Film Reviews: X-Men: Days of Future Past, Before You Know It, Godzilla, Remembering the Artist, Test
Dan Loughry

X-Men: Days Of Future Past
* * * *

When it comes to superheroes, I prefer mine messed up (Batman) or metaphorically wrought, like the X-Men. The latest installment, directed by the beleaguered Bryan Singer, is a time-traveling extravaganza, long on plot and fantastic effects, short on character development. This bothers me less than it does in, say, Godzilla, since we know these characters from the last six installments. The cast is good (though most are underutilized—sorry, again, Halle Berry), with the standouts being Michael Fassbender’s Magneto, Evan Peters’ Quicksilver, and, especially, James McAvoy’s Charles Xavier. The core theme—a plea for diversity—is as strong as it’s ever been. That may not specifically be code for “gay,” but it does scan that way if you want it to, and I do. —Dan Loughry

Before You Know It  
* * * *

Before You Know It is an important, inspiring documentary portrait of three very different gay seniors. Dennis is 76, and he likes to go out in public dressed as his alter-ego, Dee. Ty is a 60-something African-American who wants to marry his reluctant partner Stanton. Robert is the 73-year-old owner of a drag bar in Galveston, Texas. Director PJ Raval intercuts their stories shrewdly, and viewers will become completely absorbed in their lives. But this remarkable film’s real focus is how these men define themselves and “home” as they maintain their place in a world that mostly ignores them. —Gary M. Kramer

* * * *

Godzilla is a disaster movie that’s not a complete disaster. It’s better than the last Spider-Man film, not in the same class as The Avengers and it’ll pass two hours of your life away without the usual popcorn movie angst (i.e., I want my time/money/life back). Its script—by Max Borenstein—is a disaster. Gareth Edward’s direction is merely serviceable, as there isn’t one standout, white-knuckling set piece across its 02:03 run time. And the acting runs from the ridiculous (Ken Watanabe) to the ‘well, not sublime, but pretty good’ (Bryan Cranston). So why see it? The special effects are spectacular and beautifully enmeshed; the creatures are well-defined, especially the big guy himself (of whom there is not nearly enough); and the inevitable sequel will—one can only hope—be even bigger and better. —D.L.

Remembering The Artist
* * * *

Robert DeNiro’s father was an accomplished if under-appreciated artist—a contemporary of abstract expressionists like Pollock, de Kooning, and Rothko. Yet DeNiro Sr. was different; he was a figurative painter influenced by French masters, and therefore marginalized in the 1950s New York art scene. As the wistful but affectionate Remembering the Artist shows, DeNiro Sr. was also a gay man, struggling with conflicted feeling about his sexuality as well as with depression. This poignant short documentary features photographs, film clips, diary excerpts and interviews to illuminate the life and career of the late DeNiro Sr. and give him the respect and recognition he craved. —G.M.K.

* * *

Set in 1985 San Francisco, the low-budget Test is a well-intentioned and not uninteresting drama about the onset of the AIDS crisis. Frankie (Scott Marlowe) is a dancer whose unease about the disease is palpable. His concerns are contrasted with those of his fellow dancer, Todd (the magnetic Matthew Risch), who has a more reckless attitude towards life and sex. Test conveys anxiety of the early days of AIDS, and the way young gay men grappled with their fears. If there is no surprise as to Frankie’s status, it is to the film’s credit that viewers care about what happens to his character. —G.M.K.

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