|Index||6 reviews in total|
I'm going to do something I've never done before--give a good rating to
a movie that's so bad I could hardly watch 95% of it. That's because
there are three very peripheral things about this movie that I like so
much they go a long way toward compensating for the mess it is in
Just about every negative comment about this movie in other reviews is true. It's a muddled mess that doesn't know what it wants to be, trying at various times to be funny, touching, topical, sexy, tragic and transcendent, and succeeding at none of them. It doesn't even know what its title is. In the opening credits, it's called Heaven's a Drag; in the end credits and on the DVD, it's called To Die For. (It was released the year before Gus Van Sant's much more famous and completely unrelated To Die For, starring Nicole Kidman, so the title wasn't stolen; the same title had been used for a Dracula movie several years before either of these movies was made anyway.) Ordinarily this movie wouldn't deserve more than a couple of stars at most. But now for the good stuff, the three things that together move me to praise it despite its very serious flaws.
First of all, this movie has a huge heart. Practically nobody involved seems to have any talent at all. Everything a good movie needs--competent screenplay, direction, cinematography, acting, etc--is lacking. But its good intentions are as pure and true and clear as its execution is muddled. A lot of people cared a lot about this movie, and it shows. I don't know HOW it shows, but it does. I've never before rewarded good intentions alone in reviewing a movie, and I might not in this case either if the other two factors weren't working in its favor too.
Second, there's something very appealing and attractive about Ian Williams, who plays the drag performer Mark. His performance in this movie isn't much better than anything else about it, but the man himself is unusual and unusually interesting. His speaking voice, for one thing, is lovely.
Third (and I've saved the best for last) is Ruth Wallis's fabulous song "Queer Things (are happening to me)." The song plays during the opening credits and carries into the first two scenes, where Mark is preparing for and then doing his drag performance to it. (Another reviewer ridiculed the fact that this evidently is the only song Mark knows, but it's good enough to carry several whole drag careers single-handed, if you ask me).
I'd never heard this song before, and I'd never heard of Ruth Wallis, but it and she are a joy, and Williams's act accompanying it is superb. I must have watched the first two and a half minutes of the movie 20 or 30 times just for the delight of hearing the song and watching his act, and I haven't come close to being tired of it yet.
So for its big heart, for Ian Williams's personal charm, and most of all for "Queer Things," I heartily recommend watching the first two and a half minutes of this movie. That's not much, but it's well worth it.
I had read a few positive reviews of this film, and was truly surprised at
how dreadful the whole thing was. Positioned as some cross between an
AIDS-related story and some kind of "Ghost"/"Blithe Spirit" tale, this film
can't always make it's mind up what it wants to be.
Simon and Mark are a gay couple who have an "open" relationship - Simon is able to have anonymous (though safe) sex on the side when he wants. Mark is HIV+ and he and Simon don't seem to have a sex life anymore. When Mark dies, Simon - who has made a habit of shutting off his emotions after being rejected years ago by his father - tries to erase his memory and just get on with being a bachelor. Not that his behavior before Mark's death was much different. But Mark returns in ghostly form and foils his various trysts, while getting Simon to open up and admit his true feelings.
Unfortunately, Simon is such a selfish SOB, it's impossible to feel any empathy toward him for most of the film. By the time he is supposed to be more sympathetic, it's too late to care. Mark, on the other hand, follows in Demi Moore's footsteps from "Ghost," by crying profusely throughout the movie.
There is a bizarre switch in tone after Mark returns. Suddenly we get some lame attempts at humor, a la the TV show "Bewitched." But that doesn't last long. Once Simon's emotional health is at stake, the whole thing becomes increasingly mawkish, with amateurish attempts to jerk at your heartstrings. The finale, with a gold-plated muscle-boy angel guiding a tearful Mark to heaven while a chastened, grief-stricken Simon waves goodbye is just stupefying, chiefly because it isn't intentionally funny.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I love watching disconnected movies with parts of hilarity intersperced. However, this movie was so serious and about a guy dying from AIDS and then the hilarious things that occur as he comes back from the dead to help his lover grow up. The supporting story line was much better than the cable guy/drag queen story line. Maybe that's why I continued to watch this. I just could not get the seriousness/comedy going between the two main characters. Maybe because I know people who have AIDS and those who have died. The ending was purely GHOST and was a good ending but still, I was more interested in the relationship between the neighbor and her beau.
I've always been fascinated by films dealing with the afterlife, ranging from "A Matter of life and Death" to "City of Angels". Like those, romance has a central part to play here. Mark is a hopeless romantic, HIV positive & is obsessed with death and remembrance. He is indulgent of his partner, Simon's, desire to sleep with other men. Simon has a troubled background and has locked away his emotions. However when Mark dies, failing to reach heaven, he haunts Simon in a possessive manner. This leads to comical and embarrassing situations. More humour is provided by their drunken neighbour and her inept, politically correct, fiancée. It also forces both lovers to re-evaluate their relationship, with highly emotional scenes. (So avoid if you're not into sentiment.) I loved the ending, which made me cry. Both actors are fantastic. Fans of these themes will not be disappointed.
Mark, a drag performer and Simon, a cable TV installer, live together but
have an open relationship. Mark is dying of AIDS and Simon is sleeping
around. Simon has always been the undemonstrative type ever since a coming
out fight with his father years ago. While Mark tolerated Simon's sleeping
around while he was alive, he won't have it now that he's dead.
Simon thinks he's ready to move on, but how can he with Mark interfering?
This film has an interesting premise and does touch upon some valid points but it is a bit lightweight and we don't care for the couple or their relationship as much as we should if this film is really to work.
If films were desserts this would be Jell-O, its colorful and not repulsive to the taste but it certainly leaves room for more. If you're in the mood for something more substantial, I suggest you try something else.
The box for "To Die For" suckered me in -- a shirtless hunky guy and
the promise of some laughs and sex. There was plenty of Thomas Arklie
(Simon), who's easy on the eyes, but no laughs and little sexiness.
The couple, Mark and Simon, have allegedly been together several years, but neither character is interesting enough to care about, so it's hard to imagine that they care about each other. The fault seems to lie in the script, not the performances; both actors do the best they can with what they're given.
The ending is sappy and unaffecting (well, not totally unaffecting; I felt relief that it was over).
If you're looking for a movie about gay relationships and AIDS that's funny, "Parting Glances" is far better.
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