Recap and Review of Four Moons (Original Title: Cuatro Lunas)

Cuatro lunas is a Mexican film focusing on four different generations of gay men and boys in Mexico City, each represented by one of the four main phases of the moon.

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Hugo and Andres are introduced first.  They have been together for ten years, but Hugo is not a fan of Andres’s feminine mannerisms,  andespecially, their refrigerator which is completely covered with magnets.

Things grow more complicated when Hugo confesses to having an affair with Sebastian.  Andres is devastated, and he begs Hugo not to leave him.  The two men agree to stay together if Hugo stays away from Sebastian for two weeks.  However, Hugo breaks his promise, and he sees Sebastian again.

He manages to break things off with Sebastian, and he and Andres make plans together to see a play.  However, Hugo decides to see Sebastian at a sex club.  When Sebastian says no to a man in the club, and the man continues to make advances towards him, Hugo intervenes, and the man smashes a bottle on his head.

Hugo leaves, and he calls Andres.  Andres takes him to the hospital, where Hugo gets his wounds treated.  Hugo returns home to see that Andres is gone.  Andres has moved into a new home, and looks forward to his new life alone.  Hugo decides to decorate the refrigerator with magnets, as a sign that he will always remember his time with Andres.

***

The next story that is introduced is that of a timid eleven-year-old Mauricio.  Mauricio has a crush on his cousin Oliver.  The two bond over video games, but Mauricio deep down wants more than just a platonic or familial relationship.  This is shown when Oliver sleeps over one night, and Mauricio watches him sleeping, while closing his eyes quickly when he thinks that Oliver is waking up, and when the next morning, Mauricio touches his lips onto Oliver’s cup of milk when no one is watching, so that he could “indirectly kiss” Oliver.

Mauricio’s relationship with his parents.  At one point, Mauricio asks them for the new Street Fighter video game.  They object because they just bought him one, but Mauricio did not know that the new one was coming out.  Hector snaps at Mauricio when he pleads for the game.  But Laura is more gentle and suggests that Mauricio sell the old game, and help him with chores around the house.  Hector intercedes, insisting that Mauricio do a more “masculine” chore to help earn the money for the game.

Some time later, Mauricio goes to his priest.  He asks the priest if being gay is sin.  The priest tells him not to worry because there is no way that he could be gay.

Later on, Oliver and his parents show up for dinner one night.  Mauricio takes Oliver to his bedroom so that they can play the new Street Fighter game.  After Mauricio beats Oliver, Mauricio tries to make small talk; what happened next really shocked me, and the conversation turns sexual.  Mauricio asks Oliver if he knows what circumcision is.  Oliver responds that he does.  Mauricio asks Oliver if he is circumcised; Oliver says yes, and Mauricio says that he is not.  Mauricio asks Oliver if he has ever seen an uncircumcised penis, and Oliver responds that he has at the showers of the club (I’m assuming a health club, or maybe a country club); Mauricio says that he’s never seen a circumcised penis, and he asks Oliver to show him his penis.  Oliver balks, saying “Don’t be a faggot.”  Mauricio offers to show his penis to Oliver, and Oliver agrees.  After that, Oliver does the same, and Mauricio remarks on how circumcised penises look better, though Mauricio claims that their the same.  Mauricio asks to touch it, and Oliver once again, rejects his advance in a homophobic manner.  Mauricio points out to Oliver that he is erect; Mauricio reaches over, and he begins to manually stimulate Oliver.  Oliver finds this pleasurable, but then makes another homophobic remark, stops the encounter and goes back downstairs to the living room, leaving Mauricio feeling hurt over how their relationship has been destroyed. (It needs to be pointed out that this scene has no nudity, and the sexual content is only imply and NEVER depicted directly.)  This scene really shocked me because it is unusual for children of this age to be depicted in a sexual act, even if the act is only implied; it also somewhat rare for young gay children to be depicted on screen.

Shortly afterwards at school, Oliver and a group of two boys taunt Mauricio for being gay and Oliver accuses him of wanting to grab boys in their crotches.  Mauricio tries to ignore them, but Oliver and the two boys begin a fight with Mauricio.  In the principal’s office, along with Mauricio’s parents, and Oliver’s parents, Oliver admits, readily and without remorse, to hitting Mauricio, and says that Mauricio should tell them why.  Mauricio does not want to tell them, and so Oliver says (in a derogatory and homophobic manner) that Mauricio is gay, and that’s why they hit him.  The principal asks why he’s saying that.  And Oliver tells Mauricio to tell them what he did to him in his house.  Oliver and Mauricio’s mothers suggest that they end the meeting right now, but Hector demands that Mauricio tell the truth.  Oliver then tells them that Mauricio grabbed him down there, but Mauricio insists that it was consensual.  Hector leaves the office in disgust, and the meeting is ended.

Back at home, things are tense.  Mauricio comes downstairs for dinner, and Hector leaves.  Later that night, Laura tells Hector about their son’s headache, that still hasn’t gone away.  Hector doesn’t want to do anything about because it is not a big deal to him.  He also blames Laura for Mauricio being gay, saying that she is way too soft towards him.  Later on, Laura calls the doctor, and Hector picks up medicine for Mauricio.

Fortunately, things start to look up.  Laura tells Mauricio that she loves him no matter what and Hector isn’t angry at him, but angry at the entire ordeal.  Soon afterwards, Hector sets up a punching bag for Mauricio to teach him self-defense in case he gets into a another physical confrontation.  We last see Mauricio cooking pancakes for Hector and Laura and decorating them with strawberries.

***

The third story introduced is that of Joaquin.  Joaquin is married and is a father and grandfather.  Nonetheless he goes to gay saunas.  He sees Gilberto, a male prostitute, and and asks him how much for sex.  Gilberto demands 1500 pesos, but Joaquin balks at such a price.

Later on, we see more of what appears to be a mid-life crisis.  Joaquin is a published poet, and a local university is planning a ceremony to honor his achievements.  He feels a sense of disconnection from his family.

Finally, Joaquin convinces Gilberto to sexually service him.  After that, Joaquin asks for one more thing: He wants Gilberto to attend his ceremony.  Gilberto agrees.  And at the ceremony, they share a brief private kiss, as Gilberto prepares to reunite with his wife and child in America, and Joaquin looks forward to the .

***

Finally, we meet Adolfo (known as Fito) and Leo who are college students.  Leo approaches Fito, who does not recognize him at first, and Leo tells him that they were friends when they were young.  Fito suddenly remembers, and they embrace each other.  They are both originally from Tepic, Nayarit, but they lost touch with each other when Leo and his family moved to Mexico City.

As Leo and Fito get re-acquainted, Fito tells Leo that his father died, and that he and his mother, Aurora, who is still distraught over her husband’s death, and who spends most of her free time watching telenovelas, moved to Mexico City where his aunt helped Aurora get a job, as his  late father was the family’s breadwinner.

One night, Leo spends the night at Fito’s home, sharing the same bed, and the next morning they kiss each other.  Leo asks Fito if he is gay, but Fito says he doesn’t now.  Leo denies being gay when Fito asks him.  The two young men get closer and closer, and they have sex for the first time, which is an awkward experience for the both of them, but despite that, it is still very enjoyable for the two young men, and afterwards, Fito tells Leo that he is falling in love with him.

One day, a classmate asks if Leo and Fito are a couple.  Leo angrily denies such and thing, and later, he tells Fito that he doesn’t want anybody to know that he’s gay because he doesn’t want the public at large to mistreat him because of that.  Fito tries to come out to Aurora, but she stops him, because she feels incapable of dealing with it without her late husband.

Leo’s desire to stay closeted results in them missing out on a date at a theater where Leo sees his aunts.  Leo states that he does not want his family to know or even suspect that he is gay.  He says that his family has given too much to him and sacrificed too much for him, and he does not want to disappoint them.

Another night, Fito prepares to be picked up by Leo on a date, but Leo never shows up.  He is consoled by Aurora, whom he came out to offscreen, and who tells him that the right man will not be ashamed to be with him.

Shortly afterwards, Fito moves on.  Leo learns from one of their mutual friends that Fito is out of the closet and that he has a boyfriend and goes to gay bars and such.  Fito soon realizes that he still has feelings for Leo.  This happens when Aurora mentions that a character on her favorite telenovela  is marrying a certain man even though she really, truly loves another man.

Leo decides to go to a sex club, but his plans are thwarted when everyone in the club runs out due the fact that a man was injured with glass bottle.  The man happens to be Hugo.  They briefly look at each other, and Hugo leaves.

After this, Leo approaches Fito at his home.  Leo has come out to his family, and they want to meet Fito, on the condition that he introduce Leo as his boyfriend.  Leo agrees, and they embrace.  Their story ends with the two of them sleeping in the same bed.

***

This was a nice movie for a lot of different reasons.

This was not a traditional narrative.  Netflix described it as an anthology film.  Rather than being one primary narrative, it has four. However, unlike anthology films that have each story self-contained, Cuatro lunas switches between the two stories in the same way that films with ensemble casts do.  Also, despite telling four different stories, none of them intersect except for a brief moment when Leo encounters Hugo; such intersections happen in movies that are part of a type of genre that is called hyperlink cinema.

A couple of years ago at least, I’d been interested in anthology films.  I’d seen one: Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her (which will be the subject of a future post after I re-watch it).  They  are different from the traditional way of depicting a narrative on films, and I wish there were more mainstream ones.

The four stories in this film were all very interesting to see.

The story of Andres and Hugo was a good portrait of a long term relationship that went south.  I liked how to depicted some conflicts within the gay community, specifically that between masculine gay men and feminine gay men.  It was rather intense, when Hugo outright tells Andres that he prefers masculine men.  It seems as though Hugo does not totally love Andres, and it is easy to understand to why he cheated.  Andres tries to make the relationship work, but of course, eventually, he moves on.  This shows how you should not be with someone you cannot completely accept, and that you should not be with someone who is ashamed and embarrassed to be with you.

Mauricio’s story was most interesting.  It is still rare for children of this age to come out at gay.  It is also rare gay children to depicted on the screen.  What I liked about Mauricio was how despite his age, he knew who he was and what he wanted, and he knew that he couldn’t fight it.  It would be great if all children could as self-assured as he was.

Joaquin’s story was kind of odd to me.  Perhaps because of his age, it was hard to understand his midlife crisis.  There is not much information as to why he pursued gay sex.  Perhaps he is bisexual and didn’t want fight his feeling for men, anymore?  There is ambiguity in the end of his story, as he clearly has a sense of closure, and he treasures his encounter with Gilberto.  It does not seem like he is gay.  Maybe this is a one time thing?  Maybe Joaquin was only going to the gay saunas because he grew up in a time where being gay was not accepted (Mexico is more gay-friendly than before, but there is still a long way to gay, as everywhere else in the world, to varying extents)   Still, it was a depiction of how some people spend their entire lives fighting a part of themselves.

Fito and Leo’s story was fun to see.  It’s nice to see friends reunite after a long time, and even, to see them realize that they want more than just a friendship.  However, it was important to see how it can be hard for a relationship to grow if one person wants to keep it a secret, and one person does not.  Fortunately, everything all worked out in the best.  Fito learned to follow his heart.  Leo learned to embrace his identity.

This movie was really good.  Some things happened off screen, when they should have happened on screen (Fito coming out to his mother), but this was a great movie that showed very many examples of the gay experience.

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Recap and Review of Boys (Original Title: Jongens)

Boys (originally called Jongens) is a Dutch film.  It was released on TV in the Netherlands in February of 2014.  It was so popular that it was re-released in theaters (that would never happen in America, where most TV movies are considered to be average at best, if they’re not on HBO).  It was later sold to other countries.  I saw it on Netflix.

The film is about a fifteen-year-old boy named Sieger who lives with his widowed father, Theo, and his rebellious older brother, Eddy.

Sieger and his best friend, Stef, are on the track team.  They both perform so well that they are chosen to join two other teammates, Marc and Tom, in an important relay race.  Sieger begins to form a bond with Marc who is free-spirited and quirky.

One day after practice, the four boys are riding their bikes when they decide to swim in a nearby river.  They decide to race to see who gets in the water first.  Marc rides his bike into the water while fully clothed.  The others find it hilarious.

After spending some time swimming, Sieger, Stef, and Tom, decide to leave to go home.  Marc begs Sieger to stay, but Sieger declines.  While riding his bike with Stef, Sieger waits until Stef is out of sight, and he return to the river.  Sieger and Marc spend time skipping rocks and swimming; all of this culminates with Marc kissing Sieger, and Sieger kissing Marc back.

Confused, Sieger denies being gay, to which Marc says, “Of course you’re not.”

Over time, the two boys begin spending more time together.  Sieger meets Marc’s family, and they grow very close.

But there is a hitch.

Sieger and Stef begin dating two girls, and Marc starts to feel jealous, especially when Sieger tries to ignore Marc in public.

One day, Sieger and Marc make plans to swim one evening so that they can catch up with each other.  However, the plans are interrupted when Theo informs Sieger that Eddy is nowhere to be found (Eddy clashed with Theo over various issues such as Theo taking away Eddy’s moped for punishment of Eddy’s various indiscretions), and so Sieger searches for his brother.

Sieger finds Eddy.  Eddy refuses to return home, but he gives Sieger a ride home which is interrupted when Eddy almost runs over Marc.  Sieger gets out of the car to confront Marc who demands to know Sieger never showed up to swim.  Sieger pushes Marc, out of fear of their relationship being exposed, and he gets back in the car.  Feeling guilty, Sieger, gets out of the car after Eddy refuses to stop.

The next day, Sieger meets Marc at the relay race; he tries to apologize, but Marc refuses to listen.  The team, nonetheless, wins the race.

Back at home, Sieger and Stef celebrate with Theo, who reconciles with Eddy and returns to him his moped.  Sieger, however, feels that something is missing.  He takes the moped, and the film ends with Seiger and giving Marc a ride on the moped, as they ride into the distance.

I thought that this movie was rather sweet.  It had beautiful cinematography.  And it shared a sweet story of how a type of relationship unfolded.  I really like movies that are somewhat intimate and are primarily about two people who get close with each other.  Whether the relationship is between lovers, family members, or friends, I am drawn to depictions of a type of intimate relationship being played out on screen.  What I want most of all is feeling close to somebody.

Sieger was an engaging character.  It was easy to empathize with him.  Lots of people struggle with self-discovery and an evolving sense of self, and of learning to be open about who they are.

Marc was also a great character.  He is one of those characters who shows you how to embrace all of the things that make you unique, all without making a big deal about it.