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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.