Garcon stupide (Lionel Baier, 2004)

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david hare
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Garcon stupide (Lionel Baier, 2004)

#1 Post by david hare » Sun Jul 30, 2006 11:34 pm

This relatively new (2004) movie directed by Lionel Baier (who is totally new to me) completely took me by surprise. (New R4 DVD which looks like a port of the R1.)

Shot on Digital and transferred to film I don't know how widely it's been screened ouside the usual GLFF venues. I hope (but doubt) it's had wider exposure, like Sebastien Lifshitz' Wild Side - another movie somewhat similar in terms of sensitivity and thoughtfulness, and one that breaks out of the usual predictable "Gay film" limitations.

The central character is played by a newcomer, then-20 year old Pierre Chatagny. This is a performer who managed to engage me beyond wildest expectations, playing the "stupid" (not bright) young gay man of the title who grows through a narrative with a couple of life turns, but one which is remarakbly unsentimentalized and lightly inflected by the director. Not the least of the movie's charms for me is the engagement through dialogue between a definitely NON hip young gay man and the frankly bourgeois claims made upon him or about him by some of his tricks, including the (voice only) of the director himself. I don't recall ANY gay movie outside of Wild Side in which the bourgeois orthodoxies of gay life are quite so openly challenged - "happy couples", Lifestylism etc - why shouldn't Loic (his name in the movie) fuck himself stupid, why shouldn't he hustle old queens. Why does he even have to be bright? I REALLY very much like this sort of dialogue, after the sea of unwatchable crap that constitutes most Gay and Lez moviemaking these days.

I also admit to an embarrassingly personal reason for responding so strongly to the movie - Chatagny made me gasp with his resemblance physically and psychically, to a bf long long ago who has long since died. I think the movie's absolutely great! Anyone else here seen it?

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#2 Post by David Ehrenstein » Mon Jul 31, 2006 9:49 am

Yes, and it's excellent. It played the usual venues then went straight to video. Very interested to see what Baer will do next.

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Matt
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#3 Post by Matt » Mon Jul 31, 2006 10:23 am

I really, really liked the movie up until a certain point in the last half-hour, and then I was really disappointed by it. For a first feature (and for a gay film), it's very good, very ambitious. I'd also like to see what Baier comes up with next, but I don't think I'll be revisiting this film any time soon.

This got fairly good distribution in the US for a foreign gay film (double whammy) with a pretty high per-screen average each week (even though it ended up at less than $200,000 total take. Picture This! (the distributor) specializes in foreign gay films and do quite a good job of it. They can be a little creative in their marketing (over emphasizing homoerotic elements and using any tiny bit of nudity in their advertising campaigns), but at least they're making an effort.

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Michael
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#4 Post by Michael » Mon Jul 31, 2006 11:03 am

Garcon Stupide is imaginative and fresh and its use of tone is breathtaking. Gorgeously shot especially of the Alps and the night streets.
I must add that the actor is very easy to watch throughout the film. The only bad thing I can say about the film is the ending. It let me down a bit.. not so much that it ruined the whole experience for me. The film is nowhere as great as Lifshitz's films Come Undone and Wild Side which I can watch repeatedly, which I think are the greatest gay films ever made. While watching Garcon Stupide, some moments made my mind wander to Lifshitz's films, sort of longing for them.. which should say how enormous the impact Lifshitz has on me.

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david hare
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#5 Post by david hare » Mon Jul 31, 2006 7:44 pm

(Matt where did you steal that photo of my beautiful Flox from??)

It's interesting that my oldest, most trusted pal in NY also shares Matt and Michael's unease with the last part of the movie (after Marie dies.)

Curiously, despite the apparently "redemptive" nature of the soccer player epipahny and the venture into photography, I still found Pierre's character, with all its naive innocence and unworldliness to be dominant, and I don't really find the end of the movie merely "affirmative." But I have to look at it again. It's predominantly his character and the absolutely transparent way in which Baier's camera becomes basically enslaved to it that is so remarkable to me. Pierre is far from a routine gay stock hero. VERY far.

But Michael I do agree it's a tough act to beat Wild Side!

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Matt
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#6 Post by Matt » Mon Jul 31, 2006 9:58 pm

davidhare wrote:(Matt where did you steal that photo of my beautiful Flox from??)
Is that really your dog, or just your style of dog? Now that we have widescreen avatars, I'm only posting things that look best in widescreen. Dachshunds, snakes, funerals, clarinets, hot dogs, erect johnsons...

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Michael
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#7 Post by Michael » Tue Aug 01, 2006 10:10 am

I don't recall ANY gay movie outside of Wild Side in which the bourgeois orthodoxies of gay life are quite so openly challenged - "happy couples", Lifestylism etc
What about Fassbinder's Fox and His Friends? It's a very cruel, ugly look at the borgeois orthodoxies of gay life, don't you think?

Come Undone is another film that fits in that mold.. sort of. It really never dwells on or spells out how gay life should be like so many embarrasingly cliched and false gay films out there.

Last night I watched Taxi zum Klo. Holy shit! I remain speechless. What a great film that's really impossible to describe without making it sound silly. I loved it and I feel that every gay person of all generations owes himself to watch this film.

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Matt
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#8 Post by Matt » Tue Aug 01, 2006 10:19 am

Michael wrote:Last night I watched Taxi zum Klo. Holy shit! I remain speechless. What a great film that's really impossible to describe without making it sound silly. I loved it and I feel that every gay person of all generations owes himself to watch this film.
Funny story - I saw Taxi zum klo at the "German House" when I was in college. They had these really lovely, cushy leather couches. My boyfriend at the time, a former gymnast, was lying on one of the couches during the movie. About half-way through, he went to get up to...well, taxi zum klo...and he couldn't get up. He'd had a back spasm. We had to call security to get him up out of the couch and back to his dorm room. I never saw the rest of the movie, but what I saw I remember being pretty filthy.

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Michael
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#9 Post by Michael » Tue Aug 01, 2006 4:17 pm

Pretty filthy?

Was it the print? The guys? The sex? :)

matt, what gay films do you adore?

I just netflixed Garcon Stupide, giving it another chance to see if the ending works better the second time around.

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Matt
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#10 Post by Matt » Tue Aug 01, 2006 4:38 pm

Michael wrote:matt, what gay films do you adore?
I gotta think about that. I think I prefer non-narrative films like Un Chant d'amour, Scorpio Rising and Kustom Kar Kommandos, Pink Narcissus, certain of Warhol's films. And then maybe Wild Reeds. Other films I really like but don't necessarily adore: Before Night Falls, Maurice, Fox and His Friends, Lilies.

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Michael
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#11 Post by Michael » Tue Aug 01, 2006 8:56 pm

No Lifshitz, matt?!?

It's interesting that my oldest, most trusted pal in NY also shares Matt and Michael's unease with the last part of the movie (after Marie dies.)
Keep in mind that I've seen the movie only once but I remember feeling very upset by Marie's suicide. After that, my mind kept running back to that scene, wondering what the hell happened to her, causing me to lose focus on not only the rest of the movie but also Loic. I grew to love and respect that woman who had a very strong mind and a beautiful heart. So that was quite a blow. It's of my opinion that the suicide scene is not necessary and the movie would work just as fine without it. Or maybe I'm wrong. Why not just let Marie go and be happy with her new boyfriend? Loic could still run away to the Alps after Marie left him, causing him a lot of grief. But it had to take Marie to hang herself to move Loic forward?!? :| It's very possible that I'm misreading all that.. and maybe life does work that way.

In all, it's a fabulous, beautiful movie...100% recommended.

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david hare
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#12 Post by david hare » Tue Aug 01, 2006 9:07 pm

Michael I read Marie's death as an accident, caused by the rickety excercise bar in the bathroom which Pierre used to fix up for her when they were sharing. If anything it's a glimmer of an indication, given their split up that she also needed him.

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Michael
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#13 Post by Michael » Tue Aug 01, 2006 9:11 pm

Wasn't there a blue rope tied around her neck?

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david hare
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#14 Post by david hare » Tue Aug 01, 2006 9:48 pm

Shit - I'll have another look, but I recall the rope was lying beside her on the floor, with the exercise bar, not around her neck. In fact I had to replay the scene first time because Baier sets it up so darkly and snappily you wonder if she's been murdered by the new bf.

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Michael
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#15 Post by Michael » Wed Aug 02, 2006 10:02 am

Oh yes... do give it another look. The DVD came today from Netflix and I took another look. The royal blue rope was tied the "hang-man"style around Marie's neck. It was so clear to see especially against the white floor. Maybe you need to adjust your TV or something. The shower rod was torn away from the wall which means that Marie tried to hang herself from that rod and the rod broke causing Marie to fall and possibly crack her skull (because there was blood trailing down the floor from her skull). It just seems so unlikely of her character to do something so stupid like that. Did she kill herself because she felt bad about what she did to Loic or her boyfriend simply dumped her? Or most likely both. I really don't know however whether she killed herself or got murdered or fell on the floor by accident, I still feel that it was not necessary at all. It's Loic's story and Marie abandoning him to join her boyfriend is a good enough cause for Loic to run away to the Alps where he eventually runs into the soccer player.

Again I really don't know and I feel funny about making all that judgement since Loic's story feels so painfully personal.. like I was intruding and making judgements from afar. It's like Loic asking directly to me "who the hell you think you are?" for making such judgement. Know what I mean?

david, would you have had a different reaction to the movie if you initially had Marie's suicide in mind?

I'm going to watch the film in its entirety tonight.

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Matt
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#16 Post by Matt » Wed Aug 02, 2006 11:15 am

Michael wrote:No Lifshitz, matt?!?
No, sorry. I've seen both Come Undone and Wild Side, but they didn't do much for me. There were parts I loved, particularly the screwing-on-the-beach scene in Come Undone and the opening of Wild Side with Antony singing (I was profoundly moved by that, and then the rest of the movie failed to live up to that moment). Oh, of course I also really like Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train and Beautiful Thing. But mostly, I'm unable to connect to most gay narrative films. They really don't mirror my experience much. Or maybe they do and I don't really like films that don't take me outside of myself much.

Have you guys seen Edge of Seventeen? It's not a very good film (watchable, but nothing special), but it is set and was filmed in my hometown and takes place in the mid-late '80s (when I was, in fact 17). It's very nearly my biography. The scenes set in the college dorm were also filmed in the very dorm I lived in my first year of college. It's spooky.

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david hare
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#17 Post by david hare » Wed Aug 02, 2006 5:23 pm

Here's a review of yet another bad movie from that black pit of gay coming out movies:

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Matt
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#18 Post by Matt » Wed Aug 02, 2006 5:42 pm

davidhare wrote:Here's a review of yet another bad movie from that black pit of gay coming out movies.
Ick. All I needed to see was the still before I just shut the window.

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Michael
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#19 Post by Michael » Wed Aug 02, 2006 5:58 pm

That's exactly why I told my friend the other night that all gay movies should be made from the other side of the world, especially France. I can't think of a good American gay film except for Before Night Falls. I watched Mambo Italiano and Kiss Me Guido the other night and they made me hate myself for being Italian and gay. Out of fun, I just made a list of my favorite gay films and none of them came from my country.

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david hare
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#20 Post by david hare » Wed Aug 02, 2006 6:02 pm

If you ever go to Italy you'll come to the strong conclusion, like Fellini that there are "no homosexuals in Italy." Always excepting the screamers who swan up and down the Via Veneto (and also make appearances in the Party scene of la Dolce Vita. I think they never age, like the ruins.)

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Michael
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#21 Post by Michael » Wed Aug 02, 2006 6:10 pm

I just surfed this site http://www.bear411.com/ and apparently there are a lot of bears in Italy. They must have crawled out of the centuries-long hibernation then.

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david hare
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#22 Post by david hare » Wed Aug 02, 2006 7:12 pm

There ARE gay people in Italy but they all live with their parents. (like the leather queen in Angels in America.) And I think every gay bar in Italy is called "The Tabasco."

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Michael
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#23 Post by Michael » Wed Aug 02, 2006 7:51 pm

The Tabasco? Ouch.

The majority of Italian gay men (not counting myself) I know are married to women and play with men on the side. When I was in early 20s, I had a friend - an Italian man in his 70s, married to the same woman for at least 50 years, used to drive to a bigger city 45 miles away to haunt a porn theater every weekend merely to have sex with younger men. Exactly like that fantastic French film called Porn Theatre (also titled as Glowing Eyes). Anyway, one night his wife accidentally discovered a butt plug in his coat pocket. Thankfully for him, the wife had no clue what it was (or maybe she did but decided to dismiss it anyway). He and I had countless conversations about love between men. I had a lover at that time and he expressed his failure to understand how that was possible. He believed that love between two men was impossible.. only sex was possible. He said - "like brothers".. whatever that means.

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david hare
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#24 Post by david hare » Wed Aug 02, 2006 8:27 pm

Italy is a gay bomb waiting to explode - about thirty years behind Spain.

I was staying in a pensione in Florence during a trip in 1982. It was run by a very effeminate older gay man and his ancient mother and the TV was always playing Laurel and Hardy Hal Roach comedies dubbed into Italian.

I came back one night after finding the Tabasco (it was for real) only opened three nights a week, and went to bed. Shortly after, there was a knock on the door and it was the owner, draped in a completely lurid flowing kimono and STINKING of cheap cologne. He barged in and kept trying to come onto me, which I found more amusing than annoying - constantlty muttering "you VERY naughty boy..."I managed to get dressed and fled the hotel - at 2AM when everything in Florence was closed.

I stopped at a spot just by the Arno River and was watching the Ponte Vecchio when I noticed a young Carabiniere (Italian Policeman) approaching. He was totally HOT (as is the uniform) and we struck up a conversation which of course led straight back to the hotel where we banged all nite long. The bed actually broke into a mess on the floor! The icing on the cake of all this was my room was directly above the owner's apartment, in the roof, and the constant noise would have driven the poor guy crazy.

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#25 Post by David Ehrenstein » Wed Aug 02, 2006 8:55 pm

Soon to be a Major Motion Picture -- I hope!

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