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EVENINGS OUT

 


February 11, 2011

Evenings Out

Beautiful boys doing naughty things, but don’t look too hard at the plot

There is a stack of DVDs sitting in front of you.

One is a classic of LGBT cinema, but you’ve seen it before. Another is a documentary about two lesbians who met in the 1960s and married in Toronto 40 years later. A third is the gritty but heartwarming tale of a gay man who recovers from a failed relationship by befriending a young hustler. The final one is a supernatural mystery steeped in psychodrama and sex.

Which one of Breaking Glass Pictures Queer Cinema selections do you choose? Well, everyone loves a good “atmospheric and provocative gay art-house horror,” as it says on the cover, so you go with Ian Powell’s Seeing Heaven, the final film in the stack.

If you’re looking for a coherent tale filled with heart-pounding twists and turns, brilliant performances and edge-of-your-seat suspense, you chose poorly.

If, on the other hand, beautiful boys doing naughty things interspersed with moments of moralizing and caricatured villains are more your thing, then this is the film for you!

Paul (Alexander Bracq) is a beautiful hustler with a dark side to his innocence. Okay, “beautiful” might be understating it a bit, but let’s avoid hyperbole.

Anyway, when he is receiving his just desserts from another man, he flashes into a dream-space; images come to his mind unbidden, clues to finding his long-lost twin brother, Saul. One would think it’s just an escape mechanism, a fantasy to take him away from the drudgery of sex-for-pay. But the person having sex with him sees the images too.

He spends his non-fornicatory hours searching for Saul, a quest that eventually brings him to Baxter (Lee Chapman), a porn director who wants to start making real films, quality films, and refuses to give in to pressure from the distributors to shoot bareback porn.

He envisions a film that would both satisfy his producers and help Paul in his quest: five scenes focusing on the individual qualities of the various actors with whom he will be working. Paul’s quality will be his innocence, but each of the other boys will bring something else to the table.

Of course, problems arise when the first two each leave mid-scene, unable to handle the visions planted in their minds.

Adding to the complications is the nefarious DeLeon (Thomas Thoroe), an amoral, lecherous brute representing the studio, trying to lead Paul astray. And if Paul won’t go willingly, that probably won’t stop DeLeon.

Even more worrisome is the masked figure following Saul in the visions. Is he Death? And for whom?

Powell’s film is interesting, although mainly for prurient reasons. The story is unfocused, plot twists make little to no sense and don’t really carry much emotional weight.

The boys, however, are like a non-stop manflesh smorgasbord. Bracq’s accent is a little off-putting, but many of the young men in the film are from strange foreign lands, so it’s actually a relief when Thoroe or Chapman speak--their British accents are at least identifiable.

It’s a little hard to understand exactly where this film was trying to go. Is it a warning against unsafe sex and bareback porn? About the dehumanizing of pornography and the sex trade in general?

Oh, who knows. Who cares? As long as the film is as pretty and as filled with attractive young men as it is, people will watch it. And, if worse comes to worst, it would probably be incredible if the viewer were stoned.

All told, perhaps this was not the best choice of DVD from that pile. Maybe next time.

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