Reviews written by registered user
benzao

7 reviews in total 
Index | Alphabetical | Chronological | Useful

Wanted! (2004)
16 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Discretely-lesbian, eastern-German "crimi" drama, 20 November 2005
8/10

This film gets a lot of exposure at Gay and Lesbian Film Festivals. Yet, its lesbian theme is underlying and understated (by the standards of these festival films anyway). Its "anywhere in eastern Germany" setting is also subtle, and maybe not even an issue to those not familiar with Germany.

The film is actually similar to another lesbian themed, but in that case set "anywhere in western Germany" and the "foreigner" is Iranian and not Polish: "Fremde Haut" (or "Taking off the Veil") both having been shown here in Brazil in these last two months. Both pictures are German "indies", with German women, both stereotypically Aryan blonds not previously drawn to lesbian relations, but having suffered at the hands of macho German males. Both are lower middle class working German women, and they both fall for mysterious foreign women with immigration problems and bigger criminal accusations or issues.

In this film's case, the working class Aryan female falls for a Polish illegal immigrant, under very unusual circumstances. They both live in prefabricated, popular apartments in the outskirts of a city (which in time reveals itself as Leipzig or perhaps deep East Berlin). They lead everyday life with some humor and resignation.

But their quiet lives spin out of control when the German woman hides her mysteriously fascinating Polish neighbor Jola - who is in fear of being arrested and deported, believing to have accidentally killed her boss, the local bar owner, also one of the neighborhood's best known characters.

When the German Dora finds out that the accusations against Jola have been lifted, she lies about the status of the police investigation in order to keep her Polish neighbor for herself.

From there, the movie begins in earnest. In such a tight knit community, it is difficult to keep any detail of one's life from others, so life becomes complicated and somewhat exciting in this usually drab suburb.

It's a very worthwhile film. But it's not so much gay themed as may be advertised, as it is a film about loneliness, captivity, and life in the dull artificial satellite neighborhoods left behind by Soviet style planning. Very recommendable!

6 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Wonderful biopic with grand settings and interesting casting, 1 January 2005
10/10

Much has been written, and filmed about Sissy the Empress, and Romy Schneider will always BE Sissy to many. However, this new version, a novel, much more realistic take on her life (and times), is in my opinion the most honest, most succinct, and least melodramatic. It's also as devoid of "Sissy clichés" as is possible, and avoids over romanticizing the character, while giving her real humanity for once.

The French-German co-production makes for an interesting cast. Both young and adult Sissy speak French, as does the mature Franz Josef, and most characters. But to Europeans, this is not a problem. After all, in Sissy's last appearance by Romy Schneider in LUDWIG, the German speaking character (and actress) spoke English (only confirmed by reading her lips) but was dubbed into Italian, as the King Ludwig character did as well, though in historical context, the characters spoke German, and Bavaria-style at that. Anyway, on TV the dubbing is not as obvious. And it is mostly shown on cable TV.

That said, the choice of beautiful French actress Arielle Dombasle was perfect, even though her reputation for her roles as a dumb blonde in her younger days may turn some off before giving this film a chance. The other lead roles are also well cast, and mostly French. The cinematography, the locales, costumes, and art design are sumptuous - something which cannot be said of the low budget "Sissy" films of the late 50s. It is definitely a must for European history lovers, and "Sissy" fans. It's a very entertaining biopic and history lesson even for those who know nothing about Sissy, and are not seeking a history lesson. 10/10.

4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Excellent performances accentuate exceptional family drama, 17 December 2004
10/10

This film is well structured and very well written. Though the narrative is not linear, the story is easy to follow as flashbacks occur, revealing pieces of the truth right up to the final scenes, though the ultimate truth is (arguably) never obviously revealed.

Making the juxtaposed scenes easy to follow is owed mainly to the excellent performances given by the main characters, so distinctive that no confusion of characters is possible. The sombre, decadent ambiance of mid-80s Rosario is superbly captured, as yet another main character. But no character is totally explored, giving the film a suspenseful and mysterious air.

This approach is so refreshing, that the movie avoids the stigma or stereotyping of yet another Argentine dirty war drama. That is, the "lost child," disappeared parent(s), courageous grandmother recovered child, then traumatized child introduced to the "real family."

In fact, the movie is so subtle that it is not clear whether the child mother's fate was politically or criminally motivated despite the scene showing the infamous Naval Academy where hundreds (or thousands) were held, tortured and even killed by the military dictatorship. Nor is it revealed whether the father (a former cop; this fact rapidly stated in an easily overlooked one time line) had anything to do with his wife's capture.

In fact, whether the man's 2 years in jail were directly related to his wife's appearance and ultimately death, is never confirmed, in my view.

The ensemble cast is uniformly outstanding; not surprisingly since at least two of Argentina's greatest actors are in the cast.... A thought provoking film, which deserves a lot more exposure and recognition than it got.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Fans of interview-heavy docs about AIDS in Berlin, this is for you!, 21 November 2004
7/10

Man, if you like to see and hear raw and unusual interviews in very eloquent German, especially regarding AIDS, and especially in Berlin, do not miss this. If your taste does not fit into at least 2 of these 4 interest areas, stay clear out of it.

It is rather lengthy at 101 minutes for such an issue and location specific collection of interviews (spiced with some tragicomic campy moments), take that into consideration. The director, who tells the story and presents that of others, is very eccentric; even in the eccentric world of Berlin independent video makers. But, he's pretty likable, and very eloquent (a special attraction if you speak fluent German).

In the prologue to the film, a famous patient is brought to a Berlin Hospital, where TV crews are on the scene for the gruesome story of a very bloody brain trauma suffered by a film maker. While he's treated, we see very bloody scenes while two pairs of nude and semi naked men play with each other in the corners of the O.R.

As the film unfolds, the story begins to address stories of the patient (also the director)'s childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, to his present 45 year age. This, since his birth date is revealed early on as being in 1959. The video is somewhat like a recollection of Berlin stories since 1980, à la Rosa v. P., but not as accessible to most viewers as Rosa's antics are.

The director's life is documented in scrapbooks, pictures of lovers, year by year, galore. It is also told in unusual imagery which the director vehemently defends as art. Terminal AIDS victims, who are friends of the director/ victim are also thoroughly interviewed, while styles of film making and recording of images become the central theme of the film.

It is being shown as part of the 12th Annual Mix Brazil Festival of Sexual Diversity, traveling to Rio and S.Paulo, plus the capital Brasilia. As usual, this year's edition is very well represented by Germany, which here always means Berlin.

A separate 80 or 90 minute of Berlin gay shorts (billed as "Berlin Pathos") are also included, as well as the RASPBERRY Reich (a festival favorite) which had already been released in late September to sold out crowds at the "straight" Rio International Film Festival. Not to mention the crowd attracting documentary THE HIDDEN Reich, about Hitler's possible homosexuality, and his collaborator's unquestioned gayness, which drew a large straight gay friendly audience.

Among these features, I DEFINITELY FOUND THIS (E.K.G.) ONE TO BE THE WEAKEST ONE judging by attendance and audience reaction. Nevertheless, for those attracted by the themes it presents, it may the best one of all.

HotMen CoolBoyz (2000) (V)
18 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
Not bad at all;not deserving the user rating it has. It's not really porn!, 21 November 2004
9/10

If this 2000 film, produced by Lars v. Trier is porn, then a good portion of your "mainstream" films need to be reclassified. I only found this film in your base, after a thorough search. For the first time while voting for many a sex themed and gay themed film, I had to opt for "more titles" for "those wishing to see them." This revealed a porn section I did not even know existed, and is very interesting, definitely confirming your site once again as the best in its class.

However, firstly, this title is as "porn" as many movies seen in any alternative film festival in the past 7 or 8 years. Secondly, what's with the voting? When I first opened this title a week ago, to see your site's "view", to compare with the very positive view in the local conservative newspapers (which nevertheless revere anything with the v. Trier name), and the glossy attractive entry in the Mix Brazil catalog, I was shocked to see that all 18 votes were 1!

Now, how can this happen? I thought this site had some filtering system to avoid one or two people having 18 or 20 votes certified votes calculated. That two (even one) user can have 20 accounts, I don't doubt that. But I thought there was a control (by computer address or cookies) for this type of abuse.

Also, what sicko would vote a "1" 18 times for a so-called porno flick, and then not even submit a comment using one of his aliases? Has he no desire to justify it since he's spent his time voting 18 times for the same film. Well, if this is the case, this guy is sick anyhow. Go figure how his mind works.

The other (remote) hypothesis is that maybe there were 18 very dissatisfied users since this film is not a porn flick at all, again it is not even in the top 5 or 6 most graphic sex scenes in recent "serious" and "straight" festivals I've attended. And, it is GAY, possibly causing a backlash by straight porn addicts.

Anyway, DON'T be misled. I will not give this film a slanted review; I'll just state facts. This, though they may not be read after the initial 18 or 20 "one" ratings cause a potential viewer to rapidly close the page, especially after having to pass the "porn hurdle" and ask the site to upgrade your preferences to those of a "porn" viewer.

The film is a video, but shown theatrically at many festivals. Here alone, close to a dozen times, at a total of 3 large cities. It consists of 6 scenes, depicting 6 worlds, 6 desires. Lars v. Trier's prestigious production company presents a new world of male gods, or men as gods. These new male gods seek to redefine the ancient "sex gods" found in Greek mythology, Roman orgies, more recent bondage and domination legends, and so on.

SEE FOR YOURSELF WHAT YOU THINK OF IT! You're unlikely to find this title in a PORN SHOP, though you ARE likely to see it at a film festival with rigorous selection processes, as I happened to find it.

6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Interesting Doc, but not among Von Praunheim's best, 18 November 2002
9/10

This documentary about four Berlin drag queens is probably an absolute must if you are a Von Praunheim aficionado. If you have seen many of his feature films, these four queens will give you a lot of insight about the other films they have worked on, and how all four have interacted and developed since the mid 80s. The personal stories they tell about HIV and AIDS are also particularly poignant, and worthwhile.

However unlike THE EINSTEIN OF SEX, or even his recent documentary about Fassbinder, here Von Praunheim does not deliver a film likely to captivate audiences, even at gay film festivals, unless they are German language festivals. The movie is mostly all interviews, with little archival material or other images which would render it more watchable to non-German speakers.

The dialogues are really fantastic; these four people are articulate. But ultimately, the film will turn off a lot of people. For the audience the film targets, it does not disappoint. But, I should point out, it is not likely to become a crowd pleaser as the director's other work has. In any case, 8 out of 10.

11 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
light, inter-ethnic gay comedy, 18 November 2002
9/10

The humor one may expect, resulting from inter ethnic situations and gay life are here. Gay sit coms (particularly when set in, where else? San Francisco) have become all too common and stereotypical. Yet, this one has some quirkiness, and enough insight to balancing love, family and other responsibilities to make it stand out.