June 30, 2016 § Leave a comment
Concluding LGBT Pride Movie Month for this year, I have taken good thoughts on stuff I liked and enjoyed whether it’s a Bisexual musical fantasy, a Transgender lover’s revenge tale or an ongoing BDSM Lesbian adventure and all those are done positive and right with nothing tragic in a sense. But speaking of tragic, I am looking at two movies involving the first openly gay man to be elected in office which he is a member for a year before he got assassinated and his career became one of the standing points in LGBT history. The man was Harvey Bernard Milk.
Those two movies I’m looking at are of course Gus Van Sant’s Milk which involves the dramatization of the politician as well as The Times Of Harvey Milk, a 1984 documentary that won an amount of awards and became so significant in both LGBT community and film circles that has been given a Criterion Collection treatment and its place in the United States Library of Congress. Now both Gus and the documentary’s director Rob Epstein have their own history of the movie scene. Gus is honestly a mixed bag for me since he did bring us Good Will Hunting and Finding Forrester but he also remade Psycho and made a movie called Gerry.
As for Rob, I had only seen one movie of his several years ago before this review – The Celluloid Closet – which shows its film history of homosexuality, bisexuality and transgender which he co-directed with Jeffrey Friedman. Other than documentaries, there’s also dramatic biopics that both Rob and Jeffrey did with Linda Lovelace’s life in Lovelace and one for Allen Ginsberg for Howl. Now these two movies are of course differed but based upon Randy Shilts’ biography The Mayor of Castro Street (even in a loosely sense for Milk) and me giving a short synopsis on both films is gonna be tricky but I would give it a try.
First, I’m going with Milk since honestly, it’s the first movie I seen involving him. It focus on eight years of Harvey’s life (as played by Sean Penn) from his first meeting with his former lover Scott Smith (James Franco) to both moving from New York to San Francisco and lead to Harvey becoming a gay activist before he eventually become a city supervisor with the help of his friends including Anne Kronenberg (Alison Pill), Cleve Jones (Emile Hirsch) and others. It also lead to a working relationship with Dan White (Josh Brolin) which became difficult to the point that he at first resigns that both kill Harvey and San Francisco mayor George Moscone (Victor Garber) in the process.
The documentary also goes with the similar approach except rather than playing it dramatically, it involves archival footage and interview from Anne and Tom Ammiano while being narrated by actor Harvey Fierstein. In fact, this one shows a more complete take on Milk as well as the aftermath of his death up until 1984 which involves Dan’s release after his stay in prison. And this documentary did came in a time when the LGBT scene has started to grow not just in pop culture standards but also in a time when AIDS/HIV crisis was happening and it still is but not as big as back then. Honestly, the documentary is good and I can see why it’s critically acclaimed so I think I should get back to talk about the other movie since there’s not much to said here except that I liked it.
So getting back to Milk and I liked it as well because again, Gus is a mixed bag director but he did make good works and this is one of them. I am not much of a fan of Sean Penn due to few controversial stances like him making that Green Card comment at the Oscars and his awkward marriage with Madonna that is so awkward that you can see it in Shanghai Surprise. But he did have good roles like Calito’s Way and Mystic River so I can separate the art from the artist in this sense. And other actors did a good job like Emile, Josh, Diego Luna and Alison. Even James give a good performance and I actually do have plans on looking into his movies in the future and some words about it (including The Masterpiece which I do want to see).
Given that I took on two movies, the only thing I have to ask is how far we go since Milk’s place in history. While the community is progressing to the point where acceptance is growing, there is however faults involved which targets anybody who’s gay, lesbian, bi or transgender as minorities from religious followers and bigots and hate crimes including the recent tragedy that is the Orlando Pulse Shooting. And not since 911 has there been a happening that affects anybody in the whole world and it’s been few weeks but it is something that’s hard to move on.
And despite the negativity, there is still positivity even after the saddened incident with Pope Francis mentioning that Christians and Catholic churches should forgive the community for the past to many publicly come out in social circles like Twitter which includes former child star Mara Wilson and yeah, even me. So maybe we’re still on the path to where the whole world is not yet ready to accept anybody who is out but it is starting to and Harvey’s story is an inspirational one so he may have a senseless death but it won’t be forgotten and will be remembered in San Francisco, Stonewall, Orlando and anywhere else in the world.
In my honest opinion, I can’t choose which is a better movie since both are good so it’s best to check out both and you make your choice which I hope it’s a good for one or both. And there does it for this month, So now I have to get to sort-of normal schedule with finishing up on Zack Snyder’s filmography and a good time since Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice is coming out soon (unless you got the ultimate cut in digital form) and I got one review to finish up so until then.
June 23, 2016 § Leave a comment
Okay, so now it’s time to look at a part of LGBT community that I’ve looked at once before a couple of months back and I am talking about Lesbians. Now how should I start with this without going all “girl on girl kissing is hot” or something? Well, it is the most popular part of the spectrum and gained anything from the “lesbian kiss” episode of any television show to being the most internet search in terms of adult entertainment. It’s hard to argue but we are living in a sexualized world and two girls or two guys either being love or wanting to experiment is in nearly everybody’s mind.
And I already tackled one movie that’s kind of like this but that movie is really forced as a padding sexual content for an alien invasion that is frankly dull. So yeah, that movie sucks so time to look at a positive side of this which is not coming off as wank material and is more of a romantic story. I already looked at one Todd Haynes movie this month so I thought at first looking at Carol but I want something different. Blue Is The Warmest Color? Uh, this might be unreviewable at this point. Heavenly Creatures? That one actually has murder in it. Bound? There’s violence so uh, maybe but again, I’m looking at more positive side. And then I have found something and I have words to explain on why this one is actually good.
What I’m reviewing of course is web comics/graphic novel series Sunstone and focuses not only on the romantic and sexual relationships of two females but also the BDSM side of them. The story is told through the eyes of Lisa Williams, a woman who caught the attention of her love interest Ally through a BDSM fetish fiction that Lisa wrote online. These two connect through online before they decide to take the first step by meeting each other in their own experiment. The thing about that is Lisa has never done this before and Ally is just starting out. Their first meeting went off a bit clumsily with Lisa wanting to go to the toilet but they both eventually gone with it and what start it out as an experiment because them falling in love with each other and try to keep their romantic side interacted with their fetish.
Their relationship has led to their friends being involved like Alan, Ally’s friend and former boyfriend who helps her with the BDSM stuff, Anne, Lisa’s friend who is interested in BDSM and few others. Now before I explain why I think this series is worth checking out, I should bring out the sort-of controversial subject in terms of lesbian fiction – the subject being that it’s a fiction written by a man. The man being Stjepan Šejić who’s already a big scene in Image’s Top Cow imprint including comics like Witchblade and Aphrodite IX. This is his first project that involves BDSM, lesbian and romance that doesn’t involve superpowers and otherworldly adventures.
Now this is not me calling him out because there’s a reason for this – I honestly never seen a story like this before and it really is one of the most interesting things I have read in a long time. I don’t know if Stjepan and his wife (and artist of this series) Linda based this on real life since I don’t know their private life but it felt realistic and unique even though it falls under “Slice of Life” webcomics where it’s reality based but with a little fantastic elements added in. Lisa and Ally’s romance has been handled well, the dialogue is organic and the story is never clichéd. And while it is a lesbian romance and a BDSM fiction, I hardly see Sunstone as those two examples. Instead, I see it as what is quite possibly the perfect love story for the millennial generation.
It makes sense and I am rooting for them as a couple more so than say, Kanye and Kim since I don’t see any form of cliché, sensationalism and the kind of romance that Nicholas Spark writes in his spare time. Now there is points that Lisa and Ally are considered pansexual than lesbians and I could see that as well. Granted, I only read three volumes (and nobody spoil me for the fourth one) but hey, I do hope that these two will have a happy life and ending so will check out more. So overall, I highly recommend this one and it don’t matter if I say it because it involves lesbians or BDSM, I brought up that I liked it more as a love story that’s occurring and you might agree with me on this so yeah, I’m always on look out for something new and surprising and this is one that I’ll go with. Now given that the three reviews I have done has a sense of realism one way or another, I will be looking into the Gay side of the LGBT community and have got a pick that has it but to the point that it’s actually non-fiction so until then.
June 16, 2016 § Leave a comment
NOTE: This following review has been written shortly before the continuing events surrounding the HB2 act in North Carolina. Although, I did not write anything in this review about this bill, I do want to mention anyway because it is a very controversial issue amongst the LGBT community especially those that are transgender. Many are against this bill idea and I am one of them since I know few friends that are transgender and they along with anybody else have their own right to exist to change their own gender and live whom they want to truly be. I’m also not gonna bring up the recent Orlando Shooting in this and next review due to the fact that it’s already been written but the fourth one will have its mention since the movie I’m reviewing is significant not just to what happened but to the community overall and this event is a sad tragedy that affects anyone so my condolences to those that lost their loved ones. They won’t be forgotten by many and hope emotional wounds have been healed sooner rather than later. I’m done with this intro let’s get on to this review as it was originally written.
So after I mentioned I came to terms that I’m bisexual back in my David Bowie obituary tribute, I discover that I didn’t review much LGBT movies in this site. I mean, there’s a few like Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Alan Tudyk as a gay stereotype), Predestination and The Neighbors but the last one is more of a internet-based television series. So outside of possibly Predestination, I didn’t look at one movie that primary involving transgender part of the community and since that boggles my mind on why there’s a lack of LGBT material here, this movie I’m looking at is what really led to what I set up for this theme month.
And the movie I’m looking at is Tangerine, an indie surprise hit that’s made by Sean S. Baker, the man who co-created Greg The Bunny and Warren The Ape. Other than that, he has directed Take Out and Starlet which also got him critical acclaim. Now I first came to know about this movie through a recent best movies of 2015 video by Kyle Kallgren and it caught my interest enough to check it out. I sat down and watched it and… I now wish this was in my best of 2015 article (in the same way on how I wish Snowpiercer was in best of 2014 article).
Taking place in a town in Los Angeles, the movie focused on Sin-Dee Rella (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez), a transgender sex worker who is about to return to her job following her near-month prison sentence. After finding out from her best friend Alexandra (Mya Taylor) who’s also a transgender sex worker that her boyfriend and pimp Chester (James Ransone) is cheating with a cisgender woman. Sin-Dee got furious and decides to go around the streets to find either Chester or the girl with Alexandra briefly on her side before she wants no part of this and goes to do her job.
Meanwhile, there’s a subplot involving taxi driver Razmik (Karren Karaguilian) who does his work before he spent his cash on any transgender prostitute so he could go down on one of them, even though he’s a married father. As he took a little time with his family and his wife’s mother and relatives for Christmas, he tells them that he’s working tonight for Christmas but what he’s actually doing is going to see Alexandra’s show and wanna pay his remaining cash for his crush Sin-Dee. That concerns his mother-in-law who doesn’t believe whatever he says.
Now what makes this movie unique and unlike anything I seen and I’m not the only one to see that. This movie shows realism and raw documentary-like feel that is understandable since not only it is shot in few iPhones instead of digital film cameras but both Kitana and Mya were former sex workers who knew each other for years before Mya got noticed by Sean which in short, leads to this movie to exist. And their performance in this movie is well-done and I hope to see their newfound movie career go somewhere good so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for this.
And James Ransone (or Ziggy from The Wire as he’s best known for) gives his own performance as well. As for Karren, now this one is gonna be critical. Yes, he gives good performance as well but to be honest, his subplot is kind of minor filler. That is just my opinion and I would be fine if his subplot is trimmed a bit but beyond it, there are some scenes with him that is not necessary. Do note that his introduction is not part of it since it shows what civilian’s life in the streets is like as well as the Car Wash sequence which according to Sean, he heard it from Mya plus there’s a point that Sean want to do a one-take involving a car wash in any movie he directs so he chose this one and given the responses, it became a hallmark moment so he chose it well.
So this movie is worth checking out if you wanna see a transgender movie that is very close to reality because this one is really good. I can’t think of anything else to write what I wrote. Okay, since I’m had reviewed one about bisexuality and one about transgender, that only leaves two so next week, I’m looking at the lesbian side of it and trust me, it is definitely nothing like Invasion of the Pod People (which is now a movie I wish to forget).
June 14, 2016 § Leave a comment
Okay, I’m at the point of reviewing something I already reviewed before but in a way, I didn’t do it justice and it’s start it off as a review back then but it then ended with a shoehorned shameless plug to a review on a different site. Granted, I did express my thoughts and talked a bit about it but do keep in mind that this was around the time where I condensed my past reviews as a rushed product. So with that, I’m looking at Southland Tales again but this time in a twist. Instead of looking at the theatrical cut, I’m taking a hand at the “Cannes Cut” of the movie that got a massive backlash at the festival right down to Roger Ebert declaring it the worst screening since The Brown Bunny.
And if I have to look at the movie in a presumed new light, I have to talk about Richard Kelly since back then, I hardly talked about him. Honestly, he should have been one of the most high profiled filmmakers today but after this movie and The Box, he does hardly much and tries again and again to go back to his glory days that is Donnie Darko. I really like the guy and wish he could have done better (and I don’t mean a failed collaboration with Eli Roth) but sadly, he didn’t and we instead live in a universe where Donnie Darko got a sequel that involves Jasper from Twilight headbutt that guy from Gossip Girl.
I already brought up the synopsis on my previous review so this time, I give a recap before I explain what I think of the movie in today’s perspective. Taking place in an alternate universe where El Paso and Abilene were attacked by nuclear bombs, the movie focuses on Boxer Santaros (Dwayne Johnson), an action star who has political connections with his wife Madeline Frost (Mandy Frost) but he also is in an affair with former porn star turned reality show icon Krysta Now (Sarah Michelle Gellar) which is only a small part of a bigger story on itself.
Meanwhile, Officer Roland Taverner (Seann William Scott) is reluctantly working for a Neo-Marxist Group to bring down the Frost family and the agency known as US-IDent that they are in charge of and the reason he is working for them is because they captured his twin brother Private Roland (Seann William Scott), all within a few days of surreal trip to Los Angeles that is heading for an apocalypse that is foretold in a screenplay that is written by Boxer himself and its actions that includes time travel, Justin Timberlake miming The Killers and Kevin Smith being a long-lost member of Duck Dynasty. It’s funny that I’m reviewing this movie again… sort of!
Now again, I don’t want to give out the plot synopsis since it is honestly a confusing piece to explain and I honestly do wanna explain what is going on, I truly do. But the best point about this review is not me talking about the plot this time but instead to explain how I viewed this extended cut that may as well be differed from the theatrical cut. And I am serious to say this but the “Cannes Cut” is really a preferable cut to watch. Granted, it still has its flaws and is nonsensical like the other cut did in some case but I liked this version enough that I wanna watch it again. That, and I can see why Richard has made this movie now because it does has its Philip K. Dick and David Lynch influences here and back then, I was just half-assing it to think that’s cheesy and dumb but it’s not now.
And is there differences in this cut? Well, the only one which is the intro scene which improved a bit but the additions is only at the point of why I can see this being cut. The scenes involving Jeneane Garofolo is really her working for Kevin Smith’s Simon Theory character and that’s really about it. She’s just there to be a usual military working drone and not much is added.
There is also couple of other minor additions including one scene which I do have to admit is in my words, the greatest deleted scene from a notoriously divided movie ever and I’m just gonna screen-cap a part of this scene with this quote involved.
I get that it was cut because it’s a cheesy, unnecessary sequence but it got so much a chuckle out of me that I wish it was in the theatrical cut. So to end this review, I am saying to those to seek this version of the movie out but only by online standards since it’s not officially available and give it a watch just to know if you still like it or dislike it. And lastly, do come back Mr Kelly and hope you make something unique and new the next time around.
June 6, 2016 § Leave a comment
So another theme month opening up (and yeah, I tend to have a habit on making those) and it’s me looking at movies (and a series) that is essential to the LGBT community which I fall into since I outed myself as bi back in my obituary on David Bowie. And it seems fitting because this month is LGBT Pride Month after all so I thought of this for a little while now and look into the good stuff so before anybody ask, no I’m not looking into another Asylum movie involving lesbians or a movie by David Decoteau or even the infamous bad movie that is Ben And Arthur. I’m looking into ones that is generally liked by anybody of any sexuality so I’ll start off with the one I’m part of and I already brought up Bowie so why not start with Velvet Goldmine.
To start it off, let’s talk about Todd Haynes and he honestly is one of my favorite directors. Other than this movie, he did a surreal biopic of Bob Dylan with I’m Not There and even give a haunting but also uncomfortable reality that is Safe. He’s a filmmaker who started on the independent scene this side of Solondz and Linklater that has got recognition even later in mainstream thanks to Far From Heaven and Carol and there is not much to discuss about him other than he’s awesome. So with him doing a disguised biopic on one of my favorite musicians, let’s see how it opens up.
The film opens up in Dublin in 1854 when a flying saucer dropped a baby at the door to his about-to-be adopted parents. The parents noticed the skies and it went on to the point where a baby is revealed to be Oscar Wilde. It then flashes forward to 1960s when a bullied school kid known as Jack discovered an alien brooch previously used by Oscar and the discovery has led him to become Jack Fairy (Micko Westmoreland), the first glam rock musician in this universe. But suffice to say, the story is hardly about Oscar and Jack but it’s instead focused on Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyer) who was the icon of its time being the 1970s and not at all based on David Bowie. Really, it’s such an original character.
Years after Brian’s fake murder stunt, Arthur Stuart (Christian Bale), a journalist and old fan of Slade’s music is assigned to investigate whatever happened to Brian and it opens up his story from being married to Mandy (Toni Collette) to his bisexual affair with proto-rock icon Curt Wild (Ewan McGregor) to his career being managed from Cecil (Michael Feast) to Jerry Devine (Eddie Izzard). The bisexual affair became sour and heavy which disrupts Brian’s music and married life to the point where he decides to fake his death during tour and caused backlash that killed his career and disappeared from public eye.
Arthur came close to the investigation when he meet up with Curt for the second time after their previous encounter in the late 70s that involves Curt’s conversation with Mandy, Curt and Arthur having sex and them seeing a UFO which causes snow. The second encounter has led to Curt giving the alien brooch to Arthur which ended the movie as Arthur might set off to stop journalism and become like his former idols.
Now I don’t think I’ll give my critique thoughts about this movie because really, I liked this movie anyway and there’s not much faults to be honest. I would discuss few things about it anyway. First thing to discuss is the fact that despite it being a 1970s glam reimagining of Citizen Kane, it start it off as a biopic view of David Bowie’s life during this decade. And believe it or not, David himself read the script but didn’t like it enough that changes were made and his music is not used (except his backing vocals on Lou Reed’s Satellite of Love) which now includes a collage of music by T. Rex, Roxy Music and others.
So yeah, it became a pastiche biopic of a non-existent musician that includes Oscar Wilde and Flying Saucers. And it is not the first time Todd suffered with this. Back in 1987, he made a short film called Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story which focused on Karen’s music life prior to her death with Barbie dolls being used as characters. The short film caused Todd to get a copyright infringement suit from Karen’s brother Richard and the movie is pulled out of circulation. However, the movie is still around in bootleg circles and became notable as a cult movie to this day so hope is not lost. And just in case, I can see that Todd brings this up in this movie thanks to this sequence.
Another thing is that other than Flying Saucers which is notable science fiction element, it also fits itself as a dystopian movie with Arthur being the main piece in an alternate 1984 that is governed by President Reynolds (Frank?) and with a Orwellian view that includes armed soldiers in the streets and giant television screens seen in a street in New York that has audiences obsessively watching Tommy Stone (Alastair Cumming) who’s somewhat an it figure in the music scene (and the only one so it depends on whatever happened to Michael Jackson or Sting in this timeline) and Todd pulled off this dystopian nightmare really well.
The last thing is how this movie plays with the fact that I’m myself am bisexual. Well, in all honesty, I don’t see this movie or any other movie as an answer to my sexuality since I have a long personal history but it did have an influence on me. I first saw it years ago back when I was considered straight and it was before Torchwood became a thing and Brian Fuller became a household name. At that time, I saw this movie as a good movie with interesting characters, fun moments and good soundtrack and that’s how I still see it today. Come to think of it and I hope this is not me but do I also see it as a good double feature with Almost Famous!
And that one is another movie with interesting characters, fun moments and good soundtrack. I know I’m going off in a bit of tangent so back to what I’m saying but given my sexuality, there are some influences in terms of media and Velvet Goldmine has that. I already brought up that I am a fan of Bowie but I’m also a fan of Lou Reed and Iggy Pop and probably at the point where I prefer listening to this kind of music instead of modern, contemporary music like Justin Bieber and Flume. I am in my early thirties so maybe it’s that I’m getting a bit behind the times and it is sad that I hardly listen to anything new on radio nowadays.
There’s probably a little to discuss about this movie really but it is worth checking out if haven’t and it’s really an underrated movie. Now I have got one part of the LGBT spectrum done, the only question is what should I look into next that’s part of the community. I know my answer so to hint this up, the next movie is something that I should have watched last year instead of this year.