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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Latter Days - Unrated Wide Screen
Latter Days - Unrated Wide Screen
TLA Releasing // Unrated // September 7, 2004
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Daniel W. Kelly | posted September 30, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:
They just don't make gay movies like Latter Days, or at least, they haven't until now. This passionate, heartfelt film may change the mostly shallow history of gay cinema forever.

The Story:
The setup may sound like your run of the mill gay fluff film. Adorable, hunky Mormon missionary Aaron (Steve Sandvoss) comes to West Hollywood to spread the word door-to-door. He happens to move into an apartment complex where sex-hungry party animal Christian (Wes Ramsey) lives. Christian, a waiter, makes a 50 dollar bet with his table waiting pals that he can get the Mormon's underwear.

Sounds like a simple, sexy gay romp, right? Well, don't be deceived. You are about to experience a powerful, passionate love story that leaves you without a single sign of a one-dimensional character. It's fun, it's funny, and it's sexy, but this movie will also shake your soul with emotion. Writer/director C. Jay Cox has based much of this script on his actual experience as a closeted Mormon, so you get the real deal here. This isn't an anti-religion or anti-Mormon movie. It's an honest portrayal of the complexities of making peace with faith and sexual identity.

Party boy Christian's supporting cast of friends includes his best friend Julie (Rebekah Jordan), who is on the verge of a major singing career, and Traci (Amber Benson, who it is refreshing to see out of her drab Tara wardrobe from her Buffy the Vampire Slayer days). Aaron's Mormon buddies include Paul (3rd Rock from the Sun alumni Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who deserves recognition for his incredible talent. After all, he held his own against the incredible talent on that sitcom). Jacqueline Bisset is stunning, beautiful, and a beautiful soul as Lila Montagne, the owner of the restaurant where Christian works, and who reaches out to both Christian and Aaron throughout this film while dealing with her own personal issues. Christian is forced to face himself when he begins delivering meals to brutally honest AIDS victim Keith (Erik Palladino, who delivers some of the most emotionally stirring dialogue in the film). Aaron is eventually forced to come to terms with his own identity in front of his parents (Mary Kay Place, Jim Ortlieb) and the results are heartbreaking.

You will become engrossed in this film from the moment it begins. You sit in anticipation of Christian seducing Aaron, but before long, you begin to care about every character in the movie. The inclusion of Julie's songs as part of the plotline enhances the emotion. The two incredibly sexy leads have amazing chemistry together, and their intimacy jumps out at you. You are drawn into a world that is real—a world where different people love, hate, create conflict, challenge each other, carry each other through the hard times, and all have one objective in life—to find themselves and their happiness.

One thing to note—I've heard some complaints about a number of "coincidences" in the storyline. It's a movie. If you can't enjoy coincidences here, where can you enjoy them?

Finally, I must say, I've never seen the "rated" version of the film, so I don't know what you'd be missing if you weren't watching the "unrated version," which this is. When it's hot, it's hot, and I wouldn't want to miss a moment—because more than just being sexy, the erotic scenes make this movie all that much more realistic. But honestly, don't expect to be seeing a porno. I still considered it all to be tame.

The DVD

Video:
The movie is presented in anamorphic 1:85:1 widescreen, enhanced for 16x9 televisions. The picture is flawless, sharp, perfect fleshtones, bright rich colors, deep dark blacks. Absolutely stunning.

Sound:
The audio track is Dolby digital 2.0 stereo. The left/right separation is excellent, as well as the bass response.

Extras:
Very nice menu showing clips from the film, and plenty of extras. Here's the breakdown:

3 MUSIC VIDEOS—considering Julie's music is such an integral part of this movie, there's no doubt viewers will want to hear the songs in their complete form. These 3 full length videos are each introduced by a text commentary beforehand.

PHOTO GALLERY—about 15 pictures shot during production.

DELETED SCENES—three complete, film quality scenes left out of the film that do what deleted scenes are supposed to—they let you see what landed on the cutting room floor, and why.

REASON THIRTEEN—this is a short film, 5 minutes long, that is actually a much darker take on what became the opening sequence in the completed Latter Days movie. It totally works on its own. Aspect Ratio is 2:35:1, and it's low budget film quality.

BEHIND THE SCENES FEATURETTE—You get it all. Interviews with most of the cast, creators, and crew, excellent background on the making of the film and it's journey to fruition, behind the scenes footage, and, most importantly, you see how passionate all those involved with this film were about making it work. They succeeded.

COMMENTARY—with writer/director C. Jay Cox, and lead actors Wes Ramsey and Steve Sandvoss. There is plenty of insight from Cox on just how biographical this film was, as well as great anecdotes by all three on making the film.

TRAILERS—for several TLA releases, as well as an ad for the sought after Latter Days soundtrack.

TREVOR PROJECT—an ad for this crisis helpline, presented by film actor Steve Sandvoss.

Final Thoughts:
Latter Days is more than a gay movie. It's an experience. The creative forces behind this film about a party boy who tries to seduce a hunky Mormon missionary knew their responsibility was to make more than a movie. They were telling real life stories here. And they put their all into both the film and this high quality DVD, which is loaded with extras.

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