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Queer and/or peculiar films that have mattered

Wednesday, Jul 10 2002

Page 7 of 8

KEVIN THOMAS (Los Angeles Times film critic)

Rosa von Praunheim’s It’s Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, but the Situation in Which He Lives [1970] is an extraordinary film. It’s about a young gay kid who comes from a small town to Berlin and gets a job as a waiter and falls in love with another waiter and finds paradise on Earth, and of course the whole thing falls apart in about three weeks. He gets used up, is reduced to hustling, and, finally, there’s a fanciful epilogue in which he’s rescued to a halfway house and nursed back to health by very handsome men. Wishful thinking! But the film suggests how gay society takes on straight views of youth and materialism and magnifies them many times over. And how destructive that can be. It’s rather crudely made, in Rosa’s inimitable semidocumentary style, but it’s very powerful and timeless.

GUINEVERE TURNER (screenwriter, actress, Go Fish)

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Hedwig and the Angry Inch [2001; John Cameron Mitchell, director] blew me away. It represents to me a new wave of queer cinema. We've gone from "We're here, we're queer" to "Figure this one out." It's so much more complex, exactly the kind of film I want my mom to see.

TINA TYLER (adult-film star and director)

I was 15 and living on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, a tiny sports-minded town four hours from any major city. I was a social outcast in my teens, feeling lonely, not good enough, not worthy of love. And I saw The Rocky Horror Picture Show [1975; Jim Sharman, director] and thought, "These are my people. I need to be hanging with them. I need to move! I need to get to where there's people like this."

BRUCE VILANCH (humorist)

I’m tempted to say What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? [1962; Robert Aldrich, director], because it reminds me of so many gay relationships: One of them is always in drag, the other can’t get out of bed. But since I’m sure you’d like a serious, soberly considered answer, I’ll nominate the picture that moved me the most, an independent film called Parting Glances [1986; Bill Sherwood, director]. It’s an ’80s item about friendship and loss and fag hags and middle-class people living as bohemians and the beginnings of the AIDS catastrophe and commitment of many different stripes. And there’s a great show scene.

BILL WEBER (filmmaker, The Cockettes, screening at Outfest 2002 Awards Night)

I was going to Kansas University in 1972, and gay films pretty much didn’t exist, except The Boys in the Band [1970; William Friedkin, director], which literally scared me. I hadn’t come out of the closet, and I thought, "Oh my god. Are these my ancestors?" But then Tricia’s Wedding [1971; Milton Miron, director] came around. It was a movie of a play the San Francisco performance troupe the Cockettes produced that parodied Tricia Nixon’s White House wedding — they did it the night of the wedding — with bearded drag queens and people who looked like women but didn’t have breasts. Doing drugs and doing a send-up of the White House. I thought, "My god. These are my ancestors!"

YVONNE WELBON (filmmaker, Living With Pride: Ruth Ellis at 100)

I don’t have one that I love most, but I do have one that I loved first: Entre Nous [1983; Diane Kurys, director]. I saw it over and over again. It wasn’t explicit, but the two women in it were both beautiful. I was still in college and trying to figure stuff out for myself, and in the postscript it said it was a true story, that it was Diane Kurys’ mother’s story. I loved that. This was real, this had really happened to somebody. Maybe it could happen to me.

WASH WESTMORELAND (filmmaker, The Fluffer)

I chose for my special movie My Beautiful Laundrette [1985; Stephen Frears, director] because it was the movie my last-ever girlfriend took me to see. This was in the north of England. I was 19. She was very smart so afterwards, she sat me down and said, "Well, what did you think of that?" I was so shaken by the movie that certain images and ideas from it have stayed with me ever since. There's that famous scene when Daniel Day-Lewis and his Pakistani lover are making love in the back of the laundrette and he squirts champagne into his lover's mouth. It's so charged. I think at certain ages we go to the movies for explanation or identification and this film provided both for me. It was a doorway to a different way of looking at the world.

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