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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

entry arrow2:22 AM | Get Some Shelter

It's been quite a while since I've seen a queer film that I loved, and that moved me. I've been watching queer films since I can remember -- my brother Rey used to send me all the videos he bought for me from TLA, and I've watched practically everything. From classics such as William Friedkin's The Boys From the Band and Derek Jarman's Sebastiane and Arthur Hiller's Making Love to camp favorites such as David DeCoteau's The Leather Jacket Love Story, from Wong Kar Wai's Happy Together to Ang Lee's The Wedding Banquet to Chen Yin-jung's Formula 17 to James Ivory's Maurice, from documentaries such as Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's The Celluloid Closet and Jennie Livingston's Paris is Burning to the teen romances of Jim Fall's Trick and Simon Shore's Get Real and Tony Vitale's Kiss Me, Guido, from the early experiments of Kenneth Anger's Fireworks to local dramatic sizzlers such as Carlos Siguion-Reyna's Ang Lalake sa Buhay ni Selya, from the strangely erotic violence of Gregg Araki's The Doom Generation to the romantic comedy of Tommy O'Haver's Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss, from the stark realism of Stephen Frear's My Beautiful Laundrette, Hettie Macdonald's Beautiful Thing, and Geoff Burton and Kevin Dowling's The Sum of Us (where Russell Crowe plays a gay man) and Gus Van Sant's My Own Private Idaho (where River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves play hustlers) to the contemporary AIDs dramas of Norman René's Long Time Companion and Randal Kleiser's It's My Party, from the comedic theatrical mold of Christopher Ashley's Jeffrey to the sad theatrical mold of Sean Mathias's Bent (where Clive Owen plays a gay man), from the mild kilig of Miles Swain's The Trip to the swoon of C. Jay Cox's Latter Days. Heck, I have both the British and the American versions of Queer as Folk (and my boxed DVD set of the first season of QAF has Gale Howard's -- otherwise known as Brian -- autograph on the cover), and I have the complete set of the mini-series Tales From the City. And don't let me start about Boys Briefs, that popular series of the short film anthologies, usually a hit-and-miss affair (but when a short film hits, boy, does it hit).

What can I say. I've watched everything. Name the gay film, I've probably seen it, even the most obscure ones like James Bidgood's Pink Narcissus. I even used to host a monthly film watching night with some friends, but growing up soon makes you edgy and hard, and you soon lose the capacity to fall in love with a movie. I guess the current Filipino indie take on the queer life proved the ultimate downer, with movies like Duda and Bathhouse and Bilog and Ang Lalake sa Parola too relentless for my taste in their drive to prove to everybody else that there's nothing sadder and tragic and humorless than the life we lead. Adolfo B. Alix Jr.'s calm Daybreak was a welcome respite from all that, but the last time I was really moved by a film was a long time ago, when Greg Berlanti released the seminal The Broken Hearts Club, which was a kind of corrective to the sadness of Joe Mantello's Love! Valour! Compassion! and Boys From the Band, and the tragedy of everything else.

Which is why watching Jonah Markowitz's Shelter was like a warm embrace from an old lover. Everything about it is calm, and rings true. No histrionics here, just a well-acted story about ordinary people living ordinary lives and being heroic about it, even as they balance their dreams with crushing reality. But the scene that gets most? It's the one with surfer Zach (the wonderful Trevor Wright) driving home after an achingly protracted tryst with writer Shaun (Brad Rowe, who first caught my attention as pre-Will and Grace's Sean Haye's object of affection in the deliriously affecting Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss). Zach thinks about the night that just passed while he's driving home, and then he begins to smile...

That smile. That truest smile. It takes me back to all those old days when we first discover we're in love. It makes me think back to that spring in my steps, to that tug that pulled my cheeks up to my ears, on that day when I thought I could sigh forever.

[manila gay guy has the song "lie to me" from the movie in his blog]

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