The Boys On Film DVD series of gay short film compilations heads to the opposite side of the world for an octet of movies from Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, South Korea and Hawaii. Perhaps a little less gay exclusive than previous releases, it’s a very eclectic bunch of films.
We’re reviewing all the Boys On Film discs ahead of the release of Boys On Film: Cruel Britannia on May 28th, so let’s take a look at the Pacific Rim shorts:
Drowning (20 mins)
Director: Craig Boreham
Aussie director Craig Boreham also directed Love Bite, which features on one of the earlier Boy On Film releases, but Drowning is a longer, more complex film, and stars Xavier Samuel, who’s since gone on to appear in Twilight: Eclipse. Mik and his friend Dan (Samuel), head over to visit Dan’s girlfriend. Mik seems less than impressed with this rich girl ‘princess’ and makes it clear he doesn’t think she’s right for Dan. However as the evening progresses and Mik’s anti-social behaviour gets more extreme and potentially dangerous, his family troubles are revealed as well as his feelings for Dan. It’s rare in gay films that the protagonist is presented as being a complete dick, but there’s no doubt that Mik is not exactly a nice guy. The short does a good job of drawing you in though and making Mik understandable. It’s a surprisingly complex little film and well worth watching.
7 out of 10
Franswa Sharl (14 mins)
Director: Hannah Hillard
Based on a true story, 12-year-old Greg is on holiday with his family in Fiji. His man’s man father seems less than impressed with whatever his creative son gets up to, but is looking forward to his daughter entering a local beauty contest. However Greg has his own ideas about how to stir things up. Franswa Sharl is fun but tends to skim over the surface, telling the entertaining story without digging all that deep into it. That said, it’s sweet and certainly doesn’t outstay its welcome. It also stars Callan McAuliffe, who’s making quite a name for himself in Hollywood, starring in I Am Number Four and Baz Luhrman’s upcoming take on The Great Gatsby.
6 out of 10
Tanjong Rhu (19 mins)
Director: Boo Junfeng
A fairly rare LGBT effort from Singapore, Bo Junfeng’s film is about a former military officer who’s making a documentary about a man he first encountered at Tanjong Rhu, a local cruising ground. However the officer hasn’t told the man he was the one he met that night, shortly before the documentary’s subject was arrested and his face splashed in the newspapers, subjecting him to public ridicule. The short film made quite a splash in Singapore’s small gay community, largely for publicly acknowledging LGBT people exist there. From the outside it’s almost shocking to see a man being interviewed about being gay as if this was such a strange, foreign thing even the simplest things need explaining . Tanjong Rhu never feels forced and presents a rather sobering picture of life in a society where everything gay is hidden away, so that even the simplest of things are sources of potential guilt and difficulty. Although sometimes a bit heavy-handed, the power of the true story it’s based on comes through clearly.
7 out of 10
Teddy (15 mins)
Director: Christopher Banks
A Brit heads to New Zealand to visit an old flame, hoping to rekindle what once was, despite the fact that he knows his former lover is now in a committed new relationship. While reminiscing over an old teddy bear, he begins to realise that he may have to move on. While the desire to have back the idealised version of what once was is understandable, Teddy is a tad heavy-handed and obvious, and the short running time doesn’t really allow it to develop the characters, which leaves it feeling a bit contrived.
5 out of 10
Love, 100°C (22 mins)
Director: Kim Jho Gwang-soo
Min-soo is a young, hearing-impaired man, becoming aware of his gay identity. At a public bath house (and in South Korea, some men actually go to the baths to wash and relax – crazy, I know!) he is approached by one the attendants and ends up having sex with him. What initially seems like an act of empowerment can’t stop him being bullied by the other kids at his school, but it helps to have something like this in his life. However when push comes to shove, will he stand by and allow his new sex partner to be attacked for being gay? What starts out sexy and fun eventually turns dark and somewhat disturbing. It’s very well made and has some surprisingly sexy scenes, although it does sometimes feel like Love 100°C could/should be delving deeper into its subject.
6 out of 10
My Last Ten Hours With You (15 mins)
Director: Sophie Hyde
Jeremy and Mark know that the following morning they’ll both be going their separate ways, although it’s more by circumstance than either of them really wanting it to end. Over their last 10 hours, they chat, have sex, fight and try to find a way to say goodbye, which expresses what they both want to say, even though neither seems to know exactly what that is. A good case study in showing that gay man can be just as tongue-tied and inexpressive about their emotions as any other guys, My Last Ten Hours With You is filled with great moments, working under the men’s skin to try and reveal what’s going on in their heads. Many will recognise it’s tale of someone trying to be the bigger man but expressing their true feelings in small ways they hope the other person will understand. My Last Ten Hours With You is sometimes melancholic but quietly moving.
8 out of 10
Ron The Zookeeper (7 mins)
Director: Darcy Prendergast
This stop motion animated effort isn’t as gay specific as most of the other shorts (unless you count a male zookeeper wanking off a panda as gay, which I suppose it is, sort of). Ron looks after the only male grey panda left in the world and needs to get his charge to produce some sperm if there’s any chance of the species surviving. However the panda only wants to read and has erection problems anyway. Ron thinks he’s found the solution – Viagra and his hand. Very silly but a lot of fun, some of the humour is near the knuckle, but it’ll put a smile on your face.
7 out of 10
Ajumma! Are You Krazy??? (25 mins)
Director: Brent Anbe
Three women in Hawaii are obsessed with Korean film star Michael Parks and are absolutely ecstatic to discover he’s visiting the islands. While they’re supposed to be at work, they set out to track him down, fighting off a bunch of beautiful women who think they should be able to use their looks to impress the movie star. However Michael may not be that interested in beautiful women. Although it has its heart in the right place, Ajumma! Are You Krazy??? suffers from some dodgy acting, an overly predictable plot and occasional slips into unbelievability. It’s a shame the disc has to end on a weak note, but at least the short is daft rather than bad.
5 out of 10
Overall Verdict: While it tails off in quality towards the end, the disc has some strong shorts showing some great talent from around the Pacific.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac