Until next year, that is, and the 25th BFI London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. Which is already exciting me – what with a possible retrospective of my friend Kristienne, and a super secret plan of which more in due course.
The last four films I saw didn’t excite me enough to make it into my final selection of total goodies, but were all interesting and pleasant enough. MY BIG GAY MUSICAL is what is sounds like – at once a film about a show and a film about backstage at the show. Two dancers in a gay musical off-Broadway give each other emotional support while one seeks a boyfriend and the other copes with having sex for the first time, having an HIV scare and dealing with homophobic Christian parents. Meanwhile, in the show, God creates Adam and Steve – the parts these two play – when Adam and Eve disappoint him, and Eve invents homophobia in revenge; reborn in the modern era, Adam and Steve meet in a de-gaying programme but fall in love anyway, and God intervenes to tell off the modern homophobes. The parents watching the show take his message to heart – aaah!
I had some problems with the implicit misogyny involved in having Eve be the source of homophobia as well as the Fall – though making the death of Abel the first queer-bashing alibi( ‘He was singing showtunes’ says Cain) was quite inventive. The songs were fun without being memorable – no, I really cannot remember anything about them five days later.
The Gay Deceivers is a film of its time (1969) and is notable for what it does not say as much as for what it does. The two friends who pretend to be gay in order to stay out of the army end up experiencing real discrimination – one loses his job and the other is told by his father that what he has done will stay on his record forever; the weird thing is, at the end of the film, one goes off to San Francisco and the other to Miami, and you find yourself saying , yep, totally straight…The same applies to the sister and girlfriend of one of the two – the slashfic pretty much writes itself. There ought to be five years after fanfic out there, there really ought.
Obviously it’s all terribly offensive from one point of view, but it was like being licked by a big smelly dog rather than bitten.
Paulista is an overlong, deeply sentimental and predictable film about three doomed romances in Sao Paolo. Trans lawyer Suzana comes out to her boyfriend and he dumps her; the straight male poet fixates on a hooker rather than on the bookshop clerk who is a fan; the lesbian actress falls for an untrustworthy bisexual singer who overdoses and is shipped off to rehab by her rich family. The trans woman is the actress’ landlady and hates her smoking- at the end, they share a cigarette on the balcony and look at the city. Much of the fim is sentimental and tedious – that last scene, and one shortly before it in which the actress rehearses Chekhov, are far more moving than the hour and a half that precede them. Trans actress Maria Clara Pinelli got an award for playing Suzana – she really is very good.
A film whose performances were far better than the script.
And finally Children of God a well-made, prettily shot, deeply predictable film about homophobia in the Carribean – and you just knew that the pretty young white artist was going to end up being stabbed to death by the closet case who regularly harasses him and is the secret lover of the homophobic preacher. Otherwise the nice confused musician who stands up to his family and comes out might actually get to be happy.
As I said with Eloise good as this is, and it is a well-made well-acted film, I prefer not to have films in which love leads to death, and death portrayed as a wishfulfilment death dream at that – a cliche I can do without. I sort of feel that we need films in which death, violent death, happens, but it is not the end of the story – I cared enough about the characters in this to want to know what the consequence of the murder was, for the lover, for the wife of the preacher, for the art teacher.
This is why we need panel discussions more often after films – because there are issues that need to be hashed out.
I am not going to name and shame, or get involved in complex rows in which people are hurting each other and in a lot of pain.
What I will say, is that when one trans woman says of other women who identify as trans ‘they may have boobs, and live as women in the world, but….they are still drag queens’ there is no moral high ground visible.
We do not get to rewrite each other’s identities – particularly not – and this was yesterday – on the transgender day of visibility.