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Il mare (1962)
A lost masterpiece of Italian cinema
24 June 2011
This is one of the lost masterpieces of Italian cinema. But where can you see it? I'm not going to give away the plot, but anyone who liked L'Avventura would surely enjoy this.

Derek Jarman once told me it was his favourite film. It has all the elements of Antonioni and much, much more. It is definitely ripe for rediscovery. Maybe some enterprising film distributor (Mr Bongo?) will read this and take note!

It doesn't make sense that so many 3rd rate Italian comedies of this period are available in various countries, but this serious film is completely unknown.
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Twisted (I) (2004)
Economy, Style and a Strong Female Lead
27 June 2008
Kaufmanhas been called a maverick director and this film proves the point. He takes the tired subject matter of serial killers and instead of seeing women being brutalized and raped he puts young men in their place. This clearly must be disconcerting for many men who see this film, especially as for the main part of the film we are led to believe that a woman is the perpetrator.

He also shows a tough female character that rarely exists in American cinema any more, but which existed strongly in 40's cinema. Ashley Judd is wonderful in the role of a woman who goes out and picks her men when she wants to and leaves them when she wants to. Something else that your 'normal' male is going to get alarmed about.

The film is also extremely well made, beautifully shot, and only lasts an hour and a half. This economy compared to such overrated films as Scorsese's 'The Departed' which suffered from terrible filmic flatulence, is perhaps too concentrated for today's audience. Fritz Lang could do it and so could a whole list of other greats from the past. Kaufman in my opinion has added with this film ,a truly modern film noir.
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Disappointing DVD release
5 April 2007
This is an entertaining, well acted, well edited film of its genre. Classic anti-communist fear, rubber monster, Roger Corman trash fun.

Heavily cut on its initial release. BEWARE, the only available DVD release from Siren Entertainment (coupled with Creature from the Haunted Sea) retains these cuts. 29 cuts in total including ALL IMAGES of the monster! Ludicrously, while all images of our rubber friend are removed, most of the human to human violence, some of which is quite strong, remains.

I will never understand censorship ! Where Siren entertainment got this copy from I do not know. The film deserves a restored, uncut release.
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A Western Study of Sexual Obsession
5 January 2007
A great looking movie with unusual touches that set it apart from most other westerns of the period and put on a par or beyond some of the later Bud Boetticher films.

The reality is so heightened and the sexual obsession so strong throughout that I was reminded of Nicholas Ray's classic Johnny Guitar. Although there's no need for Joan Crawford here. The men (good and bad) are as pretty as the girls and the violence is in places grueling with a twist in the final shootout (they don't use guns) that was surprisingly effective.

For these reasons the film scored an unexpected 10 from me. Sony's DVD release is beautifully cleaned up. Watch it and enjoy.
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This film is really gay - and I mean that in the best possible sense!
22 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Queer cinema took off in the 1990's but this weird little gem from 1959 was an early example.


Back then if you were a writer with a good gay plot there was no way you could get it produced unless you coded it. William Inge, & Tennessee were past masters at applying the code. But 'The Girl in Lovers Lane is another matter. Nothing makes sens in this film anymore, and that makes it very intriguing to watch.

The film is about two guys, but it's the 'girl' that gets into the title and onto the poster.

At the beginning of the film one guy picks the other up for no reason, when he could have just stolen his wallet. They shack up. They undress (at times for no reason). They try to outdo each other at getting girlfriends. One pushes his girlfriends away whenever they gets 'too friendly' and 'rescues' his friend whenever he's about to get lucky with some of the town's colourful dames.

The women in the film are fantastically bad girls, celebrated in a delirious brothel scene, except for one nice girl. And guess what? It's the nice girl that gets bumped off in the end, leaving the way clear for our two (male) lovebirds in denial to face a happy future of domestic bliss together.

Watch this film (with or without MST3K) and enjoy.
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The Matthew Shepard Story (2002 TV Movie)
Humanity wins
7 October 2005
The subject matter of this film was fairly abstract to me until I saw this film. You read the story of the murder and the trial, but somehow you don't get a clear picture of what really happened.

This is a heart breaking film. Some of us tend to judge America by its awful Capital Punishment laws, its brutality, its terrible president and we can forget that there are people working against these horrors. It is people like Stockard Channing and if my eyes didn't deceive me Goldie Hawn (executive producer) who can help make you reconsider what is happening there.

What was on trial in this film was humanity itself and against all the odds humanity won over. Lets hope that George Bush and his reactionary government will accidentally see this film one night when they have something better to do. That's my fantasy and like the film's ultimate hope I'll stick to it.
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'Gay' is not so bad after all.
10 April 2005
This film was given bad reviews by both the gay and straight press. I don't understand why as there are some terrible Dutch films that are rated more highly. (Karakter; Wilde Mossels; De Grot) These were truly awful films without ANY real narrative structure to make you want to continue from frame to frame. Unfortunately one of them got an Oscar and so the Dutch have continued to produce pretentious unwatchable films that even their own population run away from.

In this context 'Gay' had all the basic simplicity of a high class soap opera (think Dynasty) and over the top characters that with more intelligent handling could have come out of Fassbinder. In fact the first two thirds of the film were harsh in a way that could only alienate both heterosexuals and homosexuals. I mean what straight man is capable of sitting in a cinema and watching so much male kissing or so much gay sex? Not many! And for a mainstream homosexual audience self-criticism does not often come easy. The men lead shallow, selfish lives and seem to live on a diet of sushi and champagne. This was not 'Another Country' and neither was it a wish fulfillment fantasy about finding the ideal boy next door.

Unfortunately after this promising start the film fell apart in the last section as soon as one of the characters put on a dress and we entered 'La Cage Aux Folles' territory. It seemed to me that the director had suddenly thought ' Oh my God what of the straight audience and their reactions?' A man of course, in a dress, being hysterical is not a threat.

This was not a bad film and certainly given its limitations was far more watchable than most Dutch efforts. It had a few laughs which is rare in a Dutch film and it made you want to see how it would work out. The fact that the working out was a disappointment was just a pity. I think it's time the Dutch made another homosexual film but not call it 'Gay' which is plain boring and which leaves nothing for those who have a queer perspective.
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Wild Side (2004)
Muted & Marginal - a perfect and beautiful film
23 March 2005
Unfinished script? Badly lit? Underdeveloped characters? Designed to shock the bourgeoisie? About half the reviewers here seem to have missed the point with this film - but perhaps it's just a film you'll either love or hate. There are of course many people who simply are not comfortable watching anything which in any way portrays or explores homosexuality.

Not that you would class this as a gay film - but it is definitely one of the best queer films I have seen. Dealing with three characters on the margins of society, it has a no holds barred approach to its subject matter, that is neither glamorous nor judgmental. In contrast to most representations of homo/transexuality this was refreshing.

The sexuality/gender of the central character, Stephanie, was apparent from the first frames of the film. The triangular relationship between her and the two men is one built on sincere and simple respect and equality. There is no question in the film of her having to choose between the two. All three are equally compatible with each other and do not have the usual conventional jealousies and arguments.

The three characters' past and present lives are beautifully portrayed in a sort of collage. This demands some work from the audience to put the pieces together. And why not? There is nothing obscure or pretentious here. Just an honest look at what brought these three people together.

Visually the film ranks highly and is up there with Antonioni and Bresson. The concentration on the urban and rural landscapes and the details of the characters' physical actions say more about character development than any dialogue could do.

A milestone in new queer cinema. This film should receive a far wider distribution. But judging from others' comments perhaps the public are just not yet ready to understand the humility, beauty and sacrifice of in these characters' lives. A great film 10/10
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Oranges (I) (2004)
Beautiful Unpretentious Short
19 December 2004
This short Australian film depicts with warmth and without pretension the awkwardness of two teenagers starting to recognise and explore their homosexuality.

It was refreshing to see two actors cast who were the right age for these roles and who showed no reluctance to share a kiss on screen. Many older actors/actresses of whatever sexuality could take a lesson from these two.

The final image of the film which relates to the title and storyline has a beauty and simplicity that surprises and lingers.

I saw this film as part of the Pink Filmdays in Amsterdam, and it received a very warm reception, compared to many other higher budget, overstylised and less sincere offerings.
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Moving, sincere and beautifully shot!
19 December 2004
One of the great things about a film festival is finding treasures that you would otherwise never get to see. At the Pink Filmdays in Amsterdam I was very pleased to find this unpretentious short that explored an important issue without compromising its visual style (the snowy landscapes were particularly evocative) or getting bogged down in a heavy script.

For a teenager it's no easier coming to terms with your homosexuality now than it was when films first started dealing with this issue 20-30 years ago. And for those in rural communities or from religious, conservative or ethnic (sic) backgrounds it is doubly difficult.

The final images of the film show the central character on his own entering a new chapter of his life, but there is no hint that this will be an easy road to take. Simply that he has no choice. His story does not end with the end of the film.

I'd like to see more films deal with the problem of growing up gay in a Muslim community.
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Latter Days (2003)
Don't screw with me, guys!
11 December 2004
Like quite a few of the people who have already commented on this film it moved me to tears and I didn't want to talk for quite a while afterwards. I thought the acting was good and Jacqueline Bisset excellent and I can't understand why some people have criticised the dialogue. It seemed fine to me. So I gave this film 10/10.

But it's grudgingly that I gave this film 10/10. For 2 very important reasons. Both actors were muscular and handsome (as all L.A. actors seem to be). Why is this - when the film is criticising gay men for leading shallow lives and spending so much time in the gym? This applied particularly to the actor who played Aaron. Once he took his clothes off he was the very embodiment of everything that he criticised. I have also read some of the comments concerning the attitude of the two lead actors about their roles. While watching the film I honestly thought the actors were gay, but am willing to believe that they are not. It seems incredible to me that in 2003 when the film was made the director could not find suitable gay actors to play these roles and I cannot believe that they are not out there. With no disrespect, both of the lead roles could have been played equally well by any good gay actor).

So these are my two criticisms and I feel quite angry about this. I hope that the next time I am so moved by a film I will not a couple of hours later feel that I have somehow been cheated as a gay man by straight men once again screwing up my emotions.
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Heartbeat (1968)
Beautiful Deneuve and the compulsion and emptiness of living with too much leisure and wealth.
29 December 2003
Courtesy of MGM Movie Channel I was at last allowed to see one of the best popular films of 1968 in France. 'La Chamade'. This is a disgracefully neglected film which manages in a not too dissimilar way to Antonioni's 'Blow Up' to show the compulsion and emptiness of living with too much leisure and wealth.

Deneuve is at her most beautiful and along with 'Belle de Jour' this must be one of her more complex roles of the period. The extraordinary thing about the film is that the characters roam the bars and go to parties and chic restaurants and musical evenings seemingly oblivious to the political trauma that was happening in 1968.

If memory serves me right Sagan wrote 'La Chamade' before the events of May '68 and for all I know the film may have been completed before the month of May, but in hindsight the facts that we now know cast a long shadow over the lives of these beautiful people consumed by their own selfish desires. A small masterpiece.
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The Graduate (1967)
An Adolescent Film
7 November 2003
This film must be one of the most over-rated films of all time. To begin with it treats the Anne Bancroft character like sh*t. She's neurotic and an alcoholic and she has a voice imposed upon her that has hardly any range at all. This is not her fault, as she is usually an excellent actress, but if more dimension was put into her reactions it would make her a rounded figure, and then we might begin to sympathise with her. In 1965 this would certainly not have been a politically correct ting to do. To make an older woman psychologically attractive would have upset Middle America far too much.

I read one of the reviews here that said the film was rushed. This is an understatement. Nobody seems to have time to consider what they're doping or why they're doing it. It titillates, but it doesn't have the courage to deliver the depth of believable relationships. One could blame the era it was made in, but this would be an injustice to the films of European directors who had quite ably explored this kind of territory with more maturity.

In my opinion it is an adolescent film for the adolescent minded and should be dragged off its complacent pedestal.

The music is as equally dated and terrible.
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The book must be more interesting.
31 January 2003
This must be one of the worst and longest films in Hollywood history (apart from epics). Claire Trevor looks as if she longs to be bad and back in 'Key Largo' and Carolyn Jones takes it on the cuff and probably wishes she was back in 'The Bachelor Party'.

The book MUST be more interesting than this and I can't believe that the Gene Kelly role wasn't a tougher read. As for his acting, he was clearly miscast and there was absolutely no chemistry between him and Nathalie Wood. She herself was not one of the world's greatest actresses so between them the screen isn't exactly set alight. How so many people have liked this film is a total mystery to me, and from the perspective of 2003 the characters in general were all money-grabbing and generally painted a horrible picture of American society. A capitalist nightmare. One to avoid.
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Another disappointing English adaptation of Dr Zhivago
28 December 2002
Try to imagine two versions of a classic English novel filmed in Ukraine twice but never once in England and then maybe my criticism of this film adaptation be a little less unkind.

Firstly the actors: other users praise the acting abilities of Hans Matheson and Keira Knightley. OK, they both look good and Matheson looks totally right as Zhivago but in all honesty they are really not that exceptional. Looking decorative seems to have taken the place of the burning passion that an adaptation of this book needs. David Lean's film was equally guilty in this area.

What we really need is a full blooded Russian version of this novel. But with the current state of the Russian film industry and the decline of Russian culture in general, that is an unlikely prospect. Maybe this is finally an unfilmable book (lots of excellent books are).

Zhivago is a poet and in the book we read his poetry, so why isn't there any of his poetry in either film version? I'm sure a Russian director such as Tarkovsky could have achieved this and used the poetry to both literary and filmic effect. Sadly he's dead, and maybe he didn't want to do it anyway.

And what of Kris Marshall as Pasha? In the first episode he is an excellent actor and a very sexy one, but in Episode 2 we get a sequence where he appears as Strelnikov which to my eye seemed almost a direct copy of Lean's, the menacing train and then a cut from his hands to the deadly communist face of poor old Pasha. Not only does he visually change, but his acting plummets as well. I admit that years have passed and he has been through a war, but in film terms this just shows him as the same old evil communist stereotype we saw in David Lean's film.

The scenery is very pretty, but there again I'm not sure why we couldn't have gone to Russia itself. The Czech Republic though cheaper is not Russia.
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Romantic muse to Pasolini's Salo
11 December 2002
Anybody who has seen Pasolini's 'Salo' will realise that Pasolini owed a debt to Vadim as the similarities in certain sections of the film are perfectly obvious. The key scene in relation to 'Salo' is when the 'victims' enter the chateau and once they are in the chateau suffer the same sort of torments as in Pasolini's film.

The basic difference between the two films is that despite the horrific subject matter Vadim retains a sense of romanticism which Pasolini rejected. It is a great pity this film is not more widely available on video as it is beautifully shot in scope with a delirious score that mixes Gotterdammerung with 'Les Parapluies de Cherbourg'!

The acting, especially from Annie Girardot is exemplary. You can see why this actress gave a such a terrific performance recently in 'La Pianiste'. It was however one of Deneuve's first roles and like all her early films she was not at her best, but clearly decorative.

A 'must-see' film for all those film lovers who have appreciated the likes of 'The Night Porter' and Visconti's 'The Damned'.

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Eroticism within a deliberately anarchic context.
14 August 2001
This is an excellent film, with an unfortunate and misguided bad reputation. Partly because Jancso antagonised the critics by including explicit (for its time) sex when they had been used to more "political" content. Jancso used the sexuality in his film to point out that we live in a repressive society and showed that the characters in his film were willing, up until the point of death, to live out their free attitudes towards sexuality. This was and still is a subversive issue as sexuality still seems to need some dismal excuse for inclusion in non-pornographic films. In this film Jancso was bold enough to present eroticism within a deliberately anarchic context. Contrary to other readers comments this film is neither boring nor rubbish. The fact also that it has homosexual imagery disturbs a lot of narrow minded viewers, but there again Jancso showed these images to represent a multi-sexual utopia. This utopia of course in the film had to be destroyed. You can't get more political than that.
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Shy People (1987)
Superb drama and astute analogy of the Soviet Union
21 April 2001
Beautiful photography of the Louisiana bayou and excellent performances by Barbara Hershey and the rest of the cast make for a gripping drama. Criticised by some for being melodramatic, this film is more than a comparison of the city and country life. It is also surely an analogy by director Konchalovsky for the Soviet Union progressing through harsh but effective tyranny to a more uncertain and questionable "freedom".
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Stage Struck (1958)
One of the finest films to deal with American theatre.
10 October 2000
Along with "All About Eve" this is one of the finest films dealing with the American theatre. I don't understand why it is a lost film and would urge anybody who enjoys great acting to hunt this film down any way they can. It is also about time it was released on video. Susan Strasberg was clearly one of Hollywood's casualties and it's tragic that the films she made after this were perhaps determined by the mediocre reaction at the time to this film.
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Great Music, Great Lines, Fab and Funny.
31 August 2000
The British publication "Radio Times" in a recent review said that Jane Russell was past her prime in this movie. Were they watching? She looks great, her singing is fantastic and she seems to really enjoy herself in this film.

In my book this is one of the best musicals of the 1950's, but it's strength is that it doesn't take itself too seriously. Irreverent and vulgar, the plot is a feminist's nightmare and Jane Russell's "talents" are exploited to the full. As the picture was released originally in 3D, the tagline was "Jane will knock BOTH your eyes out!"

One of the most censored movies in American history, the film was cut to shreds in many states. The final musical number "lookin' for trouble" is truly outrageous. But the overall spirit of the film is goodnatured and full of energy.

Watch this film again and again!
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40 Carats (1973)
This is what "The Graduate" should have been.
24 July 2000
After "Butterflies are Free" and "40 carats" it seems a mystery that Edward Albert Jr didn't continue to make such good films. This film is what "The Graduate" should have been, a sympathetic study of inter-generational relationships.
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