Reeling review: 'Tiger Orange' is 'original and entertaining'

Sun. September 21, 2014 12:53 PM by Gregg Shapiro

'Tiger Orange', Sept. 22, 2014, 9:15 p.m., Landmark Century Cinema

Wade Gasque's beautifully rendered Tiger Orange, a story of gay brothers Chet (Mark Strano, who also co-wrote screenplay with Gasque) and Todd (Frankie Valenti aka porn-star Johnny Hazzard) who different paths in life, like Ken Roht's Perfect Cowboy, has the ability to restore a person's faith in the lost art of gay indie American filmmaking. While it has enough similarities to Thomas Bezucha's 2000 masterpiece Big Eden to qualify as an homage, Tiger Orange is original and entertaining enough to stand on its own.

Set in a rural California town, just north of Los Angeles, Tiger Orange (whose title comes from a paint color sold at the hardware store inherited by Chet after his father died) utilizes flashbacks to illustrate the ways the brothers differed as children. Abandoned by their mother when they were small and raised by their perpetually raging father, Chet and Todd are as different as Brothers CAN be. Chet stayed behind after college to help his father with the store, while Todd got the hell out of town as fast as he could.

Chet, who lives alone in the cabin where he took care of his father until his death, has his safe and stable existence rocked by a pair of events. First, Brandon (Gregory Marcel), an old high school crush who has since come out as gay, returns to town to take care of his ailing mother. Second, tattooed and pierced Todd, who has basically been run out of L.A. following a series of unfavorable events, also returns to town, and wants to stay at the cabin with Chet.

As you might imagine, the set-up is rife with conflict. But what gives Tiger Orange its roar is the way that the astute and sensitive screenplay handles an array of situations, including the way gay people are able to coexist peacefully with straight folks in a suburban setting, as well as the portrayal of the complex sibling relationship that arises when both brothers are gay. Strano and Marcel are quite good, but it's Valenti, who like fellow porn actor Sean Lockhart (aka Brent Corrigan), proves there's more to him than what we've already seen.

Tiger Orange,  Sept. 22, 2014, 9:15 p.m., Landmark Century Cinema

Reeling: The Chicago International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival opened on Sept. 18 at the Music Box Theater on Southport and runs for a week through Sept. 25. The majority of the Reeling screenings take place at the Landmark Century Cinema in the Century Mall on Clark Street, with others being held at Chicago Filmmakers on Clark St. in Andersonville. Reeling schedule and tickets available at

Related:'s Gregg Shapiro provides a series of reviews of selected titles being screened at Reeling 32: Part One | Part Two | Part Three

Related: Interview with Frankie Valenti