Last year Brokeback Mountain became a kind of milestone for gay subject matter in mainstream films, in part by lending an aura of class because of all the critical praise and Oscar nominations. This year we have three gayish films of an allegedly strong distinction — for lack of a better term I’m calling them the Gay Trilogy — opening during award- contender season, plus a couple of second-tier so-sos.
None are on Brokeback‘s level — not even close — but they all have same-sex encounters woven into their fabric, and I’m wondering how much of this is a Brokeback legacy thing, if at all, or are gay-tinged films simply becoming more common or…? I haven’t figured it all out yet, but there’s some kind of wave underway.
First out of the gate is Ryan Murphy‘s Running With Scissors (Columbia, 10.20). This isn’t a gay-relationship-driven film — it’s primarily about neuroticism and family dysfunction, and I’m hearing it’s a kind of Less Than Zero-type thing — but it does have a gay lead character (Joseph Cross) and a thread of a relationship with a secondary gay character (Joseph Fiennes).
Next up is Nicholas Hytner‘s The History Boys (Fox Searchlight, 11.22), which has all kinds of homoerotic posturing and ball-fondlings and whatnot, although the spirit of the piece is in another realm (“Pass it on, boys”) altogether.
The final entry is Richard Eyre‘s Notes on a Scandal (Fox Searchlight, 12.22), a heavy-duty relationship drama from the pen of Patrick Marber (Closer) involving a strong emotional attraction on the part of an older instructor (Judi Dench) at a school for a youngish art teacher (Cate Blanchett). This situation is complicated by an “illicit” affair that Blanchett’s character has with (I think) a student. The film has been rated R by the MPAA rating due in part to “some aberrant sexual content.”
On top of which are two lesser efforts in this vein — Douglas McGrath‘s Infamous (Warner Independent, 10.13), the “other” Truman Capote-writes-In Cold Blood movie that isn’t nearly as rich or refined as Bennett Miller’s Capote but is certainly shows Capote in a more flamboyantly gay light, and John Cameron Mitchell ‘s Shortbus (THINKFilm, 10.4), which delves into the lives of several Manhattan characters caught up in the usual hunt forsexual-emotional satisfaction, although most of it is gay-flavored.