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Wolfe presents
Leaving Metropolis (2002)

How did I ever drown in someone so shallow?
- David (Troy Ruptash)

Review By: Robert Edwards   
Published: June 24, 2004

Stars: Troy Ruptash, Vince Corazza, Lynda Boyd, Cherilee Taylor, Thom Allison
Director: Brad Fraser

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nudity, sexual scenes, brief drug use)
Run Time: 01h:28m:56s
Release Date: April 06, 2004
UPC: 754703762221
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B-BB- B-

DVD Review

Leaving Metropolis is based on Brad Fraser's successful 1994 play Poor Superman, which he adapted for the screen, and also directed. It's the story of David (Troy Ruptash), a successful artist who has developed painters' block and decides to returns to his roots as a waiter to gain inspiration. He meets hunky Matt (Vince Corazza) and his wife Violet (Cherilee Taylor) at the run-down café they own, and immediately accepts a job. It's not long before David's sprucing up the place, and imposing on his fag-hag friend Kryla (Lynda Boyd) to get some publicity for the café by writing a positive review of it the local newspaper. Matt, who aspired to draw comics as a youngster, bonds instantly with David when he learns that he's a painter, and the ties between them quickly become closer and more intimate.

Although it's based on a play, Leaving Metropolis is in no way stagy. Despite its lack of exterior shots, Fraser has opened up the original work wonderfully, and this reviewer was surprised to learn of the film's origins on the stage. Despite the relatively small budget, the sets have been skillfully dressed, and the camerawork is varied and interesting, but never detached from the character-centered drama. In one of the movie's central scenes, we watch Matt and Violet make love, but in the very next shot it's Matt and David in bed together, and by intercutting these shots of their intimate moments Fraser visually echoes Matt's confusion as he's torn between his two lovers.

While it may not be stagy, the film is certainly theatrical, especially in its use of color. The diner is dingy, with subdued tones, contrasting greatly with David's amazing apartment, painted in great blocks of bright colors. Lighting in many scenes is completely non-naturalistic, with shades of purple or red representing the characters' states of mind, in some cases gradually shifting with the ebb and flow of their emotions. The color scheme may be a partial reflection of the many references to comic books in the script, which skillfully weaves its allusions to super heroes into the characters' dialogue, without ever seeming clumsy or forced.

If there is one clumsy element in the film, it's in the character of David's transsexual friend Shannon (Thom Allison), who is HIV-positive and suffers its debilitating effects in an exaggeratedly short span of time. Granted, the play was written in 1994, and at the time there were no protease inhibitors or drug cocktails to slow the ravages of AIDS, but in the film it comes off as forced, melodramatic, and unnecessary. Fortunately, Thom Allison gives a good performance, as do most of the actors in the film, especially Vince Corazza as he attempts to come to terms with his attraction to David.

Leaving Metropolis is not a great movie, and perhaps its greatest strength is its modesty. In making some valid points about sexuality and desire, it mostly avoids cliché and melodrama, although the basic plot device of seducing a straight man is a gay wish-fulfillment fantasy if ever there was one. For a first-time director, it's a solid effort, and this reviewer looks forward to Fraser's work in the future.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The nonanamorphic transfer is fairly good, with bright colors and realistic skin tones, although it's a bit soft. Black levels are reasonable. The source print contains a few speckles, but never enough that they become distracting.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The two-channel Dolby soundtrack is flat, with little or no separation, but the dialogue is clear, and there's no harshness or stridency to the sound.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
8 Other Trailer(s) featuring On_line, Friends & Family, Big Eden, Speedaway Junky, Ordinary Sinner, By Hook or By Crook, Rites of Passage, Perfect Son
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Brad Fraser
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Promo for Wolfe video releases
Extras Review: Fraser contributes a wide-ranging commentary track that's surprisingly engrossing. He provides the expected comments about the actors, locations, and limitations of low-budget film making, but also talks about camerawork and use of color in the film, and some of its rather obvious symbolism. His comments about the play and how certain elements of it were modified for filming are both informative and interesting. Occasionally, he gets a bit too self-congratulatory, but he's also candid about scenes that could have been shot or edited better. There are even some funny bits, especially his anecdote about filming two men kissing on a sidewalk in the worst part of Winnipeg, just after bar time as drunken louts are spilling out into the streets.

The trailer, which has poor blacks and is somewhat soft, doesn't look as good as the main feature. A 3m:10s fluff promo piece for Wolfe Video, which can safely be fast-forwarded through, precedes two menu screens that present eight trailers. For the most part, the trailers look (and sound) great, and provide an intriguing look at Wolfe's other lesbian- and gay-themed releases.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

Freshman director Brad Fraser's adaptation of his play Poor Superman is a fairly successful tale of desire and love that crosses the lines of straight and gay sexuality. Although short on extras, the transfer is good, and Fraser contributes an excellent commentary track


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