Monthly Archives: February 2013

“Catalina: The Vintage Years”— Early Days of Gay Porn

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Catalina: The Vintage Years”, Bruno Gmunder, 2013.

Early Days of Gay Porn

Amos Lassen

Catalina: the Vintage Years” reminds us of the Golden Age of Gay Porn and goes back to 1978 when Catalina was the jewel in the crown of XXX gay movies. Now that world is gone and while there are several Catalina films still out there, it will never again be like it was. A little more than a decade before AIDS, Catalina had the men and the directors of some of the most successful porn ever and was an icon in the industry. If for nothing else Jeff Stryker worked with Catalina and watching him perform drove many gay men almost mad. It was a time of sexual abandon and Catalina was there to film it all.

 

 

 

“Fire Island and the Pines” by Tom Bianchi and Cay Sophie Rabinowitz— Fire Island and the Pines

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Bianchi, Tom (photographer) and Cay Sophie Rabinowitz (editor). “Fire Island Pines:Polaroids 1975-1983”, Damiani, 2013.

Fire Island and the Pines

Amos Lassen

If you are not yet a fan of Tom Bianchi, one of the most published photographers in the world, now is the time to start. He has already published 19 books of photographs, poetry and essays and most of them are about gay male life. Whether he works in the area of aesthetic philosophy or poetry, there is something there that defines his work as Bianchi. He was one of the people responsible for opening the door to an honest look at how gay men live and love and in doing so, people gained a greater understanding of who we are. There are very places in the world of gay artistry that you will not find the name of Tom Bianchi and his work has gained him the respect as one of the most important artists dealing with the male form and erotic imagery.

As a young man growing up in Chicago, Bianchi would buy those cheap physique magazines that were printed back then. We really had nothing else. In one of the magazines, he came across the name of Glenn Bishop with photographs of Fire Island. Bianchi had never heard of Fire Island before and to him it sounded exotic. He had no idea that there was really a place known as Fire Island and he certainly never thought that one day it would be his home. He went to New York in 1970, right after he graduated from law school and was invited to spend a weekend on Fire Island. This changed his life forever. Fire Island has the ability to do just that as anyone who has ever been there can tell you.

While there, Bianchi met a community of gay men and with a SX-70 Polaroid camera, he documented those he met at Fire Island and the Pines and he was able to build an archive of “ people, parties and private moments”. Now, and for the first time, he share those photos with us. He also gives us his own written memoir of the period which was actually the birth of a new culture that was tanned by the sun, bolstered by sex and lived by a group of men who were more than just friends. Fire Island and the Pines still stand but that camaraderie has changed. Bianchi gives us documentation of a time that was and he does so with the great style that he is known for. This is, actually, a visual lesson in gay history made up of photographs that give a new view to how we lived.

“ROLLING”— Breaking In

ROLLING

Rolling”

Breaking In

Amos Lassen

Seven students break into their high school and have total control of the campus and even have the keys to get them into wherever they want to go. But of course…strange things happen. Drake (Matthew Thompson) is a young filmmaker who has gotten his friends together to make a movie and they break into the campus after the school day is over. There is Tim (Maxwell Chase), Drake’s best friend and a filmmaker himself, Ellen (Joy Regullano), a girl whose nose is always in a book, Carly (Debbie Kagy), a cheerleader who lives to gossip, Michaela (Mara Klein), a very smart loner, Sean (Taylor Piedmonte), a basketball star and Sully (Ryder Darcy) a drug dealer with a big mouth. Drake pulls his actors through what he thinks will be his masterpiece. What others will not see is what happens off-camera as the cast explores stereotypes, relationships, drug addictions and sexual identities. Each of them is involved in the film for his own reasons but they soon show a reality that was never intended for the camera.

Damon Jamal, the director, used the film “The Breakfast Club” for inspiration and the film has all the usual high school stereotypes. This is dark and honest look at high school students who are seemingly opposites yet discover that they have more in common than they ever considered. Everything starts slowly and during the beginning, I had the feeling that this was going to be another one of those cliché filled high school films but once it gets going, I changed my mind as this little film charmed me into paying close attention. The story that comes to life is intriguing as it begins to take on a life of its own.

The cast appears to act “improvisationally” (yep, it is a new word and I like it) and the cast does a terrific job with standout performances by Chase as Tim. Klein as Michaela and Darcy as Sully who manages to be repulsive and sympathetic at the same time. The camera work is also excellent in keeping with the darkness of the plot. I do not want to disclose anything that happens so you just have to take my word for it—this is a film that you will want to see more than once.

   

 

“NAKED LUNCH”— Grotesque, Bizarre, Brutal and Homoerotic

naked lunch

Naked Lunch”

Grotesque, Bizarre, Brutal and Homoerotic

Amos Lassen

David Cronenberg’s adaptation of William Burrough’s “Naked Lunch” is a grotesque, bizarre, brutal and homoerotic film of a book that many felt could never be filmed. Bill Lee (Peter Weller), a part-time exterminator and full-time drug addict finds himself in Interzone, the nightmarish world of sinister cabals and talking insects. This surreal film is both humorous and grotesque and it mixes parts of Burroughs’s novel with incidents from his life and the result is an “evocative paranoid fantasy and a self-reflexive investigation into the mysteries of the creative process”. Lee develops an addiction to the chemicals that he uses to kill bugs and he accidentally murders his wife and becomes involved in a secret government plot which is being run by giant bugs in North Africa.

Burroughs wrote this novel in the 1950s and because it is nonlinear and filled with shocking imagery, it has always been considered impossible to film. That was all David Cronenberg had to hear and he has taken the hallucinatory novel and made am imaginative and homoerotic film out of it. Bill Lee is the alter ego of Burroughs who, along with his wife, becomes addicted to his own bug powder.

William Burroughs is regarded as one of this country’s great writers of fiction. He, along with Alan Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, helped to create the beat movement of American literary modernism and post-modernism. Burroughs had the power to create highly tactile ironic and seductively repulsive descriptions of everyday life which were surreal, accurate and fragmented. He depicted the temper of the times and his own life with hermeneutic precision.

Naked Lunch” is Cronenberg’s interpretation of his own experience of reading Burroughs, of Burroughs’s life and of his novel. The film consists of plots and subplots operating on different layers in the film and all of the action is focused on Bill Lee, Burroughs’s alter-ego as he tries to discover the relationships between the plots. The plots that are recognizable somewhat easily as both Burroughs’s and Lee’s relationship with Joan, Lee’s addiction to drugs, Lee’s investigations with drug trafficking at Interzone, Burroughs’s attempt t discover himself and to make sense of the connections between the plots. There are others as well and some may even find more depending where he is and where he is coming from. The film is self-conscious, personal and visually intense yet it also keeps a distance from the audience so to fully appreciate what it is all about requires several viewings. Burroughs Okayed Cronenberg for the film which shows how much respect the writer had for the director. The cast, alone, is fantastic—Ian Holm and Roy Scheider are always great. Peter Weller, a big Burroughs fan and a severely underrated actor gives what may be the performance of his lifetime, Judy Davis and Julian Sands are both perfectly cast and powerful in their roles.

The imagery is disturbing as it should be and it is not really necessary to like Burroughs in order to respect the film. At first viewing it seems to be totally incomprehensible, however as we watch it again and again, things come together and we realize that the ultimate message here is just a metaphor for addiction to heroin yet it goes even deeper. It is a study of man. Burroughs was addicted to heroin and the film goes deeply into his psyche with touches of reality and flashes of paranoia.

What Cronenberg has done is to take the central characters of the book and replaces them with Burroughs, his family and friends and then uses the names of the characters in the book for them. The viewer must not think rationally as he watches and then he will be able to understand the film.

“Bill Lee is an exterminator who, along with his wife, has become addicted to bug repellent powder. One night, while on a bit of a bender, Bill accidentally shoots his wife, Joan, in the head during a game of William Tell. Following this, he uses the powder to go on a seemingly endless trip, ripe with sinister cabals, talking bugs, and journalistic endeavors”. The film theorizes how Burroughs wrote the book.

One viewer states that the film “is a pornographically perverted look at the complexities of drug abuse and the difficulties of the writing process. I don’t use the word pornographically lightly. This is as extreme a movie as I’ve ever seen, especially coming from the Hollywood system”. The film is gross and disturbing and it is also a masterpiece”.

Exterminator Bill Lee is dispatched to Interzone following the violent death of his wife (Judy Davis) after a drug-induced game of “William Tell” (based on the bizarre death of Burroughs’ real wife in 1951; Cronenberg incorporates elements from the author’s life and several of his books into the screenplay). He sends reports through an insectoid typewriter and maintains a cover story that he is homosexual and in search of a new drug called “black meat,” introduced to him by the sinister Dr. Benway (Roy Scheider).

But Lee gets double-crossed, tries a few double-crosses himself, and no one can tell what side anyone is on. Worse, his best friends, Martin and Hank (Michael Zelniker and Nicholas Campbell, standing in here for Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac), have been receiving Lee’s letters and assuming they are pieces of a novel he is writing called “Naked Lunch”. So is Lee being duped, or is he merely duping himself?

The film is not really an adaptation of Burroughs’ novel but an attempt to frame it with a fictional account of its composition. It explores the artistic process. For Burroughs writing was an addiction, sexual release and a kind of betrayal—Cronenberg’s film may be the ultimate expression of the artist’s plight ever captured It does not, however, really function without Burroughs’ book. The book here is really a supplement to the novel, rather than a film that operates on its own. The film is about the book … it comments on the novel, and reference to the novel is almost necessary to make any sense of what it all means.

Criterion’s DVD of the film remains true to Cronenberg’s wild ride through the human psyche. The film will probably make you dizzy, but no one else could have ever tackled this challenge as successfully as David Cronenberg. William S. Burroughs’ novel was clearly impossible to adapt to film, so Cronenberg’s choice to make his version an adaptation about adaptation—both in literary sense and in the sense of physical and psychic transformation—was inspired. We can only guess however exactly whom or what inspired it.

 

“Freak of Nurture” by Kelli Dunham— Autobiographical Essays

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Dunham, Kelli. “Freak of Nurture”, Topsider Press, 2013.

Autobiographical Essays

Amos Lassen

What happens when hilarity and chaos take over a life? Kelli Dunham tells us in this collection of autobiographical essays. Dunham is a product of the Midwest and was raised with a Midwestern work ethic yet she was determined to turn her bad ideas into some kind of fantastic reality. It is the way that she presents what she considers to be bad situations that totally entertains and inspires. She shows us how to laugh at our flaws and at ourselves. The title itself lets us know we are in for a good time.

Dunham tells us about her childhood, growing up Catholic, road trips, coming-out and so much and she does so with tremendous grace and style and a very large helping of humor. She moved from being a Roman Catholic nun to an atheist and her stories are true—she has totally given herself to life. Even when she is facing loss she is hilarious and I had a lot of fun reading this book.

Nothing is sacred here and all is fair game whether it be life in a convent or Sarah Palin. I love the chapter “The ABCs of Adventure in Gender”. “I don’t know if people ever get gender right, since I don’t know how it would look to them to get my gender wrong”. Then there is the wonderful chapter “Does it Take More Than Duct Tape to be a Dyke”? Nothing anytime, anywhere can be funnier than real life happenings and this is what Dunham does—she tells us real stories from her life that really get us laughing and I have to admit that I had to put the book down several times because I was laughing that hard. Yet in all of the humor there is a serious message about being oneself and while we laugh we also learn and not many writers have the ability to make us do that. If my friend and comedian, Bob Smith, tells you that here is humor that is serious, you can believe him and a recommendation about a book from him is a guarantee.

“FLIRT”— New York, Berlin, Japan

flirt

Flirt”

New York, Berlin, Japan

Amos Lassen

Spanning three continents, three languages, three races, two sexual lifestyles, “Flirt” is a look at misunderstandings. In each situation a lover has to decide whether to commit to a partner who is coming home.

In New York City we meet Bill (Bill Sage) and his girlfriend (Parker Posey) who gives him an ultimatum to make a commitment to the relationship or end what they have. She is then on her way to Paris. In Berlin, we meet Dwight (Dwight Ewell) a young African American who can’t settle down with Johan, an art dealer who is older than he is. In Tokyo, we meet Miho (Miho Nikaidoh) who is in love with two men—her teacher, Mr. Ozu (Toshizo Fugiwara) and an American filmmaker. The movie looks at love as it moves (or doesn’t move) into relationships and it tells it three times. In watching the film, we get a look at issues of sexual orientation and. class identity.

In each city, the dialogue is identical and the plot is about violence and the results of flirting and desiring what is not readily available. There are some differences that we notice and these are because of sexual orientation, setting and culture. To a degree this is a film about human behavior and we see that we are more or less the same even if we are not willing to freely admit it. A certain action can bring the same reaction from all of us and this is what I see as the point of this film. Hal Hartley, the director, studies the same situation in three different places which are really not important. What we see here could happen anywhere and we are immediately aware that this is not a conventional film and we really cannot explain why the reaction is the same.

Because this is not a typical movie, many do not care for it. Some feel that the dialogue while excellent is two repetitive. However, the film is fun, insightful and well acted and Hartley again shows us that there is nothing mainstream about what he does on film.

In each story, a character is about to leave town and asks a new lover if they have a future together and then the new lover asks for time and calls another lover, trying to decide between the two. In each story, three other characters give advice and in each story there is a telephone conversation in which we hear the word “no” several times and in each story there is a shooting and an emergency room scene. This idea of a trilogy of films with the same dialogue is clever and we would think that this is a fun film to watch. Hartley is an evocative director and his humor sets the style of his films. Here we really only get attitude and there is no Hartley vision like he usually gives. This really seems to be something of an experiment but it does not hold up for three films.

I am not sure when I realized that Hartley’s idea does not work but I do not find that his observations about life are interesting. I think that when he comments on what he is doing is when it begins to fall apart and his humor turns serious. The idea of three identical stories is brilliant but there is something that causes the idea to break down and that is too bad.

 

 

“FACE 2 FACE”— A Documentary Heartfelt Travelogue

face2face

Face 2 Face”

A Documentary Heartfelt Travelogue

Amos Lassen

Katherine Brooks gives us an honest exploration of herself in her new documentary, “Face 2 Face”. It is about her, the lives around her, and the relationship between them. She reveals
feelings from hurt, to scared, to loving, to angry, to caring, to flat-out confused and she is self-deprecatingly funny. She battles several wounds but has not yet let them conquer her and this is amazing to see.

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The film is raw and very, very real—no script, just a woman and a camera taking a long trip after major surgery and we see things that we usually do not see on film. Brooks was alone except for her virtual Facebook friends and others from the internet. We are reminded that personal relationships play a huge role in our lives but they also work best when we are faced with the others. Brooks travels around this country to spend time with 50 friends who have responded to a Facebook post and as she travels she shares her own personal struggle with addiction and depression.

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Brooks felt alone after going through surgery even though she had some 5000 Facebook friends but she also knew that even though she had those friends who were inside of her computer that they did not really know her and she did not really know them. She decided that the time had come to meet some of them and she took this inspirational journey.

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The film allows us to see something about the human spirit and how a stranger connects with others. The elements of love, depression, anxiety, work, social media, etc are here in the film and we see that each day can bring new experiences if we just look for them. The world is full of new friends, new connections and new relationships. Brooks’ journey is about living and we see that we are somewhat detached from real people. Brooks looks for some resolution is her life and she learns that talking to real people is so much better than talking to them through a computer screen.

The film really focuses on mental health issues and on reconnecting with a world that had become lost in the advances of social media. During her 11,000 plus mile trip across this country, Brooks came face to face with some of her online friends and she shares their stories with us. We also learn of her own difficult past. We know we are all different and Brooks shows how this is so. We hear of her suicide attempt, something that is very personal but she shares that with us to show that no matter how alone we all feel, there are those friends out there for whom it is necessary for us to continue living.

 

“CLOUD ATLAS”— Impacting Others

cloud atlas

Cloud Atlas”

Impacting Others

Amos Lassen

Based on the best-selling novel “Cloud Atlas” written by David Mitchell “Cloud Atlas”, the film is an exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future. One soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution. Past, present and future are all connected in this story (to put it simply) of six interlinking narratives are woven together. There are diverse settings from the savagery of a Pacific Island in the 1850s to a dystopian Korea of the near future.Filming “Cloud Atlas” was an ambitious project but it is a movie that is a product of our modern technological age of the internet driven universal knowledge and vision and the fact that we are free to travel the world and actually jump between time periods, genres and identities.

Many felt that this was a project that could not be filmed with its six different timelines that switch after every scene. It takes a little while to get into the overall theme of the film but once done, there is little confusion when the story jumps around moving from the story is a runaway slave in the 1800s to a post apocalyptic battle in the future between some of the last surviving humans on earth. The film was made with an all-star cast who all give wonderful performances. The film transcends the simple elements of actors and plots and we are taken to a whole new level of storytelling in this film of passion, ambition and technical brilliance.

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An epic film by Tom Tykwer and Andy and Lana Wachowski, “Cloud Atlas” is entwined from a cacophonous series of plot strands: “Its ideas are paralleled, its themes twinned, sometimes breathlessly, sometimes fatuously, into what may be described as a 164-minute pop song of seemingly infinite verses, choruses, and bridges. Perhaps expectedly, it soars” and sometimes it flops.

The opening of the film sets the pace as it mesmerizes the audience and we are off on a magical journey through time and space as all six stories move forward to create one all-encompassing story. It is not clear right away what the characters have to do with each other but by the time the movie ends (it is some three hours long), it all comes together beautifully. The actors play different roles throughout the film as they find themselves in different stories and periods of time.

”Cloud Atlas” takes you anywhere and everywhere. It may surprise you by its sudden burst of violence, sometimes exaggerated and almost funny, sometimes cold and raw. You might cry at times, as the characters make choices and sacrifices. One story is particularly funny and had the theatre laughing quite often. This is no ordinary film. It’s a voyage that will take you to places you didn’t expect. Don’t try to understand it, just let yourself go and you’ll find you understood what it was all about. If you’re looking for a linear plot, then this film isn’t for you.

The film takes us on shipboard in the 1800s, where a young man forms an unlikely bond with a stowaway, a runaway slave. It tells the sensitive, melancholy story of a promising young composer in the 1930s, (Ben Whishaw) – separated by prejudice and misfortune from his lover, a man named Sixsmith (James D’Arcy). It also brings us to 1973, where an intrepid reporter finds herself caught up in a web of murder and intrigue. In the present day, the film offers up the comedic tale of a publisher on the run from a gang of thugs. Plunging into the future, it shows a dystopian vision of Seoul, South Korea that is comparable to “Blade Runner” and a primitive post-apocalyptic Hawaii.

The stories are linked together by themes of love, compassion and the love of liberty especially in the story of composer Robert Frobisher and Sixsmith which depicts pure and true love. Likewise for the tender moments between the central characters of the portion of the film set in the futuristic New Seoul. Even in the blatantly comic segment with Jim Broadbent as the publisher, a deep passion for freedom and human dignity shines through.

All the actors do excellent work in their multiple roles. We care for Tom Hanks one moment as a villager in a future Hawaii, and then detest him in the next scene where he plays a truly despicable doctor. The finest performances are given, however, by Doona Bae and Jim Broadbent. I think they surpass all the rest. Bae plays a “fabricant”, a kind of clone designed to serve humanity. Her gradual awakening to her own self-worth, to the subjugation of herself and of her people, is beautifully and movingly conveyed. She is heartbreaking in this role. Broadbent is equally excellent as the publisher Cavendish. His expressive face and popping eyes are ideal for comedy – and he’s hilarious. But he’s more than that. Broadbent infuses the character with a sense of sorrow and weariness at key moments. Cavendish has depth, a history, regrets from his past. Broadbent brings all this out brilliantly without losing his comic touch.

Hugo Weaving obviously is a show stopper in several scenes. The make-up and costume design are amazing visuals and the score of the movie are excellent.

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This film will not be for everyone due to its complexity and length, but for those who are true fans of films this epic in nature will truly appreciate the film. I very much look forward to another viewing of the film and encourage everyone to see the film at least once.

Presented as an incantation by an old tribesman, Zachry (Tom Hanks), sits by a fire and speaks of “all the voices tied up into one,” turning his face to reveal a scar whose origins we will understand—it is like the birthmarks and familiar traumas that unite characters across each of the film’s six stories, as an inheritance. Each story engages with unique social conditions from our human history and foreseeable future, though all are connected by the idea that the lives of its characters, citizens of places as far-flung as late-19th-century San Francisco and a primitive, post-apocalyptic Hawaii, aren’t their own. “Cloud Atlas”is more spiritual than religious, and its belief system hinges on the notion that humanity is in a constant state of reincarnation, recycling its triumphs along with its follies.

Throughout the film, a star can become a supporting player as a way of linking the six stories together. Itis a rare film that’s greater than the sum of parts. It brings together pain and pleasure as we travel across history and see the joys and the pains of the characters.

This may be one the most ambitious and epic films ever made—an odyssey that spans the globe over 500 years and jumps between numerous interwoven story lines that incorporate just about every film genre available, featuring actors playing several different roles each. It was a huge challenge for the filmmakers to adapt and finance (its estimated budget of over $100 million also makes it the most expensive independent film ever made). The cast is massive—Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, and Xun Zhou each take on multiple roles that play with the actors’ ages, races, and genders (Susan Sarandon, Keith David, James D’Arcy, and Doona Bae also have smaller roles). By and large, they pull off the various requirements of the roles, many of which require a significant amount of prosthetics and makeup. Several of the roles were so well disguised that it was almost impossible to distinguish who played what role and we have to wait for the final credits to roll. You certainly will not recognize Halle Berry as a white Victorian housewife or Hugh Grant as a native American replete with war paint. The race bending and gender bending works beautifully and adds more novelty to the film. Here is a complete cast list:

Zachry, et al – Tom Hanks
Luisa Rey, et al – Halle Berry
Timothy Cavendish, et al – Jim Broadbent
Nurse Noakes, et al – Hugo Weaving
Adam Ewing, et al – Jim Sturgess
Sonmi-451, et al – Doona Bae
Robert Frobischer, et al – Ben Whishaw
Kupaka, et al – Keith David
Rufus Sixsmith, et al – James D’Arcy
Madame Horrox, et al – Susan Sarandon
Kona Chief, et al – Hugh Grant
With: Xun Zhou, David Gyasi, Robert Fyfe, Martin Wuttke, Robin Morrissey, Brody Lee, Ian Van Temperley, Amanda Walker, Ralph Riach, Andrew Havill, Tanja de Wendt, Raeven Lee Hanan.

Be prepared for a mental work-out that ends with a large emotional payoff.

 

“NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN”— Planting the Seed

not suitable for children

Not Suitable for Children”

Planting the Seed

Amos Lassen

Jonah (Ryan Kwantan) learns that he has testicular cancer which means that he will not be able to father any children after having surgery to take care of it. He tries to freeze his sperm but that doesn’t work so he decides he needs to have a child quickly and he only has four weeks to father one.

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This is a wonderful romantic comedy that has a lot of heart and charm and a wonderful cast of actors. Watching the film is like going to a party and here a serious question is treated with humor. Michael Lucas (an Australian and not to be confused with porn star/director) has written a delightful screenplay that Peter Templeton has directed with wit and style.

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Jonah wastes no time in telling us that he loves sex so when he discovers a lump in his testicle (he discovers this while having sex), he is naturally quite upset. The doctor tells him that we will soon be infertile and this turns his world inside-out and upside-down and he realizes that he has to father a child ASAP or never do so. It is as if his future has been taken from him.

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He begins going through his ex-girlfriends and tries to convince each to be the mother of his child and you can just imagine the comedy here. Jonah’s best friends and housemates, Gus (Ryan Cor) and Stevie (Sarah Snook) are there for him and are drawn into Jonah’s search for the girl who will say yes to his proposition. They try to warn people about what Jonah is going through.

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The movie takes place in a world that is familiar and perpetual and we watch Jonah as he moves through the world as he tries to find a connection. We sense his feeling of uncertainty as he drifts through the stages with no one at his side. While the film deals with a very serious subject, the humor is wonderful.

The Ryan Kwantan of the beautiful body that we know from “True Blood” made this film before he reconstructed his body. He is perfect as Jonah—shallow, self-obsessed, immature who has only his looks going for him (similar to his “True Blood” character. Finally his hopes of becoming a father rest with Ava (Bojana Novakovic) and she suggests that he contact a lesbian couple or find an older woman to do the job.

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I am sure that some will find this to be something of a crude film and I say to them, “Get over it” and enjoy a movie that is pure fun. There is nothing of traditional boy meets girl romantic comedies here. The real heart of the film is in the relationship between Jonah and Stevie. Jonah who has never wanted children before he learned that he might never be a father is scared that this indeed might happen and there is no woman who is out of consideration to mother his child. This is a fairly accurate look at how many young people live today (with life being not much more than one big party). Peter Templeman gives us a new kind of comedy that entertains and we need just that in today’s world.

“ANGELS OF SEX”— A Bisexual Love Triangle

angels of sex

Angels of Sex”

A Bisexual Love Triangle

Amos Lassen

Bruno (Llorenc Gonzalez) is a struggling martial artist and a hip-hop dancer. He is violently mugged on a Barcelona street and fellow dancer, Rai (Alvaro Cervantes), came to his rescue. Rai is a very masculine, mysterious and magnetic guy yet he makes a pass at Bruno and that stuns him but in a very short time, something develops between them. Bruno finds himself with a problem—can he remain in love with his girlfriend Carla (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) and still share his feelings with Rai? Rai defies convention and is one of the new generation that is sexually fluid and the three characters soon find themselves in a love triangle but when Carla finds out what went on between Rai and Bruno, she kicks Bruno out even though she still loves him and does not want to lose him. Ultimately she allows Bruno to be with Rai as long as he keeps that apart from their relationship.

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Angels of Sex” is an honest look at the changing nature of relationships. Sparks flew between the two men and they secretly began an open relationship. Carla is very upset when she learns of what happens and Bruno seems to really enjoy the freedom he has with Rai as their relationship is not monogamous. Carla, at the same time, decides she really loves Bruno and while she encourages his happiness, she also falls for Rai.

Interestingly enough, bisexuality is seen here only in positive light while there are so many other stereotypes visible. While Bruno and Rai and Carla are seen as characters with free spirits, the film is somewhat shallow and that kind of overshadows any of the good things about the film. Looking at love/romance here, we certainly see love-making going on and there are several explicit sex scenes. When we first see Bruno, we think that he is happily in love with Carla but then Rai manages to steal his heart causing Carla to be jealous but she also falls for Rai. This is quite a portrayal of human reaction and because of that, director Xavier Villaverde, is able to give us his sincere look at bisexuality and he does so with grace and elegance. That is not to say that the film is not sexy because it is. The actors themselves are quite good looking and it is very easy to see why they fall in love with each other even though they have short comings.

I love that the characters are totally believable. He sees how frail human feelings can be and how easily the smallest happening can ruin a person’s illusions about a relationship. Once when the two men kiss and Carla is there but they are oblivious to her, we see just that. Rarely do we see human emotions explored to the degree we see them here. Nothing seems contrived, exploitive or unnecessary. We see the emotional dynamics between the characters as they move from one person with two lovers to three people sharing each other and this is done so naturally and with perfect pacing that we share in the characters’ journey through the difficulties and complexities of the arrangement. In fact, our own notions about such relationships are challenged. There is also an equality among the characters and they never overshadow each other.

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The narrative is constant and does not let up at all. As we watch, we consider our own jealousies, reliefs; egos etc and we do so easily. Just as each situation reaches a conclusion, another one is there to take its place and the dynamic of the film shifts. One of the reasons we feel as we do as we watch is that the characters are endearing and human, created beautifully and portrayed with grace. Everything that happens feels real and genuine and this is what raises it above the level of a soap opera which it could have easily become if not handled correctly. The film certainly changed how I look at bisexuality.

One cannot help but become involved in the story that is engaging and presented stunningly. There is something very sublime about the film and it is hard to pinpoint what that is but when you see it, you will understand what I mean or you may totally disagree with everything I have written…and that’s ok. You will not be alone in that.