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TLA Releasing Presents (August 8th - August 14th, 2008)

TLA Releasing Presents

This mini film festival from TLA Releasing features 6 very different gay-themed films. In alphabetical order, there’s Bangkok Love Story, a thriller in Thai about Make (Rattanabunlung Tosawart), a hitman, who falls in love with Eit (Chayawart Sang Thong), an engaged man whom he holds hostage. Meanhile, Eit’s fiancee (Chatcha Rujinanoun) desperately tries to get her lover back. Writer/director Poj Arnon includes plenty of stylish cinematography and a well-chosen musical score to create a generally intense atmosphere. Each actor delivers a decent performance, but the screenplay, unfortunately, has very few surprises and once they do come around during the convoluted third act, they feel contrived. Number of times I checked my watch: 4. Next, there’s the Boystown, a mystery/comedy in Spanish about a detective (Rosa Maria Sarda) and her son (Eduard Soto) who try to solve a local murder mystery involving serial killing. The killer happens to leave a scent of perfume to mark his territory. What ensues is plenty of witty dialogue and dark humor peppered with some moments of silliness. Director/co-writer Juan Flahn doesn’t achieve the comic highs of the laugh-out-loud Spanish comedy El Crimen Ferpecto, but at least he manages to keep you entertained for the most part. Number of times I checked my watch: 2. Next, there’s Dog Tag, a romantic drama about a soldier (Paul Preiss) who goes through a sexual identity crisis when he falls in love with a young man (Bart Fletcher). The well-written screenplay by writer/director Damion Dietz doesn’t have any real surprises and the film occasionally drags. However, at least it manages to be somewhat endearing and engaging, especially thanks to moving performances by Paul Preiss and Bart Fletcher. Number of times I checked my watch: 2. The fourth film in the mini festival is the French drama I Dreamt Under the Water about a young man who suffers from a broken heart and goes through a nervous breakdown which leads him into a life of prostitution. Writer/director, who just goes by the name of Hormoz, includes exquisite cinematography—especially of the main character underwater—and much of the dramatic moments feel poignant. The sex scenes are quite graphic, but they’re necessary to the plot without being there merely for shock value. Number of times I checked my watch: 1. Next, there’s 3-Day Weekend, the weakest of the 6 films, about a group of gay men bond together at a secluded cabin for 3 days. The dialogue by writer/director Rob Williams goes from contrived to corny and lacks the organic quality to bring the life out of its many characters. Much of the film feels like a soap opera that culminates with a bunch of tacky, oversimplified, preachy lessons about life, love and friendship. Number of times I checked my watch: 8. Finally, there’s Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon a very informative and visually stylish documentary about Jack Wrangler, a porn icon from the 1970s. Candid interviews with Wrangler along with lots of archival footages make this quite a fascinating, well-structured documentary that never ceases to entertain and enlighten. Number of times I checked my watch: 0. Released by TLA Releasing. Opens at the Quad Cinema.

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