|Index||4 reviews in total|
Venus Boyz, a documentary film by Gabriel Baur, is all about the
exploration and expression of masculinity by women. These individuals
range from women who are primarily heterosexual and simply enjoy the
power and entitlement they feel while wearing men's clothing and
attitudes to women born as hermaphrodites who have, after years of
classification as female have opted to explore their inner leanings
towards masculinity and male-ness. This range of viewpoints was a key
element of why Venus Boyz is a film worth watching.
Unlike their male drag counterparts (queens), drag kings don't have as may films that celebrate and explore why women sometimes feel the need to dress like men, although there are some. Other than Brandon Teena's story, which remains in the spotlight due to his traumatic death and Hillary Swank's portrayal of him in Boys Don't Cry, the individual tales of these female cross-dressers and trans-sexuals are often unheard. Venuz Boyz gives us a range of these stories and a chance to take a glimpse into the performer's lives both on and off stage. Although their tales are sometimes accompanied by kitschy performances, I felt like it was the less showy parts of the documentary that were really able to communicate to me some of the politics, problems and positives of cross-dressing and of exploring female masculinity.
I wouldn't recommend this documentary to everyone. Certainly, you have to be willing to listen with an open mind about these women's experiences with a gender-biased world, but for those who are interested in exploring how a group of women are working individually to redefine gender, this is a worthwhile film. Even though I had a very open mind going into the film and have a background in similar topics, I had no idea that the range of women who choose to cross dress was so diverse. I was also reassured to hear that many of the "protagonists" of the film have been able to find funding and support for their artistic explorations and expressions.
There is a reason that this film has won awards and been featured at major GLBTQ film festivals, and that it is because it offers an insight into a world not found in other films. And, if you have ever wondered about your own female masculinity, this film will likely offer you comfort and familiarity.
I love drags kings. I love the fabulously campy performances and the way they challenge traditional concepts of gender and sex. Unfortunately, I did not love watching Venus Boyz, an uneven documentary on drag kings with plenty of unfilled potential. How the director managed to make a movie so boring, unfocused and self-indulgent about a field with some of the best entertainers in the country should be one of the mysteries of the modern world. Venus Boyz's structure is simple. Combine footage of performances and minimally edited interviews with drag kings in and out of drag. The resulting film contains brief moments of humor and passing insights on gender deconstruction that are never explored fully--mostly because of the absence of an overarching story structure. Instead, viewers are treated to long interviews and voice-overs with both unattractive narcissistic kings and beautifully articulate gender benders. Venus Boyz will probably be most satisfying to viewers unfamiliar with or looking for an introduction to gender theory and the drag king phenomenon. As for me, I'd rather just go see a drag king show.
I thought this one was a little bit slow, but well worth seeing till the very end. It's form probably won't change the history of cinema, but I suppose the director figured that doing a movie on intersexual people was already going to shock some viewers, and decided to keep it simple enough, and stick to the basic message of pluralism. I'm glad I saw this one. Sometimes, girls will be boys, and that's OK.
A fascinating survey of different concepts of life, searching through the universe of female masculinity. the portrayed people, from drag kings to hormonical new men, give insight in their thoughts about identity, shaped by their own experience of deviant sexuality and gender. in the never-never land of the in-between. fascinating!
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