Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone is having a nice Thanksgiving.  And just in case you aren't, click on the video above.  (Make sure your sound isn't muted.)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Family arrival

As usual, we are hosting Thanksgiving at our house again this year.  We are expecting Spouse's sister and her husband and their 3 kids (ages 15, 17, and 21) late tonight.  Then on Thurs we are expecting Spouse's mom, brother and sister-in-law.  So that means 5 people tonight and Wed night, and 8 people Thurs night, plus Spouse & me.  Thank goodness we have 4 full bathrooms and a powder room!

Oddly Spouse did not take off work tomorrow.  I think he was concerned there would be no one in his office/dept if he took off too.  I am also working tomorrow.  So I'm not sure what his family will do tomorrow with both of us at work.  They've been here plenty of times so they know how to get to the grocery store and outlet malls, but its supposed to rain and be quite rainy so I'm not sure that will be an appealing idea.

Now that the "kids" are older I actually enjoy having them visit even more.  All 3 of them are very smart, keep up with current events, and have a good sense of humor so we are sure to have a good time, as we always do.

Spouse and his sister will do the majority of the cooking (turkeys, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, mac-n-cheese) and I will make my usual sweet potato shuffle and corn casserole.  Spouse's sister-in-law will bring the pies on Thurs.

Here's hoping that your Thanksgiving and holiday travel go smoothly and are enjoyable for you.

Monday, November 25, 2013

They do, and they did

Our good friends Rick & Nick got married in Washington DC in 2010.  At that time DE had no civil unions or marriage equality.  Now that DE has marriage equality starting this year, their 2010 marriage in DC was automatically recognized in DE.

This past Sat was the 10th anniversary of the date they met, so they decided to celebrate their 10th anniversary by having a celebration/party.  Those in attendance included some of Nick's family from TX and CO, friends from NY, and local friends like Thad & Steven and Spouse & me.  The ceremony was held at the local GLBT community center.  It was short, simple, and sweet, and was followed by food, music and dancing.
We had a very nice time and were very happy for our friends.  Rick & Nick were the 1st people we met when we moved to DE.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Birthday plans

As I mentioned in Monday's post, my birthday is coming up in 2 weeks on Dec 7.  This will be my 50th birthday, a milestone birthday indeed.

My husband told me a few weeks ago that my 50th birthday present was going to be a trip to Paris!  

I'm so excited!!

I've always wanted to go to Paris.  The idea of drinking coffee and nibbling on croissants in an open-air cafe, walking the cobblestone streets, perusing the famous Paris Flea Market, the many museums, the Seine, the Eiffel Tower - all of it just sounds so lovely and romantic.  So Spouse contacted the travel agent who helped him plan my 40th birthday trip to Las Vegas and she helped him put together this trip.

We'll be flying out of Dulles International Airport (not far from where our family lives) on a non-stop to Paris on the evening of Thurs Dec 5.  We arrive early in the morning on Fri Dec 6.  We're staying at the Hotel Concorde Montparnasse which has American-style bathrooms, views of the Eiffel Tower, and is very close to the subway.  

We also have 2 day passes for the Hop On/Hop Off Tour Bus which should give us an
excellent overview of the city and help us decide where we want to spend more time.

On my actual birthday, Sat Dec 7, we are going on a Seine river cruise and also having dinner at one of the Eiffel Tower restaurants.

Sun Dec 8 is our last full day.  I know there are loads of amazing museums but to be perfectly honest, a little of that goes a long way for me.  So while we may spend a few hours doing that, I want to have lots of time to see Paris.  Of course we've looked at some websites, but if you've been to Paris, I'd love to know your favorite places, or places you think would be of interest to me, someone who has never been there before.  We leave in the morning on Mon Dec 9 and because of the time difference arrive back at Dulles in the early afternoon, giving us plenty of time to drive back to DE.

I've already ordered and received my laminated, foldable Paris map, downloaded a translator app on my iPhone, and set up a special plan with my carrier to be able to use my iPhone in Paris.

Spouse has decided his "color story" for the trip is going to be black, grey, and beige.  LOL!!  I have no idea what clothes I'll be taking but I DO know that I will be wearing comfortable walking shoes.  And I'm bringing scarves, because it just seems like one should be wearing a scarf in Paris.

This is going to be AMAZING!!!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Birthday celebration weekend

I have known my good friend Kathryn since 1988.  I call her my "sistah from another mistah" because we are so much alike, despite the fact that she is a straight African American woman and I am a gay white man.  Her birthday is 11/27.

I have known my friend Wendy since 1999.  She has a great sense of humor and we always have a blast.  Her birthday is 12/5. 

At 1 point Kathryn and Wendy and I all worked together in the same dept of the same company.  My birthday is 12/7.

Since all 3 of us have birthdays within a 2 week span of time, and since these will be 'milestone' birthdays, we decided to celebrate our birthdays together this past weekend. 

Kathryn arrived from VA at about 3:30.  We hung out and talked until 5pm then went to dinner.  None of us had eaten lunch so we were all game for an early dinner.  We went to Pig + Fish and all 3 of us loved our meals.  However, before dinner we ordered cocktails.  I'm a Cosmo guy for sure, but was thinking that I would have something different that night.  Hmmm... maybe a dirty martini.  Very dirty.  Filthy, if you will.  When the waiter asked Kathryn what she'd like to drink, she ordered a dirty martini.  "Really dirty" she clarified.  "Filthy!!" I added, and we all laughed.  Then I explained to Kathryn that although I usually order a cosmo, I wanted something different tonight and had decided on a filthy dirty martini.

It was a mild evening so after dinner we walked down to the boardwalk and looked at the ocean.  Then on our drive back home Wendy called and said she was almost there.  (She had come from NJ.)  We greeted each other with big, hearty hugs and then went inside to catch up.  Spouse joined in our conversation for a few hours but eventually took Marvin and went to bed around 11:30.  The 3 of us continued talking and laughing, completely unaware of the time.  We decided to have a birthday toast, then take photos of ourselves together.

After taking the 1st photo of me and Wendy, Kathryn let us see the photo.  The way the overhead light shined on my face and hair made it look like I had a giant forehead.  When I saw the photo I said "Oh no - why do I have the forehead of Glenn Close??"  We all burst into laughter.  On our 2nd attempt at the photo Kathryn asked me to tilt my head to block the reflection of the light fixture in the mirror behind us.  I didn't know that was her reason so I asked "Why do you keep asking me to tilt my head like I'm posing in an Olan Mills Portrait Studios photo?"  Again we burst into laughter.  Then Wendy got down onto 1 knee and propped her chin on her fist, a very familiar Olan Mills pose of children.  More laughter.  
Then I pulled a flower from a vase and pretended to lovingly give it to Wendy.  Even more laughter!  I could hardly breath!!  We didn't go to bed until 2am.

Sun morning the 4 of us had coffee and talked, then walked a few blocks to a diner for a late breakfast, then a walking tour through downtown.  Eventually it was time for them to pack up and head back home.  There were lots of hugs and promises to stay in touch more frequently. 

I believe we will.

Friday, November 15, 2013


I wasn't looking for a jacket.  In fact, I don't normally even shop at the Timberland factory store, but Spouse was looking for a comfortable pair of shoes so we ducked in.

I saw this jacket which really looked striking to me.  This photo is terrible, but I got frustrated with Spouse not listening to me about how to take the photo.

I liked the ivory color with the contrasting black detail.  Most outerwear for men is black, navy, or some other dark color which I find depressing in the winter. I prefer lighter, brighter colors.  Plus I already have a black nylon jacket and a navy wool jacket.  This fabric looks kind of like leather from a distance but is actually more like neoprene. 

I looked at the price tag on the cuff which read $128.  This is a lot more than I would pay for a jacket.  But then I saw the sign on the top of the rack which read "70% off".  I used the calculator on my iPhone to determine this striking jacket would cost me less than $40.  Score!!!

I pondered the situation for a minute ("Do I really need another jacket?") but decided that since I really, really liked it, it fit well, and I'd probably kick myself later if I didn't buy it, I went ahead and bought it.

I think its really cool!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Film festival - day 4

In the Name Of...
Festival synopsis:
n the Name Of is the captivating and emotionally powerful story of a charismatic Catholic priest struggling to reconcile his deep-rooted faith with the desires he has long fought to suppress. Father Adam is the spiritual head of a small parish in rural Poland where he also oversees a center for troubled teenage boys. Playing football and joining in manual
construction work, T-shirted Adam leads with a stern hand and a sympathetic ear, earning the respect of his charges. The atmosphere of danger and violence
permeating the young men’s lives and actions never truly disappears, however; it is merely kept in precarious check by the devout priest. Against this backdrop, Father Adam’s personal temptations emerge. Among the young men under Father Adam’s supervision is wild, Lukasz, a nearly mute local. As the mutual connection and friendship develops between the pair, Adam finds his growing attraction to the troubled Luckasz difficult to resist. Director Szumowska has crafted a beautifully textured and visually powerful work that takes a humane, non-judgemental look at the contradictions of Catholicism and sexuality. The film is an engaging portrait of confused emotions, longing and loneliness, and leaves us with the hope that, in accepting our failings, there is a chance for
happiness and self-acceptance.
My review:
This was a good film but could have benefited from better editing.  It showed the unnatural loneliness that plagues priests who take a vow of chastity.  It also explores the chasm between Catholicism and homosexuality against a backdrop of beautiful Poland countryside.  4 out of 5 stars.
Watch the trailer here.

Festival synopsis:
It’s the wedding day of Radim and pregnant Tereza. As the family walks into church, Dominik, Radim’s adolescent son from his 1st marriage, breaks his glasses. They make a quick visit to the optometry shop next to the church. The optometrist, Ales, recognizes
Radim and the suspense begins. Ales has his reasons for crashing the wedding reception, held at the family’s large and beautiful country estate. Radim pretends not to know Ales, nor the meaning of the mysterious gift he presents. Ales is intent on telling Tereza the tragic story of the past that her new husband is hiding. When she confronts Radim, he shrugs it off. Meanwhile, Ales and young Dominik become acquainted over a mutual interest in photography. Ales lends the youth a vintage Nikon. As Radim watches Dominik with the camera, dark memories of his past surface. Honeymoon will keep you in suspense until the very end.
My review:
This was an interesting film with beautiful cinematography.  When Ales crashes the reception I was hoping he would reveal a passed affair with the lead male character Radim, played by the gorgeous Stanislov Majer.  Instead, Ales is there to warn Radim's bride that she is not marrying the man she thinks he is.  This is the story of the lasting effects of bullying, told from a tender yet heart-broken perspective.  4 out of 5 stars.
Watch the trailer here.

Pit Stop
Festival synopsis:
Recover ing from an ill-fated affair with a married man, Gabe finds solace in the relationship he maintains with his ex-wife and daughter. On the other side of town, Ernesto evades life at home with his current live-in ex-boyfriend by spending much of his spare time in the hospital with an ailing past love. Impervious to the monotony of their blue-collar world, they maintain an unwavering yearning for romance. Far from the gay
centers of the world, director Yen Tan explores the complex and oft-forgotten lives of gay men in small-town America. The understated, contemplative nature of Ernesto and Gabe's story is told from the perspective of an observer, allowing the audience - even if just for a moment - to understand what it means to be an outsider, capturing the emotional isolation the two men have grown accustomed to is captured in a subtle, optimistic, poetic fashion while avoiding melodrama. In a refreshingly quiet film, Tan’s protagonists never try to run away from their relatively hollow surroundings, but opt to fill life’s deepest voids with their tenacious confidence. 
My review:
For me this film showed two men, both of whom had been hurt by unsuccessful relationships, who still believed in the chance of happiness despite what they've been through.  Occasionally funny and often thoughtful, this film was enjoyable to experience.  4 out of 5 stars.
Watch the trailer here.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Film festival - day 3

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?
Festival synopsis:
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? is a whimsical romantic comedy that centers on two Taiwanese couples who are trying to navigate the rocky road of love amid emotional and sexual upheaval. Affable optician Weichung is married to office clerk Feng. The couple has one child and Feng yearns to have another. But Weichung is restless and unfulfilled—and he’s not the only one. His impulsive sister, Mandy, is engaged to sad sack San-San but dreams of becoming a soap star. Weichung’s life grows more complicated when it becomes clear that his past is far less straight than he lets on. At his sister’s wedding rehearsal dinner he crosses paths with Stephen, a flamboyant old friend who encourages Weichung to return to the gay life he had before getting married. When a handsome young flight attendant ventures into Weichung’s optical shop, it’s love at first—or near—sight, and although Weichung tries to fight his urges, he can only hold out for so long. Director Chen brings a light touch to the proceedings, peppering the action with pop culture references and comedic set pieces that result in a delicious cinematic confection that is never too sweet.
My review:
I loved this film!  I felt it hit all the marks: well-paced, sweet, romantic, realistic, funny, and well-acted.  This is a delightful film that tells the story of not being authentic but also shows the consequences of doing so.  5 out of 5 stars. 
Watch the trailer here.

Festival synopsis:
An astutely crafted 1985 period drama set in the gay Mecca of San Francisco, Test
lovingly portrays this uniquely exciting and harrowing era as young lithe
Frankie navigates gay life in the city alongside the travails of being an understudy in a modern dance company and his evolving relationship with fellow hunky dancer Todd. As the newest and youngest member of an exciting contemporary dance company, Frankie faces a variety of challenges including the homophobic choreographer who commands him to “dance like a man!” When one of his fellow dancers is injured, Frankie must perform in his place. Todd, an established dancer in the same company and the bad-boy to Frankie’s innocent, helps Frankie prepare. It’s the classic test of skill and character. But a very different test looms on the horizon for both of them. As Frankie and Todd’s
friendship deepens, they navigate a world full of risk... and hope. Breathtaking new choreography, original music and lush cinematography showcase the natural beauty of San Francisco. Accompanying the recent burst of brilliant documentaries on the
AIDS epidemic, Test is an extraordinar y stor y full of nostalgia and
wistful memories about a complicated time. 
My review:
I enjoyed this film for its story, gripping music, and inventive choreography.  (Actor  Matthew Risch was also VERY enjoyable to watch shirtless most of the time.)  However the film really missed a great opportunity with mid-1980s styling.  There were no references to iconic 1980s clothing or hairstyles in this film,, and the main character is seen several times with a messenger bag which nobody had in the 80s.  4 out of 5 stars.
Watch the trailer here.
I Am Divine
Festival synopsis:
Harris Glenn Milstead might have seemed like an unlikely candidate to become an international icon. Growing up out of step with mainstream 1950s American culture and hailing from suburban Baltimore of all places, Glenn pursued his loves of food, horticulture, and hairstyling while daydreaming of a more glamorous life. But by the mid-1960s,
Glenn had teamed up with a maverick filmmaker-in-the-making named John Waters, and that daydream became a reality. In the process, a fierce, unrepentant, and larger-than-life new persona named Divine was born. Jeffrey Schwarz’s loving and definitive
documentary portrait of Divine takes us on the roller-coaster ride of a life like no other. At the heart of I Am Divine is intimate, behind-the-scenes insight into Divine’s lifelong
collaboration with Waters, from the early underground films, Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble, to the mainstream breakthrough of Hairspray. But Schwarz also fleshes out Divine’s private life, not to mention enough overlapping careers for ten lifetimes—a movie star, to be sure, but also a Cockette, a recording artist, a disco diva, and a live performer that turned the drag world on its head. Schwarz’s expertly crafted film is a warm, emotional, and hilarious love letter to one of Baltimore’s true originals.

My review:
I found this documentary to be delightful.  There were interviews with the usual suspects like John Waters and Mink Stole, along with lots of clips from Divine's film and concert performances and interviews.  4 out of 5 stars.
Watch the trailer here.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Film festival - day 2

10% Shorts
Festival synopsis:
1.The Belgium Caper
Muriel is nearly 40 and still childless. Despite the misgivings of her girlfriend, Emmanuelle, she decides to take an emergenc y trip to the Belgians (neighbors of French people in Europe) where in vitro fertilization is legal. Thus begins a tragicomic journey.
My review: 
This short was mildly comical in need of better editing.  3 out of 5 stars.
Watch the trailer here.

2. Foremost in my Mind
Gail Marquis, an Olympic medalist (Montreal, 1976), met feisty Audrey Smaltz when the Olympian was 43 and Smaltz, a former model, was 61. They had both had earlier relationships, Marquis with women and Smaltz with men, but none lasted until they met each other and everything clicked. Their story will resonate with the late bloomers among us as it tracks the course of these women’s incredible lives.
My review:
This short showed 2 very successful women who meet and begin a relationship 'later in life'.  Interesting and enjoyable.  4 out of 5 stars. 
Watch the short here.

3. More Than Ever
Follow a 54-year love story between William Campbell and John Hilton, starting with their meeting in an NYC bathhouse in 1957, up to the present day, when an illness presents them with new struggles and an appreciation of their very special bond. 
My review:
This sweet and touching love story should win everyone over.  Its hard to imagine being with someone for 54 years!  4 out of 5 stars. 
Watch the short here.

4. The Kiss
After an alcohol-induced night out, Emilia, 20, wakes up in a strange apartment and that’s just the start of the strange events that follow.
My review:
I found this short to be a bit tedious and sophomoric.  2 out of 5 stars. 
Watch the trailer here.
5. P.D.A.
An urban gay couple disputes their very different views on holding hands in public, which leads to a much bigger exploration of their relationship.
My review:
This short was current and funny with an unexpected ending.  5 out of 5 stars. 
No trailer found.
6.  Wini & George
An unlikely friendship will change one young boy’s life forever. When George, a shy
8-year-old outcast, first meets Wini, his 75-year-old reclusive neighbor, she immediately frightens him. But soon enough, these two realize that they have more in common with each other than they do with the rest of the world.
My review:
Neighbor Wini understands that sometimes little boys like to play with pink stuffed ponies. Sweet and well done.  4 out of 5 stars.
No trailer found.
7. Spooners
After convincing his husband to retire their lumpy, old futon, Nelson is forced to come out in a spectacular way while shopping for a new bed at a mattress store. This charming comedy was directed by former Philadelphian Bryan Horch.
My review: 
This well-paced and smartly funny short had me laughing out loud at some points.  5 out of 5 stars.
Watch the trailer here.

In Hiding
Festival synopsis:

Janina is a young Polish woman living a lonely life with the father that raised her following her mother’s suicide. Towards the end of WWII, she is quite concerned upon discovering that her father agreed to hide the daughter of his Jewish friend. She quickly
becomes fascinated with the fun-loving Ester, a beautiful ballerina, who dreams of resuming a happy life when the war ends. When Janina’s father gets arrested, she is left to continue hiding Ester, and they live in nearly total isolation. Loneliness and fear bring
them closer together with increasing intimacy. When the war ends, Janina keeps news of the liberation from Ester, as her erotic fascination gives way to an obsessive desire to keep Ester to herself at all cost. In Hiding is a universal story with a unique, surprising twist. It is a story of human desperation with raw emotion that can make us renounce all moral inhibitions and the potential horrors that result. The two actresses give riveting performances that will linger with you long after the film ends. 
My review:
This film felt like it was 4 hours long, probably because too much time was spent setting the stage.  The film  took on a very dark and disturbing twist as Janina's obssession with Ester leads to murdering a nosey neighbor and Ester's fiance.  When the film was over I tried to decipher what point the filmmaker was trying to get across.  Human desperation?  The effect of war on people?  I did not find this film to be enjoyable or entertaining, although the actresses were believable in their roles.  2 out of 5 stars. 
Watch the trailer here.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Film Festival - day 1

Who's Afraid of Vagina Wolf?
Festival synopsis:
At her 40th birthday party, Anna wears her trademark Vagina outfit: a full size, bright pink, poofy costume, shaped like a large vulva!! In her 20s, she made several successful short films, but now life is dismal. She lives in a friend’s garage and is quickly wearing out her welcome. The only work she gets is dancing in her Vagina costume at small venues screening her old films. At one such event, she meets the sleek lesbian, Katia, who motivates her to make a film based on Virginia Wolf. Anna is smitten. She quickly writes
a screenplay, casts her longtime lesbian friends (Guinevere Turner and Carrie Preston of
True Blood) and recruits a grassroots film crew. As filming proceeds, Anna’s neurotic insecurities blossom out of control, causing cast and crew to walk out, and her eviction  from the garage. Homeless and down, she is surprised by the appearance of the one person  who can give her unconditional love. With renewed self-esteem, she edits her film, reconnects with her cast and crew, and is able to accept herself and the love she’s been longing for. This is a funny, quirky, sexy romp that will surely make you laugh and warm your heart.
My review:
This film's theme was familiar: the main girl is obssessed with a girl who's not interested in her and ignores another girl that's really interested in her.  This film also delves into the concept of whether or not someone can have personal success and career success at the same time, or if one must preclude the other.  While this film was entertaining, the 'story' wasn't fresh and I didn't find any of the actors' performances to be strong.  Oh, and the actress playing Katia had the most annoying fake accent.  I still don't know what country she was supposed to be from.  3 out of 5 stars.

No trailer found.

I'm So Excited!
Festival synopsis:
A psychic, a hit-man, a dominatrix, a crooked business person and a soap star (no, it is not the start to bad a joke), these are among the passengers aboard a disaster-prone aircraft in Pedro Almodóvar’s bawdy, mischievous, mescaline-laced new comedy of bad manners. When a Spanish flight heading for Mexico City is found to have defective landing gear, the crew decides to forego panicking in favor of a mile-high party. Presiding over the party is a trio of flamboyant male flight attendants, squeezed into slightly overstretched
uniforms, who manage to keep the banter lively: Joserra, a high-strung motor-mouth incapable of telling a lie; skinny tequila- and tablet-fueled Ulloa; and the overweight and
repressed Fajas, who carries with him a portable altar at which he prays for passengers’ souls. With a candy-colored exuberance that only an Almódovar film can have, get ready for a one-way ticket to binge-drinking, pill-popping and other such things people shouldn’t do with their seatbelts fastened. It is going to be a bumpy, but very fun ride. 
My review:
This film had all the makings of a hilarious comedy, but somehow never reached its goal.  The best part of the film is when the gay male flight attendants decide to put on a 'performance' to distract the passengers from anticipating a crash landing, by lip-synching and dancing to the Pointer Sisters' song "I'm So Excited!".  This film needed 3 or 4 more scenes like that.  Still the film was entertaining and had lots of quick, humorous moments.  3 out of 5 stars.

Free Fall
Festival synopsis:
In this moving and sexy drama, Marc is shaken to the core when he meets fellow police officer, Kay, on a training course and begins to develop feelings for him. When Kay asks to be transferred to Marc’s unit, the latter’s well-arranged life begins to sink into chaos. Torn between his love for his pregnant girlfriend Bettina and the rush of a completely new
experience, his life spins increasingly out of control. He soon finds himself estranged more and more from his family, but running away with Kay is not an option. Then one day Kay disappears without warning and leaves no forwarding address. It dawns on Marc that
his absence has ripped a gaping hole in his life. With his situation in free fall, Marc can no longer satisfy ever yone’s expectations - least of all his own. Director and co-writer
Stephan Lacant showcases the peculiar blend of homoeroticism and homophobia that exists in a mostly male environment like a police force. Most refreshing of all, no one is an out-and-out villain in the film, except perhaps a society that hinders people like Marc from
being their true and fully realized selves. 
My review:
This film's theme is certainly not new, but it was told in a modern way.  I thought the acting was very good.  Marc's struggle was aptly communicated without words and without over-acting.  Kay's head-over-heels feelings for Marc seemed genuine and idealistic.  My only fault with this film, and many with the same theme, is that it portrays a man who seems totally straight who is "turned" gay by seductive lover, when gay people know that is not how it happens.  The film would be more accurate to have shown Marc stealing glances at hot guys a few times, then reprimanding himself and suppressing his feelings, and THEN being seduced.  Despite this, the film was well done.  4 out of 5 stars.

Stranger by the Lake
Festival synopsis:
n a picturesque lakeside spot in southern France, men sunbathe and hunt for anonymous sexual encounters in the nearby forest. Handsome young romantic Franck finds himself striking up a friendship with obese Henri, but his eye and libido are more tickled by the 70s-porn-mustache-sporting and dangerously lethal Michel. One evening, Franck witnesses Michel drowning one of his conquests, which he discovers does little to negate his
attraction. Alain Guiraudie’s idiosyncratic, steamy mix of the comic and the tragic in this existential thriller was one of the most sexually explicit surprises at Cannes this year. Part beguiling love story, part noir murder mystery, Stranger by the Lake depicts an idyllic mini-universe where murderer and silent witness have to abide by a set of peculiar codes
and rituals. While its graphic scenes of gay sex are what will grab headlines, what is most impressive is the film’s unique ambiance of eerie atmospherics that are at once crisp and observant, and oddly dreamlike, or nightmarish. It is a provocative and accomplished effort by one of France’s most overlooked auteurs.
My review:
This film was shot entirely outdoors, with only 2 locations: the shore of the lake where gay men come to nude sunbath, and a wooded area adjacent to the shore where the men would 'cruise' and hook-up.  The scenery was pretty, the acting was good, and the story was compelling but unfortunately incomplete.  Franck becomes infatuated with a good-looking man named Michel at the lake and is determined to hook up with him. Despite witnessing Michel drown another man in the lake, Franck continues to pursue Michel.  No motive is ever given for the drowning.  Franck wants to have a relationship but Michel just wants a casual thing.  When Franck witnesses Michel murder 2 other men, he goes into hiding in the woods until dark.  The film ends abruptly without suggesting whether or not Franck gets out alive or not.  There is no closure to the story, and rather than leaving the ending up to the individual to ponder, the viewer is left wondering why the film  has no ending.  There is a LOT of male nudity and some actual sex.  3 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Film Festival - 1/2 day

Breaking the Girls
Festival synopsis: 
Beauty and brains are a lethal combination in this sexy psychological thriller by director, Jamie Babbit (Itty Bitty Titty Committee and But I am a Cheerleader).  The film centers on Sara, a twenty-something, ambitious, law student, who is supplementing her legal scholarship with a bartending gig. When fellow classmate Brooke sees Sara stealing from the tip jar, she ensures that the gorgeous strawberry-blond bartender is fired. On the same night, Sara meets Alex (Madeline Zima, Californication), a wild trust-fund beauty, who offers Sara a shoulder to cry on. As the friendship develops, the sexual sparks prove  irresistible. As they discuss what to do about Brooke, Alex tells Sara about Nina, her gold-digging stepmother. When Alex casually suggests to Sara that all their problems would be solved if they killed each other's enemies, Sara shrugs off the suggestion as a joke, but  then, somebody turns up dead. Reminiscent of Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train, Babbit has cooked up a plot so deliciously twisted and over-the-top, that once it’s in motion, it’s not clear where it’s going to lead.
My review:
Having already enjoyed "Itty Bitty Titty Committee" and "But I'm a Chearleader", I figured I'd enjoy this film too.  Actually, I believe this film was my favorite of the 3.  Very much like a Hitchcock film, the story has so many twists and turns that one has to continually recalibrate how one thinks the story will turn out.  Production values were very high and I enjoyed it a lot.  4 out of 5 stars.  Oh, and scruffy-faced, hairy-chested Shawn Ashmore is shirtless a lot.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Film Festival time

Its that time of year when I get really excited about the Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival which starts tonight!

This independent film festival is put on by our local film society and is sponsored in part by a grant from the DE Division of the Arts and advertising by local businesses.  Film screenings begin this evening and run through Sunday evening.  I've scheduled myself off work for the next 4 days to enjoy as many films as I can.

I love independent films because they are not made to appeal to the mass media or to make tons of money (a la Disney films).  They are made to tell stories; stories that don't always end happily, stories of people you may see but not notice, and stories where the 'good guy' doesn't always win.  They're often unpredictable, heart-wrenching, tender, touching, funny, sad, and memorable.  Although not a necessity, this festival's selections are always particularly relatable to me because they have lots of LGBT-themed films.

As I've done in the past, I will endeavor to see as many films as I can squeeze into the 4 1/2 days and will provide you with a synopsis of the films I've seen the day after I see them.  Some of them may become available at an 'art house' theatre if you live in a city that has one, while others may become available on Netflix in the future.

Curious to see if some films from past festivals are available now on Netflix?  Click on the tag 'RB Indie Film Festival' at the bottom of this post to see my synopsis of several previous years, and then type the film titles into the search bar on the Netflix site.

Monday, November 04, 2013


About a month ago I wrote about being filmed for a commercial.  The real estate team of which I am a member filmed a commercial with some of our clients that will appear on a local TV station in Nov, Dec, and Jan.

Now that all the edits and tweaks are completed, I can share the commercial with you now:

Can you find me?

I'm in 1 'live action' scene and in the group scene at the end.

What do you think?  Would you list or buy a home from us?