22 June 2011

Movie Review: Tan Lines

Australia is a beautiful place. This movie reminds me of the movie Shelter although I think this movie came out the year before Shelter. This is another coming of age movie. Although the entire film is not executed perfectly, the key theme (in my mind), which is how totally undefined the road from childhood to adulthood is, comes into extreme focus. It is seemingly chance encounters that bridges the fragments of our lives into relationship, into transition. Let us call this the strange attractor. That is, a symbol appears upon which the outline of our psyche becomes evident for a short period and the pattern is momentarily revealed in the complexity of one's being.

Life is very much like the ebb and flow of surfing. We do travel a bit off shore. We wait patiently for the patterns to emerge and catch a wave. It is not just any wave but one that we believe we can successfully catch and that we can ride. We ride it to shore and then turn around and paddle back out to wait. Riding and paddling and waiting. Our own subject position may obscure this beautiful pattern. And only when much time has passed and the grains of space have been compacted by time can we enjoy the layers of beauty of our life from the diagenesis of time.

It is when a symbol appears that the shallow surface is washed away revealing this process. This movie does a great job of showing this as one jumps from childhood to adulthood.

21 June 2011

Movie Review: Fixing Frank

If you want to watch craziness unfold over the course of two hours, this is a master mind-fuck movie. It's like a low budget version of Inception but the main character is a tortured gay guy as opposed to the son of a billionaire. The plot:
At the urging of his psychologist boyfriend, Jonathan, an investigative reporter Frank sets to work on a expose of Dr. Arthurt Apsey, another psychologist who is known for his controversial work in 'curing' homosexuality. Posing as a gay patient who wants to 'convert,' Frank enlists in a course of treatment --and soon finds that the sessions stir up unsettling questions and doubts about his sexuality and identity.
I think the short of it here, if there's a lesson to be learned, is that unless you know what you're wagering, don't bet the farm. Of course, I personally believe in the reality of the psyche. I think fucking with one own's psyche is pretty serious, but to fuck with another's is really a bad -- and well, really really bad if you're a psychologist and you fuck with your boyfriend's psyche. It's like sleeping with a client. Unless you're a father of psychology, that kind of therapy is generally counter-indicated.

In any event, it was a thoughtful piece. It may be a little heady for a date movie, but the discussion after would likely be fascinating.

20 June 2011

Movie Review: Freshman Orientation

I was concerned that this would just be another coming-of-age bore like an American Pie type thing with some gay thematic impulse. I was quite surprised. Here's the official blurb:
College freshman Clay (Sam Huntington) impulsively decides to play along when the girl of his dreams mistakenly thinks he's gay. The comic ruse takes Clay to the lively center of the college's gay community, campus activism and harassment by fraternities. Ending up with much more than he bargained for, Clay winds up instigating a college-wide transformation of ideas toward sexual identity and social politics on campus.

It was enjoyable to reflect on my own time in college and how, if I knew then what I know now, my whole life would have been very different. What would have my college life looked like? I probably would have surfed much more often. I think there were whole semesters when I didn't get out into the water. I probably would have gotten an on campus job. And most importantly, I probably would have socialized with other young gay guys leading to age-appropriate dating.

Above is Sam Huntington, the lead actor, and his supporting actor, Mike Erwin. You will actually see a number of cameos of famous people. Rachel Dratch does a great job with her character. In any event, I enjoyed the movie and I thought it had something relevant to say about university politics -- much more than the Porky's and American Pie variety. It has a pro-gay theme but is not strictly a gay movie. It is a light-hearted romantic comedy.

19 June 2011

Movie Review: Boys in the Band

It's been many years since I saw this movie and frankly, I didn't remember much about it. That might be because I saw it when I was just a teenager living in the province. It was before I was ever exposed to urban (or quasi-urban) gay life.

Of course, the movie is tragic and brilliant and, given the way we are told about gay history these days, you would never imagine that the movie came out in 1970 based upon the successful off-Broadway play in the 1960s.

The story is of a barkada of gay guys in New York who go to one of the alpha gay's condo to celebrate the other alpha gay's birthday. The condo owner gets an unexpected call from a "married" friend who cries on the other line saying he's in the city and has to see him. He invites him to the party. This just brings out the worst in everyone and everything we associate with the negative shadow of the gay subculture (caddy, petty gossiping, anima possessed, etc., etc.,)

Robert La Tourneaux plays the Cowboy Tex hustler who is one of the friend's birthday gifts to the birthday boy. Robert was openly gay at that time and he never really got another role after the movie -- which he blamed on the movie at first. And I mention him (in addition to luring certain readers into watching the movie for no other reason) for the point, his life made. La Tourneaux died of AIDS in 1986 -- in his final years, he was taken care of by co-actor Cliff Gorman (to the right of Robert in the picture above) and Cliff's wife.

This is a historical movie of the first order that every self-identified gay man should watch.

18 June 2011

Movie Review: Vacationland

There are many coming-of-age gay flicks and, well, this is another one of them. It is supposedly the late adolescence of the filmamker. There is major chaos in this young man's life in Bangor, Maine. It's populated by ethically challenged teachers, child molesters and puerile, gender-bending alcoholics. Drugs, sex, and boundarylessness. The movie ends at the beginning of the interesting part.
It's like the white American version of Herbs life but probably only half as interesting. I'm neutral on recommending other people watching it. I guess if you want to study the psychology of neurosis in a rural New England town (and its similarities and differences to other places and times), then go ahead. But if you're looking for interesting or meaningful entertainment. I'd skip.

17 June 2011

Movie Review: Touch of Pink

This is one of a string of movies that I ended up watching although I don't recall why I had in on my list to watch. This was a nice surprise. It's warm but it is an excellent coming out story with layers of immigration, tribal-ethnic drama and so forth -- and what can I say, Jimi Mistry is a hottie and he does a great job being an uptight semi-closeted Muslim gay guy from Toronto.
But yeah, I doubt anyone else that reads this blog would agree with me. Kyle MacLachan plays Jimi's imaginary friend, the spirit of Cary Grant. Then there is Kris Holden-Ried who plays William Compton in The Tudors:
Anyways, this is a great date movie or a cuddle up with partner and stay in night kind of movie. The plot is fairly simple:
Alim (Jimi Mistry) moves from Canada to London so he can be out and proud without worrying about what his conservative mother, Nuru (Suleka Mathew), will think. There, he lives a carefree life with his boyfriend, Giles (Kristen Holden-Ried) ... until his mother announces she's coming for a visit. Alim's forced to hide any evidence that he's dating a white man instead of the nice Muslim girl his mother dreams of.
Yes yes and so much more. I totally recommend this for the cannon of top 100 gay films and would recommend as a top film for coming out narratives. I also enjoyed what I considered to be a universal theme of differentiation from the tribe and the impact of coming out may be for someone in a highly insular immigrant community and the secrets we hold for the sake of the tribal harmony.

16 June 2011

Movie Review: Dream Boy

This is not the movie review about that funny romantic comedy starring Papa Piolo. I don't actually recall how this ended up in my queue either but it did. The movie was shot very well, the plot was tightly written and well, it wasn't predictable. It reminded me a bit of my own adolescence. Here's the standard plot summary:
Shortly after his family moves to a backwater Louisiana town, shy teen Nathan makes advances toward his handsome fellow student, Roy, and soon their relationship blossoms into a secret romantic affair. Though constrained by a homophobic community and Nathan's abusive father, things take an unexpected turn when the truth eventually comes out.
This can be a date movie or a snuggle up with your partner kind of movie. But it can also be a bit painful to watch. The tenderness is worth the heart ache.

15 June 2011

Movie Review: Release

I don't recall requesting this movie, but here it is. I first became aware of it about a week ago -- as a trailer to another movie, but its been in my queue for sometime, apparently. In any event, this movie only has a very very vague plot and Wayne Virgo.

If you have to choose between Release and Shank, that has almost the same cast, I'd pick Shank. I also am developing an intolerance to gratuitous violence and well, prison life has lots of gratuitous violence. I also found the love-making scenes a little far-fetched, especially in light of the entire plot. In any event, if you have issues with religion, prison fantasies, have a stake in the euthanasia debate or just like gratuitous violence, this is the movie to watch. Shank is way more violent, but is more focused.

14 June 2011

When Going to Anilao, Batangas...

We go to Anilao every so often to snorkel -- that is floating on top of the water and looking at the marine life below. It can be done and I suggest doing it. You just need to get a boat and go early in the morning. Do not land at Sombrero Island. There is nothing there and its overpriced. However, do snorkel in the waters just off the other side of Sombrero Island (the opposite side from the resort). Just make sure you know how to swim or you use a rope because the current will occasionally come up suddenly and its strong.

We used Captain Carding Masangcay and his boat, the Happy Dolphin. In fact, two out of the three days we went out, we encountered a pod of dolphins -- one day the dolphins played along side the boat for a while. If you decide to go consider
Captain Carding Masangcay
0915-2244178 or
If you can coordinate transportation to Mabini in the early morning, he may be able to suggest a place to crash if you and your barkada want to spend the night and where to find masks, if you don't have your own. There are MANY hotels and resorts along the Calumpang Peninsula of Anilao -- but I have no recommendations. Some have at-shore coral reefs for further snorkeling and some don't. He can perhaps help with your budget.

If you stay at a resort, make sure you leave for your morning snorkel by 7 or 730 am latest. Snorkeling requires a different set of meteorological conditions than diving and the wind and currents become more unpredictable the later you go out -- this is not necessarily true for diving and, well, dive resorts don't fully understand that.

Here are some pictures I shot. I myself was not snorkeling but free diving and these close ups were about 5 and 6 meters deep (except the one below with the sergeant and butterfly fish that's at the suraace). You can still see most of the beauty of marine Philippines floating at the surface with a mask.

13 June 2011

Chaos and Wonton

混沌 chaos

餛飩 wonton

chaos uses (water radical)
wonton uses (food radical)

混沌 chaos
餛飩 wonton

10 June 2011

Movie Review: Is It Just Me?

If I had decided to watch this movie because of its poster, I wouldn't have. Boo to the poster. In any event, the movie is about a guy who can't find true love because he's neurotic. His roommate is a slasher movie actor and go-go boy. He meets the man of his dreams whose a young Texan man through a phone dating service. But then there are some twist and turns when the guy involves his roommate in the process. It has a happy ending and a smattering of men in various states of undress, so, well, it has something for everyone.

This is a date movie or a "cuddle up together and stay in" night movie.

04 June 2011

Movie Review: The Big Gay Musical

This was not exactly the light-hearted comedy I was looking to distract myself with this afternoon. Instead, I got a dose of remembering what it was like to be the only known bakla in my provincial high school. Today, I also happened to come across all these updates about people (some former friends) that I am no longer connected to who have blossomed into very openly gay professional gay activists and community organizers. In the movie, it is a young man who is the supporting lead in the musical that suffers. This musical is all about mocking the cruelty of modern fundamentalist Christian homophobia and heterosexism.

Yet, in the big gay musical of my life, the modern fundamentalist Christian homophobes have been more of a media image that I have only experienced through reports and stories. The cruelty I felt I suffered was at the hands of my fellow young closeted bakla (and perhaps fundamentally, myself, di ba?) who now have prominent openly-gay or gay-centered careers.

The movie was done well and they were able to get the musical parts and the plot weaved together so there was no clashing -- in fact, after a while you almost miss the fact that they show up, back on stage, to sing a tune that's directly related to the plot off-stage. This is not Were the World Mine, but it has some of the same themes. Be prepared if you were the loner, outcast, or ugly girl (thanks, Jewel) if you choose to watch the movie. I wasn't prepared.

Oh, and if that isn't your issue, the movie is full of white American gym bunnies in various states of undress -- on and off stage. This is like the 2010s offering to Trick genre. There is a bit of religious irreverence and critical humor on biblical literalism especially as it has been interpreted regarding homosexuality.

02 June 2011

Pagsanjan Falls

For all you travelers to Laguna, you can read all the blogs you want. Yes, for a while the official rate to get to Magdapio Falls of Cavinti Laguna, better known as Pagsanjan Falls, was P1000. In fact, you may see signs in Pagsanjan and Cavinti that breakdown all the fees and taxes that get you to P1000. However, that's no longer the current rate, and well, they haven't collected enough taxes to change the signs yet.

Unless you are looking to hook up with a young, dark and handsome accredited boat man that will run along side your bus or van attempting to solicit your business, I would suggest setting your course directly for the Pagsanjan Municipio. You can ask the OIC of the tourism desk what the standard fee is and which resorts you can go to to board a boat from without incurring extra fees. We did not do have to do this when I was a child. But of course, Pagsanjan didn't have thousands of unemployed, accredited boatmen waiting for you to embark to the Falls in their boat.

Is Pagsanjan still worth it? Absolutely. Nevertheless, if you are expecting Niagara Falls and you don't appreciate looking at nature, you may want to skip the trip because the journey through the narrow river valley to the falls is 95% of the experience. Get it?