Friday, November 21, 2008

Puck's Gay Love Potion Splashed Across Town

A Note From Alan:

Puck's love potion sprinkled in the eyes of all who voted for Proposition 8 . Might turn this world into a love friendly world versus a hate filled world. (In regards, to California's Gay Marriage Ban.)

Published: November 21, 2008

What teenager hasn’t fantasized about wielding magic to transform an indifferent object of desire into a besotted lover? In “Were the World Mine,” an indie alternative to Disney’s “High School Musical” franchise, Timothy (Tanner Cohen), a persecuted gay student at a private boys’ school outside Chicago, acquires such magic while rehearsing the role of Puck in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

When a purple flower spurting Cupid’s love juice mysteriously springs up in Titania’s bower, Timothy plucks it and later tosses its liquid into the eyes of his secret crush, Jonathon (Nathaniel David Becker), the ostensibly straight star of the rugby team. Mutual puppy love is instantaneous and intense.

In Timothy/Puck’s prankish scheme, every helpless target of such magic falls madly in love with the first person in sight, inappropriate or not. And for the next 24 hours Timothy dashes around his small town making unsuspecting homophobes, including the rugby coach, fall ridiculously in love with dumbfounded members of the same sex; before long, the streets are crawling with cow-eyed, spooning gay couples.

This small, endearing film, directed by Tom Gustafson from a screenplay he wrote with Cory James Krueckeberg, has already won a number of awards, including outstanding narrative feature at Outfest, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. In its giddiness, “Were the World Mine” echoes “High School Musical 3” right down to featuring balletic choreography on a basketball court.

With original music by Jessica Fogle, and lyrics (some original and others adapted from Shakespeare) by Mr. Krueckeberg, it is an enchanting, mildly subversive fantasia that reconciles sassy teenage argot with Elizabethan. One moment it is this, the next that. Ms. Fogle’s most striking music, especially the title song, sets Shakespearean dialogue in an ethereal Minimalist style that has the entranced intensity of centuries-old sacred music.

The movie doesn’t burst into song all that often. Some numbers are no more than clever asides, played on guitar and sung by Timothy’s sullen friend Frankie (Zelda Williams, daughter of Robin), a self-possessed tomboy who describes herself as “hetero-flexible.” Frankie morosely takes it in stride when Timothy experiments with the love juice on Max (Ricky Goldman), his best friend and her crush.

A subplot involves Timothy’s embattled relationship with his divorced mother, Donna (Judy McLane), who is having difficulty coming to terms with his sexuality. Donna takes a job as a door-to-door saleswoman for the cosmetics line invented by Nora (Jill Larson), the vain, bigoted wife of the school’s stuffy headmaster (David Darlow).

To some degree, Donna and Nora are John Waters-style female caricatures. So is the film’s mysteriously powerful guardian angel, Ms. Tebbit (Wendy Robie), the airy, arty English teacher who casts the Shakespeare production, oversees rehearsals and refuses to shut it down after the town goes erotically bonkers.

Ms. Robie, who bears a strong resemblance to Patricia Clarkson, plays the teacher as a benign sorceress who wears a secretive smile while using “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to impart some lessons in tolerance. In what is shown of the final production, the gawky high school boys playing both men’s and women’s roles have turned into graceful actors comfortable with Elizabethan English.

“Were the World Mine” begins tentatively, but once its tone is established, its charm overcomes the inevitable weaknesses of a musical made on a stringent budget. Like its Disney counterparts, it operates on the assumption that the movie musical is a world unto itself in which ordinary rules of logic don’t apply. One thing doesn’t have to lead to another, and not everything need be explained. Movie-musical magic makes up the difference.


Opens on Friday in New York, San Francisco and Berkeley, Calif.

Directed by Tom Gustafson; written by Cory James Krueckeberg and Mr. Gustafson; director of photography, Kira Kelly; edited by Jennifer Lily; music by Jessica Fogle, adapted and original lyrics by Mr. Krueckeberg; choreography by Todd Underwood; production designer, Mr. Krueckeberg; produced by Mr. Gustafson, Mr. Krueckeberg and Peter Sterling; released by Speak Productions. In Manhattan at Cinema Village, 22 East 12th Street, Greenwich Village. Running time: 1 hour 36 minutes. This film is not rated.

WITH: Tanner Cohen (Timothy), Wendy Robie (Ms. Tebbit), Judy McLane (Donna), Zelda Williams (Frankie), Jill Larson (Nora Bellinger), Ricky Goldman (Max), David Darlow (Lawrence Bellinger) and Nathaniel David Becker (Jonathon).

Love your way... you are Brilliant!

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