Reviews written by registered user
|15 reviews in total|
I love a good horror film, including a number of Asian titles from the last twenty years or so, but this seemed like a butchered version of what was meant to be a longer film. (No cause and effect, unclear motivation, difficult chronology.) It made very little sense to me (maybe if I was Korean, it would have made more sense, but I have my doubts.) The main character and her daughter are also two of the most annoying characters I've seen on film in the last few years: screaming at each other constantly... angry... petulant. I wanted them both dead half an hour in. There are some nice visuals here and there (and the male lead has some charisma), but to be honest, I barely made it through this utter mess of a film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is one of those films that has you wanting to yell at the characters on screen starting about 20 minutes in: "Go to the police! Why don't you go to the police?" They wade into some deep crap and have no reason NOT to go to the police, but hey! Why don't they just try to solve the big mystery of the snuff film and the missing girls by themselves (even though the have enough evidence to give to the police to have the thing wrapped up in probably a day)? Only ninety minutes in, after another death and more threats on their lives, do they even mention the possibility of maybe, you know, going to the police. Of course they never do, and seem completely idiotic for that. The actors are very good, especially Ana Torrent, Fele Martinez, Xabier Elorriaga, and Miguel Picazo, maybe too good for such a lame script. Ana Torrent especially seems far too intelligent to be acting as stupid as she (or her character) does for 121 minutes. I mean I get that horror films have characters doing stupid things, like NOT GOING TO THE POLICE when they should, but this one seems especially bad in that regard. It's not even particularly stylish which sometimes covers for bad script problems. The director would do far better in his later films.
Either you like experimental film/video or you don't. If you do, and not just for its oft-present explicit or borderline explicit sex, I'd say that chances are you'll really like "v.o." For me the juxtaposition of art-cinema soundtracks (complete with subtitles) and non-explicit scenes from gay porn of the 70s and early 80s creates a profound and thought-provoking experience. Showing the way the "low" experience of cruising for casual gay sex connects to the "profound" experiences of "high" art offers a unique insight into what sex, even grubby pick-a-trick-up-in-a-subway-station sex, means in queer life. If you have a chance to see this hard to find piece, and you like experimental video, I'd say it's a must see.
I saw this movie at ImageOut, the Rochester Lesbian and Gay Film and Video Festival. Although a shallow, good-natured film called "Summer Storm" won the audience award at the end of the week, most of my friends--people who like more complexity and substance in their films--thought this film was the best of the fest. Focusing on a 30ish gay male photographer whose apartment looked upon the World Trade Center and who is now coping with the trauma he suffered on 9/11, this drama with comedy is one of the most warm and deeply felt human dramas I've seen all year. You really learn to care about the photographer, named Eric, and his all-too-human response to overwhelming historical events. The humor comes organically out of the material without seeming inappropriate or ghoulish, and the film really shows us what it's like, in a compelling way, to live in historically significant times. Were this film to have starred bigger stars--say Jake Gyllenhaal as Eric and Claire Danes as his gal-pal friend--it would be talked about as an Oscar contender today. As it is, this little gem of an indie needs searching out. Many of the actors in this film, particularly Michael Urie and Nick Potenzieri, will be stars one day. See them here first, and remember I told you so.
I saw this film at the ImageOut film festival last weekend, and found it a highlight of my film going year so far. The directors take a fascinating person's career and make it even more interesting with a series of great interview subjects (including Kathleen Turner, B.D. Wong, and Rosie O'Donnell), hysterical video footage of Busch's past live performances, and clips from his film work. Busch himself is a wonderful interview subject and the life and career he's had is an inspiration for anyone who feels a little different and still wants to succeed in mainstream society. I would hope this film gets shown to every gay--or even just "different"--young person to show them they can succeed to the level of their wildest dreams, even if they have to make their own opportunities. If you're not a Charels Busch fan yet, you will be after you see this very entertaining and heart-warming film.
I wasn't expecting too much out of this little gay indie, but I was
happily surprised at how much I ended up liking the characters,
laughing at the jokes, and being delighted by the cinematography and
art design. With the exception of some of the exterior shots (some done
with CGI and some with grainy stock footage), the film looks exactly
like a vintage production from the late-Fifties or early-Sixties, which
is the era in which the film is set. In fact it's a perfect pastiche of
the old Rock Hudson Universal comedies of that time like "Lover Come
Back" and "Man's Favorite Sport?"
The characters, for their part, at first come across as being a bit annoying. A surprisingly buffed-up Matt Letscher (who played the anchorman character in the TV sitcom "Good Morning, Miami") is a closeted gay movie star in the Fifties (based on Rock Hudson) whose promiscuousness is matched only by his vanity; Carrie Preston plays a dippy studio secretary who's conned into marrying the actor as a "front" to the public; and Veronica Cartwright (looking a bit like Joan Crawford in the 1964 horror film called "Straight-Jacket") is his ball- busting, dyky agent.
Eventually, these characters do come to actually seem somewhat lovable, if not exactly like three-dimensional human beings. Letcher, when he finally falls in love with a man (the slightly dorky but utterly adorable newcomer Adam Greer) ends up seeming almost gallant in a Cary Grant sort of way. Preston, while she never loses her cartoony quality, ends up especially after a fun musical numberseeming as delightful as she does ditzy. Her performance winds up being much like that of Ellen Greene's in "Little Shop of Horrors", a film with which this one has much in common.
Best of all is Veronica Cartwright, who plays Guy's agent Jerry. She's an absolute delight. She's always been one of those actresses who commands the screen whenever she's on it. Her short little part in "Kinsey" (virtually a cameo) as Alfred Kinsey's mother was perhaps the best performance in that film. As the other woman, besides Sigorney Weaver, in the first "Alien", she delivered a masterpiece of on-screen hysteria that should have gotten her an Oscar nomination. Here, doing broad comedy, she practically steals the show. Simple little throwaway lines like: "Can I just say that's beautiful and retarded?" become dialogue classics in her hands.
Finally, the look of the film is beautiful. In creating a pastiche of 50s/60s Hollywood, it comes close to the bigger budget but not nearly as good Renee Zellweger film "Down With Love" from 2003. I strongly disagree with the review here that says this is a good film but more of a DVD rental than a "go out and see it" movie. Half the film's charm is in its Technicolor CinemaScope big-screen splendor.
In short, "Straight-Jacket" is a great little gay date movie. It's much better than, though similar to, a number of other gay indies I've seen recently like "Eating Out", "Slutty Summer", and "The Broken Hearts Club". It's not going to win any Academy Awards at the end of the year (not that comedies do anyway!) but if you want a fun big-screen film with a gay focus, you can't do much better than this screwball gem.
People like to excuse "Irréversible's" undeniable sense of homophobia
by saying, "well, gay sex clubs do exist" and "the film is an
anti-violence film and the homosexual stuff is just atmosphere." But
what these kinds of comments ignore is that writing and directing are
all about making choices. Gaspar Noë CHOSE, to make the film's central
rape scene an ANAL rape (if, as Roger Ebert seems to think, it's just
an anti-rape film, why did Noë make such a point of having it be an
anal rape?), he CHOSE to have the film begin/end in a gay sex club, and
he CHOSE to have the club be named "The Rectum". This all adds up to a
classic expression of homophobia, which can be best understood, if your
interested, by reading the famous essay about the hatred of gay sex by
Leo Bersani (in the book by Douglas Crimp, "AIDS: Cultural Analysis,
Cultural Activism") called "Is the Rectum a Grave?"
An accurate interpretation of the film must acknowledge that Noë clearly thinks that the most wonderful thing in the world is vaginal intercourse, since it can lead to conception, birth, and the future of the species, and that the worst thing in the world is anal sex since (to him and other homophobes) it's all about dirty anuses filled with rotting excrement. The theme of the film is built upon the dualistic belief that vaginal intercourse leads to life and therefore anal intercourse leads to death. The theme, finally, is the polar opposite of Kubrick's "2001", which Noë clumsily references at the end/beginning of the film. He's saying that mankind is devolving toward destruction and death, and homosexuality is the key metaphor for, and a primary symptom of, our destruction.
Sorry, folks, I like an envelope-pushing shocker--like "Salò", "In the Realm of the Senses", or "In a Glass Cage"--as much as anyone, and many of the films considered homophobic (like "Cruising") have been, I think, misunderstood, but "Irréversible" is truly a textbook example of homophobia in the cinema.
This is simply a soft-core porn movie, nothing more, that I stumbled upon
while researching films portraying city life. It starts out as if it's
going to be an investigative piece on "depraved Los Angeles", but it quickly
becomes just another skin flick of people peeping through windows at other
people supposedly having sex.
There's no sync sound, bad photography, and it isn't even sexy.
In the great Jean Renoir classic "Rules of the Game", a character played by the director himself comments that "everybody has his own good reasons." This rightly has been taken to be the great humanist director's basic philosophy of life. Seeing, over and over again, this understanding, non-judgmental attitude by a narrative artist toward his characters' weaknesses is what makes art film audiences love Renoir's work and consider him one of the greatest filmmakers of the 20th century. Irvin Kershner's "Loving" is one of the rare Hollywood films worthy of being called Renoirian, and it is for just this reason. Even though "Loving" is filled with highly-flawed characters making seemingly disastrous choices about their lives, its genius is how it puts the audience in a position where it cannot (or at least cannot with any decency) judge them. This may be more than many audience members can handle, being so used to films with heroes and villains about whom they are allowed to feel smugly superior. The legendary "New Yorker" critic Pauline Kael, in her rave review of the film, wrote that it "looks at the failures of middle-class life without despising the people; it understands that they already despise themselves" and that there's "a decency in the way that Kershner is fair to everyone." We could use a few more films like "Loving" out there in the American film cannon. If you every get a chance to see this film, don't hesitate to do so!
Amazingly, director Peter Weir voluntarily cut seven minutes out of
this film for its re-release in the late 1990s, but this shorter
version, sadly the only one now available, is not nearly as effective
as the longer cut.
While nothing of substance has been removed in terms of plot, by
tightening up an originally slow and dreamlike film, the poetic
dread and art film ambiance is largely lost. Now, instead of a
haunting film to stand next to the best work of Dryer and Antonioni,
we're left with a "professional" product with the shortcomings of a
US studio film but with none of the benefits. Were 115 minutes
really too long for a film like this? The longer cut hadn't even hit
the two hour mark! I almost expected Weir to have tacked on a
more mainstream ending than the haunting original. At least that
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