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BD Release Date: 28th July 2014 (UK)
Running Time: 105
Director: Basil Dearden
Cast: Dirk Bogarde, Slyvia Syms, Dennis Price, Nigel Stock
Buy: Victim Blu-Ray
The year is 1961 and homosexuality in the UK is still a crime, this was also the year that filmVictim was released. It became famous for being the first film in the English language to use the word “homosexual” and one of the first films with a sympathetic portrayal of a gay man. It is also widely believed to have played a role in the eventual overturning of the law banning homosexuality.
The police are after a young man named Jack Barrett who has stolen money from his employer and is on the run. He tries to get in contact with the barrister Melville Farr (Dirk Bogarde) who is married but in reality is gay and had an affair with the young man. Barrett commits suicide after he is caught but Melville is blackmailed.
Dirk Bogarde was widely known to be gay but rarely spoke about his own sexuality even in his own autobiography. It took him astonishing courage to take up the part in Victim in 1961 and gives a wonderfully paranoid performance throughout the film. It was a game changer and an important film for Bogarde’s career and for cinematic history.
The cinematography has a slight noir tinge which suits the material very well; Otto Heller who photographed many of the finest British films ever made such as Peeping Tom, The Ladykillers and The Ipcress File shot it. Basil Dearden-who did some of the most unique films to come out of the 50s and 60s British industry, directed it.
Network has done a very impressive disc for such an important film. The transfer is clean and has the right amount of contrast and grain. The features include a half an hour interview with Bogarde shot during the release of Victim and it also includes publicity materials like the original trailer and stills.
22 March 2014
15 December 2013
Spurred on by the AIDS crisis, the social exclusion of homosexual men during the 1980s induced fear and anger from both sides of the gender boundaries. Wanting to break away from various pithy representations at the start of a new decade, UK and US based gay filmmakers such as Gregg Araki (The Living End), Todd Haynes (Poison) and the late Derek Jarman (Blue) sought to create films which were expressionistic and upfront in their frustration towards heteronormative boundaries and relationships. They represented a new way of belonging within a gay community, a stronger acceptance of a grounded identity where there was pride in being different. Knowing these films were completely unlike anything else, film critic B Ruby Rich classed this wave of filmmaking as ‘New Queer Cinema’ in a 1992 issue of Sight & Sound. Yet, as the 90s continued and breakthroughs with AIDS treatments progressed, homosexual identities became more politically recognised and accepted. As a result, the central gay character grew to be more present within mainstream (Philadelphia) and populist Indie (Beautiful Thing) film throughout the decade. Following the standard template of having an identity problem with being gay or living with AIDS, these forms of conflict seemed the only way of making a story interesting or crucial in forcing a statement.
However, by the end of the 90s, the activist force of ‘New Queer Cinema’ seemed to fizzle out as gay equality within Western society became stronger and more widely accepted than ever before. As a result, the representation of the triumphantly well adjusted homosexual man took over most narratives. In Hollywood, popular centralised gay storylines (Brokeback Mountain, Milk) still centred on weepy ideals, set within a certain time period, where central characters were martyrs to highlight just how significantly times had changed. As for the some of the original ‘New Queer Cinema’ filmmakers, after having said everything they needed to, they moved on to different styles and forms of storytelling, either within mainstream or independent productions. Since the popularity behind the politics resulted in a move into the ordinary, many of the early gay activists and filmmakers – who thrived in their difference from the hetero norms – would argue that the war for recognition, acceptance and equality is over. However, the lack of fluidity within the structure of gay narratives still created dissatisfaction with a few younger directors. Rather than portray the direct anxiety that can be faced with homosexuality or have gay characters completely represent the community, directors Andrew Haigh, Travis Mathews and Ira Sachs have created stories where this identity is a mere factor towards a more universal story. In their films, characters are already well adjusted with their identity. They lead a standard suburban life where the issues of death or coming out are not important. Most importantly, they do not fall into a perception of a gay community. Although these characters may struggle with issues of their identity, they are subtlety handled by these filmmakers, making their connection with other characters or their community resonate. It is a sudden and unique shift within ‘Queer Cinema’, but also a welcome one.
Haigh’s Weekend, released in 2011, proved to be a surprise hit for the filmmaker. The small production, detailing a brief - yet passionate - weekend between two very different personalities, earned consistent critical praise and box-office success (earning the second highest screen average on its opening week in the UK, behind Speilberg’s TinTin). Similarly, Matthew’s acclaimed 2013 film, I Want Your Love, charts the various sexual encounters of a local mid-twenties San Francisco hipster within his social circle of friends. Finally, Sach’s Keep the Lights On, follows a relationship set over a decade, from its amusingly awkward beginnings through to its tribulations with addiction. Although these stories may be different, the characters within them reveal various personalities and situations which are relatable to both homosexual and heterosexual audiences. With dialogue and performances that feel improvised and stylised hand-held cinematography, the naturalistic qualities of these works present how social boundaries within more everyday settings have been abolished. Rather than smack various issues over the viewer, these films treat their audiences with respect in regards to their intelligence and own experiences. Speaking exclusively to Mathews, he says ‘I don’t want to take someone’s hand and say ‘‘we are about to go somewhere gay and this is what you need to understand.’’ It is what it is.’
The existence of this new wave of film came from frustration. Before these filmmakers, there was merely a desire of wish fulfilment in seeing fully adjusted, happy, gay men within the media. For Haigh, films and television displayed a sense of contemporary gay life which he himself knew nothing about. However, Sachs was confused at why the subject of troublesome long-term relationships was never an issue, after experiencing one himself. Such was the popularity and importance of ‘positive’ representations within the media that Mathews believes that he and his peers are making progress in depicting the lives of gay men; ‘Not all of us are living perfectly well adjusted lives and I personally don’t want to shy away from something that could be seen as a bad portrayal. We can be just as flawed and interesting as the next guy and we [Mathews, Haigh and Sachs] want to show that.’
In showing the honesty and flaws within their characters’ lifestyle, each filmmaker relies on addressing the thorny issue of sex. Previously, the depiction of gay sex usually proved unjustified or a crass ‘will-they-won’t-they’ plot device. It provided cheap thrills or was thrown in for the sake or liberation of being able to show it. Yet, for these filmmakers, sex is integral in showing the normality within the everyday of a developing relationship. Unfortunately, this is an area which immediately classifies a direct demographic within these universal storylines. Unlike the works of Lars Von Trier and Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine), who approach the topic of sex within heterosexual relationships to drive their stories, the subject of gay sex can still divide an audience. As the character of Glen says in Weekend – when speaking about his personal art project – ‘straights won’t care because it’s not about their world.’ However, as many highbrow critics have noted, this is where the appeal of these three films lie. The topic of sex displays a generational experience within many contemporary works of rooting your identity and displaying who you are. With the ideas depicted within these films evidently crossing over the lines that have divided sexuality, the characters become more resonant purely because the story takes place within the relationship of two men. Yet, one might wonder that whilst the barriers of cultural sexual rigidity still remain slightly profound and – especially in this case – can divide an audience, would these characters ever be fully appreciated?
The reason Mathews wrote I Want Your Love was through bafflement over the void left within cinema where sex between two characters revealed an extension to their personality. However, what puts Mathews above the rest in his depiction of intercourse is that he had his actors perform live sex in front of the camera; ‘When two people try to or have sex, there is a lot of information exchanged and I didn’t want to shy away from it when telling my story. I could not present the intimacy with my characters without showing sex. I just feel like we’re in a place in time where the stories we’re telling about ourselves can be a bit more complicated and modern.’ Haigh, however, was more reserved. Developing his two characters before showing any intimacy, he takes an empathetic eye, allowing his scenes to feel more meaningful and personal for his two leads. In his own words, he says, ‘it was very important for me not to just shoehorn the sex into my film. I wanted to present the effect of the first encounter and have the audience understand the characters before revealing more. By the end of the film, you want them to enjoy the sex they have in their final moments together.’ As with Keep the Lights On, critics in the UK and US have applauded the portrayal of sex being naturally integrated and included in people’s everyday contemporary lives, rather than separated from it.
Within the context of these individual works, the depiction of intimacy provides a level of character development which is rare to find in a lot of cinema but progressive in how narrative forms are changing.
There is a sense of satisfaction that comes from watching these films. Not only are you witnessing a change in the norms of representing homosexuality, but they are making progression with the identity by setting it within contemporary urban landscapes. In moving gay identities to the background and having other facets contribute more towards these flawed characters, it injects a much needed sense of realism in depicting the lives of these people. Rather than hammer you over the head with the issues raised in these films - ideas such as muted homophobia in Weekend, faithfulness within relationships in Keep the Lights On, or the importance of a small community within a culture in I Want Your Love – they linger through their lack of force. In going underneath the larger issues and executing them with empathy and intelligence, it allows the universal appeal to open up which is liberating. It is invigorating seeing filmmakers embrace how much of a mess life can be sometimes.
1 November 2013
Derek Jarman: Pandemonium is an exhibition presented by King’s Cultural Institute to mark the 20th anniversary of Jarman’s death from an HIV-related illness in February 1994.
A student of humanities at King’s from 1960 to 1963, Jarman went on to become one of the most important creative practitioners of his generation and a crucial voice in gay politics in Britain. Painter, filmmaker, set designer, diarist, poet, gardener, activist – Jarman’s work across many areas and media was distinguished for its continual innovation and sense of daring.
Derek Jarman: Pandemonium is not a retrospective; rather it focuses on Jarman’s life along the Thames and the ways his work engaged with London – from his student days at King’s, to his time in artistically vital warehouses at Bankside and Butler’s Wharf, where he lived for most of the 1970s alongside contemporaries including Andrew Logan and Keir Smith
The exhibition links Jarman’s studies as an undergraduate – especially the emphasis on the literature and history of the Medieval and Renaissance periods – to his later artistic and intellectual interests, drawing a line from his formative learning in the early 1960s, before he went to art college, with his lifelong passions.
Among his most arresting work in the 70s were his now rarely seen Super 8 films, and the exhibition will be screening three films continuously. Also on display will be a selection of the astonishingly elaborate notebooks he kept for each of his feature films and writing projects, as well as personal and privately loaned material to contextualise his many collaborative relationships.
This immersive exhibition captures the unruly spirit of this truly innovative and multi-faceted artist and his artistic times, especially the collaborative spirit which was so important in cultural production at that time.
Derek Jarman: Pandemonium is part of Jarman2014, a year-long celebration of Derek Jarman’s life & work. Full listings and further information will be available soon at www.jarman2014.org
Derek Jarman: Pandemonium will open on Thursday 23 January until Sunday 9 March 2014 and will take place at Inigo Rooms, Somerset House East Wing, Strand WC2R 2LS
Image credit: Studio Bankside, Derek Jarman, 1973-74 , © LUMA Foundation
12 October 2013
One of the big things we're keen to do here at Cinehouse and The People's Movies is extend our range of film writing and reviewing, one of those areas we are keen to explore is LGBT cinema. LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) cinema mainstream cinema the ga is closing and what better way to get things going by running a competition to win one of LGBT's biggest films of 2013, OUT IN THE DARK.
OUT IN THE DARK made its UK debut at the BFI London Lesbian Gay Film Festival earlier this year and was screened as part of the Accenture Gala. The film also won the Audience Award for Best Feature Film at the Mardi Gras Film Festival 2013. It was released at key sites in the UK on 5th July 2013 and now on 14th October you can own the film on DVD.
"A powerful love story with a fresh twist" Paul Burston, Time Out
“Danger, sensuality and excitement together” David William Upton, So So Gay
To Win Out In The Dark on DVD please answer the following easy question:
Q. What Major international film festival did Out In The Dark make it's World Premiere at in 2012?
Deadline for this competition is Sunday 27th October 2013 (23:59pm)
If you haven’t done already Like us and stay with us at our Facebook page (if you are already liking us just share this post)
Terms&Conditions: You Must be a UK or Irish resident aged 15 or older to enter. If your successful and win the competition then you will be asked for Postal address to arrange deliver of the prize.The competition is not opened to employees, family, friends of The Peoples Movies, Cinehouse,Network Releasing who have the right to alter, change or offer alternative prize without any notice. The Peoples Movies, Cinehouse takes no responsibility for delayed, lost, stolen prizes.Prizes may take from days to a few months for delivery which is out of our control so please do not complain, we will tell you when prizes are sent to us, mostly all competition prizes come directly from the PR company representing the film distributor. Deadline Sunday 27th October 2013(23:59pm)..
UK Competitions and Prize Draws at UKwins
ThePrizeFinder – UK Competitions
28 September 2013
9,11,13th September (TIFF)
Pier-Gabriel Lajoie, Walter Borden, Katie Boland, Marie-Hélène Thibault,
The Oxford dictionary of Psychology defines the rather ominous term Gerontophilia thus: ‘A paraphilia characterized by recurrent, intense sexual fantasies, urges, or behaviour involving sexual activity with old people’. Bruce La Bruce’s feature film makes certain attempts at uncovering the nature of this particular affliction and in-so-doing unveils a bizarre fusion of love, obsession, and impulse.
Lake (Pier-Gabriel Lajoie) is a young attractive man with a beautiful girlfriend. However, after taking a job at a nursing home, he develops a romantic and sexual attraction towards senior citizen Mr Peabody (Walter Borden), which soon sees him at ends with a society that frowns upon such controversial relations.
La Bruce is no stranger to the subject of transgression from accepted behaviours, his repertoire flaunts a keen interest in the subject and continual exploration. Gerontophilia, whilst still engaging with transgression, is La Bruce’s tamer more palatable attempt at addressing taboo. The key to his success here lies in the beautifully reserved performances of Lajoie and Borden, particularly Borden who exudes a kind of charisma and class that makes the film charismatic to say the least. Though Mr Peabody’s reasoning never quite gets addressed, Lake’s is chopped and mixed so that the line between obsession and love is truly blurred. You’re never sure whether this is a faulted love story in the vein of Lost in Translation/Harold and Maude, or a darker story of incontestable carnal desire.
La Bruce spends far too much time wandering around Lake’s life, letting us live his bizarre fantasies and see his disgust at the retirement home’s desire to keep patients consistently catatonic. Attention meanders until finally Lake makes a definitive decision that opens the door to a hasty third act. Its this last act which plots the difficult covert relationship between the Peabody and Lake.
The issue is that there is much to be explored, too many things to see and so many questions about how this coupling works in, not physical but, emotional terms. The answer is a book too-soon closed once it is opened. The tender heartfelt chemistry between the two is laced with a wry sense of humour, but just as we get into it, the door is slammed in our faces. La Bruce has perhaps best encapsulated the heart of such a relationship in this simple structuring; either that or he rushed the most enjoyable part of his film.
Arguably La Bruce has forsaken his usual outré stunts to get a shot at the big audience, but I would probably put this down to a tasteful regard of a personal choice deserved of as much compassion as the usual boy meets girl tripe dragged out of mainstream cinema year after year. That’s another point in Gerontophilia’s favour: its unpredictable as a romance or drama because it simply isn’t like anything you’ve ever seen.
Brave in an entirely different way, but far from perfect. La Bruce may have ditched the shock tactics of sexual coercion in favour of a more subdued character study, but here is a film suffering from long stretches of tedium, bad acting, and dull dialogue until its last half hour. However, good sound-tracking, Nicolas Canniccioni’s passive shooting, and a great performance from Walter Borden make this an ultimately charming venture.
25 August 2013
DVD Release Date: 26th August 2013 (UK)
Director: Gregg Araki
Cast: James Duval, Rachel True, Nathan Bexton, Christina Applegate
Buy: Nowhere [DVD]
When I watched the daring and beautiful Mysterious Skin some five years ago, Gregg Araki topped my list of filmmakers to further explore. At that time, though, the rest of his oeuvre was not available on DVD in the UK so I put my interest on the back burner. In the years since, my interest in Araki’s films had dramatically subsided having heard and read on numerous occasions that his other films were, quite frankly, not worth bothering with. However, having recently developed an interest in the New Queer Cinema movement (and after recently watching The Living End, his seminal, yet flawed, contribution to that movement) my interest in Araki’s films was rekindled. So, when the opportunity arose to review Second Sight’s release of Nowhere, I jumped at the chance.
With a stellar cast of, what were at the time, up and coming stars including James Duval, Chiara Mastroianni, Christina Applegate, Ryan Phillippe, Heather Graham, Scott Caan, Mena Suvari, Shannen Doherty, Rose McGowan, and Jordan Ladd, Nowhere is the final instalment in Araki’s Teen Apocalypse Trilogy following Totally F***ed Up and The Doom Generation (fortunately, as I have seen neither, the films only share a common theme).
Envisioning a nihilistic future world, the film offers up a surreal, apocalyptical vision of Los Angeles that is both hedonistic and decadent. At the centre of the film is the existential Dark Smith (Duval) who is tormented by his girlfriend’s (Rachel True) polygamous nature. Over the course of a day, we follow Dark and an array of his eccentric friends as they confront issues ranging from drug addiction and eating disorders through to alien abduction. Hell, by the end of the film we witness Dark’s not-gay, gay new soul mate’s absurd transformation into a cockroach like alien.
As well as the absurdities surrounding alien abduction, Araki also likes to throw in some over the top violence and a scene in which one of the characters is raped by a Baywatch star. All the over the top irreverence goes nowhere, rather ironic given the film’s title, and the film lacks any of the political punch that was served up in The Living End. It would seem that the reservations held by those who have warned me about Araki are true. What the film does have going for it, though, is a visual style that owes much to Godard and a punk aesthetic reminiscent of Derek Jarman’s Jubilee.