LGBT Films at Sundance 2015

sundance

LGBT Films at Sundance 2015

Watch for reviews right here as the films become available.

The Amina Profile / Canada (Director: Sophie Deraspe)

During the Arab revolution, a love story between two women — a Canadian and a Syrian American — turns into an international sociopolitical thriller spotlighting media excesses and the thin line between truth and falsehood on the Internet. World Documentary section.

Call Me Lucky / U.S.A. (Director: Bobcat Goldthwait)

Barry Crimmins was a volatile but brilliant bar comic who became an honored peace activist and influential political satirist. Famous comedians and others build a picture of a man who underwent an incredible transformation. U.S. Documentary section.

The D Train / U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Jarrad Paul, Andrew Mogel)

With his 20th reunion looming, Dan can’t shake his high school insecurities. In a misguided mission to prove he’s changed, Dan rekindles a friendship with the popular guy from his class and is left scrambling to protect more than just his reputation when a wild night takes an unexpected turn. Cast: Jack Black, James Marsden, Kathryn Hahn, Jeffrey Tambor, Mike White, Kyle Bornheimer. U.S. Dramatic section.

Dope / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Rick Famuyiwa)

Malcolm is carefully surviving life in a tough neighborhood in Los Angeles while juggling college applications, academic interviews, and the SAT. A chance invitation to an underground party leads him into an adventure that could allow him to go from being a geek, to being dope, to ultimately being himself. Cast: Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons, Blake Anderson, Zoë Kravitz, A$AP Rocky. U.S. Dramatic section.

Grandma / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Paul Weitz)

Self-described misanthrope Elle Reid has her protective bubble burst when her 18-year-old granddaughter, Sage, shows up needing help. The two of them go on a day-long journey that causes Elle to come to terms with her past and Sage to confront her future. Cast: Lily Tomlin, Julia Garner, Marcia Gay Harden, Judy Greer, Laverne Cox, Sam Elliott. Premieres section.

I Am Michael / U.S.A. (Director: Justin Kelly, Screenwriters: Justin Kelly, Stacey Miller)

The controversial true story of a gay activist who rejects his homosexuality and becomes a Christian pastor. Cast: James Franco, Zachary Quinto, Emma Roberts. Premieres section.

Larry Kramer in Love and Anger / U.S.A. (Director: Jean Carlomusto)

Author, activist, and playwright Larry Kramer is one of the most important and controversial figures in contemporary gay America, a political firebrand who gave voice to the outrage and grief that inspired gay men and lesbians to fight for their lives. At 78, this complicated man still commands our attention. U.S. Documentary section.

The Mask You Live In / U.S.A. (Director: Jennifer Siebel Newsom)

Is there a “boy crisis” in America? Is our male population suffering due to our emphasis on power, dominance, and aggression? The Mask You Live In explores how our narrow definition of masculinity is harming our boys, men, and society at large and unveils what we can do about it. Documentary Premieres section.

Nasty Baby / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Sebastian Silva)

A gay couple try to have a baby with the help of their best friend, Polly. The trio navigates the idea of creating life while confronted by unexpected harassment from a neighborhood man called The Bishop. As their clashes grow increasingly aggressive, odds are someone is getting hurt. Cast: Sebastian Silva, Tunde Adebimpe, Kristin Wiig, Reg E. Cathey, Mark Margolis, Denis O’Hare. NEXT section.

The Royal Road / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jenni Olson)

This cinematic essay, a defense of remembering, offers up a primer on the Spanish colonization of California and the Mexican American War alongside intimate reflections on nostalgia, butch identity and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo — all against a contemplative backdrop of 16mm urban California landscapes. Cast: Jenni Olson, Tony Kushner. New Frontier section.

The Summer of Sangaile / Lithuania, France, Holland (Director and screenwriter: Alanté Kavaïté)

Seventeen-year-old Sangaile is fascinated by stunt planes. She meets a girl her age at the summer aeronautical show, nearby her parents’ lakeside villa. Sangaile allows Auste to discover her most intimate secret and in the process finds in her teenage love, the only person that truly encourages her to fly. Cast: Julija Steponaityte, Aiste Dirziute. World Dramatic section.

Take Me to the River / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Matt Sobel)

A naive California teen plans to remain above the fray at his Nebraskan family reunion, but a strange encounter places him at the center of a long-buried family secret. Cast: Logan Miller, Robin Weigert, Josh Hamilton, Richard Schiff, Ursula Parker, Azura Skye. NEXT section.

Ten Thousand Saints / U.S.A. (Directors: Robert Pulcini, Shari Springer Berman, Screenwriters: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini)

Based on the acclaimed novel, Ten Thousand Saints follows three lost kids and their equally lost parents as they come of age in New York’s East Village in the era of CBGB, yuppies, and the tinderbox of gentrification that exploded into the Tompkins Square Park Riot of 1988. Cast: Ethan Hawke, Asa Butterfield, Emily Mortimer, Julianne Nicholson, Hailee Steinfeld, Emile Hirsch. Premieres section.

Tig / U.S.A. (Directors: Kristina Goolsby, Ashley York, Screenwriter: Jennifer Arnold)

This documentary explores comedian Tig Notaro’s extraordinary journey as her life unfolds in grand and unexpected ways, all while she is battling a life-threatening illness and falling in love. Documentary Premieres section.

For complete information about all the other great movies at this year’s Sundance Film Festival be sure to visit the official website.

“THROUGH A LENS DARKLY
: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People”— Black on Black

through a lens darkly

“THROUGH A LENS DARKLY
: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People”

Black on Black

Amos Lassen

“Through a Lens Darkly” is the first documentary to explore the American family photo album through the eyes of black photographers. It explores American history to find those images and photographs that have been suppressed, lost or forgotten from the time of slavery up through the present day. What we see in these extraordinary images is a world that confronted what it means to be human. unveil a world confronting the difficult edges of citizenship and what it means to be human. The photos that we see here are works by Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson, Anthony Barboza, Hank Willis Thomas, Coco Fusco, Lyle Ashton Harris and many others and they introduce us to “a community of storytellers who collectively transform singular experiences into a journey of discovery – and a call to action.” It is almost as if we watch a family memoir as we look at the African American experience since slavery and we see not only the heroes of the Black American community but how that community was almost destroyed by consumerism.

Director Thomas Allen presents us with his thesis that black people in this country have mostly been seen through the eyes of white image makers who have infused popular culture with Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben, Darkie toothpaste, ‘The Birth of a Nation’ and more. These images have long conditioned our collective subconscious and have a great deal to say about our attitudes toward black people and many times black people’s attitudes toward themselves. As the film show us that it is only through the photographs of Black people that we see things differently. demonstrates, it’s only through the eyes of Black photographers that we see differently. 


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The film deals with how photography in America has shaped the identity of black Americans from the days of slavery until today. We see many archival photographs of black American being stereotyped, i.e. stealing chickens, via photographs that were staged to create a negative and, most importantly, dehumanizing view of African Americans. Some photos of slaves showed them in a positive light, though, particularly the ones that abolitionist Sojourner Truth had printed. Many of the photos are disturbing and engender outrage—- photos of lynchings where the white men and women gather around the hanging like it’s a normal routine. There are interviews with modern-day photographers, namely, Carrie Mae Weems and Renee Cox who help to give us perspectives on the history of photography. There insights are quite illuminating but Harris could have used more editing to piece it together in a more organized way while connecting it to the larger picture and that is basically the only problem that I find with the film.

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We see how African-Americans presented themselves in their own photos, often in stark contrast to how they were demeaned and stereotyped by the larger society. I understand that the documentary was inspired by “Reflections in Black,” a book by Deborah Willis — one of the film’s producers and it deftly brings together historical images from before and after the Civil War. If I had to settle on the one thing that this film does it is that it corrects the historical record, “where images of African-Americans — and Africans themselves — often resorted to offensive tableaux that not only demeaned their subjects, but also denied them their basic humanity.”

Director Harris says to us, “For me, history changes with each generation. We use this history to serve the purpose we have for it right now. It was really important because the way history is constructed in this country is that it is immutable. But it is not. It is something that is living. These artifacts are telling us something.”

The three most important things that we see in the film are affirmation, representation, and unconditional love. These are the main themes of the film and we especially see these in family portraits.

through a lens darkly1

This is a history of negative representation of African-Americans, a history of Black photographers, a chronology of when Black people have been photographed, and a call to show what’s possible when Black people are able to represent themselves. There are over 915 images (chosen by the filmmakers from 15,000) and it is true a film that awakens us once again to the plight of the American Black community.

“Night and Fog: A Film in History” by Sylvie Lindeperg— A Microhistory of the Film

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Lindeperg, Sylvie. “Night and Fog: A Film in History”, translated by Tom Mes, University of Minnesota Press, 2015.

A Microhistory of the Film

Amos Lassen

 I went through that time in my life that I was haunted by the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of Nazi Germany. Somehow I did not see the documentary “Night and Fog” which has been hailed by many as the greatest documentary ever made and François Truffaut went on to say that it is “the greatest film ever made.”

The film directed by Alain Resnais was severely censored by French critics because of its depiction of Nazi atrocities. Resnais made this film just ten years after World War II and the French public was unprepared to confront the horrors shown in the film much less to hear that there was the possibility of French complicity. On the other hand this is the film in which the worst was just beginning. Having seen the film I can understand why French censors felt this way about it. With this new study of the film now we learn of its genesis, production, and legacy of Resnais’s incomparable film.

The film began as a cinematic spin-off of an educational exhibition on “resistance, liberation, and deportation” went on to become a significant step in the building of a collective consciousness of the tragedy of World War II. Sylvie Lindeperg builds her investigation with the story of historian Olga Wormser-Migot, who played an integral role in the research and writing of “Night and Fog”. She made one mistake in her text and this is where the film’s detractors, revisionists and Holocaust deniers screamed to have it banned. To make it all the more incredible is the fact that the film only runs 31 minutes.

 Author Sylvie Lindeperg follows the travails of Resnais, Wormser-Migot, and their collaborators in a pan-European search for footage, photographs, and other documentation. She uncovered that the creative use of liberation footage as a stand in for daily life of the camps was so shocking that there were hostile debates about the reenactment of featured to such shocking effect in the film—a finding that raises hotly debated questions about reenactment and witnessing these atrocities actually help to understand the impact of what we see.

Resnais gave us a new interpretation of the interworking of biography, history, politics, and film and all at the same time. The book gives original historical and aesthetic insights and provides a great deal of information that can be used when discussing the documentary. Below is the table of contents so that you can get an idea of what we find in this book.

 Contents

 Foreword 
Jean-Michel Frodon

Acknowledgments

Introduction 
Abbreviations 
Prologue: Olga Wormser-Migot, the Missing Link

 Part I. Inception: A Breakdown of Gazes


1. The “Invisible Authority”: The Stakes of a Commission 


  1. The “ Merchants of Shadows”: A French–Polish Coproduction 

  2. A Journey to the East: Research and Documentation


4. Writing Four Hands 


  1. The Adventurous Gaze 

  2. The Darkness of the Editing Room 

  3. Suffocated Words: A Lazarian Poetry


8. Eisler’s Neverending Chant

 Part II. Passage and Migration 


  1. Tug of War with the Censors 

  2. The Cannes Confusion: Dissecting a Scandal 

  3. Germany Gets Its First Look


12. Exile from Language: Paul Celan, Translator


13. Translation Battles in the GDR 


  1. A Portable Memorial 

  2. Shifting Perspectives: An Educational Institution 

  3. Constructing the Cinephilic Gaze

 Epilogue: Olga’s Tomb 


Notes 


Index

“America in the Nineties” by Nina Easperanza Serriane— From the fall of the Berlin Wall to Terrorist Attacks

America in the 90's

Serrianne, Nina Esperanza. “America in the Nineties”, University of Syracuse Press, 2015.

From the fall of the Berlin Wall to Terrorist Attacks

Amos Lassen

Nina Esperanza Serrianne takes on a survey tour of the nineties that she begins with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and ends with the terrorist attacks of September, 2011. That decade was one in which there were many marginalized communities but there was a great deal more— America’s War in the Gulf, Bush’s domestic agenda; The 1992 Campaign, Clinton’s domestic agenda; The United States and genocide; globalization; science and technology; pop culture; race relations; LGBT and women’s rights; and the scandals of the Clinton Administration. It seems like there was a lot going on but then there is a lot going on every ten-year span in this country’s history. Not only do we get the information about what happened during the 90’s, we also get an analysis of the major events.

What makes this book unique is that Serrianne charts the major developments of the 90’s and places them within the broader context of recent American history.

The treatment of the events of the 90’s is wide-ranging and they are looked at from various angles—political, military, social, economic, and popular culture are the main approaches that are used here. The most unique movement undoubtedly is the War on Terror that had great influence both politically and militarily and on both domestic and foreign policies.

Other developments that are carried studied here include (to name a few) race relations, women’s rights, and the LGBT movement, the Civil Rights movement and backlash, the Conservative Revolution, Reaganomics in the 1980s, and the election of Bill Clinton. This was a decade in which both sides of the political spectrum sought to gain positions. We can only be made wiser by reading this excellently written and researched book.

“Unrequited: Women and Romantic Obsession” by Lisa A.Phillips— One-sided Romantic Obsession

unrequited

Phillips, Lisa A. “Unrequited: Women and Romantic Obsession”, Harper 2015.

One-sided Romantic Obsession

Amos Lassen

Lisa A. Phillips combines the genres of memoir, literary exposition and case studies to give us an exploration of romantic obsession. The idea for the book came out of her personal experience—when he became thirty years old, she realized that she had fallen in love with someone who did not feel the same way about her. She became obsessed and followed the guy around, called him whenever she felt like doing so and talked about him ceaselessly. On one morning she found a way to sneak into his apartment building and he picked up a baseball bat to protect himself from her and he called 911. The unrequited love that she felt for him changed her drastically—so much so that she did not recognize herself.

Having been involved in an obsessive love “affair”, Phillips decided to explore it in other women’s lives because she feels that we need to understand it and to respect as well as to deal with it. It is her own story that is the foundation here and she brings it into the book interweaving it between interviews, scientific research, literature, psychology and cultural history. We see how it takes root and grabs hold, grows and influences the way we think and behave.

We get a look at “a powerful, troubling, and surprisingly common phenomenon.” There are a great many insights provided and these were only available to those dealing with obsession. Not that we become aware of them, there is hope that they be used in helping those dealing with this kind of behavior. What we did not know is that there are large numbers of women who experience unrequited obsessive love and it is both mystifying and troublesome.

Phillips has done her research well and when we combine what she has found with her lucid and refreshing prose, we get a fascinating and informative read. The question remains of what happens when we want someone who does not want us back and does not share our feelings. Certainly there is pain there—we know that when love is unreciprocated, then someone gets hurt. Phillips has deconstructed this unreciprocated feeling and if that was all she had done here that would have been great but she has done so much more than that. She has defined what love is in terms of a woman who shares deeper and more intense feelings than the object of her desire.

“DUANE MICHALS: THE MAN WHO INVENTED HIMSELF”— Philosopher, Photographer, Artist

duane michaels

“Duane Michals: The Man Who Invented Himself”

Philosopher, Photographer, Artist

Amos Lassen

Camille Guichard’s documentary about the celebrated American photographer and artist Duane Michals looks at “an important person who played a major role in the evolution of both photography and conceptual art.” The film explores his life and his work that has been seen all over the world and now we get new and layered meanings of his art by listening to him in this film. The DVD comes to us from Alive Mind Cinema on January 13, 2015 and in addition to the documentary, it includes a stills gallery and trailer for the film.

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Michals is eighty years old and is regarded as one of the American masters of photography. He creates brilliant portraits and has photographed people such as filmmakers Pier Paolo Pasolini and Roman Polanski and artists such as Rene Magritte and Giorgio de Chirico. Michals is also a natural-born storyteller who incorporates hand-written texts to his images thus adding another dimension of meaning to his work. His work has been exhibited around the world, and today resides in the permanent collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art, among many others. The film follows the artist around his favorite locations and explores his use of universal themes such as work, love, desire, death and immortality.
There are three important places for Michals as we see in the film—Pittsburgh, the home of the steel industry and the city of his childhood, New York the place that was so vital to his creative sensibilities (where he lives with his partner, Fred) and Vermont for contact with nature and its changing seasons, and the derelict hotel where he works. These places bring out the artist’s imagination, humor and emotion.

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We also learn from him about his sexuality, his desires and his feelings about an afterlife. While these subjects could be quite heavy, Michals speaks about with humor and jest. In fact, it seems the only time we see him being serious is when he is working.

I suppose the most accurate description of Michals is that he is an American photographer who has made his mark in contemporary photography with his sequences, series of photos that tell a story, sometimes incorporating handwritten texts. He has been able to find the balance between gravity and humor in his work and he uses that in his work.

“LOOKING”: The DVD Set—- What to Expect

looking-s1-dvd-cover“LOOKING”: The DVD Set

What to Expect on the DVDs of “Looking”

Amos Lassen

Offering an unfiltered look at three friendships in one of America’s most iconic cities, LOOKING: SEASON ONE introduces us to Patrick (Jonathan Groff – The Normal Heart, Glee), a 29-year old video game designer getting back into the dating world in the wake of his ex’s engagement; aspiring artist Agustín (Frankie J Alvarez – Smash), who is questioning the idea of monogamy as he transitions into domesticity with his boyfriend; and career waiter Dom (Murray Bartlett – White Collar), the oldest member of the group who, at 39, is facing middle age with his romantic and professional dreams still unfulfilled… The trio’s stories intertwine and unspool dramatically as they search for happiness and intimacy in an age of unparalleled choices – and rights – for gay men.

Rounding out the world of LOOKING: SEASON ONE are  Russell Tovey (Being Human, The History Boys), starring as Kevin, Patrick’s boss and love interest; Dom’s roommate Doris (Lauren Weedman); Agustín’s boyfriend Frank (O.T. Fagbenle); and Patrick’s co-worker Owen (Andrew Law), as well as the legendary Scott Bakula (Quantum Leap, Star Trek: Enterprise) who stars as Lynn. The final character is San Francisco itself, with its progressive, unpredictable and sexually open culture serving as a backdrop for the group’s lives.

“The American Isherwood” edited by James Berg and Chris Freeman— Isherwood in America

the american isherwood

Berg, James and Chris Freeman, editors. “The American Isherwood”, University of Minnesota, 2015.

Isherwood in America

Amos Lassen

“The American Isherwood” is a collection of essays that considers Christopher Isherwood’s diaries, his vast personal archive, and his published works. It gives us a many-layered appreciation of the writer who spent more than half of his life in southern California. “The editors have brought together the most informative scholarship of the twenty-first century to illuminate the craft of one of the singular figures of the twentieth century.” Isherwood was a novelist, memoirist, diarist, and gay pioneer. He left us with a plethora of writings written in his unique crisp style and emphasis on detail.

Initially Isherwood gained fame for his “Berlin Stories” that became the source material for the hit stage musical and Academy Award–winning film Cabaret. Of late, his experiences and career in the United States have received increased attention. His novel “A Single Man” was adapted into an Oscar-nominated film; his long relationship with the artist Don Bachardy, with whom he shared an openly gay lifestyle, was the subject of an award-winning documentary, “Chris & Don: A Love Story”; and his memoir, “Christopher and His Kind”, was adapted for the BBC. His letters to Bachardy and Bacardy’s letters to him was also recently released in book form.

He had quite a colorful life having left England, his mother country, to live in Germany during under the Weimar regime and then ultimately to California and Los Angeles during the beginnings of gay liberation. And he wrote about it all. All of these adventures are included in his diaries that cover fifty years and are made up of more than a million words. It is these diaries that really allow us to see the influence he exerted. Yet we have more than entries about the diaries—these are also selections that look at his personal archive and his published works of which there are many. The emphasis here is on Isherwood in America and editors Berg and Freeman bring us the most informative scholarship of the twenty-first century so that we can better understand of the major literary figures of the twentieth century. While Isherwood was English by birth, he was also a significant force in late twentieth-century American culture and his legacy continues today. Below is the table of contents of this volume.

 Contents

Foreword: Outside the Frame 
Stephen McCauley

Introduction: An American Outsider 
James J. Berg and Chris Freeman

 Part I. A Single Man and Los Angeles Culture in the 1960s 


  1. A Single Man and the American Maurice 
Lois Cucullu 

  2. Labor of Love: Making Chris & Don 
Tina Mascara and Guido Santi 

  3. Working through Grief in the Drafts of A Single Man 
Carola M. Kaplan 

  4. Writing the Unspeakable in A Single Man and Mrs. Dalloway 
Jamie Carr 

  5. A Whole without Transcendence: Isherwood, Woolf, and the Aesthetics of Connection 
William R. Handley 

  6. Ford Does Isherwood Kyle Stevens
  7.  A Real Diamond: The Multicultural World of A Single Man 
James J. Berg and Chris Freeman

Part II. The Religious Writer

 8. Isherwood and the Psycho-geography of Home 
Victor Marsh 


  1. Isherwood and Huxley: The Novel as Mystic Fable 
Robert L. Caserio


10. Down Where on a Visit?: Isherwood’s Mythology of Self 
Rebecca Gordon Stewart 


  1. A Phone Call by the River 
Paul M. McNeil


12. “Give me devotion . . . even against my will”: Christopher Isherwood and India 
Niladri R. Chatterjee 


  1. Spiritual Searching in Isherwood’s Artistic Production 
Mario Faraone

Part III. A Writer at Odds with Himself in Cold War America 


  1. Christopher Isherwood and Edward Upward 
Benjamin Kohlmann 

  2. Huxley and Isherwood: The California Years 
Peter Edgerly Firchow 

  3. The Celebrity Effect: Isherwood, Hollywood, and the Performance of Self 
Lisa Colletta 

  4. A Writer at Work: The Isherwood Archive 
Sara S. Hodson 

  5. Pulp Isherwood: Cheap Paperbacks and Queer Cold War Readers 
Jaime Harker 

  6. Not Satisfied with the Ending: Connecting The World in the Evening to Maurice 
Joshua Adair

Acknowledgments


Contributors 


Index

“FAREWELL TO HOLLYWOOD”— Love, Art, Death and Letting Go

farewell to hollywood

“Farewell to Hollywood”

Love, Art, Death and Letting Go

Amos Lassen

Reggie Nicholson is 17-years-old and suffers from a terminal illness. Her parents and she share the dream of making a film before she dies and she has taken this so seriously that director Henry Corra has done just that and he gives us a powerful portrait of Reggie and shares her quest for artistic and personal freedom.

When we meet Reggie in this documentary we see that she has a very strong personality and seems wiser than she should at her young age. As she and Corra worked together they developed a close friendship. He became her collaborator as well as her friend and defender. “This film is a poetic fairytale about love and death, holding on and letting go, one that invites us to discuss the relationship between filmmaker, subject and family.”

We see a certain intimacy in the film that includes text messages, scenes and images from Reggie’s favorite movies and song but above all else we see an emotional and heartwarming yet also heartbreaking and controversial ode to Reggie’s life. She is an obsessive cinephile, battling a terminal illness and with a mission to make one feature movie before she died. What developed over nearly two years is the film and the powerful friendship between director and film subject. The documentary seesaws between the brutal realities of Reggie’s daily life and the films that she keeps in her mind. What we actually see is a chronicle of Reggie’s struggles to realize her dream, while her choices and her time with us here become fewer and fewer. We are also very aware that her relationship with Corra and their commitment to each other and to art was not expected and they soon relish every moment that they are together. It is almost as if we are Reggie and we identify with her fight for happiness, love and the desire to stay alive. Perhaps the circumstances are not the same but we all either feel or have felt what she was dealing with her (and yes, the use of the past tense here is an omen). All of us, like Reggie, want to live and die on our own terms.

Regina Nicholson is a beautiful symbol of maturity and grace and it makes us cry, laugh and love. While the message of the film is universal it is different for every viewer because each of us is different and our reactions to both life and death vary and are unique.

Both Corra and Reggie filmed the documentary and ultimately it is a tribute to a life shortly lived but one that was filled with beauty. The film will open in New York at Cinema Village on Wednesday, February 25 (the day of Reggie Nicholson’s birthday), and at the Noho 7 in Los Angeles on Friday, March 13. A national release will follow.

Sympathy for the Devil: Four Decades of Friendship with Gore Vidal” by Michael Mewshaw— The Public Gore Vidal

sympathy for the devil

Mewshaw, Michael. “Sympathy for the Devil: Four Decades of Friendship with Gore Vidal.” Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015. T

The Public Gore Vidal

Amos Lassen

Michael Mewshaw brings us an intimate look at Gore Vidal, “a man who prided himself on being difficult to know.” He was detached as well as ironic and he was as much the master of the put-down as he was enigmatic and impossible to get to know. This is a look at the public Vidal and the image of himself that he created and reinforced his entire life.

I loved Vidal and I love the way he behaved to others. I was fortunate enough to meet him and speak with him twice and the image that I have of him is almost identical to that of writer, Michael Mewshaw. He claimed to be just the same as he appeared to others. He freely admitted that inside f him did not exist a man who was filled with love but once one is able to pierce the personality of Gore Vidal, we see that there was nothing there aside from “ice cold water.”.

Nothing about Vidal from this point of view ever allows us to see Capote but we see that after he changed, he was disappointed  and by the time he was at the end of his life, he was often cruel and very lonely.

There is a lot of humor in the book as well as spicy anecdotes about expatriate life in Italy. This is really an inside look at Vidal and yet even with his negative image (We learn just how, he could not be resisted.