Psycho Thriller

Cruising looks back at the doomed ecstasy of the gay playgrounds in late-1970s Manhattan

As a cultural artifact, Cruising belongs in the company of such late-'70s novels as Larry Kramer's Faggots and Andrew Holleran's Dancer From the Dance. All three depict a world of desperate freedom, of excess piled upon excess -- and of an inchoate but strong sense that things cannot go on this way indefinitely.

The irony is that Cruising, a 15-year-old movie whose images of men together are still fresh, has become a period piece, an echo of abandon as emphatically alien to our plague world as our sense of restraint and caution would be in the world of Cruising. The fact that the moviemakers didn't intend to make the film a period piece or a memorial to a small, odd culture lends the work its unexpected poignancy.

Cruising opens Fri, May 12 at the Roxie in

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