My first show of the festival was a collection of five short films about—as the name implies—men and masculinity. A little uneven, it was still a very good kickoff to my VQFF experience.
A neat little fantasy of a broken man who, upon dying, must make peace with his messed up life before he can move on. The symbolism is clear: Gavin’s purgatory is a bar, perfectly fitting since alcoholism had been his actual purgatory for the last 2 years of his life. And his paradise? his first meeting with Mark. He’ll get to live a perfect moment forever, or possibly (this just occurred to me) get the chance to take his life in another direction. The ending’s deliberately ambiguous, and that’s okay.
That was a miss, I feel. The love triangle story was predictable, the characters forgettable, the voiceovers annoying with their exposition of plot and inner feelings. Show, don’t tell!
Take one butch, musclebound jock, comfortable in his gayness but lonely and withdrawn; add one somewhat-less-butch hustler, obsessively straight-acting and sneering at femmy guys; put them together, and you get a blisteringly intense conversation about masculinity, gay-bashing, identity, goals, repressed pain and being true to yourself. Overall I liked this film very much, the acting was quite good and the subject matter dense and engaging, though the writing felt forced at times, jumping from topic as though it had a long checklist to cover, and temporarily snapping me out of the story. Shame; with a little more editing, I think this could have been a real winner.
That was pretty fucking disturbing, and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. On the even of their wedding, the long-simmering tension between the two protagonists comes to a head in abuse and rape. Neither of the men comes off looking good: Stuart cheated on Chris, is a shameless attention whore and deliberately pushes his buttons, but Chris is also revealed to be a controlling dick and, well, ends up doing the raping. I don’t think we’re supposed to take sides—they’re both terribly flawed, and have to decide on their own where to go from here.
Math nerdery and intergenerational attraction between teacher and student combine in this nice, slow-paced Brazilian film. Unfortunately, for me it doesn’t go beyond “nice”. The characters were cyphers, and the story feels very by-the-numbers. I wanted to like it, especially since the director was in the audience, but… no, it just didn’t do it for me.