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Boys On Film: Candy Boy



41m47ZMsRFLReleased: 2010

Shorts Directed By: Nick Corporon, Sam McConnell, Marialy Ravas, Michael J Saul, Roberto Fiesco, Connor Clements, John Lochland, Pascal-Alex Vincent

Certificate: 18

Reviewed By: Timothy Breach

Peccadillo Pictures fifth collection of short films is brought together under the title: Candy Boy. Once again the shorts are of varying lengths, style, genre and country of origin.

In my previous reviews I have tried to ascertain why the title for the collection was chosen and have enjoyed trying to think deep and look hard to make links between shorts which are extremely different. Then Candy Boy came along. What does that mean to you? A devilishly sweet guy you can’t resist? Someone who is addictive? Too much of them is bad? I struggled to fin a strong thematic link. They’re loosely about protagonists wanting something bad but isn’t that life?

So we start with Two Young Men, UT (UT stands for Utah), a tale of boy meets boy who encourages him to go on a road-trip of sorts which develops into a journey of discovery and acceptance. Which, on the surface, sounds all too familiar (to use cliché would in itself be cliché. Remember it’s about interpretation not ideas). In terms of an original interpretation, it was hit and miss. The dialogue was delivered in such a way that it grated on me. The performances verged on unbelievable. But, despite the mundane elements of the journey, there were glimpses of a beautiful relationship developing which ultimately pays off. So you could say the destination was worth it. What stood out for me, and is a strong point, is that the main dramatic incident had nothing to do with sexuality. It was refreshing. Another strong point, more a personal highlight, was an awarkdly comic moment involving the words “I’m gonna go do gay sex to him all night long”. Make of that was you will. I also must warn you. You will see balls. Calm down though, they’re pig balls!

So from the American Mid-West we head to Vauxhall with Sweat. Can you guess what it’s about? Come on. It’s Vauxhall, gay and involves sweat. Fine, I’ll tell you. Sweat follows Simon’s first foray into the world of gay saunas and… the result is intimate, insightful and interesting (to me at least). It does open with a NSFW shower scene featuring full-frontal nudity but it soon swiftly shifts the focus onto the “virgin” protagonist. His interactions with a host of sauna regulars is at times uncomfortable (is the rent boy under-age?) but does lead him to Tim (what a great name!). The stand out scene is the meeting between Simon and Tim; the juxtaposition of their body language and actions gives us all the information we need without exposition or dialogue – story telling at its best! The worst thing is the cheesy music. So as a whole, what makes Sweat works is the resonation with the part of us deep inside that wants to be desired. On a side note, the protagonist was in Holby City; David Paisley?

Now we go far from the heated rooms of Vauxhall and into the depths of Chilean history. Blokes is a tale of sexual awakening which emphasizes that time and location can affect the outcomes of similar events. In one word; powerful. Blokes surprised me with its charm but set against a politically charged backdrop (hands up if you know anything of Chile’s history). I have never viewed history through a gay lens but it is powerful to do so. It invokes different emotions. I suppose it does this through resonation; especially because we were all once young boys. Wipe away the history and politics and you are still left with something beautiful, which is emphasised in the fact that the only words the protagonist speaks, is the name of his crush. It’s a primes example of something being greater than the sum of its parts; it captured the truth.

At some point, whether you’re religious or not, you would have contemplated the existence of an after-life. We may never know whether there is one but as creatures of wonder, we like to toy with the possibility and come up with imaginative interpretations of life after death. To understand the events, emotions and actions in Last Call you need to consider the notion of an after-life. Jjust wonder; what if? The concept helps present a story of heartache and coming to terms with loss, but maybe not in the way you’re thinking. The short is bookended by beautiful scenes, though the beginning is confusing and the ending is thought provoking; who is the bartender? If a film gets me thinking and puts questions into my mind then I can only commend the skills of the writer and performances of the actors.

When you picture the far West, what do you see? Cowboys? Native Americans? The Great Plains? Well… that’s not the location of this Far West. Think a little closer to home. Got it? No? Let me tell you then, France! Maybe it’s the far west of France or maybe European LGBT+ cinema has an obsession with alluding to cowboys and America. I guess it’s certainly sexier than a cherry picker working in Devon. The title and the film lost me. Reduced to its core, there’s potential in three gays spending the summer at one of their widowed grandfather’s farm where a hot new farm hand has started working, especially in light of the big secret – which is actually quite sad, if a little hear-warming. Don’t get me wrong, the fun and campy style was executed quite well but it just lacked humour for a comedy. The NSFW shower scene couldn’t even make up for it. In my opinion they got the balance between drama and comedy wrong.

Distressing may be a powerful word, but it’s one which I cannot avoid using when talking about James. In essence, it’s a short about a boy’s isolation and alienation from his family and at school, caused by his sexuality and his parent’s relationship. He tries to reach out for help but when he doesn’t get it, he ends up in a situation which made me just want to shout NO. To me it was powerfully directed and performed. From the outset it is clear who James is and what difficulties he is facing, yet we are not told any of it. The visuals do the work for us. I don’t want to post spoilers but I will tell you that the turning point is at a public toilet and leave you with some lines: “You’ll be safe with me” and “We’ll just talk”. And that’s only half-way through. Seriously, you have to watch it to understand how it made me feel and if you disagree, maybe see a psychologist.

We need to laugh. Let’s watch a comedy, yeah? Oh wait, David isn’t a comedy unless you find a mute adolescent looking for sex funny… interesting yes, funny not really. The premise is also one which has the potential to be beautiful and explorative but the execution this time round lacked impact. There are scenes that have an air of romance but the double layer of muteness and little dialogue on top of it being in Spanish gave a sense of a lot being lost in translation. This meant that I couldn’t understand David’s actions fully, especially during the sex scene… that was weird for me.

But don’t panic like the nuns at the orphanage! Wait, what? Yes, you heard me right. Nuns at an orphanage. Unfortunately (no offence to any nuns out there) they’re not akin to the Sister Act nuns; they’re stern and righteous. Boring you may think but don’t worry, this short isn’t about them, it’s about Candy Boy (yes that’s his name and I have no idea why). Candy Boy is as visually sweet as its name suggests it will be (though Candyman is anything but sweet!). It’s possibly a French twist on Japanese anime… erm… animation techniques really aren’t my forte. Whichever style it is, it works for some key scenes… the sex scene is just bizarre! So what’s it about? Well there is poisoning, mystery and suspense, isn’t that enough to whet your appetite? It was thoroughly enjoyable from beginning to end, though the end did come too soon. That is my only issue with it. Some of the relationship shifts happen too quickly, but if that’s my only quip, it’s worth a watch.

And now we move onto the finale: Go Go Reject, an inspiring tale of a tragic journey to fulfill a childhood dream of becoming the Jennifer Beals of the male go-go dancing world despite being “skinny” (Google her if you don’t know who she is: shame on you!). Okay, so I lied. There’s nothing tragic about it unless camp, fun and fabulous equate to tragic. The notion that Daniel, the lead, is skinny did rub me up the wrong way because he looks great (I’m skinny!) but once I was over that I got lost in the music, lights and sparkle. The light touch casually mocks the hyper-sexualisation, desire and fantasy which afflict many scenes within the community. Though I sometimes feel at odds with mainstream gay culture and scenes such as go-go dancing, I couldn’t help but smile and get into the groove. It may not seem like it appeals to you, but I think you should give it a go; it may surprise you.

Have we really gone through another collection? Well there you have it, Boys on Film 5: Candy Boy. It certainly was a mixed collection, one which was harder to thematically link without stating the obvious and generic LGBT+ plot points. I am however here to look at it as a collection and it doesn’t quite meet the standards set by the previous collection, Protect Me From What I Want. Blokes, James and Candy Boy do stand out, and I would thoroughly recommend the collection for them, but they are let down by unfulfilled potential. As a collection, it is the least cohesive within the Boys on Film series but worth the investment if you’re able to.

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