Thursday, 18 October 2007
Director: Cam Archer.
Principal cast: Malcolm Stumpf, Patrick White, Max Paradise, Fairuza Balk.
A mountain lion is killed near a school. 13-year-old Logan is fascinated by the poor creature's fate, for he himself feels like the mountain lion whom everybody hates. The mountain lion becomes a symbol of Logan's angst and loneliness as he is growing up in a fairly desolate landscape, both physically and mentally. He befriends Rodeo, a slightly older guy who unlike the rest of his peers doesn't seem to harbour any feelings of loathing or disgust towards Logan. If anything, he himself appears a bit of a loner. Rodeo claims that he has seen mountain lions in the woods several times and takes Logan on long walks there. They spot some caves where mountain lions must have lived. Soon Logan's interest in Rodeo becomes more than just friendly and he engages in long night phone sex calls pretending to be a girl named Leah. Rodeo wants to meet "Leah" and they agree to meet in the caves.
Cam Archer's first full length feature film is a meditative exploration of a teen boy's mind as he is discovering his sexuality. Gus van Sant is one of its executive producers and some of the people who have contributed to its creation are Jonathan Caouette ("Tarnation") and John Cameron Mitchell ("Shortbus"). The originality of the camera work and the film's beautiful stills have not gone unnoticed as it was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award in the Best Cinematography category earlier this year. The film also won the Special Jury Prize at the Sarasota Film Festival in 2006.
There is no doubt that "Wild Tigers I Have Known" is what might be called an "arty" film. Dreams and fantasies are mixed with reality to an extent that it isn't always possible to tell the difference. As one's perception of reality is always subjective, a clear-cut distinction may not be that relevant in the end. I certainly don't find it of utmost importance here. On the contrary, it adds to the overall feeling of the alienation that Logan experiences. His daydreaming is his mind's natural defence against just that. The slow and poetic rhythm of the narrative is a mental reflection of the world as Logan deals with it.
All in all, a beautifully shot film dealing with complex issues without shying away from touchy subjects. A must-see for those of you interested in contemporary American queer cinema.
Here is the film's trailer: