REELING; The Chicago LGBT International Film Festival (ongoing through Sept. 25th) offers up a smattering of AWESOME by way of a dizzying selection of OUTstanding Queer Features and Shorts. Amongst this year’s festival screenings are four films so good, they are simply NOT TO BE MISSED. (In the event that you do; do everything in your power to FIND THEM!)
Director, Producer, Co Screenwriter, Wade Gasque’s film TIGER ORANGE is a powerful and thought provoking film depicting a tumultuous relationship between brothers in the aftermath of the passing of their, at times tyrannical father. Gasque’s film is a gem for many reasons; one of which is it’s originality. Seldom is an audience provided a bird’s eye view into an intense and complexity ridden relationship between two men; both brothers, both gay. The film’s two lead actors; Mark Strano and Frankie Valenti, anchor the film with wildly different, intensely passionate and deeply nuanced performances. Audience members may recognize Valenti from his Adult Film Star work as Johnny Hazzard; but that’s all moot here. Valenti, comfortable in front of the camera, makes honest and truthful connections with his fellow castmates and is believable and convincing at every turn. Relaxed, affable and charming; Valenti’s turn in Gasque’s film is a welcomed departure from his adult film past. Gasque’s film lives in a very special place in the annals of filmdom; think Terrence Malick. It’s a film that is as much about content as it is conjecture. Just as there is a fragile chasm between life and death, TIGER ORANGE encourages a meditation on the sacred connections we have to the natural, the esoteric and to one another. Gasque’s film is a triumph of substance over flash providing us with a kind of celluloidal poetry, if you will. (www.tigerorangemovie.com)
Writer, Director, Producer, Jane Clark is a force and welcome addition to an (all too slowly growing) number of powerhouse women director’s; Susan Seidelman, Kathryn Bigelow, Sofia Coppola, to name a few. Clark’s latest entry; CRAZY BITCHES demonstrates flawlessly her ability to craft a tale; weaving multiple genres; comedy and horror, seamlessly. Finely tuned performances are delivered by a, largely, cast of femme fatales. Seldom are filmgoers treated to the visual feast of so many powerful, strong, intelligent and beautiful women in one film. Delightful turns of prowess are provided by the phenomenal Cathy DeBuono, Guinevere Turner and Candis Cayne. Clark’s intelligent script and her ability to maintain the funny while amassing the gore is a welcome entry into a genre, heretofore, untapped by women directors. The film also features a phenomenal soundtrack with original music from writer/producer Charlton Pettus and Curt Smith of Tears For Fears fame. (www.thecrazybitchesmovie.com)
**If you haven’t seen Jane Clark’s last film entry; METH HEAD, run don’t walk to see this film (available on ITUNES) Her’s is perhaps one of the most important films to deal with the devastation of meth abuse; which continues to ravage the gay community).
Two films that I simply cannot praise highly enough are JC Calciano’s, THE TEN YEAR PLAN and Bruce La Bruce’s, GERONTOPHILIA.
With his film, THE TEN YEAR PLAN, Calciano has crafted a film that I only wish was able to see the light of a mainstream Disney backed wide release. His is a film that every gay boy, teen and man dreams of seeing. It’s an at once witty, hilarious, refreshing and calculatedly fast paced ode to love eternal. Actors; Jack Turner, Michael Adam Hamilton and Adam Bucci, all deliver stand out performances that titillate and delight at every turn. Keeping pace with Calciano’s wild ride of a script is no easy feat and the cast of TEN YEAR PLAN do so with verve and heart. Having enjoyed JC’s earlier work; the sweet IS IT JUST ME and eCupid, THE TEN YEAR PLAN is proof that Calciano has ‘arrived’. With ‘…PLAN, Calciano not only scores a ‘perfect ten’, he has given the world a glorious film about friendship, love, hope and hilarity. Gay men will enjoy this film for many years to come. File Under The Best Gay Date Movie of the Year! (www.10yearplanmovie.com)
GERONTOPHILIA may be one of the most remarkable and memorable films you will ever see. Those who have followed the career of Bruce LaBruce are in for quite a treat. LaBruce, Master of the Queer Film Underground; No Skin Off My Ass, Super 8 1/2, Hustler White, The Raspberry Reich, has crafted what has got to be his most interesting and sensitive film to date. GERONTOPHILIA deals with the most interesting subject, a subject many may find taboo. In his film, sexual attraction and then love blossoms between a young man in his teens and a man in his eighties. The young man’s journey of self introspection and sexual exploration is captivating at every turn and director LaBruce’s deft handling of the subject matter is honest, commendable and downright celebratory. While his film has been touted as a ‘gay Harold and Maude’, I would disagree. LaBruce has given us a human story that supersedes any one, specific sexual orientation. His film speaks to the sexual fluidity that exists in all of us, our ability to see beyond the physical; our ability to connect and to be open to the possibility of sexual expression by way of human interest and desire. LaBruce successfully and with astonishing sensitivity, pushes the boundaries of queer cinema, with a film that encompasses our sexual humanity over our sexual orientation. GERONTOPHILIA is a celebration of the senses. With it’s gorgeous cinematography, outstanding performances by Walter Borden, Marie-Helene Thibault, Katie Boland and newcomer Pier-Gabriel Lajoie, Bruce LaBruce delivers his best film to date. My only problem with his film was that it ended all too soon.
Reviewed by Madrid St. Angelo