Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Sex: Straight, Gay and Somewhere In Between

Let's start with "The Notorious Bettie Page" (dir. Mary Harron, US, 2005, 91 mins.). Gretchen Mol stars as Ms. Page in this HBO bio-pic that is getting a theatrical release. It's fairly well made, though the screenplay is pretty standard TV bio-pic fare. Well, except for some of the subject matter. I suppose some people would find our lead character restrained with a ball-gag unsettling, even if she is having fun with it. Ms. Mol is quite appealing as the 'perky girl next door doing soft core porn.' But that is sort of the problem. We are given some physical and emotional background of sexual and physical abuse in Bettie Page's life. However, that doesn't seem to have had any real emotional effect on her, except for her unselfconscious ability to be photographed in fetish wear. In fact, her naivete is at such a high level, she doesn't even seem aware of what she is doing. It isn't that I wanted to see how emotionally scarred she might have been, however, the film tries a bit too hard in playing the 'being kinky is fun!' theme, when she obviously did NOT have fun as she grew up. Also, the film plays with B&W and color for some unknown reason: NYC is B&W, Miami is in color. Why? There is an extraordinary supporting cast, including David Straithairn, Lili Palmer and Sarah Paulson. Overall, it is painless, but maybe for a film focused on the controversy of 1950's S&M, perhaps it shouldn't have been?

"Evil" ("Ondskan") (dir. Mikael Hafstrom, Sweden, 2003, 113 mins.) doesn't shy away from pain, at all! It is the story of a Swedish boys boarding school's sado-masochistic treatment of the new students by the upper classmen. There seems to be a political allegory related to Sweden's government in here, but I don't know enough about the situation to really judge. What I do know is that the cast is so remarkably handsome that watching them beat the crap out of each other becomes, well, sort of hot, in an unintentionally homoerotic way. I felt a bit guilty about that. Though some of it is quite brutal, I guess I never made an emotional connection with most of the characters to feel their pain. It is so glossy, that even the violence was sort of pretty. Yet, I did leave the theatre feeling sort of beaten up myself. It's an oddly visual and visceral experience! (P.S. The attached picture is of one of the GOOD Guys!)

"Summer Storm"
(dir. Marco Kreuzpaintner, Germany, 2004, 98 mins.) is the complete opposite of "Evil." In fact, it is almost 'cute.' And I hate 'cute.' However, this little German coming-out tale of a group of kids at a summer rowing camp has some really lovely performances, as well as performers. There is a make-out scene that is one of the loveliest and beautifully photographed gay teen moments I've ever seen. That said, the direction is VERY odd, in that there are some truly poignant moments, but he has chosen a VERY bad soundtrack. The music supervision is just (dare I say it?) TOO gay! I mean, closing the film with The Pet Shop Boys' cover of The Village People's "Go West" was just too much for me!

I'll complete this little post with a 'cute' gay-date movie: "Adam and Steve" (dir. Craig Chester, US, 2005, 99 mins.) Craig Chester ("Swoon") has written, directed and starred himself in a very routine romantic comedy, that one could say it sets itself apart by focusing on a gay couple. Craig Chester is ok. Malcolm Gets is suitably studly as his love interest. However, it is Parker Posey and Chris Kattan that stole this movie for me. Posey is ALWAYS dead on and watchable. Kattan's nearly psychotic comic sense always makes me LAUGH! And casting the two of them as the secondary love interest is just so twisted, it works! It's a pleasant enough little flick, though it gives itself applause at the end, which I ABHOR!

Maxxxxx gives "The Notorious Bettie Page" a wolf whistle (which I never wanted him to learn!); "Evil" a nasty peck on the foot; "Summer Storm" a 'wanna come out?'; and "Adam and Steve" a 'such a sweet bird!'

No comments: