Back Soon

TLA Releasing,

Rob Williams

Windham Beacham, Matthew Montgomery, Maggie Eilertson, Artie O'Daly, Bret Wolfe, Kelly Keaton

Unrated, 83 minutes

Surveillance 24/7

Wolfe Video,

Paul Oremlan

Kevin Sampson

Tom Harper, Dawn Steele, Sean Brenden Brosnan, Simon Callow, Julian Date, Michael Elwyn, Nicholas Jones, William Osborne, Ian Rose

Unrated, 88 minutes


Naked Boys Singing

TLA Releasing,

Robert Schrock, Troy Christian

Stephen Bates, Marie Cain , Shelly Markham, David Pevsner, Mark Savage, Robert Schrock, Rayme Sciaroni, Trance Thompson, Bruce Vilanch, Mark Winkler

Andrew Blake Ames, Jason Currie, Jaymes Hodges, Joseph Keane, Anthony Manough, Joe Souza, Kevin Alexander Stea, Salvatore Vassallo, Vincent Zamora

Unrated, 95 minutes


You Belong To Me

Wolfe Video

Sam Zalutsky

Daniel Sauli, Patti D'Arbanville, Heather Alicia Simms, Sherman Howard, Julien Lucas, Kevin Corstange

Unrated, 82 minutes

2 Minutes

TLA Releasing,

Robert Gaston

Michael Molina, Jessica Graham, Peter Stickles, J. Matthew Miller, Jennifer Layne Park, Mei-Yann Hwang, Joe Almanza, Grant Barker

Unrated, 68 minutes

New Releases And More
by Michael D. Klemm
Posted Online June, 2008
A shorter version of Surveillance 24/7 appeared in abOUT, July, 2008


If anyone had told me twenty years ago, that someday there would be so many gay films that I wouldn't have time to watch them all, I would have laughed myself into a stupor. But, as they say, times change. The following films are various new releases, as well as several screener DVDs that have been stacked up on my TV for a few months now. Having this website, in addition to my print gigs with Outcome and abOUT, is allowing me to write more short pieces about the myriad films that are out there without having to worry about limited space considerations. And I do like to get the word out about as many films as I can.

When it comes to reviewing big budget Hollywood extravaganzas, I can be merciless when the movies are bad. But small independent films are another matter. These often-low budget films are usually labors of love for the filmmakers who, obviously, do not have the resources of a big studio at their disposal. In fact, these films in which the writer, director and sometimes the star is the same person, would certainly be candidates to test the validity of Andre Bazin's classic auteur theory of film criticism. Of course, a bad film is a bad film (Check out Ben and Arthur or Visions of Sugarplums someday). But what about the ones that aren't bona-fide masterpieces yet still have their points of interest? The ones that aren't great but don't suck either? The following films all fall into this category. Some of them were quite entertaining, some engaged my attention in spurts, some began splendidly and then fizzled out, and some are guilty pleasures.

First up is Back Soon. Re-uniting the lead actors from his previous Long Term Relationship, writer/director Rob Williams explores the attraction between two straight men who unexpectedly fall in love. Logan (Windham Beacham) is mourning the loss of his wife and has decided to sell their home. Idyllic, yet painful, memories of their life together flash before his eyes in every room and he has decided to move on. Gay indie regular Matthew Montgomery (Gone But Not Forgotten, Socket) plays Guillermo, a reformed drug dealer who has suffered a near-death experience. He is drawn to Logan's house because it has such great "vibes" and decides to purchase it.

The two men become friendly and hang out together a lot. They share a strange connection but we don't know what it is yet. One night, Logan's car breaks down and he spends the night on Guillermo's couch. Logan, who sleepwalks by the way, dreams(?) that he sees his wife inviting him to their former bedroom and stumbles into Guillermo's bed. But, rather than kick Logan out of the room, Guillermo returns his kiss and they make love. The next morning Logan doesn't want to talk about it and flees.
Logan returns a few days later with a pizza and, in perhaps the film's best scene, they sit on opposite ends of Guillermo's couch - with the pizza box between them - and awkwardly try to figure out what's going on. "It was weird, but... good, wasn't it?" Logan asks. "Why don't we just eat," Guillermo finally says, "and see what happens." Oddly enough, love blossoms between them, much to the chagrin of Logan's angry brother-in-law and to the confusion of Guillermo's gay best friend, who had previously noted the brewing sexual tension.

So far so good, but then the film takes a really weird turn at Alburquerque for its last act, entering the realms of the spiritual and the metaphysical as we learn the real reason for their attraction. It is my guess that the director wouldn't appreciate a spoiler and so I won't dwell on specifics here, except to say that methinks that Williams has seen a few too many movies like Ghost.

Movies are often about suspending belief and I can usually make the weird leaps of faith required while watching, for example, some of Ingmar Bergman's films; the climax of his Cries and Whispers keeps coming to mind. Not many directors can weave the fantastic into a realistic plot and make it work, though Williams and his actors certainly try and they get an "A" for effort.

Lovers of films like Ghost and City of Angels will probably be more receptive than I was. Hamlet said that "there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy" but this reviewer has an easier time buying that when the setting is far more theatrical. Yet Back Soon is a very nicely acted, and filmed, character study and I thought the two leads were terrific together; they beautifully conveyed their confusion, their awkwardness, and finally their complete surrender to the situation that they have found themselves in. At the very least, you will be charmed by watching these two attractive men fall believably in love.

More On Rob Williams:
Long-Term Relationship
3-Day Weekend
Make The Yuletide Gay
The Men Next Door
Out To Kill

Matthew Montgomery also appears in
Long-Term Relationship
Pornography: A Thriller

Flight Of The Cardinal

Windham Beacham also appears in
Long-Term Relationship

Artie O'Daly, Jeremy Lucas, Bret Wolfe,
Joel Bryant also appear in:
Long-Term Relationship

Kelly Keaton also appears in:
Make The Yuletide Gay
Long-Term Relationship


A gay teacher becomes embroiled in a scandal involving the British Royal Family in Surveillance 24/7, an unusual and intriguing thriller from director Paul Oremland (Like It Is). Adam Blane (Tom Harper) has just tricked with a mysterious stranger. When he realizes that he has taken the man's cell phone by mistake (it's the same model as his) he returns to the apartment in time to witness two masked men leaving with a (presumably) dead body.

The next day, while reading the tabloids, Adam discovers that the man he went home with was none other than Jack Raven (Sean Brenden Brosnan - Pierce Brosnan's son), a famous society photographer - and the scion of powerful media mogul Lord Raven. His trick is presumed to have drowned in a boating accident the night before. Lord Raven is a paranoid who films everything and he has even planted cameras in his son's apartment. Adam was the last person to see Jack Raven alive and, because he still has Jack's cell phone, his every movement is being tracked by the countless surveillance cameras that are everywhere throughout the streets of London by both Raven's television network and by the British Secret Service.

When he does realize that his life is in danger, he contacts Amy (Dawn Steele), an old college friend. Amy is a reporter for Lord Raven's network and was once in love with Adam until she caught him with another man. She senses that she might have a career making story here while Lord Raven exploits their past relationship, hoping that Adam will lead him to a damaging film believed to have been in his son's possession when he disappeared. Apparently this film contains a secret so damning that it could topple the Monarchy. It seems that Jack Raven may have been romantically involved with the Prince.
Adam searches for answers and his clandestine meetings with an enigmatic figure, who is named "The Saint" on Raven's cell phone, provide the film's most provocative scenes. Fans of The X Files will be reminded of Agent Mulder's shadowy meetings with John Neville's memorable "Well Manicured Man" The Saint is played by out British stage and film legend Simon Callow (Amadeus, Shakespeare in Love and Four Weddings and a Funeral are amongst his many prestigious credits). "If Mr. Clinton had a man of my caliber in his retinue," the Saint declares, "that dress would have been immaculate by first night." The Saint was the Prince's personal attendant. He procured for him and introduced him to Raven. "Every soap opera has its queer, nowadays," he muses. "Why should the world's longest soap opera be any different?" The only reason that Adam is still alive, he insists, is because they think he has the incriminating film or that he can lead them to it.

For the most part, this is a very compelling thriller, well acted by a mix of newcomers and veteran British actors. Surveillance 24/7 is told almost entirely through footage from surveillance cameras and cell phone videos. Its unconventional filming style is unique but it also has its drawbacks. As an art form, cinema is a visual medium. Besides telling a compelling story, a film should combine interesting camerawork with editing and sound and that is what distinguishes cinema from theatre and literature. Surveillance 24/7 has all this in abundance, but it also suffers a bit from overkill.

What is, at first, very interesting visually soon becomes irritating. I grasp the filmmaker's point that Big Brother is everywhere watching you, but why do we have to view recorded images from the vantage point of a cell phone laying on a restaurant table that shows the actor's face almost hidden by a beer glass and then watch conventional footage that couldn't possibly have been recorded by any type of surveillance device. Many of my favorite films (Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, for example) feature flashy camerawork but the technique here gets gimmicky after awhile at the expense of the narrative.

Yet, despite all this, the mystery is quite gripping and held my interest even when I was befuddled over what was going on. Christopher Nolan's Memento was another film where the audience, like the main character, is often clueless about what is really happening because of the unorthodox way in which the story was told. But unfortunately the twist at the end of this film makes little sense, marring what could have been the best new queer film that I have seen in some time.

Still, Paul Oremland is a director to watch. I liked most of his 1998 film, Like It Is, because it put a fresh spin on the old tired coming out story by making it about a bare-knuckles street fighter and also by casting The Who's lead singer, Roger Daltrey, as a flamboyant record producer. If you liked that film's star, Ian Rose, you'll will be happy to know that he plays an important supporting role in Surveillance 24/7.

More on Paul Oremland and Ian Rose:
Like It Is

Simon Callow also appears in:
Bedrooms & Hallways
Angels in America


A few months ago, I laughed myself silly when The Advocate published a hilarious cartoon by out New Yorker cartoonist William Haefeli in which two conservative gay men look at a theatre poster for Nine Men None Of Them Nude and one says "Now there's a daring concept for a gay play." Which brings us to the film of Naked Boys Singing!

Back in 1996, I attended the opening night of Buffalo United Artists' local production of Terrence McNally's Love! Valour! Compassion! My first exposure to this much nudity on stage was a bit startling but I also recognized its significance. Ditto for their productions of Brad Fraser. But, years later when I saw Party, (a rather pointless play in which a group of men amuse themselves with a game that combined Truth or Dare and Strip Poker), nudity in gay theatre was starting to become a cliche. I like gratuitous male nudity as much as any other gay guy, but not when the play is designed solely as an excuse for a bunch of guys to take their clothes off onstage.

That said, I passed when BUA mounted Naked Boys Singing! and I really didn't have much desire to see the film version either. Of course I know that I am the one out of step here and there is an audience for shows like this but, me, I've always marched to the beat of a different drummer and I'd rather be rocking to my Bruce Springsteen discs than have to listen to a bunch of probably-lame showtunes, no matter how hot the guys are. And yes, I really am gay.

Well, that's why I found the Haefeli cartoon so funny. But as much as I wanted to hate Naked Boys Singing!... I suppose I should admit that I did find parts of it amusing. I might as well go with the flow, because most people aren't going to listen to me anyway. Shows like this have a built-in audience and you know who you are. There's nothing wrong with that and there are worse ways to spend 83 minutes. I should lighten up; it's a burlesque for crying out loud. It's just that I'm not about to run out and buy the cast recording any time soon. I do have my limits.

But let me stop being flip. At least for a minute. There's no mistaking what Naked Boys Singing! is going to be and I never expected art. Hell, this isn't even really a movie; it is a record of the stage play, filmed before a live audience, nothing more. I can't judge it by the same standards as a narrative film. I can't really call it a documentary either, but it is a very well filmed rendition of the show; shot like an old television variety program, exquisitely sung, danced and - let's say it - stripped. Because the music was recorded and then lip-synched for the cameras, you also know that you will enjoy a definitive performance of the score. It exists only for your entertainment, either as over-the-top camp or as soft porn. Your choice.

Naked Boys Singing is a revue of 15 musical numbers that celebrate male nudity and the tao of the penis. And, yes, they are naked for most of the movie. Some of the numbers are silly, some of them are quite touching, some of them are cloying to the point of being insufferable. The songs' many writers include Bette Midler's joke scribe, Bruce Vilanch, so you can expect lots of bawdy humor. But most viewers are here for the nudity, so sit back and enjoy...

The opening production number, "Gratuitous Nudity," says it all. "Tonight," they sing with deep baritones and all the exuberance of a Busby Berkeley chorus line, "You finally get you paid for... it's obvious to us you are here to seeeeee / gratuitous nooo-dity." There's even a Rockettes moment where they kick their legs into the air in unison. The choreography isn't Bob Fosse, but it's not bad. From there, the moods alternate from high camp to bittersweet ballads.

Okay, in its own way Naked Boys Singing! pokes fun at gay male foibles and insecurities, not to mention our obsession with size. There is, of course the requisite song about the fear of a locker room erection in Phys. Ed. class ("Fight The Urge"), another gym number called "Muscle Addiction" set to disco ala "Macho Man" and you probably guessed that there's one about having a wank. Campy and cute. But then there's the insufferable ones, which include "The Naked Maid" and one about Jewish guilt causing performance anxiety on the movie set for the "Perky Little Porn Star." Hmmm... what word could possibly rhyme with Sukkos? (it's pronounced: sook-uss.) Did I say cloying earlier? I will refrain from quoting from the lyrics, as much as I am dying to, so don't even ask me about "The Bliss of a Bris...."

Yet I do admit to being moved by the ballad, "Kris, Look What You Missed." (It didn't hurt that it was sung by a castmember who looked like Aaron Eckhart). It was a solo number sung by a man who got away to sing about his new life and his new man, all the while getting dressed. It was a nice touch, especially coming after "Perky Little Porn Star" when I was almost ejected the disc. The "Window to Window" duet, and its reprise, have their moments too even if the music is Sondheim-Lite.

I also liked that the cast was somewhat racially inclusive. While mostly white, there is an African American, a Hispanic and an Asian, and so at least we had one of each. Each man is a talented performer with a good voice. The recording is clear enough so that you can always understand the lyrics - but, trust me, that's not always a good thing.

Does anyone remember when the Republicans held their 2004 convention in the Big Apple? They listed all of the shows currently playing on and off Broadway on their website, and then someone noticed the offending title of Naked Boys Singing! and removed it before the Pat Robertson contingent got their knickers in a twist. I'd like to also point out a Buffalo connection to my local readers. Our hometown Jeff Denman, who went from being a star here at Musicalfare to being part of the original cast of The Producers, was the choreographer for Naked Boys Singing! when it played in New York. A good friend, who attends a lot of shows in Manhattan, told me that Denman (who does a mean Fred Astaire, by the way) was hired because he was straight; the reasoning being that the dance moves would be less flamboyant than they might have been in other hands.

Naked Boys Singing! is really meant for the stage. As I said, this is not a movie, it's just a filmed stage show. Like an episode of Great Performances on PBS. And without the energy of a live performance, the songs' shortcomings really stand out. This should be watched live in the fraternity of other gay men and no video is going to have the same effect. Even the film version of Rent, good as it was, lacked the fire of the live show. I've also been told by my Broadway friend that the audiences for the play have become predominantly female. (Sure, they've discovered that our Chippendales are better than theirs. And they go the full monty too.)

Chances are that it's not onstage in your town and, if you want to see the video, don't let me stop you. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go listen to some Led Zeppelin.


And now, the promised shorter reviews. There's thrills, chills and mostly spills in You Belong To Me, an initially promising but disappointing creep show with a gay twist.

Jeffrey shares a flat with his friend, Nicki, and has decided it is time to move on after she ruins his bedroom tryst with the sexy Rene. On a whim, Jeffrey moves into the same apartment building where Rene resides. Rene is giving him the cold shoulder but his eccentric landlady, Gladys, is giving him more attention than he handle. Jeffrey soon learns that the apartment's previous tenant was also named Geoffrey (except with a "G") and that his disappearance is the subject of mystery. Before long, he hears moaning beneath his floorboards, and discovers that his landlady has a dark secret.

The opening exposition is superb. The second half, however, becomes a tepid rehash of Misery without the presence of a Kathy Bates to liven things up. Despite some nice camerawork, reminiscent of Roman Polanski, this is a flat thriller that could have quite terrifying. While You Belong To Me does have its creepy moments, the parts don't add up to a satisfying whole. Our villianess is only given two lines of dialogue near the end to explain her craziness, making her a one-dimensional loony and, ultimately, boring. Still, the central premise is plausible, the main character is likable, and writer/director Sam Zalutsky refrains from resorting to the standard cliches of your typical slasher film.



Moving into guilty pleasure territory, we have 2 Minutes Later, a tongue-in-cheek private eye caper by writer/director Robert Gaston (Open Cam). Meet Abigail Marks (Jessica Graham), a lesbian private eye and femme fatale extraordinaire. She has been hired to find Kyle Dalmar, a famous photographer who, unbeknownst to both Abigail and her client, was shot dead by an unknown assailant (Peter Stickles from Shortbus) in the opening scene. His identical twin brother, Michael (Michael Molina), is in town for a visit and, when he discovers that no one has seen Kyle for two weeks, decides that it would be fun to pretend that he is his older (by 2 minutes) brother.
Michael soon learns that Kyle was an arrogant jerk and gets more than he bargained for when he runs into his brother's many enemies. He meets Abigail when she rescues him from being assaulted. Michael joins forces with the sapphic sleuth to discover what happened to Kyle. Their only clue is a camera memory stick, filled to capacity with his last models and photo shoots. Could one of them know Kyle's whereabouts or, perhaps, even be guilty of foul play?
Okay, this film is by no means The Maltese Falcon, but it's dumb fun in a cheesy sort of way. I'm assuming that none of this was meant to be taken seriously. As evidence I cite the horribly choreographed shoot-out, (scored to music that sounds like a techno version of Shaft), with the shooters running aimlessly out in the open and, of course, missing every shot. There was also the great moment, worthy of Sherlock Holmes, when our heroes find the anonymous model who posed naked on a pier by a scenic lake. Random comments dropped by Kyle's friends not only lead them to the very same lake, but they also find the very same model, naked and asleep on the same pier.
Normally, I would be ripping a movie like this to shreds, but this one has its charms. I liked that the usual roles were reversed. Abigail is the one in the Sam Spade/James Bond part and it is she who keeps getting the girl throughout the picture. She's a cross between The L Word's Shane and Diana Riggs' Mrs. Peel, and the ladies will have a blast with this as a party film. For the guys, ample beefcake is provided by Kyle's models who are constantly seen either in flashback or on his computer screen. Michael Molina is often shirtless, as both Michael and Kyle, and it's nice to see another lead actor with an attractive and unshaved hairy chest for a change in a gay film; I hope this trend will continue. (See also Derek Long in Socket and Stephen T. Gill in Love Life.) Lastly, I also liked the homage to Antonioni's Blow-Up! when they discover who really murdered Kyle. The filmmakers also didn't push their luck, and 2 Minutes Later is only a brief 68 minutes long.

I had a problem though with the needless fate that befell one of the most likable characters; it was at odds with the rest of the film's light tone. The voice-overs are in keeping with the film noir style, but they're not even on a par with the Harrison Ford narration that was removed from Blade Runner. Strangely enough, the scenes that impressed me the most were the flashbacks of Kyle at work - there was one in particular where Kyle humiliates a scruffy model by cutting off his long hair to get the angry shots he wants. There is another film hidden in this one, wanting to come out.

More On Robert Gaston:
Open Cam

Flight Of The Cardinal

More On Peter Stickles:

More On Jessica Graham:
And Then Came Lola