Bad Boys, Too
While Strand's gay-shorts series took a tentative step toward maturity with 2000's Boys Life 3, this fourth anthology represents a full-blown regression. TV increasingly adopts the condescending, market-driven mantra of I Can See Queerly Now, but gay indie films seem an ever more irrelevant niche, not least because the last thing these flicks can claim is a clear eyefor anything. Executive producer Brian Sloan can presumably take the blame for director Brian Sloan's stupendously inept Bumping Heads, a blabbering, concussed cringefest of unrequited lust. Phillip J. Bartell's mockumentary L.T.R. tracks the fleeting, lovey-dovey prime and petulant, drawn-out dissolution of a young relationship. A clutter of serendipitous diagramming and editing-software trickery, Eric Mueller's This Car Up splits the screen into quadrantsthe lower half juxtaposes two attracted opposites, while slot-machine-style panels above act as thought bubbles.
Alan Brown, who won plaudits for his novel, Audrey Hepburn's Neck, contributes the token serious entry, but his O Beautiful, which probably imagines itself a redemptive Matthew Shepard elegy, is alternately banal and facetious, situated in dangerous psychic terrain somewhere between martyr complex and rape fantasy. A high school kid is beaten and abandoned in a cornfield, and a fanciful what-if takes shape when an attacker returns. The power play between gaybasher and gaybashee unfolds in split-screen (Final Cut Pro: more curse than blessingdiscuss). As the boys lob stilted avowals ("Gay isn't a productive thing." "Gay isn't an extracurricular activity."), lies are told, secrets uncovered, and roles reversedall of it sealed with a kiss more problematic than the film is inclined to acknowledge.
Get the Film Club Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.