Yesterday we took a look at the first of the first Boys On Film compilations of gay interest short films. We’ll be reviewing all eight of them ahead of the May 28th release of the latest disc, Boys On Film: Cruel Britannia, and today it’s time for the second compilation, In Too Deep, another great selection of bite sized gay movies covering all sorts of different themes and genres.
There are nine shorts on the disc, so let’s break them down:
The Island (6 mins)
Director: Trevor Anderson
Up in the icy parts of Canada, documentarian Trevor Anderson wanders the snowy wastes and with the help of animation imagines a very gay island where all the world’s homos have been sent. Made as a response to a homophobic letter he was sent that said all gays should be sent to an island, Anderson decides that rather than this being a punishment, it could be a truly wonderful place. You can take issue with some of the ideas Anderson espouses for his big gay isle, but the sentiment is great and the animation certainly makes this a fun introduction to the disc, which acts almost like a visual prose poem.
6 out of 10
Cowboy (35 mins)
Director: Till Kleinert
Winner of the Iris Prize (the world’s largest competitive gay short film festival, held every year in Cardiff), the German short Cowboy finds an estate agent heading out into the sticks looking to make a property deal. He finds a rather strange but sexy young farmhand, and while waiting for the farm owner to return, their initially rocky relationship blooms into something passionate. However after a sexy night, things take a slightly Wicker Man turn in the morning. Extremely well made, Cowboy is a great exercise in playing with your expectations. It’s at turns sexy, scary, exciting, tense, inexplicable and peculiar. I’m still not sure why the world of film thinks everybody rural is a hayseed homicidal maniac, but it certainly works well here.
8 out of 10
Kali Ma (14 mins)
Director: Soman Chainani
Not as specifically gay as the other shorts, Kali Ma sees high school student Santosh returning home having been bullied horribly (including homophobic bullying) by a young man called Peter. Santosh’s mother is not impressed and heads over to Peter’s house to have a word with him, however she soon see red and attacks the boy, giving him a taste of his own medicine. A little bit strange, Kali Ma nevertheless has plenty of humour and it’s good to see the bully get his comeuppance, even if Santosh’s mother takes things a bit far. The term ‘Kali Ma’ is best known in the West as what the Thuggee priest says as he rips someone’s heart out in Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom, but it’s also another name for the Hindu goddess Kali, known as the ‘Dark Mother’, who is both healing and maternal, but also the destroying avenger associated with empowerment we see in this short.
6 out of 10
Lucky Blue (28 mins)
Director: Hakon Liu
My personal fave on the disc is the Swedish film Lucky Blue, a rather sweet tale of two teens, which almost feels like it could/should be stretched out into a feature length movie. The slightly reserved Olle has been camping at the same place with his father every summer for years, where his dad takes part in karaoke contests. This year another regular, Barbro, has brought along her nephew, Kevin, a young lad around Olle’s age. Kevin doesn’t seem interested in camping or anything about this holiday but he forms a friendship with Olle, which slowly develops into something more. A sweet story surrounded by some quirky ideas and characters, Lucy Blue is great fun. It’s helped enormously by an earnest performance from Tobias Bengtsson as Olle, who has the right level of vulnerability and charm to ensure you want things to work out for him.
9out of 10
Love Bite (3 mins)
Director: Craig Boreham
A very short film at only three minutes, Love Bite is as much a visual joke as a film, and I don’t mean that in a pejorative sense, as why shouldn’t you be able to use film to tell a joke? Two teens are in one of their bedrooms, and one of them has something to confess. The other thinks his mate is about to come out, but is that it? Australian director Craig Boreham’s film doesn’t belabour its point and has a bit of fun upending expectations.
5 out of 10
Bramadero (21 mins)
Director: Julian Hernandez
In this Mexican short, two men meet high up in a half-completed building. Without words they fight, find love, have extremely explicit sex and dance. While I’m sure many will appreciate the hardcore sex, a lot of people will also sit there wondering what on Earth is going on in Bramadero. Part film, part performance piece, there’s the sense that everything happening is supposed to have great meaning, exposing what’s going on between the men, but it left me rather cold with a feeling that it’s not as well put together or as deep as it could have been.
4 out of 10
Weekend In The Countryside (16 mins)
Director: Matthieu Salmon
Pierre and Marc arrive at a house deep in the countryside. As Pierre prepares to take a shower, Marc decides to make his move, showing that for him their friendship isn’t purely platonic. Pierre rebuffs Marc’s advances. Then, when Pierre heads for the swimming pool, Marc’s dogs turn nasty. But is the problem the canines or Marc’s fear of them, and will Pierre do anything about it? While the leads are cute and it’s kind of interesting, I’m not 100% sure what Weekend In The Country is trying to say. The dogs may be representative of something (can they smell out homophobes?) and Pierre’s responses after he’s been rebuffed are intriguing, but overall I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of it.
5 out of 10
Working It Out (6 mins)
Director: Tim Hunter
Marcus and Peter are at the gym and spend most of their time bickering. The seemingly insecure Marcus constantly badgers his boyfriend about what he thinks is his attraction to other men, particularly the handsome Jeremy, even though Peter says he only vaguely knows him. However is everything it appears? Short and fun, Working It Out may have a fairly obvious twist but it is amusing.
6 out of 10
Futures (and Derivatives) (18 mins)
Director: Arthur Halpern
A dull financial company wants new business and hopes to attract a fresh client with a great presentation. They hire an unproven temp called Elliott to spend all night coming up with what they hope will be a killer PowerPoint presentation. However the slideshow isn’t quite what they expected, with images of insects and various other things soon overpowering the bullet points and bar graphs. The magic of this leeches off the screen and soon everyone involved is seeing the world in a new way. Futures (and Derivatives) is a fun idea and it certainly manages to offer a sense of magic even if it remains a little oblique and peculiar. It’s not a film that prizes logic, but it has a feeling of wonder that’s infectious.
6 out of 10
Overall Verdict: A fun, sexy selection of shorts, which includes a couple of excellent longer pieces, interspersed with some interesting films on all sorts of subjects.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac