Monday, March 27, 2006
"I am very pleased to be a sponsor of this legislation and guide it through to its conclusion," said King County Council Chair Larry Phillips (D) before the ordinance's final passage. "As it has been testified, this is -- perhaps -- the civil rights issue of our generation."
The proposed ordinance would amend the county's law to include Transgender people; amend the private right of action for employment and public accommodations; amend the Office of Civil Rights' subpoena power for employment and public accommodations investigations; and increase civil penalties for violations.
County law already prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing and public accommodations. A law passed by the Legislature recently extended similar protections to the entire state, but also prohibited discrimination based on gender identity and expression.
The council has been considering the extension of antidiscrimination protections to Transgender people since 2004, when it had been proposed by King County Executive Ron Sims. Councilmembers Dow Constantine, Phillips, Bob Ferguson and Larry Gossett had been early sponsors of that legislation.
"This is legislation that has originated more than a year ago," said Councilmember Ferguson (D). "So, I appreciate those who have been patient [as we have traveled] the road to progress..."
The councilmembers heard public testimony at last weeks council meeting and again this afternoon. Several orginizations joined the dozens of supporters, including lawyers, clergy, citizens, and Transgender people in calling for passage of the ordinance. Only one person, Rev. Randy Leskovar of Calvary Chapel in West Seattle, testified against it.
Seattle Gay News is very pleased to welcome back We Are Scientists for a live performance at The Crocodile Cafe tomorrow night, March 28. Fresh from back-to-back sold out tours in Europe with Arctic Monkeys and Kaiser Chiefs, the talent three-piece band returns to Seattle for a show expected to be wildly fun. Cost is ten bucks and We Are Scientists are slated to go onstage some time after ten thirty. The trio appeared on Conan O'Brien's late night talk show and will be a main stage act for the Sasquatch Festival in May.
For tickets, visit www.ticketweb.com or buy them at the door tomorrow night. This power alternative rock is very gay friendly and the crowd tomorrow night should be a good mix. Check out the band's album "With Love and Squalor". An interview with Keith Murray of We Are Scientists is featured in this week's issue - click on this link to access it: http://www.sgn.org/sgnnews34_12/page38.cfm
Photo of We Are Scientists, courtesy of Virgin Records.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO -- Citing First Amendment protection for parodies, the American Civil Liberties Union today came to the defense of a California man who received a cease-and-desist letter after posting a parody of a billboard advertisement for so-called "reparative therapy" on his website.
The billboard, sponsored by "ex-gay" ministry Exodus International, read, "Gay? Unhappy? www.exodus.to." After seeing a photo of the billboards online, Watt posted an altered version reading, "Straight? Unhappy? www.gay.com" on his website, Justinsomnia.org. Liberty Counsel, an anti-gay legal group representing Exodus, sent Watt a cease-and-desist letter earlier this month claiming the parody violated Exodus's intellectual property rights and threatening legal action if the parodies were not removed.
The American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association and other mainstream mental health and medical groups have denounced reparative therapy, stating that there is no evidence that reparative therapy is successful and that the practice may in fact be harmful to those who undergo it.
"Justin's use of Exodus's own image to criticize its message is exactly the sort of speech the Constitution protects," said Pulgram, who heads the copyright litigation group at Fenwick & West. "The law protects people like Justin from groups like Exodus that try to use copyright as a method of bullying their critics into abandoning their First Amendment right to express their opinions through parody."
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
I find it odd that in an entire report -- over a year old -- they pull out gender reassignment surgeries for particular attention in their headlines.
I don't think it is appropriate to unnecessarily alarm the public about something that is rarely approved by the state and has a legitimate medical purpose. As Sen. Adam Kline told the Seattle Gay News recently:
For those members of the [Medicaid] recipient population who are going through the dysfunctional psychological consequences of being in the wrong body; that is their medical need.
3/14/06 -- Sex changes through the state a go again after policy reversal
2/10/06 -- State's taxpayers paid for a sex change
Monday, March 13, 2006
Seattle Gay News proudly presents We Are Scientists at The Crocodile Cafe on Tuesday, March 28. This marks the second time we've sponsored a performance for this very talented alternative rock group, who will appear on Conan O'Brien's late night talk show soon. They just wrapped up a tour with Brit Award winners Kaiser Chiefs and are confirmed for the Sasquatch Festival with Arctic Monkeys and Beck.
The New York-based trio released their well-received debut "With Love and Squalor" in January, signed to the same record label as The Rolling Stones and Janet Jackson (Virgin Records). Two music videos from the album, "Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt" and "The Great Escape", are currently being played at SGN's weekly club night "Alternative Tuesdays", at Manray Video Bar (514 E. Pine).
Tickets for We Are Scientists at The Crocodile Cafe are going fast, priced at only 10 bucks. They're amazing in concert and all three members are some of the coolest, gay friendliest guys around. The Seattle Gay News invites you to check them out. Look for an interview with vocalist/hottie Keith Murray next week in the SGN.
Photo of We Are Scientists, courtesy of Virgin Records.
There are few issues as hotly contested — and as poorly understood — as the question of what makes a person gay or straight. It's not only a political, social, and religious question but also a scientific question, one that might someday have an actual, provable answer.
The handful of scientists who work in this under-funded and politically charged field will tell you: That answer is a long way off. But as Lesley Stahl reports, their efforts are already yielding tantalizing clues. One focus of their research is twins.
Click here for story and video.
Friday, March 10, 2006
It's the sex-sational movie every gay boy is talking about, and it begins a limited engagement in Seattle today. "Gay Sex in the 70s", a bold documentary focusing on the sexual craze in the twelve years between Stonewall and the first reported cases of AIDS, opens this weekend at the Varsity Theatre. It is not rated, and no one under 18 is admitted.
Seattle Gay News is giving away run of engagement movie passes tomorrow (March 11) at Purr Cocktail Lounge's VIP Room called "Plush", a fabulous loft space tucked away at the back of the bar. These are actual movie tickets, not the advance screening passes we usually give out. Two pairs of tickets will be given away every fifteen mintues beginning at 9:00 pm upstairs at "Plush". Tickets will not be given away to drop-by or walk-up visitors. You must make your way to "Plush" and enter a free drawing.
Purr Cocktail Lounge is located at 1518 11th Avenue.
Photo by Tom Bianchi, courtesy of Lovett Productions.
Tuesday, March 7, 2006
Two pairs of tickets to She Wants Revenge's upcoming sold out concert will be given away tonight at Manray Video Bar. "Alternative Tuesdays", co-sponsored by Seattle Gay News and Manray Video Bar, begins at 9:30 pm and plays music videos by artists like Coldplay, Bjork, We Are Scientists, Nine Inch Nails, Beck, Weezer, Gorillaz, and many more. Aside from the two pairs of tickets, we have She Wants Revenge freebies to give away as well and weekly drink specials by Stoli. Come and hang out with gay boys and girls, and their friends, who love alternative pop and rock music.
No cover. Twenty one-plus admitted. Attitude not required.
Photo of She Wants Revenge, courtesy of Geffen Records.
Monday, March 6, 2006
Ang Lee's made some nice acceptance speeches over the past two months, and he's always made sure audiences know that Brokeback's subject matter is not just a Gay love story but a Universal, transcendant love story. Last night's shout out to Ennis and Jack was especially poignant given that he didn't get a second chance at the microphone. Here are transcripts of all of the Brokeback acceptance speeches -- with photos -- courtesy of ABC's www.Oscars.com.
Director Award, Ang Lee:
Wow. I wish I knew how to quit you. First of all, I want to thank two people who don't even exist. Or I should say, they do exist, because of the imagination of Annie Proulx and the artistry of Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana. Their names are Ennis and Jack. And they taught all of us who made "Brokeback Mountain" so much about not just all the gay men and women whose love is denied by society, but just as important, the greatness of love itself. Thank you. Thank you members of the Academy for this tremendous honor. And to everyone at Focus Features, in particular, David Linde, James Schamus, thank you for your love and support. To Bill Pohlad, Tory Metzger, Ira Schreck, Joe Dapello, many thanks, and a special thanks to David Lee. And thanks to my wife, Jane Lin, and my boys, Han and Mason. I love you. On "Brokeback Mountain," I felt you with me every day. I just did this movie after my father passed away. More than any other, I made this for him. And finally, to my mother and family, and everybody in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China. Thank you.
Adapted Screenplay Award: Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry
Diana: Thank you to the Academy. The duty of art is to send light into the darkness of men's hearts. Thank you Annie Proulx, she's right over there, for trusting us with your brilliant short story. Thank you to Ang Lee, and our brilliant cast for breathing life into our words. Thank you to Universal, Focus Features, Bill Pohlad, Michael Costigan, my dear friend. My good friend Mark Poirier, for giving me "The New Yorker" that had that short story in it. And thank you to my writing partner, Larry. And thank you for giving him this award as well.
Larry: Since somehow I unaccountably failed to thank my brilliant partner Diana at the Golden Globes, I'm going to rattle off all the attributes I was going to thank her for at the Golden Globes. Smarts, guts, drive, good judgment, tenacity, loyalty, and generosity. That's the kind of virtues you need in the rough strife of movie making. I'd like to thank also James and Curtis, my son and grandson, with love and pride. I thank our loyal lawyers, Robert Thorne and Greg Redlitz. And finally I'm going to thank all the booksellers of the world. Remember, "Brokeback Mountain" was a book before it was a movie. From the humblest paperback exchange to the masters of the great bookshops of the world. All are contributors to the survival of the culture of the book. A wonderful culture, which we mustn't lose. Thank you.
Original Soundtrack Award: Gustavo Santaolalla (pictured with presenter Salma Hayek)
Thank you so much, members of the Academy. I'm so proud to have work in this movie "Brokeback Mountain." A movie that once again showed us that love is what makes us all very similar, in spite that we can be so different. I want to thank a few people. I want to thank Ang Lee for his vision, his support, his guidance. I want to thank Diana Ossana, Larry McMurtry, Annie Proulx for their inspiration. James Schamus, and David Linde, everybody at Focus. Kathy Nelson. Robert Messinger at First Artists, my coproducer and brother Anibal Kerpel. My orchestrater, David Campbell, Bob Bernstein, Ron Goldstein. I want to thank my family, my wife Alejandra, my kids Anna, Luna and Don Juan, and last but not least, I want to dedicate this to my mother, a mi madre, to my country, Argentina, and to all the latinos. Para todos Latinos, muchas gracias, thank you.
Photos & speeches courtesy of ABC
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously today that colleges that accept federal money must allow military recruiters on campus, despite university objections to the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays.
Justices rejected a free-speech challenge from law school professors who claimed they should not be forced to associate with military recruiters or promote their campus appearances.
So let me get this straight: The Boy Scouts of America can get public funds, violate local nondiscrimination laws by discriminating against atheists and gays, and use government land and property. Yet, colleges, which seek to practice tolerance, must open their doors to the discriminatory military policy that denies some students equal opportunity.
Sunday, March 5, 2006
Predicted to win: 13 right out of 24, or 54%
Wanted to win (the "should win" category): 9 right out of 18 (I didn't pick "should wins" in 6 of the races), or 50%
I fared slightly better by going with the statistics than with my own personal taste. But it's still an F....
Bottom line: I'm hopeful that Brokeback's success means that gay-themed movies will get bigger budgets and have better production values in the coming years, and that the scripts won't all be about titillation but will have thoughtful characters, interesting storylines and realistic plots. Hopeful, but skeptical.
Maybe I'll be back next year and maybe not. What a letdown. At least the statuettes were distributed among a lot of films... I guess that's a good thing. Here are the details on all of the Oscars categories and a few comments on my choices:
Film -- Crash
I predicted and wanted: Brokeback Mountain
Seems like the Brokeback backlash was there after all, and I was just Cleopatra. (In de-Nile). Look, I liked Crash. I liked all five of the nominees and any other year I would have been happy if even
Director -- Ang Lee,
I predicted and wanted: Lee
Finally, the crime against Lee (when Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon lost the best Director Oscar to Steven Soderberg's Traffic) has been almost rectified. And I fell in love with him again when he thanked Ennis and Jack, the fictional characters, in his acceptance speech.
Leading Actor -- Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote
I predicted and wanted: Hoffman
It was cute when Hoffman accepted, wasn't it? His hands were so-o-o-o unsteady; I love it when recipients show their emotions.
Leading Actress -- Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line
I predicted and wanted: Witherspoon
Was I the only person shouting at the TV, "Thank your husband!!!" I guess that marriage is on stable ground. I just hope Ryan Phillipe doesn't go all Norman Maine on Reese's ass.
Supporting Actor -- George Clooney, Syriana
I predicted: Clooney; I wanted: Jake Gyllenhaal,
But you have to admit, Clooney kicked off the show the right way with his acceptance speech. He's always classy and funny at the podium.
Supporting Actress -- Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener
I predicted: Weisz; I wanted: Amy Adams, Junebug
Original Score -- Gustavo Santaolalla,
I predicted: John Williams, Memoirs of a Geisha; I wanted: Santaolalla
Never have I been so happy to be so wrong! Except maybe for....
Original Song -- "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," Hustle & Flow
I predicted: "In the Deep," Crash; I wanted: "It's Hard Out Here..."
I never in a million years thought that the more senior of the academy membership would vote for a song with the word "pimp" in its title. I'm glad to be proven wrong, because it was the most memorable of the 3 nominees.
Adapted Screenplay --
I predicted and wanted: Brokeback
How cute was Larry McMurtry in his jeans and crooked bow tie? He also made me want to pick up a book and read.
Original Screenplay -- Crash
I predicted: Crash; I wanted: The Squid and the Whale
I have almost no comment. Bleh.
Animated Feature -- Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit
I predicted: Wallace & Gromit; I wanted: Howl's Moving Castle
Speaking of cute bowties...
Animated Short Film -- The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation
I predicted: 9 (Nine); I wanted: Badgered
Live Action Short Film -- Six Shooter
I predicted: The Last Farm; I wanted: Our Time Is Up
I guess it further illustrates that seeing the films in no way increases your ability to pick the winner. And I was so proud of myself for taking the bus ride to the Varsity!
Documentary Feature -- March of the Penguins
I predicted: Penguins; I wanted: Murderball
Again, those stuffed penguins they dragged onto the stage were adorable. Predictable, but adorable.
Cinematography -- Memoirs of a Geisha
Art Direction -- Memoirs of a Geisha
I predicted: Memoirs of a Geisha; I wanted: Good Night, and Good Luck
Frankly I'm disappointed that academy mistook good costuming for great art direction and cinematography. Double-bleh.
Costume Design -- Memoirs of a Geisha
I predicted and wanted: Memoirs of a Geisha
In my opinion this is all the film deserved. But it takes home only 3 Oscars, which is 2 fewer than I thought it would. Sigh. Small favors.
Makeup -- The Chronicles of Narnia
I predicted: Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith; I wanted: Narnia
While I knew beasts would win over bruises (Cinderella Man), I thought for sure the Academy would want to reward the Star Wars franchise one last time.
Foreign Language Film -- Tsotsi
Documentary Short -- A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin
I predicted: The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Bang Bang Club
Film Editing -- Crash
I predicted: Walk the Line
Sound Editing -- King Kong
I predicted: Memoirs of a Geisha
Sound Mixing -- King Kong
I predicted: Walk the Line
Visual Effects -- King Kong
I predicted: King Kong
Note: Having either no experience (I didn't see any of the foreign or documentary short nominees) or no knowledge (I don't know anything about the mechanics of editing), I subsequently had no opinions about these last 6 categories so I didn't have a "should win" pick.
Crash still courtesy of Lions Gate Films; photo of Ang Lee courtesy of Focus Features; Capote still courtesy Pictures Classics; Walk the Line still courtesy of 20th Century Fox; Syriana still courtesy of Warner Brothers; The Constant Gardener still courtesy of Focus Features; and Brokeback Mountain still courtesy of Focus Features.
Well. Learn something new every day. Guess I'll have to stop calling these the "technical awards," and go back to calling them the "awards nobody but the crew cares about." Oh yeah, nobody but the crew... and those of you who want to win your Oscars Pool.
Art Direction Nominees: Good Night, and Good Luck, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, King Kong, Memoirs of a Geisha and Pride and Prejudice.
Cinematography Nominees: Batman Begins, Brokeback Mountain, Good Night, and Good Luck, Memoirs of a Geisha and The New World.
Who should win: I'm lumping these together because A: It's 12:30 am and I'm tired, and B: I think both of these races are between the same two films, Good Night, and Good Luck and Memoirs of a Geisha. It actually pisses me off that there should be a question in anybody's mind as to which film should win these awards: Good Night, and Good Luck was in black and white, for chrissakes! Do you know how hard it is to shoot in black and white? Or prepare sets, costumes and props so they show up in the right shade of grey? Neither do I, but I imagine it's pretty hard since we (most of us) see in color and can tell the difference between screaming yellow and a really bright white. Good Night, and Good Luck got the period right (art direction) and looked gorgeous frame after frame (cinematography). It received the Los Angeles Film Critics' Association's award for best cinematography and today's -- Saturday's -- Independent Spirit Award, and was nominated for an ASC award (American Society of Cinematographers) and an ADG award (Art Director's Guild).
Who will win: Guess which film won both the ASC and ADG awards? Memoirs of a Geisha, and like I said, it really pisses me off since I am not a fan of this movie. But that's for the director's choices, not because of its cinematography or art direction. I just think that Memoirs is more of a costume drama than an achievement in these two categories. It speaks to our stereotypes -- falling cherry blossoms, girls mincing in geta, drunken businessmen patting their assets -- and it's lone, spectacular scene (the dance, pictured) isn't particularly innovative, and it's spectacular for its editing and choreography. Hrmph. I'm so worked up I can't think along the lines of "Who was robbed" now. Except maybe Good Night, and Good Luck.
Costume Nominees: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Memoirs of a Geisha, Mrs. Henderson Presents, Pride and Prejudice and Walk the Line
Makeup Nominees: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Cinderella Man and Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
Who should win: Ok, I know these two categories don't have the same potential winners, but I'm still tired so we're going for the gold. I'm pretty sure that Mrs. Henderson Presents and Pride and Prejudice are out of the running in best costume category, if only because neither were nominated at the Costume Designers Guild Awards. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was nominated in the Fantasy Costumes category and lost; Walk the Line and Memoirs were both nominated in the Period Costumes category, and guess which flick won? Finally, a category where I don't mind if Memoirs of a Geisha wins, even if my brother did work on the film Walk the Line. And when it comes to best makeup, I don't think the Academy will be choosing bruises over beasts or creatures, so that leaves out Cinderella Man. I thought the beasts in The Chronicles of Narnia were more spectacular than the sad Sith. So sue me.
Who will win: If the voters are especially glad -- like me! -- to see the end of the Star Wars Saga mercifully put out of its misery, then this is their only chance to give George Lucas a statuette this year. My bet is on Star Wars III taking home the makeup award. I think Memoirs will also grab the costume award, since it was able to muscle over Walk the Line in the Guild award. How sad is it that Memoirs of a Geisha may take home more Oscars than Brokeback Mountain? I'm crying over here.
Film Editing Nominees: Cinderella Man, The Constant Gardener, Crash, Munich and Walk the Line.
Who will win: That's right, I'm cutting right to the jugular on these last awards, since I know as much about film editing as I do about sound mixing. Cinderella Man is the only one of these films not to have been nominated for an ACE Award (Association of Cinema Editors), while Walk the Line won. I figure the experts must know, and the voters must know that the experts must know. You know?
Sound Editing Nominees: King Kong, Memoirs of a Geisha and War of the Worlds
Sound Mixing Nominees: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, King Kong, Memoirs of a Geisha, Walk the Line and War of the Worlds.
Visual Effects Nominees: The Crhonicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, King Kong and War of the Worlds.
Who will win: These are tricky. I don't really know the difference between sound editing and mixing, and I couldn't find any guild awards for sound mixing. Meanwhile the Motion Picture Sound Editor Awards were just given out Saturday and I haven't been able to learn who won, although all of the films were nominated in some category or other. I can tell you that Walk the Line won the Cinema Audio Society Award for sound mixing. But the editing is anybody's guess. Will the Academy want to give it to the team from Down Under, even though Peter Jackson just took home a pile of trophies a mere two years ago? Or will they want to compensate Steven Speilberg for the thrasing -- and trashin -- Munich is receiving by rewarding him for War of the Worlds? I'm going to step out onto a shaky, slender limb and say that these two will cancel each other out and Memoirs of a Geisha is going to sneak in there and grab another award. Choke. Meanwhile, whither goest Sound Editing, goest thou, Visual Effects? You'd think that, with almost the same three nominees it would be true, but -- except for the years where a Lord of the Rings movie was nominated in both categories -- a scan of recent years' recipients doesn't prove this to be true. I think the spectacle of the giant Kong interacting with Naomi Watts is going to win out over the spectacle of Tom Cruise reacting to a green screen. I pick King Kong. Sorry, Steven.
I can't believe I've reached the last category ... and managed to handicap all of the Oscar races. I hope you had as much fun as I did. And that you're getting more sleep. I'll be back one last time with a wrap-up, and we'll look at my scorecard and see how I did. Now aren't you glad that your predictions in the major awards don't have to be out there for the world to laugh at? Enjoy the show!
Good Night, and Good Luck still courtesy Warner Independent; Memoirs of a Geisha still courtesy of Columbia Pictures; Chronicles of Narnia still courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures; Walk the Line still courtesy of 20th Century Fox; King Kong still courtesy of Universal Pictures.
Saturday, March 4, 2006
The statewide coalition, which was organized to defeat Tim Eyman's effort to overturn a new law that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, is challenging the Attorney General's ballot title for Eyman's Referendum 65.
You can read all about it in this week's Seattle Gay News, which hit the streets Friday. It will also be posted to the SGN website: www.sgn.org
Last week, the SGN broke the news that Lorrie McKay had been appointed as campaign manager for Washington Won't Discriminate. You can read all about that in the SGN's archives.
Documentary Short Nominees: The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Bang Bang Club, God Sleeps in Rwanda, The Mushroom Club and A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin
Who should win: I'm not even going to pretend to go there. Neither will I take a flying guess as to who was robbed in this category. But I will take this opportunity to let you know that Capitol Hill's Northwest Film Forum (1515 12th Ave) will be screening all four of the Oscar-nominated shorts March 10-16, in two programs running back-to-back. Program 1 is The Mushroom Club and A Note of Triumph, and it runs 75 minutes; the second program, The Death of Kevin Carter and God Sleeps in Rwanda, runs 60 minutes. If you're interested in seeing films that will never make it to a multiplex, I recommend you bookmark NWFF's calendar page and keep up with their schedule of independent, non-mainstream movies.
Who will win: This would be easier to figure out if we were to take an in-depth look at each of the films. Yes it would, but then you'd stop reading, wouldn't you? Instead I'll encapsulate the already short synopses (found on the Oscars list of nominees, natch) using three little letters with a big, timely message: w-a-r, from genocide to the long, dark tea-time of the soul. (Apologies, Douglas Adams.) The Mushroom Club, about survivors of the bombing of Hiroshima, and God Sleeps in Rwanda both deal with the aftermath of battle, while A Note of Triumph reflects Americans' turmoil on the eve of VE-Day, supspended between rejoicing over our troops' victory in Europe and preparing for the continuing battle with Japan in the Pacific. But my pick is The Death of Kevin Carter, which won the Student Academy Award. This 27-minute documentary asks whether a photographer's first duty is to observe his subject or do something to help. Kevin Carter struggled -- unsuccessfully -- with that question after winning the Pulitzer for his photo of a starving Sudanese girl being stalked by a vulture. This movie stands out because, aside from examining Carter's work to show the rest of the world the brutality of the Apartheid system in South Africa, the film questions the role of the journalist and, by extension, our own responses when faced with a horrific choice. Grain of salt: I'm making this prediction without having seen any of the shorts. I'll be among the first in line at the Northwest Film Forum next weekend to find out if I was right.
Documentary Feature Nominees: Darwin's Nightmare, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, March of the Penguins, Murderball and Street Fight
Who should win: I'm on slightly firmer ground with this category, having seen all but one of the feature-length docs (Street Fight, which although it was only released on February 22nd is already available on DVD). All of these have won numerous festival awards, but my favorite was Murderball. It's ostensibly a sports film about the American Paraplegic Olympic Rugy Team and their showdown with Team Canada. It's really about the triumph of the spirit over the physical, maybe even the triumph of the spirit because of the physical. The game's called Murderball, baby, and these guys would knock you on your ass if you started to feel sorry for them. Knock you down, back up and run you over. A couple-three times.
Who will win: Those effing cute Penguins. They're irresistable. And when you consider that the film was nominated for 2 guild awards -- Writers and Cinema Editors -- and has already won Critics' Choice and National Board of Review awards, you'll probably agree that it's a slam dunk.
Who was robbed: I'll forget for the moment that the documentary at the top of most film critics' lists wasn't even on the Academy's shortlist (Grizzly Man; Timothy Treadwell and Amie Huguenard would be turning over in their graves. If they hadn't been digested by a bear). Too bad that when the Discovery Channel broke ground by airing the documentary, they also put in so many commercials that the film lost its continuity. Ugh.
No, instead I'll sing the praises of another film not on the shortlist, my second-favorite documentary from 2005: the outrageously funny The Aristocrats. This movie is so much more than a bunch of comedians telling the same filthy joke. It's what comes between the set-ups ("A guy walks into a talent agent's office...") and punchlines ("The Aristocrats!") that will have you gasping, first in shock, and then in delight as the stories become more and more elaborate. Even if you've already heard the joke told you can't begin to imagine the permutations that comic geniuses like Sarah Silverman and Gilbert Gottfried add. That's right, I said "Gilbert Gottfried" and "comic genius" in the same sentence and I wasn't struck by lightning. The joke becomes so disgusting you'll begin to wonder if you should be laughing. Then you'll wonder if you'll make it to the bathroom before you wet yourself from laughing so hard. It's out on DVD now with 2 additional hours of extras.
I'll blog one more time before the Oscars, trying to make some sense of the technical categories. I hope you've picked up your print copy of today's SGN to see if your choices for best film/director and the acting categories match mine.... I have a feeling we're pretty sympatico, with maybe one or two exceptions. It's hard to believe that in less than 48 hours the Oscars -- and Manray's Oscar Party -- will be over. I'm not sure if I can stand the suspense!
The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Bang Bang Club photo courtesy of Apollo Cinema; The Aristocrats stills of Sarah Silverman and Gilbert Gottfried courtesy of ThinkFilm.
Friday, March 3, 2006
As previously announced, She Wants Revenge's upcoming performance at Neumo's on Sunday, March 12 is completely sold out. But, the Seattle Gay News has two pairs of tickets to give away to the show and all you have to do is grab a copy of this week's Seattle Gay News issue, available Friday evening (March 3), and look for "The Music Lounge" column for details on where and when to win them. The online version will be available Sunday morning, March 5. (www.sgn.org)
Seattle Gay News, along with 107.7 The End, is proud to sponsor She Wants Revenge at Neumo's, and we can't wait to see them in concert! The LA-based goth-dance duo has a hot new single out called "Tear You Apart" from their just-released self-titled album.
Photo of She Wants Revenge, courtesy of Geffen Records.
Animated Feature Nominees: Howl's Moving Castle, Tim Burton's Corpse Bride and Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Who will win:I suppose the Academy might want to give the award to Corpse Bride. After all, this is the first time Tim Burton has been nominated for an Oscar. You read that right. Oh, Ed Wood received 2 awards in 1994 (for makeup & best supporting actor Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi). Then again, Burton's 1993 stop-motion feature, The Nightmare Before Christmas, wasn't even nominated; it made it into the visual effects category for some reason never made clear. The Academy might believe Burton was robbed and it's time for his reward. But my bet is on the Wallace & Gromit feature, although I can't put my finger on why I feel that way except that the Academy really likes the series. Wallace & Gromit shorts received Oscars in 1993 and 1995 (for The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave; animator Nick Park also won for the 1990 Aardman claymation extravaganza Creature Comforts). It also took home the Annie Award -- bestowed by the International Animated Film Society -- for best feature, against the same nominees. So I'm going with my gut.
Who should win: I suppose if Corpse Bride and Wallace & Gromit split the votes, as I illustrated above, my favorite animated film -- Howl's Moving Castle by anime guru Hayao Miyazaki -- might have a chance. The story is whimsical and out there: a teenaged girl meets a mysterious wizard named Howl arousing the jealousy of the wicked Witch of the Wastes, who turns her into an old woman; the girl leaves her village and takes refuge in wizard Howl's magical moving castle. It's adapted from a fantasy novel by Diana Wynne Jones, and while fans of the book might not have liked how much the film strayed from its source material, I loved the Miyazaki touches.... like blobby monsters, quirky machines, and a pervasive anti-war subplot. But because his 2002 film Spirited Away "just" won an Oscar, Howl hasn't got a chance in hell.
Who was robbed: The only other animated feature I saw in 2005 was Robots, and I think it would have received a nomination if it hadn't been released so early in the year.
Foreign Language Film Nominees: Don't Tell (Italy), Joyeux Noel (France), Paradise Now (Palestine), Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (Germany) and Tsotsi (South Africa)
Who will win: So we've come to the major category where I haven't seen a single nominated film. I should be ashamed, but only Paradise Now has been released locally; that was back in November, and I just wasn't in the mood for a flick about suicide bombers right before Thanksgiving. All of the others are either in limited release or haven't been released in the US yet, but they are on the Landmark Theaters list so should be here soon. I'm really not against subtitles -- I did see other foreign films last year, just not any of the nominees.
So, how do we make a prediction in a category where we have absolutely no opinion? Let me re-direct you to my favorite webpage this time of year, the AMPAS Oscars Nominees list, which provides film synopses for even the shortest short. Many's the foreign film winnner I've chosen by its synopsis alone. Let's begin with Don't Tell, a personal film about an actress who's repressed memories of being molested by her father. Topical, but not the type of film the Academy tends to reward. Also topical -- but no cigar, I think, even though it won the Golden Globe -- Tsotsi looks like a feel-good film about a street thug's journey to redemption. Moving on.
The remaining 3 movies tackle a subject the Academy is very fond of: war. Joyeux Noel takes place on Christmas Eve, 1914, as French, German and Scottish soldiers lay down their rifles and bring peace to "No Man's Land" by... singing. Hmm. Hasn't there already been a film called No Man's Land? It was about Bosnia and Herzegovina and UN Peacekeepers, and it won the 2001 Foreign Film Oscar. (Buzzer sound.) Next! Sophie Scholl... takes place during the next World War, and is based on unpublished transcripts of the interrogation -- and subsequent execution -- of a 21-year-old girl arrested for her participation in a Nazi resistance group. Hmmm. (Tapping chin thoughtfully.) An anti-Nazi film from Germany? Getting closer, but do we really need to re-examine these politics? (Buzzer sound.) That leaves us with Paradise Now, the one about the suicide bombers that I couldn't deal with at Turkey-time. The film follows two young men as they're contacted by the guerrilla group to which they both belong; over the course of 27 hours they begin the process of taking leave of their families and friends. Let's see: timely, political, slightly controversial... and it won the Critics' Choice award. (Ding! Ding! Ding!) I think we have a winner in Paradise Now.
Who should win: I clearly have no personal opinion, so I think I'll beg off this question and leave that to your own taste. Instead I'll use this space to berate the Academy for its antiquated "Official Country Nominee" practice. Honestly, Deuce Bigalow: European Gigalo and Son of the Mask are both on the "List of Eligible Releases for Distinguished Achievement," but Hong Kong only gets to submit Perhaps Love? (With Takeshi Kaneshiro, pant-pant!) I'm not against having nominees juried. If only the American films had to go through that process! But I say, if a movie meets the other eligibility requirements (it must have at least a seven-day run in a commercial theater in LA, must run longer than 40 minutes, and must have been exhibited theatrically in a qualifying format -- eg, 35 mm film, 70 mm film, etc.), making it eligible for all of the other awards, it should also have a shot at best foreign film if it has a predominantly non-English dialogue track. How crazy would it have been if Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon had been nominated for best picture but -- for whatever reason, political embargo, artistic differences -- hadn't been chosen by a jury to represent Taiwan? Cra-Zeee. But possible.
Who was robbed: Okay, stepping down from that soap box, let me tell you how much I heart Japanese director Kore-eda Hirokazu. He directed one of my all-time top ten films, After Life (1998, Wandafuru raifu). 2005 saw Nobody Knows (Dare Mo Shiranai), a heartbreaking and shocking story about four children's struggle to survive after being abandoned by their mother. Yagira Yuya is luminous as the eldest boy who shoulders the parental responsibilities. If you rent the film be prepared for all 141 minutes.
Well, it's time for my mid-evening nap. Like the kid in the commercial getting ready for his trip to Disney-Realm, Oscars season leaves me too excited to sleep. I'll be blogging again some time tomorrow... Oops! It's after midnight, so make that some time today. And you can also find my predictions for the major categories in tomorrow's print edition of the Seattle Gay News.
Howl's Moving Castle still courtesy of Studio Ghibli/Disney; Nobody Knows still courtesy IFC Films
Wednesday, March 1, 2006
Live Action Short Film nominees: Ausreisser (The Runaway), Cashback, The Last Farm, Our Time is Up and Six Shooter.
Who will win: I'm not really familiar with the Academy's voting record in this category; this is the first year I've ever seen all of the nominees. My cheat sheet tells me that Ausreisser (from Germany: a man discovers a 6-year-old boy on his doorstep who claims to be his son) has already won the Student Academy Award, and it's got a helluva twist. But The Last Farm, from Iceland, is the kind of dark, moody film that the Oscars will probably reward. (Plot: an elderly man prepares to leave his isolated farm for an eldercare facility...but he's got a secret.) It's got an ending that packs a whollup. Whallop? You get the idea.
Who should win: Hey, all of these shorts are about death, except for one notable exception (Cashback, which is about sex). They're all kind of a downer. But my favorite was Our Time Is Up, which follows a psychiatrist (Kevin Pollak) through his regimented day; then he receives some momentous news that changes the way he counsels his patients. It's funny and concise. I'll take Pollak's Dr. Stern over Dr. Phil any day.
Animated Short Film Nominees: Badgered, The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation, The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello, 9 and One Man Band.
Who will win: There are a lot of dark, depressing films in this category. With really long titles. The Mysterious Explorations... takes place in a plague-ridden country, where the main character is the navigator of an airship searching for a strange creature that holds the key to the cure. Meanwhile, The Moon and the Son... is a lengthy, imagined conversation between a man and his dead father, who he dreams of as the man in the moon. They have issues. Again, going by which film won the Student Academy Awards, 9 (Nine) might have it in the bag. In this stylish science-fiction-ish story, a doll-like hero confronts an insectoid monster that is stealing the souls of his brothers.
Who should win: One Man Band is really cute (it's from Pixar), but it won't win (it's from Pixar). Meanwhile, my favorite was Badgered: it's simple and cleverly hand-drawn (poor old badger just wants to get some sleep), and turns out it has an unanticipated commentary on war. Hey, the Academy likes films about war. Maybe ... uh, no. I'm okay if 9 wins.
Need more information before you place your bets? The Academy Awards nominees page has a brief synopsis of each film. You can also download clips if you can't manage to drag your ass over to the Varsity. Remember to stop by Manray on Sunday for "Ain't No Brokeback Mountain High Enough!" The 2005 Oscars party starts promptly at 5:00 pm, and there will be plenty of prizes. And pick up a print edition of the Seattle Gay News this Friday to read my predictions in the major categories.
Our Time Is Up photo courtesy Station B; Badgered photo courtesy the National Film and Television School.
Apparently I got Lorrie McKay, who didn't work on I-677, mixed up with Laurie Jinkins, who did. McKay, who was just hired by Washington Won't Discriminate to run their campaign, left HOW before I-677 went down; according to Tina Podlowdowski, McKay opposed HOW's efforts to put an initiative on the ballot. I apologize for slapping up a post slamming WWD for hiring McKay without getting my Lorries/Lauries straight.
Sandeep Kaushik, a former political writer for the The Stranger, came to McKay's defense:
I know Lorrie well from working with her in the King County Exec's office -- she just left on Friday to run the anti-Eyman campaign -- and I just want to elaborate upon what some others have posted: Lorrie is smart and experienced, with good political instincts. I think she was a smart choice for what will almost certainly be a difficult gig, and I expect she will do an excellent job.
Several others felt the need to rub Savage's nose in his own stink, including former City Councilmember Tina Podlodowski.
I respect your opinion but please do some fact checking. Lorrie was a part of HOW when I was the Staff Director there, and she was the Statewide Field Director. I left in early 1994, and Lorrie shortly thereafter.
Lorrie is taking on a tough job - and the campaign can use all the help it can get. Best great if you would consider doing that, instead of this rant.
I would be negligentent in my duties if failed to mention that there was a terse exchange between Savage and the Seattle Gay New's publisher George Bakan.
Who needs Jerry Springer when life plays out these real-life dramas.