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TLA Releasing's Combination Platter: A Queer-Film Minifest 

Sexy hitmen, gay life after 40 and French promiscuity

Wednesday, Aug 13 2008
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In a calculated bid to promote its upcoming slate of DVD releases and also prompt urban gay men to leave the house and support queer cinema, TLA Releasing, which does most of its business through the mail, has bundled six titles together for a one-week minifestival. Director Poj Arnon’s Bangkok Love Story is a lushly photographed action drama about a lean, sexy Thai hitman who finds himself saving the life of the lean, sexy man he’s supposed to kill. Hiding out together, the two fall in love, and if what follows is jaw-droppingly melodramatic, there’s no denying the affecting intensity of Chaiwat Thongsaeng’s performance as the would-be victim. In the Spanish comedy Boystown, a bearish Madrid couple is framed for murder by the gay real estate developer who’s been killing all the little old ladies who refuse to sell him their apartments. Director Juan Flahn lets many of the comic scenes go on for too long, but the murder sequences are startlingly intense — he appears to be a fan of the Hitchcock thriller Frenzy. A group of gay men head to a California mountain retreat for an annual weekend of sexual high jinks and personal revelation in Rob Williams’ 3-Day Weekend. Although he’s working a well-worn formula, Williams wins big points for suggesting that there is indeed gay life after 40. Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon is Jeffrey Schwarz’s entertaining documentary about 1970s porn god Jack Wrangler, a man Schwarz fawns over quite a bit, but whose tales of the glory days of sex, fun and liberation are too juicy to disregard. In the sexually frank (whoa!) French drama I Dreamt Under the Water, the director known as Hormoz draws a moving performance from Hubert Benhamdine as a young Paris bisexual whose despair over the death of his best friend and unrequited love leads him to drugs and prostitution. A promising visual stylist, Hormoz is a director to watch. Filmmaker Damion Dietz is known for making silly comedies (Fag Hag, Beverly Kills), but in Dog Tags, he gets serious, and is all the better for it. This story of a mascara-heavy sad boy (Bart Fletcher) who falls in love with a Marine (Paul Preiss) he meets on the highway has a pointless flashback structure and some trite plotting, yet the young Marine haunts, thanks to the deeply-felt work of Preiss, a newcomer whose perfume-ad good looks shouldn’t be held against him. It would appear that by expanding his gaze and focusing on Preiss’ (mostly) straight man and the women who rule him (including American Graffiti’s Candy Clark), Dietz has freed himself as a writer — a lesson many artists on the queer-film beat might well heed. (Sunset 5)

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