Mockumentary look at Playgirl Magazine centerfold and 1992 Man of the Year, Dirk Shafer, who kept it a secret from the magazine that he is gay. Most of the film is a fictionalized retelling...
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Mockumentary look at Playgirl Magazine centerfold and 1992 Man of the Year, Dirk Shafer, who kept it a secret from the magazine that he is gay. Most of the film is a fictionalized retelling of Dirk's decision to send a photograph to Playgirl, his selection as a centerfold and then Man of the Year, his many TV interviews, his friend Vivian Paxton posing as his beard, and the pressures from his live-in lover to come out of the closet. Interspersed with this chronological narrative are a black and white look at an evening Dirk spends with Angela Lucassey, a woman from Reno who wins Playgirl's national contest to have a date with Dirk, and an interview with a stripper who tracks Dirk down. Written by
Odd but surprisingly wonderful movie with a very appealing star
I enjoyed this movie more than any I've seen in a very long time, and it's entirely because of writer-director-star Dirk Shafer. It's a reconstructed and partially fictionalized account of his actual experience as Playgirl magazine's 1992 Man of the Year, filmed a couple of years later.
Shafer is amazingly charismatic, intelligent, funny and unpretentious. If it's all an act, he deserves an Oscar. The fact that he's gorgeous is almost irrelevant, because he's so thoroughly appealing in so very many ways. He's one of the few people I've ever seen in a movie whom I'd really love to know, and it has nothing to do with his looks. He's a sweet, smart, articulate, fantastically likable person, and when he's on screen the movie is always delightful.
I had only two problems with it. I almost quit watching after a few minutes, because I'd expected something like Spinal Tap or Waiting for Guffman, a totally convincing "documentary" - which Man of the Year is not. It's painfully obvious from the first words that this is a scripted work of fiction, using some pretty bad (and some pretty good) actors to tell the story. (I got used to the different style pretty fast, though, and it never bothered me again.)
I can't think of any other movie like it, in which a person tells his own story - nearly all of which is almost certainly true - playing himself but using a script and actors to play the other people in his life (there are a very few real people playing themselves, but even their lines are scripted).
That's the other problem for me: I never knew what to believe, what was true and what wasn't. I'm not talking about the facts of his life, the Playgirl stuff - as I said, that's almost certainly all true. I mean his relationships, in particular his relationship with his boyfriend, called Mike in the movie and played beautifully by Michael Marisi Ornstein - the best actor in it, and no less charming and attractive than Shafer is.
Is he real? Those two guys are so amazing that I'd love to think they're really a couple. So I loved the movie, but it left me a little unsettled, almost as if I'd watched a movie about my own life and left wondering how much of it was true. Odd, but wonderful.
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