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Finally Finding a Mate,
in Working-Cla
ss London' . .
. . An Urban Fairytale

Don't be alarmed if during the opening moments of ''Beautiful Thing,'' you have the dislocating sense of being catapulted back three decades to the mad, mod world of ''Georgy Girl.''

That's because the cheery voice on the soundtrack belongs to none other than Mama Cass Elliot belting ''It's Getting Better,'' a late-60's hit whose jangly folk-pop sound echoes the theme song from the movie that made Lynn Redgrave a star. So what in heaven's name is Mama Cass's music doing in a 90's drama about two gay teen-age boys in southeast London who fall in love and come out together? We shall soon see.

'Beautiful Thing' is a heartwarming story of two young men coming to grips with their sexuality and the effect it has on the people in their lives.''Beautiful Thing' focuses on three neighbors, Jamie (Glen Berry), Ste (Scott Neal) and Leah (Tameka Empson) on Thamesmead Estate in south-east London.

In the middle flat, Jamie lives with his pub manager mom, Sandra (Linda Henry). Jamie is going through a few problems at school, much to the chagrin of his gutsy mother who is too busy trying to hold down a relationship with a dippy younger man, Tony (Ben Daniels). Next door lives Ste, sporty and good looking, a quiet boy who stoically endures regular beatings by his father, a drunken former boxer with a chip on his shoulder and his brother who also beats on him. The atmosphere is tense at the best of times. On the other side live Leah and her mom. Leah has been kicked out of school and passes her time listening to old records. Kooky Leah has an unaccountable obsession with the singer Mama Cass Elliott, who died in 1974 and whose records she enjoys playing full blast at 2 in the morning, to the fury of neighbors.

This doggedly uplifting music plays a crucial role in setting the tone of the film whose mixture of working-class realism and feel-good fantasy resurrects the spirit of 1960's movies set in swinging England. ''Georgy Girl,'' you may recall, was a Cinderella story about a gawky Plain Jane who wins Prince Charming. ''Beautiful Thing'' is a Cinderella story about two gawky Plain Joes who win each other.

Life drifts along until one night Ste is beaten up by his brother and is taken into the safety of Sandra's flat. Sleeping embarrassed head-to-toe, Jamie realizes that he is in love with Ste. As the bullying continues, Ste spends more and more time with Jamie. With Jamie, Ste finds a tenderness he has so far missed out on in life. He finds himself drawn more and more to Jamie.

But it is not as straightforward as that. How can you be gay on this tough estate? As Ste and Jamie are sorting things out in their heads, Sandra discovers the truth. She knows she cannot kick Jamie out. Her love for him is too strong, and she decides to try and understand. Sandra, who is poorly educated and thinks she knows more than she does, solemnly tries to reassure her son, there is a place where gay people can go and live without fear of harassment: ''It's an island in the Mediterranean called Lesbian.''It is clear now that things will forever be different for Jamie and his mother, but Ste can never tell his family the truth.

The film ends on an optimistic note with Jamie and Ste unashamedly slow dancing in the sunshine in the courtyard of their apartment complex with the 'world' watching. Sandra may be a feisty and meddlesome mom (she spies on her son and follows the lovers to a gay bar), but when everyone's cards are finally out on the table, she proves militantly supportive and she and Leah usually at each others throats, reconcile their differences and she takes Leah's hand and they join Jamie and Ste and slow dance along side of them.

They are dancing to Mama Cass Elliot singing "Dream A Little Dream of Me''

'Beautiful Thing,'' directed by Hettie Macdonald from a screenplay by Jonathan Harvey, is very well acted. Mr. Berry and Mr. Neal capture every blush and awkward gesture of two shy adolescents stumbling together in terror out onto some very thin ice. Ms. Henry is wonderful as a woman whose fighting spirit masks a streak of hard-bitten tenderness.

Information: 'Beautiful Thing'

Web:Cast, Bios and Additional Details at IMDb
Director: Hettie Macdonald
Writer: Jonathan Harvey (writer) Jonathan Harvey (play)
Cast, Crew & Credits: Full Cast, Crew & Credits
Genre: Comedy | Drama | Romance
Awards: 4 wins and 3 nominations
Runtime: 90 min
Spoken Language: English

Preview Clip: Created by the talented Meerkat86

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Hailing from the Philippeans are the following two films ('The Man In The Lighthouse' 2007) and ('Antonio's Secret' 2008) by Director and Writer Joselito Altarejos and Screen Writer Lex Bonife. Each film has it's own inherent strengths and weaknesses. 'The Man In The Lighthouse' without question, wins in the cinematography and lighting department.
Its melancholy landscape of beaches and rural life successfully imparts an infectious
mood that transports the viewer into its world.

The seemingly less panoramic setting of 'Antionio's Secret' is compensated with a
more complex story featuring riveting performances from its actors. 'The Man in the Lighthouse' imparts a scenic mood while 'Antonio's Secret' gifts viewers with emotions
both lighthearted moments and heavy dramatic scenes, which are felt throughout the film.

The four actors below made their screen debuts in these two films. In addition to
some fine acting their presence makes both of these films very easy on the eyes.

'The Man In The Lighthouse' 2007.............................. 'Antonio's Secret' 2008

Newcomers Harry Laurel (as Mateo) and Justin De Leon (as Jerome) make their screen debuts in 'The Man In The

"He walked inside the audition room nervous and without any pretensions. As the writer of the film project “Ang Lalake sa Parola/ The Man in the Lighthouse”, I was not able to see the star in him quickly. He seemed to be your ordinary bikini contestant. But when he started reading the lines as Mateo, our lead character, Harry Laurel’s authentic provincial accent and the genuine pain in his voice darted across the room. We knew, Harry Laurel is “Ang Lalake sa Parola/ The Man in the Lighthouse”." ~ Lex Bonife (screen writer)

Josh Ivan Morales
(as Jonbert, Antonio's uncle) and Kenji Garcia (as Antonio) makes their screen debut in 'Antonio's Secret'

Josh Ivan Morales
(above and right)
portrays Jonbert,
Antonio's uncle.

(below) Kenji as Antonio on bed
and standing is Josh as uncle Jonbert

.......Kenji Garcia Antonio


'Myths, Fairies,
Love & Lies'

The first of two recent films from the Philippines, ('The Man In The Lighthouse' 2007) and ('Antonio's Secret' 2008) by Director and Writer Joselito Altarejos and Writer Lex Bonife and a progression from a 3.5 star to a 4 star endeavor within the course of a year.

Newcomers Harry Laurel and Justin De Leon in 'The Man In The Lighthouse' and Josh Van Morales in 'Antonio's Secret' make both films very easy on the eyes.

'The Man In The Lighthouse' (Ang Lalake sa Parola) is a homo-erotic journey in finding one’s true self. Mateo (Harry Laurel) has been searching for his father (Richard Quan) who left when he was five. His search leads him to Lobo, Batangas only to discover that his father is in Dubai. Awaiting his father’s return, Mateo works as the caretaker of Lobo’s lighthouse. Here, he meets Jerome (Justin de Leon), a gay man from the city of Manila.

What ensues soon after the meeting is the beginning of Mateo's homo-erotic journey, while Suzet (Jennifer Lee), his girlfriend struggles for his love and attention.

What begins as a search for one’s father evolves into a search for one’s self. Will Mateo, in the midst of his conservative rural community, cross the line both internally and within his community and acknowledge his true self?

This story is a search for oneself as seen through the lens of rural homosexuality, myths, and fairies (superstitious beliefs); and the lies that people create to escape the bitter realities of life.

Film Information: 'The Man In The Lighthouse'

Web:Cast, Bios and Additional Details at IMDb
Director: Joselito Altarejos
Writers: Lex Bonife (story) and Joselito Altarejos (story)
Web: Full Cast, Crew & Credits
Genre: Drama | Romance
Runtime: 100 min
Spoken Language: Tagalog | Filipino
Subtitled in: English

Preview Clip
: 'The Man In The Lighthouse'

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'The Man In The Lighthouse'

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'A Gripping, Tragic Tale
Love, Sex and
Obsession that Showcases
the Anatomy of Desire
and Longing'

The human longings that stir deep within us are the focus of "Antonio's Secret' From the very beginning of the film the viewer is made privy to the thoughts of Antonio as he makes his narrative against a musical background of guitar strums and an acoustic voice. With this kind of introduction, you know at once that you are in for an intimate ride.

Antonio's Secret is about a young boy who grows up without his father. It narrates how he and his mother are forced to get by and the bond they share through the years of nurturing and companionship. But most of all, it is about how a boy grows up knowing he is different, how he ponders on the meaning of his desires, how he represses them and how he yearns to tell someone but fears the consequences of rejection.

Newcomer Kenji Garcia gives a very real and believable portrayal of the confused young man named Antonio. We are shown Antonio's dilemma as he grows up in a world where there are no role models to emulate. He is left to discover it on his own with uncertainty and fear plaguing him all the way. This is clearly seen in one of the scenes in the movie where he watches his childhood friend sleep. It is in a scene like this that "Antonio's Secret' shows the anatomy of longing. Kenji successfully shows how a boy's desire to express his sexuality leads him to appreciate his friends' body from afar before he is spurred to come closer and caress his friend. Viewers are held on the edge of their seats in tension and fear for Antonio and what he is about to discover. The result is a childhood experiment that forever changes the relationship between two friends.

Things take a more climactic turn with the arrival of Antonio's uncle, Jonbert (played by Josh Ivan Morales). It can be said that no better choice can be made for this role than Josh Ivan. His sexuality is powerful and bleeds from the screen to the audience. Viewers easily feel the powerful attraction of the boyish Antonio for his uncle. His sideway glances; for example, at a dinner table had no dialogue but carried a depth of desire. Both Kenji and Josh Ivan's execution of their roles complement each other to form an innocent but obsessive and highly charged relationship. Jonbert's encounters with Antonio in the course of the film and Josh Ivan's performance as the hedonistic uncle may even fulfill some some viewers fantasies as well.

Also in the movie is Jiro Manio who plays Mike, Antonio's curious best friend. Jiro offers a comedic side to this otherwise serious film. His punchy lines a funny and welcome break from the intense soliloquies of Antonio or the harsh realities of a mother raising her kid alone. Jiro successfully depicts the innocence of his age faced with gender stereotypes and social realities.

But the true scene-stealer of the movie is Shamaine Buencamino who plays Antonio's mother. Her acting, most particularly in the last part of the movie, was brilliant. There was none of the over-the-top shouting and crazed gestures Filipino movies are known for. Instead, Sharmaine's acting was restrained requiring no words but only her facial expression and stance to relay her emotions. Her scene in front of a mirror peeling away the wrapped towel around her body evokes of lost years and a need to be touched while the traumatic and scarring events in the movie's tragic ending show a woman with all sanity lost, showered only by a son's love. It is truly a performance that brings to mind actress Meryl Streep in the movie 'The Bridges of Madison County'. ~ Danio Caw PEP .................(above) Antonio


(left) Antonio and his best friend Nathan

Film Information:
'Antonio's Secret'

Web:Cast, Bios and Additional Details at IMDb
Director: Joselito Altarejos
Writers: Lex Bonife (story) and Joselito Altarejos (story)
Web: Full Cast, Crew & Credits
Genre: Drama | Crime
Runtime: 100 min
Spoken Language: Filipino
Subtitled in: English

Preview Clip: 'Antonio's Secret'

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. . A Turbulent Ride
& Amazing Drama . . '

Marcel Gisler. who also directed 'Blue Hour', directed this Swiss-French drama set during the early '70s in Zurich where Beni , (very well acted by Vincent Branchet) a clean cut 16 year old Zurich high school student is just itching for an alternative life.

That opportunity comes when he goes to a rock concert and falls madly in love with Fogi, (Frederic Andrau) a 26 year old, the dangerously attractive lead guitarist and singer of the group The Minks.

With looks suggesting a thuggish Keanu Reeves, the 26 year old Fogi surprisingly takes to the cute, but coltish youth after recieving a love letter sent by Beni setting up a rendezvous. Beni exits his fatherless family and his high school to move in with Fogi. Beni is eager to do anything to please Fogi and Fogi hires him as a roadie. Unfortunately Fogi comes with some heavy baggage with a history of heavy drug use, drug dealing and an attitude that old people (40+) should consider committing suicide. The two begin a wild sexual attraction that hardens into love and devotion for Beni but wears off for the soon bored Fogi and his attitude toward Beni veers toward sadism.

Beni, willing victim for this first love, is emotionally eaten alive by his slavish devotion, lust and eventual servitude to the increasingly indifferent Fogi. Fogi is tiring of Beni's clinging and of life in general. and makes light of Beni's eagerness to please by having Beni strip and pretend to be a pet dog. Beni takes to the role and makes the initial acquaintance of a (symbolic) white dog. Foegi likes this distance. Wearing a dog collar, Beni begins to manifest the symbolism of that role into his reality believing that it will bring satisfaction and pleasure to the object of his love and devotion.

When the "The Minks" start running out of gas, Fogi gets into conflicts with some other band members and decides to take a two week trip to Lebanon to get hashish for dealing. Beni, left behind is desperately lonely lets himself be picked up by an educated and professional man. When Foegi returns, the tryst is forgiven, but it gives Foegi an idea of how he can make money by "renting" Beni out.

As Foegi continues drifting downward, Beni becomes the primary breadwinner and manager of the household. The two stay together but the relationship sinks into alienation, drug addiction and self destruction. Fogi's demons take them down to a beach at St. Tropez, where Beni must face whether to continue on the path of inevitable darkness with his love. "Resolution" comes on that beach at San Trope.

The film screened and won awards at the Locarno Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival, and the Montreal World Film Festival.

Film Information: 'Fogi is a Bastard'

Web: Cast, Bios and Additional Details at IMDb
Director: Marcel Gisler
Writers: Martin Frank (novel) and Marcel Gisler (writer)
Cast, Crew & Credits: Full Cast, Crew & Credits
Genre: Drama | Romance
Awards:2 wins & 1 nomination
Runtime: 91 min
Spoken Language: French
Subtitled in: English

Preview Clip: 'Fogi is a Bastard'

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Soundtrack mp3's: 'Fogi is a Bastard'
Here is the original soundtrack listing and a few mp3's

Fogi-01: Make My Day-Nico Lippolis, Rainer Lingk, Jochen Arbait, Thomas Wydler
Fogi-02: Sinners-Nico Lippolis, Rainer Lingk, Jochen Arbait, Thomas Wydler
Fogi-03: You Think-Nico Lippolis, Rainer Lingk, Jochen Arbait, Thomas Wydler
Fogi-04: Cant Get To Me-Nico Lippolis, Rainer Lingk, Jochen Arbait, Thomas Wydler
Fogi-05: Baby Love-Nico Lippolis, Rainer Lingk, Jochen Arbait, Thomas Wydler
Fogi-06: Ticket-Nico Lippolis, Rainer Lingk, Jochen Arbait, Thomas Wydler
Fogi-07: A Little High-Peter von Siebenthal, Frank Gerber, Pascal Dussex, Kaspar Würgler
Fogi-08: Dont Tell Me-Peter von Siebenthal, Frank Gerber, Pascal Dussex, Kaspar Würgler
Fogi-09: Im Waiting for the Man-The Velvet Underground
Fogi-10: Heroin-The Velvet Underground
Fogi-11: Wing-Patti Smith


"Voyeurism is Participation"

'SHORTBUS' explores the lives of several emotionally challenged characters as they navigate the comic and tragic intersections between love and sex in and around a modern-day underground salon. A sex therapist who has never had an orgasm, a dominatrix who is unable to connect, a gay couple who are deciding whether to open up their relationship, and the people who weave in and out of their lives, all converge on a weekly gathering called Shortbus: a mad nexus of art, music, politics and polysexual carnality. Set in a post-9/11, Bush-exhausted New York City, 'SHORTBUS' tells its story with sexual frankness, suggesting new ways to reconcile questions of the mind, pleasures of the flesh and imperatives of the heart. Written and directed by John Cameron Mitchell (who previously starred in and directed the film adaptation of his international stage hit, "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"), "Shortbus" explores the lives of several characters living in present-day New York as they navigate the comic and tragic intersections between love and sex. Male and female, straight and gay, the characters find one and other - and eventually find themselves - when they all converge at a weekly underground salon called "Shortbus," a mad nexus of art, music, politics, and polysexual carnality. Mitchell developed the film's story along with his ensemble cast, all of whom are making their feature film debuts, and who were selected after submitting videotaped interviews/auditions in response to a well-publicized open casting call posted on a website. Over a half million people visited the website and nearly 500 people sent in tapes before the final seven leading performers -characters were selected to workshop the storyline with Mitchell.
'Shortbus' was one of the sensations of the 2006 Cannes Film Festival where following it's sold out premier it received a ten minute standing ovation.

Film Information: 'Shortbus'

Web: Cast, Bios and Additional Details at IMDb
Director: John Cameron Mitchell
Writer: John Cameron Mitchell
Cast, Crew & Credits: Full Cast, Crew & Credits
Genre: Drama | Romance
Awards: 6 wins & 5 nominations
Runtime: 101 min
Spoken Language: English

Film Clip: "Shortbus' created by Meerkat86

'My Baby Just Cares For Me' ~ Nina Simone-mp3

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Soundtrack: "Shortbus'
His follow-up to 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch' may not be a music movie per se, but music is indeed important to the aesthetic of John Cameron Mitchell's 'Shortbus'. While some soundtracks go out of the way to be diverse, this one prefers a uniform mood, and that mood is reflective, relatively lo-fi indie rock. This is exemplified by Scott Matthew's five new tracks. The first, "Upside Down," gives off a strong whiff of late-period Magnetic Fields (maybe it's the ukulele), and the remaining four stay within these parameters of predominantly acoustic, forlorn introspection. Other paragons of American indie creativity include Yo La Tengo (the previously unreleased "Wizard's Sleeve"), Azure Ray, Animal Collective, and guest Canadians the Hidden Cameras. Rocker and former MuchMusic VJ Sook-Yin Lee (who plays a sex therapist in the movie) sings one of the best tracks, the pared-down but catchy "Beautiful." Two songs by Sweden's the Ark mercifully inject a welcome dose of disco excitement, while jazz singer Anita O'Day sounds as fantastically smoky as ever on "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby." Look also for Justin Bond (a.k.a. Kiki of Kiki and Herb) as he delivers the elegiac coda with the melancholy "In the End." ~ Elisabeth Vincentelli

Mp3 Files: "Shortbus'
Shortbus-01: Scott Matthew-Upside Down.mp3
Shortbus-02: Azure Ray-If You Fall.mp3
Shortbus-03: Yo La Tengo-Wizard's Sleeve.mp3
Shortbus-04: Animal Collective-Winter's Love.mp3
Shortbus-05: Scott Matthew-Surgery.mp3
Shortbus-06: Sook-Yin Lee-Beautiful .mp3
Shortbus-07: Gentleman Reg-It's Not Safe.mp3
Shortbus-08: John LaMonica-Kids.mp3
Shortbus-09: Scott Matthew-Language.mp3
Shortbus-10: Jay Brannan-Soda Shop.mp3
Shortbus-11: What Matters to Me.mp3
Shortbus-11a: Anita O'Day-Is You Is or Is You Aint My Baby.mp3
Shortbus-12: The Ark-Kolla Kolla.mp3
Shortbus-13: The Hidden Cameras-Boys of Melody.mp3
Shortbus-14: Scott Matthew-Little Bird.mp3
Shortbus-15: The Ark-This Piece of Poetry Is Meant to Do Harm.mp3
Shortbus-16: Jasper James-This House.mp3
Shortbus-17: Scott Matthew-In the End (Long Film Version).mp3
Shortbus-18: Scott Matthew-In the End (Acoustic) .mp3


" . . at once spiritual,
sadomasochistic, homoerotic,
and heartrendingly
tender . . "

Derek Jarman and Paul Humfress created a remarkably authentic historical film, and a landmark of gay cinema, about the martyred fourth century Roman soldier, who was later both canonized as Saint Sebastian and revered as an enduring gay icon. The film strikingly balances a cinéma vérité depiction of the everyday life of common soldiers, in a remote desert outpost of the Roman Empire, and a visionary exploration of one man's defiant growth in faith, even as it subtly questions the nature of that experience.

Sebastiane works brilliantly on many levels – cinematic, psychological, spiritual, aesthetic, even political – but what may strike you first is the vividness of the ancient world it depicts, captured with an authenticity matched by few films.

From stills, you might think that Sebastiane's cast was chosen for their sculpted bodies. But each of these actors, even those in supporting roles, fully inhabits their characters and brings them to life. Leonardo Treviglio (seen most recently in Julie Taymor's 1999 film, Titus) gives an intensely restrained, brilliantly nuanced performance in the title role. Neil Kennedy as Max (a year later he played another memorable character with that same name in Jarman's Jubilee) brings a twisted comic energy to his role as the troublemaker extraordinaire. And Barney James, whose only other film role was as the policeman in Jubilee, creates a genuinely complex antagonist in his Captain Severus, smitten with Sebastian and torn between lust, duty, and love.

Shot on location in Sardinia, every well-worn costume and dusty prop seems genuine. The dialogue is in the rough "street Latin" of its day (with English subtitles), but rather than feeling gimmicky it helps capture the texture of these nine banished soldiers' daily life. Its realism is in striking contrast to big-budget "sword and sandal" epics, from the Silent Era to the recent Gladiator, which always look too manufactured. In fact, its stylistic roots are more in the hyper-real mythic films of Pasolini, like Oedipus Rex and Medea.

" . .a society where gay and bisexual people were part of the accepted norm . ."

These nine exiled soldiers speak the earthy "dog Latin" of that time with total believability (there are English subtitles; classics scholar Jack Welch translated Jarman and Humfress's original script). Rather than a gimmick, this ancient "street talk" helps capture the texture of their rough daily life in some godforsaken outpost of the Empire. We see just the kind of loose camaraderie you would expect under the circumstances – merciless ribbing of each other, some literally painful practical jokes, constant questioning of each other's manhood (although somewhat different from today, since this was historically a society where gay and bisexual people were part of the accepted norm), flaring tempers; yet all is forgiven by the next day. This constant roughhousing gives the film not only verisimilitude, but energy and unpretentiousness.

That latter quality is especially important, because Jarman and Humfress deal with some dauntingly complex themes, as important now as seventeen hundred years ago, including the meaning of spirituality, the place of sexuality in life, and the contradictory nature of reality. The film's wild streak of humor, and its sometimes breathtaking visual design, help keep this profoundly serious work from overdosing on what some people call "heaviosity."

The thematic core, as expected in a work about a man on the road to sainthood, is spirituality; and few films, including self-styled "religious movies," let one feel so deeply the growing importance of faith to an individual. Even some of the translated dialogue is beautiful, as when Sebastian, gazing at his and the sky's reflection in a pool of water, says that divinity is "That beauty that made all colors different.... The heavens and earth are united in gold." But while that vision of faith is powerful, it also has many layers, some of which are provocatively ambiguous. For some viewers, a central question will be: Is Sebastian a true Christian or is he a syncretist grafting his personal version of the new religion onto much older, Greco-Roman roots? The film offers different possible answers, not as a dodge, but because the film realizes how multi-faceted religious experience is, growing out of social, personal and spiritual contexts.

"I love him. He is beautiful. More beautiful than Adonis"

The film shows us Sebastian becoming ever more removed from his fellow soldiers, an outsider among outsiders, as he feels himself drawn closer to his deity. While Sebastian is being tortured (the first time) for his intransigence – stripped and staked to the ground – he talks with the sweet-natured Justin (Richard Warwick, who was Antonio in Jarman's The Tempest), who is in love with him (perhaps more for his beauty than his faith). At the climax of this scene, Sebastian cries out, referring to the personification of his growing spirituality, "I love him. He is beautiful. More beautiful than Adonis." The subtext – at once spiritual, sadomasochistic, homoerotic, and heartrendingly tender – is made apparent when Sebastian, oblivious to Justin's feelings, says, "He takes me in his arms and caresses my bleeding body." When Justin shields Sebastian from the sun, he jerks his head away; for Sebastian, only God can give him solace.

The full nature of Sebastian's ecstatic faith is subtly questioned. In his delirium, he has mistaken the character referred to in the credits as the Leopard Boy, presumably a member of a local tribe, for a manifestation of a god or God. Since we see the Leopard Boy before Sebastian does – soon after the latter's arrival in this remote outpost – it is assumed that he is a real character and neither a figment of Sebastian's imagination nor a literalistic manifestation of deity. So, does this self-delusion lessen the importance of Sebastian's growing faith?

One of the most remarkable aspects of the film is that it can be seen as either spiritual or secular; perhaps its deep strain of humanism is the common link. Sebastiane is spiritual in that we feel the deep importance of faith to Sebastian, more so than in most self-styled religious movies. But this film also offers a rational, secular reason for that – Sebastian's world is harsh (betrayed by his beloved Diocletian) and his life is hard (he lives in a literal and metaphorical wasteland); it also shows Sebastian's confusion (misinterpreting the Leopard Boy as a deity, not to mention one which may be simultaneously, to him, Greco-Roman and/or Christian). Whether or not Sebastian's faith is based on layers of confusion, we can fully understand why it is so essential, and nourishing, to him under the circumstances of his life.

On the other hand, if Sebastiane is seen as a straightforwardly spiritual film – and some people consider it so – then there are few other pictures which depict, in such profoundly real and moving terms, the slow but unshakeable process of one person embracing a faith fully, to the extent that he would sacrifice his life for its principles. When Sebastian, a former commander to the emperor, early on refuses to engage in mock combat because, as he says in all sincerity, "Christians don't fight," we know that he is paving the way for his own destruction, which the film depicts step by inexorable step.

Aesthetically Sebastiane is an extremely well-made film – dramatically, visually, and musically – despite its constricted budget. The screenplay is deftly structured, with each scene finding the right length to delineate its characters and expose the necessary information. This film knows how to balance its oppositions, both dramatic, from soldierly raunch to spiritual awakening and visual, finding beauty in the mysterious depths of water and the serenity of the fatal desert.

The cinematography by Peter Middleton (who also shot Jarman's next two films) is exceptional, especially considering that these powerful images were originally shot in 16mm (before being blown up to 35mm for theatrical release). The editing by co-writer/director Paul Humfress is crisp. And Brian Eno's superb minimalist score (his first work for film) provides both haunting atmosphere and, in its electronic modernness, just a bit of distance from the realism of the ancient setting.

"That beauty that made all colors different....
The heavens and earth are united in gold."

There is also beauty in the English of Jarman and Humfress' subtitles. In radiant contrast to the soldiers' tart slang is Sebastian's mystically beautiful hymns of praise to his deity and its world. "That beauty that made all colors different.... The heavens and earth are united in gold." Sebastiane achieves genuine cinematic poetry, uniting word, image, and sound, which adds not only another rich texture to a many-layered film, but still more depth to Sebastian's evolving character.

This film is no mere exercise in historical recreation. It is a work of flesh and blood, which in its depiction of the collision course of Sebastian's religious fervor and Severus's uncontrollable desire cuts through the disastrously tangled knot of desire and power. Here, the theme is explored from the dual perspective of spirituality and gay life.

Paradoxically, much of the film's power as a specifically gay-themed work comes from the fact that the homoeroticism is not only unselfconscious but in the background. It is just another aspect of these men's lives, and one which their larger society takes for granted. They reveal, through their jibes, that a man may just as likely be attracted to a woman as to another man. This is a place where guys can taunt each other about their interest in both Vestal Virgins and popular female whores and equally, about their interest in members of the same sex. This is still one of the only films to present a world which is both credible and completely accepting of same-sex relationships; where sexual orientation is a non-issue. That vision must have been extraordinarily gratifying to gay audiences a mere quarter of a century ago (which also explains Sebastiane's great success at the box office, which surprised many people), at a time when movies and books offered only the most hopeless depiction of trapped, doomed homosexual existence (which, on one level, the Sebastian/Severus plot strand reflects).

Sebastiane also contains some of the most genuinely tender and loving moments of any gay-themed film up to that time, especially in the budding relationship of the minor characters Adrian, whom the other men tease about being a virgin, and Anthony. Their scene together in the water, shot in slow motion, may look like some soft-core fantasy – with the camera lingering over almost every inch of their sculpted bodies – but the emotional connection between them seems every bit as real as their physical desire. Early in the film there is a comparably overt scene, consisting of Sebastian pouring water over his nude body and rubbing himself clean. What makes these scenes of central importance is that they highlight one of the film's most interesting layers. They are both clearly from the point of view of Severus, the repressed but passionate captain of these outcast soldiers. In other words, these sensual, beautiful and moving images are all from the antagonist's point of view.

But then, Severus is much more than a traditional villain. In a comparable story of this type he would be the closeted 'homosexual heavy,' like the diabolical Claggart in Melville's 1891 final novella, Billy Budd, or the officer in Carson McCullers' 1941 novel, Reflections in a Golden Eye. Severus is more complex than that, both psychologically and in his key role in the narrative structure. Severus has such resonance because of the depth of Jarman and Humfress's film making, as well as Barney James engrossing performance in the roll.

"Sebastiane, love me."

Severus seems to be equally divided between raw lust and genuine love for Sebastian. But Sebastian is no simple martyr in this film. He is portrayed simultaneously as a young man with the beauty of a Greek god but with the fierce piety of a saint-in-training, yet one who is not adverse to teasingly close physical contact with his friend Justin. And it is all too clear how he contributes to the monumental frustration of Severus, which ultimately leads to the visceral climax. Before that, and the final seduction attempt by Severus, there is an intimate moment with him. This scene, with Severus drunk, alone in his narrow quarters and going mad with desire for Sebastian, is so powerful in part because the voyeuristic interest in his "private life" is being fulfilled. Even more, Jarman and Humfress provide a fascinating, subtle visual gloss on the action and emotion. They shoot the scene from overhead – perhaps from the ironic perspective of, say, a low-flying god – which makes the claustrophobia of Severus's space, and life, all the more vivid. You can see the duality of Severus which stands at the center of a film filled with dualities yoked together in the climactic rape scene with Sebastian where Sebastian is dark, even a bit menacing, with the underlighting and the "devilish" beard; while Severus – hair ringed with golden light – looks like a Renaissance image of a Greek god, Apollo or Adonis, the very deities which not-quite-fully-Christian Sebastian longed for. The complex and contradictory role of Severus becomes even more intriguing when you realize that he implicates the viewer in his voyeuristic and disturbing, yet undeniably beautiful, gazing at radiant young men.

Perhaps an even more subtle influence on the film's tone is its rich connections to art, as well as gay, history. Jarman, of course, was already both an acclaimed painter and impassioned gay rights advocate before becoming a filmmaker. Historically, Saint Sebastian with his muscular physique, tied to a pillar, drilled with arrows, the embodiment of intense but safely-bound desire and soulful eyes, became not only one of the most frequently-painted subjects in Renaissance art but an enduring, albeit sadomasochistic, gay icon.

Saint Sebastian has had a revival in the time of AIDS, perhaps because of his dual role as icon of tortured male beauty and as the patron saint of – even more than soldiers, athletes, and archers – sufferers of the plague.

Jarman and Humfress's visionary film is a fascinating, aesthetically and emotionally complex addition to the long tradition of works about Saint Sebastian. For some, its matter-of-fact depiction of a world, although ancient, free of homophobia is compelling. ~ (excerpted review) J. Clark

"Sebastian. Renaissance. Pretty boy smiles through the arrows on a thousand altar pieces - plague. Saint. Captain of Diocletian's guard. Converted, stoned, and thrown into the sewers. Rescued by a Holy Woman. Androgyne icon banned by the bishop of Paris. Danced by Ida Rubenstein. Impersonated by Mishima. In love with his martyrdom. February 1975, Sloane Square; James wants an oil and vanilla film full of Steve Reeves muscle men working out in locker rooms. Paul Humfress, who is to edit, wants a very serious art film, slow and ponderous. I want a poetic film full of mystery. The debate rages as I write, and the script is caught in a tug-of-war between the grey mirrors of Sloane Square." ~ Derek Jarman - from his book -'Dancing Ledge'

"The compensation for making Sebastiane for £30,000 or Edward II for £800,000 is that I can be certain that these films, which are now involved in a struggle, will be shown thirty or forty years from now." ~ Derek Jarman - excerpt from his book -'Dancing Ledge'

Film Information: 'Sebastiane'

Web: Cast, Bios and Additional Details at IMDb
Web: Introduction to Derek Jarman and his films
Directors: Derek Jarman & Paul Humfress
Derek Jarman & Paul Humfress
Cast, Crew & Credits: Full Cast, Crew & Credits
Genre: Drama | History | Thriller
Runtime: 90 min
Spoken Language: Latin
Subtitled in:English

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In the previous post of Sally Potter's film 'Orlando", Quentin Crisp's appearance as Queen Elizabeth and news that John Hurt will reprise the roll of Quentin Crisp in an upcoming sequel (see aritcle below) prompted this post.

When Quentin Crisp was asked at the embassy "Are you a practicing homosexual?" He replied,

'I don't practice.
am already perfect.'

Between Oscar Wilde and Boy George, Quentin Crisp was the most important gay icon in England. The TV movie The Naked Civil Servant, adapted from Crisp's autobiography and broadcast in 1975, had a significant social impact in the cause of gay rights, and it's easy to see why. Packed with witty aphorism but also unflinching in its portrayal of the verbal and physical abuse Crisp received for being an openly effeminate homosexual; throughout most of Crisp's life, simply being flamboyant was a political statement, one not always appreciated by other gay men who sought to pass unsuspected.

The film briskly moves from when he stumbled into London's gay demimonde to his bohemian social world and career as an artist's model to a particularly superb scene when he was put on trial for solicitation.

The Naked Civil Servant
also brought the brilliant John Hurt, who played Crisp with intelligence and humanity, to wide acclaim. Hurt has since appeared in movies as diverse as Alien, The Elephant Man, V for Vendetta, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, but Crisp remains a signature role for this unique actor. The fortuitous combination of Crisp and Hurt makes The Naked Civil Servant essential viewing. ~Bret Fetzer

Does 'The Naked Civil Servant' need a sequel?

With his fall from gay grace shortly before his death, a new biopic about the autumn years of Quentin Crisp's life should make great drama

When it was first broadcast in 1975, The Naked Civil Servant - starring John Hurt as the notorious homosexual Quentin Crisp swishing through 30s Soho "dumb with lipstick and blind with mascara" - was praised to the very heavens. And rightly so.

The Guardian's Nancy Banks-Smith said it "justified the existence of television". It won the Prix Italia, a raft of Baftas, and In 2000, the BFI voted it the fourth greatest British television programme of the 20th century. Not bad for a film that the BBC had refused to make.

It's hard to convey what a shock it was. Witty, tragic, brave and pathetic, audiences sympathised with Crisp, even if they didn't empathise with him. At the time of The Naked Civil Servant's broadcast, the number of out gay public figures was still close to zero. Crisp practically invented the idea of coming out: "Instead of hiding my sexuality, I would announce it." He soon fulfilled his own prophecy, becoming one of the "stately homos of England". ~ Richard Smith

To some, the very idea of a sequel seems at best pointless, at worst sacrilegious. But in August filming will begin on An Englishman In New York, about the final act of Crisp's life, from his move to the States in 1980 to his death in 1999. Scripted by Brian Fillis, it could be as wonderfully macabre as his Fear of Fanny, or as clumsily clunky as The Curse of Steptoe.

Thankfully, Hurt will reprise the role. Crisp once commented; "Mr Hurt is born to play victims. He played me and then he played Caligula, which is only me in a sheet." When I see Hurt in The Elephant Man stalking the mean-spirited streets of London, it seems like Crisp with a sack over his head.

Quentin Crisp's life had a coda every bit as fascinating as his early years, and one that was shaped by the reception to The Naked Civil Servant. He noted wistfully; "I am a man who's famous for wearing make-up. It's hardly enough." In New York, he was also famous for being famous - which sounds like one of his own aphorisms. There were cameos in Philadelphia, and incongruous ads for Impulse, Calvin Klein and Nike trainers. He also wrote an irregular column for the Guardian, which he endearingly insisted on calling "the Manchester Guardian".

Quentin Crisp's New York years are perfect for drama because they saw the tragedy of his fall from gay grace; the man first seen as the John The Baptist of gay liberation was later reviled as its Judas.

He said that "homosexuality is a curse and I wouldn't wish it on anyone," and often remarked that being gay was an "abnormality" and an "illness." The new drama's pre-publicity hints that it hinges on Crisp being dropped from New York society after calling Aids "a fad". His biographer Tim Fountain recounts Crisp addressing a gay meeting in London in the late 70s, where one man angrily berated him, saying that The Naked Civil Servant had led him to believe Quentin Crisp was our Martin Luther King, but he'd turned out to be a queer "Uncle Tom."

Crisp's stock reply to such critics showed a sense of defiance; "I am first and last an individual, not a spokesman for any group. I have lived my life with my sexuality clearly apparent. I cannot do any more."

I still think we owe much to that great arch man, even if he was only out for himself. ~ Richard Smith

Film Information:
'The Naked Civil Servant'

Web: Cast, Bios and Additional Details at IMDb
Director: Jack Gold
Quentin Crisp (autobiography) & Philip Mackie (screenplay)
Cast, Crew & Credits: Full Cast, Crew & Credits
Genre: Biography | Comedy | Drama
Runtime: 77 min
Awards: 3 wins & 1 nomination
Spoken Language: English

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Naked Civil Servant.part01.exeNaked Civil Servant.part02.rar
Naked Civil Servant.part03.rarNaked Civil Servant.part04.rar
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