Directed by Kirby Dick

Review by Malcolm Maclachlan

“Outrage,” which ends its one week run at the Crest tonight, tells the story of closeted gay politicians who oppose gay rights and those bent on outing them. The film— made by a married straight man—The film— made by a married straight man—takes aim at several prominent politicians, including a current rising Republican star.

The film’s poster boy is probably Larry Craig, the Republican Senator from Idaho who was famously caught allegedly trying to solicit sex with an undercover officer. Craig, like most politicians profiled here, was a Republican with a gay rights voting record in the single digits. Often that digit is a zero.

This is what motivates one of the central characters in this documentary. Blogger Mike Rogers said that when politicians are outed, their voting record usually changes. This was certainly the case with congressman Jim Kolbe, R-Arizona, who outed himself in 1996 after being threatened by a gay magazine, The Advocate.

Kolbe, of course, had less than two years to show that changed record, as he never ran for re-election. Another theme is that an admission of homosexuality usually comes just before or just after a resignation and corresponding loss of political power. This was seen in California in March, when Art Torres came out the closet the day after stepping down after thirteen years leading the California Democratic Party—the party which has made gay rights part of its platform.

In the film, we see another Democrat, New Jersey governor Patrick McGreevy (pictured above), resign at the same press conference where he announces that he is “a gay American.” Most of the men here, and it is almost all men, appeared to have marriages of convenience. But McGreevy had enough straight tendencies or acting talent that his wife of four years, Dina, apparently had no idea. One of the most chilling moments of the film comes when he describes how some of the skills needed to survive in the closet translate directly into thosethat help in politics.

If Rogers has a real success story, it’s Dan Gurley. Gurley allegedly approved a key anti-gay ad campaign for the Republican National Committee during the 2004 elections. He was in line for a prime spot in the Bush Administration, but received a phone call advising him to “seek employment in the private sector” shortly after Rogers outed him on his website. Gurley speaks passionately about why his outing was wrong. But Rogers points out that Gurley soon resurfaced on the board of Equality North Carolina, “using his skills” to promote gay rights.

The real star here, though, is Florida governor Charlie Crist. The slim, dapper Crist has secured several top Republican Party endorsements for his 2010 run for U.S. Senate, and is often mentioned as a presidential contender. “Outrage” chronicles not only how Crist has taken key anti-gay stands, but how he appears to acquire an attractive girlfriend whenever an election heats up. When one of those former girlfriends refuses an interview but says “Call me in ten years, I’ll tell you a story,” it tells quite a story all on its own.

My Life In Ruins

Directed by Donald Petrie

Review by Tony Sheppard

“My Life In Ruins” is a little how I felt about my morning after watching this film. This is the follow up to “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” with several of the same production team (including Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, who also has a small role) and lead actress Nia Vardalos (who wrote the earlier movie but simply acts, or acts simply, in this one). “My Big Fat Greek Tour Guide Job” would be a more honest title.

I’m not being a snobby film elitist here, knocking the lightweight romantic comedy genre. I enjoyed the first movie, and often dig even very formulaic offerings of this kind. But this is heavy in execution and featherweight in outcome. It plods along with stereotypical characters who are poorly cast, moderately offensive themes (ha ha ha, gay men are funny!), and virtually nothing that can’t be seen coming a mile away through a dirty bus window.

Put simply, it’s bad. It’s stiff and so broad in its portrayals that it resembles children’s theater. Vardalos often seems to be projecting her performance towards the back row of the theater—the one across the street. Her character, Georgia, is a laid off professor working as a tour guide. And not a very good one for the average package holiday participant, who we are told wants fun, shopping and sex, not anything resembling facts or history. The movie would have us believe she has lost her mojo, Austin Powers style, or “kefi” as the Greeks apparently call it. Her quest to regain it is championed by Richard Dreyfuss, as an aging tourist who’s lost his wife but not his own rambunctious kefi.

All of which would play better with a laugh track. Not because it’s funny, but because it needs some laughter coming from somewhere. I can’t remember a movie that seemed to be trying so hard at every step, yet stumbled so consistently. If you thought it was hard to maintain continuity in scenes with burning cigarettes of different lengths or wine glasses with levels that go up and down, watch out for the scoop of ice cream that changes size, shape, and lick patterns.At least in the movie, the bus tour gets better. Sadly, the movie itself doesn’t.

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