The Dekkoo Films October 9, 2018 DVD release of "Testosterone Volume One" aptly depicts treats and actual and figurative tricks regarding modern gay life, This scope of these four short films includes the bittersweet aspects of any first love, the agony and the ecstasy of being a boy who likes other boys, and a dark comedy about regicide of a queen.
The following YouTube clip of the Dekko trailer for "Testosterone" is a music video that provides a sense of the highly stylized and equally emotional themes of the films.
The first film "End of My World" by Kamil Krawczycki is notable both for being the first gay-themed short film from Poland and the most relatable movie in the group, Dreamy 20-something Filip is very despondent regarding his recent break-up with arguable soulmate Eryk. Some of the angst relates to Eryk disappearing without a trace immediately after pouncing on an opportunity to end the relationship.
Filip claiming a mental health day leads to a montage of despair that prompts flashbacks of his life with Eryk. These scenes particularly ring true regarding all forms of first love but also apply to every relationship. Associated aspects are one person being more in love than his or her counterpart and failed efforts to salvage what no longer is a great thing.
The title of "World" reflects the feeling associated with a relationship ending; other themes are one ending leading to a new beginning and whether Mr. Right Now can become Mr. Right. The latter ties back to the issue of one person being more in love than the person with whom he or she makes the beast with two backs.
The bigger picture this time is Poland being roughly 20 years behind the United States regarding gay rights. Societal acceptance seems to be at toddler stage, and young gay men are struggling with the extent to which they are comfortable coming out; we see how this option being so new can strain a relationship in which one boy is comfortable walking down the street holding hands and the other is at the stage that spending the entire night together is a big deal,
"The Surf Report" is the most odd of the films. It continues the theme of a literal lost love. In this case, surfer "K" apparently hitches a ride to Rock Rock Rockaway Beach in New York where he has very surreal experiences. Meanwhile, the efforts of boyfriend to find this little merman aptly include visiting a psychic who has shades of Whoppi Goldberg in "Ghsot."
The time shifts and very creative cinematography in "Report" make the film especially compelling.
Dekkoo continues doing a good job with the continuum in having "It Gets Better?" This one starts out ambiguously with a clearly distraught middle-aged man watching a streaming video of a younger guy pouring out his heart regarding his distress related to being gay. A highly probable interpretation of all this is that the older man is the father of the younger one.
We soon learn the story of the older man. The theme generally is that he is older, wiser, and somewhat happier than the Millennial. This narrative includes the most erotic (rather than pornographic) scenes in any "Testosterone" film.
Dekkoo chooses wisely in breaking from the trauma, drama, tears, and recriminations in the first three movies by ending things on a light note. Describing the dark comedy "Killer Friends" as being student-film caliber merely refers to the indie and micro-budget vibe. Even before watching it, you know that writer/director Zach Noe Towers casts himself in the starring role.
One puzzle is why Dekkoo includes this not-so-good movie with the others. It seems that there must better comedic options than this short by this YouTube star, who is an unambiguously gay version of Jake Paul.
The premise of this film by Millennials for Millennials is that 20-something Jill is so fed up with former college friend/current roommate Scott that she recruits her boyfriend Brian and their mutual friend Heather to kill Scott during a camping trip. A major plot hole is why Scott warrants this treatment rather than ending his roommate agreement with Heather and she and her friends merely becoming the ghosting trio,
The biggest flaw in this vanity project for Towers is that he both plays it so over the top that he way out Paul Lyndes Paul Lynde. Further, most of his line are very predictable regarding things such as repeating an absurd insult or revealing a secret just as the subject of that remark falters in his or her conviction to kill him. One spoiler is that Scott is such a flamer that it seems that the others do not need to douse him in a combustible substance to Michael Jackson/Richard Pryor him.
This perhaps last-day-in-the-life-of film quickly becomes a Looney Tunes cartoon in that every attempt to snuff Scott boomerangs on the attacker. One fully expects Brian to order a cannon from Acme, to have that weapon arrive within seconds, and then to have the barrel flip around and fire in his face when he aims it at an oblivious Scott.
The bottom line regarding "Testosterone" is that three out of four truly is not bad. Further, good intentions exist regarding including "Friends." As mentioned above, it ends things on a light note that contributes diversity.
Film Movement aptly chooses the beginning of the academic year to take us back to school; art school that is. The September 11, 2018 release of the documentary "Revolution: New Art for a New World" by BAFTA winning filmmaker Margy Kinmonth puts the century-long Russian Avant-Garde movement in the perspective of the Russian Revolution. The first aside is that the incredible cinematography of the grand Russian buildings and of the copious bright paintings SCREAMS for a Blu-ray release. The second aside is that the wonderful art that indirectly comes from the revolution includes the awesome full-length "Anastasia" cartoon that is worthy of its Blu-ray edition.
The final aside is that the "Revolution" release coincides with the Movement DVD of the reviewed "Between Land and Sea." That one documents the year in the life of an Irish surf town.
Kinmonth opens "Revolution" with archival footage of the coup accompanied by narration that explains the basis for the regime change. She soon combines her themes with an image of a famous photo of a literal corpse-lined street, Graphic images of equally literal skin-and-bones corpses is far more disturbing. An equally symbolic look at the black square paintings of Kazimir Malevich accompanied by exposition on them is a less distressing look at the art of the era,.
The copious talking heads who put all this is in perspective include the usual suspects in the form of art experts; we also hear from the descendants of the artists who create the studied work. The story of Chagall is especially interesting in that the revolution literally and figuratively allows this Jewish man previously denied broad freedom.
The underlying aspect of propaganda equally contributes to the entertainment and educational aspects of "Revolution." The aforementioned colorful works depict the new Utopia that the Bolsheviks assert as the new reality of the Russian people. Thus ultimately evolves to the better known blatantly propaganda posters that Kinmonth gives equal time.
A particularly fascinating aspect of this is the sculptures that Lenin commissions to honor revolutionary heroes. Special fun comes via learning both how Lenin adapts to a limitation and why these works literally fail the test of time.
We get an equally rare look at the master works that surprisingly pass the test of time thanks to archivists who recognize their value. The interesting broader perspective is that this shows that the Soviet Union shares the Nazi view that preserving art is a priority.
We also learn about the game changing aspect of Stalin coming to power. A spoiler is that last year's national hero is this year's Gulag resident; the overall theme is that the average Ivan is the new ideal. The special perspective this time comes from an elderly woman with a personal memory of an artist becoming a guest of the state.
The roughly 20 minutes of bonus footage consists of segments from the editing-room floor. These include separate coverage of women artists and avant-garde architecture.
The biggest picture (no pun intended) is that the subject of "Revolution" illustrates (pun intended) how the art of an era reflect the politics of the day. Kinmonth deserves thanks both for valuing art over commerce in presenting this and for succeeding so well in doing so.
Having what I consider a relevant perspective and being a life-long political moderate who has always had Independent or Unregistered status (and last voted in 2015) is prompting this diversion in to Blogland regarding Brett Kavanaugh.
Like many proper-thinking individuals, I am unsure if the allegations against Kavanaugh justify keeping him off the United States Supreme Court. I would want both sides to calmly and objectively state their cases. I do believe that the raising of the issues is ENTIRELY politically motivated and does not reflect a belief that he lacks the knowledge and the experience for the position,
The aforementioned perspective is being a prep. school boy with first-hand knowledge of the environment of Kavanaugh during his formative years. This essay discusses the virtues and the ills of that system and addresses the related senses of entitlement and lack of oversight that can allow (and condone) bullying and other improper conduct that literally includes a covert sex tape. The sad part is that parents shell out big money to shelter their kids from those harms.
A starting point is that one purpose of the three branches of government and the related checks and balances is to have the highest court in our land be free from political influences. Further, the past several nomination proceedings have demonstrated the flaw of having a president nominate a Supreme Court justice,
The means by which the Academy Award winners and popes are selected seem to provide a better model. Each time that there is a vacancy, the Supreme Court should PURELY randomly select a panel of federal judges to nominate candidates based on Congressionally approved standards. This slate should be then be presented to every federal judge below the Supreme Court level for voting,
The checks and balances consist of existing procedures for removing judges for misconduct.
A more underlying issue is that any court should not consider politics when resolving legal disputes. The uniform practice of exerting political pressure on the court has always greatly bothered me, Although the framers of the Constitution could not have anticipated modern issues such as marriage equality, ANY court should take a secular what would Jesus do approach and OBJECTIVELY determine the applicable constitutional principle.
PREP PROS AND CONS
The name of the respected prep. school that I attended for three years is irrelevant because news and anecdotal reports (as well as the '80scom "The Facts of Life") indicate that the same type of thing occurs at most of them. My experience overall was positive in that the smaller classes and living with teachers enhanced learning, being required to participate in a sport (fat kids took refuge in the drama department) prompted a MODIFIED exercise program that I still follow, and I remain in touch with some classmates whom I generally consider to be brothers.
A hilarious misunderstanding highlights the new friends and broadening of horizons of prep. school. A very nice black guy in my dorm always would greet me with a smile and what sound like "Hi Holmes" whenever we passed even though I doubt that he knew my name. Because I was a smart kid, I thought that he was calling me Sherlock Holmes.
This guy laughed when this smallish white boy from an upscale area asked him about the term. He explained with absolute no ill will that the term was "homes" and that people in college used it to greet high school friends "from home" when seeing them in college.
A current friend PERFECTLY describes a downside of prep. schools by calling them "kids' jails" to which parents send children to get rid of them under the guise of doing something good. I was agreeable to going to boarding school (and benefited from it), but my mother manipulated me into doing so to aptly facilitate moving to Washington to pursue her interest in politics; living with Dad was not an option.
The relevancy of this to Kavanaugh is that the downside of even day school prep, school life is that many parents send their kids there so they do not have to deal with them. At the same time, teachers often do not properly fill the parental role and can just as regularly be concerned that bad acts not ruin the life of the offender. This makes it rough when the bully has 24-7 access to you.
Although Kavanaugh attending a day school, the same sense of privilege and lack of parenting seems to apply. All accounts indicate that he was a stud of the school and destined for great things. The apparent problem was that no one either saw or acted on the need to rein him in.
BULLY FOR YOU
From the beginning, the Kavanaugh controversy reminded me of literally nightly NON-SEXUAL attacks during my prep, school days. I have since made peace with the main offender, who reminds me a great deal of the nominee. This guy had a similar ethnic background and was a star player of an aggressive contact sport, He additionally had a strong sense of privilege and currently runs a predatory business that greatly profits from the misfortunes of others.
I lived on the same hall as this guy and his partner-in-crime (who now is a top-ranked finance guy) my junior and senior years. The lesser offenses of these guys was breaking into my room to take snacks and "borrow" a backgammon board, which they always would return, If I was around, these big guys would refuse to leave until I played as many games as they wanted. Of course, they would torment me during the game and do things such as lunge at me to provide them the amusement of watching me flinch,.
The worse offense was bursting into my room into the middle of the night EVERY night just to wake me and try to scare me; they apparently did not realize that my knowing that this occurred every night precluded being scared.
Although (if true), the experience of Christine Blasey Ford was more terrifying, I can relate to her hesitancy to speak up. A prep, school community is smaller and more tight-knit than at a public school, and "ratting out" a fellow student can make life tough. The offenders living down the hall and your classmates always not being much further away exasperates this.
My tormentors actually driving a kid from the school further illustrates this. I knew that the midnight raids had extended to a small and frail boy who was a newly transferred junior when the bullies and I were seniors. This abuse prompted the kid to drop out after two months; I likely would have done the same if I had been targeted at the beginning of my first year at the school. That year allowed me to establish myself and to establish a large group of friends.
The dorm master, who was a burned-out senior faculty member with a minimal dorm presence and let two stoners play Frisbee on the roof every afternoon, did ask me if I knew who was tormenting the junior, I lied and said that I did not. My reasons included not wanting to ruin the lives of the bullies and knowing that only having one strike against them would not have gotten them expelled. I also mistakenly believed that covering for these guys would have gotten them to ease up on me.
SEX, LIES, AND VIDEOTAPE
A more recent incident at the school hits even closer to home. A random Google search of the school in June produced the surprising result of two relatively recent newspaper stories about a sex tape.
The condensed version of the incident was that the boy did not tell his girlfriend that he was taping their consensual sex. As always happens in prep. school settings, word of the tape soon spread. The police were called in and found the recording even though the boy asserted that he had only watched the tape once by himself and erased it. It was suspected (but never proved) that others saw the tape.
The boy left the school, and there was a court proceeding. The headmaster surprisingly condoned the act by writing the boy a letter of recommendation after learning of the tape. The stated justification was that the boy had done good work before the incident, and the headmaster had not wanted one incident to ruin those accomplishments.
The rest of the story is that the headmaster was a student when another sexual offense occurred and MAY have witnessed it, I had recently graduated and was told the story by a faculty member with whom I maintained contact.
The synopsis this time was that a fully dressed female student was grabbed and thrown into the locker room of a boy's team. The girl was held down on the bench, and a boy put his exposed naughty bits in her face. The blurry details regarding this (recently confirmed) incident included a belief that the boy was the boyfriend of the girl.
The elements that make one sympathize with Ford this time include that the sexual history of the girl (including regularly climbing in the dorm-room window of one of my tormentors when they were "dating") was a factor regarding the student body not being sympathetic toward her. The faculty member shared that the boy who climbed on her was forced to leave the school and that the students thought that the girl should have been the one to go This is another example of the price of going against the school stud,
The relayed incidents (and other stories such as teacher having an affair with and ultimately marrying one of his students) are a few of numerous examples of what occurs in many (but probably not every) prep. school and the system that allows it to go unchecked.
My own feelings until talking (but not hugging) it out with my bullies suggests both that Ford would have obtained closure if the prep, school system was better designed to handle such matters. This likely would have avoided all the cost and turmoil related to the Kavanaugh proceeding,
The fact is that such campuses largely being self-contained communities and not paying property taxes enhances a sense that they are sovereign nations; the notable alumni (including the sitcom producer from my school :-)) and family legacies contribute to this sense of privilege.
On a related note, my best friends and the parents whom I liked the best lived relatively simply and did not flaunt their wealth. My parents not being very active in my life made me enjoy comfort-food home-cooked meals with friends, their parents, and their siblings who also often became friends, The mothers invariably cooked the meals despite having enough money to have live-in help,
The best memory regarding this was befriending the doberman whom one family largely had for protection because of the nature of the work of the father, My smiling and saying "good boy" when the dog ran up barking and my showing him great love ultimately fully transformed him into a pet. The self-imposed rule for overnights was that I would not invite him on the bed but would not rat him out if he jumped up. I would make him get down before anyone else woke up.
Forwarding this email to a former teacher/involved dorm parent who currently has input regarding prep. school culture hopefully will help change things for the better.
'Rock and Roll Hall of Fame In Concert Encore' Blu-ray: Once More Paying True American Idols Homage in Spectacular Hi-Def & Crystal- Clear Sound
The Time Life September 21, 2018 2-disc Blu-ray release "Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Encore" perfectly illustrates the evolution of this company traditionally known for '70s-era fare such as book series about World War II and albums featuring the music of the '50s and '60s. The television ads from that period further reflect the Disco Age by inviting customers to call Judy the Time Life operator on a toll-free line to place an order. "Encore," along with the reviewed Time Life "In Concert" Blu-ray set, fully proves that this is not your father's Time Life.
The participants in the 2010 - 2013 inductions ranging from ABBA to Tom Waits, and including The Hollies and Public Enemy, illustrates both the range of the inductees and that the programs have something for everyone from 8-to-80. A personal note that MUST accompany each of these Blu-ray sets is being a bunkmate of former Del Fuego/V.P. of Education for the Hall Warren Zanes; one spoiler is that that summer is entirely free of any Liverpool handshakes or even cries of "Farrah Fawcett."
The rest of the story is that older brother/Del Fuego/current kiddie rocker Dan Zanes was a doo woping potato peeler with The Kitchenettes. A cassette of Dan and and autographed photo remain in one of several boxes labelled "stuff" in the basement.
The bigger mandatory picture is that these ceremonies remind us that true American Idols are not people with the looks and the luck to win a three-month reality show contest. The Hall inductors and inductees remind us that the latter spend years working their way up to selling out stadiums. An inducrtor using slightly more colorful language in referencing one inducted band appearing on stage only wearing a strategically placed sock tempers the sense that hard work is the only way to hit it big.
Randomly choosing the 2012 ceremony to watch for this review worked out exceptionally well. A keynote speech comments that the event marks a return to Cleveland after a move to New York. A shout-out to Ohio governor John Kasich in that speech prompting boos reflects the political divide that is far worse 6 years later. The speaker defending Kasich by noting his support for bringing the ceremony back to Cleveland shows that some people have the proper perspective.
An energetic last-minute surprise opening by Green Day starts things off on exactly the right note (no pun intended.) The song "Letterbomb" and the group both reminding the crowd that "this is fucking rock-and-roll" shows that music is one place where being unrestrained and uncensored is integral to the experience.
Late bluesman Freddie King being the first inductee reflects the aforementioned diversity of the Hall; having Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hall of ZZ Top make the induction speech shows how genres can meld together and how music reflects a continuum in which the prior generation pays it forward by mentoring the new kids and giving them the break that sets them on the road to stardom.
The John (do not call him Cougar) Mellencamp induction speech for '60s folk-rock legend Donovan is the best from that category in the evening, The initial theme is the fan love that conveys sincerity and that expresses sentiments regarding which us mere mortals can relate. Mellencamp going on to discuss meeting Donovan in the midst of a literal recording session melee is hilarious and is a good "Behind the Music" story.
This sets the stage (no pun intended) for Donovan to accept the honor in a fun and heartfelt speech. The Blu-ray liner notes share that this is only time that an inductee has read a poem in such an acceptance.
Many fans also can relate to the pure fan-oriented induction speech by Chris Rock. Rock discusses getting turned on to The Red Hot Chili Peppers after attending an earlier performance of theirs instead of the concert of the intended group. Rock hilariously discusses wondering if the unusual look of the Peppers is standard for white groups. Black and white people with similar experiences can put themselves in the shoes of Rock.
The other inductees include the Ron Wood and Rod Stewart band Small Faces/Faces and The Beastie Boys.
Aside from being outsiders with a better than front-row seat for the ceremony by musicians for musicians in what essentially is a grand-scale reunion and jam session back at the hotel after a gig,
The best thing about these Time Life sets is reminding us of the bands that we loved growing up and of becoming fans of new groups from the first note. A strong personal memory is of being a high-school sophomore invited to join two seniors for ice cream; the excitement continued with the guy who was driving popping a cassette in the player of the family station wagon and commenting that it a great new group called The Police.
The Icarus Films October 2, 2018 DVD release of the 2014 French dark comedy "Number One Fan" PERFECTLY combines the spirit of the current Icarus focus on releasing movies by "independent producers worldwide" with the earlier Icarus raison d'etre of bringing "innovative and provocative documentaries" to North American audiences.
The only misery associated with this tale of manipulative singer Vincent Lacroix getting unsuspecting admirer beautician Muriel Bayen to do his dirty work is that it does not seem that any Hollywood producer plans an American version that ONLY would require geographical adjustments. A related note is that this story is far more apt for the title "The Beautician and the Beast" than the unwatchable 1997 comedy of that name starring Fran Drescher and Timothy Dalton.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Fan" nicely introduces the two main characters and accurately conveys the tone of this MUST-SEE film.
Much of the magic of "Fan" relates to the skill of actress Sandrine Kiberlain bringing the pathetic (and not-so-bright) Bayen to life. This middle-aged woman is not a total loser but definitely has her quirks. As indicated above, she has a long-term obsession with Lacroix. She also is a compulsive liar prone to absurd tall tales. This first comes out in a fascinating scene in which she tells her teen children an increasingly bizarre story about a conversation with a man on the Metro. The unexpected turns makes on wonder if Kiberlain or Bayen have improv. training.
The events that lead to when Vincent met Muriel begin with the former telephoning bitter half psychotic live-in girlfriend Julie. He calls her while she is in the middle of what seem to be frequent hysterics. He then goes home to poker night only to have Julie first disrupt the festivities and then storm upstairs for the next stage of her rampage.
The game then breaks up early, and Lacroix goes upstairs in time to witness one of the most hilarious accidental cinematic deaths ever. This leads to a not-so-fatal flaw in "Fan." One does not understand why he simply does not call the police to report the incident. The "CSI" series alone indicate that the forensics support the truth.
Fortunately for viewers,, Lacroix devises the not-so-devious plan around which "Fan" revolves. He fully reflects the nature of celebrity by paying Muriel a non-booty call and further thrilling her with a request for a no-questions-asked favor. His fatal flaw is not realizing that she is an emotionally unstable dimwit. A relatable aspect of this is most people in any personal or professional relationship not showing his or her crazy until after the "sane" one puts that person in position of trust.
Writer-director Jeanne Henry adds the final element of fun in the form of nymphomaniac police detective Coline and her reluctant male partner-in-crime-solving. Their equally quirky colleagues are additional sources of amusement.
in true Coen brothers style, the investigation commences fairly well with a not-so-distraught Lacroix coming in to report the disappearance of Julie, The subsequent discovery of the corpse alters the tone of the investigation and alerts Lacroiix to the fact both that things did not go according to plan and that he should not have sent a moron to do the job of his personal assistant/nephew.
Insightful and amusing flashbacks show how the plan goes south as Bayen travels east. Watching how this ties into her amending her story as the police identify her as a person of increasing interest further shows that Henry has exceptional talent.
Meanwhile, Lacroix resorts to relatively desperate measures to avoid becoming a soloist in the prison choir; this includes throwing Bayen under the bus after taking her for a ride,
Much of genius of this is keeping the audience intrigued and entertained while maintaining an awesome balance between comedy and drama. We barely see Lacroix sweat, and Bayen puts her fertile imagination to good use in her efforts to keep herself and the French idol out of the modern version of the Bastille.
The conclusion of "Fan" shows both the extent to which someone can get away with covering up an accidental death and the truth of the well-known Chinese proverb regarding being careful when wishing upon a star.