Thursday, February 20, 2020

Is Ryan Lonergan's KILL THE MONSTERS one of the weirdest, wittiest, most unusual gay movies ever made? You've got to see this one.

It does not usually occur to TrustMovies, when he is viewing a new film -- particularly, and I will probably be pilloried for saying this, a gay film -- that the filmmaker is so much brighter than myself that I probably should not even be covering the movie in question. Yet regarding KILL THE MONSTERS and its filmmaker Ryan Lonergan, who wrote, directed, produced, edited and -- fucking hell! -- even stars in one of the leading roles, that conclusion is simply inescapable.

Mr. Lonergan, shown at left (and occasionally below) has a nice-looking face and a great body, but it's what's upstairs that counts most, and how this young man could have conceived, let alone brought to amazing life, this 77-minute movie that consistently does double duty -- as a funny, witty satire on current American mores, and (as its subtitle has it) "an American Allegory" in which the exceedingly hot, sexy and (in the case of two of the three young men involved) very bright ménage à trois shown here stands in as a kind of microcosm (politically, historically, morally, socially) of our country today -- is, well, downright staggering.

The three leading actors (shown above and below: from right to left, Garrett McKechnie as Sutton, Jack Ball as Frankie, and Mr. Lonergan as Patrick) play together so well, you'd swear they're family, and the smart, witty, off-the-cuff dialog Lonergan has created keeps things bouncing merrily along, as the threesome leaves NYC for an very oddball road trip to L.A., thanks to some sort of not-terribly-well-diagnosed malady young Frankie has. Well, the medical profession!

The road trip takes us across the USA and features some glorious black-and-white cinematography (by Andrew Huebscher) -- the movie is such a treat to view you'll not want a return to color -- but what really sets the film apart lies in its arranged-by-year chapter headings, beginning with 1776, during which Frankie leaves his nasty, taxation-without-representation British boss (Julia Campanelli, below) and declares his independence. (1803's Louisiana Purchase and the Compromise of 1877 find their equivalents here, too; history buffs will have a field day, I suspect, while the rest of us can simply bask in the brisk and juicy repartee.)

If I am not mistaken, every last supporting character in this film is played by a woman, and extremely well, too: As oddball as things get, there's not a single moment here that rings false. By the time we get to The Civil War (as our threesome threatens to come undone) and the entry of Germany and Russia into the mix (World War II, you know) via a marvellously staged poker game (below) where the stakes are very high, and later, with the appearance of Iraq and Iran, you'll be holding on for dear life.

Yes, Donald Trump makes his manifestation, as well, and while not in the way you might expect, it's a perfect lulu all the same. None of our sexy threesome gets off the hook, either. And so smart and on target is Mr. Lonergan that you'll wish he had come up with some sort of cure for what ails us. But this is history given modern-day currency, not prognostication.

Along the way, we're made aware of a number of issues, personal and political -- as in the rights of the individual against that of the greater societal good, and of course the "morality" of business. Toward the end we get the world reduced quite delightfully to the microcosm of an apartment building run by America and Russia, in which the various countries are simply tenants (and very problematic ones, at that).

As I say, all of this works from both an historical angle and as a completely engrossing tale of gay men trying their best to make a love triangle work -- economically, sexually, healthily (how important is diet here!). A word must also be said about Mr. Lonergan's skill at editing. He's as fleet-footed as you could wish, giving you barely time to digest one idea before moving to another. What he does with Mr. Huebscher's terrific cinematography should in itself win some awards.

Is Kill the Monsters clever? Absolutely, but it is infinitely more than that, too: sexy, alert, beautiful, even finally, in its own strange way, compassionate, After watching it once, you may very well want to turn right around and view it all over again. I'm in awe.

From Breaking Glass Pictures and running only 77 minutes, the movie -- after opening in very limited theatrical release last year -- hit DVD and digital this past Tuesday, February 18, for purchase and (I hope) rental.

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