DVD Reviews

Alex & Leo

The German-language gay romantic comedy Alex & Leo plays out better than most other recent releases of the same genre. But it’s not great, either. I guess what I like most about it, as I do with most foreign films, is that, if nothing else, I’m privy to cultural nuances and idioms I otherwise would probably not experience.

Leo is a “Plain-Jane” type of gay: frumpy clothing, a questionable self esteem setting off a shadowy appearance and a wash of naivety. He actually considers a reconciliation after he catches his boyfriend in a compromising position with a twink, under the pretense of sick sex-talk and a video camera, and then immediately after, being called “fat” by said lying, cheating boyfriend.

Alex, too, finds himself unattached after coming out to his four-year girlfriend — unfortunately it’s unclear why he does, so soon after a scathing discussion with his circle of homophobic friends.

The “our-eyes-met-from-across-the-room” circumstance under which Alex and Leo meet, and eventually, sleep together is borderline cliche; though the scene finding an intoxicated Leo fumbling for intimacy and Alex’s annoyance with the advances is oddly sweet, humorous and all too real. The chemistry between the leads isn’t exactly cohesive, but it does somehow exude a little charm. On the other hand, the supporting roles are clinched with an unapologetic, self-absorbed Jack MacFarlane-like character (Tobi), an ethically challenged therapist (Steffi Graff, seriously) and a booze-swiller named Kerstin.

Alex & Leo is the directorial debut from Yuri Garate, and the low-budget quality of the film is apparent: from the substandard lighting and uninspired sets to the poor character development and the even poorer subtitles.

If you’re an aficionado of queer foreign films then Alex & Leo will not completely disappoint, but if you’re not a fan, passing it up will not completely disappoint either.

Release Date: April 5

Vampire Boys

Who would believe that vampires do exist under the brilliance of the California sun with nothing more than a beautifully well-evened tan? “There are many myths about vampires that are false.” Oh lord! Director Charlie Vaughn’s romantic horror/thriller, Vampire Boys, is painstakingly lacking in so many areas that make a movie enjoyable.

Romance: Jasin (Jason Lockhart), a near 100-year-old pipsqueak of a vampire, must turn his soul mate Caleb (Christian Ferrer), a young college student who of course ran screaming from his small middle-American hometown to Los Angeles – wow, that hasn’t been beaten to death with a stick -to save his vampire lineage.

Jasin and Caleb feel, literally, an instant connection to each other through thoughts and dreams — at least some myths are factual. Their connection, however, is as electrifying as California sand on a brisk December day. Admittedly though, Lockhart is rather seductive and chivalrous in his delivery — my body tingled … but I think his smooth six-pack and pronounced V-cut helped.

Horror: There is only one scene of violence … well, that involves blood, contrary to what one might expect to be riddled with in a horror flick. The small, shirtless coven of vampires thwarts a mid-afternoon three-way with lifeless (sorry) passion, intensity and gore. The scene also includes terrible acting and gratuitous nudity (this being a plus or minus is debatable).

Thrill: Throughout the film, there is as much thrill as being on a broken down, amusement-park teacup ride; expectations going in may not include having the bejesus scared out of you, but at least a few momentary palpitations. The climactic ending is … well, quick on the draw and completely unsatisfying; the hellfire demon-fight is like seeing Buffy and Spike scuffle while on Xanax and pot.

“Well you die to live forever with me?” Seriously.

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