Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Film Master's Spotlight: "Ka-Boom" - Psychedelia & Unearthly Homo-Erotica

The cinema is a visual medium, and one of the most lavish of these visual artists is Gregg Araki. But Araki is a genre artist - his works categorized under New Queer Cinema; his theme centers on youthful angst, sexual ambivalence and, on the whole, testosterone-charged motives.

I am particularly pleased that Araki has a new movie because I have always considered Araki as one of the most visually arresting film makers: his images succulent and colorful; his characters teeter between libidinous experimentations and his scenes are always highly charged, one can't help but be transfixed. "Ka-boom" isn't his most cohesive work, but it is an adequate representative to the director's body of work.

Our protagonist is 18 year old Smith (Thomas Dekker) whose androgenic charm easily coasts along with his sexual identity which he labels as "undeclared". True enough, Smith, whose sexual appetite rivals that of a rabbit in heat, gets it on with guys as easily as he does it with girls, to the exasperation of his lesbian girlfriend Stella (Haley Bennett) who's having trouble with a possessive girl friend - who may be a vengeful witch!

The story turns even more bizarre when Smith meets a couple of girls he has been seeing in his dreams. One of whom is constantly being chased by a group of animal masked men. Or are they mere psychedelic side effects of his pill popping ways?

The narrative gets more peculiar as several pieces of the puzzle begin to reveal, and it's easy to brush off the story as "silly". But there's one undeniable thing about Araki's latest film: it's never boring! You may slap your thigh as the credits roll; you may scratch your head and sigh, but you won't be able to treat it as a static narrative. This, after all, if you haven't realized it yet, is a science fiction.

Like most Araki films, the director populates his movies with some of the "most beautiful men" to grace the screen; they get to disrobe frequently and engage in sexual cotillion with a gazillion partners. Dekker is a captivating lead although his "undeclared" sexual preference is a bit confounding, and at times dubious. But as I have mentioned before, there is nothing like a Gregg Araki film... unless you've already forgotten Joseph Gordon-Levitt's breakthrough film, "Mysterious Skin".

Smith dreams naked!

Juno Temple is London who's in a quest to search for her father - through Smith!

Oafish jock and Smith's roommate, Thor (Chris Zylka) does a "morning ritual".

Chris Zylka as Thor

Gregg Araki's films are characterized by enthusiastic sexual activity from a generally young and beautiful (sexually ambiguous) cast. His male cast is particularly well selected and his cinematic images pulsate with youthful verve.

Here are some of Gregg Araki's Men in "Ka-Boom" (including one of his favorite actors from his earlier films, James Duval):

Thomas Dekker is Smith.

Thomas Dekker

Chris Zylka (above and below) is Smith's surfer dude roommate Thor.

Chris Zylka

Andy Fischer-Price is Rex, Thor's best buddy. Will he take the "bait" that would have him do threesome with London (pretty blond Juno Temple) and Smith?

The cast with director Gregg Araki (3rd from right) in Cannes. The movie won the first "Queer Palm D'Or" Award.

Brennan Mejia is Oliver, Smith's crush, but they can't seem to meet up.

Brennan Mejia

Master provocateur, director Gregg Araki.

Gregg Araki in action - he even used some footages from Luis Bunuel's "Un Chien Andalou" to highlight the "experimentality" of his work. "Ka-Boom" is largely experimental; a fusion of sci-fi satire and suspense sex comedy - and that's a "lot" of hypens!

Gregg Araki

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