the boys really are getting married!

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If you like foreign films, you are in for a treat. Two of my recent favorites that examine the concept of marriage were made in two different countries: Spain and France. Time for a European tour from the comfort of your own chair…

The first film, “Queens,” is a delightful comedy set in 2005 Spain on the eve of the country’s legalization of same-sex marriage. This wonderful romp follows not only three good-looking couples as they prepare to tie the knot, but their fabulous mothers as they deal with their son’s impending nuptials (not always gracefully) and the impact the weddings will have in their own lives. I was constantly impressed with the tenor and atmosphere of the movie: the film opens and closes on one of the marvelous Spanish high-speed trains that we Americans can only dream about…and once again, enchanting Madrid makes for a perfect film backdrop as a chic and progressive urban metropolis. (Note to self: must visit Madrid someday!) One slight discomfort: the tired plot twist consisting of a gay man “panic sleeping” with a woman “one last time” to “make sure” that he is really gay. I think straight producers in the larger media companies (Queens was produced by Disney) insist on having this conceit to appeal to some market demographic I don’t understand, but oh, well. The movie has a wonderful message and a great positive portrayal of the gay community as definite “marriage material” so I heartily recommend this film. One more note: the five mothers are portrayed by Spanish superstar actresses, and they definitely work their roles well. Excellent casting all around.

My second recommendation is a slightly newer French film (2006) titled “3 Guys, 1 Girl, 2 Weddings,” and it is set in Paris (butofcourse) where we meet Dan and Laurent, two best friends. Dan is straight, Laurent out and gay. Dan has no hang-ups about Laurent’s gayness…but that does little to help Laurent overcome his secret love for his best friend (boy haven’t most of us carried that torch before.) Everything is fine UNTIL Dan meets and falls in love with Camille, a wonderful, sweet-natured girl who Laurent can’t help but like. Unfortunately, Laurent loses his perspective and his cool at the impending nuptials between Dan and Camille and…well, hilarity ensues. Earlier I mentioned the tired “sleep with a woman one more time” plot twist? Well it makes an appearance in this movie, too, but it’s handled with a little more realism and aplomb. Laurent, you are a hotheaded gay, but you are ok when all is said and done… and reader, you’ll feel like a croissant and a smart outfit when you’re done with this bonbon of a gay French comedy.

-Scott

 

 

when inexpresssible love overcomes fear — a double feature suggestion

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No matter who you are attracted to, it is apparently a common universal truth that the fear of rejection or failure can be an enormously overpowering roadblock to true love. I remember watching the television sitcom “Happy Days” as a child, not understanding why on earth Richie Cunningham had so much hand-wringing when asking a girl out. It was so frustrating. I had no concept of fear of rejection at the tender age of 9 (or no concept of the birds and the bees either, come to think of it.) Fast forward thirty-one years, and a much wiser me has a finely-tuned second-guessing brain that has had years of calibration to finely analyze the thinnest slice of human behavior in order to gauge risk of failure. Aren’t most of us, gay or straight, alike in this regard? All people want to love and be loved. Rejection on that level is frightening enough. Furthermore, if you’re gay, you’ve probably either been told directly or indirectly that you do not deserve this whole “falling in love” experience because of who you are or what you might have chosen to express. Has anyone ever fully documented how thoroughly homophobia can shred the gay man’s confidence in finding love?? In each of these two films, the main character, a gay visual artist, wrestles with these very issues.

In the movie “Big Eden” (2000, written and directed by Thomas Bezucha) we follow successful New York painter Henry Hart (Arye Gross) as he receives bad news from home (small-town Montana) and rushes back to attend to his only living relative, his grandfather. Small-town living not only grates on the New Yorker, but distills his memories as he confronts old classmates, childhood friends, a horrible crush, and unexpected revelations about life and love. This wonderful, uplifting romance not only has some excellent comedic moments, but a heartbreaking, bittersweet twist as Henry confronts his own double-whammy fears of rejection: rejected for love and rejected for being gay. A talented and well-teamed cast actually transports you to Montana with them, and you feel like you’re on vacation while you learn about these fascinating people. Henry, the artist who had to leave Manhattan on the eve of his gallery exhibit opening, learns about expression from the quirky wilderness townies. Ultimately they show him that he is loved for who he is, and that he is a lovable human being who is cherished and worthy. Who doesn’t want to finish a movie feeling like that?

Our second movie, “Shelter” (2007, written and directed by Jonah Markowitz) takes us to another location entirely: the surfer paradise of Southern California. However, it’s not really paradise for Zach (Trevor Wright), an aspiring teenage artist who gives up art school to work in a dead-end job helping support his sister and her son. Zach has no money or hope, just an adoring nephew and a good surf buddy friend from the rich side of town, Gabe (Ross Thomas) who one day leaves for a few months for a summer job. His friend Zach prepares for a long, dull summer. Gabe’s older brother Shaun (Brad Rowe), however, comes to stay in his brother’s house and meets Zach one day. They quickly become friends and Zach soon has to make big decisions about who he really is, and who he can afford to be, taking the welfare of all his loved ones into consideration. This wonderful love story actually involves Zach’s pen-and-ink and airbrushed artwork in the plot line, as a mechanism to show not only how he feels, but how his inability to express manifests itself in his own artistic expression. Zach finds redemption from those who love him, and courage to listen to the positive voices inside and rise above his past negativity. Again, this film too inspires and leaves you totally reinvigorated, and you feel so much more optimistic about the power of love to not only deal with…but to heal from.

So, pull out that Netflix list or that Blockbuster card and give one or both of these wonderful films a whirl…and let us know what you thought!

-Scott Marler

the atlanta philharmonic prepares for a february 6th performance

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Today we focus on the Atlanta Philharmonic Orchestra (APO), the world’s fifth LGBT Orchestra, with a  review of their most recent concert and information about their upcoming Winter Concert in February.

The APO was founded in December 2004 with an inaugural concert in December 2005.  It’s five-part mission statement includes the education of members and audiences, entertainment for Atlanta and Georgia residents, fellowship among members and supporters, affirmation of the LGBT community to the public, and growth of other LGBT symphony orchestras in other cities.

The most recent performance by the APO was Saturday November 14th, at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, under the baton of conductor Mirna Ogrizovic-Ciric.  On the program: Rossini’s Overture to Cinderella, Haydn’s Symphony no. 1, and Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 23 in A, with guest pianist Paolo Andre Gualdi.  The Rossini was effervescent, lively, and jocular.  This should be performed more often.  The acoustics at St. Bartholomew were kind to the instrumentalists and every section seemed clear for the sold-out audience.  Next, the Haydn (Clock) symphony: very well performed, but at times a little rushed.  Haydn was lively and a crowd-pleaser, however.  After a brief intermission, guest pianist Paolo Andre Gualdi performed the Mozart.  He had a wonderfully accurate touch with impressive dynamic control and melodic intuition.  The orchestra laid a clear, solid background, and Mr. Gualdi leapt in with perfect timing.  The crowd kept quiet to hear each note from the pianist, especially during the heartbreakingly beautiful and haunting Andante.

The APO next performs on February 6th, again at St. Bartholomew, with guest cellist Martin Gueorguiev.  The program will feature selections including Bizet’s Carmen, Saint Saens’ The Swan, and Haydn’s Concerto in D for Cello.  The concert begins at 7:00 pm, and tickets are available online at www.atlantaphilharmonic.org or at the door for $15 and $20.