The gay shorts profitably anthologized by Strand every few years have largely avoided formal and thematic risks in favor of quippy, frothy uplift. That the directors featured in the first two collections have gone on to inflict more widespread damage with 54, I Think I Do, Speedway Junky, and Psycho Beach Party can only bode ill for Boys Life 3, but this third installment, though far from painless, is comparatively substantial, and thoughtfully front-loaded to boot (feel free to evacuate the theater after the first 25 minutes).
First, shortest, and best, French director David Fourier’s six-minute mock-instructional free association, Majorettes in Space, is alone almost worth the price of admission. A flashcard series of Python-esque non sequiturs traces arcane connections between safe sex, space sex, Gay Pride marches, marching-band bootees, cattle, and the pope, hurtling headfirst from nihilist rage to ineffable sorrow. Bradley Rust Gray’s hITCH (previously screened, like Majorettes, in the New York Film Festival) is a slyly minimal road movie. There’s not much to it besides barely repressed lust—which turns out to be exactly the point. Every look and gesture, however oblique, glistens with erotic meaning.
Stay on at your own risk. Rubberneckers may not be able to resist Jason Gould’s autobiographical Inside Out, which, true enough, opens with tremendous train-wreck potential. Post tabloid outing, the son of Elliott and Babs—essentially playing himself—joins a Christina Crawford-run support group for celebrity offspring. Gould Sr. contributes a bewildered cameo; Mommie Dearest is conspicuously unacknowledged. By the time the film ends, with a rollerblade striptease-cum-paparazzo fingerwag, it’s clear that beyond so-bad-it’s-good camp lies an altogether scarier dimension of ineptitude. More possibly true Hollywood stories: Mysterious Little House on the Prairie connections abound in Gregory Cooke’s platitudinous $30, written by Christopher Landon (son of Michael) with Sara Gilbert unconvincingly playing a hooker who becomes confidante to a confused teen. In its original seven-minute incarnation, Lane Janger’s Just One Time (which has since inexplicably spawned a feature) has the advantage of brevity, but its morbid narcissism and tragic witlessness shine through regardless.