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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Realtionships > Irish > Gay > Culture > Documentary > History > Oppression > Torture > Albert Nobbs (2011/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/eCupid: Love On The Download (2011/TLA DVD)/Kawa (2010/Wolfe DVD)/The Sons Of Tennessee Williams (2010/First Run Features DVD)/This Is What Love Action Looks Like

Albert Nobbs (2011/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/eCupid: Love On The Download (2011/TLA DVD)/Kawa (2010/Wolfe DVD)/The Sons Of Tennessee Williams (2010/First Run Features DVD)/This Is What Love Action Looks Like (2011/TLA DVD)


Picture: B/C/C+/C+/C+     Sound: B (DVDs: C+)     Extras: B/C/C-/C+/C     Films: B/C+/C+/C+/B-



Our latest selection of films about sexual identity and gay life show the range from squandered opportunities to fine storytelling.



Rodrigo Garcia’s Albert Nobbs (2011) is easily the best of the group here with rightly Academy Award nominated Glenn Close (who also co-wrote the screenplay) in the title role of a woman pretending to be the title character, one she made up, so she can avoid gender discrimination a century ago, make money and work towards having a better future for herself and maybe someone else.  She works for a somewhat seedy hotel owner (Pauline Collins, effective as usual) in Ireland and we wonder if she’ll get caught.


Sadly, some of the truths about her situation here hold true for discrimination today, so without ruining the film or its sense of time period, we still get the impression of the universality of the situation and just how any individual wants their private space as well as being entitled to it.  Janet McTeer, Mia Wasikowska, Aaron Johnson, Johnathan Rhys Meyers and Brendan Gleeson are among the fine supporting cast in what was one of 2011’s best and most underrated films.  If you have missed it, you should definitely go out of your way to see it.


It is more than just a gay themed film, but one about the character everyone has.


Extras include a Theatrical Trailer, Deleted Scenes of interest and feature length audio commentary track by Close and Garcia.



J.C. Calciano’s eCupid: Love On The Download (2011) is not as strong a work and meant to be a comedy, but it is very uneven in its telling of a seven-year relationship between two men (Matthew Scott Lewis, Brad Pennington) that is interrupted when one finds a cyber-dating app that has him cheating on his faithful boyfriend.  This becomes boring and unfunny quickly, but where this does work is in the dramatic moments and Morgan Fairchild shows up stealing scenes in some of the best work here.  Though not great, it is somewhat ambitious and the very, very interested will want to see it.


Outtakes, a Music Video, Actor Interviews & Auditions and great but all too short interview with Fairchild are the extras.



Katie Wolfe’s Kawa (2010/Wolfe DVD) is the story about another title character (Calvin Tuteao of the highly underrated Once Were Warriors) who is part of a Maori family in New Zealand, known for its warrior/pro-masculinity identity, but he is gay and is ready to tell them about it.  Unfortunately, it is one of those communities in denial that gayness is possible in their world and conflict results.


Well acted, my only problem was not the predictability of the tale (violence and anger in the face of a gay male) but a possible stereotype that Maori men are prone to violence too much, not that this should be politically correct, but it should be accurate to reality and so few films have been made about these neglected people that this runs into trouble there.  Otherwise, it is good, but not great.  A trailer is the only extra.



Tim Wolff’s documentary The Sons Of Tennessee Williams (2010) about how gay men in New Orleans were outlawed and oppressed until recently, except during the annual Mardi Gras event, for being only 80 minutes, this covers much ground, though I still thought there was more to ask or say.  Still, there are rare archival photos, films and videos showing a side of the lives of these men, of the town and of that event you will not see anywhere else.


It also wants to link their lives to the Gay Civil Rights Movement and I think the case it makes works, as it is part of a movement that was beginning to happen nationwide and in some way, is still going on.  A history lesson worth seeing once, even if some of it is all too familiar, it takes on a new meaning since the manmade disaster that hit the town a few years ago.  You can see what some darker interests were trying to wipe out.  Extras include Bonus Footage, Deleted Scenes and Photos.



Finally we have Morgan Jon Fox’s This Is What Love Action Looks Like (2011), an ugly but also all too familiar tale of a young man who tells his parents he is gay, only to be sent to an oppressive “rehabilitation” program where he is violated, assaulted and psychologically molested in what is dubbed “Love In Action” in the most Orwellian way.


What no one running the for profit homophobic Right-Wing clinic expected was the backlash they would encounter and how it became a national story that exposed these secret propaganda torture mills and permanently ticked off good and fair-minded people the world over.  There is more to the story, but I will leave it at that and give Fox credit for keeping his focus on this particular case of unbelievable injustice.  Sadly, this kind of extreme intimidation is going on and not just towards gay people, but a work like this is important in telling the truth since our mainstream media enables such things by ignoring them.


Extras include Trailer, Photo Gallery, Indie Memphis Film Festival Panel and surprise marriage proposal.



The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Nobbs was shot with a newer RED One MX HD camera by Director of Photography Michael McDonough, but it looks very consistent and well shot throughout in what is breakthrough work for the DP as well as for the camera itself.  The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on all the DVDs (save Action, which is letterboxed 1.78 X 1) are not as good, of course, but eCupid has more degraded images throughout and is the poorest performer on the list.  Action actually looks better.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Nobbs is a warm, smooth, dialogue-based recording, yet makes fine use of ambient sound and actually has a consistent soundfield throughout making it one of the best mixes of 2011, especially where the superior character of the mix is concerned.  All the DVDs have lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 save Williams with only lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and Kawa has both, but they are all about even being simple stereo recordings at best and in the case of the 5.1 upgrades, they are very limited in improvement.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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