Feb 8, 2020

Silent Movie Muscle

Saw Modern Times (1936), with Charlie Chaplin.  It was ok, a lot of slapstick, very episodic, heteronormative plotline.  But at the beginning, during the factory sequence, there's an extended scene featuring a shirtless muscle guy.  Shirtless + muscle is very rare in the 1930s.

He turns out to be Sammy Stein (1905-1966), a pro football player and wrestler who had small roles in 56 movies from the 1930s through the 1950s, usually as "Gangster #1" or "Henchman."  If you wanted a guy to appear shirtless in your movie, you called Sammy Stein.

Feb 4, 2020

The Drew Carey Show

When I was living in New York, my favorite tv program was The Drew Carey Show (1995-2004).  I'm still not sure why.

Not because of the beefcake: Diedrich Bader (left) rarely disrobed on screen, and the other male characters were not particularly attractive.

It starred dumpy, nerd-eyeglassed comedian Drew Carey as a human resources drone at the Winfred-Louder Department Store in Cleveland.

His work life is bedeviled by a series of horrible bosses and his worst enemy, the over-made up, abrasive Mimi (Kathy Kinney).

At home, he has three friends: Kate (Christa Miller), with whom he has the obligatory "will they or won't they?" quasi-romance; and slackers Oswald and Lewis (Ryan Styles, Diedrich Bader).

Heterosexism was everywhere:

1. One of the theme songs, "Five O'Clock World," was about how all of the little miseries of the workday get better when the man goes home to his wife.

2. Drew was supremely attractive to women.  His show, his rules.

3. Oswald and Lewis had been living together for 20 years, yet no one ever treated them as a couple. In one episode Mom showed up and tried to fix them up with women, explaining, "I don't want you to be alone,"  Um...they weren't alone.

4. Drew's brother Steve (John Carroll Lynch) was probably the only heterosexual crossdresser on tv at the time.  But when he arrives for a date with Mimi in drag, she is upset: a date is a boy-girl activity, and she's the girl, so he should dress as a boy, right?

Hey, Mimi, gay people go on dates, too!

When the romance with Mimi blossoms, the drag is summarily abandoned, and never mentioned again.

5. Gay characters appeared only in the standard 1990s sitcom plotlines:

Oswald dates a guy for two weeks without realizing it (come on, two weeks without any physical attention?)

Drew is mistaken for gay.

The guys pretend to be gay to get some of the wonderful "privileges" that gay people enjoy.

So why did I like The Drew Carey Show so much?

Maybe because I was homesick for West Hollywood, and Drew Carey was all about finding a home.

Or because it was set in Cleveland, one of my favorite cities.

Maybe it was Mimi and Drew's pleasantly weird sparring enemy-ship.

Or the cool musical numbers.  Here a duel between the "old drag" of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and the "new drag" of Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

Or maybe it because of the beefcake after all.

See also: Frasier. A Beefcake Tour of Cleveland.

Haka: The Maori Dance of Posturing and Muscle

Haka means "dance" in the Maori language, and kapa haka a line dance, performed at all types of public events.

We are most familiar with the war haka, the traditional dance performed before a battle, in which you try to intimidate your enemy by posturing, yelling, stamping your feet, gesturing,  making wild faces.

Today it is performed across New Zealand, by people of all racial groups, typically before a sports contest.  This group is from Hamilton Boys' High School.

Rotorua Boys' High School.

.St. Brigid's School in Dunedin has boy and girls performing.

The New Zealand National Rugby Team, the All-Blacks (a reference to the color of the uniforms, not the race of the players), perform a haka before each game, using a routine borrowed from the Ngati-Toa tribe.

The publicity has made haka popular beyond New Zealand.  Here it is at the Churchill School in Zimbabwe.

And at Eastern Oregon University.

But be careful: you can't do the All-Blacks' routine without permission from the Ngati-Toa Tribe.  The University of Hawaii's legal department made the football team come up with original haka moves.

Feb 3, 2020

"The Stranger" (2020): One Naked Butt is Not Enough

"When a stranger makes a shocking claim about his wife, family man Adam Price becomes entangled in a mystery as he desperately searches for answers."

First, I hate the phrase "family man."  Why is it that reproducing makes a man noble, laudable, beyond reproach?  All he did was have sex.

Second, what difference does it make that it's a stranger?  Why is someone automatically sinister, just because you haven't met them?

Third, the title is The Stranger.  That's  been done to death: it's the title of 4 novels, about 20 films, a dozen tv series, and some songs and video games.  Granted, the original novel is also entitled The Stranger, but what does author Harlan Coben know? I never heard of him (the New York Times claims that he has written "dozens" of bestsellers).

I'm ready to resume my Netflix search, but Bob points out that one of the stars is the dreamy Jacob Dudman of The A-List (top photo).  Besides, we've finished the new seasons of Bojack Horseman, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Lost in Space, The Good Place, Dear White People, and Big Mouth, and we're running low on things to watch.

So, ok.

Scene 1: some teenagers conniving around a bonfire, savage like the Lost Boys in Peter Pan.

  Naked Boy (Kai Gunnarson) runs in terror through an alpaca farm.  Chest and butt shots. Wow!

Ok, you've got my attention.

Scene 2: Earlier that day, we see Adam the Perfect (Richard Armitage, left) living a Perfect with a capital P heterosexual fantasy life, throwing his job, house, wife, and kids in my face.

Job: lawyer.

Wife: Corinne the Good Wife (Dervla Kirwan), who works at a feminine-coded job as a teacher.

Kids: Tom the Horndog (Jacob Dudman) and Ryan (Mischa Handley), both wild about girls, cars, and football (soccer), everything sons are supposed to be, everything I wasn't as a kid, which caused my parents lots of grief.  I'm gritting my teeth.

In the midst of all this Perfection, the Stranger (Hannah John-Kamen) approaches Adam the Perfect and tells him that Corinne the Good Wife faked her 2017 pregnancy and miscarriage so they would stay together.  He does some research, and discovers that Corinne paid for a service that specializes in fake pregnancies.

Scene 3: Meanwhile, Tom the Horndog tries to talk his girlfriend into sex.  They are interrupted by their friend Comic Relief Mike (Brandon Fellows, seen here with his costar, Allie the Alpaca), who brings them to the bonfire.

Scene 4: I think I see some boys dancing together.  I know that Comic Relief Mike and Tom the Horndog hugged. Maybe Tom is bi?

Scene 5: The morning after the bonfire and the Stranger, Detective Griffin (Siobhan Finneran) discusses giving her husband the boot with her friend Heidi (Jennifer Saunders of the gay cult classic Absolutely Fabulous)

She then meets her partner, Ross (Kadiff Kirwan,left) to investigate the case of a decapitated alpaca in the town square, which leads them to an alpaca farm.

Sorry, I can't take my eyes off Kadiff's bulge.  His boyfriend's not bad, either.

Scene 6: Adam the Perfect comes in from jogging (of course he jogs) to find Comic Mike in his bathrobe, eating pancakes.  Nice hairy chest.  Did he, like, sleep with Tom the Horndog? last night?  Maybe Tom is bi?

Adam the Perfect visits his client, a retired cop who doesn't want to sell his house to an evil corporate redeveloper.  What does this have to do with anything, except to demonstrate that Adam is Practically Perfect in Every Way?

Scene 7:  Detectives Griffin and Ross find Naked Boy in the woods, still alive. Nice butt.

Scene 8: Corinne the Good Wife gets back from her conference.  Adam the Perfect confronts her about the fake pregnancy.  She refuses to explain.

Scene 9: Naked Boy is still unconscious, in the hospital.

Scene 10: Detective Griffin and Heidi the Absolutely Fabulous meet for coffee. What does this have to do with anything?

Scene 11: Corinne the Good Wife still refuses to explain.  But, ominously, she says "We all have secrets, Adam the Perfect.  Even you."

Scene 12: The detectives discover that Naked Boy is Dante Gunnarson (cool combination of Italian and Icelandic).  He's still unresponsive.  Plus the alpaca was bitten by a human (not Dante).  So the boy stumbled across an  Equus thing?  Who is the alpaca-biter?

Scene 13:  Big School Award Night, with all the parents there.  Miscellaneous parents talk about how "something happened last night."  Corinne the Good Wife gets the Good Teacher award, but she is AWOL.   Later she sends Adam the Perfect text: "We need some time apart.  Don't try to contact me." Gulp -- foul play?

Scene 14:  Tom the Horndog looks in his closet.  There's the alpaca head!  He seems to be upset, but not as upset as he would be if it was a surprise.  He must be the Equus alpaca-killer!

Scene 15:  Heidi the Absolutely Fabulous locks up her shop and leaves...to encounter the Stranger.

Well, maybe she just wanted to do some late-night shopping.

My verdict:  There might be some gay characters.  Not enough cute guys -- one bare butt isn't enough.  I had to scroll way down to find Joey Ansah (right), who I think plays the evil corporate shill trying to take over the old guy's house in an irrelevant subplot.

Unless old guy turns out to be the alpaca-biter.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...