Tag Archives: 2.5 Star Movies

North Sea, Texas (2011)

Back in the 50’s and 60’s, any movie that dealt with gay themes was radical and ahead of its time. A GLBT film didn’t have to be insightful or even particularly good — the filmmaker was risking his credibility and his career just putting himself (or herself) out there.

Now, however, things have changed, with entire gay film companies making movies available at the click of a button. Directors of these movies must not merely be willing to make movies — they must be the best they can be, and no less. Movies about the gay experience are in high demand, and makers and distributors of these films don’t need to be afraid anymore.

There have been some extraordinary films made about gay issues the last few years- “Weekend,” “Tomboy,” “Pariah,” and “Gun Hill Road,” to name of few … and  Belgian filmmaker Bavo Defurne’s “North Sea Texas” has garnered some acclaim. Unfortunately, “North Sea Texas” is a disappointment, marred by uninteresting characters and a rushed pace.

Pim (Jelle Florizoone), a pixyish, and disturbingly, often meagerly clothed teenage boy, is first seen played by Ben Van den Heuvel as a child, putting on a sash and a tiara for his own enjoyment. The son of a irresponsible mother (Eva van der Gucht) and a father who has long been out of the picture, Pim longs to escape is dull life. Mom is a frequent visitor of the Texas tavern, where she and her boyfriend get liquored up.

As a fifteen-year-old, Pim hates his mother’s loutish boyfriend but loves Gino (Mathias Vergels), his boy neighbor and best friend. Unfortunately, Gino’s sister Sabrina (Nina Marie Kortekaas) is in love with Pim, and can’t understand why Pim shows more interest in her motorcycle-riding brother.

When Gino breaks Pim’s heart and leaves, a love triangle develops between Pim, his mom, and handsome Gypsy Zoltan (Thomas Coumans). But Pim’s trials are not over, and his painful experiences lead to a eventual reconciliation.

I never really cared about Pim or any of the other characters — I guess that was one of the main problems with this film. Pim was nothing special — just your average soft, sensitive gay boy with a affinity for walking around unclothed. His apparent youth made his sexualization at the hands of the filmmaker seem somewhat skeevy.

Gino was a unsatisfying romantic interest who was willing to betray Pim just to go “Yeah, I’m straight” to the rest of the world. I didn’t like him either. Sabrina was okay, but she was a bit of a whiny busybody brat. I mean, who just goes into a person’s and starts browsing through papers?

The only things I liked about “North Sea Texas” were the decision to cast a fat person as Pim’s mother, Pim’s performance, and the scene at the end where Pim and Sabrina come to a silent truce. Otherwise, the movie was startlingly mediocre, and I hope you’ll take a pass on this one in order to watch a more worthy likewise-themed movie.

Cuban Fury (2014)

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I’ve never been a big fan of Nick Frost. I think he’s mildly amusing at best, painfully average at worst, but the premise of “Cuban Fury” seemed cute and charming enough, so I watched it one night, despite the fact that the movie got very average critical reception. Screw the critics! What do they know? Well, in the case of “Cuban Fury,” they hit it right on the head. The movie is, as promised, cliched, unexciting, and featuring rather flat characters who are more caricature than person.

That’s what bothers me. At the very least, shouldn’t caricatures be over-the-top and engagingly outrageous? Instead they are dull and lifeless. I like Chris O’Dowd, but his antagonist, Drew, spends so much time being ridiculously chauvinistic and nasty that he fails to be much of anything else. No redeeming features, no vulnerable moments, just pure ugly, misogynistic assholery. It makes you wonder why Bruce (Nick Frost) gives Drew the time of day, when Drew’s entire purpose in life is to steal Bruce’s love interest and make Bruce feel like a fat, unlovable loser.

Here’s the plot (it’s a dancing underdog story, but “Billy Elliot” it’s not)- As an adolescent, Bruce Garrett was one of the most promising Salsa dancers, but he was attacked and insulted by some boys on the night of a defining performance and, just like that, ceased to be a dancer. Years later, Bruce is a washed up office drone, shy and unsure of himself, when he meets the beautiful (and salsa-dancing!) Julia (Rashida Jones) and decides to take up the dance again to impress her.

Alas, here comes co-worker and resident dickhead Drew to serves as a foil to good-guy Bruce, simply because the movie apparently needs an antagonist. That said, he’s not a very good one. Drew’s main function is to say outrageously sexist and conceited things in Chris O’Dowd’s lovely Irish accent. There’s no real human dimension to the character, though on the other hand, he’s not really evil either. He’s pretty much just there, which might be enough for the undiscriminating viewer, but made me go “What the fuck? Really?”

On the other hand Nick Frost, who I’ve always found underwhelming, proves to be doubly underwhelming in a lame comedy (instead of say, the hilarious “Shaun of the Dead.”) “Cuban Fury” just doesn’t have that many laughs to its name. Equally infuriating is that they put the amazing actress Olivia Colman (“Tyrannosaur,” “Broadchurch”) in the film as a second thought as Bruce Garrett’s fucking advice-spouting bartender sister. Olivia deserves a main role, and if not that, at least a juicy slice of the screen time. Here she is given a dull role where she exists only to advise Bruce on how best to get the girl.

Rashida Jones is very cute and everything, but I don’t find her particularly compelling. That’s not to say she’s a bad actress, but she doesn’t have a whole lot of screen presence. And what’s with the scene where Bruce says something to Drew like “I may not be as good-looking as you, but at least I have heart?” Thank you, “Cuban Fury,” for stating the message behind the movie with absolutely no subtlety or nuance whatsoever.

The movie also stars Ian McShane and Kayvan Novak, who try their best to bring a little life into the flat proceedings. Otherwise, it’s business as usual, with a not-so-winsome underdog and a big dancing contest that *GASP* could change everything for our hero. I guess the way I’m going on I sound like I hate this movie. I don’t. It’s utterly mediocre, which doesn’t warrant hatred; it warrants apathy, and apathy is the road I shall take. I don’t care about this uninspiring, unimpessive, unoriginal movie. And ultimately, neither should you.

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Soulmate (2013)

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Note to self- Do. Not. Buy. Into. the. Controversy. Given more attention already than it deserves because of a suicide attempt scene that was edited and eventually cut the by the British censors, “Soulmate” is a tepid supernatural soap opera centered around a woman’s all-consuming love for an angst-ridden spirit.The filmmaker, Axelle Carolyn, can’t be bothered to let any mirth or light into this painfully self-serious and grim production.

Audrey (Anna Walton, who does a pretty decent job considering) is a bereaved Englishwoman whose husband Tristan (Richard Armitage)’s untimely death drives her to an ill-advised suicide attempt. Emotionally fragile, she abandons her worried sister and parents to take up residence in a Welsh cottage to wait her grief out. No sooner has she moved there than she begins to hear strange noises emanating from a locked room in the house.

The town-peoples’ refusal to offer any explanation for the strange sounds lead Audrey to seek out the entity behind the racket, who turns out to be a ghastly pale but still dapper spirit who died years before of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Small world. Not long after Audrey meets Douglas (Tom Wisdom,) the ghost, she begins to fall for his unearthly charms. But will the unusual romance result in Audrey giving herself to Douglas in death? And what exactly are the locals hiding?

First of all, the concept of a woman contemplating killing herself so she can lay a ghost bothers me. It’s not a feminist, nay, even a moral issue. But have you ever heard of a person’s bed being haunted by two apparitions fucking in that cold dark space between life and death? No, because it’s stupid. The whole concept fails at everything. Even if there was a possibility that deceased spirits could harness their ghostly genitals to copulate with each other, it doesn’t work in a film, because it sounds so silly.

Telekinetic brooding lovesick ghosts don’t really appeal to me. Moreover, I just didn’t really care about any of the characters. None of them seemed particularly real to me. The acting was fine, there was just something lacking that probably could have been built on in the film’s conception. Audrey isn’t a reprehensible or even an unpleasant character, but there’s no reason to root for her (beyond the hope that she will find a better way to deal with her depression than ending her life.) None whatsoever. Moreover, I didn’t find the lonely and despair-driven poltergeist Douglas all that compelling. He just is. Yeah, he’s haunting the house. Big whoop.

This might be a minor complaint, but I would think anyone who’s ever been halfway serious about suicide would know that you don’t slit your wrists in a bathtub when your sister’s scheduled to come home at any minute. A self-inflicted wound like that, however gruesome, takes time to kill you. Audrey decision to go all “Goodbye, cruel world” with her sister going out for a brief amount of time (when it’s highly probable that Audrey’s already on suicide watch) makes me wonder if she even really wanted to die at all, which is apparently what we’re supposed to believe.

“Soulmate” isn’t really a bad film, just overbearingly mediocre. There are, however, a few tense moments and atmosphere to spare. I recommend the more well-known alternative “The Others” for a really spooky Gothic chiller. It might be particularly behoove you to skip it if you are currently in a self-destructive state of mind or are vulnerable to that kind of imagery, especially since Netflix instant has the uncut (no pun intended) wrist-slitting sequence. It’s not worth an nervous breakdown, honest.

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The Last House on the Left (2009)

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The way I see it, the remake of “The Last House on the Left” is a very small premise stretched to fit a reasonably long running time, without the smarts that these kind of movies need to avoid being underwhelming. The build-up to the inevitable rape scene took forever, followed by a long and excessively gruesome rape and a monotonous series of revenge killings. The saving grace of the movie was the acting, which was better than you might expect. All the actors, Goldwyn, Paxton, Paul, and Co-. gave perfectly acceptable performances. The movie itself, however, was gory and exploitive without having much of a message or brain at all.

The plot is mind-bogglingly simple, but could have been effective in a smarter movie- John (Tony Goldwyn) and Emma (Monica Potter) take their attractive, all-American daughter Mari (Sara Paxton) into their summer house in the woods. John and Emma decide to have a nice candlelit dinner while Mari takes the car and meets a friend, Paige (Martha McIsaac.) Paige decides to procure some pot from a dodgy shoplifter (Spencer Treat Clark) and Mari reluctantly goes along with it, against her own better judgment.

They meet the guy at a remote cabin and are interrupted by a group of killers on the lam, who assault Mari and leave her for dead with a bullet in her back. Then the miscreants seek refuge from the storm in the home of Mari’s unassuming parents. Needless to say, the word gets out, and, well, let the bloodletting begin. “The Last House on the Left” stares into our hearts with blackened eyes and dares us to say we would do anything different- to protect our family, our pack, from unimaginable evil. However, its message ends there. Unless you have your heart set on seeing a brutal rape of a crying, pleading girl, you’re better off watching “Dead Man’s Shoes” for a thriller on the consequences of revenge.

The trouble with this movie is not just the gape-mouthed simplicity of the plot, but the fact that the ensuing revenge is almost cartoonish in execution. “You wanna know what I did to your daughter?” the ringleader of the thugs, Krug (Garret Dillahunt,) growls at a desperate husband and father. I think anyone is capable of revenge, so really, in all my cynicism, I am the perfect audience for this movie.

But without the integrity nor the insight to pull this one off, the movie rubs our faces in its grim vision like a dog in shit. I don’t know what it takes us for more, sadists or masochists. The choice for last scene ( a borderline ludicrous sequence involving a microwave oven used in a unconventional manner) shows us where the film’s heart really lies- not in redemption but in ugliness and brutality.

“Breaking Bad”‘s Aaron Paul is in it too, going on in in full creeper mode, and guess what? He’s good. He’s likely to ruin Jesse Pinkman for you for a while afterward, not that Jesse was any boy scout, mind you. They’re all good, but it’s all for naught.”The Last House on the Left” is like a hulking, simple-minded cousin who hugs you a little too close  and hard, and doesn’t seem to comprehend that you’re, y’know, family. You don’t want to decline his embrace in the spirit of kinship (or, in the case of LHOTL, you don’t want to harshly criticize the movie, in the spirit of trying to appreciate a well-acted horror film,) but like a lecherous hug from Mongo, there’s more ick than appeal.

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The Human Centipede (First Sequence) (2010)

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I’m going to completely pull all the stops here and argue that this film is not total crap. That’s not to say that it’s good, and the redeeming value is tricky; you have to sift through piles of soullessness and shit to find it, but it’s there, in this reviewer’s humble opinion. This story of a mad German doctor who sews three people mouth to rectum, therefore creating a ‘Siamese triplet,’ is also touching at times (no really.) Teamwork, people!

I broke the rules and watched “The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)” first. It was mediocre but saved by a virtuoso performance (well, surprisingly awesome for this kind of movie) by Laurence R. Harvey as the vile ‘Martin.’ I am honored to have Laurence as a friendly acquaintance via Twitter. He is a truly talented man. I didn’t expect much from the first movie (same old experience of watching people get abducted and centipeded, no Laurence R. Harvey to back it up.)

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not recommending this movie. It is (unsurprisingly) vile, disgusting, and not very good. But I heard from everyone prior to seeing THC that the movie was complete trash. Well, it’s not. Not completely. Deiter Laser actually does a good job as the maniacal villain, and the actresses playing the two terrorized tourists are decent despite paper-thin characterization. The Japanese guy (Akihiro Kitamure) who makes up the front end of the centipede wasn’t the greatest, frankly, but he wasn’t all that bad either, and his character was the 2nd most interesting (after Heiter.)

The plot (since I’ve been a little sketchy on that until now)- two American girls (Ashlynn Yennie and Ashley K. Williams) who are taking a tour of Europe break down in the wrong place at the wrong time- to be specific, Dr. Heiter’s pad. Now old Heiter wants his Siamese Triplet experiment to come to fruitation, but the trio of Rottweilers he tried it on died in the process (does it prove I’m a psycho when I say hearing about the surgery being applied to dogs was the only thing about this film that really bothered me?)

Now he wants to connect these two girls to a third (very unwilling) participant. What follows is disgusting, disturbing, and sad, a fate I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. For the most part, this movie is unnecessary and artless, but director Tom Six does manage to build a atmosphere of tension and terror in certain scenes. I think “The Human Centipede (First Sequence)” was much longer than it needed to be, sporting scenes devoted to humiliation and pain rather than building the plot or being frightening.

Some people (you know who you are) will probably watch this movie just to show you can. And that’s fine. I’m not going to try to stop you. Just realize there are much better ways you could be spending a Saturday night. I will end this review by giving a list of horror movies that are more entertaining, compelling, and yes, frightening, than “The Human Centipede II.”

Horror Movies You’d Much Rather Watch Than “The Human Centipede” Movies-

1. Let the Right One In, and it’s remake Let Me In

2. Halloween (1978)

3. Carrie (1976)

4. An American Werewolf in London

5. The Others

6. Nosferatu

7. The Devil’s Backbone (1973)

8. Martyrs

9. Ginger Snaps

10. The Lost Boys

11. The Shining

12. The Wicker Man

13. Alien

14. Tony

15. Kill List

16. The Sacrament

17. Shaun Of the Dead

18. Dawn Of the Dead

19. Attack the Block

20. The Silence of the Lambs

21. Antibodies

22. Citadel

23. Henry- Portrait of a Serial Killer

24. Zombieland

25. Fido

To sum this unusually long review up, I thought Tom Six’s film was okay (not terrible,) but not worth the hype. I think it would be hard to really enjoy as anything other than a geek show (in the words of Roger Ebert, R.I.P.,) but a lot of people will watch it (as I did) simply for the hell of it. I will try to avoid the upcoming third film in the franchise because, I said it myself, there are much better films I could be watching, and Tom Six is making a career off of cheap shock value.

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King of Thebes (2012)

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While King of Thebes serves as an atmospheric, eerie art house oddity, there is nothing about it that would urge me to recommend it to you. It is seven minutes  long, so I’ll keep my analysis of it brief. A man (Laurence R. Harvey) enters a room and meticulously starts setting up his things for a carefully planned rendezvous. When the object of his affection is presented, things get increasingly icky/strange and it all wraps up to a weird and inexplicable finale.

When I say that Laurence R. Harvey is a terrific actor, I am not simply saying it because we have been online friends for more than a year. He blew us away in a better performance than the film deserved in The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence), and he does creepy and disturbed, albeit in this case harmless, again in King Of Thebes. However, after watching ‘Martin’ (Harvey’s wordless villain) rape the back end of a stapled-together line of people in THC2, nothing in this movie presents shocks me that much.

Anyway, Laurence R. Harvey does desperation well, and this short gives him the opportunity to do a kind-off sex scene, make a singularly unappealing ‘Oh’ face, and act generally sketchy. I would love to see him play against type, maybe the huggable teddy bear Uncle, or the love interest. Is that too much to ask? King of Thebes was an okay short and might be enjoyed by people who like weird for weird’s sake.

Film Geek (2005)

The cover of “Film Geek,” as you may notice, proclaims “This year’s Napoleon Dynamite!” Depending on your tolerance for the “quirky nerd” shtick, this may entice you or make you run the other way. Comparisons to “Napoleon Dynamite” aside, “Film Geek” is more human, lower budget, and with a melancholy edge. Unlike Napoleon, who had a small group of friends orbiting his planet of nerddom, This movie’s protagonist, Scotty Pelk (Melik Malikson), repels practically everyone he comes in contact with.

Scotty is a twenty-something young man with no life to speak of, who spends his time inadvertently harassing people at the video store where he works. If they aren’t driven off by his voice (which sounds like he’s been inhaling helium) or his generally aggravating demeanor, it’s probably the fact that he relentlessly badgers people with his knowledge of movies. He has so much trivia it might put half the “Film Threat” reviewers to shame.

Scotty appears to be clueless about his effect on others, although they often aren’t exactly subtle about their disdain for him. He could quite possibly be diagnosed with Asperger’s, but then viewers with Asperger’s and their friends may be angered. He is so intensely annoying, in fact, that his boss finally takes him aside and tells him that his “expertise might be better appreciated elsewhere.”

Unable to get any other film-related jobs, Scotty starts working at a car parts factory. It is around this time that he meets Nika, a free-spirited artist who is first seen by him reading a book on the films of David Cronenberg. Scotty decides that Nika is his chance for a romantic relationship, but she is, understandably, not so sure. As they go to events and she encourages him to “expand his horizons,” this odd semi-dating status is invaded by Nika’s obnoxious, egotistical, but less geeky ex-boyfriend.

Scotty is such a sad individual that he most likely will be either hated or pitied — in my case, pitied. Spurting movie jargon and attempting to relate to other people, he is a far cry from Napoleon, who spent most of his film acting purposefully gawky and being a self-satisfied object of laughter, less capable of normal human response. So, by saying that I sympathized with the loser, does this mean I recommend the film?

Not really. Despite their differences, “Film Geek” and “Napoleon Dynamite” have the same pitfall. They’re not funny. Sure, they’re quirky, but watching a oddball, nerdy person live his isolated life and act like an uber-dork is not the same, for me at least, as being entertained. In this case, you feel more uncomfortable then amused. Even though “Film Geek” slightly overcomes this by being almost thought-provoking in its presentation, I found myself becoming distracted and concentrating on the many movies in the background. “Is that Todd Solondz’s “Happiness” over there?”

You might like “Film Geek.” You might hate it. If you like the “nerd” genre and find the general tone of oddities such as “Napoleon Dynamite” to be amusing, go for it. This is not bad, like another more low-budget “Imagination,” just sort of pointless.

Little Red Flowers (2006)

A well-made story set against the backdrop of post-revolutionary China that, despite it’s strengths, often comes off as boring and exploitative. I have no problem with child nudity in, say, “Let the Right One In,” but the movie’s obsession with the four-year-old’s protagonist’s genitals is  not only creepy, but just plain wrong. I’ve seen less nudity in a Lars Von Trier flick.

Fang Qiangqiang (Bowen Dong) is a rebellious tyke who is dropped off at a grim boarding school by his father, than left to sink or swim, so to speak. What follows is a kind of brainwashing sicker than anything you’ll see in “The Human Centipede” or “Audition.”

The kids are teased with the superfluous exercise of receiving little red paper flowers for good behavior. All Qiang wants is the flowers, but his habitual bed-wetting and daily transgressions make the others immediately dislike him. Hence- no flowers. The boarding school is barren and cold, except for a few toys that don’t look like they couldn’t make the cut for the Goodwill donation box.

Immediately, it is established that all independent thought is squelched at this academy. The children are taught to eat, drink, poop, and sleep as one. These kids are being taught to be compliant, much to the horror of this free-thinking viewer. Meanwhile, Qiang stirs up trouble like a tiny Randall P. McMurphy, inciting rebellion when he convinces the impressionable children that strict Mrs. Li (Zhao Rui) is a tyke-eating monster.

This movie actually has a lot to say about values both Chinese and American. The scene where Mrs. Li goes ballistic about Qiang getting a female classmate to lift up her skirt so he can give her an ‘injection’ is particularly telling, as it is an unhealthy reaction to a natural exchange between children. Not only does she reprimand Qiang fiercely, she also resorts to name-calling to the girl for ‘letting a boy take off her pants.’

However, I will say that the nudity bothered me, and before you say “That’s your problem,” let me ask you this- would you let your little boy, your brother, your nephew get undressed for a camera at this developmental age? And before you say “it’s his rights,” children of this age have no rights when it comes to ‘choosing’ to flaunt their body in front of the camera.

It would be different, of course, if the nudity were crucial to this plot. It isn’t. Also, I’m almost certain they terrified the living s**t out of these children to get a performance. The tears of these toddlers are so incredibly real that the movie has almost a documentary feel. A good thing? Maybe, unless you take into account that no child this age can give a performance of this caliber. Either they’re the best child actors ever. Or… there’s something else going on here.

The film mirrors the totalitarian regime of the era, so that’s food for thought, if you like that sort of thing. The children are adorable, if only they were fully clothed more often. Yeah, I’ve decided for sure. I’m rounding the rating off to a 2.5.

Understanding Jane (2001)

     “Understanding Jane” is basically adequate as a talky lightweight Britcom, but becomes repellent and unconvincing when dealing with the romance between nice guy Elliot (Kevin McKidd) and vindictive, manipulating petty crook ‘Dallas’ AKA the Jane of the title (Amelia Curtis.) Attractive and pleasant McKidd and John Simm, as the friend give it their best shot and the girls (Curtis and Louisa Milwood-Haigh, as Curtis’ partner in crime and Simm’s love interest) follow suit, but nothing can endear this match made in hell to us.

   Elliot and Oz (Simm) respond to a personals ad and are coupled up with ‘Dallas’ and ‘Popeye,’ two good-time gals who proceed to ditch them with the bill. The guys eventually get their well-deserved revenge, but Elliot is drawn to Dallas, in that squabbling rom-com way. Dallas is just giving Elliot the run-around, but somehow she develops feelings for the poor sod. So, you would think she would repent from her toying with his feelings and we would see some character development on her part.

   The thing is, not really. She never seems to be particularly sorry for manipulating Elliot, or undergo any change. The final gag (her throwing his TV out the window after he is on the losing end of a bet) only shows how tight she has her talons wrapped around him. Elliot seems like a nice enough guy, and I feel sorry for him. Dallas is always playing with his feelings, and any seeming progression in her feelings toward him are really just a means to an end.

   There is a lot to dislike about this movie’s technical competence (music that just sounds like background noise, fade-outs that inexplicably turn blue, grainy camerawork.) Also, despite a few clever come-backs and conversations, it simply isn’t very funny. The plotline about Dallas’ psycho ex goes pretty much nowhere, and gives us virtually no ‘understanding’ of her character.

   I loved John Simm on his short stint as a villain in “Doctor Who,” and I like his character here, but it’s hard to be involved when Jane’s hold on Elliot dominate most of the movie. Also, what the f is with Dallas (Jane) introducing Elliot to the world of petty crime? ‘Steal this CD.’ And he does it! Elliot’s getting by. He doesn’t need to end up behind bars for petty theft. Is this Borderline behavior supposed to be cute?

   Dallas is cruel, narcissistic, manipulative and likes nothing more than to toy with naive Elliot’s feelings. There’s virtually nothing likable about her. It would be bad enough if the movie didn’t enthusiastically condone Dallas’ behavior. Are we supposed to believe that a relationship between strait-laced Elliot and cuckoo-crazy Dallas could ever work in the real world?

   I would not recommend this movie to anyone, although I did like some of the dialogue. Andrew Lincoln (Sheriff Rick on the AMC zombie drama “The Walking Dead”) makes a brief appearance as a party guest. I don’t like movies that celebrate imbecilic and hurtful relationships, with an emphasis on good-for-nothing women taking men on ‘the ride of their lives.’ That’s just stupid. There’s nothing wrong with playing it safe and not breaking the law for no discernible reason. Hope you enjoy my analysis, readers. Bye!

 

Herpes Boy (2009)

Though not as bad as it’s unfortunate title suggests, “Herpes Boy” derives humor on grotesque caricatures of it’s secondary players. I’ve never seen so many shameless stereotypes masquerading as characters in one movie.

The only character with any depth is the birthmarked, self-proclaimed misanthrope protaganist, but we can only get a kick out of his angsty ‘I hate people’ routine for so long, and lead actor Byron Lane is short on charisma as well as talent.

Teen outcast Rudolph (Byron Lane)’s angst and ennui is understandable- between his clueless family and his lifelong bullying at the hands of just about everybody, who wouldn’t be P.O.-ed? But his self-absorbed outlook on his jock father’s fatal heart attack and his actual consideration of dissing his dad in the eulogy makes him often a less than sympathetic character.

Rudolph makes videos of himself and posts them online, where he talks mostly about his lame family, his birthmark, and how much he hates humanity. Apparently his self-absorbed rants touch a lot of people, and connect him with some of the human beings he proclaims his hate for.

When Rudolph’s ditzy cousin (Kristeee with three ‘e”s- cute) shows up for the funeral and sabotages Rudolph’s videos,) Rudolph must stand up for outcasts, weirdoes, and misanthropes everywhere. His ambivalent feelings for his dead father make an appearance too, although they don’t take center stage over his all-important online video-making.

There are a plethora of stereotypes on display here- the dumb bitchy blonde, the soft homosexual, the sassy, larger-than-life black gal, the token emo girl, the bubble-headed jocks, and so on, blah, blah, blah. If it makes you feel better, V.D. is nowhere to be found in this story (Rudolph is cruelly dubbed ‘Herpes Boy’  because of his birthmark,) and the movie has a few funny moments (mostly at the beginning.)

The actors are fairly average/fairly weak,except for the ones who play the parents and the gay uncle, who are decent in undemanding roles. Overall, “Herpes Boy” is forgettable now and will be outdated in twenty years, when the Facebook/Myspace blah-blah-blah craze is obsolete. Underwhelming in every way.