REVIEW – High Art (1995)

A new month and a new batch of reviews from VideoVista.  Here is my review of Lisa Cholodenko’s really rather spiffing High Art.

A comparison that occurs to me just now is that High Art is, in some ways, like an art house version of The Devil Wears Prada (2006) or How to Lose Friends and Alienate People (2008) except that rather than presenting the desire to prostitute oneself in order to get ahead in journalism as something a) natural and b) easily walked away from with few consequences, High Art presents it as profoundly soul destroying and incredibly costly.

I’m also pretty sure that a lot of other critics took this to be a fairly straight-forward tragic LGBT love story.


  1. Hi Jonathan,

    Interesting review – I’ll put this one on the rental list.

    I really appreciate the reviews of gay films on your site, because, as you so often point out, most of them are incredibly lazy and generic. The gay press gives any gay film a sycophantic review(often opposite a full page ad for TLA releasing – hmmm) so this is turning out to be the best place to find out about good gay films!


  2. Hi Mark,

    That’s an incredibly flattering thing to say.

    I’m glad you like my reviews, I do seem to have fallen into a long-running crusade/grudge match against TLA don’t I? :-)

    I think that the films they distribute are well made and clearly destined at a similar type of film-watching mindset as the likes of He’s Just Not That Into You and Bridget Jones’ Diary : There’s a bit of psychology, a bit of self-analysis and some sadness but ultimately they’re uplifting and eye-catching and I can completely understand why people would prefer watching those kinds of films to something like Before I Forget with its world of ugly old gay men, closet cases, rent boys, HIV/Aids and fumblings at the back of porn cinemas.

    But ultimately, I think that good cinema asks questions of its audience and hardly any mainstream films focus on issues of sexuality and identity in the way that gay film does and so every time I see another film with hot guys taking their shirts off I see a missed opportunity.

    I’m glad you enjoy the reviews though, I shall keep requesting gay films for review.


  3. I think after a while, gay viewers don’t need to see films asking questions about sexuality because they’ve been through it all before and just want gay characters presented in a matter-of-fact way, like straight characters are in most films.

    The last couple of gay DVD features I saw (one of which was also at the LLG Film Festival) were genre films with gay protagonists (one was a psycho thriller about an evil landlady and the other was an attempt at a Hitchcock type thriller, I suppose). Both were appallingly written, directed and acted, which annoyed me as bioth could have worked ok if they had been given a little more thought an deffort, but it seemed like they just weren’t trying as they knew they were guaranteed festival slots and a DVD release as long as there’s enough nudity and a gay theme.


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