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Late Afternoon Greg: Notes from Outfest 2009

Sorry for my tardiness with the Afternoon Greg post.

This one is all about Outfest. Since opening night last Thursday, I’ve taken in a dozen movies or shorts programs at the film festival¬† and have really been enjoying myself. It’s so much fun spending so many hours in a darkened movie theater with all these smart and attractive gay men.

Last night, the Fairfax theater was buzzing with activity and filled to capacity with two sold out movies that screened back-to-back and could not have been more different.

The first was the Make the Yuletide Gay, a romantic comedy that I enjoyed as much as I’d hoped I would I laughed a lot and appreciated the energy of the very talented cast. Rob Williams wrote and directed the movie about a college senior (Kieth Jordan) who is an out activist on campus with a serious boyfriend (Adamo Ruggiero) but still in the closet to his parents (. When he goes home for the holidays and his boyfriend – not aware that he’s not out – shows up to surprise him, things get complicated – and very funny.

The cast is terrific with Jordan and Ruggiero adorable together and Derek Long (Three-Day Weekend, Socket) is very funny as the pothead dad Sven Gunnunderson. There is also the very welcome presence of Alison Arngrim of Little House on the Prairie fame (Nellie Oleson!) as a bitchy neighbor and the lovely Hallee Hirsch as her daughter who is far more than she initially seems.

But the real glue that holds the movie together and really gives it spirit and life is the performance of Kelly Keaton as the the Midwestern mother Anya Gunnunderson. She is just a hoot and was my favorite character and performance in the movie. When she gets emotional – as if she had just received a diamond ring -¬† on Christmas morning because her hubby has given her a cheese hat, I knew I’d love this woman forever.

After the screening, Williams told the audience “I just wanted to come up with kind of a fun twist on the whole coming out story and we wanted to make a Christmas film because there really aren’t many gay Christmas films out there.”

The film has been booked into countless more film festivals but can still be seen at Outfest at an encore screening Saturday, July 18 at noon at the Fairfax. It will be out on DVD in time for the holidays.

 Dale Dymkoski in Lucky Bastard

***** So the Yuletide gang left the theater and we felt all warm and fuzzy. That changed just a few minutes into the next movie, Lucky Bastard, a dark drama about an architect named Rusty (Patrick Tatten) who hooks up with a gorgeous hustler named Denny (Dale Dymkoski) while his boyfriend is out of town.

Denny just turns Rusty’s life upside down with wild sex and his crystal meth habit. Let me say this: Lucky Bastard has something that has lacked in a lot of the Outfest movies I’ve seen this year: graphic and believable and sexy sex scenes. They were shot so close and done so beautifully and it just dawned on me during the film that I had not seen this pretty much at all.

As you watch the film, you root for Rusty to get tired of Denny and banish him from his life but you also can understand why he does not. Dymkoski is very seductive and very convincing. He is key to making the movie work and to it giving the audience a reaistic glimpse into how this kind of thing happens.

I was in a similar situation back in 1993 when I, completely naive about drugs, started dating someone similar to the Denny character and felt it very difficult to pull away even after I realized he was hooked on crystal meth. It was a very educational experience and I was fortunate to have gotten through it unscathed. Believe me, filmmaker Everett Lewis got it completely right.

Leading men Tatten and Dymkoski both attended the screening and answered questions from the audience. Tatten said he was drawn to the role because “it’s a powerful piece because these subjects transcend any sexual preference anyone may have regardless if you are gay or straight or bisexual.”

Tatten is straight by the way which makes his performance in the sex scenes all the more impressive!

Tonight, it’s just one movie for me: Greek Pete at the DGA which screens at DGA 1 at 9:45 p.m. To see what else is showing at Outfest go the the festival’s website.

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