DVD Review - Deleted Scenes
Gay filmmaker Todd Verow opens his latest movie with the disclaimer that what you're about to see are the "deleted scenes from an unfinished / untitled dysfunctional relationship drama." Verow intimates that what we're about to watch isn't the movie he intended but rather what was left on the cutting room floor. He's taken what most would consider cinematic excess or garbage and fashioned an hour and half movie out of it.
On many DVDs, there is a section where people can watch the deleted scenes from their favorite movies. Typically, the length of these scenes added together never exceeds an hour. How Verow crafted a feature-length piece out of them is curious. Perhaps he used alternative takes from all of his scenes, but why he would do so is even more curious. Therefore, the idea that this movie is a collection of deleted or discarded scenes from a grander movie is most likely a ruse.
With any independent film that features graphic, gay sex, funding will be limited, so production value will most often be low. Verow and his producing partner, Jim Dwyer, have established their company, Bangor Films, which could afford to do a movie like this with not much difficulty. Verow's ruse is a good excuse to placate any audience that might demand higher or more perfect, production value. That kind of proviso would proffer horrible cinematography, bad acting and perhaps all kinds of technical problems.
Deleted Scenes though is far from that. In fact, the only technical problem of significance, which through title card Verow indicates, is poor audio recording and syncing. There are also some color timing issues, maybe one or two continuity errors, and some awkward blocking, understandable if you're shooting in a cramped, NYC apartment, but it's all negligible. Frankly, I've seen worse from filmmakers who are unapologetic.
Verow assembles about two dozen, deleted scenes that chart the relationship of Wolf, a 30-something hustler from Eastern Europe, played by Ivica Kovacevic, and, Sean, a neurotic and needy New Yorker, played by Michael Vaccaro. The two see each other on a pier and do a meet cute, one that's re-enacted plaintively at the end. They soon come together in lust and love. Both have things in their lives involving sex and drugs that they keep hidden.
This movie is infused with graphic sexuality, but, unlike pornography, the graphic and almost raw sexuality leads to raw and at times graphic emotion, almost pure emotion, emotion that can't be faked. The bond, the visceral connection formed between the two, is believable and very powerful.
Assuming Verow's premise isn't a ruse, the filmmaker's grander or more complete picture may point toward dependency as well as addiction, physical or otherwise. There are clear markers to that effect. There are perhaps not enough markers to make the case, but Verow's grander or more complete picture may also point toward the uneasy ties between sex and violence. A pornographic video ends in one man attacking another. A boy named Fast Eddie, played by Brad Hallowell (Vacationland), uses sex to get what he wants, and then sees consequences in the form of bloodshed.
Recently, there was a rise in the number of movies made in a genre labeled "found footage." Horror films like The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield are two major standouts. Horror films like those were built on the principle that their stories were video discarded for some reason now being assembled and put on display. Verow could be either commenting on this "found footage" genre or giving his own unique take on it.
At least, that's what could be inferred from his ruse, but the actual execution of this movie would only undermine that. As weird as it sounds, I would be praising this more as a bold, innovative piece of experimental filmmaking, if the footage and the assembly of it were a little sloppier. I'm not saying it had to look like Grindhouse with scratches on the film or awful light and sound, but, from scene to scene, I couldn't discern why any of this would be deleted.
I didn't think I'd ever say this, but this movie would have been better if it were technically a little worse. Given Verow's premise at the top, this movie fails expectation and lives up, but, nevertheless, what it ends as being instead is a potent and poignant, gay drama that's very well-acted.
Five Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but Recommended for Mature Audiences.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 30 mins.