Gay Directors, Gay Films?: Pedro Almodóvar, Terence Davies, Todd Haynes, Gus Van Sant, John Waters
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Through intimate encounters with the life and work of five contemporary gay male directors, this book develops a framework for interpreting what it means to make a gay film or adopt a gay point of view. For most of the twentieth century, gay characters and gay themes were both underrepresented and misrepresented in mainstream cinema. Since the 1970s, however, a new generation of openly gay directors has turned the closet inside out, bringing a poignant immediacy to modern cinema and popular culture.
Combining his experienced critique with in-depth interviews, Emanuel Levy draws a clear timeline of gay filmmaking over the past four decades and its particular influences and innovations. While recognizing the "queering" of American culture that resulted from these films, Levy also takes stock of the ensuing conservative backlash and its impact on cinematic art, a trend that continues alongside a growing acceptance of homosexuality. He compares the similarities and differences between the "North American" attitudes of Todd Haynes, Gus Van Sant, and John Waters and the "European" perspectives of Pedro Almodóvar and Terence Davies, developing a truly expansive approach to gay filmmaking and auteur cinema.
friendship and the impossibility of having a romantic love that’s stable and mutually satisfying. Placing his ﬁlm within a broader context, Almodóvar makes references to literature, pop culture, and cinema. Playing a nameless role, simply known as “actress,” Julieta Serrano (who would play the 20 P EDR O A L MOD Ó VA R Mother Superior in Almodóvar’s next ﬁlm, Dark Habits, and a crazy wife in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown) runs after a child outside El Bo nightclub at 3 a.m. in the
who had appeared in Buñuel’s last ﬁlm, That Obscure Object of Desire, as a foil to Carole Bouquet, who played the same character. As I will show, Buñuel’s 1977 ﬁlm, in which the two actresses played the same part, inspired the casting strategy of Haynes in I’m Not There. Other actors also bring rich cultural baggage associated with Buñuel. Molina is remembered by many from Buñuel’s anticlerical The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz (1955), whose narrative, just like Live Flesh, deals with
younger World War II veteran. Despite strong reviews and a dominant performance from Rachel Weisz, the ﬁlm received only limited theatrical release in the United States in the spring of 2012, after showing at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival. This was the ﬁrst play Davies adapted to the screen, and the result is his most obviously “British” ﬁlm, though in terms of narrative and visual strategies, he has shaped it to his own speciﬁcations. The more he read Rattigan’s play, the more engaged he became
prematurely, at the heights of their creativity.24 Almodóvar was the most pulpy ﬁgure of world cinema of the 1980s, a decade before the Hong Kong–based Wong Kar-Wai became a cult ﬁgure in the United States (largely through the eﬀorts of Quentin Tarantino, who himself burst on the scene in 1992 with his splashy debut, Reservoir Dogs). In addition to pumping new blood into Spanish cinema, Almodóvar created a new sensibility in international ﬁlm, which became widely imitated all over the world.
fatalistic. Love answers to nothing and nobody. Extolling Spanish fatalism, he has made titillating and daring features, in which sex and death are inextricably linked: “I love characters that are crazy in love and will give their life to passion, even if they have to burn in hell.”26 Passion is the key concept due to the fact that “society is preoccupied with controlling passion, because it is disequilibrium, but for the individual it is undeniably the only mother that gives sense to life.”27