Sunday, July 24, 2016

Tango of Perversion (Kostas Karagiannis, 1973)

Hey, would you look at that. This film, by showing us a close-up of a Pennsylvania license plate, is actually trying to convince us that it takes place in... well, Pennsylvania. That's funny, because the film, Tango of Perversion (a.k.a. Tango 2001), is so Greek it hurts. Okay, maybe it's not as Greek as say, oh, I don't know, Zorba The Greek, but it's... (Um, that movie, in truth, is a U.K./Greece co-production, where is Tango of Perversion is full-on Greek.) Whatever. I'm not going to let the film's lame attempt to trick me into thinking that this movie is anything but Greek dampen my enjoyment of what is a pretty sleazy enterprise. And I mean that as a compliment. Anyway, it was, I must say, refreshing to see a piece of filmed entertainment that boasted characters I admired. In the majority of movies I watch, the people in them are doing crap I don't care about. Talking to each other in a respectful manner, engaging in heterosexual intercourse, saving the galaxy from the forces of evil and/or darkness and not doing shitloads of cocaine, these people make me sick. This flick, however, is chock-full of chronic nail biters, floppy-haired voyeurs, willowy slutbags, needy drug addicts, milfy skanks, suave gigolos, dentally-challenged whores, impotent necrophiliacs, slinky hosebeasts, filthy lesbians and pearl necklace-adorned goddesses. In other words, people I can relate to.

Wait just a gosh darn minute. I just realized that the list of so-called relatable people I just made includes "impotent necrophiliacs." Now, I would like to point out that I, in no way, condone the practice of necrophilia (even the impotent variety). If someone dies, dump their body in the woods. Don't, I repeat, don't, have sex with them. Unless, of course, the person who is about to be dead tells you it's okay. Then have at it, my corpse boning bubala. But otherwise, always dispose of human remains in an orderly fashion. If you find yourself in a bit of a pickle, I suppose it's okay to put the body in a car and push it over a cliff.

Which is exactly the kind of pickle Joachim (Vagelis Voulgaridis) finds himself in on several occasions over the course of this movie. To be fair, I wouldn't call two body-related pickles to be "several." But I think most people will agree that it's more than most people have to deal with during your average week.

Wouldn't you know it, it turns out that Joachim is the impotent necrophiliac I alluded to earlier. And he's a floppy-haired voyeur to boot. Well, at first he was just an impotent voyeur who happened to have floppy hair. It wasn't until his "friend," Steve (Lakis Komninos), a suave gigolo, started accidentally murdering filthy lesbians that Joachim discovered his impotence only applied to the living. Meaning, blood rushes directly to his penis the moment someone shapely dies.

You see, given that Joachim has a swanky pad on the outskirts of town, Steve and Rosita (Dorothy Moore), a filthy lesbian, manipulate him on a regular basis into letting them use his place to shag the women they meet at The Tango nightclub. Completely aware of what Steve and Rosita plan on doing in his home, Joachim has devised a way to watch (and film) their trysts without them knowing it.

Using a one-way mirror, Joachim watches and films Steve and Rosita go at it with a multitude of partners. Things get somewhat complicated when Steve and Rosita want to have sex with the same woman. Angry that Rosita has taken a needy drug addict named Joanna (Erika Raffael) back to Joachim's place, Steve shows up and starts slapping both of them around.

While Joanna manages to run away, Rosita isn't so lucky. While it's obvious that Steve didn't plan on killing Rosita. That's exactly what happens. Instead of calling the police, Steve simply leaves. Cue Joachim's necro-awakening.

Curious to know what Joachim did with Rosita's body (like I said, he just left her there), Steve is shocked to learn that he's playing it cool. Meaning, not only did Joachim not report it to the police, he took it upon himself to get rid of her body. Of course, Joachim doesn't tell Steve that he had sex with Rosita's dead body before he put it in her car and rolled it off a cliff.

This brings up an important question: Who's worse? A man who accidentally murders lesbians, or a man who has sex with said accidentally murdered lesbians after their dead? I have to admit, that's a tough one. Both are kinda scum, but in totally different ways.

On the one hand, Steve represents the worst the 1970s has to offer. Smug, arrogant and totally pompous, Steve treats everyone around him like garbage. While Joachim is shy and nerdy, the complete opposite. That being said, I don't know that many nerds who wear brown leather and crushed purple velvet suits. To be fair, nerds were different during the 1970s. In fact, besides a few social deficiencies here and there, nerds weren't all that dissimilar from normal people back in the 1970s.

Remember earlier when I said that this film was, and I quote: "Chock-full of willowy slutbags, milfy skanks,  dentally-challenged whores, slinky hosebeasts and pearl necklace-adorned goddesses"? Well, I was actually talking about the same person. Now, you're probably thinking to yourself: Damn, this woman has to be pretty freakin' special to be described as a "milfy skank" and a "slinky hosebeast." Well, Jennifer Wynne is pretty freakin' special.

Playing, oh, let's call her, "Magda," Jennifer Wynne's classy sugar mama character is a big fan of Steve's cock, and wants to feel its indisputable hardness pounding inside her vagina on a semi-regular basis. Oh, and how do I know she's "classy"? Um, she wears backless dresses in the middle of the day. Duh. And, of course, these day time backless dresses sport humongous slits.

Despite her piss poor taste in cougar hawks (her lilac-laden vice grip masquerading as a pussy is totally unworthy of Steve's fleshy trouser abomination), Jennifer Wynne still manages to ooze class and sophistication. Unfortunately, Tango of Perversion was Jennifer Wynne's only film appearance. I know, I usually prefer it when actors only do one movie. But I need more Jennifer Wynne.

I mean, look at her. She's fucking fabulous!

Taking place at a time when... Wait a minute. Have I mentioned that this film is good and junk? (Sort of... I guess.) Just checking. It's just that I sometimes get carried away talking about a particular aspect of a film, that I forget to mention if the film is worthwhile or not. Well, it's clear that Tango of Perversion is worthwhile. For starters, the film is called "Tango of Perversion." Seriously, though, if you like Jess Franco and early 1970s Euro-fashions, there's a lot for you to love in this movie.

Quick transition update: Other than my brain continuing to flood my system with copious amounts of fear and doubt, there's nothing new to report (which isn't that shocking... I am, after all, the shyest person in the known universe - I plan on coming out to my mother in 2021 ;)). Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks to all the people who left positive comments on my Orlando review (the hardest review I have ever written). If you want to stay updated on my progress, you're probably better off checking my tumblr, Radioactive Lingerie (which is not, by the way, a porn blog... never has been... it's a fashion, aesthetics, Pac-Man puffy sticker and music blog). #Personal #Living Authentically #Transgender Stuff

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Orlando (Sally Potter, 1992)

Warning: This review may contain ramblings of a deeply personal nature. Viewer discretion is advised. I've always wondered what compelled me to see Orlando three times in theatres back in the early 1990s. Of course, my first trip to the multiplex wasn't that unusual (I was quite the avid cinema-goer back then - if it looked halfway decent, I'd go see it). But what prompted me go a second and a third time? The lavish costumes? Hmm, maybe. The detailed production design and stunning cinematography? Perhaps. How 'bout that haunting score? Nah. Don't get me wrong, it's good. But I don't think the score was the catalyst that lead me to keep coming back. Oh, I know. It must have been the otherworldly presence of the great Tilda Swinton. After all, she is amazing in this (and she better be, the talented Scot appears in every single scene). Or did it, and this might be a bit of a long-shot, have something to do with the fact that the titular character, who starts off the film as an English nobleman, wakes up one morning to discover that their gender is now female? Well, hot dog! We have a wiener! The sight of Tilda Swinton switching genders from male to female seemingly overnight must have been a liberating sight for me and others who have always felt deep down that they were meant to be women. (Wait. What the fuck?) In case you didn't know, I've been struggling with gender identity my entire life. In recent years, I've noticed a sudden uptick in my desire to begin my transition from male to female and start living more authentically (the desire to transition right this minute is as intense as its ever been). But every time I attempt to do so, I find myself paralyzed by my old friends, fear and anxiety.

The sad truth is, it looks like my childhood obsession with Boy George (I still can't believe my parents allowed a ten year-old "boy" to adorn "his" bedroom wall with hundreds of pictures of Boy George... it baffles the mind), my days as a teenage crossdresser ("I Was a Teenage Crossdresser," now there's a movie I would watch), that brief period when I wore black leggings with black shorts and Doc Martens to goth-industrial clubs (much to the chagrin of my so-called friends - to them it looked like I was wearing pantyhose - they eventually stopped returning my calls) and my predilection for using female avatars whenever playing video games or posting on blogs, message boards and social media will have to be the extent of my flirtation with womanhood. *sniff*

Or will it? Don't tell anyone, but I've started wearing women's clothing again. And if you ask me, there's no better therapy. Seriously, one should never underestimate the healing power of a sequin mini-skirt (just so you know, you can usually find me browsing the skirt aisle at Value Village, a.k.a. Savers, every Tuesday). And thanks to diet and exercise, my body has a slightly feminine appearance to it. In other words, I can still rock a sequin mini-skirt like nobody's business. Oh, and not to brag (even more), but my skinny, relatively blemish-free arms are to die for. And someone told me earlier this year that my hands look like the hands of a woman. Which made me extremely happy (even though I think they were trying to insult me).

However, my patchy five o'clock shadow causes me to experience nightmarish amounts of dysphoria. Meaning, I probably won't be passing as a woman anytime soon. Which is kind of a bummer, as I feel like I'm running out of time and would really like to die live the rest of my life a woman. Or, at the very least, die live the rest of my life as a closer version of what I believe to be my true self.

Let's get back to Orlando for a second, shall we? I'm starting to get depressed (just thinking about not being able to transition makes my eyes expel a strange watery substance). Shifting back to review mode in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. The film must have had a profound impact on my youngish mind when I first saw it. I mean, to change genders by simply waking up in the morning. Think about that. Life would be so much easier. At least for me it would. It should be noted that most of the film's other points about love, poetry, politics, society, sex and birth probably went straight over my head during those initial viewings. That being said, I do pick up new things from the film, which is written and directed by Sally Potter and based on the novel by Virginia Wolf, upon every subsequent screening of the film (I try to watch it at least once a year). It's like a Merchant Ivory Production crossed with a Derek Jarman/Peter Greenaway film, but with a feminist edge and tons of camp-appeal.

Have I mentioned that the film is sumptuous as all get out? No? Well, it is. The scenes that take place entirely on a frozen lake during the reign of King James I are especially sumptuous. The sight of royal servants in impractical clothing skating across the ice is one of the film's more ridiculous fashion moments. Which is saying a lot, as the film seems to repeatedly relish in exposing the impracticality of Western European fashion trends from the 1600s, 1700s and 1800s.

In fact, watching people try to do things other than sit and stand in these outfits is the film's best reoccurring gag. And we're talking men and women in chunky high heel (buckle-adorned) shoes, giant wigs, feathery hats, olive tights, frilly shirts, puffy shirts, ornate blazers, super-wide skirts (hoop petticoats), and ruff collars as far as the eye can see.

The other interesting fashion aspect of the film is that when Lord Orlando (Tilda Swinton) switches to being Lady Orlando (also, of course, played by Tilda Swinton), the transition isn't that far-fetched.

I'd argue that Orlando's clothing as a Lord was more feminine than her Lady outfits. Now, if I had to criticize the film about one thing, it's that we don't get to spend much time with Lady Orlando. Sure, both genders are granted three chapters each (boy mode gets "Love," "Poetry" and Politics" and girl mode gets "Society," "Sex," and "Birth"), but I feel Lady Orlando gets short shrifted (though, the way Sally Potter conveys the passage of time during the Lady Orlando hedge maze sequence is kind of brilliant). That being said, I've always appreciated the film's spry pace, as Orlando never seems to drag. Which is a common criticism leveled at period dramas.

Then again, Orlando isn't your average period drama. Need proof? Tilda Swinton is constantly breaking the forth wall. Quentin Crisp(!) plays Queen Elizabeth I and the film is bookended by Jimmy Somerville of Bronski Beat (his distinctive falsetto opens and closes the film). Oh, and Lothaire Bluteau (Jésus de Montréal) plays a Turkish khan. And get this, Billy Zane's in it! I know, 'nuff said, right?

The film is, to put it bluntly, gorgeousness personified. No film has ever spoken to me this profoundly; it's basically pure bliss. So, yeah. Hold up. Did I just out myself as a trans-woman? I think I just did. Weird. Well, no one reads anymore. That is to say, my secret is probably still safe with me (coming out in a movie review for a movie no one other than me and maybe two other people cares about is rather ingenious, if I do say so myself). If people do end up reading this, so what? I mean, what is gender, anyway? It's meaningless, that's what it is. You know what else is meaningless? Labels. (You go, girl!)

Ha! Ha! Ha! (What's so funny?) It just occurred to me that my name is Yum-Yum; talk about being girly. Speaking of which, I wish there was more Yum-Yum in me out in the real world. As Yum-Yum, who is pretty much the epitome of fearless, forthright and fabulous, would tell my gender dysphoria and all my other hang-ups to go jump in the proverbial lake. At any rate, it would be cooler if it was easier to transition; my AvPD causes me to languish in a perpetual state of self-imposed isolation, so I'm pretty much on my own (what I need is a Trans-Helper, which is kind of like Hamburger Helper, except, instead of helping hamburger, they help Trans people). And it would be even cooler if I stopped making excuses (Wah! I'm too old... or... I won't make an attractive woman... Boo-hoo!). Confused. Terrified. And filled with doubt. Yay!

Oh, and before I go. I'd like to give a quick shout-out to all the people who have transitioned and are happier for doing so. You inspire me and give me hope that one day I'll be able to join you. Until that day comes, I just want to say that I love you all. *hugs*  

Sunday, July 10, 2016

King of New York (Abel Ferrara, 1990)

Since my opinion regarding the quality of Abel Ferrara's King of New York might get lost in a half baked haze of  nonsensical wordplay revolving around leggy floozies. I think I should state right up front that this movie rules. Sure, the extended gun battle/car chase sequence goes on a little too long, but the film is sexy, stylish and wonderfully violent. Okay, now that we got that out of the way, let's talk leggy floozies, shall we? After showing Christopher Walken's charismatic crime boss, Frank White, being released from prison, we're whisked inside some kind of bordello. The film has barely got underway, and I'm already up to my ears in leggy floozies. And not only that, one of the leggy floozies is wearing white stockings. At first I thought the leggy floozy in white stockings was played by Phoebe Legere (The Toxic Avenger Part II)–you know, since I've yet to see her in a movie where she doesn't wear white stockings. However, it's obvious that Phoebe Legere, who is credited as "Bordello Woman," is the floozy sitting at the piano. Well, whoever plays the leggy floozy in the white stockings in the bordello scene near the beginning of King of New York, I thought she did a bang up job at... being a leggy floozy. I mean, I really got the sense that she was leggy (the white stockings helped) and that she was a floozy (she's slobbering all over some pimp like he was a chew toy).

It should be noted that when the pimp goes outside to make a phone call at a nearby phone booth, he's gunned down by a gang of thugs. It would seem that the gunmen work for Frank White, who is already making his presence felt (he's only been out of prison for a few hours).

While I'll miss the leggy floozies who worked for the pimp who was filled full of lead, we're quickly introduced to Raye (Theresa Randle) and Melanie (Carrie Nygren), Frank's go-to leggy floozies. Or are they? Don't get me wrong, they're definitely leggy, especially Raye. But I wouldn't call Raye and Melanie floozies. And I wouldn't even call them gangster's molls. No, the services Raye and Melanie provide Frank go way beyond anything I've seen women do in a movie of this type.

Usually relegated to lounging sexily in the background, women are rarely given much to do in movies about gangsters. Well, I think it's safe to say that Frank White isn't your typical gangster. And this irregular approach also applies to the women in his life.

Integral to the day-to-day operation of his criminal empire, which he runs out of a suite in the Plaza Hotel, Faye and Melanie act as his Frank's bodyguards and do his bookkeeping on a pair of 1989-era computers. If you're wondering which of them Frank is fucking, don't be crude. If you must know, he ain't fucking either of them. No, Frank is actually dating Jennifer (Janet Julian), who also happens to be his lawyer. So, you see, women play a big role in Frank's life. Which, I must say, is something I found quite refreshing.

Some might argue that the pronounced role that women play gives the film an unrealistic air. I say, poppycock to that. If you want to see a bunch of guys doing gangster shit in and around New York City, watch one of them Martin Scorsese flicks, or better yet, try the Godfather films. If you want to watch a New York City gangster movie that has a slightly oft-kilter vibe to it, watch an Abel Ferrara film. Hell, even the two episodes of Miami Vice he directed ("The Dutch Oven" and "The Home Invaders") have a slightly oft-kilter vibe about them.

However, and this should come as no surprise, the bulk of this particular film's oft-killer vibe can be attributed to Christopher Walken, whose performance is... well, it's... you know. Let's just say, it's more Walken-esque than usual. In other words, he glares, he dances (to Schooly-D), he shoots people... repeatedly. It's classic Walken.

The fact that his character is so beloved by the likes of Laurence Fishburne (Jimmy Jump, yo), Giancarlo Esposito and Leonard L. Thomas, who play Frank White's fiercely loyal lieutenants, does nothing but add to the film's already surreal temperament. Oh, and it doesn't hurt that Steve Buscemi plays Test Tube, Frank White's "chemist." I love the scene where Fishburne (whose performance is beyond manic - he can't even order chicken without incident) and Buscemi team up to take down a gang of rival drug dealers. Sadly, Buscemi's character goes AWOL just as Frank is about to consolidate his power.

Oh, did I mention that the leggy floozy in the white stockings from the bordello scene was wearing a peaked cap? I didn't? That's weird. Well, I'm mentioning it now.

Which is also a good time to mention the woman sitting behind Frank and Jennifer at a play. You see, she's wearing a peaked cap as well. Was this a trend or something back then? Either way, I'm digging it.

With the exception of the cops, played by Victor Argo, Wesley Snipes, David Caruso and Frankenhooker's James Lorrinz (I love this guy), everyone in this film is impeccably dressed.

Speaking of Frankenhooker, Lia Chang, who plays one of the hookers (her butt, if memory serves me correctly, becomes a part of "Frankenhooker") is the gangster's moll to a drug dealer named Larry Wong (Joey Chin). Seen at a screening of Nosferatu and again during a shoot-out in a Chinatown alleyway, Lia Chang always has this knowing smirk on his face that churns my butter in the right direction, if you know what I mean.

I almost forgot. Like Raye and Melanie, Lia Chang is no mere leggy floozy. She gets in a back-alley SMG battle with Christopher Walken while wearing a super-tight black mini-dress. And trust me, it's as awesome as it sounds.

Filmed at a time when New York City was still the coolest place on Earth (the spring of 1989), King of New York, despite the cliched subject matter (I'm not a fan of mob/gangster movies - I find their antics to be distasteful, overly macho and boring as fuck), manages to stand out from goombah/gangsta crowd. Anchored by Christopher Walken, and, to a lesser extent, Laurence Fishburne, who both give wonderfully unhinged performances, the film is, like I said earlier, sexy, stylish and violent. Oh, and apparently the word "fuck" is uttered a total of 90 times.