Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What's up with Gay (-themed) Movies? (A sort-of) Conclusion

As I was re-watching these films it quickly became clear that I had rendered a rather harsh assessment in my brief introduction to this series of reviews. Obviously I had not watched the movies carefully and thoughtfully the first time around (I guess the reason for that is rather obvious), so I am now quite prepared to eat a little crow.

While coughing up feathers in the most dignified manner possible under the circumstances, I will point out that four of the movies reviewed are romantic comedies, and IMHO, this genre does not, by its very nature, produce cinematic masterpieces. Indeed, while rom-coms like Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally are memorable and even support a re-watching every few years, they do not fit into the category of thought-provoking or artistic cinema.

Three of the films are what we might call straightforward dramas, although the stories are vastly different. I do not think that I would be interested in seeing or writing about Food of Love or Boys Love again; I suspect that two viewings have pretty much exhausted the nuance of both the story and the characters in each of these movies. Mysterious Skin, on the other hand, offers depths that I have not yet explored, so horrifying as it is to watch, it is equally fascinating and definitely worth further study.

Lilies defies classification for me at this point. As I said in my review, there may be no subtext at all and what we see in terms of story may be all we get. I am certainly willing to give this movie another look and even more looks after that, just for the sheer pleasure of it if for no other reason.

What about other gay movies? I have seen a few online, including several shorts. None has impressed me as “great” or memorable. I have been intrigued by some that I see listed on but they have been too expensive for me to justify purchasing on my limited budget.

And just what is a “gay movie” anyway? At least two of the directors, perhaps three (I am not sure about Ventura Pons, who directed Food of Love), of the eight films I reviewed are straight. Many of the actors are straight. Taiwanese director Ang Lee has demonstrated that a straight man can make a powerful, beautiful, and sensitive film about gay men; Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal showed that two straight men can make us believe that they love each other in the way that gay men love each other. In fact, we would never have been able to see the film if “Brokeback Mountain” had not first been a heart-wrenching short story written by (straight) novelist Annie Proulx.

Then we have the gay writer Paul Rudnick who penned In & Out, a movie I would gladly pay not to have to see again.

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