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.


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-threatingly 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, Silva 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 any sense of humour at all.

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


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.


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