Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Camp Belvidere: My Half-Assed Review

In my last post I mentioned a movie I'd seen recently called Camp Belvidere, and I threatened to talk about it. So, I'm gonna talk about it. It's a 38-minute short only available for rental via Vimeo. I find that incredibly disappointing because a) the movie's been out since April I think, and b) I could go broke renting it. I liked it that much.

I don't typically go in with high expectations when it comes to shorts. It's a challenging way to make a movie. You have a limited window in which to tell your story, and that often results in movies that are purposefully vague (re: "artsy") to avoid having to adhere to standard storytelling tactics which might not work well; movies with a lot of short scenes and quick camera changes, resulting in a frenetic feeling; or movies that just don't get to tell the whole story and leave the audience feeling disconnected and lost. Camp Belvidere rather masterfully avoids all of those pitfalls and leaves me feeling like I just watched a complete movie. A short one, but complete.

Ahem...there may be spoilers from here on out because I can't censor myself. You've been warned. I'll even make a little jump link for you.
There. As I was saying...

So the main characters are Gin and Rose. Within the very first scene, with nothing more than their dialogue and interactions you understand who they are to each other. You understand that Gin works somewhere in a position of power—she's the "grown-up"—and Rose works there as well but in a lesser position. You understand that despite the differences in their stations they have a relationship, a comfortable one, a history. It allows for Rose to enter Gin's office like she belongs there. It's clear that they have a history of Gin lending her books to Rose. It's also clear that Rose has some feels for Gin, and that Gin is aware of them. All that is obvious within 7 minutes. That's impressive.

And then we jump right into sexy times, and that too is impressive. We've got 38 minutes, ladies! Times a-wastin'! And it's a good sex scene too. Again, it conveys so much about the two of them. It's a power flip as well. Rose goes from being the nervous teen tapping her fingers on the desk to the pursuer, and Gin is thrown off her "silky seductress" game by this bold woman who's going for what she wants. It's amazing, really.

Through the rest of the film you get some details filled in. The thing is, the details are nice but they're not even necessary. The film does such a good job at being transparent without being heavy-handed (no character exposition via monologues), allowing you to discover who the characters are in an organic way. I found that I also didn't miss whatever details weren't there. I got enough information to understand and enjoy the storyline.

The acting was surprisingly good. Didn't I say that I have low expectations for indie films/shorts? Seriously, you know what I mean. Bless all the makers of the things but when you get your friends to act in your stuff, well...you get what you get. Anyway, that was not the case here and the acting was really good. The actress who played Gin, Astrid Ovalles, was both sultry and conflicted as a woman who knew what she wanted, but was afraid to go for it.

Let's talk sex scenes, because what else is impressive is how this film managed to fit in not one, not two, but three sex scene in its short run...again, while actually telling a fully-fledged story. And they were great scenes too! You can't underestimate the importance of doing a sex scene well. Camp Belividere holds it own in this respect. It was noticeable though that  Ovalles, spent a bit more time nekkid than the actress who played Rose, Molly Way. It might not even have caught my attention if not for how much we got to see of Ms. Ovalles vs the glaringly obvious way in which Ms. Way's bra was removed during the last scene (making sure that Ms. Ovalles's hands immediately covered her breasts after the bra was removed) and the fact that the bra mysteriously shows up again later in the same scene when Ms. Ovalles's breasts are on full display. It takes you a bit out of the scene. I know my mind starting wandering and asking "Is it because she's nervous? Is she uncomfortable with the sex scene in general, or because it's a woman? Does she just have a no-nudity thing?" *

Interestingly enough I happened upon a link for a review of the movie on AfterEllen, and one of the comments mentioned that they thought the movie had a porn-like quality to it and they wondered (suspected) Ms. Ovalles of having a history working in the adult movie industry. Of course that meant I had to take a quick peak into Ms. Ovalles's online presence. To say she's an interesting woman would be putting it mildly. Her Twitter account is the most entertaining of all of her social media accounts. She's a pretty unabashed fan of porn and of some of the maybe...heavier?...forms of adult pleasure. She's also just kind of a badass who doesn't give a fuck. It's a fun read. Maybe a little too high octane for my mundane world but to each their own, right?

Go rent Camp Belvidere. And Camp Belivdere team? Release that shit to buy already.

*As an aside, I had the same reaction when I watched D.E.B.S. At the end of the film's only sex scene between Lucy Diamond (Jordana Brewster) and Amy (Sara Foster), the two of them are clearly wrapped in separate sheets. The sheets are even different colors! That threw me in the same way, like "Why in the world would they do that?" Bothered me silly.

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