February 12, 2010

What kind of fratboys are you?

Latter Days is a film that could only be made in America and only be fully appreciated there. It pushes all the au courant buttons in a culture that is still at war over issues that have long been settled in secular societies. The existential struggle between being gay and being religious going to the heart of American identity (deemed worthy of the epithet "culture war" but really akin to the inability to have tolerance at the core of your society) is such an alien concept to the rest of us living in secular societies.
Mormonism ("The original alternative life-stylers" as described in an all too rare insight by the main character) is this really outlandish form of religion few of us have any connection to, especially outside the USA, and is portrayed in the film in all the familiar cliches: stern patriarch father, neurotic mother and absolutely no insight into family life - even to the point that the "family unit" is never actually seen together at home. They look, sound and act like aliens, strange frat boy pod people on bikes.
I guess if you want to make an 'opposites attract' romance, the other side has to be portrayed as cliched as possible too and the film doesn't fail in that: Los Angeles as a honey pot for fame, fortune and sexual conquest never fails and the movie's non-Mormon characters do their best to act, look and sound as predictable as their religious counterparts.

The storyline is trite: boy meets boy/boy falls for boy/boy loses boy/boy finds boy (it's not like I'm putting any spoilers here); the sex scenes are as vanilla and PGR rated as you can get away with; the evil characters on both sides (usually always the most interesting parts in a movie), the Mormon father and Dirk "the Watersports Boy", undeveloped and cartoon-like; and an obligatory coterie of sympathetic fag hags and their fairytale safe haven refuge (Lila's restaurant - as the Land of Oz reference?) make it an unsatisfactory movie.
If you are looking for gay romance against all cultural odds, maybe try "My Beautiful Laundrette" instead.

Totty award to Steve Sandvoss


Bryan said...

I thought the LDS was fairly well established in NZ, especially among the Maori. They have certainly made strides in other areas of Polynesia. I'll grant you the trite screenplay (just like so many other gay movies), but I feel you're overstating the secular society argument. Laws and mores are informed by more than reason; they also are influenced by culture and religious views. NZ has its share of politicos and clerics yelping about the degradation of society with all the homos running around.... The U.S. is hardly unique in its tensions between religion and society (for example, Indonesia and India, to name a couple of close-by neighbors). But I do enjoy reading your blogs.

Anonymous said...

Say a movie lately you might enjoy
called Shortbus - check it out.


Uroskin said...

Shortbus was even worse!