The Cinesexual gay movie reviews & more Thu, 05 Jul 2018 21:53:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 131549299 film note: The Everlasting Secret Family Thu, 05 Jul 2018 21:53:40 +0000 This 80s-era oddball gay-themed movie from Australia left me bemused.

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film note: The Everlasting Secret Family

The Everlasting Secret Family
Directed by Michael Thornhill
94 min, Australia, 1988

After I watched this obscure gay-themed movie I went in search of reviews of it. I’d found its tale of a sub-rosa mostly homosexual society in Australia so odd that I wondered how it had been received. I didn’t find anything dating from the time of its release except notices that the distributor had trouble making its money back. Imagine that in 1988.

A review on Time Out London states that it’s “about nothing but self-hatred.” Well, it’s not often that people who hate themselves possess such self-consciously dry humor, at least not in the I’m-a-wretched-faggot kind of way that this reviewer suggests, but I guess it’s possible. There are moments of clear satire, of course, as we watch a Japanese businessman pick out a live crab and then lead a blond youth into a bedroom for sex on the half-shell, or as an older woman dressed like a flapper girl takes out her breasts and offers one to the same youth. More broadly it lampoons the D/s reputations of all-boy boarding schools and the enduring rumors of male-dominated cults of power and influence who mentor, groom and do unspeakable things to beautiful blond adolescents. I don’t know if any of that is true but I found myself wanting to believe it anyway. There’s probably something in there about social stratification, class and the futile pursuit of eternal youth but it seemed a weak presentation.

So it all sounds salacious and sexy (we never see anyone do it, either, just some stiff kissing that moves out of frame) but it’s really not and really not that funny, either. I kept thinking if Kubrick hadn’t been such a staunch heterosexist he might have been able to make this thing at least a bit mysterious and weird. Instead, it’s just a tedious repetition of homo-lit myths and tropes. There are a handful of interesting shots and sequences, but none more inventive than the series of forward dollies and zooms cut quickly together in the film’s opening as we see a rich older man scouting the athletic field for his next conquest, clad in white shorts and a tight white tanktop. The comic aspect of it all is never far from the surface but I only laughed a couple of times.

The film is based on an eponymous book by Frank Moorhouse, who also wrote the adapted screenplay — a voiceover excerpt frames the film — and I’m half-curious to find out if it reads any better. But only half.

Click here to watch The Everlasting Secret Family on Amazon Prime Video.

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film note: God’s Own Country Sun, 24 Jun 2018 07:00:40 +0000 A beautiful look and a keenly felt sense of time and place plus one moving lead performance can't cover up the contrivance of the central romance.

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film note: God's Own Country

If wishes were pigs

God’s Own Country
Directed by Francis Lee
104 min, UK, 2017

I seem to be alone in thinking this gay romance is nothing special and not primarily because the story dynamics of the couple’s relationship was derivative and weak. I didn’t find the relationship convincing, first of all, and thought that the central issue of Johnny’s alcoholism and the origins of his drinking got short shrift because of a sexy Romanian, who was used like a tool to make Johnny “a better person.”

That’s not how it works in life, and I was not convinced that’s how it should work in this movie, either, given its realist pretensions. Usually, it’s the lover of the alcoholic that gets the most abuse, so this doesn’t really seem like serious writing to me, but rather the manipulations and pressures of a gay-happy-ending agenda forcing a director’s hand. So everything that happened after Gheorghe leaves struck me as wish fulfillment.

There are similar problems with André Téchiné’s Quand on a 17 ans in which the masculinist gender strictures of society force a potential male couple into logical conflict and then that convincing conflict is resolved somewhat magically, because of sex, I guess. The healing qualities of a dubious sexual attraction are even more magical here in God’s Own Country.

The film does have some things going for it. A beautiful look, a sincerely constructed and detailed sense of place and time, and a wonderful, vulnerable performance from Josh O’Connor as Johnny.

God’s Own Country is certainly worth a look, but I didn’t get much out of it.

For some interesting links related to God’s Own Country, including some cute interviews with O’Connor, click here to check out the latest version of The Cinesexuals Newsletter.

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film note: My Brother the Devil Sun, 27 May 2018 19:34:36 +0000 This gay-themed, London-based debut feature from Sally El Hosaini is worth a look for its cultural insights and sensitivity, as well as great performances, but the gay relationship seems forced.

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film note: My Brother the Devil

Mind the gaps

My Brother the Devil
Directed by Sally El Hosaini
1h 51min, United Kingdom, 2012

There’s a constant struggle here in this luminous first feature between the demands of the genre — small-time gangs & drug dealing – and an exploration of the relationship between two brothers whose parents are Egyptian immigrants to London. Director Sally El Hosaini navigates the conflicts pretty well, establishing a strong sense of where we are – council estates comprised of mostly immigrants – and never exploiting the small-time criminal situations by judging them or sensationalizing them. The characterizations of the parents get short-changed, however, and the conflict caused by the older brother’s sexuality comes off as a plot maneuver and seems tacked on. As a result, veteran actor Saïd Taghmaoui as Rashid’s lover is under-used or just plain used, and his character hastily assembled. I’m not sure how I feel about the rather obvious avoidance of an out-and-out kiss, either.

Still, the two leads are very good — El Hosaini directs all her actors like a pro – and their rapport feels genuine. James Floyd as Rashid the older bruv smolders and Fady Elsayed is remarkably expressive and focused as the younger Mo.

A promising debut and well-worth a look.

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film note: Laurence Anyways Tue, 01 May 2018 11:23:49 +0000 It wasn't until about a half hour in that I realized that I'd tried to watch this film before. It wasn't any easier to stick around this time than it had been the first, but I did skip forward to see what happened — I watched the last scene so I now know the origin of the title — and to try to figure out why I found it all so boring.

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film note: Laurence Anyways

Laurence Anyways
Directed by Xavier Dolan
2h 48m, Canada, 2012

It wasn’t until about a half hour in that I realized that I’d tried to watch this film before. It wasn’t any easier to stick around this time than it had been the first, but I did skip forward to see what happened — I watched the last scene so I now know the origin of the title — and to try to figure out why I found it all so boring.

Other than sometimes feeling like the period set-dressing and production design. along with some odd framing choices, were overwhelming the narrative, I also never felt like I was watching the dramatic unfolding of a life. I felt like I was watching actors being told how to act, doing their best but failing to differentiate between characters, by a director who wanted to mount a moving biography, about a man transitioning into being a woman and trying to hold on to his relationship with a woman, but just couldn’t manage to spark anything to life. And so although the camera got pointed at the mouths moving I never felt a thing. Sometimes that’s easy to explain and sometimes it’s not.

Some of the narrative high points seemed pat, particularly the first day dressing as a woman on the job, getting fired, getting beat up in a bar fight, etc. and the stylistic debris that accumulated around these very familiar maneuvers didn’t help give them any more weight. In particular, it seemed quite glib to depict Laurence’s walk through his school in women’s clothes as a scene from a generic Hollywood teen comedy, complete with leering dudes and dance music on the soundtrack.

Ah well, at least now that I’ve logged this I won’t forget and try to watch it again.

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film note: Una noche Fri, 13 Apr 2018 02:09:09 +0000 The handsome look of this film shot widescreen in Cuba on 35mm made it easy to feel immersed in its depiction of love, attachment, and youthful aspirations. The attractiveness and natural acting of the three amateur leads doesn’t hurt. But the plot is stretched too thin, and melodrama and fatalism eventually upend the film's energy and the empathy generated by the characters and their desires.

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film note: Una noche

Lost at sea

Una noche
Written and directed by Lucy Mulloy
90 min, Cuba, 2012

The handsome look of this film shot widescreen in Cuba on 35mm made it easy to feel immersed in its depiction of love, filial attachments, and youthful if naive aspirations. The attractiveness and natural acting of the three amateur leads doesn’t hurt. But the plot is stretched too thin, and melodrama and fatalism eventually upend the film’s energy and the empathy generated by the characters and their desires.

Elio and Lila are inseparable twins, so much so that many think they are lovers. But Elio secretly loves his best friend Raul, who’s another kind of twin. Raul is a charming, lightly muscled womanizer who wants badly to travel those long 90 miles to Miami to reunite with his father; there’s also a brief suggestion that Raul may trick with men for extra money. So: an opportunist. Elio comes up with a plan to assemble the parts for a boat to take them both to the States and Elio makes no allowance for taking his sister Lila along.

The build-up to assembling the parts for the “boat” that will take the two young friends off the island goes on too long and gets sidetracked unnecessarily with subplots and a lot of running around and mind-changing. Once Elio and Raul launch into the ocean, along with Lila who chases them into the surf as a kind of stowaway, a lot of drama gets forced into a very small space. Elio reveals his love for Raul. As you would do in such a situation? Raul turns out to be a big asshole, then he isn’t. Lila kind of looks on and scolds occasionally although she’s a catalyst for all this confrontation. Then: sharks. Accepting all this melodrama in that space in that amount of time is about as hard to swallow as a mouthful of seawater.

The final third of the film drags and just doesn’t play out very well or elegantly nor is it shot resourcefully, with some continuity problems and a cramped frame. Of course, the character we’ve probably come to like the most doesn’t make it. Nobody makes it to Miami, of course.

I just felt like the characters were set up as was the audience and the basic ideas just weren’t able to float a feature-length film. We’re just supposed to take a lot of things for granted.

Still, it’s a hard film to dislike. Havana felt real.

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film review: La Noche Sat, 07 Apr 2018 17:01:16 +0000 I had some trouble the first time getting through Edgardo Castor's La noche/The Night, gay art movie from Argentina, but now after having watched it three times, and crucial scenes more than that, I'm convinced that it's closer to a masterpiece.

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film review: La noche

The night is long

La noche
Written and directed by Edgardo Castro
2h 15 min, Argentina, 2016

I had some trouble getting through Edgardo Castro’s sometimes grueling 135-minute art film from Argentina, La Noche. (But now after rewatching it twice, and several scenes more than that, I’m beginning to feel that it’s a near masterpiece.) The film presents a series of rambling, sex-focused vignettes, more or less lacking narrative drive and resembling observational shots from a intimate documentary.

40-something main character Martín, played by Castro, single-mindedly pursues sex and drug-fueled experiences with strangers. He chooses as partners mostly, but not exclusively, cisgendered straight or ambisexual men, often with trans women and cis women as bait or companions — seemingly one night after another in the city of Buenos Aires. In most cases, la noche continues on into el día. Considering the obsessiveness of the activities shown in these scenes, “chooses” might be a word we’re meant to question.

Castro plays Martín in a fog of intoxicated confusion, fear, and boredom, verging on stunned at points, as if he’s constantly asking himself, How did I get here? and never able to give himself a decisive answer, or shocked at the fact that he has none.

The character spends lots of time in *telos* — the Argentine slang word for sex hotels — snorting coke in the toilets of gay bars, stumbling home way past dawn, and at least once passing out on the stairs inside his building, unable to make it into his own flat.

The repetitive nature and sameness of these encounters wore me out, along with their general lack of passion. Among the four or five cocks we’re shown, there’s only a single hard one in the whole movie (a taxi boy’s as Martín sucks him); the rest can’t get fully or even half-hard; Martín’s is the most flaccid of all.

Also, the familiarity of the film’s shooting style put me off at first, a style that’s become a predictable and somewhat tired marker for “art film” — shaky, handheld tracking shots that follow characters from behind or from the side, showing everyday chores and actions in the lives of the characters; long takes with extreme focus-contrasts between foreground and background, shot in enclosed, cramped, “found” or “real-life” spaces. Ostensibly, these techniques reference a particular kind of documentary-style realism, but it’s rarely as easy as that to untangle the real from the artificial.

La Noche’s first scene is typical of this style.

In it, we see Martín wake up, retrieve some cold pasta leftovers from the refrigerator, shake some oil on top of it in its plastic container, and without heating it up, sit down at a small table to eat. The camera follows him closely in the cramped space, not quite being able to shoot him en toto as he moves around the flat. In his bedroom watching television, the camera either can’t or won’t come all the way into the room, shooting around or through furniture and partially obscuring the POV.

We don’t know what time of day it is, and there’s a cut in the middle of this sequence that presumably elides a whole day. That’s a consistent tactic throughout the film — an avoidance reflecting a disinterest in knowing precisely when or where we are, or suggesting that the (day)time doesn’t matter at all. Exempting the film’s final scene, and to some extent its second, we could shuffle the rest of the film’s scenes like cards and still arrive at the same place, or non-place, or the same time, en la noche.

In addition, everything that Castro chooses to put in the frame — neighborhood streets, the interiors of bars, hotels, apartments, and stores, but also the clothing and bodies of the characters — looks and feels as nondescript and unmemorable, bordering on unpleasant, as you could imagine, for good reasons. Or at least, for his good reasons. Considering the film takes place in picturesque and historic Buenos Aires, this is certainly some kind of accomplishment, and not the only sign that descriptions of the film’s imputed “realism” are in fact far-fetched and misplaced, or at least misleading.

I finally did make it through the film, after three attempts, and was rewarded by an unexpectedly emotional ending, and ended up learning how a filmmaker can undermine expectations (or accusations) of realism, and overall how strategies for representing various states of mind, such as intoxication or being high, or indeed being bored during both, can be expressed as style and are intended to deliberately produce boredom and alienation in the audience, among other effects, not just show them to us. We may not like the effects of such strategies, but we don’t have to dismiss them as illegitimate.

Some parts of this film, maybe most for many viewers, are difficult to watch, to sit through, and much of that discomfort, in terms of both what we’re seeing and with how we’re experiencing it, represent challenges to easy interpretations, conclusions, and conventions. La Noche shows intimate encounters, but the way they’re depicted is far from elegiac or poetic, as they were in Weekend, for example, or as we’ve come to expect perhaps from many if not most GTMs that glorify or extol gay male sexual pleasure, but they are stylized.

For instance, in the film’s second extended sequence Martín chats up a short, kinda chubby and sexy taxi boy on the street and ends up taking him back to a telo to fuck and party. The room is lit with violet light so the shots appear as duotones.

This scene comes across as the most innocent, and in it Martín seems the most content, but the color scheme still suggests a kind of technical or artificial aesthetics rather than a natural one. At least, I’ve never been to a telo lit up like that. A much darker scene echoes this one much later, also in a telo, but florescently illuminated like a doctor’s office, and containing its own degree of artificiality. A straight trick he’s picked up as a drug buddy teases him with the possibility of his bisexuality and of allowing Martín to suck his cock. But he gives him something else. Martín’s humiliation at the end of the pickup’s piss stream, shot for real, marks the nadir of his self-degradation, in this film anyway. The camera shoots this scene from outside the bathroom, with the door partially closed.

The endless pursuit of sex and drugs is pretty boring, La Noche reminds us, and produces observable desperation, boredom, humiliation, and alienation in the characters, and to the extent that we’re paying attention and sharing these moments, in us.

The brief moments of connection, affection, or joy therefore carry so much weight that when they come they almost crash the movie, or at least divert it briefly into feeling like we can hope for something else, something redemptive, as if the narrative will reveal that the life and the lifestyle it depicts will lead to some lasting connection.

Or that Martín will experience the daylight as something other than an extension of the night, or its undesired interruption or postponement.

All these tiny moments are exactly that — momentary, such as: A spontaneous kiss and a smile from a stranger after sharing coke in a toilet; a tender inspection of a taxi boy’s burn scars; those gestures of affection to, with, and from the sexy taxi boy; the offer of non-judgmental comfort from a close friend, a light hand on an arm. Even in the mentioned scene of humiliation, the trick shakes his dick off and then shares his cigarette, sliding it into Martín’s mouth while he remains kneeling on the bathroom floor, absently pulling on his own soft dick. The film provides these provisional moments of connection but surrounded as they are with the detritus and dust of alienation and addiction, it may be hard to recognize them as such.

It’s obvious that that the bulk of Martín’s experiences lack intimacy, and become routine drudgery, despite their ostensible goals of pleasure and connection. But one of the effects of these deprivations is that we might end up longing for these isolated moments of friendship and companionship, and thus reinterpret and critique all the other moments we’re shown — less positive but just as human — in that context. In that we can see that the elements of the film’s style that suggest documentary realism have a pointed purpose.

The film’s final 15-minute scene shows how difficult it is for Martín to negotiate a friendship, perhaps the only one he has, without the mediation of drugs or alcohol or both. He calls his trans friend Guadalupe, who works as a prostitute, ostensibly to see her but also to ask her if she has any cocaine. In his mind, the motivations for his call mix it up with his need for chemical stimulus. We can doubt whether he knows himself which reason weighs the heaviest.

Guadalupe meets up with him in a bar, fresh from a job. Quickly, he brings up the topic of blow, and can be seen throughout the scene as antsy and impatient. She claims she doesn’t have any, that she left it at home, but in a cutaway to her taking a piss in the toilet, we see that she does have some. She has a phone conversation with a potential client, and also messages someone who might have some blow. I began to suspect she was putting Martín off for a reason. Martín continues to look impatient and agitated, rocking in his seat. The Eagles’ One of These Nights plays in the bar.

When she returns to his table at the bar, as the camera follows her out closely, hiding briefly behind their booth so it can frame Guadalupe through the wooden dowels, he gives her a gift of new sneakers, all wrapped up in shiny pink paper. She loves them, and exclaims how much she does.

There’s a jump forward in time, and they are quiet together, sitting in the booth sharing a cigarette. He reaches across the table and clasps one of her hands; she responds with both of hers. They rub each other’s hands for a bit, silently, until she brushes a tear from an eye. Her lips are trembling. The music in the bar is Tom Petty’s The Waiting. The film doesn’t give a precise indication as to what the tear is for.

Suddenly, the POV of the camera changes as the film cuts to a medium long shot of the same scene, of Guadalupe and Martín still holding hands, but from outside the bar, through the window. The song remains the same, but the quality of the audio shifts, still sounding like music coming out of a crappy bar speaker but without the echo we hear inside the bar.

I can’t precisely describe or assert how this difference in audio and perspective comments on the scene itself. It’s a subtle shift in how we’re asked to consider what we’re witnessing, this time without total access to the characters provided by the close-in, handheld camera’s series of close-ups and medium shots, and the sound of their voices and the content of their conversations. Perhaps this subtle violation of diegetic, documentary filmmaking tactics asks us to dial back the judgment we might be feeling, or to consider the power of friendship and connection to ground or comfort a lost man.

Or perhaps there’s a kind of honor being paid to this intimate moment between people whose lives and mysteries we will never full understand.

The song now combines with street sounds and we can no longer hear the conversation between the two friends. In this medium long shot that simultaneously shows the window’s reflections of the street, as well as the interior of the bar, we see Guadalupe get up and hug Martín, he kisses her twice on the cheek, she gets back in hers, and then strokes his face several times, wiping his own tears away.

She talks to him in concentration, emphatically. We have to guess what they’re talking about, but now we have some idea of why she might have withheld the coke. Tom Petty continues to sing, with some irony in this context. The Heartbreakers’ guitars slice and keen and warble.

Then the film cuts to the main credit, normally placed at a film’s beginning. The film’s title declaimed with a bold all-caps display font in orange-gold, tacked on at the film’s very end.

Watch La Noche on the BFI’s website.

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film note: Wrath of Vajra Thu, 22 Mar 2018 02:59:28 +0000 The post film note: Wrath of Vajra appeared first on The Cinesexual.


film note: The Wrath of Vajra

Bodies and bulges

The Wrath of Vajra
Directed by Wing-Cheong Law
111 min, China | Hong Kong | Japan | Taiwan, 2014

If I were to rate this film solely on its homoerotic power, I’d give it 5 stars.

I don’t think it’s much of an exaggeration to say this movie was made as an ode to male beauty. (It’s also about militarism, brotherhood and protecting the vulnerable, along with some anti-Japanese gestures.) There’s just so much strutting, puffing out of chests, flexing, taking off of shirts, fighting shirtless, bulging muscles that I wonder how 100% straight dudes can watch this and not feel uncomfortable. (There’s only one woman in the film and she’s not sexualized in the least.)

The final big high-contrast, hyper-realistic fight scene occurs in the rain and features even more muscle bulging, flexing and even some pit shots. I wonder if this is another of those Chinese martial arts movies made by a severely repressed “straight” director

Anyway. The film is nice to look at in other ways, too, and features one of the best fight scenes I’ve seen a while — between the lead, K-29, and some lanky, long-haired dungeon-dweller called Crazy Monkey — making good use of negative space and architecture, with beautiful and fast-moving wire work, and lots of crane shots and sweeping dollies. Really nice. That’s also the least homoerotic sequence in the whole movie, so enjoy it lads.

Finally, I’m now a bit obsessed with South Korean action star, Yoo Seung Jun who plays the bad guy. Whoa.

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film review: Interior. Leather Bar. Thu, 15 Mar 2018 10:51:08 +0000 It's a testament to the intelligence and seriousness of co-directors James Franco and Travis Matthews that I don't know where to begin talking about this galvanizing and quite radical hour-long gay-sex-explicit experimental film.

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film review: Interior. Leather Bar.

Get real

Interior. Leather Bar.
Directed by James Franco and Travis Mathews
60 min, USA, 2013

It’s a testament to the intelligence and seriousness of co-directors James Franco and Travis Matthews that I don’t know where to begin talking about this galvanizing hour-long gay-sex-explicit experimental film. (It’s low-rated pretty much everywhere.) I could say it’s an extension of the work done in the 70s and 80s by Mark Rappaport, but rather than fictionalizing a film persona via modes of essay, documentary, and deconstruction, Interior. Leather Bar. does that work on an apocryphal 40-minute piece of discarded footage culled from a seminal and controversial film called Cruising. You might have heard of it.

Here, Franco talks about William Friedkin’s film with lead actor Val Lauren, who’s playing himself playing Al Pacino who was playing a cop gone undercover in a 70s NYC gay S&M bar. I think Franco’s interpretation is wrong, and an actor in Interior. Leather Bar. thinks so, too, but I don’t think Franco would mind the disagreement. The film’s form allows for all sorts of contradictions and disputations, with its layers of representation and the intercutting of scripted documentary segments with unscripted ones with still more intercutting with the titular scene in its final form. There are shots of Lauren perusing the script that are being shot by a series of cameras in progressive distance from the subject, so which one is the real shot? Interior. Leather Bar. has its own lost scenes, and we’re witness to pieces of them.

It seems like everyone has a camera in I.LB., and representation itself, how it’s constructed through ideology and repetition, through objects and acts, is just one subject this film explores in a material way. One of the film’s more radical shots is one in which a gay male couple, boyfriends in real life, have non-simulated sex on a couch while they’re getting filmed by various camera operators — a young woman with a pocket video camera, by the director and by Franco, who stands over them fully-clothed with a more professional digital video camera.

Why is it radical? It’s not because of the non-simulated sex, which we’ve already seen in Matthews’ own insufferable and hermetic I Want Your Love and in Shortbus, and not really because sex should be used as a story-telling tool, as Franco says in the film, even though it should, but because a straight male actor who does Disney and Spider-man films is using it to not just interrogate the representation of desire outside of himself and in film history, but to upset his own normative identity and expectations, to find something “beautiful and attractive” in what he’s seeing, in watching two men fuck. And he does. He also pushes the straight actors on-set to do the same, not least Val Lauren, who quite naturally has his own rather radical observations on what he’s participating in, as well as plenty of understandable confusion. The scene in which Lauren and a group of gay actors get together and talk about that is one of the more valuable ones in the film. Gay men and straight men just do not very often have real conversations in the movies

Interior. Leather Bar. is the sort of radical work that all self-identified straight artists should be doing right now, in their own ways. Not to face the demands of a particular historical moment and of all art’s responses to that is not just to forsake an opportunity but to ignore a moral imperative. That so few straight artists, writers and filmmakers are even able to represent gay men with authenticity and empathy points out how far we really have to go. I’ve been saying for a few years now that homophobia will not end until straight men see gay men as men first and can identify with same-sex desires as normal desires on a continuum of masculine sexuality. Gay men should do the same. This film is a powerful and humble step in the right direction. It’s also fun and funny, so don’t be afraid of it.

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Film note: It’s All So Quiet Wed, 14 Mar 2018 02:20:39 +0000 The post Film note: It’s All So Quiet appeared first on The Cinesexual.


film note: It's All So Quiet

Suffer less, love more

Boven is het stil
(It’s All So Quiet)
Directed by Nanouk Leopold
1h 33 mins, The Netherlands, 2013

I’ve watched a handful of movies lately that focus on the loneliness of their gay male characters — Harvest, Yossi, A Single Man, La leon and now this one, Boven is het stil. As counter-intuitive as it seems, I find them refreshing. They remind us that the closet — or closets, plural, which makes more sense for the varied depictions I’ve seen — has emotional costs rather than simply political or purely social ones and that the individuals suffering inside them experience them first as that.

This gentle and quiet character study of a 50-something man taking care of his dying father on a tiny farm in the Netherlands has emotional costs on the patient viewer, as well, as we witness his subsequent rejection of two potential lovers. His self-inflicted isolation mirrors what he perceives as his father’s rejection of him. The film, despite what’s expected from its elliptical narrative strategy, puts too fine a point on that in a couple lines of unnecessary dialogue, but overall it’s a powerful portrait, made even more so by a final, self-reflexive intertitle.

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film note: My Last Round Wed, 14 Mar 2018 01:21:36 +0000 The post film note: My Last Round appeared first on The Cinesexual.


film note: My Last Round

Not a knockout

My Last Round
Directed by Julio Jorquera Arriagada
110 min, Chile, 2012

Despite the gloomy milieu, there’s a lot to like about this same-sex relationship study from Chile. Unlike the gay characters in most American films, even in indies and from the underground, these characters don’t look or act like models or porn stars. There’s nothing glamorous about their bodies, clothes or the sex they have. And they have jobs, or in the case of the younger man in this film, are looking for one, and all these details are at least as important as the fact that they’re in a same-sex couples relationship. They also have back-stories, struggles and histories that live outside the conflict and narrative at hand but weigh on them all the same. As a result, the characters feel fully formed and not at all at the service of any agenda, other than getting to know them.

Unfortunately, the determinism implied by the film’s title eventually muffles the impact of all that’s gone before with a predictable climax, rather awkwardly staged with a heavy hand. I’ll watch it again to see if I’m being too harsh, and I’ll certainly be on the lookout for the next feature by Julio Jorquera Arriagada. This is his first.

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