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International films with LGBT themes

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I know we have a sub-forum where people can discuss foreign language films. But a quick search indicated no thread in that area about LGBT movies which happen to be made in other countries.

 
Also I looked through the five pages of threads on this sub-forum and I didn't see any that addressed representations of LGBT characters in non-U.S. productions. So...
 

Last night on Hulu I watched a German film called JONATHAN. It was produced in 2016. 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_(2016_film)

 

screen-shot-2017-07-29-at-10-08-51-am.pn

 

The IMDb page for JONATHAN has several reviews from people who enjoyed it. It's different, very different. And a day later I am thinking about how much I enjoyed it. 

 

In a way it's amazing how perfect the cinematography looks because it was made on a shoestring budget. The lead character is played by a guy with little previous acting experience, though the supporting characters are portrayed by veteran performers. 

 

I'm sure the story has been done before. At least the main story has. But there's a secondary story that is certainly unique. Jonathan is the main character but he's not gay. He's not even questioning anything in life. He seems pretty sure of everything-- except his father. He finds out as his father is dying of cancer that his father was closeted his whole life. At one point we learn the backstory that the father had left Jonathan as a young boy to go off to be with his male lover. But Jonathan's mother took ill a short time later and he left the lover to return home and care for the wife and finish raising Jonathan.

 

screen-shot-2017-07-29-at-10-09-11-am.pn

 

So Jonathan grew up not knowing his father had this other secret life, even after the mother died. Now the father is dying and of course his ex-lover shows up and they reunite. This throws Jonathan into a tailspin. He can't accept his dad being gay or having to share his dad with the other man in these last few weeks. 

 

The secondary story is that the dad's slightly younger sister has shown up at the family's farm to help with chores while the dad gets sicker and goes into hospice. She's probably 40 and Jonathan is around 20. The aunt is attracted to Jonathan and Jonathan is attracted to her. So unbeknownst to the father and the father's lover, Jonathan has an incestuous affair with the aunt. There is more than one sex scene between them and the first one is very explicit. 

 

screen-shot-2017-07-29-at-10-08-43-am.pn

 

I kept expecting it to be revealed that the aunt was an adopted sister of the father and not really related to Jonathan, but that didn't happen. So we are led to believe they really are aunt and nephew. This secondary "love" story is meant to comment on Jonathan's inability to accept his father's forbidden affair with the other man, the way Jonathan's forbidden relationship with the aunt would not be accepted. 

 

The father dies near the end, after affirming his love to his old partner. There is a scene afterward where they bury the urn on a piece of land on the farm. The farm has now been sold and Jonathan is leaving. The final shot has Jonathan and the aunt riding off together to some destination unknown, but they are clearly still a couple.

 

I know I have given away all the plot here, or most of it, but there are so many layers and I recommend people check it out. The incest theme probably won't be everyone's cup of tea. The relationships that develop are very complex. I like how the film has no easy answers and things are not exactly resolved, just life goes on for Jonathan after this huge loss.

 

Has anyone seen this film? Or any other film like it..?

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I know we have a sub-forum where people can discuss foreign language films. But a quick search indicated no thread in that area about LGBT movies which happen to be made in other countries.

 
Also I looked through the five pages of threads on this sub-forum and I didn't see any that addressed representations of LGBT characters in non-U.S. productions. So...
 

Last night on Hulu I watched a German film called JONATHAN. It was produced in 2016. 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_(2016_film)

 

screen-shot-2017-07-29-at-10-08-51-am.pn

 

The IMDb page for JONATHAN has several reviews from people who enjoyed it. It's different, very different. And a day later I am thinking about how much I enjoyed it. 

 

In a way it's amazing how perfect the cinematography looks because it was made on a shoestring budget. The lead character is played by a guy with little previous acting experience, though the supporting characters are portrayed by veteran performers. 

 

I'm sure the story has been done before. At least the main story has. But there's a secondary story that is certainly unique. Jonathan is the main character but he's not gay. He's not even questioning anything in life. He seems pretty sure of everything-- except his father. He finds out as his father is dying of cancer that his father was closeted his whole life. At one point we learn the backstory that the father had left Jonathan as a young boy to go off to be with his male lover. But Jonathan's mother took ill a short time later and he left the lover to return home and care for the wife and finish raising Jonathan.

 

screen-shot-2017-07-29-at-10-09-11-am.pn

 

So Jonathan grew up not knowing his father had this other secret life, even after the mother died. Now the father is dying and of course his ex-lover shows up and they reunite. This throws Jonathan into a tailspin. He can't accept his dad being gay or having to share his dad with the other man in these last few weeks. 

 

The secondary story is that the dad's slightly younger sister has shown up at the family's farm to help with chores while the dad gets sicker and goes into hospice. She's probably 40 and Jonathan is around 20. The aunt is attracted to Jonathan and Jonathan is attracted to her. So unbeknownst to the father and the father's lover, Jonathan has an incestuous affair with the aunt. There is more than one sex scene between them and the first one is very explicit. 

 

screen-shot-2017-07-29-at-10-08-43-am.pn

 

I kept expecting it to be revealed that the aunt was an adopted sister of the father and not really related to Jonathan, but that didn't happen. So we are led to believe they really are aunt and nephew. This secondary "love" story is meant to comment on Jonathan's inability to accept his father's forbidden affair with the other man, the way Jonathan's forbidden relationship with the aunt would not be accepted. 

 

The father dies near the end, after affirming his love to his old partner. There is a scene afterward where they bury the urn on a piece of land on the farm. The farm has now been sold and Jonathan is leaving. The final shot has Jonathan and the aunt riding off together to some destination unknown, but they are clearly still a couple.

 

I know I have given away all the plot here, or most of it, but there are so many layers and I recommend people check it out. The incest theme probably won't be everyone's cup of tea. The relationships that develop are very complex. I like how the film has no easy answers and things are not exactly resolved, just life goes on for Jonathan after this huge loss.

 

Has anyone seen this film? Or any other film like it..?

Excellent review, it sounds like an intriguing film.

 

I included a lot of foreign films on my thread, "Gay Indie Cinema".

 

I stopped - because it turned out to be a great deal of work.

 

But I might go back to it.

 

I'm looking forward to your next "find".

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Excellent review, it sounds like an intriguing film.

 

I included a lot of foreign films on my thread, "Gay Indie Cinema".

 

I stopped - because it turned out to be a great deal of work.

 

But I might go back to it.

 

I'm looking forward to your next "find".

 

Thank you Ray. I loved your Gay Indie Cinema thread. I hope you do go back to it. And in the meanwhile I will look for my next international 'find'...

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Last night I watched a British-French production called DEPARTURE. The director is a Brit named Andrew Steggall, and it was his first feature film (he previously directed several short films). 

 

screen-shot-2017-07-30-at-1-35-29-pm.jpg

 

I love how the film effortlessly combines English and French-- the language as well as the individual cultures. Juliet Stevenson, a British actress I became familiar with while watching an episode of Inspector Lewis (where she played a much different character) is the mother of a boy who is struggling with his sexuality. What works here is that she never has any lines where she references his identity struggle but it's clear she knows what's going on. She has her own struggles so her focus is distracted.

 

screen-shot-2017-07-30-at-1-34-22-pm.jpg

 

As the story starts mother and son have gone from England to their summer home in the south of France. They are selling it because Stevenson is getting a divorce. As she packs boxes, the boy goes into the village where he meets up with old friends. He speaks French during that segment. Along the way he sees a young man who is probably not much older than he is, swimming in a reservoir. It's a touch erotic and he can't get the thoughts out of his head. He soon becomes friends with the other lad and invites him round the house. 

 

screen-shot-2017-07-30-at-1-34-34-pm.jpg

 

The action is fairly straightforward. There are no real surprises, since we know the two boys will get to know each other better and probably one thing will lead to another. Some of the reviews I read criticised the slow pace and yes, it is very slow. But in a way, I liked it because we get a real feel for the boys and the mother. The father also shows up about half way into the movie, and he brings his own set of issues. By the time the film concludes, we do know these characters very well even if a lot doesn't exactly happen. 

 

screen-shot-2017-07-30-at-1-34-56-pm.jpg

 

Some of the advertising for DEPARTURE implies a triangle develops between the mother and her son and the outside boy. I don't think that's entirely accurate. Before her estranged husband shows up, the mother does get confused and kisses the other boy. But it's not too sexual and she quickly breaks away and realises she made a mistake. She also knows her son is most likely in love with the other boy so it does not go into THE GRADUATE territory and she is no Mrs. Robinson.

 

Reviewers also complained about the ending. Probably Steggall is going for an art-film effect, and the ending can be read in a variety of ways. But I didn't feel it was too complicated and it was rather easy to make sense and meaning of it, though maybe it's because I wanted to interpret the ending in a certain, fairly simplistic way. 

 

DEPARTURE is not a great film but I'd say it's a good film, especially for a director making his first feature. Some of the editing could have been better. I definitely would have eliminated a few unnecessary shots and trimmed some of the scenes that seemed to go on a bit too long. Also I think we needed a bit more explanation about why this family had reached their specific crisis-- we are not given much backstory or told why the couple stayed together so long or why they now felt divorce was the only way out. Also, we don't get a lot of interaction between the boy and his father. Nor do we know much about the other boy's background, only that he is a villager. It's one thing to keep things deliberately ambiguous to create a sense of mystery, but in this case, since it's a character-driven film, we did need to know more about their backgrounds so the crisis was a little more real.

 

screen-shot-2017-07-30-at-1-35-45-pm.jpg

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I saw The Lost Language of the Cranes a long time ago, an English movie about a young man who comes out to his parents. While his mother struggles to accept his son is gay, his father seems to be more understanding. Later in the movie the father reveals that he is gay, too.

I saw the movie a long time ago, so I don't remember the story very well. What I remember is that when the father confesses to his wife that he is gay, his wife is now completely shattered. Her world collapsed. disappeared. She realizes that her life as a married woman was a lie, her self was someone else's fantasy. Her son is the person he wants to be, her husband is about to adjust to a new life, and she has to accept reality and her fate.

  

Eloy de la Iglesia was a Spanish director and screenwriter who made a few movies, (El Diputado, El Sacerdote, Placeres Ocultos,) in which the protagonist is gay. His characters represent institutions that are at odds with their sexuality and therefore they feel guilty and ostracized.

 

Quick research: The Lost Language of the Cranes is a TV movie released in 1991, directed by Nigel Finch, and starring Brian Cox, Eileen Atkins, and Angus MacFadyen

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I saw The Lost Language of the Cranes a long time ago, an English movie about a young man who comes out to his parents. While his mother struggles to accept his son is gay, his father seems to be more understanding. Later in the movie the father reveals that he is gay, too.

I saw the movie a long time ago, so I don't remember the story very well. What I remember is that when the father confesses to his wife that he is gay, his wife is now completely shattered. Her world collapsed. disappeared. She realizes that her life as a married woman was a lie, her self was someone else's fantasy. Her son is the person he wants to be, her husband is about to adjust to a new life, and she has to accept reality and her fate.

  

Eloy de la Iglesia was a Spanish director and screenwriter who made a few movies, (El Diputado, El Sacerdote, Placeres Ocultos,) in which the protagonist is gay. His characters represent institutions that are at odds with their sexuality and therefore they feel guilty and ostracized.

 

Quick research: The Lost Language of the Cranes is a TV movie released in 1991, directed by Nigel Finch, and starring Brian Cox, Eileen Atkins, and Angus MacFadyen

I love David Leavitt's novel- and I wish there would be an American set remake of the movie.

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I love David Leavitt's novel- and I wish there would be an American set remake of the movie.

Even today, it is much too "hot" - a gay son AND a gay father - and a totally distraught mother and wife.

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Even today, it is much too "hot" - a gay son AND a gay father - and a totally distraught mother and wife.

I might have to reread it but I recall a hot sex scene with the father and another married guy- and I love how the father sets up the son on a gay date with a guy who turns out to be straight and they drive around Manhattan-  this is a very American- New York book

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I watched another film worth mentioning in this thread. I have a lot of thoughts about it. It's called PARIS 05:59: THEO & HUGO. It was released in France last year and won best film awards at several festivals. 

 

screen-shot-2017-08-04-at-12-18-45-pm.jp

 

The copy I watched on Hulu is not subtitled and it's all in French. It forced me to work on my French language skills. Even when I didn't fully understand what they were saying, I was able to concentrate on the body language-- and there is plenty of that in this steamy story.

 

It's actually only steamy during the opening sequence. Theo and Hugo both go to an underground sex club. Separately. This opening sequence lasts 20 minutes and as some reviewers have noted, it's "pure porn." Probably we're getting very little simulated action, much of it the real deal, and none of it left to the imagination. The movie's co-directors are partners in real life (Olivier Ducastel & Jacques Martineau) so I would imagine this came from some of their own experiences. 

 

I read that the lead roles were advertised on Facebook. We are now seeing directors use social media for open casting calls. Geoffrey Couet who plays Theo has a background in comedy; and Francois Nambot who appears as Hugo seems the more traditionally trained performer. I found both of them effective. 

 

screen-shot-2017-08-04-at-12-17-56-pm.jp

 

During the opening sequence they are having sex with other men, when they spot each other. This leads them to having sex with each other. Initially we see them using condoms in the group sex scenes. But when they go off to have sex with each other the camera does not reveal if they are using condoms. And that sets the stage for the 70 minutes that follow after they leave the club together.

 

It's a bit contrived when they go outside and get on their bikes. They seem to have made a connection and want to spend time getting to know each other now as real human beings instead of mere sex objects. But Hugo reveals he is HIV-positive, and that's when we learn they did not use protection. So Theo freaks out and has to get tested. Hugo accompanies him to the clinic.

 

screen-shot-2017-08-04-at-12-19-03-pm.jp

 

There's an excellent scene with a female doctor at the clinic-- she's not an actress but a real doctor, and most of this part seems improvised, where she is telling them about the risks for infection, as if it's something she probably tells dozens of people each day. Adding to this sense of realism is the fact that the story takes place in 'real time' like HIGH NOON, which means that we are folllowing them minute by minute after they leave the sex club. The title comes from the time of the morning when Theo arrives home after this whirlwind experience. By 6 a.m. he has met the love of his life and faced his own mortality.

 

After they leave the clinic, there are other sequences where they sightsee on the way to Theo's place. They also stop off at a kebab shop for something to eat, and they take the tube and have a conversation with an older woman. Gradually they just begin to become regular guys, which is interesting after the flashy visuals in the sex club at the very beginning.

 

screen-shot-2017-08-04-at-12-20-16-pm.jp

 

In a way, the directors have to work hard to keep these characters compelling and for the story to remain engaging. When you have 20 minutes of raw sex, followed by existential musings about life and death, things can seem anticlimactic. One great aspect to this film is that it is all shot on location. One reviewer lauded it for showing us the non-touristy side of Paris, and I agree. We do get a unique glimpse of the city at pre-dawn and it's fascinating. There is not one shot of the Eiffel Tower. It's not a postcard rendering of Paris at all, and that's to its benefit. 

 

Another thing which occurred to me is you don't need costuming or any real changes of clothing in this movie. They're entirely nude during the opening segment. Then they put on street clothes they wear for the rest of the film. Also, because the action focuses almost entirely on the two title characters, there is no need to worry about developing supporting characters. The doctor just played herself, and the others (the employee at the kebab shop and the woman on the train) were also probably playing themselves to a large extent. 

 

I do think there should be a sequel. Another few hours in the on-going lives of Theo and Hugo. We need to know what happens next to these two. Maybe at 5:59 p.m. on the same day.

 

screen-shot-2017-08-04-at-12-17-40-pm.jp

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I watched another film worth mentioning in this thread. I have a lot of thoughts about it. It's called PARIS 05:59: THEO & HUGO. It was released in France last year and won best film awards at several festivals. 

 

screen-shot-2017-08-04-at-12-18-45-pm.jp

 

The copy I watched on Hulu is not subtitled and it's all in French. It forced me to work on my French language skills. Even when I didn't fully understand what they were saying, I was able to concentrate on the body language-- and there is plenty of that in this steamy story.

 

It's actually only steamy during the opening sequence. Theo and Hugo both go to an underground sex club. Separately. This opening sequence lasts 20 minutes and as some reviewers have noted, it's "pure porn." Probably we're getting very little simulated action, much of it the real deal, and none of it left to the imagination. The movie's co-directors are partners in real life (Olivier Ducastel & Jacques Martineau) so I would imagine this came from some of their own experiences. 

 

I read that the lead roles were advertised on Facebook. We are now seeing directors use social media for open casting calls. Geoffrey Couet who plays Theo has a background in comedy; and Francois Nambot who appears as Hugo seems the more traditionally trained performer. I found both of them effective. 

 

screen-shot-2017-08-04-at-12-17-56-pm.jp

 

During the opening sequence they are having sex with other men, when they spot each other. This leads them to having sex with each other. Initially we see them using condoms in the group sex scenes. But when they go off to have sex with each other the camera does not reveal if they are using condoms. And that sets the stage for the 70 minutes that follow after they leave the club together.

 

It's a bit contrived when they go outside and get on their bikes. They seem to have made a connection and want to spend time getting to know each other now as real human beings instead of mere sex objects. But Hugo reveals he is HIV-positive, and that's when we learn they did not use protection. So Theo freaks out and has to get tested. Hugo accompanies him to the clinic.

 

screen-shot-2017-08-04-at-12-19-03-pm.jp

 

There's an excellent scene with a female doctor at the clinic-- she's not an actress but a real doctor, and most of this part seems improvised, where she is telling them about the risks for infection, as if it's something she probably tells dozens of people each day. Adding to this sense of realism is the fact that the story takes place in 'real time' like HIGH NOON, which means that we are folllowing them minute by minute after they leave the sex club. The title comes from the time of the morning when Theo arrives home after this whirlwind experience. By 6 a.m. he has met the love of his life and faced his own mortality.

 

After they leave the clinic, there are other sequences where they sightsee on the way to Theo's place. They also stop off at a kebab shop for something to eat, and they take the tube and have a conversation with an older woman. Gradually they just begin to become regular guys, which is interesting after the flashy visuals in the sex club at the very beginning.

 

screen-shot-2017-08-04-at-12-20-16-pm.jp

 

In a way, the directors have to work hard to keep these characters compelling and for the story to remain engaging. When you have 20 minutes of raw sex, followed by existential musings about life and death, things can seem anticlimactic. One great aspect to this film is that it is all shot on location. One reviewer lauded it for showing us the non-touristy side of Paris, and I agree. We do get a unique glimpse of the city at pre-dawn and it's fascinating. There is not one shot of the Eiffel Tower. It's not a postcard rendering of Paris at all, and that's to its benefit. 

 

Another thing which occurred to me is you don't need costuming or any real changes of clothing in this movie. They're entirely nude during the opening segment. Then they put on street clothes they wear for the rest of the film. Also, because the action focuses almost entirely on the two title characters, there is no need to worry about developing supporting characters. The doctor just played herself, and the others (the employee at the kebab shop and the woman on the train) were also probably playing themselves to a large extent. 

 

I do think there should be a sequel. Another few hours in the on-going lives of Theo and Hugo. We need to know what happens next to these two. Maybe at 5:59 p.m. on the same day.

 

screen-shot-2017-08-04-at-12-17-40-pm.jp

The trailer is pretty hot

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In the I can't believe someone green lighted this department: "Hazlo Como Hombre" (Do It Like A Man) (2017) a bro comedy from Mexico in which a closeted guy comes out to his straight buds while they are taking a shower at the gym (?!) much hilarity ensueshttps://youtu.be/a8pCQgK8D48

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Recently I watched the 2015 Aussie film DOWNRIVER. It's so unusual in spots I may need to watch it again. It seems to combine the standard teen boys coming of age drama with gang warfare where most of them are gay. I'm not sure if the filmmaker is trying to say that young gay men are no different than the mob, or what the purpose is with the story. Then it veers off into horror flick territory when they discover a skeleton in a cave near the beach. It's a mishmash of genres; the director expanded on a short he had made previously but I have a feeling the shorter film wasn't as convoluted. He hasn't directed a feature since. I did enjoy the atmospheric touches, especially the scenes filmed at night.

 

screen.jpg

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Recently I watched the 2015 Aussie film DOWNRIVER. It's so unusual in spots I may need to watch it again. It seems to combine the standard teen boys coming of age drama with gang warfare where most of them are gay. I'm not sure if the filmmaker is trying to say that young gay men are no different than the mob, or what the purpose is with the story. Then it veers off into horror flick territory when they discover a skeleton in a cave near the beach. It's a mishmash of genres; the director expanded on a short he had made previously but I have a feeling the shorter film wasn't as convoluted. He hasn't directed a feature since. I did enjoy the atmospheric touches, especially the scenes filmed at night.

 

screen.jpg

Maybe someone was smoking a little too much weed!

 

I, for one, do not believe that gay men are anything like straight men.

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In the I can't believe someone green lighted this department: "Hazlo Como Hombre" (Do It Like A Man) (2017) a bro comedy from Mexico in which a closeted guy comes out to his straight buds while they are taking a shower at the gym (?!) much hilarity ensueshttps://youtu.be/a8pCQgK8D48

This one sounds like A REALLY BAD MOVIE.

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Maybe someone was smoking a little too much weed!

 

I, for one, do not believe that gay men are anything like straight men.

 

I think the director of DOWNRIVER was trying to show he was versatile in terms of genre but it doesn't all come together like it should. The movie just ends along the beach, and the last shot cuts just as someone else is walking into the frame-- so either it's a bad edit, or they ran out of money and couldn't finish the rest of the scene, or else the person walking into the frame was suppose to symbolize something that flew right over my head! LOL

 

The other strange thing about DOWNRIVER, but it works to the advantage of the film's schizophrenic nature, is that none of them are really connected to the straight world. One boy's parents are shown at the beginning but the folks are quickly forgotten, and as the boys go off on their violent adventure, things get increasingly gay. It's just a mad, mad, mad, mad gay world after twenty minutes into the film and it gets increasingly mad. Also one guy has sex with almost all the other main male characters but he is hardly a catch and does not even have a very compelling screen presence. It's totally unbelievable all these other dudes would desire him, or he'd have enough charisma to get them into bed, unless the main selling point he has is that he's available and easy. 

 

Now that I think about it and write these notes, the film is just kind of "bad" all the way through, but there is some sort of charm to it and the atmospheric touches suggest they were trying to do something unique. I just don't think it's as successful as it could have been. Somehow it earned a bunch of awards but maybe mediocre independent filmmaking is lauded when there is lack of other representations that might have provided a better "service" to the LGBT moviegoing population. I do wonder if this is how young Australian gay men see themselves, as they are depicted in DOWNRIVER. 

 

The film can be seen on Hulu.

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Recently I watched the 2015 Aussie film DOWNRIVER. It's so unusual in spots I may need to watch it again. It seems to combine the standard teen boys coming of age drama with gang warfare where most of them are gay. I'm not sure if the filmmaker is trying to say that young gay men are no different than the mob, or what the purpose is with the story. Then it veers off into horror flick territory when they discover a skeleton in a cave near the beach. It's a mishmash of genres; the director expanded on a short he had made previously but I have a feeling the shorter film wasn't as convoluted. He hasn't directed a feature since. I did enjoy the atmospheric touches, especially the scenes filmed at night.

 

screen.jpg

It sounds interesting

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I think the director of DOWNRIVER was trying to show he was versatile in terms of genre but it doesn't all come together like it should. The movie just ends along the beach, and the last shot cuts just as someone else is walking into the frame-- so either it's a bad edit, or they ran out of money and couldn't finish the rest of the scene, or else the person walking into the frame was suppose to symbolize something that flew right over my head! LOL

 

The other strange thing about DOWNRIVER, but it works to the advantage of the film's schizophrenic nature, is that none of them are really connected to the straight world. One boy's parents are shown at the beginning but the folks are quickly forgotten, and as the boys go off on their violent adventure, things get increasingly gay. It's just a mad, mad, mad, mad gay world after twenty minutes into the film and it gets increasingly mad. Also one guy has sex with almost all the other main male characters but he is hardly a catch and does not even have a very compelling screen presence. It's totally unbelievable all these other dudes would desire him, or he'd have enough charisma to get them into bed, unless the main selling point he has is that he's available and easy. 

 

Now that I think about it and write these notes, the film is just kind of "bad" all the way through, but there is some sort of charm to it and the atmospheric touches suggest they were trying to do something unique. I just don't think it's as successful as it could have been. Somehow it earned a bunch of awards but maybe mediocre independent filmmaking is lauded when there is lack of other representations that might have provided a better "service" to the LGBT moviegoing population. I do wonder if this is how young Australian gay men see themselves, as they are depicted in DOWNRIVER. 

 

The film can be seen on Hulu.

It sounds like a gay "Lord of the Flies" and by the way what do you guys thinks that someone is planning an all girl remake of that classic story- a very stupid idea that goes against the themes of the book

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It sounds like a gay "Lord of the Flies"  

 

You're right...never thought of it that way. I think I was too caught up in it being "Australian cinema" and didn't notice how it connected to other literary stories.

 

Spoiler ahead...

 

One of the twists in DOWNRIVER is that the main boy supposedly saw someone murdered on a beach a long time ago. But his memory is not consistent with what the police were told. So he goes back to where it all happened, and it involves another boy who was also there on the beach with him that day. But they are both gay and not lovers (the other guy who sleeps with everyone is involved with both of them separately). When the skeleton is found, it's supposed to be a big epiphany of sorts, but some of the story telling is rather muddled. And I don't think it's clearly explained why the murder even took place. 

 

As I said, it's a film I need to probably watch again and maybe more of it will piece together and make sense. The director was going in so many directions with it and the use of different genres makes it more uneven than it should be.

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You're right...never thought of it that way. I think I was too caught up in it being "Australian cinema" and didn't notice how it connected to other literary stories.

 

Spoiler ahead...

 

One of the twists in DOWNRIVER is that the main boy supposedly saw someone murdered on a beach a long time ago. But his memory is not consistent with what the police were told. So he goes back to where it all happened, and it involves another boy who was also there on the beach with him that day. But they are both gay and not lovers (the other guy who sleeps with everyone is involved with both of them separately). When the skeleton is found, it's supposed to be a big epiphany of sorts, but some of the story telling is rather muddled. And I don't think it's clearly explained why the murder even took place. 

 

As I said, it's a film I need to probably watch again and maybe more of it will piece together and make sense. The director was going in so many directions with it and the use of different genres makes it more uneven than it should be.

I saw the film and liked it.  But you do make some good points -  I still don't understand what was really going on perhaps it was the Aussie accent or the fact there was a lot of whispering.  I did like the way the film handled the boys sexuality- if this had been an American film- the long haired boy next door would have probably been a girl.  I hope the talented director Grant Scicluna makes another film.  I would also like to see more of  Lester Ellis jr- who plays the nasty older brother.

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Lester Ellis Jr from "Downriver"- the nasty older brother who sadly does not have gay sex in the film... :(

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I saw the film and liked it.  But you do make some good points -  I still don't understand what was really going on perhaps it was the Aussie accent or the fact there was a lot of whispering.  I did like the way the film handled the boys sexuality- if this had been an American film- the long haired boy next door would have probably been a girl.  I hope the talented director Grant Scicluna makes another film.  I would also like to see more of  Lester Ellis jr- who plays the nasty older brother.

 

Cool. I'm glad you watched it. It definitely stays in your mind. I just wish they could have smoothed over some of the problems in the script before they went in front of the camera. The best aspect of DOWNRIVER is all the on-location filming. I felt like I was right there with them in rural Australia. If anything, as a first time feature film effort, it indicates Scicluna has a lot of promise as a director, and I expect his later films to be even better.

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Cool. I'm glad you watched it. It definitely stays in your mind. I just wish they could have smoothed over some of the problems in the script before they went in front of the camera. The best aspect of DOWNRIVER is all the on-location filming. I felt like I was right there with them in rural Australia. If anything, as a first time feature film effort, it indicates Scicluna has a lot of promise as a director, and I expect his later films to be even better.

Scicluna also creates a pervasive sense of repressed sexuality. I got the feeling that there was something going on between the father and the two sons but the film did not want to go there.  The fathers violent behavior was specially shocking.  And your right about the directors use of location

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There's French Canadian film on Hulu worth mentioning here:

 

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The main character is a young guy named Alex who is a hustler and a drug addict in Montreal. The film starts kind of randomly, and in fact much of the film is just that (random). Alex is on the wintry streets of the city trying to pick up his next client. It doesn't take long before he finds someone. He finds a few someones. 
 
The goal is to have sex for cash that he can use to purchase heroin or whatever he feels like taking. There are a group of guys his age. Sometimes they share (clients and drugs). Early on we see Alex has a deep emotional attachment with one of the other hustlers he knows, but that connection weakens over time. They have sex and do drugs together in between clients. Did I tell you there's a lot of sex and a lot of drug use in this film.
 
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In a way, despite the randomness of events, the filmmaker does bring it somewhat full circle. Alex and the others keep canvassing the same general area repeating what they do with slight variations. I think what I love about Rodrigue Jean's film is that there are no real judgments or condemning of anything the characters do. They're almost like animals covering the same territory, with their little rituals and their moment-by-moment need for basic survival. The cinematography uses a lot of lengthy tracking shots. 
 
It's obvious these are actors in the main roles (and some of them are not so great) but the whole thing has a pseudo documentary feel to it. My guess is they improvised a lot and just went with whatever they were feeling in the moment. 
 
The title is kind of interesting, because you'd almost expect a historical romance. And maybe on some level that's what it is. They're at war with the elements, in love with the idea of coming close to death as many times as they can, before they extract some sort of truth or meaning from a meager existence. It's a film that stays with the viewer because of how candid it is.
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