By Jeff Walsh
I'm always of mixed opinions about short films, for much the same reasons I don't read a lot of short stories. They always seem to fall into three categories: art pieces that barely say anything, pieces that hold promise for a lot more that end too fast, and intricate pieces that would never be able to sustain their "house of cards" structure in a longer form. So, I guess it's safe to say I'm biased going in: to me everything is viewed in relation to its ability to be addressed in a longer form.
"Boys Briefs 3: Between the Boys: 8 Gay Short Films About Hooking Up" is very clear from the get-go about its intentions when its cute Asian host, Erwin Saracho G., starts the proceedings off by taking a shower with the roving camera panning up and down his body, then he towels off, sits down on the edge of the bathtub, and introduces the first film. All of his interstitial content is done in little tight bikinis, or shirtless, and as much as I'm fine with cute naked boys, I guess I felt a bit slighted that it was felt that I needed this stuff to keep me interested. As you'll read, though, sometimes I did.
Here's the breakdown of the shorts on this DVD:
Cabalerno: A very short, dialogue-less, black and white film, where a young boy gets caught videotaping his skater boy crush.
Shakespeare's Sonnets: A college guy obviously crushes on his clueless straight friend, with an ambiguous ending. This short is taken from a novel of the same name, and I liked the main character of Sebastian, so it definitely piqued my interest in finding out more.
David: An afternoon tryst between an unemployed man and a mute student has a nice tenderness to it, from the producer of "Broken Sky" (which I still have yet to see).
Boys Grammar: A fey boy with a book of naked male art is sexually assaulted by several other boys in a high school locker room in Australia, but everyone wants to pass it off as a rite of passage. Kind of an odd movie to include here, since I'm not quite certain when sexual assault feel under the banner of "hooking up." Disturbing.
Latch Key: A fun entry (needed after the last one) has a high school guy whose straight friend (that he's crushing on) is coming over to "watch" straight porn together, his brother is just back from college and having sex with his former girlfriend upstairs, and mom is leaving work and on her way home for dinner. So, will it be a "happy ending," do you think?
Little Boy Blues: Malcolm Gets (Caroline in the City) is trying to move on after the death of his partner, hoping for a night of intimacy with a guy he picks up at the club, but instead the guy just wants to score some crystal. Their disparate desires never have much of a chance to align, since they both want something different out of this moment together, and life in general.
Between the Boys: This short tale of homoerotic roughhousing takes on an unexpected twist.
Postmortem: Former boyfriends meet after some time apart, at a sidewalk café, comparing notes on who they were during and since their relationship together. One is still single, the other moved on and found someone new. Will it lead to more, or just remain a coffee together between ex's?
Of the lot, "David" is the far and away breakout. The pacing, cinematography, just the whole package was delightful for me. It was also the only of the director commentaries I listened to (as interviews with all the filmmakers are available as bonus content). So, if this DVD led me to any decision, it is to stay on alert for other films by Mexican filmmaker Robert Fiesco, although he has primarily worked as a producer on films such as "Broken Sky," and to look into the other films featuring the actor who portrayed David, the mute boy. "Shakespeare's Sonnets" made me want to check out the book, since that character seemed very interesting. And "Little Boy Blues" made me see how sometimes we can question our boundaries in the face of connecting with someone else, even for a night. "Latch Key" was fun, but had that "house of cards" issue, where it is a fun, tight short film, but didn't have much more to say (again, I realize that's my issue of looking at everything from the sake of its ability to tell a bigger story, based on many short films eventually growing to feature length). And "Boys Grammar," to me, was a brutal story about sexual assault, so I'm going to go out a limb here and say that sexual assault on a gay boy... is a crime, not something to be gathered under an umbrella term of "Hooking Up." So, if you get this DVD, do yourself a favor, and make it a night of seven short films.