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5 TELEPHONE CONVERSATIONS|
MY LITTLE BOY | THE SADDEST BOY IN THE WORLD
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last update 12.Apr.08
See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL
|R E V I E W S B Y R I C H C L I N E|
a selection of shorts from|
the BFI's 22nd London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival
This extremely simple short feature six queeny men who discuss their obsession with Oprah. And that's about it. Along the way, they tell Oprah's life story, or at least what they've heard about it, and the banter about her fluctuating weight, the clothes she wears and her "serious" hair. They also talk about what they would do on a dream day out with their idol. While there's an element of intrigue in this simple examination of fan obsession, in which the object of their affection can seemmingly do no wrong, the film is utterly silly, using bouncy animation to shift between the talking heads, who never interact with each other at all. Still, it's consistently hilarious to watch these enthusiastic guys gush about Oprah for nine minutes.
dir David Quantic |
5 Telephone Conversations |
There's a nice idea behind this slightly simplistic short about two lonely guys who meet in an internet chatroom: Korey (Colbert-Kennedy) is a lonely homebody, while John (de Lint) is a lively party boy. Over the course of five teasing, testy conversations, they have a profound impact on each other, challenging each other to get out of the ruts they're in. And possibly agreeing to meet in person at some point in the future. It's engaging, and the actors are likeable and effective, but the script is both stiff and moralistic. And it also seems a little unlikely that these two guys, who have nothing in common, keep in touch over five phone calls without ever meeting in person. Still, there are occasional sharp insights: "Having a lot of nothing is still nothing."
dir-scr Travis Cook|
with Brian Colbert-Kennedy, Mick de Lint, Kristopher Belman, Kylan Coats, John Lange
My Little Boy |
With a harsh political context, this period drama packs a strong punch. It's about Erich (Rohner), a photographer in 1934 Germany who's in love with a stormtrooper, Wolfgang (Wlaschiha). They meet secretly in Erich's photography studio, since a new edict has decreed that homosexuality is illegal -- and punishible by death. This is especially a problem as stormtroopers are enforcing this law, and Wolfgang's colleagues might not be too far away. So it's unsurprising that Erich wants to emigrate. But Wolfgang wants to serve his country. This serious conflict between two men gives the film a meaty centre that transcends the political and historical issues, especially since they're so well played, and their interaction has a strongly sensual tone. While recreating the period with an attention to detail, filmmaker Von Schemm also captures a vivid sense of sadness, as Erich earlier photographs his friend Karl (Glaubitz), who's also being forced out of his social circle by the increasingly oppressive regime. In just 20 minutes, it's tricky to develop much character depth, but the situation is bracingly well-defined, and a closing caption adds the stark historical reality. Thie would definitely be worth expanding into a feature, and Von Schemm proves here that he has the skills to do it.
dir-scr Matthias Vom Schemm|
with André Röhner, Tom Wlaschiha, Dominik Glaubitz, Markus Klauk, Volker Büdts
Trent 2 Rent |
This short film has an intriguingly grand scale, shot on 35mm with a big musical score and an ambitious structure. But it's also awkward and pretentious, with stiff performances (blame the director) that aren't helped by a clunky script and dodgy camera work. There are parallel plots: One has a frightfully posh woman (Quick) reading a story to her granddaughter, who's been injured in a car accident. Meanwhile, the main story develops about Trent (Cade), a young man who breaks up with his girlfriend (Malmkjaer) and moves in with his friend Joey (Rolfe), who works as a prostitute. Soon, Trent realises that he can make rather a lot more money if he joins Joey's profession, even though he's not gay. He takes the plunge, closes his eyes and thinks of England. He quickly earns more cash than he can spend while insisting that he's not a rent boy. Meanwhile, Joey discovers he's HIV-positive and gets bashed by a homophobic john. Yes, the film is deeply moralistic and pushy about it, which is even more of a problem since the story feels too naive and contrived, and the filmmaking far too prudish, to appeal to the people the sermon is meant for. It's a fascinating topic for a short -- addressing prostitution as it crosses boundaries of sexuality -- but when Trent goes into kung fu mode in one scene, it loses whatever credibility it might have had. And what the grandmother's story means is anyone's guess.
dir-scr Cassius Matthias|
with Dan Cade, Ashley Rolfe, Diana Quick, Roberto Purvis, Renata Danobeitia, Anna Malmkjaer, Matthew Sim, Michael Culkin, Alex Dower, Geno Lechner
The Saddest Boy in the World |
Produced to an extremely high standard, this short brilliantly combines overwhelming gloom with dry wit that keeps us laughing at the outrageous injustice inflicted on this poor little kid. Timothy (Smith) is not having a good day: it's his ninth birthday party, and his mother (Robek) doesn't seem to understand how miserable he is about his life. As he prepares to hang himeself, he reflects on his friendlessness and the vacuous surban community around him. Even when he tries to rejoin the party, things go from bad to worse, with a disastrous game of musical chairs and a moment of horror when the other kids decide to use his art project as a piñata. And the prescription drugs aren't helping either. The utter blackness of this film is striking -- looking at death and alienation with an evil smirk. Yes, it's incredibly bleak, but it's also hilariously funny as it slices through the serious issues with gleeful cynicism. Genius.
dir-scr Jamie Travis|
with Benjamin B Smith, Kirsten Robek, Hailey Conner, Babs Chula, Jerocko Harder
Without a word of dialog, this clever short film is a beautifully formed miniature epic, with strong emotions and a real sense of emotion. A man lives a dual life -- as a respected teacher and as a glamorous drag queen. No one knows his secret, and as a result his life is fairly lonely. Then one night when he's on the streets in drag he spots a young man who has been assaulted on a bridge and goes to his rescue. And when their eyes meet, there's a flash of recognition. Writer-director Pedrizetti films and edits this sumptuously, capturing the rhythms, textures and colours, as well as the dark emotions beneath the surface. In four short minutes, she creates a remarkably moving and involving little drama. Simply lovely.
dir-scr Cinzia Pedrizetti|
Intriguing and thought-provoking, this lean, sleek short continually shifts tone as it progresses through 14 minutes, sometimes feeling like an adventure, a sexy romp, an emotional drama or a rather creepy thriller. Hugo (Tuccio) is a young guy in West Hollywood who finds a nice man on a chat site. His car's in the shop, so he takes a cab into the hills to meet Brett (Courtney), who is preparing for the visit in a rather sinister way. But their initially nervous conversation shifts into friendly ease, the jacuzzi is gorgeous, and after a swim they snuggle up on a sun lounger to get to know each other a bit better. But there are a few surprises in store. Filmmaker Babich captures a palpable sense of loneliness in both men, drawing out intriguing emotional responses with each twist in the plot. Both edgy and sweet, this is a beautifuly filmed short with especially strong performances from the cast members and a challenging final scene that gently asks us to consider the relationship in a new light. A beautifully contained mini-drama.
dir Michaline Babich|
scr Michaline Babich, Richard Courtney
with Joseph Tuccio, Richard Courtney, James McCarthy, Al Rondon
Nicely shot, with natural performances, in the end this film is a little simplistic and slight. It centres on Simon (Paisley), a young guy who heads to a gay sauna and is imediately feeling awkward, especially when he accidentally injures another guy (Frederic) in the lockerroom shortly after arriving. His nervousness keeps him on edge, even when the guy introduces himself in the sauna. Then he meets a 17-year-old rent boy (Swash) and is even more intimidated. Frankly, the film feels a bit nervous itself about the whole sauna experience, like the filmmaker is embarrassed to be telling this litle story. There's a bit of nudity, but no actual sex is apparent, and in the end the story resorts to old-fashioned romance rather than anything mindless or physical. Still, it's intriguing and very well put together. And bodes well for two promised companion pieces: Blood and Tears.
dir-scr John Lochland|
with David Paisley, Tom Frederic, Tom Swash
See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL
© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows
on the Wall