Jul 10, 2011

[Movies] 200 American (2003)

200 American (2003)I feel there's a lack of sufficient movie "expertise" when it comes to LGBT-focused movies. Sure, there are fellow queer bloggers like me who try to get the word out about what movies are great and which ones aren't, but still they're rather few and far between. Front line critics like Roger Ebert don't exactly include the mostly direct-to-video LGBT movie market as part of their scope after all, at least not typically.

And thus I've amassed a rather large collection of LGBT movies that may or may not be good. I'm slowly finding out one movie at a time, but admittedly it's a long and sometimes painful process. But there are just so many of them out there floating amid the porn torrents that you eventually give in and take a gander. For the most part, we end up trusting either the recommendations of close friends or the personal comments made by the scant others who took the time to post a review for the movie in question.

I'm not claiming to be the new voice for LGBT movie discussion and critical thinking. But I am trying to do my part in helping other people figure out if a particular movie is worth the risk of getting into or not.

For this one, I'm definitely leaning towards no.

$200 American is a independent 2003 LGBT drama written and directed by Richard LeMay. You could call the movie a "no budget" endeavor - one where they didn't have money for post production clean-up, decent lighting or even money to pay the actors. In that sense I suppose it's more a labor of love more than anything else.

Conrad (Matt Walton) is a fairly successful advertising executive who has just broken up with his long time partner of three or so years. Still not accustomed to being back in the single life, he eventually contracts a hustler called Tyler, although he's actually Ian (Sean Matic) as an escort and eventually it becomes a regular deal. In time, Conrad learns more and more about Ian's history and why he got into hustling.

It turns out Ian is an Australian who is trying to find a way to stay in America. He shows an interest in photography and so Conrad takes things a step further and hires him as an aid at the company. This leads to Ian starting to feel an attraction for Michael (Anthony Ames), which naturally gets Conrad jealous. But a the same time he starts to try and smoothen things out with his ex, Martin (John-Dylan Howard). And thus the story unfolds.

Now despite the lack of funding, the movie does have some merits. There are those deliberate attempts to create some interesting shot angles here and there, although such attempts are marred by insufficient lighting and other related issues. The story did have potential and was definitely trying to go for an alternative track of sorts when it comes to gay movies. Especially given the movie did involve a hustler as one of its characters, it was interesting to note that it wasn't a sort porn adventure, if you get my drift.

Despite lack of payment though, the acting really could have been a lot better. A lot of the lines were delivered rather awkwardly and there was a distinct lack of connection between the two leads. Sure, it was a rent boy relationship, but the story wanted to imply a growing connection between the two outside the money and that didn't really come across all too clearly.

So this is all about lowering expectations. Knowing it's a very low budget film, you can only expect so much from the production after all. But at the same time, the lack of funding alone doesn't justify all the errors, especially in terms of some of the acting, direction and dialog. But believe me, I've see far worse movies (hello Sun Kissed?) and this was still survivable.

$200 American is a decent attempt at a different kind of gay movie but one that suffered more issues than just its lack of funding. It gets 2 tropey lesbian / fag hag friends out of a possible 5.


2 comments:

elmerlovesoreo said...

So you've been watching gay-themed movies lately. How about a list of your favorite gay-themed movies? :)

rOckY said...

I'll see what I can do - maybe that'll be a post in the near future, hehe.

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