Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Disobedience 2018 - R


 I personally know a lady who tried very hard to please her religious father. After many years she gave up trying, and decided to please herself.  She pleased herself by choosing her own carrier path, her own sexual lovers and her own life partners. Her father died without giving her a blessing. She has had a  good life but remains haunted by never receiving her father's blessing.
This is also the story of the excellent film "Disobedience. " It contains remarkable performances of two people , academy award winner Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams. It also contains a very passionate and erotic scene of two women making love. However this film is more than the erotic story of two women. The film captures the battle between western religion and the freedom to choose sexual pleasure.  This is a battle. This battle is led by male religious leaders and started 3000 years ago. It continues to this day.  The film's conclusion (spoiler alert) has a most satisfying resolution to this battle. Unfortunately,  this satisfying conclusion is most rare in real life.
Oh, about the lady described above, the reason I know this lady’s story is because she is my wife.
Available on Netflix 10/22/19 Paul Bray

Paris is Burning, 1990 - R


I strongly recommend the documentary Paris is Burning on Netflix. It portrays the 1980’s transsexual, transgender world of New York City. It’s focus is primarily on people of color and highlights the world of “Balls.” Balls are event extravagances. Balls involve meetings where people display costumes, dances, acrobatics, performances or simply styles of walks. Trophies are awarded by judges in categories. This groundbreaking film is hilarious, tragic and inspiring. The attenders who are black, Latino, gay and transgender, rightfully view themselves as “outcasts” from the greater society. Their common story is rejection by family. However, this culture of Balls is a creation of new families, rewards, praise and acknowledgement. Vanity Fair reviewed the re-release of this film by noting “ It’s no wonder that in addition to being cherished and debated over the years, Paris Is Burning has often been taught in colleges and beyond, and is text for debates about the meanings of gender, race, class, and sexuality.”
Available on Netflix 10/22/19 Paul Bray

Monday, July 08, 2019

Fleabag, 2 Seasons 2016 & 2019 on Amazon Prime



I love this series. Each season is 6 episodes and is an easy evening of enjoyment. The story is about a woman who uses sex to escape depression. It is funny, very smart and moving. Here is an excerpt of Vulture's review.

“Fleabag season one was a droll, observant work of British comedy that confirmed what a talent Phoebe Waller-Bridge is both in front of and behind the camera. So it’s saying a lot that Fleabag season two, the follow-up to Waller-Bridge’s initial, brutally honest portrait of a British woman on the brink, is even better than the first.
Almost everything that was good about the six episodes of Fleabag that debuted on Amazon all the way back in 2016 remains in place in these next six. The show still finds surprising, squirmy humor in the lives of depressed and dysfunctional people. Its protagonist is still an appealing mess of a person, though her judgment has improved, slightly. And Waller-Bridge continues to portray Fleabag, our screwed-up heroine, with a firecracker confidence that, when dampened by the right person, reveals a vulnerable, damaged, and loving soul underneath. Waller-Bridge also still regularly speaks directly to camera, and pulls it off more effectively than anyone else has in recent TV history, and maybe TV history altogether.”

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Black Mirror Series, Season 3, Episode 1, Nosedive


Emily and I are traveling to China for the month of May, 2019. We are getting very excited. It is an adventure that reminds us of our travel to the Soviet Union when we just finished our education. We have been reading about China. A fascinating story about China has received coverage. China, apparently, is experimenting with a point merit system that attributes value to individuals based on factors such as productivity and loyalty. The points are then converted to credit score, purchasing power and travel privileges. Here is where reality meets fiction meets reality.

The episode 1 season 3, Nosedive, of the series Black Mirror, presents a very similar story.  The story is fascinating, humorous and spooky. It recounts the struggle of a women to “earn” enough “5 star” ratings to receive a mortgage for an upscale apartment. 

The Black Mirror Series on Netflix has been compared to the 1950’s TV series The Twilight Zone. I have found the series to have quality episodes at times and then at other times, not so much. This episode is good. It has nothing to do with sex.

Paul Bray 4/17/19 Available on Netflix

The Shape of Water, (2017)- R


The Beauty and the Beast is a fable that has received criticism from progressives and feminists. They argue this myth teaches that a girl doing good to a beast (read physical and emotional abuser) will at some point convert the beast to a loving and long term partner. They further argue that this and other similar fables implant in young children’s minds harmful role models such as martyrdom and abuser. The correct message they say, should be that when faced with a beast, escape.

Now comes the Academy Award (Best Picture, no less) winning picture The Shape of Water. This is another Beauty and the Beast film, or is it? 

Sally Hawkins, playing a middle age cleaning lady, starts the film taking care of herself. Yes, she starts the film is a nude bathtub scene, masturbating. She portrays throughout the film a woman in control taking care of her needs therefore overcoming her inability to speak. This is not the average beauty and the beast story.

This film is a story of sexual and emotional passion received and given. It is not a story of converting the beast to become a loving helpmate. Rather it is a story of converting the beast to be an erotic playmate. The value of this story and the remake of the “beast” paradigm is that it presents a woman who takes care of her needs which leads to survival and freedom of both her and the beast. 

The film has some very beautiful erotic scenes. It is a good film but maybe not a great film. It is a film worth seeing.

Paul Bray 4/17/19 Available everywhere

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Mother and Child, (2010)- R


This is an excellent film. Naomi Watts is both provocative and powerful in the sex scenes with Samuel Jackson. The film has erotic passion; heart felt stories of three families and raises profound questions about the deepest of emotional bonds. It is rated by critics as 78% on Tomato meter and 76% by viewers. The film is about the lives of women. Men are put on the sidelines. The story is of women and their lovers, their pregnancies, their parenting and in later life their care giving. Tears will be shed. I highly recommend it. Paul Bray 2/12/19

Dangerous Beauty, (1998)- R


The late Roger Ebert (4.5 stars) reviewed this film with the opening description: "The life you lead, the freedom you have--will you deny my daughters the same chance? Not the request every mother would address to a prostitute, but "Dangerous Beauty" makes a persuasive case for the life of a courtesan in 16th century Venice. At a time when Europeans are bemused by our naiveté about dalliance in high places, this is, I suppose, the film we should study. It's based on the true story of Veronica Franco, a well-born Venetian beauty who deliberately chose the life of a courtesan because it seemed a better choice than poverty, or an arranged marriage to a decayed nobleman.”
 
In the era of 2019 #metoo, I believe this IS a film we should return to and study. Catherine McCormack was brilliant as the Venetian beauty. Her performance 20 years ago that unmasks the sexual and gender hypocrisy would be equally brilliant today.
Ok, if these larger gender issues are not why you see a movie, here are more reasons to watch this movie; the beautiful photography of Venue, costumes that are breath taking, a truly romantic movie, tasteful nude and erotic scenes, a sex positive non-monogamous theme and a powerful leading actress. I truly enjoyed revisiting this film. The film is available on Netflix streaming. Paul Bray 1/12/19

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Three Suggestions for the Holidays that Give Us Hope


Real Woman Have Curves (PG-13) is the 2002 heartwarming coming of age story of a Mexican American teenage girl. It embraces positive body image, positive sex, a champion teacher and diversity. It is also the breakout performance of America Ferrera. This is a very enjoyable film that gives us hope. This is available on Netflix.

The Warmth of Other Suns, The Story of America Great African American Migration North by Isabel Wilkerson is the epic 2010 book making everyone “must read” list. The book chronicles 3 African American families who migrate to northern cities from rural south. This IS a must read book for all of us who continually seek to understand race and racism in America. It is also a must read for all of us that hope for a better America.

Civilization- 9 Part PBS Series on The History of Art starts from the earliest cave drawings and continues into the 21st century. This series illustrates the necessity of art rather than simply the value of art. It gives us hope for our further because it shows how in the worst of times, art gave us hope. This is available on Netflix.