Top positive review
19 people found this helpful
Essential groundbreaking gay film(s).
on 17 June 2011
This is an excellent presentation from the British Film Institute (BFI). It is a two film presentation of a lost `gay realist film'. That is `Nighthawks' and the follow up documentary which tells of the making of the film and is a kind of autobiographical confessional from the maker and star Ron Peck.
Nighthawks itself is the story of Jim, who leads a split life as a geography teacher in a comprehensive by day, and at night he cruises London's gay bars looking for Mr Right, or Mr Available. It is gritty and even though shot in colour it feels monochrome in places as the feel is so dated. That though is part of its charm, you can tell it is the 1970's, with fashion faux pas' a plenty, and some incredible hair styles. The cruising looks very seedy and I suppose it still can be.
The music was a special commission and is sort of pre electronic age electric music, that is a feature through out, and I have to admit I hated it. That however, did not detract from the strength of the film. It is part social and historical snap shot as Jim goes about photographing the waste areas of London.
Where the real interest lies is in the fact that this is the first `realist' gay film. It took Ron Peck and Paul Hallam a number of years and a lot of heart ache to make. This was an attempt to show homosexuals as neither camp limp wristed targets of humour, or victims. They are ordinary people with jobs, lives and are neither comic, caricature or monster. It deals with the transience of relationships on the `scene'. The pain and anguish of `coming out' and the social stigma attached to being a `poof' or `queer', or worse of all `one of those'. It's funny how society has so many terms for a state of being that has been both ignored, vilified, criminalised and derided. Sorry having a bit of a rant. The climactic scene where he gets outed at school is an excellent piece of cinema, and must have been very difficult to do.
The second film `Strip Jack Naked' is as I say earlier a `making of' with explanations, stories and details about those who were involved. I actually really found this a touching, honest and revealing film. Made some time later in 1990 it tells of the work Colm Clifford did to bring the original project to life and yet how his scenes had to be cut. There is a great chat up line, where he says `I have half a bed', I am goanna try to use that myself - it wont work though.
There is so much I liked about this, the tranny who looks like he has just left an audition from Monty Python, they all smoke, all the time, and they all kiss. I am sick of this not kissing rubbish, a bit of tongue never did no-one no harm as my old butcher use to say (might have been referring to meat, but that works too!).
Ron goes on to explain that thanks to Thatcher and the increasingly repressive rhetoric of the far right, that now `the personal became the political', and if anything that polarisation helped gay rights move on. Nighthawks was first shown in Germany in 1978 and got limited exposure. A point of interest is that the BFI refused to help Ron with financing his film. It is nice to see that they have belatedly made up for past errors. This pack contains an excellent booklet and loads of extras, which adds to the pleasure of this essential piece of cinema. If you are serious about gay cinema this is a must have, and if you like it then you will probably also enjoy the similar themed German `lost classic', `Taxi zum Klo' which has just been re released too.