Le Clan (aka Three Dancing Slaves)
Frenchman Gaël Morel directs this tale of three brothers trying to put the pieces together after the death of their mother. The middle brother, Marc (Nicolas Cazalé) anchors the story. He is a petty criminal at odds with his father (Bruno Lachet) while trying to keep his sensitive younger brother Olivier (Thomas Dumerchez) on the right path until their older brother Christophe (Stéphane Rideau) is released from jail. Le Clan is a family drama with plenty of woe and that classic French movie tendency to film nuance to the point of boredom. Sadly, there is just far too much going on here to develop any interested in anyone. While the cinematography is gorgeous and the story of young Olivier’s affair with a capoeira dancing arab lad Hicham (Salim Kechiouche) makes the watching tolerable, you leave Le Clan both bored and confused. Not for children as there is a very brutal scene of Marc’s dog meeting its demise and full frontal male nudity. My rating 4 out of 10.
Another Gay Movie
A lighthearted and silly gay comedy of four thirty-something actors playing high school grads who make a pack to get laid by the start of their freshman year. While Another Gay Movie is clearly meant to be a parody of every straight movie of this ilk ever done, spoofs that continue to reiterate gay stereotypes raze the ire of this reviewer to the nth degree. Directed by Todd Stephens, it stars (and I use the term very loosely here) Michael Carbonaro as Andy, the good boy with a panache for vegetables; Jonah Blechman as Nico, the flamboyant queer; Jonathan Chase as Jared, the gay jock and Mitch Morris as Griff, the geeky lad. Canada’s own Boys In The Hall star Scott Thompson does a great job as Andy’s bisexual dad and Survivor winner Richard Hatch joins the fray – nude throughout – as Nico’s obsession. A nod to Ashlie Atkinson here as Muffler, a bull dyke with attitude who steals every scene she’s in. Not for children as there are plenty of full-on sexual scenarios here including a shot – heaven help us – of Richard Hatch’s, um, member. My rating 3 out of 10.
Stealing themes from several iconic movies including Great Expectations and My Own Private Idaho and with a talking statue of the Virgin Mary and a talking picture of Pope John Paul II, Tan Lines is one riddle of a film. Contrasting heavy themes with plain weirdness, director Ed Aldridge gives us the story of Midget Hollows (Jack Baxter), a gay surfer boy growing up in a going nowhere town in Australia. When Midget’s best friend Dan’s (Jed Clarke) brother Cass (Daniel O’Leary) returns to town after a four year absence, the two start a secretive love affair that launches questions about Cass’s disappearance and Midget’s own identity. Tan Lines is an exceptionally odd film, with many faults yes, but is utterly engaging thanks to the real connection (and great acting) of Baxter and O’Leary. And with the surreal Miss McQuillan (Theresa Kompara) and her niece, Alice (Lucy Minter) storyline aside, works to show us the trials and trials of growing up gay in nowhere-ville. Had it a better title, my guess is this little gem would have done better everywhere. My rating 8 out of 10.
Based on the novel by Steven Gould Jumper has us meeting David Rice (Hayden Christensen), an Ann Arbor lad who discovers he has the ability to instantaneously ‘jump’ anywhere on the planet. And being a teenager David does just that, jumping into and out of bank vaults to make himself a wealthy man. His talent though attracts the attention of the paladins, a group of assassins bent on killing folks like David as they represent an affront to God, led by Roland (Samuel L. Jackson). When David uses his talent to woo his childhood sweetheart, Millie (Rachel Bilson), by taking her to the Coliseum in Rome he haphazardly comes face-to-face with a group of Roland’s paladins and another jumper named Griffin (Jamie Bell). The two jumpers agree to work together to hunt down Roland and bring a end to the cat and mouse game once and for all. Directed by Doug Liman, Jumper has more holes than a good slice of swiss cheese, but if you suspend the intellectual bits of the story and simply sit back and enjoy the wonderful ride it provides to Egypt, London, Tokyo and Rome, it is great fun. The most shocking thing about this film is that Hayden Christensen’s acting is better than Samuel L. Jackson’s, which is truly saying a lot of both actors’ efforts in this outing. For that feat, the great special effects, and for giving us the always tremendous Diane Lane (as David’s mother, Mary), Jumper gets my rating of 6 out of 10.
Endnote: It was very strange to see Jumper as it was actually filmed in the apartment building one of my own staff here in Toronto. I’ve been to her home many times, and moved staff into the building on a couple of occasions. Watching a film with a building and rooms you’ve been in is just so weird.
Stéphane Rideau was on the Top Ten List I made several years ago and is starting to hit the wall. Me thinks I may have to revise my list.