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.