Shinjuku Boys (1995) — Even When Words Fail

The Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once wrote that “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world”. What Wittgenstein actually meant remains a subject of philosophical debate but we can read his comment as a reflection upon the two-way relationship between our perception of the world and the ways in which we talk about it.

Intuitively, facts should always take precedence over language and whenever we encounter a fact that does not fit with our use of language, we should simply update our vocabulary to better reflect the facts on the ground. While there are certainly institutions and groups who try to educate people about ‘correct’ language use, the meaning of a word is always determined by the way it is most commonly used by a given population. What this means in practice is that while experts may be forever inventing language that is a better fit with current thinking about a particular phenomenon, having those new terms filter down into general usage is subject to the same structural biases as any other attempt at changing the way that people think.

The problem with the rigidity of our spoken language is that the vernacular often contains concepts and assumptions that are not only out of date but actively harmful. For example, if we define masculinity in terms of having a penis then someone who identifies as male despite not having a penis must simply be wrong about their gender. While there was a time when our culture was quite happy to make this type of judgement, our understanding of gender has now evolved to the point where terms like ‘male’ and ‘female’ are becoming increasingly hard to pin down.

The language of gender and sexuality has evolved with almost unprecedented speed over the last few decades and new conceptual iterations seems to generate more and more political heat as words are fought over by people with different needs and ideas. If the limits of our shared language mean the limits of our world then the battle to control the conceptual underpinnings of our language is also the battle to control our world.

Directed by Kim Longinotto and Jano Williams, Shinjuku Boys is a documentary about a group of people who were assigned female at birth but identify more closely with the male gender than the female. Made all the way back in 1995, I am sure that many of the terms used in this documentary are horrendously outdated but while Shinjuku Boys may struggle with its pronouns, it does show how people will continue to perform and negotiate their genders even when words fails them.

 

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REVIEW — Silent Youth (2012)

FilmJuice have my review of Diemo Kemmesies’ almost silent film Silent Youth.

It would have been easy for Silent Youth to come across as either a dry technical exercise or an incomplete proof of concept; Little more than seventy minutes-long, the film is best understood as an exploration of how a romance might evolve in the absence of spoken cues. However, while that description may invoke memories of weird experimental works like Ingmar Bergman’s The Silence, Diemo Kammesies’ first film is actually a really quite affective and effective love story involving two young men who are too terrified to speak about what they feel, let alone who they are.

Silent Youth is a beautifully shot film that positively revels in its long silences. However, despite shifting from one pregnant pause to another, the film never feels repetitive as each of the silences reflects a different mood and another stage in the boys’ burgeoning relationship. Sometimes the silence is framed with sunlight and uncut grass in a way that evokes warmth and lust, other times the silence finds Kirill leaning back into a darkened corner as a means of capturing a momentary panic over the decision to have sex with a man. Despite this being his first feature film, Diemo Kemmesies’ direction is subtle but assured and the performances he coaxes from his actors are nothing short of mesmerising.

My review points out that Silent Youth can be seen as an art house film that makes use of storytelling techniques developed in the era of silent film but — on a more visceral level — this is a film about living in the shadow of homophobic violence and finding a way to reveal your feelings to another person without getting your head kicked in. Kemmesies establishes this fear of homophobic violence quite early on when Marlo’s love interest talks about being stripped naked and beaten up during a visit to Russia but while that fear is never again alluded to, it does explain why Marlo’s lover is definitely the more cautious of the two.

The fact that I didn’t initially pick up on this subtext says something about the lightness of Kemmesies’ touch but it also says quite a lot about yours truly: I can completely understand being reluctant to express one’s interest in another person for fear of being rejected and spoiling a potentially rewarding friendship but fear of being physically attacked either for expressing an interest or rejecting one is definitely outside of my lived experience. I guess this would be one of those ‘check your privilege’ moments then…

Boys Don’t Cry (1999) – On the Inhumanity of Sexual Categorisation

When people talk about gender and sexuality, they usually do so from within the context of a broad social narrative. Arguably the most popular gender narrative of the day is that we (in the West particularly) are in the process of weaning ourselves off of a particularly toxic and reductive understanding of human sexuality. According to this narrative, we have progressed from what was essentially a tri-partite model of human sexuality (straight male, straight female, and Other) to an N-partite model that allows not only for differences in sexual preference but variations in relationship models, different sexual practices and conceptions of gender that rely upon variables other than genital shape and chromosomal configuration. Under the logic of this narrative, a three-box understanding of human sexuality is repressive and so the more boxes we add to our model, the closer we come to a theory that reflects the enormous complexity of human sexual identity. In an ideal world, everyone would fit into their own universally recognised pigeonhole with nobody left puzzling as to how they fit in or who they are. Though giddily utopian, this narrative is not without its critics.

Back in the 1970s, the French philosopher Michel Foucault began to examine the different ways in which humanity has conceived of sexuality. He concluded that, far from being a historical reality, the above narrative was a construct of the 1960s and that, much like previous models of human sexuality, it contained the embryo of an intensely problematic political programme. Foucault argued that the urge to determine the ‘truth’ about a particular phenomenon and break it down into distinct categories tends to go hand-in-hand with a desire to control the phenomenon. For example, while most people do have a conception of race, their conception tends to be a lot less exacting that the systems created by governments intent upon dehumanising particular groups of humans. Thus, while most Westerners are now content to use the term ‘mixed race’ to describe people of mixed racial heritage, previous generations have used terms like ‘mulatto’ and ‘quadroon’ to determine not only which races were mixed but also in what proportions. Though pointless in the West today, these linguistic categories would have proved extraordinarily useful for societies that practiced apartheid, slavery or any other systematic abuse of different racial groups. Indeed, the first step towards the Final Solution was the creation of a legal framework allowing Nazi officials to ‘objectively’ distinguish between Jews and non-Jews on the basis of their parentage.

Though Foucault stops well short of drawing a parallel between how people used systems of racial classification and how people use systems of sexual classification, he does express profound concern over our assumption that more precise systems of top-down classification are somehow a sign of progress. After all, ‘Octaroon’ is a more precise term than ‘Black person’ but nobody in their right mind would consider it progressive to begin pigeon-holing people on the basis of their having one Afro-Caribbean grandparent. Systems of top-down classification require measurement and basing someone’s identity upon their ability to satisfy objective scientific criteria is intensely dehumanising… we see this not only in the Victorian and Nazi obsession with skull sizes but also in the grotesquely gynaecological language applied to the Trans* community when the need to fit people into pre-existing categories invariably devolves into discussions of genital shape and chromosomal configuration.

Kimberley Peirce’s Boys Don’t Cry won awards and captured hearts by drawing the world’s attention to the real-life story of Brandon Teena, who was betrayed, raped and murdered by a group of friends who believed that Brandon had misrepresented his gender. When the film was first released in 1999, many people described it as the story of a woman who ‘passed herself off’ as a man in an effort to reconcile her desire to sleep with women with the universal homophobia of 1990s Nebraska. Since then, awareness has expanded and so most people now think of the film as a tragic story about how an intolerant culture treats transgender people. However, while both sets of readings say quite a lot about our need to impose clear boundaries on ambiguous phenomena, a better reading of the film is to take it as an attack on the process of classification itself.

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Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013) – Orgasms and Spaghetti Bolognese

BWC1The world of art house film has become a tediously reverential place. Raised on auteur theory and acutely aware that it lacks both the cash and cachet of commercial cinema, the people who write about art film are prone to treating its institutions as temples and its practitioners as living saints. Once filled with experimentation, transgression, provocation and very human failures, the cultural spaces of art house film are now given over to callow hagiography and propping up the careers of once great talents. As one might expect of a milieu that looks upon dissent as an act of economic sabotage, there is a tendency to treat the recipients of major festival awards as worthy regardless of whether their films are any good. Thus, to say that Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue is the Warmest Colour is the most controversial winner of the Palme D’Or in decades is actually a good thing… turns out that there might be some life in the old dog yet.

While the controversy has many heads, the one with the longest teeth erupted prior to the announcement of the Palme D’Or when the New York Times’ senior film critic Manohla Dargis wrote about the film in what she would later describe as “399 words dissenting words”:

It’s disappointing that Mr. Kechiche, whose movies include “The Secret of the Grain” and “Black Venus” (another voyeuristic exercise), seems so unaware or maybe just uninterested in the tough questions about the representation of the female body that feminists have engaged for decades. However sympathetic are the characters and Ms. Exarchopoulos, who produces prodigious amounts of tears and phlegm along with some poignant moments, Mr. Kechiche registers as oblivious to real women. He’s as bad as the male character who prattles on about “mystical” female orgasms and art without evident awareness of the barriers female artists faced or why those barriers might help explain the kind of art, including centuries of writhing female nudes, that was produced.

“Men look at women,” the art critic John Berger observed in 1972. “Women watch themselves being looked at.” Plus ça change….

When people voiced their disagreement, Dargis took the bait and expanded her ideas in an essay that draws on a blog post made by the creator of the graphic novel that inspired the film. Writing in French but translated for Anglophonic consumption, Julie Marot praised the style and vision of the film whilst not only distancing it from her book but also from the real-life experiences of actual LGBT women:

I don’t know the sources of information for the director and the actresses (who are all straight, unless proven otherwise) and I was never consulted upstream. Maybe there was someone there to awkwardly imitate the possible positions with their hands, and/or to show them some porn of so-called “lesbians” (unfortunately it’s hardly ever actually for a lesbian audience). Because — except for a few passages — this is all that it brings to my mind: a brutal and surgical display, exuberant and cold, of so-called lesbian sex, which turned into porn, and me feel very ill at ease. Especially when, in the middle of a movie theater, everyone was giggling. The heteronormative laughed because they don’t understand it and find the scene ridiculous. The gay and queer people laughed because it’s not convincing, and found it ridiculous. And among the only people we didn’t hear giggling were the potential guys too busy feasting their eyes on an incarnation of their fantasies on screen.

In other words, the 2013 Cannes Film Festival jury gave the most prestigious award in world cinema to a piece of grotesque cultural appropriation; a film that took an original graphic novel by a gay woman and filtered it through the beliefs and proclivities of a straight man resulting in a series of needlessly explicit and exploitative sex scenes that owe a good deal more to the tropes and techniques of pornography than to the emotional contours of LGBT life.

Though in and of itself disappointing, the jury’s decision is made infinitely worse by the fact that Cannes Film Festival has an absolutely terrible track record when it comes to the representation of women in general and LGBT women in particular: Since the Palme D’Or assumed its current form in 1975, the award has had only one female winner (Jane Campion). In the year that Blue is the Warmest Colour won the Palme D’Or, there was only one female director in competition and the previous year saw none at all. While the slightly more edgy Un Certain Regard prize has a much better track record of allowing women to compete, men still dominate the list of winners. The problem is not just that the Cannes jury gave its most prestigious award to a straight man’s vision of a lesbian relationship, it’s that it chose to give that film an award despite having completely ignored all the films made by actual LGBT women including Chantal Akerman, Andrea Weiss, Ulrike Ottinger, Barbara Hammer, Lana Wachowski, Monika Treut and Lisa Cholodenko. It is almost as though the Cannes Film Festival only discovered the concept of a non-straight woman when a straight man decided to film a couple of straight women pretending to go down on each other. Given that art house film likes to present itself as being interested in different ways of seeing the world, this addiction to the straight male gaze is complacent, corrosive, wasteful and so completely unacceptable that every passing year brings nothing but shame to an institution already in urgent need of reform.

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REVIEW – Weekend (2011)

FilmJuice have my review of Andrew Haigh’s relationship drama Weekend.

The film tells the story of two gay men who meet in a club and spend the night together. Upon waking, Glenn (Chris New) sticks a tape recorder under Russell’s (Tom Cullen) nose and asks him to give detailed feedback about the sex and the way the pair met. Horrified by Glenn’s frankness and yet compelled to accede to his request out of affection and desire, Russell begins to talk and when Russell begins to talk the one night stand slowly begins to transform into a relationship. Weekend is the story of how two very different people strive to overcome their differences in order to find enough common ground to exist as a couple:

It seems faintly absurd that, in this day and age, we should feel obliged to make the case for why it is that more straight people should watch gay films. Many fans of gay independent film will stress the educational benefits of watching a film about people unlike yourself but this makes it all sound a little bit too much like homework. People should not seek out Andrew Haigh’s Weekend because they feel obliged to be supportive of minority filmmaking or because they want to see something a bit different and exotic. The case for watching Haigh’s Weekend is the same for watching any great film: Watch it because it will help you to better understand yourself. In fact, Weekend is the single most grown-up film about human relationships that you will see this year and that is true regardless of who you are and how you live your life.

Needless to say, I adored this film and recommend it to anyone and everyone who happens upon this blog post. So many films deal in relationships and bndy about words like ‘love’, ‘desire’ and ‘loneliness’ but few actually address what those words actually mean. Weekend is one of those films.

Fright Night (2011) – Even The Straight Boys are Queer

There are some things that female directors do better than male directors and one of them is acknowledging the moral and psychological ambiguities inherent in the loss of sexual innocence.

Consider such mainstream accounts of adolescent sexuality as the Porky’s and American Pie series and you will find teenaged boys that are monuments to frustrated worldliness.  Endless fonts of libidinal energy, these teenagers know all the moves and all the rules but cannot find anyone with whom to put them into practice. In most films, males are either guileless children or frenetic satyrs, there is no middle ground and there is no real sense of psychological transition. Films that should describe a coming of age all too often opt for depicting an age of cumming. By contrast, films such as Lucille Hadzhihalilovic’s Innocence (2004), Katell Quillevere’s Love Like Poison (2010) and Celine Sciamma’s Water Lillies (2007) depict the loss of female innocence as a profoundly ambiguous process, a fall from grace into desire and a movement from protected freedom to vulnerable responsibility.

Cinema’s lack of engagement with the subtleties of male sexuality is also evident in a lot of gay independent cinema. ‘Coming out’ dramas such as The String (2009), Shank (2009) and even Tropical Malady (2004) focus less upon the emergence of homosexual desire than they do upon the process through which apparently straight men come to terms with the social pressures keeping them in the closet. One notable exception to this rule is Tom Holland’s sadly overlooked vampire film Fright Night (1985), in which a teenaged boy finds himself trapped between the sexual demands of his increasingly frustrated girlfriend and the siren’s call of the sexually ambiguous man-next-door. Nowadays, the equation of male sexuality with vampirism is a largely unquestioned part of the genre landscape given that both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Twilight books present adolescent males as dangerously libidinal creatures whose desires must be kept in check lest all hell break loose. This metaphorical Othering of male sexuality is particularly evident in Meyer’s Twilight series as the books feature a male vampire who effectively castrates himself in order to assume the role of an ersatz gay best friend. Once feared and desired in equal measure, the vampiric sexuality of adolescent boys is now house-broken for the purposes of romance, teenaged boys are now expected to sigh and to speak of love but never to demand a hand-job.

Half an hour into Craig Gillespie’s remake of Fright Night, a character expresses absolute outrage at the suggestion that he reads Twilight novels. This fragment of dialogue constitutes a statement of intent: Fright Night is not about dickless pretty-boys; it is about a male sexuality that is red in tooth and claw. A sexuality so terrifying in its primal nature that it even frightens the men afflicted by it.  Far more than a vampire movie or a horror-comedy, Gillespie’s Fright Night attempts to follow in the footsteps of Innocence and Love Like Poison by confronting received wisdom about the adolescent sexual experience. However, the more the movie deconstructs traditional depictions of adolescent male sexuality, the more it struggles to find an alternative to the frustrated satyrs of American Pie thereby begging the question: What is it like to be a teenaged boy?

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Some Thoughts On… Beginners (2010)

Let me begin by saying that I went in to Beginners with an open heart. Mike Mills’ semi-autobiographical story of a man groping towards a sense of identity and a reliable source of happiness in the wake of parental death is pretty much where I have been living for the last twelve months. However, rather than seeing elements of my own experience in Mills’ gently affecting comedy-drama, I was struck only by the grinding mediocrity of his insights, the laziness of his exposition and the shameful over-reliance on art house narrative techniques to pad out a story that involves far too much hand-waving and not nearly enough heart-tugging or head-scratching.

Writer/director Mike Mills projects himself onto Oliver (Ewan McGregor), a professional illustrator who is struggling to put his life back together after the death of first his mother and then his father.

As Oliver cleans out his father’s house, he comes across a personal ad drawn up by his dad in the wake of his mother’s death, a personal ad written in hope of attracting some younger male lovers. Indeed, though Oliver’s parents Hal (Christopher Plummer) and Georgia (Mary Page Keller) were married for decades without a hint of either separation or divorce, Hal was actually gay. His wife buried, Hal comes out of the closet aged seventy-three and spends three years living the sort of life that he should have been living all along.  A life filled with sex, socialising, clubbing and political activism.

Oliver’s experiences nursing his father through grief, self-realisation and terminal illness are laid bare in a narrative that is inter-cut with scenes from Oliver’s present, a present in which he has embarked upon a relationship with a French actress named Anna (Melanie Laurent). By interweaving elements from Oliver’s past and his present, the film slowly points out the similarities between Oliver’s life and that of his father:

Hal grew up at a time when being gay was treated as both a mental illness and a moral failing. In the hope of living something approaching a ‘normal’ life, Hal decided to marry a woman he could not love in the hope that happiness might come to him by osmosis.  We later see Hal repeating this pattern with his younger boyfriend Andy (Goran Visnjic), whose desire to sleep with other men clearly hurts the naturally monogamous Hal. Oliver, by contrast finds himself unwilling to make any concessions to the women he dates.  Easily trapped in love’s initial dizzying updraft, Oliver soon finds himself getting bored and restless with his relationships. Incapable of understanding why he should tolerate anything other than perfect happiness, Oliver sinks his relationships and winds up alone again and again. Beginners is essentially the story of Oliver’s realisation that happiness and love are born of compromise and realism rather than rare passion and emotional perfectionism. Neither of Hal’s relationships were perfect and yet he lived a happy life.  Oliver is unwilling to put up with anything short of absolute happiness and is unwilling to compromise or work at being happy and so he winds up being far more miserable and alone than a man who was gay in the 1950s.  In other words, Oliver is as spoiled and narcissistic as he is self-involved.  This is ultimately why the film fails to convince.

Beginners’ root problem is the fact that it really does not have very much to say.  The fact that Oliver is utterly self-involved is obvious in almost every beat of the film.  We can see it in the fact that the film’s most insightful comments emerge during Oliver’s one-sided conversations with his dog, we can see it in the fact that he initially falls for Anna because she literally cannot speak and we see it in the fact that Hal’s story is used largely as a prop for Oliver’s generic brand of soul-searching. Indeed, it turns out that when a gay man spends fifty years living a lie only to snatch a few years of happiness in the shadow of terminal cancer, it really is all about the straight guy. By choosing to focus not upon Hal’s story but upon what Oliver learns from Hal’s story, Beginners reduces the social history of an entire generation of gay men to the status of props in the on-going indulgence of a generation of white, middle-class straight people whose dull and shallow problems already form the backbone of the indie canon. Worse still is the fact that, despite plundering the lives of a generation of gay men, Mills still struggles to come up with anything to say.  Oliver begins the film as a sad, self-involved narcissist and he ends the film as a sad, self-involved narcissist without budging an inch or generating a single spark of insight in the process.

Aside from the dubious treatment of homosexuality and the general lack of insight into the human condition, what most annoys about Beginners are its rare flashes of complexity. For example, Mills occasionally transports us beyond the two interweaving narratives to Oliver’s relationship with his mother. Intriguingly, despite Hal and Georgia’s marriage coming at Georgia’s insistence, Georgia is presented as the victim of Hal’s dishonesty.  Witty, wise and spunky in the best traditions of mid-century femininity, Georgia is endless lovely and this loveliness filters through into Oliver’s present in a decidedly Oedipal way. Indeed, while the foreground of the film suggests that Oliver’s unhappiness may be due to his similarity to his father, the film’s background subtly hints that Oliver’s failure to find love may be due to a lingering and yet intense sexual longing for his own mother. We see this in the way that Oliver’s seduction of Anna allows him to replay moments shared with his mother and we see it in the fact that Oliver meets Anna at a costume party where he is dressed as Sigmund Freud. The truth of Oliver’s emotional dysfunction is further hinted at in the fact that, when Oliver first meets Anna, she is dressed as a man.  Sadly, while Beginners may hint at some real emotional complexity, the hints are never connected to anything in the film’s foreground and so remain nothing more than free-floating suggestions that could just as easily be the product of a starving critical brain in desperate search of insight.

Mills’ potential as a writer/director is also evident in his willingness to play tricks with the genre.  For example, one of the most popular genre templates for romantic comedies is the story of a depressed man who learns to love again thanks to the life-changing ministrations of a quirky female love interest whose vivacity cuts straight through his emotional exile.  These quirky female love interests are generally known as Manic Pixie Dream Girls. Initially, Beginners suggests that Anna may well be such a dream girl but, as the film progresses, it rapidly becomes clear that Anna is nothing of the sort.  In fact, she is just as moody and self-involved as Oliver. In fact, if Beginners can be said to possess a Manic Pixie then the Manic Pixie in question is Andy, Hal’s Manic Pixie Dream Boy. However, while it is undeniably good news that American film has progressed to the point where it can happily transform heterosexual clichés into homosexual ones, it is frustrating to note that none of Wills’ genre-bending exertions serve any wider purpose.

Aside from being frustrating and stupid, Beginners is also a crushingly boring film.  Billed as a comedy-drama, Beginners contains few laughs and little drama. What drama it does have is stretched to breaking point by the sort of long, drawn-out silences and palate-cleansing interludes that one would normally associate with art house film. Recent months have seen numerous critics rallying to the cause of cinematic boredom as a response to the on-rushing tide of cinematic spectacle that is the Hollywood blockbuster. Critics routinely cite the work of directors such as Yasujiro Ozu, Kelly Reichardt and Andrei Tarkovsky as proof that you can make beautiful films which, because of their lack of plot, are boring. However, while I agree that slow-paced films in which nothing happens can be superb, I do feel the need to point out that none of Ozu, Reichardt or Tarkovsky’s films are actually boring, they simply rely upon a suite of visual and atmospheric storytelling techniques that require lengthy pauses to allow the audience to assimilate what they have seen.  Beginners is a boring film, not because it contains numerous pauses, but because it lacks the sort of visual, atmospheric and emotional complexity that requires careful assimilation and reflection. While Tarkovsky’s pauses allow us to realise the depth of his thinking, Wills’ pauses reveal only a lack of insight and a series of wasted opportunities.

REVIEW – Savage (2010)

Videovista have my review of Brendan Muldowney’s Irish thriller Savage:

The concept of a crisis in masculinity is undeniably an interesting one but Savage seems more of a victim of this crisis than a commentary upon it. Having asked the question of what it means to be a man in the modern world, Muldowney fails to see past male complicity in patriarchal oppression and so he struggles to come up with any conceptions of masculinity that are not anchored in adolescent willy-worrying and cartoonish levels of violence.

Savage‘s problem is reflected in Jonathan Liu’s recent piece for The New York Observer:

From the back row, looking at the sea of shiny pink scalps, it was easy to chalk up the whole scene to a category error: Someone mistaking the biographical decline of a man—namely himself—for a historical Decline of Men. Yet, strange as it may sound, grown men still have influence—if only on not-grown men—and should perhaps not be cut the slack reserved for the subjugated and infantilized.

In other words, it is difficult to delve into the issue of what it means to be a man in the 21st century without such delving coming across as either a misogynistic entitlement whine, an attempt at historical revisionism or (as is the case with Savage) slavish adherence to popular prejudice and received wisdom.

The Valley of the Bees (1968) – The Cross or The Cock?

In his best-known work – The Essence of Christianity (1848) – the Bavarian philosopher and anthropologist Ludwig Feuerbach argues that religion is a form of psychological projection as humanity created God as a means of externalising such basic human values as benevolence, love and the ability to do as one pleases. Religion is the process through which values are stripped from individual things and rendered abstract for the purposes of worship and contemplation. God is nothing more than Man; he is the projection of our inner nature and our most basic desires. According to Feuerbach, this process has become increasingly problematic over the years as people now prize the abstract construct over the values themselves. God was supposed to be a means, but now he has become an end.

Frantisek Vlácil’s film Údolí vcel (a.k.a. The Valley of the Bees) is an examination of what happens when people project their desires onto abstract entities only to forget that these entities are not actually real. Set in medieval Bohemia, the film tells the story of one knight’s love for another knight and how, by projecting that love onto God, something as simple and human as wonderful as love can be distorted into something truly monstrous.

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REVIEW – The Gymnast (2006)

Does a ‘beautiful’ film necessarily have to have amazing cinematography?

Despite really rather pedestrian lensing, Ned Farr’s The Gymnast is beautiful film.  Filled with well-thought out visual motifs and built around a series of stunning pieces of aerial performance art, the film not only calls into question traditional conceptions of beauty but also traditional models of self-actualisation.  Is being honest with yourself and the people around you really all that is needed in order to be happy?  This film about a lesbian coming out of the closet late in life suggests that some outings are more equal than others.

Videovista have my review.