Sunday, March 21, 2010

There's Got To Be A Morning After

On February 12, 2004, when Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon were first issued a marriage license by the City and County of San Francisco, the earth did not fall off its axis. On May 17, 2004, when same-sex marriages began to be performed legally throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the earth did not stand still. On Sunday night, as the United States House of Representatives finally passed the Healthcare Reform Bill, heads did not explode.

However, since Republicans spent so much time and effort braying about the dire fate that would befall Americans if we allowed healthcare reform to be shoved down our throats, I think it's time we gave them a new image to keep in their minds. Picture, if you will, Eric Cantor, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Chuck Grassley, Michele Bachman, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Michelle Malkin all lined up, down on their knees.

Behind each of them stands a person holding their jaws open as a chorus line of extremely well-hung studs walks up, grabs each one of these lying, pathetic clowns by the back of their head, and shoves a turgid, swollen cock into their mouths and pushes it to the back of their throats.

Hold that picture for just a minute. Just for good measure, let's add Virginia Foxx and Olympia Snowe to that lineup.

Now let's all stand back and watch to see if any of these right-wing villains (and that's exactly what they are) actually suffocates from having something big shoved down their throats. Or if their gag reflexes abate and they learn to live with it.

Why insist on such graphic imagery? Because, after spending the past year ranting about the dangers of having something shoved down their throats, they, too, will learn that even after their biggest fear (and best fantasy) comes to pass, they will live to see another day.

What's more, they might even learn to like it.

As Scarlett O'Hara would say: "Well, fiddle-de-dee!"

Once President Obama signs healthcare reform into law, Republicans are going to lose one of their biggest procedural gimmicks. They can no longer use their righteous indignation to insist that Democrats scrap the current bill and start all over again.

Within moments of the bill's passage under the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, I received a promotional email from the Kinsey Sicks that read as follows:
"In a last-minute speech in the district of some mealy-mouthed, wavering Democratic Congressperson, President Obama pointed to The Kinsey Sicks as an example of the price America has paid for its current health care mess. 'No more can we allow the lack of preventive care to cause any American to leave the house looking like Rachel,' bemoaned the President. 'Unless legislation is passed now, millions of Americans are in danger of becoming Sicks.'

The President then introduced Trampolina, who urged key lawmakers to stop sitting on the fence. 'It may feel good for now,' she noted tearily, 'but trust me, those splinters are really hard to get out of your butt.' This moving testimonial is widely credited by political pundits as creating the key momentum needed for passage of the bill.

To celebrate this victory, The Kinsey Sicks will fly to Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. In addition to singing, the gals will nude mud-wrestle Eric Massa for large sums of money, an imperceptible percentage of which will benefit an unidentifiable charity. Ohio events will also feature teabagging with internationally respected political wunderkind, Joe the Plumber."
Some cliffhangers push their characters past the point of no return. While not everyone lives to tell about it, life does go on for a whole lot of other people.

The pro-lifers on the right might be shocked, humiliated, and totally grossed out by Chao-Tung "Thomas" Huang's two-minute short entitled Breach (which was recently screened at the San Francisco Asian-American International Film Festival). While the program note for the film claimed that "The moment of birth is the death of freedom, or so says this claymation about the terrible cost to be alive," the most notable thing about Huang's short was that it took more time to roll the credits than to watch his film.

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Far more diabolically evil -- and infinitely more fun -- was Alex Munoz's bloody 17-minute romp entitled Spout (which received its world premiere at the festival). With all the attention recently bestowed upon sexy vampire tales like the Twilight Saga films, it's refreshing to see someone give vampirism a delicious new twist.

Spout features an unusual pair of vampires who like to hunt as a team: young Bobby (Tristan Bice-Bey) and Oma (Rena Owen), his dragon lady of a grandmother. After tiring of lame challenges like the two male twins (Anthony Quinonez and Mario Quinonez, Jr.) who go to school with Bobby, grandma and grandson set their eyes on bigger, juicier game.

Bobby's father, Wilhelm (Brandon Hirsch) is eager to get married again. A handsome, dark-skinned man, he seems to have a penchant for bimbos. Tasty bimbos filled with lots of blood.

Bobby (Tristan Bice-Bey) and Oma (Rena Owen)

Carefully drugging Wilhelm's coffee each time he brings a young woman home for dinner, Oma waits near the bathroom with a mallet in her hand for the moment when her son's date will need to urinate. Soon, there is a succulent young corpse offering a fine dining experience in the shower stall. While Wilhelm sleeps, Oma wastes no time shoving a silver spout into each victim's body so that she and her grandson can take turns drinking fresh blood.

When Wilhelm finally finds a buxom blonde he really likes, the deadly duo decide to move on. Dressing up one of the undead twins to replace Bobby, they drive off in a taxi, headed for new and frequent feeding frenzies. Needless to say, Munoz's film delighted the audience. Here's the trailer:

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As long as we're talking about the consequences of desire, it's only fair to make note of Chloe, Atom Egoyan's smashing new erotic thriller in which Julianne Moore's nipples fill the screen like two clinically calculated cost centers. Beautifully filmed in Toronto, the plot focuses on a female gynecologist who thinks her husband might be cheating on her.

Having reached the age where the combined pressures of her son getting ready to leave for college, her musician husband traveling to give lectures, and her busy gynecological medical practice have cooled the passion in her marriage, Catherine Stewart (Julianne Moore) has gathered together a group of friends for a surprise birthday party for her husband, David (Liam Neeson), who hates surprises as much as he hates celebrating his birthday.

Catherine could very well be the kind of solid upper class clinician who is professionally secure but a stupid wife. Or she might be a woman whose insecurities about aging are starting to make her lose control of her emotions.

When David calls to tell Catherine that he missed his flight from New York, she's hurt but covers her emotions in front of the guests. Feeling rejected and just the slightest bit peeved, she notices how solicitous David is of a waitress several nights later when the two are dining out with friends.

On the surface, Catherine has everything: the husband, the house, the son, the career, the intelligence, and more than enough money to satisfy her needs. What she thinks she is lacking is the kind of sexual spark which once ensured that she and David would make love three times a day. Or that she would pick him up at the airport so they could rush home and tear each other's clothes off.

That hasn't happened in quite some time.

When Catherine excuses herself from the table to go to the ladies' room, she has a strange encounter with a beautiful young woman. Her curiosity about Chloe's work as a prostitute -- and what she knows about how men think -- leads Catherine to a decision as dangerous as opening Pandora's box.

Chloe (Amanda Seyfried) and Catherine (Julianne Moore)

Chloe, who has been on her own since age 15, may be a very slick hooker plying Toronto's upscale business trade. But she's also damaged goods. She's got the kind of self-indulgent imagination and predatory prowess for which the disciplined Catherine is no match.

While Catherine may see in Chloe a woman who can help her to better understand her husband, Chloe sees something much different in Catherine. And she really wants it.

Amanda Seyfried as Chloe

As director Atom Egoyan explains:
"One of the most important things for me was to ascertain that this type of woman could exist -- a prostitute that works in hotels. One of the fears I had, in the age of the Internet and escort services, was whether someone would in fact still go to a hotel lobby or bar to pick up a prostitute. So on the trips I was making to New York for Eh, Joe, I did some research and found it's very much alive. It's very subtle -- all about eye contact and a very specific code one can't intercept that easily, but it's very present. I would then talk to Amanda about it as we discussed her character and what moment Chloe is at in her life, where someone like Catherine becomes so compelling for her. Amanda is disarmingly available but she also has an incredible amount of emotional reserve; she's unpredictable and compelling -- truly a rare talent.”
When Catherine hires Chloe to try to seduce David, she gets entangled in a web of deceit and betrayal over which she quickly loses control. Each meeting with Catherine stirs up a strange passion in Chloe, which the younger woman is only too happy to pursue. By the time Chloe has managed to seduce Catherine's son Michael (Max Thieriot) in his parents' bed, the situation has passed the point of no return.

Chloe (Amanda Seyfried) and Catherine (Julianne Moore)

Egoyan stresses that:
"I'm very interested in the process of storytelling and how people recount and narrate their own lives. Chloe is really a wonderful examination of that. First and foremost, Chloe deals with the nature of intimacy. I think the film is ultimately about what we look for in a relationship -- to see someone else, as we would like ourselves to be seen, and the idea of protecting someone else's right to be alone or to protect solitude. As Rilke wrote, it is one's role as a partner to protect the other's solitude, and yet there's this balance between doing that and losing someone. That, to me, is what the film is about -- how to be allowed to imagine ourselves and integrate that in a relationship.

In some ways, the film is about the necessity and the danger of creative interpretation of the self. Ultimately, we all need to believe in certain stories or narratives about ourselves. We all need to feel we have some control over how that narrative evolves, however we have no control over the variables -- we can't anticipate all of the other emotional factors that come into play. There's always a variable when dealing with human beings. We are incredibly complex sensitive souls. No matter how you think a relationship is defined by parameters, those can always evolve -- so we need to be invested in other people; we need to fall in love and we need to go to those places. But we also need to equip ourselves in understanding how fragile other people are. If we don't, there are bound to be consequences."
As one watches Chloe, one can't help but appreciate how beautifully Egoyan has framed Erin Cressida Wilson's story (which originally took place in San Francisco). While it's almost a given that Julianne Moore and Liam Neeson will give complex, layered performances, Amanda Seyfried's work as Chloe and Max Theiriot's portrayal of a teenager who can't wait to escape his bickering parents are beautifully crafted characterizations. Mychael Danna's musical score and Paul Sarossy's cinematography greatly contribute to the film's sense of atmosphere. Here's the trailer: