Film Festival Favs Finally Find Home at a Theatre Near You by Kevin M. Thomas, @ReelKev

Joely Fisher & Daphne Zuniga in "Search Engines"

Joely Fisher & Daphne Zuniga in “Search Engines”

The year is winding down and the big studios are releasing their top Oscar contenders so some smaller films might get lost in the shuffle.

It’s not that independent movies can’t get Oscar nominated – but first to be considered they must play in New York and Los Angeles for one week by year’s end. Whether they follow the Academy Award rules or not, here are a couple of LGBT movies that rank among the year’s best.

“Search Engines” seems to have resurrected Robert Altman from the grave and renamed him Russell Brown. Writer/director Brown has put together a film with enough interesting characters to make Altman proud. Like Altman, he successfully blends several storylines that interlink. With “Engines,”  he brings 15 characters together for a family Thanksgiving meal that quickly turns to horror. Not in the traditional sense (even though some might find a holiday with their family horrific). But as everyone is gathering and ignoring those around them in favor of social media, their worlds turn to terror as electronic communication suddenly ceases, leaving the dinner guests to actually have to talk to each other.

Joely Fisher & Connie Stevens in "Search Engines"

Joely Fisher & Connie Stevens in “Search Engines”

This causes panic among the various guests – and great joy for the audience.

It seemed bad enough that everyone was to eat Joely Fisher’s character homemade meal as they make it clear early on, she isn’t known for her cooking. It also doesn’t help that her sister (Daphne Zuniga) and mother (Fisher’s real life mom Connie Stevens) have their own suggestions on how the day will be played out. Combine them with a video blogger who documents her every move, a pair of gay men wondering if one of the other guests is on a sex site they are perusing,  and a young self-indulgent actor who needs his phone to prepare for his next role and you have likely one of the worst Thanksgivings in the making.

Brown is able to balance the various characters to have multiple scenes that stand apart and interconnect at various times of the movie. Considering this takes place pretty much on one set, Brown is able to take full advantage of every area of the house so that secrets and subplots can develop.

“Search Engine” feels like Robert Altman has returned from the grave,  so I look forward to Altman’s career resurgence in the mind and body of Brown.

Since I love to have a gay movie at every holiday, I am adding this to my short list of turkey day films, along with “What’s Cooking” and “Ladder Days.”

It was also fun to see Fisher and Stevens work together for the first time as well as Zuniga, who I remembered from the 1980s (even though she’s remained busy) and looks better than a portrait of Dorian Gray.

“Search Engines” premieres in Los Angeles on Oct. 14 To get tickets, go to www.laemmle.com. Keep up with the film at www.rb-films.com.

Another film festival favorite hits the big screen starting Oct. 14 as well.

"The David Dance"

“The David Dance”

“The David Dance” is evidence on how persistency pays off. This gem of a movie from writer/star Don Scime has been on the film festival circuit since 2014. Now it finally has its well-deserved theatrical run after amassing over 25 awards at film festivals.

“David” is the story of a Buffalo DJ who faces gay haters on his radio show all the while dealing with conflicts of his past which prevent him from moving forward. Writer Scime and director Aprill Winney do an excellent job in cutting from past to present, allowing us insight to Scime’s turmoil as he tries in present day to deal with his ghosts.

Scime also does a great balancing act with his character – giving him strength and confidence as radio personality Danger Dave and showing how fragile he is off-air, dealing with the hand life has dealt him.

There’s also a beautiful love story between Scime and Guy Adkins, who is a beautiful, sensitive actor that most of us likely don’t know as he died shortly after filming this movie.

This film theatrically debuts in New York at the Cinepolis Chelsea. It’s following the route of many small films, developing a following through word of mouth as it will then move on to Los Angeles and hopefully other metropolitan cities.

Follow it to your town at www.thedaviddance.com