Sunday, December 31, 2017

"Consequence": age-old problem of jealousy in a gay male relationship

Peter Michael’s “Consequence” (19 minutes, 2016) presents a slender and attractive young executive (Ty, Matthew James French), in a relationship with an insecure lover (Jordan Grant), who is so jealous that in an opening scene he vomits.
When a female friend asks him to return something to another gay male friend’s house, that friend (James Goldfeder) comes on to Ty.  John finds out and, well, “it’s over”.  How many times have I heard this before.
The middle-film scene with the Goldfeder’s character (also rather likeable) could have been extended more and shown clean through, rather than interrupted. 

Toward the end, Ty tries a "Scarlet-to-Rhett" apology and it doesn't work. Remember Rhett's speech from "Gone with the Wind" where Rhett says "I'm sorry" isn't enough.  He doesn't forgive. 
Some of the spoken voices don’t seem to have enough volume when played from YouTube on a modern computer (Windows 10, Creators Update)
The film seems to take place in Australia.  Everyone seems well off economically.
I knew a Peter Michael when I was coming out a second time in New Jersey in 1973.  I don’t know if the director could be the same person.
It’s interesting that the film doesn’t get into marriage equality. The characters, however well accomplished in the business world, are not ready for that. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

"McNamara's Morons": Video explains how McNamara engineered a policy for the Army (and even Marine Corps) to draft more mentally challenged men as college men got deferred

McNamara’s Morons:  Lessons of Vietnam 6-13-2016”, as a video (63 minutes), goes best for right now on the legacy Movies blog:  in a little over an hour, Bill Dixon covers a little reported aspect of the Vietnam era draft.  This is one of a series of videos on Vietnam and other military topics.  Dixon stands in front of the Vietnam War Memorial near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington but often shows sections of text explaining his points as he talks, as if on an easel.  

Starting in 1966, the Army (and Marine Corps) accepted about 100,000 “New Standards Men” who had not made the mental qualifications for military service, and often tried to use them as cannon fodder in combat. The problem has been exacerbated by student deferments, and earlier by Kennedy-era marriage and parenthood deferments; those family chain deferments were ended in 1965 but the student deferments stayed until 1969 to be replaced with Nixon’s lottery.

The video covers the history of McNamara’s service as Secretary of Defense under Kennedy, as a “wiz kid” (or “wise guy”) appointed because Kennedy didn’t at first trust his military. The video briefly covers the Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile Crisis, up through the Gulf of Tonkin. McNamara first thought that superior technology would win the war quickly.  By 1965 the escalations called for troops on the ground, and soon DOD was trying to increase the draft pool.

Often normal solders in Basic were tasked with supervising the “morons” and held personally responsible for teaching them to tie their low quarters, or clean rifles.  But often the “morons” got recycled.  Often, in combat, they increased the risk to other soldiers in their units.

Ironically McNamara, for all his nerdiness, claimed that the IQ's of deficient soldiers could be raised by their watching "videotapes".  (I think of "Sex, Lies and Videotapes").  Dixon makes a point that universities often don't each "common sense".  I was said by other recruits during my own Basic to have "too much education" without "common sense" or "social graces". 
Dixon covers McNamara’s book “In Retrospect” (legacy review);  McNamara shot a copy of the book with nine bullets as a way of demonstrating his apology for what he did, and the video shows a copy of the shot-up instance along with handwritten comments by McNamara on the cover.  It's interesting that McNamara's middle name was "Strange". 
There is also a video by Hamilton Gregory, author of “McNamara’s Folly: The Use of Low-IQ Troops in the Vietnam War”, which I have just ordered from Amazon and will review on a newer Wordpress blog. Gregory talks about his own getting sent to Special Training Company while in Basic Training after he had been hospitalized for heat exhaustion.  I cover STC in Chapter 2 of my DADT-I book (1997, 2000), and Chapter 7 (“Fiction 1”) of DADT-III (Fiction 1).  

Thursday, December 28, 2017

"Nadia": short film on resources for homeless teens in the UK

Teddy Nygh’s short film “Nadia”, posted by Million Youth Media, explores the subject of homelessness in teens in th UK.  It is produced by Centrepoint Parliament, and funded in part by the UK Legal Foundation. 

Nadia (Rosa Coduri) has been evicted by her mother over her behavior and apparent alcohol use, as shown a flashback. At school, a sympathetic teacher (Richie Campbell) steers her to explore her legal rights and get to a homeless shelter.

The narrative of the film is designed to inform homeless teens in the UK of their legal rights. 

Homeless doesn’t have to be completely involuntary.
Wikipedia attribution link for photo by Benjamin Brock I Edinburgh, under CCSA 3.0.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

"The Punishment", strong short film on ragging

The Punishment”, by Samudra Guba (and Blue Ocean media, 21 minutes, in Hindi with subtitles), is a fictitious reenactment of a “ragging” scene in a college in India, comparable to hazing in the U.S.   

 The practice is more common in countries like Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. It often starts out “quietly”.

The opening scene shows some quasi-military drills (marching with their pants down to their feet), and then the film shows some freshmen reporting hazing to campus police.

Soon the upper classmen knock on their door and take them to the roof for a hazing session. The young men are, of course, accused of “snitching”.

Some of the activity becomes a bit homoerotic, as two of the men have shirts slowly unbuttoned and then ordered to drop their pants.  Hot wax is poured onto the back of  one man.

The film has a brief epilogue showing the men a few years later, when the tables are turned. The film also, in the closing credits, lists statistics on deaths from ragging.

At William and Mary in the fall of 1961, probably the second Friday night of classes in September, some freshmen were herded into the basement of a dorm where upperclassmen held “tribunals”.  I skipped out on it and played hooky, but I heard that “they” shaved the boys’ legs. I cover that in Chapter 1 of the DADT 1 book. 
By Regunathan Umapathy - Vavuniya, KaliKovil, GFDL, Link

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

"The Bench": a cameo of a male-couple relationship over a year (and then "the years")

Navajo Joe Films posted a short gay male non-explicit film by Harrison J. Bahe, “The Bench”.

Two young men, one of them perhaps Native American, meet at a park bench in southern California or Arizona. The film traces their relationship for a year with background music.
Then years pass and they meet again on the bench.  If you look carefully, you can see a little bit of transformation.

If I made a film like this, I could use my own composed classical music as background. 
Picture above: SE New Mexico, mine (2011). 

Sunday, December 24, 2017

"Cats Meet Their Owners After Long Time": video

For Christmas Eve: “Cats Meet Their Owners After Long Time”.

Here’s another one, about cats protecting human babies, including one rocking the baby to sleep.
“Mama”cats seem to understand that human babies will grow to be adults, just as they would, but will take longer.  In the wild, female leopards have been known to “rescue” baby baboons and try to raise them. A mother cat will believe that a human child should learn to hunt outside just like she does. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

"Triple Standard": short film about gay men in sports and the external veneer of traditional marriage

William Branden Blinn’s short film “Triple Standard” (18 minutes) again explores personal honesty when coming out among gay men.

The film starts with a basketball team, and some homophobic locker room jokes after a game.

But then two of the players retreat home.  One of the men (Lee Amir-Cohen) is married with three kids but dates the younger man (William Jennings, I think), who suddenly says, “I’m done”. The married man wants to insist that he is really “straight” and legitimate and can have a double life, with a separate family.  In the next fifteen minutes, they have their confrontation over a “triple standard”. The film dates to 2010, long before it was clear how the gay marriage debate would play out. 

The film is timely in that major league sports are now adopting non-discrimination clauses for sexual orientation.  “Days of our Lives” has a gay character who was a major league baseball pitcher.

I’ve embedded the copy from his channel which is free.  Some of his films (especially if they would be rated R) require rental from his own site.  I would prefer to see rental on Amazon or YouTube (which works if you have a credit card registered with your Google account -- $3.99 would a typical price for a longer short film).  As with many films, I saw some copycat versions out there. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Museum of the Bible in Washington DC offers many short films on a visit

I finally did my visit to the Museum of the Bible, and there was a variety of short films embedded in the visit.

On the top floor, there was a short “Fly with Us over the Land of the Bible”, which pretty much provided a high drone tour of Israel. When I and my cousin were drawing filmstrips in the spring of 1955 (sixth grade for me then) my “Land of the Bible” won “best educational” at our “academy awards” in a cousin’s house.  This film had almost the same destinations, the real thing.

Then there followed “Follow the Money”, made by the Israeli Antiquities Authority, where a bald young man explained how coins were developed in the ancient world.  Whenever a new king or emperor took over, all the old coins were replaced with new one’s with the king’s image.

After lunch I visited the smaller theater to see “Drive Though History with Dave Stotts: The History of the Bible”, which was similar to the first film above but have even more scenes (wide screen digital, 2.35:1).

On another level there would be a “Galilee” theater story (didn’t see any other title for the film) about Pilate’s giving in to his wife’s sadistic demand to see John the Baptist beheaded, which is how Richard Strauss’s opera “Salome” ends (I saw that in NYC in the 1970s, as well as “Elektra”).  This film was projected on a curved screen 2.35:1.

But the biggest experience was probably “Washington Revelations”, a 4-D film experience similar to other offerings from Disney and Universal in Orlando and from a couple of casino theaters in Las Vegas. A “drone” flies over and through all the major federal buildings in Washington DC and points out all the Biblical references.   This film required an extra $8 charge.

There was also an exhibit covering the Bible in Hollywood film (“The Flight from Egypt” and “Flashdance” get some detailed attention). 

There was brief animated film on Puritanism in the colonies.

There was also a “walkabout” with earphones and special smartphones that played videos about the valley where David and Goliath had their battle (extra $8 charge).
There was a Gettysburg-style cyclorama showing Jerusalem in 360 degrees, with no mention of the controversy today in the UN over Trump’s recent announcement.

Monday, December 18, 2017

"Rudolph's Movie Experience" at Busch Gardens Christmas Town in Williamsburg

Rudolph’s Movie Experience” is a 15-minute short animated film shown at ChristmasTown during the Christmas season when Busch Gardens in Williamsburg VA is redecorated.

The story shows Rudolph saving his family from an “abominable snowman” or yeti, who finally gets welcomed into the family.

The film has a 4D effect in that soap-bubble snow is thrown over the seating area at certain points to look like snow flurries.  The snow flakes actually disintegrate at about the same rate that real snow flakes would melt (The temperature was about 50 F at night when I saw it outside.)

The film is shown in the Italy section near the Pompeii exhibit, which at night looks like an alien landscape with the bizarre use of blues and purples.

The park also has stage shows (in the Festhaus) and some other stage performances, such as “Scrooge” at the Globe Replica, which I did not have time to see. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Short film "Forces" is as much about US wars as it is about LGBT, drawn down to one friendship back home

Dominc Poliquin’s short film “Forces”, produced by Branden Blinn (8 min) depicts a friendship between a gay football player (Nicola Tomasinni) and a straight Army soldier (Benoit Gauvin).

They have grown up in houses on opposite sides of a creek that seems to be in Appalachia. The soldier joined the Army to make something of himself, but developed PTSD after deployment (some combat scenes are shown). When he returns, he challenges his friend, who challenges him back.  And it has nothing to do with sex at all.

This is more about Obama’s War (after Bush’s war) and perhaps the Stop-Loss policy (backdoor draft).

I do have one person friend (I believe a combat engineer) deployed to Afghanistan. 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

"Thirteen or So Minutes": very personal short gay film by Branden Blinn

Here is Branden Blinn’s short film “13 or so Minutes” (the film title seems based on the film's clock length).  Blinn, from what I can see, really likes films about “straight men” (very cis) exploring their homoerotic interests and then sometimes coming out.

Nick Soper plays a handsome white dude who invites a partly Hispanic American (Carlos Salas) up to his apartment for friendship. They talk and become intimate.  The film opens with about a minute of no picture – I would have preferred to see what is going on.

The film consists of the talking, Ninth Street Center style, after sex.  I would have been interested in the buildup of tension first, rather than its release.  In Paul Rosenfels categories, Soper plays the masculine personality.  Both men have "balanced" personalities. Blinn's work seems to deal with "the polarities". 

Soper plays the 100% cis male, with hairy chest and aggressive body language. 

Soper talks about his relationship to his cat.  It would have been good for this to be shown. Some feral cats seem to like mildly autistic and or introverted people, whom the cats perceive as more like them. Cats definitely form opinions on "good" and "bad" people from their worldviews.  
This is very much indoor guerilla movie making.

Blinn rents some of his more explicit films (or major features) on his own platform He says some of them would be rated as adult by YouTube.  I would like to be able to rent them through Amazon or YouTube (which does offer rentals on your Google wallet or account, once you set it up with your credit card).  This strikes me as analogous to the way musicians prefer to use Bandcamp rather than Amazon.  But it’s fine to pay for content.  People have to make a living. 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Vox video: "How the End of Net Neutrality Could Change the Internet"

Liz Sheltens and Mallaory Brangan direct a video for Vox “How the End of Net Neutrality Could Change the Internet

The video gives a great history of the early days of the web, when I made a lot of the material from my first “Do Ask, Do Tell” book free online (for those who didn’t want to pay) so I would be found by a lot of people on search engines – and it worked.  In those days, the Internet was largely text and still images so my own strategy worked better then that it does now.  Hey, it sounds like I should make my own video explaining this.

The FCC regulated the phone companies carriage of the Internet then as common carriers, through the advent of DSL around 2002 or 2003, which was rocky at first.  The regulations meant that phone companies couldn’t charge you more for using AOL (although some companies could charge for time used, and AOL itself did that until 1997).  In 2005, the Bush administration people deregulated, leading to fewer ISP’s which replaced DSL services.

It strikes me that indeed the big problem is that often there are not enough companies in one geographical area (especially rural).  If you have two or three companies in every major area then telecom companies have little incentive to throttle content as some small businesses fear, not trusting their current “promises”. 

The film points out that some regulation was needed for Facebook to be developed and be better than Myspace (Dr. Phil’s favorite – remember those “Internet Mistakes” back in 2007?).
The Vox video is on Youtube, but the copy on their own site when played from Facebook keeps stalling. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Michael Nichols: "A Life in the Wild"

Yesterday I also saw a 15 minute short film by MichaelNichols, “A Life in the Wild”, an autobiographical sketch of the National Geographic wildlife photographer and his work.  The film was part of an exhibition on his work. 

There was a progression of subject matter, with the most impressive for my dime being the drone photography of a pride of lions, who didn’t object to the foreign object hovering over them, as it didn’t harm them.

There was also a sequence with chimpanzees, which fits into to the NatGeo feature “Jane” by Brett Morgen and Jane Goodall 
There was some pretty impressive work with tree climbers on the sequoias in California. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

National Geographic's "Tomb of Christ" experience

Today I visited the “Tomb of Christ: The Church of Holy Sepulchre Experience” multi-media including film, exhibit at the National Geographic Museum in Washington DX on 17th street.  The best link seems to be this
Wikipedia explains the history of the site of many of the events regarding the Crucifixion and Resurrection here. At the time of Christ, the city of Jerusalem did not quite include this area but has grown around it, with all three major religions.

Jerusalem is indeed the capital of Israel (and arguably would be so for a Palestinian state), but Donald Trump’s actions this week have been viewed as controversial and have stimulated some violence. But Israel had captured East Jerusalem from Joran in 1967.

The exhibit starts with a series of film clips, leading to a simulated bazaar. Then you step into a 3-D surrounding film experience of the tomb area including oculus itself,, as well as edicule.   The experience ends with a virtual reality experience with googles of the courtyard area.  So this is a trip to the church for $15, without the airfare. 
Photography without flash seemed to be allowed for most of the exhibit; typically photography of film scenes itself is not permitted. It would not work with the 3-D portions. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Will the 20th Century Fox logo survive Disney?

The deal for Disney to acquire most of Fox assets leaves open the question whether 20th Century Fox, with its triumphant fanfare, will continue to be a visible company in Hollywood, at least as a production entity. 
There’s the Wall Street Journal Story today

Would Fox Searchlight survive?  Several companies (largely Warner Brothers and Paramount) seem to have stopped labeling their “independent” movies separately.


Remember in 1953, with “The Robe”, there would follow, “A Cinemascope picture”. 

Update Dec. 14

Disney has announced its acquisition of 21st Century Fox, story by Yahoo.   Disney will start its own streaming service in 2019 to compete with Netflix, which means many films won't be available on both.  That sounds like a studio's answer to no net neutrality? 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Can we continue to enjoy the work of disgraced filmmakers? (Pulp Fiction?)

Can we separate our respect for art from the reputation of the artist? Now they talk of a "rotten apples" problem with films already made. 
On Indiewire a number of critics weigh in on the question here

It’s interesting that they discuss “Pulp Fiction”, one of the great films of the 90s (produced by the Weinstein brothers in part, but directed by Taraentino, not involved in all this mess.) 


In other areas, there is a point where we don’t want to consume content from criminals or from sufficiently disgraced persons.  I think the Unabomber and Eliot Rodger “manifestos” are available somewhere online, but nobody seems to want them now. Milo Yiannopoulos lost his publishing deal after somewhat fakey rumors about supporting ephebophilia leaked out in February, but he went on to create his own publishing company that has also published Pam Geller (maybe James Damore?) I think a Netflix-style documentary about Milo, or Pam, or James (or all three in one film) could make interesting home viewing.  I’d be game to support it, maybe.  

Monday, December 04, 2017

"The Savannah: The Largest Domestic Cats in the World"

The Savannah: The Largest Domestic Cats in the World” on Discovery-UK (part of “Cats 101”).
A family a rural area probably in northern California takes in the savannah, a hybrid of serval and domestic cat, graded as to percentage of wild genes.

The cats require a lot of outdoor space, but become attached to people. In South Africa, it’s more common for ranchers to have big cats (even cheetahs) who hunt in a range and remember where home is and return for food. 

This film is the story of two of the savannah cats, Kala and Mondo.  One night, Mondo runs out when the babysitter doesn’t notice (there are two kids).  Someone finds Mondo on another farm 12 miles away and returns him. Even with the second family Mondo was quite friendly.

There are other YouTube videos of Zeus, a serval who has grown up with a pre-teen to teen boy and who regards the boy as part of his “pride”.  A cat may think he or she can teach a human child to hunt.

These animals have lives of their own, and a knowledge of the world we never perceive. Yet they try to share it with us. 
Wikipedia attribution link for picture of a G2 Savannah, by Galawebdesign, CCSA 3.0. 

Friday, December 01, 2017

"Why Vietnam?": LBJ's propaganda piece for prospective draftees in the summer of 1965

In the summer of 1965, the Pentagon produced a “propaganda” film defending the increased intervention in Vietnam, titled “Why Vietnam?”.

The film opens with president Lyndon Johnson reading a letter from a mother of a young man where the mother asks why the boy must risk his own personal sacrifice?

The recent long Ken Burns film on PBS would tend to refute some of the claims in the film.  The “domino theory” is touted (as it may sound relevant to North Korea today).  Also sacrifice is relative, as the people who live in the region sacrifice.

But LBJ also refers to the sacrifice in WWII, and DOD also refers to a Dwight Eisenhower speech.  At one point the film refers to a time when the American forcers were only “advisory”.  Guerilla, asymmetric warfare is explained.

I was working my first summer at the David Taylor Model Basin (Navy) that summer. 

The film is mentioned in the book “Enduring Vietnam” by James Wright. I picked this up at the National Archives after visiting the "Remembering Vietnam" exhibit Nov. 27.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Casablanca on its 75th birthday -- and and example of wartime censorship of Hollywood

I remember seeing “Casablanca” (Warner Brothers, directed by Hal Wallis) at the Inwood Theater in Dallas in 1982.  This is touted by populists as one of the best movies of all time.

But Stephen McVeigh, at Swamsea University in the UK explains this film, at its 75th anniversary, as still a case of WWII propaganda, in a guest post on Rick Sincere’s blog, here
In 1939, when the Blitzkrieg started, the United States was the only country with neither propaganda nor an intelligence agency. That changed quickly in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor.  The Office of War Information would be set up in the summer of 1942.

The agency had shocking powers as gatekeepers of the content of commercial films that got produced, as to helping win the war, an idea that would seem totally unthinkable today with our idea of unregulated user generated content. McVeigh lists seven questions that every film was vetted with. 
By Croix_de_Lorraine_3.png: Daniel FRderivative work: LeonardoelRojo (talk) - Croix_de_Lorraine_3.png, Public Domain, Link

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

"Building a Border at 4600 Meters": Indigenous people along Tibet-Nepal border fall under China's government

Johnny Harris offers a 13 minute film “Building a Border at 4600 Meters” about the indigenous people between Nepal and Tibet, whose land (the Bon) is bisected by China’s “building that wall”. URL is here

The film also discusses the 300 million people throughout the world who live in essentially “stateless” spaces, too remote from governments, mostly off the land, on economies based on barter. But gradually governments encroach.
Ezra Klein posted the video on Facebook for Vox Media.

The picture I selected generates the name of Annapurna Studios.  

By This illustration was made by (User:Royonx) and released under the license(s) stated above. You are free to use it for any purpose as long as you credit me and follow the terms of the license.Example :  © Michel Royon / Wikimedia CommonsIf you use this image outside of the Wikimedia projects, I would be happy to hear from you par courriel ( royonx Thanks !Ce message en fran├žais - Own work, CC0, Link

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

National Archives shows military recruiting collage film "We Want You"

The National Archives, in the Public Vaults display, next to the Rotunda, shows a 10-minute collage of military recruiting, mostly during Wold War II, called “We Want You”.  All of this during the time of the military draft.

The main recruiting song was “Over There”, which in my 1969 manuscript “The Proles” was the euphemism for Vietnam.

I visited this area after a visit to the “Remembering Vietnam” exhibit.

The film makes reference to women joining SPARS during WWII to free the men to sail in the Navy (or to fight) during WWII.
There is also a clip that finishing college while in the Army would be no problem. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Washington area residents have to wait to see "Lavender Scare" when Reel Affirmations doesn't screen it

There is a bit of a flak in that the DC Reel Affirmations Film Festival declined to show “Lavender Scare”, a documentary about the purge of homosexuals from the federal government in the 1950s during the Eisenhower years and the “Red Scare”, with emphasis on the story of Frank Kameny.

The Washington Blade has a story by Lou Chibarro, Jr., but the DC Center has declined to explain why it wasn’t selected.   But some people seem to believe that retelling history during the current political environment (with Pence as vice-president) could “bring it back”.  The material is also sensitive now because of Trump’s attempted transgender ban in the military, now under litigation.
The trailer shows the practice of “naming names” during the witch hunts.  Similar practices went on in the US military, gradually abetting under “don’t ask don’t tell”, to be repealed in 2011. 
The film is produced and directed by Josh Howard. 

Friday, November 24, 2017

"Tonight It's You": Gay horror short film, with the look of "Bugrush", slams fundamentalist conversion therapy

The short “Tonight It’s You”, by Dominic Haxton, ASPD Films, experiments with horror over its 17 minutes and gives a look that reminds me of “Bugcrush”.  The plot, however, starts out with the intimacy (rather than building up to it), and then the storyline explodes into something much more dangerous and much more political.

A young man CJ (Jake Robbins) answers a personal ad on his phone and drives out to a remote ranch in what looks like the area around San Bernadino east of LA.  His hookup (Hunter, played by Ian Lerch) tells him to go to the back shed.

They make out, but half way through the film “dad” hears them from the house. CJ tries to escape but winds up having to jump into the house, and finds a coven of fundamentalist exorcists determined to convert gays, that would put Mike Pence to shame.  (I know, Trump joked “He wants to hang ‘em all” but this film, shot before the 2016 election, seems ready to blow everyone away, and may have been envisioned as a “just in case” short to slam anti-gay extremism just in case Pence got into office.)

The payoff is, the Hunter’s dad had kidnapped turned into vampires ready to turn on dear old dad, something Dad wasn’t prepared for.  CJ gets to be the hero, and I guess Ian does to. 

The action in the last 5 minutes of the film moves very abruptly and the camera work is quick. 

This is a film where both young men deserve to turn out better than their life circumstances so far would predict. 

I suspect that this has played in some LGBT film festivals in shorts presentations, although I'm not aware that Reel Affirmations has run it.

Haxton's work could probably be compared to Jorge Ameer, who also comes up with novel storylines for with gay material, often with mystery and a touch of horror or supernatural. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

"Las Llaves" ("The Keys"): Appealing gay male short film from Argentina -- about jealousy

The short “Las Llaves” (“The Keys”) (2011, directed by Lucas Santa Ana, is worth a look.

Matias (Luciano Prieto), has abandoned a relationship with a fat man Pedro (Hernan Moran) who, when on the phone, indulges a beautiful cat who kneads him.  He brings home a taller, super attractive young man Lucho (Francisco Ortiz).  After they make out and start the shirt and chest work, Lucho notices the pictures of Pedro and wonders if Matias really is over this other relationship.  (Sounds like Sonny, Paul, and the resurrected Will on “Days of our Lives”.)

The film shows characteristic shots of high rise living in Buenos Aires. 
By Sebasiddi - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

"War on Boys": animated video shared by Milo, from PragerU

Here’s a five-minute Facbook videoBeing a Normal Boy Is a Serious Liability in Today’s Classroom”, shared by Milo Yiannopoulos.  It seems to be part of a group “War on Boys”.'

True the school systems have skewed reading programs and behavioral expectations that make boys into “defective girls”.  One is reminded of a book by Patricia Sexton in the 1970s, “Men of Steel and Velvet”.  This gets into George Gilder territory.

The video maintains boys will learn reading if shown action stories.  (But some boys are drawn quickly to science.)  It was critical of “contemplative poetry” in many high school English curricula.

It also says school need to end zero-tolerance policies.  A seven-year-old boy was expelled for chewing a popsicle into the shape of a toy gun.

It also wants to bring back recess – daytime physical activity in the real world, away from screens or video.  

Friday, November 17, 2017

"Husky Dog Adopts Stray Cat, Saving her Life" : mammalian moms really adopt other people's children

Husky Dog Adopts Stray Cat, Saving Her Life” (7 min), from The DoDo. 

Mammalian moms will take of the young of other species.  A NatGeo film showed a leopard taking care of a stray baby baboon. NatGeo has an article on the topic discussing dolphins. 

But in this little story, it was the maternal attention from a female Siberian husky that gave a kitten, found at the age of  two weeks, the will to thrive and live. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

"In the Stable": short gay film from France stresses "cis male" values with some subtlety

Here is a tender gay short film “In the Stable” apparently set in the countryside in France.

The young man in the formal shirt riding the horse will exploit his clean-cut appearance.

Sometimes “less” means more erotic.  You don’t need to show very much.  Theoretically, this film would stay in the PG-13 territory.

But there is no question, this film appeals to (white) “cis male” gay values, which have suddenly become morally controversial on the far left, as they indirectly oppress people who are less physically perfect.  This presents the ultimate upward affiliation trip. Milo would like this film. 
Note the music, the quiet section of Rossini’s “William Tell” Overture. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

"Charlottesville: Our Streets" premiers at the Virginia Film Festival

While I don’t usually post reviews of films I haven’t seen yet, I have invited guest reviews on a Wordpress blog, and today I wanted to share Rick Sincere’s review of “Charlottesville: Our Streets”, a documentary shown Sunday Nov. 12 at the Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville. 
Here is the panel discussion:

Here is Rick’s review, at Bearing Drift. The film is directed by Jackson Landers and Brian Wimer, and may be viewed as a work still being completed. Rick has the review on his own site here.
Landers also wrote the script.  This is record time for shooting a documentary on an event with some catastrophic results (one death), as well as a shock to many people (like me) who had not taken seriously the idea that “white supremacists” had been “organizing”.

I did attend Charlottesville gay pride on Sept. 16, a much happier event, and much “nicer” people. Nearby, a half-mile away. the Robert E. Lee statue had already been covered. 

The Washington Post has a detailed prospective article on the film Nov. 12 by Joe Helm here
The filmmakers tell me on Facebook that they are looking for distribution channels, for both theatrical showing and DVD / streaming.  I wonder if there will be a push for sponsors for screenings (in homes, schools, condo rooms, etc).  I expect to see the film as soon as it is available and provide my own detailed review on Wordpress.  I would think this film would become a big draw in the indie documentary market. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

"Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent": biography of the creator of "California cuisine"

Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent” (103 min), directed by Lydia Tenaglia, narrated by Anthony Bourdain, aired on Sunday, November 12, 2017 under CNN Films. It had appeared at Tribeca in 2017 and was originally distributed by The Orchard. 

Near the end, Jeremiah, around 75, says “I don’t trust human beings, but human beings do wondrous things.” All artists are lonely.

The film is a biography of the inventor of California cuisine” (not exactly the O.C.) and originated the cult of the “celebrity chef”.

The early part of the film presents his private school upbringing in England and his closet life as a gay man, a contemporary of me.

Jeremiah was cut off at age 30 and had to get a job (so I guess he had privilege) but quickly proved himself in California OJT,

He opened numerous restaurants, in San Francisco (the Star) and Hong Kong.
He would live in the Philippines before moving to New York to manage the Tavern on the Green.

It can also be rented from YouTube movies for $3.99. 

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Vox: "Harassment is Breaking Twitter's Free Speech Experiment"

Harassment is Breaking Twitter’s Free Speech Experiment” is a rather disturbing video by Vox Media narrated by Carlos Maza (who is indeed super “attractive”).

Carlos explains how both Twitter and the earlier Blogger were conceived as open free speech flatforms that would enrich public debate by the lack of pre-censorship and gatekeepers.

But Twitter, particularly, has found that the bullies want to rule the roost by intimidating the “weak”. And there are new concerns about foreign manipulation (fake news) and recruiting (as by ISIS).

Not mentioned is the threat (like from the Backpage controversy) to Section 230, which would protect platforms like Twitter from downstream liability for defamation.

Some activists maintain that specific groups (neo-Nazi’s) should not be allowed to be on platforms at all because of the specific (based on history) political threat they pose to certain protected groups.  

Sunday, November 05, 2017

"The Most Advanced Civilization in the Universe" may account for The Great Void

The Most Advanced Civilization in the Universe” by Aperture (9 min).

This little film presents the Kardashev Scale, proposed by Carl Sagan, classifying civilizations by how much energy they can harness.


Earth rates 0.72 on the scale, not even a Type 1 (controlling the energy on its own planet).  A Type 2 can handle a whole solar system and might build a Dyson’s sphere. A Type 3 can control a whole galaxy.  The presence of “The Great Void” may indicate the presence of a Type 3 civilization. 

Friday, November 03, 2017

Life Magazine recalls the films of the 1980s

Life Magazine is selling a supermarket coffee table booklet. “Movies of the 1980s: A Look at the Decade’s Best Films”.

Among my own favorites in the group are “Flashdance” (which I saw at Northpark in Dallas), “Stand By Me”, “The E.T.”, “The Empire Strikes Back”, and Tom Cruise’s legs in “Risky Business”.

I would add “Cry Freedom” to the list.

In discos I prefer music of the 80s, the old Village Station in Dallas (now the S4). 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Meet the film distributor A24, master of eclectic independent film

The little film distributor A24, in NYC, is indeed getting some attention for distributing eclectic independent films, as particularly explored in this GQ article that interviews some moguls (they do include Harvey Weinstein prior to his fall). 
The company, founded by Daniel Katz, David Fenkel, and John Hodges, has specialized in releasing eclectic films that may not always be politically correct or share everyone’s social norms.

Some of the most important are “Moonlight” (2016 Best Picture), “The Lobster” (2016), “Room” (2016), “Amy” (2016), “Ex Machina” (2015), “Locke” (2014), and “Enemy” (2014).

The company is willing to invest in character-driven films centered around people with unusual, even eclectic challenges and motivations.

It announces itself with a simple logo and no music.  Maybe simplicity is part of the message (I do enjoy the music signatures of 20th Century Fox, Columbia, Universal, Paramount, and Lionsgate, when I get to hear them.) 

Here’s a good article on A24 by Eric McInnis from Arcadia University, here

Friday, October 27, 2017

Some Real Men Won't Survive Halloween

Today’s short film will be about not surviving Halloween, so I didn’t put the name of the short in the blog post title.  When I say "real men", I mean "cis men".  I'm not totally convinced Milo Yiannopoulos would make the cut on his own list. 

Something is about to happen at the beginning of this video, although it definitely seems consensual. Actors go through a lot (most of all Jake Gyllenhaal, the master of fungibility).

Karma RV weighs in on this topic from Britain here.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

"Titan: Saturn's Largest Moon -- An Alternative Earth?": visit the volcanoes, lakes, and sand dunes

Titan: Saturn’s Largest Moon – An Alternative Earth?”, from Space and Astronomy, 13 minutes.


The film gives more spectacular footage from Huygens, as well as realistic artist renditions of landscapes on Titan, with plateaus of ice cut by rivers of hydrocarbon, which soaks into the ice;  volcanoes of water-ammonia ice, big lakes, and sand dunes near the Equator, or organic particles from the Sky.

By NASA/JSC - uppper photo; NASA/JPL - lower photo - File:Titan dunes.jpg, Public Domain, Link

Friday, October 20, 2017

"Why We Built a Cat House"

“Why We Built a Cat House”, by Ministeading.

A young man, apparently in Minnesota, explains how his family captures and neuters cats and releases them.  They defend the territory and reduce the population of wild cats.

But the family built them a house for shelter and gives them about have their needed calories, and lets them hunt for the rest.  The cats tend to bond to them and remember them and return. 
  Why We 

But in South Africa, even larger cats (servals, cheetahs and even sometimes leopards) will behave this way. 

By David Shankbone - David Shankbone, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Weinstein scandal, bad for indie films

The Harvey Weinstein scandal certainly has rocked the movie world, as for how far back it goes, how many women were allegedly abused.

Does the scandal undermine the continued future of TWC, The Weinstein Company, which succeeded Miramax (the remains of the day, so to speak, went to Disney). 

In the long run, this not a good development for independent film.

 Some younger women are saying that he was an "older, unattractive man" only interested in youth. Like a straight Oscar Wilde. There are also reports that he could undermine the careers of women who complained. 
Here is the New Yorker story from October 10, 2017 by Ronan Farrow. 

Oliver Stone reportedly said let's be patient in judging Weinstein, MSN story

Oct. 14: Update:  Harvey has been expelled from the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences, link here

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

"Black Holes: The Arks of the Universe": Can you live inside one, where no one can ever find you?

Life Under a Black Sun” narrated by Jack Daniel of Strange Mysteries, examines the idea (proposed in Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar”, Nov. 2014), that a planet could revolve around a black hole and derive life from the energy difference between the cold black hoke and the ambient cosmic radiation.

In a supplementary video (3 min) for Patreon subscribers, "Black Holes: The Arks of the Universe",  Daniels explores the idea that solar systems could exist inside a black hole, shielded from normal existence, revolving around the singularity at he center.  he video also shows what a Dyson Sphere around a black hole might look like.

The universe will be kaput in a few hundred trillion years.

If you look inside a black hole, you might fall in.  Be careful.  
By Tetra quark - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Sunday, October 08, 2017

"Brokeback Mountain": a brief retrospect

I wanted to recognize here one of the most important LGBT films of all time, that was the 2005 nominee for best picture, “Brokeback Mountain”, directed by Ang Lee. (Focus Features)  it's based on a novella by Annie Proulx. 
In 1963, two young men go to work in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming as sheep herders, complete with horse and bedrolls.  The get to know each other pretty quickly, and twenty minutes into the movie, passions erupt.

Later, Jake Gyllenhaal’s character will utter the famous line, “I wish I could quit you” – a monument to upward affiliation (not, as a reviewer said about my own book, a “monument to convolution”). With t  Heath’s character is married with a kid, and eventually the wife (Michelle Williams) observes them together back in Texas, and he winds up a single dad.

With the stunning scenery, I wondered why Lee stuck with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
I saw this at Landmark’s Bethesda Row on a Sunday night, and shows were indeed selling out. 
By Montanabw - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Saturday, October 07, 2017

"The Bachelor" warns people who inherit wealth about "the dead hand"

This is a good time to recall the 1999 satire of family values, “The Bachelor”, by Gary Sinyor, from New Line Cinema, based on a play by Roy Megrue Cooper in turn based in a 1925 play “Seven Chances” by Jean Havez.

Chris O’Donnell, looking less than a real man in the bod realm, finds himself, as he approaches 30, compelled to get married, procreate, and stay married and stay home for ten years to get an inheritance.  Talk about “the dead hand”.  There is even a moral lecture about sacrificing the self for future generations.

It used to be more common for recipients of inheritances to be required to get married and produce kids than it is now;  in fact we rarely hear about this today. But the film is a warning that inherited wealth can come with real strings attached. 

It's more common that unmarried or childless people have to raise grandchildren or siblings' children ("Raising Helen"). 
This has nothing to do with the 2002 indie film of the same name by Mike Fleiss, about serial dating, which I have not seen.

See an earlier very brief summary on Sept. 19, 2007. 
I have read a screenplay set in Minnesota called “I Hate Speed-Dating.”  Wonder if it will get made.