Tag Archives: ben and arthur

The Gay Community Needs to Embrace the Cult Movie “Ben & Arthur”

Sam Mraovich as Arthur in "Ben and Arthur"

Sam Mraovich as Arthur in “Ben and Arthur”

In a couple of days, one of the local Chicago theaters will be presenting its yearly screening of Mommie Dearest to a (no doubt) enthusiastic crowd. Wire hangars will be handed out and I’m sure there’ll be plenty of laughs galore with Frank Perry’s infamous film.

That film was released over 30 years ago. Since then, there hasn’t been any film released that could qualify as “midnight movie” material that approached a gay sensibility–until Ben & Arthur.  Both Cracked Magazine and Rotten Tomatoes have urged readers to pick up on this movie and make it a cult sensation. I agree. Not only is the time right for this movie to fill theaters with enthralled partying fans, it has the makings of being one of the greatest midnight cult movies ever, rivaling even cine-phenomena like The Room and Troll 2. Seriously. And the gay community should be front and center in pushing this wild movie for the following reasons:

1. Exploitation movies are generally straight-based.

Let’s face it: exploitation movies are usually made to appeal to horny guys who like lots of firepower and babes. Ben and Arthur has plenty of gunplay and horny guys (on the screen, at least) with one of the leads looking good with his shirt off (hence the promo picture). There’s the added bonus of a wrestling tussle between Ben and his wife. In fact, B&A is meant to be, in part, an action film which is part of the fun, especially when the movie looks as though it was shot over the course of a weekend.

2. Its main theme of gay marriage rights is still relevant today and probably will be for a while.

Produced in 2002, Ben and Arthur deals primarily with gay marriage, which–at the time–was only legal in Vermont via civil unions.  Ten years and eleven state legislative passages later, gay marriage looks increasingly possible for the entire country. The controversy, however, seems destined to hang on while significant opposition continues. This helps keep the movie fresh thematically and even when it passes all 50 states, Ben and Arthur can be viewed through a nostalgic lens, just as I do with movies from the late 1960s and early 1970s.

3. The movie is on the level of anything Ed Wood could have mustered, so it has perennial entertainment staying power.

Ben and Arthur is not just about bad acting or bad writing. Everything
about it is bad, no exaggeration. Out of focus cinematography, actors flubbing lines with no second takes, non-existent continuity, horrible sound mixing–there are no instances of competency apparent during any minute of this film.  Robert Altman said that movies are meant to view more than once and each viewing of Ben and Arthur provides an audience with a newly discovered flub. It’ll easily take several viewings to catch them all. This makes it a rarity, even among bad movies.

4.  Ben and Arthur is one of the most subversive gay-themed films ever.

Sam Mraovich’s film is meant as an earnest plea for the plight of those LGBT folks who want equal marriage protection and, by extension, full civil rights. Fair enough. However, the movie goes completely off the rails and becomes sanctimonious when it excuses such actions as domestic violence, arson and murder. Arthur comes off as one of the most hilariously unpleasant and incompetent characters in the history of gay-themed films. He incapable of taking the proper steps to help protect his new hubby and is, in general, a whiny insensitive asshole. Other characters are lying, murdering charlatans, but he is definitely the worst of the lot. Instead of using sentimentality (a fatal flaw in so many bad socially-minded gay features), Ben and Arthur tries becoming ambitious and eventually becomes unnecessary brutal. It’s a civil rights film, a romance, a revenge picture, an action film, a religious allegory, a fetishistic film, an erotic thriller–and fails at all of them.

So if you’re looking for camp value, you’ve got it. If you want a movie that is misogynistic, homophobic and insulting to religious persons and still hilarious to watch with a bunch of “enhanced” friends. You’ve got to take this movie to heart. It’s one of the greatest cult sensations in recent years.

You can make history with us tonight by attending the first-ever Ben & Arthur interactive screening. Tyler Pistorius, Demetra Meteris and I will be on hand for all the running commentary madness and hilarity.

Bring the following: YOUR CELL PHONE, NEWSPAPER, STUFFED CAT, SUGAR PACKETS

Tonight at midnight at Facets Multimedia
1517 W Fullerton
Chicago, IL 60614
http://www.facets.org
Admission: $5, FREE with Facets Membership. Get one here.

Lew Ojeda

The Amazing, Incomparable “Ben & Arthur” Presented by Legendary Lew is Coming to Facets Night School!

Your life may never be the same after this. Coming Saturday night, May 11th at 11:59pm to Facets Multimedia. Lew Ojeda, Tyler Pistorius and Demetra Materis will be your guides to a fine evening of wild, interactive entertainment.

To join in the fun, bring:
your cell phone
sugar packets
a stuffed toy cat
newspaper

Facets Night School Masters Series Poster Revealed

FacetsNightSchoolMastersThe poster for Facets Night School’s Master Series has now been released. Nice work by Demetra Materis!

You can find details for the lectures and screenings here or here.

Facets Multimedia Presents Facets Night School: The Master Series

FacetsNightFacets Night School, the long-running series of midnight lectures, screenings and general craziness, is back and The Underground Multiplex has  got the early word! They have a great line-up coming, so you’ll definitely want to hear from these master presenters as they host screenings of some of the craziest and most diverse entertainment this side of the galaxy. Talking chimps on 35mm! Drug crazed beauties! Cannibals! Warring beauty queens and battling sweaty strongmen! Vicious hungry cats and insanely overwrought same-sex melodrama! You want it, you got it at this hearty session of Facets Night School.

Here’s the series:

Saturday, March 30
Jason Coffman presents:
Carnival Magic in 35mm!

“This long-forgotten classic of the chimp-sploitation genre is probably the weirdest, most inappropriate kids film ever made.” -Brisbane International Film Festival

Al Adamson was a legend of low-budget filmmaking. From 1961 to 1983, Adamson cranked out B (and often C-Z) movies like Satan’s Sadists, Dracula Vs. Frankenstein, Naughty Stewardesses, Black Samurai, Nurse Sherri, and Cinderella 2000. After a career making pictures for grindhouses and drive-ins, Adamson’s last two films were “kids’ movies.” One of these, Carnival Magic, disappeared shortly after its initial release. Long thought lost, a print of Carnival Magic was discovered in 2009, some 14 years after Adamson’s death. At long last, paracinephiles could get a look at Adamson’s legendarily bizarre attempt to make a movie for children. Unsurprisingly, it’s immediately obvious that Adamson had no idea how to do that. In the film, Markov the Magnificent (Don Stewart) is a small-time magician with a secret: he actually has magical powers. He also has a sidekick named Alex, a talking chimp. Markov reluctantly joins a struggling circus, and together he and Alex become the show’s biggest stars. At first it seems like Markov and Alex may save the circus from bankruptcy, but the show’s alcoholic lion tamer–angry at having his spotlight stolen by a talking monkey–cooks up a scheme to sell Alex to an animal research laboratory. Jason Coffman will present Carnival Magic from a 35mm print courtesy of the Chicago Cinema Society Film Archive, along with a discussion of Adamson’s career and trailers for the director’s other films.

Jason Coffman is a programmer and co-director of the Chicago Cinema Society. He is also a film writer, sometime filmmaker, and a regular contributor to FilmMonthly.com and Fine Print Magazine. His writing has also appeared in Horrorhound magazine and Cashiers du Cinemart. Coffman previously presented Spider Baby and The Sleeper at Facets Night School. 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/487105541349272/

Saturday, April 6
Jef Burnham presents:
Puritanical Peplum Panic: Hercules, Samson & Ulysses as Religious Battle Crossover

“Do you think it easy to fight against someone who believes he was sent here by his God?” -Aldo Giuffre as Seren, the Philistine King

By 1963, when he filmed Hercules, Samson & Ulysses (1963), director Pietro Francisci was no stranger to sword-and-sandal pictures, otherwise known as peplum. He also helmed 1958’s Hercules and 1959’s Hercules Unchained, both of which featured memorable performances by Steve Reeves as the Greek demigod. Although Reeves did not reprise his role in Hercules, Samson & Ulysses, Francisci compensates for the legendary muscleman’s absence by pitting Hercules’s greased-up Grecian girth against Samson’s bronzed biblical biceps! Join Jef Burnham as he explores the film’s relationship to the concept of the film franchise “battle crossover,” dating back to Universal’s classic horror films like Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943). He will also tease out the ramifications of depicting two muscle-bound representatives of ancient religions battling it out for theological supremacy.

Jef Burnham is a media scholar and film critic. He holds a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, where he currently serves as a member of the Adjunct Faculty in Cinema Studies. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com. In addition to his film criticism, Jef authored a chapter of Open Court’s Sherlock Holmes and Philosophy and has co-authored a chapter of Scarecrow Press’s forthcoming collection of essays entitled, Reading Mystery Science Theater 3000. He previously presented Yor, The Hunter From the Future and Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare at Facets Night School. 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/356116424504235/


Saturday, April 13
Dominick Mayer presents:
Knockoff Henchmen, Helicopter Seduction, and a Night of a 1000 Cats

“I would like to keep you forever…in a crystal cage.” -Hugo

In 1972, exploitation filmmaker Rene Cardona Jr. cranked out a cheapie horror film about Hugo (Hugo Stiglitz), a billionaire playboy who uses his suave charms, stalker-ish manners, and opulent wealth to seduce women into his home, where unspeakable, cat-related horrors await them. Somewhere along the line, a full half hour disappeared from the Spanish version before it reached the U.S. as Blood Feast (not to be confused with the Herschell Gordon Lewis cult classic). However, purists know the film’s true name: Night of a Thousand Cats (La Noche de los Mil Gatos). Dominick Mayer will examine the film’s shadowy origins, its place in the pantheon of Mexploitation cinema, and how this little-known bargain-bin curio may be deserving of a cult following of its own.

Dominick Mayer is a graduate student in Media & Cinema studies at DePaul University. He is also the features editor and head film critic for HEAVEmedia, a Chicago-based music and culture website. He is (as the session name would suggest) a regular at Facets Night School, having previously presented on Black Dynamite, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, and Myra Breckinridge, among others. You can commonly find him at various movie theaters or professional wrestling events in the greater Chicagoland area.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/345650938874309/

Saturday, April 20
Chris Damen presents:
Who’s Bad: Lila Leeds’s One Bad Career Move In She Shoulda Said No!

“The story of a good girl gone very, very bad.” -Poster tagline

Sam Newfield’s 1949 anti-marijuana film She Shoulda Said ‘No’! is your typical drug exploitation piece with all the warnings and dangers, but has a very unique backstory. Lead actress Lila Leeds was actually arrested with Robert Mitchum for smoking marijuana. While Mitchum got off almost scot-free, Leeds was forced to make this career-killer. This lecture will cover the sad career of Lila Leeds, and will provide a short survey of the anti-marijuana film genre.

Chris Damen is an avid traveler and a local stand-up comic. In October of 2012, he became the head producer of Facets Night School. He has previously presented eight films a Facets Night School, including Pulgasari, Barfly, and Nekromantik.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/172598782887328/

Saturday, April 27
Michael Smith presents:
Eat the Rich: Manoel de Oliveira’s Unlikely Cannibals Musical

Imagine an unholy mash-up of Luis Bunuel’s The Exterminating Angel and Jacques Demy’s The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and you will have some idea of what is in store at this rare screening of one of the all-time great Portuguese films.

The Cannibals (Os Canibais) is one of the best but unfortunately least-known feature films by the prolific Portuguese master Manoel de Oliveira. Made in 1988 when the still-active writer/director was a comparatively youthful 79 years old, this delightful work of anti-bourgeois Surrealism is a kind of freakish filmed opera in which every line of savage satire is sung. Adapted from a novel by Álvaro Carvalhal, the plot concerns Marguerite (Oliveira’s favorite leading lady Leonor Silveira), a high-society woman who marries a wealthy Viscount (Oliveira’s favorite leading man Luis Miguel Cintra) over the objections of her jealous ex-lover, Don Juan (Diogo Doria). On their wedding night, the Viscount reveals to Marguerite his darkest secret, which leads to a devilish, uproariously funny climax that must be seen to be believed. Adding a layer of self-reflexive fun is an omniscient, singing narrator (Oliveira Lopes); at one point, he hilariously complains about the protagonists’ use of the “sententious language of poor melodrama” in the previous scene. This rare screening of The Cannibals will be shown via digital projection of a European import DVD. The film has never received an official home video release in North America.

Michael Smith is an independent filmmaker whose most recent short films, At Last, Okemah!! (2009) and The Catastrophe (2011), have won multiple awards at film festivals across the United States. Since 2009, he has taught film history and aesthetics at Chicago-area colleges including Oakton Community College, the College of Lake County, and Harold Washington College. His first book, Flickering Empire: How Chicago Invented the U.S. Film Industry, a non-fiction account of early film production in Chicago, will be released by KWS Publishers, Inc. in late 2013. He is also the creator and sole author of the film studies blog WhiteCityCinema.com. He has previously taught many Facets Night School sessions including, most recently, “Drilling Into The Slumber Party Massacre.”

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/536765539678518/

Saturday, May 4
Lauren Whalen presents:
Girls, Guns and Glitter, Don’cha Know: Drop Dead Gorgeous and the Wild World of Mock Doc

“I shoved your tap shoes in my panties before I was blown out of the house. You go find the guy who cut ’em off.” –Annette Atkins (Ellen Barkin)

Before Kirsten Dunst met Sam Raimi and Denise Richards met Charlie Sheen, they went head-to-head in this darkly funny mockumentary. In Mount Rose, Minnesota, boys go to prison and girls compete in the American Teen Princess pageant. Sweet Amber (Dunst) dreams of escaping her trailer park and becoming the next Diane Sawyer, while nasty Becky Ann (Richards) has perfect teeth and the stage mother from hell (Kirstie Alley), a firearm-toting former American Teen Princess who’ll knock down (or knock off) anyone in her baby’s way. Directed by Michael Patrick Jann (of comedy collective The State), Drop Dead Gorgeous mixes slapstick and satire, straddles the fine line between irreverent and offensive, and has a killer supporting cast (Allison Janney, Ellen Barkin, Brittany Murphy, and Amy Adams in her film debut). Join Lauren Whalen as she explores the mockumentary subgenre, the art of parody, and Drop Dead Gorgeous’ premonition of a Toddlers & Tiaras-saturated culture. High heels optional.

Lauren Whalen spent ten years with Facets as an intern, volunteer, and full-time employee. She writes for Chicago Theater Beat and The Film Yap. Lauren’s previous Night School presentations involved destructive bunnies (Donnie Darko), messed-up lesbian dreams (Mulholland Dr.), and teenage drug rings (Brick). She is also a burlesque enthusiast, who unapologetically loves glitter, and is eternally grateful to her mother for never letting her do pageants.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/162632507223776/

Saturday, May 11
Legendary Lew (!) presents:
The Ben & Arthur Interactive Cinematic Experience, or Can a Cult Movie Sensation Be Created?

“I don’t make sense, you don’t make sense. I make sense. That’s who makes sense!” — Tammy Sheets  (Julie Belknap) in Ben & Arthur

“If Tommy Wiseau’s The Room is the over-wrought, melodramatic and self-pitying heterosexual camp classic of choice, then Sam Mraovich’s Ben & Arthur is its gay equivalent…This is a cult sensation waiting to be born.” –Rotten Tomatoes

In recent years, the internet and social media have helped create massive, rabid followings for cinematic “failures,” such as Troll 2 and The Room. Both films hovered in obscurity for years at the nadir of IMDb’s worst-film list until enthusiastic audiences resuscitated them with interaction styles first adopted by Rocky Horror Picture Show viewers. It’s high time the incredible film Ben & Arthur gets its second chance. Disappearing characters, horrendously mixed audio, palm trees in Vermont, passenger flights on FedEx planes, on-screen lighting tripods, cardboard crucifixes, card table “desks,” and cell phones, cell phones ,and more cell phones—Ben and Arthur has it all, including a blatant rip-off of a crucial scene in De Palma’s Scarface. Discovered by a film producer while working in a Pennsylvania Burger King, the multi-talented Sam Mraovich hails from Steubenville, OH. At age 22, Mraovich made the move to Hollywood and began production, direction, etc. on his gay marriage rights magnum opus, Ben & Arthur. Today, he is double-licensed as real estate agent and hair stylist in California. To date, this much-discussed cult film is his only directorial release. Lew Ojeda will discuss the history of these interactive films and how newly-discovered ones can help independent theaters attract moviegoers in current tough economic times.
Note: For the interactive screening experience of Ben & Arthur, you’ll want to remember to bring your cell phone, a newspaper, sugar packets and a stuffed toy cat or dog.

Special guest, film auteurd extraordinaire Ernie Tarté, will be on hand to help introduce the film and launch the evening with handheld mirrors and lilac kisses.

Lew Ojeda is the co-founder of The Underground Multiplex and host of the podcast Mediatrocities, celebrating weirdness in movies, music, and television. His production/direction credits include Rochester, NY’s landmark LGBT television show, The Word is Out, and his film reviews have appeared in The Empty Closet and Shock Cinema. As part of Facets for over a decade, Ojeda has previously presented Lady Terminator, Fuego, The Story of Riki-Oh, Seytan, Eat the Rich, Sisters of No Mercy 3D, and many others at Facets Night School.

Screenings will be on Saturdays nights at midnight from March 30-May 11
Facets Multimedia
1517 W Fullerton
Chicago, IL
Admission: $5, FREE for Facets members.
Check out Facets Multimedia: www.facets.org

 

 

10 Little Known and Little Seen Film Goodies from the Land of Queerdom

Zachariah–that other gay Western

I had been so busy during Pride Month with other projects (including preparing for a move to The Underground Multiplex Studios) that I had to put off this post originally intended for Pride Month. But what the hell, every month is Pride Month for me, so we can remember the accomplishments of the LGBT community and do some major celebrating anytime. Part of the festivities involves taking in movies to reflect on our lives or challenging us to think and grow in ways we hadn’t before.

But for every Brokeback Mountain and Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, there are plenty of other movies that get overlooked. After finding a list online of the best gay-themed movies (I’m figuring a lesbian film reviewer can come up with a good counterpart to my list), I decided to offer a list of terrific gay-themed movies that should impress your friends (and lose other ones).

1. Save Me

This was among my top ten films of 2007 and not only do I stand by this, the movie seems even better and more relevant today. Out actor Chad Allen plays a sex and drug addicted wild partier whose out-of-control life comes crashes down. His Christian brother enters him into a faith-based rehab house with the best intentions, but the recovering young man challenges what works and what doesn’t in the ex-gay production factory. Allen and Judith Light, who plays the operator of the ministry, give excellent performances (the latter giving an Oscar-caliber one) thanks in part to very good writing of Robert Desiderio, Craig Chester and Alan Hines. This film along with the better known Latter Days are probably the best films I’ve seen taking a fair-minded stance on the conflict between the gay community and its religious detractors.

2. Ben and Arthur

Swinging way over to the other side of why you should watch a movie, Ben and Arthur is a hilarious cinematic mega-disaster and a cultural phenomenon waiting to happen (just like The Room). Cracked Magazine practically begged its readers to make this the next great cult movie and with good reason. When a film is ballsy enough to have Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer” as its opening theme and give the same person eleven credits, you know you’re in for something special. Sam Mraovich directs, writes and stars in (eight credits left) this dimly lit, atrociously edited VHS home movie about a gay couple longing to get married. Arthur (Mraovich) wants to marry Ben, but complications ensue when his Christian brother, the flamboyant Victor, is booted from his church over objections to the gay sibling. Because of the ongoing controversy of same-sex marriage, promoting this movie as a cult fav may seem a bit premature, but the gay community needs a time-tested beer and weed laugher for the midnight movie crowd. This is the one, folks!

3. The Gay Deceivers

If this 1969 gaysploitation movie from Fanfare Films seems familiar, it’s because Adam Sandler stole the basic idea for the dismal I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. Despite being made four decades earlier–when homosexuality was still technically treated as a mental illness–Bruce Kessler’s comedy still holds up as one of the most gay-positive comedies of the era.  Kevin Coughlin and Larry Casey play two straight friends desperate to stay out of the Vietnam War draft, so they play gay to attempt avoiding combat. Tailed by suspicious military officers, they deepen the charade to the consternation of their family, friends and fiancees. The gay ghetto actually looks like a neat place to live and the neighbors, if not stereotyped, are at least a lot more pleasant and lovable than the boring straight ones.

4. The Meatrack

The Meat Rack is a sort of more downbeat version of Midnight Cowboy (as if that movie weren’t a bummer enough). With its seamy underground 16mm grainy look, you can almost smell the poppers.  A bisexual hustler named J.C. goes through the daily/nightly grind of male and female tricks for bucks in the seedy parts of San Fran.  When he saves a girl from an old coot photographer’s lecherous fate, they partner up in a low-rent love affair.  Director Michael Thomas lays on parent bashing flashbacks and a long scene involving violent transvestites armed with a camera. If you’re an admirer of Jim Jarmusch’s  early work, you should see this.

5. Best Friends

Not once during this entire film are the words “gay,” “homosexual,” “queer” or even “faggot” ever mentioned, but rest assured this is definitely a gay film. In fact, this might be the most closeted gay film made before Top Gun. Richard Hatch (“Battlestar Galactica”) plays Jesse, a once carefree single man now engaged to his sweetheart. His best friend Pat (Doug Chapin) returns from a stint in Vietnam ready to resume the wild days of boozing, barring and balling chicks with his old buddy. With Jesse’s fiancee and Pat’s latest conquest in tow, the guys decide to cruise California in a Winnebago. The friction between Jesse and Pat, however, intensifies as the latter seems determined to have Jesse dump the future ball and chain and get back to the business of casual fucking. Despite the tagline “She Became the Ravaged Victim of a Century of Revenge!”, this entire movie has nothing to do with a ‘she.’ Best Friends is about a homoerotic obsession based on Pat’s deeply ingrained need for Jesse’s sexual satisfaction, but under Pat’s terms. It makes for a truly unusual 70’s road movie.

6. Raging Hormones

Dedicated to Divine and Edith Massey, this low-budget Florida lensed comedy is one of the very few John Waters’  inspired films that looks as though it could have been made by the master himself.  Della Hobby stars as Bev Broadhurst, the trailer-park dwelling queen of the local supermarket. Her greatest wish is to get her son Peter (Topher Hopkins) into state college by urging him to save up money through summer employment. Unfortunately, her neighbor Sally (Darlene Demko) is a cougar on the prowl and latches onto the horny Peter for kinky games. Meanwhile, Bev’s daughter gets the eye of a douche bag with a penchant for gals below the legal age limit. It’s a giddy blast of bad taste fun for the whole dysfunctional family.

7. Zachariah

Far out, man. John Rubenstein and a very young Don Johnson star in this psychedelic western that’s basically a rock musical with some cowboys and horses running around.  Zachariah (Rubenstein) tells Matthew (Johnson) he’s looking for “a friend” and brags about his shiny new gun received in “a plain brown wrapper.” They join a gang of bumbling outlaws (the 60’s rock group Country Joe and the Fish) before deciding to cut out on their own. Facing troublemakers quick to call them “faggots,” listening to Elvin Jones and Doug Kershaw perform, and having a fling with Belle Starr (Pat Quinn) make for subplots in this whacked-out movie. However, the main story is the handsome duo’s friendship gone sour. These guys are the least rugged Western heroes in film history and the closing scenes sealed the deal on its homoeroticism for me. Besides, Zachariah was co-written by The Firesign Theatre, who were masters of subtext in audio comedy recordings. To believe they did not intend a gay tone to this movie would be folly.

8. Whole New Thing

There have been gay-themed coming-of-age movies created by the truckload, but I assure you, this terrific Canadian feature (which made my Top 10 in 2005) is like no other you’ve ever seen. Aaron Webber plays Emerson, a home-schooled teenager who’s brilliant when it comes to English studies and Humanities, but is lagging far behind in math. Aggravating the problem is his dad’s descent into depression, so Emerson is enrolled in a local public school where he becomes infatuated with a sympathetic teacher.  Whole New Thing is one of the few movies I’ve seen where the balance of a truly gifted, intelligent student’s knowledge and the confusion of  his sexual attraction is given the introspective respect it deserves.

9. Shiner

The next four words are going to lose some readers: I hate Fight Club. In fact, it’s one of the few movies I’ve ever walked out of, and I did so before a single punch was thrown. Thirty minutes in, I couldn’t take any more of the incredibly stupid, self-indulgent irritating characters. (And, btw, if the cancer joke towards the beginning of the movie was directed towards women with breast cancer instead of men with testicular cancer, that movie would have boycotted). Whew! Okay, now that I’m finished with that, I can direct you to Shiner, which intertwines a few stories revolving about the fetish of punching the hell out of each other for sexual gratification. Yes, this movie comes out and declares it. None of this coy subtext bullshit, these characters blow their loads over body blows. It’s intentionally unfocused, cheap, seedy, funny and raunchy just as it should be with this topic. It’s another film that pissed off the gay community which completely overreacted to this movie as it did to my final choice…

10. Frisk

Many people walked out of festivals disgusted with Todd Verow’s strange masterful film based on a dark gay novel by Dennis Cooper.  A young gay man named Dennis grows up with kinky fantasies that grow darker as he gets older. He writes fantasy letters to Kevin, a former lover, implying he may have committed murders, but has he or is he just stringing Kevin along for more twisted visions and a receptive reader?  Verow, who also directed Little Shots of Happiness and Vacationland, remains one of the most underrated gay filmmakers working today, in part because he has the audacity to remain outside the Here!/Logo world of tepid swill.

If you want to know more about gay-themed movies you should see but haven’t, check out Facets Night School’s lecture on Myra Breckinridge presented by Dominick Mayer and The Underground Multiplex with plenty of fun and frolics. If you’re not in Chicago, you’ll be able to tune in to “Cinematrocities” for the lecture soon after.