Movie Review – Formula 17

1 07 2008

Formula 17 is a 2004 film which was directed by Chen Yin-jung. It stars Tony Yang, Duncan, King Chin, Dada Ji, Jimmy Yang, and Jason Chang. It is a gay romantic comedy film about Chou T’ien-Tsai, a romantic Taiwanese male who takes a trip to visit an online boyfriend in person for the first time. Finding his internet relationship to not be suitable for his real life, he moves on with his life and rooms with an old time friend of his. The film describes T’ien’s experiences with his loyal roommate and his friends, and a surprising relationship that he develops with the local “Playboy”.

This film was banned in Singapore because it “portrayed homosexuality as normal, and a natural progression of society”.

Plot summary

Naive countryman Chou T’ien-Tsai goes to Taipei to meet an internet friend face-to-face. Being a romantic, and believing in ‘true love’ (he even has a book called Love Is A Kind Of Faith), he is sorely disappointed when his friend suggests they have sex with no love. T’ien instead goes to a bar and runs into his ex-classmate Yu, and in the process meets the ‘Number One Playboy’ Bai Tie Nan, who is notorious for one night stands. T’ien very quickly develops a liking towards Bai.

After the night at the bar and becoming roommates to Yu, T’ien gets a job as a pool attendant, and has a lot of run-ins with Bai, who seems to like T’ien mutually. Scenes with Bai and his psychologist show that Bai has a problem kissing people. After advice to practice kissing a mirror, and then a dummy (both of which fail to help him), he resorts to trying to kiss his longtime friend, but can’t bring himself to do it.

One night, T’ien shows up at Bai’s doorstep and they end up having sex consensually. True to his nature, Bai disappears the next day, leaving his friend to turn up at his house and explain that ‘he hopes you don’t misunderstand’. T’ien is very hurt, and not knowing the entire story about Bai’s intimacy issues he leaves a message that ‘this kind of misunderstanding won’t happen again’.

T’ien prepares to leave his roommate’s dwelling and return to his own home. In the meantime, T’ien’s friends corner Bai, who admits that he hurt the person he loves. After a silent prayer for a second chance, he sees T’ien heading up an escalator. His first attempt to apologise fails, and T’ien literally runs away. He nearly gets run down by a scooter, but Bai intercepts and they make up.

The ending credits also include a short segment on the three supporting cast and their somewhat stereotyped views upon gay fashion.

Movie Review – Torch Song Trilogy

1 07 2008

Torch Song Trilogy is a collection of three plays by Harvey Fierstein rendered in three acts: International Stud, Fugue in a Nursery, and Widows and Children First! The story centers on Arnold Beckoff, a torch song-singing Jewish drag queen living in New York City in the late 1970 and 1980s. The four hour-plus play begins with a soliloquy in which he explains his cynical disillusionment with love.

Each act focuses on a different phase in Arnold’s life. In the first, Arnold meets Ed, who is uncomfortable with his bisexuality. In the second, two years later, Arnold meets Alan, and the two settle down into a blissful existence that includes plans to adopt a child, until tragedy strikes. In the third, several years later, Arnold is a single father raising gay teenager David. Arnold is forced to deal with his mother’s intolerance and disrespect when she visits from Florida.

The first act derives it name (International Stud) from an actual Gay bar of the same name at 117 Perry Street in Greenwich Village in the 1960s and 1970s. The bar had a backroom where men engaged in anonymous sex. The backroom plays a central role in the act.

The award-winning and popular work broke new ground in the theatre: “At the height of the post-Stonewall clone era, Harvey challenged both gay and straight audiences to champion an effeminate gay man’s longings for love and family.”

The first staging of International Stud opened on February 2, 1978 at the off-off-Broadway La MaMa, E.T.C., where it ran for two weeks. The off-Broadway production opened on May 22, 1978 at the Players Theatre, where it ran for 72 performances.

The first staging of Fuque in a Nursery opened at LaMama on February 1, 1979.

Torch Song Trilogy first opened at the uptown Richard Allen Center in October 1981. On January 15, 1982 it transferred to the Actors’ Playhouse in Greenwich Village, where it ran for 117 performances.The cast included Fierstein as Arnold, Joel Crothers as Ed, Paul Joynt as Alan, Matthew Broderick as David, and Estelle Getty as Mrs. Beckoff.

After eight previews, the Broadway production, directed by Peter Pope, opened on June 10, 1982 at the Little Theatre, where it ran for 1,222 performances. Fierstein, Joynt, and Getty were joined by Court Miller as Ed and Fisher Stevens as David. Later in the run, David Garrison and Jonathan Hadary portrayed Arnold, Craig Sheffer was cast as Alan, and Barbara Barrie replaced Getty.

The play won Fierstein two Tony Awards, for Best Play and Best Actor in Play, two Drama Desk Awards, for Outstanding New Play and Outstanding Actor in a Play, and the Theatre World Award.

The West End production starring Antony Sher, with Rupert Graves as Alan, opened on October 1, 1985 at Albery Theatre on St. Martin’s Lane, where it ran for slightly more than seven months.

Movie Review – The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

1 07 2008

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is a 1994 Australian film about three drag queens (two gay men and a transsexual woman) driving across the outback from Sydney to Alice Springs in a large bus they have named Priscilla. The film stars Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce and Terence Stamp. It was written and directed by Stephan Elliott. Since its release it has retained its popularity and opened as a major musical in Star City Casino Sydney, October 2006.

Anthony “Tick” Belrose, a.k.a. Mitzi Del Bra, a drag queen, accepts an offer to perform at a casino in Alice Springs, a remote town in central Australia. After persuading his friends and fellow performers, Bernadette Bassenger – a recently bereaved transsexual woman, and Adam Whitely, a.k.a. Felicia Jollygoodfellow – an irritatingly flamboyant and obnoxious drag queen – to join him, the three set out for Alice Springs in a large tour bus which Adam/Felicia christens “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”.

They encounter on the way the less accepting attitudes of rural Australia, sexual violence, and the problems of vehicle breakdowns. The troupe eventually arrives at their destination with costumes and dance routines prepared. Before they arrive, Tick reveals that he is married (it is revealed that his wife is gay or possibly bisexual), and that the trip is a favor for his wife, who runs the casino where they will be performing. Upon arriving, they learn that Tick and his wife also have a young son.

Cultural impact

The film is regarded in the gay community as a camp classic, portraying Australia’s outback in an idyllic way, showcasing its beauty and remoteness. The story also brought together the travelling troupe with an Aboriginal tribe, a powerful image of two often socially outcast peoples singing and dancing together under unlikely circumstances. The film was ranked as number 11 on Logo’s 50 Greatest Films.

The film also employed unusual casting with Terence Stamp, who has otherwise portrayed masculine characters, often villains. This film was the first large-scale venue for Pearce and Weaving, both of whom have gone on to larger film success.

In 1995, an American film, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar, was released, and featured a similar plot line and is commonly mistaken as an “American version of Priscilla.” However, To Wong Foo began production during the middle of Priscilla’s filming.

During the 2000 Summer Olympics Closing Ceremony of the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Priscilla was part of a parade of images of Australian popular culture. A refurbished and decorated 1980 Ford Denning (the same make of bus used in the movie) featuring a giant steel Stiletto heel which extended from and retracted into the roof — inspired by some of the scenes from the film — was paraded around the Olympic Stadium. The bus was also accompanied by several stiletto heels tricycle floats and drag queens donning big wigs as a tribute to the film’s international success and the local gay community.

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JUST – what happend after the hookup!

2 03 2008
This is the first in a new series of original short films “Strangers, Friends + Lovers” produced by adelante films

Just is about the after-sex acquaintance of two strangers who met online. As the two men learn more about each other, they discover that a casual hook-up is anything but.
Written by Edward Gunawan and directed by David Maurice Gil.

As gay filmmakers, we fight to showcase our own perspectives, our own ideas of who we are to the world, yet never more than today this has been a stagnated mono-dimensional portrayal of “us.” The argument has sided to the “coming out” stories, AIDS and the like. Yes those are incredibly important issues facing us and yes we should mirror those same barriers within our art, however equally important to the building of who we are as a community are those elements revolving around everyone, especially love and relationships despite sexuality.

When I first connected with my producing partner Edward Gunawan, our conversations centered on gay films and relationships. We noticed that there was a distinct lack in the telling of those stories that didn’t base themselves with the coming of age, high school, or teenaged angst that all GLBT people experience. As with all art, we feel that there is an evolution.Representing more mature and complex relationships – as in the case of Just exploring the issues of monogamy and fidelity in our post-modern world through the eyes of these two gay characters, I believe, is the natural direction of evolution in gay cinema.

As a young man, or woman who realizes that that are gay, lesbian, or transgender the idea of coming out to the world as different can be traumatic and even horrifying. When films have the courage to show these characters and how they conquer this, it is a powerful start in the right direction. However what we have seen is that which happens after the coming out is still missing. There is life after leaving the closet. There is a whole world to be lived. In our series of shorts we decided to explore that world. Representing older relationships, talking about monogamy are only the first of the elements we wish to explore.This story is universal and its characters are completely interchangeable. That is to say, these characters do not have to be “Wayne” and “Clyde.” They can be “Alice” and “Mike,” or “Mary” and “Susan.” It does not matter. It only shows that homosexuals or heterosexuals are all human, facing the same issues and feeling the same things.

We all have the same desire to fall in love. We still can get hurt and hurt others with our actions.The characters begin the story engrossed in an incredibly intimate situation, naked and exposed, yet they know nothing about each other besides those carnal moments they just shared. Then, as they clothe themselves and begin to protect themselves physically, they become more vulnerable as they share who they really are. At its core, Just is a film that explores how these two characters view and judge their own actions. How one character feels when he realizes that he has become that “other man.” How they ask questions that never wanted to be answered. How no one wants to be cheated on and no one wants to cause that either.It’s these universalities that make us human and make the experiences of the GLBT community connect with the rest of the world. As equally important and equally powerful to that boy or girl who fears coming out they need to know that when that day comes, there is still life after the closet.


COMOLOT 2007 – Filem Gay Malaysia

24 02 2008

Pernahkah anda menonton filem pendek COMOLOT yang cukup kontroversi dan ia telah ditayangkan di MIA Arthouse (behind nasi kandar Pelita dan berdekatan dengan KLCC) di alamat 153, Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur. Tayangan filem ini telah diwarwarkan di dalam laman web myspace comolot oleh pengarahnya sendiri iaitu saudara Amy Ikram Ismail, dan juga Guys for Men.

Filem ini mengisahkan realiti kehidupan masyarakat kita di Malaysia dan ia memang benar-benar berlaku, sekiranya anda betul-betul menyelami dunia ini dan bergaul dengan PLU anda akan tahu realiti kehidupan kini. Aku dapat lihat banyak orang mempertikaikan kenapa Amy Ikram membuat filem yang tidak bermoral ini dan ia ibarat sampah, namun aku cukup tidak setuju dengan tomahan ini. Bukan disebabkan aku seorang PLU aku menyokong filem ini tidak sama sekali, namun komentar aku adalah berdasarkan pandangan dan perspektif industri perfileman Malaysia.

Kita di Malaysia terlalu hidup di takuk lama, itulah faktor utama filem kita tidak mampu pergi jauh di sebabkan pemikiran di tahap ortodoks. Apabila memperkatakan perihal filem kita sering terbayangkan nilai-nilai murni, masyarakat yang baik dan harmoni serta segala serba serbi sempurna, namun pernahkah anda terfikir perkara lain juga sebenarnya wujud. Dunia kita sebenarnya tidaklah semanis yang digambarkan dalam rata-rata filem stereotype Malaysia. Rata-rata ending filem Malaysia kita boleh tahu dan agak di awal cerita lagi, namun demikian aku sanjung beberapa pengarah filem yang mampu berfikir diluar ruang lingkup ini (think out of the box).

Filem-filem kita kini perlulah menceritakan apakah hal sebenarnya yang berlaku dalam masyarakat bukanlah hanya bertopengkan kemanisan tetapi sebenarnya berulat, kita tidak perlu menjadi seperti talam dua muka atau pun hipokrit. Ceritakan sahaja apa yang berlaku dalam masyarakat kini agar kita dapat mengubah dan menghitung dimanakah kedudukan kita. Bayangkan jika kita disogok dengan cerita yang segalanya sempurna sudah tentu kita akan rasa kini tamadun kita telah berada di kedudukkan yang selesa, walhal hamprak.

Diluarsana kita dapat lihat banyak artis-artis terutamanya wanita merokok, free hair, berpakaian seksi, mengamalkan seks rambang, seks sesama sejenis dan mempunyai masalah dengan ibu bapa, tetapi dalam filem keadaan dan juga pelakon it sendiri digambarkan sebagai sungguh sempurna, baik, solehah, tidak meningalkan solat serat bertudung litup. Begitu juga dengan pelakon lelaki, banyak juga yang saya dapat tahu pelakon lelaki mengamalkan seks sejenis, minum arak, berfotya-foya dengan perempuan dan gemar bersosial, namun di dalam filem mereka menjadi alim ulama dah seorang yang bertanggungjawab kepada keluarga dan bangsa.

Oleh itu sebelum mengutuk filem orang lain kita patut lihat dari perspektif :

  1. mengapa sesuatu filem yang bebas itu dikeluarkan
  2. mengapa ia menceritakan banyak hal-hal negatif
  3. apa yang boleh kita pelajari dari filem itu
  4. adakah ini realiti masyarakat kita
  5. bagaimana kita mampu mengatasi hal-hal ini dari berlaku

Walauapa pun aku memberikan ucap tahniah kepada Amy Ikram Ismail kerana filem pendek yang berani diketengahkan, walaupun saya sebagai penonton tahu banyak hal yang boleh anda pertingkatkan namun saya akui ia bukan satu perkara yang mudah untuk anda lakukan dalam mengeluarkan filem pendek yang penuh kontroversi ini di tengah-tengah masyarakat yang ortodoks, hidup di bawah tempurung dan tidak mahu menerima kenyataan.

Movie – Anak The Movie 2008

23 02 2008

Malam tadi aku dan Ezmil pergi menonton filem seram bertajuk Anak yang hanya dibintangi oleh beberapa pelakon utama seperti Erra Fazira, Ida Nerina, Philip Jusoff, Azizah Mahzan dan Rushdee Ramli di pawagan TGV Sunway Pyramid jam 9:30 malam.Filem ini adalah produksi dari Boxlite Film dan ia merupakan filem pertama keluaran mereka, dan filem anak adalah merupakan filem seram yang mengisahkan Nita (Erra) yang mengalami trauma kisah silamnya dan oleh sebab trauma itu dia melalukan beberapa percubaan membunuh diri sebagai satu jalan penyelesaian untuk masalah dan gangguan yang Nita hadapi. Nita ketika itu tinggal bersama dengan sepupunya bernama Kay (lakonan Ida Nerina) dan setelah itu dia sering didatangi mimpi buruk yang sama berulang kali dimana dia sering melihat kelibat kanak-kanak berusia sekitar 5 tahun di dalam rumah itu namun hal ini hanya berlaku pada diri Nita sahaja di awal cerita. Apabila Nita bercerita perihal ini pada Kay dengan cepat Kay segera mengatakan ia adalah merupakan imaginasi Nita dan meminta Nita berjumpa dengan pakar sakit jiwa. Jelmaan kanak-kanak yang sering berlaku menyebabkan Nita keliru sama ada ia adalah benar-benar berlaku atau pun hanyalah halusinasi.Ida Nerina pula melakonkan watak seorang model yang berjaya namun karierr menurun kerana faktor penuaan. Dia membawa watak model yang bergaya, angkuh dan segalanya nampak sempurna. Beliau merupakan seorang yang mementingkan diri sendiri dan membuat perjanjian dengan beberapa orang lelaki yang diketuai oleh Issac (Rushdee Ramli) dan juga Mak Mek (Azizah Mahzan) sorang dukun Siam. Demi memastikan kerjaya Kay terus memuncak dia terpaksa memastikan keterampilan dia lebih baik dan untuk itu dia terpaksa mempergunakan Nita untuk mendapatkan Janin dan diserahkan kepada Mak Mek.Namun setiap benda ada price that you have to pay, Mak Mek ketika hayatnya telah memberi amaran bahawa barang ini akan terus mengikut sepanjang hayat dan tidak ada jalan kembali. Atas pesetujuan dan bulatnya hati Kay maka upacara spiritual itu berjalan dan pantangnya adalah Janin ini perlu sentiasa berada dekat dengan ibunya dan setiap kali bulan penuh ia perlu di beri darah ibu sendiri.Untuk dasar itu maka ketika Nita berpindah rumah keluar dari rumah Kay maka Kay secara diam-diam telah meletakkan janin tersebut di bawah katil Nita agar ia dekat dengan ibunya.Filem ini juga turut menampilkan aktor dari Indonesia yang baru berlakon 2 filem iaitu Philip Jusoff sebagai Dr Amar yang merawat Nita. Beliau bukanlah seorang yan percayakan kepada hal-hal spiritual namun hanya mengetahui hal sebenarnya apabila dia berjaya mengekori Kay kerumah adik kembar Mak Mek ketika Kay meminta tolong Mak Mek agar mengusir roh kanak-kanak ini dari hidupnya.

Untuk menegetahui apa yang bakal berlaku saksikan filem ini di pawagan berhampiran, aku bagi 3.5 bintang dari 5 bintang.