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    LGBT Films to Cuddle Up with at Home

    By Gary Kramer–

    Looking for something good to watch? There are some outstanding queer films now available on DVD and/or streaming that should not been missed. Here is a rundown of five to watch.

    Out gay writer/director Lucio Castro’s wistful, seductive bromance End of the Century was easily the best gay film last year. This romantic drama has lonely Ocho (Juan Barberini) arriving in Barcelona. He goes to the beach where he eyes Javi (out gay Ramon Pujol). Later, on his balcony, Ocho sees Javi and invites him up for a drink and sex. The men meet up later to get food and talk. It is here when Javi drops a bombshell: “We’ve met before.”

    End of the Century then flashes back twenty years earlier, with Ocho arriving at his friend Sonia’s (Mia Maestro) apartment. She is dating Javi, and Ocho meets him for the first time. Castro’s film uses the echoes of these encounters—plus a third sequence, later in the film—to comment on connection and communication. He has made an uncanny film that plays with time, memory, and imagination in ways that will provoke and enchant viewers. It benefits from repeat viewings.

    From Zero to I Love You is a glossy drama that is set and shot in Philadelphia. Written and directed by Doug Spearman, this film has the married-with-kids Jack Dickinson (Scott Bailey) unexpectedly falling for Pete Logsdon (Darryl Stephens). Their relationship, which includes sex on the down low, comes to the expected head when Pete wants Jack to leave his wife Karla (Keili Lefkovitz). If the plot veers into soapy melodrama, Spearman includes some poignant moments—from an intriguing scene with Jack in a pool in Palm Springs to a heart-to-heart Pete has with his father (Richard Lawson). There’s even a fairy dust motif. (It’s corny, but it works). Stephens is irresistible, giving a relaxed, assured performance. From Zero to I Love You may wear its heartfelt emotions on its sleeve, but it does induce smiles.

    Adam is trans director Rhys Ernst’s shrewd romantic comedy-drama about a lie that gets out of hand. The title character (Nicholas Alexander) is a cisgender, heterosexual, and virginal 18-year-old male. Spending the summer of 2006 in New York City with his older, lesbian sister Casey (Margaret Qualley), Adam attends parties and rallies that expose him to a vibrant queer and trans world. It is at one event where Adam meets Gillian (Bobbi Salvör Menuez), a lesbian to whom he is attracted.

    Adam does not initially correct Gillian when she assumes that he is transgender. As their relationship blossoms, however, Adam struggles with his deception—and things get complicated. If Adam sounds like an insensitive comedy, out lesbian writer Ariel Schrag, adapting her own novel, is quite clever in how she addresses issues of gender and sexuality. Gillian has an interesting and important backstory, as do other key supporting characters, such as Ethan (the scene-stealing Leo Sheng), one of Casey’s roommates who befriends Adam. This is a smart, enjoyable teen film for the genderqueer crowd. 

    Orpheus’ Song, directed by Tor Iben, starts out as bromance between Philipp (Sascha Weingarten), and Enis (Julien Lickert). These handsome guys, workout buddies in Berlin, are both ostensibly straight. One day Philipp wins a trip to Corfu and takes Enis along. They splash in the Mediterranean, and hang out in their hotel, where Philipp gets into some trouble with another guest. When they take a trip to Paleokastritsa, things start to really become strained between them. The guys get lost, and fight. They meet Hercules (Henry Morales) and learn about a bewitched pomegranate.

    Eventually they end up naked and entwined in one another’s arms on a beach. Orpheus’ Song generates most of its sexual tension waiting for the guys to hook up, and most of its dramatic tension after they do—will the guys stay together, or even stay friends? Weingarten and Lickert are both attractive and look good sans clothes. If Iben’s film is short (70 minutes) and slight (not too much happens), it is still quite satisfying.

    The terrific romance from Kenya Rafiki (“Friend”) was outlawed in its home nation for “promoting lesbianism,” but this humble film really addresses homophobia. Kena (Samantha Mugatsia) is a tomboy who falls for Ziki (Sheila Munyiva)—which is unheard of in their town, where their fathers also are political rivals. The young women make a pact not to be “like everyone else”; they want to be “something real.” They talk and kiss and cuddle, but they have a spat while attending a sermon on same-sex marriage. When their relationship is discovered, things really come to a head. Can Kena and Ziki live openly, or even be together? It’s essential to see the marvelous Rafiki to find out.

    © 2020 Gary M. Kramer

    Gary M. Kramer is the author of “Independent Queer Cinema: Reviews and Interviews,” and the co-editor of “Directory of World Cinema: Argentina.” Follow him on Twitter @garymkramer

    Published on March 24, 2020