Monday, December 20, 2021

Lazy Doug Ford will never learn on COVID-19, so let's kick him out in 2022!

Ontario's not so great premier
As an Ontarian over the age of 18 whose second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine was now five months ago, today I'm eligible to get a booster shot to try to ward off the Omicron mutation and do my part to try to get my province and country beyond this pandemic.   

But true to Doug Ford's crappy government, I was on hold for over an hour today on their 1-833 phone line and was just told there are no available booster shot vaccine appointments anywhere in my district anytime soon.  And that I'll instead likely have to call them back later or call up individual pharmacies and beg for an appointment, in addition to being on their wait lists.  

I'm on my own.  Just like every single Ontarian living in Doug Ford's Ontario. 

There are of course more than enough booster shots available for everyone who wants one.  The province despite being almost 2 years into this seems to again have fallen asleep at the switch mid-pandemic, and again downloaded all responsibilities for fighting this virus to overworked, underfunded local authorities or pharmacies.   

Doug Ford has this down to a fine art: deny and ignore the science advice as it bubbles up for weeks, until it again turns into the major crisis he can't ignore, and then enact half-measures and PR stunts to make it seem he's doing something, hold another press conference and pretend to care.  Then go back to his privileged life and keep on enjoying the perks of power.   I'm sure Dougie has a big family gathering exceeding 10 people in the works for this Christmas weekend. Dougie's elite, don't you know?  The rules don't apply to him and his family.   Ask his anti-vaxxer daughter.   

For the rest of us, we're back to the hunger games of trying to get boosters or rapid tests.  This is last April & May all over again.   

For a province as rich as Ontario, this is shameful.  And pathetic.  We get what we vote for.  Was humiliating a woman named Kathleen Wynne really worth this gross incompetence?  

At every step managing this pandemic, Doug Ford's immutable, thoughtless instincts have let us down.  He's forced the most vulnerable to put themselves in danger and go to work throughout this pandemic.  He refused to grant sick leave to Ontarians when they needed it.  He's gone to bat for the richest big box stores and giant corporations.  

His instincts are simply the wrong ones to get us out of this.   If you don't know that by now, you're living in a conservative delusion.   

It's time for change in Ontario.  The provincial election on June 2, 2022 can't come soon enough.    

I must say that I do have confidence in Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca as a replacement.  He wasn't my choice as Liberal Leader, but he has been performing well lately.  His unflappable personality, his focus, intelligence and experience, would stand us well going forward, not only on fighting COVID-19, but on most policy issues facing Ontario.  I will be hoping that Del Duca continues to nominate decent candidates and put forth more compelling, progressive policy proposals for Ontario.    

I hope for Del Duca because I have little confidence in Andrea Horwath and the NDP of ever mounting a serious challenge to the PCs.  Sadly, the NDP will simply once again at best divide the opposition vote and give the Conservatives a fighting chance to slither back into power. Instead, I'm hoping that Del Duca can do well, and win over the lion's share of anti-Ford voters.  

I have to hope.  Because Ontario can't take four more years of Doug Ford's incompetence and laziness.  

Monday, November 29, 2021

Toronto city councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam's odd foray into COVID-19 misinformation and lessons learned...

Toronto councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam
We have all been through such a tough couple of years dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

From the horrors of getting sick and dying or slowly recovering, to the shock of lockdowns and at-home isolation, to the inability to see our loved ones for months on end, to the economy grinding to a halt, it has been disastrous for all of us.   

We did this all while facing fears of this new and strange virus, desperate to get verifiable information about it and react accordingly.  Most reasonable people have somehow pushed through, with the mental scars to show for it.   

Our struggles have been made worse thanks to a minority of folks who have largely ignored safety warnings to mask up in public places and have refused vaccines when they became available.   

Some skepticism is always healthy.  But to embrace skepticism to such extremes as to ignore clear evidence made obvious over months is - let me choose my words carefully - foolhardy, reckless, naïve, and misguided.  Some might even justifiably say stupid. 

If someone I recognize as smarter than me says I've done something stupid, I might be angry and in denial about it at first.  But eventually, I'll hopefully calm down, reflect on my actions and perhaps come to accept that yes I made a mistake.  And learn from it.   

But it's true - there is a world of difference between being accused of, "doing something stupid," and just being called, "stupid.”  The former can hopefully lead to some reflection about one's actions.  "Stupid is as stupid does," after all.   But I can admit that the latter is insulting and conversation-destroying.  

We ought to avoid ever calling other people "stupid," or, "idiotic."  Even if we're tempted.  It's harmful and unproductive.  

I can understand why some people might instinctively mistrust the science around COVID-19 vaccines.  The vaccinations have been developed in an incredibly quick amount of time thanks to massive funding and prioritizing by wealthy world governments and corporations.  Their effectiveness has been documented by independent health professionals the world over through verified data and the experiences of hundreds of millions of people.  As predicted, negative reactions have been minimal, and the vast majority of us have reacted well to them.  The dropping case and hospitalization rates among the vaccinated prove the expert medical advice we received about vaccinations is true.  

To cling to doubt and misinformation about their effectiveness at this stage is simply senseless, particularly since we also know that the unvaccinated remain particularly vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 and its new, ever-more-dangerous mutations.  In turn, the unvaccinated will continue to be a health threat to the most vulnerable among us.

I did sympathize somewhat with Kristyn Wong-Tam's expressed desire to dial down the divisiveness, as she claimed she wanted to do when she initially chose to publish an opinion piece in the Toronto Sun, of all places, earlier this month.  The Toronto Sun, of course, has a history of publishing lies and anti-LGBTQ, anti-immigrant propaganda, so her choice of newspaper certainly surprised me.

Had she chosen to publish the same piece in the Toronto Star, it's entirely possible her Star editor would've fact-checked her false claim before publishing that "those who are vaccinated can still get COVID-19 and can still transmit it to others just as easily as those who are unvaccinated."  Clearly, no such fact-checking happens at the Sun, who are more than happy to publish misinformation as they do on most topics every day (as do most conservative propaganda companies masquerading as news outlets.)

I immediately knew when I read that line in her Sun piece that Wong-Tam had published a lie.

It was shocking because she is Vice-Chair of the Toronto Board of Health and has access to the most updated, verified information that long ago made clear that fully vaccinated people are less likely to contract the virus, and if they do, it will not be as severe (if they are otherwise healthy) and can't spread with the ease as it does from the unvaccinated.

Wong-Tam said part of her inspiration in writing the article was to defend her beloved parents, whom she claimed had refused to be vaccinated for their own personal and "legitimate" reasons.  Their sentiments were shared, she wrote, by those in the Black, Indigenous and people of colour communities, when it comes to not trusting big pharma, policing or government.

I can sympathize with those sentiments, but her article literally set back the cause of public health.  It was her job to help convince those not yet comfortable with vaccinations to get comfortable, not defend their "legitimate" reasons and mislead.

Wong-Tam has thankfully since apologized.

"I, unfortunately, made an honest mistake with information I shared from an August 2021 memo...That memo is outdated and the context in which I shared it was misleading and left the wrong impression.  I know some people were disappointed and confused about that error, so I do want to take some time today to clarify.  I believe the scientific evidence is clear: vaccinations are an essential tool in ending the pandemic. Everyone who is able should get their shot. The more vaccinated people we have, the less transmission we have. I regret that this information distracted from my main reason for writing the article."

Despite that retraction and apology, many anti-vaxxers, who never met a fact they weren't willing to ignore or reject if it didn't jibe with their long-established prejudices, are probably continuing to quote Wong-Tam's article as a reason not to get vaccinated.  True to form, the Toronto Sun has yet to alter its online version of her original November 18th piece to reflect the fact Wong-Tam has retracted her statements and apologized for them.  (I won't link to it as it is a right-wing, fake news propaganda site.)

Until her retraction, I assume Wong-Tam had clung to that lie all these months perhaps because in the back of her mind it made her feel better about her parents' decision.  Or others' decisions.  Sometimes our biases for the people we love cloud our better judgment.

Wong-Tam's actions did cause me to reflect on my own positions.  I am uncomfortable with the idea of unvaccinated people literally losing their jobs because of their decision.  I do think we all need to dial down our rhetoric on this issue, myself included.   I have let my emotions get the better of me and I do regret some arguments I've had.

Nevertheless, I am forced to support vaccine mandates including in many public workplaces as a justifiable tool to promote public health and safety.  Unless you have a rare medical condition that prevents you from getting vaccinated, you must get vaccinated.  The safety of the many - whose lives are literally at risk - outweighs the choices and discomforts of the few.  This is a pandemic, after all, not some superfluous flu that will just go away on its own, as the hero of many anti-vaxxers once lied.

I'm disappointed in Wong-Tam.  I've been a huge supporter of her for years, and I've admired her dogged determination to provide the Toronto Centre community with vital information regarding this pandemic.  But on this one, it was a huge error.  I'm glad she's decided not to seek another term as Vice-Chair of Toronto Public Health as a result.  This one is going to be impossible to forget. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca's democratic reform proposals a nice counter to Doug Ford's anti-democratic nonsense...

Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca
One of the first actions taken by Premier Doug Ford after he won a majority government in 2018 with only 40% of the Ontario vote was to throw a wrench into the 2018 Toronto municipal election campaign that was already well underway.   

Local candidates had been campaigning for months in 47 local wards when Ford suddenly and unilaterally shrunk the locally-designed council to just 25 seats.  Sadly, that heavy-handed intervention was recently upheld by the Supreme Court, which narrowly sided with the province's inherent right to make stupid decisions in the municipal sphere despite the illogic of such a constitutional status quo.  Overall, Ford's move put more distance between Toronto citizens and their local government.

Furthermore, Ford has increased limits on how much individuals can donate to political parties, and has thrown extravagant fundraisers giving the wealthy a chance to buy his support.  Ford has doubled down on building the unnecessary Highway 413, which stands to profit his developer friends who own land along the proposed highway corridor.  

I write all this to emphasize that Ford is an enemy of democracy, and has been willing to take unilateral action to change our election laws to stack the decks in his party's favour.   

Under a ranked-ballot system, voters select candidates in order of preference.  Ballots are tallied by counting all the first choices.  If a candidate gets more than half the votes, they win.  But if no one has a majority, the candidate with fewest votes is eliminated and the second-choice votes on those ballots are tallied until there's an outright winner.  

I've long advocated for reforming the way we hold municipal, provincial, and federal elections.  Our current 'winner-take-all' / first past the post system has delivered too many lopsided results that distort the true intentions of the electorate.  Ford's majority win in 2018 with only 40% of the vote is testament to that. 

Advocates of proportional representation (PR) have long dominated the discussion on this important issue in Canada, insisting no other change will do.  And that's why zero progress has been made in Canada getting rid of our current system.   

Canadians have been asked repeatedly to choose between first past the post and some form of proportional representation.   In each of those referendums, PR has been defeated, usually by massive margins.  Even in Prince Edward Island in 2019, the one place in Canada where the notion of province-wide seats elected from lists might not offend local sensibilities too much, PR still lost.  Canadians clearly have major reservations about proportional representation and, given no alternative, they seem intent to keep the devil they know.  

The recent success of the odious People's Party of Canada capturing more than five per cent of the vote in several provinces in last month's federal election has weakened PR's appeal even further in my mind.  I would shudder to see a small bunch of those yahoos elected to Parliament thanks to proportional representation.  

I have come to the conclusion that PR is pretty much dead as an option in Canada.  The only realistic chance for change is something more modest, like ranked balloting.  

I agree with Del Duca that ranked balloting in provincial elections would take some of the toxicity out of politics.  It would force political parties and leaders to reach out and appeal to supporters of other parties in order to secure majority support in all ridings, not just a plurality of support as they do under the current system.

One of the ugliest trends in recent politics has been the tactic to divide-and-conquer the electorate, frequently undertaken by Conservatives but also other parties.  Parties currently micro-target their own potential voters using various tools including social media data to motivate them only in winnable, swing ridings to turn out and vote.  

For the most part, parties ignore all other voters outside of swing ridings.  If you're a Conservative in Spadina-Fort York, you'll probably never hear from the Conservatives.   If you're a Liberal in Bruce County, you'll probably never hear from the Liberals. 

Imagine a politics where parties can't just rely on turning out their own supporters in key ridings, but instead need to reach out to voters in most constituencies to ensure they win a majority of the vote in those ridings.  

Also imagine never having to "vote strategically" again.  How many times have NDP or Green supporters decided to cast their votes for the Liberals in order to possibly defeat the local Conservatives?  Under ranked balloting, you'd never have to do that again.

Under ranked balloting, parties might even make de facto or unofficial alliances before the election, perhaps come to agreement on important issues, and encourage their supporters to place their second or third preferences with other parties with which they agree.  This coalition-building - before the people vote - would be far better than any options under PR which force parties to negotiate in the backrooms to form governments long after election day.  

No longer would MPs or MPPs get elected with less than 50% support.  This is crucial as the current system is electing more and more representatives with pathetically low portions of the vote.

In the federal election last month, the NDP candidate won in Nanaimo-Ladysmith with only 29% of the vote, barely outpacing the Conservative at 27% and the Green incumbent who got 26%.  In Trois-Rivieres, the Bloc won with 30%, while the Conservatives and the Liberals both took 29% each.  There were similar ridings across the country where the winning percentage was painfully low.   That will only get worse the longer we keep first past the post.

Doug Ford's government also trashed ranked balloting as an option for municipal elections, despite it working well in London, Ontario.  This was shameful because other municipalities have expressed support for such a move.  Cambridge, Ontario municipal voters even voted for it in a plebiscite in 2018.  I'd say ranked balloting is even more important at the local level where splintered results can easily elect someone with a tiny percentage of the vote.  I recall one local councillor in Toronto winning in 2014 with only 17% of her ward's vote.   That nonsense needs to end.

I see ranked balloting as a step forward that will fix many of our problems with the current voting system.   I think it's time that reformers got real and embraced it.  The definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result.  We're never going to get change if we continue to push for unpopular proportional representation options.

One last point, I might've in the past resisted Del Duca's policy of unilaterally implementing ranked balloting for Ontario elections, as he is promising.  But after what Doug Ford has pulled with his surprise election law changes, I have no issue with it.  Del Duca has made his democratic pledges clear and if he wins a majority government in 2022, he'll have a mandate and the moral authority to proceed with these changes.   

Would ranked balloting only help the Liberals?  I don't think so.  It would simply force parties to focus on winning the support from the majority of voters in each riding.  It would force them to forge alliances and reach out to more voters rather than just their narrow bases of support.  What could be more democratic than that?  

Friday, October 15, 2021

My film "The Big Snore" plays at Seattle Queer Film Festival this weekend...

Still from my short film 'The Big Snore'

I am thrilled to announce here that my short film, The Big Snore, is programmed to screen at the wonderful Seattle Queer Film Festival, which started yesterday with both in person and online screenings (for those within their geo-block area of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska states) and runs until October 24th.

The Big Snore plays in the festival's Boys Shorts program which happens in person tomorrow, October 16th, at noon Seattle time. Here's the link to that shorts program.

I hadn't expected any more festival screenings for my film, so this was supremely awesome news.

I want to extend a special thank you to the festival's Boys Shorts programmers, Telved Devlet and Ryan Crawford, who selected my flick. I joined them plus a handful of other filmmakers in the program for a virtual Q&A session that is now available on YouTube (video embedded below).

Friday, October 8, 2021

My take on "Unnecessary Election 2021": Why Trudeau won, why O'Toole and Singh lost, and why Paul did so badly...

Justin Trudeau with family on election night
Sept 20 20201 - Christinne Muschi/Reuters]
I'm late to the game with this analysis of the recently completed Canadian federal election, so my apologies.  My day job responsibilities demanded that I be somewhat apolitical while the election was going on, so I was quiet here.  Since the election, I've been so busy, this is the first chance I've had to put fingers to blog keyboard. 
Justin Trudeau now sits ready to form a new cabinet after calling what turned out to be one of the most unnecessary elections I can remember. On September 20th, he barely got more seats than he won in 2019, as unimpressed Canadians stuck with the devil they know.  The message from Canadians was clear: cut out the political nonsense and get to work governing!  

Since Covid started, governments that have dared to call elections in Canada have mostly been rewarded with majority power.  That trend ended in Nova Scotia in mid-August when the provincial Liberals were turfed from office, a few days after Trudeau called the federal election.  I was scared at first that the NS result portended a similar comeuppance for the federal Liberals for their similar arrogance calling a vote in the middle of a pandemic.  And for a couple of weeks, it seemed Canadians too were considering knocking Trudeau out of power.   

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole, who had several terrible months before the election call, first seemed dead on arrival when the vote was called.  But suddenly, he performed.  He made lots of noise about being a reasonable, centrist, even somewhat progressive Conservative leader.  His policies seemed moderate and sensical.  He also seemed likeable and decent, like a friendly uncle.  Canadians sick to death of Trudeau suddenly felt they had a decent alternative.  

But then Trudeau managed to plant enough seeds of doubt about O'Toole's alleged moderation.  It wasn't difficult.  

O'Toole's mishandling of his gun control policy, which changed by the day, horrified both sides of the debate.  

O'Toole's pledge to take serious action against climate change - even promising a pale pink imitation of Justin Trudeau's carbon levy - was undermined by his own party's convention earlier this year where 54% of delegates voted against a motion that declared that "climate change is real."  

The mistrust built up over the years thanks to Stephen Harper's style and government hadn't yet receded.  O'Toole was trying to put lipstick on a pig and it didn't work.  

I have no doubt that O'Toole genuinely is a moderate.  His main problem as leader is due to the fact that he veered so far to the right to win that leadership in 2020.  After claiming he would "take Canada back!" (from whom?), and throwing lots of red meat at the party's true blue, social conservative base, O'Toole bested Peter Mackay for the win.  In his leadership victory speech, O'Toole then claimed to be a moderate who would reach out to working families, even LGBTQ Canadians.  Social conservatives must've felt used.  They were.      

It's very difficult to be both a true blue Conservative, as well as a centrist moderate progressive Conservative at the same time.  O'Toole didn't quite hit the right notes to seem credible.  Even Stephen Harper was far more masterful at sounding reasonable and consistent.  O'Toole's message seemed more confusing.  Next to the clarity of Trudeau's message and brand, he paled. 

It may be that O'Toole will eventually find a credible, clear message and brand that can carry him over the top.  He probably deserves at least one more shot as Conservative leader in an election.  

While I don't exactly respect O'Toole's cynical hard right strategy to win his party's leadership - flirting with some awful people to win power - I will admit that O'Toole is likely the sort of reasonable conservative I'd be comfortable seeing in power, if we had to have a Conservative government.  I'd rather have O'Toole as Conservative leader than the odious Pierre Poilievre, for example.   

It's hilarious that some right-wing and social conservatives are wrongly blaming O'Toole's veering to the center as the cause for their party's failure last month.  In truth, it was O'Toole's attempts to placate the party's more conservative wing with positions on vaccination mandates, gun control and abortion that undermined its momentum when it mattered in early September. 

The NDP's Jagmeet Singh entered the election with some wind at his back, enjoying support levels above 20% on average, which had it held on election day would've been one of the federal NDP's best performances.  The NDP held that support as well for most of the campaign.   

I had my doubts that much NDP support would materialize on election day.  And by and large, it didn't.  Sure, many progressives flirted with the idea of voting NDP.  But the NDP option never quite felt serious.  Singh's candidates were, for the most part, the same sort of caliber the NDP always puts up.  It was hard to see this team forming a cabinet.  Plus, the NDP platform was even more pie in the sky than usual, certainly not a real, well-charted, overly specific plan for the future of the country.  It was not surprising to me to see the NDP fall back to 18% on election day and end up with almost the same number of seats as last time.   Their results in Ontario were particularly mediocre, even losing one of their six seats and making zero gains.   

Yes, Trudeau's strong performance during the pandemic, largely meeting the needs of an economy in crisis and taking strong stands in favour of public health and vaccine mandates, reassured Canadians.  

Love him or hate him, Trudeau is an effective politician with a clear brand.  Canadians are more than aware of his flaws, and have decided again to tolerate them until a better leader and team comes along.  That wasn't O'Toole this time.   

I have not been overly impressed with Trudeau as a leader.  He says the right things.  He often accurately and sometimes passionately reflects the progressive sentiments of the country.  But he's painfully shallow and frequently blind to his own ethical short-sightedness.  On so many issues that matter to progressives, his efforts in government have proven unsatisfying.   

Yet Trudeau and the Liberals remain the only credible progressive governing option at the federal level.  The NDP has a long way to go in terms of building support in every region of the country to adequately challenge them.  The Greens are again non-starters.  So it's true - under our first-past-the-post electoral system - progressives or centrists will continue to gravitate toward Liberals, especially in Ontario.   

Regardless of those systemic strengths for the Liberal Party, the fairly mediocre result last month - 32.6% support and another minority government with almost the same number of seats - should raise alarm bells.  Leaders and governments that hang around too long inevitably get long in the tooth and sloppy.   Heck, this government has been sloppy on many files since its first term.  Eventually, voters just get enough of you.   That time may come for Trudeau in a couple years.  It might be better for him instead to take a walk in the snow a couple years from now and retire before the next election.   But we'll see.  He's certainly bought himself another 2-4 years in power.   

The saddest story in this election is probably what happened to the Green Party's Annamie Paul.   

This Star article lays bare the various conflicts between Paul and party officials since she made history winning the party's leadership in 2020.

I related greatly to Paul during this campaign as she seemed to be a decent person with great experience and the right positions on the issues of our time.  She was undermined, however, by party brass unwilling to play seriously in the big leagues, and more interested in protecting their own tiny turf rather than work with Paul. Why do so many progressive or union activists play so nasty and fight to the death over crumbs?  

I was shocked the party gave Paul such a hard time.  I will also agree that Paul herself seemed quite ineffectual managing these conflicts.  Could she not meet with these folks and establish a truce, for the sake of the environment?  Apparently not.  Officials, including the tiny Green caucus, claimed Paul made few overtures to establish decent relations with them in the months after she won a narrow victory to become leader.  Paul also erred greatly by not clearly disassociating herself from her former advisor Noah Zatzman after his outrageous attack threatening elected Green MPs earlier this year.  Her answers to these questions always seemed too lawyerly and tone deaf.  

In the end, her ability to handle crises seemed weak.  The chaos that happens under your watch is your responsibility as leader.   Canadians wanted to hear Paul take accountability for what was going on in her party, but she never did.  She instead made excuses, pointed blame at nameless officials and complained about racism and sexism.  It impressed few.  I found it hard to believe the Green Party was a cesspool of anti-semitism, sexism and racism.  I found it more credible to believe that Paul simply didn't have or had yet to develop the people skills to manage the leadership she had chosen to take on.  

Her support collapsed in her Toronto Centre riding from 33% in the 2020 byelection to just 9% in the general election one year later.  The public have pronounced a big thumbs down on a Green Party more consumed with petty bickering than promoting a coherent and progressive plan for the future.  Now the party's very future is in doubt. 

That'll be good news for the Liberals and the NDP, and perhaps even the Conservatives in some parts.  

I feel sorry for Paul.  Her failure reminds me of the nasty, brutal ways of politics and how it can devour well-meaning people, even in the minor leagues of the Green Party.  

Monday, August 9, 2021

YouTube removes award-winning gay short film 'The Golden Pin' for violating its 'child safety policy', then reverses its decision

I've often complained that it seems YouTube, especially in recent years, suppresses queer content, mistreating it to a lower standard than it does equivalent mainstream content.  

But this week, I've seen the worst: my award-winning short film 'The Golden Pin', which has garnered 3.6 million views on YouTube since it was posted there in summer 2012, was suddenly taken down by YouTube, claiming, "it violates our child safety policy."  

This was the determination made by YouTube's algorithms nine years after the video had been posted!  

Wrote YouTube in an email to me:

"We realize this may be disappointing news, but it's our job to make sure that YouTube is a safe place for all. If you think we've made a mistake, you can appeal this decision - you'll find more details below.  As mentioned, we've removed your content because we think it violates our Community Guidelines. You can find specific information about these guidelines in the YouTube Help Center."

How does YouTube define its Child Safety Policy on its Community Guidelines page?  

"Content that targets young minors and families but contains sexual themes, violence, obscene, or other mature themes not suitable for young audiences, is not allowed on YouTube.  YouTube doesn’t allow content that endangers the emotional and physical well-being of minors." 

It goes on to say that content that contains the sexualization of minors, harmful or dangerous acts involving minors, infliction of emotional distress on minors, misleading family content, or cyberbullying and harassment involving minors will not be allowed on YouTube under its child safety policy.  

If you've seen 'The Golden Pin' (which is available to view in full on the right,) you're probably confused how that film could be accused by any rational entity as endangering minors.  The content did not target minors, it targeted all audiences.  The YouTube listing since 2012 simply didn't ban minors from watching it because there was nothing in it inappropriate for those under 18, we believe.  And for nine years, it's been on their platform. 

The film depicts a closeted young gay Asian man who's torn between the expectations of his family who want him to marry a woman, and his gay lover.  It is a heart-felt, sensuous, thoughtful piece that won the Best Canadian Short award at the 2009 Inside Out Festival.  It is tame and offers little more than a kiss, in terms of physical action.  The themes are mature, but deal mostly with coming to terms with living an honest life, and finding acceptance and love in surprising places.  Nothing that could be considered as dangerous to child safety, in my opinion.  In fact, the film's depiction at the time of a young Asian man struggling with his sexuality was groundbreaking. 

I, of course, appealed this ridiculous decision, as I have appealed all previous bad decisions by YouTube against my videos. 

I wrote to YouTube this week: "Once again, your artificial bigotry algorithms have unfairly implemented homophobia.  YouTube has consistently removed innocuous gay content even though it presented harmless stories and characters that wouldn't rate anything higher than PG-13. Your anti-gay discrimination flagging this award-winning film about a young closeted Asian gay man is insulting.  Children who are destined to grow up gay, especially in Asian cultures, need representation to know they aren't alone in the world.  Your pathetic policies on YouTube, by flagging most gay content as a threat to 'child safety' denies youth needed representation and promotes homophobia. Shame on you.  This film has over 3.6 million views since it was uploaded in 2012.  The people have spoken. If you don't correct this error, YouTube is more homophobic than your A.I." 

Then today, a response from YouTube: 


"After taking another look, we can confirm that your content does not violate our Community Guidelines. Thanks for your patience while we reviewed this appeal. Our goal is to make sure content doesn't violate our Community Guidelines so that YouTube can be a safe place for all - and sometimes we make mistakes trying to get it right. We're sorry for any frustration our mistake caused you, and we appreciate you letting us know.  To make this right, your content has been reinstated."  

Sadly, this wasn't the first of my videos to be unfairly taken down by YouTube, forcing me over and over to appeal to get them back up.  The trailer to my new short film 'The Big Snore' (viewable on the top right of this blog) was repeatedly rejected from a YouTube advertising campaign for being "indecent", only to be reinstated after I appealed again and again.  

The artificial intelligence algorithms running YouTube are designed to highlight and promote anything that gets a lot of likes and attention.  And suppress things that get bad reactions from (some in) the mainstream, no matter how niche and vibrant the sub-market.  And as I've seen, completely remove content using bogus 'community guidelines' that always seem to determine queer content is "offensive." 

I'm not alone in my dissatisfaction against YouTube, which is facing lawsuits for its unfair discrimination against LGBTQ content creators.   

This investigation showed advertising-keyword blocklists like those maintained by YouTube are preventing the discovery of content about LGBTQ issues and the Black Lives Matter movement.

If true, that would definitely explain how LGBTQ content on my own channel has seen its views and revenues drop in recent years.  

It used to be that using a title like "Gay short film 'The Golden Pin'" could garner thousands of viewers seeking queer content and decent revenue.  That doesn't happen anymore.  

'The Golden Pin' earned 1.5 million views and over $1,600 CAD in its first year on YouTube.  In fact, today it now has 3,618,349 views and has earned almost $4,000 CAD.  

But YouTube changed its policies at some point after 2014 or so to keep more revenue for itself and its shareholders, and not run ads on most queer content.   Ad revenues on 'The Golden Pin' now are way down. 

My first short film as a director 'Tri-Curious' was released on YouTube in 2017 and also received 1.6 million views in its first year.  However, its ad revenues were only $189 CAD.   I've since taken 'Tri-Curious' off YouTube in order to license it to Dekkoo Films, a streaming service targeting gay men which actually pays filmmakers for their work, unlike YouTube. 

The situation was so discouraging, I didn't bother to post my latest short film 'The Big Snore' in its entirety on YouTube at all.  I couldn't bear the inevitable removals and declarations of "indecency" from YouTube, forcing me to appeal and appeal to keep my content on their site, just for what would be a pittance of views forced by YouTube's algorithms designed to make sure no one could find it (without launching an advertising campaign that would also probably be repeatedly rejected as "indecent" by those same algorithms.)   

So now 'The Big Snore' is only available on Dekkoo. 

I know that YouTube also targets other content such a far-right Christian and hate groups from posting content on its platform.  I agree there are legitimate reasons why some content should be removed in order to protect minors.  

But the net being cast by YouTube's algorithms is snagging innocuous queer content unfairly, including my own.  

'The Golden Pin' is not the queer equivalent to a far-right piece of hate propaganda targeting racial minorities or spreading misinformation about Covid.  

The latter examples should be taken down.  My film should be celebrated and keep the platform it deserves. 

There is no doubt in my mind now that artificial intelligence systems like those being used by YouTube are learning the worst of human prejudices to make decisions and all minority groups, including the LGBTQ community, must beware. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

How Trump's White Supremacist Supporters Took the U.S. Capitol on Jan 6th 2021 - New York Times' Visual Investigations

This is required viewing for all who care about equality, justice, and the rule of law, and how all were undermined and attacked by the deeply immoral narcissist, would-be-dictator Donald Trump and his racist/White supremacist supporters on January 6th of this year.   Watching these 40 minutes - meticulously compiled from real videos shot by the rioters themselves and other available video - will leave you fully informed about how outrageously close these pigs came to destroying American democracy that day, including the shameful and pathetic response from U.S. police and military authorities tasked with protecting the Capitol building.    

Trump and his supporters remain a massive threat to democracy, the rule of law, and justice not only in America, but across the world.  Donald Trump has not been held accountable for how he incited this treasonous and violent mass crime to take place based on his pathetic lies about the election.  Trump's time in prison for these crimes and his many other crimes needs to come as soon as possible.  Republican Party officials who empowered this maniac and are still placating his racist/violent supporters, and even now continue to cover up this mass crime, also need to be arrested for treason and put into prison (let alone pay politically for this outrage.)   

Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and others who organized this riot, kept its momentum alive over hours in this attempted coup, should be considered treasonous terrorists who must be rounded up and prosecuted to the full extent of the law for the safety of our society and democratic values.  

We must stop these evil people!  We should consider ourselves living in a time equivalent to the 1930s, when a massive threat to democracy was not yet fully realized.  These White supremacists are on the move and planning their next crimes as we speak.  People of colour, Jewish people, LGBTQ people already know well the dire threats we face from these evil folks.  It's time for everyone who values justice and equality to understand the massive threat these folks pose to all and demand a full crackdown against White supremacy terrorists.  Complacency could lead to our literal destruction as a democracy.   I hate to be melodramatic, but I have no choice.  Naivete needs to be overcome in favour of informed action against these real threats to our lives and decent, progressive, democratic values. 

Saturday, June 12, 2021

It’s now confirmed: Doug Ford has a fetish about using the Notwithstanding Clause to override your rights…

The Notwithstanding Clause in Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms was supposed to be used sparingly such as in cases where human safety could be endangered if governments didn’t act in response to possible court rulings.

One example could be to protect children were child pornography somehow legalized by a court in favour of freedom of expression. 

But of course courts have been quite reasonable balancing rights while protecting vulnerable Canadians and the greater good going back decades.  

It was Quebec that enjoyed using the Notwithstanding Clause the most to override language rights to bolster its vulnerable Quebec culture.  I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat: if the only way your language and culture can survive is to systemically oppress all other cultures and languages, then maybe your language and culture isn’t really worth saving. 

Quebec recently oppressed religious and expression rights again by banning any outward religious expression in the public service, a law that has negatively impacted mostly on Muslim women who now can’t work in certain public sector jobs.  

But Doug Ford in Ontario wins the prize for worst excuses to use the Notwithstanding Clause.  He first tried to do it in 2018 when a court tried to stop his vindictive, purely political attack on local democracy in Toronto in the middle of a municipal campaign.  Ford was motivated solely my malice and revenge against former enemies running municipally whose races Ford simply squashed.  It certainly wasn’t about helping Toronto.

Ford's first instinct was to use the sledge hammer approach of the Notwithstanding Clause to resolve the issue to his liking.  However an appeal court ruling set aside his need to use the notwithstanding clause that year.  This case is still before the Supreme Court now.  But the incident illustrated clearly how eager Ford is to override basic human rights when they conflict with his agenda. 

But this week’s move by Ford to again invoke the Notwithstanding Clause to greatly limit the ability of unions and other groups from running ads critical of the government 12 months ahead of the election proves the first attempt wasn’t some one off. 

No, Ford is showing his true self again.  When other reasonable options like appealing this ruling still exist, Ford instead jumps to override the Charter.   

The first 2018 attempt was merely gratuitous and disturbing. The second time now proves Doug Ford has some kind of fucked up fetish when it comes to stripping you of your rights. 

The bullying and disrespect so ingrained in this flawed imbecile’s psyche is now on full display.  We saw it too when he tried to ramp up police arrests of citizens out for a drive in the second wave of Covid-19 and wanted to close provincial borders with police barricades.

His instincts are cruel and nasty.  He’s dangerous and his hands on the levers of power resemble those of a dangerous, spoiled child’s hands.  

The sooner this buffoon is removed from those levers of power, the safer and healthier all Ontarians will be.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Canadian Media Guild local at CBC Toronto Has A Long History Of Celebrating Pride

CMG volunteers in 2014 World Pride parade

Happy Pride Month to everyone!

As some of you may know already, I have been volunteering for a few years as Treasurer on the Location Executive Committee at CBC Toronto for the Canadian Media Guild (CMG).   I've been very happy to put my principles into action and work on behalf of my colleagues.   

This year, Covid-19 has again prevented public gatherings to celebrate Pride.   That includes for our local union, which has a history of celebrating this festive season.   

I posted this piece today on the local CMG website.   I'm happy to provide a link to it here as well.  Here's an excerpt: 

"This June marks Pride Month across Canada and in many parts of the world.  It's a month to celebrate the history, courage, and diversity of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, of which I am proud to be a member... 

"Our CBC Toronto location unit of the Canadian Media Guild has a long history of joining in this celebration...   

"Prior to the pandemic, that included regularly participating in the annual Pride Parade in Toronto... 

"One of our biggest parade turnouts was in 2014 when Toronto hosted World Pride.  Many guild members will remember carrying our banner down Yonge Street on that hot day and later gathering together for food and drinks to celebrate...

"...Both the union and our employers must all do better to promote respect and inclusion and fight all forms of hatred and discrimination.  That awareness and determination must extend to the 2SLGBTQ+ community, both in terms of how we are treated and also how we treat each other...

"There's much more work to be done.  We will continue to do that work." 

Et en français aussi.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Ontario Liberal leader Steven Del Duca suddenly and thankfully starts to show real potential


I was unequivocally clear in my post early in 2020 criticizing Steven Del Duca as a candidate for the leadership of the decimated Ontario Liberal Party.

The post got a lot of attention, some praise but also criticism.  Many agreed with my assessment of Del Duca's flaws.  Others accused me of hurting the party by being so critical of one of its leadership candidates (their arrogance assuming Del Duca's inevitable victory irked me greatly at the time, although admittedly they weren't wrong about his chances.)  

My words in early 2020 were an honest reflection of my thoughts at the time, spurred on by a desire to stop Del Duca's momentum and wake up Liberal supporters into choosing someone better.  It didn't work.  Del Duca went on to easily win the Ontario Liberal leadership on the first ballot in March 2020, just before the pandemic lock down really kicked in.

Until recently, I had been resigned to the sad opinion that Del Duca's Liberals would never present much of a challenge to the governing PCs, nor even the opposition NDP.   I predicted that next year's Ontario election would largely be a repeat of the 2018 vote, with a likely re-elected PC majority with the NDP easily coming in second.  

But after about 14 months in the leadership, I must admit my thoughts have changed about Del Duca.  What changed my mind?  His late April interview on TVO's The Agenda with Steve Paikin linked above and here.  If we see more of this, Del Duca may have a fighting chance.  

What I saw in this interview were finally the inklings of a clear and coherent message that may indeed gain great traction among Ontario voters.  

Del Duca presented a clear-minded, thoughtful, intelligent narrative, even talking about his own self-awareness, and Doug Ford's lack of it.  It was a message honed to highlight the strengths of his candidacy, and to my surprise, he was convincing. 

Sure, Del Duca is the opposite of charismatic.  Paikin even jokingly asked him about that in the interview.  If Del Duca is wise (and we know he is), he'll continue to play off the humour of such suggestions.  

For we know that Ontarians don't particularly care if their premier is charismatic.  Ontarians mostly just want competence and managerial ability.  Ontarians don't want to constantly worry about how provincial affairs are being managed at Queen's Park; we just want to know that the folks in charge are fair-minded and running things well. 

No doubt, more and more Ontarians are realizing that isn't the case today.  We are currently struggling through the third wave of Covid-19 in Ontario made far worse by the flawed leadership of Doug Ford.  If there were mistakes that could be made by the province in guiding us through this pandemic, Doug Ford made them.  

The Ford disaster reached its crescendo in mid-April when, as things looked their darkest, Ford announced he would now set up provincial border stops, empower the police to pull over (Black) people, and shut down playgrounds and tennis courts.  Absolutely tone deaf.  It took one day for Ford to flip flop on the new police powers, and several more for Ford to finally promise three days sick leave for Ontario workers. 

Suddenly, all the good will Ford had built up over the last year since Covid began faded.  We were reminded Ford is a man governed only by flawed, unsophisticated, pro-business-at-all-costs ideology.  Ford doesn't have a thoughtful bone in his body.  His bravado is only matched by his bullshit.  The emperor has no clothes and Ford is never going to change.  

Against Ford, Del Duca is suddenly looking like a better option.  If Del Duca continues to improve his game, he is going to provide voters wary of another Ford government with a tempting alternative.

But what of Andrea Horwath and the NDP, you might ask?  Sure, they'll continue to have many supporters who likely won't be much tempted by Del Duca.  Before my recent change of heart, it was mere desperation that I pinned my hopes on the NDP to potentially oust Ford from office

But I have to admit I think Horwath has likely reached her peak.  Even amidst Ford's current troubles, her rhetoric sounds canned and unconvincing.  It seems clear to me her best chance to win was in 2018 when she did well but still lost.  It wasn't even close.  I hoped she would step aside after 2018, but she hangs on.   

Ontarians simply are not inclined to hand over the provincial government to the NDP.  Not this incarnation of the NDP, at least.  (Things are different in western Canada where the NDP is more centrist and has a tradition of occasionally winning.)  

We shall see what happens in 2022.  

Regardless, Del Duca finding traction with voters will undoubtedly help get rid of Doug Ford.  It'll help resuscitate the Ontario Liberals and put them back in the game in their former strongholds in and around Toronto, Ottawa and elsewhere.  I'm not predicting Del Duca mania similar to Justin Trudeau's 2015 majority victory.  But I'm certainly no longer predicting disaster.  Far from it.  

Please consider me now cautiously optimistic again about Ontario Liberal fortunes.  

Monday, April 19, 2021

Exhausted and going a little crazy in these Covid times, but at least I now have my AstraZeneca vaccine appointment

I regret really letting health care officials have it with my last post.  

Like all of you, I'm exhausted after a year plus of this pandemic.  The massive flaws of our species are on full display everywhere you look.  

The only thing that gives me solace when I observe Dumpster Fire Ontario under the current provincial government is the fact that so many other jurisdictions have it worse.   

Take most of America, which is thankfully finally using its superpower might under President Biden in the right ways and vaccinating the willing, despite the broken, misguided efforts of Republicans to undermine the recovery with their ideology.  Other countries like Brazil are in the worst of it, thanks to the deadly combination of the psychotic idiot they have as President and the 55% of the general population that voted for him in 2018, many of whom shockingly are still believing Bolsonaro’s lies and apologizing for him. 

Compared to those places, Ontario has it good.  It could be far better, of course.  The Ford government should've taken the science seriously, protected people including our most vulnerable fellow citizens over maximized profits for the few.  But if they had done that, they wouldn't be a government led by Doug Ford, after all.  No doubt, Ontarians are waking up fast to the massive deficiencies of Dougie.  Was kicking out Kathleen Wynne really worth this?  Not for a second.   

I lost it last week having to endure the technical torture of Unity Health's feeble booking site after waiting so long to become "eligible" for a vaccine here.  Then Ontario announced Sunday night that 40+ residents can get the AstraZeneca vaccine at pharmacies starting Tuesday.  And today, I'm thrilled to say I was able to find a pharmacy that would book me for one before the end of April.  I'm thrilled.  Thank you to everyone who helped me in this.  Fingers crossed that the appointment doesn't get cancelled or some other screw-up hinders my vaccination. 

I'll look forward to my first dose and joining the ranks of the luckier.  It's true so many other more vulnerable people who have to put themselves in danger every day just to make a living deserve a vaccine sooner than I.  It's also true that Ontario shouldn't be in this bad a situation.  There's no excuse one year in for our provincial government to have made this many mistakes.  Doug Ford should resign now.  

None of this is fair.  I'll try to reflect on that.  And remember to be kinder and appreciate more often the good things I do have.  And not forget we're all in this together. 

Monday, April 5, 2021

Corrupt Doug Ford government siding with big business interests and hurting ordinary Ontarians on Covid, Highway 413 and most everything else

Considering Doug Ford and the Ford family's criminal history, is it any surprise that Ford's Progressive Conservative government would be up to its eyeballs in corruption?  

This exhaustive investigation by the Toronto Star and National Observer lays bare the actions of the Ontario Tory government and its corrupt big business land developer friends since Ford's Tories came to office in 2018.  

Reading it makes me angry.

"Eight of Ontario’s most powerful land developers own thousands of acres of prime real estate near the proposed route of the controversial Highway 413, a Torstar/National Observer investigation has found.

"Four of the developers are connected to Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government through party officials and former Tory politicians now acting as registered lobbyists.

"If built, the road will raze 2,000 acres of farmland, cut across 85 waterways and pave nearly 400 acres of protected Greenbelt land in Vaughan. It would also disrupt 220 wetlands and the habitats of 10 species-at-risk, according to the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.

"One developer, John Di Poce, employed the head of the Ontario PC party’s fundraising arm for several years and three other developers employ the chair of Caroline Mulroney’s 2018 PC leadership campaign as a government lobbyist. Mulroney is now Ontario’s transportation minister and will play a key role in future decisions about the 413 highway.

"Another of the developers, Michael DeGasperis, hosted Ford and PC MPP Stephen Lecce in a private luxury suite at the BB&T Center in Miami to watch a Florida Panthers’ NHL game in December 2018. In a statement, spokespeople for Ford and Lecce said both politicians paid for their own tickets to the game and no government business was discussed.

"That was shortly after the Ford government had resurrected the proposed 413 highway."

We've already seen the impacts of "unappealable" Minister’s Zoning Orders, or MZOs, in many parts of the province where environmental laws designed to protect us all, not to mention local rules, have been washed away in favour of fast-tracking whatever land developers want.  

Now it looks likely the corrupt Tories are going to push forward with the unnecessary Highway 413, destroy acres of precious farm and wetlands, just to get their select corrupt big business developer friends even richer than they already are.   

This is hard to swallow on top of Ford's mishandling of the pandemic, constantly favouring the worst instincts of big business against the health of all Ontarians - closing down too late and then opening up too early again and again as variants of Covid-19 rip through the province.  As more enlightened leaders like New Zealand's Jacinda Ardern have shown us, we needed hard lock downs early in order to keep case levels and community transmissions down.  Not in Ontario or other places like it governed by conservatives.   Ford kept hesitating despite his fake words, implementing half measures and sowing confusion, resulting in a tragic second wave and now an exploding third wave.  The new deaths that will occur because of his incompetence, as well as the lifetime health impacts for those who survive this third wave, are his responsibility.     

Is there hope for the future?  Not as long as this pro-big corruption PC Party stays in power.  Even if Ford were somehow kicked out and replaced as PC leader, this is a party whose ties to the ultra-rich and corrupt elite in Ontario are unseverable.  For example, the ties between Caroline Mulroney and the forces pushing for Highway 413 are now obvious.  Let's not forget she's also the daughter of one of the most corrupt Prime Ministers this country has ever seen (and whose decision to sell off Connaught Labs in the 1980s undermining Canada's ability to manufacture vaccines really isn't aging well, don't you think?) 

Under our pathetic electoral, winner-take-all system in which 59.5% of Ontario voters only received 39% of the seats (Ford's Tories won a 61% majority with only 40.5% of the votes), it can be disheartening for those who want just, equitable, fair government that doesn't merely do the bidding of corrupt big business. 

What are our options?  

The Ontario Liberals, to their credit, did do some good things in office from 2003 to 2018, including reject Highway 413.  But they also did a lot of crappy and corrupt things that have yet to be forgotten by the wider public.  Every time I try to add credit to my Presto card to take transit in the GTA, I'm reminded of the crappy deal the Ontario Liberals handed to commuters here.  

New Ontario Liberal leader Steven Del Duca, who as Transportation Minister was happy to change official plans in order to benefit himself politically, doesn't seem like the tonic we need after Doug Ford's corrupt Conservatives.  Del Duca's ties to the same land development cartels are probably as strong as Ford's.  Still, perhaps he'll draw enough votes away from the corrupt Tories to deny the PCs a majority.  

After the 2018 election, I was so disappointed with Andrea Horwath's defeat, I sort of gave up on her.  Yet, perhaps I was too hasty in that estimation.  Horwath remains as Ontario NDP Leader.  She's as clean and uncorrupt as any leader can get.  Maybe it is time for Horwath.  She's already gained so much ground, winning 40 seats and 34% of the vote in 2018, dominating urban areas of the province from downtown Toronto, parts of the 905, Hamilton, St. Catharines, Kitchener, London, Windsor and most of northern Ontario.   The road to power is a lot shorter for the Ontario NDP than it is for the decimated Ontario Liberals.  A government led by Horwath would put the corrupt interests currently controlling Doug Ford on the outside looking in. 

That could only be good for Ontario, even if just for one term.  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing (voting Tory, voting Liberal) over and over and expecting a different result.  I'm thinking outside the box again.  

June 2022 can't come soon enough.  I just pray and hope that Andrea Horwath puts in the work, hones a clear and compelling anti-corruption message and platform, recruits strong candidates in crucial ridings who look like cabinet ministers, not anti-poppy nut bars you wouldn't want to let babysit your kids.   

Because without one strong option for change, sadly this corrupt present in Ontario will continue to be our future for many years to come. 

**** UPDATE April 7, 2021

This is more like it.   Too little too late?  For the sake of all of us, I hope not. 

Monday, March 1, 2021

My favourite films of 2020 (UPDATED)

Still image from Tenet
UPDATE JANUARY 2022:  I have sometimes found that my thoughts on my favourite films evolve over time.  The test of time for me is to acknowledge which of my favourite films I actually watch over and over again because they excite me and deliver each time.  

I can often admire great films that floor me upon first viewing, but they might cease to inspire or excite me as much upon repeated viewings.  

So my new personal test is: do I want to want to watch this movie again and again and actually do enjoy it each time because the best films are those can be re-experienced over and over.   I now acknowledge those films are my favourites over time. 

Thus, I've had to go back and re-do my last "Favourite Films" of the year post from 2020.  Of my favourites that year, I continually go back and re-watch Christopher Nolan's masterpiece Tenet, now that I have the blu-ray.   My initial top choice of the year was Supernova, a perfectly romantic and nuanced story which I continue to admire.  But its subject matter and style don't make for enjoyable repeat viewings.  So I've moved it down to my third choice for 2020, below Promising Young Woman, a film I have watched multiple times as its awesome rhythm and quality remain continually enjoyable (despite its dark subject matter.) 

1: Tenet, Christopher Nolan's latest is also his most beautiful film.  If you're going to embrace a bizarre scientific premise in your story, this is how you do it.  It unfolds with little explanation and is confusing at first, but eventually I totally got into its rhythm before the end of the first viewing.  Subsequent viewings cemented my love for this film.  Oh and being able to stare at John David Washington and Robert Pattinson, not to mention a cast of other Nolan regulars, was a lot of fun.  

2: Promising Young Woman, make sure you know as little as possible about this film before you see it and its shock value will be most greatly experienced.  Unforgettable.  Very dark but as timely as it gets, putting center stage a tragedy all too familiar but never quite explored like this. 

3: Supernova, it could've easily been maudlin and melodramatic, but instead this is one of the most beautiful portraits of love I've seen in years, and the same sex nature of the central relationship between Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci is pretty much irrelevant to the restrained proceedings, such a breath of fresh air, stunning acting and cinematography.  Love wins my heart over more acclaimed, darker stuff. 

4: Nomadland, yes the hype is well-deserved, this moves at such a gentle, poetic, almost hypnotic pace, I was in awe and carried along.  Frances McDormand gives Prime Frances McDormand here and it's wonderful to behold. 

5: Sound of Metal, Riz Ahmed is sexy and perfect in this touching, deeply powerful portrait of an average guy/talented drummer who suddenly loses his hearing.  The sound editing is perfection.  I can't imagine a more compassionate and realistic portrait of something most of us would dread to experience.  A must watch.    

6: Minari, very cute, gentle, sweet, enjoyable experience watching a Korean family re-start their lives on a 1980s Arkansas farm, perfect performances from everyone

7: Judas and the Black Messiah, Daniel Kaluuya is mesmerizing in this, I could tell watching his power on screen that he'll probably be winning awards for this portrait of a natural born leader who takes his place in the Black Panther movement of the 1960s, only to be betrayed by a troubled FBI informant. 

8: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, short and sweet, makes it point and then finishes, Chadwick Boseman is fabulous here as is Viola Davis. 

9: Palm Springs, Adam Samberg is great alongside co-star Cristin Milioti in this funny, and thought-provoking piece about a man and a woman (and one or two others we see) caught in a Groundhog Day-esque time loop.  I so needed this charmer during Covid Wave Three, thank you!  

10: Violation, dark, dark, dark, but strangely satisfying, its objectification of the naked male form, also the perpetrator in this story, was long overdue.  Perhaps I would've liked it more had I seen this after Promising Young Woman.   

And the rest in order of preference: 

Monsoon, a slow burn that really drew me in, a love letter to lost homelands, this story chronicles the beautiful Henry Golding's return to Vietnam, a place he left as a child with his family.  There, he enjoys a hot affair with the stunning Parker Sawyers.  Beautiful story, beautiful cinematography, beautiful men.  

One Night in Miami, impeccably polished, well-acted and written, it's fun being a fly on the wall listening to these conversations, although I wished for more actual drama.  

Mank, interesting, but not as interesting as I was hoping, and definitely not the sum of its parts.  David Fincher has done much more interesting films than this.  

The United States Vs. Billie Holiday, Andra Day along with the incredibly hot Trevante Rhodes of Moonlight fame are awesome in this biopic about the Jazz legend's struggles with racist U.S. authorities and her own demons.   

The Mauritanian, great, restrained flick about a wrongfully imprisoned man stuck in Guantanamo for years.  Also loved Jodie Foster. 

Antebellum, fascinating, surprising allegory of how the legacy of racism impacts on the present day.  Modern day queer goddess Janelle Monáe is stunning in the lead role.

Ammonite, interesting watch, Kate Winslet can do no wrong, not riveting but still I had no difficulty finishing it. 

The Social Dilemma, a completely accessible documentary with dramatizations that make clear to the masses how social media giants like Facebook have been not only hurting all of us, but undermining democracy itself. 

The Father, a thoroughly depressing and unnecessary portrait of the experience of the onset of Alzheimer's Disease by its protagonist.  Yes, this was superbly conceived and produced and deserving of its artistic accolades.  Yes, Anthony Hopkins' acting was probably the most deserving of the Best Actor Oscar, even though I can't help but regret he beat out sentimental favourite Chadwick Boseman.  Regardless of this film's strengths, it should be avoided by most people (especially people who've lost lost ones to diseases like this) unless you want to depress yourself.  Not too many of us are looking for more depressing experiences now or ever.  

The Trial of the Chicago 7, I'm not a fan of Aaron Sorkin's writing, it's always too showy, too smart for its own good.  Plus scenes in this flick kept repeating over and over, perhaps it was true to the actual trial transcripts but it was annoying.  Sacha Baron Cohen did bring his dialogue to life, as did many, but I didn't buy Eddie Redmayne in this for a second, he kept trying to seem likeable and palatable to the masses, miscast in my opinion. 

News of the World, what's with older straight male directors obsessing this year over relationships between old white straight dudes and prepubescent girls who don't speak much if at all?  Still I enjoyed Tom Hanks in this flick which was interesting some of the time.  

Death to 2020!, the tonic we needed at the end of last year.  

Love and Monsters, its special effects are superb and made me squeamish when I watched the trailer, I almost didn't start it.  But Dylan O'Brien's gorgeous talents and a friend's recommendation helped me press play and I wasn't let down.  Lots of fun.  

Still Processing, a short film by Sophy Romvari I saw at TIFF 2020, this really moved and impacted me with its unique portrait of the director coming to terms with her family's tragic past.

Greyhound, great little WWII flick about the Battle of the Atlantic, gripping, well-done. 

Uncle Frank, didn't break much ground but superbly acted and lovely all around. 

Summer of '85, the hottest French boys you could imagine have a tortured affair, mostly pointless though, so it needed either way more story or way more nudity to be memorable.  

Ava, I could stare at Jessica Chastain, aka 'Brandy' in this flick forever.  A lot of fun. 

Hillbilly Elegy, finally watched it and liked it, although Glenn Close's best moments don't happen until near the end, but was glad when they did.  Still, this movie wasn't good enough to win Oscars, so sadly Glenn will be empty-handed again on April 25, I predict.

Escape from Pretoria, lovely Daniel Radcliffe doing lovely things in a South African prison, get your minds out of the gutter. 

Cherry, I had no idea this film contains uber hottie Tom Holland's first nude scenes, which make this film a landmark.  But sadly, the film is otherwise godawful.  So I recommend you just search for the Holland nude clips online and skip this torturous depiction of two loser addicts.     

Falling, a bit too tortured of an experience, can't really recommend it. 

Songbird, not the greatest, a bit too timely this portrait of a love affair during a horrendous pandemic, but this flick gives us the first look at KJ Apa's beautiful butt, so I'll forgive it for anything. 

Rebecca, meh.

Want to see as soon as possible:

Da 5 Bloods

Pieces of a Woman


On The Rocks

French Exit



The Boys in the Band (remake)

The Midnight Sky