Alain Delon’s Slaughtering Looks

Perhaps it’s Madge over­load, but I com­pletely missed this rather catch­ing ‘Beautiful Killer’ trib­ute to the very fetch­ing Swiss-French actor Alain Delon that she included on her 2012 MDNA album.

This YouTube com­pil­a­tion of breath­tak­ing Alain Delon moments reminds us of how pre­pos­ter­ously pretty the young Monsieur Delon was. He makes Johnny Depp look almost plain.

Delon

Even laid out on the cover of The Smiths’ The Queen is Dead he looks rav­ish­ing. Truly, an immortal.

Delon dead

Tip: Jason R

The Swishy Villainy & Psychodrama of Skyfall

Mark Simpson fondles the pecs and thighs of James Bond’s latest ‘outing’

When at their first meet­ing in Skyfall a rather for­wards Raul Silva, played by a bleached-blond Javier Bardem, takes cad­dish advant­age of James Bond’s/Daniel Craig’s indis­pos­i­tion – tied as he is to a chair – run­ning his hands over 007’s craggy face, ripped chest and power­ful thighs, and flir­ta­tiously sug­gest­ing “Well, first time for everything, Bond…” you could feel the audi­ence in my local cinema freeze.

And when Bond delivered the now-famous lac­onic retort “What makes you think it’s my first time?” you could hear the audience’s sharp intake of breath over the THX sound sys­tem. Wot?! James Bond a bender!?!

Oh bloody hell!, I wanted to shout out, at Raul, the audi­ence and the world in gen­eral. Has ANYONE been pay­ing atten­tion? Of COURSE it’s not Bond’s first time! In Casino Royale Bond tried a spot of CBT with Mr Big and his knot­ted rope, while tied to a RIM CHAIR!!

Casino Royale rebooted and updated the tired, ter­min­ally naff Bond brand in 2006 in the pec­tor­ally prom­in­ent form of Craig, a man whose appoint­ment to the role ini­tially pro­voked a chorus of com­plaints from Bond fan­boys about his blond­ness, smooth­ness and the fact he kissed a man in another movie.

Craig’s Bond proved a sen­sa­tion on screen, one which finally real­ised the tarty prom­ise of Sean Connery’s beefily glam­or­ous, dis­turb­ing sexu­al­ity in 1962’s Dr No – long since for­got­ten in the sex­less knit­wear cata­logue model Bonds of the 70s-90s. By recon­nect­ing Bond to the met­ro­sexy revolu­tion in mas­cu­line aes­thet­ics, the male desire to be desired, that the ori­ginal Bond movies anti­cip­ated but which had been left to other movies to exploit, Casino delivered us Bond as a 21st Century fully-fledged, self-objectifying sex-object. Bond as his own Bond girl. Hence Craig’s Ursula Andress in Speedos moment.

So when Silva has a good feel of Bond’s pecs and thighs in Skyfall he’s just doing what pretty much every­one, male and female, has wanted to do since Casino Royale.

If Casino Royale outed Bond’s omni­sexual tarti­ness, Skyfall, which is at least as good a movie – effa­cing the mor­ti­fy­ing memory of Quantum of Solace – outs the queer­ness of the Bond vil­lain. Someone who was often impli­citly coded queer (those cats, those cigar­ette hold­ers, those hulk­ing goons), partly as a way of mak­ing unmar­ried, shaken-not-stirred Bond seem straighter. After all those dec­ades of cod­ing, Bardem’s openly flir­ta­tious swishy vil­lainy seems exhilir­at­ing. It’s cer­tainly a great pleas­ure to watch.

Though, like Bond, Bardem isn’t actu­ally gay. As a res­ult of the spec­u­la­tion sur­round­ing Bond’s ‘shock­ing’ admis­sion of his bi-curious past in Skyfall Craig was asked in an inter­view recently whether he thinks there could ever be a ‘gay James Bond’. “No,” he replied, “because he’s not gay. And I don’t think Javier [Bardem’s] char­ac­ter is either — I think he’d fuck anything.”

Much like Bond, then.

What’s ‘gay’ about Skyfall isn’t the thigh-squeezing, or even Daniel Craig’s cir­cuit party tits (which I’m happy to report are reg­u­larly on dis­play again) it’s the glor­i­ous camp excess. “Was that meant for me?” Bond asks Silva dur­ing an under­ground pur­suit, after he det­on­ates a bomb behind our hero by remote con­trol, blow­ing a hole in the roof of the vault. “No,” dead­pans Silva. “But this is.” Right on cue a tube train falls through the hole, headed for Bond, while Silva dis­ap­pears up a ladder.

Some film crit­ics com­plained that this scene is ‘over the top’. This makes me won­der: a) What kind of movie fran­chise they think Bond is, and b) Whether they have a sense of humour.

The whole premise of Skyfall is of course pretty camp: that Silva, a former ‘favour­ite’ agent of M’s is going to so much trouble – hack­ing MI6, steal­ing, decrypt­ing and pub­lish­ing lists of secret Nato agents, blow­ing up the MI6 build­ing, per­son­ally storm­ing the Houses of Parliament dressed as a David Walliams char­ac­ter – just to get his own back on M (played by gay icon Judi Dench) for drop­ping him.

That’s some hissy fit.

Fortunately camp isn’t code here for ‘crap’. It’s a test­a­ment to Bardem’s skill as an actor and Sam Mendes dir­ec­tion that he’s vividly, entran­cingly men­acing. He steals every scene he’s in. Actually, his hair steals every scene he’s in. What’s more, you really feel, per­haps for the first time, that this Bond vil­lain has a point. After all, what kind of fucked up fam­ily is MI6? Particularly since in the open­ing scene of the movie Bond is betrayed too – badly wounded and nearly killed after M orders another MI6 agent to take a dodgy shot at the bad­die Bond is bat­tling (atop a mov­ing train, of course). ‘M’ is for ‘Mother’ – bad Mother.

Skyfall is very queer psy­cho­drama – delving deep into the twis­ted fam­ily romance of MI6 and the orphan Bond’s quasi inces­tu­ous devo­tion to M. Silva may be on a deli­ciously queenie ram­page, but we all know that it’s Dame Judi who is the real (Virgin) Queen. When Craig appeared in that embar­rass­ing clip for the open­ing cere­mony of the London Olympics this Summer it was quite clear to every­one that con­sti­tu­tional mon­arch Elizabeth Windsor was Judi’s mere under­study. M has the power of life and death, after all.

Silva’s first scene with Bond – ‘Do you like my island Mr Bond?’ – is grip­ping, and not just in a grop­ing sort of way. But the scene where he meets M and denounces her crimes and invites her to gaze upon her handi­work trumps it as a piece of pure theatre. Again, it’s delib­er­ately over­wrought – but then, so is any fam­ily romance. Even the ruth­less, steely M is clearly affected by this con­front­a­tion with her abor­ted boy toy.

Perhaps because there’s not enough Bardem in it, the shoot-em up final reel is a bit of an anti-climax after the emo­tional tube-train crash of the first couple of hours. Even in a Bond film as Freudian as this one it is too sym­bolic for its own good. More like a bad dream than a finale, Bond and M – and an ancient Albert Finney – are holed up in his fam­ily estate in the Scottish Highlands, which he hasn’t vis­ited since his father died when he was a boy. His bur­ied past, in other words.

The Gothic, moul­der­ing pile is called ‘Skyfall’ – a name which is pos­sibly inten­ded to bring to mind God’s favour­ite, Lucifer, being cast out of heaven. Sure enough, Silva, the agent who was cast out of MI6 by M, arrives with his goons and start shoot­ing the place up in the kind of pyro­tech­nic assault we’ve seen in a hun­dred other movies.

Though as with the rest of Skyfall, the final reel is beau­ti­fully lit. The attack begins at dusk (Lucifer is the ‘even­ing star’) and the light pro­gress­ively turns bluer until it is as dark as death, the only light the hellish orange of Bond’s ances­tral home aflame. Like the fam­ily romance itself, Skyfall is suf­fused with nos­tal­gia. Nostalgia for the Bond fran­chise (it’s a half cen­tury since Dr No was released). Nostalgia for 1960s aes­thet­ics. Nostalgia for Britain and Britishness. For the Mother Country. And mother-love.

Heavily preg­nant with sym­bol­ism, Bond and his Secret Service mother drive to their Highland hon­ey­moon from hell in his Goldfinger Aston Martin DB5 he’s kept in a London lock-up, pre­sum­ably since the 1960s. On the way he dis­plays what Freud would call his ‘ambi­val­ence’ by jok­ingly threat­en­ing M with the ejector seat, fin­ger­ing the red but­ton on his gear stick. Of course, Bond never repu­di­ates his mother-love and remains true to Judi.

However, it won’t be giv­ing too much away to say that Skyfall does finally press that but­ton on 007’s behalf.

 

This review was ori­gin­ally writ­ten for the adult site Nightcharm

Does Magic Mike Have Anything To Stick Himself With?

Magic Mike — the money shot.

The anim­ated gif above will save you £8 and 109 minutes of disappointment.

Yes, I’ve done my invert duty and been to see Magic Mike. Which, accord­ing to The New York Times, gay men are ‘flock­ing’ to see in num­bers not seen since Brokeback Mountain.

Even if they’re not all as jaded as me I think they’re going to be very dis­ap­poin­ted. And not because in Magic Mike gay or bisexual men don’t exist, even as a fam­ously gen­er­ously tip­ping audi­ence for male strip­ping – except as a punch­line. In one ‘hil­ari­ous’ scene Alex Pettyfer’s uptight sis­ter thinks for a hairy moment he might be gay because he’s shav­ing his legs. Phew! He’s not gay. He’s a male strip­per!

No the betrayal is much, much worse than any of that. And judging by how quickly the mostly female audi­ence in my cinema aud­it­or­ium stopped gig­gling and hav­ing fun it’s not just The Gays who are going to feel betrayed.

Magic Mike just doesn’t deliver the goods. The junk stays in the trunks. It’s a 110 minute prick-tease without any pricks and very little tease. Most unfor­giv­ably of all, this male strip­per movie – star­ring Channing Tatum – wants to be taken ser­i­ously. It thinks it has a plot.

And the plot is… another fuck­ing Hollywood mor­al­ity tale. Will Tatum man­age to escape the sleazy, druggy, boys-together world of male strip­ping and Alex Pettyfer’s win­some grin and end up with his judgey, bossy sis­ter, Cody Horn?

Who cares?

Especially since there’s not nearly enough sleaze on dis­play. I can’t remem­ber the last time I was so bored. Oh, yes, I remem­ber now. Watching Brokeback Mountain.

Fatally, this strip­per movie has no sense of tim­ing. Not just in the lit­er­ally point­less strip routines. Magic Mike suf­fers from per­haps the worst case of pre­ma­ture ejac­u­la­tion in cinema his­tory. Two minutes into the film you get the money shot – two seconds of Tatum’s smooth bubble-butt in all its firm, bouncy glory head­ing for his en-suite in digital Panavision. Which is very nice.

But that, as they say, is a wrap.

Except you’ve got another 108 minutes to go. Another 108 minutes in which as far as I can remem­ber you never see Tatum’s ass prop­erly again. In this movie about male strip­ping and the com­modi­fic­a­tion of the male body. Given that you can see Tatum’s bouncy ass scene for free in a trailer for the movie it’s the con of Captain America all over again – but even more of rip off. The wrong kind of rip off.

It goes without say­ing that you never even glimpse his cock. Floppy or oth­er­wise. Or even a dangly bol­lock. It is, after all, Hollywood, and while Tatum may have worked as a male strip­per in the past and worked that past to get where he is, he is now a Proper Hollywood Star and Proper Hollywood Stars don’t show you their cocks. Because that would be low class. Especially in a move about male stripping.

And apart from a glimpse of a couple of sil­hou­ettes of clearly pros­thetic pen­ises you don’t see any­one else’s cock, either, floppy or oth­er­wise. Magic Mike is essen­tially a movie about cock­less male strip­pers. Male strip­ping with no strip­ping. Which could have been inter­est­ing in an avant-garde, sad­istic sort of way. But of course, it’s really not that sort of movie.

Maybe I under­es­tim­ate the dir­ector Steven Soderbergh. Maybe he decided to ruin his career by delib­er­ately mak­ing a crowd-pleasing sum­mer movie that didn’t please anyone.

A more likely explan­a­tion how­ever is that Soderbergh was frantic­ally try­ing not to scare straight male punters. And safely sub­lim­ated homo­erotic sub-plots aside, he does work over­time in this movie to reas­sure that the male strip­pers are all a) straight and b) dudes. But if he was pan­der­ing to straight men he failed there too. Straight men search online for pic­tures of (big) dick as much as they do for pussy. They are going to be at least as dis­ap­poin­ted as every­one else. Except maybe lesbians.

What’s going on here is yet another instance of the pur­it­an­nical American Phalliban at work. Protecting the sanc­tity and power of the phal­lus by mak­ing sure the cock is never shown in pub­lic. After all, no mat­ter how freak­ish, the cock never lives up to the prom­ise of the phal­lus. Even if Magic Mike had the balls to show us… balls it would still have been some­thing of an anti-climax. As I put it in Male Impersonators back in 1994 (which, let’s face it, is really the era when Magic Mike is set):

The myth of male strip­ping mes­merises pre­cisely because it con­tra­dicts itself with every dis­carded item… No mat­ter how freak­ish his gen­i­tal attrib­utes, no mat­ter how craft­ily engorged and arranged with rings and elas­tic bands, no mat­ter how fran­ti­cally it is waved and wag­gled, the stripper’s penis, once naked, never lives up to the prom­ise of the phal­lus: the cli­mac­tic finale of the strip is… an anti-climax.’

Femininity is tra­di­tion­ally seen and rep­res­en­ted in Hollywood movies as ‘mas­quer­ade’. The clothes, the hair, the breasts, the heels, the make-up all stand in for the ‘miss­ing’ phal­lus. Masculinity mean­while is meant to just be there. Because men have the phal­lus. Women appear. Men act. Or so the tra­di­tional reas­on­ing went.

But Magic Mike, because it’s a cock­less movie about male strip­ping, is, inad­vert­ently, a good if bor­ing example of mas­culin­ity as mas­quer­ade. With thongs and leather and cop uni­forms and oiled tanned pecs and really bad, unsexy dance routines stand­ing in for the phal­lus. A kind of male Showgirls, without the camp or the fun. Or the ‘show’. There’s a scene where Tatum is dan­cing dressed in a thong, a SWAT cap and black webbing ammuni­tion pouches over his torso. It looks like a butch basque.

Perhaps because it can’t show us dick, and because it’s try­ing to reas­sure an ima­gined straight male punter, Magic Mike does though keep ram­ming down our throats that the men have cocks and women don’t – and is mostly unable to nego­ti­ate women’s act­ive, assert­ive sexu­al­ity, some­thing that of course the com­modi­fic­a­tion of cocks so char­ac­ter­istic of today’s cul­ture is based on.

By way of a pep talk Matthew McConaughey, who plays (with real rel­ish) the owner of the male strip club, likes to ask his male dan­cers: “Who’s got the cock? You do. They don’t.”

Or as Tatum, dressed as a cop in the now fam­ous open­ing scene of the main trailer says to a nervous sor­or­ity girl he’s about to frisk:

Mike: You don’t have any­thing sharp on you that I can stick myself with, do you?
Kim: No.
Mike: Good. ‘Cause I do!
[rips off pants, women scream]

But does he? After all, we only have his word for it. And any­way, those words are highly unre­li­able. Don’t his words actu­ally tell a dif­fer­ent story to the one the movie is telling us? Don’t they say either:

a) I have a penis large enough to fuck myself with — please allow me to demonstrate

or

b) Stand back ladies and watch me use my night stick on myself!

Sadly, he doesn’t do either, of course. That’s an entirely dif­fer­ent and much more watch­able movie. One that I sus­pect we might have been able to see if Channing Tatum hadn’t had the mis­for­tune to become a Hollywood star, and instead of being con­demned to the­at­rical releases on the big screen had gradu­ated from strip­ping in South Florida clubs to live shows on our PC screens.

magic-mike-1

Friday Night and Sunday Afternoon — A Delightful ‘Weekend’

When I first saw the trailer for ‘Weekend’ it seemed to be a tale of two beards that meet in a gay club in Nottingham on a Friday night and then pro­ceed fall for one another over the next couple of days in a coun­cil flat.

And then I watched it. Once I got past the beards, ‘Weekend’ was the first ‘gay film’ I’d seen in a long time that didn’t make me cringe. In fact, it was the first British film I’d seen in a long time that didn’t make me cringe.

It’s really rather good, with both Chris New as opin­ion­ated, appar­ently unin­hib­ited Glen and Tom Cullen as shy, lonely Russell turn­ing in fine per­form­ances. They have an on-screen chem­istry which makes you feel you are watch­ing some­thing genu­inely intim­ate and del­ic­ate unfold.

And while I still stick to my argu­ment here that the era of the melo­dra­matic genre of  the Big Gay Movie ushered in by ‘Victim’ in which the drama is about homo­pho­bia (inter­n­al­ised and exter­n­al­ised) and the nar­rat­ive is about com­ing out and accept­ance, has drawn to a close – at least in a Western con­text – ‘Weekend’ does seem to point to a future in which charm­ing ‘small gay movies’ have a place. If that doesn’t sound too patronising.

I par­tic­u­larly liked the way ‘Weekend’ refused to resort to homo­pho­bia as a dra­matic device, with Glen being quite obnox­iously gay assert­ive with some beery straight males in a pub but not get­ting bashed – instead, they panic when he accuses them of homo­pho­bia. Russell’s best friend is a straight man who is hurt that Russell won’t talk to him about his dates. There is a sug­ges­tion that per­haps Russell might be a bit ashamed of being gay, or at least, not as com­fort­able as he should be. But then again, neither is in-your-face Glen. The prob­lem, whatever it is, isn’t society’s any more – even if soci­ety isn’t and may never be entirely as accept­ing as it pretends.

Some of the dia­logue was crack­ing, and it reminded me in its fresh­ness of the early 60s New Realist Cinema – the so-called kit­chen sink dra­mas. Though of course it’s 50 years on so it’s a lot fruit­ier: “ERE YOU LOT!” Glen yells from Russell’s win­dow half way up a tower block at some delin­quents down below. “STOP FUCKING ABOUT OR I’LL COME DOWN THERE AND RAPE YOUR HOLES!!”

This might have been delib­er­ate since ‘Weekend’ was set in Nottingham, and some­times seemed to be a kind of 21st Century gay update of the early 60s Neo Realist clas­sic ‘Saturday Night Sunday Morning’ (there’s even foot­age of Russell rid­ing around on his bike like Albert Finney). Or ‘A Taste of Honey’ in which Geoff (Murray Melvin) meets a kind of angry gay male ver­sion of Jo (Rita Tushingham).

My only cri­ti­cism – and of course I would have one – would be that unlike those 60s Neo Realist films I don’t really believe the film or the act­ors have much to do with the city they’re sup­posed to be liv­ing in. Nottingham is just a (very nicely shot) extra in the film. New/Glen you can maybe buy as a pro­vin­cial gay, but Tom/Russell is sup­posed to be a work­ing class foster kid work­ing as a life­guard and liv­ing in a high rise coun­cil flat, but often soun­ded posh. Even the way his flat is dec­or­ated looks a bit like a Shoreditch hipster’s idea of how a ‘poor pro­vin­cial per­sons’ flat would look.

And those beards too seemed more East London than East Midlands. But if ‘Weekend’ had been set in East London per­haps it wouldn’t have seemed quite so ‘real’.

Weekend is out on DVD and Blu-Ray on 19th March