Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Kids are all right?

I was thinking this morning (dangerous!) about Outfest and some of the films I saw there. I really did like some, and glad they’re being made, but I am one of those voices who feel like a lot of gay films (especially) seem to break down into coming out stories and wish fulfillment.

I’m not saying this is all gay film – two friends of mine made interesting films the last couple of years – Socket, about a man who becomes addicted to electrical charge; and Pornography: A Thriller – a Lynchian suspense movie that shuffles back and forth in time. Both films did well, but were stymied by the difficulty in pinpointing genre and audience. So, perhaps this is actually a larger issue (which is in mainstream film as well) of what and how something is marketed in our product-driven time. Just writing off the top of my head here – hopefully it will end up making sense.

I walked into Outfest, though, and said to the box office after looking at the program “so the lesbians are still making films about adults and the gay men are making films about sixteen year-olds.” It may be unfair, but it got a spit-take, which I don’t think would’ve happened if it weren’t, on some level, true. I’m actually not here to denigrate gay and lesbian film – any attempt at film-making is great – it ain’t easy. And I think there are some amazing gay and lesbian film makers telling great stories – not all are gay-specific and I’m not someone who thinks they need to be.

I do think, though, at some point, it would be great to make films about gay adults. With their shirts on. Just a thought.

After while my mind shuts off when I read for the umpteenth time "young Justin just graduated from high school and is trying to deny the strong feelings for his friend Dirk, who is having girlfriend troubles of his own..."  Tortured adolescent drama and/or hilarity ensues.

It’s a thought that germinated from seeing Lisa Cholodenko’s wonderful “The Kids Are All Right”. I read a review in the mainstream press, NY Times I think, that said this was actually one of the best films about marriage, straight or gay, in a while. It’s true that it seems there are fewer and fewer movies about adults for adults. This one was a breath of fresh air. The critical reception has been great, probably not hurt by having three great roles for adult actors. I’ve often, thought, though, that underneath the resistance to gay marriage is a resistance to having us grow up. Marriage is a rite of adulthood. By denying it, we’re denied being full, adult citizens. I think it’s easier to lampoon gay marriage, or make fun of what it might be, than to explore two adults in a relationship over a long haul, which is what “The Kids Are All Right” does. And it still manages to get some sex in there.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against boys with their shirts off, but it’s like a diet of all sugar. I know, somehow, that we’re capable of more.

Maybe it’s what I thought after I walked out of a narrative at Outfest this year – “It’s hard to write a good screenplay, isn’t it?”

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