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Singer, Bryan (b. 1965)  
 
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During the entire course of the film, Edie and Keaton have only one intimate moment together--as they stand outside the police station, following the release of the suspects. Even in this scene, however, Edie and Keaton are not really alone, as they are observed by the other suspects, scattered around the public space in front of the station. Although the other men ostensibly are trying to compel Keaton to participate in their recently hatched plot, it is easy to suppose that they have something else on their minds. Rapidly alternating close-up shots of the men's intently staring faces create the impression that all of them, including Keaton, are cruising one another.

Throughout the film, Singer explores the intersections of , , and violence. In an interview with Jonathan Romney, Singer clarified this intention: "There was a very homoerotic sense of humour on the set. I think that's essential--ever since those guys got together to kill Julius Caesar. Bunch of guys in a bath house talking about killing!"

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Repeatedly, the gang members assert their dominance through references to male-male sexual acts. For example, in his voiceover narration, Verbal praises his associates by asserting, "These guys would never bend over for anybody." Later, Verbal proclaims the gang's success in getting revenge against corrupt policemen by ridiculing the cops as passive victims of homosexual rape: "Everybody got it right in the ass, from the chief on down. It was beautiful!"

Homoerotic repartee helps to establish and solidify the camaraderie among the gang members. A typical exchange occurs in the holding cell, where the men become acquainted with one another and determine to get revenge on the police. When Fenster (Benicio del Toro) complains about a policeman fingering his anus, Hockney (Kevin Pollack) says, "I didn't know it was Friday." In response, Fenster asks, "Do you want some?" Broadly grinning as he shakes his head up and down, Hockney indicates that he might indeed "want some."

The interaction between homosexual desire and violence also is made explicit in a dispute between Hockney and McManus (Stephen Baldwin), which resembles a lovers' quarrel. Strongly opposing McManus's plan to take a trip with Fenster, Hockney complains, "you and Fenster are off honeymooning in California while the rest of us are sitting here holding our dicks." Near the conclusion of this scene, Hockney asks McManus if he wants to dance, as the two men lean toward one another in a way that it at once seductive and threatening.

Of course, the implied homoerotic desire is never realized in sexual acts. Instead, lust is suppressed and sublimated into violence. It is indicative of Singer's genius that he was able to explore provocative ideas about homosexuality in a hugely entertaining film that was successfully targeted to a predominantly straight young male audience.

Apt Pupil

In his next film, Apt Pupil (1998), Singer again explores the pervasiveness of evil, the complexity of identity, and other issues that he dealt with in The Usual Suspects. Yet, despite their thematic consistency, the two films differ in many fundamental respects. Whereas The Usual Suspects is a dazzling action thriller, Apt Pupil is a somber, slow-paced, and sometimes depressing study of psychological terror. Therefore, it is quite possible that Apt Pupil would not have been commercially successful under any circumstances.

However, at the time of its initial release, the actual content of Apt Pupil was overshadowed by the negative publicity generated by baseless accusations of sexual harassment made by the parents of six young extras against Singer and others involved in the production. The resultant smear campaign made mainstream theater owners reluctant to show the movie, even though Singer and his associates had been cleared of charges by the time that the film was distributed. Thus, Apt Pupil had a very limited theatrical release in the United States, even though it received favorable reviews.

Based on a novella by Stephen King, Apt Pupil concerns a seemingly typical high school student, Todd Bowden (Brad Renfro), who becomes intensely fascinated by the Holocaust. Having studied countless accounts of the extermination of Jews, Todd identifies an elderly man whom he happens to see on a local bus as the former head of an infamous Nazi concentration camp. Shortly thereafter, Todd visits Kurt Dussander (Ian McKellen) and threatens to expose him unless he will describe in detail all the atrocities that he committed.

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