Boys To Men is the blanket title for four short films, each focusing on the lives of gay men at various ages. The first short, "Crush", is about a gay teen and the young pre-teen girl who falls for him. While the low budget hurts some--it has an ugly look and bad sound--it is a relatively sweet, funny little film that has a couple of strong moments one wouldn't expect from a trifle. There is a great, telling opening scene that cuts between the two main characters as each stares at and cuts out a picture of a teen hunk in a 16-type magazine; the young girl proudly tapes hers to her bedroom door, while the boy secrets his away in a hidden notebook. And toward the end--no spoilers here--there is a lovely, silent exchange of looks between the two: she watches him outside her bedroom window, he stands looking up at her from the lawn below, and because of what has transpired in the previous scene, the emotional depth of those looks is surprisingly poignant. The second short, "The Mountain King" could benefit from making its intentions clearer; though amusing in part, it is ultimately pointless, and not nearly as mysterious or ambiguous as it wants to be. "...lost", the third film is extremely short--a plus--but remains little more than an excuse to show just-this-side-of-hardcore sex; the sudden appearance of a "message" in the last few seconds is silly (not to mention obvious). I have more respect for the hardcore pornographer--who is at least honest about what he is doing, and saves the moralizing for Aesop. But these small movies are only a build-up to the wonderful final work, "The Confession". This is film craft of the highest order, but in miniature. "The Confession" revolves around a sudden rift in the relationship between Joseph and Caesar after thirty-plus years together. Their problem is simple, yet primal: dying Joseph wants a local priest to give him absolution, and Caesar sees this as an act of betrayal--Joseph would have to confess that his life for the last three decades has been a sin in the eyes of God. Caesar, one senses, has lived his life out and proud--clearly anything that tries to make him feel less so about himself is plainly wrong; he is as black and white about the issue as any fundamentalist. (It's a nice touch that the young priest appears to have more compassion for Caesar than Caesar has for the young priest.) The amazing thing about this little movie is how much life and love and, yes, humor, writer/director Carl Pfirman manages to get into the short without its once feeling overstuffed; one never feels "The Confession" is taking on more than it can handle. While the first three films fall in merit as they go, Boys To Men ends stunningly; one doesn't leave feeling depressed by the subject matter, but rather invigorated by the sheer artistry on display.
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