Sunday, 28 July 2013

Latter Days (2003) - ★½

Director: C. Jay Cox
Writer: C. Jay Cox
Stars: Wes Ramsey, Steve Sandvoss, Rebekah Johnson, Jacqueline Bissett, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Amber Benson, Khary Payton

Wow. I'm kind of in shock after watching Latter Days. This movie has cheap production written all over it. The set production is awful, the music is terrible, the make-up is horrendous, the editing is just bad, and it's chock full of shoddy performances. Even the farting sound effects were awful! I cannot believe that this is one of the most infamous LGBTI films. One of the important lessons in this film is "Beauty is only skin deep," yet it feels like they've barely pierced the surface of the issues surrounding the characters.

Aaron (Steve Sandvoss) is an aspiring young Mormon that moves to L.A. with a group of his Mormon alumni to spread the word of Joseph Smith. He moves next door to Christian (Wes Ramsey), a gay party-boy that believes sex need not have any more significance than a handshake. Here's a shocker, they develop feelings for each other. The problem is that Aaron belongs to a religion that condemns homosexuality, which ends up taking over the whole last hour of the movie.

Aaron is such a loveable, sweet guy. He was raised in a strict Mormon family, but he turned out to be more understanding and kinder than anyone else in the movie. It would have been interesting to know exactly why he turned out so great. I'm glad they didn't go into it though, considering the movie was about 25 minutes too long. Christian is just as confused as Aaron really, because at first he doesn't see the need for meaningful relationships. They both shake-up each others world's, and that could have been interesting. But it wasn't, because Sandvoss and Ramsey had very little chemistry, laughable dialogue, and really shaky acting at best. They just didn't know how to control the expressions on their face. At times I had to close my eyes and just listen, because just looking at their acting was awful. It didn't get much better when I closed my eyes either.

Wes Ramsey is gorgeous though.
The whole sequence of Aaron and Christian pondering about their beliefs was so contrived. There's the cheesiest song in the background that blares "I've never been shaken, I've never been confused." Then we see shots of them staring longingly out the window, because the thing they're missing in life are each other. I lost count of how many times I cringed throughout this movie. It's literally worse than most TV movies I've seen... the acting may be one notch better than that in Birdemic (2011), a film notorious for being one of the worst ever made. What's worse is that this is Joseph Gordon Levitt's worst performance by a mile. I don't know if I can wipe his cheesy, fake accent out of my memory.

This movie literally had the worst 360 camera shot I've ever seen in my entire life. Did they film this with a potato, or did someone put a potato in charge of the cinematography? I'll also hazard to guess that they hired their set and music producer from a porno company, and a third-rate porno producer at that!

There were a couple of cool things in Latter Days though. Parts of it were pretty entertaining, particularly the banter between Christian and his coworkers. The acting was awful, but they were in high spirits. Amber Benson played a small role in this movie. I loved her as Tara in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was pretty cool to see Jacqueline Bissett too, she did the best she could with the script she had. I didn't mind her performance, but it was shaky at times. I'd say the best performance of the lot was from Rebekah Johnson, who played Christian's sassy black friend.

One of the worst things about Latter Days is that it lacks depth. What's worse is that the story is full of juicy discussion topics like religion and sexuality, but they barely delved into those issues at all. To add insult to injury, this movie goes for 100 minutes and barely anything happens. The first hour had decent enough content, but the last 40 minutes was absolutely ridiculous. Did they run out of ideas? I don't see how that's possible... In the last 40 minutes of the movie, Aaron goes away, Christian looks for him, Aaron comes back. The end. REALLY? Is that the best they could do?

Here's how I'd fix this movie... I'd recast the entire thing (with the exception of Rebekah Johnson), I'd use a score played by an orchestra, I'd cut the movie down by about 25 minutes... Agh! It's too much work. There's hardly anything redeemable about this movie. If it helps people come to terms with their sexuality, then I'm glad for them and I'm glad that this movie was made. Personally, I believe this is one of the shittiest movies I've ever seen.

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