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).