Friday, April 27, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Movie Review

Raining men in the life of a hustler in locally made "Boy Culture"

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie review 3 stars

Showtimes and trailer

"Boy Culture," with Derek Magyar, Patrick Bauchau, Darryl Stephens. Directed by Q. Allan Brocka, from a screenplay by Brocka and Philip Pierce, based on a novel by Matthew Rettenmund.

88 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences (includes brief nudity, profanity, sex scenes).

The gay Seattle characters in Q. Allan Brocka's entertaining comedy-drama "Boy Culture" drive our freeways, shop at our bookstores and play peek-a-boo with the Space Needle — revealing just a sliver of it when they fuss with a curtain.

No matter how old or how young, these Northwest wits all have theatrical flair and a gift for gab. While they're not hard on the ear, their nonstop one-liners can be a little intimidating. Who gets the "last word" as often as these folks?

Always ready with a quip or a reference to "Butterfield 8" or Oscar Wilde, they're almost too eloquent to be true — especially the narrator and central character, "X" (Derek Magyar), a pricey male prostitute who comes fully equipped with the standard fears of intimacy.

A brief comic montage illustrates the astonishing variety of Northwest men who pay him for sex. But the one who really intrigues him is a reclusive, mysterious older man, Gregory (Patrick Bauchau), who pays him to chat and hopes that X will eventually fall for him.

Further complicating the situation is X's attachment to his roommates: the hunky Andrew (Darryl Stephens) and queeny Joey (Jonathon Trent), an oversexed teenager whose role model could be Paul Lynde. X feels like an older brother to Joey, but he finds himself bonding with Andrew.

When Andrew and X drive to Portland, to attend a wedding that turns out to be full of surprises, the movie starts to take itself more seriously than perhaps it should. Brocka and Philip Pierce's script (based on a 1995 novel by Matthew Rettenmund) tells us more than it shows why Andrew and X belong together, and how X should resolve his relationships.

Still, Brocka's direction keeps things moving, and the performances he draws from Magyar, Stephens and indie-film veteran Bauchau ("The Rapture," "Choose Me") are always up to speed. Magyar's self-deprecating voice-overs are especially revealing.

Shortly after X (as narrator) "thinks" a racial slur, Andrew, who is African American, seems to be reading his mind: He calls him on it without knowing that he's been thinking it. The squirmy look on Magyar's face, as he quietly shares his sheepishness with the audience, couldn't be more expressive.

This is one of the few Seattle movies in which Seattle looks like Seattle, not Vancouver. It's refreshing in other ways as well: the no-big-deal outing of Andrew to his friends and relatives, X's changing attitude to being "a hustler with morals," a childhood memory of seduction and rejection that has unexpected force.

Best known for his 2004 feature, "Eating Out," and a prizewinning 1999 short, "Rick & Steve — The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World," Brocka is fast becoming one of our shrewder independent filmmakers.

John Hartl:

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company


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