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This Is the Living End, Beautiful Friend

Strand Releasing

The Living End

To revisit Gregg Araki's 1992 film, The Living End, is to be transported back to a moment in time when it seemed as if gay men were dropping dead of AIDS on every street corner, and hardly anyone, least of all the American government, gave a damn. "It's all part of the neo-Nazi/Republican Final Solution. Germ warfare, you know?" declares Luke (Mike Dytri), the film's HIV-positive antihero. Over a bowl of Barbie-brand cereal, the leather-jacketed street hustler lays out conspiracy theories to his one-night lover Jon (Craig Gilmore), a movie critic who picks Luke up on the way home from discovering that he too has HIV. In plot turns that make little sense but probably aren't meant to, Luke and Jon, who aren't the brightest boys in town, soon find themselves on the run from the law and, more specifically, from their own terror and grief. The Living End, which screens Monday night at REDCAT in a newly remastered print, isn't a great piece of filmmaking — produced for 20 grand, it moves in fits and starts — but there's a memorable tenderness to the way Jon comes to rest his head against Luke's shoulder in the final shot, and there's even more lasting beauty in Luke's — and Araki's — radicalized fury. "Let's hold Bush [Sr.] at gunpoint," Luke says. "We'll inject him with a syringe of our blood. Whatcha wanna bet they'd find the magic cure tomorrow?" (REDCAT; Mon., March 10, 8 p.m.; www.redcat.org)


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