New York Cool
New York Cool: In this Issue
 
 
Listings:
 
arts
cabaret | comedy | other stuff
dance
events
music
off broadway theater
off off broadway theater
submit listings
   
New York Cool:
 
 







Film
What's Up For Today?

New York Cool - Ask Miss Wendy

 

 

 


All Boys
A Documentary by Markku Heikinnen
(Finland, 72 min.)
2010 Newfest Film Festival

Reviewed by Frank J. Avella

Dan Komar is notorious for having introduced bareback sex into the Prague-based porn industry. When the wall fell, he made the Czech Republic his home and preyed on the gorgeous boys he found there—mostly lower class street kids—introducing them to gay porn and then tossing them aside once they reached a certain age (one of the porn producers inferred that once the boys reach age twenty, they’re show signs of wear and must be replaced.)

Markku Heikinnen’s documentary, All Boys, is a meandering account of the rise and fall of Komar and some of his “actors,” including Ruda (aka Aaron Hawke, named after Ethan Hawke). At the heart of this film is a fascinating, if dysfunctionally twisted, love story: that of Dan and Ruda.

When the film chooses to focus on the enigmatic Komar speaking about his inability to find true love and how his boys use him, seemingly unaware of the irony of what he is saying--as well as Ruda and his rise and devastating fall (at the film’s end he is interviewed in the large homeless box he lives in)—the film is fascinating and compelling.

Dan found Ruda on the streets. He was beautiful. He exploited him and paid him very little. Then he seduced him and the two were together for three years. Dan constantly cheated while Ruda says he was never unfaithful. In the end, Dan claims he tried to better Ruda but insists Ruda refused his Pygmalion-like help. Dan comes off as a manipulative and greedy dirtbag.

Had the filmmaker decided to tell this story in more depth, All Boys might have been pretty extraordinary. But too often Heikinnen peppers his film with dull and underdeveloped substories as well as pointless shots of boys sitting around doing nothing.

Komar isn’t the only predatory capitalist who moved to Prague and sets up shop. As a matter of fact, within ten years, Komar is bankrupt thanks to a saturated market and the bourgeoning Internet.

The film does point out that most of the boys who are roped into doing gay porn to survive, once they are too old to continue, are so addicted to sex and drugs that they turn to hustling to feed their needs. It’s a sad story. It’s a mediocre but thought-provoking movie.

Tickets now on sale to the general public online and at the Mobile Box Office at the LGBT Center, 208 W.13th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves. Open 4-8pm Monday – Thurs, 3pm – 9pm Fri – Sun.

NEWFEST is running at the SVA Theatre at 333 West 23rd through June 13, 2010. For Information: http://newfest.org/wordpress/.

SVA Theatre | 333 West 23rd.Street

 




Marco Filiberti’s
David’s Birthday (Il Compleanno)
2010 Newfest Film Festival
SVA Theatre

Written by Marco Filiberti

Starring: Alessandro Gassman; Maria de Medeiros; Massimo Poggio; Michela Cescon; Christo Jivkov; and Thyago Alves

In Italian with English subtitles 106 min.

Reviewed by Frank J. Avella

Lately, Italian filmmakers are proving quite gutsy when it comes to the last taboo in that country: homosexuality. Along with Ferzan Ozpetek (Loose Cannons is his latest gem), Marco Filiberti examines one man’s repression and how, once those desires become overpowering, his actions have potentially devastating consequences.

Matteo (Massimo Poggio) is a therapist who is seemingly happily married to Francesca (Maria de Madeiros). They join their friends (Alessandro Gassman & Michela Cescon) on vacation along a sunny Italian beach awaiting the arrival of David, the latter couple’s stunning teen son who will be celebrating his birthday. Once David arrives, Matteo’s attraction to him begins to overtake him while David’s seeming sexual ambiguity begins to come into focus.

David’s Birthday (Il Compleanno) is a sweeping and operatic melodrama, gorgeous to look at (kudos to Roberta Allegrini’s camerawork) and listen to (likewise Andrea Chenna’s powerful score). And the entire ensemble is to be congratulated on giving nuanced and perfectly modulated performances.

Gassman is a hoot as the abrasive father. His Diego is the typical pigheaded Italian male who wants to control his wife but wants to seek out other women as well. Gassman steals almost every scene he is in with his dynamic comic timing.

Poggio strikes all the right balances of longing, tension—sexual and otherwise, dissatisfaction and, eventually, bliss. His Matteo feels intellectually superior to most others (including his patients) but he is a sexual mess. Poggio’s ogling of David as he hoses himself down is simultaneously hilarious, sad and highly seductive.

Maria de Medeiros gives a lovely and rich rendering of a woman trying her best to be the perfect Italian wife—even when being demeaned by her husband. De Medeiros gives off faint hints that she is aware something is off about her mate, but nothing too obvious.

Thyago Alves is an absolutely gorgeous male specimen. I defy heterosexual men to gaze on this god and not have a doubt or two. The wonder of Alves is that he is also a very good actor, imbuing David with just enough mystery to keep us guessing. It’s shocking that this is his film debut!

Filiberti has meticulously structured his script, down to the last detail and, at first; I was taken aback by the climax until I realized that it was the only way to show the dangers of repression. In the Italian culture there are certain things you cannot discuss. If you must do these things then you do them behind closed doors. And then you go back to your family. Or you simply deny yourself who you are and live a lie. Bravo to Filiberti for having the balls to depict this onscreen and for doing it in such an artistically triumphant manner.

Tickets now on sale to the general public online and at the Mobile Box Office at the LGBT Center, 208 W.13th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves. Open 4-8pm Monday – Thurs, 3pm – 9pm Fri – Sun.

NEWFEST is running at the SVA Theatre at 333 West 23rd through June 13, 2010. For Information: newfest.org/wordpress/.

SVA Theatre | 333 West 23rd.Street

 


 


Aluisio Abranches’s
From Beginning to End (Do Comeco Ao Fim)
2010 Newfest Film Festival
SVA Theatre

Written by Aluizio Abranches

Starring: Julia Lemmertz; Fabio Assuncao; Jean Pierre Noher; Louise Cardoso; Gabriel Kaufmann; Lucas Cotrim; Rafael Cardoso; and Joao Gabriel Vasconcellos

In Portuguese with English subtitles

Reviewed by Frank J. Avella

In this country no one would ever have the chutzpah to make a film like From Beginning to End. And I am pretty certain most reviews here in the U.S., will be dismissive or convey disgust.

But if we could get beyond our pretend Puritanism we might realize that writer/director Aluizio Abranches has made a beautiful film about deep and true love. And, yes, the lovers are brothers (half-brothers to be precise).

Probably one of the most controversial films at NEWFEST, it also happens to be my favorite (along with David’s Birthday) so far, not just for it’s daring but because Abranches has the courage of his own character convictions and refuses to turn his tale of incest into something dark and terrible.

Twelve-year old Francisco (Lucas Cotrim) and his six-year old brother Thomas (Gabriel Kaufmann) are closer than most siblings. Their mother (the lovely Julia Lemmertz) seems to know something is up, but has no intention of trying to fix it. The early scenes of the boys together might be off-putting to some because Abranches sees their bond as playful and natural.

Fifteen years later, Francisco (now Joao Gabriel Vasconcellos) and Thomas (now Rafael Cardoso) are as close as ever and the viewer is given full view of their sexual relationship. The two men happen to be incredibly attractive, but also good actors who make us believe in their love for one another.

Yes, the pic gives its target audience (gay men) plenty of buff naked bodies to ogle but there is more going on than soft-core porn.

The film isn’t perfect with an unbelievable yet forgivable plot contrivance meant to break the brothers apart as well as the fact that no one ever really questions them face-to-face about their relationship. But perhaps the latter was deliberate. Perhaps Abranches didn’t want to waver.

From Beginning to End is a startling, provocative, deeply engrossing film that doesn’t advocate incest as much as it insists on showing us an atypical love story.

Tickets now on sale to the general public online and at the Mobile Box Office at the LGBT Center, 208 W.13th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves. Open 4-8pm Monday – Thurs, 3pm – 9pm Fri – Sun.

NEWFEST is running at the SVA Theatre at 333 West 23rd through June 13, 2010. For Information: http://newfest.org/wordpress/.

SVA Theatre | 333 West 23rd.Street


8: The Mormon Proposition
A Documentary by Reed Cowan & Steven Greenstreet
(USA, 88 min.)
2010 Newfest Film Festival
SVA Theatre

Reviewed by Frank J. Avella

So many documentaries are made lately that take on so many just and worthy causes (as well as subject matter that isn’t all that interesting or important), but sometimes the filmmaking can be shoddy and the presentation didactic and preachy.

The best documentaries inform, educate and attempt to illuminate. Occasionally, one comes along that exposes hard truths and has the potential to galvanize its audience and urge change.

8: The Mormon Proposition is a vital and important film for anyone who cares about civil rights (specifically, gay rights) and the separation of church and state.

Reed Cowan (along with co-director Steven Greenstreet) painstakingly depicts the David vs. Goliath (self-ironically the production company’s name) story of the ongoing fight to legalize gay marriage vs. the tremendous power of the Mormon Church—financial and otherwise.

Narrated by Dustin Lance Black, the film examines Prop 8--the California measure that basically decimates the California Supreme Court decision giving gays the right to marry, in essence taking the right away—and how early polls showed Californians opposed to the measure but, because of a meticulous and calculated $22 million campaign by the LDS Church, Prop 8 passed.

Thanks in large part to political consultant Fred Karger; the filmmakers were able to view a slew of internal Mormon documents that clearly show their carefully planned and executed homophobic agenda. Knowing the unpopular LDS behemoth needed to maintain very low visibility, they brought in the Catholics and other Christian groups to help do their dirty work. LDS leaders indoctrinated their Bishops to solicit donations from parishioners based on their salaries—sometimes handing over all their children’s college monies for the cause—since Mormons are taught obedience first.

Instead of preaching the gospel, the Mormon Church “prophets” took it upon themselves to promote hatred and intolerance, which resulted in so many Mormon youth taking their own lives. This is where the film truly disturbs, incenses and should motivate many to action.

I could see how religious conservatives would view elements of this film as propaganda—certainly the LDS Church although they were asked to take part in the docu (their refusal speaks volumes to their integrity, or lack thereof). If you are mired in a hatred-based faith, not much is going to change your mind about gay rights. What I can’t imagine is how any human could see and hear the stories in the pic of young men and women being told that suicide is a better option to being gay or lesbian and not thinking there is something fundamentally wrong with that kind of Church teaching.

This is not a perfect film. It’s filled with manipulation techniques (the score and the way certain Elders are filmed in a very ominous and evil manner to name just a few flaws) and I wanted more information, more stories and a little more Mormon history. But its definitely an important film, an important beginning to making certain religious institutions cease playing politics or deal with the consequences when they do.

Tickets now on sale to the general public online and at the Mobile Box Office at the LGBT Center, 208 W.13th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves. Open 4-8pm Monday – Thurs, 3pm – 9pm Fri – Sun.

NEWFEST is running at the SVA Theatre at 333 West 23rd through June 13, 2010. For Information: http://newfest.org/wordpress/.

SVA Theatre | 333 West 23rd.Street

 



Marco Berger’s
Plan B
2010 Newfest Film Festival
SVA Theatre

Written by Marco Berger

Starring: Manuel Vignau; Lucas Ferraro; Mercedes Quinteros; and Damián Canduci

(Argentina, In Spanish with English subtitles. 103 min.)

Reviewed by Frank J. Avella

Marco Berger’s Plan B tells a simplistic story, where you can see the ending coming in the first reel. But he does it so well that you don’t mind going along for the cine-ride.

Bruno (sexy Manuel Vignau) is upset when his girlfriend, Laura (Mercedes Quinteros), leaves him for adorable Pablo (equally sexy Lucas Ferraro). Upon hearing rumors that Pablo has admitted to gay experiences, Bruno comes up with a plan (B) where he will get Laura back by seducing Pablo, thus revealing his bisexuality and infidelity.

As Bruno and Pablo begin to bond, a funny thing happens; they discover they genuinely like one another. Bruno begins sleeping with Laura again, but much to his surprise, he has become enamored with Pablo, who it turns out has never had a gay experience but he has feelings for Bruno.

Cultural note: Homosexuality is still a big taboo in Latin and South America so admitting to same-sex attraction is tantamount to emasculation.

Vignau and Ferraro deliver honest and complex performances that keep the viewer’s interest throughout.

Plan B is a worthwhile sit, although it could have used another five or ten minutes at the end to give the obvious target audience what they spent 100 minutes craving, instead of blue-balling them. However, given the repressed culture, less probably needed to be more in hopes of reaching the unenlightened.

Tickets now on sale to the general public online and at the Mobile Box Office at the LGBT Center, 208 W.13th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves. Open 4-8pm Monday – Thurs, 3pm – 9pm Fri – Sun.

NEWFEST is running at the SVA Theatre at 333 West 23rd through June 13, 2010. For Information: http://newfest.org/wordpress/.

SVA Theatre | 333 West 23rd.Street

 




Darren Flaxstone’s
Release
2010 Newfest Film Festival
SVA Theatre

Written by Darren Flaxstone and Christian Martin

Starring: Daniel Brocklebank;, Wayne Virgo; Bernie Hodges; Garry Summers; and Simon Pearce

(U.K. 87 min.)

Reviewed by Frank J. Avella

Darren Flaxstone & Christian Martin wrote last year’s harrowing festival entry, Shank. And although I admired its audacity, I wondered whom exactly were these filmmakers making films for? That question came up again as I watched the brutal and unendingly bleak world these artists created onscreen in their new feature, Release.

Most of the gritty narrative is set in prison and surrounds Father Jack (Daniel Brocklebank in a towering performance), who is incarcerated for a crime he has committed. Most of the inmates assume it’s pedophilia and they taunt him about it. Father Jack has embarked on a gay affair with a prison guard but, because of his past sins, feels he does not deserve love.

In addition, Father Jack comes to the defense of his cellmate, Rook (Wayne Virgo, star of Shank), who is almost beaten to death by other prisoners.

The film is most powerful when it focuses on the intense relationships between Father Jack and the guard as well as Father Jack and Rook. But when the film meanders and veers from these intense scenes, the results are uneven.

Flaxstone's blend of the nasty realism of prison life with otherworldly and supernatural elements never fully gel. Also, there’s a moment near the end that is almost laughably reminiscent of the Prom scene in Carrie and the denouement is contrived (although poetic).

The villainous leader is an ambiguous and one-dimensional character and simply frustrates the viewer since there is never any payback.

Like Shank, Release presents a singularly pessimistic view of the world. But it is also refreshingly original in parts. Release sees redemption as a possibility but not a tangible reality. And in a medium saturated with films designed to please and entertain, there is certainly room for…a different vision.

Tickets now on sale to the general public online and at the Mobile Box Office at the LGBT Center, 208 W.13th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves. Open 4-8pm Monday – Thurs, 3pm – 9pm Fri – Sun.

NEWFEST is running at the SVA Theatre at 333 West 23rd through June 13, 2010. For Information: http://newfest.org/wordpress/.

SVA Theatre | 333 West 23rd.Street

 


 



Rock Hudson: Dark and Handsome Stranger
A Documentary by Andrew Davies, Andre Schafer, Jamie Travis
(Germany, 96 min.)
2010 Newfest Film Festival

Reviewed by Frank J. Avella

Rock Hudson: Dark and Handsome Stranger is at it’s best when it explores the matinee idol’s film career and commitment to his craft, specifically a meaty segment where Salome Jens and Richard Anderson discuss the much-maligned John Frankenheimer work Seconds. This was his proudest performance and the film is appreciated much more today.

Rock Hudson was one of the last products of the Hollywood studio system where stars were nurtured and, literally, made. But he had one small problem; he was a homosexual. In the studio days, gay stars were protected and press knew to stay away from reporting about their real lives. Stories were fabricated about who they dated, etc. Hudson’s career did almost come to a crashing halt in the 50s when Confidential magazine threatened to expose him…the studio handled it and ruined another actor instead. Today, closeted stars have “handlers” who take care of these things and there is still a silent agreement with the media to leave these titans alone.

In the mid-80s, Hudson became famous for being, quite literally, the face of AIDS. Whether he heroically came forward to save lives (highly unlikely) or was forced out of the closet because of the illness, can be debated forever. The film, unfortunately, sheds little light on this question.

In addition, the omission of his well-publicized stint on the nighttime soap Dynasty and controversial kissing of Linda Evans seems glaring since it was such a big deal back then.

The documentary focuses too much attention on the salacious without getting really dirty. I have no problem with gossip but if you’re going to go for it, then really go for it! Instead we get snippets from unknowns about his pool parties—never going into any major detail. Armistead Maupin (Tales of the City), at least, tells some fun Rock stories but when he seems ready to tell a sex story in detail, the camera cuts away.

It took three directors to put this docu together. You’d think they’d fact check details (The Mirror Crack’d is graphically displayed as The Mirror Cracked) and investigate beyond what any street person already knows about Hudson.

The film also feels shoddily put together. Much of the stock footage is inane and the score feels inappropriate. In addition, the interviewees leave a lot to be desired. Old footage of co-stars would have served the film much better than the likes of Rona Barrett and her offensively homophobic comments masking as caring and thoughtful.

In the end, Hudson was an underrated actor and a gorgeous hunk of a movie star who ended up ravaged by AIDS. The footage of him with Doris Day close to the end of his life is truly haunting and more devastating than anything in the film.

This documentary leaves the viewer wanting so much more.

Tickets now on sale to the general public online and at the Mobile Box Office at the LGBT Center, 208 W.13th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves. Open 4-8pm Monday – Thurs, 3pm – 9pm Fri – Sun.

NEWFEST is running at the SVA Theatre at 333 West 23rd through June 13, 2010. For Information: http://newfest.org/wordpress/.

SVA Theatre | 333 West 23rd.Street

 



Casper Andreas’s
Violet Tendencies
2010 Newfest Film Festival Closing Night Film
SVA Theatre

Written by Jesse Archer

Starring: Mindy Cohn; Marcus Patrick; Kim Allen; Vincent De Paul; Shari Albert; Casper Andreas; Jesse Archer; Samuel Whitten; Kim Allen; and Adrian Armas

Reviewed by Frank J. Avella

Casper Andreas is quite a prolific filmmaker. Just last year he gave us the fab Big Gay Musical. The year previous he directed what I consider his best film, Between Love & Goodbye and in 2007 he made A Four Letter Word, which I wasn’t fond of.

This year he’s reunited with the writer/actor of the latter movie and has crafted an enjoyable, sometimes silly, sometimes poignant comedy about the last fag-hag in NYC!

Violet (The Facts of Life’s Mindy Cohn) is a successful businesswoman who is now forty. Thanks to a gorgeous, if nutty co-worker named Salome (Kim Allen) she realizes that all her friends are gay which makes meeting a mate nearly impossible. Violet begins to ignore her true friends in a lunatic quest to find her Mr. Right. We are also privy to subplots involving Violet’s gay gaggle, the most interesting involving the delicious Samuel Whitten and the cute Andreas himself as a couple who disagree about adopting a child.

Andreas is a gifted director but Archer’s script too often settles for the one-liners instead of probing dialogue and he sets up too many vulgar comedic moments that destroy credibility instead of giving us true-to-life situations. Sometimes the real overtakes the camp and that’s when Violet Tendencies soars.

Cohn can be abrasive, affecting, sympathetic and grotesque—the mix is erratic at best.

The best performance in the film is by Megan Fox look-a-like, Kim Allen, who steals every scene she is in as Salome. Allen is someone to watch. She has charisma, charm, comic-flair, stunning looks and is a damn good actress!

Violet Tendencies fits nicely, if too safely, into the Andreas oeuvre. I wish he would truly challenge himself with his next project. We shall see in about a year.

Tickets now on sale to the general public online and at the Mobile Box Office at the LGBT Center, 208 W.13th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves. Open 4-8pm Monday – Thurs, 3pm – 9pm Fri – Sun.

NEWFEST is running at the SVA Theatre at 333 West 23rd through June 13, 2010. For Information: http://newfest.org/wordpress/.

SVA Theatre | 333 West 23rd.Street

 


 

 


© New York Cool 2004-2014