Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2019 6:38 pm 
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Multiple hookups; perhaps a long term relationship? A gay puzzler set in Barcelona

Lucio Castro studied at the Parsons school of design, and has a fashion line that "focuses on clean and ethical production, offering contemporary menswear with attention to texture, unique fabrics, and masculine proportions." The line lays claim to a "cinematic spirit, stemming from Castro’s passion for filmmaking and interest in building character through clothing." Had I known this, I might have paid more attention to the clothing the two men wear in the film, End of the Century/Fin de siglo. In retrospect nothing stands out. The weather in Barcelona was warm. The man were lightly clad. Notable only was a black T shirt with the word "KISS" emblazoned on it in white letters, worn by Javi (Ramon Pujol). Its cinematic spirit is uncertain, but it catches the eye of Ocho (Juan Barberini), the other man, who invites its wearer up. Javi asks for water, then relents and joins Ocho in a beer, one thing leads to another and - they have to go out to buy condoms. Eventually the deed is done.

But this film isn't so much about sex, or encounters, though the gay men's hookup app "Grindr" is mentioned, pronounced, in Spanish, "Green-dir." This is very physical, yes, a thing of hot sex, sunshine, beers, and an attractive airbnb flat with a built in fridge I couldn't help envying. But it's a mindbender. One of the men says he has been in a relationship for twenty years. It seems mildly implausible, since he seems young. Later, there is another meeting, another pickup, more sex - between the same two men. Only it is happening - twenty years ago? They'd forgotten they knew each other. Or are these other lives? One of them has a child. Both of them, at one point, were involved with a woman. One of them was married to a man. But the married men don't have sex with each other very often, if at all. They think that normal enough. On the other hand, one declines to have sex again, because he's married, and there's a limit, evidently, on the openness.

The basic idea, that two men could meet in Barcelona , have brief, intense sex, and later discover that they were together twenty years ago, is quite plausible, especially since they both have a bland clone quality - pleasant but forgettable - except that twenty years ago is a long time for men who look this young, and in the two separate sequences they don't look a different age. But when alternate lives start being mentioned, things become confusing. This is an amiable and pleasant film. But it's not only hard to follow. It's also ultimately hard to care about. Even this Barcelona has been rendered neutral and modern, Gaudí- and Ramblas-free. Talk of Y2K and making a film about the year 2000 also puzzles, since everything seems of the present day, like searching the internet for information about AIDS.

End of the Century/Fin de siglo, 84 mins., will have its World Premiere at New Directors/New Films, Mar. 2019, where it was screened for this review.



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