New DVDs feature jaded men, fresh beginners

Written by Gregg Shapiro,
Staff writer
Thursday, 29 December 2011 11:31

From ''Beginners.'' – Photo: Courtesy

The best movie of 2011 (and possibly the best "gay" movie ever by a straight filmmaker), "Beginners" has a way of staying with you long after it has faded from the screen. Written and directed by Mike Mills ("Thumbsucker"), it's based on his personal experience with his late father coming out as gay following the death of his wife. "Beginners" takes a non-traditional approach to telling a non-traditional story and succeeds on every level. It's the kind of movie that has the power to have you laughing out loud one moment and wiping tears of sadness from your eyes the next.

Anniversary editions bring back fond cinematic memories on DVD and Blu-ray

Written by Gregg Shapiro,
Staff writer
Friday, 02 December 2011 13:47

From David Lynch's ''Blue Velvet.'' – Photo: Courtesy

Among new DVD releases are selections that are destined to bring back fond cinematic memories.

Tricks and treats on DVD and Blu-ray

Written by Gregg Shapiro,
Staff writer
Friday, 21 October 2011 15:41

‘L.A. Zombie’

Still in his zombie phase, following “Otto; or Up With Dead People,” gay Canadian filmmaker Bruce LaBruce goes for the viewer’s throat (and other body parts) with the horror-porn “L.A. Zombie.” Emerging from the ocean, the titular zombie (muscular and tattoo-scalped porn star Francois Sagat), gets picked up by a guy (Rocco Giovanni) who crashes his vehicle into a pole and dies. The zombie has a pole of his own (so to speak) and utilizes it in an unusual way to revive the dead driver.

'Four Weddings and a Funeral'

Written by Gregg Shapiro Thursday, 01 September 2011 19:14

Simon Callow and John Hannah portray a gay couple in Mike Newell's “Four Weddings and a Funeral.” – Photo: Courtesy

‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’

Mike Newell’s “Four Weddings and a Funeral” seemed cutting-edge when it was released in 1994. Not it just narrowly avoids feeling dated.

At the first of the movie’s four weddings, we meet the close group of friends who hold the movie together. It is at this wedding that lady-killer Charles, portrayed by Hugh Grant at his cuddly befuddled best, crosses paths with American wedding guest Carrie, played by Andie McDowell.

On the small screen: L words

Written by Gregg Shapiro,
Staff writer
Thursday, 15 December 2011 15:51

From ''Longhorns.'' – Photo: Courtesy


'The Trip' and the "Tree of Life'

Written by Gregg Shapiro,
Staff writer
Sunday, 13 November 2011 17:23


‘The Trip’

Not to be confused with the 2002 gay movie of the same name, Michael Winterbottom’s “The Trip,” starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon as essentially themselves, is a hilarious, biting, semi-improvised road movie. It’s “My Dinner With Andre” in a Range Rover with English accents, as the fiercely competitive friends embark on a tour of inns and dining establishments in the north of England in order to do research for a magazine article.

An early touch of homophobia dissipates, and the laughs, most of which revolve around the duo trying to outdo each other with celebrity impressions, come fast and furious. Michael Caine is a particular favorite, and the two of them duke it out as dueling Caines. They also duet on Abba and Kate Bush tunes.

Happy heartbeats

Written by Gregg Shapiro,
Staff writer
Sunday, 02 October 2011 20:39

‘Heartbeats/Les amours imaginaires’

If you were utterly blown away by young gay French-Canadian filmmaker/writer/actor Xavier Dolan’s directorial debut “I Killed My Mother,” then you are certain to be happy to learn his talents are no fluke. His second movie “Heartbeats/Les amours imaginaires” is an equally original and engaging film.

The relationship of BFFs Marie, played by Monica Chokri, and Francis, a.k.a. Frankie (played by Dolan), is put to the test when they become involved in a potentially lethal romantic triangle with a self-satisfied blonde Adonis named Nicolas. Played by Niels Schneider, Nicolas is a country lad studying literature at McGill University and making his way in Montreal.

Review: 'Insidious' basks in the bizarre

Written by Gregg Shapiro Tuesday, 30 August 2011 16:28


A throwback to classic ’70s horror pix such as "Burnt Offerings" and "The Exorcist," "Insidious" stars Patrick Wilson as teacher Josh, the patriarch of the Lambert clan. His wife Renai (Rose Byrne) is a music therapist and songwriter. Josh and Renai have two school-age sons and a baby daughter.

As the family unpacks and settles into their new home, unusual events begin to take place, culminating in son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) falling off a ladder, hitting his head on the attic floor and slipping into a coma. Three months later Dalton is still comatose and more bizarre occurrences are taking place, including bloody handprints on bedsheets, strange voices and sounds emanating from the baby monitor, and men appearing on the front porch and in various rooms of the house.

TV DVDs make entertaining stocking stuffers

Written by Gregg Shapiro,
Staff writer
Friday, 02 December 2011 13:48

This holiday season, TV shows on DVD are an ideal and entertaining stocking stuffer. 

In concert with Bette, Cyndi

Written by Gregg Shapiro,
Staff writer
Friday, 04 November 2011 13:17

The divine Bette Midler. – Photo: Courtesy

Two new live-concert DVDs have arrived to give everyone the opportunity to fully experience Bette Midler and Cyndi Lauper in all of their talents. 

Two very different styles of 1971 film-making

Written by Gregg Shapiro Thursday, 22 September 2011 10:30
Dustin Hoffman in “Straw Dogs”

Dustin Hoffman in “Straw Dogs” – Photo: Courtesy

‘Straw Dogs’

The release of the unrated Blu-ray of “Straw Dogs” starring Dustin Hoffman comes just in time for the film’s 40th anniversary and just as the remake starring James Marsden is hitting theaters.

Bespectacled mathematician and pacifist David (Hoffman) returns to his British bride Amy’s (Susan George) countryside village to work on a book. Away from the protests and anti-war hubbub of America, David, who “never claimed to be one of the involved,” just wants to write.

Review: 'Spine Tingler!' is a frightfully fitting tribute

Written by Gregg Shapiro Tuesday, 30 August 2011 16:09
Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story

“Spine Tingler!: The William Castle Story.” – Photo: Courtesy

'Spine Tingler!: The William Castle Story'

Showman and schlock horror-meister William Castle is given his due in Jeffrey Schwarz’s respectful 2007 doc, which has arrived on DVD. Featuring marvelous vintage film footage and informative interviews with renaissance man John Waters, filmmakers Jon Landis and Joe Dante, film critic Leonard Maltin, Castle’s daughter Terry and Castle himself, "Spine Tingler!" is a frightfully fitting tribute.

Often described as the poor man’s Alfred Hitchcock, Castle was born in 1914 and orphaned at 11. A high school dropout who was addicted to applause and attracted to storytelling, Castle had chutzpah and liked to create controversy, beginning with the manipulation of the press.