Guest Post: Daisy Harris’s Gay Movie Review Tour – Good But Depressing Gay Films

Hello, fair readers! And thanks, Alyssa, for having me on the blog today.

For those of you who don’t know—I write books. Romance books about gay men. As such, I watch a lot of gay movies, and gay-themed television shows. I figure that if you’re here, you might enjoy some of the same gay movies I have. And being that it’s the holidays, you might be looking for something new to watch….

So—This is the second post in my four-week Gay Movie Review blog tour. The tour calendar is at the end of the post, so you can follow along to other stops. As with most blog tours, there’s a prize involved. A randomly selected commenter will win a DVD of my favorite gay movie I’ve watched this year, Weekend as well as a book from my backlist.

On with the blog…

I’m a woman of little taste. I like my films silly, sexy, funny, cute, and heartfelt without being heart wrenching. But in the world of Gay cinema, sometimes even I get dragged into watching something that’s a bit of a downer.

The films below are good. I know they’re good. I’m even glad to have watched them. But they’ll never be on my Favorites list because they’re too effin’ depressing.

That said—plenty of people like downer movies. Just look at all the people who saw The Piano, Love Story, and The Notebook!

I have a very low tolerance for negativity. I can’t stand Les Mis, and was depressed for a week after watching Moulin Rouge. So, my opinions need to be taken with a grain of salt.

So if you like tear-jerkers, these movies are for you. Just don’t say I didn’t warn ya!

#1 Eyes Wide Open
Eyes Wide Open is one of those movies that’s hard for me to recommend because I can’t tell if I actually “enjoyed” it. I will say this—at least no one died. But that’s cold comfort when at the end of the movie the couple you’ve been watching and living through and rooting for breaks apart, and the rather handsome young man you’re halfway in love with has to leave town because he’s gay.

Yeah, Eyes Wide Open is that kind of movie. Riveting, engaging, heavy, and totally flipping depressing.

It’s from Israel, which may or may not contribute to its depressingness. The only other Israeli gay movie I’ve seen, Yossi and Jagger, was even more miserable than Eyes Wide Open. Mine is a small sample size for sure, but I’ll admit, I won’t be expecting any rollicking sex comedy to come out of Israel any time soon.

Here’s the plotline: In Jerusalem, a married, Orthodox Jewish father falls in love with his 20 year old male assistant. Persecution, sex, persecution, misery, more persecution, and eventual break up ensue.

It won awards. The depressing movies always do. The star, Johar Shtrauss, won Best Actor at the 2009 Jerusalem Film Festival. His performance as Aaron Fleishman was amazing. Mostly, it involved scrunching his eyebrows. He may have also been frowning, but he had a giant beard, so I couldn’t tell.

Speaking of giant beards—he also had a giant beard in the form of a wife and a passel of an indeterminate number of kids. I actually felt more sorry for his wife than I did for him or his lover.

In fact, I was depressed for everyone by the end of this movie, even the secondary characters. I’m glad I saw it, though. I mean—I need some depressing movies under my belt to make it seem like I’m not completely shallow. But I can’t say I was exactly happy to have watched it.

But if heart wrenching, tragic love stories in rich and unusual settings appeal to you, then by all means—watch Eyes Wide Open.

Oh, and Ran Danker was HOT as Ezri. Seriously smokin’. The eye candy made the sadness partly worthwhile.

#2: Shank
Shank is both more and less depressing than Eyes Wide Shut. On the one hand, it has a hopeful ending. On the other hand, so many horrible things happen during the course of the movie that it’s hard to feel good about the story as a whole.

It’s a British film set in Bristol. No subtitles.

Here’s the set up: Closeted gang member Cal (played by Wayne Virgo) spends his days beating the crap out of gay people, doing drugs, lusting after his BFF gang-buddy, and trying to hide the fact that he’s gay. Intermixed with the violence, he has an extremely sexy moment with his buddy hanging out shirtless in the front seat of a car, shotgunning pot smoke. (Y’know, as straight gang members do…)

One day, he saves a kid his gang is beating up on, and then he runs after the guy to give him a ride.

The kid is a university student and about as fem as you can possibly imagine. Also, very sweet. His name is Olivier (of course) and he’s played by the quite awesome Marc Laurent.

Fearing retribution from his gang for interfering with the beating, Cal asks to stay at Olivier’s house. They end up having sex, falling in love, etc.

But the gang, led by Nessa (Alice Payne), is furious at Cal for his betrayal, and they aim for retribution. Kidnapping, and the to-be-expected-given-all-the-violence ass rape* ensue.

In the end, Olivier calls for help and gets Cal home with the help of one of his professors. But even as it looks like Cal is going to leave with Olivier for a new life, we learn that Cal and his gang beat said university professor’s husband so badly he’s still in a coma.

So, yeah. A lot of spoilers, but you may as well know going in what you’re getting yourself into.

This shiznit is depressing.

That said—it’s also completely awesome. From the very first frame, I could not stop watching. Shank is vicious and brutal and painful and even beautiful. I don’t think I could make myself watch it a second time. It’s too much of a downer. But I’m really glad I watched it once.

I highly recommend you watch it, too.

And like so many other depressing movies, it’s won awards: The Audience Award at the Barcelona International Gay Film Festival, and the Emerging Talent in Queer Cinema at the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.

There’s even a sequel coming out, called Cal. Here’s hoping that it’s less depressing than the original.

*Note: My use of “ass rape” here is NOT metaphorical. It is an actual rape scene. Like, seriously. Sensitive viewers be warned!

This ends today’s installment of my Gay Movie Review Blog Tour. Stop by Coffee and Porn on Tuesday where I’ll be discussing Gay Movies with Soccer Themes!

And if after watching the Good-but-Depressing movies above, you need a pick-me-up, read one of my Holsum College titles. They’re about as light and fluffy as you can get. 🙂

Tour schedule:

Birkenstock-wearing glamour girl and mother of two by immaculate conception, Daisy Harris still isn’t sure if she writes erotica. Her romances start out innocently enough. However, her characters behave like complete sluts. Much to Miss Harris’s dismay the sex tends to get completely out of hand.

She writes about fantastical creatures and about young men getting their freak on, and she’s never missed an episode of The Walking Dead.

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The Literary Cemetery

I’ve been browsing the blog for the Literary Cemetery, which catalogues (with photos) the death and burial information for literary personalities. As with all such things, it’s a work in progress (and I will admit to being disappointed that there was nothing for Lord Byron). However, a good cross-section of French writers are there, including Sartre, Camus, Victor Hugo, and others. I’ve made a list, so I can decide which cemetery(ies) to visit next year.


Re-blog: No Freedom ‘Til We’re Equal

Please go read this post over at Manhattan Nest, entitled ‘No Freedom ‘Til We’re Equal’. It’s one of the best posts I’ve read on marriage equality in the USA.

A quick sample:

When my dad proposed to my mom all those years ago, I doubt either of them thought much about the possibility of having a kid who would someday be their age, over three decades later in the year 2012, and that he would be a second class citizen of the country in which he was born and raised. I don’t think it occurred to them that they would have a son who, through no fault of his own, would be denied the same rights that they had taken for granted. But that’s exactly what’s happened.

I remember vividly the night that New York passed The Marriage Equality Act in June 2011. Max and I took the subway into the West Village and joined the celebration outside of the Stonewall Inn. We shook hands, hugged strangers, took pictures, bought a polyester rainbow flag (or was it given to us?), and let ourselves feel the weight of what New York had accomplished. Neither of us had ever been close to getting married ourselves—had never personally felt the sting of being told we couldn’t—but still I remember the feeling on the subway ride back home. There was a certain lightness, an indescribable feeling of knowing that our city—our state—regarded us as equals.

Today is election day in the USA, and I hope that its citizens will vote for basic civil rights, not against them. I don’t live in the USA (obviously), but as a citizen of Canada, where I can choose to marry a person of either sex, I am glad that I have that choice, and that my choice holds the same weight either way.

I’m at Vagina Antics!

Do you know how long I’ve wanted to say that? Quite awhile. 😉

I’m guest posting over at the VA blog today, in anticipation of the release of the FELT TIPS charity erotica anthology (12/12/12). Check out my post, and here’s a teaser:


Probably one of the most remarkable words I learned while traveling. Of course it’s sexual. Same with the delightful ‘bollemus’†. Can you guess where I learned them?