Small Town Gay Bar appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has NOT been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Even for an indie flick like this, I’m surprised when we don’t get an anamorphic transfer. Not that I’m sure it would’ve helped, as the image showed its low-budget roots.
Shot on video, the movie looked okay but no better than that. Sharpness was erratic. Close-ups provided decent delineation, but anything wider tended to be moderately soft and fuzzy. Some edge haloes contributed to that, and I also noticed a bit of shimmering and jagged edges. In terms of source flaws, I saw a few specks but nothing else interfered.
The film went with a natural palette that seemed adequate. Though the colors displayed acceptable clarity, the tones never seemed particularly lively or dynamic. Blacks were a little too dark, while low-light shots appeared somewhat dense and thick. Given the film’s origins, I thought it looked okay, but that was the best I could say for it.
In addition, the Dolby Stereo 2.0 audio of Small Town Gay Bar seemed mediocre. Music dominated the soundfield and displayed passable stereo presence. Some elements spread to the sides, though a lot of the information stayed focused on the center. Still, the music opened things up a bit. Effects were more centered. Though they meshed with the sides at times, they didn’t do much to create a feeling of the settings.
Audio quality was decent. Speech could be a little thin, but those elements usually seemed acceptably natural and concise. Music demonstrated adequate vivacity, while effects seemed fine. They never came across as particularly dynamic, but they weren’t distorted or problematic. This was a lackluster track, though I must admit I didn’t expect anything more from this sort of flick.
When we head to the set’s extras, we find an introduction with Kevin Smith and Malcolm Ingram. In this five-minute, and 32-second clip, executive producer Smith and director Ingram lead us into the film. Of course, the chatty Smith dominates as he tells us how he got involved with the flick. We also learn a little about the flick’s creation and some aspects of Ingram’s personal life. It’s a funny way to get into the picture, especially when the pair chat about what Smith’s tastes would be if he went gay.
We hear more from Ingram in an audio commentary. Along with “principal technical officer” Scott Tremblay, we get a running, screen-specific track. The pair discuss various challenges involved with financing and other aspects of making the film, different goals for the flick, musical selections, and the onscreen participants.
Outspoken and entertaining, Ingram dominates the chat. If you’ve heard commentaries with Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier, this one feels much the same. Ingram offers plenty of honest thoughts about everything required to make the film as well as the state of gay America and connected topics. He refers to Will & Grace and Queer Eye as minstrel shows and ever declares his utter hatred for the current Pope. Tremblay acts as a balance, but make no mistake: this is Ingram’s show.
And he makes it a good commentary. I think he’s off base at times and seems a bit hypocritical to me, as he decries the TV series I mentioned but happily embraces various stereotypes here. I was also disappointed he didn’t better address criticism of the film. For instance, he alludes to thoughts that the movie goes astray when it leaves Rumors and digs into the Scotty Weaver murder. However, he doesn’t rebut those ideas; I really want to hear why he thinks that material fit the film. Even without those elements, though, this is a consistently lively and informative chat.
For more from Smith, we head to the five-minute and 53-second Chatting With Kev. Smith and Ingram talk together about Kevin’s involvement in the flick. This acts as an excuse for them to joke around with each other. We get some good details about why Smith backed the film, but “Chatting” is worthwhile mostly for amusement value. Smith’s always entertaining, so putting him with his gay doppelganger adds to the enjoyment.
Next comes the 16-minute and 47-second Chatting with Editor Scott Mosier. Another prime member of Smith’s View Askew team – though usually a producer – Mosier chats with Ingram about how he became involved with the project, his work on the flick, and various challenges. This is a more serious discussion than the one between Ingram and Smith, so it offers less entertainment value. Nonetheless, it’s informative and interesting to learn about Mosier’s side of things. I don’t buy their attempts to convince us they made an unbiased flick, though.
A Conversation with the Folks of Tupelo goes for nine minutes, six seconds. It involves a group discussion with the gay citizens of Tupelo as they talk about being gay in the South. Most of this just echoes notes found in the film. We don’t learn anything new here, as we just hear more about how difficulty it can be to be gay in the South.
One Cut Scene lasts 58 seconds. Called “Willie Washington at Rumors”, this segment shows an African-American local as he discusses… well, you got me. I guess it conveys that Southern gays aren’t racist, since he mentions he can’t go into some straight bars but the folks at Rumors are fine with him. He’s too incoherent for it to make much sense.
The final two components look at the titular nightclub. The New Owners of Rumors goes for one minute, 32 seconds, while Selling of Rumors runs one minute and four seconds. These act like deleted scenes, as they give us a little more info about the changing reins at Rumors. These clips don’t tell us much of interest about the participants.
A few ads open the DVD. We find clips for Dante’s Cove, Shock to the System, C.R.A.Z.Y., and Wild Tigers I Have Known.
Small Town Gay Bar wants desperately to provide some profound point about the nature of gay culture in America. Unfortunately, it does little more than rehash a couple beaten-to-death stereotypes and it never becomes anything fresh or intriguing. The DVD presents average picture and audio as well as a collection of good extras. I can’t find much to champion in this film, unfortunately, as I think it’s kind of a mess.