Separate names with a comma.
Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Mark Walker, Sep 3, 2012.
Thanks so much for sharing your movie-going experience and the Q&A session.
Yes, absolutely thank you, Mark. I just added Bridegroom to my queue. It'll take a long while to get there...but it'll happen eventually!
We watched All Boys tonight, a "documentary" ostensibly about porn companies in the Czech Republic who specialize in a certain kind of model. This is an incredibly short movie in both length and subject matter. I was actually disappointed and bored with it....and not only because there's a suspicious lack of actual nudity for a movie about porn.
It's that the filmmakers neglect to introduce us to anyone on screen. We have no clue who they are or why we should care about them. In the long run, all this doc wants to do is allegedly take us behind the scenes of the rise (and fall) of "beautiful people" porn. All I got out of it was a thinly veiled commercial for certain companies.
Wanna do this right? Go deep (no pun intended) and go into the history of the porn industry in those countries, why those actors are "stars" here, how the industry imploded in on itself and where it might go next. This is just garbage.
I thought I would provide an update on Five Dances. I saw it last week the one night it was showing at Portland’s LGBT film fest. I was tired. I was up too late. It was still very much worth it.
The film almost met all of my expectations.
I hope most of you will not be too annoyed if I indulge in a bit of autobiography in order to explain why I am probably very biased in favor of this film.
Back when I was a kid, moving from single to double digits in age, I had my first same sex crush on an actual person rather than a fictional character. --My friends were watching Star Wars and thinking about Leia the way I was thinking about Luke.-- But, my in-real-life, real person crush was on one of the principle dancers in the Portland Ballet Company, Portland's premier ballet troupe. I had causally admired him performing on stage for a couple of years before I started taking lessons from the company’s prima ballerina, Heidi Schumacher.
The Portland Ballet Company rehearsed before my classes, which were late in the afternoon on Tuesdays. If I made all my optimal bus connections from the suburbs to the city, I could arrive in time to watch them practice for the better part of an hour. Watching professional dancers rehearse, absent the glamor of the lights and costumes, was sublime. They were so focused and so used to being watched that the kid warming up and gazing at them from the doorway was of no notice. Seeing their strength and grace in raw form, up close, was better than anything I had ever seen on stage.
And then there was that male lead dancer, Michelangelo’s “David” come-to-life, who often wore white tights that revealed everything.
There were two dressing rooms, (obviously); one for the women and one for the men. The men’s, I imagine, was much smaller than the women’s; I was one of two boys in my age range taking lessons. We were usually putting on our leotards when the men of the company were taking theirs off. (Unlike me, they were not shy.) More than once I was alone in the dressing room with "David." I suspect you can imagine the rest. My heart still races recalling it. (No, for the record, nothing more than knowing glances were exchanged: I am sure he knew --based on the grins he gave me-- that I wanted to be him and to be with him.)
Flash forward to me in my 20s and early 30s and I was involved with a professional dancer or two, in one case, much to the consternation of my mother: She was angry at the insinuations in the company’s publicity materials that this dancer was allegedly dating his female partner. (Mom was also afraid that he was going to give me AIDS, believing I was probably little more to him than a notch on his bedpost, but that is another story too long and out of context for this thread and forum.)
Several years later (now) and ballet dancers still hold a special place for me with their ability to move their bodies with so much strength, stamina, and flexibility...in an attempt, in part, to make it look so effortless and easy. The men with their unabashed beauty were a rebellion against masculine gender stereotyping years before any others, the muscular athlete as graceful artist, long before metrosexuals like David Beckham made it okay for male athletes to want to be objectified as things of beauty.
Dance and film are both art, of course; Alan Brown’s Five Dances is something of a visual poem. Austere, simple, and raw in spoken words, production design, and plot, he uses choreography to tell the story rather than using dialog between the dancers, whenever possible.
This is not Evita nor Les Mis: They do not dance when it would be better for them to speak. There are comments that are funny (The whole audience laughed at Chip’s line “Wow. That’s a lot,” which I will not spoil the context of for you here.)
The film mostly takes place in the studio, with warm ups, practice, stretching, and cooling down. There are moments that feel as if they were stolen from my days in the dance studio hallway. Everyone focused on how their bodies are moving. Wood floors. A piano. Mirrors and windows. Noise from the city streets below. Magic.
Ryan Steele does a great job with his part. His Chip is strong, guarded, determined, and intense, then alternately naive and vulnerable. We get enough from the very few exchanges of dialog to know that he is counting on his talent and drive to be his means of escape from life in Kansas. (Side note: I cannot fathom why they gave him the ill-fitting name Chip, and I wonder how the part was modified for Steele as Brown has stated, because Steele presents so differently than his character during the interviews I have seen.) Regardless, we know enough about Chip to care about him and his fate.
The two female dancers, Katie and Cynthia, are given enough individual screen time for us to sense their life stories. The two male dancers, Theo, Chip's love interest, and Anthony, the company's director, were slightly obfuscated to me; I wonder if Brown wanted Theo to be that way to increase the romantic tension with Chip, and for Anthony as a means to prevent empathy for him when he is confronted by a female dancer. It may also be that Brown under-developed these two characters out of a lack of interest in them or to prevent the film from being too formulaic about giving each character a certain amount of back story.
Five Dances is not a romance, and, despite some reviewers' comments, I found the sex scene to be sensual but not explicit. Five Dances also does not feel like a coming of age story for the simple reason that the film’s plot, what there is of it, is really more about Chip finding his footing than actually landing.
Ultimately, the film celebrates dance and dancers in raw, unadorned form. One is supposed to love watching Steele and his peers move and contort their bodies and make art. The cinematography and lighting is lovely, while also absent of flourish. The Five Dances are interspersed in the film. Each is announced with a title card. Each is wonderful and intimate. They need to be seen in the context of their placement within the film to have the intended impact on the audience. They are part of the plot.
The film’s music, a mixture of melancholia and cautious optimism, is perfect for Five Dances. Nicholas Wright’s score is available on iTunes as of last Friday. The individual songs by the other artists, including Scott Matthew (no “s”), Perfume Genius, and Gem Club are all listed at the film’s website here http://www.fivedancesthemovie.com/music/ and can also be purchased via iTunes. I cannot imagine not wanting them all, particularly Gem Club’s “252,” Matthew’s “Dog,” and Perfume Genius’ “Put Your Back N 2 It” (It is the bonus track single with that title; not the album of the same name.) One is not listening to the essence of the film in music without all of them.
The music paired with the visuals make this film as good as it is.
If Five Dances is a poem, it feels like the last stanza has been omitted, probably by Brown’s intentional design. We are watching the start of someone in the process of becoming. There are lots of starts and a few sputters, but I sensed no resolute ending. The film feels like it stopped more than anything else. (This is where the oft-read criticism that the film’s characters’, including the lead, are under-developed seems the most justified.) My one criticism is that it felt like in his desire to keep the film mostly contained in Soho, Alan Brown used a short dialog exchange at the very end of the film where he should have shown us the resolution instead. I think he wanted the audience to know
Chip was going to resolve the major issues with his mother by visiting her briefly, but that his home was now New York and with these dancers, in particular Katie and Theo.
There probably could have been a re-write to resolve this one minor flaw in a more satisfactory manner.
Seeing Chip at the end of 83 minutes
laughing, smiling, and at ease with those around him...a partial glimpse of his life just starting
is what the film leaves us with. I understand why some folks will find this slightly unsatisfying.
The audience I was at the theater with seemed to enjoy it as there was that quiet happiness on folks’ faces as we all left the theater.
I left the theater loving the film, but knowing I wanted to wait several days before posting my thoughts here at the HTF in order to see if a few days would have a cooling effect. It hasn't. I am left yearning to be back sitting on dance studio floor warming up my leg muscles while those far more talented and committed than me, men like "David," move about the studio, poetry in motion.
Five Dances will be available on DVD and VOD from Wolfe Video in 2014. Since Brown's last film, Private Romeo, included a commentary track and other bonus features, I am hopeful this will release will, too. As soon as I know, I will update this thread.
Thanks, Mark, not only for the review of the film and its effect on you, but for your backstory, too, which, of course, helped to form the basis of your interest in the subject matter and its cumulative effect on you. I'll look forward to seeing the movie at some future date, either in a theater (doubtful but you never know if it'll make it here for some festival) or on DVD.
Just to echo what Matt said, absolutely thank you Mark, for everything. Movies are half about what we bring to them and two people can have radically different reactions based on their experiences.
I guess the complete other side of Mark's experience was a movie we watched over the weekend: Eating Out: All You Can Eat. You're going to ask, I'm sure, why we spent time, resources and brain power on this crap. I'll tell you why: Jim and I are both completists. We've seen all the other films in the series and there's only one left for us now.
Anyway, this series is the most stereotypical garbage you're ever going to see. Everyone is perpetually horny, good looking and down on themselves for one reason or another. The "plot" revolves around skinny ginger Casey trying to get a guy named Zach who just broke up with his boyfriend. What does Casey do? Creates a fake online profile, gets Zach to take off his clothes and then his computer gets FUBARed. (I should note a female friend is the main driver for the profile.) The rest of the movie is a really bad sitcom about making the situation right and everything being AOK in the end.
An 80-something minute movie...and I was bored crapless. There's a fine line between "camp" and "dreck." This is dreck. It's not even gratuitous like previous films in the series are. There's one good shot of Zach, but it's nowhere near enough to keep this movie afloat. The rest is just sophomoric, juvenile and, well, terrible.
We watched Eating Out: Open Weekend last night to wrap out the series for us. There are some good things in this movie, and the entire series. The filmmakers seem committed to the idea of happy gay characters by the end of the films instead of angsty ones. Here's my problem, though: they come off as completely fake. These aren't real people in a real situation; these are stereotypes, beautiful people who whine about not being good looking or not being able to find boyfriends. Or hypersexual caricatures. There wasn't one time I felt like I was watching any semblance of people I would see or know in real life. It's movies like these that perpetuate stereotypes I'd rather not have to dispel every day (especially with body image...oy...).
The ending, I'll admit, was sweet and an appropriate way to end the picture. It's just not a very good production, acting or writing wise.
Thanks for the reviews! You nailed why I was conflicted about these films. I love that these charters are not depressed nor suffer any angst about their orientation, but that line between non-creative dreck and engaging campy fun in these sex comedies is crossed too often. My lower self used to appreciate these films more than I do now. I just wish these directors and producers would pay more attention to the LGBT world that exists outside of the WeHo-based subculture.
Unrelated to this, I wanted to give everyone a heads up that Bridegroom will be airing on Oprah's OWN network tomorrow (Sunday, October 27th) as part of a whole afternoon and evening of LGBT-centric programming, some of which have previously aired, others not.
OWN Programming, Sunday, October 27th
(Check your local listing for time, as everything is 3 hours earlier for me than listed below with DirectTV here on the West Coast.)
6:30PM (90 minutes) Oprah's Next Chapter (Season 2)
First Openly Gay NBA Player Jason Collins and His Family (previously aired)
Oprah Winfrey speaks with NBA player Jason Collins, his twin brother Jarron and family for their first interview together on the heels of Collins' public announcement as the first openly gay active pro athlete in a major American sport.
8:00PM Oprah's Next Chapter (Season 1)
At Home with Neil Patrick Harris, David Burtka & Their Twins (previously aired)
Oprah visits the home of actor Neil Patrick Harris, his fiance David Burtka, and their 18-month old twins. In this TV exclusive, Neil and David talk candidly about coming out, their decision to have children and the pressures of life in Hollywood.
9:00PM (60 minutes)Oprah's Next Chapter (Season 2)
Gay in Hollywood (I do not think this has previously aired.)
Oprah hosts a conversation about being gay in America with comedienne Wanda Sykes, Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Scandal star Dan Bucatinsky. They share their personal experiences about coming out and the importance of marriage equality. [NOTE: Bucantisnky also starred in and wrote All Over The Guy, which is one of my favorite LGBT films.]
10:00PM (120 minutes) Bridegroom
The story of two young men in a committed relationship cut short by an accidental death, opens a window on the issue of marriage equality like no lecture ever will.
(The DVD of Bridegroom is now $14.99 at Amazon, making it a no-brainer for me to purchase.)
Read more: http://www.oprah.com/own/tv-schedule/index.html?date=2013-10-27#ixzz2irDiFQ3H
There is a very purile part of me that likes the Eating Out series. It's always good for reasonably attractive guys (at least to me, though they don't make my tongue wag) and a few laughs. I just want them to be so much better.
Speaking of Bridegroom...I was waiting for Jim to do something or other this week and I watched some trailers on Hulu. Bridegroom was the first and, holy crap. I also started crying just watching it. I'm sure I'll be a wreck when I actually get to the movie.
Thanks for the heads up on Bridegroom. I just remotely programmed my DVR to record it. It's on twice tomorrow--9:00pm central and midnight.
RAH has provided "a few words about..." the James Dean Blu-ray Boxed set and even mentions
meeting and chatting Sal Mineo at a screening.
Regardless of the "was he/wasn't he" debate about James Dean,
anyone who thinks openly gay Sal Mineo's charter, Plato, from Rebel Without a Cause
was not coded to read as gay needs to think about that locker shot:
When I was young and saw the film, that moment passed right by and didn't register with me. I just thought Plato was deep into hero worship of Jim. As an adult, I couldn't believe that moment had passed me by all these years without making a deeper impression.
Steve mentioned TLA's video catalog several pages back. I've become aware of many a LGBT film while perusing their catalog.
With Five Dances being released through TLA's partnership with Wolfe Video, I thought I would check out their site in hopes of getting more information about the release.
While I did not find information on Five Dances, I found at least a dozen other films on DVD that I had never heard of that look interesting. Four are listed below (with their trailers linked):
A Portrait of James Dean: Joshua Tree, 1951
Like TLA, WolfeVideo.com has turned out to be a great resource for finding LGBT films. Their site has a nice tab design that lets one select to see all their gay or lesbian films, and then group them into types: drama, comedy, romance, and so on.
Wolfe Video's DVD listings often include links to the films's trailer.
(I'm using their site to populate my Netflix queue now.)
Completely unrelated, I am trilled that one of my favorite films is being released on Blu-ray in January 2014 by The Criterion Collection: Terrence Davies' autobiographic The Long Day Closes.
This film was only ever released in the USA on VHS, and then in the last few years as a "bare-bones" MOD DVD via Amazon.
Criterion Collection appears to have included all of the materials from the UK release, plus some new content.
(This is the film that prompted me to buy a region-free player.)
Here is a link to the film's New York Times review.
Here is a link to a short segment of the film, although, with a film like this, watching a segment in this manner results in it losing much of its affect on the viewer.
Like Five Dances, The Long Day Closes uses dialog sparingly.
Imagine allowing someone's childhood memories wash over you like a warm bath. That is what it is like to watch and hear The Long Day Closes.
If I ever get put in a room akin to the one Edward G. Robinson is placed in near the end of Soylent Green, if they set up The Long Day Closes to play in an endlessly repeating loop, I will be happy.
Here is Ferando F. Croce's review of the film via Slant Magazine, which also explains why the film is appropriate for this thread. I will spolierize most of it, though I wonder if a film minus a plot can be spoiled.
As the camera glides through a rain-drenched, rubbish-strewn back alley in the opening sequence of The Long Day Closes, aural snippets from a variety of sources (the triumphant horns of 20th Century Fox's fanfare theme, Alec Guinness's sinister introductory line from The Ladykillers) fill the air. None of them linger more evocatively than an earful of Nat King Cole's honeyed "Stardust," with the lyric "the music of the years gone by" providing a fabulous précis of the art of British writer-director Terence Davies.
A poet of memory and recreation whose approach fuses painterly composition and musical flow, Davies addresses the past not with a nostalgist's doting tidiness, but with a sense of fluid emotions perpetually at play; far from collections of pinned-down poses, his cinematic photograph albums shiver with anger and love, sorrow and hope.
Following Distant Voices, Still Lives as Davies's exploration of his childhood in 1950s working-class Liverpool, The Long Day Closes is both less dark and more radical than its predecessor. While physical and emotional pain bled out of that 1988 autobiographical portrait as if from an open wound, here the chief feeling infusing the events surrounding the filmmaker's 11-year-old surrogate, Bud (Leigh McCormack), is one of exaltation. Instead of the continuous threat of frustrated male violence represented by the abusive father in the earlier film, there's the tender, feminine cocoon personified by the boy's beatified mother (Marjorie Yates) and a slew of affectionate brothers and sisters.
Despite the warm communal setting, however, Bud is essentially a solitary figure, a shy, grave child who, like the filmmaker, experiences the first stirrings of homosexual desire along with the weight of Catholic guilt. (Davies braids the two elements by having the same actor appear as a shirtless bricklayer who responds to Bud's gaze with a wink and the crucified Jesus who screams during one of the boy's daydreams.)
It's this loneliness that's key to the film's radical, almost non-narrative style. Pushing the impressionism of Distant Voices, Still Lives toward distilled stream of consciousness, The Long Day Closes posits its pubescent protagonist as a tiny camera absorbing and transforming the reality all around him. A gigantic frigate materializes in the classroom and sails by him as he slips into a reverie, though for the imaginative Bud the sunlight playing on a patch of carpet is enough to evoke magical worlds. Doors, windows, and staircases become portals for the child's inner landscapes, where a Christmas dinner is envisioned as a Last Supper frieze with Mum in Christ's seat.
Remembrances and fantasies, sights and sounds weaving in and out of each other—is it any wonder that cinema is Bud's chosen form of rapture? As befits a sustained vision unfurling within the psyche of a movie-mad boy, the densely layered sound design hopscotches between songs performed a cappella by characters and sound clips from classic films (ranging from Orson Welles lamenting the end of dances in The Magnificent Ambersons to Judy Garland crooning "Over the Banister" in Meet Me in St. Louis) in a startling, free-associative tapestry.
Despite its critique of the strictures of religion, this is a work of profoundly spiritual, even holy sentiments; more than an escape from quotidian pressures, the movie theater is the protagonist's—and the director's—true cathedral.
Davies's transformative mise-en-scène reaches its apex in the justly celebrated "Tammy" sequence, in which the connectedness of church, classroom, and movie house in the formation of Bud's being is made sublimely explicit with a series of overhead tracking shots linked by dissolves and scored to Debbie Reynolds's sugary tones. However, as this epiphanic passage ends with the camera coming to a stop over a tableau of rusted metal, we're suddenly reminded of an earlier scene in which Bud's teacher lists the many types of erosion on a blackboard. Life, memory, the sacred beam of light emanating from the movie projector, everything is fair game to the erosion of time.
It's a testament to Davies's faith in the medium that the stunning closing moments of The Long Day Closes (a three-minute take of the full moon gradually vanishing behind nocturnal clouds) not only confront our inescapable slide into the night, but also locate the emotional truth and cinematic beauty of it. As with the rest of this masterful film, it's a sequence to meld the uncompromisingly subjective into the transcendentally universal.
[END OF CROCE'S REVIEW]
Distant Voices, Still Lives is very much the prequel to The Long Day Closes, both in look and feel, but it is also a more uneven film and does not carry the same universal message about life, memory and the human experience they way The Long Day Closes does. (It is also not available in the USA and will require a region-free player.)
Davies' Of Time and The City, which is available as a region one DVD, could be seen as a distant sequel, though a much different film in look and feel from The Long Day Closes. It is, nonetheless, Davies' narrating his reflections of himself and the city he loves, Liverpool, over mostly archival footage. It pulls no punches including a moment of narrative where Davies angrily states,
Fuck the Pope.
which I found startling as I sat in an auditorium full of theatergoers with my best pal.
Bravo, Mark! I hope your enthusiasm and appreciation for The Long Day Closes, which reflects mine, will prompt other HTF members to seek it out.
Blue is the Warmest Color is being released by Criterion on Blu-ray.
Ron has posted the announcement.
That HBO series, Looking, premieres January 19th.
Below is the link to the shows firs trailer:
I will be re-subscribing to HBO on the Friday before it debuts [on Sunday] and will let HBO know why.
Also, three of the four lead cast openly gay. I just saw Murray Bartlett talking about how his "mum" asked him if he was early in life an all he had to do was say "Yes." With his unadulterated Aussie accent he is even more appealing, if that is possible.
A few unrelated updates to post:
Bridegroom is now out on DVD. I got mine. The film's packaging indicates that it is presented 2.35: 1, but it appears 1.78:1 to me, though much of the film is footage that Tom and Shane shot themselves, so picture quality (and aspect ratio) varies depending on the source footage. The extras are a set of PSAs and the film's trailer.
There are some films out there, like the previously mentioned Blue is the Warmest Color
that got some great reviews. Stranger by the Lake is supposed to be a great, sexy LGBT noir that won awards at Cannes.
Here is a link to the trailer:
Danniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg in Kill Your Darlings.
(I recall reading a few years ago that Radfliffe said he was basically a "fag stag." While being a long time champion of LGBT equality added that, "Some people think I am gay, which I think is awesome.") Nice!
The Toronto International Film Festival has a great video review of several 2013-released LGBT films
which can be found at the following link:
I would say the video in NSFW in that the footage from Stranger by the Lake includes lots of nudity
and clips from Bruce Labruce's latest film.
Another film getting positive reviews is Out in the Dark.
The plot, revolving around lovers where one is an Israeli and other is Palestinian, reminds me much of the 2006 film The Bubble (and Romeo and Juliet), but I will need to see it to know if it feels like a retread or not: Here is a link to the film's trailer:
As usual, Mark, you've prompted me to add three new movies to the Netflix queue. I don't know if I should thank you or shake my fist at you.
In another lifetime, I reviewed all of TLA's DVD releases. I was constantly amazed about what hit my mailbox...some was stuff I really enjoyed, some was less than enjoyable and then some was just utterly bizarre. Good times...
I have three films on DVD I Netflixed that I plan to post reviews of on the coming Saturdays.
Tonight's is the briefly aforementioned Joshua Tree, 1951: A Portrait of James Dean
Written and directed by Matthew Mishory, the film is a biopic about James Dean as mostly presented from the perspective of his unnamed roommate during the period just before Dean left Hollywood for New York, which lead to his return to Hollywood to make it big in three films.
The film was shot on 35 mm and is presented in black and white with moments of color. The cinematography, more often than not, is quite beautiful. This is a film that is treating film as art. There is a (I am assuming deliberate) significant amount artifice to the look and sound of the film, which works for or against the film depending on the scene. For example, there is a sex scene shot through panes of a window that, if it were a collection of photographic stills, would be scorching hot in the manner of Greg Gorman or Klaus Gearhart, but on film, it feels too staged and lacking life. I watched it and thought, "Great cinematography," but never felt the heat of the scene I suspect I was supposed to be feeling.
We even get a scene of Dean standing under a streetlamp while a woman reads aloud in French that is not translated. Film as art with a capital A, in deed. (I don't want to label the movie "film school pretentious," but I got that vibe during a brief scene or two.)
The movie flashes forward and backward around the time of 1951 and a trip to Joshua Tree, with friends, social climbers, and Hollywood elite who have naked male youths forever lounging in and around their pools in the Hollywood hills, trading sexual favors for promises of stardom.
All the while Dean has the one person he can trust, the unnamed roommate.
The film suffers from its own emphasis on style. As much as I enjoyed the look of this film, I never felt engaged with the plight of the characters in the piece. That may also come from the dialogue heavy on pronouncements and statements about the yet to be famous James Dean that just sound too prophetic and profound to not illicit an eye roll or two. That and all the quoting of poets and great writers that just sounds a little too much like the kids in the park blocks of the university I work, taking themselves entirely too seriously. (I work in a city that is a hipster paradise.)
The other flaw is that the lead actor as reasonably good as he is, does not embody the look, feel, or manner of Dean. I never once felt like I was watching James Dean. James Preston does not have the presence of James Dean.
The film does look good, and the sound track is fantastic. There were moments that I really enjoyed, but the movie overall left me wanting a film that either went full on "film art" or was more straight forward and accessible, but not something lost in between.
Matthew Mishory, the writer and director of this film, is clearly very talented. I would rather watch more films like this than ones that are stylistically safe. I will watch his future films with great interest in spite of this film's specific flaws.
The DVD includes the film's trailer, trailers from other films in Wolfe's catalog, and the director's short film, Delphinium: A Childhood Portrait of Derek Jarman, which I found to be a better film than the main feature.
More about the film, including a make of feature can be found at the following URL:
Thanks for the review, Mark. I had heard about this film and now have some valuable background on it before I see it for myself (whenever that might be).
I'm sorry for pulling one little sentence out of everything you wrote Mark, but if you're in Seattle, you just became my new best friend. My guess is either Seattle or Portland...I could be terribly wrong, though.