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Common Ground

Erik Knudsen , Brittany Murphy , Donna Deitch    R (Restricted)   VHS Tape
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Product Description

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In Common Ground director Donna Deitch (Desert Hearts) uses three stories to explore attitudes toward homosexuality in the fictional small town of Homer, Connecticut, over a period of almost half a century. "A Friend of Dorothy's" tells the story of a girl who returns to Homer in 1954 after leaving the Navy. When it emerges that she was discharged after being arrested in a gay bar, she is ostracized by everyone except the owner of a local diner, a woman who has her own reasons for wanting to help Dorothy to escape. "M. Roberts" is set in 1974, when a gay teacher (Steven Weber) has to decide whether to jeopardize his career in order to help a troubled pupil who has been targeted by homophobic bullies. Finally, in present-day Homer, "Andy & Amos" follows the preparations for a gay wedding. While protesters gather on the town commons, Amos's father (Ed Asner) has to choose between long-held prejudices and his love for his son. Thanks to a Harvey Fierstein script that combines sexual politics with humor and believable characters, this is the most successful part of Common Ground. Ed Asner's gradual realization that his son's monogamous, long-term gay relationship is more conventional than most heterosexual marriages is deftly handled, achieving a balance between message and drama that the other stories lack.

Despite the credentials of their authors (playwrights Paula Vogel and Terrence McNally) the first two segments feel more like lectures than stories. Their impact is weakened by clumsy dialogue (Dorothy's mother actually says, "I have no daughter") and stereotypical characters. The film's message is an important one: the road to equality is built upon the struggles and sacrifices of past generations. Unfortunately Common Ground is too uneven to deliver that message with the force it deserves. --Simon Leake


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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and educational Aug. 27 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Overall I must say that I was impressed with Common Ground. The first story dealt with a young lady who was dishonerable discharged from the Navy after discovering lesbianism. Brittany Murphy(Girl, Interrupted) did a great job in this 'act' and I was thouroughly impressed by the story. The second story I thought was the strongest out of all the 3. A senior in High School(Jonathan Taylor Thomas) is constantly ridiculed and beaten up by his fellow school mates for being a homosexual. He confides his secret to his french teacher(Steven Weber) who refused to come clean about his own sexuality on fear of loosing his chance at becoming the schools principal. Great acting, strong characterization, especially on Jonathan Taylor Thomas' part. The third story, which I thought was the weakest of the three, deals with a father and son having a heart to heart talk about the sons marriage to another man. There wasn't enough emotion honestly for you to really care. Also they used way too many references to being gay(especially the female couple who are helping with the wedding. 'Thats what lesbians do best' and the like). If this story was a little stronger I would've given it 5 stars. Regardless its a great buy, highly recommended!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lived this life July 29 2001
Format:VHS Tape
As an openly gay man who was routinely beaten in high school, served for eight years in the Air Force and has enjoyed a wonderful committed relationship for sixteen years - this movie rang totally true.
The kids today have no comprehension of what we suffered and how those who came before us suffered. They can't even being to comprehend that being gay once meant prison, commitment to mental institutions, being outcast, unemployable, and being open to blackmail. Our lives were on the fringe and police abuse and exploitation were the suffrance.
In the 1950's it was routine to have to pay off police - who could arrest you at any time. Vice cops routinely patrolled streets and areas where gays frequented, looking to make an arrest - on the basis of a glance held too long. Usually, the arrests meant severe beatings. The arrests usually mean the loss of a job, losing your apartment and losing your family.
This film does a good job of laying out how underground we had to be in order to survive - being a Friend of Dorothy's meant a hell of alot more, just to survive. It was in many respects our underground railroad.
Our freedoms didn't come because the hostile elements in society gave up. We have them today because every generation made the world a little bit more tolerant. Every generation pushed a little bit harder. Every generation suffered so we would have it better.
For our straight friends, this is a testament to their willingness to help us change the world and to embrace civil rights for all. Above all else, this film is a valentine and a caution to all of us that our current civil rights can be upended and we can return to the world of the 1950's.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Common Ground July 4 2001
Format:VHS Tape
I can't help saying this film was taxing for me. It appeared too long to say what could have been said in half the time. The film as a whole felt disjointed to me, like a bunch of snippets from Pulp Fiction edited and spliced together, perhaps flashbacks of the 50's to the 90's and back again would have given the film more life, credibility, and continuity with regard to the "gay" issue which surely was handled differently in the 50's than in the 90's. The constant reference to being gay at every turn, and these were not happy people, became tedious and exhausting..., maybe I'm just missing the point. What was this film made to teach us? That there was prejudice and discrimination against gays in the 50's? Who doesn't know this?
The setting of the film was predominently on a Naval base, making reference to a feeding ground for people who went in straight and came out "gay," Mimi Rogers plays a Captain who herself is gay and covers it up, while the plot over-emphasizes a kind of "duck and cover" against that which breeds recruits to a gay lifestyle only to be kicked out of the Navy for being so later. What's the point of this film?
References to the Flag, God, and Country were evident and perhaps could have been more emphasized, pride in oneself and one's country as a people not a group, so the character who raises the flag every morning, through three generations, and lowers the flag every evening, with pride, and who acts as a witness to everything around him, who served himself in a war which took his arm, helped tone down the over-exaggerated homophobic issue, making the film a little more palatable, no pun intended honestly.
For me this was a sadly dissatisfying film with potential for greatness with a great cast of actors, but instead it left me hanging with no resolution.
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Format:VHS Tape
this movie tries to examine the attitudes toward gay people in the past half-century in a small us-town, and has nearly all the ingredients needed to be counted a good movie.
in the first of three stories ("a friend of dorothy's") a young homosexual naval women (brittany murphy) comes home to homer, conneticut, in 1954 with a dishonorable discharge due to "sexual deviancy". as a matter of time it comes clear that the townspeople are not happy about her return as the news of her "crime" spread very soon and even her mother (margot kidder) turns on her in disgusting. only a sympathetic restaurant owner (helen shaver) gives her hope and make her escape from homer possible.
the secound segment ("m. roberts") featuring former sitcom stars steven weber and jonathan taylor thomas concentrates on the harassment and hostility toward a gay high-school student (thomas) in 1974's homer and how his french-teacher (weber), who tries to keep his own homosexuality a secret, reacts on the torture against one of his best students. a violent attack in the school shower forces his comeing out and shows how he finally deals with his homosexuality (in pubilc).
the final segment ("andy & amos"), placed in todays homer, then centers on the realationship between a father (ed asner) and his gay son (james legros), who plans to marry his lover at the community center. the whole segment is not very well written and harvey fierstein, the writer, too often serves stereotype and flat characters. the story has not the depth as the first two stories and is - in complete contrast to them - not worth watching.
the only reason i rated this video only 4 instead of 5 stars is the third part and - all in all - i can recommend this movie to nearly everyone.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it, loved it, loved it.
Great film.
However, I couldn't help but notice what an UGLY OLD HAG Margot Kidder has turned into! YIKES! I could hardly stand to look at her. LMAO
Published on Jan. 2 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and Timely
Unforunately, this video is still very relavent today. Contrary to Mr. Diamond's comments - LGBTQ youth are still beaten and murdered today and are four times more likely than... Read more
Published on May 13 2003 by Mark D. Snyder
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best
I felt this film was very well made and acted. The stories are powerful and informitive. I would buy it again if I didn't already own it. Read more
Published on March 16 2003 by T. Hulse
2.0 out of 5 stars Cliche's Made Palatable for Middle America
I have an idea. Let's take as many gay cliche's as we can possibly put together in 3 amazingly short segments. Oh wait, we don't have to, it's all here in "Common Ground". Read more
Published on Feb. 26 2003 by K. Schneck
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful movie for anyone!
I want to start off by saying this movie is great for anyone. I am a [age] year old gay teen and caught this movie on Showtime one night. I watched and really felt the movie. Read more
Published on Feb. 2 2003 by Ross
3.0 out of 5 stars A Fair Movie
Someone's idea of what goes on with the gay life, but mostly colored by Grenwich village types.
Published on July 9 2002 by Roger Paulding
5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific piece of work by a great ensemble cast
One town, three stories -- each taking place in a different era. The interweaving thread is not really about being gay or lesbian, it's about the "common ground" that all human... Read more
Published on June 21 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent View of how things change for the better
This timeline movie shows how acceptance changes over time as the GLBT community is being slowly accepted for who and what we truly are human just like everyone else the best line... Read more
Published on June 19 2002 by P Leach
4.0 out of 5 stars Returning to Romantic Comedy
Time was in the 1930's that homosexuals were portrayed as tragi-comic figures. So my hopes rose with the opening segment where we see the beginning of a lesbian/gay community... Read more
Published on May 21 2002 by tamiii
5.0 out of 5 stars Uncommonly Great!
Finally, a gay film featuring positive "Normal" gay characters! This movie places the characters in real life situations at various eras in 'small town USA' and they all behave... Read more
Published on Feb. 6 2002
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