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On this page: BOY MEETS BOY | RURANGI | SUBLET

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See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL | Last update 21.Mar.21

Boy Meets Boy  
Review by Rich Cline | 4/5  
Boy Meets Boy
dir Daniel Sanchez Lopez
scr Hannah Renton, Daniel Sanchez Lopez
prd Lucia Sapelli, Daniel Sanchez Lopez
with Matthew J Morrison, Alexis Koutsoulis, Louis Labron-Johnson, Hanno Jusek, Gregor Schalper, Marcel Mayer, Mawa Abdillahi, Josh Ellsworth, Amar Abou-Ainain Eid, Cathy Bijur, Arikia Millikan, Lauren Michelle
release UK 6.Sep.21
21/Germany 1h10

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morrison and koutsoulis
Freeform filmmaking adds earthy authenticity to this German drama, which follows two young men over 15 hours. Filmmaker Daniel Sanchez Lopez assembles this mainly in visceral closeup, seemingly shot on a phone camera as characters take a loosely meandering journey. The approach gives the film a striking sense of intimacy. So if the plot feels thin, the attractive actors and sparky subtext make this worth a look.
On a dance floor in Berlin, Harry (Morrison) meets Johannes (Koutsoulis) and goes home with him. In the morning, Harry comments that he needs to print out the boarding pass for his flight home to London that night. So Johannes offers to help, even though he's lost his wallet again. In the city, they have small adventures like finding an internet cafe, buying a bottle of prosecco and confronting a pair of Jehovah's Witnesses. They also discuss the difficulty of working out what to do with their lives, and the nature of love itself.
The film opens with little glimpses into the characters, such as Harry already looking for his next hookup while the previous one is getting dressed, or Johannes brushing his teeth alongside his boyfriend (Schalper). Johannes is a dancer who moonlights delivering food, and he's surprised to learn that Harry is a doctor. In their rolling, often silly conversation, they move through issues relating to being gay and discover diverging opinions on everything from the future of the planet to football and dating apps.

Performances feel improvised, with hilariously random dialog that brings out their personalities. Morrison and Koutsoulis have terrific chemistry, finding warm humour in their continuous flirtation. Their spiralling dialog is wonderfully offhanded, their physicality is open and expressive, and they find strong connections in moments that are completely silent. Johannes confesses that he needs sex, not love, at this stage in his life. While Harry argues for a more lasting interaction, even as his views are more progressive than the moralistic Harry.

This is a delightfully watchable stream-of-consciousness conversation shot mostly in sunny outdoor locations as two sexy young men playfully circle each other. Intriguingly, it isn't about them falling in love over the few hours they have together; it's more about them discovering things about themselves as they begin looking through the other's eyes. Lopez is exploring the difficulty of finding your passion in a world that's so full of distractions. And maybe that's fine if you can learn to enjoy the journey.

cert 15 themes, language 17.Mar.21 flare


Rūrangi
Review by Rich Cline | 4/5  
Tyger Tyger
dir Max Currie
scr Cole Meyers, Oliver Page
prd Craig Gainsborough-Waring
with Elz Carrad, Arlo Green, Awhina Rose Henare Ashby, Kirk Torrance, Ramon Te Wake, Sonny Tupu, Renee Lyons, Aroha Rawson, Renee Sheridan, Ross Harper, Lee Jacobsz, Adam Rohe
release US Sep.20 fff,
NZ 4.Feb.21, UK Mar.21 flare
20/NZ 1h27

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carrad and green
This warm, earthy drama from rural New Zealand is a remarkably astute look at people struggling with their emotions as they try to make sense of a long-ignored truth. While some of the plot points feel incomplete, director Max Currie recounts the story with a remarkable openness about central the issue of gender identity. This makes it easy to find ourselves in these characters and see through their eyes.
A decade after escaping from his hometown Rurangi, Caz (Carrad) is back, nervous about seeing his father Gerald (Torrance), who doesn't know that he transitioned into a man after moving to Auckland. His old pal Anahera (Ashby) is surprised, but tells him that perhaps his dad's reaction won't be so bad. Indeed, Gerald is more upset about the 10 years of silence. Meanwhile, Caz also reconnects with his old boyfriend Jem (Green), who works on Gerald's farm. But when all of this gets difficult, Caz's first instinct is to once again leave without saying goodbye.
Using gritty humour, this is a knowing exploration of why so many queer kids feel forced to run away from their families, touching on a range of reasons and some very dark feelings. "Most people are just idiots about other people's sexuality," laughs Anahera. The film also flashes back to Caz's activism work in Auckland with Ellie (Te Wake) and his secret romance with rugby star Andrew (Tupu), which takes a startling turn.

Carrad has terrific presence as Caz, haunted by past decisions and terrified to be really seen by others. But actually, he's the one who won't see those around him. Even if he's his own worst problem, Carrad plays Caz with a sensitivity that makes him hugely sympathetic. His scenes with the excellent Torrance, Ashby and Green bristle with hard-to-express feelings. Each performance is incisive and grounded, adding sharply important angles to the story.

It may feel old-fashioned, but the film flips the usual coming-out formula: Caz is the one who must examine himself, because everyone else is fine with who he is. And Caz's self-loathing has little to do with his gender identity. Meanwhile, each character is on his or her own journey into accepting themselves and the wonderful variety of people around them. The ultimate point is that Caz simply needs to stop running away give people a chance to really see him. It's a beautiful film that challenges us to be more aware of how important that is.

cert 15 themes, language 18.Mar.21 flare


Sublet
Review by Rich Cline | 4/5  
Sublet
dir Eytan Fox
scr Eytan Fox, Itay Segal
prd Moshe Edery, Leon Edery, Gal Uchovsky, Micky Rabinovitz
with John Benjamin Hickey, Niv Nissim, Lihi Kornowski, Miki Kam, Peter Spears, Tamir Ginsburg, Gabriel Loukas, Tamar Hannah Shtaierman, Shai Fredo, Adi Boutrous, Daya Kedem, Avi Azaria
release UK Mar.21 flare,
US 11.Jun.21
20/Israel 1h29

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nissim and hickey
Israeli filmmaker Eytan Fox recounts another warm, observant story about people grappling with issues of culture and identity. It's a loose, thoughtful script that touches on themes in ways that are both engaging and meaningful without ever getting heavy. It's about the transformational power of an unexpected friendship, and how it might be able to remind who you are. Yes, this is a delicate, simple, beautiful little film.
To gain perspective, New York journalist Michael (Hickey) travels to Tel Aviv and sublets an apartment. Current resident Tomer (Nissim) isn't ready for him, and the place is a mess, but Michael decides to stay. Then Tomer returns to collect some things and offers to show Michael around town. Later, Tomer's dancer friend (Kornowski) turns up, and Michael is sucked into her melodrama. And after Tomer uses a hookup app to invite a stranger (Ginsburg) over for sex, he decides to make amends by inviting Michael to the kibbutz for dinner with his mother (Kam).
After arriving in Israel, Michael has a FaceTime chat with his boyfriend David (Spears) back in New York, revealing hints of a back-story that will clearly come into focus later. Fox and Segal's knowing script takes its time revealing the characters' secrets, and it also has fun with the tourism sequences as well as clips from Tomer's hilariously nasty homemade horror films. Meanwhile, Michael and Tomer engage in wonderfully spiky ongoing discussions about just about everything imaginable, from politics to relationships to movie musicals.

Hickey gives Michael a wonderful wariness, making him a fascinating character: a slightly nervous man who ironically writes a newspaper column called The Intrepid Traveller. His inquisitiveness bounces enjoyably off the charismatic Nissim's matter-of-fact performance as Tomer. Their interaction is complex and layered, friendly and prickly with just a bit of flirtation as they discover similarities and differences in the way they look at the world. And as they open up to each other, their deeper desires come subtly into focus.

Without being glib about it, Fox cleverly juxtaposes generational perspectives, setting Michael's romanticism against Tomer's need for instant gratification. And there's some gentle tension as we wonder how they might arrive somewhere in the middle. There's also the matter of another shoe that needs to drop, revealing what's actually going on with Michael, which is sensitively moving. The way these men rub off on each other feels organic, wryly comical and provocative in just the right ways.

cert 15 themes, language, sexuality 19.Mar.21 flare


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