Monthly Archives: November 2018

“k.d. lang— LANDMARKS LIVE IN CONCERT”— A Great Performances Special

“k.d. lang – Landmarks Live in Concert”

 A Great Performances Special

Amos Lassen 

Iconic singer-songwriter k.d. lang performs a 25th anniversary concert celebrating her critically acclaimed 1992 album “Ingénue” from the Majestic Theater in San Antonio, Texas, in k.d. lang – Landmarks Live in Concert – A Great Performances Special, premiering nationwide Friday, December 14 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). It will then be released on DVD

“Ingénue” let lang and co-writer-producer Ben Mink explore jazz, cabaret and Tin Pan Alley songwriting, and resulted in some of her greatest compositions.

“Landmarks Live in Concert”  features an uninterrupted performance of the complete “Ingénue” album, including lang’s GRAMMY® Award-winning hit “Constant Craving” as well as her hits “Save Me,” “Wash Me Clean,” “Season of Hollow Soul” and “Miss Chatelaine.” The concert also includes the beloved Leonard Cohen song “Hallelujah” and a previously unreleased song by lang and Joe Pisapia, “Sleeping Alone.” There is also an interview with lang by James Reed, an entertainment editor at Los Angeles Times.

It was twenty-six years ago that k.d. lang was embraced by the music world, its elders (including collaborators such as Tony Bennett and Roy Orbison) and audiences all over the world for her powerfully emotional voice and often quirky take on country music. “‘Ingénue’ was a change in vernacular and vocabulary in that it was personal-finding some romantic space,” said k.d. lang. “It was time. It was me. I had gotten to a time and point where I wanted to be me.”

Here is the song list:

“Save Me”

“The Mind of Love”

“Miss Chatelaine”

“Wash Me Clean”

“So It Shall Be”

“Still Thrives This Love”

“Season of Hollow Soul” (full video below)

“Outside Myself”

“Tears of Love’s Recall”

“Constant Craving”

“Hallelujah”

“Sleeping Alone”

The concert will be available to stream the following day via PBS Passport (contact your local PBS station for details) at pbs.org/gperf and PBS apps. PBS Passport is a special benefit for PBS supporters to access an on-demand library of over 1,000 hours of quality public television programming. Viewer contributions are an important source of funding, making PBS programs possible. PBS and public television stations offer all Americans from every walk of life the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online programming. Contact your local PBS station for details on PBS Passport.

The concert DVD and Blu-ray also will be available December 14 via MVD Entertainment Group. k.d. lang’s “Ingénue: 25th Anniversary Edition” was released by Nonesuch Records last year in celebration of the double platinum-selling, GRAMMY Award-winning album’s silver anniversary. The two-disc set includes remastered versions of the album’s original 10 tracks as well as eight previously unreleased performances from lang’s 1993 MTV Unplugged episode, recorded in New York City’s famed Ed Sullivan Theater.

Created by documentary and live event producer/director Daniel E Catullo III, “Landmarks Live in Concert” features a lineup of global music superstars performing at landmark locations of either historical or personal significance around the world. Past episodes featured Alicia Keys at multiple locations around New York City, Brad Paisley at West Virginia University, Andrea Bocelli live at Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio, Foo Fighters at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, and will.i.am with the Black Eyed Peas and friends at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

“Afro-Fabulations: The Queer Drama of Black Life” by Tavia Nyong’o— Beyond Blackness

Nyong’o, Tavia. “Afro-Fabulations: The Queer Drama of Black Life”, (Sexual Cultures), NYU Press,  2018

Beyond Blackness

Amos Lassen

In “Afro-Fabulations”, writer Tavia Nyong’o argues for a conception of black cultural life that exceeds post-blackness and conditions of loss. Nyong’o is a historian and culture critic who looks at the conditions of contemporary black artistic production in the era of  post-blackness. We move from the insurgent art of the 1960’s and the intersectional activism of the present day challenging genealogies of blackness that ignore its creative capacity to exceed conditions of traumatic loss, social death, and archival erasure.

There are those that fear that black survival in an anti-black world is a race against time and so here we look to memory and imagination “through which a queer and black polytemporality is invented and sustained.” Passing the antirelational debates in queer theory, Nyong’o sees queerness as “angular sociality,” drawing upon “queer of color critique in order to name the gate and rhythm of black social life as it moves in and out of step with itself.” He uses a broad range of sites of analysis, from speculative fiction to performance art, from artificial intelligence to Blaxploitation cinema. Reading the archive of violence and trauma against the grain, “Afro-Fabulations” calls upon the poetic powers of queer world-making that have always been imminent to the fight and play of black life. 

Reading this helps us identify the uncanniness of black queer life and performance. We see how black queer artists and performers daily bring forth new worlds and new possibilities and in doing so have leverage their creative powers to transport us to the beyond of anti-blackness.

This is a study of performances of ordinary and the everyday, yet Nyong’o widens our horizon of the possible. For Nyong’o, Afro-fabulation is a critical poetics of black life. The book is engaged with insurgent movement and upheaval, transmutation and. Cognitive science, particle physics, queer and trans theory, and black radicalism come together here as do critical energy and powers of synthetic and figurative attention.

  “I Want to Go Home Forever: Stories of Becoming and Belonging in South Africa’s Great Metropolis” edited by Loren B. Landau and Tanya Pampalone— Belonging

 

Landau, Loren B. and Tanya Pampalone (editors).  “I Want to Go Home Forever: Stories of Becoming and Belonging in South Africa’s Great Metropolis”, Wits University Press, 2018.

Belonging

Amos Lassen

‘”I  Want to Go Home Forever’ is comprised of thirteen true stories about transformation, xenophobia and belonging in Africa’s metropolis. Chichi is a hairdresser from Nigeria who left for South Africa after a love affair went bad. Azam arrived from Pakistan with a modest wad of cash and a dream. Estiphanos hiked the continent escaping political persecution in Ethiopia, only to become the target of the May 2008 xenophobic attacks. Nombuyiselo is the mother of 14-year-old Simphiwe Mahori, shot dead in 2015 by a Somalian shopkeeper in Snake Park, sparking a further wave of anti-foreigner violence. After fighting white oppression for decades, Ntombi has turned her anger towards African foreigners, who, she says are taking jobs away from South Africans and thus aiding crime. Papi, a freedom fighter and activist in Katlehong, now dedicates his life to teaching the youth in his community that tolerance is the only way forward. 
These are a sample of the thirteen stories that make up this collection. They are the stories of South Africans, some of whom are Gauteng-born, others from neighboring provinces and they all have a common goal; they strive to realize the promises of democracy. There are also the stories of newcomers, from neighboring countries and from as far afield as Pakistan and Rwanda, seeking a secure future in those very promises. 

The narratives were collected by researchers, journalists and writers and they all reflect the many facets of South Africa’s post-apartheid decades. Taken together, they give voice to the emotions and relations emanating from a paradoxical place of outrage and hope, violence and solidarity. They speak of intersections between people and their pasts, and of how, in the making of selves and the other they are also shaping South Africa. Underlying these accounts is a nostalgia for an imagined future that can never be realized. These are stories of forever seeking a place called home.

We get an intimate look into the lives of migrants, the people they find along their journeys and the worlds they inevitably create together. We read of the complexity and contradictions of experiences of migration and understand that experience is inseparable from personal and political belonging, and perhaps even what it means to be human. 

Even though this is a “local” book, it has important lessons for a global audience on how people make sense of movement – theirs or that of others – within and across borders.

 So much has been written on xenophobia in South Africa, and yet so few have really listened with care and precision to the voices of the ordinary people. This book unsettles so many old assumptions and it  does this simply by creating a space in which people bear witness to their lives.

The stories run the gamut—the are all honest and personal and range from heartbreaking to inspiring. Each story is a study in journey-making. No matter where we may have been born, each of us looks for a place where we will be safe and respected for who we are. The stories in this collection illustrate that no journey is easy. It is always difficult to begin again. These stories also grapple with the making of a nation. They teach us about urban poverty and women’s struggles for space and freedom and of course they speak of racism. “Taken together, they illustrate the quest for dignity and so they tell the story of humanity and striving and ambition in the midst of profound difficulty.” Here is a set of global phenomena that are important to anyone who cares about the state of the world today.

“MALE SHORTS: INTERNATIONAL V2”— Acclaimed Short Films

 

“Male Shorts International,  Volume 2”

Acclaimed Short Films

Amos Lassen

Here is a select offering of acclaimed world cinema that is sure to captivate audiences. Most of us do not get a chance to see short LGBT films and here is the second volume of Male Shorts International that is trying to correct that.

Santiago Henao Velez’s’ “Free Fall” that is set in underground Colombia in the city of Medellin where sixteen year old Jhony is both hopeful and excited about his date with the boy he loves.

“Enter” is a French film directed by Manuel Billi and Benjamin Bod. It takes place during a night of heavy drinking, R. unexpectedly arrives at an apartment where an orgy is taking place. He is embarrassed and locks himself in the bathroom where he finds a man who he knows quite well sleeping.

“SR. Raposo“ (directed by Danie Nolasco) is set in 1995 and begins when Acácio had a dream in he walked hand-in-hand with a man and a woman across an all-green field.

“Ocaso” from Brazil and director Bruno Roger takes place late in the afternoon when a student and a construction worker sit on the edge of the bay and leave traces on the landscape.

“Twice” from Italy is about Diego who is 17, fragile yet full of life. His best friend Antonio knows and indulges his weaknesses, but he would also like to see him strong and masculine. One night they meet Maria, a natural beauty. To show that he is a “real man”, Diego, is ready to do anything, even to force himself to do things he would never have wanted to do. Domenico Onorato directed.

 

 

“THE FAMILY I HAD”— A True Story

“The Family I Had”

A True Story

Amos Lassen

Charity Lee is the center of a true-crime stories that’s so horrible that it’s impossible to comprehend. In 2007, Charity’s 13-year-old son, Paris, savagely murdered her four-year-old daughter and his half-sister, Ella, strangling and beating the girl and stabbing her 17 times with a kitchen knife. Katie Green and Carlye Rubin’s documentary “The Family I Had” opens with Charity’s recollection of hearing of Ella’s death, which is initially presented as an arbitrary incident. We hear the recording of Paris’s call to 911 in which he sounds remorseful and panicked, as if he’s snapped out of a slumber and is describing an act committed by some other person.

Green and Rubin begin with this incident so that we can process the shock of it, before going back to events that preceded the murder. Things aren’t as arbitrary as they seem, of course, and a shadow of ambiguity is cast upon that 911 call. The filmmakers have been granted considerable access to Charity and Paris, who’s incarcerated in a variety of Texas prisons over the course of the film. Charity is a memorable and poignant camera subject: She is heavily tatted, with close-cropped hair and intelligent and tired eyes. She looks like the warrior and survivor that she is. She’s a woman who’s struggled with a bad parent, bad men, a drug addiction, and the death of a daughter at the hands of her intelligent son who meets the textbook definition of a psychopath.

Charity’s descriptions of her own life show the knack that humans have for acclimating to the most difficult of circumstances, evolving, by necessity of survival, to find such events nearly ordinary as life continues. At one point, Charity makes a despairing and macabre joke about Ella’s murder to her mother, Kyla, who’s part of an overlapping murder controversy of her own. But this humor is a testament of strength rather than callousness, as Charity is weathering something that would break many people; she’s an advocate of prison reform, as Paris’s interviews offer chilling evidence of how incarceration ruins and rewards the antisocial behavior of its captors.

Revelations  in the film are sprung messily, almost randomly, as they often are in life. The film alternates intimate home-movie recordings, which show that Paris was a bomb waiting to detonate, with contemporary footage of Charity working with people affected by severe crimes, taking care of her new child, resonantly named Phoenix, and trying for some semblance of a relationship with Paris, whom she resents and fears but has, remarkably, appeared to have forgiven. The film documents the transferrable perversities inherent in familial life, offering evidence to both sides of the debate of nature versus nurture, while exploring the awesome durability of love, which can become its own kind of prison.

What makes this an interesting film is its filmmakers willingness to recognize that there are no easy answers to questions that no one should ever has to ask. It is a story about a murder that tears a family apart and how the people who remain navigate an entirely different world than the one they were in the day before. It presents an impossible situation for its central figure, someone who has to live the rest of her life with questions of regret and forgiveness that it’s impossible to really even imagine considering much less finding the answers that would make one sleep easier at night.

This is Charity’s situation, a woman who was working her job one night when she got a call that would forever change her life. Ella, her 4-year-old daughter, was dead. And her 13-year-old son Paris was being held for her murder. Paris had grabbed a knife and stabbed his sister to death, claiming on the 911 call that he believed the toddler was a demon (however, his own mother claims this story and the call are merely a story concocted by a boy, it’s suggested, wasn’t getting the attention he demanded). Immediately, Charity was faced with an impossible situation. As she says in heartbreaking interviews, if she tried to get Paris the help he so clearly needed, she wondered if she’d be betraying the memory of Ella. But if your son was mentally ill, would you let the system lock him up and throw away the key? 

Green and Rubin keenly understand the complexity of what they’re covering. “The Family I Had” is not an “explainer” movie. It’s not the kind of thing that’s going to tell you exactly why Paris did what he did. Were his cries for attention ignored before that fateful night? What about his mother’s substance abuse problems? What about the missing fathers in this narrative? What about cycles of emotional abuse? Or how our system really has no idea what to do with a sociopathic child, much less a single mother in Abilene, Texas? The narrative here takes a twist in the family tree that you won’t see coming and offers another layer of debate to the nature vs. nurture issues at the core of this human tragedy. 

And that’s the key to this project’s success—the filmmakers never lose sight of the human beings looking for answers to impossible questions. Charity has another child after Paris goes into a system that will release him at the age of 33. She now has to worry about what Paris may do to her new child once he’s out. Could he really do it again? Can you imagine watching someone who killed your child interact with another one? “The Family I Had” recognizes the impossible situation in which Charity has been placed, and then memorably shows us how she has to move forward, one day at a time, one foot in front of the other.

THE 20TH ANNUAL ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS

THE 20TH ANNUAL ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS

15 thought-provoking, poignant, and very funny animated shorts from around the world

Opens at Laemmle Theaters in Los Angeles – December 14, 2018

Opens at the Quad Cinema in NYC – December 28, 2018

THE 20th ANNUAL ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS returns to theaters across North America and will have its US theatrical premiere at Laemmle Theaters in Los Angeles on December 14th, and at the Quad Cinema in New York on December 28th (many other cities will follow). Since 1998, THE ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS has been selecting the best in animated short films from around the world and has been presenting new and innovative short films to appreciative audiences at animation studios, schools and, since 2015, theaters in the US and other countries. Over the years, 38 of the films showcased in THE ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS went on to receive Academy Award® nominations, with 11 films winning the Oscar®.

THE 20th ANNUAL ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOW will present 15 thought-provoking, poignant, and very funny animated shorts from around the world. In a year when the best and worst of human nature has been on constant display, the works in this year’s show remind us of both the universality of shared ideals, as well as the diverse challenges we face. “Animation is such a flexible and open-ended medium that it lends itself to exploring the innumerable aspects of what it means to be human,” says founder and curator Ron Diamond. “And this year’s program, as much as any of our past presentations, really illuminates human strengths and foibles, and the bonds that unite us across cultures and generations.” THE 20th ANNUAL ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOW represents the work of artists from six countries and includes six student films. Funny, moving, engaging, and thought-provoking, THE ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS not only has something for everyone, but is a remarkable and insightful microcosm of our world.

The show has a running time of 98 minutes and includes 15 films, four of which have qualified for Academy Award® consideration *. 

The Green Bird  – Maximilien Bougeois, Quentin Dubois, Marine Goalard, Irina Nguyen, Pierre Perveyrie, FranceOne Small Step * – Andrew Chesworth, Bobby Pontillas, U.S.Grands Canons –  Alain Biet, FranceBarry – Anchi Shen, U.S.Super Girl – Nancy Kangas, Josh Kun, U.S.Love Me, Fear Me – Veronica Solomon, GermanyBusiness Meeting – Guy Charnaux, BrazilFlower Found! – Jorn Leeuwerink, The NetherlandsBullets – Nancy Kangas, Josh Kun, U.S.A Table Game – Nicolás Petelski, SpainCarlotta’s Face – Valentin Riedl, Frédéric Schuld, GermanyAge of Sail  – John Kahrs, U.S.Polaris – Hikari Toriumi, U.S.My Moon – Eusong Lee, U.S.Weekends * – Trevor Jimenez, U.S. 

 

The power of family ties, and specifically the enduring connection between parents and children, are sensitively evoked in Hikari Toriumi’s deeply affecting “Polaris,” about a young polar bear leaving home for the first time. “One Small Step,” Bobby Pontillas and Andrew Chesworth’s inspiring story of a Chinese-American girl’s dream of being an astronaut, centers on her evolving relationship with her father. The beautifully designed “Weekends,” by Trevor Jimenez, explores the complex emotional landscape of a young boy and his recently divorced parents, as he shuttles between their very different homes and lives.

The darker side of relationships is forcefully explored in Veronica Solomon’s “Love Me, Fear Me,” a tour de force of claymation that uses dance to delve into the lengths people go to to deceive each other and try to pass for something they’re not. Eusong Lee’s “My Moon” takes a more cosmic and lighthearted approach to a troubled relationship, depicting a celestial love triangle played out by the sun, the moon, and the earth.“Carlotta’s Face,” by Valentin Riedl and Frédéric Schuld, illuminates a different kind of relationship dysfunction in its sensitive portrayal of a woman who suffers from prosopagnosia, the inability to recognize faces, and her salvation through art.

Among the other program highlights are the very funny computer animation “The Green Bird,” winner of a 2018 Gold Student Academy Award® International Animation, which harks back to classic cartoons of the mid-20th century. Oscar-winning director John Kahrs’ “Age of Sail,” the latest in Google’s series of Spotlight Stories, chronicles the adventures of an old sailor who rescues a teenaged girl after she falls overboard. Alain Biet’s jaw-dropping “Grands Canons” is a dizzying symphonic celebration of everyday objects that uses finely detailed drawings created by the filmmaker. And two very short films, “Supergirl” and “Bullets,” take their inspiration from poems composed by surprisingly eloquent preschoolers.

“BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY”— “IT S 6:00am. DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOU ARE?”

“Bright Lights, Big City”

“IT S 6:00am. DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOU ARE?”

Amos Lassen

Jamie Conway (Michael J. Fox) is an aspiring writer who leaves the wheat fields of Kansas for Manhattan  and the city’s party subculture. Hitting the clubs night after night, Jamie soon spins out of control, and he risks losing everything – and everyone he loves.

The divide between Jamie’s professional existence and his private life is laughable, but it’s becoming impossible to keep up the charade that he cares about the things he’s supposed to be doing. He works for a high-powered New York magazine, and the only two things that keep him on the job are guilt and the need for money. He needs the money because he puts it into his nose. He needs the guilt because it’s his only link to his ambitions and reality.

“Bright Lights, Big City” takes place over the course of a week or so, in which people, events and even whole days drift in and out of focus. Jamie is completely out of control. The irony is that he still looks halfway okay, if you don’t look too hard. He’s together enough to sit in a club and drink double vodkas and engage in absentminded conversation with transparent people. He drinks tremendous amounts of booze, punctuated by cocaine.

He is red-eyed, puffy-faced and trembling with fear every morning when the telephone rings. When he lived in Kansas City, he dreamed of becoming a writer. It was there he met and married Amanda (Phoebe Cates) who he met in a bar. The movie deliberately never makes clear what, if anything, they truly had to share. In New York, she finds overnight success as a model and drifts away from him. That’s no surprise since there is no stability with Jamie.

Jamie takes himself, filled with nausea and self-loathing, into the magazine office every day. He works as a fact-checker and he could care less. He had dreams once. He can barely focus on them now. One day he’s cornered at the water cooler by the pathetic old drunk Alex Hardy (Jason Robards), who once wrote good fiction and knew Faulkner, and now exists as the magazine’s gin-soaked fiction editor.

Alex drags Jamie out to a martini lunch, where the conversation is the typical alcoholic mixture of resentment against those who have made it and self-hatred for drinking it all away. By supplementing booze with cocaine, Jamie is going to be able to reach Alex’s state of numbed incomprehension quickly yet there is one glimmer of hope in Jamie’s life. He has dinner one night with a bright college student  (Tracy Pollan), the cousin of his drinking buddy (Keifer Sutherland). At a restaurant, he goes into the toilet and then decides not to use cocaine. He wants to get through the evening without drugs. He likes her.. She is intelligent and kind. Several days later, at the end of a lost weekend of confusion and despair, he looks at himself in a mirror and says, “I need help.” He telephones her in the middle of the night but his conversation is disconnected and confused. What he is really doing is calling for help.

 The movie ends with Jamie staggering out into the bright dawn of a new day and, in a scene a bit too contrived, trades his dark glasses for a loaf of bread. “Bright Lights, Big City” is a chronicle of wasted days and misplaced nights. It was directed by James Bridges and it is a film you will not soon forget.  

SPECIAL FEATURES include: 

  High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the main feature in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio

  Audio: English 2.0 Stereo, French 2.0 Stereo, Spanish Mono

  English, French and Spanish Subtitles

  Commentary with Author/Screenwriter Jay McInerney

  Commentary with Cinematographer Gordon Willis

  ”Jay McInerney’s The Light Within” featurette

  ”Big City Lights” featurette

  Photo Gallery

  Original Theatrical Trailer

  Collectible Mini-Poster

“LEARNING TO SEE: THE WORLD OF INSECTS”—- Father and Son

“Learning To See: The World Of Insects”

Father and Son

Amos Lassen

“Learning to See” takes us on a journey of discovery for both father and son as director Jake Oelman documents the work of his father, nature photographer Robert Oelman. Struggling with a midlife crisis, Robert leaves his established psychology career in the early 1990s to pursue his real passion of photography.  He moves from the United States to the rainforests of Colombia where he records and connects with over 15,000 previously undiscovered species of bugs the tiniest of creatures in the most spectacular fashion. This is a beautiful portrait of discovery, connectivity and harmony. The newly released Blu ray and DVD includes: a featurette, The Making of the film, All of It Music Video, Panoramics, Slides, Extra Scenes (Butterfly, Caiman, Hummingbirds, Indigo, Ocelot), Trailer 5.1 Surround, Stereo English subtitles for the deaf and hearing-impaired. Other bonus features include: xxtra Scenes (Butterfly, Caiman, Hummingbirds, Indigo, Ocelot), Slides, Panoramics, ‘All of It’ Music Video and a trailer.

I watched ‘Learning to See: The World of Insects” with  childlike wonder and awe. At the heart of director Jake Oelman’s story is photographer Robert Oelman, but at the heart of Robert’s story is the magnificent and remarkable world of beauty that most people never get to see. The images that Robert captures are astounding with colors and configurations on insects that are incredible.  

What really makes this a comprehensive film is the almost secondary story of Robert’s work. The director begins with a backstory of this now-famed photographer, explaining what a different place he was once in when he was living a stressful life as a psychotherapist. While the documentary moves quickly into Robert’s new life, the message throughout the entire film is that we should live your lives doing something we are passionate about. Robert sensed that he needed a change, and so what appears to be mostly on a whim, he moved to Columbia and casually started taking pictures. It was only after realizing that he did not have the correct equipment to appropriately photograph a hummingbird that he wondered what other beautiful things don’t we get to see? With that, Robert set off on his own adventure to find unusual insects in the Amazon and bring them to the world through pictures.

“Learning to See”  reveals a truly wonderful world of insects. At first look, it is a tale about insect photography—which is not usually compelling narrative. But the story of the photographer and the startling quality of his photographs change all of that.

Oelman relocated to Colombia, bought a plot of land in the mountains just outside of Cali and restored a country house there. Ultimately, he began photographing the life on his land, beginning with hummingbirds, which he learned are impossible to photograph well without a very high speed shutter and a close-up lens. From there he moved to insects.

Watching the film, we have a sense of. the wonder and respect Oelman feels in the presence of his subjects. That is not an easy thing to achieve. The human aversion to bugs is old and it runs deep. The fear and loathing part comes from the genuine menace insects pose—stinging, biting, carrying disease—as well as from what we see as the exceeding creepiness of their body plans. They are like us—with heads, limbs, eyes, mouths—but so very different too that they cross the line from intriguing to revolting.

We feel the in Oelman’s pictures find— in the dazzling colors of bugs, in their extraordinary mix of textures—the armored mantises, the pulpous caterpillars, the diaphanous wings of the flying insects. We see the extraordinary ability of some insects to camouflage themselves. Here we see that insects are a foundation of the food web and they are also creatures in full—complicated, elegantly built, living elaborate lives most of us never even consider.

“All That Heaven Allows: A Biography of Rock Hudson” by Mark Griffin— Remembering Rock

Griffin, Mark. “All That Heaven Allows: A Biography of Rock Hudson”, Harper, 2018.

Remembering Rock

Amos Lassen

It took a while but we finally have what is considered to be “the definitive biography of the deeply complex and widely misunderstood matinee idol of Hollywood’s Golden Age.” He was quite a man— beautifully handsome, broad, clean-cut. He was what represented the movies back then and we loved him. He was the “embodiment of romantic masculinity in American film” in the ‘50s and ‘60s”.

He was a fine actor and an Academy Award-nominated leading man. performances Hudson won acclaim for his performances in glossy melodramas like “Magnificent Obsession”, westerns like “Giant” and romantic comedies like “Pillow Talk”. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, Hudson successfully moved to television and starred in the long-running series “McMillan & Wife” and had a recurring role on “Dynasty” and through them he met a whole new audience and generation. 

And it was onto only audiences who loved him; his colleagues did so as well. However that outward appearance hid his insecurities and conflicts. He grew up poor in Winnetka, Illinois, and was abandoned by his biological father, abused by an alcoholic stepfather, and controlled by his domineering mother. Even with obstacles that seemed to be insurmountable, Hudson was determined to become an actor at all costs. After signing with the powerful but predatory agent Henry Willson, he was transformed into “Universal Studio’s resident Adonis”. It was a different time back then—America was very conservative and the Hudson we saw on the screen was not the Hudson who was a closeted homosexual. Because of this and the fact that it is hard to keep secrets in Hollywood, Hudson was continually threatened with public exposure, not only by scandal sheets like “Confidential Magazine” but by a number of his own partners. For years, he dodged questions concerning his private life, but in 1985 the public learned that the actor was battling AIDS. Learning that such such a revered public figure had contracted the illness, the world became aware of the epidemic.

I have no own Rock Hudson story. When I lived in Israel, there were really no places for gay men to meet except for public parks. Hudson was in Tel Aviv preparing to film his last movie, “The Ambassador”. I came into the park and saw this very handsome man sitting on a bench and he looked very familiar to me. I am a shy guy so I did not approach him but waited till someone else did. This other person right away identified him and I realized who I was sitting close to. He was already sick by this time and while I would have loved something more intimate that an afternoon of coffee and chat, it was what I had. I suppose he felt that since the news about his sexuality was already out there that he could be who he was and go to the park. It was my luck to be there at the same time and Tel Aviv at that time having been a small and close gay community, everyone knew that I had spent the afternoon with the American movie star. (My mother could not wait to share this with her Mah Jong ladies.

Mark Griffin’s book draws on more than 100 interviews with co-stars, family members and former companions. “All That Heaven Allows” gives us a complete and nuanced portrait of one of the most fascinating stars in cinema history.

We get new details concerning Hudson’s troubled relationships with wife Phyllis Gates and boyfriend Marc Christian. For the first time there is an in-depth exploration of Hudson’s classic films. Griffin had unprecedented access to private journals, personal correspondence, and production files and he shares with us the idol whose life and death had a lasting impact on American culture.

This is more than just a book about one of the most determined and hard-working movie stars in the history of Hollywood, it is an in-depth look at America in the second half of the 20th Century.  Griffin did tremendous research and he brings together the American dream with tragedy. tragedy.  He reconstructs the charade that Hudson had to live because of his double life. The book shares  Hudson’s private life with great empathy. Hudson lived a double life in order to maintain his status as a movie star. Griffin’s sources are candid but credible and because of that this is a fascinating read. As a gay man, I had to live that way for several years and it is dishonest and it wears on us. We can only imagine how it affected Hudson as a person who was on stage every moment of his life.

PUTTING ON with Instagram Influencer On Mekahel, Revry Premieres First Original Reality Series

Revry Premieres First Original Reality Series, PUTTING ON with Instagram Influencer On Mekahel

On November 30th, slip into Revry’s first original reality series “PUTTING ON” which follows Israeli born model, actor, entrepreneur and Instagram influencer, On Mekahel, as he prepares to debut his underwear brand, M.O. Underwear, with his ex-boyfriend. Season One of the IGTV reality series follows On’s journey of building his brand with his ex, dealing with manufacturing errors while navigating conflicting deadlines, a final product photo shoot, broken promises and the struggle of managing personal relations. 

“I am really excited about sharing this part of my life and the opportunity to be featured on Revry,” says On.  “It has been and still is a wild ride starting a business from the ground up.  I hope that what people will take away from the show is that chasing dreams really gives meaning to life. With passion and determination the opportunities that we create for ourselves are endless and I wanted to show that even in a ‘hook-up obsessed subculture’, gay men can still fulfill relationship goals.”

Revry’s CEO, Damian Pelliccione shares that “Revry is so excited to release PUTTING ON as our first reality series and on IGTV. The unique circumstances that brought On to our team were what made us love the series instantly. The idea was so fresh and true to life, going into business with an ex. It’s funny, sexy, and a perfect binge-worthy reality drama.””When I first met On Mekahel, I knew I had to create a series around his life,” says Colby Cote (Creator/Executive Producer at Visionary Studios). “His career and social life is fascinating, it’s a mix of indulgence and passion. You can find him at night hanging with celebrities and attending exclusive parties but during the day, you will see him hustling the town building his fashion and beauty empire.  He merges his business and personal life in a way that is both dramatic and inspiring. It really is fascinating to watch and I look forward to sharing his life with everyone.”  

Nov. 30th – IGTV Series Premiere

Revry Original

SYNOPSIS

PUTTING ON combines the fashion ingenuity of Project Runway, the glamour of America’s Next Top Model, and the romantic exploits of Sex and The City. It’s fashion, drama, and beautiful young people, seen through the ups and downs of a millennial C.E.O. as he builds an underwear empire within the bustle of the unforgiving Big Apple. The city can make or break you, but lucky for On, he’s flexible. Follow On Mekahal’s journey from former underwear model to creator of an A-list level fashion brand. This Revry Original Series highlights the real-life relationships and struggles of staying afloat as a model and designer. More importantly, it explores learning how to maintain your status once you finally make a splash in the cut-throat fashion industry.  Season One follows On’s journey of building his brand with his ex, dealing with manufacturing errors while navigating conflicting deadlines, a final product photo shoot, broken promises and the struggle of managing personal relations.

 

ABOUT ON MEKAHEL 

On Mekahel is an Israeli born model/actor and social media influencer, boasting an impressive half million followers on Instagram alone.  With a resume that spans the course of a decade, he began modeling at the age of 14.  In 2014, On became an international citizen, moving to New York City to further his career and to attend acting school at Lee Strasburg Theatre and Film Institute. 

Upon graduating from acting school in 2017, On appeared in television shows on networks such as HBO, Starz and NBC.  His silver screen debut will be that of Oceans 8, set to be released in June of this year.  Not only can he be seen portraying characters in film and TV, he also stars in the Revry Original Series “Putting On,” a reality show following On and the creation of his empire.

Staying true to his modeling roots while in New York City, On kicked his career into overdrive, having been featured in ad campaigns by some of the largest global companies, from Gap to H&M, Nike, Adidas and Puma.  Additionally, he can be spotted around the world at some of the most sought after industry events with the likes of Naomi Campbell, his friend and associate, whom he works with as the social media director of her charity, Fashion For Relief. 

Since relocating to the US, On Mekahel has further diversified his brand and business ventures, beginning with the creation of his underwear company, MO Underwear in 2016.  This particular project has consumed a great deal of his efforts, with the launch and assembly of the underwear line itself, as well as the marketing and publicity that surround it.  On spared little expense and left no details untouched, investing half a million dollars into this endeavor.  He enlisted the help of some of his top model friends such as Jasmine Sanders aka Golden Barbie and Alessio Pozzi for the company’s marketing photo spread.  MO Underwear appeared in publications including, but not limited to Vogue, Nylon Magazine, and New York Times.  In 2018, MO Underwear brings its second year of production and joins the global market, landing in stores across Israel, Europe, and the Middle East. 

Finding little time for rest, On is currently preparing for his introduction into the fragrance world.  This is quite a personal experience, as he is the sole creator and proprietor of this original scent.  Set for release in the early Summer of 2018 in New York, London, and Israel, “ON N.25” embodies the elegant yet subtle nature of the designer and his brand.  Teaming up with Bravo TV reality star and businesswoman Lisa Vanderpump and her non-profit organization Vanderpump Dogs, a portion of the proceeds from every sale will be donated directly to the foundation and its cause to end canine abuse worldwide. 

With 2018 in full swing, this is the year that everyone will be tuned in and turned on by the man and the brand that is On Mekahel.    

About Revry

Revry is the first queer global streaming network, available in 35 million homes in over 100 countries, with a uniquely curated selection of LGBTQ+ film, series, and originals along with the world’s largest queer libraries of groundbreaking podcasts, albums and music videos. Revry is available worldwide on seven OTT, mobile, and online platforms, and hosts the exclusive LGBTQ+ channels on Pluto TV and XUMO. Headquartered in Los Angeles, Revry is led by an inclusive team of queer, multi-ethnic and allied partners who bring decades of experience in the fields of tech, digital media, and LGBTQ+ advocacy.  Follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @REVRYTV. Go Online to: https://revry.tv.

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