31 October 2015

Movie Review: Oy Vey! My Son is Gay!

I had no idea that Desmond Child's The Word is Love got an Oscar nomination. Oy vey! This romantic comedy is a mature variation on the adolescent coming out narrative with the urban New York Jewish cultural milieu as backdrop. The Jewish mother is Lainie Kazan so I knew I'd like it instantly although there is nothing deep about this movie. It could have been made for TV. Bruce Vilanch also plays her hilarious closet-gay married brother. Anyways, it has value as ethnographic self-reflection in relationship to the cultural context of heterosexist patriarchy and how that is articulated in different cultures.

29 October 2015

Movie Review: Arizona Sky

The story was really good so the flaws could be overlooked especially since the writer, producer and director are all the same person. The plot is fairly straight forward. Kyle and Jake are best friends and like boyfriends really in Lake Havasu, Arizona where man-to-man relationships are frowned upon. Jake is moving with his father to urban California and they say there sad goodbyes. The movie fast forwards fifteen years where Jake is a movie producer whose life is full of stress and lacks love. He has something of a meltdown with flashbacks to his relationship with Kyle. Jake puts a pause on his life and returns to rural Arizona to find Kyle. (Spoiler alert, avert your eyes now.)

For someone that is fascinated by unrequited love stories, it seemed something far-fetched that two people could live their lives for fifteen years and have something missing in their life that is only found upon making contact again. I don't think I'm outside the norm when I say that it seems that fifteen years just seems to be too long a period for people to just pick up where they left off -- especially if that 15 years ago is at the age of 16, 17 or 18. I can see someone being separated from someone for 15 years but I can't imagine that separation to include no further contact for those 15 years. I'm impatient but I think there's something that requires living in a feudal context where information doesn't travel or travels so slowly.

Anyways, regardless of that, I still think its a great, made for TV type movie that would have been made decades ago in a less homophobic reality.

27 October 2015

Movie: Love or Whatever

This was another movie that I'm not entirely clear how I ended up watching it. I don't recall even reading a blurb about. However, it's just a simple romantic comedy that you'd see on late night weekend cable television, if the protagonist was heterosexual. Maybe they shows these types of movies on television these days?

Corey is a counselor or clinical psychologist -- either way the writing for this aspect of the character was horrible -- who is apparently "successful" and believes he has a bright future with his "boyfriend." He intends to propose to his boyfriend on their date night. His boyfriend freaks out and goes to a bar, picks up a woman and has sex with her. The boyfriend then breaks up with Corey who starts to show he has an intense need for control. The movie works nevertheless. It's light-hearted but has an understanding and studies a particular archetypal theme in modern (gay) relationships.

(David Page as Corey's flexisexual boyfriend) 

25 October 2015

Movie Review: Salvation Army

I'm not exactly sure how I ended up seeing this movie. The blurb that I had read that got me to order the film had indicated that a young man got out of his provincial backwater to go to college but finds his "freedom" to be more than he expected. That may have summarized two of the last five minutes of the movie -- of course, I guess the title refers to the last three minutes of movie anyways.

The bulk of the movie is a slow moving picture of a young man transitioning from child to man in provincial Morocco. He could have easily been a Pacific Islander or mountain tribe Southeast Asian -- although the customs may have been slightly different. He has sex with everyone and has an idol worship thing with his older brother that straddles incestuous. There's a lot of violence within the family household and a clear depiction of gender hierarchies. The movie is entirely based upon the directors previously published autobiographical novel.

(Abdellah Taïa playing himself in the streets of Geneva)

The novel caused something a stir in conservative Morocco although the movie, it is claimed, was widely watched. Only the very last part deals with him at the college/adult age in Geneva.

23 October 2015

Book Review: American Sex Machines

Hoag Levins is managing editor for digital publications at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (LDI), a center within The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He wrote this book before taking that position.

I have known a few scholars who research patent filings to come up with some very interesting theories about modern life. But having never read any final products, it was always small talk among scholars. This book, while not written by an academic, is a great history of sex in America through the review of patent applications.

The most interesting chapter had to do with abortion devices and how recent America's war on abortion and its origins in a discourse other than morality. Like everywhere in the world where abortion is not safe and legal, American women were dying left and right due to the total lack of regulation in abortion practice. Women were sprayed with toxic poisons or mutilated causing death by bleeding. Then it appeared, that pessaries became the device within which mainstream society allowed the need for abortions to be satisfied. However, the president of a medical society decried the abundance of pessaries:

Pessaries, I supposed, are sometimes useful, but there are more than there is any necessity for. I do think that this filling the vagina with such traps, making a Chinese toy-shop of it, is outrageous... if there were few pessaries there would be fewer abortions.

I was not aware that there was a market for "anti-rape" devices. These devices range in style but most of them have the same purpose which is to eject a sharp object into the penis of a rapist -- some of these sharp objects are small and some of them are large.

While I was uncomfortable with the recounting of silicone and breast augmentation devices, it was the penile implant devices that I found to be most extreme. I was not keenly aware of the extend of the erectile dysfunction industry which apparently includes surgically inserting things into the penis.

The version I read was a 280 page paper published by Adams Media Corp on March 1996. ISBN: 1558505342. Lowest price seems to be abebooks.com and amazon.com

21 October 2015

Movie Review: Beira Mar (Seashore)

When I finished the movie, I wasn't sure precisely what the plot was. I then went online to see if I could get some kind of plot summary to clarify matters. Sadly, I discovered that there was no plot to this movie. Loosely centered around a journey that one of the boys takes on behalf of his father for some purpose (immigration documents or something), this is snapshot of a summer of two 18 year old boys having a summer. I wonder if this could even properly be considered an LGBT movie really. But perhaps we are coming to a point now where LGBT becomes an empty, universal category that refers to everything and yet nothing. Seashore, how 18 year olds lived life one summer, a few years ago, somewhere in Brazil.

19 October 2015

Movie Review: Urbania

I recall when this movie came out the first time, it was marketed as a movie about "urban legends." I had no idea that the central character was gay or that the underlying story was gay tragedy and redemption. The story centers around Charlie, played by Dan Futterman, navigating through the city encountering experiences and stories of urban legends. His existence seems to be random at first but slowly a meta-narrative takes shape out of the chaos. Charlie is or was in a relationship with Chris. He is now looking for a neighborhood tambay that he has seen throughout the film in various scenes. And it is the story of Charlie, Chris and this tambay for which the entire story is told. Told 15 years ago, violence against same-sex couples in the urban America seem to be a historical footnote. Yet, 15 years ago, such violence was still a central aspect of "gay" life in urban America.