Thursday, March 19, 2009

Movie Weel Review #4

The Movie: Shelter

My Guest Tonight: Genny (Also Rusty) of Rusty's Ventures

Jeremy: Are you as surprised as I was that a gay movie featuring hot, wet, shirtless guys was actually good?

Rusty: It was definitely more subtle and thoughtful than I thought it would be, although that didn't stop my brother (who watched it with me) and I from making a slew of surfing+Brokeback Mountain jokes. (Brokeback Ripcurl, Brokeback Longboard, Brokeback Breaking Point, you get the idea.)

Although I did find the plot a little formulaic as far as romantic dramas go; individual finds out how to love them self through the love of another person. And I called the ending at about mid-way through the movie.

Jeremy: Believe me, Rusty, when it comes to gay movies, that's about the best you can hope for. It's a niche market, so you basically boil it down to basics and apply it to a culture. Thus, the gay movie.

But as far as they go, this one I actually didn't mind too much. You're right, it was subtle, but I kinda felt like the pacing was a little off. It was like, introspection! Surfing Montage! Introspection! Surfing Montage! It felt a bit like they were trying too hard to even out the interaction between characters with shots of sexy, wet guys on surf boards. Oh, and you forgot "Hanging ten inches"!

Rusty: I thought the pacing was weird and heavy on the montages, but my biggest problem with it was lack of character development. I felt Zach was reasonably fleshed out as someone who feels trapped by the responsibilities he's taken on, but the other guy (who's name I could never remember so I just started referring to him as "Budget Brad Pitt") just felt empty to me. Like, ok, he's this successful gay writer who's the older brother of Zach's friend, but why does he do so much for Zach? Why does he send the application, why does he let Zach move in with him after what seemed like a few weeks of dating? Why does he agree to let Zach's nephew stay with them? I thought the movie could've gone a very interesting place by exploring the relationship from Budget Brad Pitt's side a little more and explaining why he had this immediate and deep connection to someone who couldn't be open about their relationship.

Also I thought the reactions of the other characters to Zach's new found sexuality (although it's never spelled out if he's actually gay or bisexual, but since this is officially gay cinema I guess we can assume he's gay) were pretty rosy. I mean, I don't know any girl so tolerant as to be that understanding about being dumped for a man. And while his sister threw around a lot of intolerant language, it seemed like it was out of habit more than hate. Even his best friend was surprisingly OK with his previously straight best friend sleeping with his older brother.

Jeremy: It is a little weird how much BBP does for Zach, but at the same time, I do feel a little bad for him. He seems to be the only thing holding his family together at this point, so it's not like he can really get up and walk away, can he? Although you're right, I don't care how much money you have, letting your boyfriend move in with his six-year old nephew? The sex better be fucking MIND BLOWING.

And you're right. For the most part, the coming out is a little too easy. I mean really, gay, straight, bi, whatever, your best friend dating your older brother? That's kinda weird. I think they could have handled that a bit better. But I felt that the moments where they were alone together were really where the script worked best. It was one of those movies that was actually weighed down by the supporting cast. Zach and BBP had such a great chemistry that when anyone else came into it, it just felt a little stilted. Although the scene where the brother shows up and Zach has to run out of the house was pretty well done.

Rusty: Right, obviously his sister is worthless and just makes a string of pretty bad decisions (like, I don't know, dating a guy who doesn't like kids when you have a kid.) and I can see how he didn't want his nephew to suffer for having the bad luck to have been born to someone clearly incapable of competently raising a child.. I think it was a good gesture of him to stay to try and give the kid a better life, but I also think that it's had to make a child feel good about themselves if that child can tell you resent them because they represent a future you had to give up for them.

And I do think more time could have been spent on the relationship. Zach went from freaked the fuck out after that first drunken kiss to practically jumping BBP the next night, and then being seemingly happy with their relationship afterwards before freaking the fuck out again. I would have liked if there was a little more discussion of him adjusting to the new relationship dynamics, or at least a little awkwardness at the idea of dating a guy. Even if he was attracted to guys there's at least some new techniques to work out if that was the first guy he had ever slept with.

I also felt like characters kind of drifted in and out without any particular rhyme or reason.. Best friend leaves, best friend comes back, girlfriend drifts around like some kind of mopey ghost until at the right moment she comforts Zach and lends an understanding shoulder for him to cry on. But, again, it was only a 90 minute movie and I'm gonna guess that 40 minutes of that was given over to surfing montages, which means there should have been significantly more shirtless scenes in my opinion.

Jeremy: I think this is like the second movie of the week that would have been made exponentially better with more shirtlessness. Anyhoodle, it definitely feels like the secondary characters could have either been fleshed out better or just cut completely. But you're right; they had to cram a sexual awakening and a relationship into a 90 minute made for TV movie. A GAY made of TV movie at that. I think it turned out far better than most other movies of this kind. It's one of the gay communities biggest secrets: Gay movies suck, but as long as they keep throwing us cameos by Matthew Rush and Michael Lucas, we'll fork over the cash and look the other way. I'm looking at YOU, Another Gay Movie!

But you know what? Shelter really was actually pretty good. Who knows, maybe it's gotten to the point where I'm so jaded by the lack of meaningful indie gay cinema that I'll take what I can get. It wasn't exactly Brokeback or Milk, but hey, at least it was meaningful gay cinema.
Rusty: The big thing people forget about equality is that it's not about being spectacular or above and beyond the norm, but about being the norm. This was, frankly, a normal drama about a person learning to love themselves through the love of someone else, and dozens of those go to theater every year. The fact that those dozens of movies happen to feature heterosexual couples is the only real difference, they're not better quality.

And as good as Brokeback was, I really can't see watching it more than once because it just hurts so much. This movie makes a good rainy day movie and sometimes that's all you really want.

Jeremy: I guess that's what equality is all about: Being just as good as everyone else. We're here, we're queer, get adequate!

1 comment:

Anna von Beaverplatz said...

...and I also forgot to comment on *this* one and say good work! Nice reviewing.

Also, I loved Brokeback, multiple times. I enjoy torturing myself (raw-emotions-wise).