REVIEW: Queer as. . . "Boys Life"
by Brandon Judell
(indieWIRE/ 12.6.00) -- According to recent polls, 73% of all Americans -- heterosexual men included -- would like to see Barbra Streisand's son's bare ass, and that's enough proof that Strand Releasing's latest collection of gay shorts will attract many viewers to the venues it's playing at. But more about that later.
First, it should be noted that "Boys Life 3" is opening in December, the very month in which Showtime is premiering its "Queer As Folk" television series. Having just watched the entire first season of the British version, and the first three episodes of the US take on the series, it's clear that from now on anything gay in the entertainment field will no doubt be compared to these landmark programs. They're shocking, witty, and introduce "rimming" to a much greater audience than The Joy of Sex or Paul Lynde ever did.
I only bring this up because Steve Buscemi's "Animal Factory," a look at prison life, recently opened. Now if you've viewed any episodes of HBO's "Oz," by comparison "Animal Factory" comes off as scandalous as the Cookie Monster or a Mandy Moore video. Even Tom Arnold as a homosexual rapist who rapes Edward Furlong with his finger won't be able to get a rise out of you. (That someone cast Tom Arnold as a homosexual rapist in a drama is a totally different story. Now that's outrageous.)
I bring this all up because having viewed "Boys Life 3" before seeing "Queer as Folk" and then again after viewing "Queer as Folk," I'm at two minds about it. Before, I thought it was a fun venture that will bring an iota or two of joy to even to the most jaded of gay men. The conglomeration also spotlights a lot of upcoming talents that deserve to be nurtured and have some attention thrown at them.
But now if I honestly had a choice of re-watching "Queer as Folk" for a second or third time or re-experiencing "Boys Life 3," there'd be no contest. It's sort of like choosing between lying next to Brad Pitt on a water bed with a stick of dynamite up his arse, or having tea with Ellen Degeneres' mom. You choose.
Anyway, the cleverest segment of "Boys Life 3" is its French entry, David Fourier's "Majorettes in Space." Imagine that Godard was gay with an accessible sense of humor, and you're almost there. Using stock news footage, cut-outs, and several attractive actors, Fourier finds a persuasive connection between trees, condoms, Russian astronauts, bovines, Pope Jean-Paul, homosexual parades, batons, vodka, heterosexuals, erections, AIDS and outer space. Accordingly, if you accept the narrator's argument that "a cow is not capable of humor or poetry," then this is clear proof that Mr. Fourier himself isn't capable of being milked because clearly he is one hilarious versifier.
Bradley Rust Gray's "hITCH" is the most arousing of the package. Two young men, one adorable and straight, the other gay in a cowboy hat and nail polish, are traveling somewhere. It's a long trip so we get to watch the boys peeing, brushing their teeth, making phone calls and masturbating by themselves. Straight Boy does it in the front seat while Gay Boy supposedly sleeps. Of course, Gay Boy would like to join in. Will he get the chance? There's something slightly incomprehensible about this segment, but Gray knows how to build up tension and get credible performances out of his cast. And when you have two attractive guys who are horny on screen in a battered auto, how much can you complain?
In "Inside Out," writer/director/actor Jason Gould plays a character based upon himself, a child of two celebrities (Elliot Gould and Barbra Streisand). Plot: One day at the grocery store, Aaron sees he's made the cover of the tabloids: "Superstar's Son Marries Male Model." Already diagnosed by his shrink as "a perfect candidate for anti-depressives," this pushes him over the edge. Soon Aaron is attending a group therapy session for Children of Celebrities led by Christina Crawford, considering the virtues of Scientology, and trying to date. All are failures. So finally when a tabloid photographer nearly runs him over, Aaron goes bonkers and does a strip tease while on Roller Blades. This is all very mild stuff but Gould keeps it light, palatable, and moving, proving he's more than ready to helm his first feature.
Lane Janger's "Just One Time" might be the only short ever to be released after the film that was based on it was already released in theaters. Got that? This is the tale of Anthony (Janger), a straight fireman, who wants his fiancee (Joelle Carter) to make it with another woman before they get married. Can you blame him? What guy doesn't have a lesbian fantasy every now and then? Well, she agrees but turns the tables on him. She'll do it if he makes it with a guy. Hey! That ain't fair. The hunky Janger strikes pay dirt here. He's a lively talent both in front and behind the camera, and the full-length feature he made out of this was equally enjoyable.
In Gregory Cooke's "$30," which was written by Michael Landon's offspring Christopher, a dad drives his 16-year-old son to a prostitute to lose his virginity. The whore with the heart of gold played by Sara Gilbert quickly realizes her client is gay and before his hour is up, she builds up his confidence and instills some gay pride. Sweet it is -- and satisfying.
In the end, there's nothing in this celluloid assemblage that will knock your socks off, but in an uneven gay market, "Boys Life 3" does fill a vacuum. And especially for young gays who are just opening the closet door, it could prove an invaluable experience.
[Brandon Judell is a contributing film critic to indieWIRE.]