Through intimate encounters with the life and work of five contemporary gay male directors, this book develops a framework for interpreting what it means to make a gay film or adopt a gay point of view. For most of the twentieth century, gay characters and gay themes were both underrepresented and misrepresented in mainstream cinema. Since the 1970s, however, a new generation of openly gay directors has turned the closet inside out, bringing a poignant immediacy to modern cinema and popular culture.
Combining his experienced critique with in-depth interviews, Emanuel Levy draws a clear timeline of gay filmmaking over the past four decades and its particular influences and innovations. While recognizing the "queering" of American culture that resulted from these films, Levy also takes stock of the ensuing conservative backlash and its impact on cinematic art, a trend that continues alongside a growing acceptance of homosexuality. He compares the similarities and differences between the "North American" attitudes of Todd Haynes, Gus Van Sant, and John Waters and the "European" perspectives of Pedro Almodóvar and Terence Davies, developing a truly expansive approach to gay filmmaking and auteur cinema.
Emanuel Levy is a professor of film and sociology, who has taught at Wellesley College, Arizona State University, Columbia University, the University of California, Los Angeles, and New York University. He is the author of nine books, including Vincente Minnelli: Hollywood's Dark Dreamer; All About Oscar: The History and Politics of the Academy Awards; Cinema of Outsiders: The Rise of American Independent Film; George Cukor: Master of Elegance; John Wayne: Prophet of the American Way of Life; and Citizen Sarris: American Film Critic. A two-time president of the L.A. Film Critics Association, Levy worked as senior critic for Variety and chief film critic for Screen International before founding the acclaimed website www.emanuellevy.com. He has served on the grand juries of fifty-four international film festivals, including Cannes, Venice, Montreal, Locarno, Taormina, San Francisco, and Sundance.
Preface Acknowledgments Introduction 1. Pedro Almodóvar: Spain's Enfant Terrible 2. Terence Davies: Subjective Memoirist 3. Todd Haynes: Deconstructive Queer Cinema 4. Gus Van Sant: Poet of Lost and Alienated Youth 5. John Waters: Queer as Trash and Camp Conclusion: Gay DirectorsWho's Looking and How? Notes Select Bibliography Index