“Independent Queer Cinema: Reviews and Interviews”–the rainbow screen

Kramer, Gary M., “Independent Queer Cinema: Reviews and Interviews” Southern Tier Editions, Harrington Park Press, 2006

The Rainbow Screen

Amos Lassen

We finally have a guide to today’s gay films and filmmakers I have anxiously been awaiting the arrival of Gary Kramer’s “Independent Queer Cinema” especially be our movies have finally found their rightful place—right alongside everyone else’s movie. No longer are we being singled out as a different genre all together. Critics and moviegoers alike now regard us seriously and it is about time. Gary Kramer, an auspicious film critic has always seen our movies as a mirror of our lives and in this volume he concentrates on one hundred of them. We have his reviews of movies screened between the years of 1999 and 2004 and he minces no words. This is a book that has been badly needed by our community and it is a welcome accompaniment to anyone who takes his movie watching seriously.

The movies that are featured here and those that are meant to be watched and talked about and Kramer captures the actors and the directors that make up the beginning of the twenty first century. When the book came yesterday, I sat and read it from cover to cover, judiciously checking off the movies I have seen and designating those I have missed and will try to find. Then I book the book next to my DVD player so I could use it as reference later. This is its true value—it does not age, it is there to be referred to when a movie moves the watcher. Likewise, it made me want to go back and rewatch several of the movies I have already seen. His interviews are insightful and deep and whether or not I agree with what he has to say, his study is provocative and educational as well as extremely entertaining. His knowledge of queer film is amazing and his writing skill makes the book that much better.

As I read, I stepped back in time and remembered where I was when I had seen a film and it reminded me, as well, of what I had felt about what I had seen. Somehow Kramer found things I had not noticed and this was what made me think to myself that there are films I must see again. Not only are the movies discussed but Kramer also goes into the culture surrounding each film and what the directors were thinking. It is both a scholarly and entertaining look at some of the movies that have helped to shape our lives.

It is amazing to see the amount of details that he writes about and how those details propel the plots. His references to minute areas of costume design and actors’ background explain so much that might have otherwise gone unnoticed. This is not just a compilation of columns of movie review but a history of gay and lesbian cinema and is a valuable resource to any serious moviegoer.

This is both a reference book and also an entertaining look into the lives of some really interesting people. The dish that Kramer provides keeps you interested all the way through the volume and opens your mind at the same time. Even though it is opinionated at times, those opinions provide information that you might not ordinarily get. The book is divided into two parts: the interviews (with divisions such as” Intriguing Queer Filmmakers”, “Fierce Eroticism” and “Fascinating Actors”) and film reviews (also divided into topics such as “Hot and Sexy”, “Such a Drag”, “Bad Taste” and “Just Plain Offensive”). These divisions make it easy to navigate the book but they are not really necessary. I found myself ignoring the divisions as I read from cover to cover savoring the information provided.

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