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House of Boys [DVD]
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It is 1984. Frank (Layke Anderson) is a determined teenager who runs away from high school to find an alternative lifestyle in Amsterdam. He finds a home and a job at the House of Boys, a bar-cum-brothel run by a strict Madame (Udo Kier) who has an eye for what his punters crave. Frank works his way up from barman to on-stage dancer and falls in love with some of his housemates. The first intimations of what is described as 'the gay cancer', casts a long shadow over Frank s tight-knit group of friends. Yet despite the troubles that cloud the hopes and dreams of young Frank, his perseverance, along with support from a willing doctor (Stephen Fry), will carry him through. House of Boys is a glamorous, colourful coming-of-age story that lifts the lid on an exciting world of sex and music, where deep passions suddenly turn into a struggle for courage.
Featuring music from
- Spandau Ballet
- Soft Cell
- Dangerous Muse
- Jimmy Somerville
- Roy Orbison
- The The
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Jake also has a troubled past and we are allowed glimpses of that in flashback; he also does `private' work for his clients at the club. During one such session Jake collapses and has to be taken to hospital where it is discovered that he has a problem with his blood.
This is a film about love; it uses the setting of this cabaret, backroom club as the vehicle. It also tries to chart the screaming lack of concern and research that happened in the early days of the AIDS virus. It is even referred to as `the gay cancer' by one doctor. Stephen Fry puts in an appearance as the caring doc too.
This is not a sex fest although there is a smattering of bedroom and risqué dance routines, but for any seasoned clubber there is nothing here to make you spill your cocktail. It is also nice to see that groin grabbing whilst dancing was not invented by the hippity hoppity brigade as there is plenty of that going on here. The music is quite authentic, with Soft Cell, Spandau Ballet and a few other tunes from the era.
Most of the acting is creditable but some bit players that are more drama queen than award nomination material, which can be awkward at times. The lads are mostly sexy enough but some of the cabaret `turns' would not last 2 minutes in a modern club, you need more than make up to put on a good show dears, is all I am going to say.
Still this tells of an important time in gay and world history through the microcosm of a few peoples experience with the disease and there are both good and bad times along the way. This is a two hour film and it kept me gripped throughout. Jean Claude Schlimm (`Shadow of The Vampire') has given us a touching, well made and very relevant story that should make you think and only the hardest heart would not be moved by this great piece of cinema.
One star because I hated it, and it isn't at all what I expected from the trailer; the acting and subject matter certainly deserve more stars....
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