Best Gay-themed Films of the Year on DVD (in alphabetical order)
By James Van Maanen
The best gay films released on DVD in 2007 (along with some not quite so great), a quite diverse bunch...
Available Men: This series of gay-themed shorts is way better than most compilations (only one of the bunch sucks--it's in claymation and thankfully brief). The title short is terrific, and those that follow are each quite different as they explore various facets of "love"--in unique and clever ways. Give this one a try.
Broken Sky: A Mexican art film by Julián Hernández that is indeed art, this is a long one (2 hours and 20 minutes) but if it manages to pull you in to its story of a young university man and his "lost" love, you'll be hooked. It's that beautiful, strange and hypnotic. There is little dialog but the visuals are so unusual that I think you'll pay attention.
C.R.A.Z.Y.: This Canadian film has won some 37 awards from all around the world. Deservedly. It's fresh, funny, rude and insightful, as it tracks the life of a gay son trying so hard to be what his daddy wants. The movie is a learning experience in the best of ways: entertaining, thoughtful, fairly rigorous and very involving.
Eating Out 2: Sloppy Seconds Nowhere as ground-breaking, funny/dirty/naughty as the original, this, supposedly the first gay "sequel," is good enough to at least enjoy and laugh at/with. And one of the leads--Marco Dapper--is downright memorable, when he disrobes.
Glue: An original in a generally parched genre, this Argentine knockout captures teenage sexuality in all its raw and crazy vitality. Via imagination (and an original color palette), writer/director Alexis Dos Santos and his cinematographer and editors manage to create a new look/feel that perfectly portrays the subjects, their age, confusion and raging hormones.
The History Boys: The British writer Alan Bennett is in a class by himself. Even he outdoes himself here, giving us one of the most beautiful and romantic stories ever of British boys growing up. The film just keeps getting better until the knockout ending that may have you, as it had us, weeping for sadness and joy. (For its amazing classroom rendition of "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" alone, the movie is a must.)
Infamous: If you only saw the Philip Seymour Hoffman version of the Truman Capote story (as most people did), you ain't seen nuttin' yet. Not only does Toby Jones act the role beautifully, he embodies Truman in a much more real manner than did Hoffman--good as he was. Doug McGrath's wonderful film is all about the results of unrequited longing--from that first amazing song (sung by Gwyneth Paltrow), right through to the love and death duet between Capote and Perry Smith (played by the always wonderful Daniel Craig, just before he "Bonded" himself). The entire cast is aces. What a shame this marvelous movie did not hit theatres first.
Life And Times Of Allen Ginsberg: A very good documentary about a very great guy, this one should be seen by younger gays -- if only to learn what it was like back-in-the-day for someone who was gay and proud well before it was easier. The movie gives you insight into Ginsberg's life, friends, family and poetry.
The Line Of Beauty: Andrew Davies' fine adaptation (directed by Saul Dibb) of the famous Alan Hollinghurst novel takes you back to Britain during the early days of the AIDS epidemic. Smart, fast, somewhat streamlined and filled with beautiful users, this one--sad, haunting, often full of life amidst death--will pull you up short.
The Man Of My Life: A family vacation in gorgeous Provence turns into a strange and wonderful dream of love for the husband, a nightmare for the wife, and growth and change for everyone. Zabou Breitman's very special French film is both artful and meaningful; even if you remain unconvinced, you'll see such beauty as will amaze you.
Red Without Blue: This fascinating, low-key, painful, sad, funny and majestic documentary by Brooke Sebold, Benita Sills and Todd Sills captures one of the most bizarre and interesting family stories of them all—and does so in a manner that seems as genuine and generous to the viewer as it is to the family at its center.
Shortbus: Hard-core and happy about it, John Cameron Mitchell's movie proves that, yes, you can integrate real sex into a fun and funny, moving and interesting ensemble story. The cast--both good-looking and, umm, functional--should have you eating out of their hands and maybe wanting to explore other extremities/orifices, too.
Tan Lines: For folks who enjoyed Garçon Stupide. This odd, very seat-of-the-pants video movie really captures the quirky, unruly, desperate and not all that loveable life of a gay boy in Australia. While it's not so easy to like, it's just about impossible to dismiss. I think we'll be hearing more from the director/writer of this "find," who bills himself simply as "Ed."
Times Have Been Better: "Coming out" has been done to death, which makes this French version--featuring a quite attractive middle-age male, his younger brother, mom, dad and others--all the more surprising. Bourgeoise to its bones, and much the better for it (wonderful dialog, smart characterization), the film won best foreign narrative feature at the 2007 NY Lesbian & Gay film fest.
Unconscious: Yes, OK: it's not officially a gay film, though one important character is a lesbian and one funny scene offers a number of gays running around. But since it has just about everything else that will appeal to certain of us (art nouveau, color, camp, humor, history, beyond-gorgeous sets and costumes--and even Freud!) and it's funny as hell and marvelously well written, acted and directed, it belongs on this list.
Whole New Thing: This Canadian film, the story of an especially bright young boy and his teacher, is full of the surprising, the very open and the very strange. Starring young Aaron Webber, the great Daniel McIvor (with Robert Joy and Callum Keith Rennie, too), it won’t be what you expect, but it will challenge you.
Zerophilia: A gender fantasy unlike anything ever made, this one is so inventive and unusual, funny and sweet, you'll want to go there/do that because--trust me---you've definitely never been there/done that.
Honorable Mentions and more on next page:
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