Monthly Archives: December 2018

“SEX WEATHER”— A Drunken Hook Up…


“Sex Weather” A Drunken Hook Up… Amos Lassen After a drunken hook up, two people spend the next day in bed talking about life, love, and existentialism. They have established three simple rules: “Be honest, no clothes, and no leaving the bed.” The struggles of the Sydney and Darrel lie within themselves, their lives, their work, and the nature of the dating climate. The film follows two filmmakers through a single day of rekindled romance the day after an unexpected hook up. Filmed almost entirely in a small studio bedroom, the actors give fine performances that guide the audience through tumultuous regrets and hopeful futures. On the morning after the premiere of his new film, a sleepy-eyed Darrel (Al’Jaleel McGhee) wakes to find himself in bed with his crew member Sydney (Amber Stonebraker). As they begin to discuss the previous evening and tepid reviews of the film, emotions become passions. Thus begins the awkward “morning after”.
The nature of Sydney and Darrell’s relationship slowly reveals itself over thecourse of the film through the basic story structure of small talk and deepconversation and sex. This cycle that repeats itself several times. At the beginning of the film, we learn that Sydney and Darrell are actors justwrapping up a production. They hooked up that night in Sydney’s apartmentbefore going their separate ways. Tensions are high for the two especiallysince Sydney was not impressed with Darrell’s sexual performance. Darrellpersuades her to let him try again and it was much better the second time. Atfirst,  Sydney wants Darrell to leave,but Darrell intends to pursue the potential relationship. Feeling lazy, the twodecide to play a game of Let’s-Have-Sex-All-Day. In order to play, the rulesmust be followed. Over the film’s 88-minute runtime, its action takes place inSydney’s bed with dialogue broken up by either sex or a moment of mutualmasturbation. (There is plenty nudity.) The film is basically all conversation, broken up by sex (but not porn). Their discussion gets into themes like self-image, being in relationships, and living life. Darrell is insecure about his future and his relationships. To him, this one-night stand is an attempt at a long-term relationship. Sydney, on the other hand, lives minute to minute and she is a free-spirit who can’t commit to a relationship because she’s not that good at them. Thecharacters are likeable and very real. They are naked (although covered withsheets most of the time) and this gives them a sweet and uninhibitedperformance. Like the character, the dialogue feels real, especially when itcomes to introspection about themselves and one another. The dialogue is aboutthe two of them and what they want, need, and expect from the other.
It’s important to understand what you’re getting into with this film.   It is two-people talking on a bed and while the drama and story are good in its insightfulness about relationships, it is certainly not a film for everyone. It’s a tough job for McGhee and Stonebraker, who spend the entire movie clad in little more than rumpled sheets, going through an entire spectrum of emotions, from post-one-night-stand disgust and disdain to declarations of love, all while playing by a set of arbitrary rules such as “the floor is lava”. The actors manage to make a one-setting, two-actor filmemotionally compelling and it’s a good thing the actors bring the heat andshare chemistry and willingness to bare the souls (and everything else) oftheir characters.

“THE APPARITION”— Faith, Doubt and Hope

“The Apparition” Faith, Doubt and Hope Amos Lassen “TheApparition” projects not just uncertainty, but the possibility of it as capableof creating and sustaining and subverting that uncertainty is testament to theskill of those involved.
Jacques Mayano (Vincent Lindon) is a celebrated French journalist who has just returned from an assignment in the Middle East that ended tragically—an explosion killed his close friend and colleague, leaving him with both a painful ringing in his ears and a strong case of survivor’s guilt. While staying at home in an unsuccessful attempt to process the trauma, he is summoned by a French cardinal to the Vatican for a top-secret meeting. He learns that in a remote village in the south of France, an 18-year-old novice named Anna (Galatea Bellugi) has claimed to have seen an apparition of the Virgin Mary. The site of her vision has become a pilgrimage destination for the faithful from around the world and her vision has spawned a lucrative cottage industry of t-shirts, prayer books and other souvenirs. Church officials have elected to open a formal investigation of religious and scientific minds in order to determine whether Anna’s story is true or just a hoax. With his keen journalistic mind and lack of any significant religious convictions, Jacques has been chosen to head up the inquiry. 
Upon arriving in town, Jacques meets the other members of the team of investigators including another investigator (Elina Lowensohn),  local priest Father Borrodine (Patrick d’Assumçao), whose reluctance to cooperate with the investigation may have something to do with the money currently pouring in because of Anna’s notoriety, and, eventually, Anna herself. Jacques finds himself becoming increasingly intrigued by Anna as a person when looking into her past (she was an orphan raised in foster homes before entering the convent) to find anything that might prove or disprove her claims. Even as an improbable friendship begins to develop between the two, Jacques makes some discoveries that raise questions about both Anna’s claims and the position of the church, especially regarding a slick religious marketer (Anatole Taubman) who wants to make Anna into an international multimedia sensation.  The early scenes of “The Apparition” are the best with  a long  fascinating sequence set in the Vatican’s underground archives in which Jacques has his mission explained to him and gets a glimpse of the number of previous claims of apparitions that have been investigated over the years. Co-writer/director Xavier Giannoli does a very good job of establishing things early on.. The pacing of the story is a bit strange. It is broken into six sections clocking in at about 140 minutes and yet somehow manages to feel both too slow and too rushed at the same time.
The biggest problem comes with the conclusion when we want  answers for what may or may not have happened. The trouble is that the movie wants to both provide a concrete explanation and maintain the concept of faith. By attempting to simultaneously pull off both of these notions, Giannoli is certainly being ambitious but he ultimately falls short as the second half of the story starts getting caught up in the mechanics of the plot while leaving the more ambiguous elements hanging. The conclusion tries to wrap the story up with an inane explanation and a last-minute revelation  forces the reconsideration of everything seen up to that moment. 
“The Apparition” is not entirely without interest—the earlyscenes, as I said, are fascinating, it looks good throughout and theperformances by Lindon and Bellugi are both excellent, especially when they arein scenes together. However, the story doesn’t quite seem to have a clearconcise idea of what it’s trying to accomplish. Regarding spiritual matters,”The Apparition” is serious-minded.

“SQUIRRELS”— Three

“Squirrels” Three Amos Lassen Three young artists live together in New York City— amiddle-eastern American performance artist (Robbie Gottlieb), a talented gayfilmmaker (Dino Petrera) and a trans opera singer (Catiriana Reyes).
The performanceartist gives a heartbreaking live performance, describing memories of when hewas younger, shortly after 9/11 happened. He reminisces about his childhood andgives intimate details on how his life has been impacted by others’ prejudiceand judgment. After the performance, a boy asks him out for coffee, but he isturned down.
The filmmaker is gay and out of the closet. He tries to hide hisinterest but likes his roommate more than as a friend and quickly becomesjealous of any of his fans or new romantic interests. Meanwhile, the operasinger also spends time as a DJ and tries to earn money  any way she can.
Although the three friends getalong great and enjoy each other’s company, living in a tiny studio apartmentis not easy and their mornings are fairly tedious and difficult. They save up,cut down on day-to-day pleasures and even resort to stealing to be given achance at fame and a new, glamorous life. They work hard to survive each daybut risk losing everything in the hustle and bustle of The Big Apple.

“TOPPER TAKES A TRIP’— On the Riviera

“Topper Takes A Trip” On the Riviera Amos Lassen “Topper Takes a Trip” is a  supernatural fantasy comedy.  Cosmo P Topper (Roland Young) goes to the Riviera for a holiday, hoping to persuade his wife Clara (Billie Burke from divorcing him, as suggested by her friend, Mrs. Parkhurst (Verree Teasdale).
Topper went to France to prevent his wife from getting a divorce and marrying a man who is after her money. He is accompanied by the ghost of Marion Kerby. Young as Topper is an amazing physical comedian who dances, fights and has conversations with himself throughout the film.
 Picking up where the first film left off, wefind mild-mannered banker Cosmo Topper (Young) being sued for divorce by hiswife Clara (Burke) because of his questionable behavior while at the mercy ofmischievous ghosts George and Marion Kerby. All the ghosts had wanted to do was”liberate” Topper from his stuffy existence, thereby performing agood deed that would allow them entree into Heaven. George Kirby was permitted to ascend to the Choir Invisible, but for obscure reasons the spirit of Marionwas left behind. She decides that the only way she’ll be allowed into paradiseis to reunite Mr. and Mrs. Topper, and to that end follows Clara to Paris andMonte Carlo.
This time, Marion is joined in her mission by Skippy, a ghostlypooch who, like his mistress, can appear and disappear at will. Unfortunatelythe storyline is weak and totally predictable; thecharacters are annoying clichés; and none of the cast members (either principals or extras) react to the proceedings in a remotely realistic fashion.The movie never coalesces into anactual story.at once. The plot really wanders with the hopes that atthe end Cosmo and Clara will be reconciled.  
 The film begins with an eight-minuterecap of the previous Topper film and then slapstick jokes and behavior follow.It is not the best Topper film but it is fun.

“JADED”— Love in San Francisco

“JADED” Love in San Francisco Amos Lassen “Jaded” is a new web series that gives us  an entertaining look at the contemporary dating scene in San Francisco through the eyes of one 30-something year old man who looks for love in all the wrong places. J. D. Scalzo  is the only the creator and plays the role of the hapless Jackson who faces a daily struggle with the fact that there are no rules, anymore.
As he hops from one bed to another Jackson always hopes that the one he is with hoping this one could be Mr. Right but he is own worst enemy for some of the choices he makes because he is too wrapped up in his “own convoluted constant self-examination.”
Scalzo is perfect as Jackson, but then again the story lines are probably takenfrom his own life. Despite what he gets into, he manages to make sure that weare always on his side.
One ofthe best new LGBT web series this year, with excellent The production values areexcellent and I can’t wait to see what else is coming from the series.

“Infinite Detail” by Tim Maughan— A Look at a World We Hope Will Never See

Maughan, Tim. “Infinite Detail: A Novel”, MCDx FSG Originals, 2019. A Look at a World We Hope We Will Never Have Amos Lassen “Infinite Detail” takes us into “a world in the wake of fake news, diminished privacy, and a total shutdown of the Internet” and it is very scary. The Croft is a digital no-man’s land in Bristol’s center. It is cut off from thesurveillance, dependence on data, and corporate-sponsored aspirations that havetaken over the rest of the world. In ten short years in, it has become a centerof creative counterculture. Now it is coming apart, radicalizing from inside. When its chief architect, Rushdi Mannan, takes off to meet his boyfriend in New YorkCity that has become now the apotheosis of the new techno-utopian global metropolis, there are questions as to whether the Croft will survive. Whenan act of anonymous cyberterrorism has permanently turned the Internet off, globaltrade, travel, and communication collapsed and the luxuries that had characterizedmodern life become very scarce. In the Croft, Mary (who has visions of people presumed dead) is sought out by grieving families who want connections to lostones. Whether or not Mary has that ability is uncertain; she could bepretending just so that she can stay alive. Like this novel, we are becoming increasingly dependent upon technology and we seem to find comfort in autonomy and privacy. We do not really understand that the end of the Internet means the end of the world as we know it. (Imagine if you could not use your cell phone for two days— yes, we lived like that before the Internet but can we do so again?). “Infinite Detail” is a very frightening look and the implications of a world that depends upon networking. As we read, we face questions about our relationship to technology. Writer Tim Maughan understands why the world we live in works and he also has great knowledge of the way subcultures are structured and operate.  He has written a very powerful narrative and gives us characters who will not allow themselves to be crushed in the world of the new technology. He presents us with hard truths that we do not want to heed and offers a dystopian scenario and critique of life in late capitalism. With civilization being dead, the book is about trying to figure out what to do next. “Infinite Detail” is a much-needed perspective on the Age of the Internet and presents us with a vision of what to expect when everything fails.

“Christmas Queens Sing-Along Concert Special”

A Revry Exclusive Star-Studded Drag Christmas Special Dec. 14th Catch some Ho Ho Ho’s and many Merry Mary’s in the Revry Exclusive “Christmas
Queens Sing-Along Concert Special” now for FREE on Revry at: https://revry.tv/channel/christmas-queens-sing-along-concert-special/ Trailer: https://www.dropbox.com/s/8780ri8r6khdqns/ChristmasQueens_PlatformBumpers.mp4?dl=0

Enjoy your favorite drag stars in this combination of live performances, interviews, music videos and backstage moments from various stops along the sold-out 2016 world tour. Featuring music from the first two holiday albums, the special was filmed live in London and Los Angeles and stars Alaska Thunderfuck, Ginger Minj, Ivy Winters, Jackie Beat, Jiggly Caliente, Katya, Manila Luzon, Phi Phi O’Hara and Sharon Needles, and features Michelle Visage.
“What better way to celebrate the holidays than watching Drag queens sing, dance, and make merry. Thank you Revry for sharing our season’s greetings with the world!” – Alaska Thunderfuck “”It’s the most wonderful time of the year! What better way to celebrate than donning your gayest apparel and decking the halls with some of dragdom’s merriest Marys?! Christmas Queens is our own little Christmas party that we have been fortunate enough to share with the world. We’re just like any other family. We drink, we eat, we argue, we laugh and we love spending time together. Between movies, tv, music, fashion and touring its so hard for us to find the time to get together, but once a year, no matter what, we don our gayest apparel, sing some songs and just have a good time. That’s what Christmas Queens has become … our little family’s Christmas Party. And now we get to share the festivities with the rest of the world! “ – Ginger Minj
Beyond the special, three albums of “Christmas Queens” is now available everywhere. The third album includes many “Christmas Queens” alumni as well as new additions, including: Alaska Thunderfuck, Bob The Drag Queen, Ginger Minj, Ivy Winters, Jackie Beat, Jiggly Caliente, Jinkx Monsoon, Katya, Manila Luzon, Michelle Visage, Peppermint, Phi Phi O’Hara, Sharon Needles, Sherry Vine and Thorgy Thor. Both prior “Christmas Queens” albums reached #1 spots on iTunes and #2 on Billboard Comedy Album Charts in 2015 and 2016, respectively. The “Christmas Queens” albums are a co-production between PEG Records and Killingsworth Recording Company.

“COLETTE”— A Story of Female Liberation

“Colette” A Story of Female Liberation Amos Lassen The film “Colette” that is based on the real life of the celebrated French author, is a story of female liberation.  During the Belle Epoque period in Paris at the turn of the 20th Century in society men were openly promiscuous and wives were expected to demurely look the other way. Colette, however,  had liaisons of her own and they were with women and she entered into them with her husband’s consent.
The movie starts with young Colette (Keira Knightley) still living at her home in the country now in with her fretful mother (Fiona Shaw) and war-hero father (Robert Pugh) in poverty.  She is courted surreptitiously by Henry Gauthier-Villars, aka  “Willy,” (Dominic West), a family friend, and even though he is just 20 years old and Colette has no dowry they end up married and moving to Paris. Willy was a popular author and critic whose work was provided by a  “factory” of writers that he mercilessly exploited.   Always living a lavish lifestyle way above his means, he was constantly broke, and one occasion he even forced, Colette to become part of his workforce.   He initially rejected her first novel as being too insipid but then demanded it a bit more spice.
This was the first of the Claudine books and was a huge success making Willy very rich and even more notorious. Refusing to share any of the success with Colette,  he did however buy her a beautiful cottage in the country, but purely as a means to ‘imprison’ her so that she could write another bestseller to be published under his name.  Although there were times like this when Willy bullied Collette, their relationship was never straight forward. There was a deep bond between the two of them,  and she never left him when she discovered his infidelities, although she did almost want to kill him when she discovered that he was also sleeping with her own lover Georgie Raoul-Duval (Eleanor Tomlinson).
It was Colette’s insistence that her name go on the latest book as co-author and this was the beginning of the end of her relationship with Willy.  Now in a relationship with the cross-dressing Mathilde de Morny, or Missy (Denise Gough) with whom she took up a career on the stage with and she finally got to publish her first novel under her own name.  Wash Westmorelanddirected the film that handled Colette’s same-sex relationships with clearunderstanding and sympathy and with no l sensationalism. Knightley gives an extraordinarily mature performance which could be her career best.  Her‘Colette’ was fiercely determined, independent, extremely relatable  and ajoy to watch.  She was matched beautifully by a boisterous performance byWest as her husband.  French novelist and feminist icon Colette, nee Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, has been fodder for abiographical film for some time. She was an institution at the time of herdeath in 1954, and her life was filled with enough glamor, struggle, andscandal to warrant the drama of this celebrity biopic. The film indulges insuch theatricality while delivering an acutely told story of the writer thatrelishes the messy details and ambivalences of her life.
Following Colette’s  formative years, from the mid-1890s until 1910, the film tracks her development from a penniless country girl to her rise to literary fame.  The film’s script is witty and basically focuses on the dynamismof Willy and Colette’s marriage, especially on their back-and-forths. Colette doesn’t stay under Willy’s shadow for long. Herpush for independence is encouraged by her affair with noblewoman and artistMathilde de Morny (Denise Gough), who goes by Missy and scandalizes France withher masculine dress and choice of male pronouns. Her romance with Colette is seenbut not in detail and the film regrettably makes Missy little more than amouthpiece for a modern perspective on Colette. The film is much too focused on Colette’sidiosyncrasies and personal struggles to cast her as a renegade who shook upthe status quo.  Westmoreland’s biopic brings more than a touch of camp to its dramatization of an unbelievabletrue story. It is a fun and that is all that it needs to be.

“ODDSOCKEATERS”— DID YOU EVER WONDER WHERE YOUR MISSING SOCKS GO?

“ODDSOCKEATERS”  DID YOU EVER WONDER WHERE YOUR MISSING SOCKS GO? AMOS LASSEN The Oddsockeaters are small creatures wholive alongside humans and are responsible for socks that go missing when weonly have one left from a pair – the odd sock. They eat socks, but only onefrom each pair.
Have you ever wondered where your missing socks go? The Oddsockeaters eat them! (but just one and they “never take the full pair”). The film is based on the international bestselling books by Pavel Srut and brings home audiences into the little known world of these mischievous creatures unknown to humans.
This is a whimsical, heartwarming and unique adventure for family viewing. It gives valuable lessons about family, love and the true meaning of loyalty. Set in contemporary Prague, the Oddsockeaters live alongside humans but are invisible, except for a few people. Hugo, (Krystof Hadek), is a small sock living with his socky-grandpa in a family environment. Early on Hugo’s grandpa dies or vanishes like a strange ghost. Just before he dies, his grandpa informs Hugo he has an Uncle and Hugo heads out to find him. As it happens, his uncle, and his two cousins, live in the house of a Professor (Josef Somr), who is one of the few humans who can see the Oddsockeaters. The Professor is convinced that the Oddsockeaters exist and is doing his utmost to catch one, or at least see one.
Hugo, and his two cousins, are kidnapped by a rival gang of Oddsockeaters and he must use all his resolve, and his Grandpa’s teachings, to get home safely. The Oddsockeaters is an interesting premise since we’ve all been in the situation of being confounded by a random sock turning up and, try as we might, we’re unable to find the other. There is something about putting on a new pair of soft stretchy socks to be enjoyed only once before they turn into cardboard during the laundry process. Well one of them does, the other one just goes missing. Living on their wits and our wool, Oddsockeaters steal our socks. Only one sock from each pair though, leaving all of us scratching our heads. Left behind single socks are stored for all eternity just in case the missing sock should eventually turn up. The one sock rule allowsOddsockeater leader Big Boss (Gregg Weiner) to claim that he’s a sort of RobinHood character: “I share with people; one for them and one for me”.
This is a simple story of good vs evil, clean vs stinky socks, and is gently humorous. It’s as Big Boss and his clan break into a shopping center via the TV shop downstairs that we first spy the Professor (Avi Hoffman) across the bank of TV screens. He’s one of the few people who can see Oddsockeaters and tries in vain to get the interviewer to take him seriously. The Oddsockeaters always obey the Number 1 rule, except for the rebellious Spike. Big Boss is gruff and demanding: “we are Oddsockeaters and rule number 1 for Oddsockeaters is…” he remonstrates with Spike (Rainer Garrranchan), who likes to take both socks. “I don’t give a fluff!” is the tootsie traitor’s reply. Meanwhile across town, poor Hugo has stolen a pair of baby socks for his ailing grandpa: “baby socks give you the best nutrition” the boy says, when asked why he took both, before his aged relative flies away on a current of air, his time up – Oddsockeaters don’t die, they just fade away. Hugo’s long-lost family don’t take kindly to this intrusion, especially his cousins, identical twins Rameses and Tulamor. But Hugo is just starting to be accepted when they face a new trauma; Tulamor (Clay Cartland) is kidnapped by a rival group of. Soon Big Boss is faced with a demand for an odd sock ransom if he wants to avoid the remaining twin, Rameses (Eric Anderson), becoming an odd sock himself.

“Santa is a Vampire” by Damian Serbu— Just in Time for Christmas

Serbu, Damian. “Santa is a Vampire”, Nine Star Press, 2018. Just in Time for Christmas Amos Lassen Have you ever wondered why Santa Claus has stopped aging? He looks the same all the time and I wager that he has always looked the way he does. He is probably a couple of centuries old but still resembles  our grandfathers. (Not my grandfather, I am Jewish and we have the Chanukah fairy instead of Santa Claus). Could Santa be like the others who have never died? Is Santa a vampire and one of the undead? How many mothers will now allow their children to sit on the old vampire’s lap? Simon the Elf who you might remember from Damian Serbu’s “Santa’s Kinky Elf, Simon” tells us that Santa is a vampire but he has hidden that from the world. In fact, Santa lives in a place where he can have slaves who are elves and. animals that are enchanted. But Santa’s home is a very dark place and there are some very suspicious happenings there. Simon the Elf tells Santa’s story through his journal. Naturally, it is a rude awakening to think that the man who takes care of all the world’s children can also turn them into blood-sucking animalistic individuals. I must say that I have always enjoyed reading Damian Serbu’s vampire stories but I approached this one with trepidation knowing this could ruin the way we think about the bearded one in the red  suit. I just cannot picture Sarna dressed in black clothing or seeing his fangs when he smiles and licks his lips. Granted, this is  way out there kind of idea and surprisingly it works to give us a fine story that is not meant to be taken seriously.   As for Simon, I fell inlove with his sassiness and imagination. (Of course some of that imaginationsurely comes from amount of the alcohol he drank). Simon curses all the timewhen he lets down his inhibitions, he becomes fascinating. The humor here is attimes wonderful but also there are times when it is based on farts  and comes across as low brow. But with atitle of “Santa is a Vampire”, I should have understood that this is not atopic for intellectual discussion.                                                                                                                                                                                                 Let me warn you that there is graphic violence including murder, sexual abuseand rape. This is most certainly not great literature but it is a fun read. Ofcourse, you must read this with tongue in cheek. Not everyone will enjoy theread because they are not taking it for what it is.
It makes light of some very hard things and uses them either just for a laughor shock value. Nothing is meant to be taken seriously. Damian Serbu is a good author and I have read and reviewed all of his books and they are well written as is this. I do not think it will become a Christmas classic and that is fine.