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~生まれた町で夢見てきた...~
"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
You've no idea how long I've been waiting to see this film. 
29th-Oct-2005 10:13 am
Siesta
How long has it been since I first heard about it? Over six months, at least. I think?

*sighs* Now I REALLY need to read Scott Heim's other novel, In Awe. It's out of print, though; an unfortunate inconvenience.

Anyway, do you think this review format is good for movies as well? Hmm...

Mysterious Skin (dir. Gregg Araki, 2005)
Summary: Based on the novel by Scott Heim. As a boy, the young Neil spends an entire summer as his pedophile Little League coach's lover of choice. As a teenager, he can't get over the experience and whores himself, looking to recapture the thrill. As a boy, something traumatizing happened to the shy, bookish Brian that he can't remember, and he grows up believing that he was abducted by aliens. Turns out that the two boys are connected somehow. Take a wild guess.
Comments: Ah, well. It wasn't as good as the novel...but then these things never are. It wasn't even as good as Bad Education, to which it has been compared. Still, I was shocked to see how closely the film followed the book's plot, however, right down to all of Neil's sexual escapades AND the revelation at the end regarding the *coughs* fisting. In my head, I kept thinking "Okay, cut. Cut!" but the film just kept on rolling right through the sex scenes. (No full-frontals, however; worry not.) The film had an odd, almost amateurish style of editing, but that was deliberate and was effective in capturing the immediacy of what is going on. The scene with the Froot Loops and the coach in the kitchen was magnificently-done; though of course the novel described things like the sugary smell of the cereal that the film cannot catch, the transcendent moment (and the underlying horror) is preserved. (This the most memorable scene in the novel as well as the the novel's original cover art.) The one thing that really surprised me, however, was the actor that played Neil. For whatever reason, I imagined him as a much tougher figure. Joseph Gordon-Levitt looked like a young Keanu Reeves. Even though he had extreme hotness in his favor, it was kinda creepy...
Notes: Region 1 DVD, original theatrical director's cut (unrated)
Rating: 7/10 - Provided you can stomach the softcore porn, this film is well-worth the time it takes to watch. Especially if you haven't read the book--in that case, you'll be blown away.
Comments 
29th-Oct-2005 04:25 pm (UTC)
Provided you can stomach the softcore porn, this film is well-worth the time it takes to watch. Especially if you haven't read the book--in that case, you'll be blown away.


Hmmn. I adored the book and was really looking forward to seeing the film, though I guessed that the impact would be lessened by knowing the story. Good review. I'll let you know what I think when I see it (it's just been released on R2 and I'm waiting to get it from my rental place). Interesting that you say it's not as good as Bad Education...that's another movie I haven't seen yet! I've heard the R2 version has been cut.
29th-Oct-2005 05:48 pm (UTC)
Bad Education was released in the US in two versions--an R-rated cut version and an NC-17-rated unedited theatrical cut. You'll probably end up with the former. Honestly, though, there isn't nearly as much sex as in Mysterious Skin, and the sex scenes are correspondingly less important. Mysterious Skin at times felt like a spectacle of different types of sex (be interesting to know if they censor that over there as well), whereas the spectacle of Bad Education was very much the pyschological aspects of it all.

Anyway, I found your book review website the other day and have been meaning to drop you an email. You beat me to it! I really enjoyed seeing those reviews, particularly because the UK-centric bias means that you listed titles I probably would never have found casually browsing bookstores in the US.

When you get the chance to watch Mysterious Skin, do let me know! I've seen the critical reviews for the film, but none of them had read the book as well.
29th-Oct-2005 06:03 pm (UTC)
I just happened to notice your name added onto my FL today so I added you back and dropped by to take a look! Nice to meet you. I'm glad you find our book reviews useful, too. Word of mouth is the best recommendation for a title, so it was good to find out about Belmondo Style, a book I hadn't heard of before.

Yeah, both Bad Education and Mysterious Skin have bee cut for R2 release...we don't have unrated DVDs, which is a pain, especially when the material they snip is actually important to character/plot development. I'm going to rent the cut versions then buy R1 copies when they come down in price on eBayuk.
29th-Oct-2005 06:12 pm (UTC)
Well, if they cut out all the sex scenes in Mysterious Skin, the movie is going to be really short! It only had a run time of 1 hour 44 minutes as it is.

I need to get around to the rest of the books that have been recommended to me. I loved Paul Russell's War Against the Animals and have been chasing after more of the St. Martin's Press books. (I'm devastated that they killed their Stonewall Inn Editions imprint.)

*curious* Do you read non-gay-themed works by the authors you've reviewed, at all?
29th-Oct-2005 06:31 pm (UTC)
It'll be interesting then to check the runtime. We have a real problem here with DVDs. If you put them up on eBay, if they're unrated and have any nudity/sexual situations on the cover then they get pulled and the auctions cancelled. Grrr. I wouldn't mind if it was porn, as I know we're meant to buy from licensed sex shops (I kid you not)but regular movies?

I haven't yet read Russell's War Against the Animals (it's on my list) but I enjoyed The Coming Storm and Boys of Life.

*curious* Do you read non-gay-themed works by the authors you've reviewed, at all?

Good question! Right now we're so busy trying to catch up on a lifetime's worth of gay themed books, no we haven't. Honestly, until I read
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It'll be interesting then to check the runtime. We have a real problem here with DVDs. If you put them up on eBay, if they're unrated and have any nudity/sexual situations on the cover then they get pulled and the auctions cancelled. Grrr. I wouldn't mind if it was porn, as I know we're meant to buy from licensed sex shops (I kid you not)but regular movies?

I haven't yet read Russell's <i>War Against the Animals</i> (it's on my list) but I enjoyed <i>The Coming Storm</i> and <i>Boys of Life</i>.

<i>*curious* Do you read non-gay-themed works by the authors you've reviewed, at all?</i>

Good question! Right now we're so busy trying to catch up on a lifetime's worth of gay themed books, no we haven't. Honestly, until I read <As Meat Loves Salt</i> it hadn't occurred to me that there WAS such a thing as gay lit (hangs head). Of course once I got into it I discovered why...our nearest Borders has its GLBT books kept separately in a corner of the basment nest to the porn section. However, I'd be happy given time to read other books by gay authors I like. Sheesh, as you say they need the support these days, with imprints shutting down all over. It's the same here in the UK. We've personally heard of established writers who can't get new works published, like Josh Lanyon and James Lear.
29th-Oct-2005 06:59 pm (UTC)
I haven't yet read Russell's War Against the Animals (it's on my list) but I enjoyed The Coming Storm and Boys of Life.

I've had copies of The Coming Storm and Sea of Tranquility on my to-read pile for about half a year now, but I haven't gotten them yet. The ending of War Against the Animals just broke my heart.

our nearest Borders has its GLBT books kept separately in a corner of the basment nest to the porn section.

The million dollar question here is: What makes a book gay/lesbian fiction in the eyes of Borders? James Baldwin ends up in African American fiction, Michael Cunningham and Jim Grimsley in literature, etc. *laughs* I'm endlessly intrigued by that.

Good question! Right now we're so busy trying to catch up on a lifetime's worth of gay themed books, no we haven't.

*nods* I tend to be one of those people who find a great author and then proceed to read EVERYTHING by that author. I've currently become addicted to Christopher Bram. (Didn't notice any of his books on your review pile.) I'm also working on Felice Picano, David Leavitt, and Joseph Olshan. All American authors--which is again why I liked seeing your site!

Sheesh, as you say they need the support these days, with imprints shutting down all over.

Keith Kahla was the general editor for the Stonewall Inn Editions at St. Martin's Press, and he's still very much working for them and selecting great new gay and lesbian talent. But there's no imprint anymore and correspondingly fewer books. Belmondo Style was one of his responsibilities, actually.
29th-Oct-2005 07:22 pm (UTC)
Christopher Bram features heavily on our wishlist, but you're right we haven't covered any of his books yet. I hear good things about him though. I've read Joseph Olshan's Nightswimmer, one of my recent favourites, a beautiful and haunting book (talk about sad gay novels!) and his newer one is on order. We've read/reviewed Leavitt's novel The Lost Language of Cranes and I've got The Page Turner in my pile (we've covered the film adaptation though). I also have Felice Picano's Like people in History(?) in that big (and getting bigger) pile.

I so agree about bookstores' policy on shelving GLBT books! You never know where to find them. Waterstones (a UK outlet) has no separate section so they're in with whatever genre they fit into, which is good in one way but not if you're in a hurry and just want to browse gay novels. I can sympathise though with authors who don't want pigeon-holed in a gay ghetto. It appears rather arbitrary who ends up where in Borders. As though someone has to classify them by degree of 'gayness', 'in' or 'out'. Of course the suggestive ones all go next to the porn!
29th-Oct-2005 07:34 pm (UTC)
I read Joseph Olshan's Nightswimmer less than a month ago and was duly impressed, though I felt at times the book had an adolscent whine to it. I'm planning on reading some of his other novels, notably Vanitas and Clara's Heart.

In any case, I highly recommend Christopher Bram's works in general. What I've read so far I've enjoyed, and Hold Tight in particular thus far has captured my imagination.

And say nothing of piles of books on the "to-read" list. I've got five columns of books on my floor right now--all as tall as I am!
30th-Oct-2005 12:10 am (UTC)
Vanitas is the one we've ordered. And I'm glad someone else has a pile like mine...except mine are hidden under the couch in rows!

We've just added some fantasy titles too, Lynn Flewelling's Nightrunner series and Mercedes Lackey's Last Herald Mage trilogy, because we haven't really covered the genre, and EVERYONE keeps recommending them to us. Though I must admit I'm not really into fantasy novels generally speaking, apart from vampire stories that is...but they're real! :)
30th-Oct-2005 12:16 am (UTC)
Vanitas is the one we've ordered.

Do you have an American version or the UK version? I absolutely ADORE the cover to the 1st American edition!

Mercedes Lackey's Last Herald Mage trilogy

I read this one many years ago and was not particularly impressed. The interior monologues get increasingly unwieldy as the series progresses, and I found that it annoyed me to no end.

apart from vampire stories that is...but they're real!

A true believer, eh? ^_~

I have read an excellent academic argument that suggests that the homoerotic potential of vampires started as early as Stoker's Dracula--the argument runs that Stoker was coming to terms with Oscar Wilde's sodomy conviction in his writing of the novel.
30th-Oct-2005 12:56 am (UTC)
Do you have an American version or the UK version? I absolutely ADORE the cover to the 1st American edition!

I haven't seen the book yet so I don't know. I looked on AmazonUK and there are different covers, even for the British published editions- Bloomsbury. I like the earlier one more than the most recent.

I read this one many years ago and was not particularly impressed. The interior monologues get increasingly unwieldy as the series progresses, and I found that it annoyed me to no end.

Sigh. That's rather what I was afraid of. Yet various people have lauded the series. I'll reserve judgement.

A true believer, eh? ^_~

Absolutely. Vampires exist. They have to! I certainly found Dracula full of homoeroticism...someone *must* have written Harker/Dracula!

Speaking of Oscar, the film Wilde with Stephen Fry & Jude Law (Bosie) is pretty good.


30th-Oct-2005 01:07 am (UTC)
This is the hardcover version of Vanitas released in the US:



That's rather what I was afraid of. Yet various people have lauded the series. I'll reserve judgement.

I know. I can't understand why, either. Perhaps they read the series when they were very young and continue to see it through nostalgic eyes. (I'm a *very* picky reader, though, and find it easier to be critical...so if you're more forgiving, don't take my word for it!)

Speaking of Oscar, the film Wilde with Stephen Fry & Jude Law (Bosie) is pretty good.

Ah, I have not seen that one. (Figures.)

Speaking of Wilde some more, have you read Teleny? Victorian homoerotic smut--it was oh so fun to read. And it gave me some insight into what Wilde was thinking in some of his other works, particularly the fairy tales.

30th-Oct-2005 09:42 am (UTC)
I'm not that big on Fantasy novels anyway, they have to be really good to grab me, so I guess I'm quite picky too. But I think maybe you're onto something with the read it when young comment.

Nope, haven't read Teleny. Isn't there doubt it was written by Wilde at all? I'd still like to take a look. I like his fairy tales.
30th-Oct-2005 12:00 pm (UTC)
Some of my favorite fantasy writers, hands down, are Tanith Lee and Ursula K. Le Guin. I think Margaret Weis is my equivalent to other peoples' Mercedes Lackey--I read her when I was young so I continue to have nostalgic feeling for her writing.

Nope, haven't read Teleny. Isn't there doubt it was written by Wilde at all?

Some like to cast doubt because it's not particularly funny, and they'd like to imagine Wilde would be funny in a situation like Teleny, but I think they're just poo-pooing. It's obvious even to me that the book features several different writing styles, but there are a bunch of places where it's either Wilde himself or his clone writing--the voice is just unmistakable.

The sentiment in Teleny about the truest love being for one like oneself comes out quite a bit, and that was one of Wilde's popular themes.
30th-Oct-2005 02:42 pm (UTC)
I loved LeGuin's Earthsea novels, and I've read Tanith Lee but not for years...in fact I really haven't read much Fantasy fiction since I was a student. Though I like Tom Holt's comic take on the genre- Snow White and the Seven Samurai etc.

There's a Wilde connection in one of the novels I read a while ago that left me conflicted because though I loved a lot of the book the latter part annoyed me, Jamie O'Neill's At Swim Two Boys. My favourite character Anthony MacMurrough has returned home in disgrace to Dublin following a spell in prison for 'conduct unspeakable of the Oscar Wilde sort'. It's a very good book, a whopping 600 pages, about the growth of Irish nationalism and the search for gay identity against the background of the Easter Rising in Dublin, 1916.
30th-Oct-2005 02:49 pm (UTC)
I really liked Tanith Lee's Flat Earth series. The mixture of mythology and sexuality entranced me, as did the over-the-top writing style itself.

I tried reading At Swim, Two Boys when I was in Korea over a year and a half ago, but I hated every second of it, and I finally gave up less than 80 pages short of the end. I think a part of it was the Joyce-like prose. The other half is that I'm not that familiar with the history or its significance, so much of its meaning did not translate. I also liked Anthony, especially when he was in his multiple personality phase, but even that appeal wasn't enough to keep me interested, alas.
30th-Oct-2005 03:25 pm (UTC)
Yeah I can see that, as it's by no means an easy read, quite the reverse. You're fortunate to have missed the end. Another gay tragedy.
30th-Oct-2005 03:26 pm (UTC)
*grimaces* And here I was still thinking that it would end well for the two boys. Silly me.
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