Arts and Culture

Men of !f Istanbul: Boys just wanna have fun

Sunday, February 14, 2010
Masculinity, manhood and the pitfalls of being born into the supposedly superior sex are a major theme at this year's !f International Independent Film Festival.

This festival, which opened Feb. 11, devotes an entire category to the topic of "Making Men," inspired by a scary statistic from Sweden, one of the most gender-equal countries in the world, that violence against women had increased by 58 percent over the last decade. The section features some inspiring works on the fall of modern man and man's inadequacies with women, and others that show that men definitely know how to have more fun.

Other categories also offer some very powerful films on male camaraderie, fatherhood, men's violence and the celebration of masturbation. Here's a look at the men of !f Istanbul.

The protagonist of "Gigante," the debut feature from director Adrian Biniez, is the true embodiment of lonely life in big cities. Jara, played by Horacio Camandule, works the nightshift in a big supermarket in Montevideo, watching the security monitors. He's big, he's lonely, he loves heavy metal and he falls for one of the cleaning ladies as he watches her shoplifting. Obsessed with Julia (Leonor Svarcas), but too shy to start a conversation, Jara follows the object of his affection everywhere. Big man that he is, Jara turns into a puppy in the face of this new crush.

"You are the closest thing I have to a girlfriend," the shy introvert Davy Mitchell, who has always been awkward with girls, confesses in another debut film, this one by Kyle Patrick Alvarez. The girlfriend in question in "Easier with Practice" is the mysterious Nicole, who one day calls Davy (Brian Geraghty) in his hotel room on the road trip he had set out on with his womanizing brother Sean (Kel O'Neill). Nicole asks matter-of-factly what he's wearing. "Clothes, I guess," answers Davy, and so begins their unusual relationship over the phone, consisting mainly of sex. Davy finds out that he's most comfortable pursuing a relationship when it's purely on the phone – and when he doesn't even have a clue about her number.

Fatherhood, violence and homophobia

Sibling directors Ben and Joshua Safdie's "Go Get Some Rosemary" features another man-child as its leading character. This time, however, the film is not about mishaps in the face of someone from the opposite sex, but two children from a broken marriage. Ronald Bronstein plays the dangerously irresponsible father taking his two small boys for two weeks. From the first minutes of the movie, Lenny's ex-wife tells him, "You obviously can not be trusted." So begins Lenny's two weeks not as a father, but as a friend to his children.

Social awkwardness when it comes to sexual relations hits its peak point in "Moral Bozuklugu ve 31" (Feeling Blue and 31), directed by Ali Yorgancioglu, Uluc Ali Kilic and Gonenç Uyanik. The number in the title is quite significant, as it's the slang word for masturbation in Turkish. Filmed in 24 hours with mostly improvised dialogue, the film follows two friends, Ege and Kerem, on a supernatural quest from Eros to get laid, as evidently they have filled their quota for masturbation. Their mishaps as they attempt to lose their virginities might be reminiscent of the "American Pie" series, but there's much more to lose if they cannot have sex within 24 hours – their precious penises.

Awkwardness turns into pure violence for the sake of violence in Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn's "Bronson." Here, Tom Hardy plays Michael Peterson, the real-life British convict who went into prison for seven years, and found himself in solitary confinement for decades to come. The tough-guy persona of actor Charles Bronson becomes the alter ego of Peterson, who gets the ultimate kick out of a good beat-down, hence his extended stay in prison. The movie gives us one of the most fascinating male characters in recent cinema, as Peterson becomes a blend of sociopath, romantic and primal man.

Violence and male camaraderie take a whole new shape in Danish director Nicolo Donato's "Broderskab" (Brotherhood), as homophobia and homoeroticism blend into one another. The movie begins with Jimmy, a neo-Nazi, in a heated gay-bashing. He later becomes the mentor of a new member of the gang, Lars, a discharged army sergeant. As the two go on a mission together, their shared hatred against certain groups, including gays, turns into a passionate affair. "Brotherhood" shows the tender, violent, fascist and liberated side of men, all at the same time, with great craft.

Original Link of this News Article: Men of !f Istanbul: Boys just wanna have fun
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