In many ways, this intriguing documentary picks up where
THE CELLULOID CLOSET, the 1995 survey of gay-themes in motion pictures,
left off. That film, directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman and based on
the seminal work by noted film historian Vito Russo, traced the way gay men
and lesbians had been depicted (covertly and openly) in motion pictures from
silents up to the present day. It ended, though, just as the "New Queer
Cinema," as coined by film critic B. Ruby Rich, was coming into its own.
1991 was the watershed year as the Sundance Film Festival winners were
Todd Haynes' POISON, and Jennie Livingston's documentary PARIS IS
BURNING. Over the next few years, such important films as SWOON
(directed by Tom Kalin), THE LIVING END (directed by Gregg Araki) and
THE HOURS AND TIMES (directed by Christopher Munch), debuted at
Sundance and influenced a generation of gay and lesbian movie makers.
Although Rich's term "New Queer Cinema" came to be applied to almost
any film that had gay or lesbian content, the critic wrote about those motion
pictures that had a perceived commitment to homosexual issues.
So it's only natural that Rich would be one of the myriad of interviewees
who appear in FABULOUS! THE STORY OF QUEER CINEMA (which will aired
IFC in July 2006). The film is a great primer for those who need to be made
aware of cultural history (and in these times when minor celebrities pass for
high culture, it may be entirely necessary). Anyone already familiar with
"gay-themed movies" (that is, a film reviewer, a movie geek or anyone GLBT
person with an encyclopedic knowledge of cinema) might find the film a bit
facile and superficial.
In general, FABULOUS! gets the job accomplished and directors
Lisa Ades and Lesli Klainberg are to be commended for assembling the material
in a breezily entertaining fashion. As a student of film, I would have liked a
more detailed and in-depth study, but as an introduction to the ideal of
"Queer Cinema," FABULOUS! will suffice.
|Fabulous: The Story of Queer Cinema
|© 2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.