By Jeff Walsh
Cut Sleeve Boys, which bills itself as the first gay British Chinese movie, is about two friends forced to look at their own lives as they grow older in the gay community after attending the funeral of a friend. Their friend had remained in the closet for his entire life, and his funeral doesn't represent the life of the friend they knew.
Mel is still hitting the clubs, but isn't as ready to settle down as his boyfriend Todd. He seems to fear the confinement of a relationship, but the alternative is to dwell in a world where who's hot changes as much as the fashionable clothes he wears.
Ash is very camp, but clear about his intentions. He wants a husband. After running into an old friend who is now a transgender with a hot boyfriend, he decides to turn to his old drag outfits and find a tranny chaser for himself.
The movie, which opens in San Francisco and Berkeley this Friday (and comes out on DVD on November 13), asks interesting questions, but the motivations behind most if not all of the characters is a bit murky. Ash is fine going on dates and having sex with men as a woman, but then he can't spend the night, because he's not comfortable sleeping with his wigs, corsets, breasts, and everything else. Mel dumps his boyfriend, but then is later reading a book on gay relationships.
It was interesting to see a movie with gay characters yearning, and a bit desperate, for the connectedness that comes to them so easy among their friends, but never romantically. That said, the movie didn't dig too deep in this territory.
At one point, one character had previously been identified as being a former Green Beret. So, this big butch guy is attacked by two guys for being gay and he's found on the ground upset afterward? Now, I'm going out on a limb here, but any Green Beret (even a gay one) would kick some ass here. Similarly, a lot of things don't add up when you look too deep.
Also, despite the few scenes that hinge on the recent death of their friend, they don't seem to dwell on his passing all that much. I realize the friend is just there to make them contemplative about their own lives, and they had fallen out of touch, but it does seem a bit too convenient.
But, the movie does have heart. It asks important questions. There are funny moments. And you don't really walk away from it wishing you had 90 minutes of your life back, which is (sadly) high praise in the world of gay cinema.