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trulove

I like a good play on words. But I didn’t cue up Tru Love for its wit. Instead I looked at the hour twenty-seven run-time and thought, “I can handle this – a nice little palate cleanser between episodes of ‘House of Cards’ and ineffective job hunting.” Little did I know (and how is it always so little in these cases?) that my experience would balloon into a numbingly dragged-out two hour soap fest, replete with healthy pauses for Google research (yes – the movie was made in Canada!), harried text messages to out-of-town friends seeking tax counsel, and general existential crisis about mortality and feelings of otherness. Some of these ponderings were related to the film.

Tru Love is the story of a noncommittal, late-thirties lesbian named Tru looking to connect. Despite her mild Canadian manner and conservative bang n’ bob tresses, life hasn’t always been easy. Orphaned at twelve, banished for homosexual activity at fifteen and a cutter in her early twenties, she’s got a shit-ton of baggage and she likes to work it out on whatever warm body floats her way, although from my perspective her sex life seemed to mainly entail waking up in different pairs of pajamas with other frumpily dressed bedfellows. Sample (fully-clothed) pillow talk: “I had a great time Jenny.” “Jenny? It’s Jamie.” Crazy Tru. When will she learn that life isn’t just about casual sex and comfy pants? IT’S ONLY ABOUT COMFY PANTS. But enough about me.

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theguesthouse

Disclaimer: I haven’t had sex in three weeks.

Hello Queer Cinema Acolytes and Seasoned Friends. I’m writing you from a windowless basement in Peterborough, New Hampshire, decorated only by a wire sculpture of a cat and a plastic tub of disinfectant wipes. Yes. I am at the famed MacDowell Colony, writing the next great American play, hobnobbing with fancy folk and consuming at least three thousand calories a day. Exercise here consists of walking to meals and bumming rides to town, where I purchase cigarettes, microbrews and organic coffee syrup. But after savoring a fine port and a collection of politically-aspiring Portuguese video essays this evening at a raucous open studio, I was reminded of those who got me here and the dues I must pay. And no, I didn’t call my mother because I’m a good forty minutes away from actual phone reception. Downing the last of my Sandman mixed with a delectable rosé, I made the trek back to Colony Hall, six-pack in tow (not the abdominal muscles, little scamps) to take in an On-Demand and was quickly reassured, it has not been too long. These are the sacrifices I make. We are a community.

Tonight, I had the perverse pleasure of consuming Michael Baumgarten’s The Guest House, an LA-based lipstick lezzie concoction featuring loads of soft-core and some bad Aimee Mann rip-off vocals, courtesy of Ruth Reynolds playing the film’s luscious, just-eighteen protagonist Rachel. Kool-Aid dye job aside, Rachel is all the right stuff and she even makes a hideous tramp stamp forgivable when she strips out of her Hot Topic get-up and into the arms of Amy, her father’s recently-hired intern, played with pouty vulnerability by the comely Madeline Merritt. Amy’s just hit Los Angeles to pursue vague work with Rachel’s recently widowed pop, the sleazy Tom McCafferty, and she’s conveniently being housed in the title’s guest house where Rachel’s mom used to render abstracts and be “arty.” The duo paint the town red while Dad’s away on business, boning jail bait (by the looks of a long-distance phone call he makes to Rachel from the hallway of a Holiday Inn). They visit a carnival, ride bikes and while away the afternoon dancing to a generic alt-country soundtrack so you’re sure to feel really firmly located in the land of the predictable. Long story short, all that bike-riding gives Amy a serious knot in her traps and about two minutes into a generous massage at the hands of our faux-goth heroine, she’s on her back and tribbing‘s never looked so good.

Then some other things happen.

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jackdiane

When’s the last time a foreign exchange student with a chronic bloody nose and ridiculous baby doll dress fell into your lap?  I thought so.  But that’s why we have movies, and with XTube mysteriously non-functional in my dismally furnished out-of-town apartment last night, I said: what the hell – how about romance instead of sex this eve?  (Who ever said self-reflexive chivalry was dead?)  Decision made, I cued up Jack and Diane, a relatively new addition to Netflix, which mercifully has no direct relation to John Cougar Mellencamp and gets extra points for numerous scenes of adolescent face-down bed masturbation.  So much for courtly love, but a good reminder that high school wasn’t all bad.

Before I embark on my usual low-brow, fast and cheap analysis, I think I need to address the last review I produced, a little puff piece on that snore-fest Puccini for Beginners.  An ex recently called me up to ask what was wrong after reading my blurb, to inquire after the tepid writing and bland pronouncements.  I was somewhat taken aback, knowing in my heart she wasn’t off-track.  I’ve recently been experiencing a deep sadness around the queer cinema available to me these days and that has been exacerbated by the reality of being far from accessible queer culture for the last month.  (okCupid! Hartford = slim pickin’s.)  Everytime I refresh my Netflix browser, all I pray to see are some moderately cute people telling me some moderately decent stories.  All I get are message like, “Queer actors don’t exist!” … “This will be better if straight people can watch along!” … “Sure, nails like that won’t be a deterrent to awesome sex!”  Granted, there are still the classics … Desert Hearts, Parting Glances, does High Art sort of count … but all these films are at least fifteen years old.

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Hi. You probably didn’t notice, but a few months ago, homoflix slid off the face of the earth in a poof of sparkle and santorum, but now we’re back, astroglidden and ready to rock once more. What better way to ring in the new year, Chinese or otherwise, than with an understated, Brit flick about a one-night stand turned lovey dovey? Yes, ladies, you too can Grind(r) your way to love. Weekend proves it… then shits on it.

Before we dive in, I must issue an important warning. I hesitated to put the FOREIGN label on this film. It is technically “foreign” as it was made ‘cross the pond, but it’s in English, and the FOREIGN category is really for films that require some kind of translation. These people are definitely speaking my language, but they still get the title because boy do they mumble! I had my MacBook’s speakers cranked up to full blast, and I could barely make out one flirtatious British murmur. These blokes share a lot of things with us during the course of this film, but not their voices. I strongly advice getting some speakers or get some headphones ready before settling in to this one. Seriously. You’re gonna think it’s fine and then 10 minutes in, you’re gonna have to put your dick down and get those $99 Altec-Lansing speaks your mom got you for christmas in college from your storage nook. Oh yeah. Did I mention that there’s GAY SEX in this film? And jizz!? JIZZ!!!!

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It’s a Monday night and three whiskeys in (courtesy of Salvi’s, a small Italian-American bistro just around the corner of Extended Stay), I’m contemplating the notes I took on What’s Up, Scarlet?, a little gem of a gay flick about an uptight matchmaker, Scarlet Zabrinki (Susan Priver), who meets her match in the form of a mysteriously foreign and homeless actress named Sabrina (Musetta Vander). We’re first introduced to Scarlet at a bar mitzvah where her mother is pimping her to any eligible suitor in sight. She rather unceremoniously announces to the relentless boner she gets cornered by that she has to go home and walk her dogs. Quick cut to Scarlet under a heap of pups and I began to wonder if I would be alone forever as I observed my own canine wonder sweetly licking his balls under my favorite hoodie. But I suppose things could be worse. He could be humping the hoodie.

Anyway, Scarlet’s life ain’t bad except she ain’t got nobody. Until she gets tail-ended by the enigmatic Slav (?), takes her home and pretty soon has a new roommate. (Don’t ask, it’s implausible, but at eighty-four minutes you can live.) Her mother’s stoked because she thinks baby’s acquired a Venezuelan housemaid – see BAD GAYS/WRITERS? – and Scarlet actually starts enjoying herself, which consists of a trip to the theater and an almost lethal threesome to more lethal muzak at around forty-one minutes with Sabrina and a French lothario.

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I love Robyn. I always have, and always will. When she broke into music-fame in the US with her hit “Do You Know (What It Takes)” it the late 90s, I threw down my Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet soundtrack and began worshipping a new compact disc overlord: her debut album Robyn Is Here (and she still is, as I’m currently saturating my brain with the electro-bliss of her latest album Body Talk).

I also love lesbians. I always have, and always will. I’m a “lezbro” if you will. So it’s no wonder that when I came across an L film in the G&L sec on Netflix named after one of my fav Swede lady’s biggest hits, I had to check it out. And, as luck will have it, Show Me Love did not disappoint.

Now I’ve seen my share of Euro-gayboy coming out films from the 90s (and of course, by “seen” I mean I watched Beautiful Thing so many times I wore out the VHS), but I must say, I haven’t seen many any gaygirl ones. Until now. And I gotta say, this movie sent my inner dutch boy heart a (fuzz) bumpin’.

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No drinking.
No drugs.
No lesbians.

Well, what’s the point?  And that’s what Training Rules seeks to uncover.  Yes, faggots.  It is not just fun and games here in Ohio.  Not normally a fan of the documentary form, I took it upon myself to give this one a look after a hard-hitting spin class got me all fired up and ready to go.  This film clocks in at just over and hour and paints a fairly dismal portrait of women’s lives in sports, focusing on the story of Jen Harris, a hotshot college basketball player whose career was cut tragically short by the homophobia she encountered as a student-athlete at Penn State.  We don’t get to hear a hell of a lot from Harris for legal reasons, but her parents contribute a great deal to the narrative and it’s pretty heartbreaking.  Other testimonials are provided by ex-Penn players (the Gulas twins are particularly cute), the awesomely dykey softball coach Sue Rankin and a variety of other sports activists.  I didn’t even know there was a National Center for Lesbian Rights!