THIS WEEK IN DVD’S
Entertainment Today received a host of gay-themed titles for review this week (providing an intriguing change of pace from reviewing Full House: Season Five and Idiocracy—don’t worry: you’ll get reviews of those next week), but your buddy Mike has to say that it might have been nicer to get good gay-themed flicks to discuss here.
The Irregularity of the Tearing (Water Bearer Films)
The Irregularity of the Tearing (Water Bearer Films) is less a gay fantasia than it is an incomprehensibly oblique avant-garde piece that is laudable for its ambition, but painfully distressing in its redundancy. Split into three parts—God is a Dog, Les 9 Mardis, and Combat—this film is heralded on its back DVD cover as a “cine-diary” (a moniker that should instill fear in anyone who ever had to stomach Tarnation), but it’s really just three short films about pretty boys moping about their lost loves past, present, and future. The interview with director Patrick Carpenter sheds a bit of light on what the Hell the guy was trying to do with this lavender triptych, but video and audio quality are bottom-barrel bad—bad enough to really limit the effect the film can have.
Prince In Hell (Water Bearer Films)
Prince In Hell (Water Bearer Films) is, unfortunately, not a duet between the Purple Rain legend and the king of darkness—it’s a blunt and grungy morality tale about jealousy and emotional dismemberment in post-unification Berlin. Oh, what do I know—the most cogent part of the film involves a bizarre street performer skipping down a major German street with his dingle flopping around all over the place, and that takes place in the film’s first ten minutes. Some sequences in the rest of the film resonate—call it My Own Private Idaho with more of an opium-laced drug culture and a lot more sex and openly-performed bodily functions (there’s a lot of poop and puke here)—but again, Water Bearer doesn’t do much with the video transfer (it’s really quite ugly), and there are no extras of note to mention, save a few trailers.
Like a Brother (Water Bearer Films)
Like a Brother (Water Bearer Films) is also painfully disjointed. Its cover purports that the picture is “a portrait of a young man torn between boyish love and manly passion” (what’s the point of having a tag line such as that unless the film’s a porno?), but it’s really just another pout-session about a young boy who’s torn between the club-hopping promiscuity of the big city world and the boy-toy crush he left behind in smalltown France. Again, Water Bearer’s video transfer is odiously undernourished (even though it was shot digitally, its presentation on DVD is seriously sub-standard), and the making-of featurette, trailer, and scant stills gallery doesn’t make up for its faults.
Angora Ranch (Water Bearer Films)
Angora Ranch (Water Bearer Films) is thankfully much lighter and more effervescent than the other new Water Bearer titles, but the flip-side to that particular coin toss is that this low-grade DV affair showcases some of the worst acting this side of Hollywood Improv Theatre. The love story between a sassy young twink and the older gentleman who steals his heart (awww) is enough to keep the film alive, but it plays as more of a college-assignment A/V club experiment than an actual movie. Again, the transfer and sound mix here won’t impress anyone (though it’s the best of this recent WBF bunch), and the few bonus features included (stills gallery, behind-the-scenes featurettes) ain’t much.
The Night Listener (Buena Vista)
The real shitter of the bunch, though, is The Night Listener (Buena Vista), an awfully-directed mess of a picture that had the pedigree to be a classic. Based on Armistead Maupin’s epically introspective novel (one of the best of the last decade), this Robin Williams-starrer about a gay radio personality, who gets involved in a bizarrely complicated web of lies involving a dying child and his whack-job mama, plays as though a woefully underfed Lifetime movie. Director Patrick Stettner (helmer of the ho-hum The Business of Strangers) takes Maupin’s source material and turns it into a stillborn film; easily one of the biggest disappointments of 2006. The good news?: The video transfer here is stunning—almost reference-quality. That won’t mean much to you, though, as you’ll groan through this missed opportunity of a movie.
Wondering if you should pony up $40 for that two-disc spectacular? For all of your DVD questions, ask Mike at [email protected] .