In the opening shot of Cui Zi’en’s FeedingBoys,Ayaya(2003), an ostensibly fictionalized look at the rise of male prostitution in Mainland China, a pair of idle young hustlers inflate condoms at the edge of a canal. As the prophylactics balloon out and contract in the pale sunlight, one of the boys notices a shifting physical resemblance: “It changes into a breast when it gets bigger. The breast changes into a dick and the dick into a breast.” As China’s best-known underground queer filmmaker and novelist, Cui (Men andWomen,TheNarrowPath)advocates a similarly elastic, amorphous understanding of human sexuality. That he grants such a provocative awareness to these hustlers is the first indication that FeedingBoysisn’t a typical social-problem film. Indeed, Cui quickly disposes of standard rules of narrative structure and simplistic social explanations of character motivation to explore larger, more penetrating questions of sexual desire, rebellion and healing. Shot on digital video, the film loosely centers on Xiao Bo, a middle-class teenager who bizarrely interprets his brother’s Christian evangelical teachings as a call tohustle. While his brother preaches biblical salvation on street corners, Xiao hits the streets with own ministry, arguing for cum as the male equivalent of mother’s milk while hoping to sell his virginity to raise money for illiterate children. Around this strained sibling relationship, Cui intersperses playful, erotic and poignant moments from the lives of other hustlers, who drift along unperturbed by anything beyond questions of money or clothes. At the same time, Cui weaves in shots of himself composing the musical themes for each of his main characters. It’s a self-reflexive move that sets up the film’s final line, spoken by Cui, alone onscreen, offering a hint of his ambitions: “For mankind and the whole world.” Released on DVD by Water Bearer, FeedingBoysis the first of Cui’s films to be made commercially available in the U.S.
Other recommended new releases: Hiroshima no Pika/Hellfire: A Journey From Hiroshima (DVD); Tomorrow We Move(DVD).
DVD: A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, Volumes 1 & 2; All Creatures Great and Small: The Complete Series; America’s Atomic Bomb Tests: The Collection; Battle of the Atlantic; Carmen Electra’s NWWL, Volume 1: Bush vs. Hussein; Charlie; Cleopatra 2525: The Complete Series; Constantine: Deluxe Edition; The Crow: Wicked Prayer; Cry Baby; D-Day to Berlin; Dead Like Me: Season 2; Dead Women in Lingerie; Dora the Explorer: Super Babies; Earth 2: The Complete Series; The Farewell; Horror in the East; Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County: The Complete First Season; Lost in Space: Season Three, Volume Two; Michael Palin: Himalaya; Morituri; The Nazis: A Warning From History; NBA Champions 2005; Nowhere Man; Producing Adults; Red Serpent; Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry Season 3; Sliders: The Third Season; Slim Susie; The Open Road: America Looks at Aging; The Other Side of the Street; War of the Century.