This has just shot up into the top five of my favourite movies. Itís a film with something to say and it says it with panache, humour, wonderful acting and the most amazing eye candy you could wish for. Did the people who panned this movie actually watch it? What do they want if slick, convincing acing; great scripts; hot sex; wonderful kissing; moving plot and great drama arenít enough? Sheesh. Ignore them!
Jonathon Wade-Drahos (a dead ringer for Pierce Brosnan) gives the most convincing performance as Johnny, a cop from a small bigoted town who moves to L.A. when he is outed at work. When he first arrives heís sweet, naive, gentle and very square. At his first party he meets Hector Ray, a hustler, who introduces him into the less square aspects of gay life in the city of angels.
The film works on so many levels, not least for me Andre Khabbaziís performance as Hector, the gorgeous, self-destructive hustler who tries to fill in the emptiness in his soul with drugs and party: anything to take away the fear that he is aging and losing his looks. A scene cut from the movie for some reason shows Hector obsessively marking his face with eyeliner as if preparing it to go under the surgeonís knife. Itís a very moving scene, and explains and excuses a lot of Hectorís blame in Johnís downfall. Johnís fall from grace is wonderful and scary to watch at the same time. He goes from being a guy revolted by the idea of paying for sex to one prepared to be paid for itóall because of drugs.
To be honest, this film is worth watching for Andre Khabbazi and Jonathon Wade-Drahos alone. They have a real chemistry and the camera adores them. (When they go to a party in black leather and heavy eyeliner I had to break for a cup of tea! Phew). They are so pretty and so natural on screen that itís easy to forget you are watching a movie.
If I had a criticism of the film itís that the many of the deleted scenes make the story a great deal clearer and probably shouldnít have been cut.
Despite those strange editorial decisions (hell, I even disagreed with some of Peter Jacksonís in LoTR Ė self-opinionated? Moi?) ignore the bad reviews of this sexy, great film and get it!
A compulsive mix of cautionary tale and unashamed celebration of party life in the urban gay community.† It works by seducing you with glorious profusion of gorgeous hunks and taut naked manflesh, so the viewing experience cleverly mimics that of the central character.† Then you get hit, like him, with a hefty dose of sordid reality, to reinforce the message that whatís important isnít going to be found in parties or through casual sex.† Though itís not too po-faced to admit if you donít get too carried away theyíre a lot of fun and promote gay menís sense of identity and self-esteem.† Also, camaraderie, a real sense of family and fellowship.† If youíre not okay with heavy drug-taking, then maybe best to avoid this one.
I donít understand the negative reviews.† If you like QAF (if you donít what ARE you doing here?) then youíre sure to love it.† Okay, it highlights aspects of gay life that pander to hetero assumptions and upsets those who prefer the picture of safe normality depicted in films like BIG EDEN and books like Andy Barrigerís.† But the movie doesnít pretend to represent ALL gay men.† The baddie who enables much of the movieís negativity is an exploitative straight club owner who makes money out of parties that began to raise money for AIDS causes.
Iím baffled too by criticism of the acting.† Maybe Iíve seen too many awful performances in low budget indies (like TWO BROTHERS and that dreadful policewoman in NO ONE SLEEPS but Iím still capable of detecting a dud.† Iíve built a nice collection of Spanish movies starring Eduardo Noriega and Leo Sbaraglia, not just because theyíre extremely pretty.†
John is a closeted cop from Illinois, who gets outed, not altogether unwillingly, and leaves the force.† We canít blame him- look what happened to Raymond in HARD.† Sick & tired of being lonely and isolated he heads for LA, where cousin Tad is making a film about circuit parties.†
John wants to experience all gay life has to offer, to celebrate his new freedom, unashamed and proud.† And he wants to find love as well as acceptance.† Trouble is he hasnít overcome internalised homophobia and needs validation that heís desirable and worthy.† Low self-esteem causes John to embrace the drug-fuelled, muscle-building, tan crazy superficiality of the party boy lifestyle with dangerous enthusiasm, losing sight of what he went to LA to find (love of self as well as a companion).† ďGo Ask AliceĒ on the soundtrack is a big clue, as we watch Johnís journey.
John wants to be like Hector, beautiful Latino hustler blazing his own trail of self-destruction.† And Bobby, ageing stripper/dance artiste with HIV and performance anxiety who injects his penis to meet great expectations.† Neither likes what he looks like, despite that both are attractive men- itís self-image that matters.† They have an amazing sex scene, beautifully erotic and intense, but with a dark, twisted edge.
For John itís all about being wanted.† Hector has deeper problems.† If youíve seen WHEN BOYíS FLY youíll recognise real life characters in this fictional version.† Basically they want to feel good about themselves in a society that condemns what they are.† Iíve just read John Prestonís guide to the would-be prostitute HUSTLING (review soon).† Well, this film shows a reality not quite as rosy as Prestonís account.† Probably because Preston was confident and secure, selling his body because he loved sex and liked easy money, not out of desperate need to prove his worth.
Itís a train wreck, beautiful vain men destroying themselves, living life like a permanent Babylon, always pursuing that perfect high.† The movie shows the glamour, but counters with the downside, and avoids judgement.† I really enjoyed it.† Thereís nudity and lots of delicious homoeroticism.† The guy playing John is beautiful and well built.† A romantic sub-plot percolates nicely in the background, so although there are harrowing moments youíre left feeling positive.† Highly recommended.