Queer clips

‘True Grit,’ ‘Rabbit Hole’

The Coen Brothers have always had a peculiar relationship with Texas, maybe because the sense of Wild West recklessness is still cultivated by urbanites. It’s a complex feeling, though: A lone Ranger (sans mask) named LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) endures a share of mockery in True Grit, but it’s forgiveable — the movie is just so damn entertaining.

I barely noticed a contraction in the dialogue until the waning minutes of the film, which imbues the tale with a poetic majesty without being stilted. Yet the Coens keep everything in the realm of the real; this isn’t some commonplace revenge fantasy but a devil-in-the-details character study of a girl (Hailee Steinfeld, who’s remarkable) and a wizened marshal-for-hire (Jeff Bridges, better even than his Oscar performance in last year’s Crazy Heart). It avoids predictable, touchy-feely sentimentality while still being emotionally stirring.

Less stirring is Rabbit Hole — perhaps because it tries too hard. A couple (Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart) work through their grief over the death of their child in wildly different ways. It’s a prickly story about yuppies in denial where so many of the characters seem to want to be hated — or at least misunderstood. Grief is hard to portray in small doses (everyone deals with loss uniquely), and to try to make a movie of nothing but is too great a task for director John Cameron Mitchell. Kidman’s OK, but the standout is Miles Teller as a regretful teen. He and Steinfeld should make a movie together.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

True Grit: Five stars; Rabbit Hole: Two stars

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 24, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Opening ‘Closets’

Patrick Moseley’s debut novel also begins a new chapter in his (gay) life

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

Patrick Moseley
ADVENTURE OUTING | North Texas teacher and first-time novelist Patrick Moseley comes (further) out of the close with his new book. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

When closets become a recurring theme in a gay novel, let’s just say it’s fair to think the author is working through some issues. With Locked in Closets and Other Fairy Tales, Dallas author Patrick Moseley has not only written his first book, but also takes a leap of faith as a gay man.

“I think we create culture that forces people into the closet and forces them into the recklessness,” he says. “Society still drives or keeps people into those places.”

This is an issue he’s dealt with all of his 36 years — until recently. He has been slowly coming out for a while, but Closets could be his rainbow moment. If only it were that easy.
“It’s one of those complicated things,” he says. “I know I can’t get fired for my orientation and if I’m out, there isn’t so much that can be done about it. But it does complicate things. So I just don’t make those issues at school.”

Moseley is a high school teacher, so his outness has to be, well, different. As an educator, the gay thing can demand a delicate balance. Moseley knows he’s a good teacher and has found success as a coach, but even a slight misstep could affect his career. He experienced a kind of quiet discrimination at his last school, so he remains on guard.

“Because I teach and coach, I tend to be more discreet than others,” he says. “I worked in a very conservative district. I was moved out of my head coaching position with the intention that I’d leave. There are things I don’t talk about but I don’t want to feel like I’m hiding. And I wouldn’t discuss [being gay] with a student at school anyway.”

In Closets, the reader follows Roger, a 70-something gay man who has so locked himself away from life that he crashes into other people’s lives. But how does a 30-something come close to relating a septugenarian’s gay life story and drag queen adventures?

“Roger and I have experienced a lot of the same things,” Moseley says. “All the characters interweave with what I’ve dealt with, especially that fear of taking the next step. I feel like the book exposed me and I lost some things that were important to me. The sadness of the characters and their fear is by far mine.”

Funny, since the original intention was for the book to comedic. Conjuring Monty Python, he based his title on the notion that locking yourself away was prevalent. As he proceeded, Roger’s tale went into darker territories.

“I liked that idea of someone being locked in a tower and that fairy tale rescue kinda deal,” he says. “It’s a lot easier to lock ourselves in situations, but then closets become a theme in the book and not just dealing with the usual homosexual issue.”

Moseley’s personal experiences of growing up strongly religious, being outed at 24 and having to ask people to stop trying to fix him naturally found their way into his novel. He says that although it’s not Christian fiction, God becomes a dominant character as the characters do battle, trying to figure life out.

“One thing I struggled with along the way is figuring out how God plays into our sexuality,” he says. “I believe and always have that sexuality is created. How can He create you and tell you you’re no good?”

Questions like these seem to strike the author. Moseley has a fun-loving sense of self, but when he delves just a bit to deep, his eyes shift for a moment. He searches for an answer and in his eloquent way, finds one.

“Roger is learning to embrace himself. I guess at times, we hide and shy away from things that could have been great.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens