Film Review http://www.culturecatch.com/film en The New York Times' "Cringeworthy" Review of Dear Evan Hansen http://www.culturecatch.com/node/4046 <span>The New York Times&#039; &quot;Cringeworthy&quot; Review of Dear Evan Hansen</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/brandon-judell" lang="" about="/users/brandon-judell" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Brandon Judell</a></span> <span>September 29, 2021 - 23:08</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/797" hreflang="en">drama</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/g_c_Jd-hP-s?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>The New York Times' Jeanette Catsoulis is not a big fan of the film <em>Dear Evan Hansen</em>. She's not alone there. Others have grumbled that the 28-year-old Ben Platt is a bit long in the tooth to be playing a high schooler who hasn't been left back at least ten times. But that incomparable voice of Platt! Who'd want to miss out on that?</p> <p>And to be able to see the actor who created a major role on stage recreate it on screen does carry some resonance. Who wouldn't saw off their left pinky to see Ethel Merman belt out "Everything’s Coming Up Roses" in Mervyn LeRoy's <em>Gypsy</em> (1962) as opposed to Rosalind Russell's slightly more phlegmatic take?</p> <p>Yes, the screen can be unforgiving when it comes to hiding age, although Jesse Royce Landis played Cary Grant's mother in Hitchcock's <em>North by Northwest</em>, and she was less than eight years older. Lucille Ball apparently was shot through heavy gauze for <em>Mame</em>, and who can forget Robert DeNiro's non-Botoxed youth-enizing in <em>The Irishman?</em></p> <p>What's problematic here is Catsoulis's analysis of Evan's character. She writes:</p> <p>"<em>Dear Evan Hansen</em> is the story of a liar, an accomplished fabulist who uses a troubled classmate's self-harm to gain popularity. Yet the movie . . . wants us not only to sympathize with this character, but ultimately forgive him. That's a very big ask."</p> <p>Catsoulis ends her assessment with: "Treacly and manipulative, <em>Dear Evan Hansen</em> turns villain into victim and grief into an exploitable vulnerability. It made me cringe." Kudos to director Stephen Chbosky for that.</p> <p>Now anyone who has experienced the Broadway show or the film is immediately aware that Evan is a highly medicated, introverted, friendless youth lacking any socializing abilities. He is seeing a shrink who asks Evan to write letters to himself to help the teen break out of his shell and live his life at last. (Note: Evan sports a broken arm, for a reason that further shatters Catsoulis’s defective assessment of the tale.)</p> <p>One day, a belligerent, emotionally challenged fellow student, Connor Murphy (Colton Ryan), the brother of the girl Evan has a crush on, forcibly signs Evan’s cast, steals one of Evan’s letters, and within two days commits suicide. Connor’s parents discover Evan’s missive and falsely believe Connor wrote it to Evan.</p> <p>Did Connor really have a friend? How come he never mentioned Evan? Why is Connor's name in big broad letters inscribed on Evan's cast?</p> <article class="embedded-entity"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2021/2021-09/dear_everett_hansen_1.jpeg?itok=T9haXCt7" width="1200" height="800" alt="Thumbnail" title="dear_everett_hansen_1.jpeg" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /></article><p>The tongue-tied Evan keeps trying to tell the truth that he was not Connor's buddy, that he barely knew him, but Connor's mother (Amy Adams) wants none of that. With her sad puppy-dog eyes, she pleads with the teen to tell her the truth as she wants it to be. Consequently, he tells one lie about Connor and him spending a day in the woods together, climbing trees. This eventually leads to Evan creating more tales and correspondence supposedly between him and Connor, all done to salve the Murphys's grieving.</p> <p>So where is Evan being a villain? Does he know his actions will transform him into a national hero for wounded souls once he makes a speech about Connor that goes viral on the Internet? Can he predict he will be taken in as an emotional replacement and given a seat at the table by the dead boy's family?</p> <p>Evan is trying to be good, but he's a teenager. He's battered into celebrity. Events overcome his ability to control them. He's suddenly popular. He travels from unseen dweeb to applauded hero, and for a moment Evan is no longer a misfit.</p> <p>Similarly, the aspiring drag queen in the other current teen-based musical in town, <em>Everyone's Talking</em> <em>About Jamie</em>, has his flaws. Jamie's continuously, at times aggravatingly, self-involved. For instance, he insists his best friend stop studying for her finals to help him with his eyebrows . . .   but he's only 16, Ms. Catsoulis.</p> <p>Of course, adults suffer from trying to be nice, too. Stefan Zweig wrote a great novel, <em>Beware of Pity</em> (1939), detailing how a single act of kindness based on an untruth can lead to tragedy. Radu Muntean's <em>Intregalde</em>, which is being showcased at this year's New York Film Festival, argues that without limitations, good intentions can sometimes lead to near-dire consequences.</p> <p>But for an insightful response to Evan's journey, just read the 2016 critique from the Times's former theater critic Christopher Isherwood of the musical:</p> <blockquote> <p>"As the title character in <em>Dear Evan Hansen</em>, a lonely teenager who inadvertently becomes a social media sensation and a symbol of the kindness that is often cruelly absent in high school hallways, the marvelous young actor Ben Platt is giving a performance that's not likely to be bettered on Broadway this season. . . </p> </blockquote> <p>"His Evan is a startling jumble of exposed nerve endings. His eyes blink in continual embarrassment at the twisted pretzels of words that tumble from his mouth whenever he has to interact socially, which isn't often. He quails at the thought of having to make small talk with a pizza delivery guy. Underneath the thick layers of insecurity, however, Mr. Platt transmits the yearning heart and the desperation for affection -- or even just attention -- that ultimately gets Evan into deep trouble."</p> <p>Mr. Isherwood ends his review with: "The show 'should . . . appeal to just about anyone who has ever felt, at some point in life, that he or she was trapped 'on the outside looking in,' as one lyric has it. Which is just about everybody with a beating heart."</p> <p>With any film, folks can disagree with the casting, the direction, the screenplay, its length, and so forth, but to call Evan Hansen a "villain" makes one wonder what's beating within Ms. Catsoulis's chest.</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=4046&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="p1B0OPSGkI8mtWLVauiyY_olvSe3KlOICvNLEU_Mqwc"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Thu, 30 Sep 2021 03:08:08 +0000 Brandon Judell 4046 at http://www.culturecatch.com “Is Mom a Witch?” “Is Twincest Kosher?” and “Why Does That Monk Have an Arrow Fetish?” http://www.culturecatch.com/node/4041 <span>“Is Mom a Witch?” “Is Twincest Kosher?” and “Why Does That Monk Have an Arrow Fetish?”</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/brandon-judell" lang="" about="/users/brandon-judell" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Brandon Judell</a></span> <span>September 23, 2021 - 20:01</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/832" hreflang="en">LGQBT</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><article class="embedded-entity"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2021/2021-09/Saint_Narcisse_June22_Stills_52_1.jpg?itok=esMQNYFH" width="1200" height="649" alt="Thumbnail" title="Saint Narcisse movie still " typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /></article><p>Warning! Humans should tread carefully into the oft inflammatory cinema of Bruce LaBruce. Very carefully. However, if you like your coffee black, your politics darker, and your director Canadian, he might just be your cup of java.</p> <p>To quote myself, a task leaving me more time for the treadmill: "Mr. LaBruce, for the uninitiated, is a man . . . and a highly subversive one at that with a cult following. Yes, for over two decades, this queer underground filmmaker has shocked and entertained with his tongue-in-cheek-and-elsewhere oeuvre." </p> <p>His <em>Hustler White</em> (1996) "stars an ex-beau of Madonna's in an ode to L.A. male prostitution that includes a white, very blond boytoy being consensually gangbanged by a very long line of African American hunks. Think of Trader Joe's on Sunday afternoon. <em>Gerontophilia</em> (2013) focuses on a young gent discovering he has the hots for the male geriatric clientele of a nursing home. Then <em>Otto</em>; or, <em>Up</em> <em>with</em> <em>Dead People</em> (2008) chronicles with a gory finesse the plight of a carnivorous, neo-Goth gay zombie."</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/2KaAMg7rthU?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>And please don't forget <em>The Misandrists </em>(2018), an unrestrained tale about a cloistered group of man-haters that includes such telling lines as: "We must tell the world to wake up and smell the estrogen" and "Remember, girls, the closest way to a man's heart is through his chest." Dust off that hacksaw.</p> <p>While I am at it -- and while you’re not here to restrain me -- LaBruce, who received a career retrospective at no less than Museum of Modern Art in 2015, penned the following exchange between two besotted radicals for his ode to anarchism, <em>The Raspberry Reich</em> (2004):</p> <p>"Heterosexuality is the opiate of the masses."</p> <p>"I thought opiates were the opiate of the masses."</p> <p>So much for Marxism.</p> <p>Politics, however, are pretty much pushed aside in LaBruce’s latest act of celluloid subversion, <em>Saint-Narcisse</em> (SN). Here, instead, the nuclear family, societal narcissism, and religious leaders are pummeled into a tasty brew of nervy eroticism, campy theatrics, and demented mythology.</p> <p>LaBruce's mise-en-scène is straight out of the Hammer Production/Peter-Cushing films of the '70s (e.g. <em>To the Devil . . . A Daughter</em>). This makes sense especially because the action here takes place in the '70s, and yes, there is cigarette smoking.</p> <p>The film opens with a full-screen closeup of a black-denimed crotch belonging to a leather-jacketed young gent manspreading at an all-night Montreal laundromat. Seated in front of a dryer, Dominic (the desirable Félix-Antoine Duval) is watching his grandmother's brassiere and other goodies get tumbled-dried. Seated next to our hero is an attractive blonde in a miniskirt. Before you can spell "Downy," the two are madly copulating to the tune "Where Evil Grows" by The Poppy Family. Is this a foreshadowing? Of course.</p> <p>Soon a crowd gathers on the street outside to watch the carnal carryings-on inside. Dominic sees them but, being a fledging exhibitionist, he doesn’t care until he sees a monk in full getup staring at him, a monk who just might have his face.</p> <p>Oh, no! Is this a fantasy? As you decide, the opening credits roll by, making what you’ve just witnessed a sort of cinematic foreplay.</p> <p>Meandering home, Dominic repeatedly takes Polaroids of himself and hands them out to strangers. One is gifted to a rather aggressive, semi-blind female streetwalker. (If you know the Narcissus legend, think Tiresias.) This low-rent sex worker suddenly grabs the lad and prophesizes: "If you want to live a long life, handsome, never try to know yourself."</p> <p>Then it's back home for quick chat with grandma.</p> <p><em>Grandma: When are you going to get married? You need a family.</em></p> <p><em>Dominic: You are my family.</em></p> <p>Well, that's true just for a few minutes. Because after Dominic photographs himself masturbating in front of the bathroom mirror, she expires rather quickly.</p> <p>The distraught grandson doesn't have long to mourn because as he’s going through the papers his beloved relative has left behind, he discovers the letters from the mother he thought was dead. Yes, the mother he never met post-birth has been writing letters to him all along. She's alive!</p> <p>Quickly, Dominic rides away on a motorcycle in search his parent, who lives in the woods and is said to be a witch by the locals, but she just might only be a lesbian. The two eventually have a reunion and hug while our hero is butt naked, which makes sense because the last time he saw Mom, he was buck naked, too, although with his umbilical cord still attached.</p> <p>Meanwhile, not far away from this get-together is a monastery run by a pederastic priest (Andreas Apergis) with a Saint-Sebastian fetish who has the hots for Dominic’s lookalike monk. Remember him? But is this young man Dominic or his twin or an unrelated doppelgänger? And when a young gal living with Mom tells Dominic to go "F" himself, are there complex implications to that rather common colloquialism that we have to reconsider? Can Dominic actually F himself . . . or is he copulating with a twin?</p> <p>With superb period production design by Alex Hercule Desjardins complimented by Valérie Gagnon-Hamel's equally astute costuming, and accompanied by Christophe Lamarche-Ledoux's sinister musical notes, <em>Saint-Narcisse</em> is never less than a hoot and a half. Erotic, mirthful, ambisexual, and rather clever in its use of the past to expose the modern penchant for self-absorption and religious hypocrisy, LaBruce has out-LaBruced himself once again.</p> <p>(Film Movement premiered Bruce LaBruce's <em>Saint-Narcisse</em> at New York City's Quad Cinema this past month as well as via virtual cinema.)</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=4041&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="6lXrucSKY2kZngf9GnB8XTraPgyrJtsgccD_RaOyZyI"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Fri, 24 Sep 2021 00:01:15 +0000 Brandon Judell 4041 at http://www.culturecatch.com Revisiting Truman Capote: “I'm an alcoholic. I'm a drug addict. I'm homosexual. I'm a genius.” http://www.culturecatch.com/node/4039 <span>Revisiting Truman Capote: “I&#039;m an alcoholic. I&#039;m a drug addict. I&#039;m homosexual. I&#039;m a genius.”</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/brandon-judell" lang="" about="/users/brandon-judell" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Brandon Judell</a></span> <span>September 10, 2021 - 09:31</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/399" hreflang="en">documentary</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><article class="embedded-entity"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2021/2021-09/capote_and_marilyn_3.jpeg?itok=LVCUCe1W" width="1200" height="599" alt="Thumbnail" title="capote_and_marilyn_3.jpeg" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /></article><p>When James Agee noted in <em>Let Us Now Praise Famous Men</em>, "You never live an inch without involvement and hurting people and fucking yourself everlastingly," he could have been describing the highly self-destructive Truman Capote to a T.</p> <p>Best remembered today for the romanticized film adaptation of his novel <em>Breakfast at Tiffany’s</em> -- the Audrey Hepburn starrer -- and for his acclaimed mega-seller "non-fiction novel,"<em> In Cold Blood</em> (1966), Capote is what might have happened if Fran Lebowitz had been born an effeminate gay boy with literary ambitions.</p> <p>If you arrived too late on the planet to have been enamored by Capote's antics -- he did die in 1984 after all -- fear not. The joy he wrought and the outrage he often elicited is captured in Ebs Burnough's deliciously wry new documentary, <em>The Capote Tapes.</em></p> <p>The inspiration for this project was the discovery of hundreds of hours of taped interviews that the late journalist George Plimpton conducted for a projected bio of Capote that was never to be. With these reel-to-reel chats with the likes of Lauren Bacall plus new remembrances (e.g. Dick Cavett), a plethora of photos, snippets of TV interviews, and random found footage, Burnough chronicles Capote from his early abandonment by his mother to his mail-clerkdom for The New Yorker. Then it’s on to his immediate fame on being published. That takes about fifteen or so minutes. What follows is Capote's embrace by the "Beautiful People;" his mingling with Marilyn Monroe, Mick Jagger, and the like; his trysts, some with married men; the film adaptations; plus his continued battle with homophobia.</p> <p>Poor Truman! The gent, who was once America's most famous living author, never had the option of hiding in the closet. His whole being screamed "Queer!" at a time when gaining gay rights could not even be imagined. One "fan" even described Truman's first book, <em>Other Voices, Other Rooms</em>, as "the fairy Huck Finn." From his mincing presence to his immediately identifiable voice to the characters in his books, he did in fact take on the world . . . and his mother who never approved of his sexual bent even on her death bed.</p> <p>As writer Colm Toíbín recalls on-camera, Capote finally accepted his identity to a degree. Toíbín imagines Truman saying to himself: "Well, this is who I am. You're the local gay. There has to be one, and I am he."</p> <p>But was he an activist? A really brave soul? <em>The Capote Tapes</em> will probably convince you of that, although you might deem that the writer comes off as a highly flawed queer warrior, one running about in high heels made of steel. Clearly, there are no doubts about his literary talents. These are championed in the documentary as they are in The Gay &amp; Lesbian Literary Heritage: "Capote's writing, especially the fiction and more direct autobiographical work, helped establish what might be called the quintessential homosexual writing style of the period, with clear links to the work of Tennessee Williams, for example." (You might also want to check out another acclaimed documentary that came out this past <em>June, Truman &amp; Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation.</em>)</p> <p>Capote, though, would have preferred a comparison to Proust, especially with his uncompleted novel <em>Answered Prayers</em>, chapters of which were printed in Esquire. This final work, as this documentary incisively displays, lost him most of his favorite socialite friends (e.g. Babe Paley) and appeared to increase his drinking and drug use, if in fact these pastimes of his could be increased. As an interviewee here notes, the book was "an early template for reality TV."</p> <p>Apparently, for years and years, on yachts and off, the Housewives of the Rich and the Mighty told all of their darkest and most entertaining secrets to this puckish author, and then they were completely flummoxed when he wrote up these confidences with only the names changed. One blueblood even committed suicide because of <em>Prayers</em>. Hadn't they all read F. Scott Fitzgerald or Nathanael West? If you want your peccadilloes safeguarded, save them for your shrink or your priest, not your queer beard.</p> <p>Happily, Burnough's film is not just satisfied with delving into Capote's psychological makeup ("What makes Truman run?"), his lovers, his lies, his "Party of the Century," and his friendly gropings, but also with what is it to achieve early fame in our society? What is it to be a serious writer?</p> <p>"What was his special gift?" Norman Mailer is asked by Plimpton.</p> <p>"Sentences," the uber-heterosexual writer replies. "He wrote the best sentences of anyone in our generation."</p> <p>Mailer also recalls going into an Irish bar midday in New York City with Capote, one that was packed with beer-drinkers who all turned silent and stared at the sprightly elfin figure sauntering past them to a table in the rear. Mailer noted his own adrenaline was pumping away. He was expecting some nasty name-calling incident to occur along with possible fisticuffs. Capote apparently was unaware of the effect he was having, or he was so used to it and didn’t care. Nothing, however, happened, and the two major literary figureheads of their time just talked away for an hour or so to Mailer's surprise.</p> <p>Truman often nonplussed his pals. One day he told a lovely member of high society that he loved her. "I love you, too," she responded.</p> <blockquote> <p>"People don't love me,"  he retorted. "I'm a freak. People are amused by me. People are fascinated by me.  But people don't love me."</p> </blockquote> <p>Capote was both right and wrong.</p> <p>(<i>The Capote Tapes </i>is having its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Ebs Burnough’s doc will then open in New York City and Los Angeles on September 10th and within other markets a week later.)</p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=4039&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="Pk_JLgk-s002NBYjMWX4kl7fDQdEsqUPcPv1rywxL7Q"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Fri, 10 Sep 2021 13:31:18 +0000 Brandon Judell 4039 at http://www.culturecatch.com Short Q & A with Filmmaker Allison Burnett http://www.culturecatch.com/node/4037 <span>Short Q &amp; A with Filmmaker Allison Burnett</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/dusty-wright" lang="" about="/users/dusty-wright" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dusty Wright</a></span> <span>August 30, 2021 - 15:41</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/778" hreflang="en">soundtrack</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/09lwVaJ3HGk?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>The following is an interview with LA-based filmmaker and author Allison Burnett about his latest film and its soundtrack.</p> <p><i><strong>Dusty Wright: </strong>First, let me congratulate you on the release of </i>Another Girl,<i> your sequel to your wonderful film, </i>Ask Me Anything<i>.  I hear it's not strictly a sequel.</i></p> <p><strong>Allison Burnett:</strong> Correct, the film functions both as a sequel and a stand-alone work. Those who haven't seen <i>Ask Me Anything</i> won't have any trouble enjoying this one. Those who <i>have</i> seen the first film, will enjoy this one in a different way.</p> <p><i><strong>DW: </strong>I want to hear about the music in Another Girl, but first give us some background on the music in </i>Ask Me Anything.</p> <p><strong>AB: </strong>When making the first film, I wanted the score and soundtrack to function in entirely different ways. The score, written by the great John Ehrlich, would tell the story of the 17-year-old heroine Katie's <i>emotional</i> life--her buried pain and longings. The soundtrack, on the other hand, would express the preoccupations of Katie’s <i>ego</i>--the daily junk that distracts her from the issues she needs to face. </p> <p>When it came to building the soundtrack, there was no money left to license songs, so I got the idea of holding a contest.  I posted ads on Craig's List inviting female singer-songwriters 21 years old and younger to submit up to three songs each for inclusion in the film. I gave them an Amazon link to the novel, in case they wanted to know more about the story.  Winners would get their song included in the film, plus a license payment of $150, and royalties from any revenue generated by the sale of the soundtrack.  Important to note, we were just licensing the songs. The artists still owned their works and, after a couple of years, could even license them to other films.</p> <p><i><strong>DW: </strong>Such a simple, yet forward-thinking idea. It gives young unknown artists a chance for professional validation while allowing you to afford fantastic music.  Plus share new artists with new listeners. And probably for some of these singer-songwriters even a wider audience than social media would normally offer them. Def a win-win for everyone. It's a wonder it had never been done before.</i></p> <p><strong>AB: </strong>I agree. And because it hadn't been, so many people advised me against it.  I learned a valuable lesson from this: when you come up with an original idea, the world often allies itself against you!</p> <p><strong>DW: </strong><i>I'm curious, why did you limit yourself to females 21 years old and younger?</i></p> <p><strong>AB: </strong>I wanted to convey the sensibility of a 17-year-old girl. I wanted young, sincere, unguarded female points of view. I wanted the lyrics to reflect the priorities and passions of youth.</p> <p><i><strong>DW: </strong>How did the contest turn out?</i></p> <p><strong>AB:</strong> We received a perhaps a hundred submissions, most of which were recorded on the girls' home computers using Garage Band or similar programs. All of the songs I chose were dropped into the film exactly as we received them, except for one.</p> <p>A 16-year-old girl named Rachel Faith submitted a remarkable song called<i> "</i>Start."But it was recorded crudely. There was electronic hissing. It sounded as though it had been recorded in the woods and the percussion was a stick banged on a rock. It could not have been more primitive and haunting. But I loved it so much that I had Rachel fly out and re-record it with Jon Ehrlich in his studio. The result was remarkable. I used it over the end titles.</p> <p>Artistically, the soundtrack and score were everything I had wanted. We won Best Music at the Nashville International Film Festival.</p> <p><i><strong>DW: </strong>Okay, fast forward. You're making </i>Another Girl. <i>Take us through your thought process when it came to the music this time around.</i></p> <p><strong>AB: </strong>The first thing I did was go back to Jon Ehrlich for another score, but he was far too busy. I got a lead on a talented Israeli composer named Haim Mazur, looking to do indie features. We hit it off instantly, and he did a superb job on the score. In addition, I recruited a talented composer out of Chicago, named Justin Dahl, to write electronic music for the final credits. Using the sublime vocals of Ashley Gonzalez, he brought me two great tracks, one of which I also used in the trailer.</p> <p>As the soundtrack, the film's budgetary restrictions were not as bad this time around. They were <i>far worse</i>. We had just half the budget as before. Which meant all I could offer the artists was a $100, plus royalties. Since the heroine of the film is five years older than the previous heroine, I raised the age limit to 26 years old and younger.</p> <p>We received many wonderful submissions.  I was thrilled that three artists whose music was included in the soundtrack of <i>the </i>first film<i> </i>also won placement in <i>Another Girl</i>: Zanny Nicholas, Toni &amp; Ash, and Christiana Schelfhout. For the first film, Zanny, at just thirteen, was the youngest singer-songwriter to place a song. She placed two, actually. Since then, she had graduated from Berklee College of Music. She placed two new songs in <i>Another Girl</i>. My collaborator in building the soundtrack was my film editor Michael Yanovich, who has superb taste, as well as a deep understanding of how music functions in a film.</p> <p><i><strong>DW: </strong>When do we get a chance to hear it?</i></p> <p><strong>AB: </strong>The soundtrack is available now for pre-order on Apple Music. When it officially releases September 3, it will be available on many platforms, including Spotify, Amazon Music, Tidal, Pandora, etc.</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=4037&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="txYMg_Uyx4pcgZ4dOMgOT6I3yGgqbylXGRH2PoRw0pM"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Mon, 30 Aug 2021 19:41:12 +0000 Dusty Wright 4037 at http://www.culturecatch.com Will You Be My Wife’s Girlfriend Again, Pretty Please? http://www.culturecatch.com/node/4034 <span>Will You Be My Wife’s Girlfriend Again, Pretty Please?</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/brandon-judell" lang="" about="/users/brandon-judell" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Brandon Judell</a></span> <span>August 26, 2021 - 10:29</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/612" hreflang="en">fiction</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><article class="embedded-entity"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2021/2021-08/Ma%20Belle%20%237.jpeg?itok=NKXvvJYU" width="1200" height="725" alt="Thumbnail" title="Ma Belle #7 Film Still" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /></article><p>"Homosexuality was invented by a straight world dealing with its own bisexuality," noted the late great complexity known as Kate Millett. Clearly an epigram that Oscar Wilde, if he'd been born a century later, would have been proud of parenting.</p> <p>Director/writer Marion Hill's debut film, <em>Ma Belle, My Beauty</em>, has its verbally clever moments, too. Always delightfully adult, this offering, however, doesn’t deal with labels. No one seems to really care about the gender of the soul you are shacking up with or their ethnicity or their knowledge of wine.  Well, the latter might not be true. "Let’s all just be happy" might have been the theme here, except Bertie, a jazz songstress, is currently not being very cheery. . . and she's in denial about why.</p> <p>Well, let's start at the beginning.  Once upon a time in New Orleans, before the film even begins, a straight French man (Fred) was involved with a bisexual woman (Bertie), who was very involved with her lesbian lover (Lane). This polyamorous trio all apparently lived gleefully together until they didn't. You see Lane disappeared one day without leaving a note. The cause: another gal.</p> <p>(Before we go any further, please note polyamory is defined as "the practice of engaging in multiple romantic (and typically sexual) relationships, with the consent of all the people involved." Also, be aware that BRIDES.com is insisting as of this past July that polyamory "is having a moment." A previous such moment occurred, it notes, during the hippie era.)</p> <p>Well, let’s jump ahead two years to where Ma Belle begins. Fred and Bertie are now married and living in an enviable home in Anduze, France, itself a visual paradise with a population clocking in at 3,400 amiable inhabitants. When nothing else is happening on-screen, your eyes can feast on the village’s centuries-old cobbled streets, a castle or two of note, vineyards galore, market-day throngs, and lush fields of green through which an emotionally frustrated character can jog when her intense feelings of irritation become a bit much.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/7avROAM7E8M?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Fred, portrayed by the exceedingly attractive Lucien Guignard, is a jazz musician with his own band that is about to tour Europe. Think Django Reinhardt. Complementing his skills is Bertie (Idella Johnson), a quite superb songstress, who has recently lost her lust for performing. To get her back to crooning, Fred secretly invites Lane (Hannah Pepper), a knapsacking free-spirit who might just be able get Bertie singing once again both off and on the mattress as she did in the past. But can Bertie ever forgive her?</p> <p>The odds are 50/50 because being in love with Lane is similar to what the artist Kaari Upson described as "a constant state of something coming from the outside that you can't control, and everything can be gone at any minute."</p> <p>Lane comes as off as one of those strong Beebo-Brinker-types: sinewy, forthright and always seemingly in control, yet 10% fucked up. Bertie is more in the Earth Mother category with a body that seems ever ready to comfort, nurture, and inspire Joni-Mitchell song lyrics. She's about 25% fucked up.</p> <p>Those percentages of F.U.-ness do admittedly rise and ebb throughout the film.</p> <p>For example, early on to woo Bertie back into her good graces, Lane beds a highly horny, 25-year-old, former Israeli soldier named Noa (Sivan Noam Shimon), whose six-pack would put Xena the Warrior Princess's to shame. Fred questions Lane on this odd strategy. She insists she knows what she's doing.</p> <p>But does she? And why is she even trying? Or as Bertie puts it: "What the hell happened in your life that you want to come back into mine?"</p> <p>If Lane's reply is acceptable, will a gleeful polyamory reign again in this household? And will Bertie start jazzing up her vocals and go on tour? And when the ladies go shopping and forget to buy ginger, can Fred still cook up his famous ginger beef for a dinner party that night?</p> <p>Director Hill has noted in a recent interview: "I set out about three and half years ago wanting to write a story that would be a love story reflective of my own experiences with love and the people around me." If this beautifully-shot, engaging tale is indeed a true reflection, the expression "over the Hill" will now be seen as a major compliment.</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=4034&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="ln-9dnuTJKdc49VMRQQWBldy1mbZ4dRjzG4ILbpou4o"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Thu, 26 Aug 2021 14:29:17 +0000 Brandon Judell 4034 at http://www.culturecatch.com Biting Angels, Praying Robots, Adulterous Sensei and More http://www.culturecatch.com/node/4033 <span>Biting Angels, Praying Robots, Adulterous Sensei and More</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/brandon-judell" lang="" about="/users/brandon-judell" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Brandon Judell</a></span> <span>August 15, 2021 - 16:39</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/801" hreflang="en">Film Festival</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/OKCotKizBH4?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>"No film is an island," Stephen Teo notes in <i>The Asian Cinema Experience</i>, and nowhere is that sentiment more apparent than at this year’s New York Asian Film Festival. This showcasing of over 70 offerings from such countries as Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, plus the U.S. upends any notion you might have of any country's singular national identity. There’s an interplay here sometimes between cultures within a film (<i>The Asian Angel</i>) or the universal handling of a social challenge such as the current pandemic (<i>All U Need Is Love</i>).</p> <p>This signature festival, now in its twentieth year, is needed for so many reasons, not just for spotlighting important auteurs who would otherwise not gain exposure upon our shores. NYAFF can also serve as a salve to counter the attacks on Asian-Americans within our 16 largest cities that have risen by 164% during just the first quarter of 2021. Never underestimate the power of cinema. If <i>Birth of a Nation</i> could rebirth the Ku Klux Klan, why can't the continuing efforts of the New York Asian Film Association and Film at Lincoln Center accomplish the opposite?</p> <p>One offering that might add fuel to that thought is Yuya Ishii's <i>The Asian Angel</i>, a dramedy with a dash of the fantastic. Here a young widowed Japanese novelist, Takeshi, arrives in Seoul with his 8-year-old son on the promise of new beginnings detailed in a letter from his ex-patriate brother Toru.  The pair's first hours, however, in a country with a language they don't speak are a bit unnerving. First, their taxi driver from the airport curses a lot and won’t take them all the way to their destination. Secondly, a news site on Takeshi's cellphone reports: "Japanese-Korean relations are at a post-war low." Finally, the man who greets them in Toru's apartment immediately manhandles the dad and is about to throw him down a staircase just when the dear brother finally arrives home.</p> <p>Ah, all is good, Toru promises, even though he was joking in the letter he sent his bro. There's certainly no need to worry. Takeshi can join his smuggling operation, sneaking Korean cosmetics over the border to women worldwide so they can have smooth skin</p> <p>Meanwhile, across town, the lovely Sol, a singer in a department store, is discovering her dream of stardom is quickly going down the escalator. The president of her management company, who’s also her lover, fires her post-coitus.  This Weinstein-esque chap certainly has no regrets, after all he has at least five other gals on his cellphone to turn to. But how is Sol going to now support her two adult siblings who are both in need of major succor? No easy remedy is in sight.</p> <p>Well, look to the heavens. Eventually our Romeo meets our Juliet, but the two can barely converse in broken English. That might be just enough after circumstances cause Takeshi and his brood to share a car with Sol's clan. The former threesome is in search of exportable seaweed by the ocean, and the second grouping is trekking to the countryside to honor their mother on the anniversary of her death. Add the fact, that both Takeshi and Sol have had run-ins in the past with the same unattractive angel who bites, and you know love is in the air. Clearly, even when nations might not get along, their citizens certainly can, and they even might achieve a pocket-sized, deliriously touching utopia in the end.</p> <p>Before you criticize Vincent Kok's <i>All U Need Is Love </i>as a less than utopian entertainment, please note that this coronavirus slapstick comedy with its all-star ensemble cast (e.g Louis Koo, Tony Leung) is said to be a "benefit effort for Hong Kong industry workers affected by the COVID-19 epidemic" that has been shepherded along by the Hong Kong Performing Artistes Guild, the Federation of Hong Kong Filmmakers, and numerous local studios.</p> <p><i>Love </i>opens at an airport with an invigorating James-Bond action segment where a handsomely stoic but unmasked gent is chased every which way though aghast crowds by dozens of masked pursuers. Oh no! He’s caught and arrested for having been exposed to the virus.</p> <p>Jump to the Grande Hotel, where it's been discovered many positive carriers of the virus have last been situated. Suddenly, the whole hotel is quarantined for two weeks. Thus begin the crazed antics of the booked guests who are forced to entertain themselves while the president of the hotel is trying to escape this enforced lockdown while his brother is repeatedly trying to kill him.</p> <article class="embedded-entity"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2021/2021-08/i_miss_my_doggy_all_u_need_is_love_photo.jpeg?itok=WuRwgjxj" width="1200" height="644" alt="Thumbnail" title="i_miss_my_doggy_all_u_need_is_love_photo.jpeg" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /></article><p>Imagine three poorly written, overacted episodes of <i>The Love Boat </i>possibly starring Charo, Phyllis Diller, and Ernest Borgnine and you might have a sense of what you are getting into. At 47 minutes into <i>Love</i>, I was ready to bang my head against the wall. However, at 49 minutes, I sort of settled down and began enjoying the whole shebang. Especially fine are Julian Cheung and Louis Cheung as two rival triad leaders, who, when forced to share the same room, discover they are homoerotically turned on by each other.</p> <p>The other subplots seem to have sprung from a time when no one could envision the #MeToo movement. Most of the gals depicted here are either prostitutes or whiny wenches. The guys fare little better, being depicted as inept, dominated spouses, sex-starved loonies, or bungling boobies. There are exceptions, but far less than a handful.</p> <p>Yet the title tells all. Yes, in the end, humanity, with thanks to L-O-V-E) wins out. (Sadly, the filmmakers couldn't get the rights to the Beatles' song.) And if you are looking for some analytical depth here, you might see the Grande Hotel as a stand-in for Hong Kong society with the hotel president as a metaphor for corrupt political leadership. However, probably no one involved was intending that. They just wanted some good, broad laughs.</p> <p>Takahiro Horie's <i>Sensei, Would You Sit Beside Me?</i> is definitely ready for a Stateside remake. Sort of a Japanese <i>Marriage Story</i>, <i>Sensei </i>tells of a pair of wed manga authors who have lately been distant from each other. Sawako suspects her spouse, Toshio, of having an affair. He tells her to get driving lessons. She agrees, even though she decides he wants her to leave her self-sufficient when he dumps her,</p> <p>One day, while searching her room at her mother's house, Toshio discovers Suwako's latest project, a manga about a woman who discovers her husband is having an affair so she conveniently falls in love with her driving instructor. Is this truth or fiction? Suwako’s real-life instructor is handsome but . . .?????</p> <p>Spirited, touching, and droll, <i>Sensei </i>is one of the many must-sees at the NYAFF. After all, in what other film, can the following line be one of seduction? "With you sitting beside me, I can press the gas pedal."</p> <p>Min Kyu-dong's <i>The Prayer</i>, could easily be mistaken for an episode of <i>Black Mirror. </i>Hey, wait! I thought I was being astute. It says as much in the Festival's notes.</p> <p>Well, anyway, in a future home for the infirm, all of the nurses are robots imported to Korea from Germany. One, a higher-priced model, has been taking care of the same comatose patient for over a decade. Programmed not only to take care of the noncommunicative being on the bed, she/it is also programmed to be responsible for the woman’s daughter, who relays that her life is no longer worth living while her mom lives.</p> <p>Uh-oh! What is a robot to do? This one phones up the nun, who left her calling card behind earlier in the week. The nun not knowing her caller isn’t human, initiates the nurse into an awareness of God and prayer. But is God open to a mechanical creature’s worship? The final haunting fifteen minutes make the whole episode worthwhile viewing, clearly a finale that worth writing home about.</p> <p>The above are just a sprinkling of the often-dynamic films being showcased by the NYAFF, entertainment that you can experience both virtually or in-person. The Festival which began on August 6<sup>th</sup> runs until August 22<sup>nd</sup>. There really isn't a better way for a cinephile to spend the next two weeks.</p> <p>-------------------------------------------------------------</p> <p>(<b>NYAFF TICKET PRICING AND INFO:</b><br /> Tickets for the 20th New York Asian Film Festival go on sale Friday, July 23 at noon.<br /><b>Virtual tickets &amp; passes:</b><br /> $12 each for general public, $9.60 for FLC members (discounted ticket) for all virtual titles.<br /> $150 discounted FLC All-Access Pass for all virtual titles.</p> <p><b>In-person tickets &amp; passes:</b><br /> In-person single tickets (for both FLC and SVA):<br /> $15 each for general public, $12 for students / seniors (62+) /persons with disabilities; $10 for FLC members (discounted tickets).<br /> In-person Passes:<br /> $60 for 6 films at FLC only (six-film FLC All-Access Pass).<br /> $250 for an in-person pass for screenings at the SVA Theatre (29 films).)</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=4033&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="d4m3cnUXovZlfanCSq9elJYEKEtfGukpq7aSyiERPbI"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sun, 15 Aug 2021 20:39:44 +0000 Brandon Judell 4033 at http://www.culturecatch.com I Was a Gay Teenager in Love for Six Weeks http://www.culturecatch.com/node/4029 <span>I Was a Gay Teenager in Love for Six Weeks</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/brandon-judell" lang="" about="/users/brandon-judell" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Brandon Judell</a></span> <span>June 27, 2021 - 15:36</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/832" hreflang="en">LGQBT</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><article class="embedded-entity"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2021/2021-07/summer-of-85.jpg?itok=xvWk2ZD0" width="1200" height="1200" alt="Thumbnail" title="summer-of-85.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /></article><p><em>Summer of 85</em>, which was nominated for 12 César Awards, is renowned filmmaker François Ozon's adaptation of Aidan Chamber's 1982 YA novel, <em>Dance on My Grave</em>. Please forget that trivia because the book’s title gives away far too much.</p> <p>Now, if you are familiar with Ozon's cinematic work over the past decades, much of which, but not all, is homoerotic, you’ll not be surprised at the steaminess of <em>85</em>. His short, <i>Summer</i> <em>Dress</em> (1996), for instance, is about an uptight young gay man who goes to a beach to tan in the nude, is seduced by an equally young woman, has his clothes stolen, and is forced to bicycle back to where he’s staying in a dress he’s borrowed. Turned on by the female attire, he winds up copulating wildly with his male lover, who is a fan of the Cher song “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down).”</p> <p>As for <em>See the Sea</em> (1997), this feature has a too memorable scene with a toothbrush; <em>Criminal Lovers</em> (1999) is a highly perverse take on <em>Hansel and Gretel</em>; while in <em>Double Lover</em> (2017), the heroine, who loves her cat, is having an affair with her shrink, who might just be the mean twin of her beau or . . .? Sort of a French Almodóvar, Ozon always surprises and often titillates his audiences while fiercely baring the souls of his creations. </p> <p>And quite possibly Ozon is bearing his own soul here. He read <em>Dance on My Grave </em>when he was seventeen, and he swears that if he ever made a film, that debut work would be based on this novel. Well, as you see, he finally achieved this vow.</p> <p>The film’s working-class hero is the insecure, 16-year-old Alexis (Félix Lefebvre), who has an angelic face, a not unattractive torso, plus a fascination with the ending-of-life process. The teen notes, “Death I was interested in; being dead I was not.” Also, “bathtubs always remind me of coffins.” Alex, as he prefers being called, has a thing for sarcophagi.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/9Tv1viaO_NQ?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Well, one day, while in his friend’s borrowed sailboat, Alex encounters a storm, is thrust into the sea, and is rescued by 18-year-old, David (Benjamin Voisin), a dynamically overpowering gent with a streamlined body, uncaged sexiness, plus facial features that more than a few would find irresistible.</p> <p>Or as the novel notes: “A head of streaming jet-black hair above a broad and handsome face split by a teasing grin atop a tidy body, medium height, with the build and frame that can dress in worn and weather-bleached blue-jean shirt and pants as if in this year’s flashiest marine gear.”</p> <p>David, who runs his recently deceased father’s sailing gear shop, is also Jewish, which is noted here and there in the novel, but barely in the film. This might just add an engaging air of otherness to the scenario for le public français.</p> <p>Well, anyway, the rescuer takes the rescued home where David’s mother singlehandedly strips Alex of all of his wet clothing and gets him into a hot bath. A few days later, two teens have become best pals, a relationship that is cemented with a few hot kisses and some physical actions that are tastefully performed off screen. (Remember please that this is a YA story after all.)</p> <p>For Alex, this is true love. For David, well, this is ….?</p> <p>It should be noted here, if not earlier, that <i>Summer of 85</i> begins with Alex in some sort of police custody. What he was arrested for will take quite a while to be revealed, but it all has to do with an oath he’s taken. Happily, Alex, a “gifted” writer and “a credit to his school,” narrates the whole tale in a typed account of his affair, the result of which will decide whether he gets away with community service or a sort of “imprisonment.”</p> <p>But then love is a kind of imprisonment, isn't it? </p> <p>Being compared by some to <em>Call Me By Your Name</em>, <em>85</em>’s first half is a deliciously enthralling romantic romp that leads to disillusionment that leads to hope. And don’t we carry off something from a broken heart, a novel that clicks with us, or a film that is about a survivor?</p> <p>The Alex character in <em>Dance on My Grave</em> is indeed inspired by an author: “I have a theory that people are nothing more than the sum of the things they think they are. This is not an idea I thought up. I’ll be honest, I got it from Kurt Vonnegut. . . . The idea goes like this: If you think you are a handsome, six-foot-three, blue-eyed genius who writes better songs and sings them better than anyone else in the world, then you tend to behave as if you are a handsome, six-foot-three, etc. etc. . . . . It’s what they believe about themselves that matters, you see. We are what we pretend to be, Vonnegut says, so we better be careful what we pretend to be.”</p> <p>By the end of Ozon's heartfelt nostalgia trip, Alex certainly becomes careful and more forceful, making one wish that this <em>85</em> had actually came out in 1985, a time when it would truly have been groundbreaking and oh! so guiding.</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=4029&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="RtFMFbizFYqVuyNpOpb90jIjTncZibg8pQumpgtflAc"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sun, 27 Jun 2021 19:36:17 +0000 Brandon Judell 4029 at http://www.culturecatch.com 3 from the Tribeca Film Festival http://www.culturecatch.com/node/4028 <span>3 from the Tribeca Film Festival</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/brandon-judell" lang="" about="/users/brandon-judell" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Brandon Judell</a></span> <span>June 18, 2021 - 07:00</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/889" hreflang="en">Musical</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/U0CL-ZSuCrQ?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>"Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world," Jean-Luc Godard once alleged.  Ah, if so, here is a fraud that is a stairway to many a truth, at least that’s what’s this year's Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) persuasively demonstrates.</p> <p>From an early handful of TFF offerings I’ve screened, there was not a bummer in the crop, just far-reaching offerings tackling various issues with an applaud-worthy savvy: DACA angst, love spurred on by Covid-19, sex trafficking, religious hypocrisy, alternative music posturing, Jewish childhoods in Brooklyn, musical takes on Black Lives Matter, aging while sitting next to a tree, arranged marriages, and a blind cat-sitter.</p> <p>Clearly, the Fest's opening feature is the most highly publicized film of the year, <i>In the Heights</i>.<i> </i>The musical's creators and performers have been interviewed by everyone but SpongeBob. At this writing, worrisomely for some, the film has not been breaking box office records, plus creator Lin Manuel Miranda's been accused of Afro-Latinx erasure. Yet the production has inarguably broken Hollywood's self-imposed taboos on depicting the Hispanic experience in the States, not to mention upending the studios' reluctancy to allow Hispanics to be groomed for stardom. With its invigorating choreography, its candy-colored cinematography, its songs that become more addictive with repeated viewings, and its first-rate cast, the Washington Heights populace's cry for an equal chance to live the American Dream should become more palatable to those of all political persuasions.</p> <p>Miranda calls this seeking a <i>sueñito</i>, which translates into a "little dream." There are many a folk depicted here with <i>sueñitos</i>, but for some reason, the character whose quest had me tearing up was Sonny (Gregory Diaz IV), the teen-aged cousin of lead character (Anthony Ramos). When Sonny realizes he might not be able to get into college because of his lack of citizenship papers, his pain is palpable. (Also catch an early-on shot of Sonny biting into a potato chip while working in a bodega, then returning the uneaten half back into the bag. He does so with unbridled style. A bravo! comic-snack moment.</p> <article class="embedded-entity"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2021/2021-06/Milk%20Toffee%20Bulletin%20Board.png?itok=bq4L8KeM" width="1200" height="787" alt="Thumbnail" title="Milk Toffee board" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /></article><p>Pulkit Arora’s first film, the 6-minute short, "Milk Toffee," is a simple tale that was shot in one day at the Navy Children School in India. Here a Goan schoolteacher/nun (the engaging Tanvika Parlikar) has caught several of her students stealing toffees, which at first they refuse to admit. That’s a no-no, especially when the following phrase is shouting from the classroom bulletin board: "Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord." However, when one of the boys shows up with his furious dad, to save the boy from an obvious beating, the teacher lies and states that she, in fact, was the one who stole the toffee. The father hollers that he’ll see she’s fired. Left alone, with the stolen candies on her desk and the lesson-of the day on the blackboard ("God will guide your steps."), she steers her chair away from a huge sculpture of a blue-eyed Christ, unwraps a toffee, and contentedly chews away. Moral: lying lips are sometimes the best type of lips, and the most Christian.</p> <p>As for Eric Oh, this acclaimed artist left his job animating for Pixar (<i>Finding Dory, Inside Out</i>) to create his own personal cinema. The result was "Opera," which earned an Oscar nomination this year for Best Animated Short. His latest is "Namoo" (Korean for tree), a delightfully dark take on life, rather reminiscent of Shel Silverstein's classic, <i>The Giving Tree.</i> A babe is born as is a sapling. As the boy ages, so does his tree, but instead of bristling with leaves, the branches are weighted down with the artifacts of the lad's life: his toys, a bicycle, a guitar, awards he has won, and drawings reflecting his dreams. Then come the at-times harsh realities of adulthood. A love won and lost. Office jobs replacing creative ambitions. And finally a traipse toward death, a finality that turns out to be quite rewarding for both tree and man. A second Oscar nom wouldn’t be out of the question here.</p> <p>Other noteworthy Tribeca offerings: <i>See for Me</i>, the<i> </i>sensational <i>Seven Days</i>,<i> </i>and <i>Poser.</i></p> <p>(The 2021 Tribeca Film Film Festival runs until June 20th.)</p> <p> </p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=4028&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="iq1RhIM8q3UTsAO_h8_bnNB5v7wye8WGDgBm4erSXLc"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Fri, 18 Jun 2021 11:00:10 +0000 Brandon Judell 4028 at http://www.culturecatch.com Trans Athletes Are “Changing the Game” on Hulu http://www.culturecatch.com/node/4026 <span>Trans Athletes Are “Changing the Game” on Hulu </span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/brandon-judell" lang="" about="/users/brandon-judell" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Brandon Judell</a></span> <span>June 3, 2021 - 19:20</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/832" hreflang="en">LGQBT</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/SogJSMhPqI0?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Hulu is going all out to celebrate LGBTQI+ Pride Month with both the old and the new.</p> <p>The chestnuts include both <em>The Birdcage</em> and <em>The Full Monty</em>, a duo from 1997 celebrating drag-queen family values and amateur stripping. Then there last year's <em>Supernova</em>, where love and dementia get intertwined while <em>Cowboys</em> spotlights a Montana dad struggling to salvage his trans son's life. And don’t you dare overlook the second season of <em>Love, Victor</em>, an engaging recreation of high-school closeted neurosis and romance.</p> <p>A must-see though is Michael Barnett's <em>Changing the Game</em> (2019), a moving, much too timely documentary on three trans-teens competing in the sports.</p> <p>First, there's Mack Beggs, a Texas high-school wrestler forced to wrestle girls while he considers himself a boy. Does being on testosterone give him an unfair advantage? Some of the media, a few of Mack's opponents, and many of their parents certainly feel so. And what happens when he wins the state championship?</p> <p>Intercut with his journey is Sarah Rose Huckman's. She's a transgender female skier, who sometimes holds back from winning her events to avoid criticism that it's inequitable for her to compete against cisgender girls her age because of her biology.</p> <p>Andraya Yearwood is a runner, who also faces similar hostility. An old-school feminist, attending one of Yearwood's runs, rants that this teen has "made a mockery of women's sports."</p> <article class="embedded-entity align-center"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2021/2021-06/changing-the-game-hulu.jpg?itok=8WLlXVT-" width="780" height="438" alt="Thumbnail" title="changing-the-game-hulu.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /></article><p>Thankfully, these determined athletes all have support from their parents, guardians, friends, and coaches. Yet in a world when coming out as just gay or lesbian is still not a walk in the park, to be trans seems that much harder. According to a 2018 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics and as reported by the Human Rights Campaign, "more than half of transgender male teens who participated in the survey reported attempting suicide in their lifetime, while 29.9 percent of transgender female teens said they attempted suicide. Among non-binary youth, 41.8 percent of respondents stated that they had attempted suicide at some point in their lives." As Beggs' grandfather notes, "There’s always some redneck against [them]."</p> <p>Yearwood's mom agrees and explains why athletics must be open to her daughter and other trans teens: "This is important. We're talking about life or death. It scares me the numbers what she's up against. What my child won't be is suicidal. What my child won't be is on drugs. If track gives these young kids an opportunity to be living their truth, how dare we take that away from them. So for me that's being unfair. That's more than being unfair. That's cruel."</p> <p><em>Tales of the City</em>'s author, Armistead Maupin, once noted, "The world changes in direct proportion to the number of people willing to be honest about their lives." This is what <em>Changing the Game</em> is about.</p> <p>(To keep track of all current pro- and anti-transgender legislation in the States, trek on over to the Freedom for All Americans website. (<a href="https://freedomforallamericans.org/legislative-tracker/anti-transgender-legislation/" target="_blank">https://freedomforallamericans.org/legislative-tracker/anti-transgender-legislation/</a>)</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=4026&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="AjuP1jqyfQ8mj9RNOol6-sTgV-9rQR1ZuGRLqNobnlM"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Thu, 03 Jun 2021 23:20:50 +0000 Brandon Judell 4026 at http://www.culturecatch.com Days of Whine and Roses . . . or the Wrong Way to Detox http://www.culturecatch.com/node/4025 <span>Days of Whine and Roses . . . or the Wrong Way to Detox</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/brandon-judell" lang="" about="/users/brandon-judell" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Brandon Judell</a></span> <span>June 2, 2021 - 20:37</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/832" hreflang="en">LGQBT</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/vkOLL414GMI?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Hollywood adores alcoholics. From <em>I'll Cry Tomorrow</em> to <em>Days of Wine and Roses</em>. From Arthur to to every version of <em>A Star is Born</em>. Then, of course there’s this year’s Oscar winner, Another Round, with Mads Mikkelsen, where you get four drinkers for the price of one rental.</p> <p>And no wonder! A study of a few years ago, published in JAMA Psychiatry, noted that "12.7 percent of the U.S. Population now meets diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorder." Who doesn't enjoy viewing their neighbors’ vices on the big or small screen as played by stars? All the DTs without the smell of stale beer and unemptied ashtrays.</p> <p>Director Kirby Voss adds to this ever-growing genre with his detox feature, <em>We All Think We're Special</em>, that comes with a warning: "Do not attempt substance withdrawal unless under the care of trained medical personnel." This is preceded by a semi-comic note that I missed the first time around: "The following is based on a true story. It contains neither medical advice nor wisdom."</p> <p>The tale begins with a most unglamorous shot of an actor, showcasing stringy hair, dirt-clogged pores, ravaged skin, and watery squinting eyes. This could either be a David Lynch romantic hero or an ad for Bioré skincare products. However, it's our anti-hero, Charlie Incandenza (Jared Bankens), a math teacher at a community college, who started guzzling liquor prepuberty. He lives on a $2 million family estate that he thought he was going to inherit. Instead, his now deceased mother left everything to Alcoholics Anonymous. She certainly had a black sense of humor.</p> <p>Well, before you can uncork your Sauvignon, Charlie screams aloud as if the devil just stuck a pitchfork up his butt. Jump cut. By the swimming pool, Charlie and his pal Edward Gately (William McGovern), a newly religious gay car mechanic, are gulping down spirits as if there’s no tomorrow. Between swallows, they banter.</p> <p><em>Edward: You're an asshole when you drink. </em></p> <p><em>Charlie: I always drink. </em></p> <p><em>Edward: You’re always an asshole. </em></p> <p><em>Charlie: I'm much worse when I'm sober, I promise.</em></p> <p>But will we ever see Charlie sober? If Edward has his way, we will. The caring chum drains $500 of spirits down the sink, but does he know what he's in for? Admittedly, he has been googling online for some detox advice, but then Charlie might be a special case. After all, he drinks from a bottle of vodka while showering.</p> <p>As the hours without liquor trickle by, Charlie shouts, "I'm not an alcoholic!" "I'll find booze before you find God!" "Do you know what it feels like to be different from everyone . . . and not be special." Plus "I'm a Darwinian failure."</p> <p>When the script allows Charlie to really let loose, he comes off as a half-Bukowski/half-Dostoyevsky hybrid. Think <em>Notes from the Underground</em>:</p> <blockquote> <p>" . . . [I]t it is in despair that we find the most acute pleasure, especially when we are aware of the hopelessness of the situation...."</p> </blockquote> <p>This low-budget two-hander, which delves into the emotional abyss of the unloved who think gin is the answer to their salvation, captures, with its solid cinematography, score, and editing, the deliriousness of acute alcoholism. A few times, though, it comes pretty close to Tommy-Wiseau-ness, but nearly always sidesteps this extreme. Clearly, Bankens and McGovern give their all to their parts, and Voss knows how to stretch pennies and work his cast. The screenplay, especially its WTF ending, could be finessed a little, but if you find a bottle of tequila in your teen’s sock drawer, lock them in the room with <em>WATWS</em>, and they'll never drink again, possibly not even water.</p> <p>(Cinema Epoch's <em>We All Think We're Special</em> is available On Demand (Amazon/Tubi) and Digital platforms from June 4th.)</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=4025&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="cO-DGGsYi2Y8shVYYpMQP5zNXU8B9Wn3iYWmQGvCfcA"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Thu, 03 Jun 2021 00:37:44 +0000 Brandon Judell 4025 at http://www.culturecatch.com