Inception: Not An Ordinary Film


    The films Dreamscape and Inception have something in common: they are both about how dreams can be potentially used for harm. In the 1984 film, Dreamscape, a shadowy government conspiracy plan is to kill the President of the United States because of fears that he'll weaken our country due to his desires to start nuclear disarmament talks. They apparently did not know about inception. Fact is, inception has nothing to do with dreams, but in director Christopher Noland's film, inception is the idea that you can plant a thought in person mind through a complicated, conspiratorial process.

    The plot, on the surface is quite easy: Dom Cobb (Leonardo Di Caprio) and his "dream" team must plant an idea in the mind of Robert Fischer, Jr., a multibillion dollar oil company heir. Fischer's father is dying and he is preparing to assume control of his father's vast empire and a competitor wants him to dissolve the companies once the father has passed. That is were the simplicity ends. The film is like a dream itself, with many layers, levels and interpretations. This may be one of those films that requires multi-viewings to come to a better understanding of all the directors complexities. Leaving the complex plot aside, this film joins films like 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Matrix, as films that cross the visual line as we know it and move us into a new experience, at least visually. We have seen some of this before, in Alex Proyas overlooked Dark City and even the directors own, Memento. Inception is a flood of visual images, dreamlike, violent, startling, and frequently beautiful. What a difference thirty years make as the f/x effects in Dreamscape are about as corny as they get, and in Inception, they are state of the art.

    What Inception makes up for in visual impact is lack of an emotional one. The plot partially revolves around Cobb's dead wife, beautifully played by Marion Cotillard (it should be noted that Edith Piaf is very much part of the soundtrack), but there are so many levels and layers within their relationship, that we are never quite sure what part we are watching is dream or reality. This lack of distinction, on the visual level makes this quite unlike anything we have seen (we've seen fragments).

Christopher Noland is most known for reinventing the Batman franchise with The Dark Knight. He also directed The Prestige, a wonderful film about dueling magicians and Insomnia. He will be directing the untitled Batman projects slated for release in 2012.

Film Review: Brotherly Love From Beginning to End

0,,20748904-EXH,00     Outfest came to an end yesterday with a 2nd screening of the Brazilian film, From Beginning to End. Directed by Aluízio Abranches, the film revolves around the relationship between two young half brothers whose intense childhood bond eventually leads to a sexual relationship. Told as a fairy tale romance, FBTE skirts the issue of incest by simply showing parents with concerned frowns and while an overwrought musical score plays not so much in the background.

    While the topic of incest is complicated, this film is not. The director has chosen to tell the story from an unrealistic point of view that denies reality: first from parents who express little concern, to an insulated world that apparently has no schools or friends. The boys who are quite innocent express their bond in an endless display of affection and mutual protection. Their journey into adulthood is oddly told by a series of deaths in the family culminating in an erotic undressing after they are finally alone together to consume their longing. Tensions arise when the younger brother is invited to train for the Olympics in Russia for three years. The last part of the film deals with their separation (for the first time) and how each deals with the absence. In this fairy tale world, there is always a happy ending.

    The adult brothers (played by athletic and model-beautiful Joao Gabriel Vasconcello and Rafael Cardoso are so ridiculously attractive that it is easy to dismiss or even remember that they are related. Director Abranches never detours from his fairy tale, letting the easy sexiness and apparent attraction of the characters make it all seem downright reasonable. This is a world where not an eyebrow is raised, as the two, seemingly oblivious to any concern for the outside world, are always physical. In only one scene, they ask a swimming trainer if their constant petting bothers him— the answer is of course not. The mother, beautifully played by Júlia Lemmertz, is aware that the affections the boy have for one another seem to be suspicious but in the fairy tale world of brotherly love, mothers and fathers never comment. In, fact the mother makes a ghostly return to join the boys for a swim of the coast of Rio.

    Watching FBTE, the idea of incest was almost put on the backburner because of the lack of tension and the nearly soft porn charisma of the leads. That this film is about two half brothers that are in love gets lost in the foggy haze of steamy sex and presumption on the part of the director that we can be pulled in by attractive men and a loud musical score. It could be the story of two boys growing up together, but in this instance, they are related. It is of note that on the same evening, on the Sundance channel, a film called Savage Grace, a 2007 film by Swoon director Tom Kalin, would be aired. On the completely other end of the moral spectrum, Savage Grace is difficult, painful and almost nauseating as mother and young son have intercourse. But the two films are reminders of just how complicated the subject of incest is…they are not all alike. FBTE doesn’t judge the subject so much as punctuate it with beautiful examples, making it a fairy tale, a poem, a love story, easy to watch, frankly erotic, but empty.

Outfest: Writers of Film Panel Discussion

Panel_1 Some of the best events at Outfest are about film and not films themselves. This was true Sunday when an esteemed group of gay and lesbian filmmakers formed a panel discussion called "Writers Under the Influence: The Top LGBT Films That Inspired Us." The panel featured Kimberly Pierce, Guinevere Turner, Barry Sandler, Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman, and Angela Robinson. Hosted by the loquacious film historian David Enhrenstein, the two hour event was an insiders peek into film industry and topics ranged from dream movies to the question of whether actors need to be out.

"It's all about the money," said Guinevere Turner, screenwriter of American Psycho and Go Fish. Financial backing of a film is dependent upon what studio heads predict will be a success, and though films like The Birdcage and Brokeback Mountain have done well at the box office, they have not ushered in a new era of big studio queer productions.

"I think it's going to take one to breakthrough that's probably going to be made on a very reasonable budget," said Kimberly Peirce, director and writer of Boys Don't Cry, "and it's going to be a bunch of girls, or a bunch of guys, just having so much fun, and it's so much fun to watch them, that suddenly you forget the queerness and (Americans) are taken along. And (movie studios) will say, 'Oh, we can make money on that.'" 

For many in the audience, it was the presence of Barry Sandler, the screenwriter of the 1982 landmark film, Making Love  that reminded us how little Hollywood has progressed in the nearly thirty years since its release (though the 1971 film, Sunday, Bloody Sunday is considered by many to be the more daring) as audiences for both Making Love and Brokeback Mountain found the kissing scenes uncomfortable.

On the controversial topic of out actors, all agreed that actors have the right to keep their sexuality private for career reasons. Another Outfest panel, titled "Coming Out in Hollywood," on July 17th will address the issue directly.

Things heated up when Ashley Love, trans rights advocate, writer and an organizer with MAGNET read a statement and announced a meeting (this Thursday) of : "Women Demanding Change Now: The Dehumanization of Transsexual Women through the Gay Male Hollywood Lens". It was not without irony that Guinevere Turner was met with the most resistance as she insisted on calling her transgendered friends, "trannies" as moderator Enhrenstein, remarked that this discussion was wandering into unexplored territory.

Howl: The Review

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It’s 1955 in America. Chuck Berry’s Maybelline is the number one song; Lolita and Catch 22 are the great books of that year. Disney’s Lady and the Tramp is highest grossing film, though On the Waterfront is also released that year. Poet Allen Ginsberg is 29 and reads at the Six Gallery in San Francisco, his epic, hallucinatory poem, Howl, to an enraptured audience. In the audience is fellow poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who the next day sends Ginsberg a telegram offering to publish the poem.

In 1957 the published book was purchased by ­undercover police at Ferlinghetti's City Lights bookshop in San Francisco, who then arrested Ferlinghetti and store manager Shigeyoshi Murao on the grounds of obscenity. This all makes for background for the film, Howl, made by filmmakers Rob ­Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. Presented the other night as the opening film of Outfest, the film tries for the impossible—to make a poem come to life. In this case, with the help of animation and an imaginary interview with the author, Howl strives to deliver something about the man, the poem, the times, and a country on the verge of a cultural overhaul.

The film is divided into three parts: the man, the poem and the trial. Based on a fabled Time magazine interview, Ginsberg gives a long interview to explain the meaning of the poem. The interview, which was never published or located, becomes the device through which Ginsberg speaks to a new generation.

The poem Howl is rendered in animation based on drawings made by Eric Drooker. Best known for his graphic novel Flood!, Drooker had collaborated with Ginsberg on a collection of illustrated poems in 1992. The animations are not modern, but conjure up a dark world similar to the film, Watchmen, where it should be noted, men in both animations are exceptionally endowed.

The other factor in the film is the trial concerning the publication of Howl. At the time, Allen was in Tangier with Jack Kerouac, helping Bill Burroughs put Naked Lunch into publishable shape. In San Francisco, Municipal Judge Horn allowed nine literary experts to testify about Howl, including Mark Schorer, Luther Nichols, Walter Van Tilburg Clark, Herbert Blau, Arthur Foff, Kenneth Rexroth, and Vincent McHugh. They addressed the literary merit of Ginsberg's work and, even more significantly, the poem's social importance. Howl was not "art for art's sake" but deep social criticism, a literary work that hurled charge after charge at the values of American society, just then trying to shake off the malaise of McCarthyism.

The prosecutor in the Howl case was Ralph McIntosh, whose earlier targets included nudist magazines and Howard Hughes' sensual Jane Russell movie The Outlaw. But Allen's poem took McIntosh beyond his depth. He could not understand the poem, except for the dirty words, and neither literary critic Mark Schorer, the defense's main witness, nor Judge Horn, who tried the case without a jury, would help him out. The characters are played by a hotlist of Hollywood actors, including Jon Hamm, Mary Louis- Parker and Treat Williams. The trial ends on a very bright note for culture in America as Judge Horn wrote: “Would there be any freedom of press or speech if one must reduce his vocabulary to vapid innocuous euphemism? An author should be real in treating his subject and be allowed to express his thoughts and ideas in his own words.” The Outfest audience broke into cheers at this point.

Written and directed by veteran documentary filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, Howl, the movie was eight years in the making. Originally conceived as a documentary, the filming took on a life of its own and evolved into a full length film. The film stars James Franco as Allen Ginsberg and his performance is excellent. For anyone knowledgeable of this time, the film presents all the influences in Ginsberg life, from Jack Kerouac to Neal Cassidy, though strangely, the actors playing these roles lack any charisma. The other pivotal figure is Peter Orlovsky, who was Ginsberg’s life party for over 40 years. Played by Aaron Tveit (he was Zachary Boule in the last season of Ugly Betty), and at some point in the film, they feel like Bruce Weber models, shot in beautiful black and white, as both Franco and Tveit can be considered nothing less than beauties. There is little sexuality in the film, but they are captured in a Hollywood kiss moment (all lips, no tongue).

The film is 90 minutes but it sometimes feels longer for despite the great acting, the dark and brooding animation, the fabulous soundtrack by Carter Burwell, the film is at its essence, academic.

While not being completely true regarding the facts at this moment in time, the filmmakers would have been wise to explore the Orlovsky/Ginsberg relation a little deeper. While courtroom dramas are nearly always compelling, there is nothing like a backdrop of a love story and in this case, it was there, it happened and they remained partners for a lifetime. In many ways, this film hints at culture, especially for gay men, of what it was like to be a gay man in the 50s. How audiences will react to a long treatise on a single poem will be known when the film is released in October.

Out today on DVD: A Single Man

Gallery_photo Certainly one the most elegant gay films ever made, Tom Ford's adaption of Christopher Isherwood's novel, A Single Man, should make film schools nervous. In what has to be one of the most startling debuts as a director, fashion designer Tom Ford manages to create a complex mélange of style and substance with a sexy blend of images and sound—all with the confidence of someone making movies for a long time.

The 1964 novel is about an English professor in Los Angeles who has lost his lover of sixteen years in an auto accident. Forward eight months and professor George Falconer (Colin Firth) is preparing to commit suicide. Everything about Falconer is elegant—his dress, his house, his car and even his gun as he prepares for his own death as he neatly lays out everything, leaving notes for his funeral, noting that his tie should be a Windsor knot. On an ordinary day, George delivers a lecture on minorities and fear, and is confronted by a beautiful student (About a Boy's Nicholas Hoult), a Spanish rent boy and the peculiar musings of a neighbors young daughter in a bank. And yet is taken back by memories of his lover Jim (Matthew Goode) through the most seemingly inconsequential of moments— a random encounter with a dog, for example.

His best friend Charlotte (Julianne Moore) is equally elegant and lonely as the two recall their momentary sexual relationship that she has never quite gotten over. She is torn between sympathy for him and regret about what might have been if he hadn’t turned into a “fucking poof”. Suffice to say we see the return of the beautiful student and George's life takes on a new clarity and calamity—all beautifully art directed and photographed and accompanied by a lush score by Abel Korzeniowski.

Certainly Tom Ford pays homage to directors Ang Lee and Todd Haynes, but it is Douglas Sirk who most comes to mind as the score and visuals seem to rise up in melodramatic fashion. Ford stays just shy of "fashion" delivering an emotional film that is completely homoerotic in both sound and silences. It is Colin Firth, who is already winning many film awards, that singularly holds the film together in a performance that is as complex as it is stylish. Firth moves through a series of emotions like a hand in water and for a film that takes place in 1962, his homosexuality is shockingly confidant. But that would be Christopher Isherwood after all. In a reminder of the inequality of that period, George is told he cannot attend the funeral of his dead partner, because it is "for family only."  How we deal with grief is always an entirely private matter and indeed, the ending may be a little convenient, but the journey getting there is one beautiful ride.

 It would be easy to dismiss Tom Ford as there is little evidence in his past triumphs to indicate that his directorial debut would be so accomplished. He was the creative director for Gucci from1994 to 2004. His ad campaigns have have been famous and provocative for pushing advertising to a new level of creativity in artistic expression and commercial impact. Leaving Gucci he created his own fashion house, Tom Ford and concentrated his efforts on menswear, beauty, eyewear, and both men and women's accessories. All highly successful. One would have easily thought his first film would be like a commercial, but that is not the case, at all. Yes, there are stylish, cinematic moments that hint at his past, but the sincerity and honesty that are revealed, due in great part to magnificent performances and a dazzling musical score, all reveal Tom Ford to be someone we did not really know.

DVD and Blu-ray extras include a making-of featurette and an audio commentary by Ford.

Murder in Fashion

Having escaped any media attention, "Murder in Fashion", a film about Andrew Cunanan and the murder of  fashion designer Gianni Versace. opens today on both coasts. Made in 2008 and originally entitled "Fashion Victim", the film sounds like a joke. The film is described like this:

In this ripped-from-the-headlines drama, gay party regular and aging boy toy Andrew Cunanan is forced to face the fact that his looks are fading and he is getting older, but he refuses to grow old gracefully. Instead, Andrew begins a murderous journey across the country from San Diego to Miami, killing anyone that gets in his way. FBI agent Harry Spalding is close on his tail, but even he cannot stop Cunanan from killing fashion designer Gianni Versace before shooting himself in the head on a Miami houseboat.
In a New York Times review the real culprit of Cunanan's wrath was "the aesthetic tyranny of gay culture" as a 27-year old hustler frets over his "fading looks and softening six-pack."
Actor Jonathan Trent gets the chore of playing Cunanan and delivering lines like “I’m pretty but I’m deadly” with deadly earnest.
Regent Releasing/Here Films is opening a trio of feature-length films for a film series: WATERCOLORS, MISCONCEPTIONS, and MURDER IN FASHION. The films will be running on a split triple bill starting Jan. 22 in New York at the Quad and in Los Angeles at Laemmle’s Sunset 5, and starting Jan. 29 in San Francisco at the Roxie.

Ginsberg's Howl resounds on film

James Franco as Allen Ginsberg in Howl
Ginsberg's Howl resounds on filmIn 1955, Allen Ginsberg performed a poem about sex, drugs and race that became a battlecry for the US counterculture. It also led to an obscenity trial. B Ruby Rich on a new film about the epic Howl.
On 7 October 1955, at the Six Gallery in San Francisco, Allen Ginsberg brought the house down with a performance of his hallucinatory new poem, Howl. Among other things, this epic work in four parts dealt with drugs, mental illness, religion, homosexuality – the fears and preoccupations of a generation. Jack Kerouac and Lawrence Ferlinghetti were both in the audience. Ginsberg was 29 years old. Also present was the future choreographer and film-maker Yvonne Rainer. A teenager at the time, Rainer still clearly remembers that night: "Ginsberg, quite drunk, clean-shaven, in black suit and tie-less white shirt, holding a jug of rot-gut red wine, intoning and chanting the poem." Back then, the beats were in thrall to the jazz world; Ginsberg himself explained his poem as akin to "bop refrains".
Eight years ago, film-makers Rob ­Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman received a call from Ginsberg's estate asking them to make a documentary about Howl. With the 50th anniversary of the poem's publication (and subsequent obscenity trial) approaching, the estate wanted the best. Epstein and Friedman have, between them, won Oscars and Emmys for a ­lifetime of work including The Times of Harvey Milk, about the first openly gay man elected to public office in California; and The Celluloid Closet, based on Vito Russo's book about screen depictions of homosexuality. Ginsberg's estate knew the pair could deliver an in-depth documentary on time and on budget; plus, they were queer enough to understand the social pressures that formed the poet.
Story continues here


Art House or Porn—You decide

Fracoise Sagat, porn, Bruce LaBruceThe LA Weekly reports from the set of Bruce LaBruce's new film "Deep Zombie Throat"

There's been serious miscommunication. Some of the porn stars hired for supporting roles in writer-director Bruce LaBruce’s gay-porn zombie film, L.A. Zombie, haven’t been told by producers that they are expected to actually have sex on film. Enticed by the prospect of working with LaBruce (Hustler White; No Skin off My Ass), they’ve signed on for what they thought would be art-house fare with soft-core overtones. The crossed wires come to light when the director, with cameras rolling, calls for a scantily clad, muscle-bound foursome (porn stars Matthew Rush, Erik Rhodes, Francesco D’Macho and Adam Killian) to segue out of their choreographed action scene and begin screwing. Instead, all action momentarily stops and the actors fall silent.

“Uh, we gotta douche and everything,” says Killian finally.

“You haven’t done that yet?” asks LaBruce quietly.

“No,” answers Killian. “I didn’t think we’d be getting fucked in this scene.”

“Okay,” replies LaBruce. “Let’s take a break and take care of that.”

Read the entire story here. To see all of Francoise Sagat. Oh la la!

Nine: it doesn't feel Italian

If only Rob Marshall had listened to this song, Nine might have been a better movie. It doesn't help that the score for Nine with the exception of three songs, is just bad, and as it tries desperately to achieve some Kander and Ebb heights,it remains at the foothills sounding entirely too German for a movie that should have been quintessentially Italian. Nine tells the story of Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis), a world famous film director as he confronts an epic mid-life crisis with both creative and personal problems. He must balance the many women of his life, including his wife (Marion Cotillard), his mistress (Penelope Cruz), his film star muse (Nicole Kidman), his confidant and costume designer (Judi Dench), an American fashion journalist (Kate Hudson), the whore from his youth (Fergie) and his mother (Sophia Loren). Casting Daniel Day-Lewis, who is a great actor, as an anguished Italian director simply doesn't work. Day-Lewis projects an intellectual quality in every role, and that is exactly not what is needed here. The same can be be said of the other cast members, especially Nicole Kidman, who doesn't have anything remotely Italian about her. But the real fault is in the direction of this movie. Rob Marshall seems to borrow a little from Bob Fosse and ironically, from Rob Marshall. Part Cabaret, part Chicago, and mostly Broadway, Nine fails because it doesn't feel Italian. Tossing in a Fiat doesn't make it Italian, and Nine ignores two things so essential: Fellini, the director who Guido is based on was a visionary, his movies were surreal adventures filled with human oddities and they were always anchored in Italian culture. This Nine feels American, sounds German and acts British. That said, Fergie delivers the best performance and stage moment in the movie, in this call to action song, that was completely ignored.

"Carlos" from a Single Man

This scene from A Single Man features the debut of model Jon Kortajarena. Kortajarena, who has appeared in numerous fashion campaigns portrays a Spanish hustler named Carlos, who attempts to pick up Colin Firth’s character, George, outside a liquor store. Shot in the smog-induced amber light of Los Angeles, the cinematography is by Eduard Grau.


Beau Bridges on Sex Changes, High Heels

Beaubridges Emmy-winner Beau Bridges plays a transsexual detective on tonight’s episode of The Closer, and Uinterview sat down with the actor to talk about getting into the role, wearing women’s clothing, and his respect for people who are contemplating a sex change.“I had a part in a play called Looking for Normal by Jane Anderson a number of years ago in which I played a man who was contemplating a sex change. In preparation for the role, I did a lot of research on the subject and meeting people who had gone down that road. I have a profound respect for people who have had the courage to take that journey. It’s not an easy one in today’s world. This Closer episode offered me a chance to step into those shoes once again and honor those folks who have taken that path.”Read the full interview here.


"A Single Man" Doesn't Reach "Brokeback Mountain" Heights in Opening Weekend

For those of you who track these sorts of things, the box office for A Single Man didn't exactly hit a home run over the weekend. Call it more of a double. Opening in just nine theaters, A Single Man grossed $216,000 for a a per screen average of $24,000. That's not terrible by any means especially for an art house movie. In comparison, Disney's The Princess and the Frog opened Friday on 3,434 screens totaling nearly $28 million for a per screen average of $7,280.


Chop Suey

460e793509a0799823151110.L I was watching the incredible satisfying Bruce Weber film, Chop Suey on Sundance recently. The film is an homage to many things: singer Frances Faye, Vogue editor Diana Vreeland, model Jeff Aquilon, GQ art director Donald Sterzin and a young beauty by the name of Peter Johnson. Bruce Weber is a master photographer who has made a career of portraying beautiful men and women in relaxed yet sexually charged situations. Chop Suey explores many of those themes and for those old enough to remember, explains how some of the most historic photographs of men were created. There is a looming sadness of longing in the film as Weber explains that GQ art director Donald Sterzin fell in love with Pepperdine University water polo captain Jeff Aquilon on first sight. Aquilon became a cover model and one of the biggest models of the 80s. Sterzin died of AIDS in 1992 and he given a poignant farewell in Chop Suey. Peter Johnson was in 2001 a 16-year-old wrestler that Weber discovered in the Midwest and consequently asked him to live with him in New York City. He took thousands of photographs, mostly nudes of the beautiful young man in a four-year collaboration. As viewers we are never quite sure what the relationship is other than longing, or as Weber honestly states: “We sometimes photograph people we wish we could have been.” Beauty as muse is not new. Gay men longing for straight men is not new (both Aquilon and Johnson are married with children). The film itself is not without controversy—one reviewer called it: “a fascinating study of self-deception.”

Bruce Weber is married to a woman, which is not particularly remarkable. But it does ask the question, is he gay? A Google search reveals little about the subject. One could argue that his longing and lust for these young men is part of what has made him such a great photographer—it appears to never be satisfied. In age were a Clay Aiken is hounded to confess his sexuality, it would appear to be only the young who need to worry. No one is interested in old homosexuals. When Star Trek actor George Takei came out in Frontiers magazine in 2005, he was admonished for not coming out sooner. He responded with "It's not really coming out, which suggests opening a door and stepping through. It's more like a long, long walk through what began as a narrow corridor that starts to widen." Singer/songwriter Laura Nyro had a 17-year relationship with Maria Desiderio, but you will not find that in her Wikipedia profile. Yes, perhaps these are old school gay people but shouldn’t it be just as important the world to know that these talents, these huge legends of talents were gay. Neil Patrick Harris is a wonderful talented man, but his coming out really felt of no consequence. It makes one wonder. The current thinking about outing is something like thus:

            1. Hypocrites only, and only when they actively oppose gay rights and interests;

            2. Outing passive accomplices who help run homophobic institutions;

            3. Prominent individuals whose outing would shatter stereotypes and compel the public to reconsider its attitude on homosexuality;

            4. Only the dead.

Chop Suey is an amazing insight to one man’s longing and desires. If only because memory serves us to remember the slight details of substance, I recall now that Weber was once asked the question about his sexuality and if he were a gay man and he replied: “too many friends have died for me to deny it.” That may be as good as it gets, or as he said: You've always got to be unafraid about having a fantasy life, and be unafraid that people will be judgmental. They are going to be judgmental anyway."




The Other Man in the Mirror: Bruno

Bruno: Delicious Journeys Through America for the Purpose of Making Heterosexual Males Visibly Uncomfortable in the Presence of a Gay Foreigner in a Mesh T-Shirt. That is the complete name of the film and it should be noted because the film does very much that: it makes heterosexuals uncomfortable, unless, of course, you're in a gay-friendly neighborhood. And that would seem to be besides the point and not who is the intended audience. Much has been made of gay organizations being critical of the film. As The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation said Friday, "Bruno," the new film starring Sacha Baron Cohen, reinforces negative stereotypes and "decreases the public's comfort with gay people." Now, as you all know that is the purpose of these organizations: To make the country comfortable with homos. Bruno instead acts as a mirror on  culture, as uncomfortable as it is, that reveals a deep distaste for most things homo, and that may be the films greatest objection: no one wants to be reminded that you are disliked.
What has essentially escaped the attention of the lighthouses of gay righteousness is that the movie is not about being gay. Objecting to this film is a bit like objecting to an interview with Nick Verrios (who curiously did raise an objection) or asking Carson Kressley to reign it in.
You have to understand this about gay life: we are asked to be comfortable about so many things that we really don't understand. We are asked to be proud of our transgendered and bisexual friends, although for the most part we haven't a clue what that life is like or about. But Bruno comes along, who seems familiar, and suddenly the gay elite is up in indignant arms.
What makes Bruno different is that  Sacha Cohen gave Bruno a penis, literally. Seeing a penis onscreen is unsettling; we are so used to seeing it in the boxed privacy of our computer screen. From the first strains of "circuit" music, Bruno, the film takes us on such a silly, dirty flight of sexual acts, its hard to not understand this is parody. But as the title suggests, it frightens straight people, and maybe some gay people.
Bruno is essentially a cultural mirror held up to a society that tries, for the most part, to be polite, but despite itself, it has a moral core. Bruno takes on and parodies many "celebrity" affectations, such as the adoption of children from countries like Africa. There has been objection to the photoshopping of baby OJ into Bruno's hot tub sexual situations, but barely a whinny about the parents of children who are willing to liposuct their children "to get the job". Strange country.
What Bruno ultimately reveals is what most gay people suspect: you can loved and respected but please, please don't get physical in front of us. This would, as GLAAD puts it, decrease the public's comfort. But Bruno is unapologetically gay, oblivious to his near riot-inciting behavior among the more aggressive heterosexuals. This is not a film that will do well in the South.
Much as been discussed of the movie's now famous guerrilla tactics. Yes, an unsuspecting Paul Abdul does use a Mexican gardener as a seat, but fortunately, she flees as she quickly senses the absurdity. The same can not be said of former  presidential candidate Ron Paul, who Bruno mistakenly thinks is Ru Paul. In a candid camera moment, Ron Paul calls Bruno, "a queer and crazy" as he leaves in a huff. It is an uncomfortable scene yet once again, Cohen reveals what is likely at the heart of many Americans.
Comedy can be mindless, crude or enlightening. Comedian, social critic and satirist Lenny Bruce, who shares a birthday with Baron Sacha Cohen was arrested in 1961 for  using the word "cocksucker".  Comedy can make some people uncomfortable. Bruno will make straight people very uncomfortable because it is they who are most revealed as reaction after reaction is caught on camera. For gay people, if Bruno makes you uncomfortable, think of him as your most effeminate friend who makes   you laugh so hard, you could cry.

Art House Film: Dalí and Lorca Love Affair

In a stroke of brilliant casting, Twilight's Robert Pattinson was cast as painter Salvador Dali in "Little Ashes". Ok, Pattinson does look just silly with the signature Dali moustache, but any movie about the 1922 meeting of three soon-to-be-renowned Spanish artists — filmmaker Luis Buñuel, painter Salvador Dalí and the poet and playwright Federico García Lorca — at the Residencia de Estudiantes, a Madrid arts institute has to be interesting; And, it’s a love story! In one of those only-in-the-movie plots, Dali and Garcia Lorca, in particular, shared a tortured romance (of which Bunuel was aware) that didn’t become known until after Dali’s death in 1989, or so the story goes. The past is always negotiable in film. At least it looks good.

Religulous Reviewed

405px-Religulous_poster Out now on DVD is Bill Maher's documentary "Religulous" which was released in late 2008. The doc takes on religion in all forms, Jews, Christians and Muslims are given the Bill treatment, which is where the fun and also the shortcomings of this film begin. Bill Maher doesn't believe in religion, which is clear from the beginning. He clearly dupes people into interviews only to casually debate and usually ridicule them. With a running time of one hour and 42 minutes, it is about the hour point that, one grows a little tired. Bill's points are nothing, if not simple: These are stories written by men, subject to context, faith, and propaganda. Maher simply can't resist belittling them. One encounter, with the actor who plays Jesus in "The Holy Land Experience" debates Maher and it is one of the few moments where someone actually articulate stumps Maher in his quest to make fun. Otherwise, we are treated to many people who take it all very seriously, while Maher does not.
In some ways a quest with the end already known, Religulous fails to engage a serious conversation about matters that could be easily debated. There is a lot of discussion of gay matters; in one instance Maher interviews two gay Muslims in an empty gay bar and jokingly says" I hope you're attracted to one another". On gay matters, Maher is clearly pro-gay, but one suspects that he doesn't really quite get it: It's a political issue, not a social issue.
Maher could have been better prepared to meet the people he interviewed. Instead of knowledge, he always returns to that slightly condescending, " how could you?" tone that in the end, reveals little about the truth, but isn't even all that funny.

Outrage Trailer

Plot: From Academy Award-nominated documentary filmmaker Kirby Dick (This Film Is Not Yet Rated) comes OUTRAGE, a searing indictment of the hypocrisy of closeted politicians with appalling gay rights voting records who actively campaign against the LGBT community they covertly belong to. Boldly revealing the hidden lives of some of the United States most powerful policymakers, OUTRAGE takes a comprehensive look at the harm theyve inflicted on millions of Americans, and examines the medias complicity in keeping their secrets. With analysis from prominent members of the gay community such as Congressman Barney Frank, former NJ Governor Jim McGreevey, activist Larry Kramer, radio personality Michelangelo Signorile, and openly gay congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (Representative, Wisconsin 2nd district), OUTRAGE probes deeply into the psychology of this double lifestyle, the ethics of outing closeted politicians, the double standards that the media upholds in its coverage of the sex lives of gay public figures, and much more.

Big Blue Uncut Penis

This Halloween quite a few people will endeavor to emulate superhero Doctor Manhattan from the new film, "Watchmen". Sporting a ten-pack, hairless and with a rather large, uncut appendage, one must either be blessed down below or like actor Billy Crudup, have some CGI help.
Frankly, it was a little shocking. For nearly every scene that features Doctor Manhattan in the film, he is completely, unabashedly, naked. There is no hiding behind objects or shots above the waist—he is simply walking around with a large, uncut blue penis, without pubic hair.
Released last Friday, the film collected over 55 million in box office receipts over the weekend. It is a hit.
Based on the 1986-1987 comic book limited series Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, the film adaptation stars Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matt Frewer, Matthew Goode, Carla Gugino, Jackie Earle Haley, Stephen McHattie, Laura Mennell, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Patrick Wilson. Set in an alternate-history 1985, Watchmen follows a group of former vigilantes as tensions heighten between the United States and the Soviet Union while an investigation of an apparent conspiracy against them uncovers something even more grandiose and sinister.
The special effects are good, the plot is fairly complex and the acting, especially Jackie Earle Haley, is quite convincing. Directed by Zack Snyder, one can only believe that this man has a fascination with bigger-than-life-men. He directed the macho extravaganza 300 in 2007, which also featured more than its fair share of manly flesh. In Watchmen, that manliness is proudly displayed. There was widespread speculation about Doc Manhattan's nudity—in the original book, he was indeed naked, but of moderate size—leave it to Hollywood and CGI to add a few inches.

Report from Iowa


Intrepid reporter Todd Schultz braved the cold of Iowa to file this report:
Wednesday nights in Iowa City, Iowa tend to drag. Or rather, is it the queens who are dragging?
At Studio 13, a gay bar about half the size of an Olympic size swimming pool, Queen bee Drag Queen, and Iowan Gay Icon Dena Cass is a riot. A comedienne, a hell of a dancer, and tits that would put Pam Anderson in her glory days to shame.
 People might not expect this class of drag fervor in a “small town” like Iowa City. But the boys in Iowa know how to get down.
 In fact, Iowa City is said to be among the highest per capita gay cities in the nation. And on Wednesday nights Studio 13 is packed to the brim. Hot men everywhere, drinks are flowing, and the lovely ladies of Wednesday Night’s Drag show parade in their glamour gowns.
 When I decided to cover the drag show, I was a little bit shy about taking pictures, but I was obviously naïve about Drag Queens. Dena was anything but shy. She flaunted her long lashes, and her luscious fun bags, only getting wilder for the camera.
 Iowa may not be your idea of the ideal vacation, but for all of you guys out there who have that corn-fed farm boy fantasy, it just might be the perfect spot.
 And know this: When you come to Studio 13, on a Wednesday Night, you know you’re going to have a good time, Dena will make sure of that.

The Advocate: This is news?

The Advocate is a self proclaimed news magazine and their website is "The Award-Winning LGBT News Site" so it’s a little strange when you see on their pages yesterday this "news" story about the former lover of  Portland mayor, Sam Adams accepting to pose, naked of course for, you guessed it, Unzipped magazine. Cross pollination is nothing new, but rarely this shameless.

The Academy Award of Tricks

It was bound to happen: we live in a digital era, where dating is nothing less than getting online and demanding your particular pleasure and expecting it. It's a nasty playground to be sure. People lie. Many people are bored and assuming a personality and image has never been easier. The "trick" is to never never follow through. If you do, you might find yourself on Started in November 2008, RYT currently has 12,000 members. Started for noble reasons as creator Robert Hallman revealed in a recent interview:  I was living in Seattle in 2000 and a friend of mine and I knew someone named JonPaul who was constantly going off on this guy and that guy and after a while, just listening to him gave me the idea of doing the site. My friend John, however, decided it was a bad idea because of the potential of slander, etc.—but then we hadn’t done our research and we knew nothing about the CDA Act of 1996, so it never happened. I finally made the decision to do it when two things occurred: a friend of mine—who used drugs—was hung and overdosed by some guy while he was in their playroom, while his boyfriend was in the office area in the same house. All my friend remembers is the guy his lover was playing with walk by with this five-year-old laptop and leave the house and then he heard kicking sounds coming from the playroom and found his lover hanging by a noose, frothing at the mouth."
While most encounters are less dramatic, the sheer drama of finding out about next week's trick can be titillating. There will always be the potential for revenge—less than happy tricksters for a litany of reasons, discarding the truth for sexual fictions or other innuendo. ("Tweaker Tweaker Sunny Day, OMG it Sun, girl STAY AWAY....what a mess!") Or in an era of shameless self-promotion, you can always write yourself up in glowing terms. ("Hook up with this guy if you can") . The current listings are surprisingly kind: most men tell it like it is. People may lie about their age a few years, or a few inches, but it seems like most people are out there, having a lot of sex, and enjoying it. Check it out.

The Fall

Fall To begin with a synopsis seems almost like a betrayal in reviewing Tarsem Singh Dhandwar's film, "The Fall". But at its most basic storyline the plot involves a 5-year-old girl, a paralyzed stuntman and a cast of characters, some imagined, some real that drift in and out of epic dramas. The film stars the pleasantly handsome Lee Pace and the most remarkable young actress, Catinca Untaru. Like the Wizard of Oz, the characters, both real and imagined are given double roles; the ice man (it's 1915; there's no fridge) becomes a slave/warrior (pictured), nurses become princesses, x ray technicians become dark ominous characters.
Directed by Tarsem Singh Dhandwar, a veteran music video and commercial director who uses Tarsem as his professional name, The Fall leaps in a visual direction that has never been seen before, and without special effects. While it may sound operatic, this is film making and cinematography that enters a new dimension of the imagination. From the opening black and white montage, director of photography Colin Watkinson pushes the depth of field and saturates the screen with beauty, the breathtaking beauty that is magically, still our world. The costumes are by legendary designer Eiko Ishioka (Mishima, Bram Stroker's Dracula). Clearly it is the mind of Tarsem (he directed "The Cell" with Jennifer Lopez, and the famous "Losing My Religion" video for REM) that manages to distill all the events and images into a coherent, magical story.
The movie seems to come and gone quickly. Made in 2006, it is one of those films that not everyone loves. Nathan Lee of The New York Times, wrote that the film "is a genuine labor of love — and a real bore." Roger Ebert on the other hand  gave it his highest blessing: "You might want to see for no other reason than because it exists. There will never be another like it." 

While Batman may break records this summer, The Fall will likely be constrained to art houses and film festivals, which is unfortunate. Both films share the priviledge of being directed by visionaries. The Fall is not nearly as dark (literally) but its story manages to touch on suicide and hopelessness.

While is certainly not the same as seeing the film, the stills from the film itself are ample evidence of the astonishing imagery and they can be seen here.

Holy Batman

2007-12-27-whysoserious_poster It's scary, I think I used to dress like the Joker. A fondness for vests and ties would eventually lead to the socks, and they would be just as dapper and odd. The Joker, who dresses like a dandy is anything but. With all the hype and hoopla, it was interesting to see a film that has such high expectations. After all, we are talking about a comic book character, Batman. From a television series in 1966, where Batman and sidekick, Robin, were dressed in Technicolor hues accompanied with bang! splash! graphics.
In the thirty years since then, we have seen various evolutions of the character. Most notable was Christopher Nolan's 2005 "Batman Begins" where we begin to take the character of Batman seriously. What happens in the new film, "The Dark Knight" is that we transcend most of the comic book affectations and head into what can only be called Joseph Campbell country. To the thousands of unsuspecting teenagers watching the film, basking in its cinematic glory, they are also being treated to some insights on the nature of anarchy, terrorism, and most complicated, heroism. Nolan is smart to never sway too far the action, but nestled in between the violence and the explosions, in some brilliant dialog, some serious questions are asked. And this Joker is not funny. Some have suggested that it was this very role, that Heath Ledger so inhabits that drove him to drug abuse, and it is evident on screen with the multitude of ticks, lip licking and other physical curiosities, that he was on drugs while filming. It may be. All that is known is that Ledger should certainly be nominated for an Academy Award, not so much in sentiment, but it is an extraordinary performance. Human nature is always about putting order to things (hello, God?) and Ledger's Joker is about ignoring order, which is why the character is so troubling. We don't know what to make of it. Batman on the other gloved hand, is seeking perfect order, resolution and a way to retire. Not so fast.
There are flaws, which may have been necessary to keep the action moving, but the Gotham Police Department in particular seem inexplicably stupid. We are left dangling, quite literally with the fate of the Joker, where one senses the audience really whats to see retribution. A good portion of this movie centers around numbness. The Joker is devoid of being physically hurt, and Aaron Eckhart's Harvey Dent/Two- Face manages to cancel any pain associated with third degree burns. It is Batman who carries all the emotional weight, who is vulnerable, beaten and ultimately sacrificed. It all ends with one of those,"see you next film!" endings that promises that Batman, like all heroes has more challenges to face.

Dark Knight inspiration was a Homo?


The current hit, The Dark Knight, has people talking about Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker. Many suspect that the portrayal is based on a 1928 classic, "The Man Who Laughed" which starred Conrad Veidt as Gwynplaine, a man who has a permanent smile carved into his face in revenge for his fathers treachery (with good reason, Batman creator Bob Kane attributes the Joker character to this film). Indeed, a viewing at reveals a curious portrait of man who shockingly looks like Christopher Walken after a facelift..but even more curious is why in this silent film, the above dialog appears?

Gay is Ubiquitous

Stardustad719341_3 It helps to see films with gay themes or suggestions in geographical areas where there are gay people; none of that nervous feet shuffling, throat clearing or the occasional,"what the f!" So watching Stardust in the Disney-esque Grove proved to be a family affair. While the film, which is quite loud, is delightful in so many turns, it is in particular the role of Captain Shakespeare, played with aplomb by Robert De Niro that draws the most laughter. SPOILER AHEAD: While Johnny Depp's pirate character might only suggest that he is anything less a heterosexual, De Niro's extremely likable Captain Shakespeare proves that all pirates are not alike. Leaving the need to use a British accent to less confident actors, De Niro, tackles the complex role with his Brooklyn accent and a lot of make up. What proves to be most enjoyable is the fact that his shipmates knowingly approve.
On the other side, the far side of the fence is Rush Hour. I have never seen any of the Rush Hour series, so popping in on the third installment may have left me fuzzy on some of the plot details. But the gay panic jokes, as well as almost every racist insinuation were not lost. And, they are funny. Chris Tucker, who plays Detective James Carter seems modeled after Little Richard. He is effeminate. So while the litany of racial, sexual and cultural jokes merrily slide by (as well as an anal finger insertion segment that seems totally misplaced though played by a not often seen on screen Roman Polanski), one cannot help but wonder if they are in some ways defensive. Director, Brett Ratner recently confessed to the Advocate that his first blow job was from a man. Just as a scene in which the astonishingly beautiful Noémie Lenoir, pulls off a wig that seems to mystify and send Detective Carter into a "Crying Game" rant, it too is misplaced. Why would a beautiful bald woman make us think its a man? The jokes seem created in a "Jeopardy" style, write the answers first and then ask the question. The saving grace of the film is that nothing is nasty. It's not meant to hurt, but the jokes seem born out of the every racial cliche, every cultural cliche (The French hate Americans until they get to become one) and of course, gender.

Out Today

518m1dwoyhl_ss500__4Available today is the the deluxe "extra frills" edition of "Priscilla Queen of the Desert. The frills include deleted scenes, outtakes and an audio commentary by director Stephan Elliot, all sinfully packaged in pink.

"They came. They conquered. They looked fabulous. This wonderfully inventive, visually stunning and incomparably funny Australian import about three drag performers braving the vast, rugged outback won the 1994 Academy Award for Costume Design. Veteran actor Terence Stamp (Star Wars: The Phantom Menace), Hugo Weaving (The Matrix), Guy Pearce (L.A. Confidential) all give hilarious and heartfelt performances in a three-fishes-outta-water story that's "one of the wildest movies ever made" (Rex Reed, New York Observer)! With a contract to perform a drag show way out in the Australian desert, Tick (Weaving), Adam (Pearce) and Ralph (Stamp) each has his own reason for wanting to leave the safety of Sydney. Christening their battered pink tour bus "Priscilla," this wickedly funny and high-drama trio head for the Outback...and into crazy adventures in even crazier outfits."

Available at

Screen In

Richard_barrios_screened_out_4 June is the gayest month, we have a month of pride to prove it. And this June, Pride Month promises to be perhaps one of the richest celebrations in recent memory, beginning with the groundbreaking Turner Classic Movies broadcast of Screened Out: Gay Images In Film, a month-long 44-film tribute inspired by the Richard Barrios book Screened Out: Playing Gay in Hollywood from Edison to Stonewall, moderated by Barrios with Robert Osborne and interstitial commentary by Michael Musto, Ron Nyswaner, Charles Busch, Tab Hunter, Alan Cumming and Don Murray. TCM is airing the series every Monday and Wednesday in June at 8:00PM Eastern / 5:00PM Pacific.
The range of films is astounding. Beginning with Algie, the Miner (1912), the series explores the various periods of film including the pre-metaphorical films made before the oppressive Motion Picture Production Code in 1934, with such gems as Queen Christina, which featured Greta Garbo in a love affair, with shock, another woman.
The series ends with the homo-rampant period of the late sixties, where films like Boys in the Band, The Killing of Sister George, and Staircase, made their way on the screen.

Bookwrapcentral offers up a great sampling of video clips of Barrios discussing his book. (Alas, not for mac users).

Leni Riefenstahl

The Men's Style section of the New York Times last Sunday had a fashion story photographed by Camilla Akrans that can only be called an homage to filmmaker/photographer Leni Riefenstahl. Among her better known films is Olympia, photographed in 1938, and it is not without controversy. What the film did reveal was a sensual, sexy slow motion and camera tracking style that has become commonplace. Riefenstahl, who lived to be 101 (she died in 2003) was a fascinating and extremely talented woman ahead of her time, and why no one has bothered to make a film of her life (starring Uma Thurman) is strange. To see more video of her works and a better version of the Diving sequence visit

And You Thought You Had Seen Everything...

Him Filmthreat has published a list of the top 10 Lost Films, films that have either completely disappeared or cannot be found. Among that list is No.3, a film called "Him", a gay porno movie about Jesus made in 1974.

“Him” (1974). The title character of this gay porn flick is none other than the Man from Galilee, whose interest in hanging out with the all-male disciples is supposedly more than mere fraternalism. Parallel to this is a contemporary story of a young gay male who finds new spiritualism by plumbing the gayer aspects of the Gospels for his own notion of loving thy neighbor (particularly if he’s a good looking hunky neighbor).

WHY IS IT LOST? The film would have probably been forgotten had it not been detailed in the 1980 book “The Golden Turkey Awards” by the Medved Brothers. Despite an Internet debate that insists the film never existed, poster art from the movie’s original New York run has turned up to verify it did exist. The film itself, however, is believed to be lost (how the Medveds learned of the film is not clear, though the idea of Michael Medved watching gay porno for "research" is mind-boggling).

If you have ever seen this film or have a copy, please let us know.

25 Groundbreaking Films

Rocky_1 has released its list of the 25 most groundbreaking gay films. Any list will have its detractors; opinions will certainly differ on the order. Noticeably missing (in my opinion) are films by Gregg Araki, Making Love (maybe you had to be gay to make the films considered), and some very offbeat films out of San Francisco, circa 1970, such as Pornografollies by Curt McDowell and the films of Mike and Kurt Kuchar. Here is the list:
1. The Rocky Horror Picture Show
2. Teorema
3. Pink Flamingos
4. Brokeback Mountain
5. Paris is Burning
6. My Own Private Idaho
7. Fireworks
8. Tongues Untied
9. The complete works of Bruce LaBruce
10. Silverlake Life: The View From Here
11. Sunday Bloody Sunday
12. Law of Desire
13. Boys in the Band
14. Hedwig and the Angry Inch
15. Parting Glances
16. La Cage aux Folles
17. Beautiful Thing
18. The Living End
19. Victim
20. Querelle

Now Casting

Logo_orange here! The gay television network has announced plans to develop a new original film, “The Way Out” in association with David Duchovny and Mythgarden, a production company run by Chad Allen, Robert Gant, Christopher Racster, and Craig Doughtery.
“The Way Out” is scripted by Jordan Budde (Northern Exposure, Beverly Hills 90210)  and is based on an original idea from David Duchovny. The film delves into the little-explored world of the elderly gay community.
The Way Out
centers on Dalt Farrington, a 75-year-old East Texan forced to move into a retirement home after a failed suicide attempt. Having lost his partner of 35 years and the home they shared, Dalt heads to the rest home determined to keep to himself. Once there, however, he meets the handsome and vibrant Charlie Lomax, with whom he begins a romantic relationship. They are soon forced back into the closet as they face discrimination from the staff and other residents.
"This project falls squarely into here!'s mandate to provide authentic images of our community. Gay seniors and important issues they face have received little visibility from the media – we intend to help change that with this project," says Meredith Kadlec, here!'s Vice President of Original Programming.
Dates and casting have yet to be released.

SAG announces nominees

The Screen Actor Guilds nominees for 2006 are in:

Leonardo DiCaprio - Blood Diamond
Ryan Gosling - Half Nelson
Peter O'Toole - Venus
Will Smith - The Pursuit of Happyness
Forest Whitaker - The Last King of Scotland

Penelope Cruz - Volver
Judi Dench - Notes on a Scandal
Helen Mirren - The Queen
Meryl Streep - The Devil Wears Prada
Kate Winslet - Little Children

Supporting Actor
Alan Arkin - Little Miss Sunshine
Leonardo DiCaprio - The Departed
Jackie Earle Haley - Little Children
Djimon Hounsou - Blood Diamond
Eddie Murphy - Dreamgirls

Supporting Actress
Adriana Barraza - Babel
Cate Blanchett - Notes on a Scandal
Abigail Breslin - Little Miss Sunshine
Jennifer Hudson - Dreamgirls
Rinko Kikuchi - Babel

SAG award winners will be named on Jan. 28 in a ceremony in Los Angeles. The Oscars are handed out on Feb. 25.