Judge Brett Cullum takes a lovely compassionate vacation with the boys in the band.
Start packing…and bring your relationship drama and best Ginch Gonch underwear!
3-Day Weekend is the new film from independent GLBT filmmaker Rob Williams (Long-Term Relationship), a man who seems to have a cottage industry springing up around him. The whole premise revolves around three friends who have a long-running tradition of going to a cabin out in the woods of Big Bear Valley to relax and do the "same old same old" bonding with nature routine. This year they decide to shake things up, and each invite a single friend to come along. In an homage to both The Boys in the Band as well as Love! Valour! Compassion!, the film does the usual cinematic gay party where everybody finds out unexpected things about themselves and each other. We get witty banter, contemplation on what relationships mean, and enough revolving partners to keep things interesting. It all plays out as a light dramatic comedy with plenty of full frontal nudity, and the marriage of flesh and melodrama should keep queer cinema fans satisfied.
The cast for the weekend includes:
• Simon (Derek Meeker, Boys Life 4: Four Play)& Jason (Douglas Myers, And Vice Versa)—the established couple in a long-term yet open relationship who have to face the hidden issues of their partnership.
• Cooper (Derek Long, Socket)& Ace (Stephen Twardokus, Norman)—the new couple who have a "daddy-boy" leather vibe, but are strictly monogamous.
• Mac (Chris Carlisle,Dog Tags)—an insecure computer geek invited as a coworker of Jason's.
• Cameron (Joel Harrison,The Big Match)—old college roommate of Ace's who he also used to sleep with.
• Kevin (Gaetano Jones, Boystown)—Cooper's New Age influenced "naked yoga" instructor.
• Andre (Daniel Rhyder, Undressed)—the hustler who Simon has invited because he is a client.
3-Day Weekend is a lighter version of the iconic plays it pays tribute to, and it follows the exact template set up by acclaimed authors Mart Crowley and Terrence McNally. The script does seem like a theatrical production, and quite often there is a stage quality to the way scenes ae blocked and played. Its entire running time is made up of gay chatter and lots of sex, meaning we move between comedy to confessional conversation to copulation constantly. What separates the film from its high culture contemporaries is the dialogue is less searing, the topics are nowhere near as dangerous, and the nudity is more plentiful. Some of 3-Day Weekend is too theatrical with broad characterizations and somewhat contrived exchanges which sound like psychodrama rather than a real life exchange. Yet despite that quality in the more dramatic parts, the strength of the whole thing rests firmly on the dialogue in the lighter moments which work well enough to carry it. There's an ironic exchange at the cabin about what the guys think is wrong with gay films, and that sequence alone is worth checking out if only to chuckle at the fact the filmmakers have fallen in to some of the same traps the characters criticize. The cast helps a lot too selling the lines that work and tossing off the clunkers as fast as possible.
It's an actor's film, and luckily the low budget production has found an ensemble made up of guys who desperately want the exposure and care about doing a great job. It's interesting to see this group take on the script, and we get a look at some of the raw talent hidden in the gay community of Los Angeles. Derek Long stands out with his deep voice and "sexy daddy" good looks, and he's an interesting study in how to be cast as the "old man" while still coming across as earnest and hot. Daniel Rhyder does enough with his hustler character to reveal a man who has true emotions about his clients rather than just a mercenary call boy out for good times and a fee. He's tender, and does a spectacular job of revealing so much more than just his body. Gaetano Jones gets the thankless comic relief bit as the new age nude yoga guru, but he somehow rises above that role's lack of costuming handily enough to make us see a real person. Derek Meeker and Douglas Myers act out the most theatrically shrill scenes as the couple at odds with each other, but thankfully they both can play quiet as well as they can screaming harpy. The rest of the young eye candy roles are filled out by actors who do a fine job, especially Chris Carlisle who is the computer nerd unsure if anybody will find him sexy. These guys are all up to the challenge of the film, and handle the dialogue and love scenes with grace and wit.
TLA Releasing offers a DVD that has a nice transfer and plenty of extras to keep you entertained after the feature. The widescreen transfer has a clear quality that makes it look like digital process was the source used for filming. Sometimes it looks too sharp, but for the most part colors are nice and natural. A director and cast commentary features everybody gabbing about the shoot done entirely on location at a million dollar cabin where everybody stayed. It reflects the film, because here we have a group of friends just goofing off and relaxing with each other. There are onset cast interviews which provide us a look at what each character thinks of his character. An "alternate ending" is truly just a goof, and almost belongs in the bloopers and outtakes section. There is one deleted scene as well as a single extended scene, and two versions of a music video for the song "Rise" by Tom Goss. The DVD is a treat, and TLA once again does right by a small film by giving it royal treatment.
All in all 3-Day Weekend is a nice meditation on gay relationships, offering just enough comedy and drama to keep viewers entertained. It's hard not to like the film even when it careens straight into expected territory and contrived moments. The film feels like a bunch of good friends and shaky lovers sharing a vacation fraught with way too much drama. I know from experience gay guys can vacation without this much angst (check out the Accomplices section for some home movies documenting one such occasion), but it's fun to think what can happen when you mix up this many guys in an isolated space. 3-Day Weekend is enough fun to spend time with, and it certainly displays a smart and attractive cast having a genuinely good time.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: TLA Releasing
• Director and Cast Commentary
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