Wild Tigers I Have Known
Time Out says
Two high-school wrestlers grapple on a fuzzed-out TV screen. A pubescent boy in sunglasses masturbates in a luridly red room. That same lad, wearing lipstick and a blond wig, stares into a cracked mirror. Cam Archer’s feature debut offers a stunning opening triptych that’s a virtual pomo-homo filmography, skipping from the pixelated New Queer Cinema of Sadie Benning to Kenneth Anger’s colorful cryptography and Andy Warhol’s narcissistic Drag City in two cuts. Unfortunately, the rest of his paean to young lust never matches the power of those first few moments, as the film’s stock narrative eventually turns any experimental touches into come-as-your-favorite-avant-gay-artist party decorations.
The biggest influence that hovers over this story of a misfit kid (Stumpf) and the hunky loner (White) he pines for is executive producer Gus Van Sant’s hustler rhapsodies, which turned a yearning for rough trade into something lyrical. But while there’s something admirable in Archer’s attempt at making an ambient song of the self out of the protagonist’s search for sexual identity (along with some heavily metaphorical mountain-lion attacks), the result is empty. The young director has soaked up his predecessor’s dreamy aesthetics of inchoate desire like a star apprentice; now he just needs to learn to actually say something with them. (Now playing; IFC Center.) — David Fear