Happy Endings

3 12 2010

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An ensemble cast goes into this interesting movie of seperate, but intertwining stories. Mamie (Lisa Kudrow), once pregnant by her step-brother, Charley(Steve Coogan), has been handed the opportunity to find her adopted out son after 19 years. The only cost, helping Nicky (Jesse Bradford), who knows him, make a documentary about her masseur and lover, Javier (Bobby Cannavale). Charley, now gay, is in a long-term relationship with his partner Gil (David Sutcliffe). Gil’s best friend from school Pam (Laura Dern), is now half of a lesbian couple with an IVF son, Max. But who was the sperm donor? Otis (Jason Ritter), a 22 year old who is secretly gay, is blackmailed by the lead singer of his band, Jude (Maggie Gyllenhaal), to conspire with her to seduce his rich father (Tom Arnold).

I didn’t know a lot about this movie, except it being plugged as just a gay-themed. This genre usually very basic, predictable plots, with low production budgets. I went in to this, expecting to be a little disappointed. You can see from the above, however, that there is much more to this than that.At first, as each story introduced itself, it was a little hard to keep up with them all, but it didn’t take long to settle into it. Perhaps not an emotional roller coaster, but a lot of dark humour and some good performances, with convincing character driven storylines.

Lisa Kudrow especially stood out in this movie as a great actress, playing the anxious, abortion consellor who is filled with her own regrets and insecurities. This is a long way from playing Phoebe, in Friends, and I really liked it.

This is one definately worth renting out on DVD.





Gay Movies: Brokeback Mountain

3 12 2010

brokeback

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In 1963 Ennis del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) are hired to herd sheep on Brokeback Mountain, Wyoming. In the long solitary months together, their bond of friendship grows reluctantly into something more, in the form of both physical and emotional love for each other.

Before I go on, there may be some spoilers in here, so you may wish to stop now.

For all of the hype, I found this movie a little disappointing. I suspect most of the reason it was heralded as a great movie and awarded as such, was largely to do with the idea of a movie with gay themes going mainstream to a wider audience than perhaps better movies which didn’t make it beyond smaller arthouse cinema screenings.

I gather the idea of this movie was to express the issues surrounding homosexual relationships in the conservative west of the 1960s. The secrecy required, the fear of their forbidden love being discovered, the legitimate danger of coming clean. Rather than feeling sorry for Ennis and Jack, however, I felt myself feeling more sorry for their respective wives locked into these loveless marriages. The empathy felt with these women made it hard to sympathise with the men. Even if they were to remain closeted, couldn’t they have the decency to divorce their wives? Would anyone feel sorry for Jack and Ennis if they were cheating on their wives in a heterosexual relationship?

This movie was long, really long, without that much happening. It probably could have been cut down by about an hour, which would help to build me more of a connection with the story, than with the time on my watch. Towards the end the plot started getting kind of aimless. I felt like they killed off Jack just because there was no clear direction to go in. There was nothing in the plot to build up towards that death. No apparent reason beyond him being found out for being gay and to inject life into a failing plotline.

I also found the idea of this being a controversial film kind of farcical as well. Maybe it was challenging for mainstream American cinema, but then this industry is notorious for being predictable and conservative. Hollywood seems to prefer safe formula movies that are guaranteed to make money, than taking a risk on something new. Publicising extremist homophobic complaints made for great marketing techniques.

Most notably on this conservatism, and I’ve heard a number of people from the gay community agreeing on this, for all of their loving relationship, there was very little in the way of physically expressing it. When it was, it was in the most lame and implied sense.

What we end up with is a long, boring movie, with a vague plot, too scared to break any real boundaries,This is far from Ang Lee’s best work and not worth seeing.





Humpday

29 11 2010

Humpday

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Ben and Anna are not an atypical 30-something married couple, settled in suburbia and ready to start a family. When Ben’s old college buddy, and free spirit, Andrew blows in from Mexico one night, he brings with him a taste of that carefree attitude missing from Ben’s lifestyle. After an informal party at a house Andrew is staying at, a drug-induced pact is made between Ben and Andrew to make a gay porno with each other for a film festival known as Humpfest. Both of the heterosexual men are nervous about carrying through with it, but pride won’t let either of them back down, and Ben sees it as a chance to regain something of that lost youth. The amazingly understanding Anna can only stand on the sidelines as is this mid-life crisis unravels.

At first this film sounds like it should be a comedy, and the subject could even be made into one without too much effort. Indeed, it has some humour in it. However, it is essentially a drama and a commentary on a man with a Peter Pan complex and his friend, who has grown up, looking back on what he has left behind. While I found it interesting as to how Anna handled the situation, and the movie itself was not hard to watch, I didn’t feel like it had much substance to it or it knew where it was going. The characters were somewhat two-dimensional and implausible. This seemed most apparent when the supposedly adventurous Andrew, really seemed to become uncharacteristically conservative and awkward when it came to the crunch, as if he were having just as much of a mid-life crisis as Ben, rather than leading him astray.

All in all, a mediocre concept, with a mediocre result.

 





Gay Movies: Boys Love (ボーイズ ラブ)

29 11 2010

Boys Love

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What can I say about Boy’s Love? The original manga it is based on is apparently a popular genre among Japanese women, being a kind of gay soft porn, called Yaoi.

We’re introduced to typical love triangle. First there’s the beautiful teenage model that everyone wants, Noel, but he’s empty inside, so lives a life of excess and debauchery, sleeping with a new guy every night, to fill the void. Then there’s his ugly (looks remarkably like a Japanese Harry Potter) and nerdy childhood friend, Chitori, who is secretly in love with him. Chitori has faith that Noel will eventually realise that he is the one, and return that love.

A new element comes on the scene in the form of a journalist, Taisan, interviewing Noel for a magazine article. Apparently straight, Taisan denies Noel his sexual advances. As he gets to know Noel better, Taisan feels sorry for him, and pushes him to grow up and pull his life back together. Suddenly Noel complies as he feels someone really cares for him and looks out for him for the first time since his childhood first love died. As this bond grows stronger between these two, Chitori isn’t going to take this sitting down.

It’s not exactly soft porn, since apart from a couple of nude scenes and implied sex, its more of a cliche love story. More sensitive and emotional, perhaps to cater to the female audience. Taisan and Noel never do consummate their bond that transcends the physical.

However, its very Japanese in that blurring of acceptable social behaviors between adults and children. Noel is still a minor, even if he acts like an adult, and it walks a fine line of political incorrectness as it explores the relationship between Taisan and himself. If you’re willing to accept the cultural differences, it makes for a more interesting story.

I was unable to find a trailer with English subtitles, so here is the Japanese one:





Sensation 2009 – Men in White

7 01 2010

I’ve always associated wet dreams with the colour white. I can’t claim to have had many wet dreams since I was a teenager and discovered the art of masturbation, but the memory is somehow clear that as the climax approaches everything turns white in my mind. It seems ironic that all of the soft warmth of those sexually intense feelings flooded forward at the White Party last New Years Eve.

I won’t lie to you, I took a little party helper, which might have opened my mind to those feelings more than usual, but I think it is more than that. All the previous dance parties I have been to were specifically gay parties, which were for the most part sweaty, sexy, cruisy and at least for one regular I attend, Toybox, the music is good. Many of the guys were technically perfect, with carefully sculpted muscles to get the right definition and measurements to be a DNA cover model. Many attendees, I’d happily take back to my place, a sauna, a toilet cubicle, a back alley so we could have our wicked way with each other.

However, my true type doesn’t fall under the gay stereotype, which dominates the range of attractive guys on Oxford St, though. Rather it’s those guys who are called ‘straight-acting’  (with a friendly manner and a great smile). I like my men to be men. Sort of defeats the purpose of calling yourself gay, if you’re chasing after effeminate screaming queens, from my perspective. They are strong, and well muscled (though not extreme), don’t spend their lives bitching, lisping, looking in mirrors, moisturising, or listening to diva music. They generally don’t look metrosexual (straight guy who looks gay), and if you didn’t know better, you would assume they are hetero. I guess they are guys I wish I could look like in my ideal form, as one who doesn’t know how to ‘act’ gay very well. When it comes to the bedroom, they are happy to take charge of the situation rather than adopting the starfish position. You know the sort I mean.

Sensation isn’t a specifically gay party, catering to a stereotypically gay audience. I’ve heard it referred to as a straight party, or a mixed party by others, but I prefer to think of it as a plain old dance party, a NYE celebration, nothing to do with gay or straight. Nonetheless, many of my gay friends weren’t interested in going to party in a place they thought of as straight, being somewhat heterophobic. These were mostly the same people who wouldn’t go to what they called ‘straight’ bars. Maybe this was a common belief, since when I got there I couldn’t find many guys who unequivocally I could be sure were gay, and there were many I could see certainly weren’t gay as they made their moves on the bountiful hot babes there.

But oh what hot straight(-acting) men! I’ve never been surrounded by so many men I’ve wanted to have sex with in all my life. They were everywhere I looked! For the first time in years, I felt that slow pulsing warmth move through my body. It isn’t like the hungry horniness of needing to release, needing to climax as hooking up or jerking off feels like normally. It was a pressure slowly building up within me, that feeling of white in the back of my mind. Consciously, it was almost frustrating there was nobody to share that feeling with. I couldn’t be sure any of these guys were gay, and there is no way anyone else would assume I was either. Nonetheless it still felt good.

Perhaps needless to say, at 5:00 AM I ditched my friends and headed straight for the nearest sauna.





Did Kinsey have it right?

28 12 2009

This is an area of sexuality that has long been churning in the back of my mind. As someone who was batting for the ‘other team’  only for a  relatively short time, I can remember what it was to be only attracted to women. My first desire to consider same-sex relations was one which didn’t really seriously emerge until about the age of 29, and I didn’t even know any gay people (or people that I knew were gay) for a couple of years after that.

These days, I have been in a relationship for almost four years now with a man, and I’ve had one previous boyfriend. I haven’t had sex with a woman for several years before that. I often wonder now if I could even make it with a woman now. At this stage of my life, I’m a happier man, less inhibited, more confident and having broken the boundaries many sexual taboos in the past feel a lot more worldly. My heterosexual days are pitted with shyness, repression, scarring from relationships and personal torment, and going back to that period of life when I hated myself, for reasons that had nothing particularly to do with sexual preference. The pragmatist in me would wonder what kind of woman would want to get into a relationship with a guy who has been living a gay lifestlye. Would she believe its just a phase, or that I was a straight guy in denial?

Looking into it, the first thing I came across was the Kinsey Scale (my mum had a book about it in her book case for some reason), where rather than the idea of  being gay or straight existed, these were two opposite ends of the scale and the majority of people lay somewhere in between. The rough categories of the scale were as follows:

0 –  Exclusively heterosexual
1 – Predominantly heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual
2 – Predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual
3 – Equally heterosexual and homosexual (bisexual)
4 – Predominantly homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual
5 – Predominantly homosexual, only incidentally heterosexual
6 – Exclusively homosexual
He further postulated did not necessarily stay in a fixed position across their entire lives. This seemed to make sense to me, as one who feels like he has gone from somewhere between 1 & 2 to somewhere between 4 & 5. He went further to suggest that sexuality played such a dominant role in our society, that admiration of soc-called charismatic handsome men and beautiful women had in itself a sexual component of attraction.
I don’t expect everyone to agree with these theories, especially the idea that the majority are probably not 0 or 6, as Kinsey’s surveys have suggested. There has been a massive rift  between gay and straight communities and identities and for many it would almost be like letting your team down, or betrayal in some cases, but abandoning this adversarial approach.
In many ways, it doesn’t matter. What does matter, is how you treat others and are in turn treated by them. Should people be classified as ‘homosexual’ or ‘heterosexual’? In the truest senses of the word, this labeling is a form of simplified discrimination since it exists purely to define an individual by their sexual preference and I don’t think a single word or even a page of words can ever describe that completely for anyone.
These sorts of topics are at the core of most of my philosophies on human sexuality, so I’ll probably be writing more of them and link them up. If you want to read further on The Kinsey Scale, I suggest you read more here.




Gay Movies: Happy Together (春光乍洩)

23 12 2009

opencam

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This is a Hong Kong movie set around an “on again, off again” couple, Lai Yiu Fai and Ho Po Wing, living in Buenos Aires. Yiu Fai loves Po Wing deeply, and can’t say no when the less stable Po Wing wants him to come back, even after cheating on him. This sweet, simple, tearjerker is well crafted with great performances by Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Leslie Cheung.

I really like this movie, and have watched it many times. I confess to getting a bit sick of the whole ‘gay movie’ genre and ‘Happy Together’ makes a nice change from the usual movies with leading gay characters, which isn’t all about gay issues (cruising, HIV, homophobia, queeny stereotypes, explicit sex, etc). This love story could be told with as much relevance as if it were between a man and a woman and very little is made of the whole homosexual aspect of it. It’s not sexually explicit and it has been criticised by many for this very reason, but there’s enough other ‘Queer as Folk’ type movies out there to sate their appetites, and it is unnecessary to tell this love story.