Boys Life 2 (1997): Anthology of Gay Short Films

Anthology of gay short films
Strand release 
Running time: 74 min.
A terrifically entertaining anthology, Boys Life 2, the follow-up to the highly acclaimed 1995 hit series, consists of four remarkable short films about various aspects of contempo gay lifestyles. Focusing for the most part on adolescence and young adulthood, the segments deal with coming out at a young age (Trevor, Must Be the Music), responses to gay-bashing (Nunzio's Second Cousin), and the effects of the past on the sexual identity of a youngster living in the heartland (Alkalai, Iowa). Strand release will be applauded by gay men in urban centers, and will perform even better when it hits the video bin.
The first story, Nickolas' Perry's Must Be the Music, is set on a typical Friday night, when four adolescents head for a hot disco in downtown L.A. Narrated by Jason (Milo Ventimigilia), tale depicts some tensions within the group, before settling on their conduct in a gay disco, where most of the action takes place. Fluidly shot and smoothly edited, the film demonstrates its helmer talent in telling a rather weak story in a strikingly visual manner.
In Tom DeCerchio's darkly comic, message-oriented, Nunzio's Second Cousin, Sgt. Tony Randozza (Vincent D'Onofrio), a gay Chicago police detective, gets a chance to exercise his own brand of justice when he and his black date (Harry Walters Jr.) are harassed by five hoodlum who believe it's a "good night for gay-bashing." Forcing them to recite in tandem, "gay people are nice people," Tony proceeds with a dinner invitation to the gang's handsome leader, Jimmy (Miles Perlich). 
Centerpiece is a dinner at the house of Tony's domineering mom (brilliantly played by Eileen Brennan). Sharply written and deftly staged by DeCerchio, tale veers easily from dark, macabre humor to harsh words to violence–and ultimately action, as Tony says, "sometimes fags bash back."
Without a doubt, the richest and most accomplished yarn is Mark Christopher's Alkalai, Iowa, situated in the heartland, where a handsome farmer (J.D. Cerna) unearths some painful–but also liberating–truth about the clandestine identity of his dead father, a war hero.  It turns out, his mom (Mary Beth Hurt) has suppressed the knowledge of her hubby's homosexuality under the severe stricture of her father-in-law, a primitive brute who still can't face the reality about his son.
Set against a vast midwestern landscape, on the Fourth of July Weekend, the story evokes beautifully gay life in a small provincial town, where men congregate in public parks. Director Christopher demonstrates ease and facility in his attention to both narrative and visual detail, excavating a tragedy that has influenced a three-generational family for decades. Evoking precise moods, as the story shifts and turns, and glaced with lyrical melancholy, this richly complex tale could easily be expanded into a feature-length movie.
Concluding the evening is the well-intentioned, glitzy and a bit superficial Trevor, Peggy Rajski's 1995 Oscar-winning live action short. Motivated by the alarming statistics of gay suicides among high-graced, tale's eponymous hero (Brett Barsky), is a sensitive but a bit fat adolescent who worships Diana Ross and is utterly captivated by showbiz. Misunderstood by his dull suburban parents and ridiculed by his classmates for "walking like a girl" and for his attraction to straight guy Pinky (Jonah Rooney), he is driven to depression and suicide.
The segment's "dear-diary" format is a bit shallow and rigid, consisting of brief, often funny entries, narrated by Trevor in a serio-comic manner. Nonetheless, the text is so well performed by Barsky and so impressively shot by lenser Marc Reshovsky that pic easily overcomes its structural problems. Kids of Trevor's age, struggling with their own sexual identities, may find solace in the hero's predicament and ultimate urge to live.
Displaying the diverse talents of a quartet of tyro filmmakers, Boys Life 2 should serve as a calling card, as each one of them shows strong potential for viable directorial careers in the future.
Must Be the Music
Produced by Rafi Stephan. Directed, written by Nickolas Perry. Camera (color), Steve Adcock; editor, Craig A. Colton; sound      (Dolby), John Roberts; production manager, Roger Smith; casting, Aaron Griffith. Running time: 20 min.
Eric…..Michael Saucedo
Kevin…….Justin Urich
Dave………Travis Sher
Jason..Milo Ventimigilia
Nunzio's Second Cousin
Executive producer, Camille Taylor. Directed, written by Tom DeCerchio. Camera (color), Steve Poster; editor, Mike Murphy; art director, James Stewart; music, Robert Folk; line producer, Gayle S. Newborn; casting, Ferne Cassel. Running time: 18 min.
Tony Randozza…Vincent D'Onofrio
Mrs. Randozza……Eileen Brennan
Tony's date…..Harry Walters Jr.
Alkalai, Iowa
Produced by Anne Ruark. Directed, written by Mark Christopher. Camera (color), Jami Silverstein; editor, Gloria Whittemore; music, Julian Harris; art director, Ed Check. Running time: 17 min.
June Gudmanson…Mary Beth Hurt
Jack Gudmanson…….J.D. Cerna
Blondie………Kent Broadhurst
Carol…..Ellen Hamilton-Latzen
Bill Gudmanson……..Ed Seamon
Jacko………..Greg Villepique                             
Produced by Peggy Rajski and Randy Stone. Directed by Rajski. Screenplay, James Lecesne. Camera (color), Marc Reshovsky; editor, John Tintori; art director, Leslie McDonald; music, Danny Troob; casting, Avy Kaufman. Running time:  19 min.
Trevor…………Brett Barsky
Father Joe..Stephen Tobolowsky
Trevor's Mom………Judy Kain
Trevor's Dad……..John Lizzi
Pinky………….Jonah Rooney
Walter………..Allen Doraine