Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Benjamin Patrick, Michelle E. Michael, John Frazier, Devashish Saxena, Ethel Lung
Director: Yen Tan
Genres: Drama, Gay & Lesbian
A dramatic tale of two days in the lives of five very different people born on the same day. Overflowing with emotion and understanding, this american indy film mixes gay and lesbian issues with personal issues of love an... more »
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ADAM R BROWN | Santa Rosa, CA United States | 01/20/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"It's true! You can't judge a book by it's cover. The cover of this "film" looked interesting with accolades from multiple gay and lesbian film festivals. First of all, this is not a film. It's a video (even though it says it's a film all over the cover). And it's shot entirely in black and white (to look artsy). NOTE: THERE WAS NO FILM STOCK USED IN THE PRODUCTION OF THIS VIDEO! Secondly, to be honest, I've seen better acting in .. than in this movie. I expected it to be one at times by the way it's formatted, but I don't even get that pleasure. It says it's well-acted on the cover. Don't make me laugh! The last thing I'd like to mention is that the subject matter tried too hard to be deeply dramatic, but left me feeling empty. Not draining... ...just empty like I invested my life savings to purchase a happy meal. Additionally, the situations potrayed in this movie seem a little outdated (unless you're in the midwest). I would accept this film if it were a high school project, but it's not. :o( I gave it one star to give Yen Tan credit for trying. Don't waste your money on this DVD! There are plenty more GLBT indie films out there that are more worth your while. Go watch the latest gay show on Showtime. You'll get more out of it than this."
Stephen G. | Oklahoma City, OK | 05/29/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I had seen previews for Happy Birthday on a few other gay films I had bought off Amazon, and was excited to come across it at the local video rental store. However, any excitement wore off quickly as the film progressed. The complete story line is told on the back of the DVD... which sounds interesting until you realize that nothing else happens to any of the characters in the movie. Every character has one semi-predictable main issue in their life that slowly unfolds as scenes cut from scene to scene, but other than that you're just left with a lot of cheap looking black and white home movie type footage of bad actors sometimes appearing to be reading their lines. Even the sound is poorly done... characters fade in and out, echo like a home video would, and there is a lot of ambient noise (air conditioner, etc.).Definitely quite a feat for a first time full length movie for the producer, but this should have been work for his portfolio, not for general release. The concept is awesome but it isn't well executed mainly because the `single issue' main characters come across as stereotypical (how many gay pornstar characters do we really need in movies?) and there are simply too many to keep up with. I look forward to what is coming next from Yen Tan but wouldn't recommend Happy Birthday."
Amos Lassen | Little Rock, Arkansas | 08/15/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
Amos Lassen and Cinema Pride
For a debut film, Yen Tan's "Happy Birthday" is provocative but with flaws. It is composed of a shifting narrative which centers on five gay/lesbian characters who all share a common birthday. The film looks at the darkest issues that each character deals with. There are so
me excellent performances here and the story s both diverse and detailed, totally real and a powerful attempt t show us something deeper than the typical shallow themes we have had to deal with.
Underlying the film are the sub themes of self-esteem and self-hatred, cultural clashes with religious and ethnic differences, how we see our bodies as well as gay immigrants. The actors often perform self-examination with an intensity that is in no way subtle. This makes the film appear t be something of a soap opera.
Honesty is the key word here--the characters are totally believable. The five stories that are presented are usual in context but moving nonetheless. The movie is not optimistic in any way and only one of the five character's story shows any promise of resolution. None of the five have a happy ending. The music also adds to the mood--it is beautiful but full of sorrow.
I totally could identify with the movie. It made me remember wasted chances ad how things have turned out in my life. Events seem to determine the course our lives take. What director Yen Tan gives us is a thoughtful look into what makes up the homosexual psyche.
The usual clichés and stereotypes are there but the feelings of the amateur cast are all real. I found myself cheering for the characters as they went through some rough periods and I shared their sadness as well.
I actually felt that I was watching three days in the lives of five different people. Watching real life is never easy and watching the actors here was a very real experience.
Simply beautiful and very interesting is a movie that we all should see and think about. Watching the actors inspect themselves causes us to do the same and there could be a reward in that.
It doesn't work
Davalon | Tokyo | 07/18/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Like other reviewers, I thought this was going to be a unique, fresh indie film with gay themes. From the first moment of video, bad lighting, bad sound, questionable acting, I thought: "What?!"
I fell asleep in this "film" twice and was only awoken because a phone goes off several times.
I try hard to support indie film, but people who do these projects have got to understand: 1) You don't just point and shoot; 2) the sound MUST be stellar; 3) You don't use flourescent room lighting; 4) if someone is in another room and you are shooting through an open door looking upon that room, you mike it from where the actors are standing, not from where the camera is; 5) if actors are going to "ad lib" then make sure it is worth listening to; and... well, you get the idea.
Maybe it looked good on paper, but it didn't work for me."