Boss Up with Bevin Your dream life is at the end of your comfort zone

2015-01-23

Movies I’ve Seen: Selma, Spare Parts, Into the Woods, Inherent Vice, Wild

When planning to go to the movies recently I literally said to myself, “If I can’t live somewhere warm at least I can go see a movie about a warm place.” Ugh Winter. I’m never quiet about my attempts to pull myself out of Seasonal Depression. In the past two weeks movies have been a big part of it. Here’s a rundown of what I’ve seen and what I thought.

Selma Movie (2)

SELMA: Go see this movie! It’s so important! The story of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s leading the march from Selma to Montgomery. I was glad I read the January issue of Oprah Magazine first so I was refreshed on the history and could watch the story and the actors a little closer. You can probably get a good refresher from the Selma website.

I thought Selma was brilliant in so many ways. Foremost for me is not thinking of people who are heroes as having to be perfect in order to be heroes. For me, it doesn’t diminish MLK Jr.’s work in the world because he wasn’t a perfect husband. They tell a real story about a marriage of a civil rights leader that was flawed. MLK Jr. had infidelities and that was a struggle. I think a lot of biographers and filmmakers about legends shy away from talking about ways in which they weren’t perfect and I think it loses humanity.

There is a lot of depth to stories that you don’t hear from dry history lessons and I really appreciated how much we got to know several of the activists involved and the politics of civil rights movements that we are still struggling with today. There was also a lot to cry about in the movie, again and again, especially the amount of police brutality that juxtaposed with today is heartbreaking. But still uplifting in a way because at least while you’re watching it you know that the Voting Rights Act passed and they got what they were working towards.

It’s impeccably acted and I also loved all of the attention to vintage detail. I also noticed a way of personifying the women who were feeding and tending to the needs of the activists while they were strategizing. I thought it was nice to not just have that be a mystery but to show that there were people working behind the scenes to make it possible for the activists on the forefront to do the work they were doing. Also also, there are a lot of activists’ stories told, including many women, which is often overlooked in historical films where there is a main male hero.

Listen to the new song Glory by John Legend and Common, which plays over the credits in the movie and rightfully brings Ferguson into the room. You can hear the song on the website, iTunes or Spotify.

selma-7

Bonus: Oprah, playing her third film role where she punches a man.
Bonus: Woman of color directed

Spare Parts: I had planned to go see another movie but it was sold out. We did a quick scan of what was playing and saw the trailer on my smartphone. I hadn’t even heard of it! I’m so glad we saw it, though, because it was heartwarming, funny and inspirational.

spare-parts-screen

George Lopez stars as a default because of no work as an engineer with a PHD substitute teacher and reluctant advisor to the robotics club. The club is assembled of a group of high school kids, all of whom are undocumented immigrants. I think it’s rare to see a strong plotline of undocumented folks in mainstream movies at all, let alone funny movies.

It’s a true story of a high school underwater robotics team that built a robot with not a lot of money to compete against MIT, Cornell and other fancy universities. The storytelling is a bit formulaic, like I could kind of see how they were writing the story, creating conflict and moving the plot along, but I also really liked it for the content. The acting was phenomenal. George Lopez was more understated clever funny, which worked great for the character. Esai Morales as the father of two sons, one of whom is documented and one who isn’t, was a total stand-out.

I’m not sure how much longer it will be in theaters (it opened last weekend) and I always think it’s important to see movies in the theater to tell the movie industry people want to see movies with strong characters of color.

Bonus: Dara cried real tears because it was so heartwarming.
Bonus: Jamie Lee Curtis as the hilarious principal of a school with no money. Many of the other characters are very dramatic. She’s just goofy.

Into the Woods: I’m a little dubious about movie musicals but this one was actually really well done. It’s based on a musical that weaves Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, Red Riding Hood and a few other fairytales into one story. It was magical, mesmerizing, well-acted and fun to watch. A great escape from reality movie. I also enjoyed the way the typical fairytale endings were upended and revised. Dara said that the actual musical was much darker than the movie version, so if you’ve seen the musical expect that. Also, Meryl Streep’s hair is epic and I found myself wondering how they made blue hair look so great.

meryl

I did go on a rant after seeing the movie about why they didn’t cast at least a few of the main characters as people of color. I thought it was sorely lacking in racial diversity that could have fit in with the plot pretty seamlessly.

I saw it in a theater that had no heat, so even though it was a cute movie I was cranky afterwards.

Bonus: Johnny Depp as the wolf is a total babe, and so is the endearing chubby baker.

Inherent Vice: I saw this last night–after the movie I wanted my two and a half hours back. Here’s the thing, I love Joaquin Phoenix (aka River Phoenix’s brother, may he rest in peace) and I love Reese Witherspoon so I thought an adventurous mystery movie set in LA would be a great way to forget about how cold it is right now. I was sold by the trailer!

inherentvice

Joaquin Phoenix stars as a private detective searching for something. I could never really figure out what he was after. Was he after the real estate tycoon his ex girlfriend was boning who disappeared? Was he just being given mysteries to solve by seemingly random potential clients? If I had read the book maybe I would have followed the movie better. Maybe if I knew more about drug culture in 1970 I would have understood more of it.

The most noteworthy part of Joaquin’s character is that he is a hippie who smokes a lot of pot and does whatever other drugs come his way and he gets into mischief as a result. And then maybe I thought, if I were stoned would this make more sense? Would I follow the plot more? And the answer is probably not at all.

If I was at home I probably would have given up on it about a third through the movie but because I paid money for it I stuck it out. Dara didn’t like it either and this movie has prompted us to create a code word for, “I’m okay to leave if you want to.”

There was this one scene with the ex-girlfriend that might be hot or kinky if it wasn’t in the middle of such a terrible movie. But by then I was annoyed enough that I was just like, this movie is some kind of white guy film school fantasy sequence. But, it’s a mainstream movie that’s pretty sex positive so maybe that’s a plus? I don’t know. The hair was awesome. And the vintage sets and cars were really great. And a lot of people liked the movie on Rotten Tomatoes so maybe there’s some sort of redemption in this flick I’m not seeing.

Wild: I saw this a long time ago but it’s still playing and it’s worth a high five. As stated, I love Reese Witherspoon. You should also enjoy her if you go see this movie as she is basically the main thing you’ll see in every scene. I read the memoir Wild that the movie is based on and was super worried that it was going to not do the book justice. It’s not as good as the book. But it is a really beautiful adaptation of the book.

wild

The story is a woman who decides, with little to no experience or training, to backpack 1,000 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail. I was excited to see the movie just for the scenery, that’s a gorgeous hike. And it was poignant and beautiful and fleshes out Cheryl Strayed’s relationship with her mother in a way that pays homage to the deep relationship in the book. The acting is great, and so is watching someone go camping in a way that has a real plot and conflict. Because it’s hard to make a movie about camping interesting. And yet, it totally is.

Bonus: Cheryl Strayed is in the movie and drops Reese off at the trailhead.
Bonus: A few unexpectedly hot sex scenes. They weren’t that hot in the book.

2014-11-07

MIX NYC Queer Experimental Film Festival is Next Week and Why You Should See the Bambi Lake Documentary

Wonderful blog readers, if you have the capability, I’d love it if you opened this video in another tab and listened to the soothing tones of the “Golden Age of Hustlers” by Justin Vivian Bond while you read this blog post. I’ll wait.

Bambi Leaning 1Silas with Bambi.

My friend Silas Howard directed and produced an incredible documentary Sticks and Stones about Bambi Lake premiering in NYC on Tuesday Bambi is the chanteuse, erstwhile sex worker, performer and songwriter of “The Golden Age of Hustlers.” I absolutely adore this song, I’ve seen Vivian perform it several times over the past few years. Sticks and Stones follows Bambi through her old stomping grounds (the ’70s along Polk Street in San Francisco). The 14 minute film has Bambi reminisce about those Golden Days, a three year period before drugs diminished the spirit of the hustling there, pre-AIDS during the Harvey Milk days.

Bambi talks about how she got into performing in the 1980s punk scene in San Francisco and when she developed the courage to begin songwriting. For anyone who is a fan of the song, hearing her tell the beautiful story of San Jose Johnny the Libra is really touching.

Silas cuts into the footage of Bambi and the archival footage with shots from the video shoot for the Golden Age of Hustlers (the video I asked you to play in the background of this post) that Silas co-directed. Sticks and Stones is a really touching story but also very, very sad. “We all get a golden age of about three years,” Bambi says.

The documentary has premiered in San Francisco and LA and is having it’s NYC premiere next week on the opening night of MIX NYC, the queer experimental film festival.

12274733794_a0084c23f1_zHere’s the scale of MIX! It’s giant! A big art factory! All of the photos of MIX here in this post are by Tinker Coalescing.

Last year I went to MIX for the first time and had a blast. I always thought it was just a film festival, but it’s also a huge-scale community art installation featuring epic lounge areas, a stage, performances and so much eye candy to absorb. I plan to spend a few nights there next week during it’s temporary run. Tuesday, November 11 through Sunday, November 16 and then it’s gone.

12774420383_97ba2940db_zLast year one of the installations was the Breastival Vestibule by my friend Rachael Shannon.

The films I’m planning to see are Un(dis)sing Our Abilities–a sexplicit series of shorts about sexualities not seen in the mainstream, queer, fat, disabled, of color and otherwise; One Size Fits All, a series of short films about bodies including the Sins Invalid documentary. Sins Invalid is a performance project based in the Bay Area about sexuality and disability that I’ve never been able to see and am excited to see the film. Nomy Lamm and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha are in it!

Here’s the calendar of films. There are so many to choose from!

12272014053_30bd05f2ca_zHeather Acs produced and performed in a show one evening at MIX. You’ll spy Mizz June there on the left. Heather is producing another show, Ms. Heather’s Drama Club, on November 18th and 19th in NYC.

I’m hostessing at Psychic Fall, a huge nightlife gathering in the MIX NYC space on Saturday, November 15th. RSVP here on the FB or buy presale tickets!

1278807_276340495896758_7447648647983650576_oMe, Cristy Road and Avory Agony at last year’s MIX.

1781559_276340119230129_1756652014182454650_oMy friend Sabina, a queer punk from Sweden.

12272019533_155d6fb28c_zThe MIX Screening room gets tucked away amidst all of the art.

I’m also going to spend a bunch of time hanging out with my friends in the epic art space.

If you can’t make it to MIX Sticks and Stones will release online in the Spring and I’ll be sure to keep you updated.

Now go watch the Golden Age of Hustlers video!

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