Two from First Run

Amos Lassen

A two movie DVD arrived the other day from First Run Features. “First Love and Other Pains” is a sweet movie in which a Hong Kong college student is obsessed with his English professor who happens to be an older and frustrated playwright. It is an interesting story with fascinating man characters and all of us have, at least once in our lives, had a similar experience. The movie holds your interest until the end which is both unrealistic and somewhat disappointing but as an English professor the movie really spoke t me and I have , on occasion had the same experience just not to the extent that it was in the film. The love of literature is what drew the two men together but it is common sense that drives them apart. Or is it?

Lacking flashy direction and a big budget, this film was not hurt and I think that what makes it so interesting is its simplicity. The two men are from different worlds. Hugh, the professor, senses that his life is slipping away from him and he is writing a play about the end of a love affair he was once involved in. The fact that he cannot find a publisher seems to be the main concern of his life. Into his life comes Mark, a polite and intelligent Chinese student who badly wants Hugh and because of that has trouble concentrating on his university studies. As the characters grow on you, what at first appears to be stiff acting becomes restraint and modesty and a reluctance of the actors to just let themselves go. This in no way detracts from the movie. It caused me to project my own emotions into the characters and after a while I felt like I was involved in a play by Chekhov. Sexually, there was nothing very explicit; instead the raw emotions of the characters supplied the sexiness that was present.

“One of Them” is a short Australian film. Set in the 1960s, it deals with two teens coming to terms with their feelings and emerging sexuality. The bond of friendship they forge is peppered with frank talk about boys and fashion. The conversations they share are their escape from the taunts of the villagers and small town where they live. There are lots of flashbacks as they face their fears about being gay and different and they eventually come to terms with their sexuality. It is an honest look at gay coming of age and the problems that kids once faced when realizing they were not like everyone else. Both films are well done and certainly worth a look-see.

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