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  • A terrible military policy, now thankfully repealed, gets psychically unpeeled, story by story, through virtuoso actor Marc Wolf. Wolf has the wattage of Lili Tomlin, the brilliance of Spalding Gray, or the physical-psychological discipline of Ron Vawter. (The video record of Vawter's "Roy Cohn/Jack Smith" performance is rather perfunctory -- would that he could have had as sympathetic and wise a collaborator as John Walsh -- and his creative consultant Mary Harron.)

    Director John Walsh cannily sets the performance in a spare, abandoned military base, the better to consider each story as a historical artifact. But the raw wound of the DADT policy -- and the scars it left on our women and men in uniform are acutely, undeniably present in the staging and acting.

    This is an exorcism of the stories told, told by an actor channeling the conscience and spirit of every person he interviewed. There is an burnished, eerie resonance to each characterization, as Wolf re-presents the glances, tics, speech patterns, postures of the interviewees, many of whom asked to remain anonymous.

    Walsh's team in sound design and editing are superb, creating a lively, stylish surface that Wolf's chameleonized performances skip bounces off of like a stone.

    The result is an unforgettable compendium of 18 characters, distilled hundreds of interviews, comprising 1,000 hours. Wolf's spadework in getting these this mosaic of stories is incredible -- and the movie is a masterclass of how to refract documentary material into a compelling performance.

    (Petty point: The advertising poster for the film -- at least at the preview screening I saw of DADT -- was awful. I know it was meant to evoke the Prop 8 ads, pasting duct tape over the mouth of a screaming soldier. It has a shrillness not at all contained in the movie and thus misrepresents and dodges the humanity of what Wolf/Walsh team is doing. And the soldier portrayed is NOT EVEN WOLF... Jeez, Wolf's the only performer in the movie! Never mind this quibble: The movie itself is wonderful though.)
  • Don't Ask, Don't Tell is based on writer and actor Marc Wolf's one man show of the same name. He interviewed hundreds of gay veterans and active service people and he tells their stories. It's a remarkable movie, poignant, stirring, at times funny and at other times tragic and brutal. Marc Wolf is so expressive that as he inhabits each character - male, female, old, young, angry, exuberant, reflective, and ultimately triumphant - the viewer's experience of the stories told is powerful and memorable. Director John Walsh has successfully translated this theater production into a compelling and graceful movie: effortlessly beautiful with an elegance that serves as a supportive backdrop for the stories. The recent expiration of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy makes these stories even more valuable as primary artifacts of a very long and excruciating period in our country's history. It is my hope that this movie can provide a jumping off point for soul searching discussions for years to come.
  • Kateless25 June 2012
    10/10
    Stellar
    Marc Wolf is remarkably talented- with an amazing ability to physically and emotionally transform into the characters and fully disappear into each - story telling at its finest.

    In general this film brings together voices from all sides of the Don't Ask Don't Tell issue and gives a unique look at how it resonated with people on the inside and outside of the policy. A very well rounded telling - a thoughtful and thorough representation of the issues that have haunted the military for so long.

    For those effected by the policy this is a must watch. Highly recommended - I was able to watch it on Hulu!
  • "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (2011) is a film that gives human character and scale to the federal policy that prevented openly gay and lesbian people from serving in the US military. The one-man documentary style performance of 18 real-life characters by actor and writer Marc Wolf is riveting because the production indirectly tries the controversial federal policy without judging the individuals -- both straight and gay—who have the courage to speak to this highly sensitive and personal issue. The painfully revealing, and often, humorous storytelling was creatively filmed in a deserted military facility. The loneliness of having to deal with an issue that forces people into silence and hiding was underscored by the stark relief of the empty military building and cool, natural light that was employed to film the production. While "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is about the federal policy that prevents openly gay and lesbian people from serving in the armed forces, it is also a film about people dealing with the elementary quest to seek fairness, human dignity and clarity on a civil rights issue. For that reason alone, it is a film to seek out on the web, or at festivals, and take in the effecting stories.
  • Marc Wolf is a talented actor (and cute AF) but the whole thing is just kinda boring after a while.