|Index||3 reviews in total|
First, an overview of this release, obviously the 5th in line of the "Boys Life"-series. To me it's probably the most successful, due to its more romantic vein. While several episodes in the earlier discs have been romantically catching, the bulk of their stories seem to share a theme wherein the director wants to philosophize about some point or another. That's just not my cup of tea; give me the good, ole romantic scenario anytime. In this 5TH edition, "Dare" is a quite nice little "romantical" piece. Adam Fleming's portrayal of Ben (Light Boy) is notable, with his end-of-film small smile and quiet laugh being particularly telling (you'll catch the point upon watching). But it's a thanks to the heavens which must be given the producers of this disc for having wisely included an old-by-today's-standards (1990) release, from Israel of all places. Foremost in this review, then, has to be my following comment about a likely near unheard of little film.
"TIME OFF" (alternately titled "After" on the IMDb.com website) is one of the earliest works of Eytan Fox (later came "Yossi & Jagger" and "Walk on Water"). For many gays, or those so interested, "TO" may be one of the most satisfying short films on the disc. It's the story of an Israeli Army unit in training and on short leave, of it's lieutenant leader and, particularly, one of its young soldiers. Yonatan (Jonathan?), impressively played by actor, Hanoch Reim, is in the final stages of realizing who he is, sexually, and it is absolutely amazing to watch his reactions and growing response to the handsome young unit commander, a part also well-played by Gil Frank.
While many sections of this short, 45 minute film are slow going (unit training interactions and the fun "behavings" of young soldiers on a short leave in Jerusalem), it is when the film concentrates on Yonatan, especially during time spent in a city park, that we get most drawn in. A scene in the park men's restroom is almost palpable and one of the most arousing I've witnessed. Hanoch Reim gives us a "study in pure longing." The response he creates leaves no doubt in our minds as to just where he wants to be, what he wants to be doing...and with whom. (How CAN one do that, with just eyes, facial expression and the very slightest of head movements?) It is rather surprising that, with one exception, young Reim doesn't seem to have gone on to later film performances in the succeeding 15 years. Frank, on the other hand, has kept somewhat busy, particularly in Israeli TV. But in this film, precursor to "Yossi & Jagger," at least Reim has left us with a most indelible performance.
PS--The last two lines of spoken dialog and a half-smile of realization will tell you everything you need to know. (Oh, and you'll catch the meaning of my alternate Comment title, above, on viewing this film).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was totally blown away by the films in this 5th in a series. I'm
afraid I don't remember all the titles, but the images are probably
seared in my memory forever... they are all remarkable.
First story:perhaps the most unique... takes place in farming country. A youngteenager who has a pet chicken is drawn to another, older boy who workson another farm. I won't spoil it by saying anything about the story...suffice it to say that there are moments of pure sensuality and one ofthe most fascinating and ambiguous endings I have ever seen. Not forthe squeamish! This short totally fascinated me.
The second: about a young boy who goes to stay with a cousin after his father dies. The older boy is what everyone would wish to have as a brother/friend/cousin... he truly cares about the kid and tries to bring him out of his shell. He also becomes the focus for the stirrings of sexuality (terrific line said by the older kid to the younger one: "it's called a boner. You can have them whenever you want"). This film is remarkable for the tone of the piece...there is a wistfulness to the entire film that is addictive. And you wish that the older boy was your friend too...
Third film: "Time Off"... an Israeli film by the same director for two excellent feature films: Walk on Water; Yossi and Jagger. I was perhaps a bit less happy with thisone, mainly because I had already seen his longer films first and liked them so much that this shorter effort seemed to be less focused, less satisfying in the long run. But it does have a very hot washroom sex scene, where most of what happens is out of camera range but is still hot for all that.
The last story: "Dare": Another mood piece, beautifully acted, simply told, and tense with the possibility of sex. Again, I won't describe it except to say one small defect in the film is that the protagonist - the "light boy" - is supposed to be someone that everyone avoids, who has only one friend, a girl, and who at seventeen has never been kissed in his life. Sorry, but the guy playing him is so beautiful and hot that it is just not believable that this kid would have been shunned by others - of either sex! Quite the contrary; He did a beautiful acting job, but he was just too good looking to fit into the character...rather than being a loner he would most likely have his choice of friends and lovers. Which means the eye candy is terrific, almost as good as the nascent feelings that underlie the main thrust of this story.
Someone else here wrote a very negative review of these films, basically complaining that the content was not politically correct concerning gay politics. Well, if you can get your head out of your a$$, I think you'll realize that all of the films here were thought-provoking, sexy, and more surprising than anyone would have thought. I have seen lots of compilations of gay films - this is one of the best. There is not a single bad film here - and some of the images are just so vividly presented that they remain with you well after the film has finished. I will definitely watch this film again - and it makes me want to see what is in the other 4 of the series.
It is a psychological anomaly to see gay film-makers equate homo-eroticism with violence and death, yet three of the four short films on this disc do just that. The first of the four, Dare, is a the only non-reprehensible film here, offering gently adolescent titillating eroticism, with a warm tease of later fulfillment. The worst is Late Summer, which should have been called Photo-Finish, which is the cheap shot of the lot. A semi-autistic kid stays with his aunt and uncle and his lively, clever cousin shows him through the ropes of nascent sexuality and adulthood. His reward for this? Death. Ironically, though this is the worst of the films, it offers the best acting, particularly from the vital cousin and his mom. Fishbelly White is, seemingly, a gay homage to Dilverance. Despite some excellent mood photography, the plot rages with hate, violence and death. Time Out is seemingly filmed through a pock marked lens covered in dust, with a soundtrack of 1902 quality. The story and acting is stolid, the script amateurish in the extreme. Acting was on the level of a provincial high school production of Our Town. This is the first of the Boys Life series I have viewed. I was disappointed, obviously, but plan to see the rest of the series and hope for better productions on these discs.
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