When a series of brutal killings of young male hustlers awakens the police to the threat of a serial killer, rookie detective Raymond Fates (Noel Palomaria) and his seasoned partner ... See full summary »
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When a series of brutal killings of young male hustlers awakens the police to the threat of a serial killer, rookie detective Raymond Fates (Noel Palomaria) and his seasoned partner detective Tom Ellis (Charles Lanyer) battle an intolerant police department that is indifferent to these "misdemeanor killings. Written by
An underrated, but powerful drama/action/adventure film.
Here's the cold, hard truth about John Hukert's "Hard": it is arguably the best film featuring a Gay lead character, and may very well be the only the film that features a Gay hero who also happens to be Hispanic. In my book, the lead, Ramon Vates, played by Noel Palomaria, is an instant icon for those Gay Hispanic men looking for visibility on the silver screen.
The story is simple: Ramon Vates, a rising star in the Los Angeles police department, is promoted to detective. His first assignment: to catch a psychopathic pedophile who serially kills young, Gay Caucasian male prostitutes. Vates, played effectively by Noel Palomaria, is himself Gay but desperately trying to keep his professional and personal life apart; it is a struggle he continually loses.
Vates' antagonist, Jack, wonderfully fleshed out by Malcolm Moorman, is the serial killer who is completely devoid of sympathy and single minded in his goal to kill and/or maim anyone and everyone who he comes into contact with regardless of their age or sex.
Hukert's directing may be a freshman outing, but it's a good one. I thought that Noel Palomaria had the more difficult job of trying to play a man disoriented by his burgeoning sexual identity which he continually tries to distance and keep from overwhelming him. Moorman's job as an actor was simple: No one is safe.
I also believe that Huckert's treatment of the actors translated well into the actor's treatment of the characters, respectful without being judgmental. I came away from the film feeling contented that sexual identity was not explained with casual, campy humor and bland caricatures.
Noel Palomaria and Malcom Moorman, visually, are an interesting pair to watch. Palomaria imbues his character's eyes with surprising adolescent earnestness; Moorman engenders his character's eyes and facial features with relentless malice: he was born to deceive as much as the other was born to be truthful. Their first meeting is fraught with palpable tension.
If Huckert's casting was accidental, it was an incredible stroke of luck; if it was planned, his tactic and strategy deserves much admiration.
Ultimately, however, if there is any fault that this piece has to bear it is probably lighting and cinematography. For some reason, in my mind I thought that the cinematographer and lighting could have worked better together. For some reason, I got the feeling as though there was a struggle between the camps--much in the same way that Palomaria's and Moorman's characters struggle with one another. That struggle is a distraction and the only reason that I did not rate the movie greater than the 9 stars I have assigned it.
Finally, Hukert's "Hard" attempts to undo the damage that William Friedkin wrought with his film, "Cruising", that suggested, minimally, that if you're Gay, there's already something wrong with you; a Gay man, pursuant to Friedkin's film, is sexually insatiable and deviant; he cannot be anything else but flawed.
Huckert's outing attempts and successfully draws the line between being Gay and being a sexual predator.
Moorman's Jack is a pedophile, a sick and twisted version of a man, homosexual sex for him is a by-product of his madness and offers no love.
Sex for Jack is an extension of his madness, and that extension, in every scene, is an exertion of power before he devours them. Only Palomaria's Vates manages to navigate Jack's abyss and avoid complete submersion.
My recommendation is that if you can find "Hard", watch it and watch it again. There is more than meets the eye upon secondary viewing, and my only wish is that "Hard" be shown to a much wider audience than the typical film festival circuit to give this important film the attention it deserves.
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