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Boys On Film: American Boy



5060018651743_4fReleased: 2009

Shorts Directed By: Adam Salky, Jody Wheeler, Dennis Shinners, Julian Breece, Brian Krinsky, Carter Smith, Kyle Coker

Certificate: 18

Reviewed By: Timothy Breach

A collection of short films which, unlike the previous collections, are not from around the world, but primarily focus on writers and directors from the USA, hence the title: American Boy.

American boy? What images does that conjure up? I’m sure that it is as varied as the country itself but as with the LGBT+ community itself, American has its own stereotypes; loud, brass, egotistical… shall I go on? For me this collection is thematically linked by the idea of confidence (or lack of) and how this affects each protagonists life and how it changes from beginning to end. You’re more than welcome to disagree but that very much fits in (or challenges) the typical stereotypical American.

Dare at its core is a typical gay guy fancies “straight” guy story but it is so much more. Yes it is about sexuality, self-discovery and (who’d have guessed) a dare, but it is written and performed in such a believable and moving way that it is anything but typical. There’s a simplicity and realness to it all. It is well paced and everything happens for a reason which means that you get hooked from the beginning. What makes it enjoyable to watch is the life that the characters have. They’re not two dimensional. Whether you like them or not, you can’t stop watching them. I’m desperately trying to avoid spoilers but what I will say is that it made me smile.

Do you like horror or sci-fi and feel un-catered for? Well In The Closet may be what you’re looking for (though I thoroughly recommend Dante’s Cove and The Lair!). With a title such as In The Closet it is hard to escape the meaning that has become attached to the idiom but there is no need for me to explore this as I’m sure you’re well versed in it. I found it to be fun, fresh and interesting (as well as creepy); for me there is potential in the premise for a feature length film, but who am I to truly judge that? If you like sex, it has it. If you like blood, it has it. What more can a gay horror/sci-fi fan need? (Feel free to leave comments). To give you a taster, I shall leave you with this: ‘In order for one thing to come out, something else must go back in’.

Back to normality, well drama, with Area X. That’s normality if you like okay. The performances were okay. The cinematography was okay. The premise was okay. Okay just isn’t entertaining; there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with Area X, there was just nothing to hook me. Saying that though the ending did hit me a little… and almost made up for everything else, but it may have been a more interesting starting point than end.

From okay to powerful; The Young & Evil is a must watch. It’s one of those films that I want to scream and shout about but without giving much away; a balancing act I hope I’m becoming better at. AIDS. HIV. What do those truly mean to you? How do they make you feel? Scared? Dirty? Ashamed? What about the term ‘bug chaser’? Surely you’ve heard of a story or two about a young gay guy who purposefully tries to catch something, or conversely one about someone who purposefully tries to infect others. I’m not here to attempt to try and understand the psychology behind either, but The Young & Evil attempts to address this sub-culture from a single perspective. It is unashamedly real, raw and ultimately depressing. The lead is most definitely flawed (not in terms of how he is written, but who he is) yet you are engrossed in his story. You may not agree with his actions but you certainly understand them to some degree. At its core, The Young & Evil is well written and well performed and it makes you question how much of a product of our surroundings and the society we live in are we?

A film title with a smiley in it; this doesn’t bode well. Dish 🙂 ? What? Urban dictionary says that dish is ‘an attractive woman’. Erm… maybe I’m missing something here. Dish 🙂 to me feels like a product of its time. Certain things become dated fast, especially in terms of fashion and technology. This can create a disconnect with the audience, and given the difference in location and culture to myself, it was exacerbated; I couldn’t see beyond it. Hidden below all of this was a tale of defiance to conform. If only that had been developed and focused on.

Bugcrush may be my favourite of the collection (and it has tough competition). It’s extremely interesting, immensely creepy but thoroughly enjoyable. 36 minutes may seem long and does require a commitment and focus but the pacing is spot on, it’s beautifully filmed and dare I say it, perfectly executed. The performances seamlessly lift great material from the pages and keep you hooked from the beginning until the harrowing end. As more information is revealed, the reasoning behind the title becomes apparent and the true nature of the film is revealed. Yes the end may not be pleasant, but in terms of the story, it works extremely well and is definitely worth the investment.

So how do you follow that and round of the collection? With Astoria, Queens of course. That title just screams queer to me. Yay! Sorry, I got lost in gayness. But how could I not when this short is loosely inspired by The Wizard of Oz. Yes. You heard me right. The Wizard of Oz. I didn’t quite get it at first and was blinded by the camp comedy but watch it a couple of times and it becomes clearer. It’s a short which is similar in tone to the Eating Out series or Another Gay Movie (and its sequel). There was however one major problem; it was far too short. It was like a date that I wanted to stay the night but who left before dessert. Do you get me? It needs to be a feature length show. Or maybe have a sequel. No no no; it’d work as a TV show! I guess this suggests that the end wasn’t as conclusive or satisfying as it needs to be but seriously, don’t hold it against it, just watch it!

So there we have it; Boys on Film 3. Another romp through LGBT+ cinema. Did you have fun? Well you should’ve because unlike the previous collections, American Boy gave you films from across the spectrum of genres; there truly should be something for everyone. There are some stand out films for different reasons and though it is let down by two, this collection narrowly beats Boys on Film 2 as the best so far. It just keeps on getting better!

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