy to watch Streamers. The movie effectively illustrates that it isn’t the differences between people that create conflict; rather, it is our failure to acknowledge and respect those differences that tear us apart.

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Awards Watch: GLAAD Tidings 2009

GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), the nation’s GLBT media advocacy and anti-defamation organization, has announced the nominees for its 21st Annual GLAAD Media Awards.

As expected, A Single Man and Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire led the nominees for Outstanding Film - Wide Release, where they are joined by Everybody's Fine, I Love You, Man and Taking Woodstock. Meanwhile, Casi Divas, The Country Teacher, Little Ashes, Phoebe in Wonderland and The Secrets fill out the Limited Release category

Nominations for television include three-time winner Brothers & Sisters in the drama race and freshman series Glee and Modern Family in comedy, plus One Life to Live for daily drama.  Pedro and Prayers for Bobby are among the TV movie nominees.  Plus, Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon will be honored with the Vito Russo Award, presented to "an openly GLBT media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equal rights for our community".

See the comments section below for a quick look at all the English-language nominees.  The GLAAD Media Awards ceremonies will be held in New York on March 13, in Los Angeles on April 17 and in San Francisco on June 5.

UPDATEVideo salute to the 2009 film and TV nominees.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Reverend’s Reviews: New Gay DVDs for a New Year

“Butch” and “straight-acting” have long been used by gay and bisexual men to judge the perceived masculinity — or lack thereof — of other men as well as their own masculinity. Such terms have provoked debate within the GLBT community, however, and they certainly aren’t used by everyone … at least not to mean the same things.

The Butch Factor, being released on DVD January 19 by Wolfe Video, delves into this ongoing struggle to identify what makes one more or less of “a man” than another in the eyes of some. Filmmaker Christopher Hines scoured the US for examples of men who represent the more masculine end of the gay spectrum. He found, among others, police officers, rodeo cowboys, actors and athletes who define themselves as more straight-acting and –appearing and less effeminate than other gay men. They aren’t all anti-femme, and their masculinity seems natural rather than an act for most of them.

Hines also interviews a handful of less-masculine gay men for perspective and balance. For them, too, their effeminate characteristics are innate and not something they consciously adopted. As one of them notes, no man would want more feminine traits if we truly had a choice in the matter.

The Butch Factor ultimately reveals, unsurprisingly, that long-standing social mores and gender stereotypes are more to blame for the prevailing desire for more masculine traits in a partner, even among gay men. While the movie doesn’t settle many arguments, it is an interesting exploration of this enduring debate.

Pennsylvania-based Breaking Glass Pictures recently debuted two films on DVD through their new QC (Queer Culture) Cinema subsidiary. The first, Lucky Bastard, is the latest movie by out writer-director Everett Lewis of The Natural History of Parking Lots and FAQs fame.

It tells the story of a successful LA-based house restorer, Rusty (the very appealing Patrick Tatten), who inexplicably falls in love with a gorgeous but dysfunctional hustler, Denny (the gorgeous and frequently nude Dale Dymkoski, of TV’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit), over the course of a few hours of sex. Rusty has a devoted, equally successful boyfriend but apparently can’t resist shirtless meth addicts who hang out in liquor stores.

The usually reliable Lewis falters here as the result of under-developed characters, so-so acting and too much sympathy for his screwed-up protagonists. Sure, many of us have been attracted to someone we’d hoped and tried to “fix” at one time or another, only to learn how impossible it is. Once you’ve been there, done that, it’s hard to feel anything but disdain for the likes of Rusty and Denny.

QC Cinema’s second new DVD release, End of Love, isn’t exactly a feel-good movie either, but it is more artistically accomplished than Lucky Bastard. The film was an official selection in last summer’s Outfest in Los Angeles and was well received at several other international film festivals.

Chinese filmmaker Simon Chung (Innocent) follows the exploits of Ming (well played by Lee-Chi Kin), a 22-year old Hong Kong man who falls fairly eagerly into drugs and prostitution. Once arrested, Ming is sentenced to the New Life Center, a Christian reform camp whose less-than-subtle director tells Ming upon his arrival, “Everyone who passes through that door is a new being in Christ.”

It doesn’t take long for Ming to hear the siren’s lure of temptation, both toward forbidden cigarettes and forbidden love with his sponsor, Keung (Guthrie Yip, who also gives a fine performance). The seemingly straight Keung later invites Ming to live with him and his girlfriend following Ming’s release from the camp. Needless to say, trouble ensues.

Like Lucky Bastard, End of Love focuses on characters with addiction and codependency issues. Chung, however, resists rewarding his unhealthy subjects with awesome sex and immediate, soulful connections. Ming, Keung and their ilk in End of Love are more recognizable precisely because they aren’t model-gorgeous and are, therefore, more believable.

In summary, I recommend The Butch Factor and End of Love among these early 2010 DVD releases but encourage would-be viewers to pass that Lucky Bastard by.

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Reel Thoughts: The Ex-Files

Nancy Meyers obviously knows what women want … "women of a certain age", that is. The writer/director of What Women Want, Something’s Gotta Give and It’s Complicated has got to give her audience strong female leads with seemingly bottomless bank accounts, a screwy love life to sort out, and a clueless adult child (or three).

Oh, and there has to be an aging male chauvinist for our heroine to skewer... before the two fall madly in love. It’s no coincidence that both Something’s Gotta Give and It’s Complicated were once known as “Untitled Nancy Meyers Project,” since they could literally be different drafts of the same script. The former benefited from a superior plot and the chemistry between Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson, while the latter is all about Meryl.

Meryl Streep plays Jane, a successful Santa Barbara caterer and chef who 10 years ago suffered the indignity of having her husband Jake (Alec Baldwin) dump her for a younger woman (Lake Bell, drained of all beauty or charisma). Now, she is ready to live again, redesign her spacious villa and perhaps even date the nice architect (Steve Martin) who’s creating her dream kitchen. Of course, exes being what they are, Jake re-enters Jane’s life and bed and suddenly, she’s the "other woman". Meyers knows humor, so despite a curdled premise, hilarity ensues.

Streep commands the screen and plays Jane with such comfortable glee, you can’t help but love her and want to see everything work out. Meyers isn’t interested in a fair fight though, as Jake is right to want to flee his dragon wife and her devil child. Still, it’s fun to see a film filled with mature actors and fairly mature romantic complications. Martin is more prop than actual suitor, and both he and Baldwin look terrible throughout the film. But hey, maybe that’s “what women want,” too.

Meyers lucked out with Streep this time, but she will need to bring more than romantic wish fulfillment and obscenely affluent settings to her next “Untitled Project” if she expects another hit.

UPDATE: It's Complicated is now available on DVD and Blu-ray from

Review by Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.