'Remarkable Shades of Gay': Film Review

Courtesy of Laemmle Theaters
This hit-or-miss affair offers some quietly touching gems

This anthology features nine gay-themed short films by director William Branden Blinn

The gay-themed shorts of filmmaker William Branden Blinn have been shown at a large variety of LGBTQ film festivals and can also be accessed via a popular YouTube channel. Now, nine of them made between 2008 and 2014 have been assembled in the new anthology collection Remarkable Shades of Gay, currently receiving is theatrical premiere at NYC's Cinema Village.

The results are, as usual for these sorts of affairs, rather hit-or-miss. The films, all of them directed by Blinn and mostly written or co-written by him as well, range from melodramatic to farcical, and often deal with coming out themes. Although varying wildly in quality, they all share a sympathetic outlook towards their often emotionally conflicted characters.

The opener, Thirteen or So Minutes, is one of the strongest, dealing with two straight men who suddenly act on their desires for each other, only to have one of them later question his impulse.

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On the other hand, there's the ridiculous He She We, in which an English-challenged Frenchman breaks up with his considerably older girlfriend for another man, with an awkward encounter between the three of them resulting in a torrid menage a trois and a silly happy ending. Comedy is clearly not one of the filmmaker's strengths, as also illustrated by the inane Truth or Dare in which a young woman discovers that her hunky, well-endowed boyfriend clearly swings both ways, and A La Carte, depicting the frenzied sexual encounter between an older married couple and the young man who has a thing for DILFs.

Spontaneous sexual encounters abound in the proceedings, such as in Chased, in which two male best friends act on their mutual attraction after being harassed by a street gang, and Toeing the Line, depicting the sexually charged reunion between two friends ten years after graduating high school.

The most effective pieces display a genuine tenderness. In Never or Now an older man hires a rent boy to fulfill his long repressed fantasy even while he's dying in a hospital bed. The quietly touching Without a Mom concerns two gay dads fumbling to respond to their straight son's anguish after he's dumped by his girlfriend.

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Blinn too often strains to hammer home his themes in the micro-budgeted pieces each running less than fifteen minutes. The technical aspects are merely adequate, and the performances are wildly uneven. But the best films display a genuine thoughtfulness and moments of insight, even if the mostly chiseled, handsome actors on display don't exactly represent a particularly wide range of physical types. But then again, that's true of most Hollywood productions as well.

Production: The Branden Blinn Media Group
Cast: Nick Soper, Carlos F. Salas, Adam Kalesperis, Gregg Rogen, Smith Crowe, Allen Weiss, Billy Bean, Austin Stowell, Taymour Ghazi, Lee Amir Cohen, William Jennings, Jesse Pepe, D'Andre Lampkin, Craig Jordan, Dmitri Teisenhausen, Carol Hannan, Kathrine Brunk Jennifer Jules Hart, Bruno Stazzu, Kym West
Director: William Branden Blinn
Screenwriters: William Branden Blinn, Taylor McPartland, Greg Phelan, Billy Bean
Producers: William Branden Blinn, Jason Durdon, Sean O'Byrne, Greg Phelan, Ashley Eberbach, Ezra Sean Kemp, Cisely Saldana, Rita Eid
Executive producers; Jorgee Ammer, Danny Torres, James Duval, Austin Anderson, Billy Bean, Michael S. Fuller, Tim Williams, Roderick Kiracofe
Directors of photography: Jonathan Benjamin, Johanthan Cohon, Thor Wixom, Sandra Valde-Hansen, Laurence Malloy, William Branden Blinn, Matthew Grace, JB Letchinger
Production designers: Brian Erzen, Wendall T. Brown, rockerick Kiracofe, Kelly Egan
Editors: William Branden Blinn, Austin Anderson, Edward Tabacchi, John McKnight
Composers: Nichola Quilter, Guy-Roger Duvert, Michael Hebert, Timothy Beck

Not rated, 126 min.