Tag Archives: movie

Local Filmmakers to Look For: Mike Gibisser


From “The Motive Power Series” by Mike Gibisser

On Saturday, January 5, director Mike Gibisser will be in person presenting his latest film work, The Motive Power Series. It’s the latest in a decade-long career that’s taken his work to international film festivals. Chicago Filmmakers hosts the screening as part of their local filmmaker series.

The Motive Power Series by Mike Gibisser
Saturday January 5, 2013 at 7:30pm
Chicago Filmmakers
5243 N. Clark, Chicago IL
Suggested donation: $8

Here is Mike Gibisser’s feature film, Finally, Lillian and Dan presented in its entirety via Vimeo:

Super Rare Cult Film “The Phynx” Now Available on DVD

Just after the passing of Jerry Leiber last year, I wrote a blog post about the unknown and unappreciated score they wrote for a little-known rock and roll comedy movie from 1970 named The Phynx.

Now that very rare film–notorious for its failed attempt to appeal to the hip crowd–has finally been released through Warner Archives.  Watch and marvel at this astonishing misfire if just to play “name that star.”


Happy Birthday, Jean Seberg

The phrase “tormented actress” never seemed to fit more than with the late great Jean Seberg, who was castigated–and almost burned alive by–Otto Preminger, possibly hounded to suicide by the FBI, put into a really weird movie (see above) by husband/director Romain Gary and underestimated by Hollywood.

Seberg, who was a newcomer picked by Preminger to star in Saint Joan, eventually proved her cinematic immortality by starring in Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless, thereby indirectly influencing all directors claiming to be auteurs ever since. Unfortunately, she was effectively blacklisted in Hollywood, thanks to a pervasive FBI COINTELPRO  project aimed at ruining her professional career and her life for supporting The Black Panther Party. The FBI even went so far as to claim that a baby born to Seberg, and dying two days later, was fathered by Black Panther member Raymond Hewitt. A devastated Seberg held an open casket funeral to dispel the rumor–the baby was white. However, it was not fathered by Romain Gary, her husband at the time, but by a student revolutionary.

Although there are several works recounting the life of Seberg, you would do very well to watch the fantastic film essay From the Journals of Jean Seberg directed by Mark Rappaport.  It not only tells of her outrageous mistreatment by the FBI and by Hollywood, but also makes the case that Seberg is a much more iconic figure in film than many actresses who came before or since.

You should check out her films, even the strange ones like Kill! starring fellow independent-minded actor Stephen Boyd and with a great theme featuring Doris Troy:




10 Little Known and Little Seen Film Goodies from the Land of Queerdom

Zachariah–that other gay Western

I had been so busy during Pride Month with other projects (including preparing for a move to The Underground Multiplex Studios) that I had to put off this post originally intended for Pride Month. But what the hell, every month is Pride Month for me, so we can remember the accomplishments of the LGBT community and do some major celebrating anytime. Part of the festivities involves taking in movies to reflect on our lives or challenging us to think and grow in ways we hadn’t before.

But for every Brokeback Mountain and Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, there are plenty of other movies that get overlooked. After finding a list online of the best gay-themed movies (I’m figuring a lesbian film reviewer can come up with a good counterpart to my list), I decided to offer a list of terrific gay-themed movies that should impress your friends (and lose other ones).

1. Save Me

This was among my top ten films of 2007 and not only do I stand by this, the movie seems even better and more relevant today. Out actor Chad Allen plays a sex and drug addicted wild partier whose out-of-control life comes crashes down. His Christian brother enters him into a faith-based rehab house with the best intentions, but the recovering young man challenges what works and what doesn’t in the ex-gay production factory. Allen and Judith Light, who plays the operator of the ministry, give excellent performances (the latter giving an Oscar-caliber one) thanks in part to very good writing of Robert Desiderio, Craig Chester and Alan Hines. This film along with the better known Latter Days are probably the best films I’ve seen taking a fair-minded stance on the conflict between the gay community and its religious detractors.

2. Ben and Arthur

Swinging way over to the other side of why you should watch a movie, Ben and Arthur is a hilarious cinematic mega-disaster and a cultural phenomenon waiting to happen (just like The Room). Cracked Magazine practically begged its readers to make this the next great cult movie and with good reason. When a film is ballsy enough to have Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer” as its opening theme and give the same person eleven credits, you know you’re in for something special. Sam Mraovich directs, writes and stars in (eight credits left) this dimly lit, atrociously edited VHS home movie about a gay couple longing to get married. Arthur (Mraovich) wants to marry Ben, but complications ensue when his Christian brother, the flamboyant Victor, is booted from his church over objections to the gay sibling. Because of the ongoing controversy of same-sex marriage, promoting this movie as a cult fav may seem a bit premature, but the gay community needs a time-tested beer and weed laugher for the midnight movie crowd. This is the one, folks!

3. The Gay Deceivers

If this 1969 gaysploitation movie from Fanfare Films seems familiar, it’s because Adam Sandler stole the basic idea for the dismal I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. Despite being made four decades earlier–when homosexuality was still technically treated as a mental illness–Bruce Kessler’s comedy still holds up as one of the most gay-positive comedies of the era.  Kevin Coughlin and Larry Casey play two straight friends desperate to stay out of the Vietnam War draft, so they play gay to attempt avoiding combat. Tailed by suspicious military officers, they deepen the charade to the consternation of their family, friends and fiancees. The gay ghetto actually looks like a neat place to live and the neighbors, if not stereotyped, are at least a lot more pleasant and lovable than the boring straight ones.

4. The Meatrack

The Meat Rack is a sort of more downbeat version of Midnight Cowboy (as if that movie weren’t a bummer enough). With its seamy underground 16mm grainy look, you can almost smell the poppers.  A bisexual hustler named J.C. goes through the daily/nightly grind of male and female tricks for bucks in the seedy parts of San Fran.  When he saves a girl from an old coot photographer’s lecherous fate, they partner up in a low-rent love affair.  Director Michael Thomas lays on parent bashing flashbacks and a long scene involving violent transvestites armed with a camera. If you’re an admirer of Jim Jarmusch’s  early work, you should see this.

5. Best Friends

Not once during this entire film are the words “gay,” “homosexual,” “queer” or even “faggot” ever mentioned, but rest assured this is definitely a gay film. In fact, this might be the most closeted gay film made before Top Gun. Richard Hatch (“Battlestar Galactica”) plays Jesse, a once carefree single man now engaged to his sweetheart. His best friend Pat (Doug Chapin) returns from a stint in Vietnam ready to resume the wild days of boozing, barring and balling chicks with his old buddy. With Jesse’s fiancee and Pat’s latest conquest in tow, the guys decide to cruise California in a Winnebago. The friction between Jesse and Pat, however, intensifies as the latter seems determined to have Jesse dump the future ball and chain and get back to the business of casual fucking. Despite the tagline “She Became the Ravaged Victim of a Century of Revenge!”, this entire movie has nothing to do with a ‘she.’ Best Friends is about a homoerotic obsession based on Pat’s deeply ingrained need for Jesse’s sexual satisfaction, but under Pat’s terms. It makes for a truly unusual 70’s road movie.

6. Raging Hormones

Dedicated to Divine and Edith Massey, this low-budget Florida lensed comedy is one of the very few John Waters’  inspired films that looks as though it could have been made by the master himself.  Della Hobby stars as Bev Broadhurst, the trailer-park dwelling queen of the local supermarket. Her greatest wish is to get her son Peter (Topher Hopkins) into state college by urging him to save up money through summer employment. Unfortunately, her neighbor Sally (Darlene Demko) is a cougar on the prowl and latches onto the horny Peter for kinky games. Meanwhile, Bev’s daughter gets the eye of a douche bag with a penchant for gals below the legal age limit. It’s a giddy blast of bad taste fun for the whole dysfunctional family.

7. Zachariah

Far out, man. John Rubenstein and a very young Don Johnson star in this psychedelic western that’s basically a rock musical with some cowboys and horses running around.  Zachariah (Rubenstein) tells Matthew (Johnson) he’s looking for “a friend” and brags about his shiny new gun received in “a plain brown wrapper.” They join a gang of bumbling outlaws (the 60’s rock group Country Joe and the Fish) before deciding to cut out on their own. Facing troublemakers quick to call them “faggots,” listening to Elvin Jones and Doug Kershaw perform, and having a fling with Belle Starr (Pat Quinn) make for subplots in this whacked-out movie. However, the main story is the handsome duo’s friendship gone sour. These guys are the least rugged Western heroes in film history and the closing scenes sealed the deal on its homoeroticism for me. Besides, Zachariah was co-written by The Firesign Theatre, who were masters of subtext in audio comedy recordings. To believe they did not intend a gay tone to this movie would be folly.

8. Whole New Thing

There have been gay-themed coming-of-age movies created by the truckload, but I assure you, this terrific Canadian feature (which made my Top 10 in 2005) is like no other you’ve ever seen. Aaron Webber plays Emerson, a home-schooled teenager who’s brilliant when it comes to English studies and Humanities, but is lagging far behind in math. Aggravating the problem is his dad’s descent into depression, so Emerson is enrolled in a local public school where he becomes infatuated with a sympathetic teacher.  Whole New Thing is one of the few movies I’ve seen where the balance of a truly gifted, intelligent student’s knowledge and the confusion of  his sexual attraction is given the introspective respect it deserves.

9. Shiner

The next four words are going to lose some readers: I hate Fight Club. In fact, it’s one of the few movies I’ve ever walked out of, and I did so before a single punch was thrown. Thirty minutes in, I couldn’t take any more of the incredibly stupid, self-indulgent irritating characters. (And, btw, if the cancer joke towards the beginning of the movie was directed towards women with breast cancer instead of men with testicular cancer, that movie would have boycotted). Whew! Okay, now that I’m finished with that, I can direct you to Shiner, which intertwines a few stories revolving about the fetish of punching the hell out of each other for sexual gratification. Yes, this movie comes out and declares it. None of this coy subtext bullshit, these characters blow their loads over body blows. It’s intentionally unfocused, cheap, seedy, funny and raunchy just as it should be with this topic. It’s another film that pissed off the gay community which completely overreacted to this movie as it did to my final choice…

10. Frisk

Many people walked out of festivals disgusted with Todd Verow’s strange masterful film based on a dark gay novel by Dennis Cooper.  A young gay man named Dennis grows up with kinky fantasies that grow darker as he gets older. He writes fantasy letters to Kevin, a former lover, implying he may have committed murders, but has he or is he just stringing Kevin along for more twisted visions and a receptive reader?  Verow, who also directed Little Shots of Happiness and Vacationland, remains one of the most underrated gay filmmakers working today, in part because he has the audacity to remain outside the Here!/Logo world of tepid swill.

If you want to know more about gay-themed movies you should see but haven’t, check out Facets Night School’s lecture on Myra Breckinridge presented by Dominick Mayer and The Underground Multiplex with plenty of fun and frolics. If you’re not in Chicago, you’ll be able to tune in to “Cinematrocities” for the lecture soon after.


Amazing New Optical Illusion Discovery Makes Beautiful Celebrity Faces Look Hideous

Here’s some “pretty” cool entertainment for your holiday weekend.  It may seem fun but it’s an important discovery made by an undergraduate student, no less. Scott Murphy found out by accident that when you align pictures of faces set apart side by side by a distance and then flashed them quickly in succession, those pictures seem distorted based on prominent features. Noses become elongated, foreheads inflated, eyes look like they came from Martian creatures, etc. Why exactly is this happening? He’s still on the case.

The work from Scott and his team won them Second Prize in the Best Illusion of the Year Contest. Congratulations!


Click to Watch TRAILER XOX

“She’s the one that you left me for so why don’t you tell me who she is and why she’s so special and why you love her more than me!”  -Emilia in TBN

I quickly, inconspicuously poured a quick nip of whiskey into my friends’ Starbucks coffee cups.    Tyler and Emilia were sitting across from me.  I hadn’t told them anything except that I wanted us all to sit down together.

The previous day I had been walking down Tremont Street and it suddenly struck me that I would be graduating from college in 8 months and then many things would vanish: friends, time, the equipment cage, Boston…that’s when I realized that I needed to make another movie immediately.  I thought of Tyler and Emilia first thing and said to myself: TYLER B NICE.  It was October, 2004.

That fall I was reeling, as I usually was right before deciding to make a movie.  I hadn’t yet learned how to not be a mess without making a movie.  I had just ended my marriage with Sarah.  I hated her then for making me confront the fact that I wasn’t happy and the marriage wasn’t working.  I’m not a quitter.  This was before I knew the difference between quitting and moving on.  Anger.  Desperation.  Stupidity.  That was plenty to make a movie with back then.

Click to Watch da Movie!

I screwed the cap back onto my flask and passed Ty and Em their whiskey-tainted beverages and I said, “I want to make a movie with you.  I don’t know what it’s about yet…all I know is that you two are siblings.  CHEERS!”

Watch me! 

And tune in at No Budge to berate me with provocative questions about TBN and watch me squirm LIVE via USTREAM