30 June 2009

Movie Review: Trick

Few movies captured my attention more than did Trick as someone leaving my teenage years as an activist originally from the province. As I complained to my barkada that the movie just represented the false promises of American capitalism, homo-style, I went to see it with every single one of them -- perhaps seven or eight times total over the course of a two weeks.

The story goes: Gabriel is a socially-awkward aspiring gay Broadway musical writer who decides to deviate from the usual routine to get away from the tedium of his boring life. Being fresh meat at this club, he runs into a number of "club-characters" of the 1990s. The dirty old burnt out man, the "open" couple looking for a third, the AA-inspired reformed bad boy, and the stripper. He is overwhelmed and goes home only to find Mark, one of the club's sexy strip-dancers, also riding the subway home. Mark catches Gabriel staying and follows him off the subway. They agree to a quick "trick" at Gabriel's house which ends up getting foiled by friends, pets, roommates and Gabriel's own madness. The quest to trick unfolds into a night of much, much more.

This should have been rated PG-13 except it looks like the MPAA handed over rating responsibilities the day it was submitted to the MTRCB or the CBCP and got an R rating. Too bad because the adolescent that I was would have loved to watch some R action back then. Growing older, I am happy for this movie and movies like it, like Jay Altarejos and Lex Bonife's Kambyo. Just the kinds of unlikely encounters that can bring about resolution to an ethical dilemma without the heavy tragedy.

29 June 2009

If They Were Gay... A Correction

I previously wrote about a fantasy parallel universe (actually twice) having nothing to do with reality and speculated about the kind of celebrity couplings that would exist in the gay world. I previously suggested Dieter Ocampo and Coco Martin as one but I'm changing it here because it didn't feel right then, and still doesn't feel like the right connection. Here is my correction:

Dieter Ocampo and Derek Ramsey

Jason Abalos and Coco Martin

Please feel free to comment as appropriate.

26 June 2009

David Choi

I first ran into David Choi last year, on YouTube, looking for a pleasant and meaningful cover of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah -- needing to hear it from someone other than Leonard himself or the overplayed Rufus Wainwright.

I went on to discover the phenomenon of David Choi. David Choi writes and plays his own music and when doing covers does it all by ear. He has never taken voice lessons and took one guitar lesson before dropping it. Here is the listing of all of his own music from his CD, Only You (just click the name of the song to hear it):

Now David very very rarely grins or smiles in his videos and even had a video about not smiling. However, in this "cover" of the Super Marioland theme with Paul Dateh, it's all smiles. I don't know what to make of it, but it was very warming. I hope you enjoy David Choi the way I do.

23 June 2009

The Burqa

I have to tell you that I am not Muslim and only acquainted with a few Muslims (of the ones I'm not related to). Anyhow, until the U.S. went to war with Afghanistan 8 years ago, I only knew very little about what women wear in Muslim countries and areas. In Franz Fanon's work, I learned that women in Algeria would hide important "resistance" items like guns and documents in their full body/head dressings.

Then, I read in an undergraduate filmic anthropology class about a documentary where a Muslim documentary director had this snooty Egyptian lady who was decked out in aristocratic Euro-wear denouncing the wearing of headscarfs and veils as "barbaric" leading the viewer to the conclusion that she was thoroughly colonized.

That was about it until the U.S. war against Afghanistan in 2001. I have since learned with the media flood on images of Muslim women (and my more adequate perception of Muslim women in the Philippines) that there are a number of different styles. Yet, between laziness and level of interest, I never had a comprehensive comparison on the different styles of headwares of Muslim women.

Sarkozy yesterday said that the burqa is not welcome in France -- as a threat to France's secularism (I wonder if this applies to Christian nuns?). Anyhow, the BBC was kind enough to give a very very clean visual introduction to the various styles and purposes of different kinds of Muslim headwares for women.

I found this little 4 graphic thing to be education. Enjoy:

BBC comprehensive graphic of headware

22 June 2009

This is What Fraud Looks Like, Part II

My Abbreviation of:
Iran Admits Discrepancies in 3 Million Votes

"...the authorities have acknowledged that the number of votes cast in 50 cities exceeded the actual number of voters, state television reported Monday following assertions by the country’s supreme leader that the ballot was fair."

"But the authorities insisted that discrepancies, which could affect three million votes, did not violate Iranian law and the country’s influential Guardian Council said it was not clear whether they would decisively change the election result."

"In remarks Sunday that were broadcast on Press TV Monday, Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei, the spokesman for the authoritative Guardian Council — a 12-member panel of clerics charged with certifying the vote — denied claims by another losing candidate, Mohsen Rezai that irregularities had occurred in up to 170 voting districts.

'Statistics provided by the candidates, who claim more than 100 percent of those eligible have cast their ballot in 80 to 170 cities are not accurate — the incident has happened in only 50 cities,' Mr. Kadkhodaei said in what seemed a remarkable admission."

21 June 2009

This is What Fraud Looks Like

I don't agree with all of the middle and upper class Americans dismissing and minimizing the significance of mass spontaneous mobilizations of people peacefully protesting for better governance. Perhaps they are not familiar with life beyond the arm chair, but regardless of the ideology of the dictator being protested or the protesters protesting, the matter is always significant in my mind. Please refer to previous posts like Angel & Demons or Ban This Blog.

If this is what it looked like around Iranian President Ahmadinejad on the day of Iranian election, any clever politician would have been planning months in advance to stuff the ballot boxes -- just like we do in the Philippines and Hawai'i. (Ahmadinejad comes out of the building at 0:54)

In other video news, Zimbabwe PM Morgan Tsvangirai couldn't keep a straight face as UK exiles boo-ed him off stage chanting "must go" as he told them to "come home."


(embedding was disabled) Other than his struggle not to smile and laugh as they boo-ed him, I really liked his "Let me say here... You'd better listen to me." I don't really understand Zimbabwe politics very well, so it's really not my place, but I can say that if I had just engaged in a "power sharing" agreement with the dictator for the last 29 years shortly after him being responsible for killing my wife, I wouldn't be telling my former supporters (who live under the rule of a democratically elected government) that they "had better listen to me." Know what I'm saying?

19 June 2009

Book Review: Gay Cuban Nation

Emilio Bejel is a Professor of Spanish American literature and literary theory at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He wrote Gay Cuban Nation.

Before I get into the substance of this book, I was totally offended that the University of Chicago Press would print a book with so many fucking typographical errors! Shame! Shame! Shame!

The first few chapters were very fascinating. I know almost nothing about Cuban literature or gay Cuban literary history so that was interesting in itself. However, what was more fascinating was Bejel's ability to weave Cuban national history into the framework of the "rupture" at the end of the nineteenth century / beginning of the twentieth century regarding sexuality.

Nakpil Zialcita's comment about Philippine academic disregard for everything Spanish is quite sad since the epistemological underpinnings of Philippine sexuality were deeply affected by Spanish colonialism! Gay Cuban Nation and other works on Latin American sexuality may be very useful to theorizing the problems of Philippine life. Although Benedict Anderson's Under Three Flags has been attacked, his introduction of Cuban anarchism into the discussion of the Philippine revolution was useful and enlightening.

The only draw back to the book is that there are a lot of unwarranted statements that are made and I felt it was very overintellectual and in theorizing certain symbols missed an opportunity for a deeper emotional connection to some of the work, especial Reinaldo Arenas, for example. Simplifying autobiography as merely an exercise in seeking recognition/validation, I think, misses a tremendous opportunity in the structure of both Arenas' personal psychological conflicts and collective Cuban consciousness.

The version I read was a 288 page paperback published by the University of Chicago Press (September 1, 2001) ISBN: 978-0226041742. The book is written in English with extensive Spanish block quotes. The lowest price was at abebooks.com.

17 June 2009

Movie Review: Schoolboy Crush

I have no idea how this ended up on my list of movies to watch, but I'm glad I watched it. If you have seen another movie starring Kotani Yoshikazu, Boys Love, Schoolboy Crush has a much more realistic (and optimistic) ending. (After further research, apparently in Japanese, these were part of a two part series.)

Simply put, school teacher Kairu hires a teen hustler Sora after breaking up with his boyfriend. The next week, Sora shows up as a mid-term transfer student. Kairu puts Sora with another boy that has a crush on Kairu hoping the pairing would work to keep the focus off him.

That didn't work at all and the movie presents a dramatic and accurate blue print on the consequences of adults entering into romantic and sexual relationships adolescents and young adults -- even if the adolescent or young adult seems to arrogate a dominant position. Young adults don't have the experience or capacity to appreciate their emotions or their hormones.

The story is well written and the movie is well filmed. Schoolboy Crush is available at Malaysian Filem Gay site. Boys Love is also available there.

16 June 2009

Movie Review: Not | Gay

Okay. Now that I've got your attention, "Not | Gay" is a collection of gay-themed short movies: "Cowboy Forever" being one of them. I didn't like Katydid -- the one about siblings. As a whole, the shorts deal with gay guys who end up emotionally attached to men who cannot be emotionally available for them. I liked "Cowboys Forever" because it was pure fantasy and seemingly a South American variation on Brokeback Mountain without the tragedy. "Float" was okay but the cast the wrong white guy for it so his pangit face was a little distracting. "The Best Man" was the most tragic. If you have an hour, they are worth watching (although I'd skip Katydid.)

Heard about it from the Malaysian Filem Gay site: Not | Gay.

Post Script: Gregg Araki's Nowhere is now available through the Malaysian Filem Gay site.

11 June 2009

Movie Review: Lilies

There are few things in a film that are more moving than well-crafted tragedy. Lilies is one of those movies. There is only one woman in the entire movie who appears for 5 or 6 seconds during the opening credits. The story is of an older prisoner giving a confession to the local Bishop. However, once the bishop is inside the prison chapel, he is held captive while the old man and his younger prisoner friends reenact the events of a summer in 1912 in the little provincial Quebecois town that the old man (Simon) and the Bishop (Bilodeau) grew up in.

Simon retraces a love story between him and another young man, Vallier. The end of the beautiful love story is intimately tied into Bilodeau's (then) own strong desire for Simon and Simon's complete and total rejection of those feelings.

The movie is really a clever presentation of a play within a play and utilizes an all-male cast. However, the story and the actors are so compelling that Lydie-Ann, who is supposed to be a young white, French aristocrat, is played by, a very tall and Black, Alexander Chapman, and you do not see him as a tall Black man but as a cunning white French woman. "Oh the tyranny of the truth."

When I was a teenager, my best friend had somehow heard about it and we rented it and watched it -- three or four times. I have watched it a few more times since then over the years and still enjoy it although, as I grow older, it seems that the tragic elements appear earlier and earlier in the film.

The movie is a great "fairytale" or ethical story to guide young gay men away from the destructive elements of jealous and self-delusion.

03 June 2009

Ban This Blog

On the eve of the 20th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre or June Fourth Massacre. The massacre helped propel the People's Republic of China into a long period of unbridled capitalism in its worst re-animations --without the luxury of "free speech" or other silly bourgeois liberties.

To the 7,000 massacred, may you guide the world to liberation in this, your next lives.