As you read this, Reverend is en route to his hot homeland of Phoenix, Arizona to celebrate his 20th anniversary of ordained ministry. Can you believe it? This summer also marks my 19th year as a regularly published film & theatre critic. My, how time flies. While I don't have time to review them in full, two new releases are practically begging for gay attention this long holiday weekend.
Chocolate City, now playing in theaters nationwide, is a blaxploitative attempt to cash in on the Magic Mike craze. This story of a hot, well-intentioned college kid (played by the appealing Robert Ri'chard) who takes a job as a stripper to help support his cash-strapped mother (Vivica A. Fox) is both cliché-ridden and schizophrenic. On the one hand, it indulges its chiefly female and gay audience by ogling the toned, oiled up male cast members. One can easily tell the stripping pros from the amateurs among the cast, although Ri'chard's and Tyson Beckford's routines are quite good. On the other hand, though, Jean-Claude La Marre's film takes a condemnatory religious approach to its subjects, implying if not outright stating that stripping is of the Devil... at least when men are doing it. I'm shocked that a big studio like Paramount is distributing this obviously low-budget stinker.
Thankfully, Gaming in Color (now available on VOD) provides a nice counter-balance with its interesting documentary exploration of LGBTQ video game fans. First-time director Philip Jones and his "gaymer" subjects offer considerable insight into not only the strong community that has grown around the industry's limited LGBTQ offerings (notably Mass Effect 3, The Last of Us, Minecraft, Going Home, the Fable series and those produced by the Riot Games company) but what draws people in general to video games in the first place. Not being a player myself, I was intrigued by this film. It suffers a little from a predominantly talking head interview approach but is still worth checking out this Memorial Day weekend.
Chocolate City: C-
Gaming in Color: B+
Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Rage Monthly Magazine.