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'29th and Gay' is the movie for the gay everyman. Following a year in the life of James Sanchez, it's a story about a guy rapidly approaching thirty, who doesn't have a six-pack, full head of hair or a boyfriend. While his best friend Roxy, an actress-turned-activist, struggles with showing him there's life beyond the glitz of the disco ball, his other friend, Brandon, one of those gay boys comfortable in his own gay skin, works on getting James to at least talk to a boy. Feeling out of place in the world of circuit boys, caught between his Hispanic-American heritage and being gay, we watch James find his place in the world, realizing that life is in the journey, not the destination. Written by
Having heard good things about this small independent labor of love, I drove down from Los Angeles to see it at the Temecula International Film Festival. I'm glad to report that 29th and Gay absolutely lived up to my expectations. Writer/star James Vasquez has fashioned what must be at least a semi-autobiographical comedy about a gay Everyman (also named James) who can't seem to get either an acting job or a boyfriend.
Luckily James has two very loving and supportive best friends: straight female Roxy, winningly played by Nicole Marcks, and gayer than gay Brandon, portrayed by handsome and adorable David McBean. Both keep pushing James to get out more; unfortunately Brandon doesn't realize that while he may arrive at a club with buddy James, ditching him to go home with tonight's trick is not the kindest way to treat a best friend. (Luckily Brandon (and McBean) get to show a deeper and more sensitive side in one of the film's later scenes.) James also has very (a bit overly?) supportive parents, especially an uberPFLAG mom, brought to three dimensional life by the delightful Annie Hinton. (You have to be VERY gay supportive to buy your son a sling for his birthday!)
As he searches for an acting break and Mr. Right, James discovers the Internet and has a perfect first date with Michael, all the while longing for coffee bar server Andy (the oh so cute and talented Mike Doyle, whom I had never heard of before but turns out to be quite a deservingly busy actor with Hollywood leading man potential). James can't seem to avoid becoming a superklutz whenever he's around Andy, leading him to feel there is no hope for Mr. Average to win the heart of Mr. Perfect.
29th and Gay is filled with funny scenes and superb supporting performances. Gorgeous Adam Greer, who wasn't quite believable enough for me as a gay man in Straight Jacket, is spot on perfect in a funny/poignant scene as an old school friend of James who's been with Mr. Right for five years already, all the time James has been Mr. Eversingle. Another superlative Straight Jacket alum, Michael Emerson, once again steals scenes as an "acting" colleague of James. Finally, there's funny girl Kali Rocha, hilarious as the blood-drawing nurse from hell (with a heart).
Carrie Preston (the adorable star of the wonderful aforementioned Straight Jacket and one of the two slutty cousins in My Best Friend's Wedding) is 29th and Gay's director, and it's an auspicious debut for her. Out actor/singer Malcolm Gets sings the lovely end title song. Finally Vasquez' real life boyfriend Mark Holmes not only co-produced but assumed perhaps a dozen other hats behind the scenes, judging from the number of times his name popped up in the end titles.
There are those who will say we don't need yet another story about a gay man's dating woes. I'm not one of them. For me, there can never be enough ways to tell and retell our stories, and the uniqueness of James Vasquez' point of view and the talent of his cast and crew make this film an absolute winner for me.
As a writer, James Vasquez has fashioned a film for those who may not often see themselves represented in "queer cinema." As an actor, he has not a false moment, and like many a star, can look absolutely average in one scene and take home to mother handsome in another. Hopefully we'll see a lot more of Vasquez' work in the future.
I laughed. I cried. I loved it!
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