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Mexican Men (2016)
With a gently observant approach, this warm and engaging drama centres on the witty, realistic interaction between two young guys. Carlos is a young assistant in his godfather's barber shop, while Julio is a customer. They make a brief connection when Julio has his hair cut, then later as Carlos is cleaning up before locking the store, Julio returns for a shave before his last night as a free man before going into his military service. Both are clearly a bit surprised by the relaxed, easy connection they make with each other, leading to a waterfight, a bit of dancing and dinner. Plus a rather sweet series of early morning twists. The film is cleverly shot and edited, with some subtly observant directorial touches that draw the audience in. The performances are natural, cleverly relying on furtive glances and wry smiles instead of obvious dialog. And the wonderfully choreographed dance sequence is seriously charming. As is the lovely, thoughtful final scene. A real gem.
A documentary short with a very strong sense of physicality, this film explores the life of Cristhian, a muscly young guy who works as an escort and stripper to fund his dance training. He's lively and chatty as he explains the reasons he does what he does without too much navel-gazing, perhaps not quite understanding the ramifications of this path he's going down, or the fact that he's actually trapped in a career that can't actually go anywhere. But he feels that the sex work is justified by his art, that it's the price he pays for doing what he loves, and he is sure that he won't be doing this forever. Most intriguing are his comments about growing up gay in a culture that rejects homosexuality, working as a rentboy long before he knew that it might be possible to be affectionate and even romantic with another man - or even to dream about having a proper loving relationship. He also talks about discovering his natural talents as a dancer and joining a tough dance company, working hard to succeed. All of this is illustrated with a collection of documentary footage (of his dance classes, the community he lives in, his work as a stripper) and dramatised sequences of his sexual encounters with clients. There's also a clip from a porn film he made. So in the end, this is a strikingly strong portrait of both a young aspiring artist and sex worker who easily justifies the two. Even if his arguments aren't hugely convincing.
Wandering Clouds (2014)
With an opening block of text and voiceover narration talking about discrimination, hatred and fear, this short uses fly-on-the-wall camera work to observe two young guys practicing high dives, stretching and swimming in a public pool, then being challenged by a homophobic bully who spots them embracing under the water. It's cleverly and elegantly shot and edited to capture the sense that these boys are never out of public view, revelling in the joy of swimming and diving, unafraid of their physicality and expressing their feelings with athletic movements. The underwater photography has a particularly gorgeous visual impact. Where this goes is a little bit obvious, with some rather pushy irony in the final twist. And there's also an oddly leery voyeuristic tone to the film, as the camera observes these muscly young men cavorting in their speedos. But the story is strong and simple, and makes an important point.
Three very brief segments make up this elusive but still slightly obvious trilogy that seems to be exploring barriers to physical interaction. In Stolen Plaintive [Rubato Lamentoso], a group of young men run shirtless in the desert as a voiceover says, "We rescued them". They then tentatively reject each others' touch. Is this about conditioned homophobia, perhaps? It's intriguingly shot with odd angles that capture these guys almost accidentally. Second is The Pain [El Dolor], a single spiralling take shot in black and white as a man is punched and the other guy, overwhelmed by emotion, turns back to the fallen one as a voiceover says "Do you love me?" Even though it's very brief, this little segment has a sweeping sense of the close link between rage and passion. Finally, Rivers in Time of Rain [Los Ríos en Tiempo de Lluvias] opens on a naked guy in the bath as girl lounges in bed. Then as the camera moves without an apparent cut, this couple goes through a variety of embraces, dancing, kissing, separated by walls and windows. Together and apart, their interaction shifts between happiness to eerie sadness. The set and choreography are stylised, as this artful, strange clip seems to suggest a whole relational lifetime in just a few minutes.
As the title suggests, this is an atmospheric short film. It has no dialog at all, and conveys its story only through announcements over a public address system in an eerily vacant coastal city. The announcements centre on the rising temperatures and the danger of an infectious disease, so stay indoors, remain calm and watch for symptoms, which begin with an allergic reaction to the sun. Meanwhile, a woman prowls around with a camera, a young man exercises and cools off in the bath, and another guy on a skateboard sneaks into apartments looting them. These three circle around each other, never quite meeting but seeing signs of the others' presence. Then as the heatwave finally breaks, they all meet at the beach. The film is very cleverly shot, even if it's a bit gimmicky in the way it uses black and white with certain elements in colour. But the cinematography makes terrific use of sunshine, playfully spying on these three people in long shot and closeup. It's a bit corny and camp, and perhaps a bit too thin to carry much meaning. But Hernandez has fun with witty musical choices and suggestively juxtaposed imagery. So it's intriguing and mysterious. As well as simple, silly and rather sweet.
This collection includes five atmospheric, beautifully shot films from Mil Nubes Cine - four directed by Julian Hernandez, one by Roberto Fiesco. Hernandez can't resist adding ponderous quotes all over his films - on-screen text and voiceover narration, sometimes enlightening but usually too complex to register with the audience. That said, his filmmaking approach is remarkably visceral, complex and thought-provoking. By contrast, Fiesco's film is the most traditional, and also the most engaging and moving. It's an intriguing collection that spans 12 years, exploring themes in the context of Mexican culture.
6 votesGAY-THEMED SHORTS COLLECTIONS (8 lists)
list by Polsko
Published 5 months ago
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