MGM Goes Gay - any reviews out there?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by TonyDale, Jun 14, 2003.

  1. TonyDale

    TonyDale Second Unit

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    MGM has recently released a bouquet of gay-themed films on dvd for the first time, and each at a nice bargain price.
    Tonight I picked up JEFFREY (Stereo Surround only), BENT and IT'S MY PARTY (which appears to be packed with Special Features); three films which I've always liked very much.
    Out of curiousity, has anyone been reviewing these online? I'll probably be picking up a couple more later in the week, definitely THE SUM OF US featuring Russell Crowe.
    Anybody else pick these up? Any comments?
     
  2. Alan_Horner

    Alan_Horner Stunt Coordinator

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    What a great film The Sum of Us is. Charming through and through. Was really pleased with both the disc and the film itself.

    I picked up all of MGM/UA's "gay-themed" June releases just to show support. Haven't really been disappointed with any of the transfers, even Wigstock, which I believe was 16mm originally (could be mistaken). I'm guessing that's why it wasn't anamorphic.

    It's a given that some sort of supplements would have been appreciated. I'm pretty sure we won't be seeing future "special editions" for any of these, so it's a real missed opportunity. A commentary from write Paul Rudnick on Jeffrey would have been especially welcomed.

    Won't really suggest that folks avoid any of these discs (again, for the support factor), but Bent has probably been the weakest of the bunch. Just don't think the stage-to-screen adaptation was handled well (unlike Jeffrey or The Sum of Us).
     
  3. Rain

    Rain Producer

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    To be honest, I'm not terribly interested in any of these particular titles.

    But in case anyone at MGM sees this: Stay on this bandwagon long enough to give us a better DVD of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. A gorgeously photographed film with terrible representation on DVD.

    That is all.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    Yeah, and send a copy to every Matrix fan [​IMG].

    --
    Holadem
     
  5. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    Pardon my opinion, but Bent is a terrible play, made into a marginally worse movie. The Sum Of Us is a charming play, made into a charming movie. Jeffrey is a hilarious play, made into an uneven movie, with some touching sequences (Patrick Stewart) and some awkward kissing by straight actors pretending to be gay. I didn't bother seeing It's My Party. Beautiful Thing is another touching play, made into an uneven movie, where the mother of one of the boys is so good (acting-wise) that she throws the whole thing off-kilter. Philadelphia is a "gay" movie for straight people, a category which includes La Cage Aux Folles and The Birdcage. I quite liked Ron Nyswaner's more recent "gay" project, the Showtime movie Soldier's Girl.

    I'm with Rain on this: I'm not really interested in these movies, per se. I'm still waiting for the really good "gay" movie. I don't know if this counts, but on Friday night I saw "Capturing the Friedmans," and it is incredibly powerful, thrilling movie-making.
     
  6. Rain

    Rain Producer

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    Hey now.

    It was not my intention to diss the films that this thread was intended to discuss (I'm really not very familiar with them), but rather just to express my desire for a better transfer of The Adventures of Priscilla..., which is indeed a "really good 'gay' movie."

    Personally I think the reason most "gay" movies don't work is that they are trying too hard to be "gay" movies instead of simply using "gay" characters to explore universal themes.

    The Adventures of Priscilla... is much more than just your average "gay" movie and does in fact explore themes that are universal and that could easily be appreciated by anyone, while still maintaining completely believable (albeit flamboyant) characters.
     
  7. Mark Walker

    Mark Walker Cinematographer
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    I purchased
    The Sum of Us
    (which is the closest to any of them to my own
    "life experiences" with a sometimes-too-involved father, and the part of care taking for a family member.)
    Bent
    Jeffrey
    It's My Party
    The Hanging Garden

    (which no one thus far has mentioned.
    It is largely overlooked, I suspect,
    because it is a "difficult" film with a heightened
    level of theatricality and over-the-top
    surrealist nature of it.)

    It's My Party
    of the bunch did get the SE treatment, and, as I suspected, while the film has its flaws, the SE content proves that the story it quite remarkable and potent, even if the storytelling is, at times, a bit off. This is one of those cases where the subject matter (the suicide of one's life partner) was so close to Klieser, that for the artistic merits, the film probably would've been better off if someone could've looked at it with an objective eye, and said, "This part needs to be changed."

    However, as uneven as the film is, I wouldn't change it now, nor have had Klieser turn over the project to a director who hadn't gone through the situation he had.

    This is his journey through this pain and loss with his real life partner. It is not "trying hard to gay" or anything else...it is one man's truth, which was so close to him, filming had to stop at times because he would break down and sob.

    The special features on the DVD for It's My Party include a video tour with Kleiser as he walks through the house where the actual events took place, and a commentary track that include comments from the principles and Kleiser. Eric Roberts and Gregory Harrison add some very touching comments about how this project is one of the things they are the most proud of in their work histories. And, unlike Six Degrees of Separation or other films where the "see two straight guys pretending their gay and how difficult it is for them to kiss," I found none of that in the titles in this batch. The kisses in Jeffrey and making out in The Sum of Us is f'ing hot, as it should be.
    (Which is why seeing Crowe in the bi-sexual content removed A Beautiful Mind was disappointing.)

    The special features are perfect and do what they should do, make me appreciate the film and the story more, and for a film that I thought was a bit "hit and miss" when I first saw it years ago, I now consider a "must own" DVD for my own collection.

    The Sum of Us MGM DVD
    offers the film both open-matte and widescreen, and it is a upgrade from the Seville/Canadian release DVD from a year ago.

    This film has held up well, and I don't consider it or really any of the films MGM released in this little "gay batch" a gay film made for straights, as there is much more here to resonate with people who participate in urban gay communities to "get" than there is for the average breeder...nothing here is really pleading for tolerance, empathy or understanding of that "see we're all the same" crap.

    The Hanging Garden is the first film by the writer/director who gave us the much lighter and titillating Beefcake. It is the kind of film that, honestly, I don't quite understand why I like, as I usually hate these "see how fucked-up my family is" dramas. Also, it is a film where you have to just accept the notion that this family is so invested in their pain, that they all are sharing the same "collective vision" of their son, who hung himself from a tree in the back yard.

    It is a film that plays with accepted delusions of religion, denial, and comments like this one from a nun to a priest prior to a family buying a little statue: "Father, don't bless the Virgin until they've paid," as the mother is about to pay a woman to have sex with her sexually-confused "virgin" son. The juxtaposition is not a coincidence. Nor is the use of memory, a grandmother who has Alzheimer's disease, a son who has tried to forget his past, and a sister who lives with it everyday. I also love how the respiratory problem is handled and when a young man cannot cope when someone simply says, "I wanted to show you I care about you."

    But, it is a tough, and honestly, flawed film.

    The acting all around is superb, the best, which is why it holds up so well in a script that asks the audience to believe the principles are all be looking at a imaginary morbidly obese young boy hanging from a tree. The only time this "shared vision" doesn't work dramatically, is late in the film, which for spoiler reasons, I won't go into here. (I can imagine it working in live theater, but here it is strained at times.)

    About the status of "gay-centric" films...

    Finally, I don't quite understand why anyone would bother to post in this thread, simply to state, "I have no interest in these films." Then why are you posting in here?

    To say that some films are trying "too hard to be gay" is really like saying some people are trying to hard to be gay, which I think someone like Paul Rudnick could be categorized as. Some people are too freakin' gay for my tastes, but I understand that this is about my tastes and that "different strokes for different folks" applies.

    I am like Jeff from The Sum of Us in that I don't want my life to be defined by being a bloke who fancies other blokes, and I find it quite limiting and shallow to be G-A-Y as if it is some all-defining characteristic stamping my life as one filled with white parties, techno music, "fashion statements" and a personal vocab littered with words like "divine" and "fabulous."

    But, I do know a lot of homosexuals that are "too gay" by most people standards. If they were filmmakers, they'd make films people think are "too gay" I suppose. And there is fine line between this kind of criticism and something like Showtime's Queer As Folk which does seem like it has tried too hard to be "shocking" and "unapologetic" and in return the show is sub par when compared to HBO's Oz or Six Feet Under, which just seem to be trying hard to be good shows.

    Someone could say that Spike Lee's films are "trying too hard to be African-American, too." (A comment like that says more about the critic than it does the film or film makers.)



    Mark
     
  8. TonyDale

    TonyDale Second Unit

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  9. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    Sorry, I didn't mean to start a debate about what is an appropriate "gay" movie.

    I really had only 2 main points in my post, the first being that a surprising number of these movies came from plays (which makes them heavy on dialogue, short on pictorial quality). My second point was that even though I'm gay, and some of these movies have gay characters, actors kissing each other, etc., that doesn't necessarily make them good movies, or movies that I'm interested in purchasing. I don't know what I think makes a good "gay" film, but I suppose it must be a good film first, and then subordinately include something gay, either gay characters, or a subtext that fuels my interest, or perhaps a message that promotes understanding of a gay lifestyle.

    Here are the "gay" films which I currently own (not including Joan Crawford, Judy Garland, or Barbra Steisand movies, to put forth a stereotype!):

    My Beautiful Laundrette (about the best of these)
    Jeffrey
    L.I.E.
    Chuck and Buck
    Beautiful Thing
    Get Real
    Longtime Companion (amazingly awkward and static movie)
    Nico and Dani
    Bound
    The Broken Hearts Club (charming, way better than the American version of Queer as Folk, but it doesn't really go far enough either as melodrama or comedy)
    Victim

    I also own both the British and American full versions of Queer as Folk.

    Still to purchase:

    The Sum of Us
    And The Band Played On
    Priscilla, Queen... (which I heard was a terrible DVD, which is why I didn't rush out and get it)
    It's My Party
    Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss
    ...and others I'm sure I've forgotten about. I do want to support these filmmakers.

    I won't be buying Bent, even though its star is Clive Owen, highly watchable.

    I don't know if these are on DVD:

    Kiss of the Spider Woman
    Maurice
     
  10. Jon Robertson

    Jon Robertson Screenwriter

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    One of the most legendary gay films of all time, Jean Genet's infamous 1949 short Un Chant D'Amour, has just been released as an excellent DVD in the UK (PAL, R2) by the British Film Institute. Perhaps it's only fair to warn potential buyers that it is really quite explicit, even by today's standards (it was originally only intended for private collections), but is by no means a dirty movie, a skin flick, pornography or anything of the sort.
     
  11. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    Bound has a wonderful, quick lesbian encounter between Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon.

    But the movie is a terrific thriller, not a "gay" film at all. If you get it, or rent it, be sure to listen to the commentary, which is absolutely hilarious and incredibly smart.
     
  12. TonyDale

    TonyDale Second Unit

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    [​IMG] I'm not really trying to debate whether a film is gay or not, since I'd have to bring up the issues associated with some of horror's finer moments from director James Whale: BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE INVISIBLE MAN and the original FRANKENSTEIN. Too much has already been written and argued about the inherent gayness of these flicks, and as far as horror mavens are concerned, mention of Whale's own gayness ignites flame wars for days. . .

    I do have the First American season of QAF, but find it lacking in characterization, unlike its British counterpart. I won't be picking up the remaining American Seasons.

    From the referrals on this thread, I am looking forward to THE SUM OF US, a film which I missed both on the screen and on any other video format.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. JimmyK

    JimmyK Second Unit

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    Real Name:
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  14. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Any member that posts derogatory anti-gay remarks will have their HTF posting privileges removed.







    HTF Administrative Staff
     
  15. Mark Adnum

    Mark Adnum Auditioning

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    outrate.net (http://outrate.net) is a new gay-themed film review site. There are reviews for most of the films you mentioned there.

    Mark
     
  16. TonyDale

    TonyDale Second Unit

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    In a post during the database-down phase, i did post a note of thanks to the person who found several links.

    Also, one of the reviews stated that JEFFREY was in DD 5.1; it's not, it's DD 2.0.
     
  17. Brian PB

    Brian PB Supporting Actor

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    Since my previous post was lost due to technical problems, I'll repost links to reviews of MGM/UA's recent releases of 7 films with gay & lesbian storylines:


    Bent (1997/Sean Mathias) Cast includes: Clive Owen, Ian McKellan, Jude Law, Mick Jagger.
    Synopsis: This film draws from the award-winning play by Sherman Martin that spotlights the Nazi persecution of homosexuals. This emotional drama chronicles the struggles of a gay man who not only survived a concentration camp, but also emerged from it a better, more caring human being at peace with his sexuality.
    Reviews:
    Apollo Movie Guide (film review only)
    Onion AV Club (film only)
    Roger Ebert (film only)
    No DVD reviews yet


    The Hanging Garden (1997/Thom Fitzgerald) Cast includes: Chris Leavins, Kerry Fox.
    Synopsis: Thom Fitzgerald's award-winning debut film, tells the elliptical tale of a 25 year-old gay man, Sweet William, who returns to his family in Nova Scotia after a 10-year absence, only to discover that his family is just as dysfunctional as ever. His sister is about to marry a man who makes eyes at William across the room while his father boozes it up, as usual. Plagued by visions of his miserable youth and confronted by the paths taken by his equally pained siblings, William is both appalled and inspired, and resolves to take control of the past and his present.
    Reviews:
    Roger Ebert (film only)
    outrate.net (film only)
    Slant Magazine.com (DVD)

    It's My Party (1996/Randal Kleiser). Cast includes: Eric Roberts, Gergory Harrison, Bruce Davison
    Synopsis: Eric Roberts portrays a successful architect who throws a farewell party for friends and family after he learns he is losing his hard-fought battle against the AIDS virus in this vibrant film that co-stars Gregory Harrison.
    Reviews:
    Roger Ebert (film only)
    DVD File
    Classics on DVD
    Upcoming Discs.com
    DVD Talk


    Jeffrey (1995/Christopher Ashley) Cast includes: Steven Weber, Patrick Stewart.
    Synopsis: From the award-winning Off-Broadway play comes an irreverent romantic comedy about one young man's desperate search for love and happiness in the 90's. Jeffrey is a gay man so disheartened by the AIDS epidemic that he vows to give up on having a lover entirely. Unfortunately, it's not so easy to turn off your heart, especially when you've just met the man of your dreams.
    Reviews:
    Roger Ebert (film only)
    outrate.net
    Upcoming Discs.com
    DVDJournal.com


    My Beautiful Laundrette (1985/Stephen Frears) Cast includes: Daniel Day-Lewis, Saeed Jaffrey.
    Synopsis: Two London youths, one a Pakistani, the other a white punk, meet after several years apart. Together they accept a business proposition from the Pakistani's uncle to open a laundramat. They re-vamp it into a video and neon palace rivaling some of the New York clubs. These friends also become lovers, learning about class, sex and life.
    Reviews:
    Roger Ebert (film only)
    Slant Magazine.com


    The Sum of Us (1994/Geoff Burton & Kevin Dowling) Cast includes: Russell Crowe, Jack Thompson.
    Synopsis: The story about a young gay man and his Australian widowed father who "tolerates" his son's lifestyle.
    Reviews:
    Roger Ebert (film only)
    outrate.net (film only)
    No DVD reviews yet

    Wigstock: The Movie (1995/Barry Shils) Cast includes: RuPaul, Lypsinka, Dee-Lite, Crystal Waters
    Synopsis: This annual Wigstock drag queen ball held in New York City every Labor Day weekend is examined in this outrageous, character-filled documentary.
    Reviews:
    Roger Ebert (film only)
    No DVD reviews yet.

     
  18. Brian PB

    Brian PB Supporting Actor

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    I have reposted links to reviews for these films in the previous post.
     
  19. Alan_Horner

    Alan_Horner Stunt Coordinator

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    Brian,

    Without meaning this as a slam against you in any way, I'm continually amazed (and a little angry) at how The Sum of Us is often summarized wrongly.

    This happens all the time with movies, of course, but The Sum of Us is such a wonderful little film that I think it does the film (and potential viewers) a disservice to mistakenly summarize it. Again -- nothing personal (and I mean it). Besides, not even the blurb on the back of MGM/UA's packaging gets it right!

    Much of the film's humor derives from the fact that Harry Mitchell is enthusiastically supportive of his son and his quest to find a lover. MGM/UA makes the mistake of trying to drum up some conflict by saying that the father and son come to odds over Harry's new love interest -- not even close to what actually happens in the film. The heart of the film (for me) is that both father and son unconditionally support one another.

    My reaction stems from the fact that someone (like me) might not want to watch yet another movie that's described as a father "tolerating" his son's homosexuality. The Sum of Us is just too enjoyable to be missed for any reason like that.

    Again -- absolutely, positively nothing personal in this. Just a fave film of mine, so probably a little touchy.
     
  20. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    BTW, wanted to make sure everyone is aware that My Beautiful Laundrette is 16x9 WS. It had been *listed* as 1.66:1 4x3 lbxed for quite some time...and I boycotted a pre-order/purchase for that reason. Then I saw it at the TLA booth at the Pride festival in DC a few weeks ago and was pleasantly surprised to see the 16x9 status on the packaging...and yep...it is [​IMG]

    Also agreed that Priscilla needs a new HQ 16x9 transfer. I don't own that DVD bcs it's so bad and there's no excuse for major studio to give us such garbage.

    BTW it's been out for a long while and the DVD is NOT reference quality (a laserdisc-looking 4x3 lbx transfer) but one of my favorite "gay" movies is Broadway Damage

    if you like good comedy, decent acting, and a touching story give it a spin. good music too (and has an audio-only PCM soundtrack for 2 of the songs from the film).
     

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