JWR Articles: Film/DVD - Inside Out: Quick Takes 1 (Directors: Marlene Millar, Philip Szporer, Sam Irwin, Lest Chen) - May 18, 2007 id="543337086">

Inside Out: Quick Takes 1

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Reviewed for the 2007 Inside Out Lesbian and Gay International Film Festival

Surrender to the moment

Byron Chief-Moon: Grey Horse Rider
Marlene Millar & Philip Szporer
Canada 2007, 48 min
Four stars

Seeing this thoughtful portrait of Byron Chief-Moon, a two-spirited, Blackfoot performing artist (California-born, raised in the Blood Reserve near Lethbridge, Alberta) would go a long way in ending the Caledonia standoff if only the principals from both sides would dance for eight hours—until the trance of the movement took hold and revealed the hidden-away truth of their souls, instead of clinging to long-ago promises made (largely ignored) and draped in institutionalized stubbornness. Byron straddles many double-sided territories: sexuality (gay/straight), family (loved/disowned), race (Native/Caucasian) and culture (contemporary/traditional). Knowing he was queer from an early age, and encouraged to “escape” the reserve by his sage grandmother, Byron moved to Vancouver at sixteen where he could, finally and ironically, be alone in the hordes of humanity. He had a deep-rooted desire to pass down stories: “picking up what was left for us on the trail.” Soon the actor was working—easily and frequently typecast as the “angry young native” (Return to Turtle Island, Children of the Dust, North of 60), but it’s his magical feet and lithe limbs that bring the greatest moments of pleasure. Snippets from Quest, danced with longtime mentor/teacher/co-creator Karen Jamieson (he plays Elmer in a Western suit; she’s Coyote in traditional dress—but white!), beg for a glimpse of the whole production; the closing frames shot on Arcadia beach at low tide with dance collaborator Ron Stewart use the mucky sand first as a dance floor but then as truly miraculous body paint where the damp earth cloaks their two torsos, producing the perfect metaphor for shared humanity.

Danté’s Cove raises more than the dead

The cast of Danté’s Cove

Danté’s Cove, Season 2, Episode 1
Sam Irwin
U.S. 2006, 57 min
Three stars

Gothic gay gets another shot in the arm with director Sam Irwin’s romp into a tropical island whose fabled hotel has a past that just won’t die. In 1840, Grace Neville’s (Tracy Scoggins, seeking revenge and loving it) new marriage is forever ruined when she discovers her freshly minted husband Ambrosius (William Gregory Lee, who—dead or alive—can turn heads) having a Brokeback Mountain encounter! Before you can say “annulment,” the impaled fuck buddy is dead and the wayward life-long partner saddled with a Tresum curse: he can only return to life after being kissed by another hottie. In another part of the, then, swanky Hotel Danté, the evil Cory lights a fire of his own, burning two kids (Betty and Steven) to a crisp. No worries, akin to Spamalot (cross-reference below) they’re not quite dead and readily appear to those from the other side. Fast forward to present day and the hotel’s suites have morphed into apartments, but the grumpy dead still haunt the halls. Two of the second-season residents, Toby (Charlie David, eager to cast spells that yield amorous sack time) and Van (Nadine Heimann, a semi-faithful dyke who dabbles in the occult much to the horror of her Iowan, nude-snorkeling girlfriend, Erin Cummings) use the rituals contained in the BIG RED BOOK, to pry secrets and confessions out of the darkside co-inhabitants of Paradise Found. It’s a good job the climate is so warm, allowing most of the cast their all-bare moments in the sun. Like musicals in search of a song cue, the writers (in this episode Donna Lettow) structure as many scenes as possible to require the buff, curvaceous cast to pull down trunks, exercise nude, frolic and flap (there’s nary a stiffy to be found—Viagra must have been banned from the set) on the beach, in a lawn chair or merely order the smitten about: “Service me,” commands the redone Ambrosius (“call me Bro”) to his impassioned admirer, Cory (Josh Berresford). Sadly, the fun, campiness and potential for manic humour is lost in the avalanche of cliché’s and way over-the-top lines that deluge the script (“Take it upstairs;” “You’re really putting the ‘b’ in subtle.”). Yet, with all the beautifully evil souls that lurk about, surely a simple dialogue exorcism could lift this inferno to the state of “divine.”

With friends like these …

Bryant Chang, Hsiao-huan Chang and Kate Yeung lie down together

Eternal Summer (Sheng xia guang nian)
Leste Chen
Taiwan 2006, 95 min
Two stars

Take a great looking cast (Bryant Chang as Jonathan uses his dreamy eyes and boyish bangs in the long-established tradition of confused but redeemable love-struck heroes with gay abandon; Hsiao-huan Chang—Shane—flexes his painstakingly sculpted physique as required, manfully zipping through his “Brokeback” moment with stoic panache; Kate Yeung’s Carrie, loving love—in turn—both lonely men, spurting tears of loss on demand and, selflessly, bringing the longtime friends to the hardly surprising revelation that it’s friendship with bed privileges that will improve their grades, win the basketball championship and banish all remnants of childhood miseries—real or imagined), first-rate cinematography (Charlie Lam, whose metaphoric train out-of-the-tunnel will send all good psychiatrists back to their Freudian texts) and a thoughtful music track (Jeffrey Cheng’s solo piano lines—sprinkled with just the right splash of reinforcing dissonance—delight as much as the synthesized string bed disappoints) and the chances for a spectacular result are palatable. Unfortunately, Cheng-Ping Hsu’s maudlin script (based on Chi-yao Wang’s novel), enthusiastically allowed to wallow in overly-long looks and empty characterization by director Leste Chen, arrives on the set like an unwanted party guest, refusing to leave until any hope for an emotional punch or subtle insight into the scary trek of teens into sexual adulthood has been drowned in cliché and contrived storytelling. It all adds up to a near criminal waste of talent and time. JWR

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