Wednesday, September 26, 2012

100 Gays in a Movie Theatre

Oh hai there Oscar-nominated star of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Rooney Mara.

Ne need to act so shy. Even though you were going by the name "Tricia Mara" and, as we've previously discussed, we know you're not enjoying yourself here having to reduce yourself to acting in a low budget, independent gay movie. But, hey, at least you got to make out with Maximillion Roeg, son of Nicolas Roeg and Theresa Russell.

He's a good looking boy, that. Just so happens that he was starring in a movie called Dream Boy, a middling, if nostalgically effecting, drama about two teenage boys in 1960s Texas who find themselves rapped up in a sudden fondness for one another. It's one of those "gay movies" that will appeal directly to gay audiences most of all, and pass everyone else by. It's hardly Mysterious Skin after all.

I was, however, slightly surprised that Dream Boy wasn't featured on this latest list of "the greatest gay movies" at After Elton. Such a list is always going to raise an eyebrow of suspicion before I even click on a link. The last time I looked over their list was when they did it two years ago as a top 50, upon which time I observed that many of the voters can't seem to tell where "lol, that wasn't great cinema, but I guess it was fun and the actors were hot?" ends and "great" begins. Many of the same problems exist on this expanded list, but at least the broadened scope allows for some titles that felt offensively left off get to appear. I do, however, giggle at the fact that the list's introduction wants to imply that Brokeback Mountain's lack of pole position is some big shock when, just earlier in the list, titles such as The Crying Game and Far From Heaven couldn't mustre enough support to supplant the likes of The Big Gay Musical, Eating Out, and Another Gay Movie. It's hardly shocking given their penchant for naked torsos over anything else, but still a sad indictment.

To quote Cici Cooper: "There's no accounting for taste."

Of course, once you actually see what movie trumped Brokeback Mountain to the top of the list you'll have to scratch your head and wonder whether it's a simple matter of taste or if the sort of people that would vote on a list like this genuinely have no right discussing cinema at all. There are many movies on this list that are far from outright "bad", but are many of them truly "great"? Rooney Mara says no.

(Please note that if I haven't typed anything after a specific title it means I either haven't seen it or have nothing to say.)

100. Doing Time on Maple Drive
99. Noah's Arc: Jumping the Broom - I remember hearing quite a bit about this one. I like that it looks like a gay man's relic from the days of Girlfriends, but then it also looks dreadful.
98. Breakfast with Scot - I've never been able to bring myself to watch this Canadian "gender-bending"... comedy? It screams of "Yikes!" and the child on the poster is all kinds of off-putting. Man, is Girlfriends on DVD?
97. Howl
96. Christopher and His Kind
95. eCupid - I've never heard of this film from last year, but, to be perfectly honest with you, I'm a-okay with that.
94. Law of Desire [La ley del deseo]
93. The Crying Game - Oh, this ol' thing? Oh, this groundbreaking, barrier-busting, zeitgeist-capturing megahit? Oh, yeah, that.
92. Camp - I wasn't a particularly big fan of this musical theatre summer camp musical comedy, but it's a hell of a lot better than that offensive, flatlining nonsense that is Were The World Mine!
91. In The Family
90. You Should Meet My Son - I can't even with this poster, you guys. I can't even!
89. Heartbeats [Les amours imaginaires]
88. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World - One of the big losers in the two years between charts. In 2010 it was #45, and I was quite miffed about it appearing at all given it has one gay supporting character of worth and a bisexual one reduced to little more than a "LOL! lesbians!!" gag.
87. The Opposite of Sex
86. Breakfast on Pluto - What's the bet you had forgotten this movie even existed? Wasn't Cillian Murphy nominated for a Golden Globe? The same year as Chiwetel Ejiofor in Kinky Boots? Yikes.
85. Eating Out 2: Sloppy Seconds - Look, I have major issues with this franchise - by far the worst series of film I've ever watched... and yet I keep watching them because I need to be able to have proof of how mind-fuckingly bad they are - and genuinely think anybody who considers this movie (any of them, really, but I think this sequel was particularly worse than the rest) better than The Crying Game, or Heartbeats, or Law of Desire is an insane person that I'd rather not associate myself with.

In typical fashion, everyone in this movie is an insufferable douchebag, and ridiculously attractive. No wonder it made the list!

84. In & Out - Still a very funny movie and Joan Cusack's Oscar nomination - "Fuck Barbra Streisand and fuck you!" - remains a personal favourite. Kevin Kline is a total dish here, isn't he?
83. The War Boys - I saw this recently and... well... good for them, I guess. The guys are cute and Peter Gallagher is there too.
82. Going Down to La La Land - I assume "La La Land" is a euphemism for genitals. Ya know, like how that Ashley Simpson song, "La La", was about masturbation?
81. Is It Just Me? - Probably.
80. A Home at the End of the World - This really does feel like the readers were stretching to find titles, doesn't it? But, no worries, it's not like any film from the New Queer Cinema movement should be on here or anything like that. Who needs the films of Gregg Araki when you've got the movie that made headlines for a deleted scene involving Colin Farrell's massive donkey dick? LOL!
79. Adam & Steve
78. BearCity - I haven't seen this 2010 comedy by Douglas Langway, but the trailer is appropriately abysmal. I'd suggest people seek out the Spanish film Bearcub instead as it's actually, you know, really rather good. Sigh.
77. Cabaret - But, hey, Make the Yuletide Gay made it in at #75 so we really shouldn't complain about this genuine, bona fide masterpiece classic only appearing at a mere #77. What's eight Oscars anyway?
76. Happy Together [Chun gwong cha sit]
75. Make the Yuletide Gay
74. Burnt Money [Plata quemada]
73. La Cage Aux Folles
72. Before Night Falls
71. Private Romeo - I reviewed this disappointing Shakespeare adaptation earlier in the year when it played at MQFF. The main guy looks like Chris Evans though so that's something to distract from the odd blending of Shakespeare's language and the queer bent director Alan Brown takes to the bard's most famous work.
70. Romeos
69. Wild Reeds [Les rouseaux sauvages]

68. Far From Heaven - Oh come on! It's not even like Todd Haynes' first masterpiece, [safe], where the queer element could go undetected by less keen film-watchers. The gay element is so in the audience's face with Far From Heaven so why is this ranked so low? Are Dennis Quaid's abs of steel not enough of an enticement alongside the EVERYTHING ELSE OF THIS MOVIE OMG I CAN'T DEAL RIGHT NOW, OKAY?

67. Touch of Pink
66. I Killed My Mother [J'ai Tué Ma Mère] - Is anybody watching the current season of Project Runway (number ten)? Xavier Dolan totally reminds me of Christopher! Anyway, I love this movie. I'd probably love it even without the below scene set to Crystal Castles' "Tell Me What to Swallow", but it does feature this scene so I guess I love it just a little bit more.

65. North Sea, Texas [Noorzdee, Texas]
64. Love! Valour! Compassion! - Shit!
63. Bent - I have this one here to watch. Somebody convince me to do so (and I've already seen the pictures online so don't use that) because the idea of gays in WWII just sounds a bit too wretched.
62. Judas Kiss
61. The Big Gay Musical - No.
60. Gods and Monsters - Good work by the voters putting this and Victor/Victoria behind Eating Out and Another Gay Movie. That's some fine critical assessment going on there.
59. The Curiosity of Chance
58. Victor/Victoria - Leslie Ann Warren, bitches!
57. Another Gay Movie - I genuinely think this movie is an abomination. Nobody would give this a pass if it weren't about gay people. Nobody. And that's why so much "gay cinema" is a complete waste of time. Movies made only for none too discerning gay audiences whose idea of a great movie is anything with gay characters. "So relatable!" Ugh. I know it makes me sound pretentious and high brow, but I have so little time for people that genuinely think stuff like Another Gay Movie is good.
56. Eating Out - Same goes for this. Twofold. What a disaster of a movie. Somebody stop them because, unlike the gays, the Eating Out films are multiplying like rabbits.
55. But I'm a Cheerleader
54. Plan B
53. Transamerica - Meanwhile, the moving transgender drama of Gun Hill Road starring an actual transgendered actor (Indie Spirit Best Suppporting Actress nominee, Harmony Santana) doesn't get a mention. One good thing about Nicholas Hoult's awful performance in A Single Man (see further down the list for that one) is that it overtook Kevin Zeggers' one here in Transamerica as supreme twinky dunderhead punching bag.
52. The Sum of Us - One of only two Australian film in the countdown. Genuinely surprised Ana Kokkinos' Head On wasn't featured, at least in the lower rungs of the list.
51. The Trip
50. Mambo Italiano - That song by Shaft > This shit movie.
49. All Over the Guy - Apparently there are people who actually think this Don Roos film is better than The Opposite of Sex, which sits rather unglamourously up there at #87.
48. Making Love - Once upon a time I watched this and loved it because I'd seen so few examinations of gay life like this. I'm not sure what I'd think of it now, but I imagine it'd have more luck being an '80s nostalgia curio rather than anything else. Has anybody seen this one lately with fresher eyes?
47. Priest
46. Rent - I don't object to this film's inclusion so much as I wish its ranking was for the film that should've been and not the one that we eventually got courtesy of Christopher Columbus. I guess it was a novel trick to not film any scene of this movie as an actual musical, and it probably would've worked if he had just eliminated those pesky songs, you know? As it is there is scene after scene of people dancing being chopped up with predominantly facial close-ups! Grrr.
45. Beginners - That's nice. I suspect this one will rise when more people get the chance to see discover it.
44. The Bubble
43. Bad Education [La Mala Education] - Love this Almodovar film, but it strikes me that voters were clearly of the "Gael Garcia Bernal > Antonio Banderas" train of thought, no?

With Gael Garcia Bernal, even in drag, it's always a "yes!"

42. Edge of Seventeen - Of all the twinky, low budget coming out films on the list, this one by David Moreton and written by Todd Stephens is surely the best. Filled with '80s goodness from start to finish, it effective evokes the era far better than than Adventureland (for instance). Perfect title, too. Love this movie. I always lump this one together with Gypsy 83, which is fantastic and not enough people have seen it, which is a definite shame.
41. Yossi and Jagger
40. Boys in the Band - But not And the Band Played On. Or Cruising for that matter... when will that William Friedkin slice of queer life get its due?
39. My Own Private Idaho - Given it's prickly aesthetic I'm surprised it ranks this well, to be honest. The River/Keanu ("river canoe") factor certainly helps, as does its director becoming one of the most famous gay directors of all time.
38. Velvet Underground
37. The Wedding Banquet
36. Boy Culture - No. So completely mediocre.
35. Parting Glances - I found this movie frustrating. I appreciate it, but found it hard to really get into. I had thoughts at the time, but have mostly forgotten them by now. That's a shame.
34. I Love You Phillip Morris - Gosh, I think I bust a gut when I saw this at a sold out screening at the Melbourne International Film Festival. What a riot. And I say it's Ewan McGregor's best performance. Discuss...
33. Undertow [Contracorriente] - Another one I have here waiting to be watched. I've heard very good things.
32. Patrick Age 1.5
31. Philadelphia - As I said last time: "As a gay person I am supposed to hate Cruising, but like Philadelphia? As misguided as parts of Cruising are at least it has the guts to be out there. "We're Here / We're Queer" and what have you. Philadelphia, on the other hand, is more like "We're Here / But Well, We'll Stand Over There and Maybe You Won't Notice That We're Queer... But We ARE Here! Sort of! Maybe!"
30. Jeffrey - Another pleasant, if unremarkable, gay film that acted as a sweeter balancing act to the harsher films of the New Queer Cinema movement in the late '80s/early '90s. Steven Weber and Michael T Weiss sure are good looking men, aren't they?
29. Love Songs [Les Chansons D'Amour]
28. Summer Storm [Sommersturm] - I've never heard of this German rowing drama, but I am instantly intrigued. From the sounds of it is a bit more earthbound than many of the glitter pixie films scattered around the countdown. I can only hope that Harvest, another recent German young adult drama that I reviewed at MQFF, makes it on to the countdown next time. If enough people see it, of course.
27. Just a Question of Love [Juste une question d'amour]
26. To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar
25. Torch Song Trilogy
24. C.R.A.Z.Y.
23. The Broken Hearts Club - The image used alongside this title on the list is that of Timothy Olyphant. I suspect that's why it ranks so highly. Big names (especially in retrospect) get our attention.

22. Shortbus
21. Hedwig and the Angry Inch - I love that John Cameron Mitchell's two films wound up side by side. They should certainly rank above the five that follow it, but we'll forgive them since they're still quite high comparatively to other great, amazing films. I think Mitchell came about ten years late as he would've been a perfect fit for the New Queen Cinema craze. As is though he's a brilliant man who brought these incredible stories to the world's screen. Bonus points for him taking on Rabbit Hole.

20. Longtime Companion - I watched this at the same time as Parting Glances and had meant to comment on them at the time. Alas, I don't remember all that much about this other than it was a perfectly okay midday movie and Dermot Mulroney was really annoying.
19. Big Eden - Worth it for the Tim DeKay gifs it provided. Actually, not really. The movie was so fake.
18. The Birdcage - Tellingly, a whole 55 spots ahead of the original foreign language version, La Cage aux Folles.
17. Trick
16. Prayers for Bobby - A TV movie.
15. Angels in America - A miniseries. Strange they got put together. I've not seen Prayers for Bobby (even with Sigourney starring), but this Mike Nichols-directed miniseries is absolute perfection. Did I ever tell you guys I came within a foot of getting Meryl Streep to sign my DVD of Angels in America? Everybody else had The Devil Wears Prada, but she would've seen me as a true Streepophile. Sigh.

14. My Beautiful Laundrette - Daniel Day-Lewis in this movie is basically the sexiest any man has ever been. With that smudge of paint? Oh my. Certainly helps that the film is flat out incredible in every way. I'm both surprised the film is so high, but at the same time surprised it's not higher. I do like that, much like the film below, many people will go back and discover this Stephen Frears film in the wake of Daniel Day-Lewis obsession that took hold after Gangs of New York and, especially, There Will Be Blood. Yes, watch Plainview flick soapy bubbles all over his gay lover. He's so method (I hope).

13. Mysterious Skin - Amazing. Joseph Gordon-Levitt's stature will only continue to make people sit down and watch this incredible movie, my personal favourite film of 2005 (never mind, Brokeback Mountain was my #3).
12. Get Real
11. Were the World Mine - One of the absolute worst. Go away forever.
10. Maurice - Officially 25 years old. No longer the silky-skinned twink is our Maurice.
9. Milk - Previously #2, is Gus Van Sant's moving tribute to the gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk already waning in public impression? I certainly hope not.
8. A Single Man - I wish, however, that Tom Ford's glorified angora sweater and thick-rimmed glasses commercial would fall out of critical favour quicker than I can hope for. Still can't figure out what people see in this movie outside of Colin Firth's performance (he probably should have won the Oscar for this as it's certainly stronger work than The King's Speech) that they didn't then turn around and condemn Madonna for with W.E.
7. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert - Previously ranked at #15 and I so love seeing this film continue to make people laugh rather than crumble under cultural cringe.
6. Weekend - Unsurprisingly, Andrew Haigh's Weekend is the highest new entry into the list.
5. Latter Days - Curiously, another Joseph Gordon-Levitt film. This one isn't particularly good so I'm baffled as to its high rating. What am I missing? Is it a mormon thing? It's a mormon thing, isn't it?
4. Beautiful Thing

Satanic mechanic is 'bout right for this lot. Thank gawd Lea Michelle is hidden here.

3. The Rocky Horror Picture Show - Previously ranked at #42 so something obviously happened between polls for it to jump so much. I hope it wasn't Glee's "Rocky Horror" special, but it's the only thing I can think of that has pushed this audacious musical back into the public consciousness in the years since the last list. I hope people were voting for the movie, and not the Glee episode!
2. Brokeback Mountain - I have no qualms with this movie not being #1. What I do have qualms with is...

1. being beaten by this. Shelter is by no means a bad movie. In fact, it's quite a lovely one and there's some sincere moments that are beautifully done. However, the list isn't "Top 100 Nice Gay Movies That Make You Feel Good Inside". Shelter isn't even a great movie, let alone the greatest. People genuinely confuse me at times like that. And I say this as someone who believes pop films shouldn't be relegated to "but..." status. "I love it, but..." I mean, I've put films like Bring It On, Burlesque and so forth on my top ten lists for their given years. I think they excel at what they do. Shelter does what it set out to do quite well, but it's fairly unremarkable choice.

I suspect even most AfterElton readers would look at this list and half-heartedly admit that, yes, Brokeback Mountain, or Cabaret, or Far From Heaven, are better examples of a "great" filmmaking, but that Shelter is sweet and gives them googly feelings in the stomach. Still, I shouldn't expect much from a list that includes something with the name Eating Out 2: Sloppy Seconds. And, let's face it, this is hardly Vertigo knocking Citizen Kane off of the Sight & Sound list. Still, I wish the website's readers would show a bit more reverence for genuine classic cinema. Sigh.

It's disappointing that this is the only sort of "list" there is going online. Nobody in any academic circle appears to want to compile one that looks at queer cinema, gay cinema, whatever-you-want-to-call-it cinema, with a critical eye. I'd be mightily interested in one so as to find spots for such glaring omissions as Almodovar's All About My Mother, Nicholas Ray's Rebel Without a Cause, Todd Haynes' [safe], Todd Stephens' Gypsy 83, Tom Kalin's Swoon, Todd Solondz's Happiness, Lynn Shelton's Humpday, Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Querelle, Nigel Finch's Stonewall, Anthony Minghella's The Talented Mr Ripley, Jon Matthews' Urbania, Alfonso Cuaron's Y Tu Mama Tambien, and so on. And I know the list is exclusively about gay male cinema and not "lesbian" cinema - are lesbians not gay? so confused! - but surely gay men can relate to, and find power in titles like Boys Don't Cry, Heavenly Creatures, Bound, The Kids are All Right, or High Art. I guess we should be thankful Flawless isn't on there and move on.


richardwatts said...

I'm impressed you had the patience to respond to the whole list - bravo!

M said...

Too bad Carrington didn't make the list, it's one of my personal favorites.

Matthew said...

Totally agree with you Glenn - what utter dross on this list.
My opinion on films with a gay subject matter is those that are made for a gay audience tend to be terrible. Obviously there are exceptions to this, but they are minimal. One film that always stuck with me when I was a teenager was called Closing Numbers (a 1993 film) that starred Jane Asher. I thought she was wonderful in the film and wish she had done more movies. Such a film wouldn't get anywhere near this list as it doesn't have a buff man in just his pants. I wonder if you have seen the film?

Ann said...

Strange but true story (and great timing): my sixty-five-year-old (straight) father watched "Making Love" on cable for the first time about a year ago, and then immediately called me and told me how good it was and that I should watch it.

So, I guess it holds up?

Sean D said...

I agree with EVERYTHING you've said here but I think it's really silly to be asking for substance from After Elton's best gay movies list, or really After Elton in any capacity. It's terrible every year, it always will be.

And Undertow is lovely, you really should see it.

Remington said...

So did you actually like "Brokeback Mountain"? In my opinion, "Brokeback Mountain" sucked. It's the kind of movie that's only good after you've seen like seven times. And even then, it's not that good. Heath and Jake have zero chemistry. Their best scene together is when they reunite and start making out. But even that moment is ruined by the amazingness that is Michelle Williams who totally steals the moment when her character sees them kissing. All the women in that movie are incredible. Michelle, Anne, Linda and least we forget, Anna Faris, whose accent was hilarious and perfect in every way. I just didn't buy the romance between Heath and Jake at all. It wasn't there. For me, it was one of those vastly overrated Oscar movies that I just did not understand.

bcarter3 said...

"Of course, once you actually see what movie trumped Brokeback Mountain to the top of the list you'll have to scratch your head and wonder whether it's a simple matter of taste or if the sort of people that would vote on a list like this genuinely have no right discussing cinema at all."

When I read this, I briefly suspected that the top ranking gay film would be "Crash".

Anonymous said...

"Shelter" is a very nice movie but it it is not in the same league as "Brokeback Mountain" but its better than the idiotic fantasy of "Big Eden"

John said...

I actually voted for this list on AfterElton a few months ago! I believe I voted for Un chant d'amour, The Boys in the Band, Bad Education, Fox and His Friends, Rope, Far from Heaven, C.R.A.Z.Y., Rebel without Cause, A Special Day and Some Like it Hot.

Glenn Dunks said...

Thank you for all the comments!

M/Matthew - Carrington and Closing Numbers, you say? Shame so many of these earlier gay films are so hard to come by these days.

Ann - Making Love is, as I remember, at least very open about itself. It's characters seem to be dealing with real world problems so that's nice.

Remington - I love Brokeback, but it wasn't even my favourite "gay film" of 2005. That'd be Mysterious Skin. I don't think it's the be all end all of gay cinema, but it's an incredible film and one that deserves a bit better than being shucked off the top spot by something like Shelter.

Anon, exactly. Big Eden was farcical.

John, the AE list would have been a helluva lot more interesting had your titles all made it. I wonder if enough AE readers have even seen Rope?

M said...

Re: Carrington the movie (at least until very recently, I haven't checked in a while) was available in its entirety on youtube.

Dave Stewart said...

Here's a link to a list of 25 that I made a few years back:

Remington said...

I love "Mysterious Skin"! It's one of the most intense and depressing movies that I've ever seen but I love it nonetheless, haha. I liked "Shelter" more than "Brokeback Mountain" simply because of the fact that the two leads in "Shelter" actually had some chemistry. That being said, nothing compares to the chemistry had between Ewan McGregor and Jim Carrey in "I Love You, Phillip Morris". You forget that they're acting in that movie. It doesn't feel forced at all. They were amazing in that movie and that movie itself is way better than "Brokeback Mountain" and "Shelter", in my opinion. Oh and as a vivid AE reader, I can say that while I've heard of "Rope", I've yet to see it. It's on my list though!