“OLD DOGS & NEW TRICKS”—Episodes for Thanksgiving

old-dogs-s3-ep3

“Old Dogs & New Tricks”,  Season 3 Episodes 2&3

 Giving thanks for found families

The Old Dogs are back and it’s not coincidence the new season launched just before Thanksgiving, as Episode 3 is set during the holiday. You can watch that below, along with Episode 2, and if you need to catch up, you can watch Episode 1 by clicking here.

In Episode 2, Nathan (Leon Acord) receives a business proposal from arch nemesis Nelson Van Eddy (Bruce L. Hart) that they merge talent agencies. It seems Nelson needs Nathan as much as Nathan needs cash! Nathan then discovers a new romantic interest in former model/now multi-millionaire Jake Tyler (Curtis Wayne Brown).

Then it’s time for the holidays in Episode 3. In that the gang gather at Ross’ house for the holiday, Lydia (Amanda Gari) is thrilled to introduce the guys to her new boyfriend (Andy Gates). But despite her happiness and Ross’ recent good news, it seems she’s the only one in a festive mood.

While the guys rave about Nathan’s new beau Jake (Curtis Wayne Brown), Nathan (Acord) can’t stop wondering how Damian is spending the holiday. Muscles (Jeffrey Patrick Olson) complains that dating Lucas is making him fat. Ross’ (David Pevsner)holiday is ruined when a drunken Neal (Parnell Damone Marcano) crashes. And then Brad (Curt Bonnem) drops a bombshell: he’s becoming a gigolo!

 

“EAT WITH ME”— Mother and Son

eat with me

“EAT WITH ME”

Mother and Son

Amos Lassen

David Au’s feature film debut is the story of an unhappy Chinese-American mother and her strained relationship with her son who is also unhappy. Emma, the mother, is married to a boring man who neglects her . One t he awakens and is determined to cut his wedding band off of his finger. Emma leaves and goes to her son, Elliott. Elliott has been doing a bad job of running the family restaurant. He also likes to have hot sex with another guy when he gets the urge to do so.

 Emma and Elliott are almost total strangers to each other. The issue of Elliott’s homosexuality has never been discussed before but that could be because Elliott is not so happy being gay. He has never been in a relationship with another man. His neighbor, Maureen forms a friendship with Emma and somehow manages to get her to speak openly about her husband and her son.

There were no real surprises here and unfortunately the script could use some work. It is, however, a noble attempt to discuss Chinese/American gay people. The title seems to indicate that if two people eat together they can become close. Perhaps that is true but it did not happen here like that.

“The Boston Girl” by Anita Diament— Family, Values, Friendship and Feminism

the boston girl

Diament, Anita. “The Boston Girl: A Novel, Scribner, 2014.

Family, Values, Friendship and Feminism

Amos Lassen

Addie Baum is “The Boston Girl”. She was born in 1900, a first generation American whose immigrant parents were unprepared for American life and how it would affect their three daughters. This is Addie’s story, a tale of a young Jewish woman growing up in Boston during the early twentieth century. The family lived in the North End that was a neighborhood that was multicultural. Addie was smart, extremely clever and always curious. It was her curiosity that took her from Boston to a n American world that her parents had no idea of. She was determined to be treated equally and we can say that she was an early feminist. She wanted a college education, a career and a man who would love her.

When we meet Addie here she is eighty-five-years old and she is retelling her life story to her twenty-two-year old granddaughter who asked her, “How did you get to be the woman you are today.” Addie starts her story in 1915 because this was when she discovered who she was and made friends that would change her life. Life for Addie began in a one-room tenement apartment where she lived with her parents and two sisters. She moves on to the library group for girls she joined at a neighborhood settlement house, and to her first love affair. She was wiser than her years and had quite a life. While the book is Addie’s story, it is also the story of women who were finding their places in the ever-changing world. A longer review will follow soon.

 

 

“Milking the Moon: A Southerner’s Story of Life on This Planet” by Eugene Walter, edited by Katherine Clark— Who is Eugene Walter?

milking the moon

Walter, Eugene. “Milking the Moon: A Southerner’s Story of Life on This Planet” (edited by Katherine Clark), Crown, 2001.

Who is Eugene Walter?

Amos Lassen

Like so many others I had never heard of Eugene Walter before someone told me about this book (that was nominated for the National Book Award). I have since learned a great deal about him and what a pleasure it has been. “Eugene Walter [is] the best-known man you’ve never heard of, is an eyewitness history of the heart of the last century—enlivened with personal glimpses of luminaries from William Faulkner and Martha Graham to Judy Garland and Leontyne Price—and a pitch-perfect addition to the Southern literary tradition that has critics cheering”. Walter lived in Mobile, Alabama (where he was born and raised) until he came upon New York’s art scene in the late 1940s. He was them “a ubiquitous presence in Paris’s expatriate café society in the 1950s (where he was part of the Paris Review at its inception); and later, in 1960s Rome, participated in the golden age of Italian cinema. He was somehow everywhere, bringing with him a unique and contagious spirit, putting his inimitable stamp on the cultural life of the twentieth century”.

These anecdotes in this oral biography show Walter’s appreciation of people he likes, and although the narrative is stuffed with famous names from Truman Capote to Leontyne Price, the exuberant protagonist finds less celebrated folks just as fascinating. In Mobile in the 1920s, his front porch was the center of all social life, is just as detailed as his portraits of sojourns in more glamorous enclaves. He said, “I’m just a Southern boy let loose in the big world”.
Walter died in 1998. While he was alive he seemed always to be in pursuit of lively and provocative encounters with interesting people. His stories are wonderful and he was a man who never let the truth get in the way of a good story. Although his stories were based in truth, nothing he told was strictly true.

He surrounded himself with the creative, the artistic, and the beautiful in life, inhabiting the circles of greatness without creating the name for himself that many of his contemporaries did. The book

captures Eugene’s sense of wonder at the world around him, and it reads like a Who’s Who of modern literary life. This is a book that you will not soon forget.

“The Autumn Balloon” by Kenny Porpora—One to Look For

the autumn baloon

Porpora, Kenny. “The Autumn Balloon”, Grand Central Publishing, 2015.

One to Look For

Amos Lassen

One of the books to look for in the New Year is “The Autumn Balloon”, the autobiography of Kenny Porpora. He shares with us how his mother slid away from him and into alcoholism. He tells that every autumn he would watch his heartbroken mother scribble messages on balloons and release them into the sky above Long Island, one for each family member they’d lost to addiction. As the number of balloons grew, his mother fell deeper into alcoholism, drinking away her sorrows every night in front of the television, where her love of Regis Philbin provided a respite from the sadness around her.

Then when their home was foreclosed upon, she took Kenny and absconded with him to Arizona to her brother who was a heroin addict; a man searching for a better life. Kenny spent his adolescence in constant upheaval and surrounded by strange and drug addicted characters.

When their house was foreclosed upon, Kenny’s mother absconded with him and his beloved dog and fled for the Arizona desert, joining her heroin-addicted brother on a quixotic search for a better life. What followed was an outlaw adolescence spent in constant upheaval surrounded by bizarre characters and drug-addicted souls.

Nonetheless Kenny Porpora was able to convince a college to take him in and he was able to have a family—one of mentors, writers, and poets and he eventually graduated from the Ivy League with a new life. Here is a success story of one who was able to break away from his

deeply dysfunctional but loving family, and triumph. We see the irreplaceable bonds of family, even under the most trying circumstances and yet we get the debut book of a new and dynamic writer. and one that marks the debut of an exciting new writer. Porpora wrote this book as if his life depended upon it. It is a story that will not be easily forgotten as it shows us the horrors of addiction “and the poverty of the mind, heart, and body that comes from that”. It is a “fearless meditation on the surprisingly enduring love of family, those eternal blood ties that ultimately save us all”.

The book is everything a memoir should be. We read of love that is in a family even during the hardest of times; it is a story of loss and redemption.

“HEADLONG” (“CORPS PERDU”)— Alone

headlong

“Headlong” (“Corps Perdu”)

Alone

Amos Lassen

During the evening of a dance competition, a young male ballet dancer is alone in a foreign place. When the loneliness seems to overpower him, he meets a stranger who could change everything about his life.

 On the night of a dance competition, a young ballet dancer is in a foreign place. He finds himself alone in his hotel room and when this emptiness overpowers him, he meets a stranger that could change everything.”

Director Lukas Dhont gives us a story of a young man’s adolescent yearnings, only in this instance for a stranger in the night. The film stars Jelle Florizoone and Thomas Coumans, the same actors who starred in Bavo Defurne’s beautiful look at a teenager’s first crush in “North Sea Texas” ”. Florizoone is cast as aspiring, shy and somewhat worldly unwise dancer who finds himself alone in his hotel room, bored and seemingly with little excitement to be had. Coumans is the bad boy with a hitherto untouched heart of gold who comes literally knocking on his door trying to elude the police. The two are soon to be found dancing to the nightclub beat.

headlong copy

The boys are total opposites yet they attract each other in this beautifully photographed film that captures the growing bond between the two who are at opposite sides of the scales of justice. The film is only 17 minutes long and the director teases the viewers by giving hints of something special developing between the boys. Jerome, the drug dealer shows his tender side in caring for a sixteen-year-old dancer who clearly lusts for him. Anymore I cannot say.

“THE DECEPTION”— Now and Later

deception poster

“The Deception”

Now and Later

Amos Lassen

Exciting news today from TLA Releasing—they are the exclusive distributors of “The Deception”, a new gay themed film that looks like it is going to be a blockbuster. “The Deception” is made up of two stories—the first is that of a gay teen named Chip Quinones (Garrett Wade) and how he deals with his sexuality and his first love, Devon Holmes (Garner Jarrett); the second is a look at Chip (now Christopher) some twenty years later when he is in the closet and trying to get a foothold in politics. He is now married to a woman from a politically influential family and is preparing to run for the Senate from the state of Maryland. Everything comes together when his first love suddenly reappears and Chris’ new carefully build and monitored world begins to fall apart. Here is a story of repressed desire over the years and some of you will recognize shades of Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Conformist”.

the deception1

Chip and Devon were best friends in their teens and one summer they both gave into their feelings for each other. Then as happens, the two men went about building their lives and in the process fell out of contact. Devon comes back into Chris’ life twenty years later and this causes him to have to decide between his career as a politician and the man he has loved.

The plot is like a Greek tragedy only contemporary—it is the story of a man who sells out on a chance to live an authentic life with inescapably cataclysmic results. Writer and director Jay Durrwachter  sadly, passed away after the film was completed and was in final editing. The story weaves a tale of political aspirations and repressed romantic desires.

Young Chip and Devon gave in to their mutual attraction while working at an amusement park together during one fateful summer. Interwoven with this story are scenes that take place twenty years later.

Chip, who now goes by Christopher (David Busse) is back in the closet. He is an up-and-coming Maryland politician and a wonderful future seems to be waiting for him and all he has to do is take it. But then, he runs into grown-up Devon (Jerry G. Angelo).

Chip claims to have moved on and forgotten the past but Devon has not and for him it was bliss that they shared as teens. He reminds Chris of the love and honest life that he walked away from. His presence and continued affection are a constant reminder of the more honest life that Christopher left behind.

The film was made on a low budget yet it deals with important ideas. Chris had become politically ambitious and as he mapping put his strategy, he takes us fiancée to where he grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It is there that he sees Devon, his first love and instantly feels passion being reignited inside him. He must choose between his desire for a career in politics and his wish to live a life of integrity and honesty. This is really about two people whose gender is unimportant; what is important is the love that they share. They have the same problems everyone has and while this is a film about two gay men, it could be about any two people who have experienced love. We are with Chris/Chip and Devon on their journey and as they deal with feelings. Because of that we cannot anticipate how the movie will end. Perhaps if this had been made 30 or 40 years ago, we would know from the very beginning that was going to have a tragic ending but people and films have changed a great deal.

the deception3

We see how living in denial can be a terrible thing and the film emphasizes that by showing the young lovers as they discover their feelings and that is contrasted to the way that Chris lives presently. He had hope that his affair with Devon was nothing moiré than a phase he was going through but when they are reunited later in life, he realizes the extent of his feelings. His career and his hopes in politics are a definite contrast to how Devon lives now. He is a gamble who is in debt to a family in crime. We see young love vs. adult compromise and how poor guidance can ruin peoples’ lives. (This we see in the young boys’ parents).

As an adult, Chris knows that he is gay but chooses to live a straight life. There are two beautiful moments in the film and they are shown in juxtaposition—the boy’s first sexual act with the men’s reunion sex—. Now if you are curious to see how it all works out, you will have to get  the movie from TLA.

“THE IMITATION GAME”—-Opens in New York November 28.

imitation

The Imitation Game Opens in New York November 28.
http://theimitationgamemovie.com.
http://facebook.com/TheImitationGameMovie
http://twitter.com/ImitationGame
#ImitationGame

During the winter of 1952, British authorities entered the home of mathematician, cryptanalyst and war hero Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) to investigate a reported burglary. They instead ended up arresting Turing himself on charges of ‘gross indecency’, an accusation that would lead to his devastating conviction for the criminal offense of homosexuality – little did officials know, they were actually incriminating the pioneer of modern-day computing. Famously leading a motley group of scholars, linguists, chess champions and intelligence officers, he was credited with cracking the so-called unbreakable codes of Germany’s World War II Enigma machine. An intense and haunting portrayal of a brilliant, complicated man, The Imitation Game follows a genius who under nail-biting pressure helped to shorten the war and, in turn, save thousands of lives.

Directed by Morten Tyldum with a screenplay by Graham Moore, the film stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Rory Kinnear, Allen Leech, Matthew Beard, Charles Dance and Mark Strong.

“Alterra” by Zachary Bonelli— More than a Love Story

alterra

Bonelli, Zachary. “Alterra”, Fuzzy Hedgehog Press, 2014.

More than a Love Story

Amos Lassen

What begins as a love story between two gay teens, Le and Stok becomes a military adventure and a look at the human ideological conflict. On Alterra, young people have a choice. After finishing high school, they can go to the university and study science and mathematics or they can pursue a more humanistic life by going to a monastery and studying literature, history and spiritual depth. Le is nearing graduation and he has always wanted to go to university but for some reason, something does not feel right about this. Suddenly neither university or monastery seem to be a good fit for him but it was not until he met Stok that he understood what was happening to him. Stok is also nearing graduation and Le sees him sneaking into a ‘zone,’ (a dangerous area cordoned off from the rest of the city where nanotechnology runs rampant). He does not know why but Le follows Stok inside and what he finds there will change him and his world forever. This is the story of trying to save two separate but parallel worlds and if anyone is to survive, the rift that exists between them must be rectified.

We have a personal and political conflict and it exists between scientism and theism. This battle is very real. We see technology in its advance as opposed to faith. This becomes a battle between science and faith and while I personally do not read science fiction, I must admit that this story really pulled me in. I found myself escaping the world of reality that surrounded me and becoming involved with the characters and what they were dealing with. While speculative fiction is just that, speculative we see something here that is relevant to our world today. It was not that long ago that computers were considered speculative and we see that the world today is totally dependent upon them.

The prose is crisp and fresh as is the plot and the characters that Bonelli draws are very real. Zachary Bonelli is a new writer for me but I do not think that this will remain the case. After visiting his website, I see how much I have missed.