Sorry, straight men, but this and The King of Comedy are the Scorsese films for gays. Give me an all-night SoHo adventure with Catherine O’Hara and Rosanna Arquette, add cutie patootie Griffin Dunne, and I’m sold. I love when Scorsese shows off his comedy chops, and to me this is his funniest film. And Teri Garr! God, I need to rewatch this right now.
An Unmarried Woman
This movie used to be criminally hard to find (can you guys please add it to the Criterion Channel?), but it is one of my favorite movies of all time. After years of me trying to find a place to watch it online, a friend finally sent it to me in a Dropbox link, and I watched it every night for a month. One night I remember falling asleep and waking up during the scene where Jill Clayburgh and her daughter are singing “Maybe I’m Amazed,” by Paul McCartney, on the piano together, and I woke up sobbing. Now I cry every time I hear that song. This is some of my favorite directing work by Paul Mazursky. It’s so deeply lived-in and has tunnel vision of its own existence. You know how sometimes when big, catastrophic things happen in your life and you feel the most you you have ever felt? These events just push you back into your own soul. That’s what this movie is to me. And everything is so romantic and sexy; even the pain and heartbreak are sexy. And Alan Bates, who plays Saul, the abstract painter, can literally do anything he wants to my heart and body. To be fair, I would let anyone named Saul in the ’70s do anything to me.
Personal Shopper could be seen as a critical look at fame and celebrity and fashion, but it never fully shows its hand about what or who it’s skewering. Olivier Assayas seems to use a lot of what he observes in life, and he puts it into this dream realm to make art. He’s obviously interested in show business and success, but not in a way that seems insider-y and elitist. It’s like he’s hoping and pleading that there is something deeper and spiritual to what we do, and that the gross details and vanity and ego are all in service of something bigger.
Perfect film. Perfect script. Perfect cast. It’s so perfect it makes me want to die. Really, one of the movies you can’t help but love and resent equally for its immaculate tidiness. Watching this now reinforces that I am okay with everyone in Hollywood being a sociopath murderer as long as good movies are getting made. But now they have all those qualities and are making Is It Cake? and FBoy Island—doesn’t seem worth it, no?
The Squid and the Whale
Mommy and Daddy are fighting! I think I saw this movie in ninth grade, and I remember how much I wished these cruel, narcissistic, arrogant parents were my own. My parents had the Jewish liberal and divorce parts down, but their quips were not jagged enough for my taste. You can be as savage as you want if you are serving vocabulary and highbrow cerebral realness. It’s like how, in movies, when they are showing the cautionary drug-use montage and you’re supposed to be like, “drugs are bad!” but instead it makes you want to do a line. Noah Baumbach shows how sorrowful an intellectual life can be, and it makes me want that life even more.
I was alone, nineteen, living in New York City, and confused about everything when I saw Weekend at the IFC Center. It completely ravaged me, and I wandered around the West Village crying for hours after. I didn’t know that much about love or gayness, but I knew a little—enough for my heart to break and yearn for that type of connection. I love to go so deep, so fast. It’s a pitfall in my life, and I think that’s what resonated most for me with this movie. It’s one of the only things I’ve seen that doesn’t balk at fast, intense love—and it also shows the wounded gay man in a way that isn’t pitiful. Okay, that’s enough or I’ll get too earnest, and no one wants that from me!
David Maysles, Albert Maysles, Ellen Hovde, and Muffie Meyer
I am gayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy I am gay I am gay gay gay gayyyyy I’m gay.
Cléo from 5 to 7
I deeply relate to being a chic French girl who believes anything a psychic tells her. It’s such an amazing premise for a film that I get why I and many others have stolen it. I love a flimsy existentialist, which is what Cléo is to me. Not so bright, but deep. She’s a beautiful singer, so everything she has is on the surface. Facing the possibility of death is the only thing that could shake her into looking inward. It’s nice to have those scrapes with death once in a while, even if they are false alarms, and then you go back to being the same hot dumb bitch you always were.
The first time I watched this film, I was so disturbed that I didn’t realize how funny it was. It took me watching it a few times for the humor to really sink in. Todd Haynes so deeply understands the middle class of America, and how to look at it from another house across the street. He and Julianne Moore are a fucking match made in heaven.
Honorable mention to Original Cast Album: “Company” for the Elaine Stritch “Ladies Who Lunch” scene alone . . . and Sondheim at his most fuckable.
Johnnie To’s Top 10
Prolific Hong Kong filmmaker Johnnie To has directed more than forty films, including Election, Exiled, and Mad Detective. His latest, Vengeance, is currently in some North American theaters, from IFC Films.
Bruce Beresford’s Top 10
Bruce Beresford is the director of more than twenty-five features, including Breaker Morant (1980), Tender Mercies (1983), Driving Miss Daisy (1989), Mister Johnson (1990), and Black Robe (1992).