Thursday, March 22, 2007
QUEER CINEMA—Boy Culture
Boy Culture, Q. Allan Brocka's film adaptation of Matthew Rettenmund's critically-acclaimed novel has a lot of things going for it, not the least of which is its youthfulness. I mean, think about it. Even though I'm quite proud and comfortable with being 53 years old, Geezer Culture just doesn't have the same draw. As far as queer culture is involved, 53 puts me in the invisibility range. But that's okay. I'm out of the bar scene and more into cruising for magazine gigs than tricks. I have a partner I love, a home I've been in for over a quarter of a century, and concerns more appropriate to my age. But I can still remember being a young gay guy with all its sexual confusion and exploration that—edging towards decrepitude—discretion now disavows. For those confessions, you will have to wait for my posthumously-published memoirs (working title: Idol Chitchat).
Normally I don't go for this kind of gay flick precisely because there's no room for me in it unless I feel like waxing nostalgic, which I rarely have time to do getting on with the creative business of life; but, Boy Culture is more accommodating. It has, in fact, one of the sauciest intergenerational sex scenes I've seen on the screen in quite a while. And its paean to the kind of families that queer youth create in order to survive social marginalization remains a constant across the generations. One of my favorite queer themes, in fact, is the sociality achieved by intergenerational interaction and, without question, Boy Culture endorses that theme.
So what's it about? As the press notes boast, it's a candid confession of "X," a wildly successful male escort. After 10 years of sex-for-pay, "X" becomes romantically entangled with his two hot roommates and a reclusive elderly client, Gregory. But before Gregory will agree to sex, he tells an unsettling love story spanning 50 years and dares "X" to try something he hasn't felt in years: emotion. Boy Culture takes on issues of sexual mores and emotional risk with a witty and incisive voice, revealing the leap of faith that love demands. The film has garnered multiple awards from film festivals around the world including winning the Grand Jury Award for Best Feature at the 2006 Philadelphia Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Screenplay at Outfest 2006, Winner of the Jury Award for Best Director at the 2006 Madrid International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, and Winner of the Programmers Award for Best of the Fest at the 2006 London International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival. Which is to say Boy Culture is not just softcore porn with a heart. Nor does it simply pander to the prurience that buys tickets. Sure it's sexy, sure the lead actors are all babes, but they're also all vulnerable, which even across the years helps me identify with them. Sex pays. Love costs. Indeed.
A special shout-out to Patrick Bauchau who as the elderly Gregory lends a recognizable patina of mature duplicity redeemed by its own form of risk taking. All three lead actors—Derek Magyar as "X", Darryl Stephens as "Andrew" and Jonathan Trent as "Joey" achieve the likeability that allows an audience to care about them. Molly Manago as Andrew's younger sister Cheyenne steals every scene she's in.
Refreshingly entertaining and honest at heart, Boy Culture opens up at San Francisco's Castro Theater tomorrow evening, March 23, and runs through March 29.