by Derek Wilson
Provocative Look at Gay Physical Culture - Budding Director Tells it Like it is

Multi-talented American writer-composer-producer-director Roland Tec, 31, who is openly gay, says he cannot be bothered addressing the once delicate matter of "coming out" as there have already been other films dealing with the issue.

So in "All the Rage" -- a clever, literal and figurative title, considering the action -- Tec looks at a commonplace aspect of gay mainstream existence: body worship.

The film is an expansion of his own play, "A Better Boy" (also a clever title), a one-hander he performed in his hometown, Boston, in 1994.

Tec has wisely chosen not to add performance to his list of credits for the film, his derivative but pleasant music for which is an early plus.

Indeed, given the basic character requirements of Tec's very superior hero, Christopher, John-Michael Lander fulfils these all the way through, for Christopher is indeed a better boy, certainly to his own way of thinking, and arguably all the rage on the gay scene.

The aloof, snooty Christopher almost has it all. A rich young lawyer, he is conservatively handsome with a sculpted body religiously maintained at a gym. He also has a driving libido, which, as an active homosexual, he exercises with consummate ease.

However, for all his intellectual and pulchritudinous superiority, he allows himself romantic delusions: he believes Mr. Right is out there somewhere. And yet he is actively practical too: he willingly exchanges telephone numbers with after-sex ease with all his one-night stands -- but he never calls them back.

It is this aspect of his demonstrably selfish behaviour that actively calls in the literal meaning in the title.

But Tec's film is not entirely serious -- it does go as a social comedy, and the script is marked by a trenchant wit. But Tec reserves the most delicious irony for Christopher himself.

The requirements for Christopher's Mr. Right are curiously simple, his chronic superiority notwithstanding: the desired elusive creative need only be into ballet and baseball, a not unlikely mix in gay America.

When Christopher does meet the homely, unlovely Stewart with those interests there is a tentative mutual approach before they embark on an inevitably temporary relationship, given ChristopherÕs self-obsessed nature.

It is all a shrewdly observed scenario of gay life, and Tec has resisted being preachy in the AIDS generation. Christopher is never shown flexing on, or even fishing about for, a condom. Common sense is a given.

Ironically, though, local screenings of "All the Rage" are preceded by Greg Lawson's hilarious two-minute Dutch film, "Safe Sex: The Manual," which deals graphically with condom fitting.

The cinematography in TecÕs film is often sympathetic, and there are some beautiful shots of Boston.

The editing, too, is crisp and clever, including blue-tinged flash-forwards to Christopher dealing with his eventual comeuppance.

John-Michael Lander, quite literally a better boy, is perfectly cast as Christopher, the "grade-A moffie" as a local press release calls him.

The other characters, not as enthusiastically matched to their actors in the press release, are well-played, if not as well drawn (they needn't be, actually) as Christopher.

Nevertheless, David Vincent draws sympathy as the kindly, trusting Stewart.

Paul Outlaw, as Stewart's neighbor who introduces him to Christopher, has a nice line in cynicism.

"All the Rage" is an intelligent, provocative cinematic debut for Tec as a director.

At his personal appearances at local screenings, he wisely defended the ending which clearly displeased many patrons. He would be wise to eschew any thought of a sequel.

[Star rating: four stars]

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