Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Reverend's Reviews: Treats in My Basket


Another Easter has come and gone, but the bunny left a few new and recommended movies, videos and even an album in his wake!

Sagrada - The Mystery of Creation (now playing at Laemmle's Playhouse in Pasadena):
This spiritually-leaning documentary by Stefan Haupt, director of last year's acclaimed The Circle (see below), explores the ongoing construction of La Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona, Spain. Fascinatingly, it has been under construction for well over a century. Originally conceived as "the poor people's cathedral," the structure was dramatically redesigned by architect Antoni Gaudi, who passed away in 1926. Thousands of subsequent laborers and artisans have contributed to the project ever since. Haupt and his camera traverse La Sagrada Familia (which means "The Holy Family" in English) inside and out while interviewing a number of designers currently working on it. Anyone with an interest in architecture, history or religion/spirituality will find much to appreciate in the film.

The Circle (now available on DVD and VOD from Wolfe Video):
A unique hybrid of documentary and narrative filmmaking, reportedly the result of money running out before the originally-intended narrative version could be finished. Here, Haupt tells the amazing life story of Ernst Ostertag and Robi Rapp, a longtime gay couple who met in 1958 and through their political activism helped secure greater rights for LGBT citizens in post-war Switzerland. Both men are still alive and contribute their first-hand accounts to the film while actors Matthias Hungerbuhler and Sven Schelker play them in the dramatized sequences. Inspiring and timely, The Circle was Switzerland's official entry in last year's Academy Awards but was sadly not nominated.

Three in a Bed (now available on DVD from TLA):
Continuing the current trend in romantic stories between ordinary looking, "real" gay guys a la Weekend and Looking is this dramedy by British writer-director Lloyd Eyre-Morgan. Closeted Nate (Brennan Reece) is an aspiring musician who has lived with his two needy sisters ever since their mother died. Things start to get complicated when he meets an out neighbor, Jonny (Darren Bransford), and they develop feelings for one another. While some situations in the script are exaggerated and predictable, Three in a Bed is generally warm and wise and also benefits from good performances by its cast.

Boy Meets Girl (now available on VOD from Wolfe, on DVD April 28th):
One of the more memorable, award-winning offerings on last year's LGBT film fest circuit was this trans-centric drama. Trans actress Michelle Hendley makes a very impressive debut as Ricky, the only male to female (or female to male, for that matter) resident of her rural community. As her accepting best friend since childhood, Michael Welch (The Twilight Saga, SyFy's Z Nation) also gives a breakout performance. The film is sensitively written and directed by Eric Schaeffer (If Lucy Fell, Never Again) and his best work to date.

The Last Straight Man (now available on DVD from TLA):
A somewhat forced, at times unbelievable but still affecting chronicle of two buddies — one gay, one straight and married — who pledge to spend one night together each year and do so for over a decade. Mark Cirillo (The Seminarian) and Scott Sell (Out to Kill) play the sexy but conflicted pair and have good chemistry, even if they don't age convincingly during the course of the story. Although it has its shortcomings, this film is a marked improvement over writer-director Mark Bessenger's last project, the awful Bite Marks.

Derek Bishop's Bicycling in Quicksand (now available on CD and for download):
I was unfamiliar with this out singer-songwriter before receiving his new, sophomore release. In addition to his penchant for leather, Bishop has a knack for channeling 1970's disco as well as the sound of such early 80's bands as Queen and Pet Shop Boys. His lyrics are smart and the song stylings enjoyable, but he doesn't have the strongest voice and the recording's sound mix drowns him out at times. Still, Bishop is an artist worth discovering and keeping an eye/ear on.

Reverend's Ratings:
Sagrada: The Mystery of Creation: A-
The Circle: A-
Three in a Bed: B
Boy Meets Girl: B+
The Last Straight Man: B-
Bicycling in Quicksand: B

The Circle, Three in a Bed, Boy Meets Girl and The Last Straight Man are available on DVD, and Bicycling in Quicksand is available on CD:

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Rage Monthly Magazine.

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