DVD Review - Male Shorts: International V1

Breaking Glass Pictures takes a page out of Peccadillo Pictures' book and has compiled a collection of gay short films. Peccadillo Pictures currently has its series called Boys on Film, which started in 2009. Its an anthology that actually picks up where Strand Releasing left off with its similar series called Boys Life, which bound gay short films starting in the 1990's. The now defunct Picture This! Entertainment also had its series of gay shorts called Boys Briefs. Every year, tons of LGBT short films, not only in the U.S. but all around the world are made. They usually play at festivals but then never are seen again. The aforementioned collections attempt to bring the best or some of the most notable of those shorts to the masses via home video. Earlier this year, Breaking Glass Pictures released Scud's Voyage that compiled a series of short films, each centered around a queer, Asian man. This anthology pulls together five, short films, each centered around a queer man from either Brazil, France or England.

Just Past Noon on a Tuesday is by director Travis Mathews, an American filmmaker. It's set in Brazil in an apartment atop a high-rise building. It features two men who meet to have a sexual encounter under somewhat morbid circumstances. At first, it seemed like it would be similar to Yen Tan's Ciao (2008) where we see two strangers bond over the death of a common lover. Based on certain conversations and the way it's filmed and staged, flashbacks to Andrew Haigh's Weekend (2011) are probably inevitable. However, what Mathews is doing here is akin to what he's been doing since 2009 and could be seen as a continuation of his In Their Room series. A couple of which have involved English speakers but his In Their Room: Berlin (2011) focused on men from another country, but still very much about observing gay men in intimate spaces and in intimate embraces. It's fueled largely by Himeros TV, a company that produces high-quality gay erotica and pornographic videos, but Mathews' film isn't just porn in the strictest sense. His previous short, I Want Your Love (2011), distributed by Naked Sword, is more of a porn flick.

(Above - Scene from 'La Tapette')
Mathews' 2011 short did feature two great, acting performances from Jesse Metzger and Brenden Shucart. It also did grapple with some ideas like the line between gay men having physical relations with all their friends and what might be the implications of that. The majority of it though was the physicality leading to ejaculation. This short equally features great acting from Gustavo Vinagre and Ronaldo Serruya. It also grapples with some ideas like the connective tissue of longing and memory as referenced in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), as well as what gay men see in terms of taking note of a lover's face and body and what would make the list, what lingers afterward, not only in sight but also smell and possible other senses. It's not just about building to an orgasmic climax, so Mathews' film in that way isn't just sexual but it's also sensual.

La Tapette (The Mousetrap) is by director Ricky Mastro, a Brazilian filmmaker. It's set in France and focuses on the dreams of a man who wakes up in the middle of the night with his boyfriend next to him but in his head are images of someone else. Mastro has the boyfriend monologue about a black hole, a stellar object 30 times bigger than the Sun, speeding toward another even bigger black hole through sheer gravitational pull. It's perhaps meant to speak to the natural, cosmic forces that attract two people, forces that we might not necessarily understand. Mastro's protagonist is clearly attracted in ways that he or we might not understand. Otherwise, his film is about temptation. Its title is also a lesson of a gay slur in French.

La Tempête (The Storm) is also by director Ricky Mastro. It's also set in France. It follows a young man named Léo, played by Kévin Roze, who is quite obsessed with the handsome meteorologist on TV. Things change for him when he meets a sexy waitor named Luca, played by Maxime Picot. What's funny is that Luca talks about the same two black holes speeding through space and colliding into one another as in La Tapette. However, La Tapette never mentioned the collision, which one would suspect is a bad thing but as depicted here, perhaps it isn't. Perhaps, it's a metaphor for these two men needing to collide or in this case lay together.

Netuno (Neptune) is by director Daniel Nolasco. It's too set in Brazil and is the most homophobic of the shorts but homophobic from an internalized perspective. Norval Berbari plays a man who desires men but mostly keeps it secret. He has trouble being open. Instead, he stares and obsesses over men, often unavailable men. His only moment of acceptance comes in a sauna with anonymous strangers. His inability to connect leads him down dark paths or just makes him further lost. I'm not sure if the ending speaks to that, but it does conclude on an ominous and scary note.

P.D is by director Antony Hickling, an English director from South Africa and queer artist who does mostly experimental works. His short is an examination of William Shakespeare's Sonnets. Hickling does the voice-over where he reads Sonnets 18, 57 and 20. As he reads, we see pastoral images of nude men in the woods in various poses amongst the trees, the flowers, the insects and the stream. It might seem random until Hickling reveals what "P.D" means. First, it's a reference to the fact that Shakespeare liked to use initials in his dedications, and in particular, his sonnets are dedicated to a "W.H." Many scholars have theorized that W.H. is a boy actor with whom either Shakespeare had an affair or adored romantically. Those theorists suggest therefore that Shakespeare was gay or had some same-sex attraction. Hickling's film is overtly a reinforcement of that theory.

Just Past Noon on a Tuesday. 21 mins. La Tapette. 9 mins. La Tempête. 16 mins. Netuno. 17 mins. P.D. 7 mins.

Not Rated but contains full-frontal male nudity and graphic sexuality.
Running Time: 70 mins.

Available on June 27.


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