I’ve been obsessing over 120 Beats Per Minute since I first saw it and have been wanting to talk about it with anyone willing. I did a recent podcast with Michael Glass on the film as part of the Eavesdropping at the Movies podcast. And this is one of what I hope will be at least several conversations on the film. If the first podcast was in conjunction with a young heterosexual critic, this one is with a young queer arts producer/ art maker: Adam Carver is a designer, theatre-maker and creative producer for SHOUT, the Festival of Queer Arts and Culture in Birmingham. I wanted to talk to him because almost all of my conversations on the film had been with people more or less my age, people who’d come out in the 80s, lived some of the experiences represented in the film first-hand, and with whom I more or less shared all the responses the film elicited. I wanted to talk to Adam not only because of his interests in queer arts and culture but also because he’s much younger, several generations younger, and would bring a different and, to me, much needed perspective on the experience of watching the film. I hope some of you at least will find the conversation interesting and useful.
I’ve been obsessed with 120 BPM and I was very keen to hear what Mike, who is much younger and not gay, thought of it. Is my obsession due to purely personal reasons – the film seems to reflect a part of my youth – or is the film also as good as I think it is? Is it a niche film or does it have meanings and feelings to communicate to a broader audience? Is the movie really great or is it something I’m just particularly vulnerable to and merely weep at the thought of? We talk about it in relation to Matthew Lopez’ The Inheritance currently on at the Young Vic in London. We also discuss the film as ‘director-as-editor’ filmmaking. We agree that there isn’t a moment to cut in what is quite a long film. We discuss the opening sequences, all meetings, political actions, and introducing of characters; we also discuss the sex scene in the hospital, as one of the best ever filmed. We discuss how sex and desire in the film is always on the table and how it takes on different meanings within the film. We also touch on film form but always only as a way of understanding what the film shows in a historical context. Mike liked it and was not sorry I’d bullied him into seeing it.
The podcast can be listened to in the player above or on iTunes.
We appreciate your feedback so do keep on sending it.
José Arroyo and Michael Glass of Writing About Film