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.