The Bubble (Ha-Buah)
Israel 2006, 117 min
Eytan Fox’s latest offering (cross-reference below) looks at the Israeli/Palestinian dilemma/divide from the point of view of two men (Noam, Ohad Knoller; Ashraf, Yousef “Joe” Sweid) who fall in love. In order to remain together in Tel Aviv, Ashraf submits to a blend-in makeover and takes a job at a café owned by Noam’s roommate and fellow queer, Yali (Alon Friedman). The den mother of the upscale apartment is Lulu (Daniela Virtzer) who can’t seem to understand that putting out on date one is not a recipe for eternal love. Subplots involve staging a “rave for peace” wearing fig leaves (much metaphor and irony there) and the pending marriage of Ashraf’s sister. In the background are excursions to an Israeli nightclub (featuring a delightful George Michael knock-off) and the grim reality of border crossings (the first of which tantalizes as in-shape men are required to lift up their shirts in case a gun might be lurking in their shorts). Eventually, after failing to find understanding when he outs himself to his sister then being caught smooching by his future brother-in-law, Jihad (Shredi Jabarin), Ashraf is ordered by the groom to propose to a woman or face the consequences. Many relationships develop (Lulu even finds devotion from the pining Shaul—Zion Barouch, whose infectious smile merits a bigger role next time). The man-to-man sex —when it finally happens—is more than a quick hump and a rollover, as seems the norm in recent cinema: Noam and Ashraf are the real deal. Then the bombs start going off and an errant bullet snuffs out another innocent life. Rage moves from the beach to deep-seated hatred and unending “eye for an eye ” retribution. The film ends just like the region—unsettled and unforgiving. Take love when you can find it: your bubble is almost certainly sure to burst prematurely.
Compilation: Camp Will Save Us All
In Camp Will Save Us All, Inside Out curator Rachel E. McRae has cobbled together a fascinating array of short and micro films that give unbridled creativity a good name.
The opening set of commercials that will never air on CanWest Global kicks off with My Heart the Devil (Canada 2002, 1 min, Nikki Forrest and Nelson Hendricks,). It’s a brief kaleidoscope of talking heads that enthusiastically extol “Pretty virgins, yes!” then the possibly scary message that Satan is your (a) video (b) leader (c) wiener (d) vegan (e) beaver. Presumably, the consumer gets to choose which part of the devil works for them.
CrèmMate: Muffy (U.S. 2006, 3 min, Diane Wilkins, ) is a tasty ode to inadvertently snuffed pets everywhere: simply “creamate” your Muffy’s corpse and stir the ashes in with the morning hit of java—hope there’s lots of sugar!
The please-let-me-make-me-you-over Pepe and his ever-so-queeny sidetrick Vance are the brains and toned brawn behind Designer Gays (Canada 2004, 3 min, Mark Kenneth Woods, ). Their swishy “cumons” to an understandably nervous straight client are a hoot. Pepe’s a shoe-in for closing any deal when his own stylish crack slips into the frame.
The first set closes with a saucy ad for Asian Boyfriend (Germany 2006, Wayne Yung, ). Callers of all persuasions will only be disappointed that “accessories are not included.”
Group of Seven Inches (Canada 2005, 8 min Kent Monkman and Gisèle Gordon, ) is a marvellous piece of Canadian history that, well, can easily stand on its own. A pair of scantily clad white boys attract attention then become the subject matter for a delightfully kinky Redman. Done in silent movie style and effused with the cheek (literally) and feigned chastity of long-ago “physique” flicks, the metamorphosis of the lads playing Indian into wigged European aristocrats could easily have been re-titled My Fair Native. The vision of storied Canadian artists currently well-hung at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection will never be the same.
The main event (measured only by time) is the hilarious parody, Lesbian National Parks and Services: A Force of Nature (Canada 2002, 23 min, Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan, ). Narrated by David Worburton in a tone that would be equally at home in a National Geographic special, the intrepid filmmakers document the plight and pluck of lesbian flora and fauna (and their uniformed protectors) with gay abandon and dare-you-to-say-that-without-breaking-up lines such as “It’s a lesbian-eat-lesbian world.” Decked out in “Eager Beaver” T-shirts, recruits are vigorously trained for the tough life faced by lesbian rangers. A special moment indeed is the campfire scene. After a hard day in the “wetlands” the womyn cook up a can of beans and prepare to, er, chow down: think Brokeback Mountain meets Blazing Saddles. Still, what a dream job—it must be great to work in the bush, ever mindful of their motto: To serve and be serviced.
Join the Army (Canada 2003, 1 min, Peter Kingstone, ) is the shortest (time only!) offering of this delectable dozen, but in many ways packs the biggest, silent punch. For its brief time span, the eye is happily assaulted with all manner of sexy, naked soldiers proving that, for some in the military, there most certainly is “no life like it.”
That’s followed up by an accustomed-taste-required slurp in Uropop (Canada 2006, 2 min, Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay, ). A dance club devotee heads exhausted into the washroom where he happily prostrates himself and becomes a human urinal for his bladder-bursting buddies. Recycling at its hottest if not exactly green.
Lively animation and a free-spirited walk down memory lane makes Regarding the Pain of Susan Sontag (Notes on Camp) (Canada 2006, 4 min, Steve Reinke, ) the most thought-provoking item in the lineup.
With its B-movie score (gaily riddled with classical rip-offs from Holst to Dvořák) Song of the Whoopee Wind (U.S. 2005, 12 min, George Kuchar, ) delights the ear as well as the eye while Kuchar celebrates the Christmas/New Year holiday season with cats, religious icons and Godzilla. This Season’s Greeting is truly for all mankind.
The life and times of Canada’s most famous and infamous drag queen, Craig Russell, comes under the microscope in Renew (Canada 2005, 11 min, John Forget, ). Forget, with his practiced hands working their magic over an electronic keyboard, relates a wealth of personal material about himself and his frequent entertainment partner with candor and compelling honesty. Who wouldn’t believe in fairies after that?
Nothing better to close out this collection of the weird and wonderful than Beauties Without a Cause (U.S. 1986, David Weissman, 7 min, ). The “Four Beauties,” happily jiggling their boobs, putting pasta into their cleavage and stealing cash and groceries, zip around town in a convertible that only moves to their screams and sound effects. But as their crimes pile up, the long, unseen, arm of the law tracks them down and settles their zany scores (including a cheesy organ and jukebox rock and roll) in a low-budget, (but, OK, I’ll say it) high camp Bonnie and Clyde finish. JWR