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I went to Berkeley when Pauline Kael wrote capsule reviews for the art house we all went to. After Last Year at MarienbadI didn't get excited until Star Warsand now I am crazy about Shelter and Love Songs
Défense d'aimer (2002)
Don't Smoke and Direct and Act and Write!
A perfect example of why a writer and actor would NOT direct. The vision Marconi may have had on paper are poorly translated to the screen. A creditable actor, Marconi's script is nonexistent. Marconi the director covers the inadequacy by flinging the camera around, placing worthless shots and probable outtakes into the body of the film as if there is an artistic need for obfuscation and eye strain.
The jarring scene of Bruce walking into an unknown character's room, knowing that he haws "bronchitis", and beginning to light up a cigarette is just one example of how tone deaf this film is. The interesting face of the unknown character is not explored or used in any meaningful way. That he has AIDS (never mentioned, only hinted at)is signaled by a laughingly-staged cough. With no character development, we are left to focus on the Writeractordirector, which is probably what he wants.
I'm frankly tired of French Smoking Movies, and Movies Where Gay Sex Equals Death. It's not that big a deal to have sex with anything. He might have produced a satisfactory and more credible ending if he hadn't been wearing so many hats and smoking so much.
Coming Out (1989)
What a Real Movie!
I was surprised at the sophistication of East Berlin. I was told they lived drab, gray lives in rundown buildings. The teacher's apartment was large and well-done and everything looked so clean. Even the Trabis (Trabants) looked like they had been through a car wash. The nostalgia of old gay issues and more importantly, old gay "fashion" remind me how far we have come, politically and sartorially. The student/teacher issue seems current too. The end of "Les Chansons d'Amour" ("Love Songs)" 2007 has the same age differential and implies a love that will last; Coming Out takes a more realistic view of someone late to coming out falling for a young free gay boy. A movie worth seeing just for historical reasons, the view behind the Iron Curtain has never been clearer- the Wall more transparent.
De-coration De-saster, De-sexed De-fanged
I want to comment on the locations and set decorating. Simply vile. The Porters had Billy Baldwin as their decorator and their apartment in the Waldorf Towers can be seen in books on Baldwin. It set new standards for urban decorating and the etagere bookcases are still classics. Cole Porter's house (there were two I know of) in Los Angeles were decorated by Billy Haines and were magnificent. The movie's dour and subfusc settings would have never passed the Porters' high standards. The treatment of Cole's sex life was treated as a "passing fancy", whereas Cole led an active homosexual life as a leading light of Stage and Screen. His two homes in Los Angeles were in different neighborhoods; the one in Brentwood was for his social obligations, his home above Sunset Boulevard off Miller Drive was for assignations and male play. His relations with Linda were overwrought in the movie as they spent much time in separate locations.
Loved everything else!