Film #287: Lloyd Neck (2008)

director: Benedict Campbell
language: English
length: 16 minutes
watched on: 28 April 2017

I decided to return to the world of gay-themed shorts that can be found on Youtube – the first since All Over Brazil back in February. As usual, I didn’t know what it was going to be about, so a relative shot in the dark.

This one was apparently shown in Sundance, and its name refers to a place in New York state. It’s about a boy and his younger sister, and another boy. The film is short and scant on details – we are seeing a snapshot of a point in their lives – but it seems clear that the two boys had been involved at some point. One is a photographer, and one is a sportsman, and the film starts with a montage of them doing their separate activities. Away from the sister, they talk about the future, going to college, and guys that they might both get involved with.

Meanwhile the sister might also have a crush on the other boy, but she’s also perceptive enough to assume that he and her brother might be boyfriends. She seems excited by the idea.

It’s a nicely-shot film, and it has bright, bold colours. It leaves a lot to the imagination. And for once, although the boys are secretive and presumably closeted, the film is not about coming out, or the aftermath of coming out, or homophobia. So I liked that aspect of it. It’s more about atmosphere, and the uncertain transitional periods of the characters’ lives.

It can be watched at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3L3iHMZKMO0 Check it out and let me know what you think!

Film #249: Absent (2013)

absentdirector: Leandro Tadashi
language: English
length: 6 minutes
watched on: 20 Dec 2016
on vimeo: https://vimeo.com/61652698

I follow various blogs that post links to gay films to put on my watch list, which is where I found this one. It’s a simple drama that unfolds over the 5 minutes between a man and his late husband’s mother. We find out that he was denied access to the funeral, and understandably, he’s a bit reticent about letting her into his house – she wants to reminisce about her son, and claims it was her husband that was being homophobic, not her. He tells her that’s not the case, and that she should get out.

In the end she steals a photo of the two guys together, but swaps it for a handprint the husband made as a baby.

It should be a heartbreaking little story, particularly as the two guys are so young, but unfortunately the acting was too wooden to show this in great detail. I just didn’t quite believe in the characters. Oh well. I suspect it was made for a course, and in that it’s absolutely fine. I’ve linked it above if anyone wants to make their own impressions and conclusions.

Film #246: Alkali, Iowa (1995)

alkaliiowadirector: Mark Christopher
language: English
length: 17 minutes
watched on: 2 December 2016

I was linked to this on Tumblr or something, I guess, and it found its way onto my hard-drive. Not sure if I ripped it from Vimeo or from a torrent file. Anyway, you can watch it on Vimeo if you google the title. I got round to watching it when my boyfriend asked to watch something, but I had to go to work the next day, so something short was best.

It’s about a guy growing up on corn farms in Iowa and realizing he’s gay. Then through a roundabout series of events he discovers that his late dad was also secretly gay, and the blonde guy that sometimes comes to a nice picnic spot near the farm was his father’s lover once upon a time. Unfortunately, granddad is homophobic and draws a gun on the blonde guy.

It was a nice little movie. The corn fields are shot very nicely, although bleakly. The various family relationships portrayed were realistic.

It’s not the most interesting, however. Not much happens in the movie except that the granddad gets angry at the son for prying. But it’s short and it’s a curious watch, so if you’re at all interested I’d go for it! Let me know what you think!

Film #242: Spooners (2013)

spoonersdirector: Bryan Horch
language: English
length: 13 minutes
watched on: 28 October 2016
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This movie was the last short film on “Boys on Film 11”. It’s almost aggressively a comedy movie. It starts with tinkly Spanish-sounding music to let us know we’re in for a funny ride and has a bunch of one-liners. But ultimately I wasn’t so impressed with it. However, it was a nice ending to the series – as with the last series, it was nice to end on a high note.

The premise is that two guys are in the market for a new mattress, their ancient futon having gotten uncomfortable to lie on, and stained. One of the guys wants to keep it, as he’s grown attached to a stain that resembles both Che Guevara and Jesus. Ew. Anyway, the other guy is desperate to get a new mattress and not so desperate to out himself in public, so he tries to go along to the bed shop in secret, but when he gets there, the sales rep makes him use a special talking bed-choosing machine/app/robot thing, which promptly outs him to the entire store when it forces him to select the gender of both participants. This leads to the scene above where everyone crowds around offering their own opinions on everything, and to increasingly cringy situations when the app asks him to choose what sexual position he takes, and so on.

OK, it was funny. But I also thought it was trying too hard, and I thought the app thing was a silly conceit. I think there’s a point there about companies asking invasive questions to their customers, perhaps, but it also came across as Luddite in its treatment of modern apps. I also watched the trailer and the Kickstarter video, and they had all the same jokes in them.

I did like all the other customers with their ridiculous opinions, though, and I thought the two guys acted well as a couple together, so it’s not all bad.

As for the rest of this series of films, it’s been good in general, and I think the quality and variety on this DVD is absolutely commendable – perhaps there is more variety than the older DVD. I think every film is a different genre, and then some. But none of them are very outstanding, if I’m honest. There are a couple of more notable films from the other DVDs. It’s not going to stop me watching, though. There’s a certain level of comfort in it.

Film #241: For Dorian (2012)

for-doriandirector: Rodrigo Barriuso
language: English
length: 15 minutes
watched on: 28 October 2016
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This is one of the more poignant movies on the “Boys on Film 11” series, but it was less explicitly gay than the others, in my opinion. It’s about a boy with Down syndrome (Dorian of the title) and his father. The boy is coming of age and starting to seek his own independence, much to his father’s chagrin.

As far as I can tell, it’s a rare look into the sexuality of a disabled person, and it treats its protagonists with respect. The boy is obviously interested in a hot weatherman, and has a collection of screenshots on his computer. He only talks about the weather to his dad. He also walks arm-in-arm down the street with his best friend from school and it’s sensible to read something more into their friendship.

Dad isn’t having it, though – he chastises the boy’s after-school carer for not bringing him home. He also won’t let the boy cook his own breakfast, even though he’s willing to help, perhaps worried that he’ll mess it up – but he hasn’t had the opportunity to try! He needs to realize that he won’t be responsible forever.

Aside from that, it’s obviously a coming of age story, and fits a few more of those tropes well. Furthermore, I liked the minimalist cinematography and the precise composition of so many shots in the movie. I also thought the setting – Toronto in winter – was evocative, and the scenery was crisp and clean to match the interiors. Out of the eight films on this DVD, I don’t think this was the best, but it’s probably second or third.

Film #240: Little Man (2012)

little-mandirector: Eldar Rapaport
language: English
length: 24 minutes
watched on: 28 October 2016
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This was the sixth movie on the “Boys on Film 11” DVD, and I think it’s the weirdest out of them all. It’s about a gay guy who’s leading an unfulfilling life, hooking up with guys only to have them ditch him the next morning, or even literally during sex.

At the same time all the straight men around him, like his brother or an anonymous taxi driver, keep telling how easy he must have it to hook up with guys, and that girls are a much more difficult nut to crack, and eventually he snaps, at the taxi driver, while he’s trying to hook up with a guy in the back seat. But when he gets home, he finds that some nerd-looking guy – the “little man” of the title – living in the flat upstairs has been secretively setting up all his hook-ups, like a combination of a guardian angel and the Illuminati. That’s where it becomes creepy, as there’s all these photos on the wall, like mementoes of his failed love life. The little man gets beaten up by the main character and is left for dead.

As with some of the other movies, I wasn’t sure what this movie was trying to say. I think there’s a perfectly valid point when it attacks people saying that girls or boys are easier to hook up with, but I’m curious what the little man is meant to represent. Perhaps it’s saying that we don’t have as much control over our lives as we think, or that we’re under constant observation. Perhaps it’s more of a straight-up what-if scenario, and it’s asking if we would do the same thing in his situation. I’m not sure, and I didn’t find it as poignant as some of the other movies in this series.

Film #238: The Last Time I Saw Richard (2014)

tltisrdirector: Nicholas Verso
language: English
length: 22 minutes
watched on: 23 October 2016
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This is the fifth in the “Boys on Film 11” DVD, and it’s the one that’s used on the DVD cover. It’s set in a mental hospital somewhere in Australia, and has a strong creepy horror bent to it.

The main character Jonah self-harms, which we see in too graphic detail early in the film. Coincidentally, the last time I saw this on film in such detail was another Australian film where a character kills herself. I really don’t see a reason to include this. But whatever. The love interest is Richard, a new roommate for Jonah. Jonah is a massive dickhead to everyone around him, manipulating everyone around him to get his own way, but with Richard it’s like an unstoppable force up against an unmovable object – Richard is cut off from the world (he always has headphones in) and lashes out with violence when Jonah tries to snoop on him.

But they bond over basketball, and end up in bed together, although it seems more to protect each other from their nightmares. This is where the horror part comes in – there are dream visions where they are missing eyes, or where dark shadows from the corner of the room try to attack the two boys. Despite not being realistic, this part was totally believable, given the setup and taking the boy’s point of view directly.

I thought the piece was well-considered, and even over the very brief total time, there is considerable character development, which I also liked. It can be commended for realism even with the dreaming and fantastic elements, and I really felt sorry for the main character at the end, when he is forced away from the boy he’s grown to love – despite really not taking to him at all at the beginning, when he was being a manipulative little shit. It’s probably my surprising favourite of the 8 films on the DVD. You can watch it on Youtube, but be prepared to cry.

Film #237: Three Summers (2006)

tre-somreaka: Tre somre
director: Carlos Augusto de Oliveira
language: Danish
length: 28 minutes
watched on: 23 Oct 2016
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This was the fourth film on “Boys on Film 11”, and one thing I was surprised about was that it was released a lot earlier than the others on the DVD. I think the DVD was released either 2013 or 2014, and the other films are all from around 2012 or 2013, but this one feels subtly older even when I was watching it – indeed, it feels like the stuff I was watching when I was 18 or 19, maybe in terms of production value or atmosphere. Makes sense, of course!

The film is set in Denmark – there are two main characters, the older man and the teenage boy. You can tell where it’s going already, and indeed they hook up in the second act (the kid is only 15, though, so not exactly palatable). The film has an explicit three act structure, taking place during three consecutive summer holidays when the man is back in Denmark. The boy is his friends’ son, who comes to visit.

In the first act, the man teases the boy about not having a girlfriend, and says some suggestive things like, don’t get yourself tied down to a woman. The boy comes out to him in private, trusting him as someone impartial, who he doesn’t know well. I was pretty sure the man was already perving on the boy. In the second act, the boy, newly out, sporting a very gay haircut, and making dirty jokes in front of his parents, seduces the man, who has been divorced. In the third act the boy comes back more mellow and confident, which freaks out the man, who has a new girlfriend at that point but obviously isn’t over the boy. The boy walks away with the upper hand at the end of the movie.

It was an interesting piece, a bit longer than the other movies in the set. I’m not sure what to take away from it, perhaps the confidence of youth and the changing attitudes between generations. I enjoyed it, being more to the point than a lot of longer gay movies that I’ve seen.

Film #236: Alaska Is a Drag (2012)

alaska-is-a-dragdirector: Shaz Bennett
language: English
length: 14 minutes
watched on: 16 October 2016
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I quite enjoyed this one, the third short of “Boys on Film 11”. It’s about a drag queen in Alaska, who feels trapped at what he calls “the end of the world”. He works in a fish packing plant, and deals with daily homophobia (and/or racism) from his coworkers, which often gets very violent. Then a new guy comes to town, shaking things up as he obviously enjoys spending time with the first guy, and comes to see his drag routine in the local gay bar, which is absolutely deserted. He helps the first guy defend himself from the homophobes.

It’s left ambiguous, technically, whether the new guy is actually interested romantically or just platonically. He has his arm round his shoulder at the end, though.

What I really liked about this one was not just the drag routines, which are gloriously colourful, but also the mise-en-scène and the contrast between the dreary outside world and the colourful drag world. I thought an obvious parallel was drawn there. I also liked some other stylizations, like that the homophobes are obvious pastiches of 1980s high school movie archetypes, what with the girlfriend hanging on to the alpha-male in charge of the group, and their general bullying demeanour.

I’m quite glad to see this one is getting the feature-length treatment. Obviously it’s not going to be that popular, but I’d be interested in watching it to find out how they will expand it.

Film #235: Burger (2013)

burgerdirector: Magnus Mork
language: English
length: 11 minutes
watched on: 16 Oct 2016
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This is the second movie on “Boys on Film 11”, and it is a slice of life that takes place in a typical late night takeaway somewhere in the UK. Like A Stable for Disabled Horses on Boys on Film 10, it seems to have been shot on a shoestring in a very claustrophobic setting.

Over the course of the ten or so minutes, several groups of late-night revellers come in after a long night’s clubbing, and settle down to eat their burgers or fish and chips or whatever. It seems to be included on this DVD because one of the groups of characters are gay, and one of them flirts with the first group of straight guys, but avoids the chavs who come in halfway through – who try to incredibly awkwardly chat up a pair of girls, one of whom is on the phone to her boyfriend to call him a cunt.

It’s kind of funny and kind of interesting, but I’ve never been much interested in slice of life, and this one suffers because its short length doesn’t let it develop any of the strands fully – there are at least four different stories happening here. It’s probably more interesting as a cultural study than anything.