Like every week in honor of a particular release pertaining to a specific type of film I like to bring up (at least) five other that are somehow related. This weekend Pedro Almodóvar’s I’m So Excited is coming out in limited release, so I thought I’d spend a few words on my favorite films portraying homosexual, bisexual or transgender characters.
Happy Together (1997, Wong Kar-wai)
With this film Wong Kar-wai was trying to warn Hong Kong audiences to flee the country while they still could: Once the fifty year period of independence from the mainland run out they might experience less tolerant policies and politics regarding freedom of “sexuality”. Aside from making a political statement Wong was also making a poetic one. Christopher Doyle shoots some of the most gorgeous images of cinema history, especially the ones in black and white. The film is about a destructive relationship between to men moving to Argentina. Highly recommended.
Being John Malkovich (1999, Spike Jonze)
I know I’ve recommended this one already only last week, but I’ll repeat myself because it is also relevant with this weeks topic. Jonze explores human sexuality in this film like no other I’ve seen before. It’s about how sexual identity shouldn’t be viewed as something ‘fixed’ to a body, but rather to the essence of one’s person. The attractions in this film are not exclusively physical, but also “intellectual”. It questions whether traditional labels like “gay”, “hetero” or “bi” even make sense and that’s precisely what I love about it. Sometimes things are more complicated and difficult to explain, but society prefers to trivialize everything to be able to sleep at night.
Mulholland Dr. (2001, David Lynch)
Lynch is one of my favorite directors and this is considered his masterpiece. Although I prefer Inland Empire and Blue Velvet this is a close third and a fantastic film about Hollywood, dreams and lesbians. Who dreams who? That’s the question. I love the bizarre atmosphere and non-linear plot. A great film noir that I can recommend especially for a career best performance by Naomi Watts and of course like I said it’s a David Lynch film so that should be a good enough reason to check it out. Also: Sex!
The Rules of Attraction (2002, Roger Avary)
This film does feature gay characters, but they’re not necessarily the main part of the story, although there is one of the most hilarious scenes I’ve ever seen involving one of them. Still I want to recommend it because of the weird tone and feel of this film and because I don’t hear many people mentioning it or talking about it anymore. The atmosphere I was referring to is once more about feeling lost and alone in this world. It’s kind of depressing now that I think of it, so I’ll recommend it with a grain of salt and if you’re into more melodramatic cinema. The story is about these college kids trying to figure out their lives while partying and having sex and all the usual stuff we do to find themselves.
Kaboom (2010, Gregg Araki)
Gregg Araki’s entire filmography except for maybe his ‘straight movie’ The Doom Generation (1995) could be recommended, but I’d like to go ahead tell you to check out my personal favorite: Kaboom. I’ve already written full-length thoughts on it, but I didn’t focus much on the fact that it’s about a bisexual character. That’s because Araki doesn’t make a big deal out of it, and those are precisely the ‘gay films’ I prefer: The ones that are just about those characters and don’t treat them any different from those that happen to be heterosexual.
If these five are not enough for you I’d like to bring up Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan (2010) which I’m sure everyone has at least heard of. Swans are gay, so it makes sense that Aronofsky explore’s Nina’s (Natalie Portman) sexuality. Another bonus recommendation is the light comedy But I’m a Cheerleader (1999) getting more into a “religious nuts hating gays” kind of discourse.
That’s if from me, if you have a film that you would like to recommend: Go ahead, I like getting recommendations!
Sheldon (Andrew Garfield) is a lonely robot living in LA, where he works as a librarian. His life is repetitive and melancholy, until he meets the cute, but troubled humanoid Francesca (Sienna Guillory). Sheldon falls in love with Francesca. They go to parties and concerts together, but one night something goes horribly wrong and Francesca loses her arm. From there things escalate, until the inevitable end. Continue reading
With This is the End coming out in theaters, many might think actors playing themselves is somewhat revolutionary or “genius”. While I can’t think of an entire film based on that premise alone, there certainly have been a lot of actors playing themselves in movies over the years. And I’m not talking about like Woody Allen playing a version of himself in every one of his starring roles or instructing his actors to play a surrogate of his persona: I mean actors playing themselves, like literally.
1. Cecil B. DeMille in Sunset Blvd. (1950)
Not an actor, but a director; still what a memorable cameo in what’s quite possibly the greatest Hollywood film of all time. A great scene in a classic film about film and the film industry. Definitely one of my all time favorites, highly recommended for Billy Wilder’s fantastic script and direction.
2. Marcello Mastroianni et al. in Fellini’s Intervista (1987)
One of Federico Fellini’s most self-indulgent movies no doubt, but it’s still a lot of fun to see him re-team with Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg and others. To see these aging icons however made a weird impression, but overall Intervista works as a self-referential comedy imbued by the master’s trademark humor.
3. John Malkovich in Being John Malkovich (1999)
Great movie. John Malkovich playing himself is hilarious and creepy at the same time. Or maybe it’s the other character’s obsession with him that give off these weird vibes of creepiness. Regardless, director Spike Jonze and writer Charlie Kaufman knock it out of the park with this one.
4. Alfred Molina et al. in Coffee and Cigarettes (2003)
Most if not all of the eleven shorts in this Jim Jarmusch film feature celebrities playing versions of themselves. My favorite has to be Cousins? with Alfred Molina discovering that he’s related to Steve Coogan, who couldn’t care less. Very funny.
5. Neil Patrick Harris in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)
His cameo in the films is a repeated joke in all the Harold & Kumar films. Neil Patrick Harris, as a comedic actor, is highly overrated, but his ‘shtick’ is fairly appropriate in the context of these already ‘schlocky’ films.