Théo and Hugo meet in a sex club, recognize each other, become entangled in a passionate embrace. Once the desire and elation of this first moment has passed, the two young men, now sober, wander through the empty streets of nocturnal Paris, having to confront the love they sense blossoming between them. Ducastel and Martineau's most ambitious film to date and a candid insight into 21st century gay life.
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Armond WhiteLet's Go There
That pathetic teenage handjob that haunts the hero of Moonlight all his life is exposed for the sentimental claptrap it is by the sexually frank Paris 05:59: Theo and Hugo.
Hugo and Theo meet in a Paris sex club. They fuck and fall in love. Their overnight story is a speeded-up version of the gay man’s historic search for sexual happiness and emotional companionship before “marriage equality” gave that search a defined goal and a political end-point. But, ironically, the movie Paris 05:59: Theo and Hugo stays exhilaratingly open-ended.
Directing team Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau masterfully sustain a sense of real-time, improvised spontaneity as they track Hugo and Theo (Francois Nambot and Geoffrey Couet) for a strict, suspenseful 97 minutes. The film goes from attraction to sex to commitment as the couple get to know each other from the after-hours nighttime to sunrise. Don’t mistake this synopsis for a retread of Andrew Haigh’s Weekend, which reduced a gay male hook-up-then-dating to drab monotony. That was fake realism, Theo and Hugo takes the notion of realism where no other mainstream filmmaker has dared.
The sex club orgy that starts the film should be a landmark in movie history. It’s not new for gay culture which has depended on pornography for verification of of its desires—the erotic wish-fulfillment that Hollywood had long denied. Ducastel-Martineau transcend pornography through their unabashed acceptance of gay male sexual activity. Observing Hugo and Theo’s bodies—ass, dick, sucking and fucking—is European custom. But it’s the circumstances of public sex—communal sex, shown without disapproval or inhibition, that gives honesty and amazement to the film’s understanding of gay male behavior. The libidinal aggression that defines male instinct and is an undeniable part of gay socializing on the street, in bars, discos and even sex clubs get acknowledged in Hugo and Theo’s meat-cute.
Mexican director Julian Hernandez elevated T-room cruising to high-art in his masterpieces Broken Sky and Raging Sky, Raging Sun, even scoring its single-minded desperation to opera (Dvorak’s Ruselka) as part of his visionary elegance. I’ve wanted Hernandez to take the next step and do a musical—a gay, Mexican version of West Side Story. Duscastel-Martineau beat him to it when Hugo and Theo’s debauchery is suddenly personalized: they display each man’s attraction like Tony and Maria isolated in romantic haze and drawn to one another in a world of their own. Yes, they’re in the orgy with its horn-dog, dog-pile protocol, but not simply part of it. “Your eyes are closed” Theo says. “It helps me to see you, to be with you,” Hugo responds.
Showing the boys’ humanity this way explains the licentious drive that brought them to the sex club and redeems it. Duscatel-Martineau recognize the raunchy aspect of gay male sexuality that is currently disavowed as gays embrace middle-class norms--even though that raunch was formerly defended by radical gay activists as the right and meaning of gay liberation.
There’s no sense of depravity like the gay sex club scene in Steve McQueen’s sexphobic Shame (where Michael Fassbender bisexual dalliance proved he hit bottom). Hugo and Theo’s no-shame nightlife shows gay millennial common-ground. Ducastel-Martineau, as conscientious artists, then confront the boys’ particular moral concerns: how to survive gay men’s fear of romance and everything else in the age of Prep and the HIV Cocktail.
Hugo, with his five-o’clock-shadow, is from the hinterlands, curly-haired Theo is an urbanite; yet they’re not completely casual about sex and not corrupted by the city or the conventions of their subculture. They swing between new infatuation, horniness and worry. Both actors have emotionally-open faces. Hugo, who is HIV-Positive complains that instead of living with his disease he must “live against it” which speaks to the essence of modern gay ethics. Hugo and Theo are unable to escape the moods and risks of intimacy.
This makes the nighttown plot of Theo and Hugo thrillingly modern. Its nocturnal adventures (the boys on bikes in a neon-and-darkness Paris) are shot like Tron, a luminous sci-fi trek into unexplored territory. As in their earlier films Jeanne and the Perfect Guy (a musical), The Adventures of Felix (a road movie), and My Life on Ice (the first great gay feature video), Duscastel-Martineau continue to use their experimental technique to chart developments in gay life. (The title suggests Theory vs. Practice.) When Hugo and Theo pause to eat and chat with a Syrian immigrant deli worker, the filmmakers’ liberal politics are clear. But what’s greater is the way Hugo and Theo work-out their sexual certainties and temperamental uncertainties. The gay urban dilemma conquered.
... (Review Source)
Join the Spider-Man Resistance
(”Paris: 05:59: Theo & Hugo” is briefly mentioned in this.)
The Marvel reboot Spider-Man: Homecoming is such a blatantly calculated example of pop-culture inoculation — it presents a teenage Peter Parker’s apprenticeship to the Avengers clan of superhero misfits — that, maybe, it warrants the same wariness as the vaccination controversy. With movies such as Spider-Man: Homecoming, Hollywood injects banality into young and gullible viewers; it places them on a cultural version of the autism spectrum. Scenes of adolescent Parker (Tom Holland) worrying about test grades and dating, and at his high-school prom, alternate with scenes of his doing brainiac research into his newly acquired powers, meeting billionaire Tony Stark (Robert Read More ...
(”Paris: 05:59: Theo & Hugo” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Ten Best Lists are Fake News and have been for years. Peruse local media nationwide in any year — but especially this year — and see the same movies rubberstamped because most reviewers, enslaved to studio publicists, pay attention only to highly promoted movies and then pretend to assess the state of the culture. Readers of this column will be aware of the good films listed below — proof that moviegoers need to be diligent about what they read and what they choose to see in this era of hype and hypocrisy. European films dominate the Better-Than List for reasons too embarrassing Read More ...
Gay filmmaking no longer has to “go mainstream” because, for the past few years, the best new movies have been gay movies. It’s a privilege to chronicle this advance of queer cinema that now dominates movie culture for the first time in film history.
But these twelve pioneering films are not the ones that got the most media attention. Anyone interested in gay experience or gay films already knows to distrust mainstream media’s efforts to exploit and categorize queerness by promoting gay movies as different, and each so-called advance as a breakthrough simply because it finally breaks into the media’s usual indifference.
As the Hollywood film industry goes through its biggest sexual panic since the 1920s, reflecting a breakdown in heterosexual relations, gay filmmakers who previously were swept to the margins by cowardly homophobic critics and gatekeepers, have steadily made the only movies concerned with what it means to be human among humans.
Each of these twelve superb films transcend Hollywood’s condescending approach to gay self-pity disguised as romance. Instead, they share a common idea that goes beyond social-climbing and narcissistic self-flattery: Know Thyself To Know Each Other.
1. A Quiet Passion is Terence Davies’ biography of poet Emily Dickinson starring Cynthia Nixon, Jennifer Ehle and Keith Carradine. It is sexually discreet but also stylistically bold enough so that Davies confesses the sensuality and spirituality of his own gay person’s creativity and experience.
2. Paris: 05:59: Theo & Hugo by Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau is the love story of the year for its PREP-era consciousness and focus on emotional intimacy enacted by Geoffrey Couet and Francois Nambot.
3. Four Days in France by Jerome Reybaud turns a romantic break-up into a rediscovery of personal, national, cultural unity—between two men (Pascal Cervo, Arthur Iqual) and the iconographic countrywomen (Marie France, Fabienne Babe, Nathalie Richard, Laetitia Dosch, Liliane Montevecchi) who share their experience.
4. Staying Vertical is Alain Guiraudie’s challenge to the hypocrisy of a society unprepared for a gay man (Damien Bonnard) who’s sought-after sexual identity includes the desire to be a parent.
5. My Life as a Zucchini is the year’s best animated film. Director Claude Barras and screenwriter Celine Sciamma (Girlhood) apply childlike purity to gay innocence and self-awareness—what you’ll never get from Pixar.
6. Frantz is Francois Ozon’s adaptation of Ernst Lubitsch’s The Man I Killed, turning a World War I memorial into powerful fraternal passion.
7. The Assignment is Walter Hill’s transgender crime movie in which mad scientist Sigourney Weaver turns a hitman into Michelle Rodriguez, Gender controversy becomes an existential enigma.
8. BPM is Robin Campillo’s epic parade of AIDS activism in ‘80s Paris. Its array of emotions, personalities and politics is tragic and euphoric.
9. Tom of Finlandis Dome Karukoski’s instant-classic bio-pic about the icon of gay erotica (played by Pekka Strang) who made graphic reality of his sexual desire and permanently imprinted the imagination of gay men everywhere.
10. The Ornithologist is Joao Pedro Rodrigues’ exploration of gay spirituality as erotically embodied by Paul Hamy, a scientist on a surreal journey through metaphorical wilderness to religious revelation.
11. God’s Own Countryis Francis Lee’s star-crossed romance between a Yorkshire shepherd and a Romanian immigrant (Josh O’Connor and Alec Secareaneau). It is the year’s second-best love story.
12. Dream Boat by Tristan Ferland Milewski turns a documentary about a gay pleasure cruise into an abstract, stylized and surprisingly sensitive meditation on gay male desire and its discontents.
Skip Rotten Tomatoes, they’re biased SJWs too afraid to criticize things like the Ghost Busters reboot. Avoid giving them ad revenue by using the minimalist alternative, Cinesift, for a quick aggregate:
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