Friday, October 28, 2005

A Trio of Gay Films

I recently joined Netflix and have seen three gay-theme films within the last couple of weeks. All three films left me feeling sad about the self-perception of gay men. My favorite of the three was Y Tu Mamá Tambíen, a bittersweet tale of two friends who meet an adventurous married woman and take a memorable road trip together. My next favorite film was Latter Days, an exploration of gay sexuality and the Mormon Church. The least favorite of the three films for me was Far from Heaven, the story of a woman who discovers her husband is an adulterous homosexual and who deals with racism in the 1950s after seeking advice and compassion from her African-American gardener.

I did enjoy watching the first two of these films, but Far from Heaven was another matter for me. I found the director’s use of images to recreate the sense of watching a 1950s film quite interesting, but it seemed to me that the homosexual character played by Dennis Quaid was hollow. If this film had been made in the 1950s, as it seems to have been intended to simulate, then the gay character would have been the obvious villain, the one to be despised and the one who brought all the melodrama into the lives of the characters around him. In the 1950s, this character would have been killed off to make the point that one just can not be gay and be accepted. The African-American characters didn’t fare much better. Obviously, a lot of this is because of the setting of the film in the time of the 1950’s, but the directors had a wonderful opportunity to treat bigotry to a couple of blows by updating the concepts of what is acceptable. Then again, taking that film out of the 1950s would have killed its premise.

Latter Days did a bit of a better job of presenting fully developed characters who were also gay. The main thrust of this film is how some people within the religious community exclude their own children and all gay people with strict interpretation of a couple of verses from the Bible. Fortunately, the characters are fairly well developed and we have a happier ending; the lesson seems to be that love wins out over bigotry. In a healthy, but a difficult look at our community, there is a considerable subplot about the superficiality of the gay community. It makes me squirm to see us in this light, but it seems to be a very fair assessment and one that we must evaluate and try to overcome as a community. As an aside, Mary Kay Place should have been awarded something for her role in this film.

Y Tu Mamá Tambíen was by far the best of these three films in my opinion. I will not analyze the film as much, because I do not want to give away too much of the plot for those who have not yet seen the film. Instead, I will simply say that this is a lovely story, a three person roadtrip film set at a time when the two young men are finding themselves. It would be worthwhile for you to watch the film and see the ending, just so that you can assess how you feel about the apparent self-worth of the characters as reflected in the resolution of their relationship.

In an age when gay films are becoming more and more common, it would be nice to see a film that involves gay characters in an otherwise functional love story that doesn’t involve extremes of sexuality, superficiality and foreboding societal judgment and that isn’t exclusively developed as a comedy so that it will sell. Gay films are getting more rounded in this way and I am glad to see it. Of the three films I just watched, Y Tu Mamá Tambíen came closer to presenting the initiation of that ideal.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like a inspiring brotherhood that expands its depths. Ron are you gay?

10/31/2005 08:53:00 PM  
Blogger Ron Hudson said...

Absolutely. Check the banner at the top of my blog. Where are you and who are you?

10/31/2005 11:27:00 PM  
Blogger jellygnite said...

Ah Y Tu Mamá Tambíen such a brilliant film. I love the political landscape and the sexual tension. and Gael García Bernal, so easy to watch! Realy like your blog. thanks for sharing.

11/02/2005 06:59:00 AM  

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