Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Straight-to-DVD: Auraeus Solito's BOY dis-covers love (and sex) among the fish tanks

Possessing neither the kick (a truly bizarre situation), length (100 minutes) nor scope (an interesting swath of Philippines society) of his surprising debut feature, The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros, Manila-born director Auraeus Solito's latest is a small wisp of a movie that, if given half a chance, may yet charm you despite its very quiet pacing and lack of "events."  In "Blossoming," a cross-dressing, pre-adolescent boy from a family of gangsters falls for the local rookie cop.  Here, the 17-year-old BOY of the title sets his sights on a slightly older dancer/hustler whom he sees in the local bar/brothel, and a sweet 'n sexy relationship begins.

Boy is actually Solito's fourth feature, but we haven't yet been able to see his middle two -- Tuli (2005) and Philippine Science (2007) -- per-
haps because they are not as out-and-out gay-themed as are his two "B" movies (Blossoming and Boy) and thus do not so immediately fit into the thriving-if-small, gay niche market here in the U.S. In any case, Solito (shown at left) seems in Boy to be after an odd combination of wish-fulfillment fantasy, family life, economic reality and political discussion. Just as oddly, he makes it work -- if barely, and at least for this viewer, whose know-
ledge and understanding of the Philippines is tenuous, at best.

The title character, played by a pretty, somewhat feminine-looking actor named Aeious Asin (above), seems at first a fellow of few words. He is talked "at" by the owner of the brothel bar where we first meet him, and then by his mother. He only comes into his own, verbally, at a poetry workshop where he recites his poem about "getting harder than hard" while watching another boy with a hard-on dance. This might not win the PEN award, but at least it's direct. The other boy, barely much older than his counterpart, is played by a more macho but still quite sweetly appealing fellow named
Aries Pena (below).

The camera-work (from Louie Quirino) captures the movement of the dancing bodies within the darkly colorful club beautifully, and later, when the two boys are at Aeious' home for a holiday dinner, it offers us an even more beautiful scene of lovemaking that includes passionate kissing and exploring, glimpses of Aries' erect member, and visuals that weave in, around and through the many fish tanks placed about Boy's bedroom. (Earlier, we've been treated to an explanation of the various tanks and the fish that inhabit them.) This sex scene seems quite real, with the two boys demonstrating genuine fondness, as well as passion -- all of which combines for an especially pleasurable experience.

Previously, over dinner, Mom and Boy have argued politely the merits of life under the Marcos regime against that of Cory Aquino. And in the morning, Boy travels with his new friend to the latter's home -- nowhere as nice a place as his own, so we get a little class distinction, as well. Mom seems to take all this sexuality in stride, and for a New Year's resolution, both she and Boy agree not keep contradicting each other. Close family ties, according to Solito in both his "B" films, seem to trump homophobia every time.

Boy, with a running time of only 81 minutes, is available from Wolfe Video, the company that pretty  consistently offers a go-to place for decent GLBT entertainment.  The movie makes its DVDebut today, August 10, for sale or rental.

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