Friday, January 30, 2015

Feature film 'Tru Love' a delight

I want to give a quick shout-out for a feature film I saw last weekend: 'Tru Love,' by co-directors Kate Johnston and Shauna MacDonald, which is playing for a second week until Feb 5th at Toronto's Carlton Cinema.

Like most queer Canadian indie flicks, this delightful lesbian romance was shot on a small budget by some very talented people.   Their labour of love has had much success on the international film festival circuit, won many awards and is getting released soon on various platforms around the world.  For now in Canada, the film continues its theatrical run in Toronto at the Carlton and probably more cities soon.

The film chronicles the unlikely romantic spark between two women, one older and one younger, in a gorgeously photographed Toronto.  In the leads, Shauna MacDonald and Kate Trotter are wonderful.

Buy Carlton theatre tickets here:

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Harper Government spent $7 million of your tax dollars to attack Justin Trudeau's position on marijuana

In yet another disgusting abuse of power and waste of taxpayers' hard-earned dollars by Stephen Harper and his government, it's now been confirmed that a laughable "Health Canada" ad campaign last fall - which featured dubious claims about non-existent science and a lot of misinformation - cost we taxpayers $7 million.

The ad campaign was clearly designed with Conservative party political intentions in mind to scare ignorant parents into opposing the liberalization of Canada's marijuana laws, which just so happens to be the position favoured by Harper's main political opponent, Justin Trudeau.

I'll copy the Canadian Press story in its entirety as the facts without comment are outrageous.  Those particularly outrageous, I'll highlight in bold:

Conservative government’s anti-drug advertising blitz last fall cost $7 million

This was not some innocent, non-partisan effort by Health Canada, clearly.

It represents the kind of despicable decision-making and disrespect for taxpayers' dollars that will not cease until Stephen Harper is removed from office.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

HuffPost's Michelson: "Yes, Billy Crystal DID Just Make A Homophobic Statement (And Here's Why It Matters)"

This story about Billy Crystal has been making the internet rounds this week.  

I thought I'd comment, mostly to post a link to this great article by Noah Michelson, executive editor of the HuffPost's Gay Voices section, who beautifully sums up the issue and articulates many of my own thoughts in reaction to Crystal's homophobia.

But first some background.  Crystal appeared on a panel this past weekend in Pasadena when he was asked what it was like to play one of the first gay characters on American TV (on the ABC show "Soap" in the late 1970s) and how television's treatment of gay characters has changed since that time.

Crystal reportedly said, "There were times where I would say to [the actor who played his boyfriend], 'Bob, “I love you,' and the audience would laugh nervously, because, you know, it’s a long time ago, that I’d feel this anger. I wanted to stop the tape and go, 'What is your problem?' Because it made you sort of very self-conscious about what we were trying to do then."

So far, so good.  But then Crystal started talking about recent television depictions of gay people: 

"And now it’s just, I see it and I just hope people don’t abuse it and shove it in our face -- well, that sounds terrible -- to the point of it just feels like an everyday kind of thing."

Crystal then alluded to some TV shows today (such as the new show 'How To Get Away With Murder,' which contains numerous sexy man-on-man sex scenes):  

"Sometimes I think, 'Ah that’s too much for me...Sometimes, it’s just pushing it a little too far for my taste and I’m not going to reveal to you which ones they are."

Michelson, in his HuffPost article, then quotes a follow-up comment from Crystal reacting to the negative feedback his comments received:

"First of all, I don't understand why there would be anything offensive that I said. When it gets too far either, that world exists because it does for the hetero world, it exists, and I don't want to see that either. But when I feel it's a cause, when I feel it's "You're going to like my lifestyle," no matter what it is, I'm going to have a problem and there were a couple of shows I went 'I couldn't watch that with somebody else." That's fine. If whoever writes it or produces it...totally get it. It's all about personal taste."

To me, this was just Crystal expressing probably what a lot of heterosexual men of his generation feel about the gays: you can exist, I just don't want to see too much of you.  Or something to that effect.

But I urge you to read all of Noah Michelson's commentary, who is fair to Crystal while also calling him out for his "homophobia."  Here is just a small snippet:

"I think we can all read between the lines there. Let's not forget that one of the great things about being straight is that no one is ever going to accuse you of pushing your "lifestyle" on anyone else because your "lifestyle" is already the status quo. It's everywhere! You don't have to worry about your televised kisses or -- sweet baby Jesus help us! -- sex scenes being referred to as some kind of gratuitous political statement (or a "lifestyle") because your kisses and -- sweet baby Jesus help us! -- sex scenes are fundamentally seen as normal and healthy. What other "lifestyles" could he be talking about? People in relationships with balloon animals? Vegans who refuse to stop wearing leather? Whatever they are, I'm willing to bet my 401k he isn't talking about being straight as a "lifestyle."

Now to celebrate how far American TV has truly come, I give you one of the hot gay sex scenes featured this past fall on ABC's 'How To Get Away With Murder."  Enjoy!   

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Sudbury Liberal opponents grasp at straws with OPP's help

When you tell someone they're not going to be your party's candidate in an upcoming byelection, that you're going to appoint someone else if they even try to run, but let's look at the bigger picture and consider not only what's best for the party but also how else you can stay involved politically instead of the job that's not available to you, is that a crime? 

When you don't offer someone an appointment or a job, are you actually offering someone an appointment or a job?  

Most reasonable people would say no.  But in the hyper-partisan world of Queen's Park, where desperate NDP and PC opposition MPPs have been grasping at anything slightly smelly or unethical for years to scream, "Crime!" or "Corruption!", the answer is yes.

Sadly, the Ontario Provincial Police continues to entertain the notion that somehow a crime was committed when a couple of Liberals spoke to former Sudbury Liberal candidate Andrew Olivier about options for staying involved politically after they told him he wouldn't be the party's candidate in the Feb 5th provincial by-election. 

"We have said repeatedly, and now the tapes have confirmed, that we were working to see if we could keep this young man involved in the team," said Premier Kathleen Wynne today. 

"There had already been a decision made that Glenn Thibeault was going to be our candidate, and so now we're just going to work very hard to get him elected."

Of course, no amount of common sense will prevent opposition MPPs from seeing "crime" where there is merely ineptitude or something unseemly.   It also seems Adrian Morrow of the Globe likes to hear things that aren't there too. 

I listened to the recordings that were posted this week by Andrew Olivier.  I have to agree that it doesn't appear that anything concrete was ever offered to him.  But it was strongly hinted in his conversations with Sudbury Liberal bigwig Gerry Lougheed and Liberal operative Pat Sorbara that if he supported Wynne's choice for candidate that he could possibly find other ways to stay involved politically, perhaps with a run for the party in the future. 

When you suggest sacrificing for the good of the team might benefit you in the future, is that a crime?  Or is it stating the obvious?  It clearly wasn't obvious to Olivier, I guess. 

Based on the phone recording, it's clear that Sorbara didn't offer Olivier anything concrete except possibilities.  Some of the options discussed Sorbara clearly has no power to offer, such as work in Thibeault's theoretical constituency office (should he be elected) or on the party executive.  Or even a provincial appointment.  

But what is clear is how intent Olivier now is to wreck havoc on the party and leader with whom he was prepared to stand just a few weeks ago.  His independent candidacy and the release of these recordings this week seem to be the last sticks of dynamite Olivier has loaded onto the bridge between him and the Liberal Party.  

I'm not a hyper-partisan Liberal.  I'm not really that active anymore.  While I have worked for the party and volunteered for the party for years, other mostly non-partisan, creative efforts command my attention these days.  But I understand how party politics works and I've seen dozens of people get shafted by the powers-that-be in the Liberal party. 

The true team players, when asked to make a sacrifice for the team, realize such sacrifices can possibly lead to future rewards.   Rarely are those rewards clear or obvious when you make those sacrifices.  There's usually only hope or a vague promise.   It's the gamble you take when you make the sacrifice.  I have no doubt in this case that Olivier is now just trying to exact some revenge.  It strikes me as quite spiteful and short-sighted that Olivier, at the relatively young age of 36, has decided this is the hill he's prepared to politically die on.  

Now his goal seems to be nothing more than ensuring the defeat of Glenn Thibeault in the by-election and electing the NDP, as his independent candidacy probably won't be garnering many votes come Feb 5th.   One thing is certain: he's finished as a Liberal candidate in the future.  That's too bad.

In the end, I suspect the OPP will again close the investigation, as will Elections Ontario, with zero charges laid.   I hope that happens before Feb 5th.  

You can dislike how things have been handled in Sudbury.  But just because you don't like them, doesn't mean you have the right to call them, "Criminal!" 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Two great films up for Golden Globes tonight: 'Selma' and 'Pride'

I have been busy lately catching some 2014 films I missed last year.

Scene from 'Selma'
The most recent viewing was director Ava DuVernay's superb 'Selma,' (pictured on the right) which chronicles the efforts of many led by the late Martin Luther King Jr. to achieve full voting rights for African-Americans in Alabama and across the racist southern states in the 1960s, specifically the Selma marches in 1965.

The direction of this film by Ava DuVernay is artful but also completely accessible.   The acting is exceptional, including the lead performance by David Oyelowo as King, who really captures the passion, determination, intelligence and grace of the man.   As a work of art and entertainment, the film works on all levels and is most deserving of the praise it's receiving, including a Best Picture (Drama) nomination in tonight's Golden Globe Awards.

As with any high-profile feature film about contentious events, there has been some controversy about the film's depictions.  Most particularly, a former Lyndon Johnson adviser, In fact, Selma was LBJ’s idea, he considered the Voting Rights Act his greatest legislative achievement, he viewed King as an essential partner in getting it enacted — and he didn’t use the FBI to disparage him."

The film's director effectively rebuffed the accusations on her Twitter account with:

"Notion that Selma was LBJ's idea is jaw dropping and offensive to SNCC, SCLC and black citizens who made it so.

"More detail here. LBJ's stall on voting in favor of War on Poverty isn't fantasy made up for a film."

"Bottom line is folks should interrogate history. Don't take my word for it or LBJ rep's word for it. Let it come alive for yourself."

Sage words not to forget.  That New Yorker article is a very detailed account of the events that led up to the 1965 marches from Selma to Montgomery, many of which seem to be depicted quite accurately in the film.   

"Johnson recognized the need for additional voting-rights legislation, and he directed Nicholas Katzenbach, soon to be his attorney general, to draft it. “I want you to write me the goddamnest toughest voting rights act that you can devise,” is the way he put it. But then progress slowed. Johnson had the most ambitious legislative agenda of any President since F.D.R. (his idol), and he explained to King that he was worried that Southern opposition to more civil-rights legislation would drain support from the War on Poverty and hold up bills on Medicare, immigration reform, and aid to education. He asked King to wait."  

After watching the film and doing my own research, I'd have to agree that the portraits painted in the film 'Selma,' are pretty much accurate.  Grassroots organizers including King found Selma as a primary example that could be used to justify the crucial importance of voting rights reform.  They did the heavy lifting.  There's no indication in the film that LBJ used the FBI to disparage King.  But the film does post verbatim transcripts of FBI logs that clearly show that King was being monitored throughout the entire period.  

It's probably true that LBJ first wanted political conditions to be in place before pushing for voting rights reforms over other priorities.  And the Selma experience ultimately created those conditions.   The film portrays King as being fully aware of that political reality and organizing to make it happen.  Without a doubt, King and his supporters and other activists were the primary players in those marches including their conception, plus obviously the execution: they walked those miles, they put their lives at risk.  The televising to millions of Americans and others across the world of the first march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge which ended with unarmed and peaceful protesters being brutally attacked by police under orders from the Alabama governor marked a turning point for the civil rights movement.  And the events gave Washington the impetus to push the reforms.

All in all, 'Selma' is a great example of civil rights history that deserves to be viewed and studied.

Another film nominated for the Globes tonight, 'Pride,' (pictured on the right) also depicts historical efforts against injustice and discrimination, albeit with a lighter, more humorous tone than 'Selma.'

Directed by Britain's Matthew Warchus, 'Pride' is a lovely film with great heart about gay activists in 1980s Britain raising money to help support striking miners in Wales and across the U.K.   Beautifully acted by a huge U.K. cast including Imelda Staunton, Bill Nighy, Dominic West and a bevy of cute young men including Ben Schnetzer, the movie succeeds because it shows the great benefits of forming alliances between the downtrodden or attacked groups that otherwise might never interact.   Through those unlikely alliances, greater communication, understanding and personal growth result, sometimes in small intimate ways, and also in larger ways: because of the efforts of those few gay activists, huge swaths of Britain's labour movement became more supportive of queer rights.  

Some might take issue with the alliance between coal miners and gay activists if they value equality but not industries that clearly had grown inefficient.  In fact, the burning of coal is one of the main sources of greenhouse gases and continues to fall out of fashion.  Ontario has shut down all of its coal-burning energy facilities, as we know.   The film barely mentions the word, "coal," and instead focuses on the relationships between the characters.  The workers under threat in the film are fighting for basic survival and a way of life, not simply for coal.  They had followed paths laid out for them by their communities (most of which were single industry towns), only to see their livelihoods threatened in the name of an uncaring ideological government only concerned with the bottom line.

Had I been among the gay activists in the U.K. in the 1980s, I would've joined this movement for certain.  The film succeeds in depicting that era in the gay rights movement extremely well.  They were different times, indeed, and it's great to have this gem of a film to depict them.

While 'Selma' succeeds in showing both black and white activists coming together to fight injustice, the activists in 'Pride' are all lily-white.  No doubt, London's gay scene in the 1980s wasn't too racially diverse, nor were the mining towns of Wales.   But the themes of different groups coming together to fight for their rights resonate in both films.

I urge you to check out both of these films as soon as you can. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

UPDATED AGAIN: Wouldn't it be nice to have a Prime Minister who didn't try to take political advantage of terrorist tragedies?

The events this week in Paris were horrifying.   It's true that the West is currently being targeted by Jihadist militants, some isolated and deranged, some well-funded and trained.

Our values of freedom of expression and equality are incredibly important and our support for those values cannot waiver in the face of these evil threats.

However, I'm appalled that we have a Prime Minister and governing Conservative party willing to take full advantage of these tragedies to try to win political points and further their own narrow partisan interests, and even raise some extra cash, as this CP story makes clear:

"The Conservative Party of Canada has removed a "Donate Now" button from a web page which highlighted Stephen Harper's comments about the deadly Paris terrorist attack, after critics called it crass.

"The page on the party website, titled Standing Up Against Terrorism, featured the prime minister's reaction to the horrific shootings at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and noted that Canadians can count on Harper and the Conservatives to ensure their safety.

"Initially, the page featured a button in the top right corner where supporters could click to donate to the party.

"Liberal MP Marc Garneau was quick to condemn that as inappropriate.

""Conservatives fundraising off an ongoing terrorist act is offensive and totally crass," Garneau wrote on Twitter.

""Is there no limit?"

"The button was later removed to ensure people understand the web page was never meant to raise money, said Cory Hann, the Conservative party's director of communications."

You can read more here about how Harper's Conservatives are trying to turn this week's tragedy into a benefit for their own party. 

Here's the link to the Conservative Party's 'Standing Up Against Terrorism' page.

It's almost as if the Conservatives see a silver lining when terrorist attacks take place as it gives them another opportunity to bang their own drums and try to win more support based on the lie that Harper is doing much to combat this threat.

I long for Canadian political leadership that, while taking actual threats to Canadians seriously and taking action to prevent them, also approaches the international problem with a bit more nuance and less opportunistic, militaristic jingoism.

****UPDATE #1

This Globe article highlights how Harper's get-tough/shoot missiles approach to fighting Jihadists, particularly those who are homegrown and the greatest actual threat to Canadians, isn't working:

“I think the government could do more,” said Hussein Hamdani, a Ontario lawyer.

“They invest very little in the Muslim community, supporting the moderating voices. This is where the Muslim community can do the heavy lifting.”

****UPDATE #2

I don't usually praise columns by Lorrie Goldstein at the Toronto Sun, but this one deserves it.

"...covert operations, intelligence-gathering, infiltration of the enemy -- even mass arrests, coercive interrogation and targeted assassinations from Israel's perspective -- are necessary tactics for fighting terrorism.  But they are not a strategy to end it.

"For that, one has to understand what drives the terrorists and address it.  In other words, if our long-term, global war against terrorism is to succeed, and there are no guarantees, it will require both Harper’s tactics and Trudeau’s strategy."

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Tuesday round-up: Harper finally meets with Wynne; Sudbury byelection looms

It's about time!  

After months of dumb stubbornness, Prime Minister Stephen Harper finally relented and met yesterday with Ontario's duly elected premier, Kathleen Wynne.

She only got less than an hour with him to discuss the many important issues facing the province and the country.  Harper made sure the meeting would be short because he had scheduled himself to appear at last night's World Juniors hockey game just over an hour later.

Even when he finally does the right thing, Harper still finds a way to throw his rabid base a bone: cutting a meeting with the leftie Wynne short so he can immediately rush off to restore his masculinity amid a celebration of jockdom.  I'm sure many Tories out there privately nodded approval as they sipped back beers watching the game themselves, probably thinking, "That's exactly what I'd do too after meeting with that annoying lesbian!" 

I do congratulate the Canadian team for its victory last night.  I didn't watch it though. 

Of course, Harper's move was not out of the kindness of his heart or a newfound standard of fairness.  It's all about damage control.  His longtime refusal to meet with Wynne looked petty and pathetic to everyone outside of the Harper's man-boy base.  I'm sure 95% of soccer moms in Ontario including in the all-important 905 belt which voted overwhelmingly for Wynne in June 2014 found Harper's move mildly insulting.  As Paul Wells agrees, yesterday's meeting was done by Harper simply to win votes in Ontario this year.

According to Wynne, the two leaders had productive talks on a number of issues, including the Ring of Fire mining project in Northern Ontario, which requires massive amounts of infrastructure spending to become a reality.

While providing no firm commitments, the meeting has given Wynne another chance to shine in her role as conciliator and adult in federal-provincial relations.   It might also stand her in good stead in the upcoming Sudbury provincial byelection, which apparently might get called this week for early February.

The byelection must be held to fill the seat after newly-elected NDP MPP Joe Cimino suddenly resigned in November.  The Liberal who came about 1,000 votes short of keeping the seat Liberal last June, Andrew Olivier, had wanted to run again for his party.

Unfortunately for him, the party wanted someone else this time: Sudbury NDP MP Glenn Thibeault, who agreed to resign from federal politics and the NDP to run for Wynne's Ontario Liberals.  It was quite the coup. 

Anyone who has the gumption to run for office must have a sizable ego.  Clearly, such egos don't take kindly to being pushed aside in favour of anyone.  I felt badly for Olivier being pushed aside for a stronger candidate.

But such is party politics.  Every party, including the NDP, has its internal fights and squabbles.  The true professionals fight to promote themselves respectfully, keeping anger private when one inevitably doesn't get their way. 

Witness how former Sudbury provincial candidate Paul Loewenberg, who almost beat Liberal incumbent Rick Bartolucci in 2011, stepped aside this week in favour of the party's obvious establishment choice for the pending by-election, Suzanne Shawbonquit.  Instead of huffing and puffing and going public with his gripes, like Olivier did, Loewenberg is smart, cutting a deal with the NDP establishment to seek the federal nomination instead to replace Thibeault.  

Political parties are like companies.  If you don't like a decision your company makes, you don't rush to attack the company publicly.  That's how you lose your job.  It's also how you prove you're not a team player. 

Now Andrew Olivier says he'll run as an independent candidate in the Sudbury by-election, despite the fact just weeks ago he wanted to run for Kathleen Wynne's Liberals.  I don't know much about Olivier personally, besides the fact he seemed decent enough during the provincial election and has overcome many personal challenges since becoming a quadriplegic after an accident in the 1990s.

He was nominated late in Sudbury for the provincial election in a seat that had been Liberal for 19 years.  And he lost the seat by 1,000 votes, despite the fact the Liberals were winning a majority across the province. 

I'm reminded of another Liberal candidate in the provincial election, Nancy Leblanc, who also was nominated just as late in her riding of Parkdale-High Park, a riding with a strong, longtime NDP incumbent in Cheri DiNovo seeking re-election.   With the same amount of time, Leblanc campaigned hard, raised a tonne of money and came within 525 of winning in an opposition-held seat.

If Olivier was such a great candidate, why couldn't he hold a Liberal seat?  In fact, he lost it by a wider margin than Leblanc.  Now he's running as an independent, against the very team with which he stood just months ago.

Politics is a team sport.  If you enter politics always expecting to win and get your way, you're in for quite a disappointment.  It's sad to see how Olivier has reacted to this disappointment with such spite. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

UPDATED YET AGAIN: My favourite 2014 films

***Updated Feb 1, 2015

Actor Ellar Coltrane as seen in "Boyhood" from age 6 to 18
My Top 14 Films of 2014:

1)  Boyhood (One of my favourite directors, Richard Linklater, finally looks poised to win big at the Oscars with this gem of a film, shot with the same actors over 12 years, showing the evolution of a family through the eyes of a boy who literally grows up before our eyes within 165 onscreen minutes. Intimate, quiet, heart-breaking, highly-relatable, these characters remind us of ourselves, warts and all. It's so nice to see what could've been a filmmaking disaster instead turn into such a masterpiece.) 

2) Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson's finest film was a delight from start to finish, hilarious, colourful, charming, with great performances from what seemed like half of Hollywood appearing at least once.  I truly hope Ralph Fiennes gets a Best Actor nomination at the Oscars for this.)

3) Pride (I just got a chance to watch this lovely film about gay activists in 1980s Britain raising money to help support striking miners in Wales and across the U.K.  And I can say it's jumped into my Top 11 list.  Told with great heart and humour, beautifully acted and directed, the movie succeeds because it shows the great benefits of forming alliances between the downtrodden or attacked groups that otherwise might never interact.  A very lovely experience watching this.  I'm going to blog about it very soon with its own post above.)

4) Selma (I also just got a chance recently to see this great history film, which depicts the efforts by Martin Luther King Jr. and many others to achieve full voting rights for Blacks in Alabama and across the racist southern states in the 1960s.  The direction of this film by Ava DuVernay is artful but also completely accessible, detailing the campaign to raise awareness and pressure the political powers-that-be to dismantle racist barriers to voting for African-Americans.  I'll blog too about this film separately soon.  It's sickening that many right-wing Republicans still try to limit voting rights today with rules designed to disenfranchise the vulnerable, and many of the issues raised here are still absolutely relevant today.)   

5) Whiplash (Wow...just wow.  I finally checked out this little masterpiece and it's jumped into my ever-expanding favourite list as high as number five.  This film is better and more entertaining than 'The Imitation Game' or 'The Theory of Everything.'  Miles Teller is perfect as the ambitious drummer hoping to impress an abusive genius of a music teacher played by J.K. Simmons, who very much deserves all the accolades he's receiving for this.  Mesmerizing, brutal, this portrait of unlimited ambition will be remembered years to come.) 

6) Guardians of the Galaxy (Finally, a superbly crafted and entertaining "super heroes" movie with flawed, lovable characters we can relate to.  Hollywood will try to imitate this unique success in the years ahead and may or may not succeed.  Looking forward to the sequels.)

7) Tom at the Farm (I wasn't a Xavier Dolan groupie fan until I saw this stunning suspense thriller and now I have to admit the Canadian wunderkind can do no wrong.  This was released in festivals starting in 2013, but I saw it this year at Inside Out in Toronto and it's still making the festival rounds.  I can't wait to see Dolan's new film 'Mommy'.)

8) Birdman (Finally checked this out due to all the hype and I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised, after disliking most of the director's previous films.  The film took a little while for me to get into it, but once I got used to the rhythm including the never-stopping camera, I was hooked.  Michael Keaton is superb as the aging and troubled actor who may be hiding either mysterious super powers or slight insanity.  I also very much appreciated Edward Norton's sexy performance as an uber-narcissist actor, as well as Emma Stone's great work as Keaton's daughter.  The film does soar as high as its hero. Well done!)

9) The Imitation Game (Not perfect, but pretty damn close.  The film puts the tragic story of an obscure gay hero named Alan Turing front and centre.  Turing literally saved millions of lives and helped to end WWII early thanks to his genius breaking the Enigma Code, only later to be prosecuted as a gay man.  In the role, Benedict Cumberbatch is superb.) 

10) The Theory of Everything (Thoroughly enjoyed the love story and the great acting.  One might've hoped for more physics and explorations of Stephen Hawking's ideas perhaps, but as an adaptation that looks at his life through the eyes of his wife, this was great.)

11) Still Alice (Julianne Moore is simply great in a tough role in a film about a subject most of us don't want to know much about: early onset Alzheimer's.  She should hopefully win her first Oscar for this.)

12) Under The Skin (Weird, mesmerizing and unforgettable, one of Scarlett Johansson's great roles this year.)

13) Nightcrawler (Surprisingly strong and disturbing portrait of the media's obsession with violence and the vicious exploitation it creates.  Jake Gyllenhaal and everyone else here are amazing.)

14) Praia do Futuro, or Future Beach (Atmospheric, contemplative portrait of a Brazilian gay man struggling with identity, love and family.  Loved it from start to finish.) 

Totally Awesome, but not quite top 14:

X-Men, Days of Future Past


The Way He Looks


St Vincent

Life Itself



Words and Pictures


The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

Land of Storms

Into The Woods

Love in the Time of Civil War

Love Is Strange

Dear White People

Haven't seen these, but they're on my list to watch asap:



Mr Turner



Starred Up



A Most Violent Year

Quite decent:


Captain America: The Winter Soldier

American Sniper


The Interview

My Mom Is A Character

Dracula Untold

My Straight Son

The Great Beauty

Interior. Leather Bar.

300 Rise of an Empire


Not good, but noteworthy for prurient reasons:

I Am Happiness On Earth (Mexican director Julián Hernández has made several artsy gay films that feature massive amounts of beautiful male nudity, and he does so again with this film.)

That Awkward Moment (Nothing special, but it contains Zac Efron's first onscreen nude scene, so it deserves some attention.)


Gone Girl (Sorry, but I hated the characters and didn’t care about what happened to them.  Why didn’t she just kill Ben Affleck and set it up like he killed himself?  And spare us this long, drawn out piece of bullshit masquerading as "intelligent, subversive commentary on modern relationships"?  But at least it was slickly produced.) 

Interstellar (Re-thought this from my initial assessment.  It was visually stunning at times but also way too drawn out with way too many ideas, most of which weren't really explored in satisfying ways.   Perhaps this is Christopher Nolan's weakest film.)

A Most Wanted Man


The Third One (How could a movie about a hot gay threesome be so boring?) 

Maze Runner (It should’ve been Lord of the Flies, but instead was full of shit)

Enemy  (Misogynist crap.  Denis Villeneuve just dropped several points in my estimation.) 

Divergent  (Crappy, boring, unoriginal.) 


Just plain bad: