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last update 26.Dec.08
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Another Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild!
dir-scr Todd Stephens
with Jonah Blechman, Jake Mosser, Aaron Michael Davies, Jimmy Clabots, Euriamis Losada, Perez Hilton, RuPaul, Brent Corrigan, Will Wikle, Brandon Lim, Isaac Webster, The Lady Bunny
mosser and losada
release US 22.Aug.08,
UK 29.Dec.08 dvd
08/US TLA 1h35
See also:
another gay movie (2006)
another gay sequel As ludicrously goofy as ANOTHER GAY MOVIE (2006), this follow-up once again combines colourful pastiche with vaguely serious themes. It's also a rare sequel that doesn't just remake the original. But it is pretty stupid.

Our four heroes--queeny Nico (Blechman), dorky slut Andy (Mosser) and happily coupled Griff and Jarod (Davies and Clabots)--are vacationing at an all-male resort in Ft Lauderdale that's holding a competition to see who can have the most sex. This causes distinct crises for each: Nico meets a too-cute merman (Corrigan) who's a fish from the waist down, Andy finds a Latin hottie (Losada) who wants to remain a virgin, and Griff and Jarod have their monogamy stretched to the breaking point.

As with the first film, writer-director Stephens combines lurid colours and outrageous innuendo with raucous sexuality and vulgarity. It's a bit too manic to be very amusing, although there are moments that make us laugh out loud, even as other gags (the crabs or the vomiting scene, for example) aren't funny at all. So it really helps that he also touches on some potent themes along the way. Most interesting is the satire of men competing with each other to be the biggest stud, as well as the couple negotiating the boundaries of their relationship.

But even with these undercurrents, this is still an overwhelmingly silly movie best viewed in a lively group. The plot is utterly ludicrous, especially as the three villainous Jaspers (Wikle, Lim and Webster) try to sabotage our heroes' efforts. As with the first film, some high-profile figures appear in relatively substantial and utterly wacky side roles (Hilton turns into a religious fanatic after a bump on the head; RuPaul is the resort's activities coordinator). And Stephens isn't afraid to push the boundaries of sex, nudity and product placement, while somehow maintaining a blithely innocent-fun tone.

In the end, the relentless corniness of it all finally wears us down and we almost warm to the trite follow your heart and make your own rules message. But it's the charm of the cast that has won us over, and the gleefully unapologetic idiocy. But they'll need a bigger budget if they return, as promised, for Gays in Space!

18 very strong themes, language, sexuality, grisliness
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Mum & Dad
dir-scr Steven Sheil
with Olga Fedori, Ainsley Howard, Toby Alexander, Perry Benson, Dido Miles
fedori and benson release UK 26.Dec.08
08/UK 1h24

edinburgh  film fest
mum & dad A blacky comical twist on the torture porn genre, this lean, mean British horror is just gonzo enough to overcome the limits of the formula and keep us entertained. And it's a truly vicious satire of family life.

When Heathrow cleaner Lena (Fedori) misses her last bus home one night, her colleague Birdie (Howard) says she's welcome to stay at her home nearby. But on entering the house, Lena's promptly knocked unconscious, locked in the basement and told that she's the newest member of the family. Mum (Miles) and Dad (Benson), plus brother Elbie (Alexander), welcome her in the most ghastly ways imaginable. And the usual family jealousies take on even more macabre tones in this house of horrors.

Filmmaker Shiel is pretty daring to take on heavy shades of the Fred and Rosemary West story here, mixing a biting pastiche of family movies with extreme gore. Cleverly shot and edited, the film continually shifts from bright and perky to dark and terrifying within moments, and constantly undercuts the horror with grim humour. It's a bold mix, and credit should go to Shiel and his cast for making it work as well as it does.

That said, this is still an extremely violent film, with a continual stream of ultra-violence culminating in a nightmarishly garish Christmas sequence. Lena is brutally imprisoned, drugged and beaten by a family that revels in inflicting pain as part of some twisted system of discipline, and yet chirpily carries on as if all of this was terribly normal. They even have to do their chores. And as sibling rivalry starts to emerge, as of course it must, things get even more relentlessly grisly. Suddenly, being grounded is something to really be afraid of.

Shiel cleverly makes use of his threadbare budget with effectively cheesy production values and thrills that are both cheap and nasty. And the way the film plays with the family relationships gives the actors plenty to work with, as Shiel effectively urges them to indulge in extreme creep-out performances. Fedori gets the mix just right between outright fear, a tenacious will to survive and the willingness to do whatever it takes to become the most-loved child. Although becoming one of Dad's "favourites" might not be such a good idea.

18 themes, language, strong violence
20.Jun.08 eiff
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Special People
dir-scr Justin Edgar
with Dominic Coleman, Robyn Frampton, Jason Maza, David Proud, Sasha Hardway, Lucinda Raikes, Matthew Dunster, Simon Lowe, Dave Thomas
coleman release UK 21.Nov.08
08/UK 1h20

edinburgh  film fest
special people A clever approach to an important issue, this comedy often feels hugely politically incorrect, but it smartly underminines our flawed perspective on disabled people. And it's also often very funny.

Jasper (Coleman) is a failed filmmaker who volunteers to teach a course on moviemaking at a community centre for wheelchair-bound young people. But his patronising style and deep ignorance immediately perk up students Jess, Dave and Scott (Frampton, Masa and Proud). And as the course continues, they continually subvert Jasper's ideas even as they deal with their own situations. Meanwhile, Dave falls for a disabled girl (Hardway) in the neighbouring dance class. And when she joins them on their location shoot, all kinds of things come out in the open.

Watching Jasper engage with these people is pretty painful; his patronising attitude knows no limits as he talks to these razor-sharp students like they're idiots. This essentially makes Jasper impossible to like, but it also makes a provocative point about the way society treats anyone they don't understand. And with rapid-fire, comedy sketch dialog, it gets quite hilarious.

The film also has a witty take on reality-style filmmaking ("Why not just make a documentary?" one student asks), as Jasper tries to bend situations to make his movie more interesting, not realising that the plot has already been stolen from a mentally challenged patient visited by his students (and yes, the point is sharply made that mentally challenged people are not stupid). This adds a heavily ironic undertone to the film that makes it even more provocative.

Meanwhile, writer-director Edgar takes a raw approach, using improvised performances and a lose structure to ground the comedy in realistic situations and believable characters. As the story progresses, we learn more about each of the students, which gives the actors some thoroughly engaging scenes to play both for comedy and emotion. Although Jasper's infuriating narrow-mindedness starts to really grate on us just as the plot takes a couple of strangely unbelievable turns. It's as if Edgar is working a bit too hard to make his point, just as Jasper is trying to do. But even when it starts slipping out of control, this film still has several extremely important things to say.

15 themes, language, violence
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dir Kenny Glenaan
scr Hugh Ellis
with Robert Carlyle, Steve Evets, Rachael Blake, Michael Socha, Sean Kelly, Jo Doherty, Joanna Tulej
evets and carlyle release UK 5.Dec.08

Best Performance:
edinburgh film fest
sumer Quiet and introspective, yet fiercely intense, this involving British drama gets well under the skin of its characters while exploring a complex situation that runs through three eventful summers spread out over a lifetime.

Shaun (Carlyle) lives in a small northern town, where he cares for his best pal Daz (Evets), who's confined to a wheelchair and doesn't have long to live. They live together in Shaun's family home, along with Daz's teen son Daniel (Socha). But Shaun feels trapped in this life, remembering his summers running wild with Daz as a child and a teen and the key events that led to where they are. This spurs him to look up his old girlfriend Katy (Blake), who's now a successful lawyer.

The film rolls along gently and authentically, building an intense sense of Shaun's claustrophobia. And as we see his past, we begin to understand the range of factors that have put him where he is--personal challenges, wrong decisions, stupid actions, bad breaks. But he also has a remarkably sensitive soul, as seen in his care for Daz, his concern for Daniel and his realistic approach to Katy. All of this gives Carlyle plenty to chew on as an actor; he has rarely had the chance to play a character this complex and conflicted, and he's terrific on screen.

And the entire supporting cast works with him beautifully. While the actors who play the characters as children and teens create a wonderfully consistent sense of chemistry. And as the various flashbacks reveal more to us about these people and how they got here, the film makes some striking observations about British culture. There's an especially tough commentary on how people with learning disabilities can fall through society's cracks, and the potential for devastation that can follow.

Yes, this is often heavy and rather depressing stuff, but director Glenaan assembles it with enough heart to keep it from wallowing. Still, it's wrenching to see these two lifelong friends struggling so badly--angry young men who never got a chance to grow up. They've been infected with a sense of false bravado obscures a deep sense of tragedy over their wasted lives. And the miracle is that Glenaan and screenwriter Ellis manage to also maintain a careful glimmer of tenacity and hope.

15 themes, strong language, sexuality, violence
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