Movie: Movies about sexual politics and desire tend to fall into a limited number of viewpoints, mostly due to the nature of how movies get made. To get really off the beaten track, you have to turn to either foreign or independent movies in most cases. One such movie would be Luster, a movie about gay lust in search of love.
The movie centered on a young gay male, Jackson (Justin Herwick), who is looking for love in all the wrong places (in Los Angeles). He works in a used record store and goes through life having a number of sexually fulfilling exploits but never the deeper relationship he claims to want. His straight boss, Sam (Shane Powers), seems to fall for him, as do many of his customers, all of whom he treats like crap, but he doesn't seem to want anyone who wants him in return. The movie takes a look at a weekend in the life of Jackson as he searches for that elusive mate, one he is unlikely to ever find unless he grows up.
Okay, the acting in the movie was really weak and that set the stage for its failure. The story itself might've been more interesting if Jackson had actually showed at least a bit of character development or growth but he did not and that was a fatal flaw. The low budget nature of the movie wasn't the worst problem since Director Everett Lewis was skilled enough to utilize what he had to work with (much of the movie was set in the tiny record store) but the lack of a clear-cut story (or at least the appearance of such) and unsympathetic characters made this a chore to watch.
The gay aspects of the movie weren't really an issue for me. The many shots of male nudity were naturally done and inoffensive but mostly designed to suggest events that took place without showing them. The soundtrack was interesting but frustrating since only very short clips of the 50+ songs of alternative music made it in the movie. I'm going to rate this as a Skip It unless you want to see a gay slice of life movie with no real point. The choppy editing at times didn't help but then few aspects of the movie were worth checking out (for me at least).
Picture: The picture was presented in its originally shot 1.33:1 ratio full frame. The movie was a low budget independent release shot on 16mm, with a host of visual defects (some intentional), that included lots of grain, soft focus, misframed shots, video noise, print scratches and even some compression artifacts from the DVD transfer.
Sound: The audio was presented in 2.0 Dolby Digital stereo English. The sound was generally hollow and I didn't notice a lot of separation between the channels. While ultra low budget, the vocals and music fit the movie quite well (for better or for worse).
Extras: The extras were pretty solid for a low budget independent movie. They included the obligatory trailer but also a lengthy interview with the director (in a noisy coffee shop) and an informative director's audio commentary (the producer joined him part way through the movie, which helped keep it moving along). The interview and commentary actually added a lot of entertainment value considering the shortcomings of the feature itself.
Final Thoughts: You know you're in trouble when the anecdotes on the audio commentary track are more interesting than the feature itself. Some of the concepts the movie dealt with were intriguing but their execution was not enough to get me to suggest you check it out.