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last update 20.Apr.09
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Dream Boy
dir-scr James Bolton
with Stephan Bender, Max Roeg, Diana Scarwid, Thomas Jay Ryan, Randy Wayne, Owen Beckman, Rickie Lee Jones, Tom Gilroy, Tricia Mara, Nick Ericson, Cindy Williamson, Michele Adams
bender and roeg release US 3.Apr.09 dvd,
UK 4.Jul.09
08/US 1h30

longon l&g film fest
dream boy With this evocative drama, filmmaker Bolton (Eban and Charley) tackles deep-seated prejudice in the American South. It's somewhat overwrought dramatically, and the themes are a little vague, but it's strikingly well shot and acted.

Nathan (Bender) is a new kid in a rural town, living with his deeply religious parents (Scarwid and Ryan). He catches the eye of his neighbour Roy (Roeg), a classmate who helps him adjust to his new school, and while doing homework together they discover a mutual attraction, which they of course have to keep hidden in such a church-going community. And there are other issues in Nathan's life, including parental abuse and bullying from two of Roy's friends (Wayne and Beckman).

The film builds an almost unbearably tense atmosphere, as we begin to realise that none of this can end well. Scenes are underscored with a foreboding tone, giving a dark slant to the beautiful camera work and relaxed performances. The growing relationship between Nathan and Roy is played in a slow, tender way that's sensitive, tenuous and surprisingly sweet, and yet trouble is brewing all around them.

Roeg (son of Nicolas Roeg and Theresa Russell) has an especially strong screen presence, and develops a delicate chemistry with Bender that's realistically grounded. Both actors underplay their roles, and the script gives them few words to say, so we're left to infer most of the emotion and draw what we can from the potent themes. Meanwhile, the solid adult cast members slightly over-egg their scenes, which makes it feel like a somewhat preachy TV movie looking at the link between religion, child abuse and homophobic violence.

The lush, inviting filmmaking style helps overcome this, as does the way the story delves into extremely dark places. It's also edited in a gentle way that quietly carries us through the events even as things become increasingly nasty and bleak. In the end, there seems to be a bit of a struggle to wrestle both a positive conclusion and a point to it all. But these are vitally important issues, and the film addresses them in an unusually honest way that makes it well worth a look.

15 themes, violence, language
7.Mar.09 llgff
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Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel
aka: FAQ About Time Travel
dir Gareth Carrivick
scr Jamie Mathieson
with Chris O'Dowd, Marc Wootton, Dean Lennox Kelly, Anna Faris, Meredith MacNeil, John Warman, John Snowden, Dario Attanasio
kelly, o'dowd, wootton
release 24.Apr.09
08/UK BBC 1h23
faq about time travel Less a movie than a pilot episode for a Spaced-like TV series, this scruffy British comedy has a lot of fun with its goofy premise. Unfortunately, the plot never shifts into gear, and it's not funny enough.

Ray (O'Dowd) is a sci-fi nerd who gets sacked from his job on a theme park space ride because he takes it far too seriously. That evening, while hanging out with pals Toby and Pete (Wootton and Kelly) in their local pub, he meets the mysterious, hot Cassie (Faris), who tells him she's come from the future to repair a time leak. But the three guys discover the leak in the men's room (ha!) and, as they keep emerging in different time frames, realise that getting back home is going to take a miracle.

The central joke is that, in the future, these three slackers are world famous. And they have no idea why. When their paths cross an "editor" (MacNeil), a time-criminal who travels around wreaking havoc on celebrities from the past, she gives them a choice between life now and immortality later. This dilemma provides the film with its one involving element, because otherwise it's just a bundle of cheap gags (in every sense of the word).

Much of the dialog features these geeks whining about lame Hollywood movies, although at least they have a dishevelled charm as they re-enact key scenes, thanks to the up-for-it cast. There are sequences that begin to achieve a comical genius, and some very strong laughs here and there, but nothing is fully developed beyond an initial funny idea. Which is a bit of a problem for a movie that so clearly wants to be Bill & Ted Meet Dr Who.

In the end, it's silly enough to keep audiences watching as things get increasingly unhinged. The writers play gleefully with their increasingly knotted plot and grab our attention with the moral dilemma. So it's very frustrating to realise that they don't go anywhere with the premise. It all just kind of peters out in the final act, leaving us wondering what the point of it all is. Maybe if it was a TV series, we could tune in next week and find out.

15 themes, violence, language
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dir-scr Joe Lawlor, Christine Molloy
with Annie Townsend, Sandie Malia, Dennis Jobling, Sonia Saville, Danny Groenland, Sheila Hamilton, Betty Ashe, Gavin Huscroft, Charlene James, Keith Saha, Marti Williams, Maria Vishnjakova
groenland and townsend release UK 1.May.09
08/UK 1h29

edinburgh film fest
london film fest
helen With little dialog and extremely subtle performances, this assured, artful drama really gets under the skin of its characters. It's a powerful examination of someone on society's margins trying to find the courage to grow up.

Helen (Townsend) has spent most of her life in care, and now that she's about to turn 18, she'll be on her own. In school one day she's chosen by a police officer (Saville) to play the missing girl Joy in the reconstruction of her disappearance. Deciding that she needs to do some research, she introduces herself to Joy's parents (Malia and Jobling), who are a bit unnerved by the physical resemblance. And neither Helen nor Joy's parents realise how much they need each other.

Filmmakers Lawlor and Molloy approach this story with an open-handed filmmaking style that focuses on the silences and empty spaces. With assured long takes and extremely subtle editing, they embrace the vagueness in the story. This allows the film to get even further under our skin as we are forced to identify with the characters. And all of the performances are understated and remarkably raw, saying much more about their internal struggles through stillness than histrionics.

This is an astonishing story about a young woman who has no idea what it means to be part of a family. She has never been loved, and so her interaction is awkward and hopeful. A conversation with Joy's boyfriend (Groenland) cleverly shows us that her understanding of romance and sex are also unformed. And yet she is full of expectation that she may finally find some resolution to her past and opportunity for her future. Meanwhile, this same sense of expectation consumes Joy's parents in a very different way.

From start to finish, Lawlor and Molloy maintain an unsettling, stark visual tone that focuses on the clash between order and chaos. It's almost overpoweringly steely, and yet there are constant flashes of yearning humanity. The world isn't a bad place, it just seems dark and impenetrable. And in the end, Helen's biggest challenge is to find out who she really is--both her past and her present. And to learn, for the first time in her life, to look forward.

PG strong themes
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Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom
dir Patrik-Ian Polk
scr John R Gordon, Patrik-Ian Polk
with Darryl Stephens, Jensen Atwood, Rodney Chester, Christian Vincent, Jonathan Julian, Doug Spearman, Gary LeRoi Gray, Jason Steed, Jennia Fredrique, Gregory Kieth, Tonya Pinkins, Phoebe Snow
stephens release US 24.Oct.08,
UK Mar.09 llgff
08/US Logo 1h41

longon l&g film fest
jumping the broom A leap in quality from the NOAH'S ARC TV series, this lively film is still a bit goofy but actually gets beneath the surface to look at some serious themes. And most cast members give solid, engaging performances.

A group of friends are travelling to a snowy Martha's Vineyard to attend the wedding of their friends Noah (Stephens) and Wade (Atwood). Their queeny friend Alex (Chester) is organising the event, while sex-mad youngsters Ricky (Vincent) and Brandon (Gray) are up for anything and another couple (Julian and Spearman) find themselves questioning their relationship. Things get even messier when their diva megastar friend Baby Gat (Steed) sweeps in.

Yes, this is a standard farce set in a big house in which everyone kisses the wrong person on the way to what we know will be an elaborate resolution. Some of these antics are pretty funny, while others are rather stupid. The range of characters is a bit uneven, and the problems lie mainly with those who are played with over-the-top campery, namely Alex and Baby Gat, who are so over-the-top that we can't believe them. Chester reels Alex in for the climactic scenes, but neither actor escapes the corny sitcom style.

The others are much better, most notably Stephens and Atwood, who achieve a prickly, sexy realism in their relationships with each other and everyone else. They also make the most of the talky dialog, which gets both preachy and very silly at times, as it addresses every conceivable aspect of both romance (having a child to save a marriage) and gay life (coming out might mean losing your family forever), including monogamy and promiscuity. This scattershot approach isn't easy to grab hold of, but when it connects, it's pretty dead-on.

Underneath all the relational angst and sexy shenanigans, the film's central theme is that being a man has nothing to do with how masculine you are, but that it's about how much courage you have to face up to the truth of your situation. This opens the script to even more platitudes and moralising, but by the end it's genuinely resonant. And fans of the TV show will love it.

15 themes, language
8.Mar.09 llgff
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