19 November 2012

Book Review: Queer Japan

Barbara Summerhawk is a Japanese Professor of English and American Literature at Daiko Bunka University. This is one of several anthologies of the stories of Japanese lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. It was originally published in 1998 and was considered the first in-depth view of LGBT life in modern Japan.

I was most affected by two stories. The first was the "lesbian grandma" interview with Nakamura Yu. Born in 1922 out of wedlock, Nakamura was a geisha in her teens during war period in Japan. She was kept as a mistress and ended up in a 38 year plus relationship with one woman. There was something in her frankness and "big view" of her life in the context of the times that I found refreshing.

The other story that affected me was from Kazuo. His narration of how he found his life partner at the end of his high school time and the positive, transformative effect his life partner had on him especially with the non-issue of his deafness was really just lovely. There is also an element of tragedy in this narrative to which I'll let you discover. I hope one day his story is turned into a movie.

There were a lot of good stories throughout. I found the confessionals from Japanese about the problem of shame and community "harmony" enlightening about some of the inner workings of the Japanese individuals that I have been friends with in my life.

The version I read was a 216 paperback published by New Victoria Publishers (June 1, 1998) ISBN: 978-1892281005. The book is written in English. The lowest available priced book is used at amazon.com.

17 November 2012

Movie Review: What Happens Next

At first I wondered whether this would be one of those movies that were made for the big named actress and everything else: plot, set, other actors, were all just implements for the actress to have a clever role, like Vilma Santos in In this Life. Wendie Malick does a great job in her role and I enjoyed it. And this is not one of those movies I just mentioned. The acting was okay overall and I thought the story the film was trying to tell was an interesting one.

When I think of someone coming out of the closet in their 50s and claiming not to have ever thought about their own sexuality in a meaningful way to either be lying or suffering from a major split personality. This film, I think, tries to humanize the experience of someone with a major split in their personality so that he can be a workaholic, then mastermind his own retirement (without realizing it) and then be confronted with his own sexuality.

I thought some of the interactions with the openly gay actor were not well enough thought out but it wasn't distracting. The entire movie is a very light-hearted screwball comedy in some ways and in other ways melodrama. And Wendie Malick is VERY funny. Hope you enjoy.

15 November 2012

Movie Review: 1313 UFO Invasion

I wish I had something interesting or clever to say about this movie. If white boys prancing around naked save their briefs in an otherwise abandoned mansion somewhere in New Mexico or California (it isn't clear) while a scary looking woman stabs them with something that looks like a syringe without the needle and then they become automatons in an otherwise plotless movie, this is your movie.

Otherwise, I'd just skip it. In fact, I think I might skip giving it labels. It's that bad.

10 November 2012

Movie Review: GF*BF | 女朋友。男朋友

Mabel, Liam and Aaron all come from the same rural, provincial town in southern Taiwan. They lived in a tropical paradise among jasmine and camphor trees that is structured by martial law. Aaron is in love with Mabel. Mabel is in love with Liam. And well, if you can catch the southern Taiwanese drift, Liam is in love with Aaron. Liam plays best friend to Mabel who is frustrated by the implied rebuff and finally succumbs to Aaron's persistence.

Mabel, Aaron and Liam then move, along with Taiwan, into the 1980s and join the social revolution contesting martial law in Taiwan at their local provincial high school - grafitti, seditious poems and a flash protest during morning assembly.

In college, they continue the struggle in Taipei joining the Wild Lily Movement and as they move into their adult lives, the close bond is broken by the unspoken truths that have bound them together.

In the final part of the movie, we are taken closer to the present day where as adults with experience in life, the three come together again. Aaron has gone from revolutionary to son-in-law of the democratically elected premier. Mabel has gone from soul mate to the other woman in Aaron's life while Liam has become the other man to a guy he met during his military conscription.

From a technical perspective, problems begin to mount after the Wild Lily Student Movement part of the narrative, but I still enjoyed the movie nonetheless. I was troubled by the ending -- in a good way -- not sure if it was tragedy or final resolution.

In some ways, this fulfills my alternate fantasies of what Jules Bartolome in Dekada '70 would have done if he were gay or if Jun in Muli had a barkada in which he was in a love triangle.

Aaron is played by Rhydian Vaughan who reminded me of a cross between James Duvall -- in the Gregg Araki Trilogy -- and Tom Cruise. His acting was distracting and I never really decided if it was purposeful or not.

02 November 2012

Kakambal, A Challenge

"...but look upon the circles, even the most remote
until you see his seat the King
to whom this realm is subject and devoted...

...And at the midpoint, with outstretched wings,
I saw more than a thousand angels making festival,
each one distinct in effulgence and in ministry.
I saw there, smiling to their sports and to their songs,
a beauty which was gladness
in the eyes of all the other sinners.
And had I equal wealth in speech
as in conception, yet would I not dare
to attempt the least of his delightfulness."

VII Individuation
ןıuǝ oɟ ɟןıƃɥʇ
Leader of the Opposition