Eric Wahl

January 1998

First of all, I'd really like to thank all of you who responded to my December essay. I received a lot of interesting feedback -- much appreciated.

I'm in the middle of filling out endless applications to MFA programs around the country, and it's causing me migraines (I'm a big stresser). Add that to finishing up my Master's thesis here, and you've got a recipe for neuro-transmitter meltdown. So, I want to travel light for this month, eh?

I'm sitting here in newly snowed-on Emporia (snow -- personally, I'm against it), and I'm listening to k.d. lang belting out the surprisingly good "Surrender" from the new James Bond movie. She mentions the movie title so often in the song (which, by the way, kicks tired Sheryl Crow's ASS) that it seems clear hers was originally meant to be the title song, but it's been relegated to the closing credits. I cry foul! Check her song out--it's the coolest 70's Vegas-style wah-wah I've ever heard from a Canadian lesbian (um, is that a big category?). Anyhow, the song is a campy romp. This got me to thinking about movies and what movies with gay themes I found especially moving or worthwhile. This is no all-inclusive list; it's just the films I've enjoyed that I think could be found at any decent Schlockbuster. Away we go:

1. Edward II: Derek Jarman was THE MAN. Here, he directs the story of the gay English king directly from the original Marlowe play, but adding a modern spin to the look of the film. This is the film that solidified my own acknowledgement of my sexuality. It hit me like a tidal wave. And Annie Lennox sings in it to boot!

2. Law of Desire: Pedro Almodovar is Spain's gift to the world. His films are always a treat, and this one is said to be semi-autobiographical of him. It's the story of a gay movie director, his transexual sister, and the confused gay psycho (Antonio Banderas) in love with him. Now, I, too, dislike the portrayal of gays as psychos, but the movie's point is so far from this that I am willing to overlook it. This is a stilted kind of human carnival, but it's an amazing film.

3. Apartment Zero: One of my all time favorites. Every male in it could be gay or not -- it's all about implications. Hart Bochner and Colin Firth are roommates and the sexual tension is nearly excruciating. The real story is about how people will do anything to be around beauty, to be recognized by beauty, to let themselves be taken advantage of almost willingly by it. This movie creates one of the all-time creepy atmospheres. I showed it to one of my classes, and I've never seen so many squirmy Kansans. Set in cool Buenos Aires -- it really captures what it's like there.

4. Streamers: Robert Altman's adaptation of the David Rabe play is an overlooked gem set in a claustrophobic military barracks. Matthew Modine, David Allen Grier (really!), and the gorgeous Mitchell Lichtenstein (Roy's son) as the gay soldier.

5. Rope: Okay, so Hitchcock's 1948 flick isn't necessarily about gays, but Farley Granger and John Dall share an apartment with only one bedroom, so you tell me: come on! If only they weren't killers! The movie is famous because it's all one long take, no cuts. But watch it and see how many hundreds of gay undercurrents you sense. Weird fun.

I do resent Hollywood's constant portrayal of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendereds as sickos and stereotypes, so I don't mean to steer anyone to films that are like that. The above films, though, are especially unique cases for me. See if you don't agree. I'll add this handy list of other films worth your time:

Longtime Companion
The Children's Hour
The Last of England
The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe
The Sum of Us
The Lost Language of Cranes

Anybody out there who might be inclined to review these or other films available on video, please give it a shot and help beef up the new Portable Pride section, won't you? Well, I better get back to these applications. If any of you know about U of Idaho, SF State U, UC Irvine, Emerson, or Sarah Lawrence, tell me what you think of them. I'd be much obliged. I'm off to New York City for holiday, so I wish all of you the very best for the new year. May it bring you joy. I've got new e-mail, as my old company went belly up. Talk to me! I'm at: stourley.kracklite@mailexcite.com

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