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EATING OUT: DRAMA CAMP|
THE ONE | VAMPIRE BOYS
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last update 26.Sep.11
See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Eating Out: Drama Camp|
dir Q Allan Brocka|
scr Phillip J Bartell, Q Allan Brocka
prd Q Allan Brocka, Michael Shoel
with Chris Salvatore, Daniel Skelton, Aaron Milo, Harmony Santana, Lilach Mendelovich, Garikayi Mutambirwa, Ronnie Kroell, Drew Droege, Mink Stole, Joel Rush, Steven Daigle, Rebekah Kochan
release US 1.Jul.11,
EATING OUT (2004)
EATING OUT 2:
SLOPPY SECONDS (2006)
ALL YOU CAN EAT (2009)
The fourth chapter in the franchise continues in the relationship-chaos direction taken by the last film, abandoning any astute comedy for silly antics that aren't particularly funny. At least the cast is likeable enough to hold our interest.
Twink Casey (Skelton) and hunk Zack (Salvatore) enrol in drama camp to bring a spark back to their relationship. Accompanied by their straight filmmaker friend Jason (Mutambirwa), they immediately meet shirtless muscle boy Benji (Milo), who pretends to be straight even though he's clearly attracted to Zack. Meanwhile, Jason has an eye for the transgendered sexpot Lilly (Santana), which makes his question his masculinity. And Casey teams up with the nerdy Penny (Mendelovich) to find out who's really after whom. Despite the fact that camp director Dick (Droege) has banned sex.
While there are some smart gags lurking here and there, this is essentially a very stupid movie that shamelessly indulges in its stupid plot and corny dialog. And we're lucky that the actors are cute and energetic, because their performances are all broadly cartoonish. Like the other films in this series, several characters are pretending to be gay or straight, causing much comical mayhem along the way to the rather anticlimactic revelation.
There are some clever bits of subtext, such as Benji's feeling that playing straight is his ultimate acting role. Zack is such a relentless drama queen that we're hardly surprised when he breaks into a musical dance number called, yes, Drama Queen. And the addition of a transgendered character touches on a big social issues without getting too deep. Much wackier is the prologue, which hilariously pastiches both horror and porn.
The plot builds to a climactic competition in which the students must reinterpret a Shakespeare scene with a modern twist, which allows Brocka to play with stereotypes and pack the script with ridiculous variations on Shakespearean themes. Although when he tries to touch on more serious aspects of relationships, he can't help but crack a goofy joke. And the film's low production values kind of undermine every attempt at physical farce. But there are enough smart comical gags to make it a guilty pleasure.
15 themes, language, sexuality, some violence|
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
dir-scr Caytha Jentis|
prd Michael Billy, Aimee Denaro, Caytha Jentis
with Jon Prescott, Ian Novick, Margaret Anne Florence, Natalya Rudakova, Kelly Coffield Park, Christopher Cass, Michael Billy, Michael Emery, Pierce Forsythe, Mike DiGiacinto, David Albiero, Lauren Francesca
release US Apr.11 pcf,
UK 10.Oct.11 dvd
There's a gentle authenticity to this romantic drama that helps make the characters strongly engaging even if the story feels a bit thin. And it's also a quiet exploration of a serious issue.
Tommy (Novick) is a young lawyer who is happy to run into his old pal Daniel (Prescott). They played lacrosse together in university, and Tommy always had a crush on Daniel. So he's more than a little surprised when they end up in bed together. The bigger shock is that Daniel is still closeted and engaged to marry Jen (Florence). As the wedding approaches, Tommy and Jen become friends, so of course Daniel is terrified that she'll discover his secret. But he doesn't realise that someday he'll have to figure out who he really is.
The oddly generic title refers to frequent discussions about whether or not there's one person out there for each of us. Certainly, Tommy is sure that Daniel is the one for him, just as Daniel and Jen feel they are right for each other. And perhaps writer-director Jentis' point in all of this is that these feelings are natural but perhaps not very realistic.
While the film has a breezy, sometimes comical tone, it's actually surprisingly serious, refusing to fall into a standard rom-com structure. This makes it refreshing to watch, although it's also a bit unsatisfying due to some abrupt plot points. And there's also the problem of the filmmaker's inexperience, which is sometimes apparent in the camerawork, writing and editing. On the other hand, the cast members all deliver raw, natural performances that draw us into the situations.
In the end, what's most surprising about this film is that it's not really a romance at all: it's a journey of self-discovery as Daniel slowly works out how he is going to live his life. And as such, it's actually remarkably effective, taking an unusually honest approach that continually catches us off guard because it doesn't go the way we want it to. Instead, Jentis tries to plot a more realistic path for these characters. And it's a lot more thought provoking than we expect it to be.
15 themes, language, sexuality|
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
dir Charlie Vaughn|
scr Jeremiah Campbell
prd David Sterling, Charlie Vaughn
with Christian Ferrer, Jason Lockhart, Dylan Vox, Jess Allen, Tanner Acord, Ryan Adames, Zasu, Greg McKeon, Walter Delmar, Marlene Mc'Cohen, Shana Eva, Charlie Vaughn
release US 8.Mar.11,
UK 26.Sep.11 dvd
A clunky screenplay and inexperienced actors nearly sink this cheesy movie. Strangely, for what's essentially a gay romp, it's deeply prudish about both sex and violence. But it's so shamelessly bad that it's actually rather fun to watch.
Newly arrived in Los Angeles, university student Caleb (Ferrer) rents a room from Paul (Adames). But Caleb doesn't know that he's mysteriously linked to a gang of youthful vampires. On the first day on campus, the boys' leader Jasin (Lockhart) asks Caleb out, secretly trying to confirm that he's the "promised one", something his pals (Vox, Allen and Acord) doubt. It all has something to do with finding eternal love, and Jasin likes Caleb more than the woman (Zasu) his boys want him to bond with.
Fortunately for the target audience, the filmmakers rewrite the rules so these vampires don't need to hide from the California sunshine. They can roam the city with bare muscled-waxed chests! None of the actors are hugely convincing in their roles, but at least they're photogenic as they fall in and out of love in seconds and play up the hammy melodramatics. And the story does have its moments, including some honest emotion here and there.
It's also very nicely shot, with dappled shadows and strong hints and suggestions about the connections between the characters. And it helps that director Vaughn resists using cheap effects beyond the gratuitous slow-motion and fumbling action scenes. So even if the pacing is awkward, there's just about enough intrigue to keep us watching. And if the script is utterly ridiculous, it's at least directed with a sense of its own absurdity, happily leering at the naked bodies of these over-fit men.
There doesn't seem to be much point to this film beyond jumping on the vampire bandwagon. Aside from the central mystery of Caleb's true nature, there isn't any subtext at all, so the stiff acting, corny plotting and clumsy editing begin to get on our nerves. As it jumps from tame violence to coy sex and back again, it gets sillier by the moment. So there's a certain amount of guilty pleasure to be had in watching it, especially as the hilariously overwrought secrets are revealed.
15 themes, language, violence, nudity|
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© 2011 by Rich Cline, Shadows
on the Wall