Come out to a movie

Reno Gay and Lesbian Film Festival

Roommates Shane (Michael Legge) and Vincent (Allan Leech) help each other navigate their early 20s in the Irish film <i>Cowboys and Angels</i>.

Roommates Shane (Michael Legge) and Vincent (Allan Leech) help each other navigate their early 20s in the Irish film Cowboys and Angels.

Cinemareno and gay social/cultural group Spectrum Northern Nevada are gearing up to present the third annual Reno Gay and Lesbian Film Festival at the Reno Hilton. Here’s a look at a few of the six films making their Reno premiers during the day-long festival.

In Dorian Blues, we meet Dorian (Michael McMillian) in his senior year of high school, around the time he realizes he’s gay. We’ve already met his overbearing, politically conservative father (Steven Fletcher), who lauds Richard Nixon as a hero and belittles Dorian for the JFK poster in his bedroom.

Dorian tries to come out to his mother (Maureen Quigley), but she’s distracted and emotionally unavailable.

His brother, Nicky (Lea Coco), a junior, is the high-school football star and the apple of Dad’s eye. Dorian confides in Nicky, who is surprisingly supportive. Dorian is overwhelmed with his new sexual identity, and he asks Nicky to teach him how to “be straight.” Nicky’s response is heartwarming and delicate, and they give it a shot. Of course it doesn’t take, and Dorian resolves to tell his father he’s gay.

The movie moves easily between comedy and drama, and it strikes a balance between emotional honesty and refreshingly guileless dialogue. Dorian is rendered with so much precision and wit that it’s easy to invest in the drama of his inner life.

When Dorian comes out to his father, it goes worse than expected. He gets kicked out of the house. Eventually, he lands at New York University, where he grows into himself in the city, making new friends and coping with his first real boyfriend. The final reel holds too many surprises to reveal here, but the denouement serves to enrich not only Dorian’s understanding of himself but our view of the family as a whole.

Cowboys and Angels, a slick feature production from Ireland, is lighter in tone and has sugary charm to burn. Shane (Michael Legge) is an insecure, unpopular 20-year-old who’s just moved to the city (this time, Limerick) with a roommate he barely knows. Vincent (Allen Leech) is a fashion-design student who has more hair care products than can fit in their tiny bathroom.

Shane works a boring civil-servant job and Vincent gets into the clubs that turn Shane away at the door. Shane wanders the city, buying french fries and feeling lonely. When he gets an offer he can’t refuse from the drug-dealing neighbor, drama and hijinks ensue that threaten to plummet the movie into silliness. The director deftly handles numerous subplots, charming characters and tight dialogue to keep the focus on the emotional journey that Shane and Vincent find themselves sharing.

Saturday’s last movie, Inescapable, revolves around two lesbian couples who spend a week together, while one-half of each couple attends professional conferences together. The two girlfriends left at home begin a love affair that threatens to undermine the security of their primary relationships.

The director didn’t have much to work with here: stilted dialogue, bad acting, no lighting budget and a repetitive soundtrack. The film does have two enthusiastic actresses, Natalie Anderson and Athena Demos, who aren’t afraid of full-frontal nudity or explicit oral sex. The story pretends to go somewhere, but you won’t believe it.