Hal is a troubled young man working with the Psychiatrist Dr. Alexei. Hal sleepwalks, sometimes lingering in a trance over his sleeping mother, sometimes waking up with blood on his hands. ... See full summary »
Joseph Graham both wrote and directed the first of the two short films on this DVD. He has some interesting ideas both textually and visually and manages to condense into 47 minutes a film that packs a wallop.
'VANILLA' is anything but vanilla, if the term refers to the dichotomies between vanilla and kinky in the usual sense. A young lad Jeff (Ryan A. Allen) is a highschool photographer who happens upon the kneeling suicide victim body of a beefy serial killer in the Bay Area. Questioned by the police and his father, he becomes obsessed with the string of murders linked to sexual encounters with young men, and his curiosity contributes to an art project as well as his own drive to experience how the murders took place. Just how far his curiosity leads him is the fairly dramatic conclusion to this short film. The acting is pretty 'basic' cum weak, and the acting out of the trysts is heavy, but Graham does use his story as a romance with the camera: the film is appropriately shot in both black and white and color with the uses of each more important than they first appear.
'A LITTLE COMFORT' ('Just un pea de recon fort...') is a brief 36 minute French film by director Armand Lamellose that employs better actors and better cinematography, and actually a better story. Arnaud (Arthur Moncla) is a young teenager coping with his attraction to the popular hunk Guillaume (Remi Bresson) who has a steady girlfriend. Arnaud imitates his idol trying cigarettes, alcohol and sex, finds a girlfriend but when both girls leave their beaus, Guillaume (whose mother is dying and who has no family) seeks refuge with Arnaud, whose mother is more than happy to have Arnaud's 'best friend' stay with them rather than in a foster home. At last, in the comfort zone, away from the outside world, Arnaud and Guillaume bond, fall in love, and actually fit into the society that they feared would ostracize them. OR is this little tale merely the acting out of a dream for the tender little Arnaud....it is up to the audience to decide.
Films such as these, though each feel like works in progress, at least serve the intelligence of the film audience well. It has not been very long since such films would have never made it to the shelves of Amazon.com or the video stores. The success of 'Brokeback Mountain' has opened a lot of windows, and for that we should be grateful. Now let's see the polished films of similar content that languish in the darker interstices. Grady Harp, May 06
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