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Films caught on video or in rerelease...
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last update 16.May.06
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The Dying Gaul   3/5
This dense, intriguing film is perhaps a bit too obviously based on a play, with its limited cast, obtuse themes and aloof, intellectual approach. But beautiful acting and strong ideas make it worth watching.
  Robert (Sarsgaard) is a gay writer struggling to get a deal in Hollywood, and he's about to sell his soul to the devil--namely, studio executive Jeffrey (Scott), who offers vast sums of money in exchange for some not-so-minor script changes. Jeffrey also rekindles Robert's sex life, which had gone dry after his last lover died. But this is a problem, since Robert really likes Jeffrey's wife Elaine (Clarkson). And Elaine has a rather unhealthy interest in Robert as well.
  The title refers to the famous sculpture, which here becomes a symbol for the ability to sympathise with one's enemy. Or something. The film's opening scene actually comments on what a terrible title it is, and how Americans will never go see a film about a gay couple. There is a sober truth here, which Lucas slightly undermines by noting that this story takes place in 1995, as if we've come so far since then. And he doesn't help his case by being so oblique about much of the plot.
  But this is a fascinating study of three characters, and their dialog and interaction are absolutely riveting due to the astute script and astonishing performances. Sarsgaard is as good as he's ever been--raw and transparent, capturing the character from the inside out with telling mannerisms and enigmatic quirks. We're as drawn to Robert as Jeffrey and Elaine are. And both Scott and Clarkson are terrific as well. All three characters are difficult, complex and not always sympathetic.
  Which is where the title comes in again. These three people are all wounded by each other and by forces outside them. They cling to and lash out at each other, and watching this dangerous dance is involving and moving. Although it's not terribly easy. And despite the skill and sensitivity on display, it leaves us wondering if Lucas has a point to make besides the title itself.
dir-scr Craig Lucas
with Peter Sarsgaard, Patricia Clarkson, Campbell Scott, Ryan Miller, Faith Jefferies, Robin Bartlett, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Kelli O'Hara, Dee Dee Flores, Elizabeth Marvel, Bill Camp, Linda Emond
scott, clarkson and sarsgaard release US 4.Nov.05;
UK 24.Sep 07 dvd
05/US 1h41

15 themes, sexuality, language
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Hilde’s Journey 3.5/5 Hildes Reise
There's a moody tone to this Swiss drama that draws us in. It's not particularly original or even insightful, but it's a good story very well told.
  Stephane (Stokowski) is a typical, lonely gay man, looking for companionship wherever he can find it. Then he reads an obit for his ex, Hilde, who he didn't even know was ill. He's even more surprised to find out that Hilde left him a considerable fortune in his will, with a request to scatter his ashes off the French coast. But Hilde's mother (Gloessner) refuses to abide by the will, and makes a deal with Stephane, paying a small sum and keeping ashes. Enter Rex (Finger), Hilde's last boyfriend, an angry young man who vows to set things right.
  Director-cowriter Vorster creates an involving, complex film by layering in all kinds of back-story and skilfully setting up the collision between the wealthy family in denial about their heir's sexuality and the long-time lover he left everything to, who badly needs the money, and the grieving widower who'll stop at nothing to do the right thing. The gentle, introspective filmmaking style makes it fairly clear that they'll eventually come to some sort of meeting of the minds, but it's fascinating to watch them take this difficult journey. And quite emotional too, without ever being sensationalistic or pushy.
  Performances are raw and honest, and draw us in effectively, putting us in the characters' shoes to question what we would do in each situation. Finger is especially good in the film's trickiest role as the hot-headed bad boy who's actually the only one with a moral conscience. Each person has his or her own needs, desires, responsibilities, and the film is directed thoughtfully to bring out these issues without ever manipulating us. There are also plenty of provocative touches to make the film well worth watching.
dir Christof Vorster
scr Gabriele Strohm, Christof Vorster
with Oliver Stokowski, Michael Finger, Heidi-Maria Gloessner, Katharina von Bock, Peter Rühring, Carlos Leal, Hans-Joachim Frick, Mandred Heinrich, Jesco Stubbe, Daniel Hartmann, Marc Schmassmann, Marwan Khattab
stokowski and finger
release UK 22.May.06 dvd
04/Switzerland 1h30
15 themes, language, sexuality, nudity
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Just a Question of Love...   4/5
Juste une Question d’Amour...

This landmark film was the first to break the taboo of homosexuality on French television, and even now it's one of the most frank and moving films ever made on the subject.
  Laurent (Thouvenin) is an energetic 23-year-old university student who, to avoid confrontation, lets his parents (Denia and Stephane) think his flatmate Carole (Veyt) is his girlfriend. Actually, he's fallen in love with his tutor Cedric (Guerin Tillié), who's made peace with his sexuality and his mother (Darlan). He wants to be a full part of Laurent's life, but Laurent isn't ready to come out to his parents after seeing how the entire family rejected his gay cousin.
  This is a fairly standard plot--the gay guy struggling with his identity and how his sexuality will impact those he loves. But what sets this stunning film apart is its authenticity. It's a slickly filmed, impeccably acted story that dares to present complicated, deeply compelling characters. Director-cowriter Faure skilfully balances cheerful energy with dark edginess in a way that's natural and even relaxed. As a result, the characters spark with life.
  And he doesn't shy away from some truly shocking, tense moments, as well as powerful emotions and light comedy. Yes, Faure seems a little aware of the weight of his story's importance, pointing out forcefully the inherent homophobia in society. But it's never simplistic; the script and direction intelligently examine issues around the various relationships--lovers, family members, friends.
  There are incredibly powerful scenes throughout this film. Cedric won't live in hiding from the people he loves: "I don't want to be ashamed," he says. While his mother counters, "Don't ask Laurent to go faster than you." And Carole tells Laurent: "You're in love and you're throwing it away." The meetings between the two mothers are incredibly strong. This film eloquently voices the feelings and thoughts on each side of the issue--and deals with them. It's not a question of gay or straight....
dir Christian Faure
scr Pierre Pauquet, Annick Larboulette, Christian Faure
with Cyrille Thouvenin, Stéphan Guérin Tillié, Eva Darlan, Danièle Denie, Idwig Stephane, Caroline Veyt, Laurence César, Jean-Pierre Valère, Jean-Baptiste Lefèvre, Jonathan Fox, Marcel Dossogne, Diego Vanhoute
thouvenin and guerin tillie
release Fr 26.Jan.00 tv,
UK Mar.06 dvd
00/France 1h28
15 themes, language
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Oh Marbella!   3/5
This four-strand comedy has all the typical British elements: crime, smugness, sex and nudity. Fortunately there are also some terrific characters, and the film's an enjoyable romp.
  Everyone arrives on the same flight from London to Malaga. An over-stressed couple (Kelly and Lucas) gets rerouted to a nudist resort, where they run into their boss (Gant). A wannabe womaniser (Manookian) falls for an animal-rights activist (Belmont) when they set out to free a goat that's part of a local ritual. Another couple (Webber and Murphy) gets sent to a downgraded hotel, but is tempted by a smirking developer (Mayall) with an offer too good to be true. And an ageing hitman (Tom Bell) accidentally befriends his mobster target (Reid).
  The film is sunny and bright, with a comical tone that's scruffy and even slightly edgy. Sure, the storylines feel rather random, just dipping into whatever antics the writers felt like throwing into the mix, regardless of whether they fit the characters--from arguments to sex to criminal behaviour. But the cast keep things real, underplaying the goofy comedy, even when the situations are completely ludicrous.
  All the old chestnuts in the Englishmen-abroad genre are here: swapped bags, unexpected nudity, drunken stupidity, bodily function problems, cultural blunders. As the stories begin to intertwine with each other, it all gets somewhat contrived, but remains engaging and entertainingly rude, with plenty of gratuitous sex and nudity (including a big naked dance number), and a corny moral sensibility in which the bad guys get what they deserve without requiring any nasty behaviour from anyone else. Silly, uninhibited and surprisingly enjoyable, this is best viewed with a group of friends after a few drinks.
dir Piers Ashworth
scr Piers Ashworth, Darryn W Welch, Nick Moorcroft, Damien Binns
with Rik Mayall, Tom Bell, Mike Reid, Lara Belmont, Roland Manookian, Craig Kelly, Charlotte Lucas, David Gant, Eddie Webber, Cathy Murphy, Sara Stockbridge, Geoff Bell
belmont and manookian release UK 22.May.06 dvd
03/UK 1h18
15 themes, language, nudity, sexuality
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© 2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall