Film/DVD

Brothers in Arms

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As more troops deploy to Afghanistan, the release of Altman’s ‘Streamers’ proves provocatively timely. Plus DVD Shorts.

By Steven Foster and Nancy Ford

Initially performed in 1975 (before moving to a successful Broadway run a year later), it has taken more than 15 years to bring Robert Altman’s screen version of David Rabe’s hit Streamers to DVD. The venerable auteur Altman has filmed stage plays before, most famously with Come Back to The Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean Jimmy Dean, but whereas that play was heavy on estrogen, Streamers features more testosterone-fueled drumming.

The work is dated for sure, but the transfer is crisp and vivid and the subject matter painfully universal. The real kick is seeing this young cast in fine form under Altman’s skilled direction.

Comedian David Alan Grier gives a strong turn as the African-American middle-class Roger, out actor (and son of famed painter) Mitchell Lichtenstein stars as the sexually-struggling Richie, and Altman favorite Matthew Modine plays backwoods Billy.

Rabe’s trademark cracklingly aggressive dialogue is perfectly on display here, as it is with previous works such as Hurlyburly, another play that doesn’t quite seem as fresh as it once did. But with the weight of war hanging heavy on the country, Streamers’ tale of young men heading directly into harm’s way holds a firm grip and a sad poignancy. FYI, the title gruesomely refers to parachutes that fail to open.

So if you’re looking for a Bush-y “Mission Accomplished” ra-ra propaganda film, you might want to look elsewhere.

Available Jan. 19 from Shout! Factory (shoutfactory.com). —by Steven Foster

Steven Foster profiles Cheyenne Jackson and Sam Phillips in this issue of OutSmart magazine.
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DVD Shorts
by Nancy Ford

Glee Season 1: Road to Sectionals
Just when you thought high school choruses couldn’t get any gayer comes this gem of a sitcom starring Jane Lynch, one of the funniest lesbians to ever blow a coach’s whistle. Bonus material includes the director’s cut of the series pilot. 2009. Twentieth Century Fox (fox.com).

Kathy Griffin: She’ll Cut a Bitch
If you’re a KG fan (duh), you’ve likely already seen The D-List diva’s hysterical sixth Bravo special. But you haven’t seen the bonus feature footage about Sarah Palin, the Octomom, and Griffin’s own mom that are too racy for even Bravo to air. Paul Miller directs. 2009. Jan. 12. Shout! Factory (shoutfactory.com).

A Finished Life: The Goodbye and No Regrets Tour
Diagnosed with AIDS, Greg Gour didn’t need a death panel to tell him how to end his life. This documentary reveals how he wrenched every last drop of pleasure out of life by embarking on a cross-country “farewell” trip. Michelle Boyaner and Barbara Green direct. 2008. First Run Features (firstrunfeatures.com).

The Butch Factor
Is it physical? Emotional? Olfactory? This documentary exploring the definition of the male side of the term “butch” is deconstructed by a coterie of those who should know: muscle men, rodeo riders, rugby players, cops, among others. Christopher Hines directs. 2009. Jan. 19. Wolfe Video (wolfevideo.com).

Shank
In this sexy action drama, Cal (Wayne Virgo) sublimates his true gay self with drugs and violence so his fellow gang members don’t suspect his true nature. Then Cal falls in love with a victim of the brutality that had so far seemed to define him. Simon Pearce directs. 2009. TLA Releasing (tlareleasing.com).

Lion’s Den (Leonera)
What is worse for a mother: to raise her child under her own watchful eye while she is in prison doing time for murder, or to surrender her child to her estranged mother to raise? Pablo Trapero directs. Spanish with English subtitles. 2007. Strand Releasing (strandreleasing.com).

Humpday
Mark Duplass and Joshua Leonard star as former college pals who, though now all grown up, can’t resist the intoxicating lure of “a dare.” This comedic examination of male ego combined with the heady subject of amateur porn won Sundance 2009’s Special Jury Prize. Lynn Shelton directs. 2009. Magnolia Pictures (magpictures.com).

Redwoods
Will the arrival of a handsome stranger, the appropriately named Chase, at their sylvan homestead be sufficient temptation to lure the distant Everett away from his enduring partner, Miles, in this metaphor-laden drama? David Lewis directs. 2009. TLA Releasing (tlareleasing.com).

The Headless Woman (La mujer sin cabeza)
Did the bourgeois young dentist indeed accidentally run over a young boy, is she sleepwalking, or what? Lucrecia Martel writes and directs this chilling parable starring the popular Argentinean film star Maria Onetto and Claudia Cantero. Spanish with English subtitles. 2007. Strand Releasing (strandreleasing.com).

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