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33 yrs, capricorn
2001, Hedwig & the Angry Inch, Burnt Money, Halloween, Jaws, Nosferatu, Vertigo, Amelie
Divine Trash: Showgirls, Andy Warhol's Flesh For Frankenstein, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
See it if you must
Luster is a coming of age story about a group of 20 & 30 somethings in L.A. in the midst of an odyssey into their teens. And they are soooo cool & punk rock. They've got that really rebellious "I'm REAL punk rock & I'm not a poseur & you ARE & the rest of the world sux" thing from high school still going pretty strong.
Everyone in LA is infatuated with the lead character Jackson, even the "guy next door" who stalks him at work. I'm not sure why, since I was eventually hoping someone would smack Jackson upside the head & shut him up.
Amongst the film's problems are too many story lines & subplots fighting for attention, none of which seem to blend or create a sense of relevance to Jackson's life or a cohesive central theme. The worst of these is an S & M subplot that seems terribly contrived, misplaced, & rings totally false with the rest of the film's "realism."
There are a couple of funny moments, like the photographer & the interaction with her "subject."
And of course there are a couple of full frontals from a really good looking guy, which help this situation along slightly.
But worse of all, I never felt for a minute why Jackson was lusting for these guys & guys were lusting for him. There's no sexual chemistry in this movie between anyone. NADA. Just a bunch of obnoxious & pretentious brats pretending to deal with "real life" & "art." Yuck.
Plenty of better queer films out there.
See it if you must.
Beautiful Thing (1996)
You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who didn't like this movie, but sadly, I am one of the few.
The setting of the film might have provided a tight, dark coming of age story set in the midst of adverse circumstances.
The main problem I had was the blending of dramatic and comedic elements. The film just touches some real issues, but never delves deep enough into them to make them believable. Ultimately, it eschews truth & insight in favor of light comedic moments & resolutions which are awkwardly positioned in the plot. I felt like the movie was straddling the line between drama and comedy, and because it could not delve completely into either side, ultimately fell flat and became jumbled mush. Not that there is anything bad with mixing genres, but if it is done successfully.
I have to commend Tameka Empson as Leah, the Mama Cass loving freak who's tripping her brains out -- the best character in the film. Also Ben Daniels is good, as a compassionate, likeable pot smoking guy with a good heart who is inexplicably & coldly dismissed from the film.
I just had trouble believing the actions & reactions of the two leads given the rough, cold social context of the film. I couldn't help but wonder how the film would have been be if we were given the real story of two young gay guys fighting for survival in a brutal environment such as this.
I attribute all the positive critics' reviews to a fear of being labeled "politically incorrect." But there are plenty of better gay films which blow this away ("Hedwig," Marcelo Pinero's "Burnt Money").
For me, a big disappointment.
American Gigolo (1980)
50 Ways To Remix Call Me
May Contain Spoilers
This film has some good elements that would have made a good film noir, but it manages to eschew all of them.
The biggest problem here is the central relationship between Gere and Hutton. Although I think Hutton is one of the most beautiful faces in current memory, there is absolutely no chemistry between the two. The characters are not fleshed out, and I still have no idea why she would feel so drawn to Gere in the first place. What is their "magic connection." Why is she so special to him? Their sex scenes are almost funny (in a melted cheese sort of way) and surprisingly devoid of any real passion.
The Gere/Hutton relationship should be the core around which the rest of the film is built, but without character development & convincing interaction / motives, the rest of the film crumbles.
This of course is a Jerry Bruckheimer production, and perhaps in renegade hands it would have been a tight 80's film noir. It manages to capture the 80's lifestyle, but believe me, it ain't no Scarface.
It does have its positive points - some nice camera work & lighting, Georgio Moroder's theme song (remixed every possible way imaginable), and Richard Gere's (eh-hem) "moment."
But if there's a lesson to be learned here kids, African-American gay men are bad, bad, bad people. And don't you forget it (?!) Whatever...
The ending is just dreadful, and I could only imagine how much better it could have been if the saccharine quotient had been reduced by several tablespoons.
Still it's watchable, and there are worse films you could spend 2 hours with.
Sur mes lèvres (2001)
This is one of the best films in recent memory. To keep it short, it is a brilliant character study of two outcast souls who find common bond in the most unlikely situations. The main characters are fleshed out perfectly by the Devos & Cassel.
Every time you think you know where the plot is going, it veers off in a different unexpected direction. Absolutely unique & intriguing. I ended up watching it two nights in a row, which very rarely happens for me. Second viewing improves... I was frustrated the first round by not having a clue where the film was going.
Artistic, yet not pretentious - a rare treat in current film. The artistic moments blend inconspicuously with the film's tone & themes (they do not stick out like a sore thumb).
I cannot recommend this film highly enough.
El crimen del Padre Amaro (2002)
I thought this film was better than most people did. I wasn't sure what to expect, so I was pleasantly surprised. The main genius is the sacrifice of Amaro's integrity to his political stance in the church. It's a brilliant character study, and Amaros's disintegration is fleshed out perfectly.
Bottom line, I think Gael García Bernal is an amazing actor. The bulk of the film rests on his shoulders, and he carries it perfectly. He and Alison Lohman are the best young actors of their generation currently working in film.
Make it Stop
A very, very, very long movie.
Everything seems borrowed from other Shakespeare film adaptations. Sadly, the biggest thing this film lacks is passion. True, the subject matter is brutal, but dark tones, art direction, & Elizabethan dialogue do not alone a great film make.
It failed to generate any spark, and I had trouble caring about any of the characters. Pretentious is the word that comes to mind.
Lange does a good job, but she actually doesn't have much screen time. And the Rhys brothers are just obnoxious, yelling & screaming every line.
Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" was released in the same time frame, and though it may not have been the greatest film to grace the silver screen, at least it wasn't weighed down by the snooty self-important baggage of this production.
Even the group orgy is a letdown. If you need to see something of that nature, I'm sure Caligula will give you your fix... at least there's no pretense disguising what that film is...
So, so, so long. And very heavy. Like dragging rocks to the pyramids. 2 & 3/4 hrs. Good luck. See it if you must.
Joy Ride (2001)
B Movie ... B as in BAD
This movie is bad, bad, bad. Oh, and did I mention it is bad. Given the word of mouth and favorable reviews, I was expecting SOMETHING. But no, it is bad. I'm not sure who would find this thing scary or why (with the exception of possibly the pre-13 crowd). Comparisons to Hitchock?! Don't even go there PLEASE!
Plot holes so big that the "evil-semi" could barrel through them... no character development, I won't go on & on.
I suppose if you want to see Paul Walker & Steve Zahn's buns, it will make your 1.5 hours worth while.
A Mighty Wind (2003)
I loved this movie. I read a lot of reviews stating it wasn't as good as the group's previous work, so I wasn't expecting too much. Maybe that was good, because I was pleasantly surprised. Great characters, laugh out loud moments, and somehow strangely touching. I just wish there was a little time devoted to the characters (i agree it could have used an extra 20 minutes). Anyway, highly recommended. Those who disagree just need to lighten up. It'll put a smile on your face.
I'm going to be in the minority, since so much praise has been heaped on this film. Ultimately (for me) it was slow and far too predictable. Within the first 20 minutes, you already know where the film is going (and man, it takes a long time to get there!)
Given the good reviews, I was expecting much more.
A major problem is that the leads fail to generate any real interest or spark. The cinematography is great, but as a whole, the film failed to sustain my interest or pull me in, and I was starting to doze the last 15 minutes.
For an brilliantly understated current French thriller, I would recommend Read My Lips (Sur Mes Levres). Bottom line for me is character development.
Though many may disagree, Harry just didn't "do it" for me.
One of Almodovar's Best
Atame! is my favorite Almodovar film. A lot of people don't think it is incredibly great, but I have to disagree.
Although Talk to Her is probably his most accomplished & strongest film to date, Atame has a light comedic air without the tragic overtones of his latest films. The movie provides some insight into the film-making process a la Fellini. It also deals with psychological imprisonment, release, and how some forms of entrapment are preferable to others.
Both leads are great, and it's easy to see how Banderas' charisma led him to be such a well known actor in later years.