Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Seth Peterson, Bruce Davison, Chad Donella, Cindy Pickett, Brian J. Smith (II)
Genres: Mystery & Suspense
Nice guy accountant Robbie lives an idyllic life with his partner Trey in a quiet suburban neighborhood. But when a venomous neighbor moves in and starts harassing them, hate sparks violence. Recipient of the Best Feature ... more »
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"...And their blood shall be upon them..." - Leviticus
James Morris | Jackson Heights, NY United States | 11/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It is so seldom that a film tears directly at your gut that you forget from one such experience to the next just how involving and emotionally gripping a movie can really be. At the same time, it is unusual to find a suspense film that manages to keep you guessing and maintain your interest up to the conclusion of whatever puzzle a filmmaker has set up, especially when you've seen as many suspense films as I have. And it is genuinely thrilling to find a motion picture that can make you question your own values, or even incite you to approve of things you might not ordinarily condone.
Normally, I would be happy to find a movie that presents any of these merits, but for a film to embody all of these characteristics? I thought such a movie couldn't exist. Then I watched Hate Crime, and was utterly blown away.
Perhaps it's because, as a gay man, I identified wholly with the young, amiable same-sex couple in this film. Perhaps it's because I am sick of arguing with "well-intentioned" people of "faith", who think they know better than I do what course my life should take. Or perhaps it is because, I must admit, I think that fanatic religious fundamentalists - of whatever persuasion - are just about the most wholly evil and hypocritical people on the face of the earth. Whatever. All I know is, this picture hit me right in the chops, and kept right on hitting me until I thought couldn't take any more.
Robbie and Trey are a gay couple who have all the pluses. They live in a comfortable home, their union is accepted by their parents, their neighbors and family love them, and they are about to have a commitment ceremony. Suddenly, into their lives comes a new neighbor. The son of a Fundamentalist preacher moves in next door, and makes it plain that he does not approve of gay men. Within a few weeks, Trey is assaulted with a baseball bat while walking their dog, and abruptly their picture-perfect lives are shattered by the full force of unadulterated bigotry.
What happens next had me alternately crying, cringing, guessing at the next plot turn and sitting on the edge of my seat or applauding. I found myself doing all of these things several times, while being amazed that these emotions and reactions were all prompted by scenes in the same film, and sometimes within moments of each other. As this is a "suspense" film, I do not want to reveal too many details, but let me comment on just a few aspects of Hate Crime that I especially liked.
Although predictable to a point, the plot does not unfold as neatly as you would think. The narrative twists several ways, and I marveled at writer / director Tommy Stovall's ability to make me shake with fury one moment and feel supremely satisfied the next, only to find the story moving in places I wasn't sure I wanted it to go. The acting was all first rate, the direction taut and crisp and the details credible and as up to the minute as the lead story on the ten o'clock news. Even better, there were two or three scenes that I, as a gay man, found so wholly satisfying, that I was amazed the film dared to go there. One in particular was a scene where the screen alternates between a fire-and-brimstone sermon by Bruce Davison as the father of the lead homophobe, and a loving, life-affirming prayer service by a congregation devastated by the unspeakable violence in their midst. The contrast was there for all to see; the loving, forgiving healing God of the moderates versus the punishing, vindictive, fire-and-brimstone God of the hypocrites. Undeniable in its candor, I wish I could show that scene to everyone, everywhere.
Even more satisfying was a literal "slap in the face" to the wife of the preacher, who suggests that the hate crime victim made himself a target by his "lifestyle choice". Again, I've never seen a film quite go to the places this one did, and I have to admit it was a guilty pleasure.
Certain details were very hard to digest, not because they weren't plausible (and there were some stretches, I admit), but because I found myself feeling uncomfortable with the emotions and conflicts they evoked. Particularly difficult for me was the "revenge" aspect. I have always been against "vigilante" justice; no matter what cause or reason, I don't believe anyone can take the law into their own hands. In Hate Crime, the victim tries desperately to gain some satisfaction through legal means, and finding none, goes to great lengths to entrap the perpetrator into confessing, and only after all else fails, the guilty party is punished in a manner that is justly fitting. Hate Crime leaves no doubt that the murderer is guilty of a heinous, capitol crime, for which he may never otherwise be brought to justice. Even though I still do not approve of vigilantism, I must admit the revenge aspect of Hate Crime felt damn good. In order to underscore the justice of the climax, the hate crime is shown in a graphic, bloody scene that many will find hard to take, and the depravity of the killer is such that I found myself rooting for the exact conclusion proffered by the filmmaker, even against my own instincts and values. At the end, I was exhausted and shaken, and knocked over by the sheer, stomach-retching drama of it all.
There are those who will not like this film. It is of course "controversial" to suggest that a person who is a "servant of God" could be a liar and a hypocrite and a murderer. There are probably those who will decry it as mockery of "True Believers" and a few who will claim this film is a veritable tool of the devil.
Let them think what they want. I haven't been so entertained, so moved, so outraged or so satisfied by a film in a long, long time. This picture gets my vote, all the way.
A MUST SEE!
Michael Greenwaldt | 11/13/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"WOW! What a surprise! I thought it might be good due to the promising Roger Ebert quotes on the film's jacket, but I never expected it to be as good as it was. I thought it might be a little preachy like a lot of the low budget gay films that tread the same territory, but it manages not to be. It's a realistic portrayal of bigotry and how it affects the people it comes in contact with. This is easily the most important film of the year so far, and it should remain so by the end of the year. It's a drama/mystery/thriller that will keep you guessing until the end. It throws a few nice surprises our way, without becoming unrealistic.
This is a must see! It's unfortunate this film couldn't get more attention. It should be shown in schools. Copies should be donated to libraries too. I want to buy it and lend it out, and hopefully they'll tell others about it. Don't miss it!"
Powerful film shows hate and violence breeds more of the sam
Bob Lind | Phoenix, AZ United States | 01/20/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Robbie Levinson and Trey McCoy are your stereotypically-successful suburban "guppie" (Gay urban professional) couple, until Trey becomes the victim of a violent "Hate Crime" (2005). The likely suspect is tehir new bible-thumping neighbor, son of the local fundamentalist preacher, who had recently made anti-gay taunts against them, and has a history of homophobic acts. Robbie cannot believe that the police refuse to just arrest him based on the recent verbal bashing and implied threat, and works with friends to try to push the police into action.
A relatively low-budget indie first film by writer/producer/director Tommy Stovall, who managed to attract a mostly-experienced cast of actors who made the rather simplistic screenplay seem a lot better than it really is. Bruce Davidson is riveting as the fundamentalist preacher, and Seth Peterson shows considerable range as Robbie. The musical score is also impressive, including several new songs by writer/artist Ebony Tay. Personally, I was a bit turned off by the "Fight violence and hate with more violence and hate" message conveyed, though it could be commendable that it illustrates that gay men are not content to simply be victims. Overall, I give it four stars out of five."
Love, Intolerance, Justice
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 02/03/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Tommy Stovall makes a stunning debut as a writer and director for the very insightful, sensitive, and courageous film HATE CRIME. It is difficult to believe that this is his first attempt at cinematic communication, the film just works that well.
Robbie Levinson (Seth Peterson) and Trey McCoy (Brian J. Smith) have been in a successful relationship for six years, complete with home, cute and devoted dog, supportive parents and siblings, and especially funky supportive neighbor Kathleen Slansky (a major turn for veteran character actress Lin Shaye). They are approaching their commitment ceremony and even talking about adopting children when the sky darkens with the moving in of next door neighbor Chris Boyd (Chad Donella), a stormy right wing bible-thumping homophobe who catches a glimpse of Robbie's and Trey's affection. When Trey is walking their dog in the park one evening he is beaten severely with a baseball bat: the obvious suspect is neighbor Chris.
Kathleen warns Robbie that justice will never be achieved in the hands of the law and sets of a sense of revenge in Robbie's mind. Trey lies in a coma in the hospital while his mother (a superb Cindy Pickett) is shaken not only form her only son's tenuous condition but also from her recovering alcoholic husband's (Sean Hennigan) flat affect and continued lack of communication. A fine young detective Elizabeth Fisher (Farah White) does what she can to attempt to gather the shaky facts of evidence of Chris' guilt, but is thwarted by the entry of Detective Esposito (Giancarlo Esposito) who has homophobic issues of his own.
Chris' father, Pastor Boyd (Bruce Davison) rants from his pulpit that all sinners - especially fornicators - must be punished by God and Chris supports his father's preachings and actions, as does his beautiful bimbo mother Martha (Susan Blakely). As facts are found and everyone surrounding Trey's beating is suspect, the story gathers momentum in the true fashion of the best detective mysteries. Dark secrets appear from every corner and eventually the crime is 'resolved', but not without many surprises as to the perpetrator and the motivation.
The entire cast is excellent from the leading roles to the cameos and Stovall keeps the pace at a breathtaking speed. Yes, there are some gaping holes in the script, giving us the feeling that Stovall had to pare down his story to the 104 minutes it takes. But what he does accomplish is a masterly look at strident right wing religious views of gays while balancing those with compassionate religious views by the more moderate and love-oriented factions. He raises a lot of issues, leaves many concepts unresolved intentionally, and draws performances from his committed cast that rank with the finest. This is a film that SHOULD be viewed by a wide audience. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, February 07