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Monday
Jul132015

Monday Movie Meme: Bar Hopping!

In giving credit to the sponsors who made it possible for this year's qFLIX film festival to bring an excellent program of international stories to Philadelphia's LGBT community, including Tavern on Camac, U bar and The Tavern restaurant, this week's Monday Movie Meme is about leading ladies and leading men congregating at watering holes: Bar Hopping!

Share on your blog or in the comments section, movies featuring scenes that take place in a bar. Here are my selections for this week's Bar Hopping theme, consisting mostly of bar scenes that come to mind when I think of some of the films that premiered at the festival.

Love Jones

An aspiring photographer named Nina orders a glass of white wine at the bar inside of a Chicago jazz lounge, in this romantic drama starring Nia Long, Larenz Tate and Isaiah Washington.

Those People

A painter encounters his first love while hanging with friends at a New York dive bar in this romantic drama about the ability to connect with people, and its contrasting side of the human condition -- never finding that perfect someone to experience true love.

LUV Don't Live Here No More

Longtime friends discuss a public lover's spat, over drinks at a Philly bar in this dramatic narrative about a man who is reluctant to part with the way his life and relationships were before he became severely ill.

Beautiful Something

A published writer interrupts his casual lover's plans to hook up with someone else at a bar in this romantic drama about eternal questions concerning sex, art, love and identity.

All Yours

Co-workers share drinks at a bar during a night out on the town in this romantic comedy drama about the love triangle between an Argentine hustler, a portly Belgian baker and a single mom.

Fourth Man Out

A drunken woman vomits on a car mechanic who’s celebrating his birthday at a bar, in this dramatic comedy about a fun loving group of blue-collar workers in a small town who try to play matchmaker when their buddy comes out of the closet.

What movies have YOU watched that feature bar scenes?

Where was the last bar YOU visited?

Thursday
Jul092015

A qFLIX Foreign Film Showdown - Romance vs. Religion

The documentary 'A Sinner in Mecca,' directed by Parvez Sharma is playing Saturday 5pm at the qFLIX Film Festival.Going to film festivals is like speed dating. There usually comes a time when you must choose between at least two equally promising love interests. It's a fun problem to solve and one that I'm not surprised to be facing at the qFLIX film festival taking place this week in Philly, now through Sunday, July 12th.

Ever since Joseph Graham's romantic drama Beautiful Something set this summer attraction in motion, the 2015 qFlix program lineup has remained so strong that I have yet to come across a movie I didn't enjoy watching. For those of you who like foreign films, there are some tough choices to make as the festival schedule gets busier by the hour, complete with parties at nearby taverns and Q&A sessions with filmmakers.

Among the candidates are Parvez Sharma's documentary A Sinner in Mecca playing at The Prince Theater while husband-wife directors Israel Cardenas and Laura Amelia Guman's romantic drama Sand Dollars lights up the screen at The University of the Arts' Caplan Theater. Both East Coast Premieres, these Centerpiece Films are showing at 5pm on Saturday. So, which one gets the dinner date? This is a tough call since each movie looks like it has a lot to offer audiences. Shot in the U.S., India and Saudi Arabia, A Sinner in Mecca follows Sharma as he embarks on his Hajj pilgrimage, the greatest accomplishment and aspiration within Islam.

Israel Cardenas and Laura Amelia Guman's romantic drama 'Sand Dollars' is playing Saturday 5pm at the qFLIX Film Festival. The journey for Sharma, a gay muslim, is risky because filming is forbidden in Saudi Arabia and homosexuality is punishable by death. This documentary is described by Sharma as telling the story of Islam "like it has never been told before, having endured the biggest jihad there is -- the struggle with the self."
Shot in the Dominican Republic, Argentina and Mexico, Sand Dollars is about an older wealthy European woman's enchantment with a young Dominican girl trying to escape poverty. qFlix describes this unconventional story as involving "turmoil and entanglements over issues of class, money, control, power, jealousy, possessiveness, inequality and exploitation."

To me, the appeal of A Sinner in Mecca comes in part from it being a dangerous Middle Eastern documentary that a man risked his life to make. One the flip side, I find Sand Dollars  to also be worth watching, not just because of it being a Latin American narrative about a complex relationship rarely told on the big screen, but also because it is among a very limited selection of lesbian films playing at this year's qFlix festival. Still, much like finding a romantic partner, everyone has their own preferences in movies.

WATCH the movie trailers here and decide: 

Which of these two qFlix selections is the best match for YOU?

Tickets are available online at qflixphilly.com and at the Box Office!

 

Sunday
Jul052015

Sunday Synopsis: 52 Weeks to Live, Technical Hurdles and Movie Snacks

@MadlabPostOver the years I've made New Year's resolutions but didn't consider them to be “resolutions.” They were more like mental notes comprised of broken promises to myself that spilled over from the previous 365 days and rarely changed....make more money, be more productive, work smarter, be happier, be nicer to my mother, and overall be a different and better version of myself than I was in years past.

Mostly, however, I resolved to doing something big and life-changing. It must be something so epically awesome that I would finally be able to look back on my life when New Year's Eve rolled around again, and be proud of what I accomplished and who I became. This rarely, if ever happened and is an unfortunately reality of my tendency to approach end-of-year moments with a sense of disappointment at all that I lost, all that I missed out on and all that did not get done.

So this year, I decided to do something different by vowing to myself that I would just let go of the wheel and live life on a whim. No goals. No resolutions. Just going with the flow of wherever the day takes me. That way, I would lower the risk of being disappointed at the end, right?! By mid-January, however, I became anxious because it felt like I was walking around aimlessly with no care in the world…which may seem ideal in theory but as it turns out, all this does it make you bored as hell. So this New Year's declaration of freedom from concrete goals  led to apathy; the transition was too extreme and laid back for me. So I chucked that plan in favor of one that gives me a sense of direction without having to worry about whether certain things get done or not. This plan, vow or whatever it shall be called, is to live like I will be dead in a year.

Storyboard frames I worked on a while ago for short video assignments.Wanting to embark on a 52 week project that would make me excited about life led me to several possibilities. I considered writing poems, drawing pictures, making mini-movies or completing several television episodes in 52 weeks and even doing random jobs like Sean Aiken did but none of these ideas felt like they would stick. Most importantly, they appeared to be focused on a single quest of sorts that might not even matter to me by the time it's all said and done. So, I decided to make my 52 week project about doing the best with what I have.

Rather than chasing a particular career-oriented goal or pursuing life-affirming goal, I intend to basically figure out what would truly matter to me if my doctor told me I would be kicking the bucket in 365 days, and in turn focus on the things that I want to do before I die. What would make me as content on my deathbed as Maggie in Million Dollar Baby was following one of her critical hospital visits? That is the question I aim to answer during such a fairly short period of time. To some this may seem like a morbid way to approach the day but it's the only thing I can think of that will give me the kick in the butt that will lead me toward taking action and not giving in to the bullshit that gets us sidetracked on whatever we want to make of our life. Plus, I've been on a path to prepare for death for some time since realizing how much our society is made up of millions of people who are either in denial of or fear (or both) of their eventual demise.

I just want to speed up my awareness so that I don't waste more time and look back on my life with anger, disappointment and sorrow every time New Year's Eve rears its burdensome head. While I understand that for some people, birthdays also come with a lot of mental and emotional turmoil, it doesn't really matter what occasion sparks a sudden sense of urgency, reflection and regret....they’re all in the way of peace and happiness. This reminds me of a book I read in 2012 called One Year to Live by Stephen Levine -- one of my most favorite pieces of non-fiction. During that year I also read Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl and later recorded a video, discussing Levine's book, plans for this blog going forward as well as the state of my outlook on where I was at that time and much gratitude to those of you who read this blog.

Clock image courtesy of Niklas RhöseAlthough I could not bring myself to post the whole video here, for a few reasons, I'm adding a shortened clip about the book. It’s funny how we like to put off the reality that we won't live forever. I began my 52 week project in June after pushing it back for some abstract date in the future when it seemed more convenient for me. Aren't we so lucky to have the luxury of believing that there will always be time to get started on a task?!

It sounds fine and dandy except there isn't an infinite amount of time for anyone on this earth so I deliberately wrote down reminders of this project so I can start counting the days, or weeks rather, that I have left to live out my life. It was a Friday, June 5th. Up until then, I didn't think I was ready. I wanted to wait until my hair was washed, until the laundry was done, until my meal planning was underway and until I had the morning ritual, daily practice and business tips that have been working on in the bag.

But if I kept waiting until the right time or the perfect time, I will not only have delayed the act of "living" life as opposed to being philosophical about it, waiting would also cause me to end up looking back at my life on New Year's Eve 2015 and wondering, yet again, where all the time went. There came a time in June when I had to stop playing games and face this thing head on, regardless of whether I was ready to do so or not. That's the thing about time. It's always moving. We either have to move with it or we'll get left behind. Either way, the world turns and we'll be sure to miss out if we're not paying attention. Many people are hit hard by this realization on their deathbed.

(Some of) The video I recorded in 2012:

Just looking back at the last month, I wasted a lot of time in June. That is unnecessary. When put in the perspective of having 52 weeks to live, that's four weeks and 30 days already gone, which leaves around 47 weeks remaining. The clock is ticking. What am I going to get into during this time? Whatever I feel like being involved in. Although I still haven't zeroed in on all I’d like to experience before my 52 weeks have come to a close, I do know that my actions, thoughts and behavior should be predicated on one simple question: Is this the last thing I want to be doing?

My year-long death sentence will go by much smoother and be more fulfilling if I do things I want to do and not do anything that I don't want to do. It is such a simple concept that a lot of people understand and agree with but, unfortunately, do not put into practice and I am one of these people. That all must change. How many things do you do in a week that you really would much rather not do? I'd be willing to bet there are at least one or two activities or habits that you would love to drop. Lucky for me, blogging is one of the things that I do want to do and so this will remain until it doesn't anymore.

I like blogging, discussing movies and different subjects with people and I like the feedback that I've gained from doing so as well as the new things I've learned from readers who leave insightful comments here. So of course, that's why I'm aggravated at the computer difficulties I've experienced since Spring that have worsened, making it harder for me to blog as well as I would like. Among the items on my editorial calendar for this is a new series about movie theater concessions; I planned to run the series over the course of one week. Unfortunately, the computer I use to blog on is usually as slooooow as snails, which makes the research, writing of several drafts, formatting the final piece and publishing the post, a much longer process. Sometimes it feels like I'm using dial-up….even when offline.

The snack themed week is now a long-running series titled "Popcorn & Paninis."Because the computer goes at its own pace, I have to adjust the way I blog and that means this will have to be converted into an ongoing series of posts that go up as they are completed. Hence, what was Snack Week is now Popcorn & Paninis. On one hand, this also makes room for us to discuss various topics involving food as it relates to the motion picture industry, beyond the snack counter.

On the flipside, it’s still upsetting to have to drag out something that I’ve been planning for at least two months. There are cell phones that operate much faster than the computer on which I use to blog. That’s bad. Especially since aside from being ridiculously slow, it crashes frequently and turns off abruptly whenever it wants to on other occasions. I know I need a computer. However, I also need some furniture and am planning to travel out of town, so unless some miracle happens, that computer won't be had anytime in the near future. Just know this....new installments to the Popcorn & Paninis series are still in the works and will be posted between this week and the next. Meanwhile, John Legend said it best when he uttered...

We’re just ordinary people. We don’t know which way to go. ‘Cause we’re ordinary people. Maybe we should take it slow!