Continue reading: The Night Porter Review
Along the way Visconti tosses a litany of decadence at us. As if Nazism wasn't enough, we get incest in the family, a little pedophilia, and some cross-dressing and homosexual hijinks. It all culminates in a bloodbath -- the historical "Night of the Long Knives," a one-night, bloody purge of dissidents in Hitler's old private army, the SA (predecessor to the SS), brought on by fears of a coup against his budding rule. Hitler's rule would be solidified after this history-making event.
Continue reading: The Damned Review
Hopelessly abstract to the point of silliness, Death in Venice follows Bogarde's Gustav, a composer, on a holiday to Venice where he's meant to relax. Instead he becomes obsessed with the very idea of "beauty." It's hard to blame him -- he encounters a procession of ugly goons throughout his stay, and the already crumbling city is under seige by an outbreak of cholera. You can almost understand why he's looking for something pretty, but when his gaze lands on an androgynous teenage boy (Björn Andrésen) the film becomes beyond troubling. Gustav chases after the kid for the remainder of the film, obsessing about the cholera but subconsciously engineering ways to keep himself from having to leave Venice.
Continue reading: Death In Venice Review
Darling exposes the jet-set high society of the mid-'60s with the cynicism and detail of a muckraking documentary. Antonioni and Fellini explored the same milieu, but writer Frederic Raphael is a much sharper and subtler satirist than either. (Raphael is also responsible for Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, and Darling's influence on that film is easy to spot). Raphael's script effectively surveys a gallery of posers -- vapid trendsetters, journalists and fashionistas, pretentious artists, and even minor royalty (Diana marries an Italian prince). Though the film drags in a few places, John Schlesinger's direction is generally excellent.
Continue reading: Darling Review
It would be hard to tell the story of Victim without it. This film broke serious ground in 1961 by addressing homosexuality in Britain full-on. At the time, Britain had laws against sodomy, which let blackmailers run rampant against gays. The police didn't seem to care, which made things all the worse. Victim tells the story of just such a case, with a gay lawyer investigating the death of one blackmailer's victim, eventually uncovering a number of men under his thumb and finally taking him to court. The catch: our lawyer (played by the semi-closeted-in-real-life Dirk Bogarde) is also gay (or at least was gay), and the trial will ruin his career as he gets his man. (No pun intended.)
Continue reading: Victim Review