The Little Dog is, as usual, very chill. He becomes more trusting as he gets older.
I spent two days in the hospital having a stent removed from my gall bladder. Yes, I did.
I had dinner with Fern Mallis… who, as you know, invented fashion week.
After dinner we decided to attend the Giorgio Armani One Night Only event.
When we arrived we were whisked off to meet Armani who refuses to speak english but spoke english to Fern… because Fern is a legend.
On Sunday we went to the doggy Halloween parade in Tompkins Square Park but we couldn’t be bothered to wait in line.
In Woodstock we met a man wearing a lovely sweater.
I met a friend of Wendy Asher’s.
The hedge fund billionaire who owned the apartment also owned a perfect Nakashima coffee table.
The lounge is perfectly beautiful and looks like the Beverly Hills Hotel interior on Acid.
This is my Halloween costume:
It is a paper napkin with two slits torn into it.
The following day I went back to Woodstock to look at a lake house I want to buy.
This is me and The Little Dog in the view taken by Angelo:
Gay and Lesbian cinema is enjoying a well deserved revival and two very special films are garnering a great deal of post Sundance attention.
By way of full disclosure, I was once very friendly with John Krokidas who stayed in both my ex boyfriend’s house on Fire Island and our house in London.
The similarities between Concussion and Kill Your Darlings, both opening in NYC this weekend, are legion.
Both are first features by writer/directors in their 40′s, both incredibly accomplished, both fatally flawed during the middle of the third act and both produced by lesbians. Concussion, produced by the venerable Rose Troche. Kill Your Darlings, by equally lauded Christine Vachon.
Thankfully, both have found their way into the mainstream at a time when the mainstream have developed an appetite for gay and lesbian culture.
After their opening night screening Troche, when asked what had changed for gay and lesbian film since she showed Go Fish at the Angelica twenty years earlier, said, “Social Media.”
We, as gay and lesbian film makers, are no longer so isolated, so dependent on traditional media to get our message to what was once a niche market but has become, due to the marriage equality debate, a broader church.
Kill Your Darlings is a ‘bigger’ film than Concussion. There is a great deal of Oscar talk around Darlings and film industry infra structure to support that claim. A period film, a grander stage, a huge cast. My gay friend who saw it before me called it one of the ‘best films they had ever seen’.
There are flaws in both of these low-budget movies that maybe, with a little extra cash, could have been resolved.
Yet Darlings suffers most for its low budget.
When all is said and done, Darlings is a cold film, lacking substance. It seems scared of embracing man/man man/boy emotion. The characters lack depth and focus. It is a cruel film. Not least because it deals with a murder. Yet, the murder only really becomes apparent toward the end.
Described thus on IMDB… the film does nothing of the sort.
Before the murder is picked at like an unsightly, syphilitic scab in the middle of the third act Krokidas sets up a youth orientated world where older men are vilified, where young boys (Daniel Radcliff and Dane DeHann) run from party to party, taking drugs, reciting poetry and jacking off .
Young, attractive, sexually ambiguous, entitled, partying college students vaguely remind one of Sebastian Flyte and Charles Ryder in Brideshead Revisted but sadly… without the wit, subtext or the huge budget.
Poor Michael C. Hall playing David Kammerer, the soon to be murdered older man, turns up periodically looking forlorn and pathetic in his period coat and beard like a homeless person had wandered onto the set by accident. Both he and the equally talented Jack Houston are horribly underused and sidelined while the less talented ‘youth’ continue to take drugs and quote Yates.
If Kill Your Darlings had really focused on the murder, the resulting trial and the aftermath this film would have succeeded. Yet, the backdrop becomes the foreground, the story held hostage by fluff and circumstance.
I was unaware of this compelling murder story before I saw Kill Your Darlings. I subsequently used the film as a spring-board into knowing more rather than the film educating me. I googled Kammerer and Ginsberg and Carr.
I remembered William Burroughs coming to my 21st Birthday party. I began to see how the story had been massaged by Bunn and Krokidas to suit their own 21st Century gay agenda.
How do gay men want to present themselves and our history?
The murderer in Darlings is a bad gay not because he murdered a so called predator (his defense) but because he subsequently got married and had kids and didn’t ‘come out’.
The ‘older man’ is dispensable… worthless… the murder almost… forgivable.
Even though the victim Kammerer was seven years younger than forty-year old Krokidas is now, the writer and director show this character little compassion. Krokidas directs the audience to incorrectly believe that Kammerer was somehow a much older pedophile rather than a love struck gay man… that he deserved to die.
One final note.
The spectacle of Daniel Radcliffe being fucked in the ass, his hairy legs forced over his shoulders was perhaps the most daring yet redundant scene in the entire movie. It is for what this film will be remembered, which is altogether not what the writers intended.
Both Concussion and Darlings are very white films. There are no black people at all in Concussion which I found utterly baffling.
Kill Your Darlings has perhaps one of the most racially offensive scenes where Radcliffe and DeHann are the only white faces in a black speak easy imagining what trouble they could cause by manipulating the clientele if they were negro puppets frozen in time.
As a metaphor it was sickeningly on point: this is how white gay America treats black gay America.
How could this appalling white casting have happened? Whilst Darlings can use the period excuse… Concussion cannot.
The colorless casting issue aside, Concussion, because it seems to comfortably inhabit the parameters of a low budget film is a more accomplished and polished tale.
‘After a blow to the head, Abby decides she can’t do it anymore. Her life just can’t be only about the house, the kids and the wife. She needs more: she needs to be Eleanor.’
Concussion as described on IMDB only scrapes at the surface of what this ingenious film seeks to reveal.
Concussion’s provenance is by way of the IFP script lab and Sundance Post Production fund.
The delicate performances, elegant settings, this thoughtful and spare film (compassionately told) delighting from beginning to end… well, until mid-way through the third act.
Concussion is Robin Weigert‘s film. If the Producers had the money to campaign Weigert could be nominated for an Oscar. She should be nominated for an Oscar. It won’t happen. Sadly.
Weaving tales of Suburban and urban lesbian life, an ordinary sexually unsatisfied house wife strays into a world of sexual diversion. Selling her sexual self to other woman. It’s as simple as that yet the adventure she embarks upon affects us all. Those who crave sex over emotion, or emotion over sex. The questions posed go on pestering long after the film ends.
Elegance pervades this movie. The camera exquisitely capturing every delicate moment. Films about double lives are always intriguing. How those two lives collide. Picking up the children from school juxtaposed with violent images of remembered s and m sex.
The problem comes in the middle of the third act after Abby’s double life is revealed. A number of redundant false endings leave one feeling unsatisfied and frustrated. After the loft (mid renovation like the character) is sold and the secret is revealed a choice had to be made. Will Abby stay with her wife or move on?
I’m not going to spoil it for you other than to say that the answer gets lost somehow in a melee of loose end tying.
Both Concussion and Kill Your Darlings are welcome at a time when almost every Hollywood studio is contemplating larger budget gay themed movies. Gay film makers must continue to tell stories that use the language and locations of our own lives. Although I had severe problems with Darlings it is imperative that these films go on being made.
White, gay male youth orientated stories have become bankable. White female middle-aged lesbian movies… not so much. Powerful white gay men in Hollywood make sure that some gay stories get applauded whilst others (Liberace) get ignored.
The Weekend by Andrew Haigh although breaching the straight/gay divide was not given the ‘A Gay’ benediction Krokidus is currently enjoying. The gay men in The Weekend were too old, poor and took public transport… some of the criticisms I heard from the velvet mafia. The film was consequently marginalized by Hollywood gays.
John Krokidas waited ten years to enjoy the dream of making his movie come true, within that ten years the face of film making, gay film making, distribution and post production have undergone a revolution. The culture, the matrix from which these films are conceived and born has changed beyond recognition.
Krokidas could not have made this film ten years ago. Nobody was interested in making films like this.
The recently democratized means of production and distribution allow any young (or not so young) gay film maker the freedom to tell our tales without masking their truth.
For too long gay film makers were advised to turn their back on their own stories for fear of marginalizing their careers.
For those of us who waited, remained tenacious it is maybe too late to find a place at the table. Yet, I am thrilled for those… like John and Stacie who do.
I let the dogs out into the beautiful garden. The Little Dog caught and killed a large rat in the orchard. Dude tore it out of his mouth and shook it until its guts were all over his red fur.
They looked very pleased with their murderous selves.
Daisy and I huffed and puffed up the steep hill to The Tower.
Her father collaborated with local craftsman to build this beautiful space.
Originally built to disguise two ten thousand gallon tanks fed by spring water this tower can now be rented (click here) on Airbnb.
Alexander died less than a year ago. It is a strange and wonderful experience living in his comfortable home.
We have been exploring.
All weekend we dropped in at community events: private and public parties.
The Mattole River Restoration cookout and dance, a wonderful wedding anniversary party where they made their own Grappa in a copper still. A young cook from Oakland roasted pig and served it by an open fire under white canvas awnings.
The following day they called us to taste the gin they had just made in the same still.
Last night a local intellectual cooked us home-grown free range chicken and home-made pink grapefruit sorbet.
On Sunday morning we bought basil mayonnaise, catnip and tomato starts from the Petrolia Farmers Market.
Remote beaches backed up by steep cliffs and mountains.
King’s Peak reaches an elevation of 4,088 feet only three miles from the Pacific Ocean.
The land on the North American plate is being piled rapidly upward.
Its grey crumbly sandstone creating beaches of pristine, black sand.
On the beach we meet a few passers-by. We meet hikers who, by law, keep their food in locked plastic containers. Bear proof. The containers looked like the barrels atomic waste is stored in.
We needed cleaning supplies. We drive an hour to get them.
The road from Petrolia to the Victorian town of Ferndale is perhaps one of the most beautiful roads I have ever traveled.
Hogweed, ancient ferns and Douglas Fir.
Ferndale was founded by Danish settlers. The 19th century houses are really well-preserved. The history of the town inextricably linked to tinned salmon and logging, both of which have gone forever.
The trees cut down, the salmon extinct.
We saw two huge trucks loaded with old growth tree trunks but apparently they come from small ‘sustainable’ forests.
Daisy’s father said:
Start with the word “sustainable.” These days fund-raisers and grant-writers string it round each sentence like an adjectival fanny pack, bulging with self-congratulation. Mostly, the term is meaningless or a vague expression of hope. In the case of timber, it’s a haphazard and often highly debatable designation that amounts to little more than a vague pledge that the timber is not virgin old growth.
We stop in at the lumber yard to buy laminated boards for Daisy to paint. We are served by a fresh-faced youth.
I ask him if he’ll ever leave Ferndale. He says, he’s a small town boy. He doesn’t want to leave.
I understand why.