Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Reverend’s Reviews: Skinny, Wise & Out


This time of year is generally regarded as the doldrums at local movie theaters, Oscar contenders aside.  Fortunately, there are several new DVD releases of interest to gay viewers, if of mixed quality:

The Skinny
From Breaking Glass Pictures/QC Cinema
Reverend’s Rating: B-
The latest from Noah’s Arc creator Patrik-Ian Polk is a dramedy centered on five college friends (four gay men and a lesbian) who reunite in NYC over Pride weekend.  Their host, Magnus (former child star Jussie Smollett from The Mighty Ducks, all grown up and cuter than ever), uncovers secrets about his boyfriend’s behavior while Sebastian (Blake Young-Fountain) plots to lose his virginity to the promiscuous Kyle (Anthony Burrell) before their time together is over.  The film is more explicit than previous Polk productions but also more heavy-handed than usual, especially when it comes to talk about STDs and bottom-training/-cleansing.  Welcome cameo appearances are made by Noah’s Arc alumni Darryl Stephens and Wilson Cruz.


The Wise Kids
From Wolfe Video
Reverend’s Rating: B+
This thoughtful coming-of-age drama with a religious bent racked up numerous awards on the LGBT film festival circuit over the last two years.  A trio of high school seniors, including gay Tim (the talented Tyler Ross, who has more recently starred in the indie hit Nate & Margaret), experience tensions and revelations while working on their Southern Baptist church’s Christmas program.  Refreshingly humane and non-hysterical, the movie was written and directed by Stephen Cone (In Memoriam), who also plays the students’ closeted pastor.


Luna Park
From Ariztical Entertainment
Reverend’s Rating: C
An unusual plot entailing a successful, female producer of erotica, her many secrets, and the stable of hot gay porn actors in her employ.  Although Alexia (Laura Reilly) and her company are based in New York, her younger brother Christi (who is gay, mute and played by Taylor Caldwell) has essentially been banished to the title apartment community in Fullerton, California.  When Christi gets into trouble with some other tenants, Alexia dispatches her trusted assistant Maxwell (former Calvin Klein model Michael Brent) to keep an eye on him.  It isn’t long before a decidedly non-professional relationship develops between Maxwell and Christi.  Writer-director Steven Vasquez employs considerable full-frontal nudity as well as some stylish touches that are all the more impressive given the film’s obviously low budget.  On the negative side, the acting quality is inconsistent, there are some continuity gaffes regarding clothing/costumes, and a distasteful incest subplot eventually figures in.  Still, a unique film all in all.


Out in the Open
From Breaking Glass Pictures/QC Cinema
Reverend’s Rating: D
A disappointingly dated and tedious documentary about the coming out process of various gay celebs, despite the promising participation of Carson Kressley, Greg Louganis, Eric Roberts and his wife (who aren’t gay but apparently have a briefly-mentioned lesbian daughter), and American Idol/Tarzan on Broadway star Josh Strickland.  They reveal little that we didn’t already know, and the movie is hampered by a faux 1950’s framing device about “the horrors of the homosexual lifestyle.”  Director Matthew Smith, who doubles as one of the film’s subjects, may have broken ground with this approach 10-15 years ago but now it just seems embarrassingly retro. To top it all off, the film’s music score is repetitive and irritating.

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest, Rage Monthly Magazine and Echo Magazine.

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