Aug 8, 2020

I Finally Watch "Anime e Sangue"

The Italian fantasy Anime e  Sangue  has been sitting in my watchlist on Amazon Prime for weeks. I have popped in to a few episodes, but have not made any sense of what's going on. But I'm determined to figure it out.

Scene 1:  Five years ago.  Khan, who doesn't look Asian, is lying dead on the floor of an industrial space.  Elderly Azazel (the name of an angel)  tells him that he didn't die in vain.  Then he is attacked by a lot of men with guns and black ski masks marked with GDR (The German Democratic Republic?).  A younger guy appears like a ghost and kills them all.   Their spirits, green trails of light, enter Azazel.

Cyrano and his other allies arrive, a little too late.  Azazel points out that the death of Khan is emotionally devastating, and asks if they want to continue.  They all agree to prss on: "let's go home."

Scene 2: Now.   Neverland.  A teenage Peer  Pan, dressed in the lefa-and-vine costume of the 2003 movie (top photo), has just been shot by the pirates, and is dying. A young man (Marco Maccieri, left)  appears and offers to save his life, in exchange for a favor. He wants to put Peter's spirit into a sword, take it to another world, and put it in a new body to do an unspecified chore.  Peter agrees.

Scene 3:  Milan, night.  A woman is being attacked.  Suddenly the sword appears; she picks it up, and Peter's spirit enters her body, allowing her to fight off her assailant.

So Peter's spirit has taken over her body?  Do they share consciousness, or what?

Peter is not happy about being in a girl's body.  One of the gang, who appears to have a Spartan's soul inhabiting his body, gives him the "come with me if you want to live" speech.

So all of the gang is from other worlds, inhabiting the bodies of innocent bystanders?  That's kidnapping...or, um, something.

Scene 4:  Ladies' restroom. Girl-Peter cuts her hair to look more like boy-Peter while Sparta-Soul ogles the ladies coming and going.  He gets tired of waiting and checks.  Peter has vanished.

Huh? But he wasn't threatening, he was going to help...why leave?

Scene 5:  Crowded street of Milan, daytime.  Peter wanders around, drawing attention to herself with her weird 19th century courtier costume.  Aren't the family and friends of the host body going to get worried? 

Spartan-Soul cuts her off in a car and orders "jump in."  Peter complies. Wouldn't you?  Maybe Spartan-Soul will provide breakfast.

Scene 6:  Cyrano from Scene 1 rides his motorcycle down a country road to what looks like a deserted school.  He brings groceries to his femme boyfriend, who complains that there aren't any forks, so how are they supposed to eat? Oh.  How gauche!

They are hiding from the Guardians.  Interstellar police trying to track down body-snatchers?  

A gang of baddies shows up.   The head Evil Guy, an innocent bystander inhabited by Orlando Furioso, tortures Cyrano by reading from the play Cyrano de Bergerac.  Remember your old life?  Now surrender, and face the wrath of the Creators.

Creators and Guardians and GDR...the mind reels.

While they fight with swords and magic bursts of light, Spartan-Soul and Peter arrive and join in.    They dispatch the baddies.

Peter seems rather hot for Cyrano, but it's probably a not gay subtext, just a heteronormative "you're attracted to the opposite sex of the body you're in."  Girl body, likes boys.

Scene 7:  Cyrano is not happy about the life-saving assitance.  "Why are you here?"  he yells at Spartan-Soul, who explains that Sariel sent him to round up the gang for a new mission.

Wait -- I thought Azazel was in charge. Who the heck is Sariel?

Cyrano wants to refuse the new mission, but Boyfriend -- the Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz -- convinces him to try.

Scene 8:  They arrive at Spatan-Soul's rundown house. Scarecrow complains about the decor (you're about to fly right out of here, aren't you?)

The young man who bought Peter to this world appears.  I guess he's Sariel.  Time for a plot dump.

Sariel needs the Shaper, a magic sword that can "manipulate realities" to send them all home.  But Orlando and his Guardians will "stop at nothing" to keep them from getting it.

I don't trust this guy at all. "Go get me the sword of infinite power, and then I promise I'll send you home."  Scarecrow should remember that the Wizard of Oz used the same scam with Dorothy.

Cyrano doesn't trust him, either. "Five years ago we failed because of you, you jerk!"

Sariel scoffs. "I'm one of the Supreme Ones, so you'll just have to do what I say.  And now I have to leave without explaining anything.  Oh, and make sure the boy will not be a problem."

Ok, I guess girl-Peter has a male gender identity, so he/him pronouns.

Scene 9:  Peter and Scarecrow bond over beer.  Peter suggests changing his name to Oz, much cooler.

Scene 10:  Peter has a vision or has been transported to the tower where the Magic Sword is chained up.  Sariel says "Stay strong, my boy, for all of us."  Peter flashes back to Scene 1, then wakes up in bed.    The end.

Beefcake: None.

Other Sights: No.

Gay Characters: Since Cyrano is all about courting Roxane in the play, I'm surprised that he has a boyfriend. Oz is obviously gay coded.  I'm interested in seeing whether Peter with a male gender identity and a female body gets a boyfriend.

Plot Complexity: Guardians, Supreme Ones, Creators, the Shaper, and the German Democratic Republic.

Will I Keep Watching:  Sure. But only until Peter kisses someone.

For all the beefcake photos I could find, see Desperately Seeking Anime e Sangue

Aug 7, 2020

Gay Teens in Deep Space: Arthur C. Clarke

When I was a kid in the 1960s, juvenile science fiction was great, all about boys falling in love as they fled from the tripods or zapped through the solar system.  But then I became a teenager and started reading science fiction for grown ups, which was -- and still is -- heterosexist, mostly about men and women falling in love:

A. E. Van Vogt, Two Hundred Million A.D. (1943): L Onee was waiting. Together they closed and sealed the door. Together, they went up out of the darkness into the light.

Raymond Jones, Man of Two Worlds (1951): "I want to marry you] more than anything else in the world,” Elta said. She drew close and laid her head against his shoulder.

Michael Moorcock, The Wrecks of Time (1966): She winked at him. He grinned and winked back. They walked into the house.

John Brunner, Interstellar Empire (1976): She came down the steps to Ordovic, and put her arm around his waist, smiling.

R. M. Meluch, Wind Dancers (1981): “ Shall we go to bed together, get drunk, or start a fight in a bar?"  Roxanne hooked his arms. "One of those.‟”

But then at a garage sale in the mid-1970s, I stumbled upon two books about muscular boys bonding as they explored the Indian Ocean.  By Arthur C. Clarke, whom I knew as the inspiration for the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Surely his science fiction would not be obsessed with feminine smiles.

So I began reading.  And kept reading.

The Sands of Mars (1951), A Fall of Moondust (1961), Imperial Earth (1975): no heterosexual romance.

Against the Fall of Night (1948): Alvin is a teenager living in the distant future city of Diaspar.  He becomes the first person to leave the city in countless milennia, explores the savage world outside, and buddy-bonds with a boy named Theoron.  At the end he decides to take a spaceship and explore the stars, and Theoron goes with him.

When Clarke revised the novel into The City and the Stars (1956), he gave Alvin a girlfriend in Diaspar, like the Hardy Boys have girlfriends in regular time, but she is completely forgotten once he begins the adventure.

Childhood's End (1953): Galactic overlords land on Earth and transform all of the children into a new, advanced species, another entry into the "threatening gay kid" genre.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968): a homoromantic idyll with two astronauts, Dave and Francis (played by Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood in the movie) jetting out toward Jupiter in the Discovery One, until the computer Hal gets jealous.

Arthur C. Clarke was well known in the science fiction community as gay, although he never came out publicly (when asked by a reporter, he always gave a coy response like "Why? What have you heard?").

In 1956 he moved to Sri Lanka, which being gay was legal  (Britain didn't decriminalize homosexuality until 1957).  He stayed there until his death in 2008.

Aug 4, 2020

"The Job Guys": :A Gay Couple Works as Hired Thugs, Maybe

Job Guys, on Amazon Prime, is a 15-minute, 12-episode short series about a gay couple working as hired thugs.  At least, that's the impression I got in the first three episodes.

I don't know how the couple,  muscle stud Dominick (Kevin Caliber) and chubby bear Herman (Brandon Fisher), got into the business of beating up people, when they would really rather be entering their souffles in baking contests: Episode 1 starts in media res, with them beating up the wrong guy.  They mis-read the name.

They need a secretary!

On the way to the interview, Janet (Leesa Durst, who looks like the lady from 30 Rock but isn't) knocks out a slezoid who is hitting on her.  She's  a little surprised at the duo's cheap apartment and feminine mannerisms ("Would you like to join us for dinner?  We're going to this little French spot down on Third.  Their escargot is divine.").  But she takes the job.  At least a gay couple won't be hitting on her!

Darn, we just see Herman shirtless, not muscle stud Dominick.

Episode 2: We discover that Dominick is a former fitness model. .  He did the cover of a novel which may be gay porn ("I didn't know there were so many words for dick."), and a shirtless ad for Six Flags (which got him and his boyfriend free season passes).

Dominick yells at Herman for spending their entire advertising budget on the secretary ad in Beat Sheet, a free porn magazine, which is why they have been getting weird applicants.  Wait -- Herman seems to be flirting with a female applicant in a flashback.  Is he just fooling around, or....

Episode 3:  The guys are getting ready for work, in separate bedrooms.  Wait -- they don't sleep together?  I thought they were a couple. They certainly grab and hug a lot.

Dominick's room is full of pop star posters.  Into pop music -- obviously gay.  Wait -- did he just kiss his fingers and then use them to "transfer" the kiss to a lady pop star's boobs?  

They have two jobs today. same client.: clean up a garage before the police arrive, and babysit a kidnapping victim.  But the client turns out to be a teenage girl, who wants them to do her chores. And they don't even get a good Yelp review, because they burned down the garage instead of cleaning it.

We're not seening enough of Dominick's physique.  Or any of it, except on that book cover.  

And I don't think these guys are a couple.  Or even gay.  Next!

Aug 3, 2020

"Get Even": Riverdale Light

Didn't we just see a Mexican tv series about  students in a posh high school being blackmailed by a baddie who knows all their secrets?  Get Even seems to be a clone, except now the secret-revealers are the good guys.  Or rather, as the first line states, "I don't know if we're victims or villains."

Scene 1: Girl rides her bike through a quaint English village to a huge Gothic high school with its own flag.  At a start-of-school assembly, we are introduced to the main players:
Narrator (Asian) had a lot to prove
Olivia (white, blond hair) wanted her secrets to stay secret
Margot (black) wanted to survive
Bree (white, black hair) wanted the world to think it couldn't hurt her

Two rugby players, Rex and Romy, introduce a video praising the beloved Coach Creed (Jack Dergas, top photo).  But suddenly a new video plays, of the Coach humiliating his players: "You disgust me!  You're pathetic!  Pathetic!  Pathetic!"  And they can't turn it off!

The abusive coach has been revealed, courtesy, of DGM (Don't Get Mad).  The students all cheer.  That was fun.  I had several abusive teachers and coaches in school that I'd like to see get their comeuppance.

Scene 2:  On the roof, the DGM girls discuss their latest victory: another nogoodnik bites the dust.  They go their separate ways: they're not friends. They don't hang out.  The come together only for vengeance.

Scene 3: At soccer practice, Narrator listens to the girls speculate about who DGM is.  They assume a single guy, like Zorro.  There's also a party tonight, "the party of the year," even though it's only the first day of the term.

Meanwhile, Margot (the one who wants to survive) talks to fellow outsider Ed (Dylan Brady, left, playing a gay character on Coronation Street).  She has to pick an extracurricular.  He suggests Debate Club, but she's not into people or talking.

Scene 4: Bree (the one who wants the world to think it can't hurt her) listens at the door as the Coach is suspended.  Next, the Headmaster asks why she's skipping class. Her father's hefty contributions don't excuse her from everything; she has to at least show up, or she will be expelled.

Outside, Bree and fellow slacker John discuss how lame school is.

Scene 5:  In a mansion, Olivia (the one with secrets) and her friend are putting on makeup, flirting ("You're the most beautiful girl I've ever seen!), and discussing their boyfriends, Rex from Scene 1 and Donte, who have been acting weird.

Ok, we have the girls'  personalities, and we've met their boyfriends, except for one who has a secret girlfriend. Let's get on with the story.

Scene 6: Whoops, one girl left.  In an awful rowhouse, Narrator is looking at her wall-full of trophies and awards, and her overbrimming calendar of activities.  The girl is busy!  She talks to her family (Dad, Mom, Sister). They give her permission to take a break from her 15 extra-credit projects, 18 extracurriculars, and memorizing the biographies of 300 college admission committee members to make a brief appearance at the party.

Narrator arrives at the party.  Kids dancing, drinking, taking selfies, playing foosball. Seems rather tame -- this ain't Riverdale!  She nods or waves to all the characters introduced so far, and zeroes in on Mika, the hostess. They discuss romantic prospects. Ronny from Scene 1 wants to hang out with Mika, but she gets nervous around boys, so Narrator promises to stay with her.

Bree and fellow slacker John gape at hot hunk Logan (Kit Clarke), "a solid 8 out of 10."  I'm not sure, but I think they both like him.

Scene 7: Margot is in her room, playing six video games at once on her row of computers and eavesdropping on party guests.

Back at the party, they're now in the indoor pool (no beefcake) discussing whether John and Bree are DGM.  Donte, the boyfriend of Olivia (the one with secrets, like being a lesbian) is not into a party (too fake), so he and Narrator decide to get takeaway (food to go) and call it a night.  Olivia sees them leave together.  Drama!

Time for something BIG to happen.  A sexual assault?  A drug overdose?  A masked killer?

Scene 8:  Bree and fellow slacker John head home.  If they turn out to be a couple, I'll be mad.

She goes in the house with a "bye!"  He gazes longingly.  In love, stuck in the friend zone, got it.  No gay guys here, just a secret lesbian.

Scene 9: Morning.  Narrator arrives at school to see everyone checking their smartphones and gossipping furiously. Ronny stole a sexy photo of Mika (last night's hostess) from her phone and posted it on the internet for everyone to laugh at.  Mika blames Narrator for leaving her alone, even though she gets nervous around boys.

Ok, DGM powers, activate!

Scene 10: Soccer  practice.  Narrator doesn't make team captain. She's upset -- how will she ever get into Oxford?

At the horrible rowhouse, the family eagerly awaits the news: Did you make team captain, or have you destroyed all of our lives forever?  Of course she lies and says she made it.  Sister, who is negotiating her own "Get an A-, and we will disown you!" nightmare, seems suspicious.

Narrator goes to her room and tears down her wall-full of appointments for the week.  It's all useless now!

Scene 11:  Taking a momentary break from feeling sorry for herself, Narrator sends out the bat-signal to the rest of the DGM squad.  They drop what they are doing and rush to headquarters.

They usually wait six weeks between capers, but Mika's photo is too important. Time to destroy Ronny!  They link hands and recite their superfriends pledge: "We don't get mad -- we get even!"  The end.

Huh?  I was expecting a murder.

Beefcake: None.  There are some hot guys in the cast.

Other Sights:  The school looks like a medieval castle.

Gay Characters: Olivia is obviously a lesbian.  Some same-sex couples,both male and female,visible at the party.

Heterosexism:  Not even a kiss. It's rather interesting to see girls who are "shy around boys," when across the pond in Riverdale, girls the same age spend half their time having sex and the other half performing pole dancing.

Plot:  Ham-handed character development. Too much teen angst, not enough gettng revenge.  There should have been at least three revenge plotlines in the first episode, to whet the audience interest.  Then spread out the girls' backstories instead of just dumping it all at once.

Will I Keep Watching: Probably.  I want to know what other revenge schemes the Super Friends come up with. Maybe they'll chain Ronny naked in the hot tub. Oh, wait -- they already did that on Riverdale.

Aug 2, 2020

Desperatetly Seeking "Anima e Sangue"

Anima e Sangue (Spirit and Blood), an Italian tv series on Amazon Prime, is impossible to research because searches are clogged with  references to another Anima e Sangre, apparently a movie about the Italian painter Caravaggio,

So all I know a brief plot  description on Amazon: "Peter Pan, the Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz, Cyrano de Bergerac, and other characters are trrapped in our world.  The mysterious Sariel offers to send them home, but first they must find the Shaper."

The Shaper, the Great and Powerful?

I also have a list of characters.  Not one of them has a photo on IMDB.  Maybe there are some beefcake shots elsewhere?

1. Peter Pan (Perla Ambrossini) has been changed into a girl.  IMDB won't tell me who played him as a boy.

2.  Oz (Paolo Grossi),.  Google Images doesn't believe that any actor named Paulo Grossi exists, but it does offer 3,000 images of a judge named Paulo Grossi, 87 years old the president of the Constitutional Court and the author of many books, including The Medieval Judicial System.

It also gives me Paolo Ciavaro as a substitute.  You'd probably prefer a picture of him.

3. Cyrano de Bergerac (Marco Maccieri).  Lots of photos of him.  Remember, though, Cyrano was the ugly one.

4. Orlando (Daniele Locci), from the Renaissance epic Orlando Furioso.  Did he really play a Thai dancer?

5-6.  Two Spartans (Federico Rubino, left, Mattia Stancanelli, top).  At least they had some beefcake photos on their Facebook pages.

7. Pan (Spirito) must be the Greek god.  Played by Enea Barozzi. who starred in The New Pope.

8. Jack (Ludovico D'Agostino).  Maybe Jack from the Beanstalk?  He seems to be one of these actors from I Tre Precessi di Oscar Wilde (The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde), which may be a ballet.

The premise sounds interesting, but after all this mostly fruitless research, I think I'll just stick to the beefcake photos.

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