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East Side Story


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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Called a "feel good movie" by its fans, this appealing debut film of director Carlos Portugal suffers from no freshman errors, as Portugal confidently tells the story of Diego (played by the wonderful and charming René Alvarado), a young, closeted Latino, who helps his grand-mother (standout Irene DeBarri) run the family restaurant while carrying on a clandestine relationship with equally closeted Pablo (the delightful David Beron).

Diego has long felt trapped by the conservative culture of East LA and plans to move away and open an upscale restaurant, hopefully with his lover. But Pablo views their situation very differently - a point driven home when he begins dating Diego's spirited Aunt Bianca (hilarious sexpot Gladise Jimenez). At the same time, white gay men like Jonathan and Wesley are moving in, gentrifying the neighborhood. The attraction between Wesley and Diego is immediate and electric, forcing both men to reexamine their state of affairs in this entertaining comedic drama.

A "coming out" story that avoids all the tired cliches and stays committed to telling the stories of these characters, East Side Story examines bias of all kinds and features stirring performances by incredibly attractive actors. This story sweetly appeals to the romantic impulses of us all, gay and straight.

Amazon.com

Handsome restaurateur Diego (Rene Alvarado, Fall to Grace) thinks he has the perfect boyfriend--until Pablo (David Beron, Honor Thy Father and Mother: The True Story of the Menendez Murders) makes it clear he's not coming out of the closet, in case it might threaten his real estate business. Of course, Diego himself isn't out at work--until his flighty aunt Blanca (Gladys Jimenez, Tremors: The Series) casually reveals this to the homophobic staff. Heartbroken and alienated at work, Diego gets distracted when Wesley (Steve Callahan, Nine Lives) and Jonathan (Cory Schneider, The M.O. of M.I.), two hunky guys who are apparently allergic to shirts, move in next door. But as sparks start to fly with Wesley, Jonathan attempts to use racial strife as a tool against Diego. For a low-budget gay romance, East Side Story has broad ambitions, juxtaposing racism and homophobia without getting too heavy-handed with either. The script and the acting are a little wooden, but sincere warmth, flippant humor, unapologetic directness about its characters' lives, and a lot of well-muscled bodies give this movie its appeal. Irene DeBari, as Diego's grandmother, provides a lot of the movie's heart. --Bret Fetzer

Special Features

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Product Details

  • Actors: Luis Accinelli, René Alvarado, David Berón, Steve Callahan, Michael Cassady
  • Directors: Carlos Portugal
  • Format: Multiple Formats, NTSC, Color, Dolby, Closed-captioned
  • Language: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Wolfe Video
  • DVD Release Date: December 4, 2007
  • Run Time: 88 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000WDVNMO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,106 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "East Side Story" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By MattW on November 4, 2007
Format: DVD
Well done gay film that touches upon such universal themes as homophobia, racism, family, and of course, love. Well directed and acted, the film follows a Latino's crash course in love in the gay world. A slight of hand drama heavily punctuated with humour, I found this to be a very enjoyable, and for the most part, realistic portrayal of life, love, and gay culture. Recommended.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Robert Nunez on November 8, 2007
Format: DVD
I just saw this last night with an audience and everyone loved it. There was a lot of laughter as well as involvement with the fun cast of characters. This film is a lot of fun and avoids so many cliches seen in gay movies, Latino movies and romantic comedies. The cast is flawless and really knows how to deliver the humor without making it seem "jokey." I had a great time seeing this film.
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Format: DVD
Fresh young talent and a healthy dollop of enthusiasm serve as the springboard of this well written (Carlos Portugal and Charo Toledo), well directed (Carlos Portugal) and well acted exuberant story of those once perceived tightly closet doors of the East Los Angeles Hispanic community. Not that this is the first film to engage the topic of being gay in East LA - QUINCEAÑERA is another superb film on the subject - but it addresses so many other aspects of family and social life happening now that it deserves a wide audience. With a cast of newcomers coupled with some very fine veterans of the screen EAST SIDE STORY comes to life in a highly entertaining fashion.

Closeted schooled chef Diego Campos (a fine debut by René Alvarado) works as a waiter in his grandmother Sara's (elegant Irene DeBari) little Mexican restaurant where grumpy homophobic chef Don Rogelio (Luis Accinelli) presides in the kitchen. Diego dreams of opening his own restaurant but family ties keep him grounded. Diego's campy Aunt Bianca (Gladise Jimenez) returns from Monaco on one of her many expensive sojourns to find a man and changes begin to happen. Diego's equally closeted boyfriend Pablo Morales (David Berón) has been refusing to settle down in a relationship with Diego, claiming that the union is a 'passing fancy'. When Bianca enters, Pablo's attentions turn to the sexy lady and Diego is brokenhearted.

Into this mélange enters a white gay couple who buy a 'flip' house across the street, a signal to the neighborhood that gentrification is just around the corner. The couple - Wesley (Steve Callahan) and Jonathan (Cory Schneider) - meet the morose Diego and a match strikes between Diego and Wesley.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By S. Cisco on December 5, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Just watched this movie with my partner of 11 years and we both loved it!. This is the kind of gay movie that need to be made. Good story,acting and plenty of messages to think over. It brought back many feelings from my own life coming out.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Bob Lind on December 17, 2007
Format: DVD
In "East Side Story" (2006), Diego is a culinary school graduate who feels trapped working in his family's old-school Mexican restaurant in the East Los Angeles bario. Diego is also gay, but closeted from his family, and dating the even further closeted Pablo, a status-seeking realtor. When Diego is inadvertently "outed" by his aunt, Pablo decides he has to avoid him, and begins dating the aunt, pronouncing his secret affair with Diego as "just a phase." Meanwhile, Diego meets a gringo couple who moved in across the street, among the many gays who settled in the area to "turn it around", angering many of the current Latino residents. One half of the couple, Wesley, takes an immediate liking to Diego, which sets his partner, Jonathan, into a jealous hissy-fit. Diego's grandmother returns from a month-long trip to Mexico, to find her restaurant being boycotted by homophobic locals, while her daughter is making wedding plans with her grandson's former male lover!

It is a refreshing and highly amusing romantic comedy, presented by a talented cast of mostly newcomers. With a pollished look that belies its relative low budget, it's a noteworthy first-time writer/director credit for Carlos Portugal, one that received audience awards at several gay movie festivals. It is sexy without being overt, funny without being cartoonish or stereotypical, and the emotions portrayed can be related to by anyone, gay or straight. The DVD extras include deleted scenes, director and actor commentaries. Don't miss this one: five joyful stars out of five!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. D. Cipriano on October 25, 2008
Format: DVD
My boyfriend and I watched this movie for the very first time this past week. At first I didn't think it was going to be that good but I gave my boyfriend the benefit of the doubt and watched it anyways. I thought the one pretentious gay boyfriend was too stereotypical....unless that's the way they really are in L.A. Having seen some of the other gay movies that are out there, this is one of the better ones. It's one that I am going to add to my collection.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By LARRY on April 23, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Very few low-budget films are worth watching that deserves recommendation to friends. It's rarer to find/view films that addresses or contains gay Latinos.

Diego is a waiter/chef, who is stuck, by familial obligation, working for his grandmother's small Mexican restaurant. In addition, Diego has to deal with the homophobic head chef, whose rantings increase as more and more gay people are moving into the neighborhood. Diego wants to leave and pursue his dream of opening his own restaurant but his grandmother insists that he stays.

His life is pretty much monotone, including occasional trysts with Pablo. Diego wants to announce their relationship but Pablo doesn't see himself as gay. Pablo just enjoys an occasional man-to-man "bonding".

However, things change when heart-broken (& broke) Bianca returns home from Monaco. The grandmother suddenly takes off to her homeland for a visit, entrusting Bianca to help out Diego at the restaurant. Pablo dumps Diego for Bianca, who soon abandons helping out Diego.

Meanwhile, a new gay couple, Wesley and Jonathan, has moved into the neighborhood. Well, actually, they came to flip a house, which they'll move on to a new project. Wesley is truly interested in the neighborhood and tries to get to know Diego. Jonathan is a stereotypical character who thinks lowly of Latinos and is irked that Wesley is friendly with them, especially Diego. The different treatments of Latinos soon put their relationship to the test.

*East Side Story* is an enjoyable film that addresses homosexuality, sex, love, family and diversity.
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