Kevin McKidd has eyes for mens' groups in Bedrooms and Hallways

Gay Life in Reel Time

Finally Miami gets a proper gay and lesbian film fest, running through Sunday at the Colony and Alliance theaters. The celluloid marathon kicks off with a gala and the latest from Rose Troche, Bedrooms and Hallways, and ends with another gala and the star-studded trick. In between Miami will be presented with a rare treat, seventeen films -- local, national, and international -- that may or may not pass through our area again. Entwined (July 22 at 7:00 p.m. at the Colony Theater, 1040 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach) is a made-in-Miami feature by Raquel Harrington about a Cuban college student, her girlfriend, and her developing relationship with her professor, who also happens to have a girlfriend. El Grito en el Cielo (The Scream in the Sky) (July 23 at 7:00 p.m. at the Colony), from Felix Sabroso and Dunia Ayaso, is a Spanish flick starring Maria Conchita Alonso involving absurdist twists and turns not unlike the movies from that other quirky Spaniard, Pedro Almodovar. Head On is an Australian offering about clubs, drugs, and the sex life of a son of Greek immigrants, from lesbian director Ana Kokkinos. Clubs, along with muscles and steroids, are also part of the intriguing got 2b there, (July 24 at 11:00 p.m. at the Colony), which looks at circuit parties and includes commentary from writers, party promoters, and a few Miamians. (There will be an afterparty at Salvation.)

Longer reviews of films from the first annual Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival follow. Tickets are eight dollars (opening and closing nights are more), and receptions and parties cost extra. Call 305-534-9924 for details or see "Calendar Events," page 43.

Uncut (July 24 at 5:00 p.m. at the Alliance Cinema, 927 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach) is more proof, after L'escorte and Lilies, that Canada is producing first-rate gay celluloid. A group of men all named Peter play out a variety of personal obsessions (the Jackson Five, Pierre Trudeau, circumcision, censorship) in witty dramatizations, interviews, and documentary footage of everything from Trudeau's speeches to circumcision operations. Director John Greyson (also responsible for Lilies) invokes another Peter -- Greenaway -- in his visual game-playing, which includes text superimposed onscreen. In a subtly comic scene, two men cruise each other by "typing" on imaginary typewriters, while their sexy messages appear as subtitles. Windowbox inserts offer oblique commentary on the action occupying the rest of the frame. Greyson's bracing mix of documentary and dramatics makes Uncut refreshingly unclassifiable. -- Gary Morris

The British-made Bedrooms and Hallways (July 21 at 7:30 p.m. at the Colony Theater) has all the makings of a breakout hit, even with straight audiences. The second feature from director Rose Troche, this comedy of gay male manners is radically different from her 1993 no-budget debut film about New York lesbian bohemia, Go Fish. And Troche more than rises to the challenge, marking her as someone sure to crop up on studio short lists of directors of sophisticated adult fare. The clever script by Robert Farrar centers around a shy, just-turned-30 gay guy named Leo (Kevin McKidd) who joins a men's consciousness-raising group to brighten up his life -- only to find himself having an affair with one of its otherwise-straight members (James Purefoy). Complications ensue when Leo discovers his new amour is the ex-lover of an old female friend (Jennifer Ehle). And when he begins to spark with her, that, as they say on the sitcoms, is where the fun really starts.

The principal trio is fine, and Simon Callow (of Merchant-Ivory fame) is quite funny as the painfully sincere men's group leader. But the best scenes belong to Tom Hollander (Saffron's horrid fiancé on Absolutely Fabulous) as Leo's sharp-tongued roommate who's having an affair with a real estate agent (Hugo Weaving of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) who loves nothing better than to stage trysts in the houses he's selling. -- David Ehrenstein

But what about a nice comedy with some cute half-naked boys in it? I hear you ask. The answer comes on the festival's closing-night attraction, trick (July 25 at 7:30 p.m. at the Colony). Sharply directed by Jim Fall, from a surprisingly clever script by Jason Schafer, this very romantic comedy tells of the frustrating evening a would-be Broadway show composer (Christian Campbell) spends with a charming go-go boy (J.P. Pitok) when neither of them can find a place for a tryst. Adorable as the two leads may be, they aren't the whole show.

Fall gets standout cameos from Steve Hayes, as the hero's lovelorn music teacher; Lorri Bagley, as his straight roommate's couples-therapy-besotted girlfriend; and Clinton Leupp, a.k.a. Miss Coco Peru, as a viper-tongued drag queen. And not to mention Tori Spelling. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you read that right: Tori Spelling. As a musical celeb wannabe who has hitched her wagon to the young composer's star, the Beverly Hills 90210 diva pulls, seemingly out of nowhere, a knock-down-drag-out-honey-of-a-comic performance, climaxed by her delivery of a line sure to enter movie history: "And I don't care if I'm lactose-intolerant. I want those cheese fries!" A star is reborn.


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