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Capone Considers HATE CRIME!!

Hey, everyone. Capone in Chicago here.

I'm sure it's different for every critic, but for me, the most difficult films to review are films aimed at gay audiences. And it's not because the films aren't necessarily aimed at my demographic (30s, straight, married...did I mention straight?), it's because a lot of them aren't very good, but saying that they're not good makes you feel homophobic.

A few weeks ago, I negatively reviewed a film called Adam & Steve, and although I applauded the intention (to make a romantic-comedy featuring two men), the movie just wasn't that funny. A good movie is a good movie, and there are plenty of bad movies out there. Unfortunately, many gay film emphasize the flamboyant gay characters, which we've seen a thousand times before and often done better.

I don't think Hate Crime is necessarily geared at strictly gay audiences, but my guess is that is ultimately who is going to turn out to see the film. While the film has many shortcomings, I liked that it chose to focus on two men living in the suburbs, on the verge of a commitment ceremony talking about real issues (other than sex) and contemplating starting a family.

Robbie (Seth Peterson) and Trey (Brian J. Smith) are the perfect suburban couple; their neighbors love them; and they seem mature and stable enough to have conversations about things other than musicals and Judy Garland (I'm making a point here: if my only exposure to gay people was films, I'd have a seriously disjointed view of the culture).

A new neighbor named Chris Boyd (Chad Donella) moves in next door, and it doesn't take long to realize he's an gay-hating religious zealot (and the son of a Paster played by Bruce Davison) who takes an instant disliking to Seth Robbie and Trey. A few days later while walking the dog, Trey is violently beaten in the park. Immediate suspicion falls on Chris, but with no evidence, the crime goes unsolved. In fact, when the case goes from an assault to murder, the homicide copy (Giancarlo Esposito) begins to think Robbie had something to do with the killing since Trey had a large life insurance policy.

Robbie, Trey's mother (Cindy Pickett), and some of the neighbors set out to discover who the real killer is (they do) and get justice that the police clearly aren't willing to deliver. Some of the film's final scenes, in which Robbie and crew, carry out an elaborate revenge scheme may hit some audience members the wrong way. Is there justice just as bad as the crime against Trey? One of the shortcomings in first-time writer-director Tommy Stovall's film is that it assumes that the punishment fits the crime.

Perhaps it does, but with no voice in the film to say question this, the film feels only half complete, which undercuts Hate Crime's solid writing on the subject of police homophobia and the place of homosexuals in the church. I also thought the scenes where both Robbie and Trey's mother share their pain at Trey's death were extremely genuine and well acted.

Hate Crime exists in a world where consequences don't always matter or even exist, which is not the real world. I give Stovall credit for showing a side of gay life rarely shown on screen, and I applaud him for throwing a challenging and scrutinizing eye at justice.

This is a complicated and thought-provoking work that is a little sloppy with its morals, but that almost makes it more worth watching and discussing. The acting is hit and miss, and the writing is clearly that of a first-timer, but it's an encouraging bit of work from Stovall.


Readers Talkback
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  • May 9, 2006, 5:17 p.m. CST


    by ssr12

  • May 9, 2006, 5:17 p.m. CST

    Rocky Blog sucks!

    by ssr12

  • May 9, 2006, 6:56 p.m. CST


    by mocky_puppet


  • May 9, 2006, 7:06 p.m. CST

    Are there any lesbians in this?

    by jackinitraw

    I'll see this if it features lesbians.

  • May 9, 2006, 9:02 p.m. CST

    Flame war over all things gay in three... two...

    by BeeDub

    Grab a brew and put your feet up, this one's gonna be a doozy.

  • May 9, 2006, 9:03 p.m. CST


    by OBSD

    What I find interesting is that you seem to be judging this movie with different criteria than with say, a big budget action movie that has a revenge theme like Lethal Weapon 2 or almost any Schwarzenegger movie. Why is this? Is it because the movie deals with crime on gay people? If you look at movies like I Spit On Your Grave, it's ALL ABOUT REVENGE. Did the five guys in that movie deserve to die in horriffic ways? Most film goers would say "hell yes!" But the law says "no". The desire to see judgement passed on to the "bad guys" in a fictional setting is as old as storytelling itself. I just think it's interesting that you point out that the movie exists in a world where consequesces don't matter. Dude, MOST movies exist in that world. I don't understand how a movie with gay men in it has to adhere to a different moral standard than any other movie about revenge.

  • May 9, 2006, 10:02 p.m. CST

    Sounds like Munich...

    by Dataset

    But with less homosexuals. Ha Ha! I'm so clever!

  • May 9, 2006, 11:25 p.m. CST

    A bad movie, is a bad movie. Period.

    by MattCG

    Just kidding, but seriously, there's nothing wrong with not liking a bad movie, regardless of it's subject or content. "Brokeback" wasn't a bad movie. It was actually a damn good movie. If it had a woman co-starring Heath Ledger, it would've won Best Picture in a heartbeat. Gay filmmakers can make bad movies too. If people would pay less attention to where people put their junk at night and more attention to the people themselves, we wouldn't even be talking about this.

  • May 9, 2006, 11:26 p.m. CST

    Another thing, religious zealot?

    by MattCG

    Give me a break. Why couldn't it have just been a normal guy who was a closet bigot or someone with a fucked up sexual identity, why does this shit always to so clearcut.

  • May 10, 2006, 2:09 a.m. CST

    So gay people like

    by godoffireinhell

    to propagate the stereotypes imposed on them by breeders?

  • May 10, 2006, 7:47 a.m. CST

    If Hollywood treated minorities

    by Blue_Demon

    the way it treats people of faith, man oh man. That's it...I'm starting the N.A.A.C.P. National Association for the Acceptance of Church People.

  • May 10, 2006, 8 a.m. CST

    Good review Capone...

    by brycemonkey

    do you take all the 'high brow' assignments? You always get 'difficult' movies or arty stuff to review. You never seem to get Poseidon. Just saying is all...And yeah, I'd find this movie a lot more believeable, scary and true to life if the people who are bigots and homophobes were 'regular' because they are.

  • May 10, 2006, 11:25 a.m. CST

    An Insider's Perspective

    by AboveSuspicion

    The word from a film buff who's also gay... Most gay-themed films are poorly written and pitifully acted. I know because I've seen tons of them (thanks, Netflix). They tend to be overwrought and narrowly focused. And it's not just about catering to the audience; hell I AM the audience: gay, white, and under 30. Sure, there are some notable mainstream exceptions, i.e. "Brokeback Mountain", "Boys Don't Cry" and "The Broken Hearts Club", to name a couple of favorites. Another standout is "The Dying Gaul". I don't know why gay movies tend to be cheesy, but homophobia is not the same thing as decrying a poorly-made film.

  • May 10, 2006, 11:28 a.m. CST

    This is the worst review I've ever read on this site.

    by all

    Capone, your inability to see theses characters as human is transparent and sad. This is tantamount to you defending your close-mindedness by saying you've got lots of gay friends. "Did I mention straight" - I doubt it, phobe.

  • May 10, 2006, 7:10 p.m. CST


    by mascan

    Brokeback created enough controversy to force the Academy to recognize it, but too much controversy for the Academy to vote for it. If it had been a straight love story, nobody would have noticed it, and it wouldn't have gotten even a nomination.

  • May 11, 2006, 8:54 a.m. CST

    I was almost a victim

    by johnnyangelheart

    of a hate crime. I was with a drunk gay friend on 6th Street (in Austin) when he propositioned these good ol' boys from Alabama. I thought I was about to get my ass kicked. After escaping unscathed I yelled at my friend for a while about that and it never happened again. So gay dudes, if you have straight friends respect their straightness if you want them to respect you. On a sadder note my friend died from the big A fifteen years ago. I still miss his crazy sense of humor.