The title of this blog comes from the closing sentence of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
I should start by saying that I knew next to nothing about Quentin Crisp before I saw this movie. That said, when I came across this film in the Netflix instant queue and saw that it starred John Hurt as a flaming homosexual, I couldn’t resist.
And, oddly enough, I wasn’t disappointed. I was expecting a complete flop considering that I have found most gay cinema to be contrived, preachy, and generally irritating. But this wasn’t. This was a story about a man and his life, not his sexuality. Sure, Mr. Crisp’s “gayness” was present but it wasn’t the focus of the film. It seems to me that the best gay cinema takes a similar approach to homosexuality. In An Englishman in New York, we see Quentin at his best, at his worst, and finally, at the end of his life’s performance. We don’t see a gay man so much as we see a man struggling with himself, with society, and with identity. And, really, what’s more universal than that?
I think it’s only appropriate to end this little “review” with some of my favorite Crisp witticisms. Enjoy.
Euphemisms are unpleasant truths wearing diplomatic cologne.
For flavor, instant sex will never supersede the stuff you have to peel and cook.
I simply haven’t the nerve to imagine a being, a force, a cause which keeps the planets revolving in their orbits and then suddenly stops in order to give me a bicycle with three speeds.
If at first you don’t succeed, failure may be your style.