Closet Monster

milkboys Films, Films & Cinema 11 Comments

Director Stephen Dunn works a delicate balance with his Closet Monster (currently streaming on Netflix), an imaginative spin on the coming-of-age tale that blends together both straightforward storytelling and recognisable emotional beats with creative flourishes. Those flourishes — including a talking hamster and a series of fantasy sequences — are treated with the same equanimity as the rest of the more reality-rooted elements, allowing Closet Monster to retain an authenticity that other, similar features may not be able to hold on to with such grace.

Young Oscar has a seemingly idyllic childhood, one that is punctuated by his father’s rich imagination, is brutally disrupted by his parents’ separation, an event that turns Oscar bitter, while his once-loving father becomes cold and distant. Already in a state of emotional turmoil, elementary school-aged Oscar witnesses a heinous crime against a classmate that compels him to further hide his emerging sexuality. Taught from a young age that being gay is something to be feared or, at the very least, concealed and repressed, Oscar internalises the crime, a reaction he doesn’t fully understand until years later.

When we catch up with now teenage Oscar he’s on the cusp of adulthood, he’s still reeling from the events of his childhood. Highly creative, Oscar spends his time crafting magnificent practical make-up effects for his over-the-top best friend Gemma, taking photos of his artistry and building inventive additions to his hamster’s cage. And about that hamster…

Alive for far longer than any other normal hamster, Buffy — who talks, if only to Oscar — acts as both a comfort to Oscar and as his conscience, going so far as to bill himself (or herself? Buffy’s gender identification is a plot point in the film) as Oscar’s “spirit animal.” The animal illustrates Oscar’s profound tenderness and his deep loneliness in equal measure. Once Oscar meets sexy Wilder at work, his carefully constructed facade begins to crumble, and the hormonally-mad teenager begins to give himself over to desire.

Oscar’s fixation on Wilder — who is attractive and mysterious, but not particularly nice, sort of the platonic ideal for a teen crush — pushes him into new modes and methods of reaction, many of which feel jarringly violent. As he begins to experience the world around him through the emotional milieu of falling in love for the first time, other things come into sharp focus and the already creatively inclined Oscar begins to blend fantasy with reality. The film’s visuals are lush and dreamy, and Dunn makes even Oscar’s tired old town look fresh. The film winds down to a fairly obvious conclusion, but that does not dilute the satisfaction it also earns along the way.

Closet Monster may feature a talking hamster and a hefty volume of very bloody flashbacks-turned-fantasy, but Oscar’s issues continually remain real and relatable. Dunn plays around with perspective and style, but all the flash doesn’t obscure the film’s emotion and heart, which are deep and true. The talking hamster is just a bonus.

 

via IndieWire

Periodical Political Post *50

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Australia’s Kid Campaigners

milkboys News & Opinions 12 Comments

Think of the children’ is a common refrain from people opposed to same sex marriage. So journalist Patrick Abboud took to the streets of Australia to see what children actually think about same sex marriage.

Coming Out On Top

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Coming Out On Top is a lighthearted visual novel about exploring queer sexuality as a young adult. It’s also a game where you can bang a goldfish.

Originally released via direct PC download in 2014, Coming Out On Top is a visual novel that leans heavily on letting you mess around with folks and build relationships. While you’re dating and getting to know people, you’ve got to be careful about who you’re investing in, and what you ultimately want from these (often) temporary flings. As in Persona, who you choose to spend time with and how you choose to spend it forms the bulk of the game. Not as in Persona, you can get with a goldfish.

You’ll only experience the scene if you follow just the right pathway, but if you do, the pet goldfish you’ve had since you’ve come to college enlarges to giant size, and you spend a romantic, albeit very tongue-in-cheek, evening together. “Glub glub,” he whispers.

While there’s a lot of in-jokes among Coming Out players—particularly about the goldfish—underneath the goofiness is an earnest desire for an experience that’s fun, heartfelt, and earnest.

“I was a big comedy geek, and prior to COOT I had been playing around with writing comedy screenplays,” said the game’s developer Obscura. “So I guess I come from the perspective of someone who loves comedy films.”

At the same time, Obscura said, so many games of this type often include non-consensual scenes, or be really intense and packed with tension and drama. Instead, this game was about tapping into the frenetic, zany energy of being a college student, coming out, and experimenting.

“College, for a lot of a people, is a time full of anticipation, exploration, and general weirdness. It seemed like a good setting for a guy looking to meet other guys,” Obscura said.