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NewCityNet Nighthawks

A reissue of 1979's gay cult classic

By Ray Pride

AUGUST 3, 1998:  When it was released in 1979, "Nighthawks," directed by Ron Peck and Paul Hallam, was a progenitor of the many, many coming-out tales that have been made by young gay directors in the time since. Almost twenty years on, there's still strength in his story of Jim, a closeted man (Ken Robertson) who goes about a mundane workaday life as a London schoolteacher, but haunts gay bars and discos by night. The low-key, grimy naturalism of his life says: Look at me, my life is as lonely as yours. But what is even more impressive seen now on tape is Peck and Hallam's depiction of cruising--of the lingering look of desire. The camera roams the expanses of a disco in extended takes, forcing--allowing--he viewer to choose what or whom to watch, just as Jim does. The repetition of scenes becomes hypnotic, and without ever growing didactic, the camera's gaze compellingly dramatizes the simple act of sight, of looking as a routine of consumption. Do we consume those around us in the manner that we consume images? It is a question with graver implications than when "Nighthawks" was first released.

Water Bearer Video, (800)551-8304.

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