22 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
Kiss Me Kate (1953)
brilliant dancing, great production
5 May 2012
Kiss Me Kate may be the greatest musical on film. Certainly, the dancing has never been equaled.

The songs by Cole Porter are classic, of course, and the orchestral arrangements are glorious. The book and lyrics cannot be topped. That's a good start.

But the cast makes this a shining gem. Howard Keel is handsome, debonair, and mischievous. Kathryn Grayson is at her most beautiful and in perfect voice. They have their usual wonderful chemistry.

But, for me, it is the dancing that shines brightest. The choreography is stunning -- much of it done by the dancers themselves (Bob Fosse, Bobby Van, Tommy Rall) because of their specific abilities. They are exuberant, athletic, and artistic. Combine them with the extraordinary Ann Miller and you have the greatest dance team ever born. The producers saw what they had and devised special numbers just to highlight the talents of this amazing group of dancers.

The pacing is fast and furious. The music is classic. The ensemble is great and they seem to be having the time of their lives.
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Holding On (1997– )
90's kaleidoscope
2 January 2010
A rather amazing series from 1997. Fast-paced with quick editing, well-written and, almost without exception, wonderfully acted. Lovingly directed by Adrian Shergold.

David Morrissey is young and handsome as Shaun, an aggressive Inland Revenue investigator. He deservedly gets much of the air time, but there are many stories here which eventually weave in and out of each other. Phil Daniels is brilliant and funny and repulsive (not a mean feat) as a bulimic ex-football writer, now thoroughly cynical food critic who hates eating and food. It would have been nice to enjoy more of his ingenious character.

The series follows a dozen Londoners of all ages, races, and social backgrounds, none of whom seem able to find much love, which results in much havoc. All of them are interesting -- even compelling. Sandra Voe as Annie, the mother of a dangerously volatile schizophrenic man, turns in the most touching performance of all. Her final scenes with David Morrissey are deeply felt and profoundly heartbreaking.

In general, the emotions run high throughout -- too much, perhaps, at times -- but it is certainly preferable to the inanity on television today, especially in the US. And there are some dicey plot-points, chief among which is Shaun's abrupt change of character mid-series, but the show is so adhesive and engaging these seem slight misdemeanors.
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Juste une question d'amour (2000 TV Movie)
18 March 2008
This powerful, humane, intelligent drama was made by, and appeared in prime time on, France 2. It received just three letters of protest along with thousands praising its astonishing young actors and their memorable story. Try to imagine such a positive, thoughtful film on American broadcast television; one simply about the impassioned relationship between two men. No one gets sick, beaten up, or dies. It's just a question of love.

Cyrille Thouvenin (so wonderful in another must-see, Confusion of Genders) stars as angry, frustrated, deeply-closeted Laurent. He is terrified to come out to his parents because they are so virulently homophobic. He witnessed his cousin's coming out: disowned, thrown out, and died without his family around him. Laurent lives in fear with his best friend Carole, who goes along with the fiction that she is his girlfriend for the benefit of his parents.

Then he meets Cedric (handsome and exceedingly sexy Stephan Guerin-Tillie), with whom Laurent has a college internship. After a rather combative start (neither young man is particularly adept at 'making friends'), sparks fly, and the two revel in a joyous fling as they discover love. The heat, happiness, and fervor they project is palpable, gratifying, and genuine.

The problem is that Cedric is up front about his sexuality and makes a huge deal about Laurent coming out; Laurent is truculent, defiant, and refuses to consider it. Carole is tired of the charade and has a love of her own to nurture. Everyone wants Laurent out, but he is immobilized. When Cedric's mother impulsively let's the cat out of the bag, Cedric and Laurent's private world falls apart. How they, their parents and friends, deal with the consequences forms the crux of the illuminating story.

This transcends being just another 'gay' film. It is about learning how to love. Gay, straight, old or young, all must learn. As for Laurent and Cedric, rarely has a simple "I love you" been uttered with more poignancy on film.
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Sjaj u ocima (2003)
sweet and positive
15 March 2008
This touching Serbian film deftly portrays the tragedy and confusion of the post-war Balkans, and does so with unfailing lightness and humor.

Belgrade, in the late 90's, became the refuge of a cascade of displaced persons, like handsome young Labud (swan) and Romana. They have enlisted the services of a match-maker to help them find companions.

The story is an old one – how the young couple find, lose, and ultimately keep one another – so the charm and interest of the film comes principally from the surrounding details. Labud, alone and living in a shelter, fantasizes about people from his past and has imaginary conversations with them. Among those who populate and direct his thoughts are his former fiancée (she emigrated to Chicago when war broke out), his mother, 'professor', various ancestors. Romana has her past with her, too, including her father, sister, and first love. It is a very busy film, therefore, especially when you consider all the eccentrics that also haunt the dating service.

There is much sentiment, but never a moment of sentimentality – especially surprising when one considers the loss that pervades the aftermath of armed conflict. The director makes a point of contrasting the varied pasts of his characters with the ethnic 'purity' which motivated the senseless war. He has concocted an uplifting, understated little gem with most engaging young stars.
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much ado about nothing
27 February 2008
To comprehend this empty, meaningless drivel, one must accept, as do the characters in it, the premise that Liv Tyler is a veritable goddess of love. Unfortunately, as she is stultifyingly dull, inane, superficial, selfish, coy, and vapid, this is impossible. God only knows why Bertolucci cast her in this role, surrounded by others who can actually act. Not even consummate pro Jeremy Irons can make his fascination with this simpering whiner sound sincere.

The story is as banal as she is: teenage Lucy (Tyler) returns to Italy to lose her virginity, dreaming of a sexy young Italian she met at 13. She does not delight in the Tuscan landscape, study art, or learn Italian, which she insists on pronouncing with an excruciating American accent. Lucy lodges with a fatuous English sculpture and family who live the kind of 'bohemian' life only available to the idle rich. The boys are beautiful (young Joseph Fiennes is stunning) and, their hormones raging, are after just one thing.

The only thoughtful character is a middle-aged man dying of AIDS (Irons). His inexplicable presence and predicament may have been the director's idea of adding 'weight' to this fluff. He and Lucy become friends, though one cannot grasp why. Perhaps she admires his ability speak in sentences that parse. Her utter self-absorption is forgotten for a moment as he is whisked away to die in a hospital. But as soon as the ambulance is out of sight, pretty, perky, pouty Lucy quickly comes to her senses and returns to the task at hand: giving it up.

The only other American in the film is a thoroughly odious entertainment lawyer who, when not on the phone making deals, cheats on his wife at every turn. Being within earshot, she always catches him. He follows her around and grovels.

But back to Lucy! She is a relentless tease and remorselessly leads on her paramour. When the time comes, however, she spurns him with one last shrill whine of consternation, and flounces out of the room leaving him decidedly 'blue'.

Bertolucci must have been in love to have been this blind.
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The Line of Beauty (2006– )
80's hate fest
27 February 2008
This British pot-boiler has one thing going for it: the young men are uniformly good looking. The older men are opinionated, right-wing Thatcherites whose behavior brings back all the acrimony of the Reagan/Thatcher years. Young or old, however, morals in this three-part mini-series are universally suspect and no one comes off particularly well.

Nick is a handsome young gay man fresh out of Oxford. It is not pivotal to the story, but he has an extraordinarily beautiful head of hair which makes watching this drivel much easier. Nick comes to London with a friend, whose father Gerald is a rich conservative politician, and babysits his sister Cat while the family frolics in the south of France. They neglect to inform him that, when upset, Cat cuts herself with an assortment of knives and other kitchen implements. Nick mistakes their self-serving 'gratitude' for affection and moves in, finding out too late just how much they despise and patronize him. Inexplicably, Nick lives in this house for four years but, as the plot depends on this point, it's best not to question it.

While Nick is most pleasing to look at, he is unbearably obsequious. His coy subjection to rich bigots soon had me climbing the walls. Deeply closeted except to Cat (she guesses his big secret on sight), he does like a little anonymous sex just so we know he is actually gay. Though it hardly seems possible, Nick takes a lover who is even more closeted than he.

Supercilious Tories scorn and insult the two blacks in the film, so imagine the venom which spews forth when Nick's sexual orientation is reported in a tabloid. Gerald, in true Tory fashion, has become involved in several personal and financial scandals, so the revelations about Nick add to his embarrassment. This gives Gerald one final opportunity to roundly castigate the hapless boy.

Except for one brief moment of indignation, Nick takes the abuse heaped upon him in silence and tacit agreement. Denial, self-loathing, naiveté, or ignorance? You decide, if you can manage to sit through this whole thing without throwing something at the set.
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Forgive and Forget (2000 TV Movie)
4 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This is surely one of the nastiest, most misleading, films ever made.

The only redeeming factor is handsome John Shepherd who plays David, a very closeted London construction worker. Secretly in love with his life-long mate Theo, David's covert problems escalate when Theo announces he is moving in with his girlfriend. Unable to share Theo's time and attention, David will do anything to undermine the couple's relationship.

David, with a misguided fantasy of 'sharing', gets the bright idea to come out of the closet on a talk show. An unwitting Theo joins him and is utterly embarrassed when he is told, in front of a national audience, that David is in love with him.

That the plan backfires goes without saying, and the pretense of light comedy ends abruptly. David's ghastly father pronounces him sick and summarily tosses him out of the house. Theo hates him and, to show him just how much, beats David senseless with a lead pipe. I kid you not.

It seems that Theo and his girlfriend are a perfect match after all: they are equally smug and hateful. Looking back with pity and loathing at the wretched, bleeding David, they walk off into the sunset together. A perfect ending for a mean-spirited film that gay-friendly TLA should be ashamed to have produced.
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The Last Year (2002)
heartfelt and heartrending
29 July 2007
What a lovely discovery! This bittersweet little film by Jeff London examines the lives of three young gay men at various stages of being out, attending a 'Christian' college.

Hector (Merrick McMahon) has been outed, is being persecuted by the Dean and his jock henchmen, and shunned by classmates. Alex (gentle and winning Mike Dolan) is new at the school, though a senior, because his father hopes the religious environment will cure him of 'a certain young man' from home. Beautiful and troubled Paul (played perfectly by Ron Petronicolos) is deep in the closet after being compromised in a library restroom over the summer. He hides his homosexuality at first, but soon tells his room-mate and best friend Robby (Patrick Hoesterey). Robby is straight, and unpleasantly surprised, but quickly overcomes his reservations because of his love for Paul.

The four boys become a little family and try to protect each other from the violence, intolerance, hate, and hypocrisy that surrounds them. Each character is lovingly drawn, and they all change in remarkable ways. Alex falls in love with Paul and leads him towards the light of self-realization and personal commitment. Hector, unfortunately, is not so lucky. They are all watched over by St. Jude, who appears briefly in one of the dearest moments in the film.

There are flaws and stretches of credulity in the story, but the overwhelming sincerity and heartfelt nature of the writing and acting negate such quibbles.

The outtakes are serendipitous, nicely edited and really funny -- happily so after the seriousness of the film. The interviews reveal the actors to be just as sweet, supportive, humorous, and genuine as they are on screen.
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touching, low key, apolitical, and real
29 July 2007
This little gem may be the best news out of Israel in years. There are no politics and no ax to grind. Eytan Fox has simply given us a powerful, bittersweet love story between two soldiers in a remote outpost. It could be anywhere, in any army, at any time. It just happens to be now, and in Israel.

With great mastery, Mr. Fox put together a stunning ensemble of characters that are diverse, real, funny, and human. Outstanding are Ohad Knoller as Yossi, commander of the unit, and Yehuda Levi as his lover. Opposites attract: Yossi is a career man who has stepped out of character to love Jagger, is terrified of discovery, and reluctant to declare his love; Jagger, so nick-named because of his seductive rock star looks (Mick was sexy, but never this sweet and seraphically beautiful), is a free spirit who is beginning to demand that they live in the open. The two fight over this just before a disastrous foray into dangerous territory. Their parting will break your heart with its profound sense of lost possibilities and opportunities. One yearns for a happier ending for these two sincere, sensual, loving men.
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Amor Bandido (1978)
gritty and seductive
15 July 2007
A girl in Rio de Janeiro, estranged from her bullying detective father, falls in love with a boy. She works in a strip club. He has an angelic face and heavenly body, but is also a cold-blooded sociopath. To complicate matters, the boy's crimes are being investigated by the girl's very nasty and hypocritical father.

This little Brazilian gem -- with all its flaws and faults -- is a powerful film. It looks life, with all its brutality and injustice, right in the face. Despite their being kicked around by life and the police, the two naive lovers try to make a life together against all odds. It's a wild dream, though, and she knows it. But one feels her dilemma. It's impossible not to love this beautiful and seductive outlaw.

Theirs is a story worth of Greek tragedy.
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sex, shtick, and mock tales
14 July 2007
Julien Hernandez is a young writer/editor/actor/director to watch. Talented and bright, cute, sexy, and just plain funny, he has concocted a rather stylish coming-of-age film about 30-ish (he's a late-bloomer), straight-ish Sebastian, an aspiring LA film-maker. He has never had a serious relationship but longs to wake up with someone special and hear an affectionate sweet nothing whispered over breakfast.

When he gets a job making a documentary on gay relationships, Sebastian asks his soap-star friend Daria (beautiful Marisa Petroro) to introduce him to 'the boys'. It seems he doesn't know any gay men which, as he lives in Silver Lake, qualifies as a bona fide miracle. In any case, Sebastian becomes friends with a veritable pot-pourri of gay types, all well-played, quirky, and familiar. Devon Michael Jones is hilarious as bitchy therapist Blaire Edgewood (or Blaire St. John, depending on what part of the film you're watching), seriously in need of help himself. Gingerly welcoming his new experiences, which come fast and furious, Sebastian reacts by mugging adorably throughout his journey.

At his first 'swanky' Hollywood film party, where he hopes to meet and impress influential people in his best thrift-store duds, a self-conscious (and drunk) Sebastian becomes ornery, perverse, and ever more comical. His encounter with Billy is pure gold: their alchemy is both genuinely sexy and profoundly funny. These last 20 minutes of the film reveal Mr. Hernandez' deft -- even inspired -- touch in all his capacities.

There are questions of continuity, semantics, and production choices, to be sure. But chalk them up to guerilla film-making where virtually all expense, of necessity, has been spared. Mr. Hernandez' story and purpose over-ride any such quibbles. The message -- free yourself from preconceived expectations and notions of love and where to find it -- earns his ever-surprising, multi-faceted little gem a well-deserved eight stars.
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sweet dreams
13 July 2007
This wonderfully succinct little film was a promo for the Glitter Awards, and is now part of Jorge Ameer's DVD film compilation "Straight Men & the Men Who Love Them". It features Matthew Leitch, the stunningly handsome and sexy young British actor from Duncan Roy's AKA, as a movie-goer who never sees the film. Instead, he finds himself sitting between a young woman and a young man who can't take their eyes off him. Who can blame them? Matt Leitch (as he is called here) is one of the prettiest young men on film. He enjoys their attention and, after some lovely fantasizing by the young man, follows the young woman into the lobby. The young man follows and dejectedly watches her flirt. She backs off when the young man finds that he doesn't have enough money to buy a drink and Matt comes to his rescue. His looks, sexiness, and sweet nature make Matt's gesture, and this little cinematic gem, the stuff of which dreams are made.
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stick figures
13 July 2007
Despite the strong cast (John Malkovich, Angelica Huston, and James Broadbent) and promising premise, this film fails by trying to be too many things at once: mindless T&A comedy, cynical black comedy, coming-of-age, mystery, thriller, love story.

Sensitive suburban high school artist Jerome (attractive, virginal Max Minghella), is bullied by cute jocks and draws portraits of girls he likes. He escapes to an art school in New York City because he loves a model in its brochure, which goes a long way towards summing up his commitment to art and education.

Jerome has two roommates: one is a gross, loud-mouthed film student; the other a fey fashion student, incredibly the only gay male in the school. There is a 'militant lesbian' and, like her, every student is a one-dimensional stereotype. The cops searching for a campus strangler are brutal, foul-mouthed cretins. Subtlety is not one of this film's virtues.

Jerome meets Audrey, the girl in the brochure, and proceeds to bore everyone with his tireless obsession. No one can blame her when she falls for Jonah, played by princely Matt Keeslar, an adonis whose simplistic art wins acclaim from one and all. Audrey's young god is not who he appears to be and his story, not developed, would have been fascinating. In an ironic twist, Jerome gains artistic success when he becomes associated with the strangler.

There is a genuinely funny moment when Jerome's parents react to his talk of a girlfriend, and a sympathetic one when Jerome seeks advice from Angelica Huston. But there are way too many false notes. Characters are not richly drawn, but simple monochromatic sketches. We are so clearly not in New York: the school is filmed on location in California so one minute we are on a sunny, spacious, modern campus, and the next we are on an impossibly dark, grim New York street set. The Beethoven Concerto used as a love theme throughout the film is uncredited. Audrey is a model, but it is never established what else she does at the school besides being a foil for all the other girls (who are unbalanced, vindictive, and shrill), and an object for drooling, sophomoric males. John Malkovich has some very funny postures and affectations, but is hobbled by the writing, as are all the actors.

The title may be an homage to another silly film about students and cops. High School Confidential starred Russ Tamblyn as a sexy, wise-cracking flat-foot pretending to be in high school. But the 1958 cult classic doesn't aspire to be more than it is: a superficial, clichéd look at teenagers – plus it features Jerry Lee Lewis rockin' the school on the back of a flat-bed truck.
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AKA (2002)
artful and true
13 July 2007
AKA is writer/director Duncan Roy's thought-provoking memoir of his own youth. He escaped from a brutal, sexually abusive working-class household by assuming the identity of a young aristocrat and became famous - or notorious, rather - in the process.

Mr. Roy's movie is brilliantly written, directed, and cast. Matthew Leitch is perfect as Dean, the handsome, sweet, innocently seductive young man who desperately wants a better -- or, to be more precise, another -- life. His intelligence, looks, charm, and manner make people want to believe he is who he says. All the actors are notable and entertaining. Two are exceptional: Diana Quick as the prickly patrician Lady Gryffoyn, whose son Dean impersonates; and George Asprey as the striking, urbane, gay aristocrat who takes Dean under his wing. Heir to the Asprey fortune in real life, he was born for the part.

Aside from the fascinating story, imaginative photography done solely with available light, and perfect musical support, AKA is a scathing portrayal of the English class system, where aristocrats rely on certain cues (accent, pronunciation, name, manners, schooling, demeanor) to identify one another and preserve their exclusivity. Dean lives as 'one of them' successfully and happily for over a year. After which he says, quite truthfully (if Mr. Roy's portrait of Alexander Gryffoyn is in any way accurate in its mean-spirited snobbery), that he was a better Lord Gryffoyn than the real one could ever be. Mr. Roy also depicts a working class equally complicit in maintaining 'place' and limited social mobility.

After watching the single screen version, the three-screen triptych version, as it was released theatrically, is an interesting complement which adds dimension to the story. Mr. Roy's commentary track is illuminating politically, and enlightening cinematically. His film is a very personal work of art. The entire ensemble is outstanding, but the talent and beauty of Matthew Leitch form the solid core on which the story rests.
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Scene: Two of Us (1988)
Season Unknown, Episode Unknown
truth and beauty
21 May 2007
Twenty years ago I fell in love with this little gem, its message, and its two extraordinary leads. I have treasured my VHS copy of this heart-rending and -warming sixty-minute film. I am delighted it is now on DVD and may reach the wider audience it deserves.

Phil (Lee Whitlock) is an ebullient high school lad who loves two people: his best mate Matthew (stunning Jason Rush), and his banal, mean-spirited girlfriend. She wants him to choose between the two. Considering Matthew's meltingly blue eyes, that seems too easy. In any case, Phil has no problem with his bisexuality and considers himself twice blessed. But not everyone shares his joy: the boys are taunted, intimidated, threatened, and attacked by classmates and family, receive no help from school authorities, and are hassled by police. Matthew and Phil run off on a "honeymoon" to find a place where they can be themselves. Cue up 'Somewhere' from West Side Story. They end up at a seaside resort, where Phil's girlfriend shows up and pressures him to return home with her -- and leave Matthew. The boys find that the most important thing is, no matter who is against them, they have each other.

One cannot help but fall in love with Phil and Matthew as they fall in love with each other. Their beauty, innocence, and struggle for freedom will melt your heart and may even restore your faith in our future.

It's hard to imagine how such a sweet story could offend anyone but, after much controversy in England, it ended up being shown at midnight though it was made for an after-school audience. The BBC, apparently, was reluctance to present a positive picture of loving young gays, or to educate teenage viewers.

Such reaction reminded us that we have not come so very far since 1905 when E.M. Forster stated privately that he could not publish his gay novel "Maurice" because it had a happy ending.
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interesting period piece
20 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
An engaging hybrid of British 'kitchen sink' drama and American biker film, this atmospheric feature was considered daring in 1964 as it touched upon homosexuality, however obliquely. It has a suitably somber appearance in B&W but, filmed in CinemaScope, there is a certain elegance to its images.

Dot (Rita Tushingham) and Reg (handsome newcomer Colin Campbell), a young working-class couple, get married. She is sixteen, shallow, selfish, and vain. He is sweet, generally light-hearted, and thoughtful, but under pressure reverts to macho, blue-collar stereotype. As a result, they fight constantly and soon separate. Reg meets Pete, a flamboyant and extroverted biker, who becomes his best mate. They move in together while Reg sorts out his life. Despite Pete's constant mothering, possessiveness, and jealousy, naive Reg only figures out that his friend is in love with him when Pete is outed in a dockside bar at the end of the film. Typically, there could be no happy endings for gay men in 1964.

The film is especially interesting due to the photography, period locations, and the early cinematic homosexual reference. Colin Campbell is beautiful, a wonderful actor, and quite suited to the role of a confused youth trying hard, but not prepared, to be an adult. His pretty, boyish presence is essential to the theme of sexual repression which precipitates all the minor tragedies and frustrations in his life.

Be careful of the edition you buy. The currently available Televista is a poor Pan&Scan version which severely reduces the impact of this cult classic. There are two widescreen issues, from Kino (out of print) on VHS and DVD, and Blackhorse (Region 2). They are well worth searching for, as it makes a great difference to see this handsome film in its original form without half the screen missing. The wide format is especially convincing in the road and racing sequences.
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American title: Maybe . . . Maybe Not
20 May 2007
There is only one reason to watch this film: sexy Til Schweiger. He has beauty and magnetism, besides being an extraordinary young actor with subtlety, understated power, and depth. Unfortunately, these qualities are all but lost in this heavy-handed comedy. It is beautifully shot but, considering its comedic intent, rather darkly so. The story and its underlying principles leave much to be desired.

Handsome Axel (Schweiger) works in a 30's-style supper club, presumably to remind us of the wacky social farces of that period. Any illusions on that score end, however, when he gallantly accompanies an inviting woman into the bathroom for a quickie. His girlfriend Doro, in the next stall, informs him that they're through. Axel is a very pretty boy but, looking for a place to stay, he is rebuffed with varying degrees of vehemence by former girlfriends all too familiar with his womanizing. Alas, Axel's unfortunate coitus interruptus is the inauspicious high point of the movie, with the opening credits barely over.

Axel is adopted by a group of 'thoughtful' gay men in his hour of need. Norbert, a middle-aged nebbish, gives him a place to stay in hopes that there is a 'maybe'. What ensues is a series of awkward and tasteless gags, mostly involving Axel's discomfort being around gays. Stereotypes abound, and no one comes off particularly well. The straight men are dorky, unattractive, and strangely mortified by the use of common euphemisms for breasts. The gay men are selfish, unattractive, and impossibly flamboyant (in case we miss the point). Doro is shrill, intolerant, and controlling. Axel is shallow, thoughtless, and virtually monosyllabic, but adorable .

When Axel speaks of 'us normal men' we know where the film stands politically. The gay men appear in female attire much of the time, but speak in caricatured bass voices (in case we miss the point). Axel is deeply offended when cruised by a gay man in a gay disco; especially surprising as he asked the man for a light and directions to the bathroom, while hot, sweaty, and very sexy in a tight muscle shirt. 'Nuff said.

The plot thickens – and so does the humor – when Doro finds that she is pregnant and decides to get Axel back. She finds him in her own bed with unsightly Norbert, disturbingly naked, in the middle of a very inept seduction. Despite this awkward reunion, Axel and Doro get married. Axel unceremoniously drops Norbert because his wife is 'allergic to gays' .

The downward spiral continues unabated. Norbert, a strict vegetarian, hooks up with a repellent and humorless butcher, about whom the best one can say is that he has shaved every inch of his gross body. Axel cheats on Doro yet again, with a woman whose animal stimulants put him a coma. We finally hit rock bottom when Doro is bitch-slapped during one last bout of hysteria, and goes into labor. This is funny?

Til Schweiger is scrumptious eye-candy, and looks stunning throughout the film in tight t-shirts, muscle shirts, open shirts, no shirt. Thank heavens for small mercies. But, in one unfortunate aesthetic choice after another, the odious older men appear in greater states of undress more often than the exquisite young man who makes this peculiar move worth watching.

The ending has a nice feeling and suggests some reconciliation between Norbert and Axel. It's way too little, too late.
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with diamonds
19 May 2007
There is one very good reason to watch this film: Thierry Pepin as Danny. He is, without doubt, one of the most exquisite boys on film, with a stunning body and a profound natural sexiness. He also happens to be a very good actor, a fact which might well be overlooked because his beauty and potent physical presence are so overpowering.

Danny's life is a rather gut-wrenching tragedy. He has been orphaned by the death of his mother, and is further alienated by the coldness and brutality of his frustrated gay father. Desperate to be loved, Danny uses his extraordinary looks to get a semblance of it by modeling and, eventually, stripping in a gay club.

His father's distance and anger derive from his decision, supposedly for Danny's benefit, to 'act straight' as he raised his son. An unfortunate choice for them both. His behavior is a study in the negative effects of repression. After one vile act of violence too many, Danny leaves home for good.

Rejected by his father, abandoned by his girlfriend, and betrayed by his cousin, Danny commits an irresponsible and perilous act of revenge. He immediately regrets it, but the damage is done and he must live with the consequences.

Danny's humiliation and isolation is complete when his father finally chooses to embrace his homosexuality, and does so by sleeping with his son's only friend. This is truly one nasty guy. Danny is now truly alone. No friends. No family. One can only hope that he might live to find the peace and love he so consciously, and heartbreakingly, seeks.
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Food of Love (2002)
Freudian Mess
21 March 2007
I wanted so much to like this film, and I tried very hard to do so. But it is so inept, and has so many flaws, it is hard to know where to begin.

The basic story is simple enough: piano student Paul is seduced by and falls in love with his idol, fortyish concert pianist Richard; he gets dumped inexplicably and spends the rest of the film trying to make sense of it. But add these extra ingredients -- Paul's neurotic mother also falling for the pianist, Richard's lover/manager seducing Paul while the boy is being kept by yet another older man -- and you have a rather heady Freudian stew, indeed.

What these noxious, self-absorbed characters have in common, keeping the handsome 18-year-old confused and depressed, is their duplicity. Nobody tells Paul the truth, rendering him unable to make a decision in his own interest. His beauty makes him desirable. His ingenuous nature makes him an easy mark.

The dialogue is oddly disjointed though lifted directly from David Leavitt's well-written novel, The Page Turner. For some reason, about half of Mr. Leavitt's lines have been deleted, making those that remain a crazy-quilt of non-sequiturs. Adding to the confusion are British actors playing American refracted through the eyes and ears of a Spanish director. Then there are the Spanish actors who have learned their lines phonetically, wildly inflecting words incorrectly. Finally, a classical music consultant could have insured the proper pronunciation of composers' names, or pointed out that most of the pieces Paul plays are embarrassingly inappropriate.

What the film does do well is to depict the haute-gay classical music demi-monde of New York, and the predatory older men who rule from lofty Central Park West enclaves. This exclusive oligarchy devours the seemingly unlimited supply of hopeful young artists, like Paul, who want to succeed but cannot due to inexperience and inaptitude for the game. A 'civilized' veneer covers, but never quite hides, the self-serving artistic Darwinism.

Exquisite Kevin Bishop, who plays Paul so perfectly, is a real find. He has a low-key style, lovely body, and astonishing blue eyes. Barcelona is exotic, the photography is beautiful, and the original score is well done, but the DVD itself has problems. The dialogue is somewhat out of sync, is overly loud in some places (mainly due to Juliet Stevenson's histrionics), and nearly inaudible in others.
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summer camp
15 July 2006
This celebrated black comedy from 1970 marked the directorial debut of legendary Broadway producer Harold Prince. It has justly earned cult status and a devoted following due, in great part, to Angela Lansbury's remarkable virtuoso performance. She has flawless support from the delectable Michael York, a very seductive young Anthony Corlan, and gifted Jane Carr.

Against a picture-perfect Bavarian backdrop, Konrad (York) rides into town sporting the sexiest legs ever seen in cycling shorts. He pauses to admire Castle Ornstein with visions of grandeur dancing in his head, and we get another gander at those gorgeous gams. He quickly 'arranges' (and therein lies the fun) a job as footman to the impoverished Countess von Ornstein (Lansbury), focusing his attentions on her beautiful, lonely son Helmut (Corlan). An epicurean choice, as Helmut is as physically stunning as Konrad. His sister Lotte (Carr), is improbably dumpy, frumpy, annoying, and furtive. She has Konrad's number right off the bat, though, and asks him which he is, murderer or pervert. His response is congenial and commendably candid.

Simultaneously, Konrad dupes a snobbish, social-climbing family, debauching their beautiful, lonely daughter. So, his perpetual pursuit of passion, power, and position proceeds apace: he has it – and them – all. But his baroque scheme suddenly begins to career dangerously out of control. The end, with several clever twists, bears mercilessly down upon poor Konrad.

The talent and beauty of Michael York and Anthony Corlan notwithstanding, the film belongs to Angela Lansbury. Her every gesture and movement bespeak consummate skill, drama, humor, and camp. Few actors could pull off such theatrical monologues as she does, with the command of Callas incarnating Tosca.

Mr. Prince underscores the operatic nature of his story by introducing Wagner early in the film. Tristan und Isolde personify the intensity, if not the incandescence of his perfect protagonists. Even with its delicious, decidedly 70's bisexuality and social outlook, this minor masterpiece remains fresh as a daisy after 35 years. It deserves the full DVD treatment, lovingly re-mastered and in wide-screen.
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Regarding Billy (2005 Video)
intimate and touching
1 February 2006
Only 71 minutes long, this sweet little film has an engaging ensemble of three actors and a sympathetic musical score. Ronnie Kerr is perfect as Billy. He is genuine, childlike, honest, handsome, wistful, and well-built, with remarkably expressive eyes. Dean, his long-time best friend, announces unexpectedly that he has enlisted, and abruptly leaves home. Jason Van Eman plays Dean in a warm, forthright manner, and the two good-looking leads have a nice, playful – but very frustrating – friendship. Incapable of articulating their feelings, Dean departs with much left unsaid. By the time the injured Dean returns, Billy is caring for his learning-disabled younger brother, and the story really begins. The three young men learn to become a family and, though each has a handicap to deal with, their unerring love pre-ordains the powerful and intimate conclusion.

The film has its faults, to be sure, which would be more bothersome in a less engaging film. There is a lot of crying, for example, but the actors themselves laugh about this excess in the commentary track. On a purely physical level, one could wish for Billy to take his shirt off at least once, considering the look of his arms and chest in his tight T-shirt!

But the sincerity, skill, and earnestness of the actors overrides any flaws. This is a highly personal statement by writer/director Jeff London and his quietly seductive cast.
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Beautiful and disturbing
29 December 2005
'Tis Pity She's a Whore' is the story of a passionate and romantic love between brother and sister Giovanni (Oliver Tobias) and Annabella (Charlotte Rampling), and the ensuing havoc when, pregnant, she marries an arrogant nobleman (Fabio Testi). Writer/director Giuseppe Patroni Griffi freely adapted his screenplay from John Ford's Jacobean tragedy. His film is highly personal and exquisitely conceived, with a radiant cast. Released in 1971, it has been available here only in a frustratingly truncated, coarsely edited, 91-minute, full-screen VHS version dubbed in English.

With some effort it can now be found in a 100-minute, wide-screen DVD version in Italian, with optional Japanese subtitles – but no English. If you know and love this film as I do, you won't care. You will revel in the sheer beauty of its design, photography, and cast (including Antonio Falsi as Giovanni's friend and confessor). Illustrative of writer/director Griffi's vision and eye is his creation of such a ravishing ensemble. All simply exude youthful animal magnetism and appeal.

The violence is typical of a tragedy of this period with subjects like incest, blasphemy, obsession, and revenge. Suffice it to say, the 17th Century was not a time when such things were taken lightly! But there are many moments of great poetry as well. Allegory and symbolism abound and, as Oliver Tobias (a major British sex symbol) never looked so extraordinary, Maestro Griffi unabashedly exploits the actor's resemblance to a suffering Christ throughout his gorgeous, breathtaking film.
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