Two more films
Jihad for Love
is a competent and effective documentary on an important subject - not so much the repression of gay men and lesbians by Islam as the attempt by gay men and lesbians who are also believers to construct a space for themselves within Islam. Those of us who are agnostics may at times find it incredible that people should not just walk away from faith - I remember doing so myself and the enormous weight that lifted from my shoulders when I did - but when religion is a total way of life it becomes harder. Some of the film is predictable enough - pettifogging clergy talking cheerfully about sacrifices they will never themselves have to make and blood they will never personally spill, Iranian men sitting in Turkey waiting to find whether they are being granted refugee status in Canada. Other bits are less expected and rather touching - a lesbian couple working out that they are probably not doing anything damnable as long as they avoid penetration, another, rather more secular couple, fangirling Sufism and dervishes and going round to tea with the aged mum of one of them. I had to miss the discussion afterwards because it was going to cut into my next film.
This was Curiosity of Chance
which I had to see because it is a high school movie - and, as Kristienne Clarke said earlier in the evening, that's my Mastermind Subject. Indeed, in the Q&A afterwards, I proved this to be entirely the case by referencing the movie's one explicit quote from Clueless
and asking if I had missed any other specific references. A slightly stunned writer/director Russell Marleau admitted that I was the first person who had ever spotted the quote and I told him afterwards that it was my job, I wrote Teen Dreams
. In spite of some clumsinesses and infelicities, and the fact that funding meant it had to be shot in Belgium, and thus take place in an international high school, CofC is pretty much a delight, the standard high school movie, only gay. Chance - the quite impressive Tad Hilgenbrink - cultivates eccentricity as a shield but is nonetheless picked on by the creepy jock Brad and befriended by the school's other stylish loser Twyla and the photographer Hudson. He also falls for the deeply conflicted soccer player Levi.
The movie is especially good on the double lives of queerteenagers - as someone who regularly hitched to Manchester across the Pennines to hang out in bars with drag queens I had to recognize stuff. It is also good on the potential nightmare of getting caught out - Brad manages nearly to break Chance - but it does dream revenge rather well, and also Chance's slightly arrogant refusal to take revenges that he disapproves of morally. Some clumsinesses of construction aside, I liked a lot about the movie, not least the prickly but mutually accepting relationship between Chance and his soldier father and oddly classy little sister. I also liked the friendship between Chance and the intelligent abrasive Twyla - who rebukes him for assuming that she is straight, saying she plans the years from 18 to 23 to be her experimental years...And Chance/Hilgenbrink's performances as drag queen and pop prince are both impressive. Worth seeing, as Dr Johnson said of the Giant's Causeway, but not worth going to see....