|Have you ever seen an exciting -- I mean reallyexciting -- documentary? A film relaying real events that has yousitting forward in your seat and wringing your hands just like when IndianaJones was holding on to the grill of that truck carrying the Ark? |
"Rock the Boat" is a shot-on-video documentaryabout an all-gay, all-HIV-positive crew of amateur yachtsmen flying (orsailing, as the case may be) in the face their infections with life-affirminggusto by entering one of the world's hardest yacht races, the Trans-Pacific.
"10 out of 10 for vivacity, but an exciting yachtrace documentary?" I hear you sniffing.
That's what I thought going in, but filmmaker Robert Houstondelivers the audience not only vividly onto the deck of this roller-coastersloop cutting a wild, perilous swath through the Pacific Ocean from Californiato Hawaii, but also into the lives of its crew, their larger mission ofhope and the kind of camaraderie and animosity that's inevitable when youput 11 men on a small vessel for two weeks without showers.
Heart-stopping top-side race footage -- enhanced and invigoratedby Kevin Hayes' triumphant, adrenaline-charged score -- is cut with cabintestimonials from the diverse crew and sailing glossary asides that gearup the audience for some of the films most bracing moments. It's not fornothing that we learn the term "round-up" means a yacht tippingdeeply on its side, which requires a quick righting to avoid watery doom.
A blatant gay pride pageant that vigorously waves the rainbowflag, "Rock the Boat" succeeds wildly in creating a thrillingatmosphere, even if it does beat the poignancy drum a little too enthusiasticallyin the interview segments.
The crew includes, among others, a scruffy Valley dude,an old salt, a fay cook who used to be a man of the cloth, a nervous landlubberwith low T-cells, a full-blown AIDS sufferer with a sunny disposition andan over-zealous, risk-happy captain -- and every one of them takes turnswaxing poetic about success with protease inhibitors or pontificating abouttheir greater purpose. It's touching, but it gets a little old. These guysseem relentlessly determined to turn everything into a metaphor for AIDS.
But on the other hand, each time the hull is shown glisteningin the sun, painted with the names of 300 AIDS victims the crew calls theirguardian angels, it's hard not to tear up a little.
The "Real World"-style confessionals coupledwith some captured-on-camera confrontations and romance give "Rockthe Boat" its humanity, but it's the sailing footage that gives ita spectacular pulse.
As if the race isn't exciting enough by itself, the Survivorspends much of the contest neck-in-neck with an all-female crewed competitorand later has to out-run a hurricane. Indy Jones, eat your heart out.
Run time: 89 mins
In Theaters: Friday 5th March 1999
Distributed by: Wolfe Video
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
IMDB: 7.4 / 10
Director: Robert Houston
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