Boys Life 3

      Back in 1994, the good people at Strand Releasing hit on the idea to put
together a trio of award-winning short films revolving around gay themes that
had mostly played the festival circuit and release the program under the title
Boys Life. The first compilation included Pool Days, The Disco Years and the
touching
A Friend of Dorothy's. Four years later, Strand issued Boys Life 2,
perhaps the best in the series, which consisted of the Oscar-winning short
Trevor, as well as Nunzio's Second Cousin and Alkali, Iowa. Now, as the
new millennium dawns and gay-themed material somewhat has moved to the
mainstream (i.e., the Emmy-winning sitcom
"Will & Grace") comes Boys Life 3,
an uneven grouping of six shorts that run the gamut of broad comedy
(
Inside Out, Jason Gould's meditation on Hollywood celebrity) to the
sexually-charged (
hITCH, Majorettes in Space). While each film in this grouping
has been screened at one or more prominent film festivals, there is only that
tenuous link to have these six on the same program. Five of the films have a
sexual theme to them; the exception is Gould's winking look at being the child
of famous people.

      Opening this installment is
Majorettes in Space (1999), a stream of
conscious-like piece in French that has a disturbing anti-Catholic sentiment
evidenced by writer-director portrait of Pope John Paul II. While one can argue
about the Catholic Church's position on homosexuality, writer-director David
Fourier appears to have included his rant for satirical comic effect but the piece
doesn't really come together. It's a fast-moving jumble of images ranging from
cosmonauts to gay pride marchers to young majorettes. Fourier attempts
profundity (the intense narrator informs the audience that man is the only the
animal that knows it is going to die) but only comes off as pretentious.

      Far better is
hITCH (1999), directed with assurance by Bradley Rust Gray
and centering on the unlikely relationship between two young friends traveling
together. Gray, who uses close-ups to create the sense of intimacy, demonstrates
a flair for filmmaking. Helped by the performances of Drew Wood and Jason
Herman and his co-cinematographer Sarah Levy, the director creates a compelling
but restrained look of the male erotic impulse.

      The centerpiece is
Inside Out (1996), Gould's semi-amusing look at the
search for identity in Hollywood. There's a tongue-in-cheek quality to the work
that attempts to skewer the usual targets (self-help groups, religion, dating,
the paparazzi). Negotiating a fine line between the real -- after all, Gould is the
son of actors Elliot Gould (who makes a cameo as the lead character's famous
father) and Barbra Streisand -- and the fictional (he plays the slightly neurotic
son of celebrities who is "outed" by a supermarket tabloid), Gould misses as
many of his targets as he hits. There's an amusing bit about a therapy group
for "survivors of celebrity parents" run by Christina Crawford but the Scientology
parody falls flat. As a performer, the younger Gould projects the twitchy
neurosis of his father and the sardonic comic delivery of his mother.
Inside Out
doesn't quite deliver on all that it promises, but it does make a case for a
genetic basis for talent.

      Earlier this year, a feature comedy called
Just One Time made the
festival circuit and enjoyed a brief theatrical run. Written and directed by Lane
Janger, it was an expansion of a seven-minute short of the same title. The
short, which also made the rounds of film festivals, is included in
Boys Life 3,
and it proves to be far superior to the full-length version. With a few brief
strokes, Janger creates a neighborhood and four distinct characters. The basic
premise revolves around Anthony (Janger) wanting his fiancee (Joelle Carter)
to engage in a "three-way" in order to fulfill a sexual fantasy of his. Gay
neighbor Victor (Guillermo Diaz) thinks she should do whatever to hold on
to Anthony and even suggests his pal Michelle (Jennifer Esposito). Amy,
however, comes up with a plan that she hopes will settle the problem once
and for all.

      The final selection is
$30 about a teenager sent to a prostitute as a
birthday present from his father. Written by Christopher Landon and directed
by Gregory Cooke, the film veers perilously close to cliche, but the acting of
Sara Gilbert (as the hooker) and Erik MacArthur (as the teen) elevates the
piece to a fine character study about two lost souls who recognize truths in
one another.

      Overall,
Boys Life 3 is a mixed bag that may work better on video
where one can fast-forward through to the better films.


                      Rating:                       C
                      MPAA Rating:               NONE
                      Running time:              79 mins.
© 2005 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.