JWR Articles: Film/DVD - Straight Men and the Men Who Love Them Volume 3 (Directors: Jorge Ameer, Henry Alberto, Anna Österlund Nolskog, Gary Thomas, Yee Lam Wong) - February 28, 2014

Straight Men and the Men Who Love Them Volume 3

4.5 4.5
85 min.

Third time lucky

The third offering spearheaded by Jorge Ameer of the Straight Men and the Men Who Love Them series is the most consistent and satisfying to date. The five shorts all feature two men in search of themselves and in varying ways each other. More than ever before the ability for viewers to spot the straight man is very nearly, queerly impossible.

Jorge Ameer
2013, 16 mins.
Four and one-half stars

If anyone knows…

The familiar tale of two best friends getting drunk, virtually naked and into confession-of-love mode is given a convincing twist by Ameer. Paul (the camera mightily enjoys Robert Brinkley) and Jeremy (Tom Drexel is both sensitive and courageous as required) play the extreme-personal version of truth or dare trying to pop quarters into a glass. Shots are consumed on every hit or miss and the loser must fulfill the victor’s requests.

To add extra spice and drama, it’s Paul’s last night as a bachelor; Jeremy is his best man. Finally wearing nothing much more than a smile, Jeremy is compelled to call his girlfriend in the wee hours and confess to her his undying love for Paul.

What follows is a masterful piece of truth telling from Drexel that could erupt in bliss or bash depending on how this news is taken. One can only wonder on how many occasions similar versions of this pre-nuptial revelation have played out since Adam and Eve found a different sort of serpent. JWR

Tough love and tatoos

Rubber Duckie
Henry Alberto
2012, 15 minutes
Four and one-half stars

Taking plenty for the team

Alberto’s tale of two young men trying to relieve apparent boredom is rich in metaphor (action figures “real” and in unseen video games; the life and death of a drip of water) and references (the opening dart game resonates artfully with the Martyrdom of Sebastiane—cross-reference below). The two boxer sporting “combatants” (Max Hambleton has no problems portraying the bossy, bullying Jessie while Adam Vaughn takes all manner of abuse with an extra-curious grin as Daniel—clearly in Jessie’s lion’s den) thrust and parry as they try to gain the upper hand whether in a peeing contest or settling a “Who has the largest package” challenge.

Especially helpful is Joe Oberin’s cinematography whether capturing sudden brutality in a rear view mirror or reinforcing the water image with a silent, yet telling shot. JWR

Boy Game
Anna Nolskog
2013, 15 minutes
Four stars

Practice makes perfect

Ah, anxious horny best buds and their quest to be sure to give pleasure to their first female partners. John (Charlie Gustaffson) and Nicholas (Joakim Lang) are especially taken with older women (at least to them: they are hardly cougar bait, more twentysomethings). As many have before them, they enjoy an afternoon of illicit porn in the privacy of their own bedrooms. When one thing leads to another and a couple of premature ejaculations, they, er, hit on the idea of practising on themselves—all the better not to disappoint when real sex comes their way.

Nolskog wisely keeps her charges’ moments of self-discovery largely under wraps (avoiding a porn label for her own saucy work) but can’t yet find the knockout punch to either ask more questions than are answered or subtly let future intentions be understood by thoughtful viewers. Still, not a few will be thankful for the rekindling of boys-will-do-boys memories. JWR

Older and younger

Early One Summer
Gary Thomas
2009, 10 minutes
Three and one-half stars

Wiser than his years

A closeted married man (Charlie Ross) quite shamelessly beds his former student (Graeme Dalling) even as his sour-faced wife (Janet Greaves) has her suspicions proved, making three years of marriage become a pathetic lie. (Perhaps her husband ought to have had a round of Quarters before falsely making his vows.)

Thomas is blessed with a fine cast and crew but is a tad too obvious with the narrative, leaving virtually no surprises for anyone and a final appearance by mature-beyond-his-years young man just as his sometime lover’s shit hits the fan. All of that aside, there’s a few moments of playfulness between the men that positively radiates with love, no matter what the age difference. Here’s to much more from Dalling who lights up the screen at every turn. JWR

From Here to There
Yee Lam Wong
2012, 29 minutes
Four stars

Time heals little

With many similarities to the rocky road of live in Fujimi Orchestra: Cold Front Conductor (cross-reference below), Wong has crafted a reunion tale of school chums 10 years later that bodes well for a feature project, hopefully sooner than later.

Using a series of flashbacks to trace the boys’—now men’s—history in and out of bed, viewers quickly realize that the sexuality of both is still far from settled. From a licence plate that merely says “J” it can soon be understood that Him Wang (a wide-ranging performance by Abrahim Chan) still carries at least a partial torch for karaoke wannabe and just-back-from-Korea ex buddy (friend and fuck), Jae Cheu (Jae Leung is properly perplexed, pleading and put-out as required).

Essentially a mini road movie from the classmates’ photo op to Him’s digs (and perhaps his bed for old time’s sake?) the film travels down many routes, mixed with humour, pathos and bits of passion. It will be interesting indeed to see just how Wong handles a longer story arc now that the basic craft is readily at hand. JWR

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