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Eu te amo Renato (2012)
A spectacular work from Brazil worth seeing
First off, as of writing this I'm not sure if this film has ever been translated into English, so the opportunity for those who don't understand Portuguese might not be out there. But if it is, this film is an absolute gem that gives people a slice of life in a sleepy Brazilian town. While the film centers around a love-triangle between two boys and one girl, the situation itself stirs up many sub-plots and character studies from those around the trio. I would have to say every actor in this film gave an excellent performance...but sadly none of them were actually paid for their effort.
Beautiful Something (2015)
I really enjoyed the director's previous work, Strapped. And with intriguing and interesting plot-lines, intertwined stories and compelling character studies, Beautiful Something did not disappoint. Overall, I not only found the scenes believable, but in many cases felt myself drawn-into the situations; that's how well written and acted they were. That being said, there really was a glaringly visible disparity between the polished actors (such as Coleman Domingo) and very amateurs, such as Zack Ryan and Brian Sheppard. Those two actually complemented each other in that Zack comes off as wooden and clueless (I seriously don't believe he has had any professional acting experience or lessons prior), while Brian's overacting was just silly and cringe-worthy (it's almost as if he has a perpetual rage that someone said, "just use it!" for every scene...which really didn't work at all. But if you get past the poorer performances, the overall film is definitely worth watching.
The Stranger in Us (2010)
The Stranger reviews...
...seem to be giving this garbage a 10...which can only mean they were part of the cast themselves, because no one in their right mind would give this more than a 3 max. San Francisco is a really toxic and inhospitable place, but it is ANYTHING but gay-unfriendly, which made a lot of these scenes completely unbelievable. And every gay man who has ever lived in San Francisco has a story...and 9 out of 10 will be FAR more entertaining than this one. Yes, bad relationships happen...nothing particularly new being said here at all. Just a very sloppily edited, scripted, filmed and acted piece of amateur video. The whole date titles were unoriginal and confusing as well. Nothing good or entertaining here to recommend.
Home by Now (2016)
Tediously boring and self-indulgent
There is literally NOTHING in this movie that interested me. The acting was sub-par, the script was completely unbelievable and the characters were just uninteresting. It's as if an entire film were written around a cliche' about being grateful for what you have. Got it. Didn't need to waste the rest of my time watching this movie.
This Whirlwind really blows...
This is a very predictable, cliche'-ridden gay morality play (yes...oxymoron) filled with over-acting, camp and not much else. The punch-line of every scene seems to be someone pulling out a joint...which is of course hiLARIOUS the more times it happens. The "villain" is beyond Vaudeville expectations, and the real tragedy is you really just don't care about any of these characters. Unless you're related to one of these actors (or slept with them apparently) then you can safely let this Whirlwind blow right past you.
Come Into Your Own (2019)
Asks the question: why should any of us care?
But fails to answer. This is one of those self-indulgent projects where the writer/director also insists on starring as the lead. Sadly, he's neither likable, talented, charismatic or interesting enough to carry a scene, let alone an entire movie dedicated to his meager performance. The other characters/actors come off as "giving the ol' college try" with the bad script they are given (except the "Ted" character...very miscast). Read the reviews here and save your time; there really isn't anything worth watching here.
Attention of Men (2017)
Most likely went a little something like this...
"hey! haven't talked to you in awhile. An old queen I met at the club last week said I could house-sit...his place is HUGE! And...well...I'm kinda thinking we shoot a movie? You in?
"Um...what's it about?"
"Not sure. But I promise; you'll be the lead!"
"What's the budget?"
"Will we get paid?"
"Hah! Dude, come on..."
"Well, will I have to get naked?"
"Depends...have you shaved recently?"
"Then we'll just do a butt-shot and work the script around that. Sound good?"
In other words, poorly conceived, poorly acted, horribly written and nothing remotely good going on here. But hey...nice house.
A wholesome slice of childhood innocence
Capitalizing on the popularity of the short-lived Saturday-morning children's series "H.R. Pufnstuf" came a feature-length film based on the same. As there really wasn't anything "new" to say in this film (it was definitely just a retelling of the same plot and premise as the series) it is clear this was simply another vehicle to make money and market the concept to a wider audience (i.e. outside of the US). Still, fans of the original series (at this point geriatric) would have also enjoyed the film (I know I did). And I think the retro aspect of this film will definitely be as enjoyable as any Disney classic set in the "olden days" ("Song of the South" excluded). Meaning, if today's children took the effort to suspend their disbelief and imagine a time with no cellphones, video games or internet, they might actually find themselves singing along to the lyrics and laughing at the silliness of it all. In sum, there isn't anything remotely harmful or negative here (unless you are some radical feminist wiccan); just good wholesome fun which was made specifically to delight children once upon a time.
Liberty: Mother of Exiles (2019)
self-indulgence disguised as documentary
This tedious and awkward display of self-indulgence is really too much to take for an average viewer, who no doubt will have left the program after the first 10 minutes. It's honestly as if a very uninteresting, lack-luster socialite had equally uninteresting friends over and brainstormed ways she could get in front of the camera...and this is the result. There is very little good info or footage about the actual statue of liberty, nor are there any real "deep-dives" into the so-called "exiles" grafted into the synopsis of this mess (you know...for relevance). Four stars for some of the original footage and background into Bartholdi...but not much else.
Our Boys (2019)
Well executed piece on a very difficult theme
The horrific events of what went on in Israel during the summer of 2014 are difficult to explain since there are so many "back stories", specifically for those not aware of the situations leading to them. As someone who lived in Israel, I can say this series did an excellent job at giving a glimpse into both sides. It portrays both the Israelis and the Palestinians as 3-dimensional people with motivations, personalities and drivers leading to why each character reacted to the specific events in question. While there were details on both sides of the story which were either omitted or changed (we don't know whether for dramatic license or to quell any tensions the reality might bring up). The point here being, you can take a very simply pass through these comments to understand the fragility or the egos and minds connected to this story; on the one hand, you see the typical Palestinian reaction of this being "too pro-Israel" and the extremely predictable jewish reaction of "all lies...and plus, what about all of OUR "guys" killed!!??" The fact is Israel is a country full of irrational religious fundamentalists who will never concede so much as to look at the other side as human, held together by a very loose alliance of semi-secular people who value the lives of their families over ideology. And sadly, the summer of 2014 and the story of "Our Boys" is the result.
Judas Kiss (2011)
Unbelievable, unresolved premise
Without writing spoilers, let's just say the entire premise of this mess is completely unbelievable, specifically because there is no explanation given as to WHY or HOW such a time-leap could happen. Yes, there is definitely something about "second chances" that makes us all wonder "what if?" But this was just too arrogantly concocted and executed (as if we're just supposed to swallow it all at face-value...and if not, then we're just not "cool enough" to get it). I honestly can't think of one good reason to watch this.
The Dark Place (2014)
Still wondering what the hell this was
This is one of those really HORRIBLY awful movies that make you scratch your head and ask "WHY????" It has several notable "gay" actors (specifically one former gay porn actor/present-day escort), but was that REALLY the entire draw to this mess? Because it sure wasn't the script, or the acting. In fact, the parts of the mother and the female sheriff were so wooden it made me wonder if they were somehow related to the producer/director. The music made this even worse to take. This is just bad on all levels. Nothing redeeming at all.
Sotto il cielo di Roma (2010)
An incredible story told poorly
There is now enough evidence (there actually always was) to fully vindicate Pope Pius XII and his decision to save as many Jews in Europe through diplomatic and underground means, given the harsh reprisals against Jews, clergy and civilians every time He and the church actually spoke publicly (the movie references the Dutch bishops condemnation of Nazism, and the subsequent round-up of Jews and converts, most notably St Benedicta of the cross aka Edith Stein). However, the film doesn't mention that shortly after the Pope did denounce the Nazis publicly in his Christmas address of 1942 (and the subsequent aftermath) which further convinced him to take the course he decided. While the series seeks to personify the people he ended up saving (Jews and in one case a communist), the characters are in effect shallow and one-dimensional, despite the love-interest back-stories at work. And while it also showed the reality that the Vatican had absolutely no defense from the Nazis and was purely a mental construct (the similarity to Hotel Rwanda was noted) the film seemed to be full of haughty platitudes from the characters as opposed to portraying what really happened...which would have been far more interesting. Cromwell was an interesting yet lacking choice for the role of Pius XII, since he comes off as an American Grampa figure as opposed to the scholar and statesman Pope Pius XII was. Filmed in a VERY "made for TV" style (laughably, the modern graffitti on the bridges wasn't even edited out), this was simply a topic and subject matter which is much larger than the venue put together here.
The Revival (2017)
Hauntingly sad...and accurate
The film seeks to dive-in to the "real" reasons many small-town Americans go to church; obligation, social outlet, insecurities, and even a sense of "keeping up with the Jones'". Through the main character, a Pastor, we see his condemnation of all these superficial reasons (as opposed to "understanding God"), then learn HIS reason for being a pastor is just as shallow as the other reasons he loathes among his congregation (which he clearly detests just below the surface). Yet it is out of this same perceived obligation to these people that he has to mask his true nature, which comes flooding out when he meets a drifter. Through his interactions with this drifter, we see the choices the Pastor is forced to make, as well as the real nature of his congregation...which has always been there just below the surface. Great acting, excellent script (truly believable on both parts) and well edited. There were a couple of parts which were very predictable (almost to cliche') and although the cinematography was very professional, it could have been a bit more creative given the subject-matter. All in all, very well done and worth watching.
Into the Lion's Den (2011)
As sad as it is bad
Here's the thing: the "gay road trip" genre is actually very tried and true. It taps into the psyche of many gays trapped in their "gay ghettos" who actually WISH they had the opportunity to travel across country/see new places. Had this simply been a character study and/or comedy, this would probably have been successful. But of course that would have involved actually insight and writing, as opposed to taking the easy way out. Bad writing, VERY bad acting and unbelievable plot overall. Not worth watching.
A Siren in the Dark (2009)
So bad, it's horrible
This film attempts to be a homoerotic thriller, but is really just an excuse to get a bunch of naked guys (NOT actors) into soft-core porn situations. Add a little blood, some bad camera tricks and T&A (I guess they were hoping for some bi audience as well?) and that's pretty much the film. You can watch it without the sound and it won't make a difference.
The Last Czars (2019)
Cheap sensationalism with nothing new to say
From the sexually-repressed brits comes yet another soft-porn series with an historic back-drop. After "Game of Thrones", it's almost as if the brits have given up producing anything of substance, and instead rely on cheap titilation by showing sex scenes to entice viewers. Well, here's a hint: people who aren't interested in history won't just watch garbage like this just to wait for the next glimpse of T&A...they'll watch internet porn instead. And those of use who actually ARE genuinely interested in the topic don't want soap-opera banter and unqualified commentary. This is just bad.
Issues 101 (2002)
I just can't think of anything good to say about this film, since I really don't know what it was trying to say or be. If it was supposedly soft-core porn (and there was a bit of nudity and simulated man-on-man sex) then why didn't they just add more sex scenes with good looking actors? The "frat boys" were ridiculously miscast, as they were aging, effeminate, hairy, balding jewish guys (notice; I didn't use the word "actor", since none of the participants here are actually actors). The "plot" of a closeted frat brother really didn't make much sense, since apparently man-on-man sex wasn't a big deal in this particular fraternity. Yes, I get it; that's a big fantasy for a lot of guys...but you might as well save yourself the time and effort and just rent a porno if that's what you are hoping for.
Lost Everything (2010)
Anachronistic morality play
The theme of "closeted celebrity" has been done repeatedly since the 90s. Yet since that time, a number of high profile celebrities have come out as gay or bisexual, which makes the premise of this film from 2010 a bit anachronistic in its scope (almost as it it were written 20 years prior but just never got funding, and had to modernize at the last minute). The periphery plots of a detective agency willing to kill anyone off for the right price really pushed the limits of suspension of disbelief. The acting was good for a soap opera, but not for a feature-length film. I'd say watch if you need some brain-candy...but not good for much else.
Soft porn...and not much else
Whatever or whoever gave the creator of this series the idea that this should be made was playing a rather cruel joke. This is just an awful excuse to put semi-naked bodies (not going to use the word actors, because none of them can act) together under the pretext of being in a "scene". There is nothing redeeming here (a 1940s American sailor sporting a nipple-ring says it all). Save yourself the time and energy by picking up an old Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue.
Falling for Angels (2017)
Strangely, my review disappeared...
Not sure why (and definitely no spoilers added) my previous review disappeared, but I'll do my best to recreate it. While I really liked several of the episodes in this series, the final "Malibu" was by far the worst...and not worst in that it was the worst of these episodes, but in that it was really, REALLY bad. It was almost as if all the characters from all the previous episodes suddenly shed their personalities and became one big gay, cutesie cliche'. In fact, ti really seemed as someone completely different had written this episode not having seen/read the scripts of the previous, which is why all the characters here have no unique voice. I did find it interesting that the two protagonists came from the web series "What If..." but sadly I didn't know of the series at the time I watched this episode, and thus had no idea of the back story that was alluded to during the episode. Just a very sad and anticlimactic let-down to an otherwise great series.
The Pass (2016)
A sensual psychological study in narcissism
"The Pass" is extremely well-thought, well-written and well-acted; an EXTREMELY rare combination for a gay themed film. But times have certainly changed, in that we now have the benefit of openly gay actors (such as Russel Tovey) who don't shy away from such projects, and can apply their experience and skill unhindered. I felt the chemistry between the two characters of Jason and Ade at the beginning of the film was both real and forced...maybe the scenes were shot out of order, but at times I felt they were seriously best mates, and at other times it felt as if they were just playing stereotypical 2-dimensional English soccer players. I can also say this about the Jason character overall; we're supposed to believe he has an irresistible magnetism and charisma, which is why people deal with his narcissism (a very real phenomenon). Yet at the same time, the final scene crossed the barrier of disbelief, in that I can't see the Ade character would have stuck around to "participate" in whatever Jason had going on if he were still infatuated with him. However, I think the ending was a perfect way to express just how it might have brought Ade to make certain decisions in the beginning. All in all, this is one of the highest caliber gay-themed films I have seen (rivals "Brokeback Mountain") and definitely worth watching .
Back Soon (2007)
Rob Williams...visibly getting better
After having seen "Long Term Relationship", my impulse was that Rob Williams just could not be taken seriously. But after reading subsequent review of "Back Soon", I decided to give it a shot, and I'm happy to say I was pleasantly surprised. The writing was pretty predictable (I figured out the plot twists within the first 15 minutes...although I thought the characters shared a donated organ) and the actors really have not progressed in range or skill since the previous film. But this one ALMOST works. I say ALMOST, as Matthew Montgomery is NOT able to play a former gang-banger/cholo, nor does he speak Spanish convincingly (yes, I get his name is Ramirez, pero ni madres...está pero MUY sacado de onda). And the "demo reel" scenes don't work at all, since Windham Beacham in indistinguishable from when he is playing his main character from when he is supposedly playing a "bad actor"...they are both the same. Artie O'Daly is great in the "Bad Boy" series because his "gay voice" is hilarious...but it's also too noticeable to play a closeted man if it's supposed to be a surprise or plot twist. If the writing, editing and the actors were just a LITTLE better, this could have been a really memorable film. As it stands now, it's a "good effort".
Another horrible sequel
While I actually enjoyed the first movie to the extent that I was rather generous with my rating, this one deserves neither praise nor benefit of the doubt. There was simply nothing left to say, add or continue with this sequel, other than putting together a similar premise of gay "teens" in another situation. And while the jokes here were equally raunchy, they just were not funny as the "effect" of the first one had already prepared us for this premise (and I repeat; there is nothing NEW going on here). The film tried to utilize the same formula; gay sex jokes, shock value, pop references and cameos from recognizable gay celebrities (I liked seeing Rupaul, but I consider any instance of having to see Perez Hilton a bad day on my calendar) but once gain, there just wasn't anything new here. I know I've just repeated myself...but then again so did this movie.
Another Gay Movie (2006)
The entire premise of "what if all those Hollywood teen sex movies were gay?" was actually pretty novel at the time (correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think anything like it existed prior). Part of the humor here is it losing one's wallet in a crowded subway is STILL not as easy as a gay guy to lose his virginity, which is why this plot works as a comedy. But keep in mind; it IS a gay-themed movie, so there is some very graphic sex (even just the allusion to it is enough to make one cringe unless they are already exposed to it). And as if that was enough shock value, the sight of Graham Norton's flabby butt or the "naked Survivor" dude's genitals is definitely enough to put one over the edge. So, if you're looking for some gay-themed brain-candy with no substance and lot of pop-culture references, this is for you.