Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"Focus-ReFocus" is a curious gay parody of "other" genres

It’s fun for some filmmakers to mix genres, such as gay “hardcore” with the mannerisms of the great British master, and throw in some concerns about “online reputation”.

Breaking Glass Pictures, Raging Stallion Studios, and director Tony Di Marco do this with the 75-minute free-for-all “Focus/ReFocus: When Porn Kills” (2009).  Perhaps this is Castro’s answer to the film “Look”, reviewed recently, about the dangers of being on camera all the time.

The film is “framed” when suspect Joe Wilder (Cole Streets) is being interviewed by “the cigarette smoking man”, a detective played by Ed Wicht. Joe is 25, lean, and already showing age with thinning hair.  (Yes, this sets up the “film noir” atmosphere of “Double Indemnity”.  But there’s no woman and no money.)

Joe  enjoys filming his encounters with people, often without their consent.  This doesn’t happen just in discos or circuit parties; he follows people in parking garages.  His illustrated boyfriend Eddie objects.  But one day he receives an emailed video (he’s not afraid to open attachments) with a particularly graphic scene, and soon all the people in the video are turning up, well, as in a Clue game. Joe may well be next. 

Videotaping of people has recently become a bigger issue because of photo-tagging online. Some circuit parties now don't allow cell phones. 

Most of the people in this movie are heavily tattooed and too “over the top” to be interesting to me, but the video store owner Martin has a softer touch and seems to be the most levelheaded.  But even he doesn’t make it.  Everything heads toward a violent showdown, erotic for the participants but probably not for the movieviewer.  At one point, there is an amusing replay (with a variation) of the shower scene from "Psycho".  One of the lead potential "villain" characters is named Stefano, maybe making fun of "Days of our Lives". 

My own experience is that "less is more".  Films that show some tenderness and build-up with much more "clean cut" characters (like "Judas Kiss") intrigue me a lot more than the totally uninhibited behavior in this film. 

It may also be fair to compare this film to the 1997 classic “Lost Highway” by David Lynch. In that film, the arrival of unsolicited videos at a home documenting an affair and then a murder, for which the protagonist is eventually charged, is an important plot device.  (That movie then gets into body exchanging, something that is too much for a “smaller” film like Focus.)

The purchase link for the DiMarco film is here.

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