27 September 2015 | jakob13
A much more interesting film thanks to Baitz
Were it not for Jon Robin Baitz 'Stonewall' would be a less interesting film. His script is narrow focus: the three months leading up to the 'rebellion' at the Stonewall bar on Christopher Street in New York's Greenwich Village. Roland Emmerich use his camera to capture the nights and days of those 90 days that gave rise to Gay Liberation, as seen through the least and most vulnerable of homosexuals--the drag queens, the bum boys and the homeless who risk life and limb by living on the street, and who are at the mercy of the mafia that own the Stonewall and the corrupt police who they pay for 'protection' or whose billy clubs bruise them or the Black Maria that haul them off to prison. Is it by chance that 'Stonewall' opens during Pope Francis' visit to New York? The Roman pontiff came with a message of love the least among us, even the homosexual. What is missing is the context of a US in the throes of 'revolutionary' turmoil in a mass movement against the war in Vietnam and the rise of the Black Panthers, a 'revolutionary' movement of liberation that proved to be an example for a revolt from below. Emmerich's camera recreate the cruising world of the piers, the bars and off screen the death that awaits the rent boys from predators. Baitz slights the Mattachine Society who labored in the years before the ferment of the 1960s for equal rights for homosexuals by peaceful means. He's got it right that the younger homosexuals rebelled on 28 June 1969 at Stonewall, and more to the point, it was the 'despised' drag queens who confronted the police and openly resisted the police, resulting in three days of rage and rebellion that gave rise to Gay Power. He's got it wrong in saying that the drag queens, in the person of Ray, based on the ironic Sylvia Rivera, had no political consciousness, but rose up in a having it had it sense of frustration. Rivera later was a simple member of the Young Lords, an activist group of Peurto Rican nationalists, modeled on the Panthers. 'Stonewall's hook is a young Johnny Appleseed from Indiana thrown out by his father for being gay. Ray adopts Danny Winter and brings into life on the streets. There are a class angle to this since Danny will go to Columbia as a scholarship, thereby escaping the streets, yet firmly gay and proud of his 'sister' Ray and her friends. There is a minor frisson of tension in Danny's kidnap and delivery to a predator who made us strangely think of J. Edgar Hoover, grotesquely tarted up in drag.