JWR Articles: Film/DVD - Partners in Pride (Directors: Shaz Bennett, Tim Marshall, Anson Mount, Connor Hurley, Alexandra Naoum, Denis McArdle, Glenn Kiser, Richard García Vázquez) - June 30, 2013
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Partners in Pride

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Reviewed at the 2013 Palm Springs International Shortfest
Lots of pride in evidence

Look no further than this compendium of queer shorts to realize just how comfortable the community has become in its lavender skin. Over the course of these 8 miniatures there was nary a frame that demanded an R rating. Sure, the notion of raw sex found its way into the mix (quite literally in the Irish opener—Denis McArdle’s extra-alliterative Barry’s Bespoke Bakery Four stars, which imaginatively chronicled the creation of a lavish wedding cake that absolutely had to satisfy its bakers) in every offering, but it was left to the viewers to fill in the carnal blanks far off screen.

From Down Under, Tim Marshall’s Gorilla, Four stars, was a most fanciful “Invitation to a Masked Ball” where a couple’s camping vacation got decidedly interrupted by a strange woman whose late-night solo turn on the flora deftly set the stage for a magnificent array of shooting stars.

Easily the most futuristic of the lot was Connor Hurley’s The Naturalist, Three and one-half stars. It lifts off with the very real threat of Big Brother making room for “inferior” gay lovers, Simon and Oliver, in authority’s corrective therapy clinic. Curiously to their rescue is the beautiful Eden (a metaphor for all ages) who—along with some DNA-altering long legged or squirming assists (bringing Kiss of the Spider Woman invisibly into frame)—offering to become the couple’s beard, but is far from averse to consummating the arrangement with Simon, much to Oliver’s further horror!

Hands down the most endearing of the set is Richard García Vázquez’s Taboulé, Five stars. After four years together, two men affectionately (with a little bit of Spanish heat) spar with each other, trying to prove their trust by sharing secret PIN codes: How do I love thee / Let me count the steps (to paraphrase Elizabeth Barrett Browning) is the game changer following a tense moment—creativity at this short level (along with No Comment, running at just 4 minutes) is as rare as it is welcome.

For comedy buffs, Anson Mount’s Last Time We Checked, Four and one-half stars, is a hilarious one-way (finally two-way…) interrogation scene as an applicant to the US Immigration Department tries desperately to keep his Canadian drag queen/lover legally in the country. Yuks aplenty, even as the officer in charge is self-outed by wearing rimless-frame glasses.

Alexandra Naoum’s No Comment, Three and one-half stars, while engaging, is too predictable by half: a native Parisian reveals her true sexist colours to a couple of men trying to make their way to the fountain of love.

To close, Glenn Kiser’s Sabbatical, Four stars, fires on most cylinders during the reunification of two partners after a mutually agreed to (er, well mostly…), sex-if-you-want-it, prolonged absence. While playing the homecoming game of Questions, there’s a wonderful tease for a truly unexpected consequence only to be dashed by a “happy ending” massage that—sadly for those who delight in narrative twists and emerging strength of character—was just that. Pushing the outcome to a less foreseeable place would have demanded a feature turn for Kiser. No worries: on to the next. JWR

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