Monthly Archives: November 1998

Over On The Big Ranch

Fernando de Fuentes directed this 1936 Mexican musical about a romantic triangle. The picture won the great Gabriel Figueroa his first award for cinematography, at the 1938 Venice film festival. With Tito Guizar, Rene Cardona, and Esther Fernandez. (JR) Read more

Love Is The Devil

John Maybury’s first feature, subtitled Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon, is a passionate and highly personal work whose impact will partially depend on how you feel about Bacon’s paintings. Maybury didn’t receive permission to use any of those paintings in the film, but one could argue that this homage goes well beyond the range we associate with biopics of artists. Basically set during the 60s and early 70s, the film concentrates on the sadomasochistic relationship between Bacon (played by Derek Jacobi) and his hard trade model and lover over seven years, a burglar and petty thief named George Dyer (Daniel Craig). There’s also a detailed portrait of Bacon’s foppish salon that gathered at London’s Colony Room, presided over by Tilda Swinton. I admire this movie more than I like it, maybe because I’m not very partial to Bacon’s work, but there’s no question that it carries a visceral charge and lots of inventive energy. (JR) Read more

East Palace, West Palace

In a Beijing park one night, a gay writer is arrested by the policeman he has a crush on, prompting a long, ambiguous battle of wills and a series of psychological games. Director Zhang Yuan (Mama, Beijing Bastards, Sons), a mainland Chinese independent, is heterosexual but seems to have read Genet: this 1996 feature reaches for a mise en scene more theatrical than one finds in his earlier documentaries and semidocumentaries. The results are more querulous than clearly focused, though the edginess may keep one interested. The title, incidentally, is a gay joke referring to the public toilets located east and west of the Forbidden Palace. (JR) Read more