Thursday, July 30, 2015

Reverend's Reviews: Gays vs. Nazis vs. Crypto-Nazis


First performed in 1979, Martin Sherman's play Bent has become regarded as a watershed theatrical exposé of the persecution of homosexuals under the Nazis prior to and during World War II. Given that, it seems odd that despite successful original productions in London and on Broadway in 1982 plus a star-studded film adaptation in 1997, Bent has never had a major stage revival. Not until now that is, and the timing couldn't be more perfect.

Los Angeles' Center Theatre Group (CTG) is presenting the play now through August 23rd at the Mark Taper Forum. Directed by the openly gay Moisés Kaufman, who sat just a few seats away from me and couldn't have been friendlier on opening night July 26th. While Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters (as drag performer Greta) may be the best-known name among the revival's very talented cast, other standouts include Andy Mientus (The Flash's gay nemesis Pied Piper), Charlie Hofheimer (Abe Drexler on Mad Men) and, as the play's conflicted lead Max, Patrick Heusinger (of Broadway's Next Fall and the acclaimed movie Frances Ha).

Bent begins benignly in a gay couple's apartment in 1934 Berlin. Max wakes up with a hangover after a rough night out with Wolf (Tom Berklund), who soon makes an all-nude appearance. Max's partner Rudy (Mientus) takes it all in stride until the moment swastika-bearing military police break in and slaughter Wolf. Max and Rudy subsequently spend two years in hiding until they are apprehended and put on a train headed to the infamous concentration camp at Dachau, where most gay victims of the Nazis were sent. Even before they get there, Max is forced to betray his lover. Horrified and guilt-ridden, Max strikes a bargain with his captors to be designated a yellow star-wearing Jew rather than an even less-regarded, pink triangle-adorned homosexual.

Once at Dachau (a massive, mobile platform does impressive triple duty as the apartment, train compartment and camp guard station), Max makes the acquaintance of unashamedly gay inmate Horst (Hofheimer). Max arranges for Horst to get assigned to his same menial yet relatively safe task of moving a pile of rocks back and forth all day long. The pair gradually fall in love as they spend their days together in the burning sun under constant watch, culminating in a famously touch-free yet hot sex scene as well as terrible sacrifices on both men's parts.

CTG's Bent emerges as a superior production, especially in the wake of many well-intentioned but budget-constricted 99-seat theater stagings over the last 30+ years. Kaufman brings the same unflinching yet compassionate directorial approach he did to such previous gay-themed efforts as The Laramie Project, Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde and I Am My Own Wife. His cast is excellent, even though some locals are complaining about the hunky physiques sported by some of the actors that are more 21st-century West Hollywood than Hitler-era Germany. Lest one be potentially scared off by the play's grim subject and setting, it was nice to be reminded while watching it of how disarmingly funny much of Sherman's script is.

I also believe it is critical, as we approach the end of this amazing summer in which we have been celebrating the recognition — finally — of marriage equality across the US, that we remember our past and the awful price many of our LGBT predecessors have paid in order for us to have the freedoms we do today. Viewers are visually reminded of them at the conclusion of Bent, when the Mark Taper stage's backdrop becomes filled with stark photographs of gay men and lesbian women who were slaughtered by the Nazis. We can probably pay them no greater tribute than to see Bent, wherever and whenever it is performed now or in the future.

Gore Vidal, the liberal and openly bisexual enfant terrible of American letters, unforgettably denounced his arch-conservative rival William F. Buckley, Jr. as a "crypto-Nazi" at the climax of their televised debates during the 1968 political conventions to determine the Republican and Democratic parties' candidates for the office of President of the United States. Buckley responding by calling Vidal a "queer," a slur he would come to regret. This provocative exchange and many more between the two legendary social commentators are recounted in the engaging documentary Best of Enemies, opening this Friday in Los Angeles and New York.

Buckley and Vidal came from similar, upper-class backgrounds but couldn't have been more different in viewpoints or temperaments (both men have passed away within the last 7 years). I wish the new film, culled from hours of archive footage by directors Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville, went more into their personal upbringings to better understand what made them tick. What becomes clear however is how deeply each man embodied the reactionary values of the 1960's to their division and, in some ways, their detriment. Of note, Buckley was a Roman Catholic who rejected the revisions of the Second Vatican Council earlier that decade and only attended Mass in Latin in schismatic churches as he grew older.

It is also striking how the social and political differences Vidal and Buckley represented endure to this day. Their prime time fracas in 1968 inadvertently succeeded in laying the divide out for all to see and we haven't been able to cover it up since. This can be considered both good and bad especially since, as Best of Enemies implies, the vitriolic fallout planted the seeds of today's no-holds-barred reality TV. Cultural progress or retardation? Watch the doc and decide.

Reverend's Ratings:
Bent: A-
Best of Enemies: B

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

Monday, July 27, 2015

MD Reviews: Interview with the Vampire

Life as a vampire must get pretty tedious after awhile. Sure, you're immortal and all, but things can get pretty dull after a couple centuries. And there's so many rules: stay out of the sun, avoid silver and crucifixes, only drink human blood, blah-blah-blah. Even turning into a bat can get old. So why not share this burden with your fellow bloodsuckers and try to lead a reasonably normal "life" in this modern age? Such is the premise for What We Do in the Shadows, a comedic "mockumentary" look at the mundane, day-to-day (night-to-night?) trials and tribulations of a group of vampires sharing a house in New Zealand.

Ostensibly a documentary about the flatmates preparing for the upcoming Unholy Masquerade (a one-night bacchanal for all of New Zealand's undead), What We Do in the Shadows introduces us to its subjects, a fanged quartet of varying three-digit ages who each represent a classic vampiric example from pop culture. There's Viago (Taika Waititi), a fussy fop who pines away for his true love that got away; the medieval Vladislav (Jemaine Clement), a.k.a. "Vlad the Poker"; Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), the youngest at age 183 and the self-proclaimed "bad boy" of the group; and the incredibly old and decrepit, Nosferatu-esque Petyr (Ben Fransham). Into this tight-knit group comes the newly vamped-up Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer), a tattooed slacker who fancies himself "that guy from Twilight" who's presence is put up with since he introduced them all to his mate Stu (Stuart Rutherford), an unassuming "pre-deceased" human who, after turning them on to the Internet, they have all vowed "not to eat".

Insanely clever and consistently hilarious, What We Do in the Shadows offers several surprises as well, not the least of which for me is that it works even though it is mostly improvised, a practice I typically loathe. It also features some quite effective special effects, most of them practical (always a plus in this age of over-CGI'ed madness), from spewing arterial veins to "bat fights" to a roaming pack of blue collar werewolves. And what other movie has vampires espousing on the virtues of virgin blood and arguing over a chore wheel? Written and directed by co-stars Waititi and Clement (of Flight of the Conchords fame), What We Do in the Shadows is a cult movie in the making; see it now so you can be the one saying "you gotta see this!"

MD Rating: A-

What We Do in the Shadows is now available on DVD and Blu-ray:

Review by Kirby Holt, creator and editor of Movie Dearest, The QuOD: The Queer Online Database and the Out Movie Guide.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Reverend's Reviews: Christmas in July

There are five months left 'til Christmas but I've been seeing "Black Friday in July" ads from numerous stores. It seems an appropriate time then to release Tangerine, Sean Baker's low-budget but accomplished (on an iPhone 5 no less) tale of two transgender prostitutes tearing through the seamy side of Hollywood on Christmas Eve. The movie opens this weekend in Phoenix/Tempe and is now playing in other US cities.

Sin-Dee, ferociously played by Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, receives a tip that the pimp she loves, Chester, is cheating on her. She sets out to hunt Chester down with her more measured friend, Alexandra (the beautiful Mya Taylor), begrudgingly along for the ride. Her devotion to Sin-Dee, however, doesn't keep Alexandra from indulging in a little holiday treat with Razmik (Karren Karagulian, the most accomplished actor in the cast), a married cab driver secretly attracted to trans women.

The high dramatics on display in Tangerine (not to be confused with Tangerines, last year's Oscar-nominated foreign language film from Estonia) are effectively told in real time during the film's 88 minutes. Baker and his cast also add a healthy, welcome sense of humor but viewers should be warned in advance that the language is quite crude. The writer-director's palpable love for his edgy characters is not unlike that shown by John Waters toward the prostitutes, convicts and junkies prominently featured in his numerous classics. Although Christmas may still be a few months off, give yourself a gift now and see Tangerine.

Another new theatrical release deserving of attention, The Outrageous Sophie Tucker (opening today in NYC and LA), shows how its beloved subject (though Jewish) would take out full-page ads in newspapers wishing a Merry Christmas to the residents of the cities in which she was performing. Tucker was popularly known as "the Last of the Red Hot Mamas" at the time of her death in 1966 and remains regarded as such by her modern-day devotees including Bette Midler, Carol Channing (who is interviewed in the documentary), Roseanne Barr and Joan Rivers.

Tucker, or "Soph" as she was known to her friends, was a server in her immigrant parents' kosher restaurant in early 1900's Hartford, Connecticut until she discovered vaudeville. She began to perform and was soon snapped up by New York impresario Florence Ziegfeld. Unfortunately, she was forced out by his more longtime showgirls but found herself picked up by a pre-agency William Morris, who remained Tucker's theatrical representative until his death in 1932.

With live performances, musical recordings and movies (including 1934's Gay Love) under her famously ample belt, Tucker was an international sensation by the time of World War II. She was so influential that Hitler banned her sentimental song "My Yiddishe Momme" from German airwaves. Once his troops were defeated, allied soldiers blared the song from their tanks as they entered Berlin.

All of this and more is generously recounted in The Outrageous Sophie Tucker. My only gripe against it is the too prominent role played on film by biographers Lloyd and Susan Ecker, who also co-produced it (William Gazecki directed but seemingly under the Eckers' heavy sway). While obvious fans of their subject, the Eckers comment on camera excessively throughout. The documentary is much more effective when Channing, Tony Bennett, Barbara Walters and others who knew Tucker personally are allowed to speak, but this isn't as frequent as it should be.

My late grandfather often mentioned Sophie Tucker lovingly but I had no idea who she was, since she died before I was born. Gazecki's film is an important, generally enjoyable tutorial on a great show-woman's life, accomplishments and enduring influence.

Reverend's Ratings:
Tangerine: B+
The Outrageous Sophie Tucker: B

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

Monday, July 20, 2015

MD Reviews: Travels with My Ant

Batman. Spider-Man. Ant-Man? In the annals of superherodom, you can't always judge a superhero by his name. Same goes for the superhero movie, and Marvel's latest at first glance seems to be an odd, relatively obscure choice to continue their ongoing "Cinematic Universe" juggernaut. But Ant-Man (directed by Bring It On's Peyton Reed) defies the odds and turns out to be a fun comic book flick that (almost) makes up for the (mostly) disappointing Avengers: Age of Ultron from earlier this year.

A lot of the credit for Ant-Man's success goes to its leading man, Paul Rudd, an unlikely choice for a superhero who nonetheless embraces his alter ego and imbues him with his own offbeat humor. Rudd plays Scott Lang, a convicted cat burglar (Cat-Man?) trying to go straight who, through a ridiculously complex series of events, meets the reclusive scientific genius Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). Dr. Pym (a significant figure in Marvel Comics lore) recruits Scott to take over for him as Ant-Man, a costumed crime fighter who can control his size as well as a never-ending horde of the industrious insects he gets his name from. With the reluctant aid of Pym's estranged daughter Hope van Dyne (Lost's Evangeline Lilly, unrecognizable in a black Velma Kelly wig), Team Ant-Man plots the ultimate heist: break into Pym's old tech company and steal the "Yellowjacket", another, far more lethal shrinking suit created by Pym's psycho protégé Darren Cross (Corey Stoll, channeling Kevin Spacey in Lex Luthor mode).

Marvel's films can be hit or miss and Ant-Man proves perfectly that to get that hit they can't take themselves too seriously. What other superhero movie has bug zappers and toy trains being used as lethal weapons? Add to that some cool crossovers (Agent Carter! An Avenger!), a bunch of nifty action sequences and Michael Peña as Rudd's hilarious homeboy sidekick and you get the popcorn movie for Summer 2015.

MD Rating: B+

Review by Kirby Holt, creator and editor of Movie Dearest, The QuOD: The Queer Online Database and the Out Movie Guide.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

MD Reviews: Old/Boy




Sexual preference for the elderly.

Queercore filmmaker Bruce LaBruce has tackled all manner of taboo subjects during his mostly underground career, from prostitution to pornography to necrophilia (twice, as a matter of fact). So it is no surprise that his latest film, Gerontophilia, pushes more boundaries with its subject of a young man lusting after a much older man. What is surprising is just how conventional (relatively speaking) it ends up being.

Sexy Canadian newcomer Pier-Gabriel Lajoie plays Lake, a budding gay gerontophile who becomes an orderly in a nursing home, a dream job for him as it provides him with plenty of wrinkled eye candy to fantasize about. There he meets the charming former actor Melvin (Walter Borden) and the two soon develop a close and, ultimately, intimate relationship. Expectedly, all are not accepting of this May-next December romance and the odd couple take off on a road trip that also serves as a sort of honeymoon for the unlikely lovers.

Unlike LaBruce's previous films, Gerontophilia is not sexually explicit, nor does it look like it was filmed in friend's basements and abandoned buildings. On the other hand, it does feature some questionable acting (save for Borden) and a touch of LaBruce's obsession with revolutionary dogma (the SCUM Manifesto gets a mention), so it's not too much of a departure for him. Hardly a "romantic comedy" as it is being advertised as or the "gay Harold and Maude" it aspires to be, Gerontophilia starts off promising with its unordinary premise but fails to dig deep into any real emotions or motivations these characters must have.

MD Rating: C+

Gerontophilia is now available on DVD and VOD:

Review by Kirby Holt, creator and editor of Movie Dearest, The QuOD: The Queer Online Database and the Out Movie Guide.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

MD Reviews: Secrets & Lies

If you watched television during the 70's chances are you saw the Amazing Randi. The stage name of expert escape artist and magician James Randi, the Amazing Randi was a frequent guest on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show among many other TV appearances, including an episode of Happy Days. Just as likely to be exposing fraudulent spoon benders or faith healers as he would be recreating one of his idol Houdini's legendary escapes, Randi was as famous for his unwavering commitment to debunkery as he was for his own hammy hocus pocus. Thus it's the height of irony that at the core of the life of a man who built his career on revealing "the man behind the curtain" was a big secret, and not the kind that all magician's keep.

Of course, that secret was revealed years ago when Randi came out, and his long term relationship with Venezuelan artist José Alvarez is the heart of An Honest Liar, a new documentary about the now 86-year-old's life on- and offstage. Theirs is an unconventional partnership and not just because of their 33 year age difference. Soon after meeting, Randi enlisted Alvarez to pose as "Carlos", a so-called "spirit channeler" who was the key component of his exposé of such charlatans. Together for almost 30 years, their love for each other is palpable, most sweetly when José refers to his diminutive Dumbledore not as "James" but as "Amazing".

What sets An Honest Liar apart from other showbiz docs is an unexpected, shocking revelation that just so happened to come to light during its filming. Directors Justin Weinstein and Tyler Measom handle this twist respectfully but effectively, making the film's final act an emotionally charged series of events leading up to quite the timely finale. As both an entertaining biography of an enigmatic subject and a satisfying offbeat love story, An Honest Liar holds true.

MD Rating: A-

An Honest Liar is now available on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD:

Review by Kirby Holt, creator and editor of Movie Dearest, The QuOD: The Queer Online Database and the Out Movie Guide.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

MD Reviews: Under Siege

Forty years to the date after the historic Stonewall riots jump-started the modern GLBT rights movement in America another incident in a gay nightclub proved that our struggle for equality is never really over. Even today, just over six years after that police raid of a Fort Worth, Texas bar, and even with the recent landmark Supreme Court decision to legalize same sex marriage in the United States, we need to remember that now, more than ever, our fight is an ongoing one.

Robert L. Camina's enlightening, inspirational documentary Raid of the Rainbow Lounge (now available on DVD and VOD from TLA Video) shows that such a fight is well worth fighting. The June 28, 2009 raid of the then-newly opened Rainbow Lounge by members of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and the Fort Worth Police Department that resulted in several arrests of and injuries to the bar's patrons galvanized the city's GLBT community into action. Justifiably incensed that such a disturbing and violent assault could even occur, they wanted answers. And when local officials dragged their feet and added fuel to the fire by saying that the patrons' actions (such as "blowing kisses" and "fondling" officers) warranted such a show of police force, the gay community of Fort Worth rallied together and, through organized protests, witness support and pure sense of what was right, managed to (mostly) get the justice they sought.

What the Raid of the Rainbow Lounge (narrated by Family Ties actress and out lesbian Meredith Baxter) most interestingly reveals is the good and the bad that emerges following such a watershed event and how all involved, on both sides of the story, can be transformed. It's a credit to director Camina (whose next film, Upstairs Inferno, documents another far more violent night out at a gay bar) that Raid of the Rainbow Lounge may be looked back on as evidence of how best to deal with such a crisis, although one certainly hopes that that will never be necessary.

MD Rating: B+

Raid of the Rainbow Lounge is now available on DVD and VOD:

Raid of the Rainbow Lounge

Review by Kirby Holt, creator and editor of Movie Dearest, The QuOD: The Queer Online Database and the Out Movie Guide.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Reverend's Preview: Old & New Faces at Outfest 2015


Despite the resignations this past year of two prominent leaders (Executive Director Kirsten Schaffer and Director of Programming Kristin Pepe) as well as the temporary loss of the Ford Theatre (which is undergoing a long-overdue renovation) Outfest is still going strong. The 33rd annual Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival runs July 9th-19th at both traditional and new venues in the Los Angeles/Hollywood area.

Christopher Racster, Outfest’s Interim Executive Director, and Long Beach resident Lucy Mukerjee-Brown, the fest’s new Director of Programming, promise that the films being showcased this year “increase our visibility.” They went on to say that “sharing them strengthens understanding and, in turn, creates meaningful change.”

One of the most prominent examples of this may be the July 16th screening of 54: The Director’s Cut at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Mark Christopher’s 1998 historical drama about New York City’s famed nightclub Studio 54 underwent extensive re-editing prior to its original release that removed virtually all of its gay and bisexual content. Fortunately, the director was finally allowed last year to restore his original vision and 36 minutes to the film, which stars studly Ryan Phillippe as a bartender with dreams of fame and Mike Myers (yes, Austin Powers himself) in a rare dramatic role as club owner Steve Rubell.

While the new and presumably improved 54 wasn’t made available to critics in advance, I was able to preview several of this year’s other Outfest selections:

Eisenstein in Guanajuato: Auteur/provocateur Peter Greenaway (The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover; The Pillow Book) returns with this explicit examination of the relationship between acclaimed Russian filmmaker Sergio Eisenstein and Palomino, the man who served as his guide during Eisenstein’s trip to Mexico in the 1930's. I found Greenaway’s treatment here of both men a little too broad and cartoonish but their true love story remains appealing. The film will screen in the International Centerpiece slot at the Director’s Guild of America on July 13th.

Those People: An affecting coming-of-age tale set in the Big Apple of a young artist fixated on his non-committal best friend, who also happens to be the socially-despised son of a Bernie Madoff-ish swindler. Writer-director Joey Kuhn gets extra credit for incorporating numerous Gilbert & Sullivan tunes on the soundtrack. It screens on July 18th.

Drown: This winner of several awards at May’s FilmOut San Diego is a time-tripping exploration of an Australian lifeguard’s conflicted feelings for his new, gay teammate. It is a dark film focusing on the awful toll repression can take but the finale isn’t as depressing as one may fear initially. There is also plentiful eye candy thanks to its hot, Speedo-clad cast.

Everlasting Love: OK, this one was too dark for me and I’m hardly a Pollyanna. A teacher begins an illicit affair with a gay student, whom he encounters while cruising in the woods one day. The student doesn’t take it very well, however, when his teacher decides to end their relationship. Spanish director Marcal Fores’ bad romance is being termed Hitchcockian but pushes the envelope a bit too far. More adventurous Outfest-goers might consider it just fine.

Do I Sound Gay?: Filmmaker and primary subject David Thorpe set out to discover if there really is a “gay voice” and, if so, how did it develop. Entertaining if frequently self-indulgent, this documentary presents such disparate suspects as Hollywood golden age actor Clifton Webb (Laura, 1953’s Titanic), gay comedians Paul Lynde and Charles Nelson Reilly, and The Lion King’s villainous Scar as all at least partly responsible for making the majority of gay men sound alike, depending upon which generation we came of age.

Seed Money: The Chuck Holmes Story: A compelling documentary about Chuck Holmes, the unassuming Midwest farm boy who founded Falcon Studios in the late 1970’s and watched it become “the MGM of gay porn.” Director Michael Stabile captures Holmes’ difficulties during the 1980’s particularly well, when the pornographer found himself at the uncomfortable center of the convergence of AIDS, politics and economics.

Beautiful Something: This thoughtful, very sexy drama is the best offering I was able to see in advance of Outfest. Writer-director Joseph Graham (Strapped) follows several gay men of different generations living in Philadelphia during one life-altering night. Alternately funny and heartbreaking, it is also one of the few American films seen to feature an ethnically-diverse cast. I strongly recommend this one.

Actor-writer-director John Cameron Mitchell, best known for the boundary-pushing Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Shortbus, will be honored with the 2015 Outfest Achievement Award during the opening night gala on July 9th. For the full festival schedule and to purchase passes or tickets, visit the Outfest website.

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

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Reverend's Reviews: Outsider Stories

As I write on Independence Day, it is a more historic 4th of July than ever in my life thanks to the recent Supreme Court decision legalizing marriage equality across the country. Those of us who have long been considered outsiders are celebrating our new, hard-won inclusion. God bless America!

Several new home video/VOD releases depict men and women yearning for acceptance not only in the US but around the world. While brothers David and Nathan Zellners' Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter (available from Anchor Bay) isn't LGBT-specific, its story of an unappreciated Japanese woman's quest emerges as one of my favorite films of 2015 thus far. Rinko Kikuchi (an Oscar nominee for Babel and more recently seen in Pacific Rim) plays the title character, a past-her-prime "office lady" by day who becomes fixated on the briefcase full of money buried in the snow in the 1996 Academy Award winning film Fargo. Believing it to be real, Kumiko steals her boss's credit card and heads to North Dakota in search of the loot.

The movie is similar to Alexander Payne's Nebraska in following a deluded (or is she?) character's obsession with a gimmicky promise of financial windfall, and Payne actually served as an executive producer here. Kumiko, though, is the better and more believable film. While its plot seems as far-fetched on paper as Nebraska's, which centered on a demented elderly man intent on claiming his million-dollar "prize" from Publisher's Clearinghouse, Kumiko benefits from a more stylized directorial approach. Kikuchi's performance is minimalist but heartfelt, and the cost of her character's yearning is made more palpable when she has to give up her beloved pet, an adorable rabbit named Bunzo (don't lose heart, new viewers, as Bunzo makes a later appearance). This is a great movie, not to mention a thoroughly loving tribute to its source of Coen Brothers-made inspiration.

While they aren't quite as ambitious nor as accomplished, a handful of new LGBT titles also find outsiders striving to fit in by accepting who they are and with the help of a loved one. Boys in Brazil (from TLA Releasing) follows several gay friends struggling to come out to their parents or, in one case, their wife. They make a pact among themselves to do so before Pride in Rio de Janeiro one year later. Andre Colazzi's screenplay plies well-worn territory and the handling of a young wannabe drag queen is painfully stereotypical, but the film and its subjects nevertheless possess an admirable integrity.

Of Girls and Horses, which was popular on last year's festival circuit, is now available from Wolfe. Acclaimed lesbian director Monika Treut (Gendernauts, My Father is Coming) helmed this romantic tale of a rebellious teenager, Alex, who is banished by her parents to a remote equestrian estate. Alex (played by German TV star Ceci Chuh) quickly becomes smitten not only with the horses but her riding instructor, Nina (Vanida Karun). Things become further complicated when another, more privileged young woman arrives. Well-acted and sensitive, the film is a must see for the ladies.

Finally, Tiger Orange (also from Wolfe) is a low-key but worthwhile story about two very different gay brothers coming to terms with one another. Frankie Valenti, better known as gay porn star Johnny Hazzard, makes an impressive dramatic debut as the more out and hunkier of the siblings, while Mark Strano (who also co-wrote the film with his partner, Wade Gasque, who directs) won a special Jury Award at last year's Outfest for his similarly sincere performance.

Reverend's Ratings:
Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter: A-
Boys in Brazil: B
Of Girls and Horses: B+
Tiger Orange: B

Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter, Boys in Brazil, Of Girls and Horses and Tiger Orange are now available on Blu-ray or DVD:

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

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Monthly Wallpaper - July 2015: American Presidents

There's a lot for America to celebrate this July (especially its GLBT citizens), and Movie Dearest adds to the festivities with this month's Calendar Wallpaper salute to our favorite cinematic American Presidents, both real and "reel", from Abe to Dave.

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.