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Case Number 10034: Small Claims Court

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Fabulous! The Story Of Queer Cinema

Wolfe Video // 2006 // 82 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // September 19th, 2006

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All Rise...

Judge Brett Cullum says this thumbnail sketch of gay cinema should have used a nail polish with a richer, more flattering color.

The Charge

The most entertaining gay history lesson you've ever had.

The Case

Talking heads and film clips comprise the entirety of Fabulous! The Story of Queer Cinema, a documentary about movies that deal with the GLBT community. All the gay gliteratti are here: cult director John Waters, Hedwig and the Angry Inch creator and star John Cameron Mitchell, Don Roos (who directed The Opposite of Sex), filmmaker Rose Troche of Go Fish and The L Word, Queer as Folk's Peter Paige, Randy Barbato (who made Party Monster), Jonathan Caouette of Tarnation, movie star Jane Lynch from The 40 Year Old Virgin, Alan Cumming (who was Nightcrawler in X2), Brokeback Mountain director Ang Lee, writer and actress Guinevere Turner (who authored the American Psycho adaptation), gossip maven Michael Musto, lesbian academic B. Ruby Rich, Angela Robinson, Wilson Cruz, actress Heather Malarazzo of Welcome to the Doll House, and countless others. They start with 1947 and the premiere of Kenneth Anger's Fireworks, then trace queer cinema up to Oscar favorite (yet still slighted) Brokeback Mountain. Social history combines with pop culture and the film breezes along, ending far too soon at eighty-two minutes. The time constraint creates the main problem with this documentary feature. It's covering sixty years of cinema so it skips tons of films, ignores any foreign entries for the most part, and concentrates on easily identifiable well known classics of the genre. It's a great cracker-barrel conversation, but nothing in depth to spark any debates like The Celluloid Closet. If it were on VH-1 it would be called I Love The Gay-ties.

I could list more movies that these guys and gals skip than ones they cover. Glaring omissions include The Boys in the Band, Philadelphia, Jeffrey, In and Out, Claire of the Moon, But I'm a Cheerleader, TransAmerica, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, The Children's Hour, My Own Private Idaho, Compulsion, The Hunger, Latter Days, Party Monster and many titles I'm sure any fan of GLBT cinema could rattle off after a viewing. Instead the focus falls most heavily on the '90s when indie cinema picked up the pink torch and ran with it hard and fast under the New Queer Cinema moniker. There was a group of directors like Todd Haynes, Gregg Araki, and Gus Van Sant who redefined GLBT film with more depth to the stories by providing antiheroes and realistic looks at homosexual lives instead of whitewashed idealized representations. The girl side of things seem fixated on Desert Hearts, Personal Best, Go Fish, and DEBS. Only Hedwig and the Angry Inch gets a nod as a transgender character, so once again the transsexual end of the spectrum is woefully underrepresented. The bulk of the films discussed are of the boy meets boy variety, and the lion's share of the titles discussed belong to the guys.

The full frame transfer looks good, and only the clips show any variances in picture quality. The interviews are done in front of colorful backdrops and are mixed with scenes from what the panelists discuss. Extras appear more robust than they are, because they divide up extra interview footage in to categories such as "state your name" and "coming out." The extra footage is worth checking out because it contains some of the most interesting material that feels far more personal than what the feature exhibits. Sound is simple stereo, but gets the job done since the documentary is pure dialogue.

It's an entertaining look at gay cinema history, and Fabulous! The Story of Queer Cinema provides a good thumbnail sketch of the genre. Don't expect an in-depth analysis of anything, but it's nice to hear the thoughts of pop culture pundits as they look at the lavender screen and contemplate how it has morphed since its inception. Check out this DVD if you're gay or simply gay curious.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 82

Perp Profile

Studio: Wolfe Video
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 82 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary
• Gay

Distinguishing Marks

• Extra Interviews


• IMDb

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