Category Archives: film

Review: Dear Dad

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Remember the documentary we told you about last year? It’s finally here and I’m happy to say it delivers as promised!

Dear Dad follows eight Black gay/same gender loving men tasked with writing a letter to their father. They discuss aspects of manhood and how their relationship with their father (or lack thereof) helped shaped their identity.

Director Chase Simmons assembled a great cast including Kevin Dwayne (one of my favorite YouTubers) and Gee Smalls (spoiler alert: who had a wife?!) They all have different stories, but it’s interesting to see common themes including expectations of masculinity, religion and internalized homophobia. One of the most interesting things to me was (if my count is right) only one cast member openly came out of the closet to their father. I remember in my masters program I was amazed by how many of the guys were outed by other people growing up.

Being the sex master I am, if I had any critique, I wanted to hear more about the guy’s sex life. I know some of the cast members are HIV+ from their other work; it would’ve been nice to hear questions regarding whether the relationship with their dad contributed to sexual risk behavior and sexual initiations. But like Ryan and Matthew from ADTV (who’s similar videos have subsequently been taken down) I can understand people don’t want to be the face of HIV (especially if they don’t work in public health.

Simmons adds layers to the narrative that are not only effective, but also relevant. The men have to read their letters at a location relevant their story. Some also talk about possibly giving their letters to their father, which opens another important discussion and healing.

Dear Dad should be required viewing for anyone who works with or loves Black gay/bisexual men. I’ve seen several works exploring this phenomenon in heterosexual identified Black men (Brick City being the example that sticks out), but few dealing with queer men.

You can watch Dear Dad at deardad.tv

There’s a great interview with Simmons (by Yolo Akili) at Black Voices.

And HuffPost Live had a great segment with Simmons, Akili and some of the cast to discuss the project. You can watch it here.

Spotlight: Dear Dad

“I don’t have a relationship with him. In order to have a relationship, I guess you have to relate.”
– Dear Dad

During the 2011 National HIV Prevention Conference, I attended a presentation by the ever sexy, always brilliant Dr. David Malebranche. He talked about father-son relationships with black gay/bisexual men in a recent study he conducted in Atlanta. Most of the participants he interviewed had negative/non-existent relationships with their biological fathers which lead to maladaptive behaviors as adults and ultimately HIV risk.

In essence, absence as trauma.

I never thought of it like that. When I hear people talk about never meeting their bio dad or crazy stories of parents actively sabotaging their children, I’m like, “people really do that? That really happens?” (my middle class privilege)

I’m ambivalent about my father. He was physically (and financially) there growing up, but never emotionally. He didn’t seem to like my mother very much. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was gay. A story for another time. But I harbor no active hatred towards him.

As Trent Jackson often says, the first relationship you observe (read: learn to model) is your parents. If dad was never there, how does that affect your interpersonal relationships as an adult? How can you trust other men when you can’t even trust your own father?

Dear Dad, a new film by Chase Adair (also in Atlanta) seeks to explore those questions and more.

It’s a timely piece, especially considering we still have to deal with parents pulling stunts and shows with their LGBT youth, leaving them to fend for themselves at a young age. No one should have to go thru that.

Check out the trailer above and please donate to the Kickstarter if you can. This film needs to be released to the masses.

Review: Me @ the Zoo

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Me @ the Zoo is really two films with distinct audiences and messages.

The first “film” is an exploration of a generation that has always had access to the internet. You internet historians may already know the joke/double entendre of the branding. Me @ the Zoo is a reference to the first Youtube video ever. Co-founder Jawed Karim uploaded a video of himself at the San Diego Zoo on April 23, 2005. The beginning of the film talks about that era (which is only seven years ago, but seems like an eternity technology wise) and the birth of the “internet generation.”

The second “film” is a case-study of the first and delves deep into the zoo that has become Chris Crocker’s life the last few years. A good chunk of the film uses Chris’ actual footage and reactions/comments to them as well (the editing is brilliant).

I suppose I liked the documentary so much because I run right down the middle: I watched a few of Chris’ other videos after his infamous “Leave Britney alone!” moment so I was familiar with all that. But I also have been having some interesting conversations with my thirty-something friends lately about the youth today and how the internet is shaping ideas around sexuality and gender so that backdrop was interesting to me as well.

Many people don’t appreciate what Chris Crocker represents: small-town gay boy who in 1965 would’ve suffocated in the closet (ala Brokeback Mountain) in 2005 is transformed into a queer with more resources. At its best the internet can connect people faster and better than ever possible before. At its worst, it can be used as another vehicle to spread hate. Chris’ life represents both potentials and begs the question: who does America really want to be in the 22nd century?

Just look at this exchange from the other day (read from the bottom up):

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What kind of asshat calls someone the f-word (in “public”) and seriously thinks they aren’t a homophobe? There’s so much here I could write a dissertation. This is Chris’ daily life. LGBT kids today grow up with two lives: their real life and their internet/social network persona and potentially double the stigma.

We also get to meet Chris’ family which is where the film really shines. His grandma is my new hero and there’s some scenes concerning his mom and her battle with mental health issues and substance abuse that are hard to watch. But I think the tone and pacing does a great job of drawing the viewer in before it gets to the heavy stuff.

With all these cyber-bulling incidents I think it’s a timely documentary that is only the beginning of the conversation (a lot has happened since 2005).

On a personal note, I started following Chris closely again after his “transformation” to a more masculine look (I have another post coming up about that) and although the film touches on that, I would’ve really loved a deeper look at his views on gender, nudity and his mini adult video stint. Between his videos, music, tumblr and now this film, he’s managed to keep himself relevant. Dare I call him the Madonna of Kim Kardashians? (people famous for not being famous)

Me @ The Zoo, directed by Valerie Veatch and Chris Moukarbel premieres tonight on HBO.

Review: Weekend

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Their arguments — affectionate but intense — reflect contrasting personalities, and the friction between them is what makes them, potentially, such an interesting couple. Each one, without quite saying so, is grappling with basic questions about love and identity. What can I mean to another person? Whom do I want to be with? Who do I want to be?
A.O. Scott (The New York Times)

What do you do when a one night stand becomes something more…something special?

It’s a question I’ve been wresting with for the past year and the central theme in the movie Weekend.

The premise is simple: guy picks up guy at a gay bar Friday night and they spend the night together. Ultimately they end up spending the weekend together and that’s where things get complicated. Writer, director and editor Andrew Haigh takes us on a journey exploring the consequences of a connection with an expiration date.

What I like about Haigh’s script is although Russell (Tom Cullen)
and Glen (Chris New) have two distinct viewpoints, the two characters aren’t so black and white. Russell isn’t “on the down low” and Glen isn’t a flaming queen. Instead we simply see two men interacting with gay culture and the larger world around them with differing experiences, priorities and definitions of happiness. Staying away from stereotypes adds to the realism and makes the film more accessible to a larger audience.

As an editor myself (print and video), I always appreciate when an editor is directing and Haigh doesn’t disappoint in building tension. Some shots are uncomfortably close, some scenes painstakingly long. You feel like you’re in the tiny apartment with them.

Winner of the audience award at this year’s SXSW, the critics seem to love Weekend. It even got a great review from Gawker! The movie cuts deep, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Definitely a must see and one of the best movies I’ve seen this year.

You can watch the trailer here.

Can Scream 4 Survive in the Age of Twitter?

OMG, I’m so glad Halloween is over! If I see another bad horror movie on cable, I’m going to cry! But October was great for another reason: it got me hyped for Scream 4.

After ten years, one of my favorite movie franchises returns in April. You can see the trailer below!

I hate horror movies, but at fifteen and an aspiring writer I was the biggest Kevin Williamson fan (creator of Dawson’s Creek). I snuck into the theater to see the original Scream in 1996 (which he wrote) and have been hooked ever since. But today is a much different beast. I’m afraid in this “always on” world the killer(s) of Scream 4 will be revealed before the movie even comes out.

I had to cut myself off from the internet for two whole days to enjoy the Grey’s Anatomy finale in May and I know several people who had the Project Runway finale ruined because they checked Facebook/Twitter before they could watch the episode (if only for television purposes, I can’t tell you how happy I am to be on East Standard Time).

It only takes one person who’s seen the end to go on a social networking site and ruin it for everybody. I’m going to see it regardless, but how do you deal with situations like this?

In the age of Facebook/Twitter how do you deal with live events/movies/television shows that have big reveals at the end?