Monthly Archives: April 2011

“THE PRETTY BOYS”– Los Angeles, 1973

“The Pretty Boys”

Los Angeles, 1973

Amos Lassen

Everett Lewis brings us a new film that is unlike anything I have seen before. “The Pretty Boys” is about the interactions of the members of a glam rock band as they film the final cut on their new album. Here is reality like we do not often get to see.

The band, “The Pretty Boys” is on a course of self destruction and the members seem to live only for sex and drugs. Rock And Roll was once part of that mantra but things have spun far out of control. In fact they hire a new assistant manager who is nothing more than a drug runner.

This is realism in your face and the movie while not easy to watch is mesmerizing and it held me captive, so much so that I watched it three consecutive times.  Watching people fall to demonic delusion is not easy and from where they have come, one would think that this would be a wakeup call. Instead it is not and it is as if the band members have given up. The film stars Dale Dymkoski, Bryce Blais, Eric Gorlow and others and watching their decline is heartbreaking. Yet realism in a movie is what really lets us if what we are watching is important or not and “The Pretty Boys” is as real as it gets.

“All Lost Things” by Josh Atervois– Life Changes for Killian Kendall

Atervois, Josh. “All Lost Things”, PD Publishing, 2009.

Life Changes for Killian Kendall

Amos Lassen

Josh Atervois’s young detective Killian Kendall is growing up. Here he is finishing high school and beginning his new job as an assistant to private investigator. He barely began his job when his ex called him in need of his help. He needs Killian to prove that Asher his ex’s new flame, Caleb, was not guilty of murdering his father. Killian took the case unaware of where it would lead him and the dangerous results. We soon learn that Caleb’s father had been abusive to his son and that his murder was quite violent.

At just the same time, Killian’s surrogate parents buy a new home and turn it into a bed and breakfast and there is an idea that the place has a ghost. This is the third book in the Killian Kendall series and in this one we watch Killian really maturing. There is also more on crime here than the two books that preceded it.  Killian had been having some really bad dreams that include murder and a visit from a dead friend and this was a call for concern.

I love the way Atervois writes and the way he develops his characters, He manages to make this a coming of age story as well as a murder mystery and he is convincing all the way. The story itself is quite complex yet it is totally organized, Atervois also has a unique talent in developing characters and Killian is a prime example. As times he comes across as a kid while at other times he is amazingly mature. We are given a hint to a new romance on the horizon for Killian and the combination of romance with mystery is a great combination. Then there are also the issues of ghosts and we see that all of the elements for a good read are here.

“BRITISH ROYAL WEDDINGS OF THE 2Oth CENTURY”– Unrivaled Splendor

“British Royal Weddings of the Twentieth Century”

Unrivaled Splendor

Amos Lassen

 

We have to give it to the Brits—they really know how to put on a show especially at a wedding. This DVD arrived just as the right time to tie with the hoopla surrounding the wedding of heir to the throne, William, and his bride and queen-to-be, Kate. The DVD looks at the royal weddings of the last century and it is glorious. We begin in 1922 with the wedding of Princess Mary to Henry Charles George, Viscount Lascelles and to the 1947 wedding of Queen Elizabeth to Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh. We are the wedding of Prices Margaret, sister of the queen to Anthony Armstrong-Jones. There are other weddings of course, a total of 18 of them. The disc closes with the ceremonies of two marriages that did not make it, Prince Charles and Lady Diana and Prince Andrew and Sarah Fergusson.

The pomp and ceremony is mind boggling as are the outfits. The viewer gets a history of fashion of the twentieth century. It is also interesting to take note of the people who camp out to see the wedding processions and there are street parties to go along with the royal celebrations. I watched the DVD today and had great fun. It is interesting that here in America the royal wedding of William and Kate is such big news but I believe that also has to do with our love of ceremony and costume, things we do not have very much of here. I am sure that many will rise early to watch the wedding and here is the perfect way to prepare for it.

“Ash: Poems from Norse Mythology” by Jeff Mann– When We Had Will

 

 

Mann, Jeff. “Ash: Poems from Norse Mythology”, Rebel Satori Press, 2011.

When We Had Will

Amos Lassen

 

I first discovered Jeff Mann’s writing when I read his Lambda award winning collection of short fiction, “A History of Barbed Wire” and I remember commenting on the lyricism of his beautiful prose. Now that same lyricism appears in his new collection of poems. This is a different kind of collection and it is epic in scope. Going back to Norse mythology, Mann presents us with new poems and new ideas. While the themes of love, loss, greed and ambition are universal, Mann’s approach to them is his alone. He takes these ideas which have been with us since the beginning of time and presents them to us in achingly beautiful language. While the poems are about a different time, they are just as relevant today as some ideas never change. In one of the first poems, Mann tells us that there was a time when man had his own will and things were new and fresh and the world was ordered. Something happened to that will and that is where you can bring yourself to today while looking back.

If you know Jeff Mann, then you know that he a big bearish guy and we do not usually associate guys like him to write beautiful poetry. I quickly understood after meeting him last year that labels imposed by others are useless—almost as useless as the statement I made that we do not expect lyric poetry from a guy like Jeff Mann. I think that that is what makes this book so beautiful. The ideas within the book and the individual poems catch the reader by surprise. Mann seems to have weighed each word before committing it to paper and the result is an adventure in poetry that I, for one, will not forget for a longtime. By going back to the sources of Norse poetry, Mann is able to interpret the ideas and tie them to today. The poems are haunting and they cover the history of the Norse from the beginning through the demise of their civilization, The Norse characters that appear in the poems are epic—Odin, Sigurd, Thor, Balder, Brynhild, Surt. Their worlds are wide and when we take them and the poems together, we get a look at the human condition and the issues that have been us since the creation. We learn that even with all of the changes that the world has gone through, man, himself, has really not changed that much and we still think about life and death and the afterlife. Along with that that the emotions of love and hate come into play and we all strive for a better place in which to live.

“BEST FRIENDS”– A Road Trip with a Young Richard Hatch

“Best Friends”

A Road Trip with a Young Richard Hatch

Amos Lassen

Not a whole lot can be said about “Best Friends” aside from us seeing Richard Hatch before his “Survivor” days.

Hatch is Jesse and he and best friend Pat (Doug Chapin), Jo Ella (Ann Noland), Pat’s girlfriend  and Kathy (Susanne Benton) go on a cross country trip in a Winnebago in that summer of fun before they have to face the responsibilities of the adult world. Jesse is ready to settle down but Pat wants to go on this trip before he does settle down and this is the premise of the very thin plot. So this is both a buddy movie and a movie about relationships. Tension between the friends as it does we learn about the characters. Kathy holds onto Jesse and this makes Pat jealous of her. Pat knows Jo Ella wants to get married but Pat tells her that will never happen with her and him. This breaks her and Pat goes on to lie to her and say that Jesse is really interested in her and that she should have sex with him. Pat then talks to Kathy and tries to convince her that Jesse is not the man for her and would unquestionably cheat on her.

This opens to door for Jesse and Jo Ella to sleep together and then Pat attempts to have sex with Kathy. Of course this puts a strain of the friendship of the men and the rest of the film is about them trying to repair their broken relationship. Of course things will not end so easily and there is a surprise coming. All in all, this is a pretty bad film but seeing Richard Hatch (who was quite good looking) as a young man is fun. There is a gay subplot here but I am mum on that. This movie is also a part of Savage Cinema’s box set.


“JUDAS KISS”– some information about J.T. Tepnapa’s New Film

 

 

 

A quirk in time and space gives a failed filmmaker the
chance to reshape his destiny when he visits his peculiar alma
mater.
Judas Kiss is an offbeat contemporary drama
on a college campus alive with magical realism — a place where
you can grab a second chance at your future. Like Sliding Doors
and A Christmas Carol, it offers a window into a fresh destiny.
SYNOPSIS Film festival judge Zachary Wellsʼ handsome onenight
stand turns out to be a student competing for a scholarship
Zach must award. Mysteriously, Danny Reyesʼ entry has the
same title as Zach’s film that won the festival years before. Zach,
his own career in shambles, sees Danny making the same
mistakes he did. He decides to take matters into his own hands.
[62 words at this point. The extended synopsis continues below.]
As Zach scrambles for answers, a mysterious, chain-smoking
campus tour guide counsels him: “Change the kidʼs past, change
your future.” Zach sees Danny on the verge of making his same mistakes, beginning with
choosing wealthy Shane over Chris, the guy he truly loves.
Zach decides he can mend his life by getting Dannyʼs film disqualified, which prompts a
confrontation between Danny and his father about their familyʼs dark past.

PRODUCTION CREDITS
Directed by!………………………………………. J.T. Tepnapa
Produced by!…………………………………….. Carlos Pedraza
Co-producer!…………………………………….. Jody Wheeler
Written by!………………………………………… Carlos Pedraza
Story by!…………………………………………… J.T. Tepnapa
! Carlos Pedraza
Director of Photography!…………………….. David Berry
Production Design by !……………………….. Rodrigo De Medeiros
Visual Effects by!……………………………….. Joël Bellucci
Edited by!…………………………………………. Whitney Dunn
Sound Design by!………………………………. Ralph Miller
Original Music by!……………………………… Brad Anthony Laina
Costume Design by!………………………….. Anthony Tran

 

DIRECTORʼ S S TATEMENT
“Most men,” according to the poet Henry David Thoreau,
“lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the
song still in them.”
Five years ago, that was me.
I had a job that meant little, other than a paycheck. I hoped
for something more, yet I couldnʼt identify what it was. I just
knew I needed it. I pondered my goals: Why am I here? What
can I contribute? Where have I gone wrong?
You may want a new car. A better career. Love and affection.
So many things, yet most of us live in fear. “Quiet
desperation” comes from our desire to be more than we are,
but afraid of making actual change.
Those were the seeds for Judas Kiss I planted four years
ago. It was very personal to me — my own life was one of
quiet desperation. But as with any seed, my idea had to be
nurtured in order to grow. I had to share it. And then Judas
Kiss became much more.
I had already written and directed a handful of short films but
I really didnʼt know how to write a feature. I needed a partner.
I asked my friend and colleague, Carlos Pedraza, to help
flesh out the story and write Judas Kiss. Together, we began
a journey not only to create a film, but to reshape our lives.
Our film tells the story of a gay man forced to face up to his
troubled past after being confronted with the reality of a bleak
future. Judas Kiss gives a voice to anyone who struggles to
fulfill his or her dreams. Itʼs more than an LGBT story — it
explores what makes us human.
Carlos and I wanted to share our dream with friends, family
and fans. In these years, we cultivated a team of supporters
and talented filmmakers who came together to make this film
not only a success in the gay community, but for a wider
world of people who dream.
Just making Judas Kiss is a dream come true for many of us. It has changed the way we view
our lives. My hope is that this film will touch audiences as it has touched all the creative people
who came together to produce it. Donʼt leave this world with your song still in you.
— J.T. Tepnapa

 

“THE WRITERS”– Violence and Love—coming soon from TLA Releasing

“The Writers”

Violence and Love

Amos Lassen

 

“The Writers” directed by Todd Michael Smith is a story of violence and love and is visually explicit. Andrew Sarris (the director, Smith), a writer, goes out to buy the local newspaper hoping that it will generate an idea for his new novel and meets Eddie (Stephen Michael McKenzie), a serial killer. Eddie kidnaps Sarris and the two men agree that Sarris will write his next novel about him.

This is a story of sexual deviance and verboten love. Sarris and Eddie are both tortured and thereby take pride in torturing others. Their love is held together by violence and this is certainly not your usual romance. This violence shows right through in the film which is rife with male frontal nudity and some kinky lovemaking. While the film is obviously low budget and the cast is made up of amateurs, it pulls you and makes you watch. At times it is like watching a bad dream but I think that this is a step forward for the new queer cinema which is based upon showing things as they are. In this case, we get forbidden love and watch it in unsimulated form. It is graphic and it is alarming just like life itself.

Included is a bonus film as well as two documentaries that go behind the scenes. “The Writers” can be ordered at TLA.com.

 

“TOO MUCH SUN”– An Insane Comedy

“Too Much Sun”

An Insane Comedy

Amos Lassen

 

If you are in the mood for a ribald comedy, check out “Too Much Sun”, the story of a millionaire who son is gay and daughter is a lesbian. His will stipulates that his children will inherit his estate only if one of them can bring forth a grandchild within a year of his death. Of course the premise is silly but the cast is quite funny. There is a lack of coherence in the script but the laughs come fast.

On the other hand, the film can be seen as offensive. It is a sex farce that is meant to shock and shock it does. Howard Duff is O.M. Rivers, the father of Sonny (Eric Idle) and Bitsy (Andrea Martin). When they discover that the church is to inherit their father’s estate if a child is not produced, they begin to devise plans. The film looks at the subjects of greed and hypocrisy but they may go a step too far. The fact that it is so offensive may actually help this film and director Robert Downey uses every comedy technique known.

There is a chaos to the film and the plot rambles and some of it is quite cynical. Aside from causing laughter the film may also cause anger and I think that is what makes it so special. This is one of those films that the viewer must decide for himself if he enjoyed it. That is why I only said a couple of things about the plot. I personally laughed my head off but I can also see why others will not.

 

“PINK ANGELS”– Easy Riders Meet “La Cage Aux Folles”

“Pink Angels”

Easy Riders Meet “La Cage Aux Folles”

Amos Lassen

 

I never thought I would see a gay themed biker movie but then I guess I should have never thought. Sure, it is a preposterous idea but it works and “Pink Angels” is one of the campiest movies I have ever seen. We meet six tough bikers on their way to Los Angeles—Michael (John Alderman), Eddie (Henry Olek), David (Tom Basham), Henry (Bob Bihiller), Arnold (Bruce Kimball with the worse fake beard I have ever seen) and Ronnie (Maurice Warfield). They look tough but they are just the opposite and their destination is a drag ball. They look really mean and burly but they are actually cross dressers. When they are stopped by the highway patrol, instead of finding drugs and booze, the patrolmen find brassieres and dresses and our bikers limp “wristedly” get back on their hogs and continue on.

The guys are smart though; they had no idea who they might meet on the way and so they assumed the disguises of real bikers and even have swastikas and Confederate flags on their bikes. As they travel they have adventures like these we do not often see on film—they meet women who work in a brothel and want them, rival bikers and a military man who is out to get all those “hippies” that do not respect the American Flag. Our bikers play the stereotypical nelly gay man and I am sure that some will strongly disagree with this but we must remember that all is done in fun. If we cannot laugh at ourselves, it is a sad state of affairs. I am still not sure if I was laughing with the movie or at it. Thinking about it now, I have decided that it is just fun, nothing more and nothing less.

I do not think the film is available by itself. It is part of the Savage Cinema Box Set of 12 movies. Another somewhat gay themes film included is “Best Friends” with the young Richard Hatch.

I feel I must say that “Pink Angels” is far from a good movie but it is a fun movie and for me that it is just fine.

“TEA AND SYMPATHY”– Peer Power


“Tea and Sympathy”

Peer Power

Amos Lassen

 

“Tea and Sympathy” was one of the very first Hollywood films to touch the subject of homosexuality and this was in 1956 when it was a verboten topic. It is the story of Tom Lee (John Kerr), a 17 year old sensitive boy who is not interested in sports or other activities that boys like and he is mocked by girls his age who call him “sister boy”. He was a student at Chilton, a prep school for boys where he was befriended by Laura (Deborah Kerr), the wife of headmaster Bill Reynolds (Leif Ericson) who sees that the boy suffers because of the way his schoolmates treat him and she tries to help him find himself. Chilton was the kind of school where family status was very important but Tom thought differently. He did not take part in athletic activities aside from tennis, a gentleman’s sport, and he can sew and cook. He knows about gardening and it is his desire to be a folk singer and musician. He was accepted into the drama club with the condition that he play only female parts. His only friend is his roommate who ties to understand him but realizes that he is one person against many.

Tom is aware of the embarrassment that he causes his father who worries that Tom’s behavior will affect the family name. Tom spends a lot of time with Laura who really wants to help him but things do not improve.

Director Vincent Minnelli faced the problem of adapting the Broadway play for the screen—homosexuality was a forbidden topic and no film was allowed to make references to it. Minnelli who was a closeted gay man himself used tact and sophistication by using implication instead of fact and the actors implied what they meant to say but were not allowed to. We see that what is not verbalized becomes more important that what is.

John Kerr is perfect as the sensitive boy and Deborah Kerr as Laura is brilliant. Tom Lee is a complex character as a sexually confuses hero—it is the subtlety of the performances of Kerr and Kerr that make this such a rewarding film. Minnelli did a beautiful job of directing and he delivered a beautiful film.