Top Five "Men-Loving Men of Colour" Films to Watch
MLMOC (men-loving men of colour) is a niche genre in an already niche genre, but has come into the spotlight more after Moonlight became the first LGBT film to take home the Oscar for Best Picture. However, if you’re itching for more things to watch featuring gay men who aren’t white and you aren’t sure where to start, here are my top five picks:
5. Those People, 2015
Director/writer: Joey Kuhn
Starring: Jonathan Gordon, Jason Ralph, Haaz Sleiman
This gorgeous film, set in the intimate spaces of New York’s old-money opulence, centres on a young Jewish art student’s unrequited love for his best friend. Charlie and Sebastian, whose very names recall the tragic love of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, are initially trapped in an unhealthy friendship of seemingly one-sided feelings. Sebastian, caught in a public and personal crisis after his wealthy father’s arrest, manipulates but refuses to acknowledge Charlie’s love for his own emotional security. However, when Charlie enters a relationship with Tim, a suave Lebanese concert pianist, the two must confront their personal failings and reconsider their relationship. Director Joey Kuhn skilfully interweaves lingering vistas of New York’s melancholic beauty with light-hearted moments – most memorably of the protagonists leaning over a record-player, speedily chanting the lyrics of Pirates of Penzance’s “Major-General’s Song” – to create a beautifully meditative masterpiece.
4. Lilting, 2014
Director/writer: Hong Khaou
Starring: Ben Whishaw, Cheng Pei-pei, Andrew Leung, Naomi Christie
After her son Kai’s death, Junn – a Chinese-Cambodian woman living in England – is sought out by his boyfriend Richard. The film focuses on both Junn and Richard’s journey to mutual understanding about each other, having to overcome barriers of language and tradition – especially since Kai had never come out to Junn, fearing her reaction – as they come to terms with their grief together. The film sensitively blends culture with half of its dialogue conducted in Mandarin, and memory as a mourning Richard recalls moments of happiness in a light-filled past swathed in white bedding with Kai. Most strikingly, however, it deals with the intersection of being gay in a conservative Chinese culture and the concerns which stem from that in lovely nuance.
3. My Beautiful Laundrette, 1985
Director: Stephen Frears
Writer: Hanif Kureishi
Starring: Gordon Warnecke, Daniel Day-Lewis
A thoroughly adorable film, My Beautiful Laundrette centres on a young gay second-gen Pakistani man who sets up a small business amid contemporary concerns of Thatcherism, the AIDS crisis, and racism. Sunny but unambitious Omar takes over his uncle’s decrepit laundrette and offers an old friend turned fascist street-punk, Johnny, a chance to reform by recruiting him to help fix it up. However, their laundrette’s road to success and their sweetly-blossoming relationship faces various hindrances in the forms of Omar’s meddlesome extended family and the punks from Johnny’s former gang. Featuring – quite memorably – a bleached-blond Daniel Day-Lewis lasciviously licking Gordon Warnecke’s neck and possibly the most unintentionally hilarious gay sex scene in film history, this feel-good film also packs a punch with its serious exploration of contemporary issues.
2. Happy Together (春光乍洩), 1997
Director: Wong Kar Wai
Starring: Tony Leung, Leslie Cheung, Chang Chen
Don’t let the title fool you – in true Wong Kar Wai style, this film is about tragic love. Unusually for Wong, however, this film is set not in Hong Kong but Argentina, where a couple plays out the death spiral of a relationship characterised by a cycle of abuse, breakup, and reconciliation. The pair in question, Ho Po-wing and Lai Yiu-fai attempt to visit the Iguazu Falls to reignite their relationship, but break up on the way. Their following reconciliation, however, engenders only brief happiness, painted shots suffused in lurid blues and yellows. Po-wing, the more destructive of the two, devolves again into promiscuity as the more stable Yiu-fai befriends a cheery Taiwanese backpacker, Chang, and realises that he could do better. The brooding melancholy of this film is underscored by Wong’s signature outlandish cinematography, non-linear narrative, and minimalist sound and music.
1. Yuri!!! On Ice (ユーリ!!! on ICE), 2016
Director: Sayo Yamamoto
Writer: Mitsurou Kubo
Yuri!!! on Ice is the gay sports anime rom com we didn’t deserve but with which we were blessed anyway. In the series, Japanese figure skater Yuuri Katsuki plans to retire after anxiety jeopardises his performance in competition. However, a viral video of him mimicking the routine of his idol, Russian world champion Viktor Nikiforov, inspires the latter to put his own career on hold to begin coaching Yuuri. As the series develops, Yuuri finds both confidence and love with Viktor. It was one of the most popular anime of 2016, garnering praise for its racially diverse array of characters and most notably, the positive portrayal of a gay couple in a genre ridden with the stereotyping and fetishisation of LGBT characters. In addition to being set, according to writer Mitsurou Kubo, in a homophobia-free world, there are also little nods to queer culture with references to openly-gay figure skater Johnny Weir, Hedwig and the Angry Inch creator John Cameron Mitchell, and – in recent official art – the green carnations favoured by Oscar Wilde.