Nov 12, 2021

"I See You": Come for the Gay Subtext, Stay for the Plot

 I never expect much from Amazon Prime movies.  I started watching  I See You (2019) because it starred the cute Judah Lewis (below), who I thought was gay.  It turned out to be an interesting thriller with several plot twists, no gore, no heterosexual fade-out kiss, a pleasant gay subtext, and an abundance of cute guys.  

1. Idyllic small-town detective Greg Harper (John Tenney) is having problems: at work, he's in charge of a case involving a missing boy:

2. Justin (Riley Caya), who vanished, leaving his bike and a green pocket knife.   It's similar to a case several years ago where six boys were killed and buried with green pocket knives.  But the offender was caught when two of his victims escaped. He's in prison.

At home, Detective Greg hates his wife, pill-popping counselor Jackie (Helen Hunt), because she had an affair, so he's been sleeping on the couch.  Their kid:

3. Surly Teen Connor (Judah Lewis), hates them both.  There are hints of abuse, but nothiing is specified.

Suddenly crazy, paranormal-style things start plaguing the family, like Jackie's favorite mug ending up on the roof, all of the silverware going missing, and tv sets going on and off by themselves.  Detective Greg gets trapped in the closet.   I'd assume that Surly Teen Connor was responding to the abuse by causing a ruckus, except he gets mysterious, threatening messages.  Plus:

4. A repairman (Adam Kern) comes to the house to fix the window that Detective Greg broke.  He says that a girl let him in, but no girl lives there.  Could their house be haunted?

Meanwhile, Detective Greg and his partner try to interview the boys who escaped, to see if they know anything that could lead them to Justin.  But the first kid:

5. Tommy (Jeremy Gladen) becomes hysterical, and won't talk to them, and they can't find the second.

Then Tommy goes missing, too!

One day:

6. Jackie's ex-boyfriend Todd (Sam Trammell) comes by to try to win her back, and ends up murdered in the basement.  Detective Greg and Jackie naturally assume that Surly Teen Connor did it, so they bury the body in the woods.  

When  they return, they find Surly Teen Connor drugged and tied up in the bathtub (no skin), with a green pocket knife next to him!  The kidnapper was in the house!   While Greg is searching, he's attacked, too.

We eventually see who's causing the ruckus:  Homeless teens Mindy and:

7. Alec (Owen Teague), who are making a documentary about phrogging (living in someone's house without them knowing it).  Mindy wants to be incognito, but Alec, who chose this house on purpose, is gaslighting Detective Greg and Jackie. Although he's trying to help Surly Teen Connor by warning him about...something.

 I think Alec is gay: he doesn't display any romantic interest in Mindy -- they're cooped up in the walls or in the guest room for hours at a time, yet never mention having sex.  Plus he seems interested in Surly Teen Connor.  

Uh-oh, Mindy sees who really killed Ex-Boyfriend Sam!


Detective Greg!  She wants to call the cops, but Alec doesn't want his plans ruined (we'll find out what his plans are later).  He's the one who drugged and tied up Surly Teen Connor (after tenderly caressing his body). 

Ulp...Mindy is accidentally trapped in the car with Detective Greg!  She finds his "magic house," and the kidnapped boys, Justin and Tommy (the survivor of the previous kidnapping).  But Detective Greg kills her before she can rescue them.  

Back at the house, Detective Greg encounters Alec.  They fight.  Alec is stabbed, but he manages to shoot Detective Greg before collapsing.

Best exchange in the movie:
Detective Greg:  Wait!  I can explain.  When I was a kid...
Alec: I don't give a fuck.

Just then, a bit too late:

8. Detective Spitzky (Gregory Alan Williams) rushes to the rescue.  He recognizes Alec from the earlier case!

We flash back to Alec as a kid, walking along the railroad tracks with his friend:

9.  Tommy (Wyatt McClure).  Yes, the same Tommy who was kidnapped years later.  They encounter Detective Greg, who offers them a green pocket knife.

We're left to piece together what happened.  I came up with: Detective Greg kidnapped Young Alec and Tommy with the green pocket knife as bait.  They escaped before he could kill them, and since he was a cop, they were afraid to tell anyone. He framed someone else. Then, years later, he started the kidnapping again, targeting the teenage Tommy.  This compelled teenage Alec to start his "I know what you did last summer" gaslighting campaign.  

So everything cleverly falls into place.  The kidnapped boys are rescued, and Alec survives.  Only two things bother me:

#1: What was the point of drugging and tying up Connor?  It wouldn't implicate Detective Greg, since no one outside the house would know about it.  

And #2:  

10. Jostein Sagnes is credited as Justin's friend, but he doesn't appear in the movie.  What happened to him?

Nov 11, 2021

"Father Christmas is Back". And he brought the heterosexism with him.

An arguing extended family stuck together for Christmas is almost as cliched as the "big city girl finds love in a small town" romcom, but they keep churning them out.  The Return of Father Christmas is #4 on Netflix this week. No doubt one of the family members will be gay, or at least there will be some hunks drinking eggnog.

Scene 1: The cast is introduced, grinning in front of a Christmas tree: Kelsley Grammar, John Lithgow, Steve Buscemi, not guys on my list of mega-hunks or even minor hunks.  Then a foot in a high-heel shoe climbs a ladder to put on the ornaments.  She stumbles and falls bringing the tree down with her.  Peter (Steve Buscemi)  comes in.  Instead of asking "Are you hurt?", like a normal human being, he makes a joke about her shagging the tree. 

Sorry; turns out that Peter is not played by Steve Buscemi, but by his identical twin (I assume), Kris Marshall.  I couldn't find a picture of the two together, but the resemblance is spot-on. (The photo below says it's Kris Marshall naked, but it doesn't look anything like the guy in the movie).

They discuss the Perfect Christmas they're going to have this year.  It involves picking up the kids but rejecting their ornament ideas, and buying a new loo brush.  So this must be England, which explains the "Father Christmas."  But nowadays they say Santa Claus there.

Scene 2: Small town, night.   Another woman leaves the store with a wreath and sweets, which she gives to her two kids (teenage daughter, preteen son).  Daughter complains about having to play Mary in the Christmas pageant. 

They go to an ornate mansion, where many people, , mostly elderly, are mulling about.  She apologize to flamboyantly femme Alan for being late.  The oldsters make the usual absent-minded and "in my day" statements.

Although Alan knows her well, the script requires him to say her full name: Caroline Christmas-Hope.  No kidding?

Scene 3: Caroline and kids arrive at their house, an even bigger mansion.  Wait -- what happened to the Christmas pageant?  What were they late for?  Scene 2 was one big tease!  

Inside, Hubbie from Scene 1 is re-decorating the tree.  Ok, so they're the same woman. But the self-centered, indulgent lady from Scene 1 is nothing like the caring, old people visiting lady from Scene 2.   Seeing the tree, she turns back to bitchy, and shrieks her disgust at the kids' non-elegant ornaments.  

Scene 4:  The tree finished, Hubbie leads Caroline into the kitchen, where the kids are making Christmas cookies.  Treacly family moment ensues.  

Scene 5:
Caroline phones her Mum to assure her that everything will be perfect.  Guests begin to arrive: Mum; her even bitchier sister, Joanna (who criticizes the gigantic mansion as "lower class"}; Joannna's new husband Felix (Ray Fearon); leather pants wearing wild child Vickie; and repressed, severe Paulina, who looks like the lady who used to say "You're the weakest link, goodbye."   I'm guessing that Wild Child Vickie is the gay one.

 Plot Exposition: Dad abandoned them on Christmas Day, and ever since Caroline has been obsessed with making Christmas Perfect.  She hasn't succeeded yet -- there's always a tiny detail off.  But one day....what?  the perfection will lure Dad back?

Scene 6:  While Joanna is busily criticizing everyone and scfreaming at the kids, Wild Child Vickie kisses Felix right on the mouth.  Ok, she's not a lesbian. That leaves Repressed Paulina.  John Lithgow, dressed in a British hunting costume, complete with gun, trudges toward the mansion.  But it's ok: they all know and hate him (except for Mum, who wants in his pants).

Meanwhile, the teenage girl is helping the preteen boy put on make up.  Maybe he's transgender?

Scene 7: The adults are drinking wine and glowering at each other. Caroline tells them about the Perfect Christmas itinerary: tonight just appetizers (if you want food, go to the village -- surprisingly bad hosting!), tomorrow the Christmas Fair down in the village.  Then on Christmas Day, the pageant at the old people's mansion, then a banquet.  Then on Boxing Day.... No pantomime? 

Joanna hates everything about the itinerary, and insists on staying at the inn in the village instead of at the mansion, which she hates (too lower-class) with her family, whom she also hates.

Ok, this is awful.  No hunks, people screaming at each other, Caroline's neurotic obsession with using "The Perfect Christmas" to win her estranged Dad back, constant sex jokes.  I'm fast forwarding to see if there's any payoff from the makeup scene, or if any hunks show up at the Fair.

Minute 33: A distraught Joanna approaches Ben (Jamie Roche, top photo), the bartender at the pub,  and orders "an old-fashioned.  Straight up."  He jokes "So you've read y Tindr profile."  I guess that's a sex joke. They flirt.

Minute 40:  Felix the Husband is bonding with Repressed Paulina.  So she's not a lesbian, either.

Minute 1.17: Peter and Caroline in bed.  He's shirtless, Yawn.  Meanwhile, the boy is absurdly delighted over the chocolate Santa Claus in his Advent Calendar.

Minute 1.23: The Christmas Pageant.  I'm hoping the boy comes out as transgender or gay, or is playing Mary, or something.  Anytning?  No, we just get 30 seconds of the pageant.  He's playing Joseph.  Tha make-up scene gets no payoff.

Minute 1.35.
  Flamboyantly feminine Alan (Lucas Livesley) returns to be absurdly over-enthusiastic about the Christmas banquet and its delicious...DELICIOUS!!!!!!! food. Has this guy had any acting lessons, or did the director instruct him to be ten times more enthusiastic than any real person has ever been?

  All of the original couples have reconciled.  Everybody kisses.  Caroline kisses Kelsey Grammar on the mouth.  i thought he was playing her estranged father?  

I had to go back and forth through the father-daughter smooch several times to get to the split-second final scene, where the two kids are sitting outside, watching it snow (why aren't they eating with the others).  It looked like the boy was in drag, but he's just in his Joseph costume. 

Well, I tried.  

Nov 10, 2021

The DC Comics Jungle

When I was a kid in the 1960s and 1970s, DC Comics were not known for their beefcake -- Batman, Superman, and their superhero coworkers were fully clothed all the time.  You had to go to Gold Key to get your quota of loincloth-clad jungle hunks.  But suddenly in the 1970s DC got on the bandwagon, and a dozen jungle, prehistoric, far-future, and sword-and-sorcery musclemen appeared all at once.

A precursor, Congo Bill, who wore a Jungle Jim style pith helmet, appeared in various DC Comics in the 1940s and 1950s, until he was transformed into a giant gorilla in 1959.  He got his own 7-issue series in 1954-55.  His sidekick was the loincloth clad Janu the Jungle Boy, a pint-sized Bomba who spoke in "Him no friend" patois. Here he worries about the competition.

B'wana Beast appeared in two issues of DC Showcase in 1967.  He drank a special magic elixer in a cave on Mount Kilimanjaro that allowed him to talk to animals, including his gorilla sidekick. A special magic helmet allowed him to control them.

DC took over the Tarzan title from Gold Key in 1972, and printed adaptions of the original Edgar Rice Burroughs stories: Tarzan of the Apes, The Return of Tarzan, Jungle Tales of Tarzan, Tarzan the Untamed, Tarzan and the Lion Man and Tarzan and the Castaways.  It lasted until 1977.

Korak, Son of Tarzan also migrated from Gold Key from 1972 to 1976.

The anthology series Weird Worlds  adapted some other Edgar Rice Burroughs books, including the John Carter of Mars series (shown here with the Conan-style woman supine at his feet),  plus the far-future sword-and-sorcery hero Ironwolf.   It lasted for 10 issues (1972-1974).

Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth, inhabited a post-Planet of the Apes world of sentient animals from 1972 to 1978.

Tor, a warrior from "The World of a Million Years Ago!", with his monkey companion Chee-Chee, bounced around several comics companies after his debut in 1953.  DC had him for 6 issues beginning in 1975.  Those are sentient apes fighting him.

Claw the Unconquered, a Conan the Barbarian clone all the way down to the woman lying supine at his feet, also began in 1975, and lasted for 12 issues from 1975 to 1978.  His deformed hand, a "claw," wasn't caused by an accident or birth defect: his father was punished for consorting with demons.

Another sword-and-sorcery hero, The Warlord (seen here in cosplay), debuted in an anthology series called 1st Issue Special in 1975 before going on to a successful run in his own title (1976-1988).  He was an American pilot who accidentally flew into a hole at the North Pole and ended up in, I mean Skartaris, where he rescued the scantily clad Princess Deja, I mean Princess Tara.

Kong the Untamed, a blond prettyboy caveman (top photo), ran for 5 issues in 1975.

Two backup sword and sorcery hero in The Warlord eventually spun off into their own titles: Arak Son of Thunder, left (who changed from Conan clone to Mohawk Indian) from 1981 to 1985, and Arion, Lord of Atlantis,  from 1982 to 1985.

Pop quiz: how many of the 14 Lords of the Jungle have a "k" sound in their names?

Answer: 7.  I guess something about "k" spells "jungle."

See also: The Comic Book Jungle; Kamandi

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