Thursday, June 16, 2011
Sex--that private, intimate moment--according to Gregg Araki
Every self-respecting gay man should encounter, and grapple with, the cinema of Gregg Araki at least once in his life (good entry point: Mysterious Skin, the most accessible and “conventional” of his movies, with Joseph Gordon Leavitt in a breakout performance).
From the Irish Times: American auteur Gregg Araki exploded on to the independent cinema scene during the 1990s with a hip, underground milieu that owed as much to 'The Breakfast Club' as it did to Stan Brakhage. Extreme, erotically charged, hilarious and nihilistic, each Araki picture was a new post-MTV, post-everything sensation. In his own words--
On his films: “I see myself as very much a cultural sponge. I am exposed to all kinds of different stuff: advertising, photography, commercials. I have always been influenced by album art. Design. Colour. All that stuff is in my brain. When I sit down to write a movie, it comes from a secret place. I don’t think about it. I don’t make conscious homage. The Hitchcockian shots just come naturally now.”
On the forest of academic commentary that has grown around his movies: “I was aware of it, as my background was in film studies. I had a masters and I went to film school so I was literate in that language. It was very flattering to be the subject of that amount of critical work. But as a film student, I know the critical work is creative work in its own right. It ceases to be about the movie. There is a lot of projecting, which is not a bad thing. There is a separation between what I do and what they do.”
On sex: “My movies have always been interested in sex, but it’s not really about titillation or exploitation or gay or straight. It’s about having access to a private, intimate moment. My feeling about people--in general and in the cinema--is that sex is the moment at which you are both emotionally and physically naked. You could be somebody’s best friend for life and never see them that way. Everybody has that public face that they put on when they walk down the street and go to Starbucks. But I am more interested in the hidden face. I also feel that--less so in Europe, maybe--there is a real hypocritical attitude to sex. America is obsessed with sex in an unhealthy and fucked-up way . . . [whereas] my characters express themselves and define themselves sexually. It’s dishonest--like the 'Twilight' movies, where there is so much titillation but also this weird Mormon abstinence.”
[Image: James Duval and Johnathon Schaech in The Doom Generation]