“Easy Money” (“Dinero Facil”)
The Game of Life
There really is no such thing as easy money and Jaime is about to learn that. He is a good looking hustler who uses his body for a meal ticket and way to stay alive. He is new at the world’s oldest profession but his new client, Roberto; an older man is into something dark. Carlos Montero directed this look at the world of rent boys.
The haunting musical score lets us know that we are watching a dark short film. Mario Casas as Jaime beautifully shows horrified emotions. He is young and inexperienced and when he goes to meet a new “John” at his apartment, he thinks, at first, that the client, Roberto, wants to have some kinky fun. Roberto talks to him about taking care of his wife but then another Jaime shows up and he appears to be the hit man. Our hustler has heard the plan and realizes that he is now a liability and that he is in a very difficult situation. He suddenly no longer seems to be a male prostitute but a young boy who really does not know what he is doing. He wants to please his client and this is why he did not run when he had the chance. He does not understand the danger of where he is. There is a perverse sexiness here with all of the twists and turns and the largest twist comes at the end.
Michael Douglas Banned Giant Penises From Liberace Biopic, Behind The Candelabra!
Steven Soderbergh has promised that his Liberace biopic Behind The Candelabra won’t shy away from Michael Douglas and Matt Damon getting very gay. Indeed the director recently told THR that, “It’s intimate stuff, even if it was a guy and a girl. But for a lot of people it’ll be hard to see Jason Bourne on top of Gordon Gekko.”
However, while Douglas was fine with kissing an man-on-man sex, there was one thing he thought went too far – 14-inch penises!
In a profile in New York Magazine, he says, “Liberace loved sex, and I didn’t have a problem with that. But, at one point, Steven Soderbergh wanted to show Lee [which is what Liberace was known as to his friends] watching a gay porno. I said, ‘I’d like my kids to see this R-rated movie, but I don’t want to show them a 14-inch dick!’ It was the only thing I objected to, so we cut to different parts of the apartment during the porno… It may not have been 14 inches, but it was huge.”
So if you’d been hoping for full-on porn from the film, you have Douglas to blame for the fact you’re not getting any.
Behind The Candelabra will air on HBO in the US on May 27th, and will reach UK cinemas on June 7th.
”A Family Affair” (“Assunto de Família” )
Director Caru Alves de Souza hints at the sexuality of one of his characters, Rossi (Ney Piacentini) as we see him looking lustfully at one of his brother’s friends. A bit later, the guy looks for Rossi to share a smoke and the two are together alone for the first time. The film manages to be sexy even without any nudity or sex. We just sit and wait for the sexual tension to break and we all know that this can be a lot sexier than the actual sex itself. (The fun is in the chase). Rossi wants to fit in with his brother but they just seem to tolerate him and nothing more. His brother wants one of his friends to leave Rossi alone. At the time this is said we don’t understand it but after everyone is gone, we begin to sense what it meant. We still cannot guess what happens next and the film itself is only 11 minutes long.
I did not have an older brother and my older sister’s friends were not the kinds of guys I am/was interested in but that did not stop me from identifying with the film. We have all lusted after someone who was a friend of a friend. We certainly see that development here and we see it delivered with passion.
Brown, P.A. “Latin Boyz”, Amber Quill Press, 2013.
Gabe and Alejandro
In “Latin Boyz”, P.A. Brown tells the story of Gabe, a young Latino whose whole world is filled with gangs. His mother was killed by a drive-by gang hit that was meant for someone else. His sister, Nattie is brain-dead from the same bullet and all Gabe can do now is thinking about a way to get out of Cypress Park, Los Angeles before the gang gets him as well. His life becomes even more messed up when the same shooters return. However, this time Los Angeles Police officer Alejandro Cerveras also arrives in the “hood”. The Mexican Mafia deplores homosexuality and Gabe quickly realizes that his attraction for Cerveras can either save or destroy him.
In the past both neither the court system nor the police have been able to stop the terror and Gabe knows that either he must flee or fight. The problem is the way he feels about the cop. Alejandro and Gabe are total opposites although they are both Latinos/ Alejandro’s family has been in America for three generations—they came here legally and with money. Gabe, on the other hand, is poor. His uncle was a criminal, his brother has been locked up for life and Gabe’s world is one of crime and gangs. He does not feel that he can trust the police since they have never really done anything to help the situation where he lives.
Alejandro is attracted to Gabe and he wants to help which makes him unlike any of the other cops who have been called into the area. He believes in helping others and he begins to patrol the area ad bringing in people to help the residents. Now that he has met Gabe, he even extends his shift hours. He becomes friendly with Nattie (whose mind it that of a 5 year old) as a way to get to Gabe.
This is a dark read and we, like Gabe, understand that he is stuck where he is and has no way out—unless…. But once Alejandro makes us his mind that he wants Gabe, the chances for escape become less and less.
Even with its darkness, there is something poignant here but there is also a lot of graphic sex that really does not push the novel forward. I even venture to say that there sex than story and personally I am more interested in the characters than their sex lives. Nevertheless the story is told well and it holds the reader.
“ Sex, Party and Lies” (“Mentiras Y Gordas”)
The Reality of Life
A group of friends wake one morning to find the reality of life looking at them. They see that the life of going to clubs, drinking, drugs cannot continue. We see the intertwined romantic lives of the group. Carola is cheating on her best friend by having sex with her junkie boyfriend. Tony is madly in love with her best male friend, Nico. Marina has begun to understand that she is sexually attracted to another girl. There are many characters and each of them has his/her own story as they begin to spiral toward self-destruction which is exactly what this film does to itself. Yes, guys, this is going to be a stinker of a review.
Set somewhere (but then who cares?) in Spain, this begins as the typical story of a group of young people. The focus is on two close friends. From the moment the movie begins, it is a failure. It is slow, boring, and predictable and the story line is never developed. There are other really bad films but they, at least, can be enjoyed for the camp element but that is not so here.
All we really see is sex scene after sex scene after sex scene…In between the sex scenes is terrible dialogue and horrible acting. It is not often that we get a movie where nothing works and everything is bad but this one is a champion in that aspect. Please understand, I like sex as much as the next guy but if I want porn I will watch a XXX film. What we see here is “a bunch of pretty faces and nice butts surrounded by horrible acting and worse direction”. And the soundtrack?—blaring and loud with awful music.
If really good movies bore you then here is a film for you. I can’t even write a spoiler because nothing happens.
Confronting Identity and Friendship
Jan (Tom Gramenz) and Matthieu (Swen Grippa) are good friends who go to a deserted former Nazi camp as once a communist military complex named Prora. It is there that the adventure is one that could change everything between them. As they explore the site, they face who they are. For a short film, this one has a lot to say. The film totally captivates us and pulls us in immediately. It is through Jan’s eyes and facial expressions that let us know that he lusts after Matthieu. Via flashback we learn about the boys—Jan is German and Matthieu is French and they come-of-age at Prora.
Prora has an infamous reputation and when we stop to think what once went on there; we realize that is the perfect venue for this film. It was developed on Rungen Island as a tourist resort for the Nazis but never opened and it has been in a state of decay for many years. As the two boys discover their sexuality, we also learn of the cultural differences between them.
Matthieu is an extrovert and he eagerly talks about the women he would like to have sex with while Jan is quiet. While walking through the buildings, Jan reveals his true feelings to Matthieu and suddenly their friendship is put at risk. There is not a lot of dialogue and we draw conclusions from actions. Prora with its seemly never-ending corridors becomes an allegory of the confusions felt by teens and their emotions.
”It’s Not A Cowboy Film” ( “Ce n’est pas un film de cow-boys”)
Vincent watched “Brokeback Mountain” on television and was emotionally drawn into the film. While in the restroom at school, he uses his break from class to tall a friend about the movie in a way that only a young person can. The theme/topic of the film is simple. After a gay film is aired on television, homosexuality is easy to discuss openly because one can always hide behind the film. As we view the film, we eavesdrop on the talk about the film from two different conversations. One involves Jessica and Nadia, two best friends and Vincent and Moussa in the bathroom.
Jessica asks Nadia questions about gay men since Nadia’s father is out and she even goes so far to suggest that she might have been the result of an accidental pregnancy. Meanwhile the boys are speaking about the film ad Moussa who is banned from watching television has many questions. Vincent tells him that the film moved him to tears but that he is not gay.
Director Parent uses the film to tap into the mind of a teenager and for the two boys and the two girls, the restroom become a saloon. It is the idea of the film—teens talking and allowing their thoughts to be heard. Vincent is sure that Moussa will not believe what he says the movie is about. The girls also deal with the way they understood the film (really what is there to understand about “Brokeback Mountain”?—it is all there in our faces). The film is a short film and it is quite funny and all of us can imagine how an adolescent interprets the film especially straight teens.
“ Colonial Gods”
More than Friendship
“Colonial Gods” is the story of a friendship. Two men from different ethnic backgrounds fight for the right to be in Tiger Bay, Wales. Izi (Cornell John) is a passionate Nigerian and we see that passion when he works against the displacement of his local community. He is filled with memories of when migrants were forced to move. He is determined that this will never happen again. Abdi (Mukhtar Yaro), a young Somalia man, is moved by Izi’s passion but he realizes that Izi has other passions elsewhere.
Director Dee Rees looks at the issues of immigration, class, poverty and oppression in this short film.
Abdi is new to Britain and was told to look for Izi who has been there for a while. However Izi, at first, wants nothing to do with Abdi but eventually allows him to rent a place and to stay. Slowly the two build a friendship as Izi explains how he feels about the housing situation and that the rich continually wants to move them around. Wherever the poor live, Izi says, is a spot for gentrification. Abdi wants to know about Izi the man and not his ideological concerns and as he tries to uncover his secrets, things become dangerous. The film is really about colonialism, its history and where it still exists today.
Life in a Borstal
“Scum” is the shocking story of life in a British borstal (juvenile detention home) where no attempt is made to reform or improve the offenders that are sent there. Here we actually see the encouragement of a struggle between a new inmate and one who has been there. The film is gritty and revolves around Carlin (Ray Winstone) and his attempt to serve his time in quiet but the staff and inmates see things differently. The film is shot in documentary style and there is a lot of violence and a horrifying rape scene.
This is not to be confused with the film that was originally made for British television and then it was banned by the BBC but was aired by another channel. Finally in the 90’s the BBC aired it. It is still as powerful as it was 35 years ago and the scene of prison assault is classic. What we have here is the film version of the film that was made for British television. I understand that there is quite a back story associated with the film. It was filmed in a British prison (a borstal) and we watch Carlin as he gets the respect and animosity of other thugs who are incarcerated with him. He is attacked and sent to solitary but when he releases he retaliates and manages to gain control of the prison underground. When a wispy young inmate is raped, Carlin makes sure he is in favor. It is understandable why the film was banned by the BBC even though the film is ground breaking. The borstal was portrayed in a damning way and it was too strong for the conservative British viewer.
In the opening scene we see Carlin arriving at the institution with two others—Davis (Julia Firth) who seems quite fragile and Angel (Alrick Riley), a young black man. The officers (or screws) are well aware of Carlin—his reputation preceded him and he is beaten and forced to submit and repeat his name and number several times. It is here that we see the dehumanization of the inmates and how they are referred to merely as numbers. Sadistic methods of discipline are just some of the daily customs carried out by the ‘screws’.
Carlin is put in a dormitory with the current “daddy”, Pongo Banks (John Bundell) and the officers encourage Pongo to let Carlin know who is boss. Carlin then meets Archer (Mick Ford). Archer is a smart and witty guy who is considered to be a nuisance to the establishment (take that how you like it). He pretends to be mad so that he can cause as much trouble as possible but in his way of doing so.
Even though Carlin’s reputation is spoken about a lot in the first half of the film, he does not try to live up to it. He doesn’t even try to defend himself when Pongo and two friends assault him. He takes it while shutting up and waits for the right time to strike back. When he does so, the result is devastating—he goes after one boy with a sock filled with pool balls and then jumps Pongo when his back is turned. Carlin becomes the new daddy. Now we see the nastier side of Carlin. He beats up a rival daddy with a steel pole and launches a racist tirade against him.
We sympathize with Carlin because he is so young and the screws are so vindictive but even in his youth he is cold hearted and malicious. This is social realism at its most powerful in that the film shows the corruption of the correctional system and we see how it fails as a place of rehabilitation for young and troubled men.
Scum is a powerful piece of social realism which graphically reveals the corruption of the Borstal system and identifies it’s failings as a place of rehabilitation for troubled young men. We not only see the brutality of the inmates; we also see the cruelty without mercy of the correction officials. During the powerful rape scene where Davis is raped by three others, we see a screw—officer Sands—watching and smiling. From almost all of the screws we also see overt racism. Most certainly this is a hard film but is also an important film. In all probability the viewer will be scarred by watching “Scum” and this scarring reminds us that thugs end up in prison where life is so much harder than on the street.
Alan Clark’s direction forced him to make difficult decisions and he made this a very tough movie that is brutal and brutally honest.
Intensity or Insanity?
Maia (Ione Butler) is a model struggling to keep her head above water. Things have not been good for her and her relationship with her husband is on the rocks. She lives with the hope that celebrity photographer, Francesca Allman (Laura Martin-Simpson), and the session she has with her will be a turning point in her career and thereby knock her out of the depressed state she has been in lately. However, things do not go according to plan—it seems that Francesca, suffering from severe OCD, has gone into isolation in north Wales in a house with a strange and weird past. Maia travels to her and Francesca helps her to build up confidence while at the same time deals with her own obsession and before either woman realizes it, things go out of control and Francesca experiences sexual desire for Maia. Just at the same time, Maia feels threatened by some presence in the house, something behind Francesca’s comprehension. Are these two women being haunted by past lives—exactly what is going on?
Maia has hoped that spending time with Francesca will reignite her modeling career but as the weekend they spend together moves forward, passions are wild and the dark history of the house comes to light.
This is really a difficult movie to review without giving something away. The movie keeps us wondering and the twists and turns show us that we really do not know what is going on here and we begin to feel a bit claustrophobic. This is an intricate movie thriller with wonderful direction by Carl Medland and Amarjhett Singh. The acting is excellent all over the small cast of four. The cinematography is gorgeous and there is a haunting beauty in what we see. It totally compliments the eerie atmosphere and the tension of the story while the slow camerawork gives us a sense of ill at ease.
There is a scene with psychiatrist played by Caroline Burns Cooke that is intimidating—she is cold and calculating and we feel the darkness. Jake Marshall plays a mysterious man who is frightening.
The screenplay is well written and the actors truly bring it to life and what we see is a seductive mystery that keeps us guessing.