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I saw Boy Culture yesterday at the London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival,
having seen and enjoyed Q. Allan Brocka's last film, Eating Out. Once
again we are in the rarefied atmosphere of the buffed and the beautiful
- three pectorally perfect young studs with an apartment from the pages
of Wallpaper magazine.
But the surface perfection hides a trio of unhappy people. 'X', the un-named narrator is a high-class rent boy with a select group of only 12 clients - the Disciples. Andrew, his room-mate and object of X's affection is a stunningly handsome boy who wants both love and an open relationship. Completing the triptych is Joey (aka Blowy Joey), a cute-as-a-button twink who plays 'son' to the dysfunctional duo.
X has a problem - not only is he in love with Andrew but his life as a hustler has left him able to have sex only when there is cash involved. Enter the enigmatic Gregory - X's newest Disciple - a reclusive figure who isn't quite what he seems.
Once all the protagonists are in play, Brocka does an efficient job of keeping all the plates of the various story lines spinning in an entertaining and engaging fashion. As X, Derek Magyar is not afraid to present an unsympathetic character, albeit one who asks for no sympathy from the audience. Andrew and Joey are a little too cute to be true, but their snappy dialogue and willingness to disrobe at any opportunity are ample compensation.
Indeed, many of the scenes and much of the dialogue have a saucy snap that puts Boy Culture streets ahead of the sweet but rather formulaic Eating Out - and the supporting characters that our boys encounter (especially Andrew's razor-tongued little sister) all play their parts to perfection.
But for me the film came most alive in the conversations between X and Gregory. Inter-generational gay relationships are the missing link of contemporary gay cinema, and the way in which their friendship develops is handled with great poignancy and charm, helped by an impressive performance from the great Patrick Bauchau.
As the author of the original novel, I think Q. Allan Brocka did a good job with the film. I have blogged about it extensively at boyculture.typepad.com and I think that my comments there capture my feelings on the subject. The director and writers kept the essence of my novel even while making some intelligent and creative changes. I can't imagine this film not being picked up by a distributor. All that said, it's very hard judging a film adapted from your own work. But I hope people like it and I'm confident that many will. There are a lot of gay movies out there that are not among my favorite films, that's for sure. But while I had feared something ridiculous might come of this adaptation, I can't stress enough that I feel the filmmakers did an excellent job.
It is rare to see gay cinema that is thoughtful, witty, romantic and sexy all at once. Boy Culture is all that. The actors are great! The photography is rich and evocative. The setting (Seattle) is believable and supports the particular urban attitudes embodied by the characters. The story took me into a world different from my own. I laughed and was moved. It resonates in a larger sense with gay life (or male life) in contemporary society: What are the emotional risks needed in order to live a connected life? Our hard-won freedoms bring up questions -- about choice, and how we limit ourselves to guard our emotional wounds... This story is funny (rare in so-called "romantic comedies"!!) as well as touching and good-looking and sexy and smart! I loved it.
I just came away from a screening of "Boy Culture" at the Seattle International Film Festival (where the director Q. Allan Brocka began his love of film), and thought "that was a very good gay film". The character acting was strong (especially the cameo part of Andrew's little sister "Cheyenne"). The audience all laughed throughout the film, which helped to ease the tension of some very powerful emotions. Derek Magyar pulled off the difficult job of being jaded and emotionally distant and yet a likable and charismatic character. "X" is part strong, silent, and manly and part Dorthy Parker with acidic observations. During the Q&A after the film, I found myself wanting to read more of the source material that Matthew Rettenmund has written in the original novel. IMDb doesn't give credits for Andrew's family but they really helped bring out his character more. While Darryl Stephens didn't have the same level of emotional non-verbal delivery that Magyar did, he was beautiful to watch and gave a strong performance. Jonathon Trent did a great job in the love triangle and made me think of the original "Queer as Folk" series.
BOY CULTURE is a very fine little film and were it being evaluated
solely within the confines of gay films, it would easily rate 10 stars.
It is well written, well directed, well acted and has messages that
cover a fairly broad territory (racism, homophobia, hustler life style,
relationships, coming out tales and tales from the closet, etc). There
are some technical flaws with the film and some unresolved character
problems that prevent it from being what it comes close to being, but
finally here is a gay themed film that is wise, entertaining, and
user-friendly for a larger population than the community for which it
The story is biographical in nature: "X" (Derek Magyar) is a male hustler who lives off the income from a limited clientèle of regulars, who occupies a living space with two gay roommates - Andrew (Darryl Stephens) and Joey (Jonathon Trent) - and who has what he thinks it takes to make him happy. The missing element is love, and in several ways he comes into proximity with that missing thread: his newest client is Gregory (Patrick Bauchau in a richly nuanced performance as a elderly closeted loner) who introduces X to the finer things in life, including introspection and looking for what is missing in his world. Andrew is a conflicted African American man who still misses the caring he had with a girlfriend whose wedding he is to attend. Joey has just turned 18 and looks to X and Andrew as father figures. The problem is that X and Andrew have deeper feelings of attraction and commitment to each other than either wants to admit, and the story (as narrated by X) is about how this mutual challenging need is resolved.
Q. Allan Brocka directed and co-wrote the film with Philip Pierce and the dialog is snappy at times and gently tender at others. The cast is quite fine: the young lads are top notch eye candy while bringing solid acting skills to their roles, and the older actors bring a since of resilience to the story that keeps it grounded in style. This is a very good little film that deserves a wider audience, one that needs to see this aspect of the population once considered merely peripheral. Movies like this help understanding interpersonal relationships, and everyone needs to address that. Grady Harp
As more or more gay themed movies are released, it seems that the
percentage of bad films has risen dramatically. That is why it was such
a joy to discover this smart, funny, and wise movie that I can
recommend to my straight friends as much as to my gay friends.
"Boy Culture" is not a good gay movie, but a very good movie period. It sports a terrific cast of three-dimensional characters and it is hot and sexy to boot. I have not seen their previous work, but if this is an indication of their output, I look forward to seeing everything they've done.
Kudos to everyone involved!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I just saw this movie the other night at Mia. Gay/Lesb Film Fest. This was not our center feature film but it should have been. This movie is a feel good movie about being gay, being in touch with yourself(at some level) and relationships...... The characters are real, alive, and the insight into the experiences and emotions are through the main character "X". The narration by "X" tells you what you need to know and nothing more. It's like reading a book but there's eye candy. There should always be some mystery, some unknown factor and that's the rest of the story. The story is of a relationship that is being suppressed by the two people who need and want it most, but can't or won't confront it. I know you're wondering how can the be relationship if it's suppressed? Ever wanted to date a friend but was afraid to take that next step to tell them how you really feel? Take them to this movie...We all needed some intervention at sometime in our lives.
Hi Guys, I saw this movie yesterday (WOLRD PREMIERE) at the LLGFF in
London, UK. It was brilliant! The directing, writing and characters
were an absolute treat to the eyes and for the mind. Very engaging
movie from start to finish. Extremely strong performances from all,
special mention to Darryl Stephens and Derek Magyar, these guys were
strong throughout, and the chemistry on screen is a pleasure to watch.
Darryl has a screen presences, you just cannot take your eyes of him. I
had the pleasure of catching him previously at LLGFF 2005 in Noah's
Arc. A really fun piece. A definite must see! Q. Allan Brocka
participated in a Q&A after, he is an amusing and intelligent
director/writer to listen to, and definite continuation of his high
calibre of work from Eating Out.
Also can not forget Patrick Bauchau from the TV series The Pretender with Michael T Wiess(who we all agree HOTTIE)Michael i mean! Patrick brings the Six Degrees of Separation (Will Smith) feel to the movie! Guys catch this at film festival near you, and support its main stream distribution. These movies need to make social and monetary impact!!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Eating Out was not my favorite film. I actually only really enjoyed one
scene of the movie. So I had uncertain expectations for the director's
latest, Boy Culture. Let's just say that I was surprised.
This film, I guess, is controversial to some people. The main character is a sympathetic (enough) but unapologetic male hooker. Some of the characters party and sleep around; and one of these is barely of age. As well, the lead can be downright nasty at times; and there are some sexual moments that are hardly the pretty-boy soft porn we get so often in gay film. To me, however, these seeming deficits establish Boy Culture as one of the more unique and enjoyable gay films of recent years.
It is nice to see a film that takes risks. It is also fitting, since this is a film about taking risks. I can honestly say that though many elements of the plot are not hugely original (a crush that is not acted on, a "coming out" to the family, an older man who leads our hero to greater understanding), the details of these plot threads are daring. At points, Mr. Brocka seems to take these conventions and give them a proverbial b*** slap.
Most wonderfully, though unfortunately I would not make a great hustler, I really could identify with the characters of the film. The nastiness, for example, especially in the "humor" of its characters, seemed so right. Don't most of us use humor as an emotional condom from time to time, a bit of protection from potential pain? Can't most of us identify with the desire to keep people out of our emotional soft center? The film addresses this reality in a way that can be unnerving, but is still humorous and at times extremely wise.
No, this film is not for everyone. No, the characters are not good plain assimilated folk who the straights can love and not judge. The beauty of film to me, however, is when it can find the universal in something that may be far from our experience. Deep down, I really think Boy Culture does just that.
There being only one other comment leads me to make my contribution. At no point could I see this film as being dark or depressing, unless of course once wished to 'make' any form of minority life negative in aspects. The premise is hardly romantic and uses a fact of gay behaviour: escorting and 'tricks'.I saw this film as part of the local Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and liked it very much. I believe one error is to make it factual or to align it to real life, as with most celluloid productions. I 'read' the metaphors in the film and saw perspectives that were either enhanced or exaggerated to make a story, e.g lifestyles. At the end of the day it's a romance almost. I won't go into more analysis as to do so starts to remove the simple enjoyment. Is ' Queer as folk" dark and depressing? Well it can be if one uses those elements to apply to the entire series. It only uses a premise to explore relationships and situations. I found it entertaining and enjoyable and wish it were available on DVD.
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