VOD Review - Global Warming

Ashwin Gore (left) and Rakshak Shani
in "You Can't Curry Love"

Global Warming has nothing to do with Al Gore, but the metaphorical idea of climate change can be applied. In February, the DVD was made available by TLA Video. It can also be streamed via TLA Video's VOD option. It's not feature-length. It contains four short films and all together run about a hour. The first and second shorts are narratives, involving two men. The third and fourth shorts are documentaries about the making of the first and second, so you get 38 minutes of narrative and 28 minutes of behind-the-scenes stuff in total. All of it is good, but because of its brief content, I would only watch this online, which is the cheapest and easiest way to see it.

Both of the two narratives were written and directed by Reid Waterer. The first is 'You Can't Curry Love'. It's about a young businessman who is a gay Australian of Indian descent named Vikas, played by Ashwin Gore. He lives and works in London and has a crush on his incredibly buff and incredibly well-endowed, Scottish boss, Thom, played by G. Russell Reynolds, but, at the top, Vikas is sent to India for two months on a work-related trip. While there, Vikas meets and falls in love with the sexy hotel clerk, Sunil, played by Rakshak Sahni.

The second narrative is 'Performance Anxiety'. It's about two straight actors who have to do a gay sex scene. The crux of the short film focuses on the two actors rehearsing the scene and trying to get over their slight homophobia, but more their mutual awkwardness. Both are reticent to do it, so one wonders why they're involved. Duke, played by Lawrence Nicols, reveals an impersonal reason for his involvement, while Jacob, played by Danny Lopes, reveals a more personal one. Greek star Anthem Moss plays the director.

As I said at the top, the metaphorical idea of climate change can be applied. In 'You Can't Curry Love', Vikas has a climate change in that he moves to India and has to adjust to living in this foreign country and its different customs. In 'Performance Anxiety,' both Duke and Jacob have a climate change in that these two heterosexual men have to simulate a homosexual act, something they've never done and in which they have no interest.

Global warming and climate change are considered negative things. They're situations that occur that people don't want or try to prevent. In these short films, the opposite is true. The situations here are ones to be encouraged. Except, there is something not encouraging and there is a contradiction at work that wasn't intended but it's one I can't ignore.

In the 'Making-Of' shorts that proceed, the director and actors talk directly to the camera about the experience of doing the two short narratives. When it came to 'You Can't Curry Love', everyone talks about the bit of controversy because it's about two young gay men and their romance, but at no point do the two actors kiss. We see them in bed together shirtless. They hold hands and are flirtatious and affectionate but never kiss or have a sex scene.

On the other hand, 'Performance Anxiety' is about two young straight men and their acting roles. They don't have a romance. It's more of a sitcom like an I Love Lucy episode where the two guys have to overcome homophobia, which they do. Yet, the two guys here do kiss and they do have a sex scene, and I wonder about the message that sends.

The positive message is that it's better to show the two gay characters express only love and not have them be about sex, whereas it's also better to show two straight characters engaging in a homosexual act, even if it's only pretend, and realize that it's okay. The shorts go against the stereotype that gay men are all about prurience as well as going against the stereotype that straight men can't stand the idea of gay sex or find it icky.

All these things are on the surface and if Waterer were attempting to communicate these messages, he succeeded. Yet, there is a contradiction. In 'You Can't Curry Love', Sunil tells Vikas that in India male friends who are straight have no problem being affectionate like holding hands in public. Not just India but in European countries, male relatives and friends greet each other with kisses on the cheeks, but Sunil reinforces that homosexuality is repressed. By not showing the guys kiss or make love, Waterer is also repressing the homosexuality, when the goal is essentially the opposite.

Danny Lopes (left) and Lawrence Nicols
in "Performance Anxiety"
In 'Performance Anxiety', there's less of a contradiction, but it's odd to think that there are actors in Hollywood in a post-Will & Grace and post-Glee world who still are nervous about playing gay characters and having to kiss members of the same gender. Playing gay is literally fashionable. I've even heard that in Hollywood playing gay increases one's acting credibility.

Obviously, Tom Hanks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Sean Penn and Christopher Plummer all won Academy Awards for playing gay characters. Other actors were nominated for Oscars for playing gay characters like Heath Ledger for Brokeback Mountain and Al Pacino for Dog Day Afternoon. The list also includes Hillary Swank, Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron, Annette Bening, Glen Close, Bruce Davidson, Greg Kinnear, Ian McKellan and Javier Bardem.

Both Nicols and Lopes make the comedy work and give good performances. Yet, the short feels like it would have been more appropriate or timely ten years ago, or maybe five years ago. A more appropriate  take on this topic is one done on the TV series DTLA on LOGO. That show had two actors rehearsing a same-sex love scene too. One actor is gay and the other is straight, and it was interesting to see the premise be the gay actor be reticent and the straight actor be gung-ho.

'Performance Anxiety' and 'You Can't Curry Love' are both earnest enough that it's enjoyable regardless of the takeaway.

Four Stars out of Five.
Not Rated But Recommended for Mature Audiences.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 6 mins.


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