Outfest's Best Movies: “Is It Just Me?” & “Children of God”

| by

Outfest enters into the home stretch!

There is only tonight, Saturday and Sunday left then it’s 12 months until Outfest 2011! My Christmas is July is almost over.

The remaining three days have plenty of gems. I can only advise you on what I have seen and make you aware of what else it is screening.

At the DGA, it’s ladies night with the drama Elena Undone kicking things off at 7 p.m. I am recommending it on the strength of Jd Disalvatore (Shelter, A Marine Story) being one of the producers. The movie combines the enchantment of falling in love for the first time with the reality and responsibilities of long-term commitments.

Following Elena in DGA is a program of Girls Shorts screening at 9:45 p.m. In DGA 2: The documentary Hooters! at 7:15 p.m. followed by the lesbian romantic drama from Brazil Paulista (Quanto Dura O Amor?).

As for what I have seen and can recommend, let’s start with Is It Just Me? It’s a wonderful romantic comedy that screens at 8:30 p.m. tonight at the Ford Ampitheatre. This is perfect weather for a nice date movie under the stars. I recommend packing a picnic and getting there a little early.

Here’s a re-posting of my review of the film:

Is It Just Me? is written and directed by JC Calciano who I met a few weeks back. He has put together a very appealing cast for this movie about a writer named Blaine (Nicholas Downs) who is running very low on self- confidence in the guy department.

He meets Xander (David Loren) first at a coffee house then online and they click. But his hunky roomie Cameron’s (Adam Huss) photo appears on the chat page because he had been using Blaine’s computer previously. It becomes a case of mistaken identity.

Blaine wants Cameron to pretend he’s him when he and Xander meet until he can win the guy over with his wit and charm. You have to really engage in some serious suspension of disbelieve to buy that Xander would not quickly figure out that there’s no way Cameron is the man he had connected with so deeply on the phone.

Cameron, who works as a go-go dancer, is seriously hunky so it’s easy to see why Blaine might be feeling insecure even though he is absolutely adorable.

Blaine’s BFF (Michelle Laurent) tries to re-assure him: “You deserve to be loved. You’re a great catch, trust me.”

It’s easy to see why he’s drawn to Xander. The guy is not only very attractive and with a Texas drawl, he’s also thoughtful, charming and seems emotionally intelligent.

The movie gives us something special in Xander’s older roommate Ernie who is so wonderfully played by Bruce Gray who you will recognize from his role as John Corbertt’s father in My Big Fat Greek Wedding but who I remember best from his stint on Queer as Folk as Emmett’s lover who dies in an airplane while they are having sex!

His presence and his performance are wonderful!

One of the best dramas I’ve seen at the festival is Children of God which has its second screening at 7 p.m. tonight at the REDCAT.

The film is written and directed by Kareem Mortimer who has successfully expanded his short film into a provocative full-length feature.

Children is is a portrayal of love, loneliness, tolerance, secrets and self-acceptance. It’s a religiously and politically-charged drama that has humor and romance but also shows the ugly side of homophobia.

In the film, the lives of several Bahamians intersect.

After being abused by a local gang in Nassau, a gay white art student (an outstanding Johnny Roberts) takes refuge on the smaller island of Eleuthera where he meets a sexy, charming [but closeted] schoolmate named Romeo (Stephen Tyrone Williams who had the same role in the short) whose family is pressuring him to marry.

The there is Lena, a political activist who arrives on the island to spread her opposition to homosexuality. She is the wife of a preacher and we learn why she has such a problem with the gays. Margaret Kemp gives an award-worthy performance as Lena.

After the initial Outfest screening last Saturday, I chatted with Kareem Mortimer briefly: “I’ve never screened any of my work in Los Angeles and it’s a capitol of filmmaking and it was just a great experience to have this venue and have as many people come out to see this film.. I feel like I made an achievement. I hope people get to see the humanity in other people. Our film has a bittersweet ending but when you walk out of the theater, you think about it and you can’t dismiss the story and I hope people continue to think about it long after.”

He is quite right about that!

for OUTFEST Ticket Info, go to the festival WEBSITE.

Read more at Greg in Hollywood