Monday, August 31, 2015

"Like You Mean It" presents a troubled young male couple; "Tom in America" shows how high the bar for traditional marriage really is

The film “Like You Mean It” (2015, 90 minutes), by Philipp Karner, screened around 9 PM Saturday evening at this past weekend’s Reel Affirmations.   (Somehow the title reminds me of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”, but here, the “stage” is rather circumscribed.)
This film explores a male couple, in depth, which would seem to have been considering marriage given recent legal victories in marriage equality, yet marriage per se is never mentioned. But the other plot aspect that is largely less significant is the way the characters interact with the outside world, beyond typical familial and work concerns.
The film is framed by encounters between the two characters along the California coast. Markus (Philipp Karner himself) comes from Switzerland and is trying to get parts in Hollywood as an actor. Toward the end, there is a failed audition.  A few scenes in the move showing Markus trying to learn lines from an industry-formatted (like Final Draft) screenplay, overloaded with dialogue and not much action. (For a moment, I remembered the 2001 film “Adaptation”). Early, Markus gets a call from his somewhat estranged sister  (Claudia Graf)in Switzerland that his father has been found dead.  It sounds unlikely that Markus will jump across the pond to go to the funeral.
His handsome boyfriend Jonah (Denver Milford) is a well-established country musician.  They live well enough in a modern West Hollywood (I presume) apartment, which is well decorated.  Mark does like to cook – already, I can see from this review that Karner seems a little more interested in his own character – himself – rather than his lover, and that’s maybe what’s wrong with the relationship.
There’s a particularly testy scene in a little alcove near the kitchen where the men share Mark’s prepared dinner, whike Markus seems to be multitasking by trying to learn a screenplay (mine, perhaps?)   I remember a friend in St. Paul, MN area had an alcove just like this in his apartment one time when he made dinner for me in 1999.
The couple goes into therapy, with an African American female trained relationship psychologist (Hilary Ward). The couple can afford it even though Mark isn’t working.
I thought of Will and Sonny on the NBC soap “Days of our Lives”.  Mark seems too self-absorbed for a relationship right now, but his issues are no where nearly as silly as Will’s jealousy in the soap opera (and Will and Sonny have gotten married formally).
Jonah is supposed to be the male icon, maybe, but there is one scene where there are distracting lines and circles under his eyes – aging has started.  But that’s real life. Couples have to stay together over time.
Official site on Indiegogo is here. The only company listed is “Round One”.
The screening was preceded by the short “Tom in America” (which reminds me of “Tom at the Farm”), 17 minutes, directed by Flavio Alves.  Michael and Betty (Burt Young and Sally Kirkland) celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary near their Long Island beach home.  The couple plans a flea market sale, and Michael comes across a doll of Tom of Finland.  This event brings back his own memories of his own repressed homosexuality (including a couple dream sequences), and his wife becomes concerned, then suddenly resentful, that he never really was attracted to her, throwing their marriage into crisis after a golden wedding. (I remember attending my grandparents’ golden wedding anniversary in Ohio right after Christmas, 1956.) The film is a commentary on the incredibly high sexual standards we have to preserve traditional marriages for decades.  Had I married and had children in the early 1970s, the same sort of thing could have happened to me.


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