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Boys on Film 13: Trick & Treat - SURPRISE | BOYGAME | CAGED | VIS A VIS | FOLLOWERS
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last update 5.Jul.15
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 13: Trick & Treat
There are 10 twisty stories of sexuality is Peccadillo's latest collection of sexy short films. Several are overtly comical, but all have a dark edge to them. This series fills a valuable gap in the marketplace, not just for getting short films out to an audience but also for highlighting often transgressive little epics that take on society's taboos.
release 13.Jul.15 • 15/UK Peccadillo 2h04 18 themes, language, violence, sexuality, drugs • 18.Jun.15
dir Leslie Bumgarner
scr Trilby Beresford
with Tess Harper, Austin Fryberger
With a bright, sitcom-style tone and two superbly layered performances, this comedy drama is a clever inversion on the coming-out scenario, complete with a series of hilarious twists. It's a scene between Linda (Harper), who is struggling to connect with her tall, lanky teen son Jack (Fryberger), who's in trouble for misbehaving at school and is annoyed that his mother is acting strangely. Finally she tries to break the ice by talking about dating, waiting for him to read between the lines. But of course he's a self-absorbed adolescent who needs a more direct approach. And when things finally become clear between them, there are unexpected ramifications for both mother and son. The script is witty, relying on the terrific actors to convey the subtext that tells the story. And filmmaker Bumgarner shoots it beautifully, like a feature melodrama with a fierce comical bite.
dir-scr Anna Osterlund Nolskog
with Charlie Gustafsson, Joakim Lang, Sophie Adolfsson, Palmira Koukkari Mbenga, Felicia Lowerdahl
This cleverly comical short explores an aspect of adolescence that is rarely addressed on screen: teen experimentation. It centres on two pals, John and Nicholas (Gustafsson and Lang), who enjoy the usual boyish bravado, taunting each other about girls while privately being terrified of them. John freaks at the till where the girl (Mbenga) he likes works, buying a men's fitness magazine impulsively to further his humiliation. Nicholas stalks his crush (Lowerdahl) online. Together watch some porn to see how sex works, but that's too frightening, so they decide to try things out on each other instead. The film has a home-made style that's realistic and surprisingly intimate. It's also enjoyably silly, playing on the comical waves of confusing emotion these boys don't know how to deal with. But it's the bold, edgy approach to the topic that makes it memorable, maintaining a light comical tone while exploring the complexity of sexuality, specifically the point where fantasies meet reality.
dir-scr Lazlo Tonk, Dylan Tonk
with Joel Mellenberg, Josha Stradowski, Yldau de Boer, Leendert de Ridder, Florus Hoogslag, Rosa van Iterson, Anouar Ennali, Pol Buchly
Teen athletes David and Niels (Mellenberg and Stradowski) are pals who run laps together and play football with their neighbours. David is having problems with his girlfriend Stella (de Boer), who turns up at practice with her openly gay friend Tim (de Ridder), sparking a barrage of homophobic abuse from the other guys. But Niels remains quiet, and when David later catches Niels and Tim in a kiss, he's horrified because he has always said he could never be friends with a gay guy. Where this goes is cleverly written and beautifully played, a realistic approach to a very big issue. Thankfully, the sibling filmmakers never preach to the audience, allowing the characters to grapple meaningfully with their own bigotry. Even if the themes are heightened, this is a a delicate, suggestive, hugely engaging little drama with some pointedly sharp edges that give it a real punch. It also has enough plot for a feature film, but never feels choppy or rushed. As Stella asks, "What are you afraid of?", the final message emerges organically to state the obvious: stand up to bigotry and find better friends.
23.Mar.15 flare; revisited 28.Jun.15
|Vis à Vis
dir-scr Dan Connolly
with Belinda Misevski, Dan Connolly, David Harrison, Amy Lehpamer
In Melbourne, pals Ricky and Martin (Harrison and Connolly) are ready for a visit from immigration officer Lara (Misevski), as the British Martin needs a visa to stay in Australia. But their names and their home are so ludicrously gay that she immediately begins to have doubts. Their behaviour is suspiciously flamboyant, and their love story sounds made up on the spot. Indeed, nothing is quite as it seems. But they manage to just about bamboozle Lara until Ricky's furious ex-girlfriend (Lehpamer) turns up. The broad comedy is nicely undercut by relaxed performances from the cast that continually acknowledge the absurdity of the situation. Meanwhile, actor-filmmaker Connolly has a great time filling the screen with camp goofiness, sparky cliches and riotous jokes that stubbornly refuse to land the way the characters intend them to. But this is a silly comedy, not a realistic exploration of immigration issues. And as it boils over into soapy melodrama, its more serious themes feel somewhat pushy. Although a nicely openhanded final scene offers an enjoyable sting in the tale.
dir-scr Tim Marshall
with Valmai Jones, Mark Oliver, Brian Jones, Daniel Rochford, Olwen Rees, Julie Barcla
IRIS PRIZE PRODUCTION
This seriously odd film combines three massive issues - religion, immigration and sexuality - with intriguing results. It centres on Lynn (Jones), an older woman in Cardiff who is active in her church Bible study and choir group. At a swimming lesson, she's paired with new student Rutendo (Oliver), a towering African immigrant in whose swimming trunks she sees the face of Jesus. Since he has just arrived in Wales as a student and knows no one, Lynn invites him to join her choir. But back in the pool, he notices her looking at her crotch, which freaks him out. As he becomes more aloof, Lynn starts following him, making an unexpected discovery about his sexuality and forcing herself to make a decision: does she shun him because he's gay or befriend him because he's lonely? Australian filmmaker Marshall shoots this in a warm, witty style that plays up the tentative, awkward moments. The actors are gentle and thoughtful, which effectively adds texture to moments that are both comical and profane. And even if the story doesn't really go anywhere, it's a beautifully openhanded depiction of what happens when religious zeal meets something earthy and real.
29.Mar.15 flare; revisited 28.Jun.15
dir Philip J Connell
scr Philip J Connell, Genevieve Scott
with Eden Ocean Sanders, Ben Hargreaves, Chris Handfield, Jessica Ryan, Simon Griffith, Scott Clark
In the 1990s, pre-teen James (Sanders) is consumed with thoughts about his classmate Drew (Hargreaves), a swaggering bully who taunts him every day. James has no idea why he has a crush on Drew, but the feelings grow even as he continually gets James in trouble. One teacher (Handfield) advises James to ignore and outsmart Drew, but he instead snaps, knocking him down and getting both of them sent to the principal's office. But there James spots Drew's girlfriend Amy (Ryan) and thinks of another way to get even. Director-cowriter Connell shoots this in a jarringly uneven style, veering from the realistic classroom scenes into James' swirly fantasy life. And some of the dialog is very silly indeed. But the film makes a strong, important point about both bullying and the burgeoning sexuality these kids don't fully understand but feel the need to express somehow. It's also very nicely played by the young cast, who add terrific touches to their characters.
23.Mar.14 flare; revisited 28.Jun.15
|A Last Farewell Ett Sista Farväl
dir-scr Casper Andreas
with Tomas von Bromssen, Iwar Wiklander, Liv Mjones
Warm and earthy, this beautifully shot and edited film is a bit mannered but has an engaging mix of spiky characters who interact in complex ways. It centres on the old grump Erik (von Bromssen), who sulks in his dressing gown, struggling to get over both writer's block and the death of his husband. When his pregnant daughter Malin (Mjones) arrives for a visit, he's surly and argumentative. Upset, she tries to reach out to him, asking him why he hasn't visited Papa's grave with her, but it's clear that he blames her for Papa's death. After she leaves, the spirit of Papa (Wiklander) appears, finally forcing Erik to deal with his bitterness. Writer-director Andreas packs 13 minutes with some seriously punchy emotions, as every glance between these three characters carries years of meaning. But the film is balanced carefully, taking a tough but honest look at grief and the dangers of refusing to make peace with the past. Erik's feelings of betrayal are never belittled, and it's easy to see why he so stubbornly refuses to move on. But he has to. And his journey is both wrenching and moving.
dir Charlie Francis
scr Katie White
with John Cooke, Tommy Jay Brennan, Joe Cassidy, Eunice Olumide
With a simple gimmick, this snappy short playfully explores miscommunication within a relationship. It's set in a Talk 2 Type call centre, where David (Cassidy) acts as a middle man for deaf people. Nathan (Cooke) is trying to contact his deaf boyfriend Paul (Brennan), who is refusing to answer his calls because he's jealous about something he saw Nathan do. As Nathan speaks, David transcribes his words for Paul, and vice versa. This plays out in an inventive swirl of split screens as these three men try to work out a serious kink in these two young men's relationship. And when the call begins to heat up, David's colleagues all begin to take notice. It's clever and often very funny, exploring the chaos that comes from jumping to a conclusion instead of trusting your partner. It's also very simplistic, especially as Paul's sniffy, bitchy responses give way to moaning about how turning 25 has messed up his hormones. We can't help but think that Nathan could do much better. So the film's final punch line seems like a rather cheap shot.
dir-scr Christopher Brown
with Teddy Nicholas, Cai Brigden, Antony De Liseo, David Portman, Roberta Chappell
This ambitious 20-minute short is sharply produced with a dark, menacing tonr and hints of real horror. It opens with a woman's body in a field that's found by a mute boy (De Liseo) playing a homemade string instrument. Then his two travelling companions (Nicholas and Brigden) approach shouting at him not to touch the body because it's infectious. They are trying to migrate north, fleeing a contagious virus that has wiped out civilisation. But there's also a strange dynamic between them. And as the older guys worry about the boy's inability to avoid touching infected people they fail to notice where the real danger lies. Writer-director Brown shoots this in an infuriatingly vague style that refuses to come right out and tell us what's happening. There's the hint of an abusive sexual relationship, but it's impossible to see what is happening or who is involved. Dialog is grunted and inexpressive. And the camera continually cuts away from anything that might reveal what's going on, especially in the choppy action moments. Still, the wild settings are strikingly well-used, with gorgeous cinematography by Jun Keung Cheung and intriguing performances from the actors, even if there's never much sense of the characters or what holds them together. There are glimpses of emotion, and a hopeless wish that things might go back to how they used to be. But it ultimately feels rather random and half-formed.
dir-scr Neil Ely
with Jody Latham, Liam Boyle
In a Manchester nightclub toilet, clubbers swirl in the tight spaces, couples exit cubicles making eye-contact and wordlessly signalling to each other. This is how Luke and Joey (Latham and Boyle) work out that one of them has some drugs, so they head into a cubicle to indulge. As they talk about their friends and girlfriends, they also ask each other, "But are you gay?" This implies that both are closeted. And intrigued by each other. Writer-director Ely creates a vivid atmosphere in this claustrophobic, grotty location, which looks like a rat's maze. Punctuated by witty cutaways to other clubbers, the dialog is strikingly realistic, as both Latham and Boyle bring an improvisational style that keeps the conversation rambling, funny and telling as they peel back each others' layers, trying to get up the nerve to be honest with each other and feeling increasingly close in such a cramped space. And as it goes along, it taps into something rarely expressed in the movies: the relief of discovering someone you don't feel ashamed to be honest with.
If you have a short you want me to review - just ASK
© 2015 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall