Aug 20, 2022

Searching for Gay Stories in "School Tales", a Horror Anthology Set in a Thai High School


School Tales, on Netflix, is a Thai horror anthology series based on graphic novels.  Each episode is directed by a different big name in Thai cinema.  Thailand is relatively gay-friendly, and BL stories (about two boys in love) are common, so no doubt there will be gay characters.  I'll try the first episode, "7:00 am."

IMDB doesn't say which actor starred in which episode, and the closing credits are in Thai only, so the illustrations are anyone in the cast with beefcake photos.

Scene1: 7:55 am:  A teenage boy runs through the school hall, being stopped and ridiculed by bullies.  He stops and approaches a classmate: "I couldn't find the book you mentioned." A magical grimoire?   

He runs into a classroom, looks at a textbook title on the chalkboard (Society and Government), and franticlaly sorts through his backpack.  But it's too late: the sky darkens, and time stops.  A female ghost flies of the wall and grabs him!

Scene 2: A male student tells us that the Q App is a place where "you can be who you want to be," with "friends who understand."  Sounds like a gay kid looking for a safe space.  He goes into the classroom, photographs the book title on the chalkboard, and uploads it to the app.

Plot dump: Every morning at 7:00 am, the title of a book appears on the chalkboard.  Q comes in early, photographs it, and sends it to the students.  They have to present the book by 8:00 am.  If they don't, one of them will get grabbed, and the memory of him erased.

Scene 3: Class begins.  The teacher, calling role, comes to Wittaya, the boy who was grabbed earlier.  "That's odd -- there is no such student in my class."  So do his parents wonder why they have a bedroom furnished for a teenager and lots of pictures of a boy they don't know?  

After class, the students are sitting around, trying to figure out what to do about their curse.  Sure, Q is performing a valuable service, but what if he oversleeps or is sick one day?  So they know about the disappearances, just not who the students were?   Would anyone mind taking over his duty?  They all refuse, and Q gets upset and storms out.  

A student follows him out.  A boyfriend, maybe?  No such luck: he asks Q to photograph the book title earlier, because he has to leave at 6:30 and can't look for it at 7:00. 

Uh-oh, a girl comes to the rescue.  Kind, gentle, nurturing girls and boorish, bullying boys.  I'm in a 1980s nerd comedy!

Scene 4:  It's 7:00 am, but instead of texting the title, Q calmly sits down to breakfast in the school courtyard.  The boys start frantically cyber-bullying: "Where are you?  Why are you so late? I have to leave for school soon!"  The kind, nurturing Girl texts: "I'm worried about you."  Ugh!  I'm done.  

Maybe the next episode: "A female student puts a curse on her rival."  No.  "The most popular girl in school..."  No.  "A female student is bullied..." No.  "A bullied boy makes a deal with a ghost."  Ok.

Scene 1:
An abandoned building behind the school.  A boy named Korn is being beat up by three bullies, two boys and a girl.  They order him to let them copy his answers on the upcoming exam.  He refuses; they pummel him.  That's it?  When I was in school, kids copied my answers all the time, without asking permission first.  

The narrator tells us that you have to go to the abandoned infirmary and sit in a wheelchair.  Then the ghost of the school nurse will appear and grant you a wish.

Scene 2:  Outside the school, students are discussing the upcoming exams, playing video games, texting each other, and being bullied.  Korn, still bandaged from his last pummeling, gets pummeled again, plus his homework tossed into a puddle.  The main bullies, Jack and Mor, laugh at him and call him a sissy.  

Scene 3: Lunchtime.  Korn tries to sit with two boys, but they block him out and laugh at him.  Then some younger kids mock him.   Why is Korn universally despised? 

He sits by himself. More bullies drop by to insult him.   I can't take any more of this.  I'm out.

"A pair of mischievous students look into the mystery of the headless teacher."  School Tales, this is your last chance!

Scene 1: 
A panicking boy runs across the deserted campus, into the school, and into the library, screaming "Help!"  He tries to hide, but something grabs him!

Psych!  It was just some bullies, who tie him up so they can copy his homework.  

At lunch, a boy is terrified to see two legs coming at him, but it turns out to be a grotesque teacher with a discipline cane, who terrorizes the lunch ladies about money they owe her.  She licks her entire hand like a dog to get it wet enough to turn the pages of her ledger.  Nauseating! 

Grotesque Teacher rushes out into the school yard, tears down pictures that criticize her, and gets a faceful of powder.  She captures the two boys responsible, Ping and Tim, and canes them.

I'm out of space, and this is too disgusting to watch, so I'll just fast-forward to see if the boys have a BL or gay-subtext romance.

In the shower, romantic music plays as Ping and Tim lean forward for a kiss.  But before they get there,  Tim pushes Ping away, yells "Why did you try to kiss me?", and "If you don't help me, I'll tell everyone!"  So not only are they not a gay couple, Tim is actively homophobic.  No more physical contact as they help Grotesque Teacher find her missing head.

My grade: F.

Aug 18, 2022

"Ghost Island": Submitted for Your Approval: Surly Boy, Swishy Boy, Hunkoid, Two Girls, and the Haunted Hotel Room


Someone asked me to review the third season of Nickelodeon's Are You Afraid of the Dark remake, entitled Ghost Island, to see if one of the kids is trans.  It's Nickelodeon, so probably not, but I have an hour to kill, and maybe some of the kids are old enough to be hunkoids.  I watched Episode 1.

First Story: The Tale of Room 13.  Isn't there supposed to be a frame story with the Midnight Society gathering?

Scene 1: In 1983, a young mother, her preteen daughter, and a baby try to check into the Veil Hotel.  The desk clerk says: "Sorry, we're all booked, except for Room 13, and we don't rent that one out."  Because it's evil and eats people.  "But you're the only hotel on the island, and it's dark and rainy.  What are we supposed to do?"  Make your reservations in advance, like everybody else in the world?  

When the desk clerk leaves, Mom sends her daughter, who has the bizarre early 20th century girls' book name Betty Anne - to steal the key to Room 13!

It's a lovely old-fashioned suite.  While Mom settles down to take a bath -- during a thunderstorm? -- Betty Anne's electronic spelling game gives her the words "Water" and "Danger."  Then she vanishes! The baby vanishes, too, and a disembodied voice tells Mom to "Run!" But it's too late: A ghostly figure jumps out of the mirror and grabs her.

Scene 2: Present day suburbia, but with lots more kids than one generally sees playing outside.  Kayla, a young-teen girl (actress Telci Huynh is 16), is twirling in her room, picking up random objects and tossing them into a suitcase. She accidentally knocks over some photos of her hugging another girl, and feels sad.  Then her swishy friend emerges from the closet wearing some of her clothes, and asks how he looks.  She rates him a 9.  Ok, there's a gay kid, or at least a "High School Musical"-style gay-vague kid.  

"Ugh, why are you bringing books to a tropical resort?" he complains. He sees the photos of Kayla and the Other Girl, and gets upset, but puts on a brave front.  I'm guessing a recently-deceased sister.

Kayla wonders if she should stay home.  Swishy friend -- Leo (Luca Padovan) -- admits that it won't be easy (to go to a resort?), but she has to try.

A car honks -- it's time to go. Switch to Kayla, Leo, Giggly Girl, Surly Boy, and their Mom frolicking on a boat, heading for the resort. This must be a flashback.  Mom is much older than the girl in the photograph, so obviously Giggly Girl is the recently-deceased one. She must have died on the island, which is why Kayla is reluctant to go back.  

Scene 3
: The arrive at the Veil Hotel from Scene 1, a rather industrial-looking two-story structure. Is this still a flashback?  Exuding enthusiasm, they talk about the unsolved disappearances at the hotel.  Mom introduces her boyfriend, Robbie (Jason Cao), which disturbs Surly Boy for some reason.  "How long has this been going on?" he demands. He must be upset because Mom is dating another guy soon after her divorce.

Mom gives them their room assignment: the four kids will share a suite, and she will be staying at Robbie's bungalow for, cuddling.  

Scene 4: 
They ask the desk clerk, Stanley, if the hotel is really haunted.  "Yes.  The hotel is filled with tortured souls like me." "Are you a ghost?"  No, working in the service sector.

He escorts them to their suite -- Room 14.  Kayla looks around. "Where's Room 13, where everyone disappears?"  "We don't have a Room 13.  Superstitious guests refuse to stay in it, so we number from 12 to 14."  

Their suite is nothing like Room 13 from 1983: open, airy, with giant windows looking out onto the beach.  Shawn Mendes stayed there!  They all squeal and hug. Leo is wearing pink nail polish, but everyone uses he/him pronouns, so I'm identifying him as a swishy gay kid, not a trans girl.  I just hope they hired an actual feminine-presenting actor not a straight guy playing up the stereotypes. 

Scene 5: While everyone is lounging around and calling their mothers, Kayla explores the suite -- and finds drops of blood on the sink!  She turns the thermostat down to 76, and a disembodied voice says "Help me! I'm cold."  So put on a ghost-sweater.  

Scene 6: At the beach, Leo and Surly Boy argue about the DC Comics Infinite Earths, while Kayla looks depressed.  She pulls out a picture of the five of them.  The Giggly Girl (don't they give any of these people names?) pops up out of nowhere and says "I miss her too."  So the flashback is over, and Mom is the dead one.  They could indicate these time jumps better.  

Her deathbed wish was to have the four friends return to the island, for some reason.

Scene 7:  Kayla reminisces that Bella was always the most fun,  Another flashback, except this girl is the same age as Kayla.  They're hiding under the covers with flashlights, discussing whether or not ghosts are real.  So Same-Age Bella is the dead one, and Mom is still alive, off "cuddling" with Robbie. Which of the earlier scenes was a flashback?  

Kayla awakens in the middle of the night (it's boys in one bed, girls in the other) and hears a disembodied "Help me!" Get your own sweater!  It's coming from next door -- Room 13!  Leo heard a baby crying from the same room.  Desk clerk Stanley doesn't believe them, of course: he demonstrates that the room next door is a linen closet!

Scene 8: 
The four friends hit the beach.  Surly Boy finally gets a name -- Ferris, (Chance Hurstfield, who played a gay kid on A Million Little Things).  He watches Robbie twirling Mom around, and wonders "what she sees in that guy!"  Um -- he's handsome and muscular?  

Leo: "Don't let it bother you.  You're handsome, too" Surly: "Do you think I have a chance with Jules?"   Wait -- that's his mother!  I guess she could be someone's older sister. Actress Sofia Reyes is 26.  

They play Never Have I Ever -- shoplifted, cut my own bangs, etc.  Surly Boy's never:  "Never have I ever been to outer space," whereupon Giggly Girl responds "No one has done that."  People have been going to outer space since 1961.  The first moon landing was in 1969.  Does this all take place in the 1950s?  

They see a hot guy walking nearby.  Leo calls "dibs" but Giggly Girl wants him, too.  They decide that Kayla, a neutral party, should go invite him over, but she's too shy, so Leo does it.  His name is Max (Connor Sherry, top photo).  

Scene 9: Night, around a campfire.  Surly Boy  asks Max to pass the marshmallows, and is surprised when he throws like a linebacker.  But he's not impressed, he's jealous: another guy who gets more action!  

Although they've been eating s'mores for a long time, Max is just getting around to asking the usual questions: "Where are you guys from?" Derby, Connecticut. He's a townie, working at the hotel for the summer.  

"Wow, that must be, like so fun!"  I guess, if you like picking up used towels and sheets.

"Why is it called Ghost Island?" "Because it's dead in the off-season.  And also because of the ghosts."  Har-har.  "Do you want to hear the story of Room 13?  Over the years, everyone who stays there vanishes without a trace."

Scene 10:  Max does the classic Are You Afraid of the Dark opening: "I submit for your approval...".  We fade out to the year 1996, Christmastime, with a teenage boy -- Porter, the front desk clerk -- twirling around the hotel lobby.  The phone rings: it's Room 13.  A voice says "I'm cold!" and then "Let me out!" Nobody is staying in Room 13, but Porter figures that a guest stumbled in by accident, and can't figure out how to unlock the door.

On the way to check it out, he runs into coworker Ricky (Jordan Lister), and asks him out on a date -- to see the new horror movie ScreamMaybe he'll get scared and throw himself into your arms. Ricky agrees. "I'll meet you in the lobby in a few minutes."

Porter goes into the room. The water is running in the bathtub, and a mysterious figure swishes by.  The door slams shut -- he's locked in, forever!

Scene 11: The gang dislikes the story.  There's no climax, no denouement, no hand-from-grave teaser! So Max adds a scene where Porter tries to use the phone, but it's dead.  The handle comes off the door.  The window won't open.  And a ghostly form appears from the mirror and grabs him. Max wouldn't know any of this, but it's necessary for good storytelling.  

Now everyone approves -- except for Surly Boy, of course.  Kayla and Leo tell him about the sounds they heard from the room next door -- is Room 13 hidden behind a linen closet?  Max avers that it is, and offers to take them there.

Scene 12: In the morning, while Giggly Girl and Leo distract Stanley the Front Desk Clerk, Max steals the key to Room 13.  

Inside, it's always 10: 13 pm, during a thunderstorm, with a children's story playing on the radio that can't be turned off.  Max starts to freak out.  They agree that it's time to go, but then the door slams shut, and won't open.  Their cell phones are dead.  The bathtub fills with water, just like in Max's story.  

As they hug and whimper, a mysterious figure pushes out of the mirror.  Max is pulled toward it -- but instead of grabbing him, it screams and lets them all go!  Whew!  I definitely thought they were goners. 

 Spoiler Alert: They rush out into the hallway.  Max breaks from the group, runs out of the hotel, and stops to sit on the curb.  There's something in his pocket: two tickets to Scream.  Suddenly he remembers that he's Porter, the bellhop who vanished in 1996!  He's dead!

This episode is 1 1/2 hours long.  I don't usually do scene-by-scenes for episodes that run as long as movies, so I'll stop here.  

Beefcake: Robbie twirling Mom/Older Sister.  There are some shirtless guys at the resort.  Surly Boy takes his shirt off in the second part.

Heterosexism: The girls are all into boys.  Surly Boy is constantly upset because other guys are hotter, and therefore more likely to get laid.

Gay Characters: Leo, obviously, and maybe Max/Porter.  It's possible to ask a friend to a movie, but on tv that's usually a trope for a romantic date.  And in the second part, we discover that Ricky was so distraught over his friend's disappearance that he became a paranormal investigator. 

Update: Max is gay.  The only romance in the main story is between Max and Leo.

My Grade: B

"Unsuspicious": Three Families, One Dead Tycoon, One Drag Queen, and Lt. Columbo


Unsuspicious is a Brazilian comedy about three women deceived by the same man, and now seeking revenge.  Sort of like Imposters.  The promo showed several feminine guys in the crowd scenes, so I imagine there are gay characters.  I reviewed Episode 1, "The Three Wives of Jorginho Peixoto."

Scene 1: A man in a bathrobe walks through an elegant mansion to the study, which is festooned with newspaper articles about how rich Jorge Peixoto is.  "Damn it!" he exclaims. "Today's the day!"  And he is stabbed to death!

Flashback to a few days ago:  The feminine Uncle Aquila rushes through the house, excited because Jorginho has invited them all to his mansion for the weekend. Relationship dump: Uncle Aquila's sister Bete is Jorginho's ex-wife. They haven't seen each other for many years; Jorginho has never met his teenage daughter.  There is also a mother in the family.     

Uncle Aquila is played by Silvero Pereira (left), a drag queen and dramatic actor who has written a book on the transvesti of northern Brazil.

Meanwhile, Mauricio (Romulo Arantes Neto, top photo), a hot guy wearing an ugly ring, climbs out of his boyfriend's car.  He's got an invitation, too, which he gives to his sister Patricia,   Jorginho's estranged wife. She invites Mauricio and her yoga instructor along.

Meanwhile, Raul (Cezar Maracuja, left) a struggling singer,  goes into a fundamentalist church with a third invitation, which he gives to his sister Thyellen.  He teases her about Jorginho being her boyfriend, but she protests: "He's not my boyfriend -- yet, but this weekend could seal the deal."  Of course she invites Raul along.

Scene 2:  Girlfriend and Raul arrive at the  mansion, and are shocked to see a butler -- and a stuffed cow in the parlor!

Ex-Wife and family, including Uncle Aquila, arrive.  Butler calls them all "ladies."

Estranged Wife and Mauricio are already there.

 No one realized that the others were coming, or that the other relationships even existed ! Everyone starts to argue.  Mauricio flirts with Uncle Aquila, and Raul flirts with the yoga instructor. 

Scene 3
: As they are arguing and bonding, Jorginho arrives -- by praying at a Candomble altar and sliding down the bannister!  Time for dinner.

Uncle Aquila notices that the soup comes from a recipe that only two people know -- his mother and his brother, Darlison (Raphael Logam).  They rush into the kitchen -- the chef is indeed Darlison in drag.  Jorginho thought it would cause trouble if everyone knew that he had hired his ex-wife's brother. Why? 2/3rds of the guests didn't even know that he had an ex-wife.

Down to business: Jorginho is in danger -- bad guys want to kill him -- so he's transferring his assets to his three wives/girlfriend and vanishing.  By the way, he's purchased all of their original assets -- Ex-wife's hair salon, Wife's private island, Girlfriend's church -- so they have no choice.  

Except they do refuse, and dump their glasses of wine on his head.

Scene 4:  He gives them an hour to think it over.  They adjourn to separate rooms to argue.  Ex-Wife reasons that their daughter will inherit everything by default, so why settle for a third?  Girlfriend thinks that, since he's in love with her, she'll get everything if the other two back out.  Current Wife just yells.  

Scene 5: The lights go out!  Everyone re-convenes with candles and lanterns.  They head to Jorginho's office.  He's dead, stabbed in the back.  Am I in an Agatha Christie novel?

The police arrive, tape off the crime scene, dust for fingerprints, and so on, while the families wait.  A Columbo-type bumbling detective bursts in, stumbles into the crime scene, and accidentally pulls out the knife!  "Everyone here is a suspect," he announces, "So no one leaves until we figure out whodunit."  The end. 

Beefcake: None.

Other Sights: Just the mansion.  

Gay Characters: Uncle Aquila, of course, and probably Mauricio.

Update: By the third episode, everyone seems to be paired off: Mauricio-Joquinho's girlfriend, Darlison-his Wife, ex-wife's mother-the butler.  Uncle Aquila doesn't get a boyfriend.

Aug 17, 2022

Going to Movies in 1995: DiCaprio Gets Naked and Dies, Pacino Holds Hands and Dies, Devon Sawa Just Dies, and Thomas Dekker Lives


For the sake of completeness, I'm viewing the movies I saw in theaters in 1995.  There aren't many: I was thoroughly immersed in West Hollywood's gay culture, where venturing east of Fairfax, north of Sunset, or south of Melrose would result in raised eyebrows and whispered questions.  But if you wanted to see a movie, had to go north to Hollywood for Mann's Chinese Theater, or east on Sunset to the Cinerama Dome. Lane and I ventured out eight times.

January: None

February: Boys on the Side, because it was advertised as a comedy, boys.  Sorry, neither.  It's a depressing drama about three women friends.  One comes out as a lesbian and dies of AIDS (the seroconversion rate among lesbians is miniscule, but I guess gay people in 1990s movies always had to die).  Another goes to prison, but gets out and marries Matthew McConaughey (top photo). The third is Whoopie Goldberg.

March: None

: Village of the Damned, because Lane was a fan of the original science fiction novel, The Midwich Cuckoos.  Ten women in a small town give birth to alien children with weird psychic powers.  Superman Christopher Reeve plays the town doctor, who is trying to stop their nefarious plans.  Thomas Dekker, the only boy with human tendencies, became a teen idol and adult hunk.

May: Casper, because I grew up with the Harvey comics version.  Sigh -- where to begin?  In the comics, ghosts are not dead people; they are magical beings with regular lifespans.  Casper is a 1960s nonconformist, a hippie in a capitalist world.  And he is not interested in girls.  Here Casper (Devon Sawa) is a dead boy, the plot involves an inheritance, and he gets a girlfriend.  Yuck.

June: None

Clueless. Super-entitled rich girl falls for her socially-conscious ex-stepbrother.   En route, she tries to seduce classmate Christian (Justin Walker), but he turns out to be gay.  First clue: he's fashion-conscious.  Second clue: for their movie night, he rents Some Like It Hot and Spartacus;  Kicker: he refuses sex.  Two subplots involve other heterosexual romances.  

August: Jeffrey.  Gay guy who has sworn off sex due to a fear of AIDS changes his mind, due to the intervention of a gaggle of helpful heterosexuals. 

September: To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar.  Three drag queens descend upon a small town and solve everyone's problems.  In the four years since Silence of the Lambs,  Hollywood changed from drag queen as serial killer to drag queen as fairy godmother.  Quite an improvement.

October: None

 Total Eclipse, because it was about French poets Verlaine and Rimbaud, who were gay, and because it starred Leonardo DiCaprio whom we assumed was gay.  Except here Rimbaud is a bisexual predator who uses the established poet for his prestige, and pushes him into a BDSM relationship (in the movies, tying someone up is always portrayed as the nadir of decadence). And  he dies (of course, Rimbaud really did die at age 37, but here it seems like a punishment for being gay).  But if you want to see DiCaprio's wang, this is your chance: just grab a screenshot and magnify 400%.

Heat: A gay-subtext romance between cop Al Pacino and the criminal he's chasing, Robert DeNiro.  They even hold hands.

Aug 16, 2022

"13: The Musical": A Pint-Sized "Will and Grace" or a Grade School "High School Musical"?

 13: The Musical, now streaming on Netflix, sounds like Trevor: The Musical and Better Nate Than Never: gay kids facing homophobic harassment, but finding a safe place in musical theater.  I'll stream it, at least until I find out if the central character is gay.

Scene 1: 20% of the population of Manhattan is Jewish, and in some suburbs, it's over 90%.  Immersed in this culture, 12-year old Evan (Eli Golden, below) blissfully practices for his bar mitzvah.  Rabbi Shapiro (Josh Peck) criticizes his Hebrew pronunciation with a joke from the 1990s: "It's God.  He wants his language back."  Jerk!  

They discuss the horror about to befall Evan: his parents are divorcing, and he's moving with his mother to...ugh...Indiana, where Jews are as rare as Democrats. 

 How can he have a killer party, when he doesn't know anyone there, and anyone he meets is bound to be anti-Semitic?  There are 17,900 Jews in Indianapolis alone, dude.

Scene 2: 
 Evan and his crew sing about how he was an A-list cool kid, planning a huge bar mitzvah blowout, but then...plop, Dad dumps Mom, and Mom drags him away to...ugh...Indiana.  Why can't he live with Dad?  At least until after his bar mitzvah?  

Dad (Peter Herman, top photo) appears at the synagogue to say goodbye.  Evan does the "I hate you!" bit and runs away.  

Hey, Mom is Debra Messing, the gay guy's female life partner on Will and Grace.  I wonder if she's leaving Will, too,

Scene 3:  A cow moos as they enter Walkerton, Indiana, population 2,234, a standard stereotyped small town, the way people who've never been to one imagine it.  Grandma (Rhea Pearlman!) does the cool grandma thing while Mom remembers her failed writing career.  Dad calls; Evan ignores him.

Scene 4: Morning. Mom tells Grandma about the misery of the last year, with "lawyers and therapists and carbs."  People break up -- get over it.  Evan comes in, griping about the paucity of Jews in town, and how can he have a Bar Mitzvah when the nearest temple is 2000 miles away? (um...there are synagogues in Indianapolis, South Bend, Bloomington, and Terre Haute).  

Then a 12-year old girl, Patrice, arrives.  She better not be the Girl of Evan's Dreams, or I'm leaving.  He doesn't have a jaw-dropping hormone-oozing moment, but you never know.

Scene 5: Patrice is all liberal, into environmentalism and Sylvia Plath.  She introduces Evan to Archie, who uses a wheelchair and is heterosexual, in love with it-girl Kendra.

Then Patrice and Evan sing about the town, "the lamest place in the world -- but much more interesting, now that you're here."   Darn, they're a romantic couple!  Why couldn't Grandma have introduced Evan to a boy?  Well, maybe there will be some gay kids at school.

Scene 6:  School.  We're introduced to the romantic intrigues of this very diverse small-town Indiana community. Mean Girl Lucy (Asian) and Sidekick Kendra (Hispanic) both likes Brett (black), but he just likes Kendra. In fact, he's been dreaming of kissing her all summer.  

Their gang also includes three guys (Hispanic, white, and black) and three girls (Hispanic, white, and black).  They sing about how much they missed each other over the summer.  Small town -- didn't they see each other every day?

Scene 7:  Lunch.  Evan tells the cool-kid gang about his upcoming Bar Mitzvah.  They don't know what that is, so Mean Girl Lucy gives an anti-Semitic explanation.  "No!" Evan exclaims.  "It's a big party, with a DJ and dancing."  Isn't there, like a religious ceremony involved? 

Uh-oh, the gang hates Patrice!  "She thinks she's better than everyone else, because she composts and doesn't use straws."  And Patrice hates them.  She has her own outcast gang, Archie (the one who uses a wheelchair) and a nonbinary person named Zee.  So the conflict will be Evan's gang vs. his girlfriend, like in "High School Musical"?

Meanwhile, at home, Grandma pressures Mom to return to her failed writing career.  "But what can I write about?  I've hit rock bottom.  My life couldn't possibly get any worse."  You have a nice place to live, enough food, and someone who is paying all of your expenses and not pressuring you to find a job..  I'd call that a sweet life.

Scene 8:
Sports practice.  The cheerleaders, all girls,  discuss Kendra's upcoming kiss with Brett.  "You only get one shot at a first kiss.  Do it wrong, and your social life is over forever.  No one will ever want to date you, or be your friend." Lucy sings about how she is going to betray her bff and kiss Brett first.  Then she'll have him!  Um...girlfriend, you're allowed to kiss several people.

Left: Josh Peck, best known for the Nickelodeon teencom Drake and Josh, plays the rabbi.

Scene 9: Breakfast.  Mom is a terrible cook.  Evan and Patrice have broken up. Dad calls; Evan ghosts him.

Evan goes off to play baseball with the cool kids -- boys only, because of course no girl is into sports. Lots of sexist stereotypes.

Meanwhile, Archie complains to bff Patrice about the upcoming Kendra-Brett kiss: "If they kiss, I'll never get Kendra, and my life will be meaningless forever." Maybe date someone else?

Scene 10: Evan and Brett playing basketball by themselves.  Could they have a gay-subtext buddy-bond?  No, Brett is just being nice to Evan so he'll get to play the guitar at his Bar Mitzvah.  He's also a song writer.  His repertoire includes "Kendra," "Hey, Kendra," and "Is Kendra Home?"  Evan agrees to find a place for Brett to kiss Kendra.  

The other cool boys discuss the movie Bloodmaster.  "Our parents will never let us see it!" But, Evan sings, it's the perfect place for a first kiss!  They just need to sneak in. 

Complication:  Lucy drags Evan aside and threatens him: make sure that Brett and Kendra don't kiss, or I'll tell everyone to stay away from your Bar Mitzvah!  

I'm done.  I'll just go through on fast-forward, to see if there's any LGBTQ representation.  At all.

.  Zee appears in two more scenes, but never is referred to with they/them pronouns, so maybe they're just androgynous.  Some of the cool boys don't get girls, but there is no indication that they like boys; they're just too deeply invested in the Brett-Kendra thing to worry about their own romances.

What about Evan?  In the stage musical, he kisses Patrice.  Here he doesn't.   You could still, possibly, read Evan as a gay kid, and Patrice as his bff, Grace to his Will.  It's a stretch, but possible.

Aug 15, 2022

Going to Movies in the Spring of 1997: Brendan Fraser Swings, Chris O'Donnell Bulges, Devon Sawa Goes Wild, and There's a Gay Kiss

 In the spring of 1997, I was living in San Francisco, Gay Heaven: bohemian, bizarre, frightfully expensive, and a big responsibility.  I was the representative to thousands of gay men still stuck in homophobic small towns, dreaming of freedom, so every moment had to be a celebration of gay culture, history, or community.  It was exhausting.  Fortunately, every neighborhood was gay, to an extent, so there was no mandate to "never leave the Castro!"  I saw 11 movies in the theater that spring.

January:  Gridlocked: because I felt nostalgic for Los Angeles, where every highway is always gridlocked, 24/7.  It's actually a gay subtext buddy comedy about a cop and an actor researching a role (Dominic Purcell, Cody Hackman, top photo) who encounter a real-life hostage crisis. 

February: Lost Highway, because a pretentious UC Berkeley film major invited me. I'm willing to sit through two hours of incomprehensible David Lynch sex-and-death, if there will be a bedroom afterwards.

Jungle 2 Jungle: because a silver fox invited me.  I was well past 30, but I suspect that the Silver Fox preferred them younger.  Way younger.  Tim Allen brings his 13-year old raised-by-savages son Mimi (Sam Huntington, left, recent photo) to New York, where he Tarzans around in a loincloth, getting into mishaps and meeting  The Girl of His Dreams.  Today it seems jaw-droppingly racist, but racism, like homophobia, was ubiquitous in the 1990s, so we didn't notice.

March: City of Industry, because I felt nostalgic for Los Angeles.  Ok, it's blasphemous to say it, but I preferred West Hollywood to San Francisco.  This is a standard gangster drama.

8 Heads in a Duffel Bag, because who wouldn't want to see a movie with that title?  College student Andy Comeau accidentally picks up the wrong bag at the airport (security never picked up on the eight heads?), which puts a damper on his plans to marry the Girl of His Dreams.  David Spade and Todd Louiso play his buddies, who are grilled for information.  If you ever wanted to see either of them shirtless, this is your chance.

May: None

Batman + Robin.  Chris O'Donnell's second appearance as the Boy Wonder won him two Razzie nominations.  They just didn't like Robin's bulge-enhanced outfit, but it's true to the blatantly bulging 1960s Robin, Burt Ward.  

June: Hercules, because it's Hercules, the original man-mountain.  Unfortunately, the plot is all about meeting, winning, and saving the Girl of His Dreams.

July: Men in Black, because I was interested in the phenomenon of the "men in black," who show up after your UFO sighting, behave strangely, and ask bizarre questions.  Like one refers to "my husband," in an area where, according to the witness, "Gay Liberation had not made the slightest inroad."  Here Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones play agents who zap your memories to keep you unaware of the various aliens living on Earth.  The Girl eventually joins them.

July: Wild America.  Three dreamy teen idol-types (Devon Sawa, Scott Bairstow, Jonathan Taylor Thomas) hit the road to take their shirts off and buddy-bond.

July: Kiss Me, Guido:  A homophobic straight guy accidentally gets a gay roommate (he thought that GWM meant "Guy With Money") and has to overcome his repugnance.  Then he gets a job on a soap opera, but he has to...ugh...kiss a guy!  Most of the plot involves him agonizing over that...ugh...same-sex kiss.  Dude, gay guys have to kiss girls all the time.  I kissed five girls back in high school, before I came out.  It's easy -- just close your eyes and pretend she's Robby Benson (sigh).  Or in your case, um...Barbie Benton?

George of the Jungle, because I remembered the 1960s Tarzan spoof ("Watch out for that tree!"), and because of Brendan Fraser (sigh).  Of course he meets the Girl of His Dreams, but meanwhile we can watch him swing through the trees (or crash into trees) in a loincloth.  

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