May 29, 2021

"Ragnarok": A Clueless Thor, a Gay Loki, and a Lot of Beefcake

 


I started watching the first episode of the Norwegian "old gods reborn" series Ragnarok when it first dropped on Netflix, but stopped right away.  I don't remember why -- no doubt something about the Girl of His Dreams.  When the second season dropped, I started skimming through the first episode out of curiosity, and this scene popped out. 

Why can't I run into half-naked men on my morning jog?  

So I went back and watched from the beginning.

Scene 1: Muscle Guy and Hippie fight.  Hippie lets out zaps of lightning that knock them both unconscious (so he's Thor?).  Modern-day equivalents of Odin, Frigga, and a kissing couple notice.

Some time later, Hippie, aka Magne (David Stakson), awakens and approaches Muscle Guy, who wakes up.  "You thought this was over, but it isn't.  We'll kill you before the New Moon."

Magne runs out into the woods and yells at a bird: "Have you abandoned me?"  Suddenly a ball of light turns into an old woman, who tells him "You are the Chosen One."  The old woman turns into a young woman, who tells him: "You need friends, other gods."  

"How do I find them?" Magne asks.  But everything vanishes.

Scene 2: Muscle Guy goes home and has a "War Council" with two women: "Magne/Thor doesn't have his hammer yet, but he can zap lightning with his bare hands.  He's close to invincible.  I challenged him to a fight at Ginnugagap at the New Moon.  Wait -- where's Fjor?"

"He just went out to kill her.  He'll be right back." 

Scene 3: Teenagers hanging out.  Androgynous redhead Mr. Lauritz (Jonas Strand Gravli) approaches, and they compliment him on his speech crushing the Jutul Family (no doubt the Muscle Guy clan).  Magne rushes up, all distraught, and asked if anyone has seen the old woman from his vision; she works as a cashier at the supermarket.  They haven't.


Scene 4:
Cute Guy, probably Fjor (Herman Tømmeraas), the one assigned to "kill her," returns to Muscle Guy's house.  But he didn't kill her.  In fact, he's in love with her, and he's leaving the clan. He grabs an axe and a duffel bag.

Muscle Guy tries to reason with him.  "I signed us all up to fight Magne at the New Moon.  Can't you wait until then?"  But Cute Guy won't budge: "I renounce my heritage.  I'm not a giant anymore!" Ok, the giants vs. the gods.

Scene 5: Dad cooking waffles for his young adult daughter.  Cute Guy enters: "I left the Giants for good."  Daughter hugs him.

Scene 6:  Magne tells androgynous Lauritz, apparently his brother, that Ragnarok, the Apocalyptic battle between gods and giants, is going to happen here in Norway.  "And by the way, I'm Thor."  He demonstrates his super-strength by bending an aluminum baseball bat.  "And, by the way, you're a god. too."  Lauritz thinks he's bonkers.  What did they spend Season 1 doing, if not acknowledging their Norse godhood?


Scene 7:
Lauritz eating cereal and watching tv, a story about Jutul Industries being investigated for crimes against the environment (uh-oh, Muscle Guy is in trouble!). Mom comes in and yells at him for eating, when they'll all have breakfast together later.  It's Dad's birthday.  She brought bread.  No cake?

Up in his room, Magne is getting more muscular by the second.  He bulges out of his sweater.  "Wait -- where did these biceps come from?"  Plus he can short-circuit all the electricity by flexing.


He goes downstairs to comment on Lauritz wearing makeup.  Mom thinks it's great that he's "experimenting with gender and sexuality."  She sits them down to have custard buns, which they hate, but they have to eat them because Dad liked them. Yuck!  My Dad loved chipped beef on toast, but I'm not planning to eat it in his memory.

Scene 8: At the cemetery.  They visit Dad's grave, and also the grave of the young woman from Magne's vision, Isolde. 

Mom: "The boys have grown big.  You would be proud of them."

Lauritz: "I don't think he would be proud of me."  For being femme, you mean?

Mom: "Of course he would. You're smart and funny, and you look very pretty in women's clothes."

Magne tries to talk him into acknowledging his godhood and joining him in the battle with Muscle Guy and his clan.

Eric, a middle aged redhead, tells Magne that he can come back to school. Apparently he was expelled after a Thor-lighting mishap.  Magne interrogates him on his knowledge of Norse mythology.


Scene 9:
The car won't start, so Magne and Lauritz have to push it to the garage, where Dishonest Mechanic (Benjamin Helstad) is yelling at someone.  He says it will cost 20,000 kroner ($2,000)  to fix -- extremely bloated!  Magne stares, thinking he might be another god.

Scene 10: As Muscle Guy watches news stories about the environmental investigation at his company, the other giants gather Old Norse weapons.   He worries that they are too girly to fight well.



Later, Muscle Guy and one of the female giants meet with the Environmental Agency investigators, including the extremely cute Morton (Herman Sabado). Maybe he'll be one of the gods and join the team?

Scene 11: At the grocery store, Mom encounters Wenche, the old woman from Magne's vision, who apparently has the habit of saying crazy things.  This time she has a message for Magne: go to the bridge and recite from the ancient prophecy, and you'll meet a god. 

Meanwhile, Magne researches Thor online.  Lauritz makes a double entendre about his "big hammer," but still doesn't want to join the battle.  

Mom comes in with news that they're broke.  No meat in the tacos, no vacation this year.  She delivers Wenche's message; Magne rushes out.

Scene 12; The bridge. Magne waits, reciting the old prophecy to random people, who rush on, thinking he's crazy.  Could it be the tall Viking bodybuilder?  No.  What about the drunk guy with the eyepatch, who's in the wheelchair?  Obviously Odin in disguise, but no.  But his Assistant knows the old prophecy. 

Back in Magne's room.  The Assistant received a similar message from Wenche at the grocery store, but she doesn't know anything about gods and giants.  Magne gives her the intel.  

Assistant is surprisingly open to the idea, probably because she wants to get Magne naked.  He tells her to focus.


Scene 13:
Lauritz stops at a burger joint, and flirts with the cashier, Jens (Vebjørn Enger).  They grin at each other. 

Back home, he tells Mom that he's found a new boyfriend -- very quickly. He's invited to the party tonight.

They hear bumping and think that Magne and the Assistant are having sex, but actually he's demonstrating his super-strength.  Her superpower: she can get anyone to do what she wants just by looking at them. So why does she work as a nursing home attendant?

Scene 14: The party.  The girl from Scene 5 and her giant boyfriend Fjor are there!  Magne draws her aside and angrily demands,  "What are you doing with that no-good, evil, low-down giant..I mean,  jerk?"  "He left his family.  He's trying to be good." 

Later, Magne sits around, depressed because the girl is dating Fjor (maybe they were an item?).  Assistant consoles him: "You should get with that other girl over there instead."  Since you're now buffed, you can probably get whoever you want.

Scene 15: After the party.  Lauritz is depressed because his new boyfriend Jens didn't show up (not to worry, he appears in five more episodes).  "I'm a freak.  No one will ever love me."  Mom explains: "There may be a reason you feel different.  I should have told you this long ago."  What?  Is he intersexed?

To build suspense, we cut to Magne and Assistant at the gas station.  Assistant uses her super-persuasion power to get Dishonest Mechanic to forge a new hammer for Magne/Thor.

Cut to Mom visiting Muscle Guy.  Surprise! She knows all about the gods and giants. "17 years ago, when I was working in Giant Land, we both got drunk, and...."  Oh, Lauritz is Muscle Guy's son, so half-giant.  That's why he feels like a freak, not because he's femme and gay.   "I'm telling you now because Lauritz is in a bad place."  Muscle Guy is delighted to have a long-lost son.

Scene 16: Night.  Magne is coming home.  Suddenly he sees Lauritz and Muscle Guy being all chummy.  They hug. No one has told him that Lauritz is Muscle Guy's son; as far as he knows, the two are dating. He said he met someone! Fraternizing with the enemy!  Grrrr....


So is the gay/androgynous/trans person going to turn into a villain?  Or die in Episode 2?  I hear that there was a queer character in the first season who died right away.  

I'm not sticking around to find out.  

Muscle Guy, leader of the giants, is never named during the episode, but I think he is Vidar, played by Gísli Örn Garðarsson. who may be this nude and hung-to-his-knees person.

May 28, 2021

"Mr. D," the Canadian Gym Teacher Jerk

 


Mr. D is a Canadian sitcom (2012-2018) about an inept gym teacher.  Any show centered on gym class must have about a hundred 25-year old fitness models playing the students, with lots of locker room and shower scenes, so I'll give it a try.  I'm watching Episode 5, "Bully Awareness Week."

Prologue: A class of bored, frustrated teenagers.  Mr. D (Gerry Duncan) can't figure out how to use an overhead projector.  Students try to help him, but he dismisses them and claims that it is broken.

Scene 1: Teachers' lounge.  Robert (Jonathan Torrens), maybe the headmaster, states that he was bullied as a child...and university student.  Mr. D ridicules him for being such a loser.  Hey, that's bullying!  He shows them a video of three women in leotards performing modern dance: "We'll be showing this to the kids."  Mr. D balks, and announces that he's going to make up his own presentation.

Scene 2: Class. Mr. D reveals that he was a bully in school, so making an anti-bullying presentation will be difficult. A girl suggests an "It Gets Better Video" for gay kids who are bullied.  He assumes that she is gay.

Scene 3: Outside.  Robert the Headmaster brags to  a female teacher named Bobbi that he has a girlfriend, but she isn't interested.  He becomes aggressive, and she walks away. Is everybody at this school reprehensible?


Scene 4:
Two teachers, Lisa and Simon (Mark Little), eating lunch. When are we going to get to the gym class?  Mr D needs some intel on bullying for his video: is it always physical, or does verbal count?  He then steals Simon's drink.

Simon gets kissed by a guy in a Season 6 episode, but I don't know if he's actually gay or just getting hit on in a "mistaken for gay" sequence.

Scene 5: Class of younger kids. Mr. D lecturing on bullies through history, like Stalin and the '74 Fliers (I figured that was a Canadian reference, but he means the Philadelphia Fliers hockey team.)  He has to leave the room: "No talking.  Anyone who talks has to kiss (the ugly) Edward."  Whoa, that was mean.  

In the hallway, Mr. D sees a bully and victim.  He asks them to repeat their interaction, so he can film it, but then rejects them as terrible actors.  

I went through the entire episode cast, including the kids (since the episode aired in 2012, so the 12-year olds are now 21).  The only beefcake photos available are of Christopher Bearne, who played the bullied kid (top photo).


Then I went through the cast list of the entire series, and all I found was Hunter Colley, who appears in six episodes.  This photo was hard to find, because Google kept substituting "Hunter College."

Scene 6: The office.  Mr. D asks for the medical records of all Grade 5 students.  He thinks that it is confidental, but actually all teachers get them.

Scene 7: In class, Mr. D reads the medical information aloud to see if he can find anything that might get the kid bullied: "Jordan is allergic to sheep.  Let's make fun of him!" 

Scene 8: In the office, Mr D calls Patrick, who doesn't want to talk to him.  He wants to meet at Barrel's at 7:00 pm Friday.  A date?  Wait -- is Mr D gay?

 Scene 9: Finally, a gym class, except it's young kids, and Mr. D is not the teacher, he just sort of pushes his way in.  He has two team captains pick their teams, to demonstrate how bad you feel when you are chosen last.  Except he's chosen last (wait -- why would they think that choosing him was an option?)

Scene 10:  Class.  Students divided into older and younger. Mr. D announces that they are going to be in his anti-bullying video. They all walk out.

Scene 11: Bullying Awareness Rally.  The modern dancers perform: "Fear is a jaguar, sleek and hungry."  Next it's time for Mr. D's video, but he doesn't have one. Instead he tells the students "Don't let anyone bully you."  I don't think you have a choice in the matter.

Scene 12: Teachers' Lounge.  Robert the Headmaster's girlfriend breaks up with him in front of everybody. Wait, I thought he just invented her to make Bobbi jealous.  He immediately starts flirting with Bobbi.  I don't understand.  Was she a real girlfriend or not?

Scene 13: Barrels Steakhouse. Bill the Bartender tells Mr. D, "You should have a red rose on so he can recognize you."  Patrick comes in....with his wife and kids. Whoops, this date turned out to be a dud.

No:  Mr D bullied Patrick when they were in grade school, and now he wants to apologize.  But Patrick's son, now a bully, insults Mr. D, so he retaliates: "You'll never get girls with those big ears!"  Heteronormativity alert!  No way Mr. D could know if the kid is heterosexual or not.

Later, Bill the Bartender gives Mr. D a parasol drink: "A lot of our female customers like it."  You'rcalling Mr. D a woman because he apologized? Real men never apologize for anything, every.  They're always right.  You sexist jerk!  Besides, why is being a woman a bad thing?  

The end.

I hated this episode a lot.  The teachers are all horrible people, especially Mr. D.  I can't imagine anyone really letting him stand in front of a class for more than five minutes.  And why isn't "the gym teacher" teaching gym?

May 27, 2021

"Road to Love" Colombian Comedy Telenovela with Cute Truckers

 


When I was researching telenovelas yesterday, I skipped over the Colombian tv series Los Briceños, somehow translated The Road to Love, because the icon showed a girl and her boyfriend.  But the boyfriend is cute, and Episode 4 says "Dario pressures Peluche to hook up with Ramona so she will give them jobs."  Why would Peluche need to be pressured, unless he is not into women?  And why would they both get jobs, unless they are a couple?  

Opening: Truckers singing and hugging in pairs and groups.  It looks like they're copying the opening of That 70s Show, with the various groups driving and singing "Not a thing to do  but talk to you....we're all all right!"




Scene 1: It's the National Semi-Truck Finals, and the three Briceno Brothers, Breiner (cute), Dario (scuzzy), and Toronja (responsible), are sure that their truck will win.  Their assistant, Peluche (blond), brings them empanadas.  

Breiner is played by Camilo Amores (top photo), and Toronja by Jose Daniel Cristancho (left).

Their sister Chiqui is wearing short-shorts and getting stared at.  Toronja orders her to put on something more modest.   They argue.  "It's the 21st century!" "I'm a man, and you're a woman!  You have to obey me!"  Whew, sexist!

I think Peluche is gay.  He flirts with all the women, but the brothers say he doesn't mean it.  Plus two earrings.

Meanwhile, Evil Guy plans to repossess the truck, and old guy Armando's wife tries to talk him out of driving in the race: "Let one of the boys do it."



Scene 2:
The brothers disagree with the way Chiqui has decorated the truck: too girly!  She gets a phone call from her boyfriend Samuel (Mario Espitia): "My family can't know about us."  Why not? Is he from a rival trucking company?  Whoops, he has another girlfriend!

Scene 3:  Evil Guy appears to tow the truck away, right before the big race!  "Your dad owes me money.  This was his collateral."  Peluche flirts with him, but it doesn't work.  

Chiqui: "Today's the deadline to pay. We'll win the race and get you your money."

Scene 4:  They drive the truck to the festival, and arrive late.  Dad yells at them.  Rival trucker Florentino drives up, insults them, and makes a sleazy pass at Chiqui. The men all rush to protect her honor.  

Scene 5: While the other competitors pose with hot babes, the Briceno family says the rosary and discusses how much they love each other.  Dad still insists on driving, with Chiqui as his assistant.

The race begins.  I thought it would be cross-country, but it's on a track.  Thousands of spectators.  Is this a real thing in Colombia? Are trucks even designed to go fast?

Final round: the Briceno Doll vs. the Florentino Diablo.  The Bricenos win.  That wasn't very suspenseful.

Uh-oh, Dario puts the prize money on the front seat of the truck, without locking it!  A theft story arc coming up!

Scene 6:  Dad discovers that Chiqui knows how to drive a truck, and turns on her.  Weird -- hasn't he been saying "you're my co-pilot, you're my angel"?  He demands to know which "insolent idiot" taught her.  Peluche the Assistant confesses.  Snarl, snarl, "betraying me!"  

Chiqui: "Dad, I want to be a trucker."

Dad: Sputter, sputter, snarl, snarl. "you are the worst person who ever lived!  You are not my daughter!  I curse the day you were born!  Now go home and cook my dinner!"


Scene 7:
Sputtering with rage, Chiqui and Peluche get into their truck and drive away.  Meanwhile Mom invites Evil Guy and his assistant/wife to dinner at an outdoor restaurant.

When they go off the road, Chiqui and Peluche have an almost romantic moment.  He declares his love, she pretends not to notice.  Uh-oh, I smell a will-they-or-won't-they story arc. 

Chiqui collapses.  Peluche carries her off to get help, leaving the truck (geez, she has a cell phone in her pocket.  Call for an ambulance!) The money box has fallen into the mud, lost.

Scene 8: Driving around looking for them, Dad and two brothers have car trouble.  

Meanwhile, a trucker named Octavio, who may have been in the race earlier, stops to help Peluche and Chiqui.  

Meanwhile, at dinner, Mom reveals that the remaining brother, Toronja (the responsible one), can sing.  He denies it -- too girly?  -- but she insists.  So he sings a love song, and the women at the diner all swoon.  The lunch lady, Mrs. Amalfi, is gazing at him.  I smell another romance plot arc. She says "You should become a professional singer!"  No, I'm a trucker.  Can't you do both?  10-4, good buddy.

Scene 9: Dad and the boys find the abandoned truck.  They notice that the money box is missing, but not that it's lying in the mud beside them.  

Scene 10: Chiqui wakes up in the hospital.  She doesn't remember Peluche's profession of love. Mom and Toronja arrive.  The doctor announces that she fainted due to low blood sugar, but she "and the baby" are fine.  Gasp -- Chiqui is pregnant!


Beefcake: 
 Lots of cute guys.  No one takes anything off, not even at the beach.

Other Sights: Some exteriors, all coutryside.

Heterosexism: All of the guys make sleazy come-ons or respectful gestures of romantic interest.  I don't think gay people exist.

Pacing: There were so many plot arcs beginning that it was hard to decide what to concentrate on.  

Character Motivations:  Dad has no problem with Chiqui helping him drive the truck, but when she wants to be a driver, he explodes into a thousand pieces of rage.  Pelache keeps saying "Chiqui is like a sister.  She's my sister.  I treat her like a sister." Then suddenly he's in love with her?  

Will I Keep Watching: 65 episodes, and no gay characters?  I don't think so.

Are There Any Men in Netflix Telenovelas?


 Netflix is so overwhelmed by shows about women solving murders, being terrorized by the paranormal, and rising to the top of financial empires that this morning I vowed to watch the first show with a man and no woman on the icon.  

Category: Spanish telenovelas.  Mariposa del Barrio (woman touching her breast), The Queen Flow (two women kissing), Her Mother's Killer (car), Sin Senos Si Hay Paraiso (naked lady),  Silvana Sin Lano (sparring hetero couple), Falsa Identidad (mother and child), El Final del Paraiso (girl gazing into boyfriend's eyes), La Eslava Banca (girl gazing into naked boyfriend's eyes),The Good Bandit (man).

Well, I said the first icon with a man, so...


The Good Bandit: 
Opening scene: The Good Bandit rides a horse, breaks into a safe, kisses money, meets a woman who looks like she can barely restrain herself from performing fellatio on the spot.   The woman rides behind him.  He sees another woman with big breasts.

Nope, nope, nope!  Absolutely not!  No way!  I'll keep looking


Señora Acero
(woman and money), Rosario Tueras (woman and gun), Undercover Law (woman and gun), La Reina del Sur (woman and gun),  Ingovernable (feminine-coded person), Heidi (giggling girl), You've Got This (mom, dad, and kid), All in Love (mom and daughter), The House of Flowers (naked woman and man), The Queen and the Conquerer (woman and naked man), Como Caido del Cielo (ugly man in sombrero).

Ok, ok, I said I would do it, and I'll do it.


Como Caido del Cielo. 
A man dies, but he has to prove that he's worthy of going to heaven, so he moves into someone else's body.  He crawls through a forest of girl legs and makes out with "his" wife: "You haven't looked at me like that since we were married."  "What a waste!"

 Keep going, keep going! 


Loving is Losing (
laughing man and woman), The Day I Met El Chapo (breasts), Playing with Fire (old man and breasts), 365 Days (muscular boyfriend and girlfriend), Valeria (girl legs), Adu (little boy), Falling Inn Love (that can't be Spanish!), Selena (boyfriend and girlfriend), Perdida (boyfriend and girlfriend),  Desire (four-way).

Heck with it.  I'm going back to 365 Days.

It's a movie, not a telenovela, in Polish, not Spanish.  A mafioso (Michele Morrone, top photo) kidnaps a woman and gives her 365 days to fall in love with him, or else... couldn't he just take his shirt off?

No way I'm watching that.  Onward....


The Ottoman Lieutenant
(man and woman), Si Mi Amor (two women at Christmas), The Road to Love (boyfriend and girlfriend), Lorena (woman's feet), Amar (naked woman kissing man), Striptease (naked woman), Black Money Love (woman gambling), Go! Live Your Way (girl)...

Dejo de intentarlo.  I give up.

May 26, 2021

Who Are Pocket Boy and Cargo Man, and Are Either Gay?

 


When I see The Rise of Sir Longbottom on Amazon Prime, I assume that it was an entry in the Harry Potter universe. Neville Longbottom is one of Harry's allies, played in the movies by the extremely buffed Matthew Lewis.  So he's not only a professor at Hogwarts, he becomes a knight. 

The icon shows a woman wearing a man's suit, or a nonbinary person, or maybe Neville comes out as transgender? 

The blurb reveals  that this is actually a movie about spies : "Pocket Man, Cargo Boy, and all your favorite Section 62 agents are back to face a dangerous new threat."  

Section 62 must be an intelligence agency that everybody in Britain knows about, but no one else has ever heard of.  Is it the one that James Bond works for?

No, that's M16.  Google has never heard of Section 62.  

This is getting bizarre.  How can my favorite Section 62 agents return, if Section 62 has never appeared on film or in real life before?  

I decide to watch the trailer, but when I return to Amazon Prime, it's gone.  Was this all a crazy dream?

I conduct a lot of research, following clues from IMDB to movie review blogs to local newspaper articles to actors' instagram and facebook pages, hitting a lot of dead ends, trying to answer these questions:

1. Why does the title reflect the Harry Potter franchise?

2. Why does the blurb assume that everyone in the world knows who Cargoman and Pocketboy are?

3. Is there any gay representation?

The writer/director of Sir Longbottom is Clay Moffitt, who lives in Tempe, Arizona. So why make a movie set in Britain?  According to his Instagram profile, he is a husband and a father.  He has been married to Elise Moffit since 2011 and has four children.  I'm guessing heterosexual, politically conservative, and religious.  Maybe Mormon? 


He's got 7 acting, 13 directing, and 14 writing credits on IMDB.  

The co-writer, Mackenzie Clark, has 4 writing and 3 acting credits on IMDB.  He wrote and starred in Star Man, but not the 1984 romantic sci-fi movie, something about a boy who inherits superhero powers from his father. 

Pocketman and Cargoboy appear in a 2018 movie about "teenage secret agents" trying to stop an evil doctor from destroying the world.  I can't tell who the two secret agents are from the cast list; no Pocketman or Cargoboy are listed.  But maybe it's Jeremy Behie and Daniel Main from this photo.


Daniel Main has only three acting credits on IMDB, apparently all Pocketman and Cargoboy movies (one not released yet).

According to his instagram, Jeremy Behie is represented by a talent agency in Tempe, Arizona.  He loves cars, God, and his family (not in that order), and hates school(why learn history?  Everybody in it is dead).  Again I'm guessing heterosexual, politically conservative, and religious.





The Longbottom movie has the same two guys, plus some adult hunks, like Wayne Lundy, a personal trainer when he's not acting, and Mark Speno (left), a martial artist when he's not acting.



Are any of the characters gay or transgender?  The androgynous or nonbinary person in the icon does not appear in the cast list, and there's no Sir Longbottom listed, either.  

An androgynous person named Phoenix JD Gabe plays "Pyro."  But he apparently identifies as male.  He wrote, starred in, directed, designed the costumes, and did the makeup for a 2021 short, The Auction, about a young man "sold into human trafficking" and put up on auction on the Macabre site on the dark web.  I assume there's some gay connection.  Here he poses with what looks like a gay pride flag.

I can finally answer the three questions:

1. Why the Harry Potter reference? No doubt to trick fans into clicking on the streaming video.

2. Why assume that everyone in the world has heard of Cargoman and Pocketboy?  Directorial ego; the previous movie was made on a budget of $21,000, and released nowhere.

3. Gay representation?  I highly doubt it.

I finally find a trailer to the Longbottom movie, and watch it with the sound off: teenage secret agents fighting, adult actors looking embarrassed, a rear shot of a woman in a bikini, a man and a woman kissing in a pool.

Ugh!  Why couldn't I have seen that earlier?  And avoided all of this research?

Granted, the research was fun.

May 25, 2021

"Move to Heaven" Tackles a Gay Couple

 


Move to Heaven is a Korean drama about three "trauma cleaners" who clean the houses, apartments, or rooms of the deceased, and deliver a box of mementos to the surviving loved ones: Geun-ru, who is autistic; his MMA fighter/ex con guardian Sang-gu (Lee Je-hoon, left); and best friend Na-mu.  (See my review of the first episode here)


In Episode 5, they are assigned to clean the room of Joon Soo-hyun (Kwon Soo-hyun), a young doctor killed in a hostage incident.  His parents want everything taken away, no mementos of any sort. Geun-ru finds a letter that the doctor planned to send to a loved one, and has to deliver it; but when he asks the parents who it was written to, Dad throws it onto the fire.

Mom: He was our son.  We should have allowed it.

Dad: I would never allow such a thing in our family!

Aha, a mystery to solve!  The autistic Geun-ru becomes fixated on finding "the person he was in love with" to deliver the mementos to.  Sang-gu and Na-mu immediately say "yes, we must find this woman.  Who is she?"

Soo-hyun had tickets to a string quartet concert tomorrow night -- three women and a man.  Plus he put the letter in a gift box.  No doubt he was planning to deliver it at the concert.  The trauma cleaners deduce that the doctor was in love with one of the performers.  So they go to the concert hall, and while Geun-ru is in the bathroom, Sang-gu and Na-mu interrogate each of the three women.  Nope, none of them even knew Soo-hyung.

Geun-ru returns, and looks at a poster advertising the concert: "I know who the lover is."

Sang-gu: "Dude, it's a dead end.  We asked all three of the members of the quartet."

Geun-ru points.


Sang-gu: "Dude, you're pointing at a guy, Ian Park (Kim Doh-yon). We're looking for Soo-hyung's lover, remember?"

Na-mu: "You don't mean...no!  That's impossible!  This is Korea!"

Sang-gu: "Well....I've heard of them.  But Soo-hyung was a doctor!  He couldn't be..."

After their initial shock and disbelief, the trauma cleaners are perfectly nonchalant about gay people.  Even Sang-gu, the macho ex-con MMA fighter.  They approach Ian to give him the mementos, but he denies knowing Soo-hyung.  Then he says "I knew him once, but he's a stranger to me now."

 The others say "Well, that's another dead end," but Geun-ru insists that Soo-hyung wanted Ian to have the mementos. They decide to try again, but Ian has gone missing, right before the concert!

After all the "no, this can't happen in Korea!" build-up, I expected Ian to be a villain, involved in a sinister plot of some sort.  But no: there are flashbacks of the two meeting, going out on dates, cuddling in bed, falling in love, and planning to go to San Francisco together.  Then they broke up when Soo-yun decided to obey his parents and marry a woman; that's why "he's a stranger to me."

Why San Francisco?  Because it is a cliched gay mecca?  And why does Ian have a Western name?  Is gayness a Western phenomenon?

The Trauma Cleaners track down Ian and tell him about the letter.  It was burned, but fortunately Geun-ru has an eidetic memory, and can quote it.   Soo-hyun wanted to get back together and go to San Francisco after all.  

At the concert, Ian tells about losing "someone who was everything to me, someone who I will love forever."  He drops pronouns, but the ghost of Soo-hyun, sitting in the audience, hears him.  

Postscript: Geun-ru still doesn't understand. Why were the parents against Soo-hyun dating Ian?  He was nice.  Sang-gu: "Parents always worry when their kids are different, like your father worried about you."

By the way, there's a second postscript with Sang-gu feeling guilty because he put his opponent into a coma during a fight.  Some shirtless MMA shots.

May 24, 2021

"Army of the Dead": A Man and a Woman Save the World and Don't Fall in Love


I was zipping through Army of the Dead, a new Netflix zombie comedy, looking for beefcake, when I saw two soldiers hugging.  And a plot synopsis actually used the phrase "buddy bonding."  That's enough gay subtext for me!  I quickly started it from the beginning.

Scene 1: Two army guys are leading a top-secret convoy down a deserted Nevada highway.  Meanwhile, a newly married guy is driving while his wife performs oral sex.  They crash.  Everything explodes, and the "payload" escapes: a zombified muscle man!  Very quick, and impervious to bullets.  The two lead soldiers hug and try to run away, but it kills them.  Darn -- very short gay subtext!

Scene 2:  A Liberace impersonator being campy.  Three topless showgirls have zombified, and attack.  So, semi naked women kill a swishy queen.  There's some definite homophobic symbolism.

General chaos as everyone in Vegas zombifies and attacks everyone else.  Three guys hugging, but I think they were in a wedding party.  A cliche little girl-teddy bear.  An Elvis impersonator.  Nice shots of thousands of zombies overwhelming Las Vegas streets.

We see the "before" pictures of four people who are killing zombies and the infected.  One has a degree in philosophy; another holds a copy of Success magazine.  Will they be central characters? No, they all get eaten.   

 I'm tired of characters being introduced and then killed.  We'd better get some protagonists soon.

Scene 3: A greasy spoon diner.  The tv tells us that the Zombie Wars have ended with massive casualties and Las Vegas walled off.  The next step is to drop a nuclear bomb on the zombie-infested city (didn't they do that in The Stand?). Coincidentally in four days, on the Fourth of July. 

 Muscular cook/Zombie War hero Scott (Dave Bautista, top photo)  is hired by some shady types to retrieve $200 million in gold buried beneath the Strip.  

Scene 4: McCann Quarantine Camp outside Las Vegas, where people who might be infected are detained (COVD symbolism much?).  But it's actually anyone the government doesn't like: immigrants, gay rights advocates, pro-choice advocates.  They are being transferred to Barstow prior to the bombing.  


Kate and Geeta, who may be a romantic couple, discuss slipping into the city, cracking open a few slot machines, and bribing their way out of quarantine.  They are brutalized by a sadistic guard (Theo Rossi, who will become important later).  Guards can do whatever they want.  If you protest, they will take your temperature, claim that it is low, and shoot you.  Wow, paranoia over COVD restrictions!  Next they'll be comparing mask rules to the Holocaust.

Scene 5: Scott the Cook flashes back to having to kill his zombified wife, sister, or mother.  I'm guessing wife, because dead wives are a standard cliche.  

I know how this will turn out.  I'll just fast forward.


One of the team members, Ludwig (Matthias Schweighofer, left), may be gay.  He tells team member Guzman (Raul Castillo), "I love your hair."  They both die.

Tig Notaro plays a butch helicopter pilot who may be a lesbian.  She dies. 

Vanderohe (Omari Hardwicke) is flying in a private plane during the cliffhanger ending, so I guess he's important to the story.  But I couldn't tell by fast-forwarding

Shocking twist: Scott the Cook and Kate Not a Lesbian don't fall in love.  Turns out that Kate is Scott's daughter!  Didn't see that one coming.  (Actually, if you look carefully, you can see Kate coming out of the bedroom while Scott kills his wife/sister/mother).

Beefcake: No.  Some topless girls, though.  Always have to throw in topless girls.

Buddy-Bonding.  I didn't see any, except in the first scene with the two soldiers who get eaten.

Comedy:  This is advertised as a comedy, but I didn't get the humor.  There are a lot of long, drawn-out "I've been bitten...I'm going to die..." scenes.

Everybody Dies: Almost.  Only one member of the team survives.

My Grade: Can't really judge without watching the whole thing, but from the Liberace eaten, the topless girls, the lack of buddy-bonding, and almost everybody dying, D.  

May 23, 2021

"Move to Heaven": No One Really Moves to Heaven

 


Move to Heaven: "Unmet hopes. Undelivered truths. Untimely deaths.  Trauma cleaners piece together odes to loved ones from the departed."  So  they're basically spiritualists conducting high-tech seances to tell people "Your father loved you."  

But the trailer is quite different:  Cute Guy #1 (Tang Joon-Sang, below)  in a haz-mat suit cleans a run-down apartment, while a voice over says that he has to "Move to heaven for three months" before he can get his guardianship (become a guardian angel?).  Cute Guy #2 (Lee Je-hoon) climbs out of a tent in the living room, shocked -- no doubt he fell asleep in the wilderness, and died.  Cute Guy #1 tells him the rules: "Wash the dishes after you use them. Take out the trash."  A comedy about Oscar-Felix mismatched dead guys?  But it's 4:00 am, so I'm in.


Prologue
: Cute Guy #3. Kim Seon-u (Lee Jae-wook), walks through a vast factory and peers into some sort of conveyor.  Uh-oh, it accidentally rolls over his foot!  He hobbles out of the factory into the night, returns to his tiny one-room apartment, and collapses onto the bed.

Scene 1: Cute Guy #1, Geu-Ru, at an aquarium, naming all the fish.  A girl picks him up ("my best friend for ten years"), and drops him off at the Chicken Bowl restaurant.  She waves; he bows awkwardly, not socially adept.  Maybe autistic?



Home, a house labeled "Move to Heaven."  Dad (Ji Jin-hee) serves dinner: two identical plates of eggs, toast, and apples.  Geu-Ru gets upset when it's slightly off.  Definitely autistic.  

Phone call: they have a job.  They load heavy chemical equipment into their van and set out.

Scene 2:  Kim Seon-u's apartment.  He died of sepsis from his untreated injury. and wasn't discovered for a week.  They go through his stuff and deduce facts about him, like "He was sensitive to smells."  Then they pack up everything and carry it out.  So they're house cleaners?  I thought they talked to the dead.


Scene 3:
On the way out, Geu-Ru notices the convenience store where the dead guy bought gimbap (Korean sushi) every day.  He recites the flavors from receipts they found in the apartment: anchovy, tuna, pollack roe.  They see him going in and flirting with the clerk. When will we get to the ghost whispering?

Scene 4:  Sleazy Guy telling Seon-u's parents that since he died at home, the company is not responsible. They're deaf, and speak through an interpreter. Dad and Geu-Ru arrive and give them Seon-u's stuff.  Mom goes through his phone messages, and find that he was forbidden from seeing a doctor and calling it a "workplace accident."  Shouldn't Seon-u tell her that from beyond the grave?  What's the point of being able to talk to dead people, if you can solve the mystery by going through the dead guy's phone messages?   

Dad overhears the evil corporate suits chortling over getting off and insulting Seon-u's parents, and intervenes.  So this is the plot, taking down the evil corporation?  What about Geu-Ru having to spend time in the afterlife with a slob?  When are we going to get to the paranormal?

Scene 5:  Meanwhile, Geu-Ru sees a girl wearing a medallion that he thinks Seon-u would like, so he accosts her: "There's something I want.  I really want to have it."  Naturally, she assumes that he wants sex, and screams.  Security calls Dad, who comes to pick him up.  

Scene 6:  Dad drops Geu-Ru off at the aquarium, and goes off to visit his lawyer.  But crossing a street, he collapse.  He has just enough time to call Geu-Ru and say "I'm sorry."  The paramedics arrive.

Geu-Ru waits and waits, and then decides to drive home, but it's too much for him.   He gets stuck on a bridge.  So here's where he dies, and has to spend 3 months in heaven with a slob to become a guardian angel?

Dad dies in the ambulance.

Best friend arrives to get Geu-Ru out of the car and tell him what happened.  How did she know where he was?  Why did they inform her that Dad died like ten minutes ago? Why did they drop the plot about taking down the evil corporation?  Where's the paranormal?

Scene 7:  Geu-Ru in a suit with Dad's ashes.  He wants to take them home instead of scattering them.  I assume that he's going to live with Best Friend's family now?  Or is Best Friend going to become his guardian?

Scene 8: At home, Geu-Ru looks at Dad's memorial. 

Scene 9:  Cho Sang-gu, Cute Guy #2 from the trailer, shows up at Geu-Reu's house.  Best Friend answers the door.  He makes himself at home, explaining that the house now belongs to him.   For some inexplicable reason, before he died Dad designated ex-con prize fighter Cho Sang-gu as Geu-Reu's legal guardian.  The end.

So Geu-Reu never goes to the afterlife.  Cho Sang-gu has to live with him in  "Move to Heaven" in order to claim guardianship.  The hazmat suit is just because Cho Sang-gu made a mess in the house.  The tent in the living room -- he can't use one of the bedrooms?  No afterlife, no talking to dead people, no nothing. 


Beefcake: 
 Several cute guys. The prizefighter will probably take his shirt off.

Other Sights: Some very nice exterior shots.

Gay Characters: No one expresses heterosexual interest.

Paranormal:  Lots of promises, but no.  The "Trauma Cleaners" are house cleaners.  They don't even conduct Korean Shamanic rituals.

Setting Up the Premise: A full 50-minute episode.  How about 5-6 minutes? 

My Grade: I feel cheated after waiting 50 minutes for someone to go to heaven or talk to dead people.  Other than the annoying misdirection in the trailer, not bad. B.

"John from Cincinnati", Part 2: Surfing Has Nothing to Do With It

Having bing watched all 8 episodes of John in Cincinnati in 2 days, I can report the following:

1. "Three generations of surfing champions find their lives turned upside down by a mysterous visitor."  Wrong!  The surfing is completely irrelevant.  They might as well have been family of taxidermists.

2. I thought that Butchie the Black Sheep Son and John from Cincinnati were a romantic couple because Butchie sees him and immediately wants to be part of his life forever.  But it's more like a religious conversion.  After their life-changing day together, Butchie gets off drugs and reconciles with his father and son, and John moves on to help someone one else (but of course they stay friends forever).

He performs some miracles, like curing the teenage Shaun's broken neck, but mostly he hang out with you, smiling and repeating back what you have said, tinging it with cryptic but life-changing significance:

"Get back in the game"
"What do you want?"
"See God"

 Someone suggests that "By hearing my own words, I can hear the voice of your Father." 

Get it?  Well, he said he was coming back.

Among the publicans and sinners who get transformed through John smiling at them: 

Ramon (Luis Guzman), who runs the fleabag motel, starts to cook

Dickstein (Willie Garson), the sleazy corporate lawyer, quits his job, dumps his fiance, and joins the motel gang.  They remain a gay subtext couple.

Kai (Keala Kennelly) starts to write again

Drug dealer Steady Freddie (Dayton Callie, right) moves into the hotel and helps with the renovation.

His sidekick Polacka (Paul Ben Victor) moves in with him.  Gay-subtext couple.

Barry Cunningham (Matt Winston), the teddy-bear lugging gay guy who is tormented by the physical and sexual assault in his past, joins the motel gang.




Dr. Smith (Garret Dillahunt), a doctor who saw grandson Shaun cured of a broken neck, joins the motel gang and starts dating Barry.  Canonical couple.

Beefcake: An occasional shirt off.  Most of the actors are unattractive, anyway.

Heterosexual romance; Almost none. Butchie reconciles with the estranged mother of his son, estranged Grandma and Grandpa Surfers reconcile.  Some minor kissing, no sex. Grandson Shaun is 14,but displays no interest in girls.

Gay characters/subtexts:  All over the place.

My grade: A-.

See also: John from Cincinnati: Surfing Great Gets a New Boyfriend

"John from Cincinnati": Former Surfing Great Gets a New Boyfriend

"In the coastal town of Imperial Beach, California live the Yosts: three generations of surfing royalty with a family curse..until a stranger arrives."

Presumably the title, John from Cincinnati, refers to th stranger.  Sounds like rather an overstuffed plot, and the cover blurg shows only a frizzy-haired woman, but maybe there will be some hot surfers.

Opening Credits:  Establishing montage of hot surfers, a naked lady at the beach, and the town of Imperial Beach, which is right on the Mexican border.

Scene 1: Luke Perry and his Brother (Austin Nichols, left) complain about illegal immigrants acting like "it's just another day on the beach."  Mitch Yost (Bruce Greenwood) is surfing; they ask him to "get back in the game," but he refuses. Luke stays behind and apologizes.   They discuss the problem with Butchie,who "fucked up" and now has no sponsor, and his grandson "breaking his cherry" at Huntington this afternoon.

Is it possible to get lost after the first three minutes?

Meanwhile, Frizzy Haired Woman is watching her kids or grandkids surf.

Scene 2: Ramon has sold his hotel to someone who is "not nice," so Butchie can't stay there for free anymore.  The Society of Surfing Lawyers has just settled his claim for $2300, so he should be able to pay the back rent.

Society of Surfing Lawyers?

Scene 3:  Brother gets accosted by a guy in military gear, whom he owes money.

Scene 4: Butchie (Brian Van Holt, left) gets a visit from Shaunie (Greyson Fletcher), a long-haired kid who is breaking his cherry later.

Scene 5: Frizzy-Haired Woman (Cissy) tells Mitch that she sent a demo tape of Shaunie  (the grandson) to all potential sponsors, including the one who got Butchie into a drug-addled "shitbird."  They argue.

Shaunie and Kai (his mother?) come in.  They argue some more.

Cissy tells Shaunie (enough with the ie-endings!) to let Bill drive him to the competition,but don't tell him about the liability waver until they are at the registration table. This is very important!

What about the family curse?  Something supernatural -- i.e., interesting -- should be happening any moment now.

Scene 6:  Military Guy and Brother have a cryptic conversation about Mitch, Butchie, and health insurance (I'm not kidding).

Scene 7: Weird recluse Bill (Ed O'Neill, the Dad from Modern Family) agrees to take Shaunie to the competititon. But don't tell Grandpa Mitch!  This is very important!

Scene 8: Chubby Ramon (Luis Guzman) and the Surfing Lawyer (Willie Garson) are packing up stuff and flirting with each other.

Meanwhile Butchie the Drughead is threatening someone over the telephone; if they don't make him right, Ice Cream Man goes over a cliff.

Brother  (name: John: hey, he's the titular character!) arrives and gives Butchie his $2,300.  But the Ice Cream Man doesn't know him, so Butchie gets very upset.  I'm not sure, but I think Brother John tricked his way into Butchie's apartment in order to represent him or have sex with him.  Either way, he'll have to pay.

 They get very close very often. I keep waiting for them to kiss.  They don't, but this is getting interesting.

Scene 9: Frizzy-Haired Cissy and Grandpa Mitch argue,then have sex (we only see them in bed afterwards).

Scene 10: Butchie and John show up at the surf shop where Kai the Ex-Wife  works, to buy a full outfit.

Kai asks Butchie about his new boyfriend (where did you dig him up?) and tells him about Shaunie's competition (don't tell Grandpa Mitch!  This is very important!).

Butchie is furious with Kai for letting Shaunie compete.  He gropes John (I'm not kidding) and holds his hand. They decide to go beat up his Dad (Mitch).

Scene 11: Frizzy-Haired Cissy at Wal-Mart. Gary the Stock Boy flirts with her..  They argue (Jeez, does she argue with everybody?)  It's obvious that she wants some of him.  But he calls the police on her (what for?)

Scene 12: Bill (Al from Married...with Children) is driving Shaunie to the competition.  He yells at other cars: "Up your nose with a rubber hose!", which was the catchphrase of Barbarino on Welcome Back Kotter.  They get a flat tire.  Shaunie sees Frizzy-Haired Cissy going past in the police car, and says "The pigs got Grandma."

Pigs?  What is this, 1968?

Scene 13: Having just had "a lei," Ramon and Surfing Lawyer emerge from their apartment to meet the hotel's new owner, Mr. Cunningham (Matt Winston),who talk like a tough from Breaking Bad.   He's newly wealthy, and he intends to level the hotel because he had a bad experience there a a kid.

Butchie and John arrive.and discuss each other's penises.  Eventually Mitch, Bill, and Shaunie all show up.

Mr. Cunningham fires shots and addresses Mitch in Breaking Bad speak: "Dos your grotesque spawn still wield the old broom handle, Mitch?  Brain the occasional 12-year old shell collector?"   Apparently Butchie beat up Mr.Cunningham when they were both in 6th grade.

Bill disarms him.

John plays nice with Shaunie (have to win over the boyfriend's son, right?)

Scene 14: The gang goes down to the police station to bail out Frizzy-Haired Cissy.  Surfing Lawyer tells Mitch that he had a crush on him at age 12.  Bill asks him to not let the Fruit get behind the wheel of a car (I don't know who he means).

Mitch and his son Butchie the Druggie have a heart-to-heart.  During which Mitch rises 2 inches into the air!  What?

Scene 15:  Surfing Lawyer invites Mr. Cunningham to go surfing (a date?  But I thought he was dating Ramon?). 

Scene 16:  The gang goes surfing.  John admits that he's never been on a board before; he lied about his surfing skill to get into Butchie's pants. But Butchie is fine with it ("we'll be friends forever, no matter what").  After knowing each other for a day? Butchie moves fast!

The three of them (including Shaunie) go in together.  Then John turns out to be an excellent surfer. Why lie about something like that? To see if Butchie wants a surf buddy or a relationship?

Cissy comments that Butchie often dates "doofuses."

Bill is suspicious of John's intentions.  He decides to get him checked out, make sure there is nothing fishy going on, just an ordinary romantic relationship.


Beefcake:  They all surf in body suits.  Mitch takes his shirt off.

Other Interesting Scenery:  No.

Gay Characters:  Butchie-John, Ramon-Surfing Lawyer, and Mr. Cunningham are all gay, or have strong gay subtexts.  (The reviews only mention the crazy, teddy bear-lugging Mr. Cunningham).

Heterosexism:  None.  Mitch and Cissy have sex, but off camera. No other male-female romantic interaction.

Will I Continue to Watch?  Only long enough to find out whether the gay relationships are subtext or text.
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