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Stranger By The Lake (#110 of 8)

Review: Karl Schoonover and Rosalind Galt’s Queer Cinema in the World

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Review: Karl Schoonover and Rosalind Galt’s Queer Cinema in the World
Review: Karl Schoonover and Rosalind Galt’s Queer Cinema in the World

In a famous essay on Dog Day Afternoon, Fredric Jameson argues that the bank robbery at the film’s core, along with its assortment of characters from different class backgrounds, forms an allegory for late capitalism in which the rebellious actions of Sonny (Al Pacino) appeal to the “manifest sympathy of the suburban movie-going audience itself.” However, as Karl Schoonover and Rosalind Galt claim, Jameson’s narrative doesn’t account for the film’s use of “queer intimacy” within its allegory, specifically a scene where Sonny, a queer man, phones his lover. The scene’s end reveals the couple’s conversation hasn’t been private, as others have been monitoring the call all along. Schoonover and Galt highlight that the scene’s depiction of “false intimacy” and its suggestion of a world organized by “inhuman terms” demonstrates how “queerness—and its relationships to publicness and privacy, intimacy and worldliness—transpires to be at the heart of Dog Day Afternoon’s allegory of late capitalism.”

Cannes Film Review: Staying Vertical

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Cannes Film Review: Staying Vertical

Cannes Film Festival

Cannes Film Review: Staying Vertical

Writer-director Alain Guiraudie’s Stranger by the Lake was certainly singular, but it also had a lot of genre and thematic touchstones: the procedural, gay-cruising subculture, voyeurism, and so on. Threading everything together was an intoxicating sense of place; the setting was a riverside, homoerotic Eden both liberated and spoiled by its sinners’ trespasses. Genuine suspense came from purposeful juxtapositions of pastoral peace and carnal restlessness, and Guiraudie’s sharp modulations in tone galvanized the diffuse plotting. According to some fans, the approach made Stranger by the Lake Guiraudie’s most direct and conventional film. But any concern over that direction taking hold over the French filmmaker should be stifled by the willful outlandishness of Staying Vertical.

Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2014

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Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2014
Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2014

From Clayton Dillard’s introduction to Slant Magazine’s Top 25 Films of 2014: ” In a year when The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game offer a most banal and repressive sort of historical biopic treatment for their respective subjects (and are being largely celebrated nonetheless), it becomes ever more important to draw lines in the cinematic sand to understand what we talk about when we talk about movies. Art historian Michael Fried once wrote of the burgeoning war between theater and modernist painting, and in many ways, contemporary filmmaking is rife with similarly antagonistic, fiery battles.” Click here to read the feature and see if your favorite films of the year made our list. And see below for a list of the films that just missed making it onto our list, followed by our contributors’ individual ballots. Happy reading.

Music Video Review: Goldfrapp, “Stranger”

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Music Video Review: Goldfrapp, “Stranger”
Music Video Review: Goldfrapp, “Stranger”

A mere 10 days after the premiere of “Jo,” Goldfrapp has unveiled the fifth music video from their latest album, Tales of Us. The final chapter of a 30-minute film directed by Lisa Gunning that weaves disparate tales of love, loss, madness, and identity, “Stranger” is shot in the same gauzy, low-contrast black and white as “Drew” and “Annabel,” the dreamy, nostalgic tone initially edging perilously close to that of a Calvin Klein fragrance commercial. Like the stunning “Annabel,” which also cleverly features singer Alison Goldfrapp in a minimal role, the video focuses on a queer character (played by Irish actress Laura Donnelly) who revisits the seaside location of a Sapphic tryst with a married stranger. While the earlier clip told the tale of a young child coming to terms with her gender, “Stranger” seems to perpetuate a much thornier concept: that of the homosexual as a lethal predator. It’s one that’s been explored to varying degrees of success, from the divisive 1980 film Cruising to last year’s acclaimed Stranger by the Lake. Here, what at first seems like a symbol of remorse, her dead lover’s wedding band still hanging from her neck years later, turns out to be not a memento for what could have been, but one of many that will never be.

New York Film Festival 2013: Stranger by the Lake Review

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New York Film Festival 2013: <em>Stranger by the Lake</em> Review
New York Film Festival 2013: <em>Stranger by the Lake</em> Review

The opening overhead shot of a wooded car park adjoining a shimmering lake establishes the tightly circumscribed world of Alain Guiraudie’s Stranger by the Lake. A marker for the passage of time in the film, this shot acquires more menace each time it’s repeated in Guiraudie’s hypnotically seductive thriller. The story follows Franck (Pierre Deladonchamps), a good-looking and easygoing young man who drives to the lake each summer day to enjoy the hedonistic pleasures of swimming, sunbathing naked, and cruising. Guiraudie captures the seductive thrills of the age-old gay ritual, which seems to occur wherever there’s sun, sand, and secluded woodland. The men—many of them regulars from the nearby town—all play the same game: watching, following, and then getting off with each other in the bushes. We get glimpses of sundry couplings through the foliage and observe the typical cruising rituals of invitation and rejection; most of the sex scenes are simulated, but Guiraudie doesn’t shy away from a couple of close-ups of clearly the real deal. Stranger by the Lake never leaves the naturist playground in and around the lake, mirroring the almost single-minded focus of the men who go there, though we get some occasional hints of their lives outside this microcosm.

Toronto International Film Festival 2013 Tom at the Farm and Night Moves

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Toronto International Film Festival 2013: Tom at the Farm and Night Moves
Toronto International Film Festival 2013: Tom at the Farm and Night Moves

In tackling the genre of psychological thriller with Tom at the Farm, writer-director Xavier Dolan reigns in his often flagrant use of formalism without sacrificing his confidence as a filmmaker. Grieving the death of his boyfriend, the titular protagonist (played by a blond, mop-headed Dolan) travels to Northern Quebec to attend Guillaume’s funeral and offer his condolences to his late lover’s estranged family. Upon arriving at the isolated pastoral abode, Tom quickly discovers via a tense encounter with Francis (Pierre-Yves Cardinal), a brother Tom was never told about, that Guillaume remained closeted to his mother (Lise Roy). Francis, privy to Tom’s relationship with Guillaume, mentally and physically bullies the unwanted gay visitor under the guise of protecting his mother’s delusions: “You don’t go until you’ve set thing straight,” Francis insists of Tom with both literal and figurative fervor.