Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Last Year|
Actors: Ron Petronicolos, Mike Dolan, Patrick Orion Hoesterey, Merrick McMahon, Elizabeth Flesh
Director: Jeff London
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Gay & Lesbian
Heartfelt and heartrending
M. FUSCO | NEW YORK, NY | 04/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a lovely discovery! This bittersweet little film by Jeff London
examines the lives of three young gay men at various stages of being
out, attending a 'Christian' college.
Hector (Merrick McMahon) has been outed, is being persecuted by the
Dean and his jock henchmen, and shunned by classmates. Alex (gentle and
winning Mike Dolan) is new at the school, though a senior, because his
father hopes the religious environment will cure him of 'a certain
young man' from home. Beautiful and troubled Paul (played perfectly by
Ron Petronicolos) is deep in the closet after being compromised in a
library restroom over the summer. He hides his homosexuality at first,
but soon tells his room-mate and best friend Robby (Patrick Hoesterey).
Robby is straight, and unpleasantly surprised, but quickly overcomes
his reservations because of his love for Paul.
The four boys become a little family and try to protect each other from
the violence, intolerance, hate, and hypocrisy that surrounds them.
Each character is lovingly drawn, and they all change in remarkable
ways. Alex falls in love with Paul and leads him towards the light of
self-realization and personal commitment. Hector, unfortunately, is not
so lucky. They are all watched over by St. Jude, who appears briefly in
one of the dearest moments in the film.
There are flaws and stretches of credulity in the story, but the
overwhelming sincerity and heartfelt nature of the writing and acting
negate such quibbles.
The outtakes are serendipitous, nicely edited and really funny --
happily so after the seriousness of the film. The interviews reveal the
actors to be just as sweet, supportive, humorous, and genuine as they
are on screen."
A Good, LOW-BUDGET, INDEPENDENT Film
Soldier Boy | Iraq | 09/09/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I thought this film was very good...for a low budget independent film. The acting was good overall, though hardly Oscar worthy. The lighting, sound, and video quality were ok. The film is about 3 gay men who find themselves at a very conservative bible college. It deals with the repression, harassment, difficulties, and stresses that exist in such environments, especially when one is coming to terms with being gay. It also explores the friendship, loyalty, happiness, hope, joys, love, and beauty that can develop even in the harshest of places. People considering buying this film should understand that this is a low budget, independent film. It should not be compared with films that have much, much bigger budgets and a lot more resources but instead should be judged for what the actors, writers, directors, and other crewmembers managed to accomplish with the resources at their disposal. I think they did a very good job!
I don't understand a lot of the harsh criticism about this film. I certainly don't believe the "review" that claimed that the owner of a small video chain was removing this video from all his stores because of all the complaints. This is pure bunk!!! I believe that there is more to these types of reviews than meets the eye. Perhaps the "critics" of this film object to the context of this film and the message it sends out. Believe it or not, things like what happened in this film DO happen. I am not a bible-thumping Christian nor am I an atheist. I have no agenda. I'm just a regular guy who enjoys good movies, even low budget ones!!!
I bought this film despite some misgivings. I really believed a lot of the bad stuff that had been written about this film, but decided that it would be, at best, good for a good laugh. Throughout the film, I kept waiting for all of the "bad and horrible" acting, directing, sound and light quality that some "reviewers" said were in this film but none of it ever showed up. To be fair, this film was not perfect. It DID have some major flaws and stuff, but hey, how many "thumbs up" Hollywood films do as well??? And a lot of these bad Hollywood films have huge budgets. This film had a small budget - I can't stress this enough!!!
Generally speaking, I think that the people involved in this film, from the director to the actors to the writers, all did a very good job. This is why I give this film 4 outta 5 stars. I recommend this film. Check it out!!!
A story that needed to be told!
Fabiano Fabris | New York, NY | 05/24/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"From a technical viewpoint, this must rank as one of the worst movies I have ever seen. The "feel" was like that of a soap opera, the sound poor, and script, well... let's not go there.
However, the story itself is powerful and important. At last, someone had the guts to show the bigotry, hypocrisy and outright hate of the religious right in America, which cherry-picks from the bible in order to justify homophobia, while ignoring other equally important messages in the bible. The fact that their bile can result in innocent loss of life is immaterial to them.
From this point of view, "The Last Year" outclasses 90% of all other movies, including so-called "blockbusters", which are generally devoid of any real substance or meaning. So... well done, and thanks for having made this film!"
A Fairly Good Story Distorted by Extremes
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 04/18/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Jeff London ('Regarding Billy') seems to be a director and writer who is committed to investigating the various degrees of problems young gay men face as they live in a homophobic society. His films resound with an honest feeling but too often he settles for stereotypes at both ends of the spectrum and that tends to weaken his work.
The setting is a Bible College somewhere in America where hunky Paul (Ron Petronicolos) is entering his 'last year' of study, his summer having been disrupted by an incident that is revealed later in the story. He re-joins his longtime roommate Robby (Patrick Orion Hoesterey) but keeps asking about his good friend Hector (Merrick McMahon), a subject no one wants to address. He meets Hector's roommate Alex (Mike Dolan) and gradually Alex lets Paul know that he is gay. Paul learns that the Bible College has discovered Hector is gay and the Dean (Rand Smith) and his henchmen are out to have Hector expelled. Paul's changed ways are noted by Robby and he finally confides that his summer incident was a gay experience in a restroom - a fact that Robby finds repulsive at first but soon comes to support Paul's anguish about his parent's disapproval and punishment.
As Paul's feelings for living who he really is surface he finds solace and sanctuary with Alex and the two become lovers. The Dean's spies gradually intimidate the group of four (Paul, Alex, Hector and Robby) and disciplinary action is taken. Among Paul's discoveries in his rebellion against the Bible College's stance against gays is the fact that the dean is a closet case and that is the reason for the rough action against Hector (with whom the dean had an assignation). It all comes to a tragic end for some and a sense of freedom for others - to find out who belongs to which category requires watching the film!
The movie has its moments, due largely to the ability of the actors Petronicolos, Dolan, and McMahon, but it sadly is buried by otherwise mediocre to poor acting from the rest of the cast. The work of Rand Smith, Penelope Ma (who plays the dean's wife), and Lawrence Rinzel (who plays Paul's father) is particularly weak just when strong acting could have supported the flimsier portions of the script. London needed to spend more thought on Bible Colleges, finding that more razor sharp line between right wing bias against gays instead of opting for the usual clich?s that are found everywhere. That dividing line among young men challenged by sexual identity would have made a far more successful film. But the film is worth watching for the performances of the three lead actors - strong young men each! Grady Harp, April 06"