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British novelist Giles De'Ath, a stuffy man who is completely oblivious to modern life and technologies, gets locked out of his house and settles for a visit to the cinema. Instead of the E.M. Forster adaptation that he intended to view, he is shocked to discover that he accidentally purchased a ticket to "Hotpants College 2." But before he can flee the theatre, he becomes mesmerized by the appearance of teen idol Ronny Bostock. Unable to shake or quench his thirst for the actor, he eventually travels to Long Island with the intentions of meeting him face to face. What begins as an awkward, distant relationship slowly becomes a mutual friendship that eventually concludes when the truth comes out. A funny and touching film based on the novel by Gilbert Adair.
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An older artist, shunned by the white-hot media of the contemporary world, begins to glow again when he meets a handsome, not-altogether all-American boy. In 1998, two writer-directors brought extraordinary care to this subject, creating films that appeared on several top 10 lists. Gods and Monsters won an Oscar for Bill Condon's screenplay and a nomination for Ian McKellen's acting. Richard Kwietniowski's Love and Death on Long Island was forgotten during the award season. John Hurt has rarely been better as Giles De'Ath, a renowned British author of dry, laborious text. By sheer accident he sees a Porky's-type comedy at the theater: Hot Pants College II. About to leave, he spies on screen his very idea of beauty: a near-talentless American actor named Ronnie Bostock (Jason Priestley, in another deft, underseen performance). So starts De'Ath's very long trek out of his shell. He is so out of touch that when he purchases a VCR (to see the original Hot Pants College, no less), he doesn't realize he needs a TV set to view the picture. By film's end, he will meet his idol and jump into an abyss. Kwietniowski's debut film has uncommon sensitivity in the realm of fantasy and dream makers. As with Gods and Monsters, its homosexual undercurrent can play comfortably in front of straight viewers looking for crisp writing, fresh perspectives, and great acting. --Doug Thomas
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