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Il mare (1963)
A lost masterpiece of Italian cinema
This is one of the lost masterpieces of Italian cinema. But where can you see it? I'm not going to give away the plot, but anyone who liked L'Avventura would surely enjoy this.
Derek Jarman once told me it was his favourite film. It has all the elements of Antonioni and much, much more. It is definitely ripe for rediscovery. Maybe some enterprising film distributor (Mr Bongo?) will read this and take note!
It doesn't make sense that so many 3rd rate Italian comedies of this period are available in various countries, but this serious film is completely unknown.
Economy, Style and a Strong Female Lead
Kaufmanhas been called a maverick director and this film proves the point. He takes the tired subject matter of serial killers and instead of seeing women being brutalized and raped he puts young men in their place. This clearly must be disconcerting for many men who see this film, especially as for the main part of the film we are led to believe that a woman is the perpetrator.
He also shows a tough female character that rarely exists in American cinema any more, but which existed strongly in 40's cinema. Ashley Judd is wonderful in the role of a woman who goes out and picks her men when she wants to and leaves them when she wants to. Something else that your 'normal' male is going to get alarmed about.
The film is also extremely well made, beautifully shot, and only lasts an hour and a half. This economy compared to such overrated films as Scorsese's 'The Departed' which suffered from terrible filmic flatulence, is perhaps too concentrated for today's audience. Fritz Lang could do it and so could a whole list of other greats from the past. Kaufman in my opinion has added with this film ,a truly modern film noir.
It Conquered the World (1956)
Disappointing DVD release
This is an entertaining, well acted, well edited film of its genre. Classic anti-communist fear, rubber monster, Roger Corman trash fun.
Heavily cut on its initial release. BEWARE, the only available DVD release from Siren Entertainment (coupled with Creature from the Haunted Sea) retains these cuts. 29 cuts in total including ALL IMAGES of the monster! Ludicrously, while all images of our rubber friend are removed, most of the human to human violence, some of which is quite strong, remains.
I will never understand censorship ! Where Siren entertainment got this copy from I do not know. The film deserves a restored, uncut release.
Ten Wanted Men (1955)
A Western Study of Sexual Obsession
A great looking movie with unusual touches that set it apart from most other westerns of the period and put on a par or beyond some of the later Bud Boetticher films.
The reality is so heightened and the sexual obsession so strong throughout that I was reminded of Nicholas Ray's classic Johnny Guitar. Although there's no need for Joan Crawford here. The men (good and bad) are as pretty as the girls and the violence is in places grueling with a twist in the final shootout (they don't use guns) that was surprisingly effective.
For these reasons the film scored an unexpected 10 from me. Sony's DVD release is beautifully cleaned up. Watch it and enjoy.
The Girl in Lovers Lane (1960)
This film is really gay - and I mean that in the best possible sense!
Queer cinema took off in the 1990's but this weird little gem from 1959 was an early example.
Back then if you were a writer with a good gay plot there was no way you could get it produced unless you coded it. William Inge, & Tennessee were past masters at applying the code. But 'The Girl in Lovers Lane is another matter. Nothing makes sens in this film anymore, and that makes it very intriguing to watch.
The film is about two guys, but it's the 'girl' that gets into the title and onto the poster.
At the beginning of the film one guy picks the other up for no reason, when he could have just stolen his wallet. They shack up. They undress (at times for no reason). They try to outdo each other at getting girlfriends. One pushes his girlfriends away whenever they gets 'too friendly' and 'rescues' his friend whenever he's about to get lucky with some of the town's colourful dames.
The women in the film are fantastically bad girls, celebrated in a delirious brothel scene, except for one nice girl. And guess what? It's the nice girl that gets bumped off in the end, leaving the way clear for our two (male) lovebirds in denial to face a happy future of domestic bliss together.
Watch this film (with or without MST3K) and enjoy.
The Matthew Shepard Story (2002)
The subject matter of this film was fairly abstract to me until I saw this film. You read the story of the murder and the trial, but somehow you don't get a clear picture of what really happened.
This is a heart breaking film. Some of us tend to judge America by its awful Capital Punishment laws, its brutality, its terrible president and we can forget that there are people working against these horrors. It is people like Stockard Channing and if my eyes didn't deceive me Goldie Hawn (executive producer) who can help make you reconsider what is happening there.
What was on trial in this film was humanity itself and against all the odds humanity won over. Lets hope that George Bush and his reactionary government will accidentally see this film one night when they have something better to do. That's my fantasy and like the film's ultimate hope I'll stick to it.
'Gay' is not so bad after all.
This film was given bad reviews by both the gay and straight press. I don't understand why as there are some terrible Dutch films that are rated more highly. (Karakter; Wilde Mossels; De Grot) These were truly awful films without ANY real narrative structure to make you want to continue from frame to frame. Unfortunately one of them got an Oscar and so the Dutch have continued to produce pretentious unwatchable films that even their own population run away from.
In this context 'Gay' had all the basic simplicity of a high class soap opera (think Dynasty) and over the top characters that with more intelligent handling could have come out of Fassbinder. In fact the first two thirds of the film were harsh in a way that could only alienate both heterosexuals and homosexuals. I mean what straight man is capable of sitting in a cinema and watching so much male kissing or so much gay sex? Not many! And for a mainstream homosexual audience self-criticism does not often come easy. The men lead shallow, selfish lives and seem to live on a diet of sushi and champagne. This was not 'Another Country' and neither was it a wish fulfillment fantasy about finding the ideal boy next door.
Unfortunately after this promising start the film fell apart in the last section as soon as one of the characters put on a dress and we entered 'La Cage Aux Folles' territory. It seemed to me that the director had suddenly thought ' Oh my God what of the straight audience and their reactions?' A man of course, in a dress, being hysterical is not a threat.
This was not a bad film and certainly given its limitations was far more watchable than most Dutch efforts. It had a few laughs which is rare in a Dutch film and it made you want to see how it would work out. The fact that the working out was a disappointment was just a pity. I think it's time the Dutch made another homosexual film but not call it 'Gay' which is plain boring and which leaves nothing for those who have a queer perspective.
Wild Side (2004)
Muted & Marginal - a perfect and beautiful film
Unfinished script? Badly lit? Underdeveloped characters? Designed to shock the bourgeoisie? About half the reviewers here seem to have missed the point with this film - but perhaps it's just a film you'll either love or hate. There are of course many people who simply are not comfortable watching anything which in any way portrays or explores homosexuality.
Not that you would class this as a gay film - but it is definitely one of the best queer films I have seen. Dealing with three characters on the margins of society, it has a no holds barred approach to its subject matter, that is neither glamorous nor judgmental. In contrast to most representations of homo/transexuality this was refreshing.
The sexuality/gender of the central character, Stephanie, was apparent from the first frames of the film. The triangular relationship between her and the two men is one built on sincere and simple respect and equality. There is no question in the film of her having to choose between the two. All three are equally compatible with each other and do not have the usual conventional jealousies and arguments.
The three characters' past and present lives are beautifully portrayed in a sort of collage. This demands some work from the audience to put the pieces together. And why not? There is nothing obscure or pretentious here. Just an honest look at what brought these three people together.
Visually the film ranks highly and is up there with Antonioni and Bresson. The concentration on the urban and rural landscapes and the details of the characters' physical actions say more about character development than any dialogue could do.
A milestone in new queer cinema. This film should receive a far wider distribution. But judging from others' comments perhaps the public are just not yet ready to understand the humility, beauty and sacrifice of in these characters' lives. A great film 10/10
Beautiful Unpretentious Short
This short Australian film depicts with warmth and without pretension the awkwardness of two teenagers starting to recognise and explore their homosexuality.
It was refreshing to see two actors cast who were the right age for these roles and who showed no reluctance to share a kiss on screen. Many older actors/actresses of whatever sexuality could take a lesson from these two.
The final image of the film which relates to the title and storyline has a beauty and simplicity that surprises and lingers.
I saw this film as part of the Pink Filmdays in Amsterdam, and it received a very warm reception, compared to many other higher budget, overstylised and less sincere offerings.
Stille landskap (2003)
Moving, sincere and beautifully shot!
One of the great things about a film festival is finding treasures that you would otherwise never get to see. At the Pink Filmdays in Amsterdam I was very pleased to find this unpretentious short that explored an important issue without compromising its visual style (the snowy landscapes were particularly evocative) or getting bogged down in a heavy script.
For a teenager it's no easier coming to terms with your homosexuality now than it was when films first started dealing with this issue 20-30 years ago. And for those in rural communities or from religious, conservative or ethnic (sic) backgrounds it is doubly difficult.
The final images of the film show the central character on his own entering a new chapter of his life, but there is no hint that this will be an easy road to take. Simply that he has no choice. His story does not end with the end of the film.
I'd like to see more films deal with the problem of growing up gay in a Muslim community.