Monday, September 26, 2011

Rembrandt and My Mother

To celebrate my mother's 88th birthday today, I watched Peter Greenaway's film about Rembrandt, my mother's favorite painter. Twelve years ago we visited Amsterdam, Dar, my mother and I, and saw a show centered around The Nightwatch at the Rijksmuseum. (click).

Rembrandt: The Night Watch (click to enlarge)

Here is a review of the film--
Movie Review

Rembrandt's J'Accuse (2009)

ContentFilm International
Jonathan Holmes and Michael Tiegen in "Rembrandt's J'Accuse."

The Man Who Watched the Watchers

“One must always apologize for talking about painting,” the French poet Paul Valéry wrote. To which, I suspect, the British filmmaker Peter Greenaway would say, “Nonsense.” In “Rembrandt’s J’Accuse,” his generally absorbing if sometimes fog-inducing feature-length documentary investigation into the mysteries of the Rembrandt painting “The Night Watch,” Mr. Greenaway talks and talks and talks as the image of his head pops on and off the screen in a box, much as Jambi the Genie’s did on “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.”
The movie is an addendum to “Nightwatching,” Mr. Greenaway’s 2007 fictional feature about the painting that was part of a larger project of the same title that he created for the yearlong 2006 celebration of Rembrandt’s 400th birthday in the Netherlands. That project included an opera and a “re-presentation” of the painting. Mr. Greenaway was also the author of a handsome accompanying museum catalog. The “Nightwatching” project was, in turn, the first in an ambitious series Mr. Greenaway has undertaken titled “Nine Classical Paintings Revisited” that has, to date, included inquiries into Leonardo’s “Last Supper” and, as part of this year’s Venice Biennale, Paolo Veronese’s “Wedding at Cana.”
Mr. Greenaway has described the “Nightwatching” installation as “a combination of art and technology designed for an attentive audience that will be intrigued by a world of light and moving images and the single frozen moment.” That pretty much sums up “Rembrandt’s J’Accuse” and, of course, most of cinema. Certainly Mr. Greenaway’s movie will work for, or perhaps on, only the attentive. His filmmaking style, with its accretions of images and text (and words words words), requires focus. In this case some casual knowledge of Dutch and European history probably also helps, as does a level of tolerance for Mr. Greenaway’s snobbism. “Most people,” he announces early, “are visually illiterate.” This, he continues, staring hard into the camera (j’accuse!), helps explain why we have such an “impoverished” cinema.
In brief, the movie functions as an art historical investigation of “The Night Watch,” into which, Mr. Greenaway forcefully argues, “Rembrandt has scrupulously painted an indictment of guilt in paint.” A crime has been committed, the filmmaker asserts, and “it is imperative that we reopen the case.” Completed in 1642, the year that Rembrandt turned 36 (he died in 1669), the painting depicts a large group of guardsmen, along with two women (or girls or dwarfs) and a dog. The painting is said to show the civic guard about to march off to protect Amsterdam, but where others see might and honor, Mr. Greenaway sees a murderous conspiracy and other calumnies. Furthermore, he maintains, Rembrandt lost his commissions, falling into poverty, directly because the painting exposed these crimes.
Mr. Greenaway builds his case on more than 30 mysteries he himself has detected in “The Night Watch.” As he moves through these mysteries, toggling between the painting and scenes from Rembrandt’s life (with Martin Freeman as the great man, and the likes of Jonathan Holmes offering support), Mr. Greenaway trains his eye — and ours — on seemingly every inch of the canvas. Everything is grist for his analytic mill, from the Italian influence to a dead chicken hanging from the waist of one of the female figures. Here a spear isn’t just a spear or even a phallic symbol, but also Rembrandt’s commentary on the prowess and deeds of the militiaman holding the weapon. Mr. Greenaway’s verbal argument is more persuasive than his visual or, more specifically, filmmaking one, which tends to divide the image into intersecting and overlapping squares that greatly resemble software windows, effectively turning the movie screen into a computer monitor.
It’s unfortunate that Film Forum hasn’t put “Rembrandt’s J’Accuse” on a double bill with “Nightwatching.” Both have been packaged together on a recently released American DVD by E1 Entertainment.

Opens on Wednesday in Manhattan.
Written and directed by Peter Greenaway; director of photography, Reinier van Brummelen; edited by Elmer Leupen; music by Giovanni Sollima and Marco Robino; produced by Femke Wolting and Bruno Felix; released by ContentFilm International. At Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, west of Avenue of the Americas, South Village. Running time: 1 hour 26 minutes. This film is not rated.
WITH: Martin Freeman (Rembrandt van Rijn), Eva Birthistle (Saskia Uylenburgh), Jodhi May (Geertje Dirks), Emily Holmes (Hendrickje Stoffels), Jonathan Holmes (Ferdinand Bol), Michael Teigen (Carel Fabritius), Natalie Press (Marieke) and Peter Greenaway (Himself/Public Prosecutor).

The film's analysis of Rembrandt's satirical portrait of Ganymede (urinating) is priceless:
Rembrandt: Ganymede from Wikipedia

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

A Dozen Great Films with Gay Lead Characters

As Oscar Wilde saw, Nature imitates Art, not the other way around. Thankfully, Human Nature now has for inspiration great films that offer us brilliant artistic vision:


1) Shortbus


2) Beautiful Thing

“ A feelgood movie about two lower-class boys who start to feel more for each other than friendship. Moving and funny, a classic!

3) Home at the End of the World

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "The Hours" comes a story that chronicles a dozen years in the lives of two best friends who couldn't be more different...

4) Wilde

The story of Oscar Wilde, genius, poet, playwright and the First Modern Man. The self-realization of... (118 mins.)
Director: Brian Gilbert
Alexstam54 rated this .
“ I saw this movie in the cinema. After the movie ended the people staid on their seats... Stephen Fry is simply fantastic as Wilde, Jude Law is also good as Bosie. ” - Alexstam54

5) Brokeback Mountain
Brokeback Mountain (2005)

The story of a forbidden and secretive relationship between two cowboys and their lives over the years. (134 mins.)
Director: Ang Lee

“ One of the very best gay movies. And certainly not only made for a gay audience! Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal are great.

6) Love Songs

7)Summer Storm
Summer Storm (2004)

Tobi and Achim, the pride of the local crew club, have been the best of friends for years and are convinced... 

“ Beautiful German movie about growing up and the homosexual feelings of one of the young friends who go on summercamp together. ”


Maurice (1987)
Two male English school chums find themselves falling in love at Cambridge. To regain his place in society... (140 mins.)
Director: James Ivory
“ Touching movie about the love between two young men. One wants to live the gay life, the other (Hugh Grant) is too scared. The story is by E.M. Forster (I loved the book too!). ”
9) Cabaret

10)Mysterious Skin
Mysterious Skin (2004)

A teenage hustler and a young man obsessed with alien abductions cross paths, together discovering a horrible, liberating truth. (105 mins.)
Director: Gregg Araki
Alexstam54 rated this .
“ In my opinion one of the best movies by Gus van Sant (next to 'Elephant' and 'My own private Idaho').
11) Milk
Milk (2008)

The story of Harvey Milk, and his struggles as an American gay activist who fought for gay rights and became California's first openly gay elected official. (128 mins.)
Director: Gus Van Sant

“ The story of the life and death of activist Harvey Milk. Sean Penn has done a great job! ”

12) My Own Private Idaho

My Own Private Idaho (1991)

Two best friends living on the streets of Portland as hustlers embark on a journey of self discovery and find their relationship stumbling along the way. (104 mins.)
Director: Gus Van Sant

“ Wonderful movie from openly gay director Gus van Sant, with Keanu Reeves and the late, great River Phoenix as two hustlers. ”

 13. My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)

An ambitious Asian Briton and his white lover strive for success and hope, when they open up a glamorous laundromat. (97 mins.)
Director: Stephen Frears
Alexstam54 rated this .
“ The first movie I saw with 'normal' gays. The atmosphere is very '80-s, Daniel Day Lewis is very sexy! A true classic by director Stephen Frears. ”
 14) Boy Culture         

Want more? Many of the above links come from:

Great gay movies & tv-series (click)