Films #219-226: Boys on Film X (Short film series)

bof10Watched on: 7 Aug, 10 Aug, 12 Aug 2016
Total length: 133 minutes

I ordered this DVD online after I had enjoyed another installment of this series. As I think I’ve ranted before, the selection of gay-themed stuff is a bit thin on the ground in Japan, and while this is a UK-produced series, I always get a bit disappointed when Amazon at home has a better selection of books and DVDs than the Japanese one. Anyway, this was available for import, and not too expensive, so I went for it.

Just like the other DVD, I watched it over a few days, but not consecutively. It’s easy to dip in and out like that, with these series. As with the other one, the production values of all the movies are generally high, and the cinematography is generally very ‘filmic’. But the quality of the movies varies a lot. One in particular stood out to me a lot for various reasons, and I could probably write an essay about my feelings on that one alone. I’m going to try and avoid writing too much, though.

As for overall impressions, I think the quality has gotten better compared to the last DVD I watched, and for my birthday I requested my mum to send over some more of these DVDs – which you can just buy in the store back home. Man, that kind of thing is making me homesick.

Here’s something about each film:

Watched on 7 August:
corpsperduFilm #219: Headlong (2012)
aka: Corps perdu
director: Lukas Dhont
language: French and a bit of English
length: 17 minutes

This film is about a young guy on a trip to a foreign city to compete in a dancing competition. It’s the same guy who was in North Sea, Texas, still pretty young when he made this – about 16. He’s obviously lonely, and it seems he can’t speak French to the locals (I took the city to be Brussels on account of it being a Belgian production, but it wasn’t clear – I didn’t know Brussels had a skyscraper district – and nor was it clear where the guy was supposed to be from). A guy breaks into his hotel room, running from the police. The young guy ends up following him, obviously infatuated. They go clubbing together and run around the city.

It shows the guy breaking out of his shell, which was nice, and it was a very atmospheric film. I liked the display of youth – sometimes I feel I missed out on some of the stuff like this at the age of 16. But it was pretty exploitative, about as much as you can get with an underage protagonist. He spent most of the movie with his top off, and there’s a scene when he’s alone with nothing else to do and decides to shave his dick. The ending is nicely ambiguous, though.

asfdhFilm #220: A Stable for Disabled Horses (2012)
director: Fabio Youniss
language: English and some Norwegian
length: 13 minutes

This film was about awkwardness, as far as I can tell, right from the beginning of the film. A Norwegian guy will soon leave the UK, and his British friend invites him round for a leaving party – it turns out it’s just the two of them, and the British guy wants to find a moment to confess his love. Eventually it gets too awkward for the Norwegian guy and he leaves – but at the end he comes back in a gesture of goodwill. It’s pretty low budget – obvious when your movie is shot in black-and-white.

There is comedy in this movie, but not the kind that I’m generally a fan of – it’s way too awkward. The guy in it is apparently a comedian, though, so he does pull it off well, and there is realism in there too. I felt sorry for the characters too – he sounds like he’s put up with a lot of homophobia, and so on. But in any case, this wasn’t the strongest film of the lot.

lgbcidFilm #221: Little Gay Boy, Christ Is Dead (2012)
directors: Antony Hickling & Amaury Grisel
languages: French and English
length: 30 minutes

I could tell by the thumbnail on the DVD that I probably wouldn’t like this movie, and ultimately I was right. It’s about BDSM sex and is very explicit. I could probably write a whole essay on just this one about why I don’t like it and don’t agree with its messages. I don’t think I want to write too much here, though. Suffice to say it’s inciteful and it dances along the boundary of acceptability.

It’s about a boy going around Paris doing odd jobs, but at each step along the way he’s abused by one person or another – including what seems to be his own mother. Certain words and phrases are often repeated – while abusing him, people keep calling him a faggot or some other homophobic insult. At first I thought it might be a dream, and these are his secret desires, or that he’s part of some kind of sex ring, but I think it’s just straight-up him being abused by strangers. It’s ambiguous.

It doesn’t make a lot of narrative sense – it jumps from one incident to the other, and they’re clumsily introduced. A scene where he’s abused by a black dominatrix comes out of nowhere – he literally bumps into her on the street and it cuts to him being spanked. But perhaps that means it really is a dream.

There is also a guy in body paint doing a kind of interpretive dance, and this frankly didn’t work, and was kind of annoying whenever the film cut to that. It didn’t add anything to the film. The soundtrack was a bit screechy at these points, too.

There’s also a lot of Christ imagery – the boy’s initials are J.C., and his submission to the “gods” of gay fetish sex at the end of the movie directly relates him to the famous messiah, through the imagery the film uses. I also found this kind of comparison annoying. Of course, the title includes the phrase “Christ is dead”, but it’s stylized with a cross in place of the T and lined up to read “LGBT is dead”, another point that offended me somewhat. Perhaps it’s saying that we should abandon such labels, but at the same time I felt attacked.

It’s just… the film made me feel angry. Like really angry (both directly at it, but also the homophobia depicted reminded me that my place in society can be volatile). And I think that’s exactly what it was meant to do. Does that mean it was successful?

Watched on 10 August
villageFilm #222: Boys Village (2011)
director: Till Kleinert
language: English
length: 23 minutes

This was a horror-esque film about an abandoned kids’ camp somewhere in Wales. My impression was it was due to be finally torn down, and the filmmakers got permission to film something there before it wasn’t there anymore.

The story is of a ghost boy (spoiler alert, sorry) who stalks around the camp making little dolls to amuse himself. He’s waiting for his parents to pick him up, apparently. Some teenagers come onto the camp, and the boy starts watching them, obviously infatuated. It comes to a head when he gets jealous of one of the teenagers’ girlfriend and manages to scare her off – then watches the guy masturbating. They end up in a spooky basement that even the ghost boy normally avoids. Invisible, he steals a kiss, but this causes the guy to fall back through a wall in shock and die.

It’s creepy and the atmosphere fits very well. I enjoyed it enough. A bit weird with the age of the protagonist, though – he’s only about 12.

blindersFilm #223: Blinders (2011)
director: Jacob Brown
language: English
length: 8 minutes

This extra-short film seemed more like the germ of an idea than a full movie. It depicts a boy and a girl in a club, and they both catch the eye of another boy, waifish and delicate. The blurb on the DVD cover and on IMDB awkwardly says “a creature of a boy”. Ew.

The movie flits from one scene to the next, with big time jumps, so suddenly it cuts to them naked together (there’s a lot of naked flesh and dangling genitals). I got confused by the movie as I felt like I’d missed something. As usual with these movies, the imagery was nice and it was well shot. I think I’d like this if it was longer.

teenslikephilFilm #224: Teens Like Phil (2012)
directors: Dominic Haxton & David Rosler
language: English
length: 19 minutes

This is a teen movie about guys in high school. They apparently had a fling, but one has turned homophobic against the other. It’s kind of a depressing movie and deals with things like suicide and homophobic violence, but it handles the subject matter fairly well.

I did find there were a lot of possibly magical realism elements and weirdness going on, though, with people dancing round open fires and running riot in the streets, and this didn’t sit well with me. I think it took away from the graver tone of the serious elements.

Overall basically this one didn’t stand out for me, and I found it unimpressive compared to the rest.

Watched on 12 August
inflatable-swampFilm #225: Inflatable Swamp (2010)
director: William Feroldi
language: English
length: 13 minutes

This is about a guy who has a lot of casual sex, and he apparently asks his hookups to bring a helium balloon with them – after they leave he writes a pithy summary of the hookup on the side, such as ‘6″, average sucker’. He has a bathroom full of these balloons (how he can stop the helium from leaking I’d like to know!). The balloons are pretty inconsequential, as I’ve seen this trope before with other objects, like in the movie Weekend, where the main character likes to interview his hookups on a recorder, but they seem to show that the guy shares no real attachment with his hookups.

Then there’s a new hookup, but the guy gets hypoglycaemic during sex, and the main character has to find him some chocolate cake to bring him back to life, as it were. It ends with the movie’s only line, asking what the guy’s name is (the rest is silent). Like a punchline. I got impatient with this movie – I don’t like this implicit suggestion that casual sex is emotionless or unworthy.

Also, the film’s blurb (again, it’s the same on IMDB or on the DVD cover) is completely different from the film I watched. It says “With the arrival of Luke, a new man in his life, he finds a way to reconcile pleasures of the flesh with the new aroused imperatives of the heart” – I didn’t see the slightest bit of imperatives of the heart in this movie.

Yeah-Kowalski-ss2-krkFilm #226: Yeah Kowalski! (2013)
director: Evan Roberts
language: English
length: 10 minutes

This was a nice one to end on. The movie is about middle school kids in small town America, and I’m really glad to see how far things have come, in the 12 or so years between when I was 13 and when this movie was made. I’m really glad that it’s possible to have openly gay young teenagers in the modern world, and it makes me wish I wish I hadn’t spent most of my teen years fretting over my sexuality.

The premise is that the main character is worried that he’s not hitting puberty fast enough and that he has no armpit hair. He wants to impress his crush, the obviously gay kid in the class. In a thoroughly embarrassing scene, he takes hair that his dad shaved off, and glues it to his armpits. I thought it was a dream at first, but apparently the character actually goes through with it. I just thought it was a bit ridiculous. But it captures the anxiety that a lot of us go through during our teen years quite well.

So the main conceit of the film is hard to buy, but I liked the characters’ interactions, the bright colour design of this movie, and the light-hearted tone, especially after some of the much heavier films on this DVD. I have a favourite line, said by the main characters best friend, “hoes before homos!” – I googled the phrase but it doesn’t seem to be a real thing. I vote we should make it one.

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