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Friday Film Fest: Duane Boutte

Having faced tragedy, Bostonia (Duane Boutte) has to face the reality of life

Having faced tragedy, Bostonia (Duane Boutte) has to face the reality of life

Stonewall- 1995

Let's be real when it came to the 1990's and movies within the decade. Most of them sucked, but occasionally there was one movie that was so good it was overlooked.

And this is one of those very rare little gems that really didn't have a chance to shine. It's probably one of the best movies that you've never seen.

Set in the days before the Stonewall riots, Matty Dean (Frederick Weller) comes to New York looking to live the life he wants to lead and spreading the word that it's okay to be gay.

After getting off the bus, he meets sex worker La Miranda (Guillermo Diaz) and the two hit it off.

La Miranda takes him to the Stonewall Inn when the cops come in and ask the patrons to produce ID. Some are roughed up for refusing to take off their makeup and while La Miranda is defiant, she holds her head high as she's being humiliated. Matty goes to her defense and the two are arrested.

The next day den mother to the drags, Bostonia (Duane Boutte) bails them out and scolds the two while sitting in her limousine.

Once Bostonia is done holding court, La Miranda takes Matty Dean back to her apartment where she receives a draft notice and once in her apartment, the two get to know one another by talking for hours.

One reason Matty Dean came to New York was so that he could join the Mattachine Society and help with protesting. At his first meeting he meets Ethan (Brendan Corbalis) a writer and eventually someone he has non-meaning fling with following a protest in Philadelphia.

On the day that La Miranda is scheduled to report to the induction center, she does so in full drag and is ordered to have a full psychological evaluation. She confesses her fear of psychiatrists to Matty Dean and he goes in for her. Following the evaluation, he tells her that he loves her, which throws La Miranda into being giddy because those are words that she's only ever dreamed of hearing.

And the same goes for Bostonia, since she's been having a secret affair with Vinnie (Bruce MacVittie) the mob boss who runs the Inn. Her dream for the couple is to go outside of her apartment together, like a real couple. This pressure sometimes makes him violent, and while not having laid a hand on her, his guilt eats away at him.

When the Society has their protest in Philadelphia, organizer Burt (Peter Ratray) is upset that two police officers and a couple have shown up for it. He plans another event, a "sip-in" and brings along a reporter and photographer from the Village Voice.

The plan behind the event was to show that when in a straight establishment, if it was announced that the customer was gay, the establishment would refuse the customer service. Burt's plan backfires, until they get to the Stonewall, where bartender Princess Ernestine (Michael McElroy) refuses service to them.

Burt keeps taunting her and Bostonia steps in to scold her on how she didn't refuse service to the group. Princess Ernestine tells her that she refused service three times and Bostonia wants to hear her refuse service.

This satisfies Burt and later he and Bostonia are on the dancefloor slow dancing as he tells her about himself and what he had hoped to accomplish with the group. As they dance, they reminisce about the good old days.

Ethan makes fun of La Miranda and Matty Dean again comes to her defense and tells him that he doesn't want to see him anymore as he tells her again that he's in love with her.

Bostonia is upset at Vinnie for suggesting that she have a sex change operation and she's also upset over the death of Judy Garland.

With a new sense of purpose, he proposes to her about going out to a fancy restaurant for some ice cream. Bostonia is over the moon as the two go out and she ignores the looks and not so polite whispering from the other patrons.

Following a personal tragedy, Bostonia works the Inn the next night and the club is raided once more. This time, the patrons mock the officers and as they are led out to the paddy wagon, Bostonia has had enough and throws the first punch which start the riots.

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This isn't just a movie about the riots, but also a love story, a story of acceptance, loyalty and friendship.

The dialogue is witty at times, and you can't but love the characters since they're extremely well-acted and you really do care about them and the Greek Chorus between some scenes is peppered with just the right amount of those '60's hits and while it seems cliched, it works and helps to advance the story and characters.

Langston Hughes (Daniel Sunjata) Zora (Aunjaneu Ellis) Wally (Ray Ford) and Bruce celebrate their magazine Fire!!

Langston Hughes (Daniel Sunjata) Zora (Aunjaneu Ellis) Wally (Ray Ford) and Bruce celebrate their magazine Fire!!

Brother to Brother- 2004

I admit that this was the first time that I've watched this movie. I'm not sure why I put it off for so long, but I've always thought that it took place sometime in the late 1920's, early '30's and I'm not really a fan of that time period.

However, this movie is a balance of modern time (well 2004) and the past as it tells the story of Bruce Nugent (Roger Robinson in 2004 and Boutte in the past).

The older Bruce meets Perry (Anthony Mackie) at a homeless shelter in New York.

At first, Perry doesn't recognize Bruce after having met outside a brownstone with his best friend Marcus (Larry Gilliard, Jr.) where he's reciting his latest poem to Perry. Bruce steps in and recites what he had wrote when he was younger and then moves on.

The friendship between Marcus and Perry is solid as the two are each other's biggest supporters. It doesn't bother Marcus that Perry is gay, and he tells him that he's always on the lookout for a man for him. Perry just laughs, which he tries to hide his own heartbreak.

Perry is an angry college student who was thrown out of his house after he was caught with another guy in his bedroom. His father has forbidden him to come home and as a young artist, he's getting ready for his first "big" show.

One night after going out with one of his other friends, Jim (Alex Burns) the two are in Perry's dorm room and Jim puts in an interracial gay porn tape. He stares at the television screen as Perry makes his move and keeps asking Jim if it's all right. They both know that they're getting ready to cross the line and their friendship will change if they go all the way.

Later, Jim gets out of bed and tells Perry that he's going back to his room and that he'll talk to him later.

Bruce and Perry begin a friendship and he begins to tell him what life was like for him when he was younger, as well what the gay lifestyle was back then and life in general.

As "the angel" of the movie, it's Bruce's purpose to help Perry and to show him that he has a long life ahead of him and the possibilities are endless, even though the world is still in turmoil.

Perry appreciates the stories that Bruce shares so freely and his desire is to have a life like Bruce's without any mental hang ups. He just wants to be happy and as Bruce asks his friend, Sam (Adam Wade) a bartender, what do you say to someone who's life you've already "seen?" Bruce has the ability to already know what lies ahead for Perry.

But Perry has a classmate (Billoah Greene) in his Black Political Struggle class, who downright hates him and everything that he stands for. He's always trying to stir up trouble and one night he hunts Perry down and has his thug friends beat him up, while on the way to the abandoned house that Bruce used to share with his friends.

When the movie shifts back to when Bruce was younger (these flashbacks are probably my favorite) the tone of the movie also changes. It's lighter and all of the friends are having a riotous time and don't seem to have a care in the world. The friends put out a magazine which fails, but they believe in what they're doing, and they strive to make the world a much better place for everyone.

With the modern-day sequences, you really root for Perry, but his character is so full of angst that he prefers to be by himself. In a way, I guess we all do, and he just wants to be alone.

He doesn't fully understand that Bruce did become his best friend without his knowing it and he did learn from him, which was what Bruce's intention was to do. By listening to him, Perry hopefully won't make the wrong decisions in life and should always listen to what's in his heart.

Without an open heart you're bound to miss all of the opportunities which come your way and at the end of the movie, there's a short poem written by Langston Hughes which really sums up the movie.

You Belong to Me- 2007

The worst four letter word isn't what you're thinking.

It's l-o-v-e and it's the cruelest word in any language.

New York architect, Jeffrey (Daniel Sauli) hopes that he's about to have it all. He's having a very casual affair with Rene' (Julien Lucas) and he thinks that Rene' likes him in the same way. Rene' doesn't have any emotional feelings for him and it's just sex.

Through his eyes, Jeffrey doesn't realize this, but his roommate Nicki (Heather Simms) sees through the facade and doesn't like Rene'. She never has and never will.

When she lets Jeffrey's dog, Max (Celine) is whining at the bedroom door, Nicki lets the dog in just as Rene' is getting out of bed. He turns down Jeffrey's offer for pancakes by saying that he has to be somewhere and brushes past Nicki, followed by Jeffrey.

Once Rene' has left, the two have an argument and after getting dressed, he takes Max out for a walk, where he sees Rene' with his boyfriend, Robert.

Jeffrey doesn't know about Robert, and he follows the couple to their apartment building and as he's looking through the door, the building's owner, Gladys (Patti D'Arbanville) startles him by asking if he's interested in seeing the vacant apartment.

He doesn't know about the apartment and when she points out the sign, he tells her that he is, and she takes him up to see it.

During the tour she tells him about the tenant who lived there and that he just up and left and if he wants, he can take whatever he wants. He tells her that he wants the apartment (so that he can be close to Rene') and she tells him that there are two other applicants before him.

Gladys takes an immediate liking to him and when he gets back to his apartment, he tells Nicki that he found a place and will be moving out soon. She gets mad at him because now that he's gone, her boyfriend will want to move in with her.

Jeffrey spends some time getting the place ready and when it's up to his satisfaction moves in and tries to figure out how he's going to "bump into" Rene'.

After he does, he acts surprised, and Gladys tells him that she had hoped to introduce the two. Again, he doesn't want anything to do with him and one night, he invites himself over to Rene's with a bottle of wine.

Robert opens the door and Jeffrey sees that they're having a party and Robert introduces himself as Rene's boyfriend. Although he's crushed, he has a miserable time at the party and is shocked to see Gladys there playing hostess.

And this is where the review ends because from this point on, things get really weird and there are so many twists and turns that I don't want to spoil anything.

I can tell you that there's lies, secrets, obsession and murder in this building, but who's obsessed with who, who's telling lies and who gets murdered?

While not really an edge of your seat thriller, it is a decent little thriller and will keep you guessing until the end.

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