17 December 2016

Movie Review: Man on High Heels (하이힐)

This is a strange and super violent movie (its a Korean cop movie and it involves a transgender so what do you expect?). Detective Ji-Wook is like the most kick ass detective ever known to the force. He's a homicide detective who always gets the bad guy. But he secretly is working towards becoming a woman permanently. He resigns from the force so he can become a woman but a criminal syndicate that is looking for revenge and sucks him back into the violence by taking Jang Mi -- who is like his best friend or the person helping him become transgender or something -- as a hostage. It's like a violent Korean police drama meets Beautiful Boxer.

15 December 2016

Movie Review: The Skinny

The Skinny is a great story about Black middle-class LGBT social life. The protagonist of this story is Magnus. He is in a relationship with Ryan. They have pledged to be together for six months before having sex. The story takes place during the weekend of gay pride in New York. Magnus' friends come and visit him. There are several threads in this story that include a drug induced rape of one friend. We also learn that Ryan is sleeping around with everyone while Magnus is being celibate. It's an interesting story and worth watching.

The one thing that I found troubling is the "morning after" pill (series) for HIV exposure. Pre-exposure and post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV exposure is available and in the context of being raped, it sounds like a good idea. However, the use of these medicines is apparently widely used by people that simply don't want to use condoms -- in the countries where these medicines are readily available. But let me tell you why nobody should be taking these as an alternative to wearing condoms. First, HIV is not the only thing that can be contracted that may not be curable. Second, the use of prophylaxis in this way allows genetic mutations to advance more quickly so that that it is possible that at some near future point, there may be no effective treatment for mutated types of HIV.

13 December 2016

Movie Review: Floating Skyscrapers

This is the story of Kuba, a professional swimmer. He has a live in girlfriend, Sylvia, who is disliked by Kuba's mother, Eva. Kuba's got gay tendencies which he acts out at the gym/training center. In one instance, we learn that he likes gay sex but is not ready for the more emotionally intimacy. Kuba goes with Sylvia to an art show and meets Michael. Michael and Kuba become friends and it gets complicated. Sylvia ends up pregnant and Michael comes out as gay. It's a complicated story that is at times hard to follow, but as a snapshot of how gay works its way through into Polish living.

11 December 2016

Movie Review: Do I Sound Gay?

David Thorpe is Southern filmmaker who lives in New York City. He's single and he thinks its because he has a high voice. So he makes a film about it, tries to change his voice and interviews celebrity gay people. He interviews academics and his own friends and family about his voice. He comes to some conclusions.

09 December 2016

Movie Review: Drown

Apparently in Australia, there is a thing called competitive open ocean lifeguarding. This movie is about Len, who is the champion of this competitive lifeguarding world. When the younger and better (and gay) Phil shows up, Len can only bully and intimidate him to repress his own homoerotic desire. Things seem to patch up. After another competition, they celebrate. Alcohol gets mixed into it and we look into the dark abyss of human nature. Be warned that like many Australian mancentric movies, its violent and because there are gays, the violence gets sadistic. Be warned.

07 December 2016

Movie Review: Helicopter Mom

Nia Vardalos of My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame places Maggie Cooper, a helicopter mom. A helicopter mom is a mom who is overbearing and "drops in" like a helicopter on their child's life. When I think of helicopter, its more like Apocalypse Now. The parent thinks they are just dropping in, but actually most of the helicoptering is carpet bombing.  Maggie Cooper does this to her son Lloyd.Because he's sensitive and likes to write poetry, Maggie locks him as gay. She then helicopters by carpet bombing him psychologically until he outs him as gay to his classmates.

The most interesting aspect of the movie is Lloyd's relationship with his hippie father and his own processing of his sexuality. It's mostly light and could have been a made for TV movie.

05 December 2016

Movie Review: Grandma

Lily Tomlin stars as Elle, a lesbian poet who is still mourning the death of her long time partner. The movie begins where she has just ended a short relationship with a young graduate student admirer when her 18 year old granddaughter Sage shows up pregnant. The bulk of the story is grandmother and granddaughter driving through Grandma's long history as they look for a solution to the pregnancy. A light family comedy whisks you into something much more significant.

03 December 2016

Movie Review: To Be Takei

This movie is a documentary about George Takei's life. George Takei played Lt. Sulu in the original Star Trek. Takei is a survivor of the mass deportation and incarceration of American citizens of Japanese descent. He spent a part of his childhood in a concentration camp in the mid-West and then in California. He returned to Los Angeles, graduated from high school and went onto graduate from UCLA in Theatre.

The documentary showcases Takei's life and all the different pieces that make him him -- the most notable being his gay rights advocacy.

01 December 2016

Movie Review: Before You Know It

In the world where same-sex marriage is coming to a country near you, it is easy to forget that the views of people within the same generation are not so easily colonized. Before You Know It tells the story of three gay men who are elderly. It is the story of Dennis, who is a widower and exploring his transgenderness, that is the most interesting to me. He struggles with loneliness while he explores aspects of his transgenderism. His story is in contrast to Ty and Robert -- the other two subjects of the documentary. Ty and Robert have a community while Dennis is looking for one. And the story of this documentary is the story of growing old and what that means in the context of one's history and one's present.

And it is the traces of their stories which come from the other side of the same-sex marriage curtain that will haunt all LGBTs who come of age on this side of the curtain.

30 November 2016

Movie Review: Me Him Her

Me Him Her is a great, light-hearted romantic comedy. The story is about up and coming Hollywood celebrity Brendan. Brendan "discovers" that he's gay and calls his childhood friend Cory to come out to Los Angeles to "help him." The question is, however, what is help. Cory sleeps with Gabbi on his first night and gets distracted by Gabbi from helping Brendan. Gabbi's a lesbian. It's lighthearted but has a good story.

28 November 2016

Movie Review: A Very Natural Thing

This is one of those movies that I had read about but didn't see long ago. It is interesting to watch now. It uses real footage of gay pride events in the early 1970s. The story is of David who withdraws his monastic vows and becomes a public school teacher. David learns about the gay world and ends up with Mark. David wants to settle down into a monogamous relationship like the heteronormative world while Mark wants to be free and open. Eventually David breaks up with Mark and eventually meets Jason, a divorced father. The movie is significant because it attempts to tell a story about homosexuality and heteronormativity and it is set in the backdrop of the early 1970s. We get a glimpse of the gay white male New York life of the 1970s from the perspective of the 1970s.

26 November 2016

Movie Review: Gayby Baby

Gayby Baby is a documentary about four Australian children -- Gus, Ebony, Matt and Graham -- being raised by gay or lesbian parents. It was directed by a woman who was raised by lesbians. The documentary's point of view is the children's view not the parent's view. It is clearly not directed with a directed political aim. We learn about how children move through the throws of childhood and adolescence live in the circumstance of same-sex parents. The answer: about the same.

I found the story of Graham, who has some developmental learning problems related to his birth parents, the most interesting. It may have been complicated by the fact that his dads move to Fiji -- which is not particularly open about same-sex relationships. Graham shows resilience.

24 November 2016

Movie Review: Tab Hunter Confidential

This documentary is based upon Tab Hunter's autobiography. In the book and in this documentary, he confirms the then long held rumors that he was gay. He had been in a relationship with Anthony Perkins, Ronnie Robertson, and his life partner Allan Glaser.  The documentary traces the forces in play in the 1950s in the context of the Hollywood movie industry and how they played out in the life of a gay man. The story is as much about Tab Hunter as the society he lived in and gives us the retrospective account of life as a closet gay 1950s heart throb.

22 November 2016

Movie Review: 4th Man Out

This is a very gentle, light comedy. Adam decides on his 24th birthday to come out to best friends: Chris, Nick and Ortu. He stumbles. But eventually he comes out. From there, the story meanders as best friends deal with the existence of the closet in the post-closet world -- a world of same-sex marriage.

20 November 2016

Movie Review: Mixed Kebab

This movie is a story about Ibrahim, a late twenty-something Muslim in Belgian. He likes people to call him Bram. His parents are Turkish Muslims, but they too were born in Europe but maintain a very strong Turkish Muslim identity. So Bram is gay and he falls in love with a 19 year old young man, named Kevin. He has an arranged marriage wife waiting for him in Turkey. So he goes to Turkey to meet her. But he brings Kevin along and it gets complicated. There's also Bram's brother, Furkan who can't get a job, is discriminated against and radicalizes. It gets super complicated. It's an interesting story about life in Europe, being Muslim, being gay. In parts it gets a little two dimensional about race and religion, but it's also nuanced in other places. Production values are great. You definitely won't feel like you've wasted your time.

18 November 2016

Book Review: The Temple of Perfection

Eric Chaline is a sports writer who lives in London.

This book is hardly an academic tome. This is more of a popular social history of the gym. So why is it here on this blog? Much of this history of the gym involves a history of gay men.

The Temple of Perfection is full of a lot of interesting history and details about exercise and the body in Western civilization and now, because of globalization, increasingly the world. Of course, how we see the body is intimately tied to systems of knowledge and the moral economies that those systems of knowledge operate in. So the book is also a history of the epochs of knowledge.

It is a little disorganized and Chaline spends some time on side details that don't see so important to the overall narrative. He posits three broad epochs of the gym. The ancient regime, the enlightenment and the modern period. The modern period history is the most compelling although there are some gaps between the role of sexuality between the enlightenment period and the modern period. He discusses the Foucauldean account of the two epochs but doesn't really analyze or tie the shift from one knowledge regime or the next, sexually, into the modern gym epoch.

Chaline does discuss how the AIDS epidemic and Western medicine's response. Gay men who had been wasting to their death were stabilized and revitalized by anti-retroviral drugs. To help restore these men to bodily health, they were prescribed steroids. And from there, the gay gym bunny was born. The hyper-masculinized/hyper-sexualized male body vaulted into a dominant image. He is able to place this into the rest of the modern history of body.

The version I read was a 272 page cloth published by Reaktion Books on May 15, 2015. ISBN: 978-1780234496. Lowest price seems to be abebooks.com and amazon.com

17 November 2016

Movie Review: Naz & Maalik

This is a story about two Muslim (African) young gay men - in a secret relationship -- in Brooklyn who hustle in buy-and-sell, over the course of one afternoon have their super closeted adolescent confusion ripped open by a mis-aimed FBI agent who mistakes the secretiveness about their sexuality with some kind of radicalization on the part on the boys. It has its light moments, but it touches on several deep subjects. Being gay in an African Muslim family, being Black and Muslim in the United States.

16 November 2016

Book Review: Professing Selves

Afsaneh Najmabadi is the Francis Lee Higginson Professor of History and of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Harvard University.

I have to admit that it took me a few months to read this book. I couldn't read it straight through. It was written by a historian but is more like an ethnography so it just took some breaks to get through.

Newspapers the world over have published the persecution of gay men in Iran over the years. It's well known in the media world. It sucks to be a gay man in Iran.

But apparently, in a post-modern twist, not all gays are equal. Interpreting the Koran, the Ayatollah allows those deemed under Islamic Republican medicine to be organically transgender, as opposed to mentally disordered (gay), to obtain state funded surgery and are "accepted" into society as opposed to sentenced to death.

Professor Najmabadi explains how this is and explains how this works. I'd say this should be required reading for any student in queer studies or LGBT studies.

The version I read was a 432 page paper published by Duke University Press on December 16, 2013. ISBN: 978-0822355571. Lowest price seems to be abebooks.com and amazon.com

14 November 2016

Book Review: Queer Indigenous Studies

Queer Indigenous Studies: Critical Interventions in Theory, Politics and Literature was editted by Qwo-Li Driskill, Chris Finley, Brian Joseph Gilley and Scott Lauria Morgensen. Qwo-Li Driskill is a Cherokee and assistant professor of English at Texas A&M University. Chris Finley is a Colville Native having earned her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. Brian Joseph Gilley is an associate professor and director of the First Nations Education and Cultural Center at Indiana University. Scott Lauria Morgensen is an assistant professor of gender studies at Queen's University.

This turn in "queer theory" is interesting. I have read for twenty years now queer theory and in many ways, I have thought, does this middle-class white professor realize that his assertions of citizenship, reify the state and its settler colonial framework.

As LGBT activism moved from liberation to assimilation with the consolidation and concentration of capital in LGBT media, it became increasingly complicit in the settler colonialism as it directed its claims towards expanding the group of first class citizens.

Capitalism operates to tear asunder the traditional authority that binds a human to his "natural superiors" and leaves no nexus between humans other than naked self-interest, that is private property and the cash nexus. Of course, this is a great, although incomplete, definition for settler colonialism.  So queer indigenous studies helps to reorient or break epistemologically with the capitalist notion of gay/lesbian in indigenous communities while still allowing space to critique indigenous communities in their adoption (or negotiation of settler colonialism) of heteronormativity and patriarchy, for example.

I found the piece by Samoan painter and poet Dan Taulapapa McMullin to be the most intriguing and easily connected to issues of Philippine nationalism and indigenous peoples in the Phiippines, but all of it was very interesting.

The version I read was a 258 page cloth published by University of Arizona Press on March 15, 2011. ISBN: 978-0816529070. Lowest price seems to be abebooks.com and amazon.com

13 November 2016

Movie Review: Bitter/Sweet (Nigakute amai)

This light romantic comedy is about Maki, an advertising executive, who has loathes vegetables and lives off of jelly-packs and vitamins. She connects with Nagisa, a closeted gay vegetarian boys' high school teacher who is an amazing cook. Through very improbable circumstances, Maki moves into Nagisa's house. They clash as opposites while Maki tries to find a way to get Nagisa to like her back. It is not the deepest movie but it holds the attention of the audience and has a nice simple message. The only distraction is Kento Hayashi (pictured above, right). He just looks so anime-like that he's almost not human and I found myself trying to look for signs of humanness when he had close-ups.

11 November 2016

Book Review: Smash the Church, Smash the State!

Smash the Church, Smash the State was written by Tommi Avicolli Mecca, a queer activist currently residing in San Francisco.

Smash the Church is a collection of short autobiographical accounts of queer activists who came of age in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They include a range of classes and races.

While the subtitle of the book is "The Early Years of Gay Liberation", it may have been more apt to say "The Years of Gay Liberation." I say that because these activists are recounting the part of history when the dominant paradigm was "liberation" as opposed to assimilation.

I came of age when American capital used the AIDS epidemic to consolidate and concentrate the gay media around a few national political items -- same sex marriage being the number one. LGBT activism increasingly became dominated by anti-poor and anti-sex ideologies. The dance club/bar scene as conduit for political organizing because the end point for re-privatizing gay life. The journey because the destination.

Smash the Church allows activists to tell of their early adult life under other dominating cultural conditions in which LGBT activism was liberation activism. A few stories are biographies of those didn't make it to 2009. This is a definite read for those who remain perplexed by the national elite agenda of privatizing and assimilating same-sex desire into heteronormative and patriarchal frameworks.

The version I read was a 256 pagepaper published by City Lights Publishers on June 1, 2009. ISBN: 978-0872864979. Lowest price seems to be abebooks.com and amazon.com

03 September 2016

Movie Review: Half a Person

There is no gay anything in this movie. It's a Canadian road-trip themed white adolescent angst movie that has no real gay theme or subplot. So unless you're into white adolescent angst of the First World, I'd skip. Not that bad of a movie, just not gay or gay related.

01 September 2016

Movie Review: Holding the Man

This is a film adaptation of the late LGBT activist and writer Timothy Conigrave's book, Holding the Man. Published shortly after Conigrave's AIDS related death, he was awarded the United Nations Human Rights Award for Non-Fiction in 1995.

The movie is the story of how Timothy Conigrave fell in love with the captain of the rugby team, John Caleo -- in 1976 Australia. It was somewhat extraordinary how lovey dovey and carefree they demonstrated their affection in school. However, John's parents were totally against the whole thing and threatened Timothy and his family with legal action. John's parents also wanted to take John to a psychologist. So there is tension. In 1985, the two discover that they are both HIV positive.

It was a provocative and touching movie that tied together the tragedy of the AIDS epidemic, adolescent love, fate and heteronormative-style life partnerships.

30 August 2016

Movie Review: Hot Guys with Guns

I think B-movie is a pejorative term but honestly, gay cinema lacks a corpus of B-movies that could fill a marathon of B-movies on a gay cable television network, late at night. This would make a B-movie par excellence. And because of the dearth of B movies in gay cinema, it makes this movie unique and the slow pace forgivable.

Danny is a struggling writer/waiter. He's still sort of in love with his rich wife ex-boyfriend Pip who has racist, overbearing, Valium popping mother. Pip is victimized at a gay sex party. There have been a string of victimizations at gay sex parties lately but the closeted, Hollywood-important gay guys are more willing to have their watches, jewelry, etc., taken and maintain their privacy than to recover the stolen items and reveal their gay identity to the police and possibly the public.

Pip, however, is openly gay. But because the others at the party are not, he asks Danny to help investigate. Danny has been taking a private investigator class to prepare him for something he is in the process of writing.

Anyways, the movie is more about the interaction between Danny and Pip than anything else. The movie goes a little long and some of the humor seems a little abstract, but like I said, it's worth watching.

28 August 2016

Movie Review: Beyond the Walls

Paulo and Ilir (pictured) sleeping together after Paulo gets totally drunk -- so drunk that sex is not possible. Paulo is living with his girlfriend but he keeps visiting Ilir. Eventually the girlfriend dumps Paulo and he moves himself into Ilir's apartment. This doesn't quite work out according to plan and Ilir ends up arrested and imprisoned on drug charges. Their interactions at prison visits is over the top emotional which eventually end at Ilir's request. Paulo then moves onto an S&M guy who he surrenders to to be taken care of.

The movie had a packaged European sketchiness but the acting was great so it may be worth watching on date night to make yourself feel better about your life or if you like looking at white guys.

26 August 2016

Movie Review: Telstar, the Joe Meek Story

This movie wraps modern cultural history, modern music and gay history all into neat biopic. The movie is about the life of Joe Meek, a gay, manic depressive, music producer who was responsible for Telstar, Have I the Right? and Johnny Remember Me. And yes, that's Kevin Spacey, who plays a supporting role.

If you are interested in a snapshot of his life, please feel free to watch the movie. I discovered that surviving family members of some of the guys who dated Meek in the movie were all outraged by the insinuation that their family members were gay.

What I thought was interesting is how the powers of creativity work and operate through someone who also struggled with depression and paranoia. The Joe Meek story ends tragically but it's an interesting study on human relations.

24 August 2016

Movie Review: Eastern Boys

This is the story of Marek (pictured above) and Daniel (back to camera). Marek is a Ukrainian undocumented migrant to Paris and Daniel is a 50 something businessman. Marek is part of Eastern European gang that hangs out at Paris' North Gate train station. Daniel cruises Marek and they agree to meet at Daniel's apartment the following evening.

The following evening, after Daniel buzzes up Marek, a 14 year old Middle Eastern boy appears and pushes his way in asking him how he could try to pick up at 14 year old. Then, the entire Eastern European gang shows up in Daniel's apartment. They take over the apartment and eventually steal all of his belongings.

Daniel eventually recovers. And then Marek appears one day at Daniel's apartment wondering if he is still interested in having sex. You can watch the slow details of this movie but eventual Marek and Daniel become close and Daniel helps Marek disentangle his life from the gang -- with the leader holding his passport.

It involves inter-generational relations so the ending was a little peculiar.