LA’s OutFest has good mix of the old and the new by Kevin M. Thomas

A lot of this year’s OutFest gay and lesbian film festival echoes a lot of what San Francisco’s Frameline festival offered with the addition of several new entries and the return of some classics. The festival runs July 7-17 in theatres throughout Los Angeles. Here’s a brief look at some of Frameline’s best, which will also be highlights at OutFest.

"August"

"August"

August is one of the sexiest movies that played at Frameline.  “August” starts off as the story of Troy, who returns to Los Angeles after spending some time in Spain. But we soon learn it’s really the tale of Jonathan, the partner he left behind who has moved on with Raul.

While the plot seems to have been told before, there is still a freshness in this story, thanks to Eldar Rapaport’s direction. And whoever is paired with whom, all three men look fantastic and there’s a few titillating but not overly graphic sex scenes.

“Weekend” would certainly be a European companion to “August” as it has a pair of sexy actors and some nice, real sexual chemistry. It also can be considered a dramatic version of the American comedy “Trick” because the men start off as a one night stand, but it develops into much more than that. Each learn a little more about themselves and each other as the “Weekend” unfolds.

"Leave It On The Floor"

"Leave It On The Floor"

“Leave it on the Floor” almost didn’t make my list as I wasn’t a fan of the songs sung off stage and can’t believe there are that many hot men on the DL. But since I am still thinking about it, it truly has made an impact. I wish we had more depth on underground ballrooms within the gay community, but this movie barely delves into that, making you want more. And if for nothing else, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the drag name introduced in this movie Queef Latina. Move over Syphilis Diller and Suppositori Spelling, there’s another drag name for me to love.

"Going Down in La La Land"

"Going Down in La La Land"

Then there’s “Going Down in La La Land.” I am a big fan of its writer/director Casper Andreas, who brought us the very cute but mistitled “Slutty Summer” and ”The Big Gay Musical,” he takes a darker road here but to equal satisfaction.
“La La Land” is about a cute young man who ends up in LA but, while trying to get legitimate work, gets offered porn roles or as an escort. Before falling too deep into this world, he meets a famous TV star that wants a relationship on the DL. This isn’t all romance though as some skeletons of our sexy young man creep into his new world, especially with director Andreas himself playing the part of as a strung out photographer. He usually plays the sweet, innocent and smart character. This time he’s pure slime and carries it off well.
Night Watch” is a well crafted import from the UK with several characters who have secrets and connections to each other during World War II. It’s like a great puzzle in which the audience gets a few pieces to put together but, alas, some key elements are seemingly missing. Just when you give up trying to figure it out, the film flashes back three years and then we learn more about the missing pieces and the puzzle gets more clear. This flashback technique is key to the film’s success and keeps its audience on its toes throughout.
“With You” is a loving tribute to Mark Bingham, the brave gay man who has been declared one of the heroes of Sept. 11. One might think it relives that tragic date, but it’s actually uplifting as his mother carries on his memory and kind of paints us a picture of the man behind the hero. What makes this movie really work is to see all the Bingham had done to smash the gay stereotype mold and really opened the door to many others that came after him.
“Cho Dependent” shows what a true and great talent Margaret Cho is and a friend to the gay community. Having thought she can never top herself from having seen so many other of her stand-up comedy routines, I almost passed this up as there are so many movies to see. But I am glad I didn’t. Damn girl, she’s still fresh, funny, outrageous and topical. What a talent and friend we have in Cho!

“eCupid’ almost seems like a recipe for predictability. But the characters are very sweet and cute – you want them as your own friends. This might be considered the gay seven year itch in which a semi bored partner decides to see what else is out there by surfing the net. He soon discovers there’s no place like home – thanks in part to Morgan Fairchild, who is almost like the gay version of Glinda the Good Witch.

Esai Morales and Harmony Santana  in "Gun HIll Road"

Esai Morales and Harmony Santana in "Gun HIll Road"

“Gun Hill Road” is a taught urban drama with Esai Morales as a paroled man who returns to his home in the Bronx and discovers how life went on without him. His wife seemed to manage just fine on her own and his son is blossoming into a beautiful woman. Of course Morales’ macho character can’t ccept his son choosing a lifestyle of cross dressing. This instigates a lot of the film’s conflict and the role of his son, played with great depth and grace by Harmony Santana. Santana is a handsome young man and a beautiful woman combined into one interesting and sensitive character, exploring his/her identity. Santana is definitely an actor to watch in more ways than one and is the primary reason “Gun Hill” is in one of the best.

Some movies of great interest that did not play at Frameline will likely be standouts at OutFest.

"Hollywood Dollywood"

"Hollywood Dollywood"

The documentary “Hollywood to Dollywood” sounds like the premise of a great narrative – two brothers travel in their RV named Jolene to meet the infamous Dolly Parton.  Almost sounds like a country version of “Priscilla.”

And who would want to miss “Eating Out: Drama Camp.” I can’t believe all of the fun I’ve had with all of the “Eating Out” movies. They are mindless and silly – but pure enjoyment! This installment also has the very promising Harmony Santana, who blew me away with “Gun Hill Road,” also showing at the festival.

"Perfect Family"

"Perfect Family"

Kathleen Turner is also back in what seems to be another memorable over the top performance. She plays a religious woman competing to be the best Christian even though her “Perfect Family” includes a lesbian she’d prefer stayed in the closet.

Other highlights of the festival include some classic films that have been favorites among the gay culture. The real Dolly Parton can be seen in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.” Sure it’s fun to see Dolly as a whore – but better to see the hot chorus boys prancing around the whorehouse with very few clothes on. And Pedro Almodovar has made plenty of movies that we’ve all loved, but can you name anything better than “Law of Desire” with a young and hot Antonio Banderes?

To find showtimes, theatres and dates, go to www.outfest.org. You can also get tickets at 213/480-7065.