In a memorable exchange from the otherwise-forgettable 2001 comedy All Over The Guy, writer-star Dan Bucatinsky argues with his new boyfriend as they leave a movie theater. There's a whole genre of gay films, he claims, with arthouse pretensions and grindhouse content. He could easily have been talking about A Thousand Clouds Of Peace, the debut feature of Mexican writer-director Julián Hernández. Shot in gorgeous black and white, the film offers little in the way of plot or characterization, but plenty in the way of carefully presented flesh.
Separated from his boyfriend, droopy-eyed, buff-bodied star Juan Carlos Ortuño wanders Mexico City, feeling sorry for himself. At well-calculated intervals, he engages in random sexual encounters, to varying degrees of disappointment. Failing that, he pleasures himself. And in between, presumably in case anyone is losing interest, Hernández throws in shots of his star's well-defined, jeans-clad crotchentire scenes appear designed to pay homage to the cover of the Rolling Stones album Sticky Fingers.
That's not to say that A Thousand Clouds Of Peace is without art. Hernández nicely evokes a particular kind of teenage ennui, one in which the world itself seems tuned to the sufferer's unbearable combination of loneliness and horniness. Hernández's directorial skills show he's well-versed in the work of Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini, or at least the late-'80s Calvin Klein commercials that ripped them off. But ultimately, the film is the kind of neither-fish-nor-fowl work unlikely to satisfy anyone: There's not enough hot-and-heavy action for thrill-seekers, and not enough substance for those looking for above-the-waistline kicks.