Film Review: Burning Blue
Update: I wanted to mention that I found it interesting this gay film was NOT listed in the new release section of Verizon Fios On Demand when I watched it. The film had no adult material, especially not compared to other new releases in the new release section. And it was released in theaters and on demand at the same time. Just interesting. It's not like there are that many gay films from which to choose on Verizon Fios...virtually none. This film was buried in the Indie Section.
After posting about the new "Gay Top Gun" movie, Burning Blue, yesterday, I made a point of watching it last night on demand. From what I gather, it's being released in theaters and on demand at the same time. I was eager to watch it partly because I wrote a gay erotic romance, Big Bad and On Top, and partly because I really wanted to see how the subject matter would be handled. Most of the film takes place in the 1990's when gays in the military were under very strict scrutiny with Don't Ask Don't Tell. And this particular story was a play that opened in London's West End, and is allegedly based on real life investigations regarding same sex activities of US Navy Fighter pilots.
First, and I think important, this film isn't a gay romance or any other kind of romance. I posted that it was last night because the piece I linked to got it hugely wrong. This is a gay drama that gets very intense at times, and even though there is a love story I didn't actually get emotionally invested in any of the characters. In fact, I wasn't even sure who was going to fall in love with whom until the last quarter of the film. And the one character that I liked the most turned out to be straight. I'm really not fooling around about this. There's a main character, a best buddy, and a new guy who shows up. At times I thought the best buddy was jealous of the new guy. At times I thought the real romance would break out with the main character and the best buddy. When I finally did figure it out I wasn't totally disappointed, but it would have been nice to at least know who was gay in the film and who wasn't. I'm actually still not sure if a minor character in the story was gay.
And then there were also those scenes in this film when I had that WTF moment. It happened first during a short leave when the main character and the new guy arrive in NY's port. At first, the new guy took the main character up to the top of a building in NY to see the Empire State building because the MC had never been to New York. I even adjusted myself in my chair, thinking here it comes: the actual romance, and up on a roof top over looking Manhattan no less. But it turned out to be a partially romantic moment that could have been so much better. Nothing happened. They took an old time selfie with an old time camera and that was that, as they say. I really wanted to feel something for these guys at that point.
After they see the Empire State building, they head off to a bar. This was another WTF moment for me, a big one. They are still being cagey with each other and we still aren't even sure they are gay because one is married. So they're in this bar talking about life and other unemotional things when a woman walks up to them and basically seduces them right at the bar. They both get all excited about this and go off with her. The next thing I knew they were both in some other loud bar with disco music, dancing with other women, and even dancing with themselves. And just when I'm thinking there's going to be something intimate between them they wind up going to bed...in the same room and bed...with two women and I guess having sex with both women side by side. You never actually see any sex.
The problem with this scene was that it went much deeper than what I was viewing at the time. I won't give out any spoilers, but I will say that this scene, like many others in the film, did make sense at the end of the film. It's just that they circled the proverbial airport so many times with scenes like this I kept looking over at Tony and asking, "Are they serious? Would something like that ever happen in real life?" I don't think it would have hurt the storyline or the suspense if they'd let us know exactly what was happening to the characters.
In full disclosure I might be a bit too critical because I write gay romance and I was expecting to see a gay romance because of the way it was promoted to me. There weren't even any significant minor sex scenes. The one scene where the new guy finally decides to leave his wife happened so fast I had to rewind the kiss just to see if it actually happened. I also found that women were treated oddly, as if they are pets. I don't know a better word for this. The new guy's wife had practically no lines at all, and she just seems to appear at certain moments only to vanish again for the rest of the film. But even more, when the new guy finally does grab the MC and kiss him, the MC pushes him away and tells him he doesn't have time and wants to wait until later to play around. Who does that? Seriously. Two big strong strapping young gay men have been longing for each other for God knows how long and when the more dominant one is ready to throw the more submissive one down, the submissive one tells him to go home and they'll meet up later. Once again, another WTF moment for me.
And now here is the real surprise in this review. I didn't actually hate the film. The parts of the film that focused on what it was really like to be in the military during Don't Ask Don't Tell, and how it was a witch hunt for so many gay people really did ring true and capture my complete attention. There were no WTF moments there. Unfortunately, all of the most intense moments like this where I really started to feel something for the characters happened at the very end of the film when they pulled the storyline together.
I would recommend it. If I were going to rate it I would give it three stars out of five. The performances were good, the setting seemed accurate to me, and it wasn't the slowest two hours of my life. I just wanted more information. I think others might even be more critical of this film than I've been. I think some might even roast it. If I wrote a gay romance like this I would get slammed from one end of cyber space to the other. And I think that's the main thing to consider when viewing this film: it's not a gay romance with a happy ending. It's a film that takes on a serious topic and handles it with respect. You might get a little frustrated at times, but I don't think you're going to be completely disappointed. (At least I hope not.)
No Bad Reviews for Jim Donovan
I was doing something I rarely do in Sunday mornings this morning. I turned on the TV and watched a few minutes of a local Philadelphia news show. My coffee almost went up my nose when this one reporter, Jim Donovan, started talking about reviews. Not book reviews. He was talking about business reviews...and the fact that some companies (and doctors) are making customers sign contracts with clauses that forbid them to leave bad reviews. The woman the reporter interviewed this morning had a bad wedding experience, left a bad review, and found herself in breach of contract. She ultimately took the review down to avoid anything litigious.
Here's a link where you can view the report online. Good old Jim Donovan is one of those reporters with the I'm going to save you from the world job...but I'm not going to give you all the details attitude. The entire report is somewhat misleading. They even state that the client couldn't leave a review because of the contract. That's not true. The client signed a contract stating that she couldn't leave a "disparaging" review. The fact that she didn't read the entire contract was not highlighted in the piece. I don't know about anyone else, but I read every single thing I sign. Everything.
But she felt bullied because she couldn't leave a bad review.
Don't get me wrong. I've left bad reviews for many products I've purchased. I left a scathing review for that magic green hose that is supposed to change your life forever. So I'm by no means against leaving bad product or service reviews. But I'm also a huge supporter of the fact the ignorance of the law is no excuse. In this case, she didn't read the contract and she should have. If Donovan had wanted to do a good report he would have focused more on why there are clauses like this in contracts instead of defending a woman who didn't seem to want to take responsibility for her actions. Once again, she signed a contract. A legal binding contract.
If you do a search for this topic you'll actually find many things written about it. Evidently, many companies are now asking people to sign contracts with clauses stating they can't leave negative reviews. I actually don't agree with that. And I think this is just one more example of how the entire review system is not only flawed, but a huge waste of time. I was once asked by the people who installed my granite to leave a good review for them. I did. They did a great job installing my granite counters. The reason they asked me to do this was because their competitors were leaving bad reviews about them...fake bad reviews...to make them look bad. It happens all the time to these businesses. I've already posted several times about how companies also leave great fake reviews for themselves, or they get friends and family members to do it to balance out the fake bad reviews. What other choice do they have to fight back against the online corruption in the Wild West days of the Internet? Unfortunately, what we're getting as consumers are nothing but both good and bad fake reviews.
I'm starting to think that the only way to make it all more honest is to state that all reviews must be left with a real name and a real identity. I'm all for anonymity. I encourage people to comment anonymously here on the blog as long as it's civil. However, the honor system of online reviewing is not working. And I can't think of a better solution than to review with a real name and identity.
Also, make sure you always read every single line in a contract. You never know what might be in there.