Passions re-ignite and secrets revealed when a graphic designer reconnects with the great, lost love of his life for a weekend tryst at a house in the desert near Joshua Tree.Passions re-ignite and secrets revealed when a graphic designer reconnects with the great, lost love of his life for a weekend tryst at a house in the desert near Joshua Tree.Passions re-ignite and secrets revealed when a graphic designer reconnects with the great, lost love of his life for a weekend tryst at a house in the desert near Joshua Tree.
Is this the queer cinema renaissance we have been waiting for?
Much like LGBTI people, Queer cinema has struggled to find its place, often disadvantaged and dismissed by the mainstream. Making movies is expensive and generally queer cinema never has access to the same kind of budgets as its hetero-normative counterparts resulting in, at times, distractingly poor production standards which fans of the genre generally forgive, hungry for any kind of representation on screen. Actors can be afraid to be associated with 'gay roles' whether they are gay, straight, closet, etc in real life. And stories can be safe, not wanting to miss the chance of catching that stray, curious, 'straight' viewer. But lately, in my opinion, some of these concerns are disappearing. Though film-making is still an expensive endeavor, high-quality cameras, audio and editing equipment is cheaper than ever – resulting in higher production standards. Need an aerial shot of a car on a desert highway? No need to hire a chopper. Hire or even buy outright a drone for that spectacular opening, closing or establishing shot. The myriad of ways we can now watch 'cinema' also helps, as streaming services (and alike) are hungry for content, making them far more willing to take risks on 'niche' titles to fill their catalog. All this brings me to Lazy Eye, which has its fair share of striking drone shots (of the Mohave Desert) and that I saw via iTunes after reading about it in a festival program – the kind of instant access to queer cinema I never had only a few years ago. There's no need to give a synopsis here but Lazy Eye (ironically) looks great, uses its locations well and is, for the most part, well-acted in what is essentially a two-hand-er. Another positive is the story, one that deals with gay men who are completely at ease with their sexuality, the drama coming from their tumble towards middle age and the physical, mental and emotional changes that come with it. We've seen the coming out, first love story countless times – Lazy Eye is what happens 15 plus years down the track, when you've had a number of relationships, you're out to everyone around you and might even be in a same sex marriage. Lazy Eye also doesn't reply on overt, titillating or unrealistic sex scenes where some queer cinema makes the mistake of being more like a porno. That's not to say Lazy Eye doesn't have sex scenes, there are two, but both have a distinct storytelling purpose and are all the more emotionally arousing for it. While it's not a perfect film (the 'Lazy Eye' of the title ends up having little bearing on the story despite the opening scene) it is an example of a certain maturity Queer cinema has reached both in production technique and story content. Another recent film, 'Retake', is very similar. Well shot, well- acted, set partially in a desert and deals with characters who are not tormented by their sexuality but who are dealing with life issues common to everyone. Retake too is very much worth a look as is 'Those People'. Again, it's well shot, in this case beautifully with characters not dealing with the singular issue of 'being gay' but dealing with life issues from a gay perspective. Yet another example is 'Akron'. On the surface it has all the hallmarks of the coming-out, first love story but quickly and refreshingly our very young characters are revealed to be utterly at ease with being gay as are their family and friends. While probably the weaker of the films mentioned here, Akron is worth seeing for the absolute normalcy of the gay relationship, accentuated by amazingly natural and uninhibited performances from the two leads. If these films are any indication, the future of Queer cinema is indeed bright.
- Feb 9, 2017
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