JWR Articles: Film/DVD - PSIFF 2019 - All Boys (Directors: Stef Smith, Andrew Stephen Lee, Charlotte Regan, Kayla Arend, Hugo Kenzo, Philip Montgomery) - June 25, 2019
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PSIFF 2019 - All Boys

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Reviewed at the 2019 edition of the Palm Springs International Short Film Festival.
All about Boy

Here’s a sextet of “boy” films that each have a distinctive voice!

Joy Boy
Australia, 9 min.
Stef Smith
Four stars

Praise the Lord, pass the tiara

The inevitable conflict between the religious right and—eventually—unabated gay Queens is lovingly and artily brought to the screen by Smith. Both Jonnys (Little: George Holahan-Cantwell and Older: Jonny Hawkins) light up the screen with every sachet and wardrobe change. JWR


Manilla Is Full of Men Named Boy
USA-Philippines, 21 min.
Andrew Stephen Lee
Two and one half stars

Birthday present in the flesh

Shot in glorious black and white as Michael Jackson is being put rest, Lee’s film of a stateside son’s (Jon Norman Schneider) ultimate present to his Philippine dad (Bembol Roco) begins with promise but ends up “just so.”

Thanks goodness for Reynald Raissel Santos as “gifted ‘boy’” Bing Bong, who should have a more prominent part in his next “outing.” JWR


My Boy
USA, 6 min.
Charlotte Regan
Four stars

Father denies best

Daniel (Sam Spruell gets right into and under his character’s skin) is as adept as he is generous with the truth (“I don’t smoke,”; “puff, puff, puff…”). He is in dreadful denial about the current status of son, Patrick. Those of us who’ve been there, feel his pain inside and out; the rest, hopefully, never will. JWR


Chicken Boy
USA, 8 min.
Kayla Arend
Four stars

Bullies and bandit

Arend has crafted a marvelous juxtaposition of a very young boy who is tormented on the school bus only to have to “suck it up” and be the man when at home. Feeding the hen house, only to be forced into defending it from a greedy raccoon, Jacob (masterfully portrayed by Charlie Koehnen) has to take the truly awful step of meting out final justice on a furry bandit just as he must also fantasize about doing the same to his “collegial” tormentors. JWR


Delivery Boy
USA, 16 min.
Hugo Kenzo
Four stars

What makes the perfect dumpling?

Kenzo has given viewers a wonderfully warm love story that despite its somewhat cliché scenes—HK fast food barista (Cheuk Piu Champi Lo who the camera quite rightfully, artfully adores) falls head over heels for ex-pat Eric (newcomer Phillip Smith)—can’t fail to bring a knowing smile from anyone who has been instantly smitten, apparently dumped, and then ended up with a cellphone number that says a lot more than “call me.”

Let’s move on to the feature! JWR


Big Boy Pants
UK, 16 min.
Philip Montgomery
Three and one half stars

Till con do us part

Here’s a two-hander that has been written in many variations before, but the notion of opposite-sex twins combining their nefarious talents to bilk elders out of serious cash takes on a near-fresh twist. Sitting in his white-cotton briefs moments ahead of his wedding to Stella (an octogenarian), Kyle (Finn Wittrock’s matinée idol looks suit the part to a T) is having second thoughts about the “scheme” ahead. Confronted by sister Kara (a fine performance from Scarlett Birmingham which might have reached superb status with more quiet understatement rather than loud declamation) ,30 minutes after Mendelssohn’s signature wedding march ought to have been heard, the siblings fire bombshells back and forth (replete with a couple of “Mom and Dad always liked me best’) until the usually beaten-down brother reveals a genius for plot development, more dramatic and “cemeterial” than she had ever expected.

Here’s hoping nothing worse happens than the loss of a guest at the reception. JWR

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