Saturday, September 18, 2010

Go Gay: A Serious Academic Discussion in the Form of a Top-5 List

The great Buster Keaton, coming straight at you
and ready to pounce.

About a month ago, David Quin of the Free Ed Podcast began to populate his Twitter feed with a long list of men for whom he'd "go gay." We're talking about a long list. It might have been faster for him to name those who didn't make the list.

Anyhow, THE FUTURIST! and I concluded that we too should make top 5 "Go Gay" lists in Mr. Quin's honor. And after quite a bit of wishy-washy delay, our lists are here. There may be one or two differences in eligibility requirements, no doubt because we kept changing them (I had down that all the honorees would be from the cinematic arts, but THE FUTURIST! included an author), but both our lists are now live. Read THE FUTURISTS!'s here and read mine below.

The white stuff in his face came out
of that thing in his mouth.

Jean-Paul Belmondo
We all know that Belmondo has some impressive facial contortions up his sleeves, and I don't see how that couldn't come in handy in the bedroom. But that's not why he made the list. No, he made it for his assured presence, his ability to be suave one moment and silly the next, without ever losing his sexual aura.

The touch, the feel…

Joseph Cotten
Among the many men on Mr. Quin's list was any-era Orson Welles (despite THE FUTURIST!'S concerns that older Welles would crush Quin). But I'm oriented more toward Welles's friend and colleague at the Mercury and beyond. You can tell that Cotten knows how to treat a fellow. He'd make me feel safe, and I'd let him do whatever he wanted to me, trusting that I was in good hands.

Jessica Mathews: "I think it would be fun to run a newspaper with Joseph Cotten, especially when we have to work late alone together at night."

Me: "Get him a little drunk."

Jessica: "Maybe a lot."

"He may have starred in 'The Third Man' but he's the first man whose mouth I want to put my balls into" — TJ Fogelsanger

Speaking of which…

Keaton's pioneering of tea-bagging has
been woefully overlooked.

Buster Keaton
This should come as no surprise to anyone who has ever spoken to me for more than 38 seconds. Buster could stand erect while my facade fell down around him any time. There are a number of reasons for which to go gay for Buster, each of which would be a good enough reason on its own. He is a genius—both a master storyteller and innovative craftsman, and cinema IQ turns me on. And we all know how flexible he is. The man toured the country taking a licking on stage and was always back up and ready for more before you could shout for it. And there's no question he'll finish the job—if he can complete a take after breaking his neck, think what he can do while roughing it in the sack.

Sometimes Ewan makes one pray for a gust of wind.
Or: 120-proof Scotch

Ewan McGregor
That smile. That grace. That gentle yet rugged presence. Look at the way Ewan's eyes light up as he sings "Your Song" in "Moulin Rouge!" and tell me you don't swoon. You can't do it, can you? The man is simply dreamy, in the most sexual sense of the word. (Would that be wet-dreamy?)

"I don't know what's under the kilt. I only know I want it in my ass." —TJ Fogelsanger

The hand slightly obscuring his face only
makes me want him more.

Mark Ruffalo
Ruffalo, say it aloud. The name rolls off the tongue, just as I'm sure the man himself rolls off the tongue. Studly and unassuming, Ruffalo is always impressive, and never worried about proving himself. That's right, folks, he doesn't need to compensate for anything.

"I hope people try to give me a lobotomy just so I can hang out with Mark Ruffalo all weekend." —Jessica Mathews
bxAv110 bxAv110 bxAv110

Monday, September 13, 2010

Claude Chabrol: 1930-2010

Claude Chabrol was so in love with movies that he never stopped making them. During the periods in which most filmmakers take a break or linger in development hell, he made movies. They were sometimes produced in unflattering or compromised circumstances, but nevertheless they were Chabrol films that held his cynical outlook, simmering tensions and challenging resolutions.

Between 1958 and his death on Sept. 12, 2010, he made around 50 films, contributed shorts to a few compilations, and directed several television episodes. Few other filmmakers (Woody Allen comes to mind) managed to maintain such a long prolific streak. Perhaps that's why the 80 year old's death comes as such a surprise. It seemed like he'd go on forever.

Chabrol started his career, as many other great French New Wave directors did, writing for the landmark film journal Cahiers du cinema. The year before he released "Le beau Serge" (1958) oft-cited as the first film of the New Wave, he co-wrote a landmark study on Alfred Hitchcock with fellow director Éric Rohmer, who died earlier this year. (Jean-Luc Godard and Jaques Rivette are now the only Cahiers New Wave directors still living.) Many cite the book as the work that prompted people to think of Hitchcock as an artist and not merely an entertainer.

Le beau Serge

Indeed, the master of suspense was artist's most famous influence. But if Hitchcock's films often brought extreme danger to ordinary situations, Chabrol found the danger lurking in ordinary life. His first two films, "Le Beau Serge" and "Les cousins" both featured characters who despaired over the random imperfection that governs life. These people had dreams and plans, and they crash hard when they realize just how far away they are from their ideals.

Lurking in many of his films were sly commentaries on the social divide, best embodied by 1995's "La cérémonie," starring Sandrine Bonnaire and Isabelle Huppert as an illiterate maid and the potentially mad postal worker who befriends her, respectively. Jacqueline Bisset plays the upper-class woman of the house, who is very sympathetic to her lower-class employee, yet completely fails to understand her. Chabrol often let his stories slip more and more out of control until reaching a most astounding conclusion, and "La cérémonie" is the most jaw-dropping example of all.

La cérémonie

These descriptions all sound a bit somber, and don't suggest Chabrol's sharp, dark and subtle sense of humor. He'd include witty and droll gags and trust the audience to notice them without being hit over the head. For example, during a torture scene in "Rien ne va plus" ("The Swindle"), a gangster can be seen napping in the background, his slumber undisturbed by the screams of pain. A close-up would have broken the rhythm of the scene and played the joke too hard. Chabrol was far too classy and subtle for that.

Perhaps what's most amazing about Chabrol's films is the balance he struck—he could be funny, disturbing and touching all at once. He was the most stately and classically formal director of the Cahiers group, but his films could never be called typical. They blended new techniques with old ones, humor with violence, and bold structures with touching characters.

Le boucher

His greatest masterpiece, "Le boucher," is about a romance between a butcher and a school mistress in a small town that's become plagued by murders. The film is terrifying at moments, but Chabrol had such great empathy for his characters that what, in most hands, would have merely been an excellent thriller becomes something deeper and truly moving. Even the simple use of a song, played over a black, credit-less screen after the film's conclusion, is hard-hitting, first-class storytelling. Pure Chabrol.
bxAv110 bxAv110 bxAv110