Tuesday, February 27, 2018

"Who Would Choose to Be LGBT and Nigerian?"

Who Would Choose to Be LGBT and Nigerian?”, presented by Ifeoma Fafunwa of the Radcliffe Institute.

The speaker of course explains the scapegoating of the LGBT population in Nigeria as a result of corruption and poverty, especially exacerbated by falling oil prices.

The speaker plans to put this material in a stage play and independent film. About 14 minutes of the film is shown here.  Interviews with most random people on the street show shocking tribalist indoctrination, disguised as religious.  LGBT culture is viewed as “western” and anti-African.  The film plans to focus on a particular family.
The film describes the anti-gay laws in Nigeria, as punishing even attempting to enable homosexuals to meet and congregate, as well as same-sex relations, oddly conflated with language about gay marriage.
By Awinda - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Monday, February 26, 2018

"The Real Dragwives of Prevention": short film on HIV prevention on Facebook Video.

The Real Dragwives of Prevention  (Facebook video link, from Impulse United, is a comedy short film set in a “reality show” mansion about HIV prevention with use of condoms (especially for women or “recipient” partners).

Are these women, or drag queens?  (Most transvestites are straight, by the way.)

It stars Trinity Taylor, Gia Gunn, Ongina, Aurora Sexton, Alusia Maygem Miller, directed by Dan Hass. 
I couldn’t find it on YouTube, by “Real Dragwives” has shows in many cities.  I picked out Perth, Australia here.

Friday, February 23, 2018

"The Russians Are Coming" (upside down)

This might be a good day to recall Norman Jewison’s 1966 satire-comedy “The Russians Are Coming” (repeated, with the second time written upside down). It’s based on Nathaniel Bentley’s novel and William Rose’s screenplay.  Almost another Strangelove.

A Russian submarine gets too close to the New England coast, and when they go ashore toward Gloucester, MA, the townspeople decide that World War III has started.

Carl Reiner, Alan Arkin, John Landis, Eva Marie Saint all shine.

Of course, today, the Russians really are coming.  Time for a remake?
The film was produced by Mirsch and released by United Artists; today the DVD comes from Kino Lorber.

Update:  Hillary Clinton warns that the Russians really are coming

Thursday, February 22, 2018

"Samson": new film of famous Bible story downplays the potential fetishism of the story, and emphasizes the brutal political tribalism of the time

The Biblical film “Samson” from Sony-PureFlix and director Bruce Macdonald renders one of the most curious stories in the Old Testament, at the end of the period of the Judges before the house of David would be formed.

Samson (Taylor James), born into the Tribe of Dan, and his brother (Rutger Hauer) have long been resisting the Philistines under King Balek (Billy Zane) and the hothead prince Rallah (Jackson Rathborn). Samson is known for his phenomenal, almost supernatural physical strength, rather like a super-hero. He believes it comes from God and from a supposed teaching that he must never cut his long hair.

The plot is complicated by an early marriage, but we all remember from Sunday school the more spectacular parts of the story.  Samson falls in love with Delilah, who brings him down, eventually cutting his hair.  That is, not until Samson carries a temple door out on his back. After a home invasion by the Philistines Samson, suddenly weak,  is captured, tortured and blinded (with some pretty brutal violence for kids to see).  But when the hair grows back, the strength returns, and Samson brings down the entire temple.

The story of Samson has always sounded like a proxy for fetishism. In the movie, Samson is tall, and has conspicuously hairy arms and legs, but no chest hair.  It’s easy to imagine the idea that chest hair could have been the marker for testosterone and strength, rather than long scalp hair.  That gets into the entire body shaming fetish that used to be somewhat common in the gay male community (it is less so today).  Likewise, when people go into the Army, it’s usually only scalp hair (which women can have) that gets the buzzcut.  And this is more likely to matter for Caucasians than other races.
The film plays up the tribal values of Jewish society a millennium before Christ.  It would fit into today’s debates on tribalism.  The film also makes the villages and cities in the ancient world look interesting.  The acting seems overwrought. The prince Rallah seems spoiled, like Kim Jong Un.

The film was shot in the Capetown, South Africa area.
Here is the official site for the film. 
Wikipedia attribution link for public domain painting of Samson by Lovis Corinth. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

"The St. Valentine's Day Massacre" Roger Corman's 1967 film about the pre-Depression-era mob seems like a stage play now

I hope it is not too exploitive now to post about the 1867 Roger Corman film, “The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre”.

It’s about a huge mob hit by Al Capone on a rival Bugs Moran gang on Valentine’s Day in 1929 in Chicago.

I recall seeing it at the Varsity theater in downtown Lawrence in the early fall of 1967, my last semester of graduate school there before the Army.

I was surprised by the constricted look of 1929 Chicago.  The movie seemed like a stage play.  But the last scene, the shootings, is quite brutal.

The Fox film is in Cinemascope but the sound is only mono.  The Deluxe  color is garish.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

"It Gets Better": hackneyed slogan leads to irony in this microfilm

Here’s a very short film by David Tjen, “It Gets Better”.

Ellen used to promote this idea on her show in 2010 after the Clementi tragedy. I always thought it was insufficient.

But in this scene, the teen who is “bullied” in the opening scene is already more cis and athletic than the straight boys taunting him.  One of the other boys meets him at a convenience story and is not so straight.' 

As in “Something Like Summer”, this little film then skips five years.  The characters don't age out. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

"Broken Contact": A young man in Amsterdam looks for his lost brother in London after dad dies

Here is a short film by Film Shot “Broken Contact”, by Rico Pel and Jordy Pijper.

The complete film (23 min) is not embeddable but is available here. The trailer above is displayed. 

A young gay man, Jason (Jordy Pijper), 18, is living with his dad in Amsterdam.  When dad gets a brain tumor and dies, Jason, emotionally distracted, starts failing in school.  But he remembers a lost brother in London and goes looking for him.

At one point, Jason says he needs to raise money for his father, but that would not make sense in a European country with single-payer health care, unless dad is on a waiting list and can’t get surgery o time at all.  He is also gay-bashed or bullied in school, which does not make sense in Amsterdam. 

The film (2.35:1) impressive photography of Amsterdam and London.

The film is in English with Dutch subtitles, which make Dutch look very close to English.

Wikipedia attribution:
By Sergey Galyonkin from Berlin, Germany - Amsterdam, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link
I have visited Amsterdam in 1999 and 2001.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

"Elephant": Gus Van Sant's disturbing 2003 film somewhat related to Columbine

I do recall seeing Gus Van Sant’s disturbing film, “Elephant” (2003), at the Avalon (non-profit) independent theater in NW Washington DC in early 2004, shortly after I had returned to the area.
The two perpetrators seem to have been bullied, and one is a pianist (he plays Beethoven’s “Fur Elise” in one scene).  I remember some hint that they are gay and intimate, although some commentators think too much is made of that.

What seems so chilling is toward the end as the two kids (played by Alex Frost and Eric Deulen) seem so calculating in their speech.  That is what seems related to the Parkland Florida shooting on Wednesday, February 14.

The film also presents the catastrophe from the viewpoints of several other students, as “cameras”.

This film was very challenging work from the controversial gay director (of “Good Will Hunting”) and, however provocative, it won a prize at Cannes.  The film is shot 1.33:1 on amateur video (it looks like Super 8).  It seems to be filmed in Portland OR.

There are some detailed reviews of this on imdb.  One of the reviews says it is modeled right off of Columbine.  The film has been distributed by Fine Line Features and HBO. 

Wikipedia attribution links: By Alfred Twu - Own work, CC0, Link (Universal public domain). 

Monday, February 12, 2018

Disney's 1996 "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and a modern day casting controversy about a related stage play based on Victor Hugo's novel

The 1996 Disney animated feature “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, based on Victor Hugo’s novel (which we read in French class in 12th grade in high school), directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, has attracted controversy recently.

In Ithaca High School (New York state) a stage presentation of the novel was cancelled after organized protests of a casting decision.  I won’t analyze this here, but Sopan Deb has a detailed story in the New York Times Friday, February 9.  It got all the way to the Daily Stormer stuff.

In YouTube clips, Esmeralda does appear to be slightly darker than other characters, but it isn’t clear what this means. Gypsies could be of any race.

But what I remember is Quasimodo, the deformed character.  I thought his depiction had much more moral significance when I saw the film in a theater when it first came out.
Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Cornell by Horoiki, CCSA 3.0.  My most recent personal visit happened in October 1970, as I recall. 

Friday, February 09, 2018

"Thirst": Israeli short film shows gay men playing with catastrophe in the desert to become more intimate

Thirst” is a bizarre short film by Israeli director Guy Sahaf, 14 minutes.

Two gay men hike alone in the Negev desert. One of them seems to be leaking water deliberately, and his companion thinks it is a ruse to get closer physically.

The concept, although it’s supposed to be a study in communication within a couple, seems bizarre, like maybe a ritual walkabout. I was reminded of the tragic feature “Gerry” (2005, set in the Mojave desert).

But the men are “rescued” in due course by a straight couple picking them up in a car was hitchhikers..  Furthermore there are railroad tracks they could have followed to walk out.
The film has played in many European LGBT festivals.  

Picture: Mine, Nevada, May 2012. 

Thursday, February 08, 2018

"Love in the Car": experimental gay short suspense film

Love in the Car” (2018) is a curious short suspense film (24 min) on YouTube with no credits.

A young man goes into a gay bar (LA area) and, after dealing with a pushy bartender, gets stood up by a date. He meets a young man who wants to hitch a ride home.  Yup, you know there’s trouble when he asks for a smoke. Yes, this gets to be about drugs. People who don’t behave according to enlightened self-interest and personal responsibility, driven by abstract cognition.

Will the hitchhiker turn out to be another Andrew Cunanan (given the FX series now)?  He certainly make the point that the lead character thinks he is better than other people. “It’s not your fault??” Like in “Good Will Hunting”?  Hardly.

I can say I’ve never picked up a hitchhiker. Too stuck up, too cautious and risk averse. 

Music from Tchaikovky’s 1812 Overture plays in the background.

This film may be a project in development.  It could be blown up into a feature. The writing does create real suspense and the film has some promise. 
The actors seem upper class, like they’d like to play classier characters.  Maybe my screenplay (“Epiphany”) could give them a chance.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

WWE: "The New Day Massacres Tom Phillips's Shirt": what does he have to hide?

WWE, the World Wrestling Entertainment Channel offers a quirky short film “The New Day Massacres Tom Phillips’s Shirt” on May 22, 2016 (before the elections).

Apparently the correspondent Tom Phillips didn’t come prepared well enough for doomsday.  Good clothes were not appropriate. But what was he trying to hide?  Call this boyhood game, "Reveal". 

Monday, February 05, 2018

Max: the"Rescued" Bobcat

Max: the “Rescued” Bobcat” (2011, by Big Cat Rescue) is a narrative about a bobcat sold to a Rhode Island resident as a cub. But when Max was taken to a vet he was reported, and the state took over.

Big Cat Rescue eventually transported Max to a sanctuary near Tampa, FL.  Southwest Airlines was the only carrier that would take him, offering three seats.

Max is “humanized” and seems to recognize and remember people but is a wild animal and would not be a safe household pet when grown (although in South Africa people keep large cats on residents, like cheetahs, who will roam wild and remember their owners and return home.  Servals are sometimes kept as pets and bond to people, but any cat larger than a housecat needs a large  outdoor area for hunting and play.
Attribution link for 2010 photo of a bobcat by Bill Wright under CCSA 2.0 in CA .

Feb. 6

Also note Benji the Bobcat, who grooms a teenage boy.  Again, even if a wild animal, he regards people in a house that feeds him as his "pride".  But he needs acres of outdoor land to hunt on.  

Friday, February 02, 2018

Better-Angels offers video: "Jews v. Arabs" where it gets personal

A young man who calls himself “NAS Daily” provides this short film which a group “Better Angels” shared on Facebook. It seems to be part of a series, “Jews vs. Arabs: Day 664”. I’d add a subtitle, “It Gets Personal”.
A young Palestinian man in his early 20s, physically very attractive, interviews people in Jerusalem very close to the boundary between Palestinian and Jewish areas.

Some people are night, but a Jewish man and his 15-year-old daughter thinks he is out to kill them just because he is Palestinian. 

They speak of Jewish and Palestinian “races”.  There are no such things.  All the people here are Caucasian, white (sometimes slightly darker because of having evolved in a sunnier climate). 

Thursday, February 01, 2018

"The Camp": effective low budget horror (short film) from Britain

The British short film “The Camp” (2014, 16 minutes), produced by Steele and Thomson, produces low budget horror and combines it with personality and drama in a way far more effective than standard Hollywood bigger budget B-movie horror.

Three brothers (or are they friends) go camping in rural England. The youngest of the guys seems the most charismatic has talked the other two into going off the grid.

They pitch tents and seem pretty fluid with their backpacking skills (all the rage back in the 80s when I did it while living in Texas, on a couple of Sierra Club long weekends).  Night comes.  One of the kids ventures out and hears screeching and finds a spider web that has trapped larger animals.

They get through the night but then day brings its own hazards, like holes you can fall into.  And the sounds of a werewolf seem to abound.  Finally, one of the brothers is almost rescued by a friend with a car.  It’s all pretty tragic.

I’m reminded of the early 50s film “The Werewolf”, and also, oddly, of “The Blair Witch Project”.

This is well done horror (4 stars out of 5).  But likeable young men come to tragedy. 

I had trouble finding the film on YouTube by entering the title but it would come up with gay films, although it doesn’t seem to be specifically gay.  I couldn’t find it on imdb.
The boys are played by William and Stuart Thomson, and Alexander Steele.  This seems to be a filmmaking family. 

The brothers should enter this in some short film festivals (maybe DC Shorts in Washington). 

Picture: Bear on Grandfather Mt, NC, 2016.