Friday, 21 February 2014

Film: In The Country

Gay people and the city have been a good match since Sodom and Gomorrah. From the molly houses of 18th-century London to 1970s San Francisco via prewar Berlin, the urban environment has always been the natural habitat of queer culture – a place where LGBT people can set their own rules, form their own families, be anonymous when they want to and find company when they fancy it. The countryside, on the other hand, is the place they escape from – a realm of social conformity with limited opportunities for culture, sex or socialising, and perhaps even a site of danger.

That's the stereotype, anyway, both in reality and on screen. Innumerable movies with claims to gay-classic status are inseparable from their urban settings: London has VictimMy Beautiful Laundrette and Beautiful Thing; New York has The Boys in the BandParis Is Burning and Torch Song Trilogy; Berlin has Cabaret and Taxi zum Klo; Philadelphia has, erm,Philadelphia. On TV, Queer as Folk was all about Manchester in its original UK incarnation and Pittsburgh in the US remake, while San Francisco is the setting for both new HBO show Looking and the literary adaptation whose title says it all, Tales of the City.

Leave town and things get less comfortable. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is wholly structured around the idea of gay people in the country as fish out of water, its basically feelgood vibe laced with moments of real macho menace directed at our drag-queen heroines. Brokeback Mountain made icons of its repressed rural protagonists, men whose inability to articulate their desires even to themselves doomed them to lives of regret...

An interesting and informed piece by Ben Walters in The Guardian.

Though it uses as its launchpad two films in your actual French, Stranger By The Lake and Tom At The Farm, only about 49 people here will see.

Apparently this contains "surprisingly graphic gay sex"

There's a great history book waiting to be written about how gay men are creatures - and arguably creations - of the city.

PS See also Let's Do It:: How sex in cinema is getting physical - Nicholas Barber, Independent On Sunday.

1 comment:

  1. Stranger by the lake is a fantastic film.