Running Time: 132 mins
Release Date: November 9th, 2009
Read our reviews of the other Boys On Film short film collections here.
With Boys On Film: Cruel Britannia out on May 28th, we’re looking at all eight of Peccadillo Picture’s collections of gay short films, most of which are well worth a look. We’ve already taken a look at Hard Love and In Too Deep, and today it’s time for American Boy, a collection of seven short movies all hailing from the US of A.
From thriller to comedy they’re an eclectic bunch and while overall it’s not quite as strong a release as the first two Boys On Film discs, there’s still a lot of interesting stuff and it’s a cut above a lot of the feature-length gay releases out there. Let’s take a look at the shorts:
Dare (16 mins)
Director: Adam Salky
In 2009, this 16-minute short was expanded into a feature-length movie starring Zach Gilford and Emmy Rossum, but here we get to see the film that inspired it. After a play rehearsal, loner Ben goes back to popular boy Johnny’s house to help him learn lines. The boys begin to develop a bond which starts to reach a crescendo in the swimming pool. Is Johnny going to let things go all the way, especially when his friends could turn up at any moment? While Dare works as an interesting short in its own right, it’s not the sort of film that feels like it needs a feature-length version, even if it got one. Playing with genres and what each teen wants, it’s a well-made short that has its sexy moments.
7 out of 10
In The Closet (14 mins)
Director: Jody Wheeler
Starring gay porn star turned actor Brent Corrigan (aka Sean Paul Lockhart), In The Closet brings horror and CGI monsters to the gay short film. Corrigan plays the shy young Press, who scores a good-looking hook up. Although it seems Press’ problem is that he’s an extreme closet-case, it turns out it’s more what’s in the closet that’s the problem – and it needs feeding. A bit weird and the closet metaphor isn’t quite as clever or funny as the short seems to think, In The Closet in nevertheless amusing, sometimes sexy and has a couple of rather humorous moments.
6 out of 10
Area X (15 mins)
Director: Dennis Shinners
A young man called Paul is in a gay bar and gets chatting to another young guy, Marco. Paul tells Marco how his father picked him up at work that afternoon, bought him a hooker and took them to a motel, telling him not to come out until he’s a man. After escaping that situation he’s now in New York, uncertain what to do, but at least he seems to have made a friend. While well-made and acted, Area X has a feeling of covering very well worn ground that we’ve all seen before. It does have a nice ending, even if it’s 15 minutes that pass the time rather than taking us deep into the characters and situations.
6 out of 10
The Young And Evil (15 mins)
Director: Julian Breece
Young, African-American Karel is bluntly told by his doctor that his high-risk lifestyle is dangerous and putting him at serious risk of contracting HIV. However Karel doesn’t care about that and indeed almost seems to want to get the virus. He then becomes determined to seduce an older man, an HIV advocate, into giving him the condition. While the idea of people who want to get HIV is more than anecdotal, The Young And Evil never really gets to the heart of why someone would deliberately want to contract the virus, other than to suggest a sort of reckless, self-destructive attitude. There must be more to it than that, which the short seems to acknowledge but never fully gets to grips with. It is interesting and provocative though.
5 out of 10
Dish (15 mins)
Director: Brian Krinsky
Teens having major angst over their sexuality is a perennial topic in gay cinema – indeed the LGBT movie business would probably grind to a halt without coming out films, so it’s particularly nice to see a film where gay teens don’t have a problem with their sexuality and live in a largely inclusive environment. Israel and Louise are wandering around East LA, chatting about sex, boyfriends and life, as well as ‘sexting’ and using social networks. Louie boasts about his sexual exploits, but Israel isn’t sure about what he wants to do sexually, deciding that perhaps he has some catching up to do. Although many teens do have huge problems coming to terms with their sexuality, there is undoubtedly a relatively new phenomenon where for some being young and gay isn’t much of an issue. That said, it doesn’t mean there’s not a whole load of other teen troubles to deal with, including a modern world that tells kids they should act in particular ways and that being gay means certain things (particularly sexually). Dish is a great look at this, and a reminder that teen gay life isn’t all about angst.
8 out of 10
Bugcrush (36 mins)
Director: Carter Smith
High school student Ben is a bit of a loner and becomes fascinated with the seemingly cool new kid in school, Grant. Hoping it will lead to something, Ben drives Grant and his friends out into the sticks to have some fun, but the young man gets more than he bargained for when Grant tries to introduce him to the joys of being bitten by an insect that takes you on a strange trip. What starts off rather sweet and hopeful soon takes a turn into the dark and strange. The film’s parallels with the dangers of sexual experimentation, drug use, date rape and the possibility of infection are clear. As the movie descends into horror, it gets increasingly odd but this works to make it all the more disturbing. A great gay horror short.
8 out of 10
Astoria, Queens (22 mins)
Director: Kyle Coker
Apparently inspired by ‘The Wizard Of Oz’ (although very, very loosely), this short follows four 20-something Kansas City transplants trying to live the high life in New York. The newly single Thom is the film’s Dorothy. He can’t decide if he’s becoming a bit of a ho, while also being freaked out by New York and sad about the demise of his relationship. Jimboy, the Scarecrow, is trying to become the first gay white rap superstar, while Anisha, aka Tinman, nags the others to try and temper their bohemian tendencies with a bit of consideration. Finally there’s Cowardly Lion Callie, who drinks too much and lacks the courage to make it as an actress. With moderately successful attempts at snappy dialogue and a very gay tone, the short has the feeling of being a pilot for a potential sitcom. It’s not quite strong enough that you’d want a lot more episodes, but it’s a fun look at modern life and friendships. To be honest, I think if it had gone on much longer I’d have found the characters grating, but at 22-mins it’s a perfectly fine trip.
6 out of 10
Overall Verdict: While not as strong as the first two Boy On Film releases, American Boy is still strong evidence that much of the best work in LGBT cinema is going on in the world of short films.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac
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