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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.
An Angel Named Billy (2007)
I would have loved to have seen a real movie about this...
I've rated more than 2000 films on IMDb and this film has earned its dubious place in my list of the 10 worst movies I've ever seen.
I'd like to start by saying that I love gay films and films with gay themes and it pains me to have to write a review like this one.
I think that the best films are literate, insightful and consistently entertaining. The story-line should be organic and draw the audience along through the plot points.
"An Angel Named Billy" misses on almost all these counts. The story doesn't move quickly. The encounters are only comedic unintentionally (in their ineptness). Several plot points were totally unrealistic. I learned nothing about human nature from anything any character in this film said and I was consistently irritated by how poorly the ideas were presented. On top of that the acting was, below even the standard I've found in off-off-Broadway productions.
I'm a nut for completeness and I've tried to watch every gay film that I come across. Yet, this is the first film that I gave up on before the opening credits were finished.
Today, resolving to give it another chance, I sat through it in its entirety hoping against hope that it would improve... or at least end.
Finally I rated it a 2 because it did have some characters and situations that I WOULD have cared about had they been in a better movie.
An afternote: What really irks me most about this film is that there were characters and situations here that could have made for one of my all time romantic favorites. Unfortunately that's all wasted by the inane script and inept film-making.
What irks me second most is that the only other review of this film on IMDb gives it 10 stars and that my first review was flagged & deleted. This one has been rewritten and I'd like to know what, if anything, was objectionable about my first review other than that I told the truth about a movie that I personally disliked.
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.
Private Romeo (2011)
Gender Blind Casting is OK... PLOT-Blind cinematography is NOT
Just watched Private Romeo and I gotta say I was disappointed after all the positive comments & reviews.
I understood that the story was a modern take on the Romeo & Juliet story set in a boys' military academy. For me it just didn't work.
I tried to get behind the "gender blind" casting, a variation on "color blind" casting in which the audience pretends NOT to notice a the actors race and just goes with the character as written. For me this didn't work because the characters adhered so loosely to the characters as written.
The story is all about how two factions are brought to grief when a member of each faction kills themselves after becoming a couple.
In this version, I couldn't tell the factions apart or even if there really were any. There were no parental arranged marriages, no killing of cousins in duels, and even bigger departures from the story... but that would be telling!
I'm a big fan of restaging Shakespeare in other scenarios. West Side Story and Ran are great examples where "bending the Bard" actually added new and interesting aspects to an already classic tale, but this one added nothing and detracted a LOT. I saw all of my favorite speeches of the play marred and made less by this staging.
Also the production values were glaringly deficient in spots. Why stage a military drill scene without bothering to ensure uniform uniforms, and with so small a number of "cadets?"
This felt much less organic throughout than that Woody Allen movie where he took an already released Japanese movie and substituted his own dialogue.
The boys were pretty and there were moments where the actors managed to get my interest & empathy DESPITE the total lack of any help from the vehicle they were performing in.
It may well be me. There are a number of very positive reviews of this film by critics from The NY Times and The Village Voice et. al. but after seeing this I'm if some form of payola wasn't involved...
New Hope (2012)
Lotta missed potential
This is supposed to be the story of a preacher's kid and his family after they move into a small southern town where a local high school golden boy committed suicide a year ago. The preacher's kid joins the basketball team and immediately runs into problems with the dead teen's younger brother.
Despite having some attractive young talent, the story had a number of structural plot flaws and the low budget showed painfully much of the time. Much of the action revolved around scenes on the basketball court, both practices and games. Now I'm not much of a sports fan but having a high school basketball team with only eight players (and about 15 cheerleaders) seems a bit off to me.
Some of the awkward plot flaws included the preacher's kid meeting the dead teens ex-girlfriend in the woods. The dialogue somehow managed to be wooden and inorganic at the same time.
There was also a dinner party that was the worst conceived since Titus Andronicus.
I think that a movie about a Christian family moving into a town where there's been a teen suicide is a good idea. I'd still like to see a movie about that, just not this one.
The Boy Next Door (2008)
Short portrait of a call-boy in a crisis
It's never explained why this young man has turned to prostitution but it's heavily suggested that a drug habit is involved. What pain the drugs are masking is left to the imagination. As with many short films, this one poses many unanswered questions about motivations and back-story but this film is successful in getting you to care somewhat for the characters.
It's an apt snapshot but not much more. It suggests that the director has potential but it will require a more fully developed story-line to tell for sure. The young kid and the prostitute were bot well cast but the other man seemed too young to be the father of a kid that age.
I felt a short bit of disappointment at the end in the denouement. I expected the film to come to a better conclusion than the walking away scene that we get.
Tommy and the Cool Mule (2009)
OK idea ruined by poor execution
This movie is to good film what off-brand carob is to chocolate. The idea of a family friendly movie with a talking mule was fine. But the dialogue and the events pictured in the movie were terribly executed. It's as if the writers and the director couldn't be bothered to put together a reasonable movie.
And it's too bad because there were a few nice moments. I've never heard of a rodeo event like the one featured in this film. Even if such a thing exists the audience cheering an event that they can't see doesn't make much sense. And the holes in the plot logic were big enough to drive a horse trailer through.
I am curious how something like this gets made. I wonder what the producers were thinking. It's certainly not apparent in the film what caused this to get mad and released at all.
Strangely compelling Bio-pic
Apparently Hank Garland was a great guitar player. Perhaps a great musician and not much else. In keeping with that, the music in this film was great as well, but the story was strangely unmoving.
If this pic is to be believed, he was bad at marriage. He married a woman but neither one loved the other in the truest sense of that word, that is wanting their happiness more than one's own. Each just wanted some of their needs met. On the positive side, Garland was essentially color-blind when it came to music but again, that may not have been a real virtue in his case as much as just a failure to see anything outside the music.
Because of his arrogance and talent he was a problem for those around him. That failing eventually brought about much of the unhappiness in his life.
The ending sort of suggested that in the end he was left with little but the songs he'd recorded and strangely that might have been enough. As with many movies, things are simplified to fit in the allotted time and I'm still unclear about many aspects of his life. For example, he's listed as being survived by two daughters and two grandsons named Garland. I'm not clear how that was possible. Given that facts like that have been left out of this film, I wonder what else was left out.
BTW... there is another, very different movie C.R.A.Z.Y. that I enjoyed more and it has great music as well.