Showing posts with label Gay Movie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Movie. Show all posts

February 14, 2020

"Harry is Got A Thing" For Valentines


By Gwen Aviles

If the mere title “The Thing About Harry” conjures up images of another classic romantic comedy, you’re not off-base.
“Rom-coms run in my blood,” Peter Paige, the screenwriter, and director of the Freeform flick told NBC News. “There’s a little bit of ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’ in there. There’s definitely some ‘Pretty Woman’ in there and there’s a ton of ‘While You Were Sleeping’ in there. And the title, of course, is a nod to ‘When Harry Met Sally.’”
While “The Thing About Harry” certainly borrows elements from the romance-comedy canon, the movie is chock-full of what may soon be known as its own iconic scenes in the genre. “The Thing About Harry,” which premieres on Valentine’s Day, follows former high school nemeses — straight-laced Sam (Jake Borelli) and flighty Harry (Nico Terho) — whose friendship slowly blossoms into romance after they are forced together for an hour-long car ride back to their Missouri hometown. 
 Though one might think that the car ride would be a straight shot to romance (no pun intended), the pair’s relationship is anything but uncomplicated. First, it takes a minute or two for Sam, who has been out since high school, to learn that Harry, who he has known to only date girls, is pansexual — meaning he is attracted to people across the gender spectrum. Then there are Sam’s commitment issues: Can he really trust Harry? And Harry isn’t inclined to wait around while Sam makes up his mind.
The twists and turns are naturally partly based on Paige’s own life experiences. The openly gay writer and director, who is known for his work on LGBTQ projects including “Queer as Folk,” “Will & Grace” and “The Fosters," said that when he was first approached with the script, he wasn’t convinced that it authentically told a story about two queer men in their 20s navigating the big, bad world of dating. 
“I spent so much time translating straight rom-coms for my own consumption that I wanted to make a movie that queer boys wouldn’t have to translate,” Paige said. “When I was in my 20s, I was in big cities dating and getting my heartbroken. … The greatest heartbreak of my life was when two of my friends got together and I was in love with one of them.”
To be sure, “The Thing About Harry” is replete with moments of heartbreak, disappointment, and confusion, but as in other rom-coms, these scenes make the eventual reunion all the more satisfying. And while some might dub the repeated push-and-pulls of the movie as somewhat sadistic, Paige said it was “a fun game” for him as the writer.
“There’s something so fun about giving you everything and taking it away one last time,” Paige said. “As soon as I had the idea that Harry was pan — which I think is so young and fresh and shows how people of this generation are talking about sexuality today, which is different than my generation — I was like, ‘Oh, well that creates a different playing field and provides some real opportunities for twists and turns that we hadn’t seen before.’”
In recent years, there’s been discussion about how the rom-com genre is dead and suggests that the movies that have been classified as rom-coms have been erroneously labeled. But Paige believes the opposite is true and that rom-coms are making a “comeback.” “They’re being done in this really great way. Maybe they’re just considered a little more niche because they’re about somebody other than a pretty white girl,” Paige said, citing “Always Be My Maybe” and “To All the Boys I’ve Ever Loved,” which star actresses of color, as examples of recent films that fit this bill.
Perhaps what’s most groundbreaking about “The Thing About Harry” is that it joins very few other mainstream romantic-comedies that both center a queer couple and star queer actors (Borelli and Terho both identify as gay). While “The Thing About Harry” marks Tehran's first major project, Borelli endeared himself to fans on “Grey’s Anatomy.” He played Dr. Levi Schmitt on the show, a character who came out as gay in the show’s 15th season. Following his character’s major development, Borelli himself came out as gay on Instagram shortly thereafter.
“We want to be seen, we want to be loved,” Paige said. “I just want people to recognize themselves in those boys, in the universality of their longing and vulnerability and kindness and happiness.”

January 20, 2020

'The Thing About Harry'-Coming in Time For Valentines' Day

The Thing About Harry, Freeform’s first Valentine’s Day original film, features Grey's Anatomy star Jake Borelli and newcomer Niko Terho and "tells the story of high school enemies, uber-jock Harry and out-and-proud Sam, who are forced to share a car ride to their Missouri hometown for a friend’s engagement party on Valentine’s Day," according to the movie's official description. 

December 1, 2019

Can You Live As A Gay Man and Loose Everything? "Temblores" This Guatemalan Movie Tries To Tell

By Arturo Conde
From the outside, Pablo has the perfect heterosexual family life. He has two beautiful kids with a lovely wife named Isa (played by Diane Bathen), a nice home and a good job. But inside, he struggles with his sexuality. So when he comes out as gay in his conservative Guatemala to his evangelical family, he must face a difficult question — is the love he feels for another man worth all the pain and suffering that comes with it?
“You can sense that there is a pain of not being real. And that’s what attracted me to Pablo’s character,” actor Juan Pablo Olyslager told NBC News about his role as an upper-middle-class man's struggle with his homosexuality in the award-winning Guatemalan movie “Temblores” ("tremors" in Spanish), which will have a limited release in select U.S. theaters starting on Nov. 29.
“He constructed a life that was a mirage, an illusion, and it fell down," Olyslager said. "It takes a lot of courage to come out. But I can understand when someone chooses to keep their sexuality private because we still live in a society that oppresses you.”
For the actor, the movie dramatizes the oppression that drives many LGBTQ people in Guatemala to leave their homes and emigrate to other open places around the world.
Image: Juan Pablo Olyslager in "Temblores."
Juan Pablo Olyslager in "Temblores."Film Movement

“Same-sex marriage is not legally recognized in Guatemala,” Olyslager said. “And in a conservative society where the majority is Catholic or Protestant, many people who are gay in my country choose to migrate to New York and San Francisco and other open cities around the world like Paris and Barcelona.”
“Temblores” reflects the emotional, intellectual and physical displacement that affects the LGBTQ community in Guatemala. This type of discrimination and alienation transcends all the social classes, said the actor.
“In some countries, when you come out, society still respects you because you have money,” he said. “But in Guatemala, homosexuality is a taboo subject. And you have problems in your life regardless of your social status.”
Olyslager says that the LGBTQ community is stigmatized in Guatemalan society, frequently mischaracterized by the social conservative majority as “sex addicts” and “pedophiles.”
Like Pablo, the actor comes from an upper-class family in Guatemala — his grandmother Walda Valenti was an established writer, and his cousin Verónica Riedel is Guatemala's first female movie director. But while Olyslager identifies as heterosexual off-screen, he says that he empathizes strongly with the LGBTQ community because many of his friends are facing intolerance through religion, work, and family. And the film strives to reflect this reality.
“You should know that this movie is based on a real story. It’s nonfiction. It’s based on the story of the first ‘Pablo’ that the director met.” he said, referring to Jayro Bustamante. “He also met other ‘Pablos’ later. So this is like a collage of all those ‘Pablos.’ Everything that you see is based on a truth, including the scene with the conversion therapy.”
Image: Diane Bathen in "Temblores."
Diane Bathen in "Temblores."Film Movement
This is Bustamante's second film; the first was the award-winning "Ixcanul," which also explored a character grappling with societal norms — in this case, an indigenous young woman facing an arranged marriage. 
Olyslager said the film's depiction of the ripple effects — or “temblores” — that are caused by discrimination could compel viewers to reflect on the prejudices and stereotypes that affect identity. He hopes this helps drive people from different backgrounds to create more open spaces for everyone in society.
“You can choose to live like Pablo under the appearance of another identity,” Olyslager told NBC News. “But I think that if you cannot be true to yourself, your soul will ultimately die.”

February 28, 2019

Matt Bomer Says He Loves Playing Doom Patrol A Gay Character Not Define by Just Being Gay

Matt Bomer has explained why he ‘loves’ his character on Doom Patrol.

by Sam Damshenas

Gay Times UK

On the DC series, the Golden Globe-winning actor stars as gay superhero Larry Trainor/Negative Man, a former pilot who is able to fly and generate minor explosions after an accident involving “negative energy”.
Because Trainor is wrapped head-to-toe in bandages, he is physically portrayed by Matthew Zuk with the voice of Bomer, who also physically appears as the character in flashbacks.
When asked why he took on the role, Bomer said he was intrigued to play a character who is embodied by two different actors.
“It’s not like voicing animation, it’s a true collaboration in that I just throw spaghetti at the wall,” he explained. “Matthew does his stuff, and we go back and polish it at the end.”
He continued: “I’d never really seen a gay male superhero and what I love most about the character is that even though it’s a huge struggle internally for him.
“It’s not the sole thing that defines who he is, he’s such a multifaceted character, if it was just one stereotypical aspect of him I would have had reservations about it.”
Doom Patrol is the third scripted television series in the DC Extended Universe, after Titans – which stars Brendon Thwaites as Robin – and the animated drama Young Justice.
The series premiered 15 February on the DC Extended Universe Network. It also stars Diane Guerrero (Orange is the New Black), April Bowlby (Drop Dead Diva), Joivan Wade (Eastenders), Alan Tudyk (Firefly) and Brendan Fraser (Bedazzled).
Watch the trailer below.

February 4, 2019

Review: ‘Dear Ex’ A Man Dies leaving Wife, Son and Secret Man Lover

 Ray (Roy Chiu) and Sanlian (Ying-Xuan Hsieh) have at least one thing in common in Dear Ex. Netflix


Domestic dramas have to walk a fine line between sweetness and pathos, and the shaggy-yet-lovable new film Dear Ex succeeds at this balance more than others. The Taiwanese heartstring-tugger, now available on Netflix after only being acquired by the service a week ago, circles around three complicated, hard-to-love characters, allowing their complexities to cloud their better natures. As in last year's lovely Israeli drama The Cakemaker, the film links these figures via a closeted, recently deceased family man: a specter of authenticity cloaked in secrecy, who forces a reckoning for the loved ones he left behind.

The film opens with 13-year-old Chengxi (Joseph Huang) claiming he always knew his dad was gay. It has been three months since his professor father's death from cancer, and Chengxi learns he's been written out of his insurance policy. His prone-to-hysterics mother Sanlian (Ying-Xuan Hsieh) knows the truth: that her deceased husband Zhangyuan secretly named his longtime male lover as his benefactor, but that the claim can't go through unless she signs off on it. So Sanlian drags Chengxi along to the mystery man's ramshackle apartment, hoping to spur a confrontation that will somehow put the lid back on the wreckage of their lives. 

In 'The Cakemaker,' Grieving Is Baked In
The first third of Dear Ex is told from Chengxi's perspective, and it's the strongest chunk of the film by far: a strange blend of sullen teen angst and the shock of an uncovered secret. The kid is utterly fascinated by his father's lover Jay, a thirtysomething community theater director who can be furious one minute and tender the next. (He's played by a terrific Roy Chiu, whose raw, prickly performance has no trace of the mincing-younger-gay-lover onscreen stereotype.) To escape his mother's needling, Chengxi moves into Jay's life without asking permission, and the two develop a wary bond as they putter through the city on Jay's moped, trying to figure out what they mean to each other. Writer-director Mag Hsu and her co-director Chih-Yen Hsu stage these scenes in bright, brilliant hues, with long shots of the characters maneuvering around each other in hallways that bring to mind some of the early work of pioneering Taiwanese auteur Tsai Ming-Liang.

As the film broadens in scope, incorporating flashbacks and new dynamics like Jay's traditionalist mother, it also shifts perspective: first to Sanlian, and then to Jay. But along the way, it loses the spark that came with a teenager's incomplete-yet-restless worldview, instead of entering a world of full-bore melodrama. Sanlian's storyline, in particular, feels retrograde, both in her views on gay men and in her cartoonish attempts to keep a handle on her son by any means necessary – including an obsession with sending him off to college in Canada.

Jay is the one character who defies easy categorization because even through his slovenly nature and clear distrust of this family intrusion, his genuine devotion to the man he loved shines through. His flashback scenes with Zhangyuan (Spark Chen) are affectionate and sad, particularly when the two men discuss why they must keep their affair a secret to their families. "Not letting them be sad or worried is our responsibility," Zhangyuan says.

A nice bit of linguistic detail: Though Sanlian tries to emasculate Jay by calling him a "mistress," we quickly learn Zhangyuan, in fact, called him "hubby"... prompting Chengxi to instead refer to his mother as the true "mistress." Identities shift like this throughout the story, as the three leads develop newfound compassion for each other despite their initial reservations. (As is required by law with every teen movie these days, some of this development must come with onscreen notebook doodles and scribbles to illustrate obvious points.)

Taiwan is often recognized as the most LGBT-friendly region in Asia, making the existence and wide availability of films like Dear Ex a welcome cultural development. Considering the U.S.'s own mainstream movie industry has been remarkably slow to tell similar stories without patronizing characters like Jay, perhaps American filmmakers could learn something here, as well. The film may pale in comparison to The Cakemaker, which told its story with more nuance and sensory detail. But Dear Ex's narrative hiccups and tonal missteps seem less blaring by the time it enters its affecting homestretch, which involves Jay taking on large amounts of debt to stage a revival of a play with great emotional significance. Love in this movie is expressed in odd ways, but it is still genuine.

August 19, 2018

"My Favorite Wife" Cary Grant Film Which in Today's Know How It Might Be His Coming Out

My Favorite Wife, the Hecka Gay Film Starring Cary Grant and His (Alleged) Gay Boyfriend.  by Chase Burns 

The gaydar is pinging!
The gaydar is pinging! YOUTUBE
If we're to believe Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood, Cary Grant was hecka gay. In the new documentary based on his popular memoir, Full Service, Scotty Bowers, bisexual "pimp to the stars," claims that he would regularly hook up with Grant and his alleged longtime lover Randolph Scott—often at the same time. Bowers is hardly the first person to talk about Grant's gay relationships, but his honesty is salacious and refreshing. The documentary highlights the 1940 film that stars Grant and Scott, My Favorite Wife, and... guys... I watched the film for the first time last night, and it's so gay. It begs to be rewatched.
Let's review:

The film was promoted as a hot, spicy reunion between Irene Dunne and Cary Grant, who had previously worked together on Leo McCarey's The Awful Truthin 1937. (The duo would go on to star in Penny Serenade in 1941, but that would be their last movie as costars.) But the important pairing in this film isn't Dunne and Grant, it's Grant and Randolph Scott. 

This is the scene where Grant sees Scott for the first time. It's... uh... pretty gay. Romantic music swells as Grant swoons on his tip-toes.
Cary Grant and Randolph Scott were some of Hollywood's most popular
gaysbachelors in the '30s and '40s. This was a time when Hollywood's studio system aggressively controlled their stars' professional and personal lives—which I outlined in my piece on Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood—and subjected them to morals clauses. Nevertheless, Scott and Grant lived a very public life together after meeting on the Paramount set of Hot Saturday in 1932, the only movie besides My Favorite Wife that the two men appeared in together. They hit it off immediately and were soon living together. However, in 1934, in a move that seemed to be aimed at breaking the two men apart, Grant was allegedly ordered to marry Virginia Cherril. But Cherrill—maybe because Grant kept fucking Scott—divorced Grant 13 months after they married. Grant moved back in with Scott.
By the time My Favorite Wife premiered in 1940, the two men had been publicly living together for around five years. The American public was very aware of Grant and Scott's relationship, but viewed them as entangled in a celebrity bromance, mostly because the studio allegedly planted images of women going in and out of their house to the press. The two
lovers womanizers were viewed as having a "Bachelor Hall" together. 

Who really came inside that "Bachelor Hall"?
In Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood, Scotty Bowers, when asked if he feels guilty about spreading all these Hollywood secrets, says: "It's not a secret, really. It may be a secret to some square who lives in Illinois—but in Hollywood, they knew these people." This quote really sticks out to me when watching My Favorite Wife. There are two stories being masterfully played out in the open here. The double entendres are so obvious, it's remarkable to think that audiences didn't view this film as an admission of a homosexual relationship between Grant and Scott. 
My Favorite Wife was incredibly popular when it premiered in 1940. It was RKO's second highest grossing film of the year and nominated for three Academy Awards. It was—and continues to be—billed as a wacky screwball comedy. On the surface, it's about Nick Arden (Grant) remarrying after his wife (Irene Dunne) is lost at sea in a shipwreck. But it turns out she's not dead, she's just been living with another man (Randolph Scott) on an island for seven years. When she returns, Nick decides to abandon his new wife but finds himself increasingly preoccupied with the man his first wife shagged on an island. Some queer highlights:
 When his dead wife Ellen (Irene Dunne) shows up, she's dressed as a sailor. (Why, IDK.) She's asked by the children (her children, although they don't know it yet) if she's a lady or a man. "I used to be a lady," she says. It's weird. 
 After Nick discovers Ellen lived on an island with a man named Stephen (Randolph Scott), he starts to rush out to find the man. Ellen yells that Stephen is at the YMCA (gay), and Nick (wearing a leopard print robe), rushes out to find Stephen at the YMCA. 
 Nick has no luck at the YMCA, but he does discover Stephen at the pool (all of those embedded GIFs above). He swoons. It is incredibly and shockingly homoromantic. I don't know how this got produced in 1940. 
 Nick cannot get Stephen out of his mind. It makes him sweat. Sitting in his office, he is tormented by the half-naked image of Stephen. (KEEP IN MIND THESE GUYS WERE ACTUALLY—ALLEGEDLY—FUCKING AND IT WAS—ALLEGEDLY—NOT A SECRET AMONGST HOLLYWOOD ELITES.)
 When Stephen and Nick do meet, Nick asks Stephen if he's the sort of man who eats raw meat. Stephen says he's a vegetarian and basically only eats carrots. Nick says Stephen is probably full of carrots (gay). During this meeting, Stephen says he has nothing to hide. Nick's wife (Dunne) says "I know, but hehas," referring to Nick. 
 Nick's new wife assumes he has an illness because he's acting so strange. She has a creepy therapist show up to help him. The therapist assures Nick that there are many men like him, but Nick says he doesn't need help. He then literally goes into the closet and puts on women's clothing. The therapist, shocked, follows him out to the car, where Nick's new wife and him fiercely argue, pulling the clothes between them, while Nick shouts that he could lose his career if any of this is found out by the public. She pulls him back inside and he finally yells, "I'm... MARRIED!" (Referring to his dead wife, who's not actually dead, who is his real wife, his favorite wife.) It's very difficult to watch this scene in 2018 and not see it as a coming out scene for Grant. It's heartbreaking.  
Grant and Scott were never in another film together. Their relationship is still disputed. Grant's daughter, Jennifer Grant, wrote a memoir in 2011 in which she dismisses the notion that her father was gay: "Dad somewhat enjoyed being called gay. He said it made women want to prove the assertion wrong." Is that true? Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood and My Favorite Wife seem to offer a flamingly different answer. 
Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood opens Friday, Aug 24 at SIFF Film Center.

March 10, 2018

The Film "Wound" is Back in South Africa After Being Stopped Because of an Adult Rating

Are you Wounded?

 The wound referred by the film is circumcision which even today these kids are taken out to camps to become a man and the process is to wound them, cut their foreskin and these are not surgeons doing the cutting. It is more like the Hebrew religion which subjects these kids to this barbarity. They do this in the name of tradition. Adam

Oscar short-listed LGBT drama “The Wound” returned to South African theaters Friday, weeks after its local release was cut short when the country’s film board slapped it with an adult rating.

A high court ruling Tuesday overturned the earlier decision by the Film and Publication Board’s Appeal Tribunal, giving the controversial film a pending 18-and-over restriction until the matter returns to court March 28.

Members of the Xhosa community object to the movie’s depiction of their traditional initiation ceremony for men. Critics say the protests are driven by homophobia. A last-ditch effort by the National House of Traditional Leaders to prevent the “The Wound’s” return to theaters was shot down early Friday, with a high court judge ruling that “the public has a right…to see a [film] of this nature.” 

Producer Cait Pansegrouw hailed the decision, which she called a “temporary victory.”

“It is still rated 18,” she said, citing the “unlawful reclassification” of a film that was originally deemed suitable for audiences over the age of 16. “This is no longer a fight for [‘The Wound’]. This is a fight for the freedom and rights of all South African artists and filmmakers.” 

South Africa Film Board Slaps 'The Wound' With Over-18 Adult Rating
The film board’s reversal last month, which gave the movie an X18 rating, restricted screenings to “designated adult premises,” a move it said would “protect children from exposure to the disturbing and harmful material.” The decision came in the wake of months-long protests led by Xhosa traditional leaders against the film and followed violent protests that disrupted its local premiere.

Since bowing at Sundance last year, “The Wound” has won over audiences and critics with its frank exploration of sexuality, masculinity and cultural identity. Racking up a string of local and international awards, it was short-listed for this year’s foreign-language Oscar and earned eight nominations at the South African Film and Television Awards.

Reacting to the ruling earlier this week, Prince Manene Tabane, of the Council of Traditional Leaders of South Africa, rejected the notion that his group was opposed to the film’s LGBT themes.

“Homosexuals have the constitutional right to exist in the country,” he told local media. “They are in our rural areas, they have a right to life and we don’t want to harm them. The issue is that no one should be allowed to go to the sacred place to practice their own thing. They must go with the view of doing what they are told.”

Director John Trengove called the return to cinemas “a vindicated victory for the film,” but added that “the South African film and arts community still deserves to hear a real explanation of how the tribunal arrived at such an embarrassing violation of our legal and constitutional rights in the first place.”


It is adamfoxie's 10th🦊Anniversay. 10 years witnessing the world and bringing you a pieace whcih is ussually not getting its due coverage.

October 27, 2017

Colton Haynes and Evan Peters Burn The Screen with Their Lovemaking in 'Cult'

October 10, 2017

"Small Talk" (Taiwan's LGBT Movement) Submitted to Academy Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recently announced the complete list of country submissions for the Best Foreign Language Film category for the 2018 Oscars. Titles garnering hype include Foxtrot, an Israeli film about an IDF soldier’s grieving parentsBPM: Beats Per Minute, a depiction of France’s AIDS crisis in the early 90s; and In the Fade, a German drama about a woman’s search for justice against neo-Nazi terrorists.
By comparison, the nominations coming from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China have not attracted much buzz internationally, but each region’s submission touches on issues in that capture the ambitions, desires, and insecurities of its people. Taken as a trio, they provide the perfect glimpse into three culturally distinct but closely intertwined, places.

Small Talk: Taiwan’s LGBT movement

Shot over a nearly 20-year period, Small Talk is a documentary on filmmaker Huang Hui-Chen's attempts to connect with her emotionally distant mother Anu. While working as a Taoist priestess in Taipei, Anu maintained many romances with women in an era when homosexuality was taboo. While she never attempted to hide her sexuality, she also never discussed it with her daughter. Huang tries to break her mother’s silence on her past, coaxing her through the film’s titular chit-chat.
Critics describe Small Talk as a portrait of a relationship rather than a politically charged argument about homosexuality in Taiwan. “The documentary doesn’t aim to criticize the country’s current socio-political climate or use Anu’s accounts to generalize its human rights issues. Quite the contrary: the film charms with its ability to stay compelling and critical by merely centering on one family, whose struggles feel more realistic and salient than those of a whole nation,” writes Point of View Magazine.
But the film also comes as Taiwan’s LGBT movement reaches its apex. Small Talk hit theaters in Taiwan weeks before the island’s top court declared a civil code barring same-sex marriage unconstitutional—paving the way for its eventual legalization. That landmark decision placed Taiwan well ahead of its peers in Asia on gay rights, including Australia and Hong Kong
 Chinese moviegoers have flocked to Wolf Warrior 2. The film has raked in 5.6 billion yuan ($824 million) to date at China’s box office (link in Chinese), making it the highest-grossing film ever in the country. Explosions and car chase certainly help draw viewers, but there is also a palpable sense of increasing nationalism (paywall) among Chinese citizens themselves. In Africa and elsewhere, China has asserted itself more aggressively, at times championing itself as a bastion of globalization particularly at a time when America’s leadership role is in question. Meanwhile, many Chinese individuals, whether online or in real life, are standing up for China’s interests in the face of criticism from abroad. After years of watching white men save the world, Wolf Warrior 2 gives Chinese audiences a hero of its own.


August 13, 2017

"Out in the Country" A Film About An Intense Love Relationship Between Two Men

 Francis Lee’s Yorkshire home has no mobile phone signal. “When I first moved here, I had to walk to the top of the moor before I could talk to anyone,” he says. “It’s wet and cold and windy up there. And I was very used to London life.”

Josh O’Connor, left, and Alec Secareanu 

The 48-year-old film director is in his cottage near Haworth, the village that was home to the Brontës. A few miles down the road, in Soyland, lies his parents’ farm, where his father still works the land and tends to his beasts. It was where Lee spent his childhood, and it was there, as a teenager, that he realized he was gay.

Last year, the farm was host to a fair amount of commotion. During lambing season, it was used as the setting for God’s Own Country, Lee’s directorial debut, which charts the almost silent romance between Johnny, a young, alcohol-addled, and sullen Yorkshire farmer, and Gheorghe, a self-possessed, gentle Romanian immigrant drafted in to help tend the flock.

For Lee, it was a return to his old life. At 20 he had left the farm for drama school in London, and had gone on to appear in TV shows such as Heartbeat, Casualty, and Midsomer Murders. In the evenings, he would navigate the east London gay scene — bars and clubs that acted as safe spaces for young men exploring their sexuality.

“I got to know a lot of gay men who were very masculine,” Lee says. “[But] although they slept with other men, they didn’t have access to their emotions, and would never dream of talking about how they felt. That strange inability of men to understand what they’re going through fascinated me.” It was the germ of an idea.

He thought about how difficult he had found the prospect of showing any weakness to a lover, even though he had taught himself to do so on demand in front of a camera. He also considered what might have happened if he had never left the farm. “I questioned how my life would have turned out,” he says. “What would I have done if I met someone I liked? Would I have been able to find love?” 

Josh O’Connor was cast to play Johnny. A middle-class Londoner who grew up in Cheltenham, O’Connor decided to try out his northern accent on his first meeting with Lee. “I just assumed he was a Yorkshireman,” says the director. “And he seemed, in his body language and mannerisms, to understand how repressed and unhappy Johnny would be.”

For the role of Gheorghe, a casting agent was sent to Bucharest and returned with the screen test of an actor called Alec Secareanu. Two years earlier, Secareanu had played a gay character on the stage in Budapest, and during the production homophobic militants stormed the theatre in protest. Secareanu used that experience in his depiction of Gheorghe, a man trying to find in this strange, new culture the things that gave him comfort at home in Romania.

Lee shot the film chronologically, using the seasons — winter turning to spring, the lambs taking their first breaths, plants struggling from the earth — as ellipses for the pair’s dawning relationship.

God’s Own Country premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival, where Lee was awarded the World Cinema Directing Award and the film was hailed by critics as Britain’s next great “gay” movie. It was fêted for its northern, rural setting, and its understanding of how immigration has affected such communities.

There is a lineage of British films dealing with similar subjects, among them Paweł Pawlikowski’s 2004 My Summer of Love (exploring the relationship between two women), the 1999 Channel 4 TV series Queer as Folk (set in the more urban environment of Manchester) and Stephen Frears’ 1985 My Beautiful Laundrette (depicting the romance between a working-class Londoner and the son of immigrants). “It was important to me to make a film that can exist in the ‘queer’ canon,” Lee says. “But I never saw the story just in those terms.”

He bridles at the stereotypes associated with farming life. “There’s an assumption that, because Johnny’s a farmer, he has to deal with homophobia,” Lee says. “I come from that world, and I’ve never encountered that . . . Homophobia is not somehow inherent in rural, working-class communities.”

Much was made of the debt God’s Own Country owed to Brokeback Mountain, the seminal gay romance made in 2005 by Ang Lee. The correlation is understandable. Both films follow the lives of sheep farmers who act impulsively on their mutual attraction.

Yet the similarities purposely end there. “The comparison to Brokeback is not one I shy away from,” Lee says. “That film was very important to me when it was released, but I haven’t watched it since. It’s very located in a particular time and place, and my film explores a very different time and place.”

While in Brokeback both men use their wives as accomplices in denial, in God’s Own Country Johnny’s mother finds a condom casually left on the floor and merely tuts in irritation. We realize she knows her son is gay, even if it goes unsaid.

“I didn’t want to make a ‘coming out’ film,” Lee says. “I felt that, as a culture, we’ve covered that. I wanted to make a film about masculinity, repression, and emotion. The men here just also happen to be gay.”

Throughout the history of LGBT cinema, a damaging trope has predominated: bad things happen to gay people, and they will never find enduring love. God’s Own Country sets out to contradict that. In Brokeback, love cannot exist. Here, love between two men is normalized and dramatized without recourse to sentimentality or exoticism.

If God’s Own Country owes a debt to any film, it’s to a smaller, more humble but no less accomplished movie: Weekend, Andrew Haigh’s 2011 debut, which follows the conversations of two men over the course of a weekend as they try to work out whether they should take their sexual connection further.

“Weekend was a big moment for me,” Lee says. “It was exciting to see what could be achieved, and the discussion that film created at the time. But we’ve moved on a lot as a society, even since the release of Weekend.

“Gay spaces have been homogenized into straight culture,” he adds. “Gay people are now very comfortable moving in mixed environments. But, often because of economic reasons, gay spaces have been obliterated. The characters in my film wouldn’t necessarily seek out such spaces, but they aren’t available to them, either. I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing.”

The release of God’s Own Country has been timed to coincide closely with the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act, which decriminalized homosexual acts in the UK — so long as they were kept private.

Seen from this perspective, Lee’s film is both a testament and a challenge. It questions our willingness to see gay stories as larger stories, rather than as emissaries from a separate culture.

“We’ve come so far,” Lee says of the gay community’s struggle to be fully accepted by wider society. “But we can never be complacent, we can never start to think the fight has been won.

“But I didn’t worry about that here. This is a film about everyone’s attempts to love and be loved. That’s the toughest thing any of us will ever do, no matter who you are.”

‘God’s Own Country’ is released in the UK on September 1 and in the US in October

Photographs: Agatha A Nitecka

July 22, 2017

Dirk Bogarde In The Victim Risked Everything to Change How Gays Were Being Treated



The turn of the 1960s was a time when British cinema revolutionized its attitude: it decided to face up to the issues of the day. Few problems were more controversial in public opinion than the legal status of homosexuality. The producer Michael Relph and director Basil Dearden wanted to make a film on the subject – tellingly called Victim – which would highlight the injustices facing contemporary gay men. 

They had a fight on their hands to get it made. But the film they delivered was such a damning indictment of the status quo that it actively contributed to a change in the law.

Four years earlier, the Wolfenden Report had been published, recommending the decriminalization of gay sex between consenting adults in private, and lighting the first touchpaper for legal change since the Criminal Law Amendment Act in 1885


In this relatively enlightened age, it’s horrifying to consider how gay people were treated by society just half a century ago. Back then, being closeted was not an option but a necessity. As the 1960s dawned, homosexuality was still deemed an illness and a crime across the globe. Those caught and convicted often went to prison, and then were ostracized, their lives ruined.

Some key moments in the struggle for gay rights are well-documented, including 1969’s infamous Stonewall Riots in New York City, where gays rose up angrily to resist police brutality. However, other quieter but no less courageous actions also advanced the cause, in other parts of the world.

Dirk Bogarde, a superb actor and renowned British movie star of the ‘50s and ’60s, performed a little-known act of heroism when he agreed to play a closeted homosexual barrister who’s being blackmailed in Basil Dearden’s gripping drama, “Victim” (1961). This would be the first feature film to address the topic of homosexuality openly, the first film where the word “homosexual” is even uttered. 
What’s more extraordinary about Bogarde’s decision was that unlike several other actors who’d turned down the part (James Mason and Stewart Granger among them), he was actually gay, and many in the industry knew it. Thus he was really putting his livelihood and reputation in peril.

Still, the respect this gifted actor had earned over fifteen years in the film business, combined with a gradual softening in attitudes towards the issue, allowed Bogarde to survive the experience with both his career and dignity intact.

That respect was well-earned. Dirk Bogarde was born into an upper-middle class family in 1921. His father was the art critic for The Times. At first intending to pursue the same line of work, young Derek (as he was then known) studied commercial art before switching over to drama.


Dirk seized with relish on the role of Melville Farr, the successful barrister with the beautiful wife, because Victim (1961) had something important to say about a society in which the blackmailing of homosexuals was commonplace. When the film was made, Lord Wolfenden’s Committee had reported on the merits of qualified reform, but the legislature was slow to respond.
Six years later, the Sexual Offences Act was passed, partially decriminalising homosexual acts in private between consenting males aged 21 or over. In 1968 the Earl of Arran, who had introduced the legislation in the House of Lords, wrote to Dirk, acknowledging the part the latter had played in helping to change the climate for the better. The brief but gratifying letter is reproduced on these pages by kind permission of the writer’s son, the 9th Earl.(
The Second World War intervened and very soon Derek was in the thick of it as an intelligence officer. Eventually awarded seven medals and attaining the rank of Major, Bogarde was present at the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen death camp, a horrific experience he likened to “peering into Dante’s Inferno.”

After the war, he returned to acting, and was signed to a long-term contract in 1948 by Britain’s J. Arthur Rank studio. Derek (re-christened Dirk) would make pictures there for a dozen years, most memorably starring in three of their wildly popular “Doctor in The House” comedies, about the wacky goings-on in a dysfunctional hospital.

By the time “Victim” came along, Bogarde was at a crossroads. He had just survived an ill-fated foray in Hollywood, where he made two indifferent features and vowed never to return. His contract at Rank was also wrapping up. It was at this juncture that he resolved to focus on serious art house films going forward. (This decision may actually have emboldened him to do “Victim,” as the fans most likely to be alienated would not flock to the movies he now wanted to do anyhow.) 
Notably, his taking on the role of Melville Farr in “Victim” was not an occasion for him to come out. It would take another quarter century before Bogarde would acknowledge that his relationship with longtime companion and manager Anthony Forwood was more than platonic.

For Bogarde, his private life was just that. Still, he saw no reason not to do “Victim,” because he knew it would make a very good film (he was right), and because it shed light on an injustice that he felt, at long last, needed addressing.

Though its highly controversial subject matter guaranteed a limited release, the film helped spur debate on whether homosexuality should remain a crime in England. It may well have accelerated its decriminalization in 1967. 

Dirk Bogarde would make his most memorable and enduring films over the following decade, in collaboration with directors Joseph Losey (1963’s “The Servant,” 1964’s “King and Country”), John Schlesinger (1965’s “Darling”), and Luchino Visconti ( 1971’s “Death in Venice”).

Having dabbled in poetry years before, Bogarde decided to take up writing in the late ‘70s and became prolific, penning a series of well-received novels, essays and memoirs. On paper, the actor’s innate reserve melted away, and this new career reportedly gave him immense satisfaction.

Sir Dirk Bogarde (he’d been knighted in 1992) died at age 78 in 1999, ten years after Anthony Forwood’s passing. A heavy smoker, he succumbed to a heart attack after previously enduring two strokes.

He deserves to be remembered as a great actor and writer, and also a gallant, principled man who accepted a part other actors were afraid to play, at great risk to himself. In doing so, he helped change the world for the better.
(Best Movies By Farr)

A seriously handsome, bona fide star who had made 35 films by the age of 40, Dirk Bogarde was both British and knighted and made more arrestingly bold choices than any actor of his generation, taking name-above-the-title roles in The Servant and Accident with Joseph Losey, Death in Venice and The Damned for Luchino Visconti, The Night Porter for Liliana Cavani, Providence for Alain Resnais and Despair for Rainer Werner Fassbinder. All that from a man who as early as 1958 was the biggest draw at the British box office – pulling bigger audiences than Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Audrey Hepburn and Elvis Presley. 

In addition, by the time of his death, in 1999, he had reinvented himself. He published six novels, plus collections of correspondence and criticism, and, crucially, seven best-selling volumes of memoirs throughout which he staunchly claimed to be straight. Actress Glynis Johns, a contemporary most famous as the suffragette mother in Mary Poppins, tartly observed, "I never believed more than one sentence of what Dirk wrote." She should know: she was once married to Tony Forwood who had divorced her and subsequently lived with Bogarde as his "manager" for almost 40 years.

Bogarde's position was, initially, understandable. Born in 1921, for his first 46 years homosexuality was against the law. Any man caught in "homosexual acts" faced imprisonment. That prohibition was ruthlessly policed. In 1955, 2,504 men were arrested for "homosexual offenses", ie, about seven people every day. Even Ian McKellen, 18 years younger, didn't come out until 1988 when he was 49. Bogarde never did.

Although fully entitled to privacy, his blanket denials on television, radio and in print post-1967 legalization became, for me, increasingly hard to stomach. Posthumously, the man behind the painstakingly maintained mask was uncovered in home movies and commentaries from family and friends in a BBC documentary The Private Dirk Bogarde (2001) and John Coldstream's biography. The great irony of Bogarde's position, however, is that no other screen actor has given such affecting and extraordinarily powerful gay performances.

Even now (it's changing somewhat) the industry regards playing gay as being potentially career-damaging, an act so "brave" that your Oscar virtually comes with the contract – step forward William Hurt for Kiss of the Spiderwoman (1985), Tom Hanks for Philadelphia (1993), Philip Seymour Hoffman for Capote (2005), Sean Penn for Milk (2008). Probably the only reason Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal didn't win for Brokeback Mountain was that their dual presence canceled one another out.

Regardless of the authenticity – or lack thereof – of those performances by straight actors, they pale beside the still astonishing impact of Bogarde's shockingly truthful performance back in 1961 as a barrister embroiled in a secret gay affair in Victim.

Bogarde plays married barrister Melville Farr who discovers that a blackmailed young man who loved him has hanged himself in police custody rather than reveal their relationship. Realizing Farr's intention to uncover the plot, the blackmailers threaten to expose him. In the central scene – whose dialogue was rewritten to more explicit effect by Bogarde himself – Farr is confronted by his distressed wife (played by Sylvia Syms).

Shot in high-contrast black-and-white, edged with the darkness of a sitting-room at night but trapped in a fierce spotlight, Bogarde is mesmerizing. Crisply suited, dry-voiced and on the edge of tears, he painfully stifles the emotion threatening to destroy him. With the camera locked in close-up, he lifts his chin ever so slightly in defiance, his eyes widening into a glare of triumph that costs him everything.

"You won't be content until I tell you, will you, until you've ripped it out of me. I stopped seeing him because I wanted him. Can you understand – because I WANTED him."

I can still remember being transfixed – and terrified – by that moment when I first saw it by accident on television one night. It was the 1970s, I was a guilt-ridden, fiercely closeted teenager and I had never, ever seen or heard a man on screen or off express such piercing desire for another man. I felt physically torn between an absolute need to keep watching and the cramping fear that my parents would come in and instantly understand why I was watching something so incriminating.

Bogarde always maintained that the camera photographed thought. Nowhere is that more true than in that scene. It wasn't just this teenager who recognized the staggering truth behind that performance and its implications for the actor.

In a television interview to promote the film, he was asked the not-so-veiled question: "You must feel very strongly about this subject to risk losing possibly a large part of your audience by appearing in such a bitterly controversial film?"

With manufactured insouciance, Bogarde counters, "I don't think so, no. This is a marvelous part and in a film I think is tremendously important because it doesn't pull any punches: it's quite honest. I don't have to use any old tricks for the fans, it's a straightforward character performance."

Necessarily disingenuous as that was, in hindsight, it's also seriously unconvincing due to his immensely camp "who me?" manner, his left eyebrow arched, his fingers playing with his ear and chin.

Being able to pinpoint a scene that changed a career is rare, but that's what that Victim scene did. And having just engineered his release from his constraining 14-year-old contract with the Rank Organisation, Bogarde accelerated to an international reputation taking on increasingly complex roles with adventurous directors. Contrarily, the finest of those performances were in roles amplifying his hidden sexuality.

He was memorably vicious as the vicious Barrett, the manservant manipulating imperiled, upper-class James Fox into sex-and-power games in Losey's superbly elliptical (and Pinter-scripted) The Servant. And, in 1971, he crowned his career with Death in Venice, playing a man who falls fatally in love with the ideal of beauty exemplified by a beautiful boy. With almost no dialogue, the film amounts to a 125-minute reaction shot. As casting director Michelle Guish observed of Helen Mirren the day after the first Prime Suspect aired, no other British actor could have played that role that well because no one else had that depth of screen experience.

Was it arrogance that pushed the controlled Bogarde to the brink of self-exposure in this and other defining roles? He destroyed almost all of his personal papers, so we'll never know. Whatever conclusion we try to draw, the screen evidence survives.


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