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Monday, February 9, 2009

Outtakes: Taking you behind the curtain

Posted on Mon, Feb 9, 2009 at 5:30 PM


You know, a lot of times, I can only begin to actually form a coherent story or review out of the chaos of my mind by taking a deep breath, then frantically writing up a whole bunch of stuff that doesn't even appear in the eventual article. This sometimes makes me sad. Usually not though. But occasionally I hang onto a bit of prose I'll have fussed over then discarded, like a fallen soufflé.

Other times, Elaine and/or Jeremy will decide that a certain turn of phrase is just tooâ?¦something, and they'll excise it. This is virtually always for the best, but occasionally I think, awww, MAN! Por ejemplo, in an essay I wrote about a ballroom dancing competition, either Elaine or Jeremy nixed my all-caps outburst, “I'LL MOURN YA â??TIL I JOIN YA, JULIET PROWSE!”

But so here's a little intro I squashed, which was originally for this review of the excellent film XXY, part of Guadalupe's recent Cinefestival. I even added 2 fun jpegs for your delectation.

(Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson on the poster for Douglas Sirk's Magnificent Obsession, 1954.)

“Queer cinema” has evolved through enough filmic generations and into such diverse and motley forms that the umbrella term has become, at best, ambiguous. LGBT filmmakers Gregg Araki (The Doom Generation), the late Derek Jarman (Edward II), and Jennie Livingston (Paris is Burning) have made films steeped in sex and sexual politics; controversy-inducing, unapologetic battle cries from an underground queer demi-monde.

Wherefore Douglas Sirk, then, a heterosexual director who made luscious melodramas largely for and about women, but who worked with (then-closeted) Rock Hudson, and whose critical reputation has been resurrected in part due to his influence on gay auteurs Pedro Almodóvar and Todd Haynes? And consider John Waters, an openly gay man who virtually never treats gayness in an (ahem) straightforward narrative way ⎯ think of Polyester, in which Todd Tomorrow (played by Tab Hunter) romances Divine's Francine Fishpaw; two gay men enact a phantasmagoric satire of heterosexuality. Is this queer cinema? Is there a queer gaze? Does any involvement by an LGBT artist render a film “queer”? (I'm looking at you, Dreamgirls.)

(Tab Hunter and Divine, Polyester poster, 1981)

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