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Friday, December 23, 2016

'Going Down in LA-LA Land' DVD: True Hollywood Story of Struggling Actors

A recent interview with (mostly) gay-themed film producer/director/writer Casper Andreas regarding his (Unreal TV reviewed) pink noir movie "Kiss Me, Kill Me" is behind a series of posts on Andreas films. His well-known 2011 drama "Going Down in LA-La Land" having a similar title and theme as a big-budget musical currently playing in a multiplex near you makes the DVD release of that title an apt starting point for a look at the earlier work of the friendly auteur. 

The tremendous festival love for "Down" includes a Best Feature award at the 2011 Barcelona International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival and the Best Director award at the 2011 The Connecticut Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.

The most awesome aspect of "Down" is that it is an excellent example of a film that is true to the gay experience while showing the universal nature of the trials and tribulations of the characters. Our aptly named hero Adam, whom "Kiss" star Matthew Ludwinski has down to a tee, is a mostly stage actor who discovers the underbelly of the titular community when he goes west to pursue film and television stardom.

Television and film audiences have seen this morality play in the form of a starlet arriving in Los Angeles to become a star only to be exploited and deceived. It is nice to have someone show that boys can suffer the same fate.

The handful of camp cameos is pretty awesome as well; Perez Hilton rocks his role as a wonderfully effeminate orderly, and Bruce Villanich makes a great scene-stealer as a flamboyant veteran porn movie director.

The harsh reality of life strikes Adam when he simultaneously faces unexpected expenses, a lack of acting work even as an extra, and an inability to land a decent day job. 

The proverbial blessing and curse that sets this film with overtones of "Boogie Nights" fully in motion comes in the form of casual gym buddy Nick, whom Andreas terrifically plays, helping this handsome devil get a job as an office worker/production assistant (a.k.a. prod. ass) at the gay porn company Jet Set Men. This leads to a memorable scene in which Adam tries to comfort an actor (who steals his scene) who is majorly dreading what is to come (no pun intended.) 

Although Nick is mostly a still photographer and film director/editor for the company, his occasional "acting" working sets the stage (pun intended) for a short scene with Andreas regular Jesse Archer.

Persuasion by casual boyfriend Nick and a series of reversals of fortune lead broke gay boy Adam initially to pose for still photos and ultimately make a wonderfully erotic film for Jet Set. 

This new career additionally connects Adam with a deeply closeted celebrity in a storyline that suggests that Andreas and your not-so-humble reviewer share an acquaintance who is grossly indiscrete regarding his ties. The similarities between this reel- and real-life include a fondness for holding hands.

Andreas expertly keeps the ensuing developments safely from the edge of sappy gay movie and mainstream romcoms by not having things dramatically change for Adam on his seeming to be on a good track.

The same is true regarding the scandal that threatens to destroy any hope of Adam having a happy ending. The mystery regarding this adds a very cool element. Is the source the bitter beard, the resentful queen, or the dumped ex?

The ending is at least partial cliche but still highly entertaining; the reformed prince (be it the crackhead porn guy or the household name) comes to sweep Adam off his feet. The suspense relates to how he will respond and whether he lives happily ever after or winds up starring in "Spring Break Hazing IV: Plugged Pledges." 

On a a larger level, Andreas deserves great credit for keeping the sex scenes (some of which include him) erotic but tasteful; such segments are tough to choreograph, and we get enough to leave little to the imagination but not so much that we feel that we are watching "Down" in a '70s-era Times Square theater.

The melange described above make "Down" a good choice for folks interested in a variation on the other LA LA Land film or anyone who likes their movies with the right mix of drama, comedy, and camp.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Down" is encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.