Sinema Review

PUPPY LOVE… BEAUTIFUL THING

You won’t find a better film dealing with the awkwardness of young gay love than director Hettie MacDonald’s touching and sincere “Beautiful Thing.” Told with refreshing honesty and wonderfully engaging performances, “Beautiful Thing” is one of those little slice-of-life films that come from nowhere and sweep you off your feet.


Glenn Berry and Scott Neal are excellent as two British youth who slowly realize that they are attracted to each other. It’s a simple story told with heart and soul from a screenplay by Jonathan Harvey, based on his stage play. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out where Jamie (Berry) and Ste’s (Neal) friendship is headed. They need each other, if not out of love, then out of desperation. Jamie lives with his mom Sandra in one of London’s high-rise apartment buildings.

Sandra (Linda Henry) is a barmaid with dreams of running her own pub. Even though Sandra works nights and has a constant stream of boyfriends hanging around, she still has time to smother Jamie. Ste should be so lucky. An athletic young man, he lives two doors down from Jamie, and has to put up with an abusive father and brother. When Ste seeks refuge at Jamie’s house one night after a horrible beating, the scene is set for the two to explore their feelings for each other. Instead of jumping right into action, director MacDonald and writer Harvey put the relationship on a slow simmer.

This gives all of the characters time to come to life. Tameka Empson is delightful as Leah, a black girl living in the projects who obsesses over Mama Cass and the Mamas and the Papas. Leah is one of those great supporting characters who lend so much with so little screen time. Glenn Berry excels as the coy Jamie, while Scott Neal is a real heartbreaker as Ste. Their scenes together have a natural feel to them. Linda Henry is absolutely wonderful as Jamie’s mom. She has one of those great English accents that lend authority to every word.

Ben Daniels also stands out as Sandra’s latest boyfriend, a hippie still stuck in the sixties. “Beautiful Thing” is a must-see for all audiences, but gay and lesbian viewers will appreciate the honesty and dignity the filmmakers have instilled the film with. (Rated R/Columbia-TriStar Home Video)

FEMALE BONDING…SET IT OFF

Something different from director F. Gary Gray, who brought us the upbeat “Friday.” With “Set It Off,” director Gray, working from a powerhouse screenplay by Kate Lanier and Takashi Bufford, has created a suspenseful tale of four women living on the edge, and the desperate measures they’re willing to take to keep their heads above water. Jada Pinkett, Queen Latifah, Vivica A. Fox and Kimberly Elise are outstanding as four black women with the cards stacked against them. Fox plays Frankie, a teller in a bank that is being robbed. When Frankie fails to follow procedure because she recognized one of the men, she is fired. Pinkett shines as Stony, who is willing to sell her body in order to help her brother get into college. Frankie and Stony go to work with their friends Cleo (Latifah) and Tisean (Elise) at an office maintenance company. Tisean needs money to prove to the county that she can support her child, while Cleo, a lesbian, needs money to keep her girl-toy in gifts. When the four women learn that one of their friends made of with $20,000 from a bank job, they decide to hit a few branches of their own. The way writers Lanier and Bufford keep stacking the deck against these women, you actually root them on as they move from one illegal withdrawal after another. The cast is uniformly outstanding, especially Pinkett, who knows how to get down. Queen Latifah is wonderful as the lesbian with a lust for fancy cars and hot, sweaty French kisses. Director Gray pumps up the action every chance he gets, creating moments of suspense that will leave you breathless. (Rated R/New Line Home Video)

DO THE HUSTLE…SEX IS SEX

Unflinching documentary about male street hustlers is an uncompromising look at an difficult subject. Jennifer Milici and Brian Bergen co-directed this fifty-minute eye-opener that deals honestly and openly about the pleasures and pain of being a male prostitute. The couple took their cameras to the street corners of New York, where they found numerous hustlers willing to talk about their trade. Most of the interviews are conducted on the streets, giving them a touch of urgency. The subjects are as varied as their different stories. Some are runaways. Some are immigrants. Some are opportunists who got caught in their own trap. The interviews are candid, even though it’s obvious that most of the hustlers are posturing for the camera. Even though there’s no actual nudity, the documentary strips down a lot of the myths surrounding male hustlers. These guys describe what it takes to survive on the streets, and how hard it is to leave the business. Some of their stories are sad, but all of them are interesting. This is real life exposed for all to see and experience. (Unrated/Water Bearer Films)

BAD AS THEY WANNA BE…HOLLYWOOD BAD BOYS NUDE AUDITIONS

There are two words that gay males hate to hear, especially when it comes to male revues: “Women Only.” There’s nothing more frustrating than seeing an advertisement for an all-male revue, only to find out that it’s for “Women Only.” Even more frustrating is going through all the effort to pass yourself off as a female to get in, only to find out that the “hunks” keep their “privates” private. There are numerous male stripper tapes on the market, but they all pale in comparison to Campfire Video’s latest release, “Hollywood Bad Boys Nude Auditions.” Hey, it’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it. Director Steve Malis has brought together six hunky male dancers and invited them to audition in front of a panel of judges who definitely didn’t wander over from “Star Search.” The dancers go through their nightclub routines, stripping down to their G-strings. Then they take off the G-string and finish the rest of their routine bare-ass naked. That’s when G-string becomes Gee-string! Malis serves as host, and gets things underway with a pep talk backstage. Then the dancers strip down so they can get dressed in their costumes. One by one, the dancers take to the stage and give the poles and chairs a mighty workout. There’s something for everyone. Long hair. Short hair. Big dicks. Small dicks. Soft dicks. Hard dicks. And lots of hunky butts mugging for the cameras. Malis keeps the action moving along, and then invites all six guys out on stage for a final bow. All six strip down again for a final look at the goods, and then you’re asked to log-on to the Campfire Video web site to vote for your favorite hunk. “Hollywood Bad Boys Nude Auditions” was shot so that it will appeal to both gay male and straight female audiences. (Unrated/Campfire Video)



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