Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 70% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Shop now Shop now
Profile for Gary F. Taylor > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Gary F. Taylor
Top Reviewer Ranking: 2,781,178
Helpful Votes: 2208

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Gary F. Taylor "GFT" (Biloxi, MS USA)
(REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-13
pixel
The City And The Pillar
The City And The Pillar
by Gore Vidal
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

13 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Historically Important; Literarily Weak, 21 Feb. 2004
Originally published in 1948, THE CITY AND THE PILLAR is generally considered the first mainstream American novel to place gay men and their lives and loves at dead center of the story. As such, it receives a tremendous amount of attention from critics and historians. Still, for all the stir it caused at the time (most newspapers wouldn't review or advertise it and many bookstores refused to carry it), it is more interesting for its history than for itself.
The story concerns Jim, an all-American boy from Virginia, who has a sexual encounter with classmate Bob just before Bob graduates from highschool and leaves town "to go to sea." This is Jim's first same-sex encounter, and with classic adolescent innocence he concludes that he and Bob are spiritual "twins." As soon as he graduates, Jim goes in search of Bob on the assumption that Bob feels the same--and driven by this obsession he too "goes to sea," and moves from port to port and eventually from relationship to relationship in search of his ever-elusive lost love.
In a sense, THE CITY AND THE PILLAR gives us a window on what it must have been like to have been a young gay man in this era; at first Jim has absolutely no frame of reference for his sexuality, and when he begins to discover that men who have sex with men are not uncommon he resists thinking of himself as "one of those." But the overwhelming problem with the novel is that Jim is not a greatly interesting person, nor is Bob, nor are any of the people that Jim encounters while he looks for Bob. It soon becomes difficult to care about Jim, much less about whether or not he will ever find Bob and what will happen if he does.
Vidal himself was not greatly happy with the novel as it was published in 1948, and he rewrote it for a 1960s reprint. (The original 1948 version, which has a very different ending and slightly different tone, is no longer widely available.) But in rewriting the novel, Vidal did not go far enough: the characters are just as tedious in the second version as they were in the first. While I applaud Vidal for taking on such then-hot subject matter, I can't really praise what he did with it either originally or in the rewrite. Fortunately, if you feel you must read the novel due to its historical significance, it is fairly short--and that, really, is the best thing I can say for it.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer


Warren Patricia Nell : Front Runner (Plume)
Warren Patricia Nell : Front Runner (Plume)
by Patricia Nell Warren
Edition: Paperback

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Right Book at the Right Time by the Right Author, 14 Feb. 2004
The idea that THE FRONT RUNNER was the first novel to address gay men and their romantic and sexual relationships is myth. A host of novels predate it, including Gore Vidal's 1948 THE CITY AND THE PILLAR and Mary Renault's brilliant 1959 THE CHARIOTEER. By the 1960s gay characters began to crack the bestseller lists with considerable regularity, with Gavin Lambert's INSIDE DAISY CLOVER a case in point. But THE FRONT RUNNER was very much the right book at the right time by the right author--and it would become legendary as the voice of a new generation.
The Stonewall Riots, which marked a turning point in the struggle for equal rights, were barely five years old when THE FRONT RUNNER was published, and few people--including many in the gay community--had any serious context for the story Warren offered. Consequently, Warren took nothing for granted: she created that context through a series of meticulously described backgrounds, something that made the book widely accessible to mainstream readers. And when THE FRONT RUNNER hit the bookstore it proved a revelation for both homosexual and heterosexuals alike: it flew off the shelves, becoming one of the most critically lauded and widely read novels of its decade.
The story concerns Harlan, a college track coach who is rocked out of the closet when three world class athletes land on his doorstep after being expelled for homosexuality from a major university. One of the three is Billy--and Billy is everything that Harlan has both hungered for and feared: a man with whom Harlan could fall in love. Although many regard it as love story pure and simple, THE FRONT RUNNER is really a sociopolitical novel. At the time, there was little balance in public discourse on homosexuality--and as Harlan and his runners attain increasing fame they must also deal with public reaction to their increasingly open sexuality. Then as now, the price for such openness could be extremely high, and in the spotlight of the track field the price for Harlan and Billy will be beyond reckoning.
Some may feel the book is dated. The 1970s slang is so quaint! And is it really necessary to point out that gay men actually fall in love, that their relationships involve much more than sex? Is it really necessary to detail Stonewall? Do we have to go over the whole ground of being in the closet again? Surely we can take all that for granted now! Yes, we can--to a certain extent, at least. But one reason we can is that Patricia Nell Warren put it all on the table in the first place. The world has changed a great deal since the early 1970s, but even with the advent of AIDS, civil unions, and the controversy over same-sex marriage THE FRONT RUNNER still exerts a powerful influence. It was and is a remarkable novel, and it will doubtlessly remain so for as long as love and sexuality remain twin victims of reactionary hysteria.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer


The celluloid closet: Homosexuality in the movies
The celluloid closet: Homosexuality in the movies
by Vito Russo
Edition: Unknown Binding

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable Text from a Man in Love with Movies, 14 Feb. 2004
Although Vito Russo (1946-1985) was well known as a gay activist and was extremely influential in the creation of such AIDS-activist organizations as ACT UP, today his reputation rests almost exclusively on THE CELLULOID CLOSET, a powerful commentary on the way Hollywood portrayed homosexuality on film from the silent era to the early 1980s. The book received considerable attention when first published in 1981, and it continues to receive considerable attention to this day--and justly so, for Russo's examination of the various gay characters created by Hollywood explores not only how such images were created by Hollywood, but how they shaped "straight" America's ideas about homosexuals and often altered the gay community's own self image as well.
The position Russo takes and the interpretations he offers are nothing short of fascinating, and THE CELLULOID CLOSET holds up extremely well to re-reading. Even so, it is essentially an excellent work by an amateur writer. For all the power of its interpretations and arguments, the text is badly structured, and too often the tone of the prose seems less about the films under consideration than about the personality that considers them. And there are frequent factual errors in the text, with Russo's comments on the cult favorite The Rocky Horror Show perhaps the most glaring case in point.
Although Russo's omnipresent personality tends to undercut his prose at times, it is an engaging personality, and in a certain sense it drives the narrative--and indeed does a great deal to make the book's shifting structure seem more acceptable than it would have otherwise been. And after a careful re-reading of the text, I have come to the conclusion that the errors involved are best described as "surface" errors; they do not seem to me to undercut the power of Russo's interpretations, arguments, or positions, all of which are extremely well presented and very astute. Even so, given the book's somewhat problematic nature, I would take issue with those who describe it as "definitive," which is a rather sweeping word. I would prefer to describe it as a fascinating analysis of a difficult subject written by a gifted amateur author--who manages to overcome his limitations to present an endlessly fascinating series of interpretations, arguments, and positions. The book deserves a place on the bookshelf of every one who loves film as much as the writer did, and I recommend it strongly. But it would be a mistake to take it as an absolute.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer


Pop! - The First 20 Hits
Pop! - The First 20 Hits
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £7.31

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unexpectedly Passionate, Romantic, and Bitter, 27 Jan. 2004
I'm not often enthusiastic about club-dance-techno-pop bands, most of which seem determined to copy each other to the point of exhaustion. But I'll make an exception for Erasure, which has a great deal more going for it than the vast majority of music you're likely to hear the next time you hit the dance floor.
Chief among the band's assets is vocalist Andy Bell, who has a remarkably rich and passionate voice--but Erasure does not rely on Bell pure and simple. It is the combination of Bell's vocals, a bouncy beat, and the often unexpectedly thoughtful and frequently bitter lyrics that do the trick. The result is a consistent sound that crackles with a sensuous passion, and at its best creates one memorable cut after another.
POP! suffers from the usual failings of every compilation album, which is to say that it generally goes for the obvious choice even when a lesser-known selection is clearly superior. But even so, it offers a solid overview of Erasure, from the purely danceable to the disquietingly emotional playing against the dancefloor rhythm. "Ship of Fools," "Chains of Love," and "A Little Respect" are perhaps the side of Erasure that are most recognized--but when the selections turn to such intense and lyrically sharp selections as "Drama" and "Love to Hate You," you know that you've stumbled into something special.
The compilation, in my opinion, saves the best for last, running a gamut from the intensely passionate and romantic "You Surround Me," to the purely elegant "Blue Savannah," to angry "Chorus," to the moody and introspective "Am I Right"--the latter of which may well be single finest thing in this collection. As a garnish, the collection finishes up with a very enjoyable cover of Abba's "Take A Chance." But whichever you happen to prefer, it's all good stuff. Recommended.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer


20,000 Leagues Under the Sea [DVD] [1954] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea [DVD] [1954] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by RAREWAVES USA
Price: £8.57

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superior DVD Package of a Memorable Film, 26 Jan. 2004
Loosely based on the celebrated novel by Jules Verne and set in the late 19th Century, LEAGUES offers the story of Professor Arronax (Paul Lukas), his assistant Conseil (Peter Lorre), and harpooner Ned Land (Kirk Douglas), who are coaxed by the United States government to aid in the search for a sea monster said to be terrorizing shipping lanes. But the monster is not of flesh and blood, and soon the three find themselves in the hands of the mysterious Captain Nemo (James Mason) as prisoners aboard the Nautilus--a fully functional submarine capable of ramming ships and sending them to the ocean floor.
Underwater photography was hardly new in 1954, but never had it been used so extensively nor to such visually beautiful effect, and the art designs--particularly those for the Nautilus--are justly celebrated. But for all its beauty, it is the performances which make the film work. James Mason does not merely play Nemo, he seems to be Nemo; after seeing his performance it is impossible to imagine any other actor in the role. Paul Lukas adds yet another brilliantly understated performance to his memorable career, and while Kirk Douglas and Peter Lorre are hardly the Ned Land and Conseil of the Verne novel they have surprising chemistry and lend the film considerable dash.
At the time of its release, LEAGUES was the single most expensive motion picture ever made (ironically it would loose that dubious distinction later that same year to yet another film featuring James Mason: A STAR IS BORN), and every penny of the money spent shows in the onscreen result. While many of Disney's live-action films are fondly recalled, few have had enduring fame, much less claim to status as art--but LEAGUES is the exception, and although the episodic nature of the story seems a shade languid from time to time it remains both a landmark and one of the most influential films of its decade. Truly enjoyable from start to finish.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer


Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by rarerarerare
Price: £29.99

8 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Pastiche of Borrowed Ideas and Awkward Concepts, 10 Jan. 2004
Developed by composer Frank Wildhorn and lyricist Leslie Bricusse, JEKYLL & HYDE proved a popular ticket at Houston's Alley Theatre in 1990--and after a concept album, several more regional productions, and numerous rewrites it opened in New York's Plymouth Theatre in 1997.
Although critics admired several of the performers, they did not admire the show itself, and audience reaction was very mixed. Canny marketing and hardcore fans kept the doors open, but by 2001 the situation became acute, and television star and pop singer David Hasselhoff was cast in a last ditch effort to stem the tide.
Many of the show's fans complain that Hasselhoff killed the play, which closed not long after this 2001 cable-television version captured his performance. At the time, Hasselhoff had little stage experience, and his weakness shows. But for all Hasselhoff's awkwardness (which is now and then unintentionally hilarious), the real problem with the show was the show itself.
JEKYLL & HYDE is certainly one of the most derivative shows in recent memory, and Wildhorn borrows so liberally from other musicals that it's a wonder he wasn't sued. The show's opening sounds remarkably like the opening of LES MISERABLES; "Facade" might have been lifted directly from PHANTOM OF THE OPERA; "In His Eyes" is akin to a watered down "I Know Him So Well" from CHESS.
In each case, Wildhorn also waters down the musical ideas he has borrowed, and the result is light pop pure and simple. Indeed, the show's centerpiece, "This Is The Moment," sounds exactly like the sort of thing Debbie Boone might have recorded twenty years ago. Nor is there any salvation in the lyrics, which range from tepid to flatly misguided, or the script, which is remarkably unimaginative.
Not only do the musical, lyrical, and script ideas argue with each other, they argue with the visual style of the show itself. It seems very strange to hear something that sounds very much like 1980s American pop music and contemporary slang emerge from men in frocktail coats and women wearing bustles. The show looks quite a bit like an up-side SWEENY TODD, but it sounds very much like something your local high school might do. It's all very awkward.
The supporting cast is quite good here, but they're fighting an uphill battle against both Hasselhoff and the show itself, and the only surprising thing about JEKYLL & HYDE is that it lasted on the stage for as long as it did. Unless you're a diehard fan of either Hasselhoff or the show itself, you'd really do better to purchase a cast recording from one of the many shows it mimics than bother with this DVD. Two stars for the production values and the supporting cast, but that's all.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer


Strong Poison (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries)
Strong Poison (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries)
by Dorothy L. Sayers
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Love at First Sight in the Dock, 9 Jan. 2004
In public life, Dorothy L. Sayers was a scholar, writer, and woman of impeccable morals. In private life, however, she had a torrid love affair and bore a child out of wedlock. In her literature, Sayers expressed the schism between these aspects of her personality via the character of Harriet Vane, who makes her first appearance in the Lord Peter series in STRONG POISON as a fallen woman on trial for her life.
Published in 1930, the novel opens with Harriet Vane in the dock, listening as the judge presiding over trial sums up against her. She is a writer of mildly popular mysteries who has had a liaison with Philip Boyes, a rather pretentious author better know to critics than to the public. Their acrimonious separation is quickly followed by Boyes' death from arsenic--and it seems that Harriet, and Harriet only, had both motive and opportunity.
But the judge reckons without juror Miss Climpson, employee of the celebrated Lord Peter Wimsey, who derails what would seem an open and shut case--and gives Lord Peter the opportunity to unravel the crime. And, not incidentally, to fall in love with the accused. With an infamous actress of the Victorian age lurking in the background and a sizable inheritance on the line, Wimsey rushes to sort out the mystery and save the woman he loves before the case can be retried.
STRONG POISON is not really among Sayer's greatest novels, which combine a unique literary style, memorable characters, and complex plots to remarkable effect. The opening description of the trial, with its detailed account of the judge's comments, feels excessive; the solution to the crime is tricksy and relies heavily on coincidence; and Harriet Vane stands out less effectively than such supporting characters as Miss Climpson. Nonetheless, it has its charms, most particularly in Sayers' witty and highly literate style and the continued evolution of the characters she had previously created.
Most particularly, STRONG POISON sets the stage for two novels in which Harriet Vane will become one of the most memorable characters in the golden age of the English mystery: GAUDY NIGHT and BUSMAN'S HONEYMOON, both of which are regarded as high-water marks in the genre. Sayers wrote several memorable novels in which Harriet Vane does not appear at all, most notably the famous MURDER MUST ADVERTISE, but her development of the character is a remarkable process to behold, and fans will enjoy watching the process. Enjoyable, but recommended more to established Sayers readers than first time visitors.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer


Mulholland Drive [DVD] [2001] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Mulholland Drive [DVD] [2001] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by momox co uk
Price: £4.58

4.0 out of 5 stars In The Eye of the Beholder, 2 Jan. 2004
I came to MULHOLLAND DRIVE with extreme reluctance. Although I've seen most of Lynch's work, it has been more by accident than by design, and I had no expectation of great interest in the film. For Lynch is an extremely divisive director: you either like his work or you do not, and by and large I fall into the latter category. So I sympathize with those who loathe everything about the film--but at the same time I am surprised by how much I myself admired it.
Opening with an attempted murder thwarted by an unexpected car-crash, the film presents us with a beautiful woman (Laura Harring) who stumbles into Los Angeles in shock and suffering from amnesia. Using the name "Rita," she crosses paths with pert and pretty Betty Elms (Naomi Watts), new to the city and in search of a film career. Betty quickly decides to shelter Rita, and the two women begin to search for Rita's true identity.
A number of subplots, seemingly random incidents, and bizarre events complicate the basic premise; even so, I think most viewers will be able to buy into the film and find themselves extremely curious about the film's approaching conclusion. But therein lies the rub, for it is exactly at this point that the film suddenly deconstructs and forces you to completely reevaluate everything you've previously seen.
A number of recent films, including the extremely popular SIXTH SENSE and THE OTHERS, have used a similar device, a sudden twist that spins your basic perception of the overall story. In both cases, however, these were logical extensions of the basic plot; the device in MULHOLLAND DRIVE, however, is not, and it does not so much spin perception as it completely overturns and then completely reinterprets the entire film up to that point. And there are only two possible reactions: jaw-dropping astonishment or a savage disgust with the whole thing.
There have been endless interpretations and analyses of this film, and many people complain that they don't understand it. I may be running against the tide here, but I have to say that you shouldn't try to "understand" MULHOLLAND DRIVE; instead, accept it as a journey into an extremely disturbed mind as it plays games with itself. For with this film, Lynch essentially takes us inside madness itself, an insanity that dreams Hollywood dreams grown into monsters of the subconscious.
Yes, I do think there is much to admire here in spite of several very obvious flaws--not the least of which is a distinct difference in tone as the film shifts between portions originally planned for television and portions filmed when Lynch realized he could salvage the project as a feature film. But at the same time, admiring is not necessarily liking: MULHOLLAND DRIVE is a very dark place, and for myself one visit was enough.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer


Mulholland Drive [DVD] [2002]
Mulholland Drive [DVD] [2002]
Dvd ~ Naomi Watts
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £2.39

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In The Eye of the Beholder, 2 Jan. 2004
I came to MULHOLLAND DRIVE with extreme reluctance. Although I've seen most of Lynch's work, it has been more by accident than by design, and I had no expectation of great interest in the film. For Lynch is an extremely divisive director: you either like his work or you do not, and by and large I fall into the latter category. So I sympathize with those who loathe everything about the film--but at the same time I am surprised by how much I myself admired it.
Opening with an attempted murder thwarted by an unexpected car-crash, the film presents us with a beautiful woman (Laura Harring) who stumbles into Los Angeles in shock and suffering from amnesia. Using the name "Rita," she crosses paths with pert and pretty Betty Elms (Naomi Watts), new to the city and in search of a film career. Betty quickly decides to shelter Rita, and the two women begin to search for Rita's true identity.
A number of subplots, seemingly random incidents, and bizarre events complicate the basic premise; even so, I think most viewers will be able to buy into the film and find themselves extremely curious about the film's approaching conclusion. But therein lies the rub, for it is exactly at this point that the film suddenly deconstructs and forces you to completely reevaluate everything you've previously seen.
A number of recent films, including the extremely popular SIXTH SENSE and THE OTHERS, have used a similar device, a sudden twist that spins your basic perception of the overall story. In both cases, however, these were logical extensions of the basic plot; the device in MULHOLLAND DRIVE, however, is not, and it does not so much spin perception as it completely overturns and then completely reinterprets the entire film up to that point. And there are only two possible reactions: jaw-dropping astonishment or a savage disgust with the whole thing.
There have been endless interpretations and analyses of this film, and many people complain that they don't understand it. I may be running against the tide here, but I have to say that you shouldn't try to "understand" MULHOLLAND DRIVE; instead, accept it as a journey into an extremely disturbed mind as it plays games with itself. For with this film, Lynch essentially takes us inside madness itself, an insanity that dreams Hollywood dreams grown into monsters of the subconscious.
Yes, I do think there is much to admire here in spite of several very obvious flaws--not the least of which is a distinct difference in tone as the film shifts between portions originally planned for television and portions filmed when Lynch realized he could salvage the project as a feature film. But at the same time, admiring is not necessarily liking: MULHOLLAND DRIVE is a very dark place, and for myself one visit was enough.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer


The Great Race [DVD] [1965] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
The Great Race [DVD] [1965] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Perfect Comfort-Viewing for a Family Night, 2 Jan. 2004
THE GREAT RACE may not be a masterpiece--but it is a perfect choice for a cold and rainy night: stylish, frothy, and often flatly hilarious, it makes for "comfort viewing" at its best.
One of the movie's several charms is that it draws heavily from Victorian cliches that still linger in the public mind, gives them a gentle comic spin, and then drops them into the tale of an early 1900s auto race from New York to Paris by way of Siberia. Add to this a heap of favorite character actors, a big budget, flamboyant period costumes, and the biggest pie fight ever filmed, and you have a movie where there is always something to enjoy on the screen.
The great thing about THE GREAT RACE are the performances, which are very broad but endowed with a sly humor. The comedy accolades here go to Jack Lemmon and Peter Falk as the notorious Dr. Fate and his bumbling sidekick Max--wonderful bits of acting that will have you hooting with laughter in every scene--and Dorothy Provine scores memorably in a cameo as Lily Olay, the bombshell singer who presides over the most rootin'-tootin' saloon this side of the Pecos.
But every one, from Tony Curtis and the lovely Natalie Wood down to such cameo performers as Vivian Vance, get in plenty of comic chops as the film drifts from one outrageous episode to another: suffergettes crowding a newspaper, the biggest western brawl imaginable, polar bears, explosions, daredevil antics, and a subplot lifted from THE PRISONER OF ZENDA agreeably crowd in upon each other. True, the film does seem over-long and may drag a bit in spots, but it never drags for very long, and it's all in good fun--and the production values and memorable score easily tide over the bare spots.
The DVD bonuses aren't anything to write home about, and the film has not been restored per se--the color seems a bit faded here and there--but the print is remarkably clean and the widescreen format is an essential. This would be an excellent selection for a family movie night--or for any evening when you're alone and feeling a bit blue. Break out the popcorn, curl up on you sofa, and... as Dr. Fate would say... "Push the button, Max!"
GFT, Amazon Reviewer


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-13