Chop Suey

Chop Suey


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

As a cinematic scrapbook in honour of a beautiful boy, Chop Suey lacks the courage of its conviction. Neither erotic enough to outrage homophobics, nor bitchy enough to draw blood, it is rather sweet.

Bruce Weber is a famous name from his years with American Vogue. As a fashion photographer, he encouraged the introduction of the male model, without whom Calvin Klein's underwear might have remained in the bottom drawer (no pun intended).

Copy picture

The object of his desire is a nice lad from Wisconsin, called Peter Johnson, who poses in everything from ball gowns underwater to big white fluffy dogs to the altogether with a circus elephant at the seaside.

Weber's commentary is like an aural diary for Peter, telling him about lesbian icon, Frances Faye - lots of footage of her belting out torch songs, but no interview - the day Robert Mitchum cut a disc, having tea with Sir Wilfred Thesiger and Richard Nixon's neighbours. This family is fascinating because they seem the exact opposite of Tricky Dicky - sporty, honest and functional. Why they are here remains a mystery, except the blond eldest son was a radical surfer, before drugs caught up with him, who had the makings of a Californian cult hero.

Perhaps because of his job, Weber attracts young men with astonishing physiques and movie star profiles, who are not allowed to have personalities. They are pin ups, playful boys smiling in the sun. Peter, for all his good manners, seems particularly dull.

Weber's discretion smothers gossip and edits anecdote. The story of Sinatra in his last years telling a photographer to get off his property, without recognising the man who shot the pictures of the Brat Pack in its heyday, is almost shocking in the context of such gentle observation.

Sex is barely mentioned, camp behaviour discouraged and the art of photography given an airing. In the end, you are left wanting to know more about the places and the people. You discover next to nothing about Bruce.

Reviewed on: 07 Aug 2001
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Chop Suey packshot
Cinematic scrapbook.

Director: Bruce Weber

Writer: Bruce Weber

Starring: Peter Johnson, Teri Shepherd, Frances Faye, miscellaneous celebs, male models

Year: 2000

Runtime: 98 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


EIFF 2001

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