LGBT DVD round-up
Allan Radcliffe delves into the latest crop of gay-themed films for the small screen
As winter edges ever closer, the temptation to batten down the hatches and spend the night in front of the box takes hold. As luck would have it there’s a batch of welcome re-releases and special editions of classic features and documentaries to keep you company as the nights lengthen. It’s 17 years since Tom Kalin’s Swoon (Palisades Tartan ●●●●) took the Berlin and Sundance festivals by storm. The deftly executed, highly stylized, black and white study, based on the story of Leopold and Loeb, the wealthy aesthetes who murdered a 14-year-old boy for kicks, was a landmark in the New Queer Cinema, and still has the power to provoke. Released for the first time on DVD in the UK, this edition includes a feature-length audio commentary from the director.
Another landmark film currently enjoying a long overdue re-release is Before Stonewall (Peccadillo Pictures ●●●●), Greta Schiller’s compelling 1984 historical documentary created from a rich collage of interviews and archive footage. What emerges is a fascinating insight into pre-Civil Rights movement era America, seamlessly weaving the personal with the political with just the right balance of humour and seriousness.
Changing gear, Bruce LaBruce’s Hustler White (Peccadillo Pictures ●●●●) is perhaps the independent filmmaker’s most mainstream film, though it still exhibits his characteristic fusion of grungy indie, 70s trash and gay porn. The simple story casts LaBruce himself as writer Jürgen Anger, who, beguiled by Tony Ward’s renegade hustler, pursues him through seedy Santa Monica Boulevard. It’s hilarious, titillating and shocking in equal measure.
And there are plenty of brand new releases abroad too, among them Greek Pete (Peccadillo Pictures ●●●●), Andrew Haigh’s blurring of documentary and feature, which follows gay youths working in the sex industry. Antarctica (Peccadillo Pictures ●●) is rather a trite, self-consciously cool ensemble piece about the lives and loves of a group of gay characters in Tel Aviv. Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau’s Born in ’68 (Peccadillo Pictures ●●●) is an ambitious trawl through France’s tumultuous political history over 40 years, which ultimately overstays its welcome by a good hour, while Dream Boy (Peccadillo Pictures ●●●) is a sweet, if rather listless, account of the relationship between two schoolboys in America’s rural Deep South.