High nooner

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LAID ON END Jeff (Jonathan Groff, left) seduces three women but is cursed with talking to them as well in the unfocussed sex parable ‘Twelve Thirty.’

Even getting ‘Glee’ star Jonathan Groff naked can’t make ‘Twelve Thirty’ interesting

In classic 18th century picaresque novels, young men bounce bawdily from maiden bed to maiden bed, banging a few horny housewives in between, usually in service of a comic satire of sexual liberation peppered with commentary on politics and cultural mores. They are lascivious and funny — that’s what gets people reading them. It’s what makes them part of a genre.

Twelve Thirty follows a similar structure — Jeff (Glee’s Jonathan Groff), a flirtatious young man, claims sexual inexperience but gets laid more often than beige carpeting during a remnants sale, bedding two sisters and their mother. But the thing is, the film isn’t especially (at all?) funny; it has a frank, raw energy (there’s a good deal of sex and nudity) and it’s character-driven with intensive exposition, but it doesn’t amount to much.

Twelve Thirty is ripe with sexual liberation and tons of quirk, but the quirkiness feels forced. Writer-director Jeff Lipsky’s style echoes indie filmmakers Henry Jaglom and Hal Hartley: It’s sophisticated and smart in a cocktail-party-chatter way, but the emotions are treated with academic aloofness. You don’t feel the movie, you merely experience it.

Lipsky doesn’t mind addressing sex, or even showing sex pretty explicitly, but he prefers to talk about sex. And talk and talk and talk. (The title, I’m guessing, is a joke about having a “nooner” — after it’s over, you still need to find something to talk about from 12:30 on.) So, we get a few tantalizing moments of a naked Groff (and some naked ladies, including a surprisingly perky Karen Young), but much, much more conversation. If the dialogue were scintillating, that might suffice. But while the characters are painstakingly conceived (Young’s character, the mother of two girls, is a furrier who still sleeps with her gay ex-husband), there’s not much insight and the chats generally go nowhere (two British women turn up for moments of colorful backstory, then disappear). The film does take a dark turn bordering on cruelty or madness, but then ends as suddenly as it began. Huh?

The film itself has as much a crisis of identity as Jeff himself: It’s a romantic comedy in search of comedy. And romance.

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— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 20, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Slender read

Our critic looks at the best in gay li

Freeman Hall
Freeman Hall

The holidays are a good time to curl up with a book — or get one for the hard-to-shop-for literati in your life. Here are my suggestions for the best of the last year or so for the queer audience.

Best novel with a twist, 2010: Room by Emma Donoghue. You’ve undoubtedly heard a lot about this book — all of it true. Room is a bit of a challenge at the outset, but the plotline will grab you, especially if you let your own imagination run wild. What would you do if you’d never seen the world from anywhere but TV?

Best novel with a twist, ever: Five Minutes and 42 Seconds by T.J. Williams. There are drugs in the house, and you’ve got to get rid of them. The feds know about the drugs and they’re on their way. I added this oldie-but-a-goodie because it’s quick to read, it’s action-packed, it’s wildly fun and because it’s my list, right?

Best slam-bang didn’t-see-it-coming novel ever: So You Call Yourself a Man by Carl Weber. I wish I could tell you why. I’d love to give you reasons, and you’d understand why I screamed and laughed like I needed a straitjacket. But if I told you, then you’d see it coming, wouldn’t you?

Best humorist: Freeman Hall. As if Retail Hell wasn’t enough to make you laugh ‘til you peed your pants, along comes Stuff That Makes a Gay Heart Weep. Hall’s books are the kind you read when you’re tired of wallowing in pity and need a snarky snicker.

E. Lynn Harris
E. Lynn Harris

Close runner-up: Wade Rouse.

Author who will be missed most: E. Lynn Harris. Hands-down.

Novel that camps like Yosemite: Divas Las Vegas by Rob Rosen. Fun, silly, rompish and vintage Vegas, this mystery-ish novel about two friends in Sin City needs to be read in a tent by flashlight while eating s’mores.

Best book to share with mom: Where’s My Wand? by Eric Poole. A coming-of-age story with a bedspread, this book is cute, gentle and funny. My own mother loved it, and if you can’t believe a mom, who can you believe?

Close runner up, and sharable with your sister, too: Rhinestone Sisterhood by David Valdes Greenwood.

Happy reading!

— Terri Schlichenmeyer

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 24, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Another gay day at the State Fair? Sorta kinda

As the State Fair winds down, the countdown is on to closing time on Sunday. But between now and then, there is lots to squeeze in. Fried Frito pies and corn dogs must still be had. And if you find the fried s’mores, tell me where they are. They seemed to have moved from their regular spot.

The unofficial official gay day was last weekend and we guess it went OK. But if you need some more fellowship and family, the Dallas Bears are heading out to the Fair on Saturday. The group put an open invitation out on Facebook to join them at noon at the main gate. But by the looks of the RSVPs and one guy’s comment, I imagine they are hoping for a few more to say yes:

Norman Come on there has to be more then just five of us going! Actually six I’m bringing a buddy with me.

In other bear news — which is really leather news but by the looks of it, bears fit in — the L.A. Eagle screened a preview of the upcoming movie Jackass 3D with star Johnny Knoxville in tow. The best part of it is they made it into a trailer for the flick. Yeah, Knoxville seems to know how the show plays up some major homo-eroticism when he talked to Vanity Fair.

“We always thought it was funny to force a heterosexual MTV generation to deal with all of our thongs and homoerotic humor. In many ways, all our gay humor has been a humanitarian attack against homophobia. We’ve been trying to rid the world of homophobia for years, and I think gay people really dig it too.”

Priceless.

—  Rich Lopez