Monthly Archives: March 2011

“OUR HO– USE”– Kids of Gay and Lesbian Parents

“Our House”

Kids of Gay and Lesbian Parents

Amos Lassen

“Our House”  looks at the children gay and lesbian parents. Today there are millions of children that fit that description and the families are at the heart of a debate going on in America today. As America attempts to define its values, people are not sure where these children fit. It is obviously too obvious to see that these children are just that—children.

“Our House” explores what it is like growing up with same sex parents. The movie focuses on families in several places, among them Arizona, Arkansas and New York. The director, Meema Spadola is herself the daughter of a lesbian mother looks at the sons and daughters of five different families who show the ethnic, racial and religious diversity of the children of rainbow parents. This is a film that had to be made and an issue that we as Americans must deal with. It is an uplifting film which is very important. It has already won major awards including being nominated for the GLAAD Media Award and the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Society for Scientific Study of Sexuality and Best Documentary at both the New York Lesbian and Gay Film Festival and Outfest Los Angeles, the premier GLBT film festival.

“OPERATION THUNDERBOLT”– Retelling a Victory

thunderbolt

“Operation Thunderbolt (Mitvse Yonatan)”

Retelling a Victory

Amos Lassen

 

I doubt that many of you remember the high jacking incident of 1976 when an Air France plane was flown to Uganda and the Israeli army flew into Entebbe and rescued the passengers. “Operation Thunderbolt” is the Israeli movie of the undertaking and shows how everything came together to make victory possible. The film focuses on the leader of the operation, Jonathan Netanyahu who was the only casualty,

This is not a Hollywood film and not an action film per se and is a much better movie than the ones put out by Hollywood on the same topic. It is true to the tactics, techniques and training of a counter-terrorism squad and is the presentation of an actual event by the participants complete with the impact of the families of those who were directly involved. When the Israelis were held hostage and faced with death, only other Israelis came to their rescue. When the mission was over and the hostages returned, there is great joy and celebration.

The movie was filmed in Israel with the complete cooperation of the Israeli government and it is an exciting recreation of what happened during those tense days (I was there and I remember it all to well). We get the full scope of the story from the high jacking itself to the passengers being held captive in Uganda to the debates at the highest levels of Israeli government as to whether a military or a diplomatic approach was best. This is a thrilling movie based on a thrilling story of how one tiny country refused to allow terrorists to murder their people and how they took action to prevent it. This film should dispel any notions that Israel is a terrorist state.

An interesting aspect of “Operation Thunderbolt” is that the characters speak their own languages and parts of the film are in German, Arabic, English and German but there are subtitles. The DVD version also has a documentary of the real events and several other bonuses as well.

Who’s Who in Israeli cinema and stage appear in the film as well as other notables from the German and Arabic movie industry. The music by Dov Seltzer is absolutely beautiful. “Operation Thunderbolt” was nominated for the Academy Award as best foreign film when it was released and it certainly deserves that distinction.

“Thirteen Tales of Textual Arousal”– This time 13 is a lucky number

Anderson, Robin. “Thirteen Tales of Textual Arousal”, Nazca Plains,2010.

This Time 13 is a Lucky Number

Amos Lassen

 

I have lauded Robin Anderson as a novel writer in several reviews but here is something new—thirteen tales that you will not soon forget. Anderson maintains his wonderful writing skills and tongue-in-cheek humor but this time on short stories and they are like none I have ever read before. This time the number thirteen does not mean unlucky but thirteen ways to enjoy a read.

“No Stones against a Window” is about an old superstition that throwing an old stone against an ex’s window might reignite a now dead romance.

“Dashing Away with the Smoothing Iron” is about an au pair who becomes friendly with her charge and the results thereof.

“The Thirteenth Party” features Paulo who thinks he is the world’s greatest lover switches from women to men and what happens.

“Fisherman’s Pie” features Angus who learns to deal with life when he meets Tim when they both went fishing/

“Herons in Hyde Park” is about a gay couple, David and Peter in which one wants to set up a domestic arrangement and the other has different ideas.

“Cinderella Fella—The Story of a Heel”—the title says it all if you read it correctly.

“Mary Poppins is a C**T” introduces us to some other substance than a spoonful of sugar.

“Englishman Wanta Join In” will have you read it twice and once you read it the first time you will see why.

“Monsieur Bovary” introduces us to Julia Bovary (no, not Emma) and her man, Julian who succumbs to the hedonistic pleasures of the south of France.

“Another Knotch in Their Belt” brings David, Marie and Mitzi together and that is all I am saying.

“The Picture of Dorian Gay”—enough said.

“Bite Size” is a collection of unforgettable British men with a surprise at the end.

“Pied Piper” tells us about Ernest Craig and his “Day of Reckoning Party”.

The stories of diverse but they are all infused with Anderson’s masterful sardonic touches. The author says that the stories provide terror, titillation and tragedy. I say that they are one hell of a good read and unlike stories that you have come across before. This may be just the book to introduce you to Robin Anderson or then again it may be the book that caps his writing. I am not sure but I do know that I plan to continue reading whatever he writes.

“Bruised Fruit” by Robin Anderson– Meet Jeremy Spiers

Anderson, Robin. “Bruised Fruit”, The Nazca Plains Corporation, 2011.

Meet Jeremy Spiers

Amos Lassen

 

I must admit that Robin Anderson’s books have become a guilty pleasure for me and I am fortunate that he keeps supplying me with reading material. I have already lost count but I know that I have five more reviews of his new writings ready to go.

“Bruised Fruit” will keep you reading and laughing and the character of Jeremy Spiers is unforgettable. As a child he was precocious and obnoxious, doing things like frying his pet mice and boiling his sister’s goldfish. Now that he has grown up to be an elegant and sophisticated man, he feels that his future will lead him to great things but with amusements that are quite sinister. He is a flirt and he is a king (or better put, a “queen” maker) and he managed to guide the career of Franchot “Tone” Seaton, a black artist who has been internationally hailed. Spiers used an undertaker’s digs to create the successful Spiers-Seaton Fine Arts. Tone’s uncle adds to the story by leading us to places most would not dare to go and Howie, a no-goodnik, and art critic, Giles and thinks just go crazy.

However, come hell or high water, Spiers is ambitious and nothing can stop him. He is determined for success and uses whatever it takes to become the man that he feels he is destined to become. However, this cannot be achieved with a good bit of terror and a lot of comedy for the reader. I do not think we have ever had a character like him and I doubt we shall see another.

Anderson’s forte is building characters and each of his books has at least one, if not more, unforgettable one. His writing is smooth and he has a knack for the language (maybe because he is British) and he is a master storyteller. I am glad to say that this book is available here in America which is great for us because many of his others are not. We can only hope that they all will reach American shores soon. Anderson is quite prolific and his books keep coming but it is a pity that we do not yet have all of them here.

 

“ANYWHERE USA”– Our Manners, Prejudices and Family Dynamics

“Anywhere, USA”

Our Manners, Prejudices and Family Dynamics

Amos Lassen

 

“Anywhere USA” is one of those movies that you love to hate. It looks at the way we live and it does so in a way that we cannot help pay attention. It is told in three parts, each about a group of individuals that have nothing to do with each other.

Part one. “Penance” is about a redneck with long hair and short brains. He asks his friend, a midget with tattoos and pierced nipples to spy on his girlfriend who has been looking ay men’s sexual organs on the internet. However things go a bit too far and they shoot the girlfriend’s online boyfriend because they think he is a terrorist.

Part two, “Loss”, is about an 8 year old orphan who ate brownies with marijuana and then looses hope because she discovers that the tooth fairy is not real. She also helps herself to the tequila she finds in her uncle’s car.

Part three, “Ignorance”, is about a guy, a WSAP and an older man, who realizes that he has no black friends and so he goes looking for one.

Most people are undecided as to how they feel about this film but evidently the folks at Sundance like it as it won a major prize. This movie is totally non-conventional and the atmosphere that it creates is unlike anything you have ever experienced at a movie before. What it is is something new and this could be why some people have a hard time with it. The characters are very real and if you live in Arkansas, like I do, then you know exactly what I am talking about.

The film parodies American life as well as big budget Hollywood films as it shows contempt for the audience. It tries to trick us several times and then admits that it did so. However, the performances are amazing especially since the cast is basically amateurs. While the three parts of the film seem to be totally unrelated, they are connected by theme—all three stories are about fantasies that were well intentioned went back in small town America.

The film was shot on a small camera which shows that any of us can make a movie and that there is a lot of talent in the world that we know nothing of. The movie makes you think with all of its political incorrectness and it is very funny. Written, edited and directed by Chusy Haney-Jardine, this obviously was a personal project that he wanted to get onto the screen. There is some real style in the film and it indeed is a reflection of the way some Americans live.

“Dutch’s Boy” by Xavier Axelson– Following a Dream

Axelson, Xavier. “Dutch’s Boy”, Seventh Window Publications, 2011.

Following a Dream

Amos Lassen

Have you ever read something that made you say “WOW!”? All of us have and I certainly have done so more than once. I just got floored again by Xavier Axelson’s “Dutch’s Boy” because it reminded me so much of growing up and making decisions. The future is so unknown and we can only deal with by going through it and such is the story of Harry Reynolds, Harry dreams of leaving home and riding broncos but his father, Dutch, does not want him to go until he feels his son is ready to do so. Obviously Dutch is a bit out of town with the younger generation because we know that once someone wants to do something, not much can stop him. Harry feels like this is something he has to do and he has to do it now and he makes the move and leaves before his father can stop him. His dream of riding gets a few extra additions as he experiences sex and love out on the road. Now that Harry is on his own, he has to grow up and do so quickly.

I fell in love with Harry. Axelson gives us a loveable character with him and he is wonderfully fleshed out. All of us are bound to see a little something of ourselves in Harry and it seems, to me, at least, that his rebellious nature makes him that the kind of guy you just want to grab onto. I could not help but think how much he and I were alike. I was determined to leave home and move to Israel and nothing was going to stop me and I saw this kind of determination in Harry.

However this is not a tale of wanderlust but it is a story of following dreams and finding oneself. Harry told his best friend, Reb, that he was leaving and it is here that we get a hit of what awaits us. Harry felt he had to find out who he was and he was not about to let his father stop him. The road his self-discovery was peppered with good times. I can’t say too much more about the plot because I want you to read this. What I will say is that this is a story that held my interest from the very first sentence and I did not stop reading until I finished it. My only complaint is that I wanted more.

The market is flooded with stories of young men on identity quests and what makes this different is that Harry knew what he wanted. He just did not know what would happen to him on the road to finding himself. Axelson has quite a story here and his skill in telling it is felt all the way through.

Huge DVD Sale

I do not work for them but I have reviewed many of their titles so I thought I would pass this along

 



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“OPEN CAM”– Death on the Net

“OPEN CAM”

Death on the Net

(This review is from the filmmaker Robert Gaston’s Website)

 

“Hunky young artist Manny Yates (Andreau Thomas) loves to cruise the
Internet for hot sex, especially on a popular Washington, DC-based gay
video site. But what starts out as uncomplicated fun turns terrifying
when an Internet serial killer signs on and begins an on-camera
killing spree. When Manny emerges as the only connection between the
gruesome series of murders, the darkly sexy and sardonic cop Hamilton
(Amir Darvish) is on the case-and on Manny!

Everyone in Manny’s tight group of friends is a suspect. Top on Hamilton’s
list is Manny’s adorable but very jealous ex-boyfriend. Meanwhile, the newly
out-of-the-closet Hamilton has his own problems with his exwife. As
the killer moves in closer, so does Hamilton. Manny must let this hot
cop take control “under cover” -not only to solve the crimes but also
to break through his own icy barriers to love. But catching the
killer, and Manny’s heart, isn’t going to be easy.

Director RobertGaston calls on a talented cast of handsome newcomers
to create a dark world of intrigue and nail-biting suspense. Darvish plays
Hamilton with a nod to Bogart’s Philip Marlowe and Nicholson’s Jake
Gittes in Chinatown; Andreau Thomas’ flirtatious, mouth-watering Manny
commands the screen. With a great soundtrack, unexpected plot twists and
lots of steamy sex, OpenCam is a crime thriller that will have you glued to
your seat.”

“ONE CRAZY NIGHT”– What Can I Say?

Note: Since I reviewed this film, I have spoken with the director and he told me that he understood what I had to say but that this was first film, I am glad to say that the sequel to this film is excellent.

 

“One Crazy Night”

What Can I Say?

Amos Lassen

I see a lot of gay movies for several reasons. I like to stay updated about what is happening in our community film-wise and I also select films for the Arkansas GLBT film festival. I see a lot of good thinks but U also see a lot of junk and “One Crazy Night” falls somewhere between the two. It has such promise and there are moments of genius wedged somewhere in the garbage you have to watch to find it. However it bombs nevertheless.

London Hilton, a jetsetter, has had too much to drink and finds himself married to London Latsis after a rough night of drinking at a celebrity party held, of all places, at Club 69 in Berlin. Hilton tries to run but his new husband is right behind him—proving (or disproving) that love is a dangerous proposition.

So much is bad here. The acting is just terrible, the script which could have been so good falls flat, there seems to be no direction or editing. The cinematography, if you can call it that, is just beyond description—I could have dome better and I can’t even take a still shot with a camera.

I have tried hard to find something good to say but I am honestly at a loss. The script shows such promise but evidently signals were crossed and could have been a really good movie turns out to be a waste of time. I actually had to force myself to finish watching it. We can only hope that Taylor Hilton who is credited as director has learned something and that the next movie he decides to do will make a little sense. After all, a little sense is better than none at all.

“MY SISTER, MY BRIDE”– For the Ladies….

“MY SISTER, MY BRIDE”

FOR THE LADIES………………….

Amos Lassen

I have finally been able to hook up with two female movie releasing companies and so now I am able to review movies for women. Last night I watched an amazing short film from WOMEN MAKING MOVIES. Even it its short 26 minutes “My Sister, My Bride” is amazing.

With the great debate raging around us over the issue of gay marriage “My Sister, My Bride” directed by Bonnie Hunt has a great deal to say about the issue. The documentary is so heartwarming and laced with such emotion that you can feel the love it shares with the audience.  Caren and Farrell are Jewish lesbians who share the journey of celebrating the love they feel for each other. They have been partners for five years and want to acknowledge their relationship the same way other couples in love do. Living in Carson City, Nevada and supported by their community at the temple there, they create their “Brit Ahuva” or covenant of love. What they have done is take a large step for themselves as well as for the Jewish community at large. They have prepared their own commitment ceremony using traditional Jewish law and their own additions thereby making their union very personal and legal in the eyes of G-d.

When San Francisco’s mayor Gavin Newsom announced, two years later, that the city would be issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples, they went there. However, this time they are a trio—a new baby had been adopted by the couple. They went to have the civil marriage ceremony that they felt was necessary to validate their partnership. We are taken via film, to San Francisco City Hall and are suddenly in the presence of many same sex couples validating their mutual feelings. And it so wonderful to feel the joy they share and to smile with them and for them. That defining moment in gay history is beautifully preserved in their short.

“My Sister, My Bride” is a personal film while at the same time it is an intense love story, Likewise it is the story of the Constitution of the United States and the story of legal justification for the way we live. It makes all the legal debates we have heard become very personal and is a monument to those who dared to take a step to help us win the acceptance and the rights that we want so badly.

The movie is making the rounds of GLBT film festivals and can be purchased from www.wmm.com. (It is quite expensive).The director, Bonnie Burt, Has been documentaries for over twenty years and has quite a catalog of films. A married woman, she is to be commended highly for venturing into this area and has done herself proud with this short film.