Monthly Archives: June 2011

“THE LOVE PATIENT”— Wonderful, Absolutely Wonderful

“The Love Patient”

Wonderful

Amos Lassen

I can’t think of too many films that I love from the moment I begin watching but I must say that Michael Simon’s “The Love Patient” had me from the moment it began. Everything about it is very professional and the actors are beautiful to look at. Romantic comedy can be a very tricky genre since the film industry has been so filled with them. Finding something new cannot be too easy and balancing romance with comedy can be somewhat hard to do. Michael Simon does it and does it with style. How often does one watch a film with a smile on his face all the way through? I was very lucky that no one dropped in because I grinned all the way through the film.

The story is simple. Paul (Benjamin Lutz) is an advertising executive who lost his boyfriend, Brad (John Werskey who is very easy on the eyes) when he dumped him and Paul has never gotten over this. Brad moved on and is dating Ted (Jackson Palmer) and he understands that what was is over. Paul, on the other hand, cannot get over the loss of Brad and it is even more difficult in that they work at the same place. Paul comes up with a scheme to get Brad back– he stages his own cancer diagnosis and he thinks that Brad will come back to him out of sympathy. But then Paul’s whole mispoocha (family—mother, father and sister) move into his house so they will be there to nurse him through his chemo treatments. Stephanie, Paul’s very rich sister, suspects something is not kosher and the fun begins. The scene with the family eating dinner on a Friday evening won me over totally. Mother Esther lights the Sabbath candles and Paul says, “Enough with the Judaism”. I laughed uncontrollably but there is something very serious here– how we turn to religion when we need something… like a cure for cancer.

I love, love, love this movie and the mixture of grief (from cancer), love, laughs and fun is absolutely wonderful. The characters are outrageous but believable. The acting is fine with just the right amount of kitsch; the cinematography is beautiful and Simon’s direction is excellent. The film premieres at Philadelphia’s QFest this summer so if you are around, make sure you see it or you will have to wait for a DVD release and as far as I know there is no information on that. Werskey and Lutz are also in another film on the festival circuit this summer, “Bite Marks” which I also recently reviewed. The two films are totally different in every aspect and we are very lucky when we get a GOOD gay romantic comedy as they are few and far between. So I ask myself, what happens when you put good looking men together with a literate plot, excellent direction and fine acting? You get a hit and that is exactly what “The Love Patient” is.

 

 

 

Brian Pera’s “Woman’s Picture” is amazing

“Woman’s Picture”

Incredible

Amos Lassen

One of the films that is going to make a splash at Outfest this year is Brian Pera’s “Woman’s Picture”. What you will see is only part of a series but it is all amazing. The first three stories will steal your hearts and make you eager to see the rest. The film reminded me of the portraits of women we got in the beginning of motion picture history; the films of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. We get looks at three very different women living in different parts of this country, not knowing each other and each woman moves toward a point of self-realization. Each woman has been molded by where she lives and by the people she knows and the extent of her freedom and liberation are results of that. Brian Pera has created a film that he can be very proud of and I am sure that we will be hearing a great deal about him. Not only did he direct the three films, he wrote the screenplays and stars in one, “Ingrid”.

Pera says the film is homage to his grandmothers who were powerful but trapped women. They went to the movies to escape and to find role models because women in movies were glamorous even if their lives were not.

The first three cinematic portraits in the Woman’s Picture Series are “Miriam,” “Loretta,” and “Ingrid.” I could certainly summarize each of these but to do so would spoil a wonderful viewing experience. Suffice it to say that there is something mysterious in each and the acting is exceptional.

 

 

 

”PHIL OCHS: THERE BUT FOR FORTUNE”— An American Hero

”PHIL OCHS: THERE BUT FOR FORTUNE”

An American Hero

Amos Lassen

 

I love a movie that uplifts me and makes me sing and that is exactly what happened here. I have not thought about Phil Ochs in many years but as I watched this many memories came flooding back and I remembered when a protest was a protest and when we really cared about things. Not that we don’t today but with social media now things are very different. Ochs was important and relevant at a time when we really needed him as he rose to fame on the heels of the social justice movement when I was an idealistic college student who believed I could change the world.

 

Ochs wrote songs about things that were important and he was full of anger and pessimism. He was righteously indignant at a time when to do so was to buck the system and we followed his lead. As people like Joan Baez, Peter Yarrow, Pete Seeger, Tom Hayden and other talk about him, we are taken back in time.

 

He believed in the power of song as a tool for social change and his voice, whether in the chorus or solo, was powerful. The film is a look at the political climate of the 1960’s and how some popular musicians like Ochs and Baez, Dylan and Seeger were able to inspire others through their songs to become political.

Ochs had a guitar and a vibrato voice and he found what to sing about in the newspapers and magazines of the times. Kenneth Bower gives us a look at Ochs from the early days through his bouts with alcoholism and mental illness who was broken by the Chicago Riots of 1968. At age 35 he was dead from having hung himself but his legacy lives on as a symbol of one who cared too much. He was the “anti-Dylan” who almost alone was responsible for the musical protests against the war in Viet Nam but whose young death caused us to revaluate caring too much. He was in Dylan’s shadow even though he hated the idea but he is also a contrast to him. Dylan was a poet who wrote songs, Ochs was a singing journalist. Ochs voice was full and beautiful; Dylan’s was raspy and totally defiant in the 60’s. Ochs’ music fell out of vogue as we became less naïve.

 

But there was nothing innocent about Ochs. He loved success and being a celebrity but above all he was a musician who alienated his fans when he did not give them what they wanted. He knew truth, sang about it and died or it. The film is a wonderful tribute.

 

New ‘Search for Gay America’ Showcases a Diverse Community


New ‘Search for Gay America’ Showcases a Diverse Community

June 30, 2011 By Adam Polaski Leave a Comment

A new book of photography showcases diversity within the gay male demographic and shows that masculinity and homosexuality are not incompatible.

Only a few years ago, there was a commonly accepted definition for what it meant to be a gay man. Gay men, so the stereotype went, were loud. They were obsessed with musical theatre. They were witty and bitchy and snarky. They dressed in bright colors. They hated sports. They were sensitive and prone to tears. They had incredibly overactive libidos. They were, essentially, Jack McFarland from Will & Grace. Above all, they were not masculine.

Of course, we know the gay man stereotype is about as valid as any other stereotype—an entire community of people cannot and does not fit a narrow list of characteristics.

That’s part of why Scott Pasfield decided to produce Gay in America, a new book of portraits that examines 150 gay men from all over the United States. The book features beautifully striking portraits of men, accompanied by their stories, which range from humorous to tragic. Pasfield spent three years traveling to all 50 states in an attempt to “search for gay America.”

The book won’t be released until late September, but each week, Pasfield is publishing several photo spreads on Facebook in anticipation of the release date. The spreads are already providing clear evidence that homosexuality and masculinity are not incompatible. The men in the pages of the book are businessmen, farmers, artists, and teachers. They are old and young. They are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, atheist. They come from a wide range of racial and ethnic backgrounds. They are single, in long-term relationships, and in at least one case, in a functional, monogamous triad.

Several of the men in the preview pages fiercely combat stereotypical images of gay men. Ken from Brunswick, Maryland, who shares a heartbreaking story about his boyfriend, even self-identifies as a “gay redneck.”

Kev was killed on impact or shortly thereafter. As they laid him on the road, I fought to get to him. I had to see him one last time. I prayed that he would be safe, that he did not go in pain, that he would remember to meet me when my time came. I prayed… and I prayed. They took him to the University hospital in Madison. That was where my life really changed. We were not partners in the eyes of the state. I was denied the right to see him or fill out any of the paperwork, because I was not family. I can say that I really came out there—to myself and the world. I was not going to be able to go on without seeing him one last time. I tried everything I could think of to convince them. Finally I looked at a nurse and yelled, “Damn it let me see my boyfriend!” Right there, standing in the hospital, I knew I was gay. Up to that moment we were just together and it was not a big deal. I never thought of him as my boyfriend, even though he was, the whole nine years. But never once did I have to introduce him as that. It was just Ken and Kevin or Kevin and Ken. I never thought about putting a label on it.

Yet despite entries like Ken’s, Gay in America doesn’t seek to discredit feminine gay men, mock drag queens, or suggest that guys who don’t comply with the Jack McFarland stereotype are the best kind of gays.

After all, JT, a man from Lexington, Kentucky with aspirations to be “the next Whitney or Oprah,” starts his spread with, “I just came out of the womb looking feminine.” And Joe from Sioux City, Iowa talks about his experiences as a drag queen, saying, “The first time a friend painted my face and placed the wig on my head, a new personality was born. Fearless and outspoken, I was larger than life, 10 feet tall, and bulletproof.”

Gay in America looks like it will also be a fascinating look at the impact of location on the gay experience, as Pasfield’s work encompasses red states, blue states, and everything in between. Some of the men, like Robert and Ryan from Kansas City, Missouri, speak directly to how their city plays a role in their relationship:

Kansas City is an amazing place, full of life and history. This time of the year the fountains are roaring, the theaters are buzzing, the jazz music is playing, and the BBQ is cooking. I think like most cities, gay life here is full of ups and downs. It’s certainly not like New York or San Fran where being gay is not considered unusual. Walking down on the Plaza here, or even in Westport, it’s hard to find to men or women hand in hand. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great place to live, but it’s still the Bible belt and we have a long way left to go.

The book is not a refutation of the traditional gay stereotypes that are still present about the gay male community. Rather, it is a testament to the idea that there is no clear “gay America.” The community, like many communities, is diverse. In the same way that The Good Men Project posits that there is no clear definition of masculinity, Gay in America suggests that there is no clear definition of male homosexuality.

—Photo Flickr/blogrodent

 

Guest House Films Opens the Doors to its New Distribution Venture

Guest House Films Opens the Doors to its New Distribution Venture

Expansion Launches with Black Briefs Short-Film Compilation

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

(LOS ANGELES – JUNE 27, 2011) – The independent production company Guest House Films marked a very important milestone in February 2011 with the self-distribution of its dramatic feature film, Role/Play. Today, the company has announced that it will build on that success by expanding its operations and becoming the newest distribution company targeting the LGBT market. The company’s distribution operations will launch later this year with the first in a series of gay-themed short-film compilations, tentatively titled Black Briefs. Guest House Films also will be looking for gay-themed feature films for its new distribution venture.

 

The Black Briefs collection will feature short films with darker storylines and unexpected twists. The second collection in the line is expected to be Red Briefs, which will focus on romantic short films. Future themed compilations will include comedies, dramas, musicals, and a spectrum of other genres.


 

As an established producer of LGBT feature films, Guest House Films will leverage its resources and experience to create a distribution company with the ability to offer significant benefits to their fellow filmmakers. The company hopes to partner with filmmakers who share their creative vision in creating the kinds of movies they – as gay moviegoers — want to see.

 

Rob Williams and Rodney Johnson, the entrepreneurs behind Guest House Films, will be seeking out acquisitions for Black Briefs and future short-film compilations, as well as feature films, at some of the nation’s largest LGBT film festivals this summer and fall. In addition, the company will be accepting gay-themed short-film submissions on an ongoing basis. To be considered, films must be in English or have English subtitles. DVD submissions can be sent to Guest House Films, P.O. Box 26220, Los Angeles, CA 90026; queries or links to view submissions online can be sent to briefs@guesthousefilms.com.


 

“Having spent so much time on the gay film festival circuit over the past few years, I have seen first-hand how many amazing and thought-provoking gay-themed short films are out there. Unfortunately, most never get released on DVD, which makes us very excited to give our fellow filmmakers an opportunity to share their work with viewers,” said Williams.

 

“After our successful release of Role/Play earlier this year, we realized that moving into distribution was the next logical step for Guest House Films. By combining our experience as filmmakers with our knowledge of the distribution process, we hope to extend our brand while becoming known as a filmmaker-friendly distributor,” said Johnson.

 

Guest House Films will build on its strong relationships with retailers and reviewers, as well as established manufacturers and authoring houses, to create high-quality short-film compilations that promote and encourage the variety of talented filmmakers in this genre. Acquisitions for the company’s distribution arm will be announced throughout the year.


 

About Guest House Films

Since its launch in 2005, Guest House Films LLC has quickly become one of the most prolific and acclaimed independent film production companies. It has released five films to date, including Long-Term Relationship, Back Soon, 3-Day Weekend, Make the Yuletide Gay and Role/Play, and has numerous projects in development, including The Mystic Chord, a big-screen adaptation of the Jim Tushinski novel “Van Allen’s Ecstasy”; and Make The Yuletide Gay 2, a sequel to the company’s award-winning 2009 Christmas comedy. In 2010, it became the newest LGBT film distributor with the successful release of Role/Play and the announcement of its new short-film compilation series.

 

For more information on Guest House Films and Black Briefs, visit www.guesthousefilms.com.

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TLA RELEASING LASSOS DAVID LEWIS’ FRISKY, ROMANTIC SEX COMEDY: “LONGHORNS”

PUT ON YOUR COWBOY HAT, POLISH THOSE SPURS AND GET GUSSIED UP!

TLA RELEASING LASSOS DAVID LEWIS’ FRISKY, ROMANTIC SEX COMEDY: LONGHORNS

San Francisco, CA/New York, NY (June 30,2011) – Morning View Films is
proud to announce that TLA Releasing has acquired North American and
United Kingdom rights (theatrical, TV, Home Video (incl. DVD), EST,
DTO, PPV, VOD, DTR, streaming, all other internet, new media,
ancillary) for David Lewis’ frisky, Eighties-themed sex comedy,
LONGHORNS,  which recently made its World Premiere at Frameline35: San
Francisco International LGBT Film Festival. The film is set to play
Outfest 2011 – with two sold-out screenings and another just added –
and Philadelphia QFest 2011, with additional festivals to follow.

The deal was negotiated between Derek Curl, President and CEO of TLA
Releasing, director David Lewis of Morning View Films and producer
Lewis Tice.

“TLA is thrilled to release David Lewis’ first refreshingly frisky,
unabashedly gay and sweet comedy to our audience,” says Derek Curl,
President and CEO of TLA Releasing. “With Mr. Lewis’ previous films,
Rock Haven and Redwoods, in our current catalog, the acquisition
demonstrates the company’s dedication to supporting our filmmakers.”

The Eighties-themed, sex farce tells the story of Kevin (Jacob
Newton), a “straight” college boy who likes to rope his fellow school
mates into creative male-bonding sessions. But he gets his lasso in a
bunch when he encounters Cesar (Derek Villanueva), an openly gay
student. Kevin’s heart starts to flutter for the young man, setting
off a chain of events where sexual identity comes into question and a
weekend fueled by beers, straight porn and sexual frustration will
lead to multiple bed-hopping and questions about which side of the
fence some of these “Longhorns” sit on!

The comedy also stars Dylan Vox (“The Lair”), Stephen Matzke (Go Go
Reject), Kevin Held, Katrina Sherwood, Sophia Revelli and Bonnie
Marion.  Directed and written by David Lewis, the film is produced by
H.P. Mendoza (Fruit Fly, Colma: The Musical) – who also edited and
composed original music – and Lewis Tice (BearCity), with Frazer
Bradshaw (Everything Strange and New, Sundance ’09) serving as
Director of Photography.

“We couldn’t be more happy to be working with TLA Releasing again as
they have been like “family” over the years,” says writer, director
David Lewis. “TLA is ahead of the curve in film distribution – from
designing creative release strategies to broadening their
multi-territory roll-outs and embracing modern, multi-platform
distribution methods- I know that LONGHORNS is in good hands!”

Join us on our official Facebook page: www.Facebook.com/longhornsmovie

Hey, cowboys and cowgirls, share our teaser trailer on YouTube at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mYUUi0P0eA

Visit www.LonghornsMovie.com and www.TLAReleasing.com for the latest
and greatest updates!

TLA Releasing’s Premium Blu-Ray Brand TLA SELECT to Launch Aug. 30 with Re-Release of Hit Film LATTER DAYS

TLA Releasing’s Premium Blu-Ray Brand TLA SELECT to

Launch Aug. 30 with Re-Release of Hit Film LATTER DAYS

“Grandly romantic.” – The New York Times

“Latter Days is sweet, sexy and affecting. Ramsey and Sandvoss are appealing together. Jacqueline Bisset is ravishing!”– The Advocate

 

 

(PHILADELPHIA – JUNE 27, 2011) – TLA Releasing, the nation’s largetst distributor of LGBT-oriented films, will launch its new label TLA SELECTthis summer, starting with its best-selling title, LATTER DAYS, on Blu-ray format August 30.


TLA SELECT will carefully choose amongst its expansive and eclectic catalog only their most successful and top-grossing genre films on the industry’s new premium Blu-ray technology, providing customers with yet another dimension in quality for the films they love to watch.

 

“Blu-ray is our way of celebrating our top selling titles and giving the consumer yet another level of quality for the best in Queer Cinema,” said Derek Curl, President of TLA Releasing.

LATTER DAYS is a heartwarming and tender gay romantic drama that combines laughs, seduction and tears with plenty of romance. Aaron (Steve Sandvoss), a handsome Mormon missionary, travels door-to-door throughout the glitzy city of Los Angeles spreading the word of his religion. Christian (Wes Ramsey), a beautiful West Hollywood club-goer, goes from man to man without much commitment.

 

But, opposites surely attract when Aaron and Christian come face to face, and sparks begin to fly, leading to both searing and heart-wrenching surprises.

 

Featuring two star-making performances from Sandvoss and Ramsey, the film also features a terrific supporting cast including Mary Kay Place (HBO’s “Big Love”), Joseph Gordon-Levitt ((500) Days of Summer) and international screen legend Jacqueline Bisset.

 

The 2003 film, written by C. Jay Cox, has won loads of awards since its release, and has even been named by various LGBT and independent film sources in their lists of top 10 gay films ever made.

 

Following the re-release of LATTER DAYS on Blu-ray, TLA SELECT has plans to soon after re-release other hit titles, such as ANOTHER GAY MOVIE, ANOTHER GAY SEQUEL and BOY CULTURE.

 

The retail price for LATTER DAYS is $29.99 for Blu-ray, and the street date is Aug. 30, 2011. Running time is 107 minutes. It is presented in English, digitally remastered 1.85 widescreen, with English Dolby Digital Stereo. Bonus features will include deleted scenes, audio commentary, a behind-the-scenes featurette, music videos and a photo gallery.

 

For more information on TLA SELECT and LATTER DAYS, visitwww.tlareleasing.com.

“HEY, BOO: HARPER LEE & ‘TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD’ “— A Look at a Beloved Book

“HEY, BOO: HARPER LEE & “TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD”

A Look at a Beloved Book

Amos Lassen

 

My generation loves “To Kill a Mockingbird” and what is even more amazing is that as the times change, people continue to read it and love it. It is perhaps one of the most influential books ever written with over a million copies sold every year and it was responsible for an Academy Award film. Nelle Harper Lee gave us this treasure and this documentary looks at her and her book and we get answers to many questions and we understand why she never published another book.

There is a lot new—photos and letters and an interview with Lee’s sister that shows us even more about the atmosphere of America when the book was written.

Harper Lee went silent after the publication of her book and now we learn that while her book was written about the South, it was written in New York City. Because of the generosity of others, Lee was able to quit her job so she could write. Through her writing we are taken back to Alabama and see what inspired Lee and we learn even more about her friendship with Truman Capote. The two grew up together in Monroeville, Alabama. In fact, it is claimed that Dill in the novel was based upon Capote. The documentary also looks at the film version.

 

The film features Tom Brokaw, Rosanne Cash, Wally Lamb, Anna Quindlen, Richard Russo, Scott Turow, Oprah Winfrey, Andrew Young and others as they talk about the novel’s power, influence, and popularity, and the many different ways it has affected their lives.

The film is a total and beautiful tribute to Harper Lee and is one of those rare films that teach as it entertains.

 

 

“DIVE: LIVING OFF AMERICA’S WASTE”, a documentary— Dumpster Diving

”DIVE!:LIVING OFF AMERICA’S WASTE “

Dumpster Diving

Amos Lassen

 

I suppose I never have given garbage much thought but after watching “Dive!” I am certainly going to think about things differently. 263 million pounds of food end up in the garbage; 96 billion pounds are thrown away every year. Jeremy Seifert was curious about why good food is disposed o so readily so he and several friends went dumpster diving in the nicer areas of Los Angeles and what they discovered is amazing and fills this documentary. They give us an entertaining film that is, to me, at least, a call to arms.

When we consider how many in this country go hungry, we see what an important film this is. As the film entertains, it also inspires us and in addition to seeing food wasted, we come away from it with food or thought. A lot of money is being wasted in by simply being thrown away and until we see this in large quantities, it is hard to believe.

In the extras, Seifert provides us with information on a campaign to stop this waste as well as short films that bring the entire issue home. This is quite an eye opener and highly recommended especially when we learn that there is a solution.