50 Ways of Saying Fabulous
Australia released, PAL/Region 0 DVD: it WILL NOT play on standard US DVD player. You need multi-region PAL/NTSC DVD player to view it in USA/Canada: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Digital 5.1 ), WIDESCREEN (1.78:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Interactive Menu, Scene Access, SYNOPSIS: Set in rural New Zealand in the drought-parched summer of 1975, '50 Ways of Saying Fabulous' follows a chubby 12-year-old named Billy (Andrew Paterson) as he embarks on a wearisome journey of sexual discovery. Adapting Graeme Aitken's novel, the writer and director, Stewart Main, convincingly depicts an emotionally immature world; but the movie's insistently playful tone and cheesy fantasy sequences ultimately work against its ambitions, undermining a story that seethes with abuse and sexual obsession. ...50 Ways of Saying Fabulous ( Fifty Ways of Saying Fabulous )
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Roy then arrives from Dunedin (which for trivia fans is named after Edinburgh!) and is immediately targeted as an outcast "The Freak". But he sees in Billy a kindred spirit and attempts to build a friendship. It seems to be going slowly in the right direction and then Jamie turns up to help out as the 'new hand'on Billy's Dad's farm. Jamie is hotter than Satan's Bar B Q fork and as such Billy who is still trying to work out what a `poofter' really is, immediately feels attracted. Jealousy lies, upset and all the tribulations of growing up ensue. Needless to say I do not wish to spoil the plot. This is a nice little film from NZ and has won three awards, but it is more about sexual awakenings and growing up, but posts itself more as a gay comedy and it really isn't.
It also has some day dream asides into Billys alternate Universe where he appears to be some sort of inter galagtic hair fettishist, but that never really gets developed, if you want sci-fi humourous asides then I strongly recommend the shamefully ignored 'Gentlemen Broncos'Gentlemen Broncos [DVD]
This is a 12 cert as it `contains moderate sexual behaviour'. That said I did enjoy this and always want to encourage independent film makers in all their efforts, hence the 4 stars. It is no where near as good as the book, which is sadly often the case with films, so I can undersatnd the negative reviews, but I found it quite entertaining.
The figure of the double, largely described in fantastic literature, is usually developed when the main character fails to recognize his own-self, and starts experiencing a feeling of alienation. The double can adopt several forms, as for instance the form of the exact replica of the character, like in Dostoyevsky's "The double", or on the contrary, it can become the form of an absence of reflection in the mirror image, a horrifying 'presence' as in Maupassant's "Le Horla". Clearly Billy and his friend Lou find an ideal refugee in the form of fictional characters that supply that which they are lacking; Billy is a boy that wishes to be a girl, and Lou is a girl that wishes to be a boy.
In this scenario, two other characters will help develop the dynamic of the double. First of all is Roy, the new kid in the school, who soon becomes attracted to Billy. A most revealing moment takes place when Roy is picked on by kids that held him to the ground, as a consequence of all this roughhousing, the young boy exhibits an erection that soon makes the other lads lose interest in him. This moment is defined by the emergence of sexual excitation in Roy's penis, an irruption of the drive of the real in his body; such pulsations also exist in Billy who stays behind and accepts Roy's invitation to touch his "stiffy".
Do they experiment joy only through phallic exploration? The phallus has no image, the absence of representation in the visual field "signifies that in everything that is imaginary localization, the phallus appears in the form of a lack". As the days go by, Billy is not acquitted of guilt, but nonetheless he decides to join his friend Roy in a shack, wherein they mutually masturbate. But why does Billy seem uncomfortable after these sessions? Perhaps because if the phallus 'is characterized by a lack', then any image would only 'mask' that lack, evoking something which is absent, and in principle one can define that absence as something that pertains to our bodily existence in so far as what is missing in the virtual image is our real existence itself. In the same way Billy can never truly be Lana, from the TV show, he cannot envision his acts with Roy except in the darkness and secrecy of the shack. But what part of our anatomy permits the distinction between oneself and one's own image, including the multitude of others with whom we tend to identify? It is this distinction that seems to get distorted and somewhat effaced in the phenomenon of the double.
The second important character in the story is Jamie, a guy in his twenties. As soon as he enters into the scene, Billy seems to forget all about Roy. He now starts daydreaming about this guy, this strange adult that could eventually pay some attention to him. But before Billy can get closer to Jamie, he must first decide if he should adopt the male or the female position, which is basically the same decision Lou has to make. As the relationship with Roy deteriorates, new problems will arise. The double, again, could signal the coming of ominous events.
This film would have been "fabulous" were it not for the callous way the character "Roy" was betrayed and simply thrown under the bus.
Look at the plot from another view: A sensitive, talented and parentally abused gay teen (Roy) falls in love with a bullied, overweight and very feminine farm boy (Billy) and is summarily rejected because it's "weird" that he'd love a bullied, overweight and very feminine farm boy. Roy is simply dismissed without sympathy and we never learn what happens to him. Shoddy work, I must say.
I had a lot of hope for this film, and was very disappointed. So much could have happened, but the filmmaker chose the path of least resistance. The title should have been "50 Ways of Being a Big Fat Gay Jerk."