Reviews written by registered user

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395 reviews in total 
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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
I would have loved to have seen a real movie about this..., 29 July 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I've rated more than 2000 films on IMDb and this film has earned its dubious place in my list of the 10 worst movies I've ever seen.

I'd like to start by saying that I love gay films and films with gay themes and it pains me to have to write a review like this one.

I think that the best films are literate, insightful and consistently entertaining. The story-line should be organic and draw the audience along through the plot points.

"An Angel Named Billy" misses on almost all these counts. The story doesn't move quickly. The encounters are only comedic unintentionally (in their ineptness). Several plot points were totally unrealistic. I learned nothing about human nature from anything any character in this film said and I was consistently irritated by how poorly the ideas were presented. On top of that the acting was, below even the standard I've found in off-off-Broadway productions.

I'm a nut for completeness and I've tried to watch every gay film that I come across. Yet, this is the first film that I gave up on before the opening credits were finished.

Today, resolving to give it another chance, I sat through it in its entirety hoping against hope that it would improve... or at least end.

Finally I rated it a 2 because it did have some characters and situations that I WOULD have cared about had they been in a better movie.

An afternote: What really irks me most about this film is that there were characters and situations here that could have made for one of my all time romantic favorites. Unfortunately that's all wasted by the inane script and inept film-making.

What irks me second most is that the only other review of this film on IMDb gives it 10 stars and that my first review was flagged & deleted. This one has been rewritten and I'd like to know what, if anything, was objectionable about my first review other than that I told the truth about a movie that I personally disliked.

Low budget After school special version of the popular boy detective, 2 July 2014

I loved these books as a kid and recently re-encountered them again after seeing a few in a thrift store. While the plots haven't changed all that much its a bit harder to enjoy them as an adult than as a child.

The TV series was a low budget adaptation with a self aware kind of humor that wasn't all that fresh in the 1970's when it appears to have been filmed and has aged poorly.

If you are a completist, by all means check out an episode (or even two if you can stand it) but I'd recommend that anyone else just stick to the book versions.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Gender Blind Casting is OK... PLOT-Blind cinematography is NOT, 15 June 2014

Just watched Private Romeo and I gotta say I was disappointed after all the positive comments & reviews.

I understood that the story was a modern take on the Romeo & Juliet story set in a boys' military academy. For me it just didn't work.

I tried to get behind the "gender blind" casting, a variation on "color blind" casting in which the audience pretends NOT to notice a the actors race and just goes with the character as written. For me this didn't work because the characters adhered so loosely to the characters as written.

The story is all about how two factions are brought to grief when a member of each faction kills themselves after becoming a couple.

In this version, I couldn't tell the factions apart or even if there really were any. There were no parental arranged marriages, no killing of cousins in duels, and even bigger departures from the story... but that would be telling!

I'm a big fan of restaging Shakespeare in other scenarios. West Side Story and Ran are great examples where "bending the Bard" actually added new and interesting aspects to an already classic tale, but this one added nothing and detracted a LOT. I saw all of my favorite speeches of the play marred and made less by this staging.

Also the production values were glaringly deficient in spots. Why stage a military drill scene without bothering to ensure uniform uniforms, and with so small a number of "cadets?"

This felt much less organic throughout than that Woody Allen movie where he took an already released Japanese movie and substituted his own dialogue.

The boys were pretty and there were moments where the actors managed to get my interest & empathy DESPITE the total lack of any help from the vehicle they were performing in.

It may well be me. There are a number of very positive reviews of this film by critics from The NY Times and The Village Voice et. al. but after seeing this I'm if some form of payola wasn't involved...

New Hope (2012)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Lotta missed potential, 26 March 2014

This is supposed to be the story of a preacher's kid and his family after they move into a small southern town where a local high school golden boy committed suicide a year ago. The preacher's kid joins the basketball team and immediately runs into problems with the dead teen's younger brother.

Despite having some attractive young talent, the story had a number of structural plot flaws and the low budget showed painfully much of the time. Much of the action revolved around scenes on the basketball court, both practices and games. Now I'm not much of a sports fan but having a high school basketball team with only eight players (and about 15 cheerleaders) seems a bit off to me.

Some of the awkward plot flaws included the preacher's kid meeting the dead teens ex-girlfriend in the woods. The dialogue somehow managed to be wooden and inorganic at the same time.

There was also a dinner party that was the worst conceived since Titus Andronicus.

I think that a movie about a Christian family moving into a town where there's been a teen suicide is a good idea. I'd still like to see a movie about that, just not this one.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Short portrait of a call-boy in a crisis, 2 May 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's never explained why this young man has turned to prostitution but it's heavily suggested that a drug habit is involved. What pain the drugs are masking is left to the imagination. As with many short films, this one poses many unanswered questions about motivations and back-story but this film is successful in getting you to care somewhat for the characters.

It's an apt snapshot but not much more. It suggests that the director has potential but it will require a more fully developed story-line to tell for sure. The young kid and the prostitute were bot well cast but the other man seemed too young to be the father of a kid that age.

I felt a short bit of disappointment at the end in the denouement. I expected the film to come to a better conclusion than the walking away scene that we get.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
OK idea ruined by poor execution, 13 June 2012

This movie is to good film what off-brand carob is to chocolate. The idea of a family friendly movie with a talking mule was fine. But the dialogue and the events pictured in the movie were terribly executed. It's as if the writers and the director couldn't be bothered to put together a reasonable movie.

And it's too bad because there were a few nice moments. I've never heard of a rodeo event like the one featured in this film. Even if such a thing exists the audience cheering an event that they can't see doesn't make much sense. And the holes in the plot logic were big enough to drive a horse trailer through.

I am curious how something like this gets made. I wonder what the producers were thinking. It's certainly not apparent in the film what caused this to get mad and released at all.

Crazy (2008/II)
3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Strangely compelling Bio-pic, 6 June 2012

Apparently Hank Garland was a great guitar player. Perhaps a great musician and not much else. In keeping with that, the music in this film was great as well, but the story was strangely unmoving.

If this pic is to be believed, he was bad at marriage. He married a woman but neither one loved the other in the truest sense of that word, that is wanting their happiness more than one's own. Each just wanted some of their needs met. On the positive side, Garland was essentially color-blind when it came to music but again, that may not have been a real virtue in his case as much as just a failure to see anything outside the music.

Because of his arrogance and talent he was a problem for those around him. That failing eventually brought about much of the unhappiness in his life.

The ending sort of suggested that in the end he was left with little but the songs he'd recorded and strangely that might have been enough. As with many movies, things are simplified to fit in the allotted time and I'm still unclear about many aspects of his life. For example, he's listed as being survived by two daughters and two grandsons named Garland. I'm not clear how that was possible. Given that facts like that have been left out of this film, I wonder what else was left out.

BTW... there is another, very different movie C.R.A.Z.Y. that I enjoyed more and it has great music as well.

Group Therapy (2004) (V)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Soft core (but barely) porn, 30 May 2012

This title recounts a twelve step style sexual dysfunction group where each attendee assumes an alias based on what they believe their sexual dysfunction is. The acting is one step up from porn and bears a strong resemblance to that media.

One of the attendees is a guy who goes by the name of exhibitionist. He's got a nice body and his voice over scene involves him stripping for an art class and then fondling himself. What's strange is that while he remains limp throughout, he talks about getting an erection. Then while its clear that he's shaved down below he talks about showing his pubes.

Yet another of the attendees goes by the name Solo Sex and claims that he's an inveterate "do it yourselfer," unable to get excited by other naked men. That is apparently NOT the case when "thrill-seeker" visits for a one on one scene.

This video is what it is and doesn't make a lot of bones about it. It's certainly not the hottest sex tape I've ever seen, but it does approach the subject from a slightly different angle. Best watched at fast forward though...

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Not bad for a first film, 30 May 2012

A young gay Latino who is a talented chef works in his family's Mexican restaurant. While he lives with an understanding grandmother, he's not out to her or anyone else and he's dating a man who's not even out to himself. When a hunky/cute gay guy moves in across the street with his clingy ex-trailer park boyfriend our young chef wants to explore some new appetites.

While, this film has a few very attractive actors and a reasonably good script explores some new territory but it had a number of amateurish moments that caused the viewer to lose that willing suspension of disbelief so necessary to really get into a film.

Because the awkward moments are NOT overshadowed/made up for by the poignant moments this will never make it to my watch over and over queue.

I'm a big supporter of gay cinema and I suggest that everyone see this one at least once but be forewarned, it's not top tier quality.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Dated in spots but truthful, 17 March 2012

This film is an odd mix. In spots the dialog and situations are cornier than Capra. But it is the first real attempt to depict (at least in part) some of the day to day hardships of the regular GI.

Since the war was still on when this picture was made (released in 1945), the message had to be at least somewhat hopeful and yet it struck a mix not unlike some of Pyle's dispatches from the front. It certainly feels much more realistic than some earlier efforts like In Which We Serve (1942) The idea of filming on location hadn't been adopted yet, and the North Africa scenes filmed in California have a "wrongness" about the feel that hurts the early scenes in the picture. Also, some anachronisms in the equipping of the GI's will stand out as well to anyone familiar with newsreel footage or some of the better made documentaries that have been made since. The later footage that is supposed to be in Italy doesn't suffer as much from the lack of actual locations.

Much of the picture revolves around an effort to get past a mountain guarded by an ancient monastery. The film somewhat rewrites history at this point in an attempt to exorcise some of the errors in judgment that later came to be associated with the bombing of Monte Cassino.

Several filmic techniques are used a bit heavy handedly as well. Care is taken to keep the Germans a faceless, inscrutable foe. There is one scene where the lighting is very dramatically (and somewhat obviously)arranged so that a dark shadow is cast by a captured German's helmet. We don't have to see much of his face and certainly not his eyes.

The use of the puppy is a bit overdone. Using a puppy to whine when we should be feeling sad is a bit heavy handed. Conversely the filmic trick of using the noise of nearby explosions to cover/censor one soldier's lewd comments is done with a wink and a nod to the audience. It's clear that film makers knew we'd get the joke. Since it was wartime, no American soldiers were shown too terribly mangled or with graphic / disturbing injuries. Rapid jump cuts were used very effectively in several key battle scenes to heighten the tension without having to overdo the special effects.

One plot element was a bit weird though. A GI receives a record containing his son's first recorded words. The GI has never heard his kid speak and tries repeatedly to get the record to play on a phonograph that he "liberates" For some inexplicable reason the recording seems to have been recorded backwards so that all the GI can hear is garbled. Yet at one crucial moment he tries again and the recording this time seems to play fine despite it being obvious that he's done nothing differently. A bit more care in staging this could have made it actually work.

Another thought that occurred to me several times while watching this picture was that while regular GI's were overseas actually fighting and dying for their country. The actors and crew involved in this film were safe at home. I've seen many other pictures made during war-time but somehow the confluence of this picture's message and the facts that I now know in retrospect made that somewhat jarring.

Overall, I found this film to be WORTH watching but it didn't engage me the way that more well made films have. Still, releasing this shortly after Ernie Pyle's death in combat must have helped make it as successful as it was.

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