Boys Life 3

While gay cinema tends to get relegated to the arthouse ghetto, its marginalization does have potential advantages. Pitched to a small but significant niche market, Strand Releasing's Boys Life series offers a rare opportunity to see short features outside of festival programs, underground film societies, and grossly pixelated Internet downloads. But noble intent does little to alleviate the suffering inflicted by the series' third installment, a collection of five shorts ranging from uninspired to truly dire, including one that falls under the gay-themed banner by a dubious technicality. The first, French director David Fourier's "Majorettes In Space," opens with an erect penis, but the promise of provocation—or at least some good old-fashioned prurience—quickly fades throughout a trite six-minute montage. Fourier scrambles random observations about latex condoms, gay-pride marches, and the AIDS crisis while speculating about the romantic fantasies of Russian cosmonauts and Pope John Paul II, all to no discernable effect. Matters improve slightly with Bradley Rust Gray's "hITCH," which relies almost too heavily on the powers of suggestion to reveal the chemistry between a heterosexual and a bisexual sharing close quarters on a long road trip. Though maddeningly vague at times, the dreamy, chain-smoking ennui of Gray's short is vastly preferable to the straight-up banality of Jason Gould's "Inside Out," a comic take on Hollywood nepotism that conspicuously reeks of same. The real-life offspring of Barbra Streisand and Elliott Gould writes and stars as a neurotic gay man who buckles under the constant scrutiny of the tabloids. The alleged laughs begin when he joins a 12-step program for celebrity children and even looks to the Church Of Scientology for answers, but neither answers nor laughs are forthcoming. Lane Janger also takes an inauspicious bow as writer, director, and actor in "Just One Time," a lousy seven-minute short recently expanded into an unwatchable 95-minute feature. The premise, about a man who bullies his fiancée (Joelle Carter) into having a threesome with another woman, is capped by the leaden irony of her turning the tables on him. "Just One Time" would be a detriment to any shorts program, but its inclusion on Boys Life 3 is perplexing: Why would a gay-themed series accept a film that stakes its biggest laugh on the revolting prospect of sleeping with a homosexual? From that low point, the coming-of-age clichés in Gregory Cooke's "$30" seem oddly warming in their familiarity. With her wry sense of humor, Sara Gilbert makes do as a hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold who leads a closeted 16-year-old boy through a forced sexual liaison arranged by his father. Fears are assuaged, lessons are imparted, and Boys Life 3 closes in a golden-hued, beachside fantasyland true to virtually no one's experience.

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