The blog of Brandon Touhey

Private Romeo (Trailer) from The Film Collaborative on Vimeo.

I recently stumbled upon Alan Brown’s Private Romeo and thought I’d give it a try - though I’m not the biggest fan of Shakespeare (the film is an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet) - and enjoyed it so much that I decided I’d write a review.

Like I said, I’m not the biggest fan of Shakespeare (and was even less of a fan when I studied him in high school), but the way that Brown presents this film adaptation was very interesting. In a personal statement on the film’s website he says that Romeo and Juliet “is actually a much more modern, and relevant story about sexual identity and desire pitted against society and its institutions; about personal freedom and rights versus authority.”

Taking that into account before watching the film was helpful, because it shaped my understanding of the director’s interpretation. While I don’t necessarily agree that a military academy was the best setting (only because the majority of the characters were quite surprisingly accepting of the gay cadets), I believe that it’s possibly a glimpse into how society is progressing. Maybe the other cadets acceptance and encouragement of their friends getting together might be more prevalent in the future world.

Seth Numrich plays Romeo, and I felt a little confused because it took me quite some time to recognize that he was Romeo. Juliet, played by Matt Doyle, was much more easily identifiable as that character. Both men were excellent as the title characters (once I understood their roles, ha!), especially Doyle. I think I knew Doyle from his portrayal of Eric van der Woodsen’s boyfriend on Gossip Girl, but you might remember him from the Broadway musical Spring Awakening. I was much more impressed by Chris Bresky, who played the Nurse, and hope to see more of him (he has had guest spots on Numb3rs and Medium).

Overall, Private Romeo was a enjoyable love story that was acted well and could be enjoyed by many. Just don’t expect your typical romantic comedy style storyline - but don’t expect to find much difficulty following along either.

Private Romeo is available on Netflix as well as on DVD.

So I recently received a DVD of eCupid from a promotional contest between TLA Releasing and The Karpel Group, and I thought it was a really sweet movie. eCupid is written and directed by J. C. Calciano (Steam Room Stories, Mission: Impossible) and is about a man about to turn 30 who is unsatisfied with his 7-year relationship with his boyfriend. He turns to a dating app that seems to randomly appear on his electronic devices simultaneously - and the rest of the film is his journey to find true love.

I really enjoyed this film because it was a cute idea and the acting wasn’t terrible (gay indie films are unfortunately notorious for having sub-par acting… usually), but it paled in comparison to Calciano’s 2010 film, Is It Just Me? which surprised me by becoming one of my top gay indie films.

In general, I think that eCupid was put together excellently as a whole. The only part of the film I had a problem with was the writing, especially because the idea is such a silly one. It almost feels as if Calciano decided that the idea wasn’t good enough, and just ran with what he had, which is a sweet and very enjoyable romantic comedy. It was disappointing because with just a little more time and care, I think that eCupid could have been more substantial (like Is It Just Me?) and jumped out of the cheesy rom-com area that films like this seem to fall victim to.

If you’re looking for a great gay romantic comedy this isn’t the best one out there - but it’s not the worst either. If you’re looking for a fun light-hearted gay rom-com, however, then definitely check out this filmI really hope to see more gay films from J. C. Calciano - I’ll keep my eyes peeled!

eCupid is available for purchase on DVD and VOD from multiple retailers. Find out where to buy here.

Quite awhile back I received a DVD from The Karpel Group after I had won the TLA Releasing contest for the release of their DVD Jitters (directed by Baldvin Z). Unfortunately, after starting a new part time job and needing to attend a few events I wasn’t able to put up my review as quickly as I would have preferred. Sorry for the delay, but here it is:

I remember being very excited that I had won this DVD because it seemed like a great film, and I am already a huge fan of TLA Releasing’s catalog. That night I crawled into bed after setting the movie up in my laptop and popped on my V-Moda headphones (a standard protocol for me).

The film’s protagonist, Gabríel (Atli Oskar Fjalarsson), is introduced to us when he is on a study abroad trip to Manchester, England. He and his roommate, Markús (Haraldur Ari Stefánsson) hit it off almost immediately and their relationship is scrutinized by friends when they return to Iceland after the trip. It appears as if both boys are uncertain about their relationship as well, and it’s interesting to see the deductions they both make.

However, Jitters is not merely just a story of confused adolescents coming to terms with their sexualities. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by the many different thoughts and storylines covered in this film. For instance, two of Gabríel’s friends, Stella (Hreindís Ylva Garðarsdóttir) and Gréta (Birna Rún Eiríksdóttir) were perfect in their roles.

Actually, I was really taken aback by the acting ability of the entire cast. Generally gay-themed films are much more comedic and even if they are well done sometimes come across as amateurish, but that was not the case with Jitters. For instance, there were a few times where both Birna Rún Eiríksdóttir and Hreindís Ylva Garðarsdóttir stole the show. And on that thought… Lilja Guðrún Þorvaldsdóttir, who played Guðbjörg amma, was spot-on as Stella’s worried and paranoid grandmother. She delivered quite a heartbreaking performance which I’m sure I will never forget.

Jitters is a story of love, friendship, loss, misunderstanding, and above all growing up. I highly recommend you see it. Some parts did seem to drag on a little, but overall I really enjoyed this film and spent a good deal of time thinking about it afterwards.

Jitters is available on DVD or streaming video from TLA Video.