Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actor: Ken Robertson; Robert Merrick; Tony Westrope; Rachel Nicholas James
Director: Ron Peck
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Gay & Lesbian
Studio: Water Bearer Films Release Date: 05/09/2006 Run time: 109 minutes Rating: Ur
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London Bar and Work Lives
interested_observer | San Francisco, CA USA | 05/22/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Jim (Ken Robertson) is a thirtyish geography teacher in a London comprehensive school, something like an American high school. Remarkably for 1978, he is an out gay man to any adult with an interest and quietly non-descript to the rest, including his parents. Nighthawks generally alternates scenes of Jim's visits to gay bars and their natural follow-ups with scenes of him teaching his class or talking matters over with recent teaching addition Judy (Rachel Nicholas James).
Before the movie, Jim has banished Tim, his lover for the last three months, and is looking for someone new. He tries Mike, Neal (Stuart Craig Turton), Peter, an American banker, and John. Quietly shocked, Judy offers brief advice and parallels.
Matters come to a head when Christopher, a student, asks in class whether Jim were 'bent' or 'queer'. Jim says he is, conducts a question and answer session, and, contingently, survives the reaction.
Jim has two nude scenes, Neal shows some skin, as do various dancers in the two London bars used. There are no explicit sex scenes.
Water Bearer Films did a good job of remastering, making the picture much sharper than the VHS version. There are no extras.
Each time I see the film, I like it more. The film does an especially good job of showing dating skills, including politeness, suitable intimacy management, and how to be out without making a big deal about it. The actors come across as real people dealing with real situations. Recommended.
Depressing slice of the gay life twenty years ago.
A. Andersen | Bellows Falls, VT USA | 02/05/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This daring film (for its day) takes us on a tour of a lonely life - a gay teacher in 1978 London trying to find a lover. It is touted as the first gay-themed narrative film with a "positive" outlook - in that no one is ashamed of being gay and no one dies in the end for being so. I will grant it that, but the life (however accurate) of a seeker of love and relationship in a world only interested in casual sex is, in the end, a negative look at a negative world. How far we've come. The film is cast with competent, though almost universally plain, actors. Some scenes go on far too long. And it's drab and drear both in locations and in lousy color saturation. This is a hard one to sit through. Its importance is totally historical - to see where we were and be glad we've come a great deal farther towards our goals."
Slow, but quietly ennobling
Charles S. Houser | Binghamton, NY | 07/30/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film is best appreciated if you take time to recognize what it is NOT. It is not an expose of the dark side of gay life in the 60s (think Dirk Bogarde in "The Victim," 1961); it is not a frivolous or slick Hollywood "coming out" story (a la "In and Out"); nor is it painfully earnest like so many independent films by gay directors. The film is simply a look into the life of a gay school teacher (Jim) in London in the mid-seventies (though I suspect it could have been shot in New York, San Francisco, or Sydney and been just as credible). Jim's days consist of making reasonable efforts to manage a classroom of unruly teens; his evenings are spent going to bars and discotheques where he connects (with varying degrees of success) with other gay men. There is a redundancy to this scenario that modern movie-goers may have little patience for ("Okay, we get it!" I can hear them screaming at their TV screens), but I found the repetition to be important. The teacher continues Sisyphus-like to make the daily efforts to meet someone. There are scenes in bars that seem to go on forever. Like Jim, we see nothing but a wall of men dancing together to endless dance club music. There are shots that last three or more minutes where the camera focuses solely on the Jim's eyes as they scan the room. Is this desperation? or patience and optimism? Viewers will clearly interpret such scenes based on their own histories and perspectives. Another recurring scene is of Jim driving his previous night's guest to the tube or their place of work. These scenes, too, can be seen as either depressingly repetitive or satirically comical. ("Oh, the things we tell one another the morning after," I said to myself. "Who do we think we are fooling?) The writer-director Ron Peck is clearly in command of his subject material. This is not Warhol's "Chelsea Girls" where the camera was kept running for no particular reason. As a viewer, you are confident that something is going on in this quiet and highly textured film. Those who can surrender to the film's rhythms will get something out of it. There are at least three stories unfolding here. There's the story of a gay man looking for a relationship; the story of a teacher willing to expose his personal life to his students if it will make a difference in their lives; and there is the story of a man's relationship with a needy fellow teacher (who happens to be a woman who probably has a crush on him, but clearly is uncertain how to process what she is learning about her colleague's lifestyle). In the end, the teacher seems to be a valiant soul, keeping it together and struggling, as all souls must, to play the hand he has been dealt.
Although there are no DVD extras, Peck did do a follow-up film that is also worth looking at ("Strip Jack Naked," 1991)."