›› Ranch Round-Up #1 ‹‹
So many wondrous gay films; so many seldom seen gay shorts.

So welcome to the first in a series of "ranch round-ups" devoted to the gay short film medium.

More round-up reviews will follow, in this new style that I hope you like. Dave :)
Benny's Gym by Lisa Marie Gamlem ›› Benny's Gym - aka: Benny's Tattoo

a short film by Lisa Marie Gamlem.

2007 | 24'32'' pb | Norway.

principal players: Atdhe Belegu / Alfred, Kim Erik Tena Eriksen / Benny and Johannes Sejersted Bødtker as Petter.

Official Synopsis: "young Alfred finds himself constantly bullied by the other boys at school, including Benny, who becomes his secret friend."

Dave says:-

This finely crafted work from writer and director Lisa Marie Gamlem is more akin to a meditation on friendship, rather than a sermon on bullying, as we come to see school bully Benny in a notably tender light when separated from his circle of tormentors. For it is here that Gamlem poignantly paints a picture of two young men coming to terms with their sexuality by way of their growing friendship, as Alfred comes to find Benny's mature beyond-his-years exterior, give way to signs of a homosexual heart.

Beautifully paced throughout and played achingly real by the two young stars of the show, Gamlem nicely builds up to a dramatic close that finds Benny forced to choose sides, as the ever present undercurrent of physical abuse is juxtaposed with wondrous scenes of burgeoning friendships.

A quality coming-of-age short on life, friendship and social acceptance.

›› Gay Visibility - coming-of-age style | Nudity - from the waist up | Overall - file under ... 4 stars ‹‹

›› was available on DVD as part of the Picture This Boys Briefs 5: Schoolboys compilation: 16.Dec.2008 / US ‹‹
Running Without Sound by Judd King ›› Running Without Sound

a short film by Judd King.

2004 | 12'31'' pb | US.

principal players: Shad Sager / Sean, Trace Barnes / Derek and Jake Klein as Johnson.

Official Synopsis: "Sean, a deaf teen with a crush on his pal Derek grapples with confusing emotions and tensions with his fellow cross-country runner's team-mates."

Dave says:-

Officially described as a "gay jock story," this is more the tale of two young men coming to terms with their sexual place in the world and in particular their feelings for each other. Sweet 'n' tender goes without saying, as King plays with a somewhat prolonged "to kiss or not to kiss" sequence, as the two hesitate over their first encounter of the man-on-man lip-service kind.

Clearly shot on a low budget, with many a scene all too dark for my liking, there nevertheless is a nice story here, but it could have been played far better, with missed opportunities to develop dramatic tension and homoeroticism. The deaf angle is however a welcome breath of fresh narrative air, highlighting the struggle for those coming to terms with their sexual orientation, is a world devoid of sound.

›› Gay Visibility - coming out style | Nudity - from the waist up | Overall - file under ... 2+ stars ‹‹

›› available on DVD as part of the Wolfe Video Boy Crush compilation: 4.Dec.2007 / US ‹‹
In the Dark by Fabio Mollo ›› In the Dark - Al buio

a short film by Fabio Mollo.

2005 | 12'40'' pb | Italy.

starring: Josefia Forlì aka Giuseppe Forlì as Antonio and Daniele Grassetti as Marcello.

Official Synopsis: "sometimes eroticism lays hidden in that moment suspended within the space that separates two bodies which cannot touch each other."

Dave says:-

Wonderfully playing the "I'm not gay, but my boyfriend is" card for all its worth, here we find co-writer and director Fabio Mollo chart the lives of two flat sharing students, on the night that finally defines the true nature of their friendship.

For Marcello is officially straight to the world, eager to get himself ready to party the night away with off-screen girlfriend Oriana, leaving his best friend and more, looking on. Yet it is Antonio's yearning looks that cut to the core of their relationship, long before the narrative does. For and in spite of all of the macho Italian talk of the piece, it is all but obvious which side of the sexual rainbow their hearts lie.

Complete with many a stripped to the waist scene and intercut with a number of telling lines of the like of "if I'm gay, what of you?," this rollercoaster ride of pent-up emotions whilst somewhat melodramatic, is nevertheless a vivid portrait of two men getting up close and personal with their sexuality, one where certain actions clearly speak louder than words.

›› Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - from the waist up | Overall - file under ... 3 stars ‹‹

The Best Men by Tony Wei ›› The Best Men

a short film by Tony Wei.

2007 | 14'43'' pb | US.

principal players: Michael Ellison / Peter, Jason Yarusi / Joe, Anna Moore / Sister and Virginia Thomas as Mrs Hartford.

Official Synopsis: "moments before his best friend's wedding, Peter gets one last chance to rekindle mutual feelings long suppressed, if not abandoned."

Dave says:-

In spite of solid production values and competent acting throughout, this short film from the pen of Jesse Whitnall lacks an emotional punch, with the confrontation between the bridegroom and his best man, all but left blowing in the "are you happy?" wind. And that's a shame, given it's all but evident that the two men share a history and presumably a sexual one, at that too. Unfortunately, we don't get to know the background details, leaving Michael (The Boy Next Door) Ellison's subtle facial expressions to tell of the longing in his heart, well before he vocally does so.

In short, this is but a meditation on unrequited love, as we come to witness the groom giving in to social conformity, that of a hetero relationship that no-one seems sure will work. Only it's played too safe for its own good, being more akin to daytime television in style, even if Wei injects a series of neat touches along the way, including an all knowing mother, together with the gift ring from the groom to his best man, ending up on Peter's left hand ring finger; wedding style. So it's a mixed review here, leaving Anna Moore as the sister of the piece to exit stage left with the best line in the show.

›› Gay Visibility - covert / overt | Nudity - none | Overall - file under ... 2+ stars ‹‹

›› available on DVD as part of the Strand Releasing Not Gay compilation: 15.April.2008 / US ‹‹
Flatmates by Magnus Mork ›› Flatmates - Kompisar

a short film by Magnus Mork.

2007 | 20'50'' pb | Sweden.

starring: Sven Boräng / Björn, Jonas Eskilsson / Hampus and Emilie Lidgard as the Girl.

Official Synopsis: "when two guys decide to room together, they discover the dividing line between tenderness and abuse."

Dave says:-

Re-working the "falling in love with your straight best friend" scenario, here we find co-writer and director Magnus Mork of The Samaritan fame tread the fine line between male bonding and acts of a decidedly intimate nature.

For this is a work in which sexual boundaries are blurred, with both men more than at ease in each other's company, if not their arms and bodies, being only too happy to move in together, akin to a loving couple. Only when a third party enters the equation, the dynamics of a close friendship / relationship cannot help but change and this is no exception. Yet we do not get to see the full extent of the girl's intervention, as before you know it Björn opts to take the situation, literally, in hand.

Shot in the trademark grainy Scandinavian style, Mork 's graduation piece, cue the Göteborg University School of Film is somewhat let down by a void of dialogue, following the life altering act itself. But then certain acts, speak louder than words.

›› Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - from the waist up | Overall - file under ... 3 stars ‹‹

›› was available on DVD as part of the Picture This Boys Briefs 5: Schoolboys compilation: 16.Dec.2008 / US ‹‹
Copyright 2013 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
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