Over the weekend, still amazed that I had received the paper despite tropical storm Isaac passing through Miami, well almost, I read an interesting review of Ira Sachs's new movie, Keep the Lights On (An Affair to Remember, and Put on Screen).
"Those who know the back story, writes Nicolas Rapold in the NYT, will recognize the movie, set in Manhattan, as a refraction of Mr. Sachs’s past relationship with Bill Clegg, the literary agent who wrote of his struggles in Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man."
Bill Clegg is also rumored to be the man with whom New York editor Jonathan Galassi fell in love, and the subject of the book of poems the latter published this spring (Left-handed).
"While the film represents personal history, Mr. Sachs is also an enthusiastic student of film history, and Keep the Lights On takes a look at the history of gay cinema, especially in New York."
And Nicolas Rapold provides the reader with a few leads.
Last month, in an article (NewFest Is Coming Out of the Margins) by Stephen Holden on a gay film festival going on at the Lincoln Center in New York I found the following comments worth keeping in mind:
"These events would never have happened if movies with gay material hadn’t infiltrated independent film culture and even Hollywood (“Brokeback Mountain”), beginning two decades ago with what was labeled New Queer Cinema. Paradoxically, New Queer’s groundbreaking auteurs Todd Haynes (“Poison”), Tom Kalin (“Swoon”) and Gregg Araki (“The Living End”) had posited L.G.B.T. cinema as a defiant, outsider platform for deconstructing gender roles and sexuality without apology or shame. New Queer Cinema also reflected the militant spirit of Act Up, the AIDS protest organization born in 1987 whose history is told in two recent and essential documentaries: “How to Survive a Plague” and “United in Anger: A History of Act Up.” One thing that hasn’t changed about NewFest, however, is the centrality of sexuality in the work and the willingness to confront taboos without hysteria. That is certainly the case in “Four,” the opening-night film, directed by Joshua Sanchez. This screen adaptation of Christopher Shinn’s well-regarded play, first seen in New York in 2001, observes the mating rituals of two couples on a Fourth of July evening. One pair — Dexter (E. J. Bonilla) and Abigayle (Aja Naomi King) — is relatively conventional. The secret meeting of Abigayle’s married, closeted African-American father, Joe (powerfully embodied by Wendell Pierce of “The Wire” and “Treme”), and June (Emory Cohen), a much younger white teenager he meets on the Internet, is not. The film’s unblinking, nonjudgmental focus on this illegal relationship, and its extremely articulate and pointed dialogue, put it squarely in the post-New Queer Cinema tradition.Travis Mathews’s “I Want Your Love” blurs the line between narrative storytelling and pornography as thoroughly as any movie I’ve seen. The story focuses on a gay San Francisco artist in his 30s who is moving back to his Ohio hometown after a decade. At his farewell party he and his friends have casual, explicit sex, much of it filmed in close-up. “I Want Your Love” seems a conscious effort to take back gay sex on film from the pornography industry and show comfortable, nonperformance-oriented lovemaking among men who have genuine affection for one another."
A few days later Gore Vidal's obituary was published in the same paper:
"A classmate, the writer John Knowles, later used him as the model for Brinker Hadley, the know-it-all conspiracy theorist in 'A Separate Peace,' his Exceter-based novel."
About The City and the Pilar which was dedicated to J.T. (Jimmy Trimble, his ideal love, one of his High School's best athletes, who died prematurely during World War II) Charles McGrath writes:
"It is what would now be called a coming-out story, about a handsome, athletic young Virginia man who gradually discovers that he is homosexual. By today’s standards it is tame and discreet, but at the time it caused a scandal and was denounced as corrupt and pornographic. Mr. Vidal later claimed that the literary and critical establishment, The New York Times especially, had blacklisted him because of the book, and he may have been right."
A last quotation to end: "Jason Epstein, Mr. Vidal’s longtime editor at Random House, once admitted that he preferred the essays to the novels, calling Mr. Vidal 'an American version of Montaigne.'"