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Strand Releasing presents
I Love You Baby (2001)

Daniel: And I'm gonna kiss you.
Marcos: Right now? In public?
Daniel: This is Madrid!

- Santiago Magill, Jorge Sanz

Review By: Robert Edwards   
Published: September 09, 2003

Stars: Jorge Sanz, Santiago Magill, Tiaré Scanda
Other Stars: Verónica Forqué
Director: Alfonso Albacete, David Menkes

MPAA Rating: R for some language and sexual content
Run Time: 01h:42m:40s
Release Date: August 26, 2003
UPC: 712267230020
Genre: romantic comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C- C-C-B C-

DVD Review

I Love You Baby, which apparently only has an English title despite being a Spanish film, is the fourth feature effort by the directing team of Alfonso Albacete and David Menkes, who have also worked in both documentaries and commercials. It's also their second film, along with 1999's Sobreviviré ("I Will Survive"), to feature an "impossible love" between a gay and a straight character.

Marcos (Jorge Sanz) has just fallen off the turnip truck in the big city of Madrid, but soon after settling in with his aunt and uncle, is picked up and seduced by Daniel (Santiago Magill). The two soon shacked up together, but their karaoke version of Can't Take My Eyes Off of You is rudely interrupted when the fornicating couple in the room above causes the disco ball to fall and strike Marcos in the head. His brain apparently seriously injured, Marcos decides that he is no longer attracted to Daniel, and instead takes up with Marisol (Tiaré Scanda). Despite the advice from his best pal Carmen (Verónica Forqué), Daniel decides the only way to catch his now-straight ex-boyfriend is to be a woman—or at least to dress and act like one.

It's pretty obvious that most films, in order to make the most money, are designed to appeal to the widest possible audience; at the same time, some films are of course directed at certain ethnic or cultural groups, such as African-American or gay cinema. These films, often made by members of the groups they are directed at, are usually received very positively by their audiences, often unduly so. The reasons for this are many, but certainly among those reasons is a perception on the part of the audience that the filmmakers speak the "same language," and also that the audience feels flattered that they are being singled out.

This built-in easy acceptance of minority films leads to a more-or-less guaranteed, uncritical market, and the existence of this market means that many fairly uninteresting films get made, and often reap accolades that they don't deserve. In the queer cinema, it's tempting to see these simplistic, positive "feel-good" movies as a necessary correction to the almost exclusively negative portrayals of gays and gay life that have been seen in films the past, but still, that's no excuse for lazy film-making.

And what a lazy film this is. The sole element of interest or surprise in the plot is the disco ball incident, with the rest of the story being depressingly predictable. The directorial style can at best be called functional (although there are two interesting dissolves), and the cinematography, while serviceable, is nothing special. The dialog is uninteresting, and the few lame attempts at humor fall flat on their face. And the touted appearance by Boy George ends up being 10 seconds of disappointment.

There are so many examples of interesting films by gay directors—those of Gregg Araki, Derek Jarman, and Todd Haynes come to mind—that it is simply depressing to see yawn-inducing fare like this get an audience. And speaking of gay directors, despite the DVD cover's description of the film as "A Delightful Romantic Comedy in the Tradition of Almodóvar," I suspect that Almodóvar would find the comparison invidious.

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: C-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Even though this is a recent DVD, I'm convinced that the authoring was done several years ago, because I haven't seen a transfer this riddled with MPEG compression artifacts in a long time. The image is constantly plagued not only by flatness and lack of color gradation, but also incredibly distracting pixelization whenever there is movement. Add to this an annoying amount of edge enhancement, and you come up with an image that is never pleasant to watch.

Image Transfer Grade: C-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Spanishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The two-channel Dolby Digital transfer is quite good, with a reasonable dynamic range. Despite the amount of ambient music included in the film, most of the sound remains in the front speakers.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Gasoline, Harem suare, Burnt Money, Praise
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The original theatrical trailer is here presented in a good transfer, without subtitles.

Four trailers for other Strand releases are included, although I'm not sure that the terrible transfer on Gasoline, nor the 5-minute-plus trailer of Harem suare, which drags so terribly that it already seems longer than the actual film, would convince anyone to buy those DVDs.

Extras Grade: C-

 

Final Comments

This listless fourth effort by the directorial team of Alfonso Albacete and David Menkes, with its "straight is better than gay" message, will disappoint not only its intended audience, but just about anyone who watches it. The MPEG artifact-ridden transfer does not help.

 


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