Archive for the ‘Activism’ Category

Call Me By Your Name: Straight Man

October 17, 2017

It’s not even been released yet (November 24, 2017), and already Luca Guadagnino’s adaptation of the André Aciman novel, Call Me By Your Name has buzz of a sequel thanks to the film’s director. I personally hated the book. The straight male writer has been quoted as saying he doesn’t believe in “…straight, bi, gay—I don’t believe in any of that. We’re just a mess.” That’s one opinion. Definitely not mine. Aciman’s married to a woman with three children, so he must believe in something. I thought the book was a complete cop-out. As soon as I found out it was written by a straight man, it all made sense. Of course neither character would end up gay. Post-gay hetero superiority strikes again. When the film was completed, gay director Guadagnino announced there were no out actors and no explicit sex scenes in the film. And Guadagnino has decided he wants to create a sequel which follows the ending of the book “with Oliver now married with a wife and children. Guadagnino says unlike the book, Elio’s character won’t necessarily turn out to be gay: “I don’t think Elio is necessarily going to become a gay man. He hasn’t found his place yet. I can tell you that I believe that he would start an intense relationship with Marzia [Esther Garrel’s character] again.” I disagree with Guadagnino. I never felt Elio ended up gay in the book. Just the opposite. Both characters retreated into conventional lives and straight relationships. We have so few adaptations of great gay novels, I shudder to think so much attention is being handed to this project. I enjoyed Guadagnino’s I am Love. I never saw his follow-up, A Bigger Splash. I realize not every film released has to have my big gay seal of approval. I simply worry the green light and pre-release accolades once again prove it’s a straight man’s world. I’m not planning on watching the adaptation. Feel free to send me your thoughts if you do.

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The Death And Life Of Marsha P. Johnson

October 15, 2017

David France’s (How to Survive a Plague) sophomore documentary effort, The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson creates an essential conversation. Unfortunately the film meanders in unknown directions. Too bad because the focus of trans people of color, disenfranchised and destitute warrants examination and solutions. How do marginalized people travel in the world? How do we help others out of poverty, homelessness, and a myriad of other issues which keep them stuck in a bad place? How do we empower people while honoring their individuality? France covers all of that. But the focus on the film vacillates between an amateur sleuth story of Johnson’s friend Patricia trying desperately to uncover the truth of her friend’s death, a modern story of a trans woman’s murder, and the chaotic world of Marsha’s friend, Sylvia Rivera. Not sure how a film that features a person’s name can become so convoluted during editing. Watching it proved frustrating knowing that a better focused film would have brought the viewer into a world which desperately needs our respect and support. 3 out of 5 for the film.

Find out more about transgender issues and how you can help:
National Center for Transgender Equality 
Sylvia Rivera Law Project

That Time ‘Will & Grace’ Forgot HIV Exists. Again (My Fabulous Disease)

October 14, 2017

My buddy, AIDS activist Mark S. King (My Fabulous Disease) calls out Will & Grace for not mentioning HIV in the series revival. I haven’t posted about the revival because I’m not a fan. I never was. I was living in NYC when the show premiered originally. It felt like I was already living a NYC story. Will and Jack would have not been part of my inner circle. They were way too uptown for me. I was if nothing else, a Lower East Side snob.

Mark breaks it down as to why it’s important for Will and Jack to discuss the changing landscape of HIV in gay men’s lives during 2017. From My Fabulous Disease,

Only once, in a 2001 episode in which Grace and her boyfriend mention getting an HIV test, was the topic ever addressed. They produced 194 episodes during the original run of the series.

The revival of Will & Grace exists in a far different world. The privileged white gay men who inhabit Will & Grace have access to healthcare and the resources to either take PrEP, the pill that prevents HIV infection or, should they be HIV positive, get on medications that could render them undetectable and therefore unable to transmit HIV to someone else.

Neither of these strategies were available or understood when Will & Grace left the airwaves ten years ago. They exist now, and they have transformed the sexual and cultural landscape for gay men in this country.

Read Mark S. King’s full post at My Fabulous Disease.

A Feminist Film Critic in the Age of Weinstein (The Hollywood Reporter)

October 12, 2017

Film critic Sara Stewart unpacks her understanding of the Harvey Weinstein story and the avalanche of misogyny in Hollywood both in the industry as well as the products created. From The Hollywood Reporter,

In six years, it’s been incredibly rare for anyone from the critical community to simply say to me, “You know, that’s a good point about women.” It seems to me that, when it comes to reviews, voicing concerns about representation is often seen by my peers as an abdication of one’s pure love of filmmaking — a prioritizing of activism over criticism. I disagree. Misogyny in film should be pointed out as plainly and as often as possible. I try to support and promote other writers who do so. Because what message does our collective embrace, or enabling, of onscreen objectification send to the predators still out there?

Read the full article on The Hollywood Reporter.

Oscars: France Selects ‘120 Beats Per Minute’ for Foreign-Language Category (Hollywood Reporter)

September 27, 2017

From The Hollywood Reporter,

Robin Campillo’s drama won the Grand Prize at this year’s Cannes film festival.

France has selected Robin Campillo’s 120 Beats Per Minute as its submission in the best foreign-language film category of the Oscars.

The film won the Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year.

The selection committee was chaired by National Cinema Center (CNC) head Frederique Bredin and composed of executives including Cannes Film Festival head Thierry Fremaux, French Academy president Alain Terzian, UniFrance film body head Serge Toubiana and former head Jean-Paul Salome, as well as CNC financing commissioner Teresa Cremisi.

BAFTA- and Cesar-nominated director Anne Fontaine (Coco Before Chanel) and Cesar winner Deniz Gamze Erguven, director of the Oscar-nominated Mustang, rounded out the committee.

The commission selected from a shortlist including 120 Beats Per Minute, Mathieu Amalric’s Cannes Un Certain Regard special prize winner Barbara and Redoubtable from Oscar-winning director Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist).

Read the full article.

Hollywood Still Sucks at Lesbian Visibility (After Ellen)

September 25, 2017

Disturbing article on the percentage of lesbian characters in major Hollywood films during 2016. From After Ellen,

The US population is 50.8% female, but in the last 9 years, the percentage of speaking roles occupied by women has not exceeded 32.8%

Of 4,544 speaking characters in the top 100 movies of 2016, only 9 characters were lesbian, and none were protagonists.

Of course none of this is surprising. Without the independent film community, there would be very little diversity in film and very few LGBTQ protagonists. The 100 top grossing US films of any year continue to primarily appeal to teenage boys. Support independent cinema.

Read the full article at After Ellen.

Tom of Finland trailer

September 23, 2017

Very excited to see the new release, Tom of Finland. The film is Finland’s official choice for submission in the Oscars’ “Best Foreign Language Film” category. From Kino Lorber,

Known to the world as Tom of Finland, the proudly erotic drawings of artist Touko Laaksonen shaped the fantasies of a generation of gay men, influencing art and fashion before crossing over into the wider cultural consciousness. But who was the man behind the leather? Dome Karukoski’s stirring biopic follows his life from the trenches of WWII and repressive Finnish society of the 1950s through his struggle to get his work published in California, where he and his art were finally embraced amid the sexual revolution of the 1970s. Tom’s story is one of love, courage and perseverance, mirroring the gay liberation movement for which his leather-clad studs served as a defiant emblem.

Tom of Finland opens 10/13 in New York and 10/20 in San Francisco and Los Angeles before expanding to select cities.

Watch the trailer on YouTube.

Edith Windsor: 1929-2017

September 12, 2017

From the NY Times,

Edith Windsor, the gay-rights activist whose landmark Supreme Court case struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013 and granted same-sex married couples federal recognition for the first time and rights to myriad federal benefits, died on Tuesday in Manhattan. She was 88.

Her wife, Judith Kasen-Windsor, confirmed the death but did not specify a cause. They were married in 2016.

Four decades after the Stonewall Inn uprising fueled the fight for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in America, Ms. Windsor, the widow of a woman with whom she had lived much of her life, became the lead plaintiff in what is widely regarded as the second most important Supreme Court ruling in the national battle over same-sex marriage rights.

Read the full obituary at The New York Times.
Catch Reel Charlie’s review of the glorious documentary, Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement.

Louise Hay 1926 – 2017

September 2, 2017

Spiritual pioneer Louise Hay died this week at the age of 90. Thirty years ago she taught me how to love myself and believe in possibilities. She gave me hope during a time of great darkness in my life and in the world at large – the early years of the AIDS epidemic. I am forever grateful for the spiritual foundation offered to me post-Catholicism. Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life, Emmanuel’s Book, and Caroline Myss’ Anatomy of the Spirit all had profound impact on my young life. Rest in peace dear Louise.

See Louise Hay’s author page on Hay House.
Watch a clip of You Can Heal Your Life, the film based on Louise’s best-selling book.
Buy the film at Hay House.

Matewan

August 31, 2017

John Sayles’ 1987 film, Matewan creates the perfect introduction to independent film for the American Director’s series screening at the library this Fall. I wanted to show a Sayles film from the 1980’s, 1990’s, and 2000’s. I believe Matewan will mesh beautifully with Lone Star and Sunshine State. Based on the true story of beleaguered coal miners in 1920 West Virginia, Sayles’ enlists his signature ensemble cast featuring Chris Cooper, Mary McDonnell, David Strathairn, Gordon Clapp, and Joe Wright to tell an important American story. Was Sayles the first filmmaker to not only use groups of diverse actors but feature strong stories based on the lives of people of all races? Certainly this theme follows Sayles through the other two films featured in the series. Matewan stands strong after 30 years and remains just as essential now as we face a nearly non-existent middle class with no labor relations to protect working people from corporate greed. Matewan reminds us there’s no going back to sending humans into dangerous, life-shortening mining jobs. Sayles masterfully crafts a film about a time when companies treated humans like disposable slaves, as the workers began to assert their rights for a decent and honorable life. A must-see. 5 out of 5 for Matewan.

Read about the real Matewan Massacre on the West Virginia Archives and History website.


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