It’s a Gay Life

Rating: NNNNNboys to men strings togetherfour great gay short films into one tidy viewing package. Compilations of shorts usually have.

Rating: NNNNN

boys to men strings togetherfour great gay short films into one tidy viewing package. Compilations of shorts usually have one or two strong works and the rest are fodder, but Boys To Men never feels flabby. The opening film, Crush, written and directed by Phillip Bartell, finds 12-year-old Tina (Ema A. Tuennerman) falling in love with 16-year-old Robbie (Brett Chukerman), a gay teen who’s been banished to a small Illinois town for the summer. But Tina’s crush turns into a deeper friendship when she discovers that Robbie is queer and comes up with a plan to hook him up with the corn-fed boy next door.

Crush succeeds because it isn’t a painfully clichéd coming-out story. Robbie accepts his gayness and Tina doesn’t dwell on her loss.

The story moves forward and Bartell shows us — with humour and just the right amount of awkward teenage dramatics — that even in a tiny American town, acceptance is possible.

Duncan Tucker’s The Mountain King is a wonderfully well-crafted look at a street hustler (Paul Dawson) who seduces a straight man (John Sloan) at a beach house.

Shot on mini digital video and blown up to 35mm, it has a grainy, cinéma-vérité look that suits its subject matter. A film like this can only work if the performances are convincing, and they are — Dawson is both slick and endearing as the hustler, and Sloan adeptly lowers his sexual guard without any annoying lingering guilt.

…lost is a five-minute short that reminds us of the emotional and physical dangers of barebacking. Two men have anonymous unprotected sex, and while it’s hot, it’s also ultimately unsatisfying for one of them. This is one of those have-it-all gay shorts in which you get a worthwhile, good-for-you message delivered via buff flesh.The final film, The Confession, is, amazingly, a student film by Carl Pfirman. The dying Joseph (Bert Kraemer) devastates his long-time partner, Caesar (Tom Fitzpatrick), when he turns to religion and asks for a priest (Christopher Liebe) so he can confess his sins.

There are too few gay films dealing with elderly gay men’s experiences, and this one brings up compelling issues, including how internalized homophobia can lay dormant within gay men for a lifetime, and how a relationship can survive despite seemingly irreconcilable differences between the partners.

boys to men written and directed by Phillip Bartell, Duncan Tucker, Dan Castle and Carl Pfirman, with Ema A. Tuennerman, Brett Chukerman, Paul Dawson, John Sloan, Bert Kraemer and Tom Fitzpatrick. 93 minutes. A Somewhere North Features release. Opens Friday (June 15). For venues and times, see First-Run Movies, page 90. Rating: NNN

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