July/August Show

 

Reviews by Obie Espinosa, Jeff Katz & Gary Kramer

 

Cloudburst (DVD) 

Wolfe Video

2 Stars 

Out Canadian writer/director Thom Fitzgerald’s Cloudburst pairs Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker as a lesbian couple, and the two Oscar-winners are perfect for their roles. But while both ladies are no-nonsense, Fitzgerald gives them mostly foolish things to do. The plot has Stella (Dukakis) kidnapping Dot (Fricker) from an assisted-living facility in Maine that Dot’s uptight granddaughter Molly (Kristin Booth) deviously forced her into to separate the lovers. On the lam from the law, the old ladies head to Canada to get married to gain legal rights. Along the way, they meet Prentice (Ryan Doucette), a hunky hitchhiker who helps them. Cloudburst has some sweet moments regarding queer love and marriage, but all too often Fitzgerald goes for crudity with Stella’s salty talk, or nudity, as when Dot has an extended encounter with Prentice’s very naked father. Fitzgerald’s emphasis on broad, obvious humor distracts—and detracts—from what could have been a subtler and more poignant film. —GK

 

 

 

 

The Dark Side of Love (DVD) 

Ariztical

​1.5 Stars

Writer/producer/director/editor Jorge Ameer’s The Dark Side of Love concerns two estranged brothers—gay Julian and homophobic Michael—who reunite after the death of their mother. Michael brings home his druggie girlfriend, Chanel, while Julian is joined by Steven, a straight man he “wins” in a charity auction. While Chanel seduces Steven to verify his sexuality, Steven may be falling for Julian. Could that be why he asks his naked bedmate for a massage? Yet Ameer leaves it up to audiences to decide what the characters are thinking. Most viewers will wonder what Ameer and the actors were thinking. An explicit and gratuitous pre-credit sequence involves Michael getting sucked off by a stranger, while the most bizarre scene has Chanel using her tampon to cook (don’t ask!). There is also a head-scratching “twist” ending. The Dark Side of Love is watchable, but barely—given the dimness of the lighting, acting, writing, editing and direction. —GK

 

 

 

 

Lovelace (Theaters)

A Rob Epstein/Jeffrey Friedman Film

4 stars

Not quite Boogie Nights but equally nostalgic, Lovelace takes us into the world of adult film through the eyes of the industry’s most notorious name: Linda Lovelace. A fantastically diverse cast—including Sharon Stone, Bobby Cannavale, James Franco and Debi Mazar—does a superb job, but it’s the films two leads that will captivate. All is forgiven when it comes to the hideous Mamma Mia after seeing Amanda Seyfried mature before your very eyes in this gritty role, while Peter Sarsgaard manages to both masterfully entice and repulse within the brief 90-minute run time. There’s a lot of story crammed into a small package, which may have been better suited to include some breathing room, but it’s a fascinating story nonetheless. —JK

 

 

 

 

Austenland (Theaters)

Sony Pictures Classic

4.5 stars

Lit boys rejoice—you can love your Mr. Darcy out and proud, thanks in part to Jerusha Hess’ ridiculously cute Austenland. An ever-charming Keri Russell blows her savings on a trip to the English countryside to meet her own Mr. Darcy at a resort where all things revolve around Jane Austen. But unlike some of Austen’s novels, Austenland remains thoroughly entertaining—and witty—from beginning to end. A stellar cast featuring Jane Seymour and The New Normal’s Georgia King provide ample support to Russell as Jane Hayes, but as usual, it’s the hilarious Jennifer Coolidge who steals the show. As the affable Miss Elizabeth Charming, Coolidge turns the Regency on its head in what may be her funniest role since For Your Consideration. And an awesome ’80s-tastic soundtrack helps make this hilarious rom-com even more enjoyable. —OE

 

 

 

Bashment (DVD) 

Ariztical

​3.5 Stars

Bashment is an ambitious, overstuffed, but not ineffective film about a queer, white MC in the UK grappling with the aftermath of a violent incident that leaves his lover brain damaged. Writer/director Rikki Beadle-Blair asks many provocative questions about race and class, as well as masculinity, gender, and sexuality as victims confront their jailed attackers to find the source of the hate and rage. The ideas about forgiveness and bridging the gaps between black and white, gay and straight, even male and female are valid, although viewers will have to get past some wildly unrealistic transformations. Additionally, the characters’ thick accents, plus the film’s plot contrivances and staginess—Bashment is based on a play—can be straining. And while Beadle-Blair may cudgel viewers with loud, angry language, his mission here is to promote a new way of thinking about manners, racism, and homophobia—and for that he should be applauded. —GK