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THE NEW TENANTS | THE STRANGE ONES | THE TRAITOR
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last update 24.Sep.11
See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL
|R E V I E W S B Y R I C H C L I N E
Boys on Film: Bad Romance
Peccadillo's seventh compilation of gay-themes short films focusses on the darker side of love. Most of these films have a seriously disturbing edge, and some of them are only tenuously linked to issues of sexuality. But all are extremely well made, with impressive production values and a willingness to provoke us with unexpected explorations of human behaviour.
release UK 26.Sep.11 • 11/UK Peccadillo 2h44 • 18 themes, language, sexuality, violence • 11.Sep.11
dir Alain Hain
scr Jason Mills
with Danny Bernardy, Matthew Wilkas, Rebecca Pappa
|Based on true stories, this film merges documentary and drama to tell the story of two straight male friends (Bernardy and Wilkas) who are surprised to find themselves physically attracted to each other. One of them decides he's gay, but the other isn't sure he wants this to continue. It's an intriguing exploration of sexuality and the things that draw men together as friends, gay or straight. The doc-style soundtrack consists of guys discussing their experiences while actors are seen in a collage of well-shot scenes. It's a little loose and navel-gazing; the guys seem to think that their experiences are somehow amazing when in fact they're probably far more common than anyone admits. Actually, the dramatised scenes are better than the doc-style narration, and the film would be far more involving and resonant as a drama.
|The New Tenants
dir Joachim Back
scr Anders Thomas Jensen
with Jamie Harrold, David Rakoff, Vincent D'Onofrio, Kevin Corrigan, Liane Balaban, Helen Hanft
|This Oscar-winning short opens with a character in an extended rant to his partner about how messed up the world is. From here these two guys (Harrold and Rakoff), who have just moved into a new flat, meet their new neighbours, including a curious old woman (Hanft), an intensely jealous husband (D'Onofrio) and a trigger-happy drug dealer (Corrigan). And they also learn a few uncomfortable things about their new apartment's history. It's a bit theatrical and absurd, with its series of colourful characters, nutty events and pungent commentary about the pressures of everyday life. But it's also oddly entertaining because we never have a clue about what might happen next, not that it makes any difference as the story twists and squirms along rather pointlessly. Fortunately, it's extremely well directed, edited and performed by a gifted cast.
dir Kim Jho Kwang-soo
|Since this opens with a colourful musical number about not letting homophobia get you down, we aren't expecting a too-serious exploration of sexuality here, but there's actually a serious theme underlying what's otherwise a sunny comedy-drama.. The story centres on Seok, excited to be heading to meet his boyfriend Min-soo. But at the military base, they have to pretend to be just friends, and things get more complicated back home when Min-soo takes Seok home to meet his mother and has to continue the charade. And their life is further stressed by Seok's desire to drop out of college and join the army. The film is a bit low-key and goofy, and the relationship between these young men feels somewhat simplistic and immature. But the scene of them trying to be intimate while sleeping in the room with Min-soo's mother is both cute and funny. Then things take a turn that gives the film a surprising emotional kick. Actually, the film is examining the tension between two difficult questions: How do you live honestly without always confronting people about who you are? And how will people know who you are unless you tell them? Maybe you can say it in a song.
|Mirrors Miroirs dÉté
dir Etienne Desrosiers
scr Edienne Desrosiers, Pascal Soudeins
with Xavier Dolan, Patrick Martin, Stephane Demers, Julie Beauchemin, Andre Madeau, Maxime Allaire
|Beautifully filmed and edited like a feature, this introspective drama centres on Julien (Dolan) a teen who's unsure of his own sexuality, During a lakeshore summer holiday, he watches his friends and family members express their own physicality, but worries about his own desires and feels increasingly out of synch with his friends, who seem to run from him in fear. This extremely observant and personal film really gets into the confused Julien's mind; he's not confused because of his own desires but because of the pressures everyone puts on him. And what he needs is space to figure this out and friends and family who will support him. All of this is said in a beautifully understated way that dispenses with any need for narrative and just lets us see through this young guy's eyes, and Dolan's offhanded performance makes it all the more engaging.
dir-scr Christopher Banks
with Rudi Vodanovich, Alexander Campbell, Richard Lambeth, Rita Lefau Ryan, Brian Moore
10/New Zealand 19m
|Jacob (Vodanovich) is a young Orthodox Jew stunned when he inherits a huge house from Andrew (Campbell), a former professor who took him under his wing to tutor him out of hours. Openly gay, Andrew helped Jacob learn how to see beneath surfaces to find the truth. Seen in flashback, their interaction is smart and sharp, and it's clear that Andrew taught Jacob as much about life as about his future career. And scenes with Andrew and his boyfriend Charles (Lambeth) add a strikingly different level of tension to the story. The actors play the characters with raw honesty, making the characters believable while playing on expectations and assumptions. Clearly Jacob is struggling with Orthodox views of homosexuality, although filmmaker Banks never pushes the point: is he wondering about Andrew or himself? It doesn't really matter, actually, as the film has other things to explore. It gets a bit melodramatic in the end, but is provocative and extremely challenging as it looks at what might have been.
dir Tomer Velkoff
scr Olga Sitovotsky
with Shmulik Goldstein, Tomer Velkoff
|With an edgy, urban look to it, this film opens with a scene of domestic tension, as a couple wordlessly prepares dinner while shooting each other quizzical glances. Something is clearly up as they sit down to an equally silent dinner. Sure enough, Tomer finally speaks, saying that he's moving out. Shmulik's reaction is silent and hurt, reaching out with affection, or at least physicality. The actor-filmmaker creates a striking sense of intimacy with virtually no dialog at all. Even when these men engage in physical intimacy we can feel the distance between them. So when they finally do talk, it's an almost outrageous mixture of passion, pain and sexual aggression. Where this goes is strongly unnerving due to the raw style of filmmaking and extremely understated acting. It's difficult to figure out what the filmmaker is trying to say here, beyond making the point that breaking up is hard to do. Although it must be said that this message comes through with a seriously visceral kick.
|The Strange Ones
dir-scr Christopher Radcliff, Lauren Wolkstein
with David Call, Tobias Campbell, Merrit Weaver
|While driving across country, a man and a boy (Call and Campbell) abandon their broken-down car and continue on foot down a rural; highway to an isolated motel, where the caretakers (Nurse Jackie's Weaver) confronts them as they sit by the pool. The connections between these three people are elusive and suggestive, and the filmmaker playfully teases us with horrific hints as to what's going on here. It's extremely well directed and assembled, and the three actors are excellent. Although as a whole, it feels rather gimmicky and flippant, especially since it's touching on such intense issues.
dir-scr Tamer Ruggli
with Benjamin Decosterd, Anton Ciurlia, Manuela Biedermann
Jeremy (Decosterd) is a lively teen with a vivid fantasy life and an annoying mother (Biedermann). He has a crush on his classmate Damien (Ciurlia), so meeting him one evening for a coffee is more than a little nerve-wracking. Especially when Damien starts talking about his sexual experiences with his girlfriend. The film has a relaxed, teasing tone that cleverly captures Jeremy's optimistic sense of possibility, especially as he gets up the nerve to get closer to Damien than he ever dreamed. Well, perhaps not more than he ever dreamed. And the reality is like a slap in the face, which we feel because of the way the scene is played, shot and edited. As the story develops, the relationship between Jeremy and his mother is beautifully played to deepen the characters in extremely clever ways. In the end, this is a film about learning to cope with the fact that you're not like everyone else.And maybe that's not a bad thing.
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© 2011 by Rich Cline, Shadows
on the Wall