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MYSTERIOUS SKIN

Far from being mysterious, Gregg Arakiís film is mostly skin deep. Based on the novel by Scott Heim, it traces the lives of two eight-year-old Little Leaguers from a backwater Kansas town after each suffers a traumatic event. Actually, one doesnít seem to be suffering much: Neil (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, resembling Timothy Hutton circa Ordinary People), who realized he was gay while watching his mother give a boyfriend a blow job, relishes the attention that Coach (Bill Sage) showers on him that fatal summer. He grows up to become the townís local rent boy, eventually moving to New York. Brian (Brady Corbet), on the other hand, takes his one experience with Coach badly: he blanks out the five hours and is convinced he was abducted by aliens. Will these two ever get together and see the truth, Brian learning what really happened and Neil recognizing that itís not right for a child to fist-fuck a middle-aged man? Araki, a gay director known for such transgressive films as The Doom Generation, takes a formulaic approach in relating this difficult material, making it more palatable but less illuminating. The real mystery is the filmís inescapable homophobia: every gay person in it is depicted as tormented, brutish, and predatory.

BY PETER KEOUGH

Issue Date: June 24 - 30, 2005
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