movie reviews - the final entry!

While this blog is currently still defunct/in hiatus (whichever comes first), I realized I had a bunch of entries that I hadn't yet posted, so I decided to load them in sets of five.

Wild Tigers I Have Known - Longing to be loved, 13-year-old social outcast Logan becomes sexually infatuated with Rodeo Walker--the most popular boy at school. But when he spurns Logan's affections, the smitten youngster creates an alternate female identity named Leah hoping to entice Rodeo to a rendezvous. Max Paradise plays Logan's girl-crazy best friend in director Cam Archer's lyrical yarn about evolving adolescence.

(rent) This movie was not my cup of tea. It wasn’t bad, but it was slow moving and felt very indie. It was one of those films that I think would work well to analyze and pull apart the individual scenes to see what deeper commentary the director was making, but in general it didn’t keep my attention.

The Giver - In a future society called The Community, pain, war and disease have been eradicated, as have individuality and free will. When a teenager named Jonas learns the truth about the real world, he must decide whether to reveal all or remain quiet.

(rent/buy) This surprised me. Mostly because the previews I’d seen made it look much more like a sci-fi action movie than it had any right to be. Being familiar (and in love) with the book, I took one look at those previews and threw up.

The movie itself stays exceptionally true to the book. This is one of those instances where advertising treated this story badly. There were a few instances where things were changed from the book, but for the most part those were minor and felt mostly like they were updating elements for the modern viewer. The romance may have been a little heavier, but still generally light (as in the book). I would recommend everyone give this movie a try, at least.

Nabari No Ou - Silent, apathetic, yet mischievous, 14-year-old Rokujou Miharu is the bearer of the hijutsu, "Shinrabanshou," a powerful technique many ninja clans desire to possess to become the ruler of Nabari. Keeping apathetic, Miharu attempts to reject their invitation to join their ninja "club." However, after numerous attacks, he finds no choice but to join their group as a means for his survival.

(buy) Is this a ninja show? Yes. Is it actually about two boys who care about each other and the promises they make to each other? Yes. For me this show was a good mix of character development and action. It does trudge through a fair amount of ninja politics, but everything felt personalized enough to keep the story from dragging. Miharu is a nice change of pace from other main characters, and I couldn’t help but to fall in love with him just a little.

While no relationship is explicitly stated as being romantic, there are definitely hints/leanings toward that. The word choice and levels of loyalty go beyond that of “just friends”, which makes the story even more interesting, even if it doesn’t delve deeper into the actual realtionships.

No. 6 - In a near future world, after the last great war, most of mankind lives in a handful of city states. There, for the privileged elite, life should be perfect. But for young Shion, the only thing perfect has been the nightmare his life has become since letting a strange boy called Nezumi spend the night in his apartment.

(buy) This little show is sweet, commenting on society and individuals, while also developing the plot and characters enough that nothing feels stagnant. While the boys are developing a relationship, it’s very much not the focus of the story (and I believe there are only two kisses in the whole show). The world building is bare bones but provides enough to paint a realistic picture. Definite worth watching.

Time of Eve - Sometime in future Japan, androids have been involved in every aspect of peoples lives. One day, upon checking his android's behavioral log, Rikuo noticed his android's returning times have been odd recently. With his friend Masaki, they find a small cafe called Eve no Jikan where androids and human are not seen as different.

(buy) This movie (originally a series of short episodes combined into a single movie), is cute and fun, but it will leave you wanting more. The depth of the story and the world are just scratched, hinting at things much bigger than the two boys the movie focuses on.

However, the story as it stands is still cute, sweet, and a nice mix of funny, making it perfectly enjoyable on its own.

They Were Eleven - Ten young space cadets are put onto a decommissioned spaceship as their final test. If they pass this test, their lifelong dreams of being valued people in their respective societies will come true. Their orders are to survive as long as they can with what they have. However, once they arrive at the ship, they find that their crew has gained an eleventh member -- and no one can remember the original lineup well enough to recognize which of them is the newcomer.

(rent) This is an older anime, and it shows, not just through the animation and design, but through some of the choices the narration takes. That said, I still think this is one that is worth checking out. It takes an interesting look at group dynamics, power struggles within groups, and high-pressure situations. And it leaves you guessing the whole time, but gives a nice wrap-up at the end so you’re not left confused.

The Secret World of Arrietty - When a tiny "borrower" named Arrietty makes friends with a young boy many times her size, she must also shield her family from his towering elders. But trouble brews when a curious maid starts asking questions.

(rent) This is a sweet little movie, but while it was enjoyable, and kids will like it, I’m sure, it seemed to lack much depth. There was a bit of plot, character development, and crazy villain, but it lacked anything too substantial. I didn’t mind sitting through it once, but it’s not something I’d run out and buy.


Movie reviews

While this blog is currently still defunct/in hiatus (whichever comes first), I realized I had a bunch of entries that I hadn't yet posted, so I decided to load them in sets of five.

Kamisama Kiss - Nanami was just a normal high school girl down on her luck until a stranger’s lips marked her as the new Land God and turned her world upside down. Now, she’s figuring out the duties of a deity with the help of Tomoe, a reformed fox demon who reluctantly becomes her familiar in a contract sealed with a kiss.

(meh) This show didn’t particularly do it for me. It had nice art and men drawn in a style I appreciate, but the plot and dialogue were lacking/not of interest. Some of the side characters were fun and charming, and I would have loved to have seen more of them, but I found Nanami to be dense and uninteresting. A few of the story arches were good/had potential, but Nanami’s presence (and repeated stupidity/lovestruckness/high-schoolness) ruined it for me. I probably wouldn’t have finished the show, except for obligation and snarking at it with my friends.

LEGO Batman: The Movie - When Bruce Wayne receives the Man of the Year award, jealous fellow billionaire Lex Luthor decides to top Wayne's achievement by running for president, recruiting the Joker to create an atmosphere ripe for fear-based politics.

(rent) I wasn’t too enthused to watch this movie, so I was multitasking/not paying attention. Overall, I think it was an enjoyable/amusing flick, but it did nothing in particular to entice me to plop down and watch. I think the best part was when the rest of the superheroes arrived, but it wasn’t a bad movie, it just didn’t interest me.

Fish Out of Water - Spurred by director Ky Dickens's own coming-out story, this playfully animated documentary confronts the slippery topic of homosexuality head on, honing in on Bible verses oft-cited as condemnatory and opening them to fresh interpretation.

(rent) This is definitely worth a watch, especially for queer or questioning Christians who need some help or support in reconciling their faith and sexuality. As someone who has read several books related to these concepts, there wasn’t a whole lot that was NEW for me, but it reinforced what I’d previously learned, phrased some things in a different light, and I think this is something that anyone with interest in Christianity and/or LGBTQ culture would enjoy watching.

Trigun: Badlands Rumble - In town surrounded by quicksand, an outlaw from Vash the Stampede’s past has resurfaced after twenty years. His name is Gasback – and he’s looking to cause a little trouble.

(rent/buy) It’s been more years than I’d like to recall since I washed the original Trigun series, but this felt like sinking right back into one of the bad-guy-of-the-week episodes. I was a little confused about where things fell in the timeline (because it’d been so long since I’d watched), but it was still very enjoyable, bringing back all those fond memories of why I need to rewatch Trigun.

For those unfamiliar with the series, this may be a good way to dip your toe in, but generally it might be best just to try the original stuff, as this takes place somewhere in the middle of the original series, so confusion may abound.

Petunia - Charlie Petunia hails from a family of neurotic New Yorkers and has sworn off sex. When he meets George, Charlie thinks he's finally found a guy worth breaking that pledge -- but their relationship hits a snag when Charlie learns George has a wife.

(rent) I’m not quite sure how to feel about this movie. It’s very odd and different, which is refreshing, and it’s quite the whirlwind. Most of the characters aren’t particularly likeable, but they aren’t ones you despise either. They’re all just real, very flawed, people. I have very mixed feelings about everything in this movie, except maybe the ending. While not completely realistic, maybe, it was very sweet and happy and still had threads of discord that felt in keeping with the realistic tone.


While this blog is currently still defunct/in hiatus (whichever comes first), I realized I had a bunch of entries that I hadn't yet posted, so I decided to load them in sets of five.

Kindred: The Embraced - In the dark and sinister world of the Kindred, five underground vampire clans clash with mortals and each other in their battle to rule modern-day San Francisco, until cop Frank Kohanek (C. Thomas Howell) discovers the truth and threatens to expose their secret. Vampire leader Julian Luna (Mark Frankel) must fight to hold onto the vampires' way of life -- as well as his title of "Prince of the City" in this short-lived Fox television series.

(rent) This isn’t the first time I’ve watched this show, but upon rewatching, I’m seeing it in a whole ‘nother light. pre-teen me was in love with Julian. Modern me things the clans are full of idiots (though now I’m rather taken with Julian’s sire). It’s not bad, but it will take a certain love of nineties’ television to really appreciate this show.

Outing Riley - Bobby Riley (writer-director Pete Jones) is finally ready to come out to his conservative Catholic family and stop pretending that his best lesbian pal is his girlfriend. But it turns out he's not the only one harboring a secret. When Bobby announces to his three disbelieving brothers that he's actually in love with a man, that revelation turns out to be just a sample of the smorgasbord of surprises members of the clan have long been hiding.

(rent)This is a sweet movie that looks at one man’s challenge to tell his Irish Catholic family that he’s gay and the resulting reactions of each family member (mainly the three brothers). The movie didn’t really speak to me because of the format and humor, but there were some nice things about it as well, such as the reality of how the family reacted. While at times things felt awkward and weird, there were also sweet moments, etc. So worth taste-testing, but I wouldn’t buy it sight unseen. Also, the description that comes with the movie isn’t lying...but it’s a little misleading as well.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Extending the saga of Marvel's The Avengers, this superhero sequel finds Steve Rogers living quietly in Washington but growing increasingly restless. So when a deadly new foe surfaces, he transforms into Captain America and allies with Black Widow.

(buy) I thoroughly enjoyed this film, although its representation on Tumblr is...a bit off mark. However, this has some great character development, awesome action sequences, and a fun, twisty plot. I think the oversaturation on the internet could really drive some people away from it though. And the fact that it's part of a much larger world (although familiarity with those worlds is not necessary.

Sex Positive - Director Daryl Wein's penetrating documentary explores the life and works of Richard Berkowitz, the provocative S&M hustler turned AIDS activist credited with spearheading the safe sex movement in the 1980s. As the AIDS epidemic burgeoned, Berkowitz collaborated on a (then-unpopular) study with Dr. Joseph Sonnabend and activist Michael Callen that cited unsafe sexual practices, promiscuity and drug use as key factors in the spread of the virus.

(rent) This is interesting from an educational standpoint (especially if you know very little about what it discusses). It was handled well, in what felt to be a well-balanced way, and I definitely learned more about the early AIDS epidemic and the politics surrounding it than I had even known was a thing before. I definitely think it’s worth checking out for anyone, although I do still feel much of it, like most documentaries, must be taken with a grain of salt.

Hetalia: The Beautiful World (season 5) - They said it couldn't happen, but they were as wrong as a stack of pancakes in a cage full of bears! The adorable boys of Hetalia are back with some new friends and a super sparkly new look.

(rent) If you haven’t seen the previous four seasons, you’re most likely going to be very confused if you start here. Hell, you might be very confused anyway. This continues in true Hetalia style, which mostly means it’s cute, chuckle-worthy, but not really substantial. There are factoids and information I picked up about history, but for the most part this is cotton candy. But for some reason I keep buying the seasons.


Candy Man by Amy Lane

Candy Man by Amy Lane
Stars: 5/5

Length: 136 pages
Adam Macias has been thrown a few curve balls in his life, but losing his VA grant because his car broke down and he missed a class was the one that struck him out. One relative away from homelessness, he's taking the bus to Sacramento, where his cousin has offered a house-sitting job and a new start. He has one goal, and that's to get his life back on track. Friends, pets, lovers? Need not apply.

Finn Stewart takes one look at Adam as he's applying to Candy Heaven and decides he's much too fascinating to leave alone. Finn is bright and shiny—and has never been hurt. Adam is wary of his attention from the very beginning—Finn is dangerous to every sort of peace Adam is forging, and Adam may just be too damaged to let him in at all.

But Finn is tenacious, and Adam's new boss, Darrin, doesn't take bullshit for an answer. Adam is going to have to ask himself which is harder—letting Finn in or living without him? With the holidays approaching it seems like an easy question, but Adam knows from experience that life is seldom simple, and the world seldom cooperates with hope, faith, or the plans of cats and men.

Short, with just enough tart to truly make you appreciate the sweet.

This feels like classic Amy Lane, with a sugary-sweet story covering a tart little treat. While this tale is more sweet than sour, it has moments where it digs deep into the sour spots of the soul.

Some parts of the story felt a tad unrealistic and magical (mostly Finn’s unerring devotion), but I can chalk that up to an Amy Lane Christmas story--but other readers may take issue with that.

Speaking of magic...I love Darrin. It could be argued that he’s completely unrealistic, completely improbable, but that’s what makes the story work. His is a magical candy shop, like Willy Wonka’s. I loved his Pixy Stix foretelling and I loved how sweet he was. I don’t know if I want his story or if I want him to remain a mystery.

Overall I found this completely satisfying for the holiday season fix that some of us readers get, and I can see myself returning to it in future years.


Racing for the Sun by Amy Lane

Racing for the Sun by Amy Lane
Stars: 3/5

Length: 260 pages
"I'll do anything."

Staff Sergeant Jasper "Ace" Atchison takes one look at Private Sonny Daye and knows that every word on paper about him is pure, unadulterated bullshit. But Sonny is desperate, and although Ace isn't going to take him up on his offer of "anything," that doesn't mean he isn't tempted.

Instead, Ace takes Sonny under his wing, protecting him when they're in the service and making plans with him when they get out. Together, they're going to own a garage and build race cars and make their fortune hurtling faster than light across the desert. Together, they're going to rewrite the past, make Sonny Daye a whole and happy person, and put the ghosts in Ace's heart to rest.

But not even Sonny can build a car fast enough to escape the ghosts of the past. When Sonny's ghosts drive them down and run their plans off the road, Ace finds out exactly what he's made of. Maybe Sonny was the one to promise Ace anything, but there is nothing under the sun Ace won't do to keep Sonny safe from harm.

Warning: Due to circumstances, I took an eight-month hiatus from reading this book, which may alter my perspective on it.

While there are some elements of this book that are great, my disconnect from the characters kept me from really getting involved in the story.

From the beginning I had troubles really getting into this story. The story itself is fine, the writing is fine, but the characters didn’t grab me by the heartstrings and demand I hear their story. They are good, deep, sweet characters, but for some reason I just didn’t connect. this of course made the book more difficult to get through (although the hiatus was for personal reasons, not because of the book). I think my main struggles are based around the main vehicle of the story (racing, the army), both of which left me lukewarm.

When I picked up the book again, I was a little lost and I probably should have just reread the darn thing, but I was so close to crossing it off my to-do list that I just read it through. I think it was worth it. And in true Amy Lane style, she kept me up way past my bedtime reading.

Even though I didn’t really click with the characters, and even after a hiatus, I still felt invested enough in the characters that I was turning the pages faster and faster, wondering how much sleep I really needed to function.

This story touches upon some serious issues (coming out, family, prostitution, human trafficking [sorta], the army, racing, betting, cultural differences, class differences, and probably a few others I missed). There are also some elements of it that seem a little far-fetched (mainly in the end), but that I’m willing to suspend my disbelief about because it’s fiction.


Sherlock's Gay Best Father A'oro

Sherlock, season 3 - (3 episodes) After two years' absence, "deceased" Sherlock Holmes emerges from hiding and asks Watson to help him stop a terrorist plot that is threatening London. The twosome also tangle with a blackmailer and track a killer who's infiltrated Watson's wedding.

(buy) While I enjoyed the third installation of Sherlock, I’m not sure if I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed the previous season. I would say it continues with their standard build mixed with humor, so viewers of the first two seasons will be pleased with this, but people unfamiliar with the series should probably start at the beginning.

G.B.F. - When shy Tanner is outed as a school's only openly gay student, popular girls Fawcett, Caprice and 'Shley engage in an epic catfight to acquire him as their "Gay Best Friend." Tanner soon finds himself torn between popularity and old friendships.

(rent) This is a cute high school comedy that really looks at friendships, stereotypes, and the masks people wear. It was amusing, but never really grabbed my attention. It had great one-liners and dialogue, but in some ways it dragged, which is weird since it wasn’t that long of a film. I would definitely say this is worth a watch, as it avoids some stereotypical high school movie tropes while playing with others.

Easy A - Ambitious student Olive decides to boost her popularity by pretending to be the school slut. As the swirling rumor mill increases both her notoriety and her finances, Olive enjoys her newfound status but eventually must decide if it's all worth it.

(rent/buy) I’m sorry I waited so long to watch this movie. But really, the description (and what I’d heard about the movie) left little desire for me to see it. It didn’t seem interesting or particularly deep. However, after seeing a million GIFs of interest float by, I decided to give it a shot.

And I’m glad I did. This film had a lovely mix of humor, classic high school flick, depth, and wit. Some of the characters were flat, but most had at least various elements that made them fallible and realistic. While much of the underlying message will be “no shit” for older audiences, I still think it’s worth hearing--and seeing.

La Corda d’Oro - (26 episodes) Hino goes to a school that specialises in music and has two streams: the normal stream and the music stream, where the music students are regarded as the more elite. She was running late for her class one day when she saw a tiny fairy, who seemed really excited that she could see it. The next day, the entrants in the music competition, who are decided by the school, are announced. Hino's name appears on the list - except she doesn't play an instrument.

(rent) This is just kind of a mellow high school show. It may not be for everyone (especially as it’s subtitled only), but I found it oddly enjoyable. It’s one of those shows you don’t watch for plot or excitement or any of that, but just to let the story unfold. For all the romantic tension, there’s no real resolution. And the underlying theme gets beaten over the head a bit much (especially in the last episode). This is mostly a character study, although even in that it’s mostly just how Hina transformed everyone in the show for the better. But it had pretty boys and classical music (and it pans away to the same few shots for every musical number rather than animating the instrument playing.

In the Name of… - Running toward God but away from his sexuality, Adam became a priest at age 21. Now the head of a rural parish, he's still tormented by desire. When Father Adam attempts to help troubled teen Lukasz, long-suppressed feelings begin to surface.

(meh) I really couldn’t get into this movie. It had potential, even with what I felt was an under-developed plot, but too much was vaguely hinted out, left undeveloped, or just not really looked at. I’m not sure if better understanding of the culture that movie takes place in (Poland, I believe), would clarify things, but generally I was lukewarm about everything. The acting wasn’t bad, probably the highlight of the film, and there were moments I felt for the characters and their struggles, but generally my confusion over what was happening and how people felt was too deep to let me connect at all to anything here.


A Big Movie in Eden, Tokyo. Don't Cry.

Big Eden - Successful but lonely New York artist Henry Hart (Arye Gross) returns to Big Eden to care for his ailing grandfather and winds up confronting his unrequited passion for his high school best friend and his feelings about being gay in a small town. As Henry works though his emotions, the townspeople quietly conspire to help him along, until Henry realizes new possibilities for both friendship and romance. Eric Schweig and Louise Fletcher also star.

(rent) This is either a bad movie or a fantastic one. It’s very much RomCom, coming out, small town (that is VERY understanding). In all those ways, it’s kinda of over-the-top cheesy. Which may disgust some people. But if you like cheese, even in a cheesy way (if that makes sense), then this may be up your alley. I found it cute and slightly cringe-worthy. The acting, camera work, etc, are all good, but sometimes things happen and I don’t know if they were cute or not. It’s definitely not a completely realistic story, but it’s kind of adorable and sweet, so I forgave it.

Boys Don’t Cry - Based on actual events, director Kimberly Peirce's powerful, often harrowing drama stars Hilary Swank as Brandon Teena, a transgender person searching for love and acceptance in a small Midwestern town.

(rent) This is a dark, heavy piece that has lots of points that brings awareness to trans issues and the dangers of “passing” as a trans person. I think I would have enjoyed this piece more if it wasn’t based on actual events, as I have a feeling the thing that bothered me the most--a person making god-awful stupid decisions--was pulled from the actual events of Tina’s life. That said, while this is a powerful film, it will probably only sit comfortably on a few people’s shelves: Those who like heavier, darker, edgier movies.

We Need to Talk About Kevin - Eva's relationship with her son, Kevin, has been difficult from the beginning. When the 15-year-old boy's cruel streak erupts into violence, Eva wonders how much blame she deserves for his actions.

(rent) I was kind of mediocre on this one. It draws out the pivotal plot slowly, which isn’t bad, and it does lots of telling in flashback, which again isn’t bad, but together they left me lukewarm. It didn’t help that I felt little to no sympathy for Eva. I think it’s an interesting psychological piece that explores an individual’s and a community’s reaction to a traumatic event perpetrated by one man, but I can’t really recommend it.

The Lego Movie - After being mistaken for the LEGO Master Builder, ordinary mini-guy Emmet is swept up in an urgent quest to thwart the evil plans of Lord Business. Emmet's adventures include daunting challenges and hilarious missteps in this computer-animated epic.

(rent/buy) Everyone had nothing but good things to say about this movie, and while I found it enjoyable and rather funny at parts, I wasn’t particularly moved by it. The creative animation style definitely won points, and the plot and deeper meanings were all stellar, but it felt a touch overdone/preachy, probably because it wasn’t particularly subtle about making its points. I have a feeling most people would enjoy watching this and some will fall in love, but it just wasn’t for me.

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 - (11 episodes) In 2012, Mirai, a middle school freshman girl, goes to Tokyo’s artificial Odaiba Island for a robot exhibition with her brother Yuuki at the start of summer vacation. A powerful tremor registering 8.0 on the JMA scale emanates from an ocean trench and the landscape of Tokyo changes in seconds. With the help of a motorcycle delivery woman named Mari who they meet on Odaiba, Mirai and Yuuki strive to head back to their Setagaya home in western Tokyo.

(rent) This is, as expected, a fairly dark series, but it’s not really dreary or depressing, for the most part, although it has very heavy moments, especially toward the end. However, I would definitely recommend this to almost all viewers, one as an educational element, one as just a powerful reminder of people being the worst they can and the best they can.

One of the nice things about this anime is that it isn’t heavy with cultural references or jokes that the basic viewer won’t get. While some elements may seem odd to the unfamiliar, for the most part people will follow along and still be touched by the story. That said, it still won’t be for everyone, so I’d still recommend watching it before buying it.


How to Find and Train Your X-Men

Geography Club - Looking for a haven from the social hell of high school, the teens in this dramedy form a social club they know no one else will join. Here, it doesn't matter that Min and Terese are more than just friends, or that the quarterback is seeing a guy

(rent/buy) This is a cute film that watches like a YA novel. Not only does it have a heart-warming message, it has a slightly unexpected ending, a multicultural cast, and some twists on characters you wouldn’t expect. This is a piece I’d probably enjoy more in book form, but I’m a reader at heart. The strong cast of actors, good dialogue, and witty lines make this definitely worth a watch.

X-men: Days of Future Past - The X-Men send Wolverine to the past in a desperate effort to change history and prevent an event that results in doom for both humans and mutants.

(rent/buy) Although there are some issues with timelines, the character development and storyline are fantastic and highly enjoyable. Seeing the relationship differences between Magneto and Xavier as young individuals and having come together again in a challenging world, is an interesting study of both character development and a look at the actors and their different approaches to the characters. Definitely worth a watch for a fan of the series, although like all X-men films, don’t look too closely at the plot as compared to the comics.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 - Five years have passed since Hiccup and Toothless united the dragons and Vikings of Berk. Now, they spend their time charting the island's unmapped territories. During one of their adventures, the pair discover a secret cave that houses hundreds of wild dragons. Hiccup and Toothless then find themselves at the center of a battle to protect Berk from a power-hungry warrior named Drago.

(buy) I was tentative going into this movie because I enjoyed the first one so much. There was no way it could hold up to the original. And in many ways, it didn’t. But it also doesn’t try to. It goes it’s own way and by doing so, holds its own. I think the best part isn’t the story (although it’s enjoyable), but the behavior and information we see in the dragons. Toothless is just as adorable and loyal as ever, and the bond between him and Hiccup is lovely and precious. Definitely worth seeing.

8: The Mormon Proposition - Filmmaker and ex-Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints member Reed Cowan examines that church's nationwide efforts to prevent the legalization of gay marriage -- including California's Proposition 8, which was passed by voters in 2008. Confidential church documents, statements by high-ranking church officials and other sources detail 30 years of efforts to turn back gay rights, particularly by the Mormon-sponsored National Organization for Marriage.

(rent) I didn’t know much about the Prop 8 issue aside from the general news, so hearing the details and numbers related to what happened was eye-opening and horrifying. This was educational, with enough of a personal factor to reach the heart of viewers. This was educational, but a bit of a downer--though there is a positive light that things have advanced since this documentary was made.

The Butch Factor - Director Christopher Hines paints an intimate portrait of contemporary gay culture by asking pointed questions and studying the diverse lifestyles of its members, with the resulting film offering a fresh look at masculinity and homosexuality. Interviewing gay men ranging from rugby players to rodeo stars, Hines also talks to historians, psychologists and sociologists to help identify the similarities in the way gay men view themselves.

(rent) Whether or not you agree with everything this documentary says, it’s worth a watch. I found it to be fairly well-rounded, portraying bother the stereotypical “masculine” and “feminine” gays and their take on the stereotypes in the culture. I felt many deep, meaningful ideas were shared without showing one type as being the better one. I also greatly approved that a transman was able to get a say in this, which is a unique perspective in this topic. This documentary was well put together, and while at points it felt like it dragged (and some people were just saying the same thing as a previous person), each speaker brought something new to the table, so I was never really bored or disinterested.


Reviews: Howling at Dinner While Coming Out

Howl - James Franco steps into the shoes of famed Beat poet Allen Ginsberg in this star-studded biopic centered around Ginsberg's poem "Howl" and the widely publicized obscenity trial that followed its publication in 1957.

(rent/buy) I knew nothing about Allen Ginsberg going into this movie, so it was very educational. It was also well balanced between educational and entertainment. It wasn’t a documentary, but the film is grounded in reality. I would definitely say this is worth a watch, as not only do you learn about the poet, but about important decisions the court made in regards to literature.

Ristorante Paradiso - (11 episodes) Ristorante Paradiso follows the protagonist, Nicoletta, as she comes to Rome from the Italian countryside and becomes an apprentice in Casetta dell'Orso, a restaurant owned by her mother Olga's new husband, Lorenzo, and meets its colorful staff.

(rent/buy) This laid-back anime is a nice watch, although if you’re looking for action, go elsewhere. It’s very much like a slice of life series, where we learn about the different characters in the restaurant, their history, and the growth of the lead character. There are some dark moments, but nothing too heavy (or that is too heavy for too long). Generally a nice, gentle story.

Also, if you’re looking for homosexual subtext, there isn’t much. It’s all very heteronormative, although there are a few hints and open-ended events. This isn’t a bad thing, but I do like some handsome men who want to woo other men. But generally this series was so laid back and focused on other things (even when romance was the focus) that it wasn’t bothersome.

Coming Out Stories - In this Logo reality series, gay men and lesbians go through the process of coming out to their families, friends and neighbors. Each episode features the story of one individual and the challenges and thrills of his or her coming-out story.

(rent) This is probably not a series to watch all in one sitting. Much like most reality TV, the drama is amped up (although considering the setting, not that much). There were eight (I believe) episodes, and while each brought different unique qualities, many of the same feelings/issues were raised. These were of course valid, but watching them all in one night made them feel repetitive.

I didn’t really take much from watching this show, although your mileage may vary. What I found most interesting was the look at how culture and LGBT issues cross, such as in the individuals who were Korean, Jamaican, or Filipino. Mainly it made me think of my own quirky coming out. Also, many of the individuals felt pushed to tell a family member because that family member was ill and probably going to die soon. It obviously amped up the drama for the story, and it definitely pushes the idea that we all run out of time, but mostly it showed me (or stressed to me) that we are all on borrowed time, so live happily. After all, if they can’t accept you, that’s their loss.

Save Me - When young gay man Mark (Chad Allen) hits rock bottom, the well-intentioned Gayle (Judith Light) and her husband, Ted (Stephen Lang), welcome him to Genesis House, a Christian haven for men like Mark to seek shelter and get on the right path -- the straight path. But problems arise when Mark's mentor, Scott (Robert Gant), becomes too intimate, prompting Gayle and Ted to face some uncomfortable realities about love, salvation and human sexuality.

(rent/buy) I think what I really loved about this movie was that it didn’t use a horrible, evil place for Genesis House. Instead, Gayle and Ted run a house for helping. The people there can leave at any time. They want to be there. Of course some feel obligated, and there’s some issues, mainly with family making people attend, but generally they are a nice house that brings people to God rather than forcing or brainwashing.

The relationship between Mark and Scott is lovely and for the most part not physical, which I think is a perfect balance for how Mark begins the movie. The lack of physicality allows their closeness and love to really blossom, which is my other favorite part. Although I didn’t necessarily feel chemistry between the two men, I definitely felt a depth of caring that seemed to go beyond basic chemistry--aka, love. It was lovely and sweet, although some moments were very hard-hitting, relating to drugs and suicide attempts.

A Time to Leave - At the height of his career, a gay fashion photographer suddenly faces terminal cancer in this French drama helmed by Francois Ozon. When Romain (Melvil Poupaud) learns he has little time left to live, he decides to tell only his beloved grandmother of his condition, pushing away everyone else in his life -- his parents, his sister, even his lover. Refusing chemotherapy, he struggles to accept his fate and make the most of his precious last days.

(rent) I didn’t even remember adding this to my queue, so I was surprised I had something so potentially depressing on my list. In many ways, this film wasn’t as sad as I was expecting. Yes, it had elements of melancholy, but it was more introspective than drag you in the dirt depressing. By the end, I felt accepting of the main character’s demise, as I think the viewer is meant to be. This is something worth watching, but I think only fans of artsy films will truly enjoy it.


Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny’s Lair by Amy Lane

Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny’s Lair, a Granby Knitting Novel by Amy Lane
Stars: 5/5

Length: 244
After three years of waiting for “rabbit” Jeremy to commit to a life in Granby—and a life together—Aiden Rhodes was appalled when Jeremy sustained a nearly fatal beating to keep a friend out of harm's way. How could Aiden’s bunny put himself in danger like that?

Aiden needs to get over himself, because Jeremy has a long road to recovery, and he's going to need Aiden's promise of love every step of the way. Jeremy has new scars on his face and body to deal with, and his heart can’t afford any more wounds.

When their friend’s baby needs some special care, the two men find common ground to firm up their shaky union. With Aiden’s support and his boss’s inspiration, Jeremy comes up with a plan to make sure Ariadne's little blackbird comes into this world with everything she needs. While Jeremy grows into his new role as protector, Aiden needs to ease back on his protectiveness over his once-timid lover. Aiden may be a wolf in student's clothing and Jeremy may be a rabbit of a man, but that doesn’t mean they can’t walk the wilds of Granby together.

A fitting conclusion to the Granby Knitting series (or at least the story of these men).

I’m sure there are things about this novel that I didn’t like. Most likely the pieces all falling together too nicely and something of that sort.

But I really can’t say that here. Because these characters, this town, has been building up and coming together for three prior books. And this one doesn’t rush to get to the happy ending these men, especially Jeremy, deserve. Instead we’re led through Jeremy’s difficult recovery, Aiden’s challenges, and the struggles of life, love, and misconceptions.

Jeremy has to deal with his new face, his new life, and all the changes that are being thrown at him. He’s used to running scared, but he’s promised Aiden he won’t. He’s got a lot of work to do to keep that promise.

Aiden needs to come to terms with what he did to protect the love of his life, and he has to be the man that Jeremy needs. While Aiden has always been the “older” of the two, for the first time we get to see things from his perspective and see that he doesn’t always feel as grown up as he is (which is something we can all relate to, I think).

Much of this story is like being wrapped in a heavy blanket: warm, comforting, and protecting the delicate hearts within. But as the final tale for these men who surround themselves with knitting, it is the perfect conclusion, leaving the reader just as warmed as after having finished the first of these Granby men’s stories.