Sunday, June 11, 2017

Latex (Michael Ninn, 1995)

After scanning my retina for, oh, I'd say, a minute or two, Michael Ninn's Latex finally granted me access to its shiny, dystopic, dysphoria-causing universe. (Hold up. The first two I understand. But dysphoria-causing?) There are a shit-ton/fuck-ton of close-up shots of crinkly ball-sacks in this movie. Need I say more? I didn't think so. Anyway, the reason I said the film "finally granted me access" was because I think this was my third attempt to watch and review this mid-1990s masterpiece. Yeah, that's right. My third! And you'll notice I didn't call it a mid-1990s "porn" masterpiece. Yeah, the film is that good. Of course, I wouldn't have called it a masterpiece, porn or otherwise, during those initial viewings. I don't know why it took me so many tries. But either way, here we are. I think one of the main reasons I didn't care for the film the first few times was because I was watching it as a porn flick. In other words, I was judging it based on its ability to arouse/titillate. Quirky fun-fact: This was the first film I watched after starting hormone replacement therapy (a.k.a. HRT). I know, pretty awesome, eh? Well, I think so (I've never felt better in my life... it's like I've been reborn or some gay ass shit like that). Now, I'm not saying my estradiol-soaked noodle factory reacted any differently to the slick images Michael Ninn threw my way over the course of the film's two hour running time than my testosterone-soaked one. But it was quite telling that I finally "got" what Ninn was getting at after starting to medically transition. It should be noted that both pre-HRT, pre-everything Yum-Yum and HRT Yum-Yum found some of the sex scenes to be dull/uninteresting. That being said, HRT Yum-Yum practically ate up the style clinic that director Michael Ninn and screenwriter Antonio Passolini pull off with this movie.


As with most movies of this type (porn movies that try to be different), I got a perverse thrill out of knowing that Latex probably frustrated the living fuck out of those who like to masturbate to stuff like this. I don't know, just the mere thought of someone desperately trying to jerk off to this, and failing in spectacular fashion, brings me so much joy.


Now, is it as subversive as the films of Rinse Dream or even Gregory Dark? No. But I found it quite telling that the film's goatee-sporting, quasi-mulleted hero's first line is: "I know you're watching me." A repeated phrase uttered in Rinse Dream's Nightdreams and Dr. Caligari.


Arrested for vagrancy, Malcolm Stevens (Jon Dough) finds himself in locked up in an asylum... Oh, did I mention that the world is a totalitarian, fascist nightmare-scape? Well, it totally is. Under the observation of a bunch of doctors in lab coats (again, very Nightdreams), they're interested in Malcolm because he seems to have a special gift. And while no-one, not even Malcolm, can explain what his special gift is exactly, it's agreed upon that it involves sex in some shape or form.


Spotting a billboard through his cell window, Malcolm fantasizes about the woman on said billboard. A vivacious blonde named Kato (Sunset Thomas), Malcolm imagines the billboard woman masturbating with yellow latex gloves in a retro-style kitchen.


After she's finished pleasuring herself, Kato has sex on a vintage kitchen table with her husband.


The great thing about this scene was... (Sunset Thomas' tits!) I was going to say the attention to detail that went into creating that retro-style kitchen... but I guess her tits were nice. Personally, I dug her black headband. But what can I say? I'm a sucker for hair accessories, especially those that serve a purpose.


Did anyone else wonder what Kato had stocked in those vintage kitchen cabinets of hers? I was kinda hoping she had 'em stocked with pickles, corn chips (with flax-seeds baked right into the chips), salted chickpeas and gummy bears. Damn it, why did I mention pickles? I want to consume an entire jar right this minute. But don't worry, I'll finish this first.


I'm not entirely sure what was going on in the next scene. But I do know that it features Malcolm having sexual intercourse with a "Latex Pony Girl." (A latex what?) It's a fetish thing.


Anyway, while I loved Emerald Estrada's pony look. The spotty, haphazard manner in which Malcolm's taint was shaven was tremendously disappointing. Is there anything more disheartening than a taint that's been improperly shaved? Probably not.


On that yucky note, I think now is as good a time as any to mention the soundtrack. While some people seem to enjoy watching people fuck on film/video, I now find the act itself to be extremely revolting and, not to mention, tedious as all get out. Thankfully, all that gross/yawn-worthy fornicating is set to a non-cacophony of warm synthy goodness cascading over the top of a surplus of choice funky beats. Composed by Dino Ninn, the music heard throughout this movie was a virtual lifesaver. Seriously, their music is a motherfucking godsend. I doubt that could have made it through the whole thing without it.


It turns out that Malcolm, simply by touching you, can "see inside of people." And what he sees is usually sexual in nature.


When he touches Tiffany Million, the doctor currently interviewing him, on the arm, we're treated to a scene where she gets poked and prodded by Sam Cooper, her male assistant.


If you have a thing for rough lesbian sex, colourful latex and bob wigs (blonde and brunette), you'll love the next sequence. Played by Debi Diamond, Lacy Rose, Barbara Doll and Tasha Blades, the wonderfully uncouth antics of these swaying "latex vixens" eat up a huge chunk of time.


Since Malcolm can't visualize himself in his fantasies, he uses an avatar. And at the tail end of the day-glo lez-fest, Malcolm takes the form of a man named Brick Majors. As the synths wind down and the beats begin to fade, Brick spews a modest dollop of creamy, non-watery tartar sauce-esque jizz from the smallish opening located at the tip of his clearly worn out penis.




(Smallish opening?!? Don't you mean his urethra?) Ure kidding, right? That word makes my skin crawl. No, smallish opening is way less upsetting.


I didn't think I would say this, but the acting of Jeanna Fine (Party Doll A Go-Go!) and Jon Dough in that black and white flashback scene during the Julie Show segment (Malcolm eventually becomes a minor celebrity and the toast of the "psychic underground") is pretty fantastic. It was, like, all dramatic 'n' junk. Bravo.




Of course, the top-notch pathos of that scene quickly falls by the wayside when the vapid TV hostess (Juli Ashton) is double-teamed by two of her long-haired crew members. Wait, I think one of the crew guys was played by Tom Byron. Man, does this guy get around or what? In the year 1985, Tom starred in White Bunbusters. In the year 1995, Tom appears in Latex. That's a ten year gap! I wonder how many people Tom penetrated during that period. Hmm, I wonder.



Oh, would you look at that, we're back where it all started: Watching Sunset Thomas getting fondled and fucked on a vintage kitchen table. Great.


Culminating with something called the "mega-splash" (don't ask), Latex, despite the repulsive/repetitive nature of the sex, is always interesting to look at.


On the cusp of being a cyberpunk classic and sort of smart in places, Michael Ninn has made a film that is glossy, smooth and super... cool, I guess. And I'm not just saying that because everyone from start to finish is encased in latex. Or maybe I am. At any rate, if only they could have trimmed some of sex scenes. I know, what's the point of porn without porn? But still, do we really need to see that much fucking? I'm being told that we do. Whatever. Now, where are those pickles at? Yum. No foolin'. I need salt, goddammit!


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Some Kind of Wonderful (Howard Deutch, 1987)

The act of re-watching some of my favourite movies with trans-tinted glasses over the past two or three months has been quite the rewarding experience. Like, did you know Dr. Caligari is the ultimate transgender movie? Well, if you didn't, you need to watch it again. It's so trans, it's ridiculous. Anyway, it's also been quite the horrifying experience, as some of the films are just plain awful. Now, Some Kind of Wonderful (a.k.a. Ist Sie Nicht Wunderbar) isn't close to being awful, but watching it again recently (in widescreen for the first time ever) was kind of awkward. And I think you all know what I'm about to say next. That's right, the amount of heterosexual stalking in this movie is insane. Every time you see a character doing something, you should always assume that another character is leering at them from a safe distance. What was once a lighthearted, John Hughes-approved romp, is now a dark, twisted movie about a socially maladjusted auto mechanic who exploits his trans-lesbian gal pal in order facilitate the entry of his erect penis into the vaginal cavity of a leggy redhead. While that might sound like quite the leap in tone, it's not. The movie hasn't changed one iota since it came out in 1987. It's me who's different. And I'm not going to sit idly by and let this movie's pro-stalker, pro-entitlement stance slide. Of course, I'm kinda kidding around. But part of me is dead serious. Some Kind of Wonderful is a dangerous movie.


If you think about it. Unpopular high school senior, Keith Nelson (Eric Stoltz), is basically a serial rapist/killer in training. Guilty over his desire to rape and murder a popular classmate named Amanda Jones (Lea Thompson), Keith pretends to attempt suicide everyday while walking home from his after school job at a garage.


His does this by walking in front of a moving train, but then stepping aside at the last minute. To give his psuedo-suicide attempt more significance, the industrial pop of Propaganda blasts on the soundtrack. Oh, and as with the majority of John Hughes' (teen) movies, the music heard throughout the production is outstanding (more on that later).


And not only does Keith time his train dodge perfectly, he manages to time it so he arrives at the home of Amanda Jones just as she's saying goodbye to her boyfriend, Hardy Jenns (Craig Sheffer), who is a giant dickwad.


Since he doesn't have the nerve to manhandle Amanda's organic structure, Keith takes out his frustrations on Laura (Maddie Corman), his younger sister, by physically abusing her. When Laura tries to complain to her parents, they simply shrug it off.


Her younger sister, Cindy (Candace Cameron), might be able to help Laura. But unfortunately, she's clearly deranged... in 1987 terms. If Cindy was around now, she would be a productive member of society; she believes in self-care and seems to give a shit about the environment (something unheard of in 1987). But this isn't now. So, Keith's reign of terror continues unabated.


In order to better familiarize himself with his victim, Keith sketches Amanda in full view of that giant dickwad Hardy, who is justifiably annoyed by this creepy ass display.


Realizing that Keith must be stopped at any cost, Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson), a staunch yet stealth trans-lesbian, decides to pretend that she's a heterosexual trans-woman who has a crush on him.


While most of the rubes who go to this high school buy the fact that Watts is a heterosexual trans-woman, Duncan (Elias Koteas), an affable skinhead (he's a punk with a shaved head), doesn't... buy it, and nearly blows Watts' cover by outing her in front of Keith, and a smattering of Goths and Metalheads.




Since serial rapists/murderers don't really have any use for college, Keith repeatedly shuts down his father's (John Ashton) multiple attempts to get him to "buckle down," and choose a college to attend once he finishes high school.



In the movie's most disturbing scene, Keith gets in trouble on purpose (he pulls the school's fire alarm). You see, the plan is to get sent to detention. I know, that doesn't sound like much of a plan. But the reason he does this is because he thinks Amanda is going to be there (while stalking her, he learns that Amanda has been given detention). Little does he know, but Amanda, no doubt using the shapeliness of her killer gams, manages to sweet talk her way out of serving any detention.



Finding it difficult to suppress her lesbian desire, Watts struggles to keep her girl cock under wraps. Watching her covet Amanda's femininity in the girls locker room was quite the eye-opener, and, not to mention, relatable af. I mean, who among us hasn't looked at Lea Thompson and said: I want to be her. I want her hair. I want her skin. I want her body. I want her everything. Am I right? Of course I'm right.


The look on Watts' face when Keith finally makes his move on Amanda says it all. She just let a vicious psychopath get his hooks into the woman she swore to protect. It's tragic.


As you might expect, this simple act upsets the balance of the universe, as the entire school's social order is thrown into disarray.


Will Watts be able to stop Keith before he rapes and murders Amanda Jones? And how long will she be able keep the fact that she's a trans-lesbian a secret? It's hard to say, as the film offers no easy answers. I mean, will Watts have to masquerade as a trans-woman who digs a cishet man for the rest of her life?


God, I hope not. Look at him! He's not Goth at all. *shudders*

  
Speaking of Goth, the film's soundtrack might open with an industrial-tinged pop classic. But make no mistake, Some Kind of Wonderful is a Goth movie. Well, Goth pop. Or, better yet, Goth pop-lite. Three of the movie's key songs are performed by bands/artists who are super-Gothy.


Sadly, Flesh for Lulu (veterans of the Batcave scene) and The March Violets (veterans of the Leeds scene - the same scene that spawned The Sisters of Mercy) were not as Goth when this movie came out. Meaning, what you are hearing from them is basically watered-down Goth. Which is a damn shame. All that's missing from the OST is a song by Gene Loves Jezebel, who are another great example of a Goth band who slowly turned pop as the '80s progressed (they went from "Shaving My Neck" to "Desire" within the span of three short years).


In case you're wondering... Yes, I consider Charlie Sexton's "Beat's So Lonely" to be Goth. Okay, it's Goth-adjacent, but still... At any rate, "Beat's So Lonely" is probably my fave song from the movie as of right now.


As for a favourite character. I'm torn between Maddie Corman's Laura and Elias Koteas' Duncan. Anytime these two are onscreen the film seems to come alive. Plus, they're hilarious and are the only ones who didn't give off a stalker-ish vibe.


Oh, and that whole subplot that involves Keith spending all his hard earned money on a pair of earrings to give to Amanda Jones was just plain stupid. I mean, I can see spending it on electrolysis or laser hair removal (I've read that doing a bit of both can be quite effective). You know, something worthwhile. But earrings?!? What the fuck, Keith. You bland, totally unhinged, creepy as fuck, non-Goth motherfucker.



Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to piss like a racehorse (damn these fuckin' titty skittles).