Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Queering in the Rain.

If someone "inceptioned" the wet dreams of Rainer Werner Fassbender and Jean Cocteau, and asked a young Todd Haynes to make a movie out of them, the result would be Pink Narcissus. This avant garde gay landmark is often more conservative and forced than it wants to be, its lyrical qualities only subverted under the fact that despite its subject matter, it's r(b)arely erotic.

For all its use of phallic imagery, blowjobs and ejaculations, the film results rather tame and more often than not seems to wander too much into its own self indulgent qualities. Being about the fantasies of a hustler (Bobby Kendall) and having them play out like a Pasolini-meets-Fellini version of Skinemax soft porn seems to subtract queer out of the equation more often than not. The one thing that pervades in the film and makes it an interesting experience however, is how director James Bidgood shows off his cinematic influences throughout.

Director Bidgood famously removed his name from the film after he felt that the editors had butchered his work, when the truth is that it's the editing that gives the film a dreamlike quality. See for example how the editor juxtaposes "random" body parts, in this case the belly button and an eye, so that we're transported to Un Chien Andalou and Psycho in a second. The film may not really tap into the real sexual desires of a gay man, but it explores how films themselves can evoke the sensual world.

This feeling continues when on the Times Square fantasy, the director relies to neon (as well as inventive sight gags) to remind us of the overwhelming experience that can be NYC, something audiences had seen years before in the playful Singing in the Rain.

"Gotta dance!"

The references to the classic musical continue in further scenes, as Pink Narcissus seems to explore the same color palettes and borrows from the movie's musical structure.



"Singing and dancing in the rain..."

Notice the similarity between the painted skies, which not only relish in their obvious staginess but also never fail to inspire the romantic in us.

"You were meant for me..."

All of these cinematic winks bring us to my favorite shot:


Remember that scene in An American in Paris where Gene performs the famous ballet? I have never truly loved that movie, but I'm endlessly fascinated by how Gene recreated the most famous moments in French art.

And what is the shot above, if not an homage to the simple beauty of impressionistic painting? You're almost half expecting Bobby to put on a tutu and pose for Degas. Gotta love how the shot makes a superb use of the gorgeous male figure without taking away from the rest of the scene's beauty. The clothes rack could very well be out of a Matisse painting and it's only during this scene where Pink Narcissus manages to combine painting, cinema and classic humanism to remind us that beyond the confines of our testes, art can usually help us achieve the most glorious kind of orgasm.

- This post is part of Nat's Hit Me With Your Best Shot series.

3 comments:

NATHANIEL R said...

I never saw any of this in this picture which is why it's so great to here multiple voices on the same imagery.

Squasher88 said...

Jeez Fred Willard, how much more erotic did you want it to get?! Just kidding. Interesting take on the film.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Masterful post, of course and so many things to muse on. Even though You make me feel just the slightest bit unlearned (okay a lot)

"I have never truly loved that movie, but I'm endlessly fascinated by how Gene recreated the most famous moments in French art."

I love, I love, I love you for that statement. My antipathy for AAiP sometimes is a bit extreme (and coming from someone who loves musicals) but that sequence is gorgeous.