Davanti al Meraviglioso Cuore del Nulla / Пред чудесним срцем Ништавила / Before the Wondrous Heart of Nothingness
Jun 9, 2023
Jun 1, 2023
The Tyrant’s Heart, or Boccaccio in Hungary (Miklós Jancsó, 1981)
Neither a documentary, nor a biopic, ‘Looking for Langston’ is a ‘meditation on Langston Hughes (1902-1967) and the Harlem Rennaisance’, as clearly noted in one of the opening title-cards. Set to the verses from poems of Langston’s contemporaries Bruce Nugent (1906-1987) and James Baldwin (1924-1987), as well as of gay activist Essex Hemphill (1957-1995), this medium-length film amalgamates (to great effect!) archive footage, Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs and dreamlike vignettes that pull focus on the poet’s closeted homosexuality. Smoky B&W visuals gently draped in soulful jazz notes with an anachronistic ‘house twist’ in the epilogue, beautifully capture the elegance of a posh nightclub, the subtle eroticism of bedroom scenes, and the mysterious allure of the night. Like the most skillful of sculptors, director/writer Isaac Julien and cinematographer Nina Kellgren seek for the hidden (lyrical?) qualities of the male faces and bodies, finding their truth in 16mm grain and expressive lighting.