Cashback (2006), Weekend (2011), Race You To The Bottom (2005), Summerstorm (2004)

Onslaught of movie reviews. Er, not really reviews. Just my vanilla thoughts on them.

Cashback (2006) is about getting past your first Love. Ben is an art student who suffers from insomnia after being dumped by his first girlfriend. To pass the time, he takes a night-shift job at a local supermarket where he discovers he has the ability to stop time. And, being an art student with a particular fascination in the female form, he undresses the time-frozen women in the supermarket and sketches them.

…Okay. That sounds a bit creepy. But I promise, this movie is actually pretty good. For one, the scene transitions are wonderfully shot; the director really knows how to seamlessly weave together location changes and flashbacks. But there’s a certain…artistic flavor to these shots, and I suppose it goes hand in hand with the Ben, the art student character. As the audience, you get to hear Ben’s inner monologue quite a bit, his speculations on his current situations and how he got there, and his obsession with the evident beauty of the female body. Oh right. Needless to say, there’s gratuitous amounts of nudity in this film – they do not skimp on that. But, the nudity in the film isn’t intended to excite. Ben doesn’t draw these women because he’s a pervert; he simply finds the the female body beautiful with all its curves and shapes. The female form has been a celebrated subject throughout much of art history, although with this film, I think it is just somewhat unrealistic that Ben finds a number of attractively shaped women in one aisle of a supermarket. Like that’s ever gonna happen. 

And so, Weekend (2011). REALLY great film. Russell and Glen have a one night stand with no further intentions than that, but they quickly realize they’ve stumbled upon something with so much potential for more. Now, this is a film that I feel might accurately portray a gay relationship. Too often you’ll find gay characters in television and film to be extremely campy and cliche – not to say those people don’t exist, because stereotypes exist for a reason. But in Weekend, you realize Russell and Glen are just like any other normal guy you might cross on the street. Their sexual preferences are just different from the majority of men across the world. But that aside, this film is wonderfully written. The story only occurs over the span of a weekend (hence the title) so I’m slightly reminded of a Romeo and Juliet scenario, but there’s so much story built into this movie. Russell and Glen are genuinely intrigued by each other. They come to realize what the other wants and fears, and though their time together is short, there’s no doubt they took away something vastly meaningful from the experience. I truly recommend this movie to anyone, but as a note, there is nudity/sex in the film, so if that throws you off…then maybe you might pass this one over.

I decided to watch Race You To The Bottom (2005) because of its bisexual lead character as I feel you just don’t see bisexuals portrayed in the media very often, if at all, and in a favorable light. Sexuality in general has become a somewhat new study of interest for me, and I’m finding that bisexuals aren’t very accepted in either the straight or gay communities. Bisexuals are often considered greedy and promiscuous, the logic being that since they’re attracted to both genders, they must want to sleep with ALL the people – not just a woman or a man. Often, they’re thought of as confused, that bisexuality is simply a stepping stone to homosexuality (which is actually a line briefly stated in this movie). And some people simply refuse to believe that bisexuality is a real thing. “Oh, you’re a guy and you’re bisexual? That means you like other guys right? Well then obviously you’re gay!” and vice versa for females. These are stereotypes and of course stereotypes exist for a reason. But that doesn’t mean that all bisexuals are non-monogamous, sex-hungry fiends. Sexuality is something fluid and it doesn’t have to restrict you to just purely heterosexual or purely homosexual. Not to say those types of people exist, because they do, and that’s fine. But not everyone is like that.

Okay, /endrant, back to the film. In Race, Nathan is a travel writer that is assigned to tour a bit of California wine country with his best friend Maggie. Both are in their own committed relationships with their respective boyfriends, but when they go out and travel together, they engage in their own FWB affair. Of course, shit starts to hit the fan when Maggie realizes she’s developing feelings for Nathan while Nathan tries to make it apparent that he doesn’t feel the same way. And the rest of the story revolves around this conflict. Now, the fact that Nathan has a boyfriend and wants to keep sleeping with Maggie definitely perpetuates the stereotype that bisexuals are non-monogamous, that they’re unhappy with just one partner. Since they bisexual, they must have a partner from both genders, right? Not always the case, but in this movie, they definitely play Nathan out to be that way, which I wish they didn’t. But, it does set up for an interesting conflict. And, Nathan isn’t the only one being unfaithful to his partner – Maggie is just as guilty, seeing as she cheats on her boyfriend as well. In this sense, I appreciate that dynamic because it might be an attempt to dispel the whole “bisexuals are so promiscuous!” argument. Um, straight people can be just as promiscuous and unfaithful as well. So take that. Anyways, Race You To the Bottom is just…okay. Besides the fact that one of the lead characters is bisexual, the rest of the story is a seemingly typical romance-FWB-drama shebang.

Now, Summerstorm (2004) is another excellent film. It’s a coming of age story about Tobi and Achim, two best friends on a youth rowing team. Tensions arise though when Tobi starts developing feelings for Achim as the team goes to training camp for the summer. Achim can’t reciprocate as he’s interested in his developing relationship with teammate Sandra, which makes Tobi rather jealous and frustrated, and it doesn’t that Sandra’s friend Anke is quite interested in Tobi as well. The movie is all about the awkward hormone-infused sexual tensions while growing up, and it’s captured quite nicely. It also does well in its addressing themes of homophobia, and the stress/pressure gay individuals might have with trying to come out. Summerstorm is a film about first loves and sexuality, and it’s all done very well.

 

So what can I say. These days I have an interest in films that explore themes of homosexuality/bisexuality; it’s just interesting to see how each film might tackle the topic.

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