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Film Review

by Rene Zuiderveld in Films & Books , 13 juli 2003

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar

Gay romance from France

Recently, to get Le Roi Danse released in Dutch cinemas, ArtiFilm was founded. Which goes to show Holland has its own share of impassioned film lovers willing to give a film a chance when other distribution companies aren’t interested. In June the French movie Presque Rien by director Sébastien Lifshitz will be released, a gay movie released in 2001 which finally will also be playing Dutch cinemas thanks to the efforts of Hans and Piet of ArtiFilm.

The movie shows us 18 year old Mathieu (Jérémie Elkaïn) spending his summer holidays at the Breton coast with his depressed mother, his pushy aunt and his sister in a story, written by the director himself. While lazing about at the beach Mathieu catches the eye of Cédric (Stéphane Rideau), a boy of about his own age. Falling in love, they soon find Mathieu’s demanding family and Cédric’s ex-boyfriend standing in their way. Their discovery of and search for true love and independence leads, over a period of 18 months, to quite a realistic ending. No happy end to a Hollywood dreamtale, but simply as you see it often around you in real life.

In many dark scenes, with little to see at times, Lifshitz in his debut film lets the love between the two attractive boys flourish slowly. The exuberant, playful beach scenes show their love. Now and then super close-ups paint an overly artful picture, while the camera, registering the love scene on the beach under a burning sun, doesn’t move and, devoid of any involvement, simply registers a horny fuckscene. In unobtrusive details Lifshitz shows interesting nuances. Like the talk of Mathieu and his sister over breakfast. Sis asks whether he’s making out with Cédric and if he doesn’t think that dirty. Mathieu’s answer is open and honest. But the question whether he’s in love he answers with a look showing he considers a subject like that way too intimate to discuss. Without a doubt Presque Rien deserves to grace Dutch cinemas screens

Fascinating music film

Director Michael Winterbottom’s 24 Hour Party People is an outstanding example of a fantastic movie, flopping nonetheless. The film, showing the rise and fall of the famous Fantasy Records label, did’nt do well in Britain at all. Admittedly the agitated way of filming has a rather unsettling effect. In an ironic and exaggerated way Tony Wilson (played fabulously by Steve Coogan) ridicules himself by adressing the camera directly. In one scene he puts everything into perspective while in the next he’s impassioned and inspired. At the same time other characters can freely cast their doubts on the so-called historically correct storyline.

At one point Wilson even claims a certain scene will be cut from the movie, while at the same time we’re watching this very scene. All the confusion, the cynical humor, the drugs and the drama don’t make for a movie living up to traditional standards of storytelling and movie making, so the movie failed to attract a mainstream audience. Who did turn up though were those music lovers who once saw the rise of the Joy Division (predecessors of New Order) and the Happy Mondays. Who witnessed punk and acid flourish. And who cherish crystal clear memories of the Sex Pistols. Lots of music and at times hallucinatory images all manage to evoke the Manchester music scene (from 1976 to 1992) on screen in one of the most remarkable music films ever. Which makes you swallow the dip the movie makes after an hour line, hook and sinker.

Fake affair under close scrutiny

Playful and entertaining, two words summing up How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days by director Donald Petrie. With some effort might a deeper layer might be revealed in this story manoeuvering its way from one misunderstanding to the next. The sympathetic film is supposed to be a metaphore for the games people play with each other in their attempt to avoid true (and not in the first place physical) intimacy. Not that the movie, seducing you to lean back and, smile after smile, enjoy, would induce such thoughts.

Columnist Andie Anderson (played by Kate Hudson) gets an unusual assignment from a women’s mag: she has to get a man fall in love with her and describe what women (can) do to repel men, dumping him in ten days. But her prey turns out to be fast ad-bizz-boy Benjamin Barry (Matthew McConaughey), who just bet with his boss he will have a woman fall in love with him within the next ten days. Ingredients galore for a straight up and down screw ball comedy.

The chemistry between leadplayers Hudson and McConaughey clearly working, the textwriters being on their best and the director well able to bring it all to the screen in fresh, easily digestible chunks, altogether makes for a sure winner. Old fashioned entertainment ... and certainly not the worst kind. You might even take your mom .... provided she can handle Benjamin Barry calling his dick ‘Princess Sophia’ and, being the hunky motorbiker he is, prone to changing shirts in the office.

Three actors and a motel room

Stephen Belber wrote the play, Richard Linklater directed the movie. InTape, Linklater, known for his independent filmmaking, again deftly avoids treading worn paths. Rehearsing the three leadplayers (Ethan Hawk, Uma Thurman and Robert Sean Leonard) for a month, the film was shot in just one week. With a depressing motel room as its only decor, the actors had better be shining and the script amazing. Precisely whatTape excells in.
Two friends meet again, ten years after graduating from highschool. Vince (Ethan Hawk) works as a volunteer with the fire brigade and deals drugs. Jon (Robert Sean Leonard) is a budding filmmaker whose debut film is just playing the local film festival.

The easy going, relaxed atmosphere of their encounter soon changes, when Vince claims his ex-girlfriend Amy (Uma Thurman) has been raped by Jon. Jon denies. but under heavy pressure eventually does confess. Vince turns out to have taped the confession and threatens to have Amy listen to it. But when Amy arrives on the scene, she tells her own, different version of what happened. Psychological warfare in a nutshell. Sultry, exciting, surprising, nasty. A perfect example of how to make a fascinating movie with lots of talent and little cash.



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In the New Issue of Gay News, 326, October 2018

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