Manchester, UK

  • facebook
  • twitter
  • instagram

©2016 by The Pink Lens. Proudly created with Wix.com

BEST OF THE 80s

10. VICTOR/VICTORIA (1982)

Dame Julie Andrews stars in this British musical comedy set in 1930s Paris. A struggling singer, she and a gay cabaret performer decide to disguise her as a male female impersonator, as whom she achieves instant success, but keeping the truth about he gender identity is no easy task. Andrews is magnetic in the lead, but the film suffers from relying too heavily on her shoulders without making much attempt to let the narrative, style or comedy speak for themselves. 

9. DESERT HEARTS (1985)

A New York woman stays in Nevada in the 1950s for six weeks; the length of time it takes to get a divorce. There, she encounters her landlady's openly lesbian daughter and the two fall wildly in love. Set against a backdrop of nostalgic country music, this slow-burning romance explores how falling in love can breathe new life into a world you felt tired and unexciting. And though its plot may feel unimaginative today, a film about lesbians for lesbians by lesbians was almost unheard of on the big screen at the time it was released. 

8. QUERELLE (1982)

In German auteur Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s final movie, Brad Davis stars as the titular Querelle, a Belgian sailor who is also a thief, drug smuggler and murderer. Involved in the criminal underworld, he also gets embroiled in a love triangle between a brothel owner and her husband, while also allowing the police captain - and various other men - to have sex with him. Drenched with homoeroticism and existing in exaggerated fantasy version of a French sea-port, this iconic dreamlike movie is an adaptation of Jean Genet’s novel ‘Querelle de Brest’. Though a now seminal piece of Queer Cinema, the film is a retro piece that successfully appears like classic Hollywood both visually and in its, at times, glacial pace. 

7. TOOTSIE (1982)

Dustin Hoffman and Jessica Lange (in an Oscar-winning role) star in this comedy about a struggling actor who disguises himself as a woman to get a role on a trashy hospital soap opera. With gender- bending comedy aplenty, this unfortunately wouldn't pass modern political correctness scrutiny, particularly because its agenda is mostly to ridicule the fluidity of gender identity. As 80s comedy goes, it's still entertaining, but it’s difficult to watch with 2019 eyes. 

6. KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN (1985)

William Hurt won an Oscar for his depiction of a gay man in a Brazilian prison, recruited by intelligence officers to inform on his political prisoner cellmate. Winning his trust through elaborate stories about Nazi Germany and mysterious Spider Woman on a desert island, he soon realises that he is falling in love with the man he will be forced to betray. With tightly woven narratives between his fictions and reality, this is an exciting thriller underpinned by a fantastic performance by Hurt. 

5. PARTING GLANCES (1986)

William Hurt won an Oscar for his depiction of a gay man in a Brazilian prison, recruited by intelligence officers to inform on his political prisoner cellmate. Winning his trust through elaborate stories about Nazi Germany and mysterious Spider Woman on a desert island, he soon realises that he is falling in love with the man he will be forced to betray. With tightly woven narratives between his fictions and reality, this is an exciting thriller underpinned by a fantastic performance by Hurt. 

4. THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK (1984)

Released in the early days of the AIDS Crisis, this bold documentary earned Oscar attention for its depiction of the first openly gay US politician, Harvey Milk. Charting the rise and assassination of this now iconic figure, we see a very early reflection on gay San Francisco in the 60s and 70s. A powerful and potent film, this is a useful companion piece to Milk and When We Rise, the Gus Van Sant/Dustin Lance Black collaborations on the same topic. 

3. LONGTIME COMPANION (1989)

The first depiction of the AIDS crisis in a mainstream movie, this is Philadelphia but without its "safe" straight angle. Depicting the emergence of the disease and its subsequent devastation of the gay community, it follows a number of gay man in the 1980s. Earning Davison an Oscar-nomination, this is the first time Hollywood put a human face on the disease, which is arguably better than its more famous successor, four years later.

2. MAURICE (1987)

Based on the real-life story of novelist E.M. Forster, Merchant Ivory's exploration of homosexuality in the Edwardian era is a difficult but luscious watch. After his lover and school-friend decides to give into societal pressure and marry, Maurice continues to struggle with living as a gay man in secret. Falling in love with a gamekeeper, the oppressiveness of their society leads to a truly heartbreaking ending. Grant is smoulderingly cocky, while Graves outlines perfectly why he was my teenage posh-boy crush.

1. MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE (1985)

Set in Thatcherite Britain in the 80s, My Beautiful Laundrette follows a young Asian man who takes over his uncle's laundrette and tries to turn it into a money-making venture. Employing the help of an old school-friend, who has since become a neo-Nazi, it forces his father to come to terms with relying on people he hates, while a burgeoning sexual relationship begins to develop between the two. With the characters' sexualities dealt with as the least contentious issue in the pile, this refreshingly indifferent take on homosexuality was a landmark moment in Queer cinema, where who someone loves is irrelevant in the face of cultural injustice.