The USA is a funny old place at a land of contradictions, as the tourist ads might have it.
Take homosexuality as an example. You'll be pushed to find a country that hosts more lavish and celebratory Gay Pride marches, but when it comes to gay characters in mainstream movies, well that's a different kettle of fish.
Gay characters can be funny, they can wrestle with confusing feelings or the process of coming out, but complete, unflinching, unprejudiced acceptance is rare indeed.
I'm not saying that things are even close to perfect in European cinema, but without the Hollywood obsession with a restrictively narrow demographic there is a lot more room for manoeuvre. And I can't help taking an instant Jean marc barr homosexual to any film in which a mother accepts that her son is gay with the sort of cheer usually reserved for news of an impending marriage.
She's not shocked, surprised or disappointed, but delighted at the wonders of young love. But in this particular household, nothing is quite as it seems.
Charly and Martin are close, Martin is certainly gay, but what of Charly? Marc suspects nothing, but then he seems to be developing an unexpected fascination for the young Martin. If some friction does develop between Charly and Martin when the latter goes cruising for sex at a traditional local pick-up then it's more about how it affects their friendship than anything approching a lovers' tiff.
I nternal conflicts inevitably develop and do sometimes have a slightly sex farce aspect to them. Increasingly just the sound of the shower running becomes an emotional trigger, prompting Martin to become all hot under the, well, you know what, and Marc to either sneak out of the bedroom to take a peek or complain about the drain on the hot water supply. The revelations really get under way with the introduction of good-looking Jean marc barr homosexual Didier a divinely cast Jean-Marc Barrwho comes on aggressively to Charly when all he was doing at the local hook-up point was tailing Martin, and only backs off when he finds out just who Charly's father is.
Later he is called to the house to fix the hot water, which Marc "Jean marc barr homosexual" sabotaged, and It all unfolds in amiable and good-natured fashion, right up to the almost fairy-tale ending and song-and-dance finale.
There's nothing particularly groundbreaking here, but the performances are most engaging, the characters increasingly likeable and involving, and the cheerful acceptance and later celebration of the positive effects of giving in to your desires, whoever they may be for, certainly put a big smile on my face.
Before I commit myself on either picture and sound, I should mention that the preview discs we have received for Peccadillo releases have not so far Jean marc barr homosexual fully representative of the finished product. Anahi Berneri's involving A Year Without Love in particular had a transfer that I could not believe even a small independent company would put out on DVD as it turned out it wasn't, and the final release disc apparently looks fineand as a result we did not review it.
Like that disc, Cockles and Muscles lacks the menus that presumably grace the final release, but the print on offer is an anamorphic widescreen one and in pretty good shape, and I'm going to take a chance and presume that this is the one that appears on the final Jean marc barr homosexual disc. There is a slight softness to the picture and the colour sometimes has a faintly 'aged' quality to it which could, of course, be deliberatebut the contrast and detail is generally good.
The film was shot entirely on High Definition Video, and the transfer appears to have been taken from the film print, not the hi-def master.
The English subtitles here are fixed — I can't vouch for the release disc. A couple of online DVD stores suggest the presence of a directors' commentary, but there's certainly not one of the preview disc.
How to Shoot Wanking in the Shower 7: It's preceded by a warning about the content, mainly for the sizeable prosthetic penis made and worn for the scene — an amusing moment has a female make-up artist surprised and embarrassed to be caught on camera while working on it, so to speak.
The Making of the Dance Vaudeville Sequence Reference here is made to a deleted scenes section on the DVD, which is not present. There's a touching moment when the two directors, a gay couple themselves, are presented with a gift to mark their tenth anniversary together.
A film Jean marc barr homosexual would be too easy and inaccurate to pigeonhole as queer cinema, Cockles and Muscles definitely has a potential for wider appeal and deserves to find an audience outside of the club circuit. It's a thoroughly good-natured piece with a positive message for us all about relationships and desire, and is worth seeing for its cast alone.