“THE YES MEN ARE REVOLTING”— Activist Antics

the yes men poster

“THE YES MEN ARE REVOLTING”

Activist Antics

Amos Lassen

Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum are legendary prankster protesters  ( they are also known as Igor Vamos and Jacques Servin) and here they team up with director Laura Nix to chronicle their latest activist antics. After working together for more than 15 years to aggressively (and humorously) expose corporate greed and political malfeasance, the duo is now dealing with a bit a midlife crisis. Mike has a wife and two kids, Andy is settling in to what he hopes will be a long-term relationship with his new boyfriend, and their new priorities and responsibilities are starting to have a noticeable effect on their creative partnership. This doesn’t stop them from continuing to make trouble and news, however. Here global warming becomes the critical focus of their work, and so they set their sights on the fossil fuel industry’s biggest government lobbyist: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. That effort leads to their first major lawsuit and several other key actions (some successful, some a little less so) that take them to Uganda, Canada, and the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Along the way, they find themselves starting to question the true value and impact of their activism and they wonder if their work really helping to change the world. Of course, watching this film is one way to make sure it does.


the yes men copy

When we consider the seriousness of the global problems that we are ignoring at our own peril, it is good to know that these two activists are ready to use their media savvy to ridicule and embarrass those members of the 1% who feel it is their privilege to rule the world and do whatever they want.

Andy poses as the spokesperson for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to talk about a recommendation for a “carbon tax” on polluters. This skit draws so much international attention that this lobbying organization threatens to sue the Yes Men for “commercial identity theft masquerading as social activism.”

At a climate change conference in Copenhagen, the Yes Men put together another charade to make clear the suffering of low-energy-consuming Third World countries at the hands of high-energy-consuming countries like the United States. Given the magnitude of the problems being generated by climate change, the Yes men are saddened by UN summits where diplomats talk but do not walk the talk.

Andy and Mike go their separate ways: one moves to Scotland with his family, and the other joins a Greenpeace effort to reveal Shell Oil’s plans in the Arctic. The two men reunite in a hilarious prank at the expense of those attending a Homeland Security conference. Here’s hoping that the Yes Men continue their Crazy Wisdom schemes exposing the plans, lies, and dangers of the rich and the powerful.

This is a film of the irrepressible hijinks. There are probably some grounds for fraud in the pranks pulled off by the two. Even so, the pure charm, courage and, at times, outright lunacy of the acts allows us to excuse that. The Yes Men do not falsely report what business leaders and worldwide fat cats say, they go far beyond that. They impersonate the top political and economic leaders of the world and say what, in the Yes men’s opinion, they should be saying in the first place.

the yes men

As the team puts it, although the unbelievably massive tar sand mining represents a small impact to Canada, it causes a major impact to Uganda and other developing countries where critically fragile farm output is hamstrung by drought and high temperatures.

Just so you know, Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum are not their real names. They appear to teach at two well-known American Universities, which may have had a say in just how public the two were allowed to go in divulging their real lives. Their “What if” scenarios that have put their names on the map (and at the corporate bulls eye) for the last twenty years. This film not only recounts their chief accomplishments of the last few years, but it also checks into the personal lives of the two activists. As it turns out, being a political prankster is not always as glamorous as it sounds. Well into middle age, both are forced to re-examine the difference they are making and the ways and means required to raise a family and maintain a household.

 

“BIG IN JAPAN”— A Rock and Roll Road Movie

biginjapanposter

“Big in Japan”

A Rock and Roll Road Movie

Amos Lassen

We meet a Seattle band here that is determined to stay around and it is based on actual events. The film follows real life rockers, the band Tennis Pro as they go to Japan in a last try to stop their day jobs from taking over their careers.

biginjapan1

Director John Jeffcoat was able to capture the intersection of music, film and two cultures to reveal simple, oftentimes hilarious, universal truths. In the 70s and 80s, rock bands from here left this country because the music business here was “over-saturated” and tried to gain success in other countries of which Japan was one of the bigger ones. Success in Japan provided bands like Bon Jovi, Cheap Trick and the Ventures with enough respect and fame so that here in the States, they were regarded as more than just regional bands.

biginjapan2

Alex (Alex Vincent) came across Tennis Pro at a show in Seattle and as he watched and listened to them, he saw a very talented band playing at an empty venue. Alex had once been a member of Green River and he was reminded of what his band went through. Green River was once considered to be the first grunge band but it was never successful outside of the Pacific Northwest. Members of Green River went on to become future members of Pearl Jam and Mudhoney. Alex was sure that he could transform the Tennis Pro trio into rock stars. The members were David (David Drury), Phil (Phillip Peterson) and Sean (Sean Lowry) to temporarily give up their unsuccessful and monotonous lives in Seattle and to dream of becoming big in Japan.

As most viewers will probably expect, Tennis Pro encounters many struggles once they arrive in Tokyo (some are quite funny); in fact, things are not much different for them here than in Seattle. The music scene had changed a lot in Tokyo since Alex last lived there. As the Tokyo scene has grown exponentially, American bands have become less nostalgic to Japanese audiences. Running low on money, Tennis Pro had to find some way to adapt to the situation quickly. They take matters into their own hands, self-promoting their upcoming gigs and networking with local musicians.

biginjapan3

The bitter irony is that if they took this same level of initiative in Seattle, Tennis Pro probably would not have been playing to empty rooms in the first place. Writer/director John Jeffcoat captures the ever-changing trends in the music industry, not just in the United States but internationally as well. With digital technology, anyone can record and sell music totally independent of record labels; but, gone are the days of being discovered and breaking it big right out of the gate. Because the supply of music is now so much higher than the demand, bands must work really hard to get noticed. The difficult part is finding an audience. It is here that relentless self-promotion and networking comes in. Most importantly, this new separates those who love music from those who are just in the game for a quick fortune. Luckily for the guys in Tennis Pro, they seem to really love making music.

Most of the songs performed by the band in the film seem to be pleasantly diverting, vaguely familiar and instantly disposable. The actors in the film are the actual band members and the movie is semi-fictional, loosely based on the group’s true-life attempts to boost their careers by making a splash in Tokyo.

The movie unhurriedly moves from scene to scene with only a token storyline to unite musical interludes, mildly comical episodes, of local color and, briefly, a semi-psychedelic, anime-flavored fantasy. However, the freewheeling discursiveness is more engaging than annoying.

biginjapan4

Drury, Peterson and Lowry are effortlessly convincing as friends and collaborators whose sometimes jokey, sometimes bickering interactions are informed by a shared past. Each plays a variation of his off-screen self, complete with distinctive quirks and/or colorful baggage. If their “characters” sometimes seem like stereotypes, that doesn’t make them any less believable as they strive to catch a break and keep hope alive.

When one plays in a trio, like Tennis Pro, there’s no one to hide behind.  Each member of the band has an essential role in the song. It’s finding that harmony in the stripped down simplicity that makes a great trio. 

“THOSE PEOPLE”— Obsession, Scandal and Loyalty

those poster“THOSE PEOPLE”

Obsession, Scandal and Loyalty

Amos Lassen

Obsession, scandal, and shifting loyalties put a great deal of pressure on a friendship. “Those People” directed by Joey Kuhn looks at the nature of friendship and at the pressures put on it. Charlie (Jonathan Gordon) is an artist who is hung up on his vain and good-looking best friend Sebastian (Jason Ralph). When Charlie is asked to do a self portrait asked to paint a self-portrait, he can only deliver a painting of Sebastian. Then there is a scandal that involves Sebastian and his father is sent to prison. Charlie moves into Sebastian’s luxurious Manhattan apartment which is perfect for him getting closer to Sebastian. However, Sebastian is always just a bit out of reach. Charlie meets Tim (Haaz Sleiman), a Lebanese concert pianist who is older and more settled. He is unlike Sebastian who always seems to be in the middle of chaos. in contrast to Sebastian’s chaos. Charlie is intrigued by and attracted to Tim. Sebastian becomes jealous and gives Charlie something to think about by presenting him a proposition— Should he maintain the status quo in the hopes that his feelings will someday be reciprocated, or should he pursue something real with his hot new man?

those people

You just might recognize the names of Charlie and Sebastien—these are also the names of the two main characters in “Brideshead Revisited” by Evelyn Waugh. This leads us to believe that director Kuhn is looking at more than romantic drama. The social milieu is important to the plot in that a closed world opens up to let a new character enter it. With that, the nature of friendship also begins to change. The film’s strengths lie in the chemistry between the characters and the passion that is at the heart of a romantic triangle that is totally uneven.

those 1

“ROMAN DE GARE”— A Tricky Thriller

roman de gare

“ROMAN DE GARE”

A Tricky Thriller

Amos Lassen

Judith Ralitzer (Fanny Ardant) is a novelist and a femme fatale. She is planning her next novel and looks for characters. As she is doing this, a serial killer has just escaped from a high security prison. Their paths are about to cross in Claude Lelouch’s new film, a tricky thriller. Here is a film with many characters and a timeline that moves back and forth and keeps the audience guessing. Before long, Ralitzer is called into the police station and questioned about her secretary who has disappeared. Then a hairdresser, Huguette (Audrey Dana), has a vicious argument with her fiancé at a gas station and he is so infuriated with her that he drives off in her car leaving her in tears. A mysterious stranger (Dominique Pinon) saw the fight and tries to cheer her up but it did not help. He offers her a ride, and when she realizes her boyfriend is not going to return so she reluctantly accepts. The stranger has heard about the serial killer and relates the story to her. Huguette is upset and blames herself for what has happened in her life. She goes to the family farm and asks the stranger to play her fiancé in front of her parents, brother, and teenage daughter.

roman1

Just about the same time, a woman reports that her husband is missing and as she does, she falls in love with the detective listening to her. When her husband returns, she is delighted to hear that he is leaving her. She is ready for a new life herself.

roman2

This is French filmmaker Claude Lelouch’s 49th film. In it we meet people who live diminished lives and fabricate stories about themselves to others. Even Ralitzer, has some dark secrets that no one else knows. Everyone here is seeking love but really do not know how to do so.

“Roman de Gare” translates as “airport novel” and there are many characters who run the gamut from hapless to charming to vaguely sinister. At the center is an unlikely couple: a celebrity-mad provincial neurotic (Audrey Dana) who’s either a hairdresser or a hooker, and a pug-faced stranger (Dominique Penon) who is either a serial killer, a teacher on the run from his wife and kids, or the ghostwriter for a famous novelist Lelouch has shot his characters through rainy car windows or chugging back Burgundy on a fancy yacht. This is a story of self-emancipation, a love story made by a mature man wise to the possibilities of the improbable and it is also a thriller with an unexpectedly dark edge. It is an intellectually cagey film filled with strange characters doing strange things. Director Lelouch is something of a magician who baits-and-switches the audience by offering multiple identities – only one of which can be real.

roman3

“ME WITHOUT YOU”— Best Friends

me without you

“ME WITHOUT YOU”

Best Friends

Amos Lassen


Sandra Goldbacher’s “Me Without You” is the story of two

 best friends growing up in the London suburbs in the 1970s. The film spans three decades, the film begins when Marina (Anna Friel) and Holly (Michelle Williams) form an unlikely bond as teenagers. Marina is tremendously different in temperament from the serious, bookish Holly but their disparate personalities complement each other, allowing the girls to build a defense against their boring lives in the suburbs. They are lead to define themselves in relation to each other. Over the ensuing decades, Marina and Holly’s friendship endures hard drugs, random sex, manipulation, betrayal, and lots of other interesting and saucy stuff.

me1

In 1973, Marina and Holly, next-door neighbors, make a vow to be true to each other as best friends even though they are as different as two girls can be. Marina lives with her trendy mother (Trudie Styler), a pill popping former croupier who is separated from her husband. Holly’s Jewish parents (Allan Corduner, Deborah Findlay) are sober and serious individuals who encourage their daughter’s bookishness. Early in their friendship, Holly develops a crush on Marina’s older brother Nat.

In 1978, they crash a party where Nat (Oliver Milburn) and his friends are experimenting with drugs. Molly acts upon her sexual attraction for him since his girlfriend is not there and this becomes the first secret between Holly and Marina. It is secrets that hurts their relationship. While attending Sussex University in 1982, Holly falls for Daniel (Kyle MacLachlan), a literature tutor who enjoys her enthusiasm for ideas and literature. They begin a sexual relationship. But the very competitive Marina begins to also see him secretly on the side and the whole thing ends badly for both women. What we really see here is how difficult it is to maintain a long term friendship. While Marina is the more aggressive of the two, she is still too dependent upon Holly. Over the years, Holly tries to bear up under the criticism and the betrayals of her friend but eventually feels that their friendship is bad for her soul. When Marina marries a Jewish doctor and has children, she’s still unhappy. Meanwhile, Nat reappears in Holly’s life bearing some new surprises. The film focuses on the idea that it is better to leave a relationship that is symbiotic rather than stay as it drains one.

me1

Neither girl has the perfect family—Holly’s mother is overly pragmatic— “Some people are pretty people, and some people are clever people, which is more important than looks.”, and Marina’s mother could do with a bit of pragmatism. Marina longs for stability while Holly feels stifled and underestimated. Both Marina and Holly were tired of their monotonous lives and tired of being inexperienced, so when they learn that Marina’s older brother, Nat, plans to attend a weekend-long party with no chaperones at his girlfriend’s house, they decide to crash it. It’s soon apparent that the gathering is less a party than a drug-induced coma, so, in an attempt to hide her hesitance and insecurity, Marina follows an encouraging man to the back room, where he shoots her arm full of heroin. Holly, perhaps in retaliation or more likely just in response to years of attraction, lies down next to Nat and caresses him, urging him to respond. Marina sees her best friend and her brother having sex and returns to her drug buddy.

me3

The next day finds Nat leaving for Greece, but not before entrusting with Marina a note he’s written Holly, explaining that he loves her but the timing is bad and he’s confused. Marina tears up the note and, when Holly asks after Nat, says he didn’t even mention her. “They’re all pigs, Holly. You’ve got me; you’ll always have me.”

Then we have Holly developing a crush on Daniel (Kyle MacLachlan), one of their professors, and then, not-so-coincidentally, Marina does so as well. Daniel, with only a tinge of guilt, gets to have his cake and eat it too. (Although, as he tells Holly when the jig is finally up, what he has with Marina is only sex. But, while Holly stimulates his mind as well as his body, Marina is irresistible.)

me4

Marina discovers the deception so when Nat shows up soon after, seeking refuge from a breakup, we see Marina’s attempt to attain her revenge by swaying Nat, painting Holly’s relationship with Daniel as a pathetic obsession. Nat is unconvinced, though, and he and Holly repeat their earlier performance. The next morning, enamored of each other, they decide Holly should break up with Daniel, but when she arrives to do so, she sees Marina kissing him in the doorway. Holly can’t deal with Marina’s betrayal and runs off, and Nat runs back to his soon-to-be fiancée. There are two more similar incidents later—Marina still unknowingly sabotages Holly’s happiness and self-esteem to give herself a boost. And Holly still tolerates the stifling friendship. Marina doesn’t know how to live without Holly; Holly doesn’t know how to live with Marina. And Holly and Nat still dance around each other like teens at their first dance with both being afraid of rejection. The characters are captivating and I loved the film until the end which made me feel like I was being manipulated.

The film looks poignantly at how dysfunction functions, at how the good can make you forget the bad ever happened, and at how sometimes we should forgive and forget rather than discard. It is a look at the complications of female friendship: the jealousy, insecurity, and cattiness that we take out on each other, but that we put up with from each other too. We watch these characters over 27 years, but they do not grow and nothing really changes. The film has its flaws but it is certainly worth watching.

me5

Both of the stars, Anna Friel as Marina and Michelle Williams as Holly, own the screen, but each in a different way. Friel is wild and crazy and lives for the moment and whose gregarious nature takes pity on the bookish, Jewish Holly. Harina, their mutually shared nickname and personality, is an amalgamation of the two girls, one that is dominated by the flamboyant Marina. Holly, though, is not merely a follower and has learned something from all the years of having her nose stuck in books. As the girls get older, the roles change and we see that it is Marina who needs Holly. The characters don’t meld into each other and each actress gives a good, sharp edge to her performance.

“The Impossible Jew: Identity and the Reconstruction of Jewish American Literary History” by Benjamin Schreier— Breaking Down the Academic Ghetto

the impossible Jew

Schreier, Benjamin. “The Impossible Jew: Identity and the Reconstruction of Jewish American Literary History”, NYU Press, 2015.

Breaking Down the Academic Ghetto

Amos Lassen

The timing for my receiving this book could not have been more perfect. I am in the midst of preparing a course I will be teaching next year on what is new in Jewish literature and what does it have to say to us. One of the biggest questions we have about our literature has to do with the study of identity and identification. Author Benjamin Schreier “breaks down the walls of the academic ghetto” which is where, he says, Jewish American literature is found. Since it is there, it is alienated from other fields such as comparative ethnicity studies, American studies and multicultural studies and in short, this means that Jewish studies is unwilling to take critical literary studies as part of its own being and therefore does not take part in self-critique.

In his book, Schreier looks at how the concept of identity is “critically put to work by identity-based literary study.” He looks at this in terms of key authors who are in what is considered the Jewish American Literary canon and he includes Abraham Cahan, the New York Intellectuals, Philip Roth, and Jonathan Safran Foer. You might wonder why Bernard Malamud and Saul Bellow are not among the authors discussed and just who is this Abraham Cahan. Schreier tells us “how texts resist the historicist expectation that self-evident Jewish populations are represented in and recoverable from them.” He then draws the lines of relation between Jewish American literary study and American studies, multiethnic studies, critical theory, and Jewish Studies formations. His thesis is “that a Jewish Studies beyond ethnicity is essential for a viable future of Jewish literary study.” A look at the Table of Contents lets us know that this is not a book for everyone and is best suited for academics.

Contents

Acknowledgments ix Introduction: The School of Criticism I Wouldn’t Be

Caught Dead In: A Polemic on Theorizing the Field 1

  1. Toward a Critical Semitism: On Not Answering the Jewish Question in Literary Studies 22
  2. Against the Dialectic of Nation: Abraham Cahan and Desire’s Spectral Jew 69
  3. The Negative Desire of Jewish Representation;
    or, Why Were the New York Intellectuals Jewish? 95
  4. Why Jews Aren’t Normal: The Unrepresentable Future of Philip Roth’s The Counterlife 149
  5. 9/11’s Stealthy Jews: Jonathan Safran Foer and the Irrepresentation of Identity 185

Conclusion: Minority Report 214

Notes 221

Bibliography 249

Index 259

About the Author 270

“The Days Between: Blessings, Poems, and Directions of the Heart for the Jewish High Holiday Season” by Marcia Falk— Modernizing the Days of Awe

the days between

Falk, Marcia. “The Days Between: Blessings, Poems, and Directions of the Heart for the Jewish High Holiday Season”, (HBI Series on Jewish Women) Brandeis, 2014.

Modernizing the Days of Awe

Amos Lassen

The ten days beginning with the New Year, Rosh Hashanah and ending with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, are the holiest days of the Jewish year. It is during this season that religious as well as nonaffiliated Jews attend synagogue services in large numbers. However, this is not always a pleasant experience. Marcia Falk changes that in her new book, The Days Between”.

What Marcia Falk has done here is to take the themes of the important rituals and prayers and makes them more contemplative and therefore more personal (as she does so in both English and Hebrew). We have not only blessings and prayers but also poems and meditations for reflection. There are two main emphases—introspection and relationship to others. The overall stress is on “ten days of striving to keep the heart open to change.”

The first question that critics will undoubtedly ask is what about the traditional? I am reminded on an incident at a service I once attended at a reform temple in Little Rock, Arkansas where I lived for seven years. We were singing before the service and we came to “L’cha Dodi”, a song used to welcome the Sabbath. The rabbi asked if anyone had a preference for melody and someone yelled out, “Let’s do the traditional”. There is only one problem—many of the melodies to “L’cha Dodi” are traditional so which one is the most traditional? It is here I rest my case regarding tradition.

The other aspect of song and blessing is those that come from liturgical and biblical sources and we often wonder how to make something that was written thousands of years ago relevant to day. Ask no further; Marcia Falk has done just that.

The readings here are filled with beauty and meaning and we can use what is here either personally and intimately or we can bring them into services in which an entire congregation takes part. They can be used alternatively or additionally.

What Falk has written puts us in the mood for both reflection and introspection and we can even find new places and ways in which we can approach the high holidays. Falk has taken some very old practices and updated them so that they have meaning for us today, She gives us a wonderful new addition to the ten days and I am sure that everyone will find some use for something that she has written. She has captured the main points of the ten days and takes us on “a journey from reflection to renewal to resolve.” However, I must tell you that if you are looking for a traditional prayer book, this may not be for you. Falk dies not mention God yet there is indeed a sanctity to what she writes.

“HENRY GAMBLE’S BIRTHDAY PARTY”— A Teen and Faith

henry Gamble poster

HENRY GAMBLE’S BIRTHDAY PARTY

A Teen and Faith

Amos Lassen

Henry Gamble is 17-years-old and we are all going to his birthday party. Stephen Cone who brought us the wonderful “The Wise Kid” directed this film about the intersection of faith and youth. Everyone likes Henry. He is the son of a newly ordained pastor at a large evangelical church, and the lives of his family and friends are deeply embedded in the devotional world of faith. As Henry’s party takes place, the family home is taken over by teenagers with active hormones from church and from school. Other guests include young adult church counselors and congregational elders and everyone seems to be trying to find the balance between faith and fun.

henry gamble

As the afternoon goes by, we see unrestrained passion take over. Some of the guests are in the pool in the backyard and a box of wine helps to loosen inhibitions. Soon whispers of formerly held secrets come to the fore and we learn about some of the people at the party. We are given a peek into the lives of the faithful here as they struggle against temptations. Henry will not forget this party for a very long time.

 

“GENERATION BABY BUSTER”— Saying No to Procreation

generation

“Generation Baby Buster “

Saying No to Procreation

Amos Lassen

“Generation Baby Buster “ is a new documentary that looks at why so many women are just saying no to procreation. Director Terra Renton also deals with her own feelings about having children. It is interesting to see that many women just do not want to have children for a myriad of reasons. We look at what this means for the future and why women choose not to do what some feel is the role of the female. We could have a list of many reasons from capitalism to feminism to “ men’s lack of participation on the home-front, the male work model, hedonism and the pursuit of the good life or just the fear of sleepless nights”. Whatever the reason, this is something that is going on right now.

generation2

Terra Renton is 32 and happily married and knows that she is ambivalent about children. She decides to find out what is behind this ambivalence and her fear of the unknown. On her journey, she looks at many of the possible reasons that more than 20% of a generation of women are not having children and so it is quite natural to assume that the desire for freedom can be one of the reasons for living one’s life without the responsibility of children. But then it could also be that there are those who find the idea of raising children to be something they do not want to do, quite simply.

The film is partly interviews and partly conversations and through these, we see and hear not only the views of the people who are thinking and talking about this subject, but also the current state of parenting in the modern world.  We are now living in “hyper competitive, helicopter, child-centered, consumer based” world that seems to make some people bypass babies.

Elizabeth Badinter, French author and philosopher, tells us that “if mothers took back their lives, parenting wouldn’t be such a nightmare. Professor Neil Gilbert believes “that capitalist mechanisms, created to get educated women back into the workforce, are responsible for denigrating motherhood.”

Editor-at-large of Psychology Today, Hara Marano, editor of “Psychology Today” explains “how over-parenting and anxiety around childhood has harmed children to the point of elevating psychological disorders on college campuses.” Author and economist Deirdre Macken says that when women stop having children, “it is an indication that society is sick”. Sylvia Ann Hewlett worries “that women have put so much energy into their careers, they have forgotten about their personal agendas.”

So what is with this generation of younger women who have grown up micro managing and planning their lives that they are afraid of the unknown? Are they indeed missing something?  Could it be that they are choosing lives that while fun are lacking fulfillment as well as the experiences and emotions that motherhood brings? Is it even true that women are choosing not to have children or is it perhaps that children are being pushed away from the lives we live by the culture today that does give family its true value? Do capitalism and consumerism have anything to do with what is happening today?

generation3

The film goes after these questions and we learn a lot here in a humorous and lighthearted way. As the director deals with her own questions and worries, she finds some of the answers she needs and is better able to understand her biological clock. And there is advice given here and it is up to the viewer to take it or leave it.

What prompted Terra Renton, who is in her thirties, to tackle this subject and make the movie was her noticing that many of her friends were becoming pregnant. She and her husband had already decided against having children because it would mean giving up so much and she enjoys the lack of responsibility for children and she loves working at her job with Canadian television. She does have a piece of advice for viewers and this is what the film is really about—we need to consider the pros and the cons of what we want from life and then once we know, Renton urges us to be proactive. It is a lot more pleasant not to have any regrets about a decision than to regret it for the rest lives. Decisions must be carefully thought out. Not everyone has children—it is a choice and a decision to do so.

“THAT’S NOT US”— Three Couples on Fire Island

that's not us

“THAT’S NOT US”

Three Couples on Fire Island

Amos Lassen

Three couples go on an end-of season trip to Fire Island. We meet longtime partners Al and Jackie who have trouble talking about the lack of sex in their relationship; Liz and Dougie who cannot have enough sex and cannot keep their hands off of each other and James and Spencer who have just moved into together but as experiencing a bit of difficulty with Spencer’s going to graduate school and the physical and emotional distance this puts on their relationship.

We watch them as they play and become involved in “whiskey-fueled card games, buzz-killing wisecracks, and overdue emotional conversations are just part of what three New York couples pack into one end-of-the-season trip to Fire Island.” The cast is made up of refreshing new faces and the way the film is shot is also refreshing. Director William Sullivan and DP Derek Dodge brings us into the lives of the characters. The film was made when the director gave the actors a brief outline and then let hen improvise the dialogue. What we see is honesty and real interactions. We see both the quiet introspective moments as well as those times when communication with each other says so much. The focus here is both on the cast and on “the often awkward, funny, and messy work it takes to make love last.”