Sunday, March 26, 2006

Science fiction and fantasy update.

The miniseries Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King premieres on the SciFi Channel tomorrow night. It’s based on a myth that inspired The Lord of the Rings, and it looks exciting!

I’ve recently posted the following:

The Return of Innocence: A Fantasy Adventure: Prologue and Chapter 1

Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure: Prologue and Chapter 1

Friday, March 17, 2006

Upcoming book release: The Return of Innocence: A Fantasy Adventure. See that page for an excerpt, related keywords, and more!

Ice Men.

Review by Duane Simolke, author of Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure, for This Week In Texas.

Exploring some of the same themes of masculinity, repression, and violence found in Brokeback Mountain and the unfairly obscure Wolfe Video release Rites of Passage, Ice Men involves five men in a cabin during a cold winter weekend.

Jon (Greg Spottiswood) may or may not be the only gay character, but something happens between him and Steve (James Thomas). Vaughn (Martin Cummins) and his brother Trevor (Ian Tracey) seethe with resentment toward each other, a resentment that seems tied to regrets, an abusive father, and the cabin itself. David Hewlett, known to science fiction fans for his annoying yet lovable role on TV’s StarGate Atlantis, provides comic relief as Bryan, but also proves tragic and disillusioned. Vaughn’s ex-wife Renee (Brandy Ledford) appears long enough to turn the men further against each other.

If this movie sounds incredibly sad, it certainly leans that way at times. But the acting and the photography make it well worth seeing. Director Thom Best, a director and cinematographer for Queer As Folk, captures the taut emotions and the ways friendship can survive, even when friends don’t always seem to like each other.

Attack of the Bride Monster.
Review by Duane Simolke, author of Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure, for This Week In Texas.

Currently screening at various gay film festivals, the 17-minute comedy Attack of the Bride Monster winks at 1950s-style romance movies and monster movies. It also takes a high camp look at gay marriage controversies and news stories.

As with those 1950s monster movies, the paranoid fears affect different people in different ways. Two lesbians discuss the direction of their 25-year relationship while watching TV coverage of gay marriages taking place around the country. They have been happy and committed, but the Bride Monster takes hold of one of them, demanding a commitment to an institution that the other woman finds questionable. While they hear the Christian right voicing fear of gay marriage, some of the gays in this short film express fears of conformity. Sound familiar?

Austin residents Leslie Belt (writer/producer), Vicky Boone (director/producer), and PJ Raval (cinematographer) created this silly but charming film. It received Best of the Best in the Houston Gay Lesbian Film Festival in September 2005 and the McMullen-Sullivan Founders Award in the Out Takes Dallas Film Festival in November 2005. Visit for a list of upcoming screenings.

Regarding Billy.

Review by Duane Simolke, author of Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure, for This Week In Texas.

Writer/director/producer Jeff London (And Then Came Summer) presents another character-driven story. Regarding Billy only features three actors. Ronnie Kerr plays Billy, who must care for his mentally challenged brother, Johnny (Jack Sway), after their parents die. Returning from the Gulf War, Billy’s friend Dean (Jason Van Eman) moves in with Billy and Johnny.

Besides the small cast, the setting also remains small. Despite images of the surrounding town and its boats, interspersed with images of Iraq, all of the dialogue takes place within Billy and Johnny’s home. Far from limiting the movie, however, the house’s small rooms push the characters together, where Billy must face the simultaneous challenges of watching over his brother and of admitting to his romantic feelings for his best friend.

The tender relationships in this movie will make it too syrupy for some viewers, but I loved it. Rather than relying on a big budget or on shouting matches between the characters, London lets their story quietly unfold. Of course, it wouldn’t work at all without a good cast, and all three actors carry the movie well.