Reviews of Recent Independent, Foreign, & Documentary Films in Theaters and DVD/Home Video

Crete (Greg Atkins, left) & Garnet (D. Garnet Harding)
Photo: PictureThis! Entertainment

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“Into the Night”
Directed by: Tony Krawitz.
Written by: Cath Moore.
Directed & Written by: Welby Ings.
Directed & Written by: Bastian Schweitzer.
Directed & Written by: Greg Atkins.
“Rock Bottom”
Directed by: Mary Feuer.
Written by Feuer & John Militello.
Directed & Written by: Armen Kazazian.
Released by: PictureThis! Entertainment.
Australia/Canada/France/New Zealand/USA. 106 minutes. Not Rated.

This collection of six international shorts from the past four years is hit or miss. Usually, they miss. First up, Australia’s underdeveloped “Into the Night” looks into the life of a down-and-out street hustler picked up by a much older john in his BMW. While the customer is out of the room, the teen puts on a video of a handsome, shirtless young man, who mysteriously looks like the hustler in healthier days. The only real surprise is writer Cath Moore’s ability to create subtext, which, depending on your perspective, could merely be a byproduct of furnishing very little dialogue.

Next, “Boy” is slightly more impressive. Sam (Jesse Lee), a young bathroom stall prostitute, spies through his glory hole on a man trying to flush the ID and credit cards of a woman he had just run over and killed. After receiving threats from the man, Sam keeps quiet about the hit-and-run until he also witnesses a forlorn waitress getting gang raped. Who knew New Zealand could be so violent? But what makes the short impressive is the jarring absence of dialogue. Instead of expressing himself verbally, fragments of poetry are written onto the screen to summarize how Sam feels (including the word “silence,” which comes across as redundant). Although this technique is interesting, it fails to rise above the level of an angsty music video.

“Gigolo” is a hunk of French cheese left in the refrigerator a few days too long. Following Karim (Karim Kechiouche), a Parisian man of Arab descent for whom prostitution runs in the family, “Gigolo” is an articulation of dusty stereotypes. Hired by the rich for their sexual games, Karim’s daily anger and drug use provides an excuse to get him fired when his clients’ interest wanes. His anger, however, is portrayed with superficiality and obviousness, as he spews claims that he works to f*ck people in the ass like society has ass-f*cked him (it’s very French). Even Goddard would have to praise how succinct writer/director/producer Bastian Schweitzer’s condemnation of bourgeois culture is expressed, if little else.

The fourth short, “Build,” finds its Canadian protagonist, Crete (writer and director Greg Atkins), making money off the streets after failing out of his university’s architecture program, which he has neglected to tell his mother. Even though they live together and it’s been a year since he started streetwalking, she still hasn’t figured it out. Perhaps it’s because she’s an alcoholic. Working the same corner as Crete is fellow hustler Garnet (D. Garnet Harding). After an initial attraction, Crete brings Garnet home only to find that he intends on staying, sharing his drugs with Crete’s mother, and ruining Crete’s hustler façade, leaving his life in shambles. This sinister power play features some of the best acting of the collection.

The last two, “Rock Bottom” and “Gold,” are the best of the bunch. Overweight and lonely, Billy (cowritier John Militello) is too shy to inquire about Jason’s services after driving past the skinny youth’s street corner until Jason (Timothy Lee DePriest) knocks on Billy’s window and convinces the otherwise eager driver to spend the night with him. Both characters are written with care and played with affection, making their few moments of connection both heartbreaking and alarming. When Billy finds that the only way he can spark Jason’s sexual interest is to allow Jason to smoke crack, their shared desperation speaks volumes about contemporary gay culture that few in this compilation have managed.

Unsurprisingly, the two leads of “Gold” are a prostitute and his john. Their awkward love story is complicated by 70-year-old Calvin’s blindness. An artist, Calvin (Aron Tager) has hired Jay (P. J. Lazic) as much for his willingness to take commands in front of the canvas as well as in the bedroom. Their relationship is hindered by young Jay’s feelings of worthlessness. After a fight with Calvin, Jay seeks out an old friend (D. Garnet Harding from "Build") for drugs, sex, and the verbal abuse that he feels he deserves. At times overwrought and marred by melodramatic acting, “Gold”’s believable characters might, nevertheless, win you over. Zachary Jones
July 21, 2006



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