The Maltese Falcon and the MacGuffin of the Spirit

As I revel in my return to the Bay Area, I continue to catch up on classics that have to do with San Francisco. Last weekend I rewatched The Maltese Falcon (1941). Truth be told, the film version, based on the Dashiell Hammett novel, could have taken place anywhere. Other than some stock footage of San Francisco, the place names, and "view" of the Oakland Bay Bridge behind Sam Spade's desk, the city doesn’t play much of a role. It's still a classic.The head-scratching plot begins with the c … [Read more...]

If You See One Film on Video this Year, Make It this One

We have an extremely limited view of young people born with disabilities. We use the word “obstacles” a lot with them: “Look at the brave young disabled person overcoming obstacles.”But we don’t often think of them as just being people. Going through all the same personal trials as everyone else. Growing up. Getting an education. Screwing up and doing stupid things they later regret.And we never ever want to think of them as sexual beings. Having the pangs of first love. Learning how to f … [Read more...]

Interview with Stephen Cone, Director of ‘Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party’

Tuesday, May 3, is an exciting day for lovers of good independent film because it marks the video release of Henry Gamble's Birthday Party. Written and directed by Stephen Cone, a Southern-born filmmaker now living and working in Chicago, it tells the story of a 17 year-old preacher's kid coming to terms with his sexuality. With this story line of course it's been wildly popular at LGBT and independent film festivals. But the film is so much more than a coming out movie. The events unfold over … [Read more...]

“The Wise Kids” and the Apocalypse of Young Adulthood

“…And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20.I am of the notion that there is not a singular Apocalypse. Apocalypses happen multiple times in one’s life: those moments when the ground beneath you shakes and the veil of reality rips, and whether you're ready for it or not, one age is over and a new one begins.For many young adults, the first great apocalypse is high school graduation. The highly structured environment of high school begins to rupture and fall … [Read more...]

Wounded Healers

Two smaller "indie" films are getting vastly different treatment this awards season. The first, Enough Said, is being praised for Julia Louis-Dreyfus' career highlighting performance, and rightfully so. The other, Short Term 12, features an even more impressive performance by its female lead, Brie Larson, but has been virtually ignored in major award conversations, which is all the more puzzling because, as a whole, it's one of the best films released last year. It certainly would have made our " … [Read more...]

What Is It with Gay Men and ‘Carrie?’

One of the joys of living with a partner who was born and raised in another country is seeing American pop culture again for the first time through his eyes. One night, Fred and I were watching Another Gay Movie, Todd Stephens’ bawdy gay male take on teen sex comedies. Determined to train Fred in the subtle art of camp, I carefully explained the film’s references to Mommie Dearest and Airport 1975.At one point in the movie, there’s an extended riff on Carrie. Although I had seen the film, I … [Read more...]

Teorema: God Will Save You from Your Dull Middle-Class Existence

At a dive bar in New Orleans this past January, Ryan and I got together to discuss possibilities for for the coming year. As the drinks flowed freely and we watched my beloved Bengals blow another playoff game, our bar napkins filled up with penned ideas. Maybe it was my mounting gloom at the outcome of the game, or the effect of cheap booze on a cold winter’s day, but the best idea we could come up with was “outlaw directors.”“Great!” Ryan said, “but what’s an outlaw director … [Read more...]

Total Recall: Remembering It Wholesale

A few weeks ago, I went to see the Colin Ferrell Total Recall remake (directed by Len Wiseman)  and was struck by a comment from another audience member while the movie started: “I remember coming to see this when Arnold was in it.” The audience member was two rows behind me and, sadly, this would not be his last audible statement during the movie. The commentary pretty much went on non-stop for the next hour and a half.But what a comment to begin a movie about memory and identity! Who would ha … [Read more...]