My Gay Toronto - Bellini's 8 1/2

Softcore joy at a hardcore TIFF


The Toronto International Film Festival may be over, but many of the movies screened will be slowly released over the next six months. I was lucky to see three such movies. 

The Ornithologist is a Portuguese movie by Joao Pedro Rodrigues, whose first film O Fantasma, featuring a hot sex in the shower scene, shocked everyone when it played uncut on Showcase over a decade ago. Now Rodrigues is back with a movie featuring a totally jaw-dropping hunk,  French actor Paul Hamy, who, with his blue eyes, square jaw and big masculine torso, makes this a must-see gay movie. Hamy’s character is studying birds in the wilderness when his kayak breaks and he is stranded. He meets some Chinese girls who torture him, and he escapes but not without enduring even more torture and a hot encounter with a mute shepherd. Hamy barely wears a shirt, or much of anything else, so as softcore it is totally worth it. The movie is based on the relentless agonies of Catholic saints and it is filled with Catholic symbolism, but don’t let that spoil it for you.

Mimosas is a Moroccan movie about a group of people in the Middle East attempting to bury the body of a dead Sheikh. They wander the desert with the corpse strapped to a camel and all sorts of tribulations occur. There is a certain beauty to the widescreen vistas, and there is lots of mystery. Directed by Oliver Laxe, I liked it, but it was the third film that I really loved. Called The Death of Louis XIV, it is literally about the Sun King on his deathbed, his left leg black from gangerene. We watch him being fed eggs that dribble down his chin, prompting the ladies of the court to applaud the King’s appetite. The last scene, in which his body is dissected by earnest doctors who examine his liver and spleen, is enough to turn a stomach. The film’s director, Albert Serra, also had an elaborate installation at TIFF called Singularity, which involved five different screens each showing part of a twelve hour movie. Foreign directors are so out there. 

All three were part of Wavelengths, a series programmed by the gracious and lovely Andrea Picard. All three are strong contenders for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars, among other future citations. (I’d be surprised if Jean-Pierre LĂ©aud, the little boy from Truffaut’s The 400 Blows, doesn’t get an Oscar nomination for his performance as Louis XIV.) Once again, TIFF delivers the goods. I hate having to wait a whole year for more.