So the part of the film which I am worried might be too distressing for them is when Don shares his experience of caring for Chris at home at the end of his life - which was of course extremely challenging, but exactly what they both wanted. I feel privileged to have been allowed such a personal view to this vital act of love - which is an integral part of their story, of lives well lived.
The documentary presents a great deal of interesting material about the life Christopher Isherwood shared with Don Bachardy (and we hear Don's honest first hand opinion throughout). While they were very much in love, it wasn't all wine and roses (I think very few relationships are). Chris wrote "A Single Man" at a time when Don had requested a trial separation and he was not at all confident that Don would return.
Don lives on in the house they shared for many decades and is a duly successful artist (a talent Chris had recognised in him and actively encouraged). The DVD edition comes with several cards of Don's work - including portraits of Chris.
"Chris & Don" is a magnificent testament to the reality of true love and to the value of commitment - and is much more effective in this regard than any other film I've seen.
So much care, energy and informed expertise has gone into making this series that they demand repeat viewings. Tons of valuable archival footage is combined with living treasures speaking from personal experience.
Men and women are equally represented - and for a change people of colour are given a strong voice. Queer youth are seldom adequately represented in media, but "Generation Q" deals with their real life & death issues and needs and calls for older queer activists to have the guts to fight in support of queer youth rights (rather than cowering in paranoid fear of paedophilic accusations).
The Question Of Equality provides the best quality entertainment while informing and empowering viewers to be proactive in improving their own lives and those of future generations.
Just as relevant now (2011) as it was in 1995, and equally relevant to viewers, like myself, who live outside of the USA. This series aired on ABC TV here under the title "Over The Rainbow".
Keith Hartman does a wonderful job with the script - keeping things fresh, lively and relevant. Hartman also ought to take a deep bow as director in his first feature film - and he happily gives plenty of due credit to the talented crew he assembled to make this film always look beautiful and interesting, and to also sound wonderful (especially, as we learn from the commentary tracks, in quite challenging circumstances). The editing is particularly praiseworthy - my award goes to Donna Matthewson. The slightly surreal colours remind me very much of the UK original 1999 Queer As Folk series (NB: the cinematrographic quality is much better in this film - due no doubt to the improvement in digital technology.) I recommend that anyone who likes the film should also take the time to watch the DVD with each of the two commentary tracks - and then watch the film again with the original soundtrack. Your appreciation is significantly amplified, making "You Should Meet My Son" a film which you're likely to recommend to all your family and friends, and to enjoy re-watching with them any number of times. An excellent original music soundtrack adds further lustre.
The cast all do a fine job and they must be very proud of the final edit. It's no surprise that this has been an award winner at gay and lesbian film festivals.
The Blu-Ray's extra features give an excellent overview of the production and of how the actors brought their characters to life - and they also verify that this is an incredible, all but impossible, yet true story of an unrelenting conman's unbounded commitment to love.
Ewan describes it best as "funny, tender and sweet". Superb production values, and gripping entertainment. A fantastic soundtrack and score too.
In 2001 Sony Pictures considered themselves to be very brave in making a big budget film with unapologetically gay characters - "The Broken Hearts Club". However I think those producers would have fainted after reading the script for " I Love You Phillip Morris". A great sign of progress is that a truly wonderful story imbued with comedy, romance and drama has not been limited by the reality of the sexual orientation of the characters.
This week I heard a New Zealand radio interview the film maker Christopher Banks in which he criticises "Brokeback Mountain" for having a tragic end for one of the characters, when "Communication" both opens and closes with tragedy. However the two films share the fact that lovers must learn to survive loss and live on.
I've yet to see a Jewish themed gay related film in which the lovers are both happy and alive at film's end. Death and depression are too often the dominant themes at LGBT film festivals and in a proportion well out of kilter with reality.
"Communication" ends on a hopeful note - but so did "Brokeback Mountain". In my opinion Annie Proulx's story and Ang Lee's film are equally magnificent and passionate classic works of art. "Communication" is not in that league, not by a long shot, but I can well understand why it is receiving praise and awards at LGBT festivals and the film makers deserve to be very proud of it.
In 2004 Australia's conservative dominated federal government, with the scandalous full support of the "liberal" opposing party, marched hand in hand with George W Bush by amending the Marriage Act to specifically exclude same sex couples.
Six years later, with a change of governing party, there's at least a possibility of marriage equality, but some Australian LGBT activists are being complicit in their own persecution by suggesting they might accept civil unions, rather than fight for marriage equality. I challenge them and any rational person to watch this film and yet fail to realise that marriage equality is a necessity as an option for all - not a pipe dream, nor a nicety.
While our Federal Law defines that we deserve discrimination, the Churches who hate us will continue to feel vindicated in active oppression, and too many youth will be rejected, or feel rejected, will self-harm or suicide, as a direct result.
"8: The Mormon Proposition" affirms that it's a case of you're either on the side of equality, which includes equality in marriage rights, or you're on the side of the bigots and must accept partial blame for all the harm caused by their intolerance.
This film will do good wherever it is viewed in the world.
Tonight after just five minutes I was seriously thinking of pressing the fast forward or eject buttons, but since I'd paid $29 (Australian) I was determined to see it through. What a tragic waste of time and money (for myself as well as the filmmakers). Tru-Loved is bloated, limp and literally drips with cheese - and in spite of being obviously well intended, it manages to fail in every regard as acceptable cinema.
I was especially annoyed that there was so little skill demonstrated in the sound design. There were repeated scenes (mainly in the tree house) where the voices dropped so low that I had to pump the volume on my amp to understand what was being said - and even then the voices were being drowned out by the sound of the actors' footfall. I had to then quickly adjust the amp volume back down as the next scene blared out. That sort of careless attention to detail reflects directly on the technical quality of the whole film.
I had bought this DVD thinking it would be a youth positive asset for an LGBT community film night, but sadly it's much more likely to go in the bin (as did "The Curiosity Of Chance" and "Tan Lines").
Avatar has set the highest imaginable standard for the amount of detail and the attention to perfection applied in every aspect of the images (including the three dimensional aspect) and with similar attention devoted to the sound design.
I find it hard to understand those who could not appreciate that the three dimensional aspect was a valuable factor in at least 90% of the film.
I was happy that the Pandora flora and fauna looked much more realistic on the big screen than they do in the bits I've seen on TV, and it doesn't require much suspension of disbelief in the cinema.
This is a very sound story too - just with the invading humans getting much less punishment than they clearly deserved.
Today James Cameron announced that in mid-year he'll be doing a cinematic release of the "director's cut" - with 40 minutes extra footage. I'd be happy to see that too - but I sincerely hope that they include an intermission. Even the original edit tests the limits of bladder control.
Every minute and effort put into the making of Avatar has been well spent - and I am in awe of the proved skill and devotion.
The English subtitles (on the DVD) are very well crafted and made enjoying the film to the utmost a breeze - stirring every emotion, including plenty of out-loud laughter, and a few tears.
The 24 minute "behind the scenes" extra feature does a great job with supplementary information - in the main part reinforcing my own understanding and appreciation of the filmmakers' fully realised intentions.
I deeply cared about these characters, I loved how their stories evolved. As the writer states, it's not a guide to coming out - but it is certainly an ideal film for fostering awareness of the struggle faced even by "open minded" parents who have discovered that their envisioned future for their child will be needing some radical re-evaluation.
As close to perfect as any film I've seen and fully deserving ten stars.
All you need is a sense of humour - because I stress this isn't a regurgitation of their TV show sketches. It's a story of the very interesting lives of two women who've been unflinchingly out and proud as activists and entertainers since the early 70's. There's no other person on the planet who is remotely like them - and only a few who could hope to match them for courage and commitment as equal rights activists. They fought on the front line for gay rights, indigenous rights and against apartheid (at the Springbok demonstrations) - and they gave their comrades a much needed emotional lift.
The film combines pristine archival footage with songs from a recent retrospective concert and comments from people who know them well - including celebrity associates such as Billy Bragg, Mark Trevorrow and John Clarke.
"Untouchable Girls" will do a power of good by inspiring and empowering any viewer to fight for what they believe in - and to value and enjoy each day and the truly good things in life.
Whatever your gender or sexual preference, I firmly believe that the vast majority of viewers will find "The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls" to be richly rewarding. It is very classy cinematography with an effect as powerful as any cinema classic - but with the distinct advantage of being entirely true.
A unique globally relevant and first class documentary, and one of the very best feature films I've seen.
Broken Hearts Club still gets five stars, because the other flaws are truly trifling and there are some excellent memorable lines delivered by all of the characters.
Dean Cain (one of the most attractive, and contentedly straight, men in the world) utterly convinces in his role as gay bimbo Cole and seems to be having the time of his life.
I have a similar group of long term friends, in whom our only common denominator is that we're gay - which is why we met in the first place. Just as with the guys in this film, its the genuine ongoing mutual support of our friends which makes us happy to be gay. Our group of friends in suburban Brisbane is in many respects radically different from the fictional group in West Hollywood - but on the "heart and soul" level we're very similar. I'm sure that experience is shared and celebrated by viewers world-wide.
"Surviving My Mother" is a radically different film to Mambo Italiano. It is much darker - though with quite a few genuine laughs. It really does fit the awkward genre "dramedy" - in much the same way as does "American Beauty".
I'm caring for my elderly and ailing mother, and as much as I love her and do my best to make her comfortable, I really don't expect to find her alive each morning. So the early part of this film spoke directly to me, as I'm sure it does to many others. We're witnessing heart rending truth in the death of the grand-mother, but it's a vital element for driving the rest of the story - which is of mother and daughter both realising that they have a small window of opportunity to really know each other and establish an ongoing honest relationship.
A strong cast and tight script are complemented by the superb direction and tasteful inventive visual effects - particularly in the projection of online chat text into the real world.
As with Mambo Italiano, the sound design and the soundtrack music are exceptional. "Surviving My Mother" abounds with love, life and passion.
I loved "Breaking Away", which was released just at the time I got seriously into cycling - and long before I came out as gay - and I bought this film on DVD because I was interested to see Dennis Christopher in the cast - but he doesn't save the film.
I'd recommend that there are a million better ways to spend 75 minutes of your life, or to spend any amount of money. I still might throw the disc in the bin - I know I'll never watch it again or lend it to anyone.
It's an intriguing tale, starting in the mid seventies, of the ongoing true friendship of two long distance pen-pals, younger Mary in rural Australia and older Max in the rat-race of New York City. A significant element of the story involves Max's experience of living with Asperger Syndrome, knowing painfully full well that he senses the world in a radically different way to most. I've never seen any other project deal so honestly and powerfully with that condition. It's a genuine celebration of the value of difference.
There's lots to laugh and think about - and the attention to detail is staggering. Australia's living legend Barry Humphries excels as the narrator.
I loved the soundtrack which strongly featured two of my favourite Penguin Cafe Orchestra compositions. I've ordered the soundtrack CD already.
Sean Penn turns in a Best Actor Academy Award performance - he lives and breathes, moves and grooves, loves and erupts as Harvey Milk. All the supporting cast are up the task too. I am especially impressed by the way that Gus Van Sant hasn't flinched at giving us a view of Harvey Milk's life through a decidedly queer lens. The audience isn't being pandered to, no matter what their personal sexuality. We're given time portal access to real life in Harvey's experience of those angst wrought years of the seventies. We're reminded that life is short and every single day counts vitally as an opportunity to achieve maximum good in the world.
I was really quite disappointed to see James Franco on Letterman (late November '08) say that he had voted with firm conviction against Proposition 8 in the November 2008 ballot, but he wasn't sure whether he would have opposed 1978's "Proposition 6" (which would have banned gays and lesbians, and possibly anyone who supported gay rights, from working in California's public schools.) When Franco can play the part of such an informed gay activist and still miss the point of the issue so widely, it shows that there is an enormous proportion of the general public who need to see this fine feature film, to understand its message and then put into practice the knowledge that there is absolutely no substitute for equality.
I would hope that "Milk" will have the same level of beneficial impact for all viewers, not just us queers (or whatever descriptive you happen to choose).
The rest of the film is really quite lame, barely entertaining, and highly forgettable.
The screenplay is far too apparently contrived and self-consciously striving to appear witty - and it is delivered with a distinct lack of passion or conviction.
I don't like that the main protagonist is a cruel smart-arsed vile little body fascist and yet he's presented as someone whom we ought to feel empathy for as he struggles for non-judgmental acceptance.
Chock full of tired gay movie clichés, there is particularly unforgivable opportunistic and abusive stereotyping in the portrayal of the school principal - who is targeted relentlessly for our supposed amusement as an overweight woman with no self-awareness of her body odour problem.
Noticeably placed eye candy in the form of actor Brett Chukermen is diminished by the fact that Brett doesn't move outside of the range of facial expressions which are almost trademarked "Jake Gyllenhaal".
I really can't see any reason to recommend this film to anyone - not even the Devo intro saves it.
"Trembling Before G-d" dealt with Orthodox Judaism and "In Good Conscience" dealt with Vatican-dominated Catholicism. "Jihad For Love" combines some of the sentiments in both those films - especially in affirming that scriptures can and ought to be read compassionately and intelligently, rather than merely reciting archaic and dubious interpretations.
The filmmakers hold the appropriate premise - the self-evident truth that difference is normal, including difference in innate sexual preference. The job of this film is not to prove that homosexuality is a valid human trait, but to question why vigorous, often mortally violent, oppression persists against persons who only want to love and be loved in honesty and with equity.
Any informed parent ought to be aware that no matter what their religion or location in the world, their children stand exactly the same statistical likelihood of being born same sex attracted - and there's nothing they can do to change that fact. However parents can do their utmost to ensure that their family, community and legal system is prepared to accept and support all good loving people.
"A Jihad For Love" will follow the other two films in doing incalculable good in the world by stimulating active community debate and also by presenting some very powerful role models for same sex attracted Moslems and for their families, friends and religious leaders. I expect that it will significantly hasten a resolution for many in their struggle for love.
I especially enjoyed the section dealing with Sam Wagstaff's obsession in travelling the globe to collect fine photographic works on a very broad scale routinely setting new records at auction (and pissing people off in the process). We're told that, more than nearly all of his art world contemporaries, he saw photography as having unique intrinsic value. Eventually he sold his collection of "overvalued" photographs for five million dollars.
Robert Mapplethorpe's long term friend and flatmate Patti Smith naturally became a very good friend of Sam Wagstaff. Patti gives us a confidant's perspective on both men's lives and passions.
This is interesting as a slice of queer cultural heritage but I anticipate that any student of art and photography will find this film to be extraordinarily entertaining.
The film is much more about Sam Wagstaff than it is about Robert Mapplethorpe (or their relationship), but the point is made that Sam inspired, supported and enabled Mapplethorpe to achieve decidedly more than 15 minutes of fame.
The audio editing could be the only weak technical point for some strange reason (at least in the stereo screener DVD) the living testimonies are mixed extremely to the right channel and are very feint in comparison to the narration.
NB: What we're seeing here at BQFF is 69 minutes long and according to the listing at IMDb.com it should be 77 minutes.
While "Yossi & Jagger" focused on a pair of gay lovers in the closeted confines of Israeli military service, "Ha Buah" is centred on a group of civilian friends, both straight and gay, who share a unit in the heart of Israel's generally gay-tolerant, but not always gay-friendly, capital Tel Aviv.
"Ha Buah" opens with a dramatic border check point scene in which Noam (Ohad Knoller Yossi from "Yossi & Jagger") first meets handsome young Arab Ashraf (Yousef Sweid). Romance soon blooms but in that political climate opportunities would have to be seized quickly or lost altogether.
From there we follow an intricate interplay among the members and lovers of the housemates and the unavoidable effect of Ashraf's very conservative family. If you follow this film's dialogue attentively enough then you will have no reason to be disappointed with the ending.
The soundtrack for "Ha Buah" is vibrant and the visuals are both beautiful and stark i.e. real life in the Middle East.
The English subtitles are very easy to follow and you quickly relax and appreciate world cinema at its best.
That fact is made all the more astonishing by the revelation that he never worked from sketches - we're witnessing the life and creations of true unblinking genius.
This is a gay relevant, but certainly not a gay-specific story. It's about an extraordinary man who realised the full potential of his ability to create and love and live. Through testimony from his friends and family we also know that Keith was not only a lovely but also very generous guy.
Keith Haring was so prolific that you really have to keep your eyes peeled for the multitude of his works included here. Anyone with a vocation for art will be inspired. Everyone else will be enthralled. We (and many future generations) will all celebrate his life.
Superbly edited and a fitting tribute.
It's not at all like the angst-ridden abomination of a gay surf flick "Tan Lines". Surfing is simply a fact of life element in "Shelter" - it's not used or abused as a device.
"Shelter" is a beautifully edited, spectacular looking and luscious sounding film which is definitely character driven. Each of the main characters is carefully developed so that we quite soon decide that we really do care about Zach, his young nephew Cody and Zach's love interest, Shaun. We want things to work out for them.
We understand that Zach is in a bind - he's allowed himself to be the physical and emotional anchor for a progressively more dysfunctional family, but we know that he deserves much better life options. The writers and director of Shelter have done a fantastic job - not a look or word is wasted, and yet the whole pace of the film is very relaxed.
"Shelter" deserves every accolade that any individual or Festival might care to bestow.
Straight audiences must find "Shelter" to be equally rewarding. The film's theme is, after all, about love, honour and commitment. What could be more wholesome than that?
It is a fact of life that a significant percentage of those who identify as "gay" or "lesbian" are also attracted to the opposite sex - some more than others. Few would identify as "bisexual" (which some presume to be an almost equal attraction to both men and women), but their "right" person could indeed be a very special man or a very special woman (if their hearts and minds were open).
Many gay men (myself included) and lesbians consciously prevent bisexual behaviour by refusing to let themselves respond to the opposite sex flirting or opportunities. I identify strongly with Iñaqui's experience and to me "I Will Survive" is memorable as one of the finest examples of fiction which explores the reality of bisexuality.
Iñaqui and Marga have the courage to test the full potential of their relationship (however unlikely it may be to endure) - very much like the passionate lead roles in the superb BBC2 series "Bob and Rose" (by Russell T Davies).