May 7, 2021

"The Unremarkable Juanquini": Effeminate Heterosexuals or Gay Men Afraid to Come Out

 The Unremarkable Juanquini (Chichipatos), a Netflix comedy series set in Colombia.  Juanquini (Antonio Sanint) is flamboyantly feminine, with mascara, lots of rings and fluttering hands, so I assume that he's a drag queen. 

One source tells me that a chichipato is  someone who goes to gay bars and cruising areas but is shy about hooking up.  So there must be some gay representation here.

Scene 1:  Turns out that Juanquini is not a drag queen; he's a cut-rate magician, entertaining the kids at a tiny tot party along with his bored, cell phone-checking assistant. One of the fathers looks on, snarling.  Oddly, he also has lots of rings and fluttering hands. Cut to a van, where the police have him under surveillance.  They're going in for an arrest in five minutes!

The kids are bored by the banal disappearing-coin trick, so Juanquini tries the "magic blindfold."  Catcalls.  He goes backstage and tells his teenage son, Sami (Julian Cerati, who gets top billing on IMDB) that he's on.  His extremely masculine wife consoles him (Wait -- he's not gay?  It's Lyle the effeminate heterosexual!).  

Meanwhile, Ortiz (Cristian Villamil), a cop disguised as a waiter, rushes through the labyrinth of hallways and ends up outside.  Har-har. (This may not be the right one; it comes from a website saying "70+ Linkedin Profiles for Cristian Villamil").

Scene 2:  Flamboyantly feminine teenage son Sami (it must run in the family) is playing the accordion and singing about lost love:"You left me with my sorrow.  Oh, the pain!"  It obviously doesn't go over well with the preteen audience.  

Meanwhile, Bad Guy finds out about the police, and thinks that Juanquini set him up.  "Who hired the magician?  I want to know everything about him."

Scene 3: 
Home.  While Juanquini cooks in a fluttering apron, daughter Monica and her flamboyantly feminine friend or other brother Lucho (El Mindo) talk to Mom about their new business idea, exporting sponge gourd loofas: "Everybody uses soap.  This product will make us billionaires in less than six months!"

Meanwhile, son Sami is distraught over a girl who rejected him: "Without her, I'll die.  My soul will dry up."  (Geez, with so many flamboyantly feminine guys around, you'd think one of them would be gay).

Scene 4: Juanquini overhears his kids criticizing him: "Dad is a mediocre magician!"  This is apparently the first time anyone has criticized him, and he's crushed.  He researches his magic book, looking for a good act.  How about a disappearance?  He practices on Sami's pet cat, and makes it disappear...forever.

Scene 5:  Sami is distraught.  "Where's my cat?  Tell me, or I'll set the house on fire!"

Later, Mom is preparing missing-cat posters, when Bad Guy's assistant calls to book Juanquino at a party this afternoon.  Bad Guy (actual name: Nato Orduz) reveals that he's planning "a surprise" (cue evil laugh).

Cut to Ortiz, the cop who flubbed his capture earlier, running through the police station, excited over new intel: A big party to celebrate the second anniversary of Bad Guy's drug exports to the U.S. 

Scene 5: Sami in bed, depressed over the loss of his girlfriend and his cat.  They have to get him up in time for the act!  Meanwhile, Monica's friend Lucho arrives with a truckload of sponge gourds for their new export business.    

Scene 6: 
The party, at a mansion in the country (Geez, Juanquino is wearing about 50 rings.  How does he fit them all onto his fingers?).  Real Colombian pop star Andy Rivera is performing with some girls in skimpy outfits.  More girls in skimpy outfits on the floor, dancing with guys with guns.  No kids around.  Not at all the kind of party Juanquini is used to performing at.

The Assistant leads Juanquini to the hot tub on the roof, where Bad Guy is kissing the boobs of two bikini girls (he's got his shirt off, but believe me, you don't want to see it ).  Juanquini figures out that he's a drug lord and wants out, but Bad Guy insists that he perform.

Scene 7: They wait while Andy Rivera sings the same song over and over.  Meanwhile, a caravan of cops arrives.

Finally it's time for Juanquini's act.  He tries the magic coin trick/ The gangsters jeer:  "Do a trick worth our time, or tell the babe to take her clothes off!"  He tries to cancel the show and leave; all of the men pull out guns and start shooting.  Rather bad shots for gangsters; Juanquino manages to run into the kitchen and hide.  

Bad Guy calms everyone down and orders Juanquino to do a "shocking trick."  How about the disappearance?  Bad Guy volunteers.  Wait -- I thought he just invited Juanquini to perform in order to kill him.  He acts like a true believer.

The trick works!  Bad Guy disappears, just like the cat!  But when the gangsters call for Juanquini to bring Bad Guy back, he can't do it. (Geez, the gangsters are all wearing multiple rings, too!)

At that moment, the police burst in and arrest everyone.  They want to know what happened to Bad Guy.  Was Juanquini complicit in his escape? The end.

Beefcake: No.

Half-Naked Girls: Lots.

Gay Characters: Not that I could tell, in spite of the name chichipatos.  I went through a few later episodes on fast forward, just in case, but every guy seems to get a girlfriend eventually, even the cop.

Effeminate Heterosexuals: 4

Severe Over-Acting: Lots.

My Grade: D.

May 5, 2021

The Top 10 Hunks and Heterosexual Gay People of "Star Trek: Picard"


My students have heard of Star Trek, but never seen any of the movies or tv shows.  I'm not sure why.  Sure, the franchise began in 1966, but Star Wars began in 1977, and it's still going strong.  Maybe it's just because  the colonialist, imperialist, ultra-patriotic "Star Fleet, right or wrong" message of Star Trek doesn't inspire audiences so much today.  

But they keep churning out Star Trek tv series, and I keep watching them.  Next up: Picard, set 20 years after the events in the last Star Trek movie.  The 94-year old former Enterprise captain/admiral Jean-Luc Picard (80-year old Patrick Stewart)  is living in seclusion on his vineyard in France, writing books on history that no one reads,  teaching his dog French, remembering lost loves, and encountering lots of interstellar hunkoids:

1. He is haunted by the memory of ex-boyfriend Data (Brent Spiner), an android who served with him aboard the Enterprise, and gave his life to save him.

2. His staff includes the Romulan Zhaban (Jamie McShane, left), which turns out to be a sore spot.  It seems that most Federationists are white supremacists (or Federation supremacists), and hate Romulans.  

Picard agrees to an interview with a tabloid news reporter, which, not surprisingly, turns ugly while revealing the complex back story:

14 years ago, the Romulan sun was about to go super-nova, so Picard mounted a rescue expedition: "You tried to devote Federation funds to rescuing a planet full of snarling, bestial terrorists?  You filthy Romulan lover!  Hey, your assistant has pointy ears...."

"Fortunately," the Federation called off the rescue operation and let the Romulans die after some Synthetics (androids) went rogue and destroyed the planet Mars.  Thereafter all Synthetics were banned (I don't know what happened to existing Synthetics.  Concentration camps?).  "Hey, didn't you have a Synthetic boyfriend?  You filthy Synthetic lover!"  At that point Picard ends the interview.  Wouldn't you?

3. Meanwhile, in an apartment far, far away, a young woman named Dahj (Isa Briones) is playing kissy-face with her boyfriend (David Carzell, top photo, best known for his work in Thunder Bulge, a male stripper comedy team).  Suddenly masked assassins beam in, kill the boyfriend, and try to kidnap Dahj, but she somehow knows how to fight back, and kills them all.  She also instinctively knows to seek out Picard, who takes her in.

Conducting research and getting mystical guidance from beyond the grave, Picard discovers that Dahj is Data's "daughter," built with flesh and blood so she is physically identical to a biological entity, and implanted with fake memories.  Why build an artificial human being?  Aren't there enough people in the universe already?

But just as Picard is telling her "Because you're my boyfriend's daughter, I'll love and support you always," hostiles beam in.  Dahj tries to fight them off, but they explode her. 

Later, security cams reveal an explosion, but Picard was all alone.  No Dahj, no hostiles.  Uh-oh, the old boy has dementia.

But Picard is sure that Dahj is still alive.  Conducting more research (and getting more mystical insight), he goes to the Daystrom Institute (a shut-down Synthetic research facility) and finds that Data had two daughters.  There's another one.

4. We see the other one, Soji, talking to a Romulan named Narek (Harry Treadaway).  They're on a de-activated Borg cube! 

(The Borg are a cyborg hive mind that have served as Big Bads on several series: "You will be assimiliated.  Resistance is futile.")

That's it for the hunks in the first episode. But there will be several others coming up:

5. To solve the mystery of the android twins, Picard must track down android researcher Dr. Bruce Maddox.  So he commandeers a spaceship, and hires Cristobal Rios (Santiago Cabrera) as captain.  Of course, Rios has an agenda of his own.

6. During the rescue effort, 250,000 Romulan children were relocated to the planet Vashti.  Picard grew fond of one, Elnor (Evan Evagora), and visited him on occasion, but didn't offer to adopt him or anything.  Now he wants him on the crew as chief prettyboy. 

7. Back on his days on the Enterprise, Picard adopted a Borg boy (Jonathan Del Arco) who somehow got separated from the Collective, named him Hugh, and taught him how to "be human."  Hugh is now working on the Borg Cube with the other Data Daughter.  Wow, Picard has estranged sons and daughters all over the galaxy! 

8-9.  Bodybuilding twins Mike and Matt Perfetuo aren't particularly pretty, but their muscles more than make up for faces.  They play Synthetics Rune and Codex (I guess all Synthetics must have information-related names.)

10. Mason Gooding plays Gabriel Hwang, yet another estranged son.  He's not Picard's, for a change, but you get the idea of this series' theme: reconciling with long-lost progeny.

By the way, this is Star Trek, so don't expect any actual, canonical gay people, in spite of the numerous gay cast members.  I understand that there's nothing except a hint that Seven of Nine (the former Borg adopted by Captain Janeway on Voyager) has a girlfriend.

May 4, 2021

"Say Your Prayers": How to Go from B to F- in 30 Seconds


A middle-aged man sits on a bench at a scenic overlook at the town of Ikley, Yorkshire, eating his lunch.  Suddenly Tim (Harry Melling), an affable young man, approaches and starts a conversation.  I assume that this is a standard hookup spot, and the two will go off for sex. Nope, Tim is merely distracting him so his partner, Vic (Tom Brooke), can sneak up, strangle him, and throw him off the cliff.  

 Turns out that they are radical Catholic assassins, out to kill the atheism advocate  Professor Huxley (no doubt a parody of Richard Dawkins), who is promoting the blasphemous book God Awful.  But they got the wrong guy: Huxley hasn't even arrived in town yet.  So they have to lay low and wait.

Meanwhile the driven police detective Louise is trying to solve the murder.  It happens to be the weekend of the Ilkley Literature Festival, when hundreds of wannabe writers and other low-lives show up.  She tries to blackmail Martin (Matthew Steer) into cancelling the festival by threatning to tell his wife about the "Italian waiter" he's snogging, but Martin states that he is separated from the wife and engaged to Enrico, so...burn!

Enrico (Elliot Halidu) appears, by the way, but has no lines. 

We discover that Vic is the loose cannon of the assassins, attacking people who say "Jesus Christ" as an expletive, while Tim is more passive, laid-back, and rather slow (he plans to go to a kid's story hour during the festival).

For the first half hour, I thought that Vic and Tim were a romantic couple, sleeping in the same bed (I thought), asking "Do you love me?" and answering "I love you very much."  But they turn out to be heterosexual.  Vic masturbates to a woman online, and Tim meets the Girl of His Dreams: Imelda, a Milton scholar.  "Who's Milton?" She accepts a date to go to the children's book reading, and then asks him to the festival party.  I wonder what she sees in him. 

 When Father Enoch (Derek Jacobi) arrives, we learn that they are orphaned brothers.  Father Enoch took them in, raised them, and punished them severely for disobedience.  He also apparently had sex with them, as suggested by a close-up of his hand on Tim's knee.  Now he's the mastermind behind the assassination.  Since they failed at the strangulation, he wants them to shoot Professor Huxley during his talk, so everyone in the audience can see God's wrath in action.  

Plot complication: Imelda happens to be dating Professor Huxley!  She introduces Tim to the Professor and his atheist friends, but they rdicule his minimal knowledge of the Bible, and he runs away, crushed.  Imelda apologizes, and notes that she has broken up with Huxley because he's an insufferable jerk.  

Still, Tim feels so guilty that he tries to prevent the assassination.  Lots more plot complications: Tim tries to save Huxley, Huxley doesn't want to be saved, Huxley plans to kill Tim for the boost it will make to book sales...and....

SPOILER ALERT: At the last moment this turns from a comedy into one of those so-called "black comedy" nightmares.

Beefcake: No.  Not even in the instagram galleries of the actors.

Other sights: Lots of exteriors of the quaint village and surrounding countryside.

Gay characters:
  The minor characters Martin and Enrico.  Probably Detective Louise; she notes that she went to Catholic school, where all of the nuns had beautiful bums.  

Killing a Major Character: Yes.

My Grade: B before it turned into a horrible black comedy.  Now an F-

May 3, 2021

The Mystery of the Hansom Cab: Gay Subtexts and Murder in Victorian Melbourne


The Mystery of a Hansom Cab:
"In Victorian Melbourne, two men get into a hansom cab, but only comes out."  Sounds interesting, a sort of "he walked around the horses" mysterious disappearance.   

The Amazon Prime reviews keep saying a nice "Sunday afternoon" or "Tuesday night."  I've never heard movies described by days of the week before, so I suspect it's the same person trying to drum up some views.  Probably no gay characters, but a lot of gay subtexts.  

It is based on an 1886 novel by Fergus Hume (1859-1932), whose lawyer-turned-sleuth was one of the inspirations for Arthur Conan Doyle's first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet (1887).  The novel is a perennial bestseller in Australia, and has been adapted into several movies and radio plays.

Hume never married and was associated with the late 19th century "aesthete and decadent" crowd, so he was probably gay.  But did he include any gay subtexts in his novel, and did they translate into the 2012 movie version on Amazon Prime?

Turns out that this isn't a "mysterious disappearance" movie, it's one of the world's first whodunits.  In 1886 Melbourne, poet Oliver Whyte, who uses vocabulary like "cesspit" and "guttersnipe," gets into a cab, staggeringly drunk.  Another passenger, whom he recognizes, kills him and retrieves a letter before fleeing. Whodunit?

The affable, working-class detective Gorby (chubby bear Shane Jacobson, left) is assigned the case.  But when he arrests the wrong guy, the hard-driven detective Kilsap (Felix Williamson, below) takes over.  And family lawyer Duncan Carlton (Marco Chiappi) starts an investigation of his own.

The main suspect is Brian Fitzgerald (Oliver Ackland, top photo), a young Irishman engaged to the wealthy Madge Frettlby (Jessica DeGow).  Oliver was trying to steal her away so he could inherit the family fortune. 

Plus the landlady overheard him threatening to kill Oliver. 

Plus he has no alibi: he refuses to say where he was that night, because if he does, he will expose a secret "so explosive" that it will destroy all their lives.

But, as in all whodunits, everyone has a motive, and everyone has a lot of secrets.

1. Patriarch Mark Frettleby (John Waters, Cade Greenland as a young man).  Oliver was blackmailing him.

2. Buddy/boyfriend Roger Moreland (Charlie Cousins, left).  He was a co-conspirator in the plot, and incensed when it fell through.

3. Frettlby hanger-on, the obviously gay Felix Rolleston.  He was in love with Brian, and fiercely protective of him.

4. Madge, who has some explosive secrets of her own.

A prostitute named Sal Ralston and a dying woman called only The Queen turn out to be the keys to the various mysteries.  They are rather obvious to someone who's seen soap operas and read Agatha Christie -- nothing of gay interest -- but still, I was surprised several times.

By the way, the gay guy is not the murderer, for a change.

No.  Some cute guys, an occasional bulge.

Other Sights: Some nice recreations of 19th century Melbourne.

Gay Characters:  No doubt Felix.  There are both male and female prostitutes in the red light district.  

Gay Subtexts: Oliver and his friend Roger.  Madge and Sal Ralston seem to share some intimacy: "I think God meant for us to be together.  Won't you come along on our honeymoon?"

My Grade: A-

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