DVD Reviews – June 2008

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Gang Of Souls : A Generation
Of Beat Poets
MVD Visual / BLEU
Street: 04.15
Gang Of Souls presents interviews with some legendary and classic beat poets that overtook a generation of artistic expression and freedom, speaking at open mics and writing books that would turn the reader's view upside down. Some of the coolest poets of this generation, such as William S. Borroughs, Henry Rollins, Richard Hell, Allen Ginsberg and Marianne Faithful talk about their experiences and influences from the era of beat. Along with these geniuses are some of the most annoying and obnoxious people I've ever seen. Poets like Lydia Lunch, Anne Waldman and Ed Sanders portray themselves as in-your-face, loud-mouthed and just plain weird hippies. There's actually a scene where Ed Sanders literally plays a piano necktie. This documentary was made in 1989 and just doesn't bring anything new to the table. It has some weird, random editing and is only interviews—nothing else. I would have loved to have seen some photography of the generation— old videos, venues, anything that takes you back to this period in literary history—no such luck. I guarantee there are a lot cooler documentaries out there about this same thing. –Adam Palcher

Irene Williams: Queen of Lincoln Road
Wolfe Video
Street 04.01
The fascinating aspect that I love about filmmaking is that you don't need the latest and greatest technology in order to capture an appealing story. For example, while vacationing in Miami, director Eric Smith noticed an endearing and chic local senior citizen walking down Lincoln Road by the name of Irene Williams. He grabbed his handheld camera, and documented a heartfelt relationship in his film, Irene Williams: Queen of Lincoln Road. Paying the bills as a stenographer for college students and career hopefuls, Irene spends her free time evading high-end fashion designers' outrageous price tags (think Versace and Louis Vuitton) by creating her own stylish attire from scratch...everything from the hats to her watchbands. She is the epitome of creativity. From their first energetic encounter to the touching account of Irene's declining health, the film captures the purest form of kindness and affability in human nature. Smith has achieved a noble feat in presenting a 23-minute piece of art that will no doubt linger in the viewers' minds for a much longer period of time. –Jimmy Martin [Pride Film Festival: 6.13-15]

Korn: Live at Montreux
Kayos Productions
Street: 05.13
By now, pretty much everyone knows that Korn released their first album in late 1994 and took the world by storm. Often credited with making nü metal popular, Korn's first album probably was listened to by just about everyone I went to junior high with, including me. Now, nearly 14 years later, the band is still cranking out the albums. They've had some lineup changes, including long-time guitarist Brian Welch becoming a Christian and getting a totally sweet Jesus tattoo on his hand to keep him from masturbating (no, seriously). This DVD is mostly full of stuff from their past four albums, but still has a few of the older gems you may have listened to while brooding quietly in your room, avoiding your English homework. It's not a bad release for diehard Korn fans, and it might be something special since it's one of the last performances Welch was a part of. –Conor Dow

Most High
Dokument Films
Street: 05.27
Marty Sader's debut as director/actor/ writer is everything you can ask for in a debut. This sad, depressing story shows the quick fall of a man whose life went down the tubes and into the haunting world of crystal meth. Losing his adopted father, his job and his lover within in the same week is only the beginning of his downfall. He finds love in Laura Keys' character (co-writer of the screenplay), who is also following the same path with drugs and sex. The most impressive part of the film isn't the cool, time-lapse photography or the frantic, quick-paced editing, it's Sader's transformation into the druggie who graces us with his presence through most of the movie. He loses close to 100 pounds to show his frail, overtaken body to the audience. His performance is award-winning and this film deserves a place next to Trainspotting and The Basketball Diaries as must-see addiction movies. I have a feeling that we will be seeing more of Marty Sader, so keep an eye out. This one is highly recommended. –Adam Palcher

She's a Boy I Knew
Shapeshifter Films
Street: 2007
Gwen Haworth has put her heart and soul into She's a Boy I Knew, a self-reflecting documentary that captures her lifelong struggle with a gender identity crisis. As the director, writer, producer, editor and main focal point of the film, Gwen (born Steven Haworth) intertwines home videos, family photographs, personal interviews, emotional narrations, and witty animations to exhibit the highs and lows of proceeding with a transgender lifestyle. The most appealing attribute of the film is the intimate confessions with Gwen's family members due to the fact that no one withholds their true emotions. Whether it's the recollections of "breast implants" made with bags of birdseed or a discouraged father proclaiming disapproval of his son's decision to change his birth name, each reflection draws the audience deeper into the distinctive web that is Gwen's life. She's a Boy I Knew is a respectable addition to a topic that has already been covered successfully in other films including Kate Davis' Southern Comfort, Melissa Regan's No Dumb Questions and Travis Reeves' Funny Kinda Guy. [Pride Film Festival: 6.13-15] –Jimmy Martin

Sissy Frenchfry
Wolfe Video
Street 01.30
Remember in the late-1980s when ABC ran an array of sitcoms on Friday nights that included Perfect Strangers, Mr. Belvedere, Just the Ten of Us and Full House called TGIF? These shows were the epitome of chesse...but it was accepted. They encompassed a textbook balance of tackiness and storytelling, and that's exactly what J.C. Oliva has created with his short film Sissy Frenchfry. Set at West Beach High, a school of tolerance and diversity, Sissy Frenchfry (played by local actor Steven Mayhew) is the Student Body President and practices a life of creating joy among the school's hallways. However, when the stereotypical hateful meathead transfer student, Bodey McDodey (Ross Thomas), makes the home of the Frenchfries (yeah, that's their mascot), his new stomping grounds, Sissy's paradise begins to deteriorate swiftly. If you modified the strong language (not that swearing ever bothered this asshole), this film could easily be adapted into a network television series made for tweeners and teenagers. Now for the uphill struggle...are network stations or kid-friendly cable channels like Disney and Nickelodeon ready for an entire program dedicated to preaching individual rights among gay adolescence? It may be a complex battle to get this project on the air, but the statement intertwined within this 30-minute short and the future messages it could present needs to be heard. –Jimmy Martin [Pride Film Festival: 6.13-15]

Sorrell and Son
Koch Vision
Street 08.14
At first glance, Derek Bennett's miniseries adaptation of Warwick Deeping's best-selling novel feels eerily similar to those horrific educational videos we were forced to watch in elementary school...remember The Voyage of the Mimi? But, instead of having to watch a crew of nitwits with a 12-year-old Ben Affleck who already sucked at acting before puberty, Sorrell and Son exhibits an engaging tale of a father's unconditional love for his son, and not in the Megan's Law (requiring sex offender registries) sort of way. Beginning in the 1920s and spanning two decades, the six-part series follows Captain Stephen Sorrell (Richard Pasco), a single father and decorated soldier, as he surrenders himself to degrading and mediocre occupations in order to pave the way for his son's future. Packed with sincere moments and touching upon controversial subjects such as euthanasia, this Masterpiece Theatre selection is as entertaining and relevant as it was 24 years ago. –Jimmy Martin

The Walker
Street 05.27
Paul Schrader (American Gigolo, Auto Focus) returns to the silver screen with his sixteenth feature, The Walker. Packed with an elite cast including Kristin Scott Thomas, Lily Tomlin, William Dafoe and topped with an unforgettable performance by the always-gifted Woody Harrelson (ok, we'll let Money Train slip by), the film follows Carter Page III (Harrelson) as he caters to the wealthy female socialites of Washington, D.C. as their "walker" (a.k.a. "gay best friend"). But when a grisly murder involves one of Carter's acquaintances (Scott Thomas), the wife of a politician, he must determine how sturdy his relationships are and who is out to only save themselves, especially when he becomes the prime suspect. Even though the story's captivating premise treads water for the first half, there's no doubt this ensemble cast has succeeded in creating an authentic performance that rallies in the home stretch. Moreover, Chris Seager's cinematography and David Hindle's art direction turns each shot and set into a mesmerizing portrait bursting with color and a life of its own. The most interesting tidbit extracted from the movie? Salt Lake City is considered to be one of the last two remaining cities where homosexuality is grounds for extortion from the hypocritical "good American family man". Something tells me they don't put that in the Utah visitor's brochure. –Jimmy Martin [Pride Film Festival: 6.13-15]