Films of Families, Drugs and Conflicts Make For a Great Way to End Spring by Kevin M. Thomas



Film festival favorites are making a strong showing the second half of May.

Truly one of the most delightful films from any festival, “Margarita, with a Straw” not only will be on DVD and VOD in June, but it will have a theatrical run starting May 20 at Los Angeles’ Arena Cinema, in San Francisco’s Easy Bay at Fremont’s Cine Grand 7 and San Jose’s Camera 12.

Having been on the festival circuit for two years, it is thrilling that “Margarita” can margarita2now be seen by a larger audience.

Co-directors/writers Shonila Bose and Nilesh Manlyar bring us the refreshing story of Laila, a young woman with cerebral palsy. She is ready to learn and start her life and excited to be accepted at New York University, which would take her away from her safe haven in India.

Laila, beautifully played by Kalki Koechin in an Oscar caliber performance, is unaffected by her condition for the most part and excited to move and explore New York City.

But in a life of unrequited love, Laila finds comfort, compassion and romance with a blind woman Sayani Gupta. What makes this movie so refreshing is that the writers don’t make this a lesbian love story. Laila is trying out new things and the film doesn’t label her a lesbian or even bisexual. She’s new at intimacy and it shows more how she’s finally feeling love and attention no matter what their sex is.

The movie also focuses on her relationship with her mother, who comes with her to New York, and learns a thing or two of her own.  Revathy is wonderful as her mother and heads up an excellent supporting cast – all have their own subplots and help, along with some memorable songs, make “Margarita, with a Straw” a movie you likely won’t forget.

Dont’ delay – get to Fremont or San Jose May 20 to screen this movie, If you’re not in the area,  you can catch it starting June 14 at



No stranger to any festival (or TV for that matter) Gerald McCullouch has gone behind the camera with “Daddy,” a movie he not only stars in but makes his directorial debut.

“Daddy” is an award winner from many festivals that goes below the surface of what could have been a typical May-December romance between an older man and his younger co-worker. This is only the start of a story with twists and depth.

As director, McCullouch does a great job at opening the play to include more settings and situations. Writer Dan Via is also able to add more dimension to some of the incidental characters, giving some other characters a chance to shine, including Via himself as McCullouch’s best friend.

As the younger man, Jaime Cepero makes us forget his evil character of the short-lived TV series “Smash,” and offers a complex and compelling characterization that makes you sympathize with his point of view.

Read our original more comprehensive review here:

“Daddy” is available for rent or own on all platforms. To read more, go to



Another movie that made a splash at film festivals is “Viva.” The festivals the film played at weren’t gay even though it tells the story of a young Cuban man with dreams of being a drag queen. But the film played at international film festivals that aren’t exclusively gay.

Now it can be seen by a mass audience as its in theatres in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York and will be adding screenings across the country each week – including progressive cities such as Seattle, Provincetown and Portland but will also reach Chico, CA and even Ithaca, NY.

What gives this movie its sprawling appeal has nothing to do with drag or being gay. The heart of the film is really the story of a father and his son.



Young Jesus is trying to stay afloat in his slum life in Havana. He struggles financially and resorts to some unseedy acts to make ends meet. His career has some great upturns as a hairdresser but he learns there’s more money to be made as a drag performer, which he has always wanted to do. Enter his father, a former prize fighter down on his luck and spewing every insult at his son for being gay and wanting to do drag.

Their relationship is tense and unhealthy. The core of the movie and its strength comes from the excellent performances from Hector Medina as Jesus and Jorge Perugorria as his father.  You can feel the tension build and it stays real and not melodramatic. The two are supported by a wonderful ensemble, especially Luis Alberto Garcia who acts as Jesus’ drag mother.

While there are some funny moments, this is definitely not a “La Cage aux Folles” or “Too Wong Fu” as the subject matter is very serious,  and Irish director Paddy Breathnach has found truly the seedy side of Cuba. The father says it best in one scene. Their apartment has the most beautiful view of Havana’s slums.

To find this movie coming to your town, go to



Speaking of gritty, the director’s cut of “54” recently came out on DVD and VOD and is available on all platforms.

Be sure NOT to get the wrong version. The original late 1990s version had a great soundtrack and a pretty good performance from Mike Myers. But then the story of the most famous nightclub of all time was watered down into a mainstream piece of airy fluff, promoting a love story between rising stars Neve Campbell and Ryan Phillippe.

There was nothing gay or real about that version. Director Mark Christopher was able to get his hands on the film and some of the cut footage and restored the film into what it should be: a great reflection of the disco era – complete with drugs, same-sex trysts and a lot of experimentation. If this had been the version released in 1998, you might have seen it on a lot of critics’ list.

Check out our complete review at