Straight Men and the Men Who Love Them 3

Robert Brinkley (left) and Tom Drexel in 'Quarters,'
part of "Straight Men and the Men Who Love Them 3"
Filmmaker Jorge Ameer has for the third time collected a series of short films about heterosexual men facing, dealing with and often embracing homosexuality. Ameer has found a few shorts from around the world. The first is one that Ameer has himself directed. It's the only short, directed by him, whereas his previous collections have included mostly works by him. I've seen the previous collections and probably the best short from them was Thirteen or So Minutes (2008) by William Branden Blinn. The reason it was the best because it was simple. It was just two men in a room talking to each other honestly about sex and how they feel. Similarly, the best short in this new collection of four is the one that simply has two men in a room talking to each other honestly about sex and how they feel. That short is the first, the one by Jorge Ameer himself. It's called Quarters.

Each short is about 15 minutes. Quarters stars Robert Brinkley as Jeremy and Tom Drexel as Paul. By decorations in the background, it appears to be around Christmas, although it's also the eve of Paul's wedding. His bachelor party consists of himself and his best friend and best man, Jeremy, sitting in Jeremy's apartment and playing a game of quarters, a game requiring them to bounce a quarter into a shot glass or else have to perform a dare from the other. Ameer shoots the first half as found footage, increasing the inherent intimacy between the two men lounging shirtless, the lighting giving off or accentuating warm oranges and reds. The men appear practically cozy in not much but their skin, and it is in this coziness that Jeremy with little urging is able to reveal his truth, a truth kept hidden for a very long time.

Rubber Duckie is the next short by writer-director Henry Alberto. Max Hambleton stars as Jessie and Adam Vaughn as Daniel. Jessie and Daniel spend the whole time in their underwear, even when the two are outside wearing army helmets and pretending to be soldiers at war. They squat inside an old camper or trailer inside what looks like an abandoned warehouse. They pretend to be adults and in the eyes of the law probably are, but they still act like children with video games and pissing contests that are the height of juvenile and disgusting. Their behavior is reminiscent of Fight Club, both in the love of violence and the fracture of psyche. An extremely brutal and violent act committed by Jessie against Daniel is met moments later with smiles between the two of them, begging the question of if this aggression and criminal battery is just a mask, as to express something underneath that they can't express otherwise.

Boygame is the Swedish short by writer-director Anna Nolskog. It reminded me of an Argentinian short film called "El Otro" from the collection entitled Sexual Tension: Volatile. It involves tow young boys who are both heterosexual but who perform homosexual acts on each other under the pretense of practice for when each is alone with girls. Given how gay friendly in terms of laws and culture that Sweden is, this premise is totally believable. Nolskog doesn't imply any kind of romantic feelings between the two. One could say that she does, depending on how you interpret the final shot, but it's instead just evidence that theirs is a solid, heterosexual friendship completely absent of homophobia.

Early One Summer is the British short by writer-director Gary Thomas. It's essentially a Brokeback Mountain scenario, but between a teacher and student.

From Here to There is the Hong Kong short by Yee Lam Wong. For the most part, the two main characters are confined to a car. The idea is that following a wedding party, one man drives his drunk friend home. Along the way, they relive memories from their childhood. It reveals the two had feelings for each other that never went anywhere. The question is if as adults, the two will change that. I don't think the filmmaker gives enough for us to care though.

Three Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but recommended for mature audiences.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 25 mins.
Available on Vimeo.
Available on DVD via Amazon.


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