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For early films, if the film features any gay characters at all they qualify.
I've tried to limit the list to films that I've seen personally but some of these are just films that I've heard about but not yet tracked down and/or viewed.
Not a full review - couldn't stand to watch more at the 7 minute mark
There were no real facts in this documentary. It was almost entirely partial highlights of 2nd and third hand accounts. Even those weren't presented in any complete form.
This documentary made me long for the days of Leonard Nimoy's narration of "In Search of" it had all of that level of authenticity without any of the warnings that generally preceded the "ISO" episodes.
Available free without ads on You-tube. No wonder, even at zero cost you're the loser if you waste your time with this.
The addition of Ani was jarring but I can understand it from the creator's POV
This show has a stellar ensemble cast and I was amazed that there was a second season after the entire contents of the book was covered in the first season. Yet they managed to find other aspects of the story that added to the overall experience in season2 and the final episode of season 2 was one of the best TV episodes I've ever seen. Yet it clearly left us wanting a season three.
Now we have that and it's a bit disappointing that they concentrate so much effort into creating a new character and switching to a mystery style format.
One of the joys of season1 was that we knew what happened. One of the major characters had killed herself and we delved into the underlying reasons. Season two did that again. However Season three, in attempting to be a mystery, ruins that successful formula. We don't know what happened so the story-telling requirements are different. The writers are still great storytellers but they lost some of their appeal. Artistic transition cuts where past characters and future characters walk through the same scene work great in a retrospective story where it's clear what's happening. No so much in a mystery that's being told in past tense from episode 1. . Its often unclear what is real and what is fantasy. Plus all the characters are lying to some extent. If we can't believe what we hear OR what we see, how are we to really follow the story? Creative ambiguity worked for the creators in seasons 1 & 2 because the audience KNEW what happened. In season 3 it felt exploitative and manipulative... and it left more than a few viewers uncertain to just what DID happen. I LOVE the show and am now on my third viewing of this season. I can see that they wanted a fresh look at Bryce, the villain of the first two seasons, and none of the regular ensemble would be able to give us that. In that regard I understand the addition of Ani. But she plays way too significant a role and what REALLY happened is as muddled at the end of the season as it is earlier on. In my book that's a story-telling FAIL.
All the Science has leaked out!
This episode is VERY light on actual science, and very disappointing.
Though the topics are great, they all could have had MUCH more detail. Why was there no voice over narration? And WHY was what Italian narration there was, NOT translated?
The Tower of Pisa segment could have used a voice over of what was being shown. They showed video of several possible methods of fighting the lean from underneath but with no narration this was more frustrating than informative.
The species conservation segment could have used a LOT more detail and it was troubling to see the one subject that apparently died as a result of the move.
Now in 2020 remote surgery has greatly advanced. watching this segment was actually painful.
I know a bit about octopus and I recognized some of the experiments being shown in the video but I'm willing to bet that folks who've not seen this elsewhere had no idea what the experiments were about. It was particularly frustrating to watch the video segment centered on the squid attempting to "solve" the jar problem where we see the Italian scientist explaining the experiment (We hear music but nothing else but we see the guy's hand is moving) This was video making on the cheap and it was disappointing.
I've seen third rate documentaries about Pompeii and Vesuvius that had more detail than this episode. WHY were they dumping trash in the volcano? When was the lava flow they were showing? Unnarated graphics? The 10 minutes devoted to watching this segment would have been much more productive if I'd used it to read the wiki page and maybe make a sandwich.
They mention a magnetic monopole but don't define it or explain in any way what they're talking about. Though they go to this lab inside a mountain they NEVER mention neutrinos by name though we do hear a conversation where they are are clearly being discussed. (The speakers just call them "they")
This episode makes me question whether it's worthwhile watching any more of these.
An exercise in weirdness? Tapas meets Topless? Gossip Girl for Telenovela Teens?
This came highly recommended by some friends who loved the American Netflix show 13 Reasons.
I'm a bit of a completist so I tend to watch things with the closed captions on. Seeing a Spanish program dubbed into English with subtitles telling me that they're speaking French is making it hard for me to concentrate on the narrative. It's even more disruptive in that the dubbed dialogue doesn't really match the captions. Less than 10 minutes in I had to forgo the captions on this one.
Being an American by birth (and despite the post 9/11 rhetoric) it was odd to see teachers telling a student that she couldn't wear her hijab or she'd be expelled. Knowing about Spain's Muslim period made me wonder just how things are there today.
Equally odd is how Americanized the characters are. I've seen scores of European films over the last few decades (mostly subtitled though I do speak some rudimentary Spanish) and I've never seen a film where the characters had been this similar to people in the U.S. Not long ago I watched "The Fosters" a series in which a girl of Hispanic descent celebrated her quinceañera. Here it's referred to as a "coming out" or simply a party. Why that aspect of Spanish culture needed to be expunged was momentarily more interesting than the dialogue. Even the episode titles have been Anglicized... Bienvenidos has become Welcome.
On top of that, the premise of the series... that construction company would attempt to address their public relations issues after a school collapse by giving a few students scholarships to a prestigious private school seems just so far fetched I'm not sure I'll ever be able to maintain my willing suspension of disbelief.
Yet, I will try to plug on for a few more episodes - Since posting this I've watched 3 more episode. Without the distraction of the poorly done closed captioning, this is actually not as bad as I initially thought.
One of the best mixes of re-enactment and documentary I've ever seen.
The "Head of Memnon" the colossal statue around which this episode is based still dominates the gallery in The British Museum where it sits. It is said to have been the inspiration behind Shelley's great poem Ozymandias.
Just the feat of moving this half of the statue, getting it to the Nile river and thence back to England was considered an amazing feat of engineering in the early 1800s when Giovanni Belzoni managed it. Imagine how much more impressive it must have been 1000 years before the birth of Christ when the entire statue was created and moved to its initial position.
In addition to filling us in on the life and works of Ramses II (aka Ramses the Great) this docu-drama shows us the man primarily responsible for this mammoth statue getting to London. While it doesn't mention how Napoleon tried (and failed) to get it back to France we see the corrupt local officials, the conniving French fortune hunters who were busy stripping the country of its art
Yes, one may lament that these treasures were not able to stay in the country that created them but at least in Britain this work has been seen and appreciated by thousands that otherwise would have missed out.
Coin Operated (2017)
So many potential disasters
A young space obsessed kid spots a rocket-ship ride outside the grocery and can't wait until he tries. Disappointed with the initial outcome, he hatches a plan.
I loved this film but the sentimental me was just waiting for the kid to learn the lesson that life disappoints us all. Thank goodness I was wrong.
This 5 minute animated short is available on you-tube and is well worth the viewing time. By all means check it out.
Holiday High School Reunion (2012)
Christmas movies are supposed to be dumb but...
This movie is probably the WORST Christmas movie I've ever seen and I've seen Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. The basic story-line combines a Christmas theme with a 10 year high school reunion. Rachel Boston as Georgia Hunt, our heroine is an assistant at a fashion house rather than the designer she's told her old class-mates. In high school she was voted most likely to succeed, was head cheerleader and an award winning soloist in the Glee Club. She broke up with her football player boyfriend at the prom because she though he was cheating on her. All through high school her best buddy was an arty guy who clearly had a crush on her that she was too oblivious to realize.
The nerdy high school guy still has his crush and she's still just as oblivious. The writing of this drek was so bad that I was continually cringing in embarrassment for the actors. Particularly poor Harry Hamlin. There are four musical numbers that are so painful to watch that I wasn't able to make it through any of them without fast forwarding. Jonathan Bennett plays Ben Oliver, and he made his scenes watchable but if it weren't for him I'd have given up on the film 30 minutes in.
To add insult to injury, the NetFlix version of this movie appears to have had some song substitutions, Most likely as an economy measure. It was kinda weird in the final scene where smitten guy is dancing with popular girl, to be hearing Auld Lang Syne while seeing the lyrics of Israel "Iz" Ka'ano'i Kamakawiwo'Ole's medley of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and "What a Wonderful World" on screen.
Be sure that your appetite for schadenfreude is high before you start this one.
I knew what this was about before starting to view it but it was so intense that I needed to watch it in bits.
I was already convinced about man's capacity to treat his fellow men inhumanely but half way into this I felt that the researcher should have been brought up on criminal charges. I'm still not convinced that this didn't do lasting damage to those involved.
I watched this knowing that I'd probably not like it because of the positive reviews of friends regarding certain actors. Personally I think the film failed on that level as well because the actors are not identified in the beginning and the guards remain unnamed and the prisoners are given numbers I wasn't entirely sure even as to who was whom.
That said. Man's inhumanity to man has been well documented on film already and this felt to me to just be more of the same.
Life and Death on the A List (1996)
Better with the perspective of time
I first saw this film in the late 90s but rated it pretty low as it was not an enjoyable film to watch.
This guy had been one of my early crushes (I'll never forget that laundry commercial with him in the elevator) and I knew of his print work for Marlboro.
The film was a well-made documentary for its time and it serves as a valuable time-capsule of that era. There is another review of this (by a family member) lamenting the mother's ignorance at the time. But, back then we didn't know and everyone went through a period of paranoia along similar lines though most gay men had passed through that phase by the time this was made.
I lost a number of friends to AIDS and though this brings back some painful memories, I'm glad I watched it again. Seen through the filter of time, it was a better documentary than I gave it credit for being.
"Sweetest" Short ever
Bookish Santiago is none too pleased to be playing host to his sportive schoolmate Jared for the afternoon, but when Jared teaches a Santi a thing or two with the use of a purloined jar of honey, Santi finds himself looking forward to learning more.
Well made and while the English subtitles are nice, they aren't really necessary to the plot. Both young actors are charming and I look forward to seeing more of them.
Something New (2017)
It COULD happen
After breaking up with a cheating ex-boyfriend Jonah has been satisfying his sexual needs with a hot man he met on Grindr. But Jonah is thrown when the man asks him on a "real date." Is Jonah really ready for something new? Something real?
This short is played for laughs and most of he characters are as much caricatures as characters but the point is made and the short is enjoyable, if not overly deep. It's also nice to see a M/M story with a hopeful ending.
It gets better, even in Spain
Two best buddies, Jota and Santi, are baking in the summer heat of a Madrid day when Jota discloses that he's broken up with his girlfriend. Santi, who's built Jota's lady-killing ways into a legend in his own mind, won't be satisfied until Jota discloses who his new love interest is.
When a Scientology Personality test discloses a bit too much about Jota Santi is initially shocked but...
I loved this little short though I had to be a speed reader to get all the subtitles. Santi is like one of those irrepressible yappy dogs that never shuts up but the way he adjusts to Jpota's disclosure makes for a happy ending for this cute short.
The situation is played for comedy throughout but it's so much more hopeful than those Eloy de Iglesia films of the 70s Maybe it does get better even in macho countries like Spain.
Funny fluff piece about bullying and a boy's first gay kiss
When a boy is being bullied he hides inside the tent of a gypsy fortune teller. She gives him a potion that will "solve all his problems" but when he reads the fine print he see that there is a catch. Now he must get love's true kiss quickly or disappear.
Campy short that never takes itself too seriously. Funny in spots but never laugh out loud funny and it feels stretched in spots like it needed to be x minutes long to qualify for something. The dance number at the end is OK enough but again, there's nothing here that that's too memorable.
Teens Like Phil (2012)
Yet another film dealing with gay attractions among teens, bullying and even...
While the problems addressed by this 2012 film are important, this may not be the best film to see if you're concerned with the issue. It's told in a semi-dream-like state with cuts and some flash-back flash-forward confusion making it hard to get the characters set in your mind.
A framing scene that would introduce the characters and help the audience identify who's who, right up-front would have been helpful.
The subject IS important and I'm glad to see films that address these issues but it could have been SO much better. Watch O Beautiful (2002) (available on You-tube) for an example of a film that immediately understandable and deals with gay bashing.
Personally, I felt that the "homeless uncle" aspects of this film just added a level of complication that the story-line didn't really need. If it was important to the film maker to include those aspects of the story, then I feel that more of the surrounding details should have been included as well.
The actors here were cute enough to capture and hold my interest though I WAS confused as to who delivered the locker-room beating. I thought it was the bully brother not the gay kid himself. That was only cleared up for me in therapy.
An important story but somewhat ineptly presented.
I'm glad that this story has finally been made part of the mosaic that is the American Experience, but given its currency, the Stonewall events could have been brought into better perspective than was accomplished here.
Spending as much screen time with Lucian Truscott IV (who identifies as straight and is married to woman) as a spokesman for the gay perspective seemed a bit imbalanced. There are other living, gay identified, first hand eyewitnesses that might not be as telegenic, that might have given more perspective if they'd have been included.
Also, in my opinion, the episode should have spent less screen time dwelling on the schadenfreud of the 60s era psychology and more screen time on the events immediately before that June 1969 event and its aftermath.
Silver Road (2006)
A well made short look at a rural gay crush but unfortunately nothing new
Two guys Mark (Jonathan Keltz) and Danny (Andrew Hachey) who have grown up together in rural Canada on the night before one leaves for the big city. Danny knows he's gay and has a thing for his best friend but is pretty sure Mark's straight.
Technically, the film is above par for this type of short. The film is well-made with moody rural cinematography, appropriate music and charming actors but the plot falls short of making this anything out of the ordinary in what is already a crowded sub genre, though the rural setting is a nice change.
It left me wanting more.
Love and Deaf (2004)
Only in New York
An overly talkative bed-mate can be problematic but not when you're deaf. This short comedy is actually pretty funny even if it's a bit offensive in spots.
Saw this several years ago at a gay film festival and enjoyed it but when I saw that it was now on You-tube I decided it was time for a "reviewing." Oddly the You-tuber copy has a bit of an audio-synch problem but then, given the subject matter, that may be part of the joke.
At 7:14 this isn't exactly "7 minutes in heaven" but if you enjoy a good M/M comedy involving tea-room sex, game on!
Triple Standard (2010)
An evergreen problem and yet another resolution-free film.
After a homophobic slur in a locker-room, a closeted ex-basketball player is confronted by his room-mate (lover) of five years to admit who he really is.
While this is in no way a new issue, the feelings presented here and the damage done through denial is addressed a tiny bit. This film would have been a revolutionary hit in 1980 and I'm guessing that this issue will still be evergreen for decades to come. But this film brings very little that is new or fresh to the table.
The leads are attractive and it's no hardship to sit through 20 minutes of this but I'd have loved to actually have gotten somewhere by the end of it.
Spa Night (2016)
Yet another coming-out story but with a Korean flavor
David is a second-generation gay Korean-American only child. His parents are not successful though they have been hardworking. Davids of college age but not really college material and David is feeling those pressures plus the growing realization that he's gay.
When his parents lose their restaurant David secretly takes a job to help his struggling parents and if it's in a men's sauna, well at least he can begin to study his other concern...
The story is interesting but the cultural differences made some parts a bit tough to understand for this entirely occidental viewer. While I was interested in David's dilemma, the unresolved nature of the ending was a bit unsatisfying.
Angora Ranch (2006)
When the director, writer and star are the same guy, it's a triple threat but not always in a good way.
I wanted to like this but it was simply NOT worth the watching time. I've seen thousands of gay movies over the years and while this one is far from the worst. I generally rate all the films I see on IMDb and I checked. This one did make the bottom 50. It's really too bad because there are the elements of a good story here, and that's part of the reason that this one's so bad. It keeps you hanging on (like Charlie Brown hoping that maybe next time Lucy's not gonna move the ball) the dialogue is often cringe-worthy and you actually would feel bad for the actors but its pretty clear that their abilities are part of the problems as well.
One thing that should have clued me in earlier... the director is also the writer and is also the main character. All of those jobs require skill and many truly skillful individuals can handle one or two of those roles but it's the rarest of things to find a film where all three roles are handle by the same person and handled well.
Shabbat Dinner (2012)
Not all is Kosher in this short film
I guess that the coming out experience will be an evergreen subject for gay film makers but this is far from the best version of this story I've seen. The dialogue here could have used a lot of work.
While the premise is fun and the film isn't too cringe-inducing, there could have been a lot more innuendo between the boys and the parent's dialogue could have been more related to what the boys were saying. If the one boy HAD come out to his parents just the previous day, there should have been some evidence of that in the parents' conversation and there wasn't.
Just for laughs compare this to Boychick (2001) which is readily available on you-tube. It may just be my experience with Jewish mothers but the mother in that rings a lot truer despite the films being more than a decade older.
Lost in Space: Impact (2018)
Though the premise is good, the way that the time-line is presented (ala cuisinart) generally signals to me that the writers are in over their heads. If you can't tell an interesting tale without chopping the story up this much, you need to look for alternate work.
Some flashbacks are fine and some reveals are OK but this episode suggested that there's going to be way too much of this
Murder on the Orient Express (2001)
Not as bad as folks claim
I was first introduced to this material with the star-studded 1975 version. Despite what I felt was outrageous overacting by Albert Finney (and sort of tawdry performance by Anthony Hopkins) that version will always be my benchmark.
Others prefer the David Suchet version which has interesting aspects as well. Yet, some find it too religious.
This version manages to capture most of the elements of Christie's story and yet updates it to the new millennium. Not sure why that update was done as part of the original's appeal (for me at least) has always been the recreation of the pre-WWII era.
Yet here we have a production that somehow manages to struggle by on only nine murders. We lose a butler, a cook, and a lady's maid. Guess it's just hard to find good domestic help these days.
We have a trashed VHS tape substituted for a burnt note, a PDA stylus substituted for a pipe cleaner & some matches. We still have the fine handkerchief with an embroidered H. We have a software billionaire for substituted for the famous pilot and we get a mention of OJ to make up for the Diesel for rather than the classic steam train. We have a rock-slide substituted for a Snowdrift. We have No kimono, No Greek Doctor (not even a vet) We have tech savvy Poirot who uses a laptop, we still have grease stained Passport and a broken watch (Thank God it wasn't digital!) And we have the English American translation issues with Attorney/Solicitor but also Vacation/Holiday As with many adaptations, I wonder why the changes were made. Some work, some don't. While this is never going to be my preferred (or even second best) version of the story, it is still watchable and merits a single viewing.
Let's hope that the new Johnny Depp version does as well.
Bones: The 200th in the 10th (2014)
I can appreciate the attempt but just NO!
I understand the desire to want to do something out of the ordinary for the 200th episode. I also also like that they decided to honor the noir detective genre of the past. The colors are well done, the costumes are great and the music is good.
However, it was an exercise in perseverance to get through this episode. This group of actors is good at spouting the scientific jargon that's so integral to this show and they are charming and easy to watch on a weekly basis but they don't have the talent (or the material?) to pull of this tribute episode.
If you're a completist like me, then my condolences as you watch it. If you're more of a casual Bones fan, just go with that instinct to skip this one as soon as it hits. It doesn't get any better.
Low budget After school special version of the popular boy detective
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.