Posts Tagged ‘homosexual’

You’ll understand when you get divorced someday!

Year Released : 2015

Director : Stephen Dunn

Cast : Connor Jessup, Aaron Abrams, Joanne Kelly, Aliocha Schneider, Jack Fulton, Sofia Banzhaf and Mary Walsh

Diverting away from films I found in a pile of VHS tapes whilst at the house of my parents, I’m going to look into a film that has been on my Youtube playlist for some time now. I really should get through that list properly as there are some films that have been on there for a few years.

Those of you who are long term readers of this site know that reviewing smaller, independent films meant that I was able to discover up and coming directors such as Xavier Dolan, so to have a film that describes itself as part him, and part David Cronenberg (another great director), is a treat, and one that I couldn’t resist.

If it can be even remotely similar to Dolan’s efforts then I will be very happy as he is arguably the most accomplished director when it comes to LGBT films, but whether it turns out to the the case is another matter as for all I know it could be nothing like either of them, let alone the two combined, but we’ll see.

Plot

Oscar’s (Fulton – Child, Older – Jessup) parents split up when he was a child and his only companion was his pet hamster, who he imagines talks to him. His friends also suspect that he will grow up to be gay, but after being called on it he follows a bunch of teens visually beating another young man, ending with them shoving a pipe up his rear. He is traumatised by what he sees and his father Peter (Abrams) says that it happened because he was homosexual, further worrying Oscar.

Several years later Oscar is involved in a photography project with Gemma (Banzhaf) in the hopes of moving to New York when he meets a new co-worker named Wilder (Schneider). Oscar finds himself being sexually attracted to Wilder, but is still haunted by the incident with the brutalised teen from several years prior. This new connection with his feelings coincides with a breakdown in the relationship with Peter.

Oscar and Wilder begin to bond, but a brief conversation between the latter and Peter leads to more trouble as he believed that Oscar and Gemma were in a relationship. Peter slowly starts putting the pieces together and realises that his son might be homosexual.

So is it a genuine mix between Dolan and Cronenberg

For the first time in a long time after seeing a description like that, I feel that I can genuinely see why it was made, and for once I fully agree. There are definitely similarities in the techniques of film making, and I would argue that there is also a touch of Nicolas Winding Refn in there as well. It takes the best aspects of the three whilst feeling completely unique, and this is only a good thing.

The characterisation in the film is remarkable, with the relationship between Oscar and Peter being exceptionally well developed. Their interactions with each other get more and more tense as the film goes on, especially as the latter starts to realise his son’s sexuality. It is an interesting dynamic and the best part is that whilst Peter is as close as the film comes to having an antagonist, he is certainly not an awful human being.

Peter is clearly going through issues throughout the whole film as he struggles through his separation to the point where he keeps his ex-wife’s belongings around, and how he gets hurt when he finds that Oscar described him as a deadbeat in an art project. There are glimpses of him being a good dad, such as the scene right at the beginning of the film where he pretends to inflate a balloon with a dream and place it into Oscar’s head, but he lets the issues get on top of him and each good deed is countered by the opposite.

 

He is just one of the several captivating characters in the film and visuals definitely aid you falling into Oscar’s world as he struggles to come to terms with what he saw as a youth. This includes a scene in which he is having sex with a man at a party, visualises the brutal attack from his youth, and then imagines himself vomiting screws and a variety of other similar objects.

Make no mistake, this is a visually brutal film, but it is also a captivating experience and it is one of the best LGBT films I’ve seen in recent years, and comfortably one of the most unique films from any genre that I have reviewed for this site. This is helped by the excellent electronic soundtrack, bringing you into this world.

Stephen Dunn is a director that I will be keeping a keen eye on in the near future and if he can produce something as engaging as this on a large scale, he could achieve the same heights of the aforementioned three directors.

Summary

“Closet Monster” is captivating, engaging and most importantly, driven. The great characterisation is simple, yet effective, and that is a sign of great film-making.

Stephen Dunn has fell well and truly onto my radar with his mix of Xavier Dolan, Nicolas Winding Refn and David Cronenberg, and this is about as fresh as I have seen in a long time, certainly for a film in the LGBT genre.

I would thoroughly recommend “Closet Monster” and the films of Stephen Dunn will hopefully appear on this site again.

 

You sound like a human being male!

Year Released : 201481l4EGjg4UL._SY445_ (1)
Director : David Thorpe
Cast : David Thorpe and his friends

I’ve mentioned a few times that I have a list of trailers saved on a Youtube playlist that I want to watch. There are some that I have only had on there for a few days, whereas others, such as “Do I Sound Gay?” have been on there for quite some time. So I decided that as I can’t find anything that I want to review that I would finally get around to watching this.

I am fully aware that the subject matter of this film could potentially cause offence…..not to homophobes, I couldn’t give a shit about whether they find it offensive, but rather people who are actually gay. Now before I start this review, please note that I am not homosexual, so I am looking at this from a complete outsider’s point of view.

The main reason that I am interested in this film and that it touches on and looks at vocal therapies (at least what I can gather from the trailer) and I have attempted it myself. For my first time readers, I am transgender and part of that was going through vocal therapy, but it definitely didn’t work and I still sound male, and this causes all sorts of issues given that all of my accounts, such as at my bank, are all in a female name, but they often don’t pass me on security as my voice doesn’t match my name. It’s an interesting contrast to those in the docu-film who sound feminine when some don’t appear to want to.

Plot

Following on from splitting up with his boyfriend, David Thorpe decided to film a documentary in which he explores the human voice. He interacts with homosexual friends and celebrities as he tries to establish how having a feminine voice impacts your life as a man.

David also attends vocal therapy sessions in order to try and make his voice more masculine, and delves into his earlier life in order to pinpoint the moment his voice changed.

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So, offensive or praise-worthy?

I’m going to go into a minor personal view before I go any further and it’s the issue of stereotyping. As I am currently in the process of changing from male to female, I get stereotyped a lot and it really bugs me, and the reason is that people just revert to the typical image of transgendered people that they see on TV and in movies, such as the automatic assumption that just because I want to be female, I must automatically have been homosexual when I was male. That is not the case and that stereotype always bugs me. It deeply annoys me when people expect me to act a certain way just because I am becoming female, mainly because being female doesn’t necessarily equate to being girly, and in that sense I can see why a lot of homosexual men might not like this film, and some would find it offensive.

David spends a large section of the film going through vocal therapy to try and get a more masculine sounding voice, and he talks at length with other homosexual men about the subject of gay men tending to have effeminate sounding voices, and there didn’t seem to be a balanced argument to the docu-film. Whilst there was a lot of support for the anti-feminine sounding side of the argument, there isn’t a lot to say for the other side. For example, there is a discussion in which one man says that if he is having sex, he wants his lover to sound like a man and not a woman, which whilst I can see where they are coming from, the way most of the docu-film is presented almost as if that is the preferred option for most homosexual men to sound masculine, which I’m not entirely convinced is the case.

For me the docu-film felt like it was trying to get to the bottom of a root-cause and have it not being David basically trying to find an excuse why his relationship failed. It definitely felt more like a vanity project more than anything else, and since watching this I have asked a few of my friends that are homosexual and had break ups if they ever doubted their voice, and not one of them said that they had. It’s basically just one guy’s issue with his own self-confidence.

Filmmaker David Thorpe practices vocal exercises he learned from a speech pathologist in an effort to alter the way he speaks. In Do I Sound Gay?, Thorpe searches for the origin of the "gay voice" stereotype.

That is not to say that the film isn’t entirely without it’s interesting discussion points, such as featuring several young men who were bullied during their teens for an effeminate manner, and almost forcing their voice to change so that they could camouflage themselves in public. For me this was easily the most enjoyable part of the docu-film and it’s one that I can relate to personally, not to mention when one of his friends says to him that she felt like he had been lying to her the whole time, again, something that is relatable, but whilst there are some moments that I do genuinely like, there just isn’t enough substance in the film.

Throughout the 80 minute run time, there are numerous examples of clips from TV shows, movies and various other forms of media being shown, but very rarely do they have seemingly any relevance and they feel more like they’re there simply to add to the run time, rather than actually add any substance. The docu-film already feels like it lasts too long and it’s blatant filler. Nothing more, nothing less.

At just shy of 80 minutes, “Do I Sound Gay” drags…..badly. I felt like I had been watching it for a long time and decided to see how long was left….and only 35 minutes had gone by. I think the main reason for this is that I’m not entirely convinced that David Thorpe had a real end message that he was trying to convey throughout the docu-film, and for me at least it felt a bit aimless. I made a note at around the 50 minute mark of “where is this actually going?” and half an hour later, at the film’s conclusion, I felt no different, or no more enlightened than before I had started.

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Summary

“Do I Sound Gay?” offers very little in terms of genuine substance and feels more like a vanity project, as opposed to something that actually has a message to say. David Thorpe’s approach to film-making could potentially result in a very interesting documentary one day, but he hasn’t achieved it with this as, even at just 80 minutes long, it feels at least 35 minutes past it’s welcome by the time you get to the end.

During the exploration, I never once felt that it was coming to a natural end and when it did end, it didn’t really make it feel watching for 80 minutes seem worth it, and as weird as it sounds, I’m going to use a quote from American Psycho to describe it. These are the final few lines in that hit film and wouldn’t have been out of place at the end of “Do I Sound Gay?”……”there is no catharsis. I gain no deeper knowledge about myself, no new understanding can be extracted from my telling. There has been no reason for me to tell you any of this. This confession has meant nothing”

I believe the world is a better place if people aren’t lying

Year Released : 2014LIS-poster-s
Director : Ira Sachs
Cast : John Lithgow, Alfred Molina, Marisa Tomei, Charlie Tahan, Cheyenne Jackson and Harriet Samson Harris

If there is a phrase that all movie goers should fear, it is “critically acclaimed”. I have found myself often going against what the professional critics say. I tend to like films that they hate and vice-versa. Whenever I see that a film is critically acclaimed then I tend to stay clear of them because they tend not to be that interesting, a pretentious and about as enjoyable as stepping on a rusty nail.

When I first saw the trailer for Love is Strange, I was intrigued by what is an interesting concept and a plot that isn’t really explored in films. Marriage between same sex couples became legal several years ago but I couldn’t tell you a single film, other than this, that he seen a cinema release covering the subject in a serious manner.

Then I saw that it was critically acclaimed and my heart sunk. Professional Critics tend to like films that are slow moving, don’t really have a lot going on and characters that despite having a lot about them, don’t develop at all during the course of the films length. Because of this I was highly sceptical, but decided to give it a go anyway.

Plot

After being together for 39 years, Ben (Lithgow) and George (Molina) finally get married with their friends any family around. At first everything is perfect and they couldn’t be happier, but soon thereafter they start having issues as George is fired from the catholic school that he works at. The two realise that they can no longer afford to live in their apartment and they turn to their friends and family to help them whilst they’re trying to sort themselves out.

Ben goes to stay with his nephew, whereas George goes to stay with friends. Ben’s family loves having him there at first, but his outgoing nature means that he soon starts distracting Kate (Tomei) from doing her work. Meanwhile George is uncomfortable staying in his friend’s apartment due to the considerably different lifestyle.

Things soon start picking up though when George decides he has had enough and goes to stay with Ben and his family. The two start looking optimistically to the future and find the community’s attitude towards their sexuality, but things soon change when Ben’s health take a downward turn.

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So was the scepticism justified?

The film started off really well. I thoroughly enjoyed the opening fifteen or so minutes brought you nicely into the lives of these two men and their first stage of marriage. It was an excellent opening and I felt optimistic for the remaining seventy five minutes, but it quickly lost a lot of momentum after that. The film dedicates around thirty minutes or so of the couple living apart due to their living situation, but it is a very slow thirty minutes.

Don’t get me wrong, the story is told excellently about how both men struggle to cope apart from each other, but the film seems to stand somewhat still for a third of the film. For a few minutes here and there I could forgive it but not all in one chunk. Again, don’t get me wrong, I understand the purpose of the separation and the point of them longing for each other, struggling in their new surroundings, but in that half an hour I went from being excited about the film to being a bit unengaged. The fact I started watching it on Wednesday evening and only finished it on Thursday evening tells it’s own story (although to be far I did start watching it at about 11pm)

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However, that is pretty much my only complaint with the film. I’m not going to go as far as the critics did and give it a brilliant review when it doesn’t deserve one, but it is definitely an interesting look at a life that most people will never experience. It’s a great character study and a film which looks at the term “familiarity breeds contempt”.

I myself try to keep my distance from people if I have seen them too much in a short about of time. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to spend more time with my family and friends, but I know that if I actually spent too much time with them that I would start noticing things that would drive me crazy, and that is superbly shown in this, especially with Ben. As time goes on, characters that previously loved him struggle to cope with his quirks and struggling to keep quiet.

Ben is oblivious to how he starts grinding on his family and this is down to Lithgow’s brilliant display. Lithgow has turned in several excellent performances in recent years and like a fine wine, he seems to be getting better with age. Lithgow is one of Hollywood’s finer older actors for the simple reason that he accepts that he is getting older and doesn’t turn down roles because of his age, unlike other certain actors *cough*Sean Connery*cough*.

Lithgow is wonderful in this film and the best part is that he makes it look effortless. I grew up watching him in films such as “Harry and the Hendersons” and TV shows such as “Third Rock From the Sun”, and it’s rare to see an older actor with the flexibility to pull of roles of varying genres. He can pull of eccentric just as well as he can appearing completely vulnerable.

I love the realism with the film and it’s obvious that the main characters have been sheltered, which leads to the very life like scene where they are being introduced to more mainstream media, such as Game of Thrones, and have no idea what it is. This fits in which Ben seemingly perfectly as he gets nostalgic on a regular basis and never strikes you as a character that would have embraced that made new forms of media.

Finally, I’m going to talk about what probably gave me the most satisfaction in the film and that is that Sachs didn’t go down the route of showing the stereotypical same-sex couple. More often than not, the stereotype of two men being in love with each other is that at least one of them is overly effeminate, but isn’t very true to life. Being transgender myself, I know quite a few same sex couples in which neither of them are overly effeminate, or in the case of two women getting married, neither being butch. It is a stereotype that is too often shown and it is a relief to see a movie that accepts that this isn’t always going to be the case.

Neither George or Ben are effeminate, nor do they have many feminine qualities, they happen to just be two men that have fallen in love with each. Now, don’t get me wrong, whilst the stereotype is also true of a lot of same sex marriages, the relationship between George and Ben seems very grounded in reality and they have conversations that you would expect a real couple to actually have. Granted, I don’t think that Lithgow and Molina have any chemistry whatsoever, but that doesn’t distract from one of the more genuine love stories that I have seen on screen in sometime.

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Summary

Whilst it doesn’t really deserve to be critically acclaimed, it’s not an awful film by any stretch of the imagination. My only major problem with the film is that after an excellent opening fifteen minutes, the remaining 75 is exceptionally slow.

The characters are somewhat underdeveloped, and this isn’t helped by Molina and Lithgow having seemingly no chemistry at all, however, the latter almost single handedly saves the film with his heartwarming performance.

It’s hard to really recommend it based simply on that I will never watch it again, but if you’re interested in a story about love and relationships that is different from what you’ve seen before, go right ahead.