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Boys On Film: In Too Deep



915hK95u6IL__SL1500_Released: 2008

Shorts Directed By: Till Kleinert, Hakon Liu, Mathieu Salmon, Soman Chainani, Julian Hernandez, Craig Boreham, Trevor Anderson, Arthur Halpern, Tim Hunter

Certificate: 18

Reviewed By: Timothy Breach

A collection of short films from around the world by various LGBT+ writers and directors which are thematically linked to the collection title: In Too Deep.

The idiom being being “in too deep” is one which most English speaking people understand. It refers to situations or relationships that you are so involved in that you can’t just walk away; it requires action to overcome. Most of us will face such things in our lifetime whether it’s being “in too deep” with an investment or spending years in a relationship, falling out of love but feeling “in too deep” to just walk away. Some of the films in this collection do not seem to have anything to do with the title, whilst others seem to refer to it in terms of being “in too deep” with living one way, denying ones true self.

As with my previous review, there is no set order to watch the shorts in (and after this review you may simply skip to some and avoid others). I however started with The Island. No, not the film starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson about clones, this one is a middle finger to homophobia and one which I thoroughly enjoyed. Who doesn’t like to poke holes in bigoted opinions and beautifully prove a point? So think about this: an island full of gays. Does it sound good or bad? Well Trevor Anderson narrates this vibrantly animated short which draws upon stereotypes of and notions of what it is to be a homosexual man. Though he is proving a point of absurdity, he soon warms to the idea; who wouldn’t? Though the one bad thing about an island of gays; loneliness.

Oh Cowboy. Now what is this short about? Well for starters it’s in German, so don’t expect it to feel like a Western. The notion of cowboys, farms and ranches seems quite prolific in Boys on Film wouldn’t you agree? (It features in Boys on Film 1 and again in Boys on Film 2). I really don’t know why it is called Cowboy. Okay so there is a young man working on a farm but he isn’t what we imagine as a cowboy. Is ‘Farm-hand’ not as hot as ‘Cowboy’? Back to the review. This is far from a Western. It’s dark, yet… almost romantic; or I’m just twisted (I do love horrors!). The relationship between the farm-hand and estate agent is ambiguous, tense and thoroughly surprising. There was something about it all which hit a little too close to home but I can’t quite put a finger on that feeling. I don’t want to spoil anything because this is possibly the best short in the collection. All I will say is that there is sex and there is blood, but thankfully they’re not directly related. Watch it for the final scenes; it’s surprising.

Love Bite. What is a love bite? Well surely I don’t have to tell you. The title pretty much sums up what this short is about and trust me, it is short. The parallels and connotations with vampirism and homosexuality is not new and the shortness of Love Bite means that it fails to tread new ground. It’s not bad. It’s just too short to deliver a unique punch.

Hands up if you like your humour dark. One, two, three… don’t tell me that I can’t see you. Everyone has a webcam! Kali Ma is one of the most refreshing shorts I have seen. Most of the Boys on Film shorts have focused on people within their own culture. Kali Ma however provides an insight into the cultural diversity within the LGBT+ community and Western Society as a whole. Sexuality doesn’t exist on it’s own. Though some people act like it is all they are (which irritates me), there are other factors which influence who we are; religion, race, culture and class. Kali Ma takes this on board and makes a difficult subject accessible with the aid of dark humour. Tackling homophobia in film isn’t new, but this perspective feels original and makes it worth a watch. If only all mothers defended their sons despite their sexuality clashing with the rest of their identity… but maybe not to this extreme.

Sometimes slow and simple doesn’t work. Whilst other times it creates a sense of effortless beauty. Lucky Blue is definitely the latter. If you accept that the pace can be slow and allow yourself to engage in its simplicity, you truly connect with Olle and by the end, truly feel like you were a part of his journey to self-expression. Who knew that caravan parks could be full of so much drama? Okay its internal drama but that’s more real than gun fights and explosions. Tobias Bengtsson puts in a beautiful performance and there is a sense that Lucky Blue was as beautifully written. His performance gently guides you on a journey of love, sex and self-expression. As for the antagonist… well he reminds me of somebody that I used to know so I shall bite my tongue.

The following short is definitely NSFW. I repeat, NSFW! Bramadero features real sexual acts. Blow jobs, rim jobs and anal sex. This however is not pornography. There may be no words but there definitely is a story. Every decision has been made to strengthen the points it is trying to make. All in all Bramadero is a captivating story of raw, animalistic sexual desire. It doesn’t shy away from the inner beast which exists in us all. We are driven by desire. We are driven by sex. But is violence also part of that inner beast? Is that what Bramadero is saying? The beauty in it is that it can speak to us all but I also believe that there is some ambiguity and interpretation to be had, and this just adds to its power; it’s a piece of art.

Week-end à la Campagne sounds beautifully romantic. It’s translation “Weekend in the Country” sounds a bit more generic but suggests potential. In reality however I was confused and underwhelmed. I can’t decide whether it was too long or too short. Was something lost in translation? Did I blink and miss something? Nothing really happened. Is it about cynophobia and homophobia? Is there imagery there? Some sort of connotation? It wasn’t until the final scene that things started to make sense but by then it was too late. It was over. Week-end à la Campagne isn’t bad but as a writer I would have either developed it into a slightly longer short or condensed it and focused it on the relationships more.

In light of the title “In Too Deep”, Working It Out seems to fit perfectly. You’re in too deep in a relationship with issues so you decide to work on it. There’s working on it and then there is trying to manipulate it to get what you want. The characters and story just didn’t resonate at all with me. Even the twist at the end didn’t do anything for me.

Futures and Derivatives… ask me to tell you what it’s about and what happens and I can’t. I have no idea about how, why or what actually happened. But for some unknown reason this didn’t deplete my enjoyment of the film. Maybe it actually enhanced it. It was just intrinsically surreal and beautiful in its ambiguity. Most films would be labelled bad for failing to explain things or failing to provide key information but this isn’t bad. It may be something that you either get or don’t get (or don’t get but get), but I personally liked being bemused. It works because it feels intentional and as a result, everything from the cinematography to the soundtrack adds to the feeling. But on a side note, If anyone does actually make sense of it all, let me know.

So is Boys on Film 2 worth watching? Is it better than Boys on Film 1? Such questions aren’t so simple when you’re talking about collections of short films which cover a spectrum of stories. However I’m here to make a judgment and inform you. Though I would encourage you to watch both collections, as a whole Boys on Film 2 is stronger. There isn’t a truly bad film in the collection, it’s just a question of whether the ones I personally find amazing are to your taste.

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