Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 12 / 22 March 2018

Three films that fell through the cracks


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Here are a few recent titles now out on DVD that are worthy of discovery.

Ma Saison Super 8 (Water Bearer Films; 74 min., color, French with subtitles)

The late 1960s were a time of unprecedented cultural change. The anti-war, free love, civil rights and women's movements were at their height. Is it any wonder that LGBT people around the world chose that time to stand up and be counted for the first time?

Alessandro Avellis' Ma Saison Super 8 (My Super 8 Season ) focuses on the romantic entanglements of a group of young, idealistic rebels in Paris, 1968. Marc meets Andre in a park, which leads to an on-again, off-again relationship. As each of them defines who they are, Marc becomes active in Front Homosexual d'Action Revolutionaire, France's first gay rights organization. Things haven't changed much over the years: the young revolutionaries argue as to whether or not they should work together with women. There are Yays and Nays on both sides of that fence. Other familiar issues come to light: police harassment, homophobic families, etc. Unfortunately, some things never change.

For a no-budget film shot on high-def video, Ma Saison Super 8 (the title refers to Marc's ever-present Super 8 camera) is a surprisingly heartfelt and moving work. The actors have tremendous chemistry, and their friendships and relationships all ring true. The film stands as a fascinating look back at an unforgettable time in our history.

Shelter Me (Wolfe Video; 100 min., Italian with subtitles)

A powerful drama about a lesbian couple who takes in an illegal teenage Moroccan immigrant. Anna (Maria De Medeiros) feels motherly towards the boy, and hopes he'll heal the rift in her somewhat troubled relationship with Mara (gorgeous Antonia Liskova). But things take a wrong turn when Mara and the boy, Anis, (Mounir Ouida), feel a strong attraction to each other.

This is an intense film devoid of any humor or even light moments. Director Marco Simon Puccioni (interviewed on the disc's extras menu) effectively conveys the anguish of a woman struggling to keep her home together, and the dissatisfaction of her partner, who yearns for something better. The scenes in which the three stars share th

e screen are unnerving: everyone is friendly and polite. The tensions are boiling just beneath the surface.

One minor flaw: Anis repeatedly questions the women about where their husbands are. His inability to see that he's living with a lesbian couple doesn't quite ring true, though young Ouida is a superb actor. Shelter Me is his only credit, according to IMDB. De Medeiros, known for her performances in Pulp Fiction and Henry and June, is a performer whose star deserves to rise. Bold and different, Shelter Me will please those in the mood for a serious, adult drama.

The Boy with the Sun in his Eyes (Water Bearer Films; 95 min., English)

If you're in the mood for lighter fare, look no further than this fast-paced, slightly tongue-in-cheek thriller by openly gay director Todd Verow. After his best friend dies of HIV complications, John (cute Tim Swain) takes a job with Solange (Mahogany Reynolds), a glamorous disco diva and B-movie actress whose career has seen better days. For a chronically unemployed woman, Solange seems to live the high life: she and John jet-set to Paris, Berlin and Milan, where she meets with "contacts," each of whom has a fling with the starstruck young man. To his horror, John finds out where Solange's money comes from these days: she's a hired killer! And he's involved!

Shot on location across Europe, the film stretches credibility to new heights. But it's a fun ride every step of the way. Gay porn producers might want to take a close look at the love scenes between John and his various boyfriends: though there's no penetration shown, the sex is far more erotic than any recent hardcore footage that's been offered. It makes a difference when the performers look into each other's eyes. When they touch and kiss, it adds a sensual intimacy that's missing, and needed, in many porn films.

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