WEIRDLAND: Gay genre: "Brokeback Mountain", "Milk", etc.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Gay genre: "Brokeback Mountain", "Milk", etc.

"Oscar Night 2006 feels like a million years ago. You remember – it's the night that Brokeback Mountain, although being shamelessly robbed of its deserved Best Picture statuette, still managed to take home three awards. It's the night that Philip Seymour Hoffman's gay novelist squeaked past Heath Ledger's gay cowboy in the Best Actor race. Felicity Huffman was up for Best Actress for playing an MTF in Transamerica. And at the previous day's Independent Spirit Awards, pioneering queer filmmaker Gregg Araki was basking in multiple nominations for "Mysterious Skin", a film considered to be a high watermark in an already remarkable career.Yes, the success of Brokeback lifted long-gestating projects like The Mayor of Castro Street, The Front Runner, Stone Butch Blues, and The Dreyfus Affair out of development limbo, but as of today none of them have a firm shooting date set. And independent cinema, where queer voices have been breaking the rules of cinema and exciting audiences with new possibilities for at least the past few decades, seems content to make one toothless genre picture (lesbian romantic comedies! gay thrillers!) after another. [...]

“Filmmakers like Gus Van Sant, Todd Haynes, or Tom Kalin [Swoon] don't come along every day”, says critic David Ehrenstein. “Gus did several mainstream films [Good Will Hunting, Finding Forrester] with no gay content whatsoever. Now he's back to the avant-garde [Elephant, Last Days], with complex conceptual works and plenty of boys smooching. Todd was always too cool for school; I await his Bob Dylan fandango I'm Not There with great anticipation. As for Tom, it's taken all this time for him to get his second feature, Savage Grace, made.”Industry observers say that the Brokeback phenomenon – Olson describes it as “not so much a blip as a solar eclipse; we get one every ten years” – was never necessarily going to change the game for queer movies in the marketplace.

“There have been some moderate, small gay films that studio specialty divisions have been taking out to a good deal of success, like Notes on a Scandal and The History Boys,” observes Hu. “But Brokeback was still a low budget – $14 million – film that was still developed and distributed by a [Universal Studios] specialty division. The fact that it struck a chord with audiences globally doesn't mean it's going to create shockwaves with the studios hurrying to create the next gay blockbuster.” Source:

"Years before the recent California Proposition 8, there was California Proposition 6: an initiative to ban – or fire – homosexual teachers from public schools. Fighting that proposition was one of the many causes championed by Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be voted into a major public office in America.

[...] Depending on where you stand on gay rights is likely to determine whether or not you’ll see Milk. As the director of a cause movie, Van Sant is likely to only preach to the choir. If you’re on the fence about seeing it, there’s a big reason to go: the acting, particularly Sean Penn’s. The guy once famous for beating up photographers is totally believable as Harvey Milk. Penn’s Milk is gentle, he’s effeminate, he’s slight, he’s not that sure of himself early on – and he’s totally believable. The supporting cast is made up of some actors who are on considerable rolls. Emile Hirsch (Into The Wild) is a young Milk supporter who goes from skeptic to reliable lieutenant. Josh Brolin (No Country For Old Men, W) is Milk’s frustrated fellow city supervisor, who probably deserves to be in the movie a little more. And the biggest surprise is James Franco as Milk’s supportive but frustrated boyfriend – who earlier this year was a hysterical stoner in Pineapple Express. Between the two roles, he’s having a breakout year". Source:

See a new featurette from Focus Features' "Milk", Academy Award® nominee of eight awards including Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Screenplay (written directly for the screen).MoviesOnline: Is Sean a good kisser?

JAMES FRANCO: He’s…I don’t know what to say. He’s okay. What did Diego say that it was dry? That’s what he told somebody else. It was fine. Yeah, it was fine. Top 30.

MoviesOnline: A lot of gay characters are either very flamboyant or they tone them down so they’re acceptable to an audience. In this movie, you’ve got a vast array of different personalities. Was that something that Gus wanted or was that in the script? JAMES FRANCO: Right. I think…I can’t speak for the other actors, but I think from what I see and read into it that all the characterizations are kind of based on the real people because they are all real people and some of them are still around, you know? So Emile had the real Cleve Jones there all the time and Lucas had the real Danny Nicoletta there. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I mean, if somebody was playing me, I’d probably want myself to be portrayed in a certain way and so, to have Cleve Jones over my shoulder the whole time might be weird. I don’t know. But I think like Emile’s characterization is based on what the young Cleve Jones was like and so with me, you know, I got that interview with Scott Smith so that combined with what everybody told me about Scott. He wasn’t that flamboyant, you know? He was just…I guess what do you say? Kind of butch or something? He was definitely like…he dressed like there’s a way of dressing that a lot of people did at the time called the Castro clone. So they wore like plaid shirts and jeans and construction boots and Scott certainly dressed that way and I actually liked the clothes. I would wear those clothes, but my characterization is just based on what I think the real Scott behaved like. The same with Sean, you know? That’s kind of how Harvey was so I think it wasn’t like oh, we need a flamboyant around here, we need this here. It was just based on the real people. Source:


Gail said...

Another great post Kendra. I absolutely love Jack and Ennis. And I think Brokeback Mountain just might be my most favorite movie. By the way any news on the Jamie Fox Video with Jake?

Kendra said...

thanks, Gail!
James Franco is very yummy, although I prefer Sean (maybe because he's been a crush of mine for a very long time).

You can listen to Jamie Foxx's "Blame it" here in youtube

I haven't found the video clip with images yet (I want to see Jake in it!)