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Reviews: March 16, 2008

16 Mar, 2008 By: Home Media Reviews

Street 3/18

The Seeker
Street 3/18

Tripping the Rift: The Movie
Street 3/25

Quick Take: Georges M?li?s; First Wizard of Cinema

Grizzly Tales: A Tangled Web/Dr. Moribundus
Prebook 3/19; Street 4/22

Street 3/25

Street 3/18

Boys Love
Street 3/18
Picture This, Drama, $24.95 DVD, NR.
In Japanese with English subtitles.

In Japan, there is a style of manga called Boys Love, aka yaoi, which features erotica and romantic stories about men for a primarily female audience. The men are incredibly handsome in that anime style, all sharp cheekbones and stylish coifs. One is usually the aggressor, a bit more macho and masculine, while the other is the pursued, more feminine and probably in his first homosexual relationship.

Boys Love follows this formula to a T. The story is unabashedly romantic and tragic, the type of story that would melt a starry-eyed teenage girl's heart.

Taishin (Yoshikazu Kotani), a young editor, is sent to interview Noel (Saito Takumi), a male model still in high school. Noel forces himself upon Taishin, and though Taishin is initially upset, a deep friendship and love develops between the pair. Noel's childhood friend Chidori (Hiroya Matsumoto), however, can't stand to see his friend — and object of affection — in love with another.

For the amount of bare butts and sex we see Noel engage in with strangers, the romance between Taishin and Noel is surprisingly chaste and full of honor. It's a unique entry in the gay romance market; there's no coming-out story, flamboyant friends or hot ‘n' sweaty nightclubs. The forbidden nature of the union — both their genders and ages — is treated as a sort of sexy hurdle. The foreignness of the film lends a unique appeal.

Watching many films in this genre could get tiresome — the naivet?, the gooey romance, the silly tragic ending — but as an anomaly in the U.S. gay film market, this title will surely find interest from audiences seeking a new type of erotic romance. Many may look forward to director Kotaro Terauchi's follow-up, also called Boys Love and starring Kotani, which is set in a boarding school. – Laura Tiffany

Sister Aimee: The Aimee Semple McPherson Story
Prebook 3/21; Street 4/22
Maverick, Drama, $16.98 DVD, NR.
Stars Mimi Michaels, Joe Gonzalez, Rance Howard.

Of all the strange Hollywood scandal stories that kept tabloids and gossip hounds busy during the first part of the 20th century, one of the more-notorious stories had nothing to do with movies. The odd tale of famed evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson is set in the world of organized religion.

McPherson was a Los Angeles evangelist and founder of the Foursquare Church. She preached to the seriously faithful every Sunday, aided by radio transmitters at her church. Known for her dramatic style and supposed power to heal through God's will, McPherson also was known to allow non-whites into her following, leading to threats from white-supremacist organizations.

Her personal life made McPherson equally as famous, especially her alleged affair with a fellow church worker. When McPherson disappeared from a Los Angeles beach one day in 1926, she was presumed drowned. When she showed up some time later and claimed she had been kidnapped, the story didn't hold up under scrutiny, and accusations were made that she was off with her lover.

The full truth of the incident remains a mystery, but McPherson's Foursquare Church organization still stands, though she died long ago.

Sister Aimee employs a camcorder to fictionalize the story, and a sepia tone designed to match the filmmaking style of the period. The story takes us through McPherson's journey from agnostic to believer. Michaels plays the title role with a believable, spooky innocence.

Though the movie sometimes looks as low-budget as it really is, the story remains fertile for exploration, and this film frequently captivates and engages, reminding us again that celebrity gossip wasn't invented yesterday. — Dan Bennett

Beatles: The Journey
Elvis on Elvis
Johnny Cash: The Line

Street 3/18
Well Go USA, Music, $12.98 DVD each, NR.

This series of biographies of music legends may be unofficial, but they contain a lot of material that should appeal to true fans. At $12.98 each, the price sure is right.

The programs are cobbled together through a combination of interviews and archival footage most people probably haven't seen. The quality of the recordings varies due to the obscure nature of the footage. Some of it comes from home movies, some from kinescope recordings off of televisions. As far as libraries of random footage go, these are more watchable than most.

Musical performances are thrown in for good measure. Beatles: The Journey contains no original Beatles music but does offer a few songs aping the Beatles' style.

Johnny Cash: The Line runs for just less than an hour; Elvis on Elvis and Beatles: The Journey each clock in at just less than two hours. The Elvis disc also includes bonus footage.

Elvis on Elvis covers the entire life of The King, from him discussing his childhood ambitions, to friends describing his last days. Johnny Cash: The Line gives us footage of various ceremonies honoring Cash before his death.

About half of Beatles: The Journey is devoted to reactions to the deaths of John Lennon and George Harrison. The Lennon section offers not only a remembrance of a music producer who was set to meet with Lennon the night he died, but also a chilling interview with Mark David Chapman, Lennon's killer. John Latchem

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