North Sea TexasAnne Murphy
A teenage boy's search for love finds him fixated on the boy next door.
It's that time in life when emerging sexual desires inevitably involve the boy next door, as upsetting as that may be to his sister who also fancies the boy next door to her too. That statement about the plot, while accurate, is clumsy in comparison to the tender handling that first love receives in "North Sea Texas", a subtle and moody film. Movies in the understated style of this production often get labelled as 'little films' but there is nothing small about Texas, even when located on the Belgium coast.
A man's unhappy existence comes unravelled after a chance encounter with an old friend's son.
Post-apartheid South Africa looks dated, painted in sepia tones, in this film about repression and infatuation. The central character is tormented with closeted rage. He is so emotionally taut there is an almost explosive undercurrent threading the increasingly uncomfortable scenes. Although noisy with background sounds there are long sequences without dialogue which serves to add to the dangerous mood. Ultimately the narrative is insufficient to provide coherence, which lets down interest as the pace stumbles. Mirror mirror on the wall not much beauty here at all.
Ballroom RulesAnne Murphy
A passionate group of Australian same-sex ballroom dancers battle homophobia, injury and personal drama as they pursue their dream of competing at the Gay Games in Germany.
The journey starts in a Melbourne dance studio that caters to same sex couples and travels across the world to perform at a peak level. This documentary wears a big smile, much like any dancer does. It highlights the travails and triumphs of competitive dance complete with the ubiquitous wardrobe malfunctions. The characters have a charming mix of frivolity and fanaticism, or more accurately, dedication to their sport. This is a ballroom blitz.
Follows the relationship between two apprentices working on an agricultural complex south of Berlin.
A real farm setting and improvised dialogue provides "Harvest" with an almost documentary, naturalistic tone. The story is about two young men finding themselves and each other. Central to the film is a carefully observed and tentative romance in a potentially homophobic setting. The emotional tension and subsequent attraction between the two unfolds slowly. This movie enthrals its poetic depiction of emotional confusion and its surprisingly chaste approach to the developing relationship. Watch it and reap.
We Were HereAnne Murphy
A deep and reflective look at the arrival and impact of HIV/AIDS in San Francisco and how individuals rose to the occasion during the first years an unimaginable epidemic.
A profoundly moving documentary that revisits an extraordinary time in recent history for a close knit community. The use of personal recollections showcases the humanity in threaded through the stories of facing adversity. "We Were Here" is carefully edited, and never strays into over-sentimentality while exploring how individuals confronted difficult times without heroics but reliant on love, making it a powerful piece of film-making and compelling viewing. The past is present.
Becoming ChazAnne Murphy
A documentary following Chaz, formerly Chastity, Bono's gender transition.
Allowing a camera, and the crew required to operate it, to follow your gender transition might seem like a curious decision. Then again if you have grown up in the spot light of the public eye then this might a good chance to inform about transgender dilemmas and the process of change. "Becoming Chaz" is not only informative, it also documents a courageous protagonist who is an advocate for having enough sense of self to really be on the outside who you already are on the inside. A tough path walked on the way to Chaz.
A sci-fi story centered on the sexual awakening of a group of college students.
When imagining how "Kaboom" came about, you get the feeling there was a brainstorming session where any (and every) idea imaginable was put on the table, and the very next day they started filming. As a result, not a lot in this film makes sense; the lead is a gay guy, but he has sex with a woman who he later discovers is his half-sister. This type of nonsense escalates to the point where the audience gives up trying to understand what the hell is going on. Amusing for some, but others will quickly lose interest. Ka...booooooo.
I Love You Phillip MorrisAnne Murphy
Steven Russell is happily married to Debbie, a member of the local police force, when a car accident provokes a dramatic reassessment of his life.
"I Love You Phillip Morris" contains some squirmingly uncomfortable stereotyping of various characters, and a flawed portrayal of gay men played for laughs by straight men. It's as unfunny as it is shallow, particularly disappointing is that the central romance is underdeveloped. The story, with its furious pace, covers a lot of events, mostly prison escapes, and unfortunately that's at the expense of real insight or depth. You might love Phillip Morris but probably not Steven Russell.
An unusual ghost story set on the Peruvian seaside; a married fisherman struggles to reconcile his devotion to his male lover within his town's rigid traditions.
"Undertow" is a touching study of love and devotion amid a devout community. Life is good in the lethargic fishing village where the pace is languid and everything moves slowly, except the gossip. Even so, there are no villains in this tender tale. The congenial characters are so authentic it's almost impossible not to like them, even with the betrayal implicit in the central love triangle. Very moving, with a haunting undertow.
A junior high school musical, about a frizzy-haired, hermaphrodite, an outcast who fights back.
The main character is called Spork, after an implement that's part spoon and part fork. The name provides a hint about the style of movie this is, where life is played out in an exaggerated comic book style. "Spork" is fun, a singing and dancing movie populated with a likable collection of quirky friends surrounding the central misfit. The movie's theme is one of self-acceptance over fitting in with any group, all realised through a satisfying, if nasty, battle between the outcasts and the mainstream. Put a spork in it.
The story of two close friends who are unintentionally drawn into a love-triangle.
Love lives in the hearts and minds of stylish twenty-something's, as friends vie for the attention of the same Adonis. "Heartbeats" is a sophisticated examination of desire brought to the screen by an assured director. The almost excruciating clumsiness of inexperienced lovers and the intimacy of their relationships is depicted without a physical consummation of the same. Obsession overtakes sanity, friendship is sacrificed for love, and the audience can relate to the qualms and dreams of the protagonists. L'amour, l'amour…
Violet TendenciesAnne Murphy
A woman tries to distance herself from her gay friends in an effort to land a straight boyfriend.
"Violet Tendencies" is vibrant rom-com. It cracks a rollicking pace and has a buoyant mood to a point of almost being over-loaded with comic social observations. If there are more quips than conversation, it doesn't mean that the flamboyant characters don't take themselves seriously. The various couples and singles are trying to grow up and there's an earnest 'what next?' question being asked. A funny, smutty and entertaining offering that asks little of its audience. Paint me purple.
The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne ListerAnne Murphy
In nineteenth century Yorkshire wealthy orphan Anne Lister lives with an aunt and uncle, anxious for her to marry well and blissfully, unaware that she is a lesbian.
An historic drama based on the real and extensive diaries of the protagonist. This film is rich with country mansions, beautiful costumes and staid English sensibilities. The highlight is a female lead that is steadfast in her beliefs, refusing to be totally repressed by the expectations of society, and determined to live by her own values. No doubt the secret diaries could reveal much more about this resolute woman who wanted a wife.
The Last Summer of La BoyitaAnne Murphy
Feeling estranged from her older sister, Jorgelina and her father go in their Boyita camper-van, to the countryside where playmate Mario is undergoing some changes of his own.
This coming of age story is set during a long hot summer on the Argentinean Pampas. It's a summer of discovery, particularly of the unknown and unimagined world of inter-sexuality and gender identity. The children's roles are well acted, striking a perfect balance between innocence and precociousness. The sensitive themes are tenderly handled - the film's narration is more through visual imagery than dialogue - and it never becomes clumsy. Can't wait for Autumn.
Eating Out: All You Can EatAnne Murphy
Tiffani and her friend Casey try to lure the gorgeous Zack with a phony online profile using the image of Tiffani's buff ex, Ryan... which works fine until the real Ryan shows up.
"Eating Out 3" is the latest installment in a trilogy following the romps of a group of characters through some raunchy situations and hook-ups. The style is almost cartoonish, with beefcake leads who spend little time with their shirts on, and their daffy female friends. This movie looks like it was made on a shoestring budget without extravagant sets or staging. If you like trashy, with some decent one-liners, try dining here.
Hollywood je t'aimeAnne Murphy
A gay Parisian shows up in Hollywood at Christmas time, ready for his close-up.
A not so classic take on the Hollywood experience where every actor is a waiter and vice-versa. While the central Frenchman starts out as a "Dorothy" type of tourist transported to a strange land, he soon links up with a colourful band of supporters. Los Angeles is shown as unglamorous and seedy, yet in this movie the city is loved only for the diversity of the big-hearted characters encountered while trekking its yellow brick road. Je t'aime adventures in Hollywood, where prudes will need to stay home.
A drama centred around three high school seniors - an aspiring actress, her misfit best friend, and a loner - who become engaged in an intimate and complicated relationship.
This coming of age movie covers all the social awkwardness of teenagers discovering themselves as friends and lovers. Dollops of naivety and maturity are stirred in to create realistic and likable characters that are topped up with a measure of angst and balanced out with charm. The storyline of "Dare" takes its characters through new experiences and interesting predicaments. It's a little bent yet nonetheless could cross over to a mainstream audience. Dare to be different.
An indictment of closeted politicians who lobby for anti-gay legislation in the U.S.
This is a fascinating consciousness-raising documentary presented through interviews and film clips. The movie is a compelling compilation of vignettes that are on public record. The filmmaker relentlessly exposes the hypocrisy of closeted politicians who vote against the civil rights of the gay and lesbian community. In doing so, the constituencies whose prejudices are pandered to are also shamed. The ethical quagmire isn't navigated with a strictly even hand but with a sense of injustice and anger. The situation is indeed outrageous.
The Other SideAnne Murphy
A drag queen returns, bereft, to the village and family he left 17 years ago.
The film has a rhythmic heartbeat as it traverses the delicate territories of love lost and dreams unfulfilled. It is possible to come home and still be on the other side, the other side of understanding and the other side of reconciliation. The landscape of relationship is tenderly navigated and the unrequited yearning of each character is faultlessly depicted. Watching "The Other Side" is like being subjected to open heart surgery with deft and precise incisions that lay bare the most vulnerable of places.
Fashion VictimsAnne Murphy
A travelling salesman loses his licence and gives his reluctant son no option but to accompany him on his sales round to women's fashion stores.
The plot is lively in this comic coming-of-age movie where the old must make way for the new, and the father has more growing up to do than his son. Grounding the fabulously theatrical characters are interpersonal relationships and frustrations with one another that evoke empathy. Parts of small town life in Germany look a little dated, but the overall effect is quirky and entertaining, and that's never out of fashion.
Dog TagsAnne Murphy
Two displaced and unconventional men discovering what it is to be sons, fathers, and lovers.
This could have been a road movie, if only the car had been more reliable. Geographically, not a lot of distance is covered in small town USA. It is a different story emotionally, however, as the two central characters encounter each other while each is traversing his respective family landscape. The restrained style of the film lends cohesion to a sequence of unlikely events shared by this improbable pair, as they seek to discover themselves. Identity has infinite possibilities once the dog tags are discarded.
A group of good looking Israeli men hang out at the same library, bar, and beds.
The physical encounters that make up the greater part of this movie are frequent and torrid. There is more heavy breathing than dialogue, and the storyline feels underdeveloped as a result. Desire and sex are not confused with love, and it's all a little cold as a result. Odd that with such pumping action, emotions are so understated. There is no deceit, an absence of jealousy; the characters are as cool as they're hot. "Antarctica" - little wonder the ice caps are melting.