Dec 30, 2019

SWAT: The Son of the Incredible Hulk as a Meh Cop

I never watch cop shows.  After working at the L.A. Police Academy and as a juvenile probation officer, I know that they get procedures all wrong. Plus they exacerbate the belief that the crime rate is very high in the U.S. (when it's at the lowest level in over 20 years), leading to all sorts of expensive, unnecessary policies. like arresting kids for bringing toy soldiers to school and sentencing someone to 20 years in prison for having a marijuana joint in their car.

But when I discovered that Lou Ferrigno Jr., the son of 1970s Incredible Hulk superstar Lou Ferrigno and my "son" Infinite Chazz's hookup, was starring in SWAT (2017-), I watched an episode.

SWAT stands for Special Units and Tactics, the police using military-style weapons and techniques to make arrests.  They became popular during the Tough on Crime Movmenet of the 1980s, when the federal government offered grants for precincts that made a lot of drug busts, so tanks would roll into (black) neighborhoods and officers would swarm into random houses in search of marijuana.

This SWAT team, based in L.A. and led by by-the-books former marine Hondo Harrison (Shemar Moore, top photo) and lone-wolf-plays-by-his-own-rules Street (Alex Russell, left) , has slightly more dangerous foes:

1. Inmates who escaped from a transport, including "psychopath" El Cuchillo (they get psychopaths wrong, too.  Most psychopaths are not violent).

2. An auto-theft ring led by a paranoid psychopath (again?).

3. A hostage situation at a maximum-security prison.

4. A  human trafficking ring.

5. Diamond robbers who are connected to the Israeli mafia.

There are also personal entanglements: dating, romance, affairs, betrayals, and so on.

Lou appears in about half of the episodes as Donovan Rocker, a training instructor.  In Season 2, Mumford (Peter Onorati) retires, and Rocker takes over the team.

I watched the only episode where he's actually listed in the plot synopsis, "Ghosts" (this show loves one-word titles.  Attention span of the intended audience?).  There are three plotlines:

Main Plot: Luca (Kenny Johnson) and his boyfriend Street (above) are at a street festival (a gay pride festival?)  when he sees the Vanity Killer, a "psycho" who played Saw-type games with "pretty people," then was exploded to death two years ago.  The boss insists that he is  just seeing "ghosts," so he investigates himself.

Yawn.  They get serial killers wrong, too, acting like they are the most common type of criminal, responsible for 90% of all murders.  Actually, thrill-type serial killers are very rare, responsible for only about 1% of murders.

I guess Luca and Street are not a gay couple after all.  Luca has kind of a thing going on with Keri, a previous victim who he rescued (on this show, it's always last names for men, first names for women and prettyboys.  That's not sexist at all, right?).




Turns out that the "sicko" faked his own death so he could continue his games.  He has grabbed two new victims, including prettyboy Lance (Paul Black, left).  SWAT storms the house.

Well, that is what you're watching a show called SWAT for, right?

Secondary Plot: Spivey (Louis Fereira), who was fired in the first episode after he shot an unarmed black teenager, is depressed, "bowling alone in Long Beach."  So we should feel sorry for him?  So team captain Hondo, (see above), who has apparently been mentoring the boy, arranges a meeting.  Restorative justice in action!

Third Plot: Jessica (Stephanie Stigman) tries to find out who put the threatening letter in her desk and vandalized her car.  Turn's out it was Rocker's wife, Val.  He was complaining about Cortez's proposal (I don't know why), and she decided to get revenge.

He apologizes, she gets the charges reduced to harassment, the end.

Whoa, he's married to a psycho, and it's resolved in 30 seconds?  Bummer.

Heterosexism:  Not a lot.  Some guys have wives and girlfriends, but no kissing and no sex.

Beefcake:  None.  Hondo is shirtless in the opening credits.  What's the point of all these hunks if they're not going to be stripping down?

Other Scenery:  The street fair, for about 20 seconds.

Gay Characters:  Nothing specified. Lance might be gay.  A lot of buddy-bonding.

My grade: Meh.

See also: The Sons of the Incredible Hulk

Dec 28, 2019

Who is the Killer Hunk of "The Dare"?

Ok, you've got my attention.  Let's see what you look like without the weird mask.

Unfortunately, IMDB says that this is a photo of: Giles Alderson, Johnny Grant, and Robert Maaser.  I doubt that.

The movie is The Dare, which was scheduled to appear in December 2019, but I find no evidence of any premiere, and no reviews.  Internet searches are stymied by the similarity with the hororr movie Truth or Dare and the indie gay romance Dare.

All I have is a plot synopsis:  A rare family night for Jay takes a brutal twist when he awakens in a basement with three other prisoners. As their vengeful captor runs riot, Jay engages in a twisted battle to solve the puzzle to his past and save his family's future.

So a mash-up of the Saw movies and I Know What You Did Last Summer.


I thought the killer must be the character named Creedence, but he's played by  Richard Brake.

So the four people in the room?  They each have adult and child versions.











1. Jay: Bart Edwards as an adult, Oliver Cunliffe as a boy.















2.Dominic: Robert Maaser as an adult, Harry Jarvis as a teen.  Buffed, but not "scary buffed," with bulging, spidery veins











3. Adam: Richard Short as an adult, Alexander Biehn as a child.

Richard Short has a nude scene in Vinyl (2016).  Impressive, but not the hunkoid.













4.  Paul: Daniel Schutzman as an adult, George Pillsworth as a child.  Nope.

5. That leaves Giles Alderson, the director, and Johnny Grant, the writer.

So who's the muscle hunk?

I'm guessing Robert Maaser, filmed right after a workout when your muscles swell up,   maybe with some CGI enhancements to make him look more threatening.

You know what that means?

The killer is in the house!

Dec 27, 2019

The Three Unwatchable Scenes of "Cats"

On Christmas Day I went to see Cats, the 2019 movie based on stage musical based on some poems by T.S. Eliot.  We were the only ones in the theater.

The previous movie version was awful.  No plot.  Some cats introduce themselves, and one is chosen to ascend to the Heaviside Layer and be reborn.

The new version is awful, too, but not nearly as bad. 





Granted, the cat costumes are grotesque; it takes awhile before you can look at them without shuddering. But what do you expect from human-cat hybrids?

There are only three scenes tthat are actually unwatchable; the others mostly suffer from poor direction that is always focusing on something other than what we want to be looking at.

 And the plot plods along. But at least there’s a plot.

In 1920s London, the Jellicles are a religious cult of housecats and strays who say "Jellicle" about as often as Grindr conversations say "cock."    They meet once a year, when the Jellicle Moon is full, for a Jellicle Ball, where the head Jellicle, Old Deuteronomy, will choose one to ascend to the Heaviside Layer and be reborn.  Cue Logan’s Run: “Renew!  Renew!  Renew!”

Victoria {Francesca Hayward] happens to be abandoned by her humans on the Jellicle Night of the Jellicle Moon of the Jellicle Ball, so she becomes the focus character,invited to wander around and watch the Jellicle Rehearsals: cats  singing and dancing about why they should be chosen:

Unwatchable Scene #1: Jennyanydots (Rebel Wilson) does a horrible risque dance and then displays her trained mice and cockroaches.

Bustopher Jones (James Corden) is fat and elitist.

Mungojerrie (Danny Collins) and his female partner Rumpleteaser are  petty thieves.

Rum Tum Tugger (Jason Derulo,left) is a "curious cat", curious meaning "strange.": he always wants the opposite of what you offer him.

I forget the others; there are a lot.  Victoria views all this under the watchful eye of Munkustrap (Robbie Fairchild, left), who seems to be the cult leader, and Mr. Mistofelees (Laurie Davidson, second photo), a "magical cat" who has a crush on her.

Problem: Macavity (Idris Elba, top photo), the master-criminal, who runs the prostitution and illegal drug trade in the city, and dresses like a stereotypical pimp, wants to be chosen (why?  he's already got a lot of power).  But he loses every year.  So this year he's using his dark magic to kidnap the contestants and tie them up on a barge in the middle of the Thames.  If he's the only contestant, he has to win, right?

They know that the chosen one is going to die, right?

Old Deutoronomy (Judi Dench) rejects him anyway, so he kidnaps her and threatens her. The Jellicles have to discover their inner strength and work together to save her.  They all happily sing and dance and nuzzle.  The end.

Nope.  Out in the shadows stands Grizabella (Jennifer Hudson), a former singing star who became one of Macavity’s prostitutes, ostracized by the Jellicles (rather a judgmental lot).  But Victoria takes pity on her, and invites her to meet Old Deutoronomy.

Unwatchable scene #2: She sings “Memory,” formerly my favorite song from the musical, as a screeching, agonizing bad complaint about how bad her life is.  The “new day” that has begun is not a ray of hope, it is a nightmare.

Surprise, Old Deutoronomy chooses Grizabella to be reborn.  Wait – this “fallen woman” who mopes about, complaining about how awful her life is now, best embodies the Jellicle spirit?

Ok, so she flies up in a chandelier-balloon (to her death!).  The end now?

Nope.  Unwatchable Scene #3: Old Deutoronmy breaks the  fourth wall and instructs us on how to address a cat (“O Cat!”).  We walked out of the theater.

Heterosexism:  None.  Old Deutoromy and Gus the Theater Cat gaze lustfully at each other, and Victoria has a subdued flirtation with Mr. Mefistoffiles – but no fade out kiss.  Cats don’t kiss, they nuzzle.

Gay Characters: Bustopher Jones gets a boyfriend, shown feeding each other in a brief scene.

Beefcake:  Sometimes the physique is visible under the cat costumes.

I  give it a C- C if you keep your eyes closed during the scene with the dancing cockroaches.  All in all, not a bad way to spend Christmas afternoon.  And there were a lot of cute guys at the theate (waiting to see something else).

Dec 25, 2019

The Lord of the Rings: Good Beyond Hope

It's one of the iconic stories of my life, told over and over again until it becomes myth.

How, in fifth grade, I stumbled across a copy of The Hobbit in the folklore section of the Denkmann School library, and read for the first time: "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit."

I spent the next two days immersed in a new world, Middle Earth,with hobbits, elves, dwarves, goblins, magic swords, giant spiders, a dragon, a gollum,  and a beautiful, evocative map.

And no damsels-in-distress to gum up the works; Middle Earth was occupied entirely by men.

How, two years later, in seventh grade, the Scholastic Book Club offered The Two Towers, blatantly advertised as the "sequel" to The Hobbit.  I ordered it, waited patiently, and when it arrived, rushed home and began to read eagerly.  Aragorn, Boromir, Frodo..who were these people? This was not a sequel at all; it was the second book in a trilogy.  I had been swindled!

How I snuck a ride to the Readmore Book World downtown and bought the rest of the trilogy, and read...well, most of the Fellowship of the Ring.  The Shire scenes, with gay couples Frodo and Sam, Merry and Pippin wending through the Old Forest, fighting off Dark Riders and Barrow-Wights, meeting Tom Bombadil, reaching Rivendell, setting off with a fellowship of nine, including gay couple Legolas and Gimli.  Around the time they reach the Mines of Moria, it bogged down, and I started to skim.

The Two Towers was mostly unreadable, sheer boredom.  I skimmed through everything except for Merry and Pippin among the Ents.

The Return of the King, more of the same, with Frodo and Sam, especially Frodo, suffering for no reason, as if Tolkien delighted in torturing his heroes.  I skimmed through everything until the end, when they return to the Shire to discover that it has been broken up by the Industrial Revolution.

I couldn't bring myself to admit it for many years, but The Lord of the Rings is not a great novel, or even a good novel.  30% of it is torture porn (let's see what other horrible things can happen to Frodo!), and 60% is repetitive, ponderous, and dull.  Everyone has twelve names, everyone's sword has twelve names, and they're always stopping the action to sing.

And talk about anachronisms:  The Shire is 18th century England; one expects to hear the bothersome War of Independence being fought in the Colonies. But outside the Shire, it's the early-Medieval world of the Anglo-Saxon thanes.

Yet still I thought of it as the greatest book ever written.  I pressed it into the hands of my friends as if it were a religious tract.  I revered it as sacred writ.  I began working on my own fantasy world in imitation, with my own elves and dwarves, magic sword, and fabulous maps.

It seems like a paradox.

But the Lord of the Rings wasn't for reading.  It was for gazing at the covers.  The artist, Barbara Remington, had not read or even seen the book before drawing the covers, so she drew from magic and myth.

My favorite was The Two Towers, with its stylized sharp mountains, red sky, and dark flying riders.

It was about reading the cover blurbs, with quotes from Loren Eisley, W. H. Auden, and C.S. Lewis (none of whom I had heard of yet): "Here are beauties which pierce like swords or burn like cold iron; here is a book that will break your heart....good beyond hope."

That line is better than anything in the book itself.



It was about gazing at the maps, and marveling at all of the mysterious places. I particularly liked the edges, the places not mentioned in the books: Rhun, Far Harad, the Ice Bay of Forochel, and Carn Dum ("here was of old the witch-realm of Angmar").

It was about reading the appendixes, with the languages, the indexes, the genealogical charts, and the timelines, with the discussions of what happened to the characters after the War of the Rings ended.

And it was about discovering the fates of the gay couples:

Merry and Pippin lived together for the rest of their lives

Legolas and Gimli crossed to the Elf paradise together

Frodo crossed over alone, while Sam pursued a heteronormative life of marriage and children.  But at the end of his life, he, too crossed over.

Was there ever a book so filled with gay romances?

That's what, in the end, rendered The Lord of the Rings "good beyond hope."

See also: The Lord of the Rings

Dec 23, 2019

Who the Heck is Kumail Nanjiani, and Is He Gay?

"Kumail Nanjiana is now ripped as hell, and he is refreshingly honest about it!" my twitter feed exclaims.

Three questions:
1. Who the heck is Kumail Nanjiani?
2. Why is having a nice physique such a big deal?
3. Is he gay, posing with his boyfriend?



1. Who the heck is Kumail Nanjiani?

The twitter link goes to Comicsands, which I can't stand because there are two lines of text per page, hidden amid endless popups and slow-loading videos that scroll down with you.  So I checked wikipedia, just in case this obscure bodybuilder had his own page.

One of the 100 most influential people in the world, according to Time magazine!  Why have I never heard of him?

He was born in  Pakistan in 1978, but didn't show up on screen until a Saturday Night Live episode in 2008.  He had a recurring role on the buddy-lawyer series Franklin and Bash (2011-2014), and after that a lot of guest spots and voice roles: Prismo on Adventure Time, Skip Marouch on Bob's Burgers.

Nothing particularly influential so far.

Kumail's only significant role seems to be in The Big Sick (2017), which he also wrote with his then-wife Emily Gordon.  It's a slightly fictionalized memoir about their romance. dealing with cultural differences and Emily's life-threatening illness.  In the end, she recovers, and they break up.

It sounds awful.  Who wants to watch a movie about a life-threatening illness?  But, depressing or not, it was nominated for an Oscar for best screenplay, and pushed Kumail up into the ranks of the 100 most influential people in the world.

I'm pretty sure I could name 100 actors more influential than the star of one depressing movie, but ok, next question.


2. Why is having a nice physique such a big deal?

Apparently he was rather chunky just a few years ago.  Hitting the gym for the first time when you're over 40 is rather daunting, and Kumail deserves praise for sticking with it long enough to see results.













3. Is he gay, and posing with his boyfriend?

An article in Entertainment Weekly called Emily Gordon Kumail's "former wife," implying that they are divorced or she has died.  But Wikipedia just says that they've been married since 2007.  Which to believe?

He appeared in an episode of the Game of Thrones parody Gay of Thrones, but he doesn't play a gay character: one of the Queer Eye guys gives him a haircut.  That's entertaiment?

Also, Kumail and Emily are currently producing Little America, about the lives of immigrants.  Episode #8 features Rafiq (Haaz Sleiman), a gay refugee from Syria.

I'm going to go with "straight."

A straight guy who starred in a depressing movie and has a nice physique.  Big deal.

By the way, the other guy in the photo is Barry Keoghan, Kumail's costar in the upcoming superhero movie The Eternals.  

This is obviously a photo from a gay romance.  I wonder if he's gay in real life.

Google, here I come.

Dec 22, 2019

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky

Teen Tristan Strong's father and grandfather were famous boxers who want him to follow the family tradition -- he has the physique for it --but he would really rather do nerd things with his best friend Edward.  They make up stories, which Edward records in a journal.

You've got my attention.  

When Edward dies,Tristan is so distraught that he starts to hallucinate, seeing a green light glowing from the journal.  No one else can see it. His parents send him to Grandpa's farm in Alabama, hoping that a change of scenery will help.

Definite gay subtext!  I'm listening.

On his first night on the farm, a strange doll-like being, the Gum Baby, appears in his room and steals the journal.  Tristan pursues her to a Bottle Tree, and accidentally punches one of the bottles, opening up a hole in the sky.  They fall through into a scalding-hot ocean, pursued by ships made of human bones.  They are rescued by Ayanna, a girl-warrior...

Uh-oh.  The Girl!  I'll just skip ahead to the last chapter to see if they fall in lo--ooo---ove.  

All clear.  Tristan is talking to the Gum Baby and someone named High John (High John the Conquerer Root from African-American voodoo?)

Ayana is piloting a boatload of survivors from a disaster of some sort, including humans and talking animals. Like Brer Fox....

What the heck is going on? 

Tristan is trapped in the Midpass, a world populated by figures from African-American folklore. Such as the old trickster god Brer Rabbit.  And John Henry, the super-muscular 19th century railroader with the powerful...um...hammer.  

His story actually involves convict leasing (African-American men were arrested for the crime of being black and put to work on railroads and in coal mines, basically slavery by another name).

Whoa, heavy.  African-American folklore was born in adversity.  

When Tristan meets John Henry, he has to stop himself from asking to touch  his..um hammer.  

Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.  Is this kid canonically gay?

That would be telling.  It's a nonstop race, with things trying to kill or eat them every moment, to the Warren, a temporary haven against the darkness that threatens to encroach all of the land.  There a council consisting of Brer Rabbit, John Henry, and a lesbian couple from the folktale "The People Could Fly" discuss the Book (which has been lost) and discover that Tristan is...guess what...the Chosen One.  

Tristan has to be the Chosen One, or else he couldn't participate in the adventure. The adults would just say "Wait here where it's safe."

He has to travel to the other side of the world to convince Anansi the Spider to come out of hiding and repair the hole in the sky. But there are complications.  

Of course.  Otherwise be lousy story.

When he meets High John the Conqueror, the ultimate Power, Tristan finds him him obnoxious, irreverent, and arrogant.

Whoa.  Now I know Tristan is canonically gay!  I'll check out the author, Kwami Mbalia.

Ok, but that's another story: he's  "a husband, father, writer, New York Times bestselling author, and pharmaceutical metrologist, in that order."  He grew up in the Midwest, graduated from Howard University, and now lives in North Carolina. This is his debut novel.

Nothing jumps out at me saying "I'm going to make the protagonist of my young adult novel gay."  But you never know....


"Birdy": A Gay Film?

One of my readers is very insistent that I watch Birdy, the 1984 film starring Nicolas Cage and Matthew Modine as Vietnam War-era buddies: "Obvious gay subtext!  Barely hidden gay romance!"

Two questions: "Is there a gay subtext?"  and "If so, is it deliberate?"

Gay subtext: Two male characters who bond with each other in the absence of women, have a domestic relationship, and end up together at the end.

1. The plot: in working-class Philadelphia, Al (Cage) befriends Birdy (Modine), a weird kid who wants to become a bird and thinks he can fly.  Obviously he's trying to escape a traumatic childhood.  They grow up, go to Vietnam, and are both injured and sent home. Birdy refuses to speak, and is sent to a psychiatric hospital.  Al visits and complains that he's faking it; Birdy responds by jumping out a window, as if he can fly.  He doesn't die, however; he ends up on the roof.

2. The desire to fly, to escape, certainly resonates with gay people, especially in the 1980s, but Birdy is so completely broken that one can't imagine him in a consensual relationship with anyone.

3.  Meanwhile Al kisses every girl in sight, two in the trailer alone.

4. In the 1980s and 1990s there were a number of movies about guys befriending broken, unstable, sick, or crazy people.  The sheer custodial nature of the friendship detracts from the equality one expects in a gay subtext.

5. The director, Alan Parker (not to be confused with the porn star), also directed Angela's Ashes, The Road to Wellville, Midnight Express, Evita, and some Madonna videos.  He wrote Melody (about two 12-year olds who want to get married).

6. In the novel by William Wharton, Birdy really thinks that he's a bird.  He falls in love with a female bird (wet dreams but no actual sex)and has a brood with her. 

7. The 1996 stage version is explicitly homoerotic.

8. In the films of the 1980s everyday dialogue was littered with homophobic epithets. It was simply the way that screenwriters assuaged audience's fear that male characters might be gay: "he said 'fag,' he's straight, it's ok to watch."  But Birdy seems to lack homophobic epithets.

9. Matthew Modine starred in Streamers (1983), about prejudice among Vietnam soldiers, including a gay one and And the Band Played On (1993), about homophobic response to the AIDS crisis.

10. Nicolas Cage happarently starred in some movies with homophobic content, but in the 1980s, what actor didn't?

My verdict:
Is there a gay subtext?  Sure.
Was it deliberate?  Doubtful.




Dec 20, 2019

"Holiday in the Wild": Rob Lowe and Son

All Christmas rom-coms have the same plot:

Girl Looking for Love:  Hi, I'm visiting your small town.  But I have a career in the big city, and therefore am not interested in romance.

Hot Guy: No problem.  I'm afraid of commitment, so I'm not interested in romance, either.

Girl Looking for Love:  You're arrogant!  Definitely not boyfriend material!

Hot Guy:  You're annoying!  I'm glad I'm not interested in romance.  But do you want to have a falling-in-love montage?

Girl Looking for Love:  Sure

Hot Guy:  Please drop your career and stay here in the small town with me.

Girl Looking for Love:  What a wonderful Christmas present!

The latest Netflix iteration --does its title really matter? -- stars Kristin Davis as a Big City socialite whose husband (Colin Moss) dumps her just before their second honeymoon, so she goes on the trip herself -- to Zambia (yuch!  one of the most homophobic countries on Earth).

Obviously there would be no gay characters, but I figured there would be some African beefcake  and maybe some nice location shots, so it wouldn't hurt to go through it on fast forward.

First scene:  New York is awful, crowded yet lonely,  Kristin is bored as one of the Ladies Who Lunch.  Especially now that her son, John Owen Lowe, has gone off to college.

The dumping comes, and:

Second scene:  She's in Zambia, in a fancy hotel bar full of white people.  The only black people are the bartenders and waiters.  A racist colonial fantasy.

One would expect Kristin to fall in love with a black guy -- only 40,000 of Zambia's 17 million residents are white -- but no, she meets Rob Lowe, a hot but arrogant pilot who happens to be her safari guide.

Third scene: They fly out into the wild, rescue a baby elephant, and take it to an elephant sanctuary run by Fezile Mpela.  Kristin helps out (she used to be a veterinarian), and likes it so much that she sticks around  -- and does the cooking?

A lot more scenes of saving elephants.  Broken up only by John Owen being miserable at college (too crowded and lonely).  He drops by at Christmastime (ergo the Holiday Connection) to tell Kristin that he's planning to drop out to become a musician.  She suggests that changing his major from Big Business to music woud solve all of his problems (not crowded, not lonely).

Complications:  I couldn't really see any during the fast forward, except for Rob being arrogant and Kristin being annoying.  Everyone at the elephant sanctuary is remarkably friendly, a big happy family (not crowded, not lonely)

Last Scene:  Kristin returns to the Big City and starts a veterinary practice.  But she's just handling the pampered pets of Ladies Who Lunch, and there are elephants to be saved (and elephant conservationists to cook for).  So she goes back to Africa and kisses Rob Lowe.

Gay Characters:  Maybe John Owen.  He never mentions girls.  In the "off to college" scene, a girl with a suitcase hugs Kristin and says "Thanks for letting me drive him."  At first I thought she was a sister, but the family photos show only one child.  If she's a girlfriend, why would she have a suitcase?

By the way, John Owen Lowe is the real-life son of Rob Lowe.  What was it like growing up with the gay poster boy of the 1980s?

Beefcake:  Rob Lowe takes off his shirt in one brief scene.  Been there, done that.  Fezile Mpela has a respectable physique, but we never see it.

Other Interesting Sights:  None. It's all interiors and the wild.  We don't even get an establishing shot of the Freedom Statue in Lusaka.

My Grade:  Not even worth a fast-forward.  F.

There's a Rob Lowe hookup story on Tales of West Hollywood.


60 Movies I Will Never See (Or Saw and Regretted)

There are 6 basic emotions, 1 positive (happiness), 3 negative (sadness, anger, and disgust), and 2 which could be either (surprise, fear)  The function of a movie, book, song, or other work of art is to elicit positive emotions, to make the audience feel better after viewing than they did before.

So I don't understand movies that deliberately elicit sadness, anger, or disgust.  Why would anyone want to watch something that makes you feel bad?  Don't you get enough bad feelings in real life?

Here are 60 movies that I will never see, or that I saw and regretted.

No dying of long, slow, debilitating diseases.  With scenes of yelling at doctors, reconciling with estranged relatives, sobbing, sobbing, sobbing, and holding hands on death beds.

1. Terms of Endearment (1983). Shirley Maclain's daugher dies of cancer.

2. Beaches (1988).  No one surfing or swimming, just Bette Midler singing and crying.

3. Steel Magnolias (1989).  Women face tragedy in the South.

4. My Girl (1991).  Boy falls in love with a dying girl.

5. Lorenzo's Oil (1992).  Family tries to cure their dying son.

6. Stepmom (1998). Hugging and dying.

7. Here on Earth (2000).  Boy's girlfriend dies.

8. Bridge to Terabithia (2007). With Josh Hutcherson (top, recent photo). They fool you into thinking it's a fantasy movie, like Harry Potter.  It's actually about a boy befriending a dying girl.

9. Moulin Rouge (2008).  Fortunately, I walked out because it was so awful long before the deathbed scene.

10. The Fault in Our Stars (2014).  A support group for people dying of cancer.




Especially no dying-of-AIDS.  Yelling at doctors, reconciling with estranged relatives, sobbing, sobbing, and so on, but with homophobia.  Lovely way to spend an evening.

11. An Early Frost (1985).  Guy dies of AIDS.

12. Parting Glances (1986).  Guy dies of AIDS.

13. Longtime Companion (1989). Guy dies of AIDS.

14. Philadelphia (1993).  I was forced to watch this, but kept my nose in a book the whole time.  Guy faces discrimination because he's dying of AIDS.

15. And the Band Played On (1993). The government refuses to acknowledge that people are dying of AIDS.

16. The Cure (1995).  Guy dies of AIDS.

17. It's My Party (1996, left).  AIDS and suicide!  Fun!



No Holocaust as entertainment.  Um... 6,000,000 people died. How can that be turned into two hours of fun?

18.  Sophie's Choice (1982).  She has to choose which of her kids to kill, and later gets a couple of boyfriends.

19. Schindler's List (1993). He helps some people escape from the Holocaust.

20. Life is Beautiful (1997).  Set in a concentration camp. Are they kidding?

21. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2009).  More concentration camp hijinks.






No main characters dying, period. Who had th bright idea of killing off the protagonists in car accidents, gunshots to the head, or zombie bites?  Why would I want to get invested in a character, only to have them die?

22. Easy Rider (1969).  I saw this, not realizing that everybody dies, and the movie is ruined.

23. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969),  What's the point of a homoerotic buddy "comedy" if they're just going to die at the end?

24. Thelma and Louis (1991).  I watched this, too.  No one told me that they go over a cliff.

25. Titanic (1997). I was conned into seeing the musical.  Hint: they all drown.

26. The Perfect Storm (2000).  They all drown.

27. Children of Men (2006). Everybody is dying.

28. Pan's Labyrinth (2006).  Girl is dying.

29. Into the Wild (2007).  He starves to death!

30. 28 Weeks Later (2007).  Zombie movies are supposed to have survivors!

31. Burn After Reading This (2008).  I went into this thinking it was a comedy, and walked out when Brad Pitt's comic relief character suddenly was shot to death.

32. Apollo 18 (2011).  Dying astronauts.


No inmates on death row.  You know they're going to die from the beginning.  Why bother to watch?
 33. The Executioner's Song (1982).
34. Dead Man Walking (1995)
35. The Green Mile (1999)

No war.  War is one of the biggest tragedies of life, not a source of entertainment!  If the movie is about humorous hijinks far from the combat zone, ok.  But angst-ridden, somber music, people dying of bullet holes -- no way!  I don't care if the whole platoon struts around naked.
36. Platoon (1986)
37. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
38. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
39. We Were Soldiers (2002)






No ends of the world.  Nuclear holocaust, giant meteor, whatever.  Even worse than the main characters dying, the end of everybody and everything, the most depressing thing imaginable.

40. Dr. Strangelove (1965). Why would you yell "yahoo" while plummeting to your death on the back of a nuclear bomb? I actually saw this, under the impression that it was a "comedy."  It's not.

41. Miracle Mile (1988).  I actually saw this without realizing that the world ends until it was too late, and I was trapped there with a date.

42. 2012 (2009).  A new flood kills everybody on Earth, except for two hetero couples.

43. Cabin in the Woods (2012). I thought it would be a standard horror movie, with survivors at the end, not "the old gods awaken and start the Apocalypse," and everybody dies.

44. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012).  A "comedy" about a man and a woman (of course) falling in love just before an asteroid kills everybody on Earth.

45. This is the End (2013).  I actually watched this.  Everybody dies,but some of them go to heaven.





No LGBT people dealing with homophobia.  Getting yelled at, rejected, beat up, experiencing angst, and dying.

46. Get Real (1998).  I saw this, thinking it would be ok because no one dies.  Horrible!

47. Boys Don't Cry (1999). Transman is killed.

48. The Laramie Project (2002).  A movie about a real-life horrific hate crime!  Just the thing to brighten your day.

49. Brokeback Mountain (2005). Bisexual cowboys facing homophobia and dying.  No way!




No horrifying handicaps.  I don't care if they overcome adversity and find love, having a handicap is by definition bad, so no movie about it can be good.

50.  The Miracle Worker (1962). I got grossed out by the passage in the book where the child Helen Keller doesn't eat at the table, she just goes from plate to plate and grabs whatever she wants.

51. Johnny Got His Gun (1971).  A blind, deaf, and dumb quadriplegic?

52. Tommy (1975).  A blind, deaf, and dumb boy, plus homophobia.  I turned off the DVD and zapped it back to Netflix.

53. The Elephant Man (1980).

54. Mask (1985).  I don't know what it's about, but it sounds gross.

55. My Left Foot (1989). This one sounded even more gross.

56. The Sessions (2012).  A man living in an iron lung decides to have sex.  Gross.








No movies where the plot summary itself makes me nauseous.

57. Harold and Maude (1971).  I saw this one.  Sickening romance between a teenage boy and an 80-year old lady.  No, I don't think it's at all hypocritical that I'm 55 years old and dating twinks. Plus she commits suicide because she loves life so much.  Huh?

58. Pink Flamingos (1972).  Seen it.  According to John Waters, they offered Divine a substitute, but no, she wanted to really eat the dog poop.

59. Funny Games (1997).  A family is terrorized and killed by a pair of psychos.  Uplifting!

60. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008).  He ages backwards!  Can you think of anything more disgusting?  I couldn't even sit through the trailers.

See also: 10 Gay Movies  I Hated.

Dec 19, 2019

Filipino Barbarians and their Teen Sidekicks

The Philippines has a huge comic book industry, dating all the way back to the 1920s.  Most are in Tagalog, with some English and Spanish loan words thrown in; a few in the other major languages, such as Ilokano.  If you can't read Tagalog, you can usually figure out what's going on anyway, by looking at the pictures: a lot of beefcake, Filipino man-mountains saving the world.

1. Conan-style barbarian heroes who battle weird monsters, such as Tartaro and Malcan (by contemporary comic artist Arman T. Francisco, who runs a Filipino Komix blog).






2. Semi-nude Tarzan-style jungle heroes, often with teen sidekicks in tow (or else kids themselves), such as  Lawin, a boy raised by eagles, or  "Haring Wupong" (King Cobra), by Francisco V. Coching




 Boy Shabu, a boxer with magical powers written by Vic J. Poblete, appeared in Aliwan comics.
















Many comics offer a pleasantly zany mix of history and myth. In this"Aram" comic by Joe Lad Santos, an ancient Greek hero and his teen sidekick use the sword Excalibur to explore the Bermuda Triangle.













The 18th century European adventurer Prince Amante, by Mario Del Mar, became so popular in the 1950s that it was adapted into the first full color feature film in the Philippines, Prinsipe Amante (1950), starring Ben Rubio.
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