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I believe a brilliant lyricist once wrote: "Whatever happened to fair…

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I believe a brilliant lyricist once wrote: "Whatever happened to fair dealing?/And pure ethics/And nice manners?" I have the same bone to pick with movies these days, only replace "fair dealing" and "pure ethics" and "nice manners" with "coherent plot" and "actual story to tell" and "characters who are people rather than symbolic of their Kind." I am not a lyricist, so this replacement system doesn't actually scan. But you get the general idea. My rage comes from a recent foray into the extensive gay-film collection that Netflix has to offer, and of which I have availed myself, sadly, to no avail. The vast majority of these gay films are either porn or experimental, and by "experimental" I generally mean "boring."

Madagascar Skin, which advertised itself on IMDB as "a romantic treat," is presumably about true love amongst oddballs on the beach. However, I should have known better when that description came with the following disclaimer: "Some may find the symbolic shots of starfish, cuttlefish, crabs (and shoes?) stranded on a beach distracting, while the dream-sequences sometimes disrupt what is basically a straight-forward story." But, I am gullible and never heed the warning signs, and so I sat down one evening to watch the film.

Madagascar Skin, starring Bernard Hill (of Lord of the Rings-ian fame) and John Hannah (you may recognize him from movies with plots, such as Sliding Doors), is indeed about true love amongst oddballs on the beach. Harry (Hannah) is a gay fellow who enjoys peeling the wallpaper off his walls, and masturbating in a very grotty apartment all by himself, as no respectable gay man will have him. Why? Because he has a giant red birthmark on his face, the shape of Madagascar. Finally growing weary of fondling himself and flaying his walls, he does what any sensible Madagascar-birthmarked gay fellow would do in his situation: he gets in his car and drives to the beach forever, whereupon he is greeted by many shoes all along the shore. Why? I don't know. Harry doesn't seem to mind. He burns his passport, all his connections to his past life, etc., and prepares to live in his car which, after a freak storm, is covered in seaweed and looks like the punk version of Snuffleupagus from Sesame Street.

Soon thereafter, Harry meets Flint (Hill), or rather, stumbles across him buried in the sand with a bucket over his head. Harry rescues Flint, and brings him back to his Snuffleupagusmobile, whereupon he undresses him and fondles his tattoos.

I could go on like this all day, but suffice it to say, Flint finds a cottage in the woods close by, and sets about wooing Harry by eating spiders, broken glass and rats. There are long, confusing shots of squids that resemble dildos on the beach. Sometimes there are shots of the squid-dildos with people stepping on them. By the time I was half-done with the movie I was completely done with the movie, and wondered, pained and beaten, why there are so few "positive gay films" out there that actually make sense. Ostensibly Madagascar Skin is about loving the one you're with, even if his face is red and shiny and looks like part of a map, or even if he munches on living wildlife in order to win you over in the long run, even if you're stranded on a beach where all the seafood looks like sex toys, but it's just a charade. What it actually is, is a waste of two fine actors.
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