May 1, 2021

"Luis Miguel": TV Series about the Latin Singing Sensation Doesn't Skimp on the Gay Subtexts

 


I naturally assumed that the tv series Luis Miguel was about a fictional Latin American singer, until a brief glance at Wikipedia revealed that he is real.  His songs have sold 60,000,000 copies. One album sold 320,000 copies the day of its release.  He has won multiple Emmies.  He sings at sold-out concerts at vast arenas.  And he's still alive, about 60 years old: this is an authorized biopic.

Trying to determine if he is gay, I searched on "gay" and "homosexualidad," and came up with only "Luis Miguel's songs play during a gay pride parade" and "Luis Miguel comes out" (but that was an April Fool's story).  So I'm concluding heterosexual.  But he has two brothers, Alex and Sergio. Maybe one of them is gay?  Or a friend from the past?

I watched Episode 6: "Luis goes to military school to learn discipline," hoping to see some military school hunks.


Scene 1:
Holy cow, a hot naked guy for the first two minutes, rear nudity and bulges in speedos!  Sometime around 1990, Luis Miguel, here called Mickey (Diego Bonita, top photo and left),  awakens in bed with a woman and walks through his house, which is littered with sleeping people and trashed from heavy partying.  

Phone call on an old-fashioned 1990s model.  His brother Alex is in Italy, looking for their mother,who vanished years ago.  He has a lead: the whereabouts of Ridono, Mom's last known boyfriend.   

Scene 2:  In a room plastered with record albums, an angry man is yelling at Hugo (Cesar Bordon): "Did you think I would just go away?  I have proof that Micky was driving the car when it crashed into the sea!  My daughter could have died!"  Hugo agrees to a settlement, but he has to fly to Argentina for a few days.  After that?  No deal!  

Scene 3: Holy cow, more hot semi-naked Mickey, sunbathing with a girl.  You'd think someone that rich could afford a shirt.  He goes into the house.  His agent tells him about the permits and permissions he needs to film his new music video at the Military College: if he wants to set foot on a plane or a tank, he has to go through basic training.

Micky: Let's do it.

Agent: But afterwards you film the music video, then immediately start on a world tour.  If you are injured and have to cancel, we'll lose millions.  There's a lot at stake.  But Micky isn't listening; he's kissing his girl.

Scene 4:  Hugo and his staff discuss what to do about Luis, Micky's Dad, who was embezzling from the company.  Micky will get mad, but they have to do something.  They suggest an internal audit.

Scene 5:  12-year old Mickey surrounded by letters and gifts from fans.  He's exhausted from shooting a movie all day and doing concerts all night.  A younger Hugo thinks he needs a break, and goes to ask his Dad, Luis (Oscar Jaenada) 

"No way!  When I was young, I was performing twice as much!  He has the rest of his life to take it easy!  Now it's time to work!"

Hugo: "He just needs a week off!  He's 12."

Luis: "You're not his manager, or his uncle, or his friend.  You're nobody!" Apparently Hugo becomes his manager later.

Scene 6:  12-year old Mickey in a hospital bed during a scene in the movie.  Luis gives him direction: "Scream, bang things. Be loud!"  But when the filming begin, Mickey just stares into space. The actress playing his nurse doesn't know what to do.  Cut!

Scene 7:  The studio doctor, Doc (Gabriel Nuncio), tells Luis that Micky is exhausted, and needs some time off.  Cancel the show tonight. "No!  We already sold the tickets!  Give him some ephedrine!" (Whoa, the precursor drug to meth).  Doc resists: giving dangerous drugs to a child is...then Luis pulls out his checkbook.


Scene 8:
Back to 1990 Micky in the office, double-taking at girls while Rene the Financial Manager try to get him to focus.  The "Aztec Top Gun" music video will be very expensive, but he doesn't care; it will be cool.

Cut to the Military College, where the gruff Commander tries to get Mickey to focus: "This isn't a game! The Military College isn't an amusement park. Tanks are not toys!"  He calls for a cadet named Tello (Jorge Antonio Guerrero, who doesn't appear nude here, but gives us a full frontal in Roma):  "Do everything he says.  One hint of insubordination, and goodbye to your music video." 

As they walk through the campus, Micky asks Tello if the nurses on the base are good in bed.  Oy vey, does he ever think of anything else?  The taciturn cadet merely says: "Training starts tomorrow at 6 am.  Be here."

Scene 9:  A giant office building.  Luis and his buddy discussing Cantinflas.  Suddenly some suits from WEA Corporate Offices arrive to investigate allegations of embezzlement.  Luis and his buddy are screwed!  They have to stop this investigation right now!   Call Rene! (Rene is the whistle-blower, you saps.)

Scene 10:  Micky dozing on the way to the Military College.  Doc, from Scene 7, apparently now his assistant, awakens him and helps him inside.   He double-takes at boys, too.  Maybe Micky is bi?  

Montage of Micky trying to run, do pushups and jumping jacks, and failing badly.  For a guy with a hot body, he's completely out of shape!  The guys buddy bond over discussions of their family.  Tello  sees his Mom only once a year, because she lives far away and he doesn't get much time off.  Awww.  Micky notes that he hasn't seen his own Mom for a long time.

Scene 11: A seamstress shop in Italy, 1982.  Marcela comes in and tells Micky's Mom that they have more costume orders.  But no more sewing tonight.  It's her birthday, and they're celebrating at the Los Angeles Club.  

Meanwhile, Luis and his buddy are discussing the rumors that his wife, ...is making costumes for a kid's band.  Gee, that's not what I expected.  The Doctor comes out and notes that the ephedrine is ready.

Meanwhile, a very frazzled-looking 12-year old Micky is doing homework.  His Mom comes in and wants to know why he's still up.  She storms into Luis's bedroom to demand to know why he's working Micky to death.  Luis: "If you care so much, why don't you give up that other job to take care of him?"


Scene 12:
Mexico City, 1990. Luis tells Micky about the internal investigation.  They're screwed.  "I wanted you to find out from me," Luis says, "Not from rumors or Hugo."  

Mickey: "I'm not with Hugo, anymore, so..." SAY WHAT????  Were Micky and Hugo dating?

Luis:  "I heard that you two were arguing."

Mickey: "More heated than that.  It got hot."

Luis: "Hot enough for him to hurt you?"  Mickey doesn't answer.  Domestic abuse!

Scene 13: At the Military College, the Doctor does double-takes at the hot guys running while waiting for Mickey.  Cut to Mickey and Tallo discussing his performance in the pool.  Tallo asks "Being so famous, do you ever go out?"  Planning to ask him for a date?  Mickey: "Sure I go out.  Why not tonight?  Dinner, whatever, and the Doc will bring you home."  

Tallo hesitates -- roll call is at 7:00 am.  But they stare into each other's eyes with obvious sexual tension.  "Ok, let's do it.  Just give me five minutes to throw on something nice."

Scene 14: Tallo is expecting a restaurant, but instead Micky brings him home (shouldn't you eat before the sex?).  They stand close enough to kiss and gaze into each other's eyes, but no kiss.  Instead Micky points downstairs, where a gigantic celebrity-filled party is going on "In your honor!"  Tallo accepted the date like twenty minutes ago.  How did Micky have time to arrange all this?

They mingle, get drunk, dance, hug guys, take turns kissing a girl.  

Scene 15: The 12-year old Micky on the movie set, singing "Mom, we can't take back yesterday."   Suddenly he collapses.  

Cut to Mom and Luis discussing his collapse.  There were drugs in his system!  Luis: "I can't take care of him by myself.  If only you didn't have that other job..." Snarky, manipulative bastard!

Scene 16:  Back in 1990, Tallo wakes up in his underwear in the bathroom, and rushes out into the detritus of the party.  It's late in the morning, he missed roll call, and he can't find the Doctor to take him home!


Scene 17:
Italy.  Auntie drives Micky's brother Alex (Juanpa Zurita) to Ridone's house, where his Mom is supposed to be. The lady who answers the door says that Ridone was her husband, and dumped her for...another woman!  "No, I don't know her name."

Scene 17: The Military College, with the Doctor doing double-takes at the hunks.  Since Micky completed the training, the General will allow him to film there.  

"Where is Tello?" Micky wants to know. 

 "He was suspended yesterday for missing roll call. He also missed the big exam, so he'll be out the whole year."

Micky catches up with Tello just as he's leaving, bag in hand.  Tello: Growl, growl. Micky: I'm rich and famous.  I can make things happen.  Let me help. Tello: No way, dude.  It's over.  I imagine Micky loses a lot of boyfriends that way.

Scene 18: Mickey complaining to his agent: "I'm rich and famous, I offer to fix it, and he still refuses!  What's up with that?"  Agent: "Well, you betrayed his trust by keeping him up all night. And what about Hugo?  You betrayed him even after he cancelled a trip to Argentina to stand by you."  

Scene 19:  Back in 1982, Micky's Mom at the costume shop in Italy, saying that she has to quit due to Luis's emotional blackmail.    

Scene 20:  1990 Mickey pulls some strings and gets Tello's suspension lifted.

Scene 21: Tello brings his bags back into the dorm.  Micky has left an autographed album for his mother, , and a note, "To Tello, with love."  Awww

Scene 22: Luis and his dad having dinner with a third guy.  Third Guy asks who Micky will be staying with while Luis is away.  Hugo?  This upsets Micky, and Luis yells at him.  

Phone call from Alex in Italy: "Dude, Ridone died three years ago. And his last girlfriend wasn't Mom.  They lied to us!"  The end.

Beefcake: Just Micky...sigh...but he's plenty.

Other sights: Some establishing shots.

Gay Characters: I'm sure that Micky is canonically bisexual, which seems odd if the real Luis Miguel isn't.  

Will I Continue Watching: Heck, yes.

"Dad, Stop Embarrassing Me": Embarrassing, Insulting, and Downright Nuts.

 Looking again for an old-fashioned sitcom with interior sets, ongoing characters, and stand-alone episodes, I stumbled across Dad, Stop Embarrassing Me! on Netflix.  The premise is standard Odd Couple: after years of separation, liberal Sasha moves in with her conservative Dad Brian (played by Jamie Foxx).  The kicker is that Jamie Foxx also plays a lot of other characters. 

I had the impression that Jamie Foxx was homophobic from his work on In Living Color years ago,  but apparently he's mellowed with age.  He supported the rapper Frank Ocean's coming out, and in 2013 he appeared in a video to help raise awareness of homeless queer youth.  

To check out Dad, Stop Embarrassing Me, I chose the episode entitled #NipplesorNuts, for obvious reasons.  I'll take the nuts, please!  

The description: "When he sees Brodie with  other girls, Brian takes matters into his own hands."  The sentence only makes sense if Brian or Brodie is a girl.  But Brian uses he/his pronouns, and why would he be upset if a girl hangs out with other girls?  Probably just an inept writer, but it could suggest gay potential.

Scene 1: Elegant kitchen.  Brian comes in to find his "favorite sister" Chelsea drinking wine.  He has some ideas about her lip gloss brand, and asks her to come work as marketing director for the family cosmetics company.  She refuses.  Whoa, way feminine coded!  But that doesn't make Brian a girl.

Chelsea teases him about his poor hairstyle choices in high school, but he counters that Ice Cube liked it. Whoa, he wanted Ice Cube to find him attractive!  


A white cop named J. (Jonathan Kite) enters, tries to hug Chelsea, declares his undying love for her, and so on, while she humorously rejects him.  This must be the Urkel character (whom, as you recall, Laura rejected for many seasons, until she finally fell in love with him).   

Scene 2:  The game room.  J. and Brian sit while Brian's gardener, Manny (Valente Rodriguez), and his father, Pops (David Allen Grier), play pool.

J. checks his cell phone tracker and discovers that (his daughter?) Zia is at Whole Foods, on the other side of town!  But Brian's daughter Sasha said they were going to the movies.  They check her tracker: she's not with Zia at all, she's at Dave and Buster's (a chain restaurant)!  She lied!

Scene 3: All four head out to Dave and Buster's, and see Sasha with a boy, Brodie (Elijah M. Cooper)!  Brian has a absurdly crazy over-reaction.  A teenage boy dating my teenage daughter!  Sick!  That little pervert is gonna see Jesus!   The guys talk him out of it: if you forbid them from seeing each other, she'll only want to more.

When Sasha goes off to get slushies, Brodie talks to some other girls.  Brian is aghast.  A pervert, and a player, sexing every girl in town!  OMG, he was just innocently talking to some girls!  But now I get what the writer left out in the plot the description: When Brian sees Brodie, who is dating his daughter, with some other girls..."  

Brian wants to kidnap and kill him (he's literally making a plan). Pops wants to torture him.  But J suggest just scaring him off.


Scene 4:
At Brodie's house for the creepy confrontation between three adult men (Brian, Pops, and J) and a little boy.

Brian: "We saw you at the restaurant.  Why don't you cut the charade and be who you really are?"  Wait -- is he advising Brodie to stop pretending to be straight and come out as gay?

Brodie apparently doesn't think so: "You want me to shoot straight, player to player, pimp to pimp?"  

Brian: "So it was all a charade?  What about that guy in line at the convention?"  Was Brodie flirting with a guy in the last episode?  Does Brian think that Brodie is gay, and using Sasha as a beard?  

Brodie: "That's all an act to impress the honeys."  So he pretends to be gay to get girls?  I'm lost.

Pops goes off, and returns with some cables and a car battery to torture him with.  "It's your choice, Brodie.  Nipples or nuts?"   He's really going to attach electrodes to the testicles of a 13-year old boy!

"If you don't choose nipples, you're nuts," J. advises.  Brodie rushes into the house, presumably to call the police.  Oh, wait -- J. is the police.

Scene 5:  Home. Sasha comes in with some eye shadow that Brian needs for research.  She mentions "girl stuff," and Brian gets all nervous: "You want....want...to talk about girl stuff....no?  Thank God!"  Wait - he's comfortable enough with "girl stuff" to run a cosmetics company, but not to discuss his daughter's problems?

J. comes in with news: Brodie is ghosting Sasha!  Apparently threatening to fry his testicles worked!  They congratulate each other by chanting "Nipples or nuts!" just as Brian's sister Chelsea and another women enter.  They are disgusted. 

A discussion of whether Chelsea will accept Brian's offer of the marketing director job. She says no.

Scene 6:  Sasha, Chelsea, and another girl on the porch drinking Diet Coke (product placement!).   "I thought Brodie and me were really vibing, but now he's ghosting me."  Chelsea: Men are pigs.  

Pop comes in and says "Chelsea, you're going to need a new car battery."  This makes Sasha  suspicious.  Why, has he attached electrodes to the testicles of other boys she liked?

Scene 7:  Later, only Chelsea and the other woman, drinking wine (I'd think that Chelsea was gay, except she keeps mentioning her many ex-husbands.  At her age, she must have had one per year).  Brian comes in and announces that he has been stalking Brodie, and took a photo of him with another girl, to help Sasha get over her heartbreak.  That won't help at all, you idiot! 

Scene 8:  Brian watching the game.  The other woman comes in -- we finally get her name, Stacey.  I assume that she wants to discuss his terrible parenting, but no, she wants the marketing director job.  Sure, since Chelsea doesn't want it, why not?  He agrees.  They hug.  Sexual tension.  Sam and Diane, yawn.

Scene 9: Brian and J watching the same game or another game on a big tv and discussing high school. Brian: "You didn't get no girls." J: "What do you call the girl I took to the prom." Brian: A hostage.  Who writes this stuff?

Sasha has seen the video of Brian threatening Brodie (I assume the police have it, too?).  She rushes downstairs, outraged.  They both break the fourth wall and address the audience: "I can lie my way out of this!" "He ain't getting off that  easy!  Dad, do you have any idea how embarrassing this is for me?"  Not to mention traumatizing for a little boy?


Sasha: I'm a teenage girl.  I'm going to talk to boys.

Brian: And I'm going to whup they ass!

This is beyond over-protective.  This is child abuse. 

Chelsea comes in and announces that she's taking the marketing director job.   Not a problem: just tell her, "Sorry, you turned it down twice, so I gave it to Stacey." But Brian finds this a mega-problem.

Pops comes in and announces that Manny owes him money from the pool game. "I will find him and kill him."  The end.

Beefcake: No.

Gay Characters:  Guess not. They just use gay coming-out terminology to discuss being a player.

Illegal Acts:  About 15.

Horrible People: 3.

My Grade: F.

Apr 29, 2021

"Paradise City": Come for the Tattoos, Stay for the Hyperbole

 Paradise City: "A highly controversial rock band with ties to the occult returns from a hiatus to find that the lead singer has a haunting secret arriving on his doorstep."  Other than the overuse of adjectives, this doesn't sound bad.  I like paranormal adventures.  And it's set in West Hollywood, a well-known gay mecca, so there's bound to be some gay representation.


Scene 1:
West Hollywood, but Sunset Boulevard.  Whoops, once you get above the hill to Sunset you hit the aggressively straight, homophobic neighborhood.  But we'll see.   

The Relentless, a rock group, is on the street, being hounded by reporters and female groupies: "Sign my tits!  Sign my stomach!"  Lily yells at the "Hollywood cockroaches," but Leo (Ben Bruce, left) is happy to sign autographs.  

My God, that is some hideous tattooing!

Scene 2: The news story: The group hit it big with their debut album, which went multiple-platinum.  Basically everyone on Earth bought three copies.  But they've been on hiatus for 15 months.  Their leader, Johnny Faust (uh-oh, a pact with the Devil) went on trial for the bizarre murder of their agent, but was acquitted, and has been in seclusion ever since.  

That's a lot of intel.  Why not tell that story instead?


Scene 3:
Johnny (Andy Biersack) at his rooftop swimming pool in the Hollywood Hills (shirtless, but horribly ugly, and coveredc with disgusting tattoos).  Gretchen plays the cello in the dark.  Then she says "Its time to get back out there.  You owe it to your 6 billion fans (everyone on Earth except for some newborn babies)" .   They hug and kiss.  I'm beginning to think that this is a gay-free West Hollywood.

Scene 4: Elias, an old guy with long white hair and a white beard, awakens in his living room plastered with record albums.  He gets upsetting news from Adam (Rhys Coiro, below), calling from a fertility clinic, who conferences in with Maya, calling from a restaurant.  

They're all shocked.  This can't be happening!  This is the worst possible news of all time! Our lives have all been destroyed forever! 

After all that buildup, I'm expecting a zombie Apocalypse.  But no, the world-shattering news: all the big arenas are booked, so we'll have to do the concert at a smaller venue, like Whiskey A-Go-Go.  

When they hang up, Adam's wife or girlfriend yells at him for working during a fertility appointment, but he doesn't listen and keeps calling: "Dylan is in London!  Get him here, immediately!  He's got to play at the concert tonight!  This is the worst disaster in world history!"


Scene 5:
Establishing shot of Big Ben.  I'm guessing we're in London?  Radio DJ Ralphie calls a hotel room, where a heavily tattooed guy is in bed with two naked women.  Johnny?  No, Dylan (James Cassells).  God help us, is everybody covered with disgusting tattoos?

Meanwhile, back in L.A., a man and a woman are jogging in what looks like Griffith Park.  Oh, neck tattooes -- it's Johnny and his girlfriend Gretchen, still harping on getting back on stage.  Wait -- if he hasn't decided to go back on stage yet, why is everyone having end-of-the-universe panic over the size of the venue?  

Scene 6: Elias at work at...I can't read the record label. Akko?  Akkadian?  He's yelling at people: "This is the worst crisis of all time!  Fix it!"  His assistants have booked the Roxy, which is already sold out (after about an hour?).  

Rolling Stone, Spin, etc., etc. are busily planning entire issues to cover the show.  No, make that two or three issues?  No, Johnny's concert is the most important event in world history!  It's Second Coming of Christ squared!  Let's devote a whole year of issues to it!  


Scene 7: 
I'm pretty sure that there will be no gay representation at all, but everything is so incredibly overblown, exaggerated, and over-the-top that I can't look away.  Adam and his wife in towels at an acupuncture clinic to work on their fertility problem (hey, a nice physique without tattooes, for a change!).  

He gets a phone call and rushes out.  It's Ralphie in London with a major disaster: he screwed up the flight reservations, so Dylan won't arrive in time for the concert!  The biggest event in world history won't have a drummer!

"Get him here!" Adam snarls.  "Whatever you have to do, do it!" This is the most important night of his life, and your life, and...well, the lives of everyone on Earth!  He suggests a bomb threat. But wouldn't that stop the flight and make Dylan even later?

Scene 8: Band members Leo, Lily, and Amanda are trying on costumes for the comeback concert and discussing how long it's been since they performed.   They're so broke they can't even pay their rehab center bill.  Idea: fans will buy anything, so maybe Leo could put a sock on his cock and sell it on Ebay.  Lily and Amanda are a couple -- ok, so there are some lesbians in this.

Scene 9:  Ralphie in London making the bomb threat phone call.  The pay phone is on a highway overpass, so no one can understand him.

Scene 10: Hit Parade Studios, Hollywood. Johnnie and Gretchen preparing for a big  interview and kissing.  She tells him: "Don't tell the fans.  It is all in the past." Tell them what?  Another big mystery for the sake of mystery?

  Meanwhile, Lily, Leo, Vic, and another guy are watching the interview on tv: "We've interviewed presidents and popes on this program, but today's guest is much, much bigger!  Johnnie Faust!"  

Host: "Johnnie, how does it feel to be the most famous person...sorry, I mean god..in world history?"

Johnnie: "I think I was happier before I became famous.  It's a lot of pressure.  Fortunately, I have my True Love by my side. 

Host: What about the claims that your amazing fame is due to a deal with the Devil?"

Johnnie: "It's not true."


Meanwhile, Simon (the late Cameron Boyce), who we've never seen before, is talking to Natalie, who looks old enough to be his mother: "Do you believe in that Satanism stuff?"

Natalie: "Of course. Many rock songs were inspired by the Devil.  All of Led Zeppelin's songs, for instance."

Simon: You're so cool!  Pass me that joint!

Meanwhile Faith, who we've never seen before, is watching the interview in her bedroom, with a baby in her arms and a gigantic cross next to her.

Interviewer: Why did you stop touring?

We already know: because of the trial for the bizarre murder of their agent.  But Johnnie has forgotten abut that, and gives us a new story:

Johnnie: We were in in Vegas, and this 18-year old girl and her mom wanted to have sex, so Dylan and I did. The mom's husband found out, and killed himself. I never saw the girl again.

Faith's roommate or girlfriend comes into the bedroom and says "We're out of money.  We have to do something."  Why not ask Johnnie?

Scene 11: At the record company, Elias, whose name is now Oliver, checks the reviews of last night's interview, which of course had the biggest viewership in network history, like a triple Superbowl.  

Meanwhile, in Virginia, Simon watches Elias/Oliver being interviewed on tv.  When Natalie comes in, he wants to know how much "he" offered her to get the abortion.  More obfuscation for its own sake.  Who is he, Johnnie? 

"Half a million dollars, or else an album and a world tour.  But I said no.  I had you instead."  Ok, Johnnie is too young.  Elias/Oliver? 

Why have two pregnancies, one after the other, with Elias/Oliver's girl appearing immediately after Johnny mentions his?  Unless you are deliberately trying to confuse the audience?

Scene 12: Faith shows up in L.A.  So this is the haunting secret?  Johnnie has a child?  Big deal!

Beefcake: No.  Some shirtless shots, but spoiled by tattoos.

Other sights: Almost all interiors.  I don't recognize West Hollywood.

Hype: A ridiculous amount.

Obfuscation for its own sake:  I feel like I'm watching Lost.  By the way, it turns out that Elias and Oliver are two different people, working for different record labels. Why on Earth would you cast two chubby older men with long white hair and long white beards to play two characters with exactly the same job, unless you deliberately wanted to confuse your viewers?

Paranormal: None

Gay Characters: I don't think so.

Heterosexism: Johnnie has found True Love.

Will I Keep Watching:  Why not?  The hyperbole is hilarious.

Apr 28, 2021

The Amazon Prime Heterosexism Game: Which Movies Don't Have a Dead Wife or The Girl of His Dreams?


 Time for another game of "Prime movies we think you'll like."  How long will it take to discover that it's about a detective with a Dead Wife,  a guy trying to win The Girl of His Dreams, or a Boy and a Girl Falling in Love?  

Icon: 0 points

Plot description: 1 point

Trailer: 2 points

Internet research: 3 points

Never: 4 points

Spontaneous.  About a high school where random students spontaneously explode, but life goes on.  Icon of a boy and a girl hugging.  Score: 0

Anthem of a Teenage Prophet: Starring hunky Cameron Monaghan (top).  Icon of a boy and a girl hugging.  Score: 0.

Brother Nature: Icon of three men and two women. "Roger a straight laced politician has big plans to propose to his dream girl."  That's another way of saying Girl of His Dreams, and they forgot the comma.  Score: 1.


High School: 
The soon-to-be valedictorian devises a plan to get the whole school stoned.  Rather an uninspired title.  Spoiler alert: he does it with brownies.  Just two stoner dudes for the first 2.19 of 2.30 minutes of the trailer, very, very close to being about two guys.  Then a boy-girl kiss.  Also a shirtless muscle scene, but no matter.  Score: 2.

Wolves: Icon of two guys being afraid of a werewolf. "A high school student wakes to find that he is turning into something vicious."  No trailer, so I just start it up.  First scene: he's having a heart to heart with The Girl.  Score: 2

The More You Ignore Me: A Story about Love, Family, and Morrissey.  I think Morrissey is a singer.  "A darkly funny coming-of-age story of a dysfunctional family in the 1980s."  Trailer: a lot of raggedy people in working-class England behaving oddly, and a boy and a girl Falling in Love. Score: 2

All's Faire in Love. About the cut-throat world of competitive Renaissance Fairs.   Icon of a man and a woman kissing.  Score 0.

Just Add Water.  Icon of four men and a woman.  "An offbeat romantic comedy about a decent guy with a dead-end life who finds the courage to pursue his dream."  Romantic comedy doesn't sound promising, but technically it doesn't say the courage to pursue the Girl of His Dreams.  You have to conduct internet research find out. Score: 3.

A Rainy Day in New York. Icon of a man and a woman kissing behind an umbrella. Score: 0.


Fired Up: 
Icon shows two guys gazing lustfully at a girl.  High school football studs ditch football camp so they can spend the summer surrounded by "beautiful girls" at cheerleading camp.  The trailer, naturally, shows lots of girl boobs, the guys naked for humiliation purposes, three boy-girl kisses, and one fist-bump.  Also the two guys turn out to be better at "girls'" activity than the girls, and help the girls triumph over the snotty rival camp.  That's sexist from every angle. Score: 2.

Cooties: The term technically means "head lice," but when I was a kid we used it for any contagious physical or social defect: "Stay away from him/her!  If people see you together, they'll shun you!"  In this case it appears that grade school kids are turning into zombies and attacking the teachers (one played by Elijah Wood!)   No boy-girl romance in the trailer, but a review reveals that Elijah and one of female teachers Fall in Love.  Score: 3.

The Sound of Metal: "Metal drummer Ruben begins to lose his hearing."  Less than five seconds into the trailer, he's kissing his girlfriend.  Score: 2.

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things: Teenager Mark (Kyle Allen) is "contentedly living the same day in an endless loop."  I'm guessing that he ditches school.  Then he meets The Girl.  Score: 1.


John Tucker Must Die:
"Three high school beauties plot to bring down the cocky campus stud."  Calling them "beauties" reveals that this movie will be redolent of the heterosexual male gaze, but technically there is no mention of a boy-girl romance.  The trailer shows girl boobs, basketball, volleyball, John Tucker kissing three girls, lots of John Tucker in his underwear, some cans of Diet Coke, and the revenge scheme.  Also John's team mates are surprised when he's wearing ladies' underwear, but when they think it makes him play better, they all start wearing it.  The plot description on Wikipedia reveals that through it all, John falls for the Girl of His Dreams. Score: 3.

The O'Briens: "Ten years after the death of his wife..."  Score: 1.

Angela: Icon shows a man and a woman together.  Score: 0.

Cannibals and Carpet Fitters.  The icon shows two guys, probably the carpet fitters.  The plot description: you get what you pay for. The trailer: surprisingly, the cannibals aren't inbred redneck hicks, but the residents of a country house in England.  No boy-girl kissing.  Score: 4.

Bliss: Icon of a man and a woman holding hands.  Score: 0.



I Met a Girl:
The icon seems to show two girls kissing, so I had to read the blurb to discover that it's a long-haired boy (Brenton Thwaites) pursuing the Girl of His Dreams. Score: 1.

Getting to Know You: Icon shows a man and a woman getting to know each other; Score:0.

Dead.  Another inept title.  Stoner Marbles, who can see the dead, teams up with recently deceased cop Tagg to catch a serial killer.  You have to keep working after death?  The trailer: the stoner is unexpectedly middle-aged and chunky.  There's a boy-girl kiss at minute 1.03, and ghost and stoner dance together at minute 1.49. Score: 3.

Francis Ferguson.  Icon shows a woman.  Isn't Francis Ferguson the actress who was committed to a mental hospital?  No, that must be someone else: this is a "bone-dry comedy" about a substitute teacher "whose crushing discontent drives her to an ill-advised transgression."  Somebody take away that writer's thesaurus!  The trailer consists of Francis talking to a psychiatrist, sitting in court, and walking toward a jail cell.  Score: 4.

20 movies, and the only high scores go to a lady with a gun and carpet fitters fighting cannibals. Yuck

 I think I'll re-watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show instead.  45 years of ab-solute pleasure!

Apr 27, 2021

"Shadow and Bone": The Chosen One in a Central European Alternate World, with Queer Characters


 Shadow and Bone, a Netflix fantasy series, throws you into the deep end of a complex mythology from the get-go.  You have to pay close attention -- no fiddling with cell phones -- and even then you have the impression that you're missing a lot.  So I might not have this right:

It's either our world after an catastrophic event or a close parallel world (towns named Novokribirsk and Novyi Zem).  Technology and costumes are early 19th century: guns but no electricity.  Ravka (Russia) has been separated from the rest of Europe by the Fold, a 20-30 mile expanse of utter darkness inhabited by monsters.  Most people go all the way around, through Fjerda (Scandinavia), even though it takes months, because going through is treacherous, a virtual death sentence.

Ravka is a terrible place, cold, barren, with constant food shortages.  It seems to consist entirely of soldiers and cartographers living in yurts.  Central character Alina (Jessie Mei Lin). a cartographer, is an orphan and a Shu (East Asian), so everyone hates her except for her best friend/boyfriend and fellow orphan Mal, a soldier (Archie Renaux, top photo).  

Some of the soldiers are Grisha, whom everyone hates because one of their kind created the Fold (but none of them can destroy it except for the Sun Summoner, who is probably just a myth).  There are also inferi (a singular and plural noun), and other types/jobs that I don't understand.


Mal and Alina are assigned to an expedition that must cross the Fold in a flying ship.  They are cautioned to keep quiet and use no light, but one of the soldiers panics and lights a lamp.  The monsters attack, killing them all, except for Alexei (Antonin Masek, the one in the towel), who runs away.  

Even Mal and Alina are killed!  Wait, I thought they were main characters!  Just before she dies, Alina lets out a bright burst of light.



Meanwhile, on the other side, in Ketterdam (Germany), we meet crime boss with a heart of gold Kaz (Freddie Carter, right) and his assistants, artful dodger Jesper (Kit Young) and Inej (Amita Suman), whom he is purchasing from a brothel for mysterious reasons.  They are competing with evil rival crime boss Pekka (Dean Lennox Kelly), and must find a way to cross the Fold for a big score.

Surprise!  Alexei makes it to the other side.  So does the flying ship, with Alina and Mal injured but not dead.  Alina is tested and told that she is the legendary Sun Summoner who will destroy the Fold (didn't see that one coming, did you?).  All she needs is some training in the Little Palace.  


Problem: you'd think that the Chosen One would be lauded, but everyone wants to either force her to use her powers for their internecine squabbles, or kill her outright. On the way to the Little Palace, Fjerdans (Scandinavians) attack with both guns and magic.  Most of the guards are killed, but General Kirigan (Ben Barnes) comes to the rescue, using magic to chop a Fjerdan to bits from 50 feet away.

Meanwhile, evil crime boss Pekka kidnaps Alexei and tortures him to find out how he crossed the Fold on foot without getting eaten.  He doesn't know.  So Pekka kills him (darn, he was cute!) and sets out to grab Alina (not Mal?).  

Meanwhile, Kaz, Jesper, and Inej search for Arken (Howard Charles), who is transporting people safely across the Fold for economic and sexual exploitation. How does he do it? And Inej has problems of her own: her owner at the brothel assigns her to kill a rival, who turns out to be...wait for it...Arken! 

Beefcake: Only Mal.

Other sights: Ravka is all wasteland, but Ketterdam is a quaint 19th century German city.

Gay Representation:  The brothels feature both "girls and boys" (presumably adult men and women).

Gay Characters: Maybe Mal?  He and Alina describe each other as "best friends," but there's a recurring motif of them holding hands, and they scream each other's names and rush after each other a lot.  But when a woman invites Mal for "a tumble," he refuses.  Because he's not into women, or because he's being faithful to his "best friend "?


Kaj and Jesper ?  They are quite chummy for employer and employee, and never display any heterosexual interest. Not even with Inej.

Note: I read online that Jesper is gay, and has some same-sex kissing later on in the series.  Plus there are minor queer characters throughout.

Apr 26, 2021

"Man with a Plan": Joey from "Friends" Offers Fatherly Advice: No Hands in Pants

 


Matt LeBlanc will forever be etched into my memory as the guileless hunk Joey on Friends (1994-2004).  

I never saw the spin-off series Joey (2004-2006).  No one did.  This was the era when networks acted like the schedule was a chess match, so you never knew when anything was airing: "Oh, you put Will and Grace at 8:30? Fine, we'll put That 70s Show on at 8:30.  Moving it to 8:00?  Ok, we'll just move That 70s Show to 8:00.  Running scared, moving it to 9:00?  Well, see how you like the competition of North Shore!  And moving it to 9:30 won't help!"


But, 15 years after Friends ended, and with a more stable set of streaming services, I was curious about Matt's series Man with a Plan (2016-2020).

Matt is still a hunk, but he oddly looks like Joey with white hair rather than a real 53-year old.

The Wikipedia page is not promising.  Not only is the critical reception horrible -- 21% approval on Rotten Tomatoes, 36% on Metacritic -- but the page comes with a geneological chart.   Who has such a complicated family tree on a sitcom?  But I'll try to summarize:

Adam (Matt) owns a blue-collar construction company with his brother Don (Kevin Nealon, whom I hated on Saturday Night Live back in the day).

Adam's family consists of wife Andi and kids Kate, Emme, and Teddy (Matthew McCann, aged 12-15).

Don's family consists of wife Marcy and grown son Mikey (often mentioned but never appearing, like Norm's wife on Cheers).


Adam and Don's Dad Joe ( 1970s action star Stacey Keach) lives in a trailer in Adam's driveway, along with his wife (Swozie Curts).  He has a home nurse, Funchy (Ron Funches)






Adam's neighbors are Rudy (Tim Meadows) and his wife, a building inspector.  Ok, I see the plot complications arising.




Lowell (Matt Cook), a math and science whiz, also works at the construction company.  I can't imagine in what capacity.

Not much beefcake here except for Matt, and with all the husbands and wives hanging around, I doubt that there is any gay representation, either.  

Apparently fans thought that Lowell was gay, so the writers quickly introduced a wife to quash that rumor.  Can't have any of those pesky gay people in this blue-collar utopia!

Still, I've done so much research, I might as well watch the first episode, just to see.

Scene 1: The family at breakfast.  Adam tells 12-year old Teddy to stop masturbating.  He denies doing it, but Adam says: "You had both hands in your pants, moving around down there like you're making origami." Mom suggests a family motto: "No hands in pants at the breakfast table."

I'm out.

Johnny Crawford: Growing Up in the Old West

Westerns in the 1950s and 1960s were good for beefcake but not for bonding.  The days of the cowboy and sidekick were long gone, replaced by single fathers and womanizing card sharks.

The Rifleman (1958-63) was no exception.  The tale of widowed Lucas McCain (Chuck Connors) and his son Mark (Johnny Crawford) had two men living together and caring for each other, and lots of nick-of-time rescues -- Mark seemed to get tied up and threatened by bad guys just about every week -- but they were father and son, and neither developed a significant relationship with anyone else, male or female.







On the other hand, there was lots of muscle.  A former basketball player (and reputedly the star of a gay underground film), Chuck Connors was lean, lanky, and craggy.  As Johnny Crawford grew into a teenager, he surpassed his father, developing a ripped bodybuilder physique.












But that didn't mean that he stopped being the object of "my hero" heroics.











They were also shirtless in comic books, coloring books, big-little books, and every other tie-in imaginable.












Johnny Crawford appeared in Indian Paint (1965), some teen beach and horror movies, such as Village of the Giants (1965) with Tommy Kirk.  He was even fully nude in The Naked Ape (1973) and The Great Texas Dynamite Chase (1976) before settling down to a career as a singer.

But he has continued to appear occasionally before the camera; for instance, as Deputy Noah Paisley on an episode of Murder She Wrote (1985), or as Art in the children's movie Rupert Patterson Wants to Be a Superhero (1997).

In The Gambler Returns (1991), Kenny Rogers' Gambler encounters some of the most famous figures of the Old West, including Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Diamond Jim Brady, President Teddy Roosevelt -- and Mark McCain!



Apr 25, 2021

"The Valley": Four or Five Friends Shriek, Sexy-Talk, and Nasty their Way through Life

 


"The Valley
is the story of four friends trying to make it in Los Angeles as actors and filmmakers from the ground up." That's all the plot synopsis you get.  

The reviews on Amazon Prime don't help; as usual, they're a combination of "horrible, boring, amateurish dreck" and "the greatest masterpiece the world has ever known."  

No way to tell if there's a gay character, but maybe I'll get a nostalgia vibe from the shots of L.A.   I choose Episode 2, "Coffee Jacuzzi": "The Kliq looks for love in Hollywood."

Wait -- is this a band name?  If it's just a group of friends, it's spelled "clique."

Previously:  A mockumentary!  Yuck -- that's Strike 1.  A director wants to see a woman's cat, but he uses the term "pussy," which no one ever uses.  A guy takes a pill and gets an erection at an audition -- with a young boy on the set, which causes everyone to think...I'm almost out before Scene 1. But I'll hold out to see if there's a gay character.


Scene 1:
The Black Guy in the confessional.  "I met a girl, she's very nice but a little crazy."  Cut to his house after a hookup, where she's tryng to smooch with him as he kicks her out.  He climbs back in bed, but she's there!  

Back to the confessional: "The only women attracted to me in this town are crazy."  Montage of him ejecting or carrying women from his house (lots of bare chest shots).

Back to the first woman.  She explains that she moved all her stuff in last night after sex, so they are living together.

Opening Credits (halfway through?): the four friends are introduced: Megan Skittles (blond), Darren (black), Lewis (nerd), Chode (drag queen). Renea (black).  These people can't count, but at least they included a gay character.

Scene 2: Chode the Drag Queen in the confessional, confessing his love for Renea, who doesn't want to date him.  Huh?  A straight drag queen?   So Lewis the Nerd must be gay.

Cut to the friends having breakfast: "smumfy cakes," which seems to be baby-talk for pancakes.   Darren states that the girl he hooked up with last night is pregnant (you can tell after less than 24 hours?) 

Confessional: Lewis the Nerd tells us that when Megan first moved in, "it was glorious, like Christmas morning."  But who wants Christmas morning every day?  Cut to Megan shrieking with ecstasy and screaming "smumfy cake!" about 38 times.

Scene 3: A business meeting with men discussing script ideas for their top client: The Italian Hardy Story, Top Gun 2: Eject or Die... Suddenly Megan calls: "I'm lost.  I was in a big scary building with high ceilings and people with orange uniforms, and I left, and now I'm lost." Seriously, what is wrong with this woman? Is she in character, auditioning by phone?   Business guy tells her that she is at the Home Depot, which she confused with a movie studio for some reason.  


Scene 4:
Back to breakfast.  They're all shocked to find Thelonius in the garbage can.  

In the confessional, Darren explains that he's a homeless person who keeps sneaking into the house.  

He wants some food, but they refuse, and shove him back into the garbage can, oblivious to his screams.

Next Chode the Drag Queen comes in to flirt with Renea.  She rejects him.  Cut to a music video of Chode and a unicorn singing "Let me be your comfy jacuzzi." The drag queen has some nice muscles, anyway.

Back at breakfast, Darren gets upset with Chode for explicit sex talk about his sister Renea.  He announces that he's going speed dating later.  They ridicule him: what kind of desperate fool would resort to speed dating?

Scene 5:  Lewis the Nerd in the confessional, revealing that he has done it: "It's hard to meet women in this town."

Ulp.  Lewis is straight.  Five friends, including a drag queen, and they're all straight!  

Besides, there is something seriously wrong with these people.  Their screeching and sex-talking and acts of general nastiness have no connection to how anyone would act in real life.  


I'd rather watch Ross, Rachel, Chandler, and Joey.  Much more realistic, by comparison, and infinitely less annoying.

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