Sunday movie matinee

Foriegn movies are usually pretty much French people doing things in France, Brits doing things in England, etc. So Kinamand is refreshing, in it’s story of a Danish man and his relationship with a family of  Chinese immigrants who feed him every night. America isn’t the only “melting pot.” We might have coined the phrase, but most all countries have expats from the rest of the world living, working, melding cultures, etc. Kinamand is less about the dual cultures and more another simple love? story.

The “?” as it is another green card scenario: our protagonist, the Danish “Kindamand” asked to marry the Chinese sister, so she can get a visa. Forced together “pro forma,” will it blossom into love? With the occasional subtle moments of humour that seem to trademark Scandinavian movies (Kitchen Stories, Let the Right One In), it is a fairly quiet story that flows along and then it’s over. No bada-booms, no overtly philosophical soapboxing, just a story with a beginning the expected arc, and an end – though the arc in this case is expected (whether or not the two formal newlyweds will melt into a puddle of love), the resolution, though not entirely unbelievable, is still above your run-of-the-mill American romcom.

Speaking of romcoms…Two Lovers ain’t one. JP feels unfamiliar and bloated, creepy and untrustworthy. Maybe it’s the child molestor coat.

Or my pre-bias towards moody artists who take pills and don’t have any money tainting my first impression.

One thing I’m liking, every frame screams New York. Bursting with other people, traffic, clustered houses and apartment buildings…the hustle and bustle. If you’ve never been to NYC, you might not notice – if you live there, you might take it for granted. Me, having been there, and away and missing it, I enjoyed tasting it. New York, that is. Um…moving on.

Thankfully, J’s character grows more charming and likeable. If you don’t pay too much attention you won’t notice the slight posturing between mood swings. Or you will, because his performance is so strong (yet refined), passionate (yet subtle), this (and that) and you’ll think, “Gee, he sure is a good actor.” And you know what bi-polar looks like. The spectrum of facial expressions, the sullen v. the exuberant – oops, there goes my bias again.

At one point he insists to G that he’s not a “child,” yet that is somehow what he stoops to, around her. A simpering, tripped-by-lust boy overcome with infatuation, begging her to run away with him…leaving his sensible-from-a-good-family (brunette to boot) girlfriend behind. G somehow manages to turn a caricature I’d usually find utterly pathetic (the other woman, convinced he’ll leave his life for her) into a character that I’ll at least be curious to see what happens to.

That was a bad sentence.

Say what you will – and I say she didn’t deserve an Oscar for that silly Shakespeare movie, and she is insanely full of herself – but her frank, stark portrayal of an otherwise unsympathetic character is surprising. In all the wrong ways, they’re well-suited for each other. They lie to themselves, and to the people they (are supposed to) love, they play games of love with no regard for actual feelings or consequences…it even managed to keep me guessing until the end, which one he’d eventually end up with.

I’ve seen a lot of gay indie movies. Probably more than the average gay man. There’s one consistent problem: the movies. Ha ha, just kidding, it’s the acting. It tends to be over the top (I know…right?) and steal credulity from the script (assuming it’s a good one).

“…“Make the Yuletide Gay,” a softer, lighter romantic comedy from a genre not known for its restraint.”

Despite it’s fairly obvious title, “Make the Yuletide Gay” has a theme more than just homos can relate to: being yourself around your family (or not being yourself, as the case may be). The main character is an intelligent philosophy major – he starts the movie in a equality t-shirt. Yeah yeah, stereotypes exist for a reason, but it’s nice to have a gay character who’s a character in the movie, first, and then just happens to be gay. If that makes sense.

The supporting (and straight) cast are the campy hams, overreaching and detracting from the story. Actually…some of the witty banter actually works (when the boyfriend shows up, unexpected, there’s a funny discussion of gets to be on top…of the bunkbeds, her son or his “roommate”). Even jokes about “beaver” and “Boxes” somehow work. Funnily, one of the worst 2-dimensional characters is also in the last gay indie film I watched (half of it, anyways).

HOWEVER!! Dr. Crusher cameo’s as boyfriend’s mom, and NELLIE OLESON is the neighbor! Honestly, I’m on ly 42 mintues into it, but it is shaping up to be just a flat-out good movie, much less good “gay movie.” The campy cast settles into a fairly satisfying (if not a bit too sweet) pudding of legitimate issues (coming out to loved ones) and the aforementioned jokes that somehow work with this cast.

Verdicts…Kinamand is nice enough, but not a must-see. Two Lovers is good for those who enjoy a good performance. And Make the Yuletide Gay is worth seeing, cuz it’s funny, and gay indie film needs support. Plus, any movie with a Little House on the Prarie and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy joke in the same sentence has my vote.


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