10 July 2012

Movie Review: Eating Out, The Open Weekend

After Drama Camp, I did not have high hopes for this installment. However, of the latter films of the Eating Out franchise, this has perhaps got to be the best and even as a stand alone, it's great. The dialogue is really what makes this movie what it is. It deals head-on with the issue most important to the young gay man, intimacy. And unlike the earlier films of the Eating Out franchise, this does not follow the fairy-tale cookie cutter movie story.

Casey and Zach return for this installment except that they are not together. Instead Zach's new boyfriend Benji has signed them up to go for a weekend to Palm Springs, California for a weekend of debauchery which requires, among other things, an open relationship "for the weekend." The movie primarily follows Zach with his intimacy conflict until, upon arriving in Palm Springs, Casey appears, single also signed up for a weekend of debauchery. 

Because of the conflicts, Zach implies that he and Casey are in a committed (not open) relationship. Casey, having been reintroduced to a previously fat and overlooked high school classmate named Peter, fabricates the story that he and Peter are also in a committed relationship. Casey and Zach have also brought their straight female doppelgangers, Lily (also in Eating Out 4, Drama Camp) and Penny who both have the hots for the only straight guy at the hotel, the Latino bartender/janitor/poolboy.

As an aside, I also enjoyed Brocka's comment on the many who rushed to get married during California's brief period of legalized same-sex marriage.

09 July 2012

Movie Review: Redwoods

It's funny because this has been recommended to me many times and I've ignored those recommendations. Everett (Brendan Bailey) is in a long term relationship with Miles. They are also raising Miles disabled (autistic?) child. However, his life and relationship have stagnated. When Miles and the son go on a trip somewhere, Everett happens to be happened upon by a writer named Chase (Matthew Montgomery). The story is very much like a gay Bridges of Madison County, only it ends with a twist. It slowed down a little in the middle of the movie but it ended at a good clip.

I wonder about the premise of the movie since it doesn't seem like Everett does any real soul searching regarding why his life or relationship has stagnated. The American redwood trees are beautiful nonetheless reminds me of the mountains of Apayao.

08 July 2012

Movie Review: Weekend

This is an interesting movie after Russell parties with his straight friends, we goes into a gay bar and meets Glen. They have a one night stand that turns into a partying, drunken, drug intoxicated weekend where they learn about each other, both their narratives and their emotional character. This is very much a character driven movie since it only very loosely has a plot. I think I've covered everything about the movie so I'm not sure what else to say. It wasn't bad. It's just a character driven movie.

05 July 2012

Movie Review: Kawa

I have previously thought out loud about 'indigenous' experiences of sexuality. Kawa is a cinematic representation of one of those experiences through the New Zealand Maori lens. Kawariki is a married man who works as a manager of his father and father's friend's shipping business. Weeks before his father is set to retire and pass the family mantle to Kawariki, he separates from his wife because he's gay. When he tells his parents, they are adamant that they reconcile especially in light of his father's retirement. The story ambles through the problems a married gay man goes through in the process of coming out in mid-life. And of course, no coming out story would be sufficient without a handsome young man, meteing Kawa's son Sebastian.

Pana Hema Taylor as Kawariki's son, Sebastian

Maybe he looks familiar since apparently in Spartacus, he plays a middle eastern warrior named Nasir who has a gay, man-on-man thing with another white warrior (my research on this topic points me to Season 2, Episode 5).

In any event, the movie is definitely not another Whale Rider or Once WereWarriors, but it does give us a bit of the flavor or the struggles a middle-class New Zealand Maori goes through as a middle-age man, he comes out of the closet.

04 July 2012

Movie Review: The Bubble

I decided to watch this movie because I thought it would be a light-hearted boy-meets-boy and really get together with a little help from their friends. Instead, I was confronted with a modern gay filmic version of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet set in Palestine and Israel. Most of the movie was tremendously textured and nuanced and was able to convey that nuance emotionally. The only criticism would be that the end felt rushed. The last scene had tremendous cinematographic value, it was just rushed into.

I remember once glorifying, in the most convoluted, postmodern linguistic psychobabble terms, the suicide bomber. But through the movie, when you are confronted by its complexities in the life of the suicide bomber and those that are bombed, there is nothing glorious. There is just the naked facticity of existence, of life and death, and the nothingness between the two. It is that pain and how humans negotiate it among and between tribes, hostile tribes that the film speaks to.

This is a heavy movie that requires much attention and thought so I wouldn't watch it on a first date.

03 July 2012

Book Review: The Great Divorce

Ilyon Woo is an American scholar who lives in New York City.

Perhaps you wonder why I am writing a review about The Great Divorce: A Nineteenth-Century Mother's Extraordinary Fight Against Her Husband, the Shakers, and Her Times. In the broadest sense, this book falls within the sexuality and gender studies genre of books I review. I decided to review this bok because  among the RH bill, proposals to legalize divorce, thoughts on same-sex marriage, and the TomKat divorce, I thought that it would be worth posting here. And, I just finished reading it.

Eunice Chapman, the subject of this book, was the only woman to ever directly obtain a divorce from the New York state legislature. New York state was the last American state that allowed for no-fault divorce and that is one of two innovations in family law made in the last ten years in New York state. The other was allowing same-sex marriage.

You see, in the U.S., divorce for a very long time was similar to a criminal proceeding. The petitioning spouse would have to prove that the responding spouse had done some bad thing -- adultery being the only bad thing that permitted a divorce in New York state for a long time. Until recently, couples that had no animosity between each other that wanted a divorce, were required to hire professional perjurers who would lie either as the home-wrecker or witnessing adultery! In a "no fault" divorce state, no blame is assigned and the marital property is divided equally between the parties (what constitutes the marital property and what doesn't is slightly different in every state). Some states that have no fault divorce maintain the divorce for cause, while others don't.

However, in the early 1800s, in New York state, there was no divorce really. When a woman married a man, she became dead legally. Her property became the property of her husband and their children were also his property. This was known as a law of coverture (coverture in a convoluted way refers to a married woman being 'covered' as opposed to single)!

Mrs. Chapman happened to marry a man more than ten years her senior. She had three children by him. But the chemistry was not there and although she resisted his proposals for marriage and then submitted -- only because in her mid-20s, she was starting to enter into 'old maid'hood. Well, her independent personality and his deadbeat personality clashed and he eventually found God in the Shaker variety.

The Shaker religious sect, also known as a the Shaking Quakers (as in Quaker Oats), believed in celibacy, living in communes and sublimating that pent up sexual energy into dancing (originally ecstatically and then ritually) and making fine woodworks like furniture and boxes. They invented some very useful and very common things like clothes pins (for drying washed clothes), wheel-driven washing machine, circular wood saws, cut nails and putting planting seeds in envelope packets for trading and selling.

Anyways, Mrs. Chapman's husband became a Believer and left his wife and chlidren destitute (actually, I think it was the other way around) but the outcome was the same. Mr. Chapman wanted the wife and kids to come with him into his new found paradise. The Shakers were very progressive in gender issues. The founder of the religion was a woman and the leader at the time of Mr. Chapman's becoming a Believer was also a woman. It is likely that Mrs. Chapman might have become a Believer herself except that the part of the Shaker beliefs that their founder was really the second coming of Christ, was too much.

When the Shakers wouldn't accommodate her non-Believing ways, they trying to give her the Amish treatment. And legally, that would have been the end of it. She had no legal existence or standing and her children were his property. But she couldn't accept that -- not for her children.

The book is then how she went about eventually obtaining a divorce from the New York state legislature. You see, when we say divorce law, we are referring to a general law of a state that permits a mechanism for anyone to go through a procedure to obtain a divorce under the proper conditions. But what Eunice got was a special law that simply divorced her from her husband. She was able to use the sexist, misogynistic understanding of women and coverture against the system to obtain the divorce. But she also used the eccentric beliefs of the Shakers against the Shakers and her husband and that is the most interesting aspect of it all. She used the Shaker's own challenges to patriarchy as a means to mount her own successful challenge to patriarchy.

Those who campaign for no fault divorce laws or same-sex marriage laws ought to read this -- especially in a country like ours that is politically dominated by right-wing religious hysterical clerics. Of course, our own jurisprudence includes the story of Alejandro Estrada v. Soledad Escritor which puts the same ideas into play.

The version I read was a 416 page hardcover published by Atlantic Monthly Press (August 10, 2010), ISBN-13: 978-0802119469. It is written in English. The lowest price I found online was used at abebooks.com

01 July 2012

Ariel, A Challenge

Ariel did not live happily ever after with the prince. That is Disney revisionism of the poor little mermaid. The prince mistakes his bride-to-be princess as his savior when he was lost at sea and Ariel stands by and does nothing. The prince even tells Ariel, "You will rejoice at my happiness; for your devotion to me is great and sincere." She watches his night time wedding and when the bride and groom kiss, she knows at first light, she will be dead.

Her sisters have sacrificed their hair to give Ariel the opportunity to return to the ocean as a mermaid. The octopus witch has given the sisters a magical dagger in exchange for their beautiful hair. In order to redeem herself from her previous agreement with the octopus witch, Ariel must stab the prince in the heart and with the blood put on her human feet, she would be transformed back into a mermaid to live out her three hundred years 'under the sea.'

But Ariel does not do that. She entered the marital tent on that ship to look one last time at the now married couple sleeping in a conjugal embrace and as dawn appeared, she threw herself overboard into the sea and became sea-foam, which had been her agreement with the octopus witch. In her new and unfamiliar state she asks aloud, Where am I?

The surrounding sea foam answered: "Among the daughters of the air. A mermaid has not an immortal soul, nor can she obtain one unless she wins the love of a human being. On the power of another hangs her eternal destiny. But the daughters of the air, although they do not possess an immortal soul, can, by their good deeds, procure one for themselves. We fly to warm countries, and cool the sultry air that destroys mankind with the pestilence. We carry the perfume of the flowers to spread health and restoration. After we have striven for three hundred years to all the good in our power, we receive an immortal soul and take part in the happiness of mankind. You, poor little mermaid, have tried with your whole heart to do as we are doing; you have suffered and endured and raised yourself to the spirit-world by your good deeds; and now, by striving for three hundred years in the same way, you may obtain an immortal soul

After three hundred years, thus shall we float into the kingdom of heaven. And we may even get there sooner,” whispered one of her companions. “Unseen we can enter the houses of men, where there are children, and for every day on which we find a good child, who is the joy of his parents and deserves their love, our time of probation is shortened. The child does not know, when we fly through the room, that we smile with joy at his good conduct, for we can count one year less of our three hundred years. But when we see a naughty or a wicked child, we shed tears of sorrow, and for every tear a day is added to our time of trial!

Challenge III: Disney Princesses
 ןıuǝ oɟ ɟןıƃɥʇ 
Manila Bitch 
Orange Wit
Spiral Prince