Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 22, Ed. 1 Friday, October 14, 2011 Page: 20 of 48
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Gay-themed art house films dominate the movie landscape in Dallas this week: 'Gun Hill Road,' 'Toast,' 'Weekend'
ARNOLD WAYNE JONES I Life+Style Editor
It somehow seems appropriate that in the middle of October — Gay History Month — a trio of
gay art films arrive simultaneously on movie screens in North Texas.... And there's not even a
film festival in town. From a youthful coming-out comedy-drama to an intense story of a trans
kid in the barrio to oversexed gay men in Britain, the slate shows a panorama of gay experiences —
all compelling in their way.
Gun Hill Road
Enrique (Esai Morales) has just been released
from a three-year stretch in prison, planning to
reconnect with his wife Angela (Judy Reyes) and
teenaged son Michael (Harmony Santana). But
much has changed since he was sent up. Angela
has been emotionally if not physically unfaithful,
taking comfort with a neighbor much more sta-
ble and affectionate than Enrique. Michael is ter-
rified that his macho Puerto Rican
father will discover that on the
side, he identifies as trans; as
Vanessa, he even performs in the
local drag show.
Gun Hill Road is the kind of
movie that, even as you are watch-
ing it, you cannot help but think, "How did this
film get made?" I mean that in the best sense.
With a cast of well known if not exactly bankable
stars, it has some mojo behind it. But trans teens
in Hispanic culture? This doesn't exactly scream
"box office bonanza,''
Which is part of what makes it so daring. Most
coming out movies are distinct for being (a) silly
GUN HILL ROAD
Esai Morales, Harmony Santana,
Judy Reyes. Rated R. 100 mins.
Now playing at Angelika Film
Center Mockingbird Station.
comedies that are (b) about middle-class white ing.
folk. A drama set among Latinos, and one deal-
ing not just with cross-dressing but a transgen-
der teen protagonist? Well, such things are rarer
than a cogent sentence out of Sarah Palin's
mouth. The scenes where Vanessa recklessly ex-
plores transitioning with untested drugs and
procedures will make you squirm; it's like pre-
Roe ft Wade abortion movies, where people
forced into shame become SO desperate they
put themselves in danger.
So much of Gun Hill Road is
on the fringe, it is slightly dis-
appointing that the story ulti-
mately follows a well-worn
path of discovery, recrimina-
tion, reconciliation. Last year's
La Mission with Benjamin Bratt trod similar
ground, and was equally lacking in humor. La
Mission was also more brightly lit and briskly
Still, despite a few shortcomings, Gun Hill
Road delivers a lot of what it promises, thanks
to sincere performances by the three principals
in telling a story with insight and understand-
BOYS FITTING IN | A trans Latino teen (Harmony Santana, above left) worries about coming out to her vi-
olent dad (Esai Morales) in 'Gun Hill Road;' in 'Toast,' a British lad (Freddie Highmore, above far right) takes
solace from his miserable home life in the kitchen on his way to fame as a chef.
There's an unmistakable connection between
love, sex and food in the mind of young Nigel
Slater (Oscar Kennedy). His mother is not the
best cook — indeed, she seems to barely under-
stand the concept at all. She has never purchased
fresh produce ("You don't know where it's
been!" she clucks) and cooks
canned goods by dropping the
sealed cans in a pot of boiling
water. Nothing ever turns out as
anything close to edible, though
Nigel's dad (Ken Stott) doesn't
seem to notice. Most meals end
with mom slathering some butter on toast and
calling the effort a success, fit's impossible not
to love someone who makes toast for you,"
Nigel observes, though I'm not quite sure I see
It's become almost cliched that great chefs
grew up with mothers* Who couldn't boil water;
former Gourmet magazine editor Ruth Reichl
documented her own mom's incompetence in
memoirs like Tender at the Bow. So it is no sur-
Oscar Kennedy, Freddie Highmore,
Helena Bonham Carter. Not rated.
95 mins. Now playing at Angelika
Film Center Mockingbird Station.
prise that Nigel would grow up to be one of
Britain's most respected food writers and TV
cooking show hosts.
But Toast — the film adaptation of Slater's
memoir of growing up in 1960s England with a
distant father, a loving but unadventurous
mother and, eventually, a blowsy stepmom who
happens to be an expert cook —
is more than a whimsical com-
edy about a kid's love of food.
Indeed, aside from the overrid-
ing tone, it's not much of a com-
edy at all. There's death,
parent-child abuse, homophobia
and assorted feelings of anguish heaped on
young Nigel, who even at age 9 is beginning to
realize he's attracted to other boys and feels just
as lost in those feelings as he is in his love for
duck a l'orange.
Some of the comic tension comes about
halfway through in the form of Helena Bonham
Carter as Nigel's lower-class stepmother, a clean-
ing lady who woos his dad with her unrivaled
I QUEER, Page 22
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Nash, Tammye. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 22, Ed. 1 Friday, October 14, 2011, newspaper, October 14, 2011; Dallas, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth239189/m1/20/: accessed September 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.