Commentary

November 22, 2013

Fly Over: ‘Bridegroom’, and ‘V/H/S/2′

Bridegroom-movie-poster

On Netflix:

‘Bridegroom’

It’s been a year of joyful tears, celebration and relief for members of the gay community with the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Defense of Marriage Act, but it wasn’t always this way.
A friend of mine recommended I watch a documentary titled “Bridegroom.” She said the movie touched her heart and brought a few tears.
I also saw several of my friends “liking” the documentary on my Facebook newsfeed, so I decided to watch it.
The documentary first introduces a man named Shane Bitney Crone from Montana. It chronicles his early childhood, when he realized he was gay and how it affected him at the time.
After watching a movie called “Philadelphia,” Crone went from being a child full of energy and pizzazz to one who was quiet and withdrawn. The movie gave Crone the misconception that because he was gay, he was sick with AIDS. Because of this, there were several instances where Crone would have panic attacks, causing his parents to become concerned.
His parents got the help of a therapist, who concluded the cure for all the panic attacks was for Crone to accept that he was gay. Although his parents were in shock and disbelief at first, they accepted him for who he was and still loved him unconditionally.
The documentary then transitions to Indiana where a man named Tom Bridegroom grew up. He too grew up in a traditional family.
Bridegroom’s father is prior military and served in Vietnam, which influenced Bridegroom’s decision to attend the Culver Military Academy. Bridegroom was an all-American boy. He was popular, involved in sports and always the center of attention, but there was one thing about Bridegroom not many knew. He was gay.
The storyline continues in Hollywood, Calif., to where Crone and Bridegroom have both moved. Crone is found in California as a skinny, curly haired, small town teenager who is shy and reserved but has a small town charm to him.
Bridegroom is almost the opposite of Crone and is described as charismatic, gorgeous, confident and a bit cocky at times. The two are introduced by close friends and exchange numbers that same night.
Almost instantly, Crone and Bridegroom grow close in friendship and would talk for hours on the phone. The friendship turns into a relationship and they begin living together. Their friends describe them as the perfect couple with a love many dreamed of having.
Although not legally married, Crone and Bridegroom share a life together as any heterosexual married couple would. They had shared accounts, a business and a place together. The only difference was they didn’t have the same rights and benefits as a heterosexual married couple. This would later affect them in a horrifying way.
While today it is becoming more socially acceptable to be gay, it is still an everyday struggle for those who have grown up in areas where there aren’t many gay people or for the family members of those who are gay.
The film is great because it’s a true story about two small town boys and their experiences growing up and journeys discovering and accepting who they really are.
It takes a lot for me to shed a few tears but this movie brought them out. I loved the film for its honesty. It’s real and told by the friends and family members from both sides.
The film has won the audience awards at the TriBeca Film Festival and was introduced on the Oprah Winfrey Network for its official television premiere Oct. 27.
The film is currently only available to stream on Netflix.
“Bridegroom” is rated R for some language.

 
VHS2-poster

On Netflix:

‘V/H/S/2′

In 2012, a horror anthology was released called “V/H/S.” As a fan of horror, found-footage style of filmmaking, and anthologies, I of course checked it out (when it was free on Netflix. I’m no rookie.) It was awful, save for the decent segment they ended it on, and I was devastated. So, naturally, when they announced “V/H/S/2,” I knew to avoid it … Yeah, of course I watched it (when it was free on Netflix), and to quote a great critic: “It stinks.”
The overarching story that connects the different segments together involves two private detectives who break into a house in search of any clues that’ll help them find a missing student. Instead, they find a series of video tapes, and a prerecording of the student telling them to watch said tapes. They do so, only to find that each tape consists of a horrible event caught on camera, ranging from cult activity, alien abductions and an uprising of the undead.
Perhaps the word “story” is an inappropriate word; I still have no idea what the deal is with all these video tapes. Each segment, save maybe for the one involving the cult, seems to be based more around an “idea” rather than a written story. The final segment, for example, is mostly just one long, and incredibly loud, chase sequence that just isn’t interesting. The other two have neat gimmicks (even if the one involving a literal eyeball camera is incredibly hard to swallow), but that’s about it. Both try to have that human element to keep the viewer invested, but they were either weakly done or unintentionally funny.
What I did like about the cult segment was that it took its time building the atmosphere before showing off the horrors, which is pretty good considering it was one of five stories happening in a single film, though it still suffers from a rushed (if intense) ending. It’s probably the only reason this film gets a solid half star. And what was with the strange focus on zombies in half the segments? They could’ve been replaced with something much more interesting.
The acting is nothing to write home about, but here I go anyway.
Near as I can tell, there are no recognizable actors here, which isn’t a bad thing in itself, but there was no charisma from the characters. In fact, the majority of the characters were pretty unlikable, and the ones that didn’t have any real personality at all became my favorites because at least they weren’t sleeping with their best friend’s fiancé or just plain rude. Charisma could make even those kinds of characters likable, but their traits and actions are all we really have to go on. To paraphrase another great critic, it’s not horror if you’re not horrified seeing people you care about suffer.
I have to hand it to “V/H/S/2” for using practical effects. I’m not a CGI snob, but kudos for that. I can’t praise the film style, however. As I’ve said, I like the found-footage technique, and it can be done well if it’s used to put the viewer in the character’s position without sacrificing their view of the action.
“V/H/S/2” somehow manages to fail at both, and while I was aware that someone was holding the camera (or was the camera … ugh …), I still felt completely disconnected from the events taking place. Another problem, at least with the cult segment, is that there were so many points-of-view that I would sometimes get confused on whose camera I was supposed to be looking through. Also, I do not appreciate the gratuitous use of nudity and gore. It’s better than the first film in that respect, but I can tell when the movie is using both just for the sake of it.
“V/H/S/2” is a waste of time, and nothing was really fixed from the first installment. When “V/H/S/3” inevitably comes out, I will gladly skip it … I won’t, but then this is my job.
“V/H/S/2” is rated R for violence, gore, frightening images (I guess), nudity and foul language.




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