Boys Life 3

Friday December 8, 2000

     Strand Releasing is promoting "Boys Life 3," its third collection of gay-themed short films, with the slogan, "Third time's a charm." It proves an apt description of this lively, amusing collection of five films that take a wry look at being gay. Previous collections, in 1994 and 1998, launched several filmmakers into features, and this could happen for some of those represented in this offering.
     The most idiosyncratic of the narratives is Bradley Rust Gray's "hItch," which is notable for the inventive ways in which Gray uses a camera to express the claustrophobic, intimate atmosphere inside a van in which two twentysomething men are crossing the country. Jason (Drew Wood) is a sturdy gay guy who sets off his macho cowboy look with blue glitter nail polish. He has the itch, and it's Porp (Jason Herman), a looker with dirty blond locks, who's the hitch--the guy to whom Jason has given a lift.
     Confident and persistent, Jason makes his moves on Porp shrewdly, realizing that Porp is at once in the throes of sexual frustration and upset by a call he has placed to his girlfriend. "hItch" is as psychologically persuasive as it is remarkably economical and announces the arrival of a fresh talent.
     Jason Gould's "Inside Out" and Gregory Cooke's "$30" are notable as assured, fully realized examples of skillful, mature screen storytelling. Gould casts himself as the gay son of celebrities--and Barbra Streisand and Elliott Gould are in fact his parents. Gould's Aaron is a likable young man determined to establish his own identity. That Aaron, automatically the constant target of paparazzi on account of his famous parents, is gay makes his life especially challenging; luckily, he has a good sense of humor with a highly developed sense of absurdity.
     While his lifelong pal (Alexis Arquette) is helping him find Mr. Right, he's confronted at a market checkout line with a tabloid headline shrieking, "Superstar's Son Marries Male Model." Aaron tries for a "I should be so lucky" shrug yet finds himself, at the urging of his father (played by Elliott Gould) to try Scientology, whose hard-sell pitch is amusingly satirized, and he even attends a children-of-celebrities support group, run by Christina Crawford. "Inside Out" builds gracefully in a relaxed manner to a warm note of reconciliation with the world.
     Written by Christopher Landon, Cooke's "$30" is as crisply made as it is tender in tone. As a 16th birthday present, a macho-seeming father (Greg Itzin) delivers his ill-at-ease son (Erik MacArthur) to an apartment house where he is to lose his virginity with a prostitute (Sara Gilbert), who swiftly senses that MacArthur's Scott is gay.
     Gilbert's attractive and intelligent Emily is seriously selling herself short for 30 bucks, for she has the wisdom and kindness with which to help Scott take a step toward self-acceptance while not embarrassing him in front of his father. The result is a poignant moment in which strangers manage to reach out to each other in friendship. Landon, the son of the late Michael Landon, wrote the script for Larry Clark's adventurous "Another Day in Paradise."
     Much shorter than either "Inside Out" or "$30," Lane Janger's funny "Just One Time" finds a pretty girl (Joelle Carter) turning the tables on her boyfriend (Janger) when he keeps pressing her to accept another woman in their sexual encounters.
     "Boys Life 3" opens with French filmmaker David Fourier's zany, experimental "Majorettes in Space," which makes a deadly serious point about the Roman Catholic Church's abhorrence of condoms, even amid the continuing spread of AIDS.


Boys Life 3, 2000. Unrated. A Strand Releasing presentation of "Majorettes in Space," directed by David Fourier; "hItch," directed by Bradley Rust Gray; "Inside Out," directed by Jason Gould; "Just One Time," directed by Lane Janger; and "$30," directed by Gregory Cooke. Total running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes.

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