In a season devoted to Queerness and the Theatrical, it is apt that we have theater critic and man-of-letters Hilton Als bring the fall series to a close with The Group, a "high minded potboiler," adapted from the novel by Mary McCarthy, about a group of Vassar girls (including a nineteen year-old ingenue named Candice Bergen) facing such difficult after-college challenges as divorce, alcoholism....and life as a lesbian! ere’s Hilton on THE GROUP: When I first saw THE GROUP, on the "Million Dollar Movie," that pre-TCM repository of flicks one was too young to see during their original release, I was a boy living in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. From the film's opening frames, I was gobsmacked by how familiar the film's protagonists were to me. Their emotional lives, and interest in the emotional lives of other women, felt as immediate and true as a home movie, despite the film's being about college educated white women who come of age between Roosevelt's New Deal and Eisenhower's cracked and arid reign. Still, in the film of my life, the opinionated, working class black women I knew, who viewed lesbianism as more of a commonplace than one's own male queerness, spoke for me. For a long time, I made their difference was my own: I knew no other. "The Group," was not only another window into the world of women who raised me, but into the lovely language--visual and verbal--of what makes queerness just that: different.
Cinematically inspired painter Angela Dufresne – whose vibrant and dreamy canvases are often riffs on images pulled from the screen – presents this controversial film from the Wunderkind of Thai Cinema. A mystical love story between a young soldier and the country boy he seduces, the film is a "feral narrative," as Dufresne calls it, "with influences as diverse as Kurosawa, Vuillard, and Peter Hujar." Love it or hate it, you won't have a neutral bone in your body after you've seen it on the screen. Here’s Angela on TROPICAL MALADY: Apichatpong Weerasethakul records with the subtle mortal grace and light of Peter Hujar. He clumsily yet effortlessly combines methods of cinema verité and mythical stories into feral narratives, especially in this one, Tropical Malady. Subjectivity oozes from every character, every tree and every wall of his scenes, fogging conventions, dimming ideologies and illuminating the hallucination of our socially constructed identities. Like Kurasawa, Vuillard or Vermeer—to move backwards in time through his lineage as I see it—he is ruthless, tender and sincere. These are all attributes of a great artistic sensitively and as Hujar embodies it so wonderfully, the eyes of an outsider, the marginal ones, who from their birds eye view, can see better the world than those who actually live in it not self-consciously.
John Cameron Mitchell presents ENTERTAINING MR. SLOANE
Entertaining Mr. Sloane (1970, Douglas Hickox)
October 1, 2009
Don’t miss the next Queer/Art/Film at the 92YTribeca on Thursday, Oct. 1, when John Cameron Mitchell presents Entertaining Mr. Sloane, a horny comedy about a libidinous lodger and the brother and sister who want him dearly. Here’s John on SLOANE: Entertaining Mr. Sloane is the unsung black comedy gem of Swinging Sixties-era British film. Closely adapted from Joe Orton's 1964 hit play, it concerns a certain young libidinous lodger fought over by a wacky middle-aged brother and sister. It's Pinter crossed with Dame Edna. It combined the broad, skeptical music hall humor I learned from my youth in a Scottish Catholic boarding school with the giddy homo outrage I felt coming out in the AIDS-benighted 80's. Orton, the openly queer, rudely promiscuous bomb-thrower of the British stage, was all the rage in the mid 60's to the point of being commissioned to write a screenplay for the Beatles (sadly unrealized). Some folks aspire to play Hamlet and Lear. The old men in Beckett and Orton are the only roles I still feel the need to essay. And maybe Kath in Sloane, though it's impossible to imagine topping Beryl Reid's tour de force in this film.
Join us for the opening night of the Fall Season of Queer/Art/Film, when Everett Quinton, the legendary star of Charles Ludlam’s Ridiculous Theater, will present this over-the-top noir in which Victorian widow Ann Todd gets caught up in l’amour fou with the handsome and dangerous Ray Milland. As Quinton describes it, “intrigue, sex, blackmail, robbery, murder, and false accusations….what else more could you want?” EVERETT on SO EVIL MY LOVE: "This is why I love So Evil My Love. One morning I was watching television and it came on. I had never heard of it. I was blown away. I knew Geraldine Fitzgerald and always was happy whenever a film of hers came on ... just because I was happy to know such a big star personally. I have always been a fan of these film noir thrillers from childhood so it wasn't hard to get hooked. But I didn't realize how stunning I would find this film. The acting ... Geraldine Fitzgerald blew me away ... and Ann Todd is amazing and Ray Milland is stunning. I couldn't believe how marvelous ... I mentioned a moment to Geraldine ... which I won't spoil for anyone ... but it made her happy that I loved the film so much ... And the story is fabulous ... intrigue, sex, blackmail, robbery, murder and false accusations. What else could you want? I even stole a plot point for my play Call Me Sarah Bernhardt. What a great morning that was for me.""
Join us for a special night, when novelist, playwright, and media activist Sarah Schulman will present Chantal Akerman’s Je, Tu, Il, Elle, one of the extraordinary Belgian filmmaker’s most sublime and personal films. Here’s Sarah on the movie: Along with the feature Les Rendez-Vous d'Anna, Ackerman's 1974 Je, Tu, Il, Elle is among her few overtly lesbian works. Ironically, when we showed this in the NY Lesbian and Gay Film Festival in the 1980's, we had to sneak around to get a print because the Belgian genius was not showing her work in explicitly gay festivals. It's a film about what we are willing to endure and accept we must go through to simply be in the presence of the beloved, no matter how problematic she may turn out to be. What makes this singular film especially endearing is that a very young Ackerman herself plays the lead and through performance establishes the fundamentals of her highly original filmic style."
If you’ve never seen Tongues Untied, or its been as long ago as it is for me (MOMA, 1989, with Marlon Riggs introducing), join me at 7:30PM on Thursday, July 16 when filmmaker and media artist Thomas Allen Harris will present a rare screening of the late Marlon Riggs’ seminal work, Tongues Untied, as part of the series QUEER/ART/FILM at the 92Y Tribeca. Here’s Thomas on the movie: Marlon Riggs made his groundbreaking film, Tongues Untied, motivated by a singular imperative: "to shatter the nation's brutalizing silence on matters of sexual and racial difference." While politicians denounced it as 'pornographic art' and PBS stations refused to air it, Tongues Untied showed us the power of film-video-art as a tool for piercing the barricades between culture and politics, using a sharply honed black queer aesthetic as uncompromising as it is beautiful. Twenty years later it still serves up bitter sweet insights into the tortured psyche of modern culture."
Don’t miss the charming and talented Lisa Kron (Well, 2.5 Minute Ride, The Five Lesbian Brothers and more) presenting a rare screening of Elia Kazan’s 1945 film version of the great local classic, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, as part of the series, QUEER/ART/FILM at the 92Y Tribeca (200 Hudson @ Canal). The series has been pretty wonderful so far, and I hope you all can take part, and see what’s been going on. (I’m alas out of town for this one...). And if you raising any adolescents at home, by the way, this is a perfect night to bring ‘em along! Here’s Lisa on the movie: "Many years ago my then girlfriend and I were watching Siskel and Ebert at the Movies and they did a segment on their recommended video rentals. I can't remember exactly what they said about A Tree Grows in Brooklyn but I do remember that we got our asses up off the couch on a dreary Sunday evening and went right over to Kim's Video and rented it. And, as Gene and Roger promised, we were blown away by the complete lack of sentimentality in this clear-eyed, emotionally unsparing film. It was adapted from the Betty Smith novel about a girl coming of age in a family beset by poverty and alcoholism and it was Elia Kazan's first film."
Kenny Melman presents QUEER & UNAVAILABLE
Queer & Unavailable (1900, various artists)
June 25, 2009
"For some reason a lot of the best queer film content is not available to the general public. Banished either by conspiracy or oversight, or by Richard Carpenter, this content demands to be seen! We can't say what will be shown but expect TV specials, gay episodes of TV shows and Red Foxx..." - Kenny Melman
Join me for the third night of QUEER/ART/FILM at the 92YTribeca when filmmaker and all around artist extraordinaire Jennie Livingston will be with us to present a rare 35mm print of Fellini’s 8 1/2. If you haven’t seen it, its not to be missed, and if you have, when was the last time on a big screen, with a bunch of other queers and artists?? So far, the evenings have been lively and thought provoking-- I’m still mulling over the word “permission” that John Kelly spoke of in reaction to Jean Cocteau -- and with Jennie leading the ship, this week will certainly be no exception.
Blue is the last of iconoclastic queer filmmaker Derek Jarman’s 12 features, completed only four months before his death, and after his vision had been subsumed by constant blue light. The film’s continuous blue screen becomes an absorbing canvas for audiences’ visions, as Jarman’s poetic, angry, wistful and sometimes humorous accounts of his illness create an atmospheric wall of sound. For me, the collective experience of viewing this film in a theater is unmatched, and it’s an arresting and transcendent gift from a queer legend. - Matt Wolf
What better way to start off June, the gayest month of the year, than with the launching of one of our most exciting new events, QUEER/ART/FILM, a new film series of all things hybrid and poly-sexual at the 92Y Tribeca. Curated by Butt magazine contributing editor Adam Baran and filmmaker Ira Sachs, the series invites some of the most exciting, innovative (and homosexual) artists from the dance/performance/film/visual and literary arts to present and discuss their favorite films, in rare prints, on the big screen! The series asks the question: How does film create a link from one queer generation to the next, from John Kelly to Jean Cocteau to Jennie Livingston to Derek Jarman to Marlon Riggs to Chantal Akerman to Kiki & Herb to the Five Lesbian Brothers, to…..you! Join us every Thursday in June, and bi-weekly in the months to follow, to explore these unexpected pathways from one artist to the next, true excavations of history, and queerest of cinematic events. The series opens this Thursday, June 4, at 7:30PM with the performance artist and occasional Joni Mitchell impersonator John Kelly presenting a rare print of Jean Cocteau’s 1930’s masterpiece, Blood of the Poet.