20 June 2015

Movie Review: Pride

I was totally surprised and very happy by this movie. While I had many LGB and T peers after high school, none were political. I was the only one -- really. So, what I found most refreshing about the movie is that it was different than my experience in adolescence. The actors made it an emotionally suspenseful and gripping movie.

The movie is about the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners movement who that collected over £11,000 for the striking miners in Wales in 1984-1985. The strike was an utter failure for a number of reasons unrelated to LGSM. The result, however, was that the persistent support for the miners helped to alter Labour's relationship with LGBT rights. It powerfully describes the kind of bigotry and violence against LGBTs that we associate today with autocratic African rulers.

The underlying theme in the story is to show the similarity between the struggles of the working class are not so different from the struggles of most LGBTs. As I recall it, Christian conservatives in the US marketed, very successfully, that LGBTs are, on average, better off economically, than their "straight" counterparts using some kind of non-scientific survey that included the notion that a two income earning household without children has more disposable income than a household with children. Then, whenever LGBT political groups pushed for anti-discrimination legal protections, these proposed measures would be characterized as "special rights." But the truth is is that most LGBTs are less well off than their "straight" counterparts -- especially LGBTs of color and Ts in particular.

It seems quite natural that LGBTs (even those not of the working class) have a natural affinity with the working classes. And this movie does a great job of telling how that has worked out in real history.

The star of the movie (although not billed that way) is American actor Ben Schnetzer. He added a little weight for the role and played the kind of political young homo activist that I would have taken home to my mother! He did a great job.

As an afterthought, I ought to mention that the movie is also haunted by then coming AIDS public health disaster. The innocence of LGBT activism in the time of AIDS is when this story took place.

18 June 2015

Movie Review: The Imitation Game

I was late to watch this movie its true. The movie is about Alan Turing (played by Benedict Cumberbatch), an English, gay, autistic Mathematics professor who was hired by the British military and intelligence bureau to crack the encryption process used by Nazi Germany in their military communications. We learn the struggles his unit went through in coming up with the machine that eventually did just that.

Alan Turing was gay and while that didn't appear to be a problem during the War effort, it was a problem in the 1950s. Turing was robbed by a trick he had met. This led the police to investigate the matter further and discover that he was a gay and had had sex with another man. He was prosecuted and his sentence was to take chemicals that interfered with his body's production of hormones. He died not long after that of cyanide poisoning. It was ruled a suicide.

The movie is part tragedy and part hagiography. In the end, Queen Elizabeth did give Turing a posthumous pardon -- only one of two she has granted in her long reign.

16 June 2015

Movie Review: Tell No One

Mattia is an Italian 20something year old who lives in Rome. He is gay but he has not come out to his parents. He has fallen in love with Eduardo who is from Spain. His plan is to tell his parents that he has found work abroad so that he can live with Eduardo. Meanwhile, however, he has told Eduardo that his parents know he is gay, accept him and accept his relationship with Eduardo. Everything works according to plan, until Eduardo shows up in Rome to meet his parents. Then it gets a little bit crazy.

You think they've figured out all the possible coming out stories to make and you get presently surprised by oneThis is a great date night movie and Jose Dammert, who plays Eduardo, is especially pretty. Haha.

14 June 2015

Movie Review: The Last Year

This could have been a great movie. The concept was good but unfortunately there were too many things that the writer did not properly research that made the Christian conservatives and the school administration look like a caricature of themselves -- interfering with the all important suspension of disbelief.

The setting is a rural Bible college. Paul is a student there. His friends Hector is also a student there. And there is a new student named Alex. It's not clear what Paul and Hector's actual relationship was in the previous year but somehow Hector has been outed as a homosexual and in need of curing. Alex arrives on the scene and makes life complicated for Paul.

The movie deals with these issues of gay life in the Bible college, but then it also tries to address clerical sex abuse. Unfortunately the bad guys in the movie are too caricatured to make the part about clerical sex abuse by the college's dean/preacher believable in the story -- even though it's obviously very true much of the time.

12 June 2015

Movie Review: Out In the Line-Up

This is a documentary about gay surfers. And while it's a coming out narrative, it's definitely not Tan Lines or Shelter. Surfing is about freedom, openness and a relationship with nature. And yet, much of surfing today is defined by misogynism, homophobia and faux-tribalism and driven by the need for corporate profits by surf companies.

Like any surf documentary, there are great shots of beach and wave action. The message is a little stream of consciousness and all the documentary documents is that the surf work is dominated by misogynism, homophobia and faux-tribalism.

It's a first step and as the youth of the world come to lift off the yoke of 19th century sexual repression, I suspect that one day too, being out in the line-up won't mean much at all. Worth a watch if you surf.

10 June 2015

Movie Review: Boys (Jongens)

Sieger is a teenage boy that lives with his older brother and widower father. He is practicing for a runner-relay race at school. One of the other four on the relay team is Marc, who is slightly older. The first half of the movie is a well executed cinematic description of ambiguous and hard-to-control feelings of the teenager. Sieger is coming to terms with the fact that he's gay. He fancies Marc and perhaps Marc has signaled feelings back. Either way, the two forge an intense intimacy. At the half-way point, the four boys of the relay team go for a swim at the local pond. The other two boys leave for dinner and Marc encourages Sieger to stay. He leaves but returns where they continue to play in the pool until they end up kissing in the water, holding onto a log -- see movie poster above.

That shifts something enough where the delicate balance of things comes undone and things get intense -- just like adolescence. You sometimes wonder if the notion of a gay identity is really just a grindr-ization of feeling. That everything can neatly be put into boxes and then compared. Boys tells about life against such grindr-ization. It is an explosion of adolescent feeling which is conflicting, overwhelming and ambiguous.

08 June 2015

Movie Review: Last Summer

When I think of rural places in the US, I think of places like Arkansas. But that doesn't really mean anything to me. I've never been there and I really only create a composite image from the range of histories I have read and heard about the US South. Obviously Arkansas is not Mississippi nor is it Alabama.

Last Summer is told through the lens of this composite image I have constructed. It does not attempt to give a didactic account of Southern living and it does not paint a caricature. Rather, it shows rural Arkansas. Homosexuality and homophobia are both hidden, in plain sight. Feelings there but not spoken.

The plot can be summarized fairly easily: Luke and Jonah have been boyfriends and best friends in this rural part of the US. They are enjoying/suffering their last summer together before Jonah goes off to college elsewhere -- while Luke will remain. The musical accompaniment was pretentious but the cinematography was lovely.  If you don't like formal movies, then you should pass on this -- this was a no-budget/low-budget movie after all.

06 June 2015

Movie Review: Love is Strange

Love is Strange is a slice of life type movie that is part comedy and part drama and it stars John Lithgow and Alfred Molina. In short, after 28 years together, Ben and George get married. The marriage was open and public. And that publicity causes George to be fired from his job as a musical teacher at a New York Catholic high school. And his termination undercuts their ability to pay for their co-op apartment. They are forced to sell and they must live apart while they figure out what to do next. Ben stays with his nephew and his nephew's family. George stays with two gay cops that are friends who live in another apartment in same co-op. It is in this setting that we daily life comes under the microscope.

The first truth is that Ben would have been better placed with the two gay cops and George with Ben's nephew and family. Instead, after a day of grueling work, George comes home to the gay couples daily parties and television watching. Ben on the other hand, retired, spends the day being a polite, talkative house guest that gets on his nephew's wife's nerves. The separation strains everything about these men and their identities. After being together for 29 years, the strain begins to unravel their identity as a unit.

This slice of life and character study movie is definitely worth the watch because love is strange.

04 June 2015

Movie Review: Triple Crossed

TLA releasing movies can be hit or miss especially when it has a psychological thriller component made in the USA. Nevertheless, Triple Crossed surprised. The narrative wasn't too complex and the actors did a decent job -- at least the two main male actors. The surprise at the end bumped this up from a two to a three. In short: Chris returns from combat duty in the Middle East. He is hired by a platoonmate's sister to kill his platoonmate's lover -- who has inherited his platoonmate's share in the family business. But then he falls in love -- or so it seems.

At the beginning it did a good job demonstrating/portraying the problems of combat veterans suffering from PTSD and unable to adjust back into civilian life. Unfortunately, after a scene with erotic massage as a way to calming anxiety, the whole theme is dropped.

I'd put this on the same level as watching an episode of the television program Law and Order. The ending was surprising and I'm glad that got dropped in because otherwise I wouldn't have written a review at all.