gaymoviefest 2011

As I mentioned yesterday with the general movie review post, I saw a lot of movies last year... and while less of them were gay-themed movies than perhaps the year before, I did have my fair share of queer cinema mixed in there.

In some ways I feel like these gay movie reviews should be subtitled something like "watching really crap movies with gay content so you don't have to"... there really are an awful lot of frogs you have to kiss before you find one that's even human, let alone a prince.

sugarSugar

I actually saw Sugar a while ago, so my memory of some of the finer details is a little hazy.

I do remember that it's notable for a couple of reasons... the first being the death of the lead actor, Andre Noble, shortly after the film's debut due to eating monkshood... the second is the only real sex scene between the two main characters (as seen shirtless on the DVD cover on the right) is essentially rape.

It's not a movie that I'm really remembering a lot of positives about actually.

The precocious, wise-beyond-her-years, younger sister character is horrible, and once again the whole movie revolves around a gay boy falling in love with a prostitute/hustler who is essentially only gay for pay.

It's kind of a tired queer cinema cliché, and it isn't given any new interpretations in this movie.

Would I recommend it: Not really, no... it's been done before (and since), and better than this.


strappedStrapped

I'm not sure if it influenced how I felt about the movie, but I realised about 20 minutes in that the lead actor, Ben Bonenfant, was the spitting image of my former flatmate, Ludo. Right down to the facial hair and crinkly eyed, lopsided smile. Granted he looks in 2010 the way Ludo looked in 1996.

I will say that I was really pleasantly surprised by this movie.

Like Sugar, it also features a prostitute/hustler, but this one isn't a drug addict and it doesn't end in pain and misery.

It is a little bit fantastical... not overly so, but you have to suspend disbelief that Bonenfant's character can't find his way out of an apartment building seemingly populated entirely by homosexuals (as one of the characters says, "this is the gayest building on the gayest street in town"... so that about covers it I guess).

Essentially he spends the entire movie wandering around the building, meeting new people and having sex with them (well, he is a hustler after all).

The movie plays with a lot of the archetypal gay characters... not only the hustler, but the guy who only ever had a gay experience with a friend in his teens, the aging queen who tries to hang on to the way things were with drugs, the married guy... but doesn't make them feel cliché.

And Bonenfant has some beautifully understated acting throughout. It's interesting to watch the way he changes with each interaction... how both the actor and the character alters himself to match the person he's with.

Would I recommend it: Wholeheartedly... it's a well crafted ride down the proverbial rabbit hole.


o fantasmaO Fantasma (Phantom)

This movie seems to start out as one thing and finishes as something quite different.

Most of the movie is about obsession and chasing that sexual rush, which I have to say I can relate to... although not to the extremes to which the main character, played by Ricardo Meneses, takes it.

His whole existence seems to be dedicated to the next sexual thrill, the next anonymous encounter... but he becomes obsessed with one particular guy which leads him down a particularly strange path.

I don't want to give away too much but the last part of the movie plays more like some kind of post apocalyptic movie, where he appears to have suffered a kind of psychotic break and has essentially "gone feral".

It's also a particularly European movie (more specifically Portugal) given the depiction of not only nudity and the sex in general, but also an actual on screen blow-job.

Would I recommend it: Potentially, if you want something from the fetish side of the fence I'd recommend watching up to about the 77 minute mark (1 hour 17 minutes) and then making up your own ending... or you could watch the whole thing, just don't expect the ending to make a lick of sense.


the art of being straightThe Art of Being Straight

I'd like to start this review out with a plea for any and all indi film makers... you may have written the story, you may be directing the story, the story may be based almost totally on your actual life... but for the love of all that's holy, please don't fucking star in the movie!

Also, please be aware that something actually needs to happen in your movie, otherwise it's just celluloid masturbation.

And please stop making movies about guys in their mid 20's who haven't come out yet. They're fucking boring.

Can you tell that The Art of Being Straight pretty much ticks all of those boxes?

It's also a movie that is filled with a lot of really unlikeable characters... actually, they're not even unlikeable... I was just completely ambivalent about every single person in this movie. They're all incredibly narcissistic and monumentally self involved. And none of their actions have any consequences.

None more so than the writer/director/lead actor, Jesse Rosen...

Maybe it was supposed to be "naturalistic"... like a moment in time of their lives. Well, if so, can I just remind everyone involved that life generally isn't that interesting. There's missed potential there too... the lead character's back story, the consequences of screwing your boss, telling your roommates...

And the movie is only 67 minutes long... which is possibly the only blessing.

Would I recommend it: Unless you have a particular fondness for closet cases banging guys twice their age, then I'd say go right ahead. If you actually like story in your movie, then stay far, far away.


wreckedWrecked

I've seen some turkeys since I started keeping reviews of the gay themed movies I've watched, but this piece of crap has to take the total cake.

The actors can't act, the dialogue wouldn't sound any better if they could (if there actually was any written dialogue and they're not just making it up as they go along), there may or may not have been a bunch of time jumps (I think there were a couple, but there maybe have been more) that make no sense. Plus, if you're going to use the same actor over and over and over for different parts, have him take out his giant face piercing, otherwise it's just weird.

The movie tries to be "edgy" by showing the three twinks from the bottom half of the poster naked, erect and jerking each other off. They may be having actual sex, but it's not explicitly shown. This would be titillating if the twinks had the emotional/acting range of a teaspoon, and I actually gave a crap about the characters by that point.

If anything, the nudity of one of the characters makes him even less attractive... and given that the character is a total tool, that's not really that hard.

This doesn't feel like a real film, this feels like the pervy film school movie of some guy who couldn't get twinks to sleep with him, so instead he makes a movie where they behave badly, have pseudo sex and jerk off in front of him.

It's not edgy, it's not interesting and it's certainly not erotic.

Would I recommend it: Oh fuck no. But if you happen to see it on DVD anywhere, please buy it and then melt the disc so nobody else ever has to see it either.


l.i.e.L.I.E.

There are a lot of tropes that gay film makers seem to cling to, partly because they make have happened to the writer at some stage, but also because there's often some element of truth to them that gives audiences (and writers) a shorthand to understand what's going on.

One is the young gay man as a prostitute, which may also include the young gay man as the "victim" or "prey" of an older, somewhat predatory, gay man. And another is the young gay man as victim in general... bad things happen, not because he may be confused about his sexuality, but just because he's the protagonist and an easy way to move the story along is to let bad thing after bad thing happen to your protagonist.

And sometimes, you throw all of those things into one movie, shake it all up and see what happens.

L.I.E. (or Long Island Expressway) is a movie that does that, and it's also a movie I have mixed feelings about.

I have to admit that I was very uncomfortable watching the young protagonist being "groomed" by the "chickenhawk". He's vulnerable, he's reaching out for some kind of positive attention, he's unsure about his sexuality, he has issues with his father... it's all fairly text book, but it's just... creepy.

I think partly because the predator is played with incredible skill by Brian Cox, and Paul Dano (who was 17 when it was made, but looks 14) plays the boy with such longing and vulnerability.

It is a disconcerting movie though because parts of it attempt to be quite erotic, or have that sexual charge that pretty much everything does when you're 15, but then you realise that the characters are 15 and it just starts to make you feel uncomfortable.

The movie did fall back on the cliché of the smarter and more well educated than his years/peers teen though... with the protagonist displaying a talent for writing/poetry as well as a knowledge of art and poetry that seems completely at odds with his behaviour throughout the movie.

It also makes the viewer feel complicit in the grooming/seduction that's going on, as though his apparent intelligence somehow is justification.

Alternatively, I've just revealed something questionable and slightly unpleasant about myself.

Would I recommend it: I'm as conflicted about the recommendation as I am about the rest of this movie. Based solely on the performances, I would have to say yes, because it's incredibly well acted. But it's not a movie I would necessarily say that I "enjoyed" or that would be something I would immediately want to tell other people to watch. So make of that what you will.


grande ecoleGrande École

Everything in sexier in French... it's just a fact.

Even when the characters in a movie are all completely mental... it's slightly less bothersome because it's in French.

Having said that, there's a limit to how far you can push that kind of thing. The lead character's girlfriend in Grand Ecole (or Great School) is a complete nutjob... the entire premise for the movie (that both she and her boyfriend try to see who can sleep with her roommate first) comes absolutely out of the blue. Well, either that or it's just something very French that doesn't translate. I choose to believe it's bad storytelling.

I know it's always chalked up to "but he/she is totally in love with her/him" when crazy people do crazy things to moderately less crazy people, but he really should have kicked her to the curb way before everything got out of hand.

It's also one of those movies where the lead character has a perfectly awesome thing going, but is still lusting after someone so completely unattainable... which makes me want to shake said lead character and scream at him to see what he has. They often don't though, and proceed to completely balls up the very good thing trying to attain the unattainable. It never ends well.

But issues with character motivations aside, it's not a completely horrible take on the "boy in college realises he likes boys" motif. Although Gregori Baquet and Salim Kechiouche do feel quite awkward during the majority of their love scenes (in a way that Baquet doesn't feel during love scenes with his female co-star).

And the male/male sex scenes are handled a little oddly... the first one feels like it's taking place on a theatre stage... the lighting is heightened, the staging is unnatural, and it feels like a performance. The second is actually gorgeous and erotic but seems to take place (semi-spoiler alert) inside a kaleidoscope or hall of mirrors or something... and while it makes for a couple of amazing visuals, it makes the whole thing feel removed from reality. Which would be fine other than the fact the aforementioned male/female sex scenes aren't treated that way.

In a lot of ways, Kechiouche makes the movie. He's a much more real character than the other three male characters, who seem to spend to much time being too clever for their own good.

I don't quite no why, but it doesn't seem like very many gay filmmakers, or possibly just gay screenwriters (or screenwriters who write gay screenplays) know how to end them. A lot of my reviews seem to end with "this movie was really good except for the last 15-20 minutes". And this is another one. There's this entire sequence that feels like it was lifted out of an overly academic and intellectual play and just doesn't seem to make a lick of sense (again, could be a French thing).

Would I recommend it: Hmmmm... I'm divided about this one too. It's very sexy and French and has full frontal male nudity and hot men kissing and a whole naked water polo team showering... but parts of it either seem somewhat trite and cliché or else are made to feel completely heightened and almost not part of the rest of the movie. But there's sexy French boys... speaking French...


Other movies

Okay, there is another movie that should have been on that list... The Big Gay Musical... but I couldn't get more than ten minutes into it.

Quite literally, at the ten minute mark (which is pretty much two minutes or less after actual dialogue starts due to the initial musical number), I groaned at the movie after it introduced the tired old plot device of the gay man in his 30's who hasn't come out to his parents... and now they're coming to see him in his first off, off, off Broadway show, which is, (in no way a) surprise... gay! I mean the musical number was bad enough... normally I like that.... but it's a musical about a musical and we're actually seeing one of the numbers being performed on stage... and...

And I just could not do it. I just didn't care. So it got filed, to remain unwatched pretty much forever.

There were also some other gay themed movies that I watched early in the year and forgot to write reviews for...
  • Boys Briefs 5: It just didn't feel particularly gay... or somehow I got a copy missing some parts. I saw the very first one of these in Melbourne years and years ago, and it was good... now it appears to be any old crap.
  • Kaboom: The dude from the Terminator TV series playing another gay role... started fairly well but just got weirder and weirder and weirder.
  • Caravaggio: Story of the painter... Derek Jarman makes strange anachronistic movies. Not as good as the Edward II one.
  • BearCity: Actually really good. Nice to see a different group of gay men featured in a gay movie, although for the most part still the "pretty" version of it, and hitting a large number of the standard rom-com buttons.
  • The Ritz: Incredibly campy 70's movie set in a gay bathhouse full of farce and mistaken identity... but actually really funny.
  • The Graffiti Artist: I think this movie runs for about 20-30 minutes before the main character speaks a single word (or before anybody speaks from memory). A little "artsy" and predictable at times, but an interesting mix of gay culture and street art culture.
  • Nowhere: By the same guy who did Kaboom... again, starts well, ends up fucking bizarre.
  • Beginners: See my review here.
Just as something of a side note... I was already planning to post this today, but it became weirdly apt as my Medium Boss (not H-San who's the Acting Small Boss, or the Big Boss... but the Boss between those two... Medium Boss) tried to get us all to watch a movie called The Dying Gaul. Which is essentially a gay themed movie.

I still don't quite understand WHY she wanted us all to watch this particular movie, or whether she just wanted to include everyone in The Extended Nut House so nobody felt excluded... but none of us (apart from Rockchick, who is enthusiastic about almost everything) were particularly enthusiastic, so we said we'd watch the first 20 minutes or so... see how it went.

I'm not exactly sure how long I lasted, but I was the first one to leave (followed fairly closely behind by Sugarmonkey). I couldn't stand any of the three major cast members, and the writing was so cheesy. And having looked up the rest of the plot online, I'm very glad that I didn't bother with it.

But it did give us something to discuss for the rest of the afternoon.

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1 comment:

BOUTRIACK said...

Have you see the film ''Contracorriente''?

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