Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Black Swan Soars

Darren Aronofsky brings it again. Another psychological thriller full of modernity. While mainstream movie goers may be lured into the cinema under the pretense of cat fighting, lesbian affairs and girls dancing, Black Swan really is about survival and giving your all for success in your chosen field of expertise.

Nina (Natalie Portman), a talented ballerina in a New York City ballet company, is completely consumed with dance. She lives with her obsessive mother Erica (Barbara Hershey), a former balleria, who wants to control her every move. With their new season opening with a modern, youthful and fresh approach of Swan Lake, artistic director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) decides to replace prima ballerina Beth MacIntyre (Winona Ryder).

Although Nina is beyond perfect to play the White Swan, Thomas wrestles if Nina has the wicked interior coupled with a sexual know how to bring the Black Swan to life. This is when a new dancer, Lily (Mila Kunis) a hipster ballerina with lots of edge from San Francisco enters and impresses Leroy. As the two young dancers expand their rivalry into a twisted friendship, Nina begins to get more in touch with her dark side - allowing her to do what it takes to be a black swan.

Natalie Portman is wonderful and deserves her praise and awards which are sure to come her way. Aronofsky orchestrates a near perfect ballet out of film. The audience was clearly thrilled and baffled, filled with awkward laughter and lots of twisting and turning in their seats.

In the end, I clapped softly for the performances, while others sat in the awakening white light of perfection like doomed deer in the headlight.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Video-On-Demand: Robin's Hood

I've often debated about gay/lesbian cinema: why is it lesbians come up with great stories and filmmaking, while gay men (and their hetero counterparts) plant and weave every known stereotype about gay men into every film?

This rainy Sunday afternoon, I stumbled across an excellent indie lesbian movie called Robin's Hood. From start to finish, I was completely engaged. Robin Hood is the unlikely story of two woman in Oakland, California on the same wrong side of the tracks on the opposites sides of shared wrong tracks yet each struggling in their own way to make life, their lives, other lives and really the world a better place.

Refreshing, smart and taking its name from the legendary hoodster, Robin's Hood is an amped up urban lesbian re-vision. Brooklyn (Clody Cates) is a cute French/American lesbian who has settled into making a living as a thief. Brooklyn also loves the ladies and there seems to be a lot of them, until she meets a social worker with a heart of gold named Robin (Khahtee Turner).

Robin is trying to make a difference in her urban community, unfortunately the system doesn't allow her to do what's best for her clients/community. Soon Robin is looking for a new job. What may have worked in Sherwood Forest during medieval times certainly calls for a cultural, political, racial, social and gender makeover as Oakland is the good ol' USA where being Black, gay, unemployed, educated and in a mixed race relationship immediately and abruptly brings a modernity to Robin's current hood and urgency. Robin and Brooklyn are pseudo contemporary folklore, however, definitely not living in a fairy tale. Robin's Hood is another look into the what is wrong in our nation and the tremendous odds and challenges faced each day by everyone.

Simply put, Robin's Hood is a really good film, director Sara Millman is definitely a filmmaker with a very bright future ahead. Thank goodness for oversize flat screens where one can generate a theater feel to get the maximum cinematic effects of an overlooked gem like Robin's Hood.

Demand Robin in your hood now!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

LATE CATCH - The Social Network

Unsocial Behavior Leads Geek to Billions -- In a twist of irony, I caught The Social Network at the $3.00 movie theater.

The Social Network is pretty amazing cinema. While all of the actors will be overlooked at Oscar time, mainly because they are too young, very nerdy, did not commit murder, no random sex nor did they blow up their dorm, rather they simply changed the world and the way we communicate - well forever.

The story is quite compelling. Harvard self proclaimed computer geek and resident dork asshole, Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), sits down at his computer and begins working on a new idea mainly to impress a cute girl. Along the way he invents the internet phenom Facebook, alienates his best friend (and my new favorite actor - see Boy A) Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), befriends Napster founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) who brought Zuckerberg/Facebook to Silicon Valley's venture capitalists, betrays wealthy legacy identical Winklevoss twins (Armie Hammer and Josh Pence) and gets sued for millions.

Although The Social Network is the age old story of greed, betrayal, privilege and self-identification. Director David Fincher unfolds the plot masterfully sucking you in and bringing you up to date via flashbacks as told doing arbitration by all parties involved in the creation of Facebook. It is not a new way but Fincher makes it feel new and fresh while entertaining and tantalizing.

This youthful cinematic portrait of 21st century success is boldly modern cinema, yet because the foundation and tenets of filmmaking was honored and measured The Social Network is an instant classic contemporary drama.

David Fincher prep your tuxedo and Be My Friend:

Friday, November 26, 2010

Omar (a gay short from France)

Tres bien Omar! Today I stumbled across a great short film from France called Omar.

In less than eight minutes we meet a beautiful young student, Omar. A soccer fan and player, Omar, exits his loving home to meet up with his juvenile buddies to practice. When Omar gets a text, he rushes off leaving his friends behind. Omar has a secret rendez-vous with Arthur. Engaged in some serious lip locking activity, Omar and Arthur are unaware of a kid riding his bike in the distance.

Soon thereafter, Omar faces the consequences and takes steps to explore his real life.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lost In Translation Again

Wow! What a gem. It is easy to question all of the hype surrounding Sophia Coppola's seminal 2003 film Lost in Translation. However this time, I set quietly alone, hit play and allowed myself to get caught up in the story and all of its wonderful offerings.

Bill Murray (Bob) is brilliant and Scarlett Johansson (Charlotte) is refreshing as a new bride in Tokyo with her photographer husband played by Giovanni Ribisi. The logline for Lost in Translation sums it all up into: A movie star with a sense of emptiness, and a neglected newlywed meet up as strangers in Tokyo, Japan and form an unlikely bond.

Lost in Translation is so much more. I found myself immersed into the scenery. Enthralled by the story and swept into Bob and Charlotte unlikely connection. The pacing, directorial choices, from locations to music to cinematography, are well designed and executed with Bob and Charlotte gradually coming to know each other for a brief time in Tokyo.

In the end it all adds up into: they got me, they understood me. Someone out there feels exactly as I do. It's time to get lost in the translation all over again.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Purple Rain

Wow! I just purchased my very own Purple Rain DVD starring Prince.

Purple Rain really helped Prince to evolve to superstar status. The film itself is a quasi-biopic of Prince's own life. The real standout in Purple Rain are the live performances even Apollonia 6 singing "Sex Shooter" is enough to make you want to breakdance. These young woman performed completely in lingerie. It was pretty fierce for the time. And speaking of The Time - Morris Day is very funny and his sidekick Jerome - well what happened? Day and Jerome should have gone on to great heights as an acting team. Nevertheless, their band, The Time, did do quite well. Morris even had a solo career and a few acting gigs but nothing matched the international super status Prince achieved or the producing efforts of Jammy Jam and Terry Lewis of Janet Jackson fame.

Purple Rain is a fun movie. Pick your copy up now. Make your rain purple!


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Something Is Killing Tate

Black men are complex. And there are so many reasons why. Some of the reasons are just below his surface, many are imbedded in him and others are external.

In the film Something Is Killing Tate, a powerful film from emerging director Leon Lozano, we find Tate struggling with his future mainly because of the ills afflicted upon him in his childhood. Thus on the eve of his birthday and just weeks away from his wedding day, Tate unsuccessfully tries to escape it all. Afterwards Tate is visited at his home, along with his goldfish, by a series of friends, relatives and his future wife. Each visit and person peels away a layer forcing Tate to confront the real demons and one true demon in his life.

Tate is played by Jocko Sims. Sims is a brilliant actor with old school Hollywood leading man good looks and presence. He is a mix of Denzel and Snipes with the depth of Day Lewis and charm of Portier. It is so frustrating to know Jeff Bridges won an Oscar for his portrayal of a damaged man when Sims is the real deal. Sims is fascinating. This character has never been so masterfully executed without stereotype and melodramatics. From start to finish you want to know what exactly is killing Tate and more importantly, how can I help Tate? Tate seems like a nice person and in the end you get to this truth.

Something Is Killing Tate is what filmmaking is all about, making the elements compliment each other and bring out the best even under the worst of circumstances.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Catfish - A Movie, A Doc or Just a Facebook Experience

Yesterday, I finally returned to the movie theater after the 2010 summer blockbuster season. First up was a movie I having been reading a lot about given its usage of Facebook as the other bigger social network film is in theaters everywhere. The movie is called Catfish. And it's nothing like the Friday night fish fry at Auntie's house.

Catfish is a "documentary" about Yaniv "Nev" Schulman, a 24-year-old photographer. After having one of his pictures published in a magazine, he receives a painting in the mail from Abby, an eight-year-old girl in Michigan. Nev finds Abby through Facebook, thus a new friend and start of a relationship. Soon enough, Nev becomes a close friend, not only with Abby but with her mother, Angela, and older sister Megan. As Nev starts a relationship with the family, his brother, Ariel - a filmmaker, and friend, Henry, decide to capture it all only to realize that things aren’t as they seem.

Catfish is an indie and film festival movie. At its core is a creative idea steep in modern technology and current popular behavior, trends and mores from all involved in an internet relationship. However, it is very hard to believe or accept any of this as reality. Facebook is really a facade. People are not still getting caught up and believing anything behind the post. It has all become an advertising, marketing tool and self promotional vehicle for the masses. The people behind the Facebook pages are not there - really. It's all avatars.

Thus, as Nev entering into an e-relationship is next to impossible to believe. Seeing the big city hipsters trekking to the micro tiny town in Michigan, Catfish is not engaging and the few laughs here and there drive this point home. You just want to send Nev a text: GOOGLE.

Catfish is superficial, hollow and it’s something that’s becoming more common in today’s society, contemporary cinema and human nature. The reality is that Nev is in love with himself, his reflection glaring from his screen, any Facebook page, but Nev is never in love with a real person. Catfish is perfect cinema the internet the internet. It should have played on the internet exclusively and truly been groundbreaking.

The belief that websites like Facebook and are bringing people closer together and engaging unions is laughable as all of the social networking that exist online basically existed offline and when there was no internet. It was called the church social, happy hour, the classified ad or a mixer. Please note that real live people interacting face to face were not always as honest was they should have been. So today sitting in front of a screen we are not so close, we simply now exercise more options quicker, face no real wardrobe challenges nor have to worry about drinking too much.

Maybe it is all too advanced or modern for Nev and the Catfish crew. Maybe I'll just fax them. . . . .?ver!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Love your father? Udaan is an amazing coming of age story about a Rohan student, 17. We met Rohan at boarding school with his three best friends as they sneak out of boarding school one night to see a movie, they find their school administer in the audience as well. The boys are all expelled. Rohan returns to his small town where he learns that his father, whom he has not seen in eight years, has remarried and has another young son, Arjun, but the new wife is long gone.

The father quickly puts Rohan to work in his steel factory and gets him matriculated into an Engineering program at the university. Rohan is a naturally gifted writer and wants to pursue that against his father's wishes. After an incident at school, Arjun finds himself in the hospital upon the father's strict discipline. It is there Rohan begins to bond with his new brother. Away from the father in the sanctity of the hospital Rohan can share his writings. He starts to read to Arjun, then Arjun's neighbor and shortly thereafter the entire hospital including patients are listening to Rohan's writings.

Along the way Rohan turns eighteen, a man, and starts to understand the real meaning of manhood and father - a term Arjun nor Rohan are allowed to called their father. Luckily, Rohan has ready learned from his expelled companions the meaning of love, friendship, responsibility and family.

Netflix does it again, as I am always on the lookout for fresh, innovative and entertaining movies and Udaan is perfect. The cinematography is nurturing, the acting is compelling and the story is modern. Udaan definitely too me on a journey worth taking.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Jonesing for Love Jones

Yesterday I bought the Love Jones dvd at a vintage store in San Diego. Love Jones consistently ranks near the top movie of 25-45 year-olds Black Americans.

Love Jones is more than a rom-dram. It is an expose of middle-class Black urban life amongst the educated, complicated, sophisticated, upwardly mobile, articulate, attractive, well dressed, coiffed, employed, love seekers. This intertwined with a love story between the recently singled Nina (Nia Long) and cool renaissance man Darius Lovehall (Lorenz Tate) makes for neo soul cinema, the soundtrack even enlists Maxwell, Dionne Farris and Lauren Hill. In between the strikingly melodic cinematography, jazz playing, behop dancing, dance hall gyrating, famous quotes spewing, poetry readings, photography sessions, novel writing, Amtraks trips to New York, visits to an old-school record shop to purchase vinyl albums and typing on an actual typewriter - the story of Nina and Darius clearly gets played out. While it may all sound tiring and pretentious, it isn't.

Thanks to the directing of Theodore Witcher, it is not pretense at all. After all, this is how many young adults have designed and customized their lives, by embracing and shaping the American dream and all of its offerings to make a good life for themselves. And here lays the problem, Love Jones is like an architectural project rather a film, encapsulating Nina and Darius' love story rather than unfolding it. Their environments seems a bit unfamiliar to them. These are intelligent worldly people acting like adults in a professional world but their actions are a cross between a classic hollywood movie and a high school romance.

When I first saw Love Jones, I was the only person who was underwhelmed, so this time I watched with fresh eyes and an open mind. Most of the things I noticed the first time around still resonated like Lorenz Tate looked very young. While Tate definitely brought Darius to life fully, I still felt like Madd Dogg, his Menace II Society character, was still there - the gesturing and delivery. Nia Long was perfect. She was desirable, beautiful, human and wanting it all - love and a career without talking about it or singling one or the other out. Very well written and acted female role. After watching this time around, I wonder why Nia Long did not scoop Halle Berry? She really is lovely.

Love Jones is a movie that may be too perfect for its own good. Watching it is like looking a jigsaw puzzle with all of the pieces neatly laid out in front of you but not yet connected. Right from the start, you see where they go, how it will work and what is next -- the big picture. But where is no pay off? I don't even care if they get together or what the end is. This is no love jones - it is a crush. An adult crush complicated by all of the nice things and stuff that make up grown up life.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Shelter - Gay Boys Do Surf

It is always a delight to find a gay themed film with a fresh look on romantic relationships between young gay men. In Jonas Markowitz's third directorial Shelter , we find love in the surf, sand and beach front homes of southern California.

Meet Zach, played by a convincing Trevor Wright, a budding artist, dutiful uncle, reliable best friend, with a working class foundation whose homosexuality is awakened when his best friend Gabe's (Ross Thomas) older brother, Shaun (Brad Rowe), a writer now living in Los Angeles returns home to recover from a recent breakup.

Zach's art and world is driven by his home life -- the perfect picture of the American dysfunctional family with his sister practically giving 20 year-old Zach custody of her 5 year-old son Cody. Nevertheless, Zach and Cody are the new American family completed with Shaun's arrival and confidence.

Shaun and Zach form one of the best unions in the history of gay cinema. They are honest, vulnerable, considerate and open to explore just as they do with the waves of the ocean. The camera loves these guys and they give their characters depth and humanity that no script could ever spell out so brilliantly as they portray them.

Shelter is such a refreshing film. Shelter is that film people will question its homosexuality because it does not act gay. People need to know and realize that all gay men are not the stereotype most Hollywood types plant in your mind and their movies. Shelter is easily one of the best gay themed films ever.

Seek shelter immediately.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Inception - Time to Wake-up

Besides the soaring temperatures of summer, the other thing I am eager to usher away are those horrible loud insipid summer blockbuster movies.

To that end, it is only appropriate that I present Inception. Inception was billed as the smart, plot driven, guilty pleasure of summer 2010’s star riddled, studio tentpoles, blockbuster $200 million productions. Last week I caught Inception in New York City. $13.00? When did the tickets go up? Thirteen dollars does not even guarantee you a great sit, especially during the heated summer months.

Back to Inception, I always enjoy the acting of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. British and buffed, Tom Hardy is great. As usual, Leonardo DiCaprio is fine acting his way through every Hollywood film he stars in. And Leo is the star - front and center of nearly every frame of Inception. Marion Cotillard, well she is the new “go-to” international actress for a multi-layered favored wife role. Director Christopher Nolan has definitely solidified his cinematic style – which excludes Blacks (people in Africa are not Black they are Africans - in America, Mr. Nolan, where you make movies those black people are Black).

While there are so many angles to dialogue on Inception, I will just focus on – show it, don’t say it. This is a film. It is a film about dreams and reality. This is the very foundation of cinema. From the very first scene until the very last scene the characters are constantly acknowledging, analyzing, discussing, dissecting dreams and telling the audience that this is a dream within a dream and the characters are having and involved with dreams within their own dreams and others’ dreams.

In the end, Inception falls fast like one of those dreams where you awake just before the crash. It is a let down because we understand early on to follow the various dreams and reality. The film is not very clever nor smart and the special effects are suburban – a truck full of sleeping celebrity actors going over a bridge in slow motion? Really? $150 million to dream? Wake up!

All I can say is bring on the Fall art-house, film festival pick-ups, international cinema gems, urban sleepers, cine-bio-pics and random Oscar worthy sifted studio “indy” flicks.

Goodbye summer and riddance mindless flicks of summer 2010!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Ajami is an amazing film. The range of emotions I felt truly ran the gamut. When will America make films that have matter and make you feel? Films, movies, cinema is not just about substance, it is about creating dynamic and broad cinematic images and storytelling that inform and entertain all at once.

Nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film 2009, Ajami, is the story of families, clans, gangsters, policemen and friendships on the West Bank's Jaffa neighborhood. After their uncle shoots an important clan member, 13-year-old Nasri (Fouad Habash) and his older brother, Omar (Shahir Kabaha), finds their entire family and lives in danger. While members of the community struggle to negotiate a peace agreement Omar employs the assistance of his friend Malek (Ibrahim Frege) and takes things into his own hands.

Ajami is an important film from the region, as it is modern. It unfolds and tells of the social issues, family bonds and day to day struggle in a world which seems to only know the international turmoils when at the end of the day there are real people living on the West Bank. The West Back is a mixture of cultures and diverse views from Muslins, Jews and Christians.

Afterall Ajami is a neighborhood - a vibrant international community you can visit thanks to filmmakers Yaron Shani and Scandar Copti.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Kids Are All Right

"The Kids Are All Right" is a Lisa Cholodenko film. Annette Bening and Julianne Moore are Nic and Jules, are a lesbian couple with two kids. The teens share a biological father via an anonymous sperm donor (Mark Ruffalo). Their family life is unexotic, unglamorous and totally routine like most American families until daughter Joni (Mia Wasikowska), having turned 18, gets in touch with their biological father. And there begins a hollywood film with smart dialogue and great acting.

It's a movie about basic things, about the meaning of family and the vulnerability of families. I wish it was about the complexity of relationships. The evolution of family not basic things. I wanted to be taken for a ride. I wanted to see something other than a movie. It is a good movie. But in the end it was like any other accept some people were acting gay.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

35 Shots or Rum

Silent waters run deep in Claire Denis' serene drama 35 Shots of Rum. 35 Shots focuses on four inhabitants of a French apartment building centering most on Lionel (Alex Descas). The stoic Lionel, a train engineer, shares his apartment with his daughter Jo (Mati Diop). The two other characters and potential mates are their neighbors Gabrielle (Nicole Dogué), a taxi, and mysterious and sexy Noé (Grégoire Colin).

The characters build boxes around themselves, mistaking their private shelter for safety. Breaking out relies on finding a balance between old and new, and in having the guts to knock down the walls and really change.

See just how many shots it takes to get out on your own or coupled. Great film.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Watermelon Woman

Cheryl Dunye's debut feature film The Watermelon Woman is so entertaining. It is so original, so smart, so funny and so indie.

The Watermelon Woman is the story of a budding young Black lesbian filmmaker, Cheryl, in Philadelphia struggling to make a documentary about Fae Richards, a beautiful and elusive 1930s black film actress known as "The Watermelon Woman."

While uncovering the untold history of the fictional Fae Richards, Cheryl's personal life is subject to the comic yet biting criticism of her best friend, Tamara, when Cheryl meets and engages in a relationship with a white lesbian.

Get yourself a slice and cool out with The Watermelon Woman.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Brother Outsider - The Life of Bayard Rustin

If you know Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr or Malcolm X then you should know who Bayard Rustin is. Bayard Rustin was an advisor to Dr. King. Rustin was not only an organizer of the historic Civil Rights March on Washington, DC, Rustin was the architect of the legendary march and the place where Dr.King delivered one of the most celebrated speeches in the history of spoken language.

Brother Outsider - The Life of Bayard Rustin is an amazing documentary of another invisible man - an openly Black gay American man who championed the civil rights movement for all of us. This documentary outlines and unfolds the life of a man who truly was ahead of his time and a real visionary. Long before Dr. King and Rosa Parks, Bayard Rustin sat down on a bus and refused to abandon his principles and morals in order to allow a white person to sit.

Bayard Rustin's invisible presence is what continues to set us all back as a nation by selecting not to recognized the truth. The truth is Bayard Rustin is an unsung American hero we have selected to forget, chose not to remember or honor mostly because he was not heterosexual. Times are changing. Today we can examine outsiders' input to shaping a better nation and world.

Bayard Rustin is definitely someone to know and Brother Outsider - The Life of Bayard Rustin is the perfect introduction.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Just watched an amazing film - Arranged. What a delight! How did Arranged not garner tons of indie press and awards? The acting alone was stellar. Arranged is about two first-year teachers in the classroom in Brooklyn, NY. One is Orthodox Jewish and the other is Muslim.

When a kid in their classroom question whether a Jew and a Muslim can be friends, the two women are thrust into a new friendship. A friendship with more in common than not. The bond builds as they are both in the process of arranged marriages right in Brooklyn.

Future stars, Zoe Lister-Jones and Francis Benhamou, shine as young first generation Americans balancing culture, ethnicity, self-identity, family, gender and career with the more Americanized idea of diversity. Definitely a film Hollywood will remake with bigger names and less genuine.

I love this film and so will you - arrange to see it.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Women Without Men

For me, summer is always the worst time to enjoy the movie going experience. With tentpoles and blockbusters, it's like finding depth in Jerry Bruckheimer creation, direction in a Michael Mann vehicle or vision in a Ron Howard piece.

Imagine my delighted to find Women Without Men. Women WIthout Men is an Iranian film directed by Iranian woman (Shirin Neshat) following the lives of several women in 1950s Iran during the 1953 American CIA coup of the democratically elected government of Iran, based on the novel of the same name from Shahrnush Parsipur.

The women without men are four (4) women whose story interconnect through their treatment by Iran men, family, society and their journeys and retreat to an orchard, accessed by a broad and empty road, with a magical garden without men.

One women is Zarin, a young prostitute. Zarin runs away from a brothel and is later seen furiously rubbing her body raw in a public bath. She speaks not a single word in the whole movie, and that is the most effective condemnation of the society in which she lives and thus creates a powerful presence.

It is a very beautiful movie and shot wondrously. There are a few scenes where I was in awe of the cinematography. The acting is superb. The casting is right. The storytelling unfolds gradually and without condemnation.

Although I wonder what life and the world would be like with: MEN WITHOUT OIL AND WOMEN and perhaps ego.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

My New Favorite Film - Brief Encounter (circa 1945)

From a chance meeting on a train platform, a very handsome, middle-aged married doctor Alec (Trevor Howard) and a sweet suburban housewife Laura (Celia Johnson) enter into a quiet yet passionate love affair, meeting every Thursday at a small café at the station to play out their romance. Brief Encounter is based on a Noel Coward play, director David Lean (of Doctor Zhivago fame) explores the thrill and pain of an illicit romance in 1945 Britain.

Subtle yet emotional and definitely from another era, Brief Encounter is timeless in the age-old struggle over morals and extra marital affairs. The brilliance of Brief Encounter is the movie does not focus on the extra marital affair. Rather, it focuses on a chance encounter between two very nice and like-able people who connect organicly and are attracted to each other but have lives that cannot work together. From her living room sitting with her husband, through voice-over we learn all about Laura's brief encounter with Alec.

Shot in black and white, the shadows, both literal and figurative are cunning and remarkable while the newspaper blowing about Laura and Alex's feet as they try to sneak a kiss in the train station adds a modern reality in tune with the current obsession with illicit affairs. However this relationship is natural and nearly perfect. Brief Encounter is a riveting love story where the words spoken are so elegantly and draws the audience into a brilliant space where passions may not be fulfilled. This movie explores love between a man and a woman in its purest form.

Unfortunately, you don't see movies like this one anymore. Celia Johnson is amazing and her performance garnered her an Academy Award nomination. Today's actresses should watch her carefully. Everything about her performance is precise. Not one thing out of place nor predictable. It is refreshing to watch a film in which the actors must hold the movie together as opposed to special effects.

Brief Encounter is truly one of the great movies of all time, and I am happy to have stumbled across it. IT IS MY NEW FAVORITE FILM! You will want to watch it now. PLAY PRESS!

Friday, May 21, 2010


FLICKERIA.COM presents at the upcoming 2010 SIZZLE MIAMI:

Created in 2010, is a film and distribution production company created by filmmaker Kirk Shannon-Butts. Best known as an emerging LGBT film director (Uptown, Black Enterprise, SGL Weekly, Clik, OUT Magazine, L'Uomo Vogue, Attitude, Pan African Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, Frameline) for his groundbreaking debut feature film BLUEPRINT, Shannon-Butts makes his first appearance at SIZZLE MIAMI with a rough cut of his new film DONE.

DONE was shot in Paris, FRANCE in April 2010 about the B.B.B. phenom in the Parisian gay scene. BBB is the term for Black (Black), Beur (Arab) and Blanc (White) gays boy. DONE takes place in the rapidly gentrifying 18th Arrondissement and surrounding sites including the Louvre, Montmartre, Chateau Rogue, Barbes Rochechouart all in the city of lights -- Paris. is currently developing two (2) more movies: The Pain Session and James Earl Hardy's (BBoy Blues) The Day Easy E Died.

Founded in 2002, Sizzle Miami has quickly grown into the nation's most foremost LGBT event during the Memorial Day Weekend. For five (5) sizzling Miami days, beginning on Thursday, May 27th, beautiful people from all over the United States, North America, Europe and the Caribbean will convene in sunny Miami, Florida to celebrate life.


Sunday, May 16, 2010


My favorite professor in Film School was a tall, lanky, long-haired, acute young teacher and filmmaker named Everette Lewis. Yesterday I watched Everette's new film Lucky Bastard. It was very entertaining. The characters were a bit twisted but this characterization seems to be the returning theme to Everette's films and characters.

Lucky Bastard is the story of a young, cute, successful architect named Rusty (Patrick Tatten) who meets a mysterious drifter Denny played brilliantly by a sexy and damaged boy-next-door (Dale Dymkoski). After a chance meeting at a convenience store as Rusty searches for a bottle of wine - which Denny eventually locates and selects for Rusty, Rusty and Denny are coupled up after a little tryst in the restroom.

Denny opens Rusty up to a strange new world - shortly after Rust's boyfriend leaves town. Denny is immediately likable and not because of his biceps and low hanging designer jeans. With ease, Denny is able to say all of those little bedroom low light naughty things that most could barely emote in a whisper and his ability to be honest about his deepest emotional issues is so unhumanlike that before he can allow Rusty to response he cuts it all off. His construction ends - no more bricks or glass. Rusty is swept up and into a whirlwind and wants to love and renovate Denny and ultimately himself. In the end, we really can only help ourselves beyond cash, gifts, trips and kisses we present to others.

Lucky Bastard is a wonderful addition to the LA indie film genre as Everette's color palette is one where Los Angeles has been placed under a very light gray filter - all the harshness is there but a little less severe.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Opposite of Sex!

Last week I re-started my Netflix account and queued up. Yesterday, I returned from New York to see my red envelop waiting for me. My happy and eager little fingers quickly separated the perforation and DRUM ROLL. My feature film is The Opposite of Sex. The Opposite of Sex is a great little indie film with a terrific cast and great story.

A 16 year old Louisiana girl, Dede Truitt (Christina Ricci), abandons her newly widowed mother and runs away with her one testicled boyfriend to her homosexual school teacher half-brother, Bill (Martin Donovan - pretty amazing). The perky teenager immediately starts coming on to her half brother's sexual partner Matt (played wonderfully by the sexy and lanky Ivan Sergei).

Dede ends up pregnant and disappears to Los Angeles with the no longer gay boyfriend Matt. The whole affair blows into scandal, exposing Bill, revealing the true father of Dede's lovechild, and introducing one of Matt's ex-lovers, causing much media attention. As the situation snowballs, the only person who sees what Dedee is up to is Bill's sexually frustrated acid-tongued sister-in-law Lucia (Lisa Kudrow).

Apparently The Opposite of Sex was to be a indie break-out role for Kudrow. However it is Miss Christina Ricci who steals the WHOLE SHOW and her narration of the story is wickedly funny.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Shank - ON VOD

Today, I watched my very first movie on VOD. It was a little indie feature film titled Shank. Out of England, Shank was directed by Simon Pearce and has won many awards on the global film festival circuit. I read about Shank some time ago and ran across it yesterday in my reading.

Shank is a film that is very hard to say whether it is good or bad because the writers, production team and the director seemed to definitively know this material and all of the social ills which create all of the circumstances and behavior of the characters in Shank. It completely captures this time and place - I guess.

There are two actors that stand out Wayne Virgo and Tom Bott. Virgo is so believable as the Cal, the gangster leading a very sorted risque sexual charged dual life and Bott as his best friend Jonno. Jonno and Cal have a magnetism that most best friends have whether sexually charged or not. In this case Cal knows the potential but pulls back from his best friend while Jonno seems willing but not able to get there. Tension.

Although there is enough psychological dramatics along with two gay bashings to make several additional movies, Shank takes the audience into the dark realm and grim world of the average 20 year old global urbanite: drugs, teenage pregnancy, alcohol while driving, internet sex, sex tapes, rape, friendly violence, gay bashings, self-afflicted homophobia and homophobia. In all of its convolution, Shank, manages to present this story.

With all of its deconstruction of Hollywood filmmaking in favor of the neo modern indie international flick, the final scene reminds the audience to discipline and spank not shank your kids and may be they will grow up not only to be good people but to have original ideas even if they really want a fairy tale ending such as in Shank.

In the end I felt shanked --- hmm a little.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Happy Together

Over the past weekend, I watched one of my all time favorite films HAPPY TOGETHER by director Wong Kar Wai. As a filmmaker, I am often asked who is my favorite director and not to be politically correct, but I always answer I like films rather than a specific director. However I must say director Wong Kar Wai is at the very top of my list of influential film directors.

When I was in film school, I first fell in love with Wong's unconventional storytelling, casting, camera movement and cinematography. It is exactly these points which makes it hard for me to zone in on a director when I know these crew members of the film brought together the final film which I love so much. Happy Together is stunning, bold and an innovation piece of filmmaking.

My very first Wong Kar Wai film was Chungking Express. It was quirkly, modern, cool and very entertaining. Chungking starred Tony Leung who would become one of my favorite actors. A few years later Wong would release Happy Together starring Leung and Hong Kong superstar Leslie Cheung as Yiu-Fai and Po-Wing. The couple travel to Argentina from Hong Kong and decide to take a road trip to the southernmost tip of Argentina to see the magnificent Iguazu waterfalls all the while having a lamp in their possession of the waterfall. A lamp the mirrors the waterfalls and projects images of the beautiful waterfall.

Yiu-Fai and Po-Wing's relationship has stopped and started many times over the duration their time together. However just as the waterfall in the lamp presents an illusion of the real waterfall and occasionally needs to be fixed and resembled -- it is the perfect and cunning metaphor for their relationship. It also turns out that Argentina is on the exact opposite side of the planet as Hong Kong.

As the pair goes adrift, a disillusioned Yiu-Fai starts working in a tango bar to save up for his trip home when a battered Po-Wing reappears. Po-Wing wants to start over again, however Yiu-Fai is empathetic but is unable to enter a more intimate relationship. Eventually Yiu-Fai finds works in a Chinese restaurant and meets the youthful Chang from Taiwan.

The film is shot with such an gorgeous preoccupation with sun, night and water. There scene where the couple is on the rooftop above a gritty undeveloped section of Buenos Aires is so rich with color and the simple scene of the guys playing soccer in the alley near the Chinese restaurant is transformed with the lush flicker and constant sun beams into a beautifully blinding situation.

It is so hard to watch a relationship unravel right before your eyes. You want them to be happy together even though you know it will never work nor last. Why do opposites attract?


Saturday, April 3, 2010

PARIS - a very new short film

Since January, I have been living in Paris, FRANCE. A few weeks ago my niece asked me to bring her something back from Paris. Upon that, I started thinking about what I wanted to bring back from Paris for myself.

Almost immediately upon my arrival I absorbed myself into my new Parisian life as an Anglophone. I enrolled into French language classes, writing the "The Day Eazy E Died" screenplay, volunteering at the European Independent Film Festival (ECU), launching FLICKERIA.COM, and prepping the DVD release of my first feature film BLUEPRINT.

THEN, I asked myself what is it that I want to take back from Paris -- A FILM! I thought a film. I am a true filmmaker. I wanted to captured Paris like no one else - totally from my POV. Thereafter, on the way to French class I would write scenes. On weekends I would video tape locations. It all started to come together.

AND for three (3) days this week, I filmed my 1st international film (DONE) with an amazing and talented crew. See everything and stay updated here:

The film is about lives intersecting in an oversized apartment in the rapidly gentrifying 18eme in Paris. The lives belong to Marvin, an American traveling to Paris to visit his boyfriend, Julian. Julian, a Parisian and journalist who shares his apartment with an Algerian student, Khalid. Julian gets called away for work and asks Khalid to make Marvin comfortable until he returns from Nigeria covering a story. With Marvin, Khalid finally finds comfort in providing comfort to someone else as far away from home with no one familiar and loving as he remembers his family to be.

The original title of the script is DONE, now that I am DONE principle photography I have a new working title - ALL I WANT - or may be A WORLD IN A WORLD. I don't know - BUT I do know you have never experienced Paris nor France like this.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Pain Session - Gay Terrorist Plot Unfolds Post 9/11

Shortly after I completely principal photography on my first feature length film Blueprint, I immersed myself into my follow-up screenplay, The Pain Session. The Pain Session is the story of two boyhood friends, Hassan, a foreign exchange student from the Middle East and Lawrence, American Black. In the days following the terrorist attack on New York City these two childhood friends encounter each other on the New York City subway and rekindle a relationship they were too young to fulfill.

Hassan was a friend of one of the masterminds of the 9/11 terrorist plot. As the FBI and CIA track down all associates of the September 11th bombers, Hassan and Lawrence become easy targets for the Feds. Together, Hassan and Lawrence, experience the pain of prejudice, the enlightenment of creating life and the practicality of death. Even thou Hassan still harbors strong feelings for Lawrence, he seeks security in an American life complete with a wife, Christianity and kids. On the other side, Lawrence embraces Islam then rejects religion all together and sets his sight on a revengeful act because no one is innocent.

Recently, I read in The New York Observer that Intelligence officials say that the character at the center of the post 9/11 intrigue was an enigmatic but jovial man named Ahmad Hikmat Shakir, or “Shakir el Iraqi.” “He was tall as a mushroom, fat and gay and the idea was to exploit him as an agent against Al Qaeda.”

Mr. Shakir’s story began on Jan. 5, 2000, at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. He was there to meet a passenger on an incoming flight from Dubai—a Yemeni-born terrorist named Khalid al-Mihdhar. As it happens, the C.I.A. had its eyes on both of them.

Mr. Shakir didn’t have much, if any, of a file at the time, however, Mihdhar flashed big on the C.I.A.’s radar. At 25, he was already a deeply seasoned terrorist, with battlefield experience in Bosnia and time spent at various jihadi camps, and the agency knew that he’d come to Malaysia for some kind of special terror summit.

As the C.I.A. watched Mihdhar and Shakir climbed into a taxi outside the airport and drove to an upscale apartment complex near a golf course. For the next three days, Mihdhar and about half a dozen other high-level terrorists planned future strikes against America, including the hijackings of 9/11, according to multiple intelligence experts. In anti-terrorism circles, Kuala Lumpur is seen as a critical stop on the road to the attacks.

Mr. Shakir was no James Bond. In fact, he was short and fat and sociable, and was surmised to be gay, which would have opened him up to being flipped. Mohamed Atta, the 9/11 hijacker from Egypt, was also rumored to be gay.

Reading the article makes The Pain Session seem timely and necessary.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I'm Here Too, Spike

On Wednesday, I had the awesome opportunity to see the new Spike Jonze short film, I'm Here at the Gaumont Marignan on the Champs Elysees in Paris. I'm Here is a cool little flick about robot love in the not so distant future. Sheldon, a quiet, lonesome, librarian robot is fixated on a sleeker feminine robot, Anne, who possesses some peculiar self-destructive behavior coupled with some derelict robot friends.

Sheldon and Anne enter into a one-sided relationship where Sheldon literal gives way too much of himself. Although I'm Here is very minimal right down to the recycled third generation computer parts robot bodies, the film possesses a narrow blend of pop music video with futuristic cinematic themes in a sort of reverse of Avatar.

Filmed in a washed out metallic amber tone Southern California, I'm Here presents the everyday ups and downs of a really modern relationship. I'm Here is painfully human and presents quandary: no matter how much one gives of oneself - can we ever truly give ourselves to another? Or is it ever enough?

I'm Here is simple and sympathetic, in the end Sheldon keeps his head.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Saturday, March 6, 2010

THE OSCAR - Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Last evening, I saw Tom Ford's tremendous and studied directorial debut A Single Man for the second time. It is very rare, maybe even a first, for me to see a film in the cinema twice. A Single Man is based on the Christopher Isherwood novel which critics of the day proclaimed to be the first and best of the modern Gay Liberation movement literature.

The film is an expose in longing. A Single Man unfolds one day in the life of George Falconer. Falconer is a middle-aged gay college professor reconciling his life after the death of his partner, Jim, of 16 years in Southern California in 1962. A Single Man is carefully crafted and starts off like a long format fashion commercial. However, once Colin Firth steps into the frame the costumes, hair dressing, art direction and locations are put to great use as Colin submerges himself in a disconnected world. For George, the innocence and intellect of life are waning, while his grief and longing are ever increasing. Colin allows the audience to be a voyeur into the life of a widower. A character rarely presented in cinema.

George is transported back to purity and a familiar place when one of his more appealing students, Kenny, played brilliantly by Nicholas Hoult, notices on this day his professor’s behavior is not quite what it normally is. Kenny takes an interest in the peculiar ways this on this particular day and emotionally resuscitates George.

One of the more poignant moments of A Single Man comes when George’s best friend and fellow Brit Charlie (played by a ravishing Julianne Moore) pleasantly unleashes a series of politically incorrect and insensitive questions every gay man of that day probably never even had the opportunity to respond to -- because he and his gay relationship were invisible.

Colin Firth’s portrayal is quite visible, alive and as the British would say brilliant! Colin Firth is this year's Best Performance by an Actor In a Leading Role.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Not So Foreign Film - Un Prophète - An Oscar Awaits

Just saw the most amazing film, Un Prophète from director Jacques Audiard. First, I saw Avator in Paris in French without subtitles. Now I am in London watching the biggest French film of the year, Un Prophète, with English subtitles. English translation - A Phophet. I predict Un Prophète will win this year's Oscar for Best Foreign Language Movie.

If you like crime/gangster films (AND I DO) you will not want to miss A Phophet when it comes to a cinema near you. In the brilliant company of Good Fellas, The Godfather, Scarface, Menace II Society, The Krays, Mean Streets, Carlito's Way and City of God, The Phophet presents the contemporary strife and gritty realities of the business of crime from a complete outsider who gets involved and does bad things; however he never quite becomes bad. He really is surviving in a world where his behavior is acceptable and even his life of petty crime could never foreshow the life he would come to know.

The protagonist in The Phophet, Malik. Malik is the most unlikely criminal you will ever see - and this may just be why the film is so engaging. Malik el Djebena (Tahar Rahim) is a young man of North African origin but estranged from the Muslim community. The film begins with Malik being sentenced to six (6) years in prison. Once inside, Malik does not fit in with the Muslims or the Corsicans who rule the prison. Young, attractive, and alone -- a boy has got to survive and get himself protected.

Forced to kill another inmate, Malik gains unbridled protection by the Corsicans. This opens up a shady world of risky and dangerous behavior but lucrative with long-term career opportunities to Malik. As he is takes advantage of all things in his way, including learning to read and write for the very first time at age 23, Malik meets another inmate Ryad. Ryad seems to be Malik's first and only real friend. They quickly bond and form a brotherly relationship. Ryad (Adel Bencherif) is the real standout in The Phophet. His performance is well crafted and like Malik, you really like this guy. You know he is a good person with a petty criminal record that really translates like getting Ds on your 10th grade report card. There is hope.

Director Audiard executes some fantastic scenes where Malik interacts with the ghost/soul of his victim. One of my favorite scenes is where Ryad returns to the prison to visit Malik with his infant son and proclaims Malik as the Godfather. This is not The Godfather; however, Malik probably represents the new godfather. A real regular boy next door type who just happens to kill, rob, steal, sell narcotics, conduct insider trading deals all the while learning to read and write and precisely done by COB - closed of business 7:00PM.

Un Prophète really is great filmmaking and storytelling. There are cultural, ethnic and religious presentation, however, this is a film about prison culture, crime, mobsters and business. It is not about all Arab men or the behavior of Muslim men. It is a film about one young man's raise to the top of his unchosen profession because he is smart, resourceful and surrounds himself with a capable team. Malik is good at what he does. A goal we all strive for in whatever we do.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

All About Eve - Oscar Ladies Face-Off!

ALL ABOUT EVE. . . . IS one of my all-time favorite films. Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and starring an electrifying Bette Davis as the ripe mega star, Margo Channing, with many ingénues hot on her aging heels and one particular thespian, Eve, right by her side and just a bit out of Margo's blind spot.

In 2010, when all eyes are on the ladies for their 2009 acting performances, I thought I would tell you something about All About Eve. In 1951, All About Eve received a staggering 16 Oscar nominations including two for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Bette Davis and Anne Baxter. While Anne Baxter’s Eve was the impetus for the flow of the central theme of All About Eve. It was Bette Davis as Margot Channing, which steam rolled and elevated what could have been a laughable melodrama into an amazing tale of young versus old, star versus want-to-be and stage versus screen.

Davis’ delivery of now classic lines like “Fasten your seatbelts it’s going to be a bumpy ride,” are nearly spellbinding, while her gradual and unfolding gaze onto the psyche of her young star, Eve, is watching a true master at work. There are way too many memorable scenes and lines from All About Eve that even the longest, chicest dinner party would not facilitate the witty banter. The lines from 1950 still sound fresh and full of purpose – even if first uttered in 1950. Some things hold up. We call it a classic.

Unfortunately, just as in the movie, the younger star wanted things her own way. Rather then accept the Supporting Lead Actress, Ms. Baxter pushed the studio for Lead Actress, which she shared with Ms. Davis. In the end, both lost to Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday. Later, Ms. Baxter would confess she had made a big mistake. For me, however, Bette Davis was the biggest loser as All About Eve was a comeback of sorts. Davis worked endlessly, helping to re-shape the dialogue and re-arrange the wardrobe, both of which won Oscars. Indeed Davis definitely deserved to win an Oscar for Margo Channing, it is a performance young actors should study. In the end, All About Eve won six (6) Oscars including Best Director, Best Picture and Best Writing (Screenplay).

Now when we have all heard about or have seen Mo’Nique’s stellar performance in Precious, let’s not forget there is a first time actress, Gabourey Sidibe, who morphs into Precious and allowed Mo’Nique to have a performance to shine in.

And, YES, Bette Davis is my Best Actress forever!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Miranda Priestly - I'm In Paris

Having been in the city of lights for two weeks now, I finally pulled out "The Devil Wears Prada." Unfortunately, my fabulous and very large Parisian apartment did not come with a large flat screen to match. My only alternative was to plop it into the MAC PRO and let it go. And I did!

Seeing Andy's rise to the top of the bottom was quite amusing. I reflected over being in fashion for roughly 27 seconds and got over it very quickly when I looked beyond the screen out my window and saw Paris! Unlike Andy, the only thing I'll be tossing into the fountain is a coin for bon chance, that somehow I might maintain this chic simple life when I get back to America.

No holding out for a cube of cheese for me Emily! Paris is so wonderful, you'll want to walk everywhere and lose 5 pounds in a few days just as I did. Now, all of my skinny jeans are falling off just like those American boys I left behind (NO PUN INTENDED). This under the buns pants phenom is here is Paris. PHEW & YUCK!!!

I was looking forward to Paris Fashion Week and maybe trying to attend a show, but now that Alexander McQueen is dead, it is just another reason to shed a tear in fashion memorial and keep it moving.

So I say it back to you Ms. Priestly, "THAT'S ALL!"

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Seeing Avatar In Paris

Today I saw James Cameron's 15 years in the making mega Hollywood blockbuster saga Avatar in Paris, in French, in 3-D at 17:15 with a near capacity audience from age 5 to age 75.

Just as I struggle with my knowledge of French and often have to say, "How do I say," mais oui, it's a great cinematic triumph forging the technological art of filmmaking; however the story is as old as D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation.

By now most have seen Avatar, I'll just sum it up. Greedy American businessmen in the year 2154 go to another planet (Polyphemus) and steal it's natural resources -- again. A big altercation takes place and Jake saves the day -- again. Of course there is a love story between Jake and the prettiest bravest Na'vi female. Polyphemus is inhabitant by the Na'vi.

Avatar is a complete visual feast. The story is completely conventional and that would be its chief deficiency. Are you engaged in the story or the visual effects creating the story? Or both? Or neither?

I'd rather watch 80s throwback Flashdance - what a feeling!