Friday, April 06, 2007

Let's Hear It for the 'Boy'

Earlier this week I blogged about seeing the great new film "Boy Culture," directed by Q. Allan Brocka of "Eating Out" fame. Today I had the pleasure of having lunch with Matthew Rettenmund, who is the author of the book on which the movie is based. Matt -- who is a fellow Michigander and is hilarious -- proudly boasts that he "might be the only author in history to be absolutely happy with a movie based on his work" and it's easy to see why. (BTW: Michael's losing patience with my busy dating schedule. Earlier this week I had a coffee date with yet another hilarious Michigander, Frank Anthony Polito, the author of the upcoming "Band Fags!")

First off, though, let me say that I am very wary of gay cinema. Let's face it, it's not every day that we go to the local art house theater and end up walking away having seen another "Parting Glances." The majority of gay flicks are pretty awful, more along the lines of the unwatchable "Testosterone" or "HellBent," and for this reason I've begun to have a gaping hole in my gay movie viewing resume after getting burned a number of times in the '90s. ("Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss" was a bright exception from 1998.)

The author Matthew Rettenmund, right, with newcomer George Jonson, who plays Blondie.

But I'm warming up to them again. Matt's modern spin on the world's oldest profession is just the right kind of material for Brocka, who was equally able to make the well-worn love triangle seem fresh again in "Eating Out." Brocka (along with Philip Pierce) adapted the book with believable dialogue, and he elicits strong performances from his principals. Derek Magyar is excellent as the cool as ice hustler X, who despite his no-nonsense approach to human contact finds that he can't stop himself from falling in love. Darryl Stephens is great as the roommate/object of X's affections, Andrew. In the book Andrew was not black and Matt told me that he was concerned when the producers went from keeping him very much in the loop to making this huge change to a main character without consulting him. Matt's concern was that the change would be "color blind" -- meaning just adding diversity for the sake of diversity. But when he saw that Andrew's being black actually became part of the story, he thought it really worked well. (Andrew's wisecracking little sister is reason enough to be OK with the shift if you asked me!) The only character that is miscast is Jonathon Trent as the trouble boy Joey. Trent is a great-looking guy, but his campy, over-the-top, bitchy queen ways do not jibe with who Joey is supposed to be -- a hot twink. It's kind of hard to imagine that X is doing everything in his power not to have sex with Joey. If anything you might think he'd want to deck him. That said, the Joey character does remind me of people I've known and in and of itself -- not comparing him to the one Matt wrote in the book -- is quite funny. (Look for Jonathan Trent next as Andrew Cunanan in "Fashion Victim.")

Despite this minor hiccup, the three roommates have great chemistry together that duplicates the familial relationship many gay men have with their friends, and you do find yourself pulling for each of them. Instead of walking out of this "gay flick" just happy that I didn't feel completely ripped off, I walked out really glad I'd gone. And if you've been around these types of movies for any length of time then you know what high praise that is.

For your convenience:
"Boy Culture" official
MySpace page here (features cities and showtimes).
Writer Matthew Rettenmund's "Boy Culture" blog post
Buy the newly released movie tie-in version of the book
here. (Sorry, despite the cover, the character Andrew is still not black in the text!)


Anonymous said...

"Boy Culture" wasn't bad--but the fact that you liked Brocka's last movie "Eating Out" (which I thought was a piece of shit) makes me question everything!

dpaste said...

I totally agree with you. I thought Boy Culture was thoroughly enjoyable and a shot in the arm for gay cinema.

Oh, and snaps for getting as far as you did in the March Gayness tourney.