27 August 2011

Movie Review: Contracorriente

I may be biased in favor of this movie because my life revolves around the ocean. If that is the case, then, I accept it. The movie takes place in a coastal fishing village of Peru. But it could have just as easily taken place in any of the coastal fishing villages in the Philippines.

Contracorriente is the love story that Walang Kawala attempted to be. The main character is Miguel. He is a married fisherman who observes the conservative town's patriarchal traditions. Then there is Santiago, a wealthy out-of-towner who paints and lives in a remote part of the beach away from the town. Miguel is madly in love with Santiago and for quite a long time is able to keep it a secret. But then the heat is applied to the pot and the soup heats up. Miguel is trapped in between two competing view points regarding his life. As he attempts to choose one view point, he is haunted by the other until a decision has to be made.

The cinematography is wonderful and the clear direct exposition on the movements of the soul are more seemlessly revealed in this story of love and life. Definitely a cuddle-up movie.

21 August 2011

Book Review: Gay, Straight and the Reason Why

Simon LeVay was an associate professor of biology at the University of California, San Diego and a researcher with the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

I recall when Simon LeVay's more media-attention grabbing research came out. He published an article about differences in the structure of the hypothalamus in heterosexual and homosexual men in Nature. I also recall some of the more media-attention grabbing research that he discusses in his book.

It's a great book. It goes through the medical and biological research on sexuality over the last twenty years since his IHON3 study came out. I read it as an epistemological meditation of sorts. What stood out the most was the research showing a strong correlation between gay men and gender dysphoria in pre-adolescence. I recall a book chapter in Fear of a Queer Planet regarding how normative psychiatry and psychology have used gender dysphoria diagnoses to try to cure children of the threat of homosexuality. However, it appears from this book that those treatments are ineffective (or counter indicated).

The book leaves unanswered the difficult questions. It's difficult to assess how much of homosexual identity is bound to culture and how much of it derives from the mammalian parts of the brain. The book doesn't answer those questions but clarifies and restates in a very readable fashion the current state of medical and scientific knowledge on the subject matter which seems to clarify: There are gays who were born that way, and there are gays who have been made gay by others -- and there are those who choose to live as gays for other reasons.

This is book is definitely worth reading if you are interested in the current biological and medical research on sexuality and homosexuality.

The version I read was a 432 page hardcover published by Oxford University Press USA (September 29, 2010), ISBN-13: 978-0199737673. It is written in English. The lowest price I found online was used at amazon.com.

11 August 2011

Book Review: Sex and Conquest

Richard Trexler was a professor of history at Binghamton University, State University of New York. He was a strong supporter of "public life" being considered a valid area of inquiry for professional historians.

This is a curious book. I felt, in some respects, I got way too much information. In others, I felt like I didn't get enough. If somewhere were to write a history of early contact Filipinos' sexuality through the lens of conquistador and early missionary writing, the first half of that book would already have been written in this book. You see, the subtitle, "Gendered Violence, Political Order and the European Conquest of the Americas" spends about 75% of the time on gendered violence, political order and European gender and sexuality and conquest.

Trexler looked at everything in terms of power, which is what all Foucauldean historians do, and so I felt like there were times when alternative explanations could be presented for areas where the historical record called for reasonable inferences. Trexler did not do that.

But I did find the discursive practices of the Spanish regarding sexuality, gender and violence to be very helpful to consider the colonial past of present Philippine sexuality. I continue to hold an abiding suspicion than the traditionally understood transgender bakla, fa'afafine, fakaleiti, mahu, hijra, etc., etc., are a response from the collective conscious attitude towards colonialism. (I myself have located this in 19th century Philippine folktales.)

Nevertheless, I do think that gendered violence has a role to play in this, but in one that is slightly different than Trexler suggests. Instead of trying to hypothesize by triangulating from biased documents regarding sexuality, Trexler ought to have looked to sources where sex and gender weren't the main focus like oral histories, folktales, folksongs, etc., to help organize an understanding of pre-contact sexuality and gender.

He doesn't really do that, unfortunately. I still found the description of Iberian sexuality and gender to be interesting -- especially in light of the deep and abiding contact with Muslim sexualities and genders for such an extended period and how that contact was transformed by power (complexes) into a gendered conquest.

The version I read was a 292 page hardcover published by Cornell University Press (October 1995), ISBN-13: 978-0801432248. It is written in English. The lowest price I found online was used at abebooks.com and amazon.com.

09 August 2011

Movie Review: Lucky Bastard

I was slightly nauseous when the movie began. This was primarily from the ill-placed trailer for a thinly veiled porn flick entitled "Run! Bitch! Run!" There was too much slash-and-gore juxtaposed to gratuitous woman-and-man sex. Well, too much for my eyes. I probably could have tolerated the slash and gore or the woman and man sex separately but together in such tightly cut sequences of a trailer was too much.

I feel better getting that out of my system. I was expecting something on the same level as the Run Bitch Run movie. That trailer was actually preceded by several trailers that were (1) very poorly done or (2) the movie was poorly done and showed up poorly in the trailer. The bar was set low, in other words.

However, the movie was actually quite gripping. As someone who struggled with control issues when I was younger and having been surrounded by the control-chaos dyad in social relations from an early age, I can attest that the writer of this movie had some experience in it. Much of the acting was bad.

(gratuitous, yes)

In fact, Dale Dymkoski who plays druggie-pornstar Denny in the movie was such a bad actor that it sometimes interfered with the story line. I recall in several instances where I wasn't sure if he was portraying high or if he was having difficulty remembering his lines or reading from the board off screen.

Nevertheless, it's a love story and the writer does a good job of driving home the point. I was disappointed, however, with the resolution of the Denny character in the end. I won't give away the ending but I will talk in general terms about the structure of the movie. If that's enough to spoil it for you, avert your eyes now.

(but he had brown eyes in the movie, I think)

Denny becomes the shadow -- a trash bin of everything shameful a professional gay man must reject in himself. As disturbing as the regressive and codependent relationship Rusty the main character established with Denny, the porn-star-druggie, it had a tremendous beneficial impact on Rusty. But where does the movie leave Denny, the drugged out porn star in the end? That is the disappointment in this movie. It come so close yet so far away from a satisfactory ending in my part. The dyad of control-chaos is so rich that a love story can blossom and still adequately address the points.

I don't really know who the Lucky Bastard is in this movie (buts its not about a bunch of blue collar Jews killing Nazi's during World War II).

If you previously suffered from drug addiction or codependent relationships, I would watch this one with a little caution.

07 August 2011

Movie Review: Howl

(Borrowed for educational purposes from the NY Times who borrowed it from film maker)

I was probably the last person to see this movie and if I wasn't, then you ought to watch it. James Franco won best actor from the Central Ohio Film Critics Association and the movie was nominated for Grand Jury Prize at Sundance (whatever that means these days).

Growing up as an adolescent in a provincial backwater, I was constantly hitting up against the parochial conservatism of authority figures when in the collective realms that I felt my attendance was compulsory in. I recall once an authority figure, a stern lesbian nun, asking me if I felt I had been born in the wrong decade. It was a curious question to which I replied, no.

However, it did get me thinking that perhaps I had been misplaced. Then, as poststructuralism occupied the temporal striated organization of my neural landscape, I found Nietzsche's idea of the untimely man very appealing and was able to position my entire existence as somehow a poststructural function of the limits of empirical knowledge. I was an aberration of the present epistemology that man operates from and innocently railed against the epistemology, the ontology.

Fortunately, I did not permanently stop at the monument to God is dead, God remains dead and we have killed him. Instead, I continued on the train in the land of conventional or relative truth to discover that at the next station, the absolute, the infinite has transformed and renewed itself -- hurling itself towards its next declination, deterioration and dissolution -- skirting the edge of land where it meets the abyss like a reef skirts the edge of the diffusion of salt water.

From point to point, from line to line, like a line of flight.

I dedicate this post to the Bonsai Hunter, Herbs (happy birthday), Citybuoy (happy birthday), Victor, Manila Bitch, Partee Boi and the Bashful One and the Closet Geek.

05 August 2011

Rudolf Brazda, 98, Gay Concentration Camp Survivor

Rudolf Brazda, 98, who is the last known gay survivor of the German concentration camps (and sent there because of his homosexuality) died.

Brazda was born in 1913. He grew up in the eastern German town of Meuselwitz and repeatedly ran into trouble with Nazi authorities over his homosexuality before being sent to Buchenwald.

Brazda lived in the Alsace region of eastern France after World War II. Earlier this year, he was named a knight in the country’s Legion of Honor.

Read the AP story here.

01 August 2011

Movie Review: Homewrecker

This has been in my queue to watch since it first popped up somewhere as a suggestion. Something about the poster made me think it would be stupid. It wasn't. It was like a made-for-TV movie only all of the significant characters were gay. Dylan Vox is very handsome in his bleached blond hair, for the benefit of my more shallow readers, here's another half-naked photograph of him in bunny ears without the bleached hair.

He's apparently been in a whole host of gay TV shows that I've never seen. The plot is light and well thought out. The story played in a small Hollywood theater for eight months before being adapted to a low budget movie. This can be a nice date movie since the main theme of the movie, when you overlook the distracting sex scenes, is the triumph of emotional depth over sexual breadth.

(another photo of Dylan Vox from the Homewrecker)

Nothing earth shattering here just a small step in the direction of heteronormativity, as queer theorists call it, however, buried deep in the queer culture of Lost Angeles.