Sunday, June 29, 2008

Congratulations, Spain

Spain easily beat Germany in the Euro 2008 final, and became worthy winners. Congratulations!

Goal scorer Fernando Torres deserves a holiday at the beach...

Gay parade

Originally uploaded by BjørnS.
Just a short note on today's gay parade in Oslo. It was cool - as always - showing the huge diversity in the GLBT groups. See more photos by clicking on this photo and navigate from there...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Concert: Jay Brannan

Like every other gay man on the planet, I first noticed Jay Brannan as an actor in "Shortbus". He was the one playing guitar in the film, as well as (since you're asking) having real sex.

As he was coming to Oslo to present a new film and to have a concert, I checked out his music on MySpace and his site on facebook. His music is guitar-and-voice melodic pop, and I liked it. (Moreover, he is the cutest singer-songwriter in living memory.) So obviously, I had to go to his concert.

The concert took place on a boat in Oslo's harbour: on the theatre boat "Innvik". The concert venue could probably take 150-200 people - I guess there were about 100 there. Jay played his beautiful songs, talking in between in a self-deprecating manner which was quite charming. (His first line was "I'm Jay Brannan. If you haven't heard of me, it's because nobody has".)

I particularly liked "Housewife" - a wonderful contact ad ("i like to wash the dishes/i like to scrub the floors/don’t mind doing his laundry/what are boyfriends for") - and "Soda Shop" but also several others. Another one I liked ("Goddamned") was written in Israel with lyrics that some might probably find provocative ("virgins don't have babies" and things like that...) - it's the title song on his album which is out soon.

His lyrics are published on "Great Depression Publishing", by the way... :-)

One of the highlights, if judged by the audience's reaction, was Jay's cover version of the Norwegian classic "Bæ, bæ, lille lam". The impressive part was that he had actually taken the effort to learn the Norwegian pronounciation very well. (I see a strange scenario here: some Norwegian getting the "good news and bad news": "The good news is you will get to spend an evening with Jay Brannan. The bad news is that it will be spent teaching him the lyrics of "Bæ, bæ, lille lam"... :-)

Well, I spent an hour with Jay Brannan. He spent the evening playing great songs to me, and I spent it listening, enjoying it and laughing... A nice concert.

Jay's homepage

Movie: Ghost Writer

"I read the manuscript, and thought that if I don't make this, noone else will", Alan Cumming said in his Q&A session after the screening of "Ghost Writer" at The 18th Oslo Gay and Lesbian Film Festival tonight. That is, maybe, not surprising.

It is an interesting story, but at points weak to the extreme. And the movie doesn't get better by the theatrical style in parts of the movie, in my mind. But there are also parts that are quite good.

The movie tells the story of John Vandermark, who has a habit of inviting young, aspiring artists (aren't we all?) to stay in his house. What he wants back is a feeling that he has part in their success - and some sex, of course. "Sebastian St. Germain", however, doesn't seem to give either - and is he even a writer? And is that really his real name?

Suddenly, we are witnessing a bondage/torture scene of which large parts would have been better placed on the floor of the cutting room. My advice: see some other film instead.

Suffering Man's Charity (2007)
Directed by Alan Cumming

Main actors:
Alan Cumming as John Vandermark
David Boreanaz as Sebastian St. Germain

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Movie: Clandestinos

I'm having trouble deciding what to think of this movie. I believe that is because the movie is a bit uneven. At times I like it a lot - careful portrayals of vulnerable, young souls. At other times, I don't like it at all, where the same young souls do irrational actions that seem out of character.

The movie starts with three young guys escaping prison, one of which (Xabi) wants to be an ETA terrorist. He tries to get in touch with his contact in ETA, but also tries to get one of his friends (Driss) to help him do something on his own. The ending is actually quite exciting and unpredictable.

A website writes that "And yes, there is the obligatory and very pleasurable shower scene. (...) With plenty of hot Spanish eye candy and a rapidly moving tale, Clandestinos will surely be one of the most enjoyable films in the Festival." Not too far off the mark, actually.

Clandestinos (2007)
Directed by Antonio Hens

Main actors:
Israel Rodríguez as Xabi
Mehroz Arif as Driss
Hugo Catalán as Joel

Monday, June 23, 2008

Movie: Holding Trevor

What this movie does quite well, is to portray the insensitivity to other people's feelings that sometimes result from being in a bit of a mess yourself. Trevor has a drug addict as a boyfriend/former boyfriend, has a friend who's the stereotypical gay promiscuous cynic, a female roommate with no life of her own and a no-brain job. Then suddenly everything starts happening at once, and Trevor doesn't even know who Trevor is in everything.

Okay, I know this don't seem like a wonderful film, but it did work quite well. And it's not only because Jay Brannan is quite handsome or because he was in Oslo today and that I'll go to his concert tomorrow and he therefore seems more "real" than he otherwise would. But maybe it helped. (Check out his Myspace page).

Holding Trevor (2007)
Directed by Rosser Goodman

Main actors:
Brent Gorski as Trevor
Jay Brannan as Jake

Movie: A beautiful mind

What a terrible time to be hallucinating and paranoid - a time in which there was so much to be paranoid about, and in which medical science was so terrible on that point.

This film, based on the life of Nobel prize winning mathematician John Nash, gives a very strong impression of what it is like to have mental illnesses. He is of course also interesting as a major figure in the development of game theory.

A solid film, although even with quality all around, it does come across as a tad over-long.

A Beautiful Mind (2001)
Directed by Ron Howard

Main actors:
Russell Crowe as John Nash
Jennifer Connelly as Alicia Nash
Paul Bettany as Charles
Ed Harris as Parcher

Now Or Never - Tom Stereo

Here's the "Oslo Gay Pride Official Song 2008". Not really my style of music, but at least it's worth watching...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Naked at Storås

Here's an interview from last year's Storåsfestival, where a whole bunch of people decided to be naked. Notice how some of the nude guys tried to "steal" the interviewer's bad during the interview...

Movie: Porn Star?

This is a very fascinating documentary about "Vanessa", the girlfriend of Norwegian porn celebrity Thomas "Rocco" Hansen. "Rocco" is most famous for making porn movies with Norwegian "russ" girls - 18-year olds celebrating their end of school.

The movie shows clearly lots of problematic areas:
  • The way in which the girls and boys are persuaded to take part while partying, doing things they may regret for years.
  • "Vanessa"'s position - trying to convince herself and others that it is totally okay to be the girlfriend of a porn producer and actor, but not managing to convince herself in the end.
  • The dream of becoming famous vs the reality of the everyday reactions of friends and family.
  • The acceptance of "Rocco"'s behaviour among young people - especially men.

    "Vanessa" is portrayed as a very likeable girl, who has, by the end of the movie, grown up and started to think of the consequences of her actions. I will remember her for a long time.

    Pornostjerne? (2007)
    Directed by John Sullivan

    Main actors:
    Thomas "Rocco" Hansen
  • Movie: Otto; or Up with Dead People

    Otto is, apparently, a zombie. Unfortunately, the society has turned against zombies, and are hunting them down. Luckily for Otto, he runs into a director who is making a political gay zombie-porn movie, where he is perfect for the part.

    The movie is so far out there that it is actually quite amusing at times. It certainly is not everyone's cup of tea - men are killing each other and then fucking, using the wounds as extra erogenous zones, for instance.

    Personally, I found the film a bit refreshing after seeing too many happy endings lately. However, partly it actually managed to be quite boring - which is perhaps surprising, given the blood and shock effects used.

    (Bruce La Bruce also made "The Raspberry Reich", which was at the festival a few years ago. That was also mostly boring, but memorable.)

    Official site

    Otto; or Up with Dead People (2008)
    Directed by Bruce La Bruce

    Main actors:
    Jey Crisfar as Otto

    Movie: Breakfast with Scot

    Two very "straight-acting" gays have to take responsibility of a 11-year-old boy - who acts like a flaming queen. Should they try to teach the child to act more "normal" or should they learn from the kid not to be so f**king "normal" themselves?

    I enjoyed this film a lot - the people are charming and the problems feel real. The reason for the low score is that I absolutely hated the ending - but I won't go into details on that here, of course.

    Breakfast with Scot (2007)
    Directed by Laurie Lynd

    Main actors:
    Cameron Ansell as Finn O'Brien
    Benz Antoine as Greg Graham
    Noah Bernett as Scot

    7 short movies

    Oslo Gay and Lesbian Film Festival always includes a short film program. I'm ambivalent about short films. On the one side, I think lots of people making full-length movies should have made short films instead, as they simply don't have enough material for a full-length movie. On the other side, I do like to "get to know" the main characters, and many short films end without managing that. Well, here are the shorts this year:

    Traces (2008): A heart-breaking story of a father who only gets to know key information about his son after his son's death. Beautiful. (D: Rachel Zisser)

    Souljah (2007): A short story from the suburbs of London, in which a gang is bullying a schoolboy and his mother - with surprising consequences. (D: Rikki Beadle-Blair)

    The red dress (2008): A funny and touching little story about a woman who desperately needs to get a new dress. The film is a bit too much dependent on the one surprise. (D: Barney Cheng)

    For the love of God (2007): A rather strange animated movie about a man who lives with his mother, but fantasizes about having sex with God. (D: Joe Tucker)

    Mommy's house (2007): A robbery goes terribly wrong as the robbers end up taking shelter in a Mommy's house... Cool at times. (D: Aron Kantor)

    Prada Handbag (2007): A bit overlong (even at 22 minutes), but charming about the girl trying to become a drag queen... (D: Stuart Vauvert)

    The Saddest Boy in the World (2006): A very sad (too sad) movie, with bits of humour in between. Doesn't quite hit the right balance for me. (D: Jamie Travis)

    Fuori Target (2008): A simple, little movie, based on the assumption that you will be surprised in the end. Doesn't work for me. Very short, though (3 minutes). (D: Werther Germondari, Maria Laura Spagnoli)

    Saturday, June 21, 2008

    New from Ewoud Broeksma

    Ewoud Broeksma keeps photographing athletes in and out of their sports gear. The newest addition is hurdle runner Tim Verbeek.

    New marriage law celebrated

    Originally uploaded by BjørnS.
    Today, the new marriage law was celebrated in Oslo. The minister for culture had decided to make the new Oslo Opera available for the party, and the mayor of Oslo paid the bill.

    It was a very nice party, with good music (both opera and pop), and good speeches reminding us of what a historical day this was. Finally, gays and heteroes are equal before the law.


    (In the photo, Oslo Fagottkor is on stage.)

    Friday, June 20, 2008

    Movie: Love and other disasters

    Love and other disasters was the opening film of this year's Oslo Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. As always, the opening film was a light-hearted comedy with beautiful people.

    This movie manages to include a funny dialogue in a funny story, while keeping the interest in what may happen next. At the same time, it comments on people's prejudices - what happens when people act on them instead of trying to get to know people?


    Love and other disasters (2006)
    Directed by Alek Keshishian

    Main actors:
    Brittany Murphy as Emily 'Jacks' Jackson
    Matthew Rhys as Peter Simon
    Santiago Cabrera as Paolo Sarmiento

    Sunday, June 15, 2008

    Movie: Crazy Summer

    The internet movie database suggests "Beautiful thing" and "Y tu mamá también" if you like this movie, and that's not a bad way of saying what kind of movie this is. Two 16-year olds spend the summer together - just as they have been doing every other summer. But this summer is different, as girls enter the picture. And are they really sure that girls are what they're after?

    This is surely not the first movie with this kind of plot, and for the first half, there was very little - if anything - original. In the second half, however, things started to get a bit less predictable, and therefore a lot more entertaining.

    Therefore I recommend this movie - although Fernando Ramallo (playing Dani) has an uncanny resemblance with Eric Mabius (Ugly Betty's Daniel Meade), which made me lose my concentration at times... :-)

    Krámpack (2000)
    Directed by Cesc Gay

    Main actors:
    Fernando Ramallo as Dani
    Jordi Vilches as Nico

    Saturday, June 14, 2008

    Euro 2008

    One fun thing about watching the international championships, is to get to know "new" players (to me, that is - which means players that are great in non-English soccer teams). Today, I got to know Roman Pavlyuchenko, who was amazingly quick, but also amazingly inaccurate when he (quickly) was faced with an opportunity to shoot. Russia still beat Greece, and Greece is out of the tournament.

    Earlier today, David Villa gave Spain a deserved win against Sweden.

    So far, it's been a wonderful tournament, and both Netherlands and Portugal has done wonderful things with the ball. I'm looking forward to the rest of the matches!

    Friday, June 13, 2008

    Kafka and nudity

    An article in A-magasinet gives quotes from Franz Kafka's diaries. I only knew his darker side, such as in "The Trial". However, the diaries from July 1912 gives a different impression. On July 9th, he writes:
    Two beautiful Swedish boys with long legs are so well-shaped and elastic that the best would be to lick them with the tongue.

    And on July 15th:
    Modelled for dr. Schiller. Without swimming trunks. Exhibitionistic feeling. Later read about prostitution in Flaubert. The naked body has a huge significance in the general impression of a person.
    (my translations from Norwegian)

    How nice, that he had the good fortune of getting to know some beautiful Swedish boys... :-)

    Wednesday, June 11, 2008

    Finally, I may marry!

    A clear majority (84-41) in Norway's Odelsting (one of the two houses in the Norwegian parliament) supported the unified marriage act today. The only thing remaining now, is for the Lagting to do the same thing next week. That is usually considered a formality.

    The new law means that the previous arrangement, with a separate and more limited law covering gay "partnerships", will be replaced by this common law. This also means that gay couples will be considered as adoptive parents and that lesbian women will have the same right to artificial insemination as heterosexual women.

    The far-right party "Fremskrittspartiet" (Progress party) and the conservative Christian party "Kristelig Folkeparti" (Christian People's Party) were the only political parties against the new law.

    For me personally, this means that I am finally allowed to marry - the timing is quite marvellous, as it's less than three years since I met the man of my life...

    See Dagbladet's and VG's coverage.

    Congratulations to every Norwegian - and I hope many other countries will follow in years to come.

    Sunday, June 08, 2008

    Movie: Happy Feet

    If you want to see one penguin movie this year... then ask yourself "Why?"

    Okay, penguins are cute. This movie is based on the premise that if given a sufficiently cute character and some passable music on the soundtrack, you won't notice that the story line is the same as in a zillion other movies.

    Sadly, that didn't work for me. As I know very well that I sometimes dislike movies that I would in other circumstances have liked, I won't rule out that I might have liked it if I had been in an awfully good mood. I don't find it very likely, though.

    (Why give a rating of 4 to a movie I didn't like. Well, as I said, the music was okay at times. And Mumble is cute. And there are even a few funny jokes thrown in...)

    Happy Feet (2006)
    Directed by George Miller

    Main actors:
    Elijah Wood as Mumble (voice)

    Saturday, June 07, 2008

    Gay sex or promiscuous women?

    The Norwegian site Side 2 cites a Norwegian study in which 8.4 percent of male music festival visitors claim to have had sex in the festival area, while only 2.6 percent of females say the same.

    It's always fun when answers vary in this way. If taken at face value, there is only two reasonable interpretations for this: either the men have sex with each other (more frequently than having sex with women), or many men have sex with the same woman.

    While gay sex is certainly not uncommon, and while there are certainly a few women who have sex with several men at music festival, the real reason for these numbers is probably the usual one: men brag, women are modest. Or to put it another way: men answer based on what they wish to be the case, while women answer based on what they would tell their mother.

    Pakistani ambassador confused about terrorism

    Adresseavisen has published a drawing showing a terrorist who is using his religion as an excuse for his terrible actions. The artist's stated purpose (as I have understood the interviews I've heard) in making the drawing is to say that we must not accept terrorists' claims that they are representing the religion of islam. Therefore, by critizising terrorists, we are (obviously) not critizising islam.

    Today, Pakistan's ambassador in Norway is reportedly saying that "Muslim societies all around the world are offended [by this drawing]. Therefore this is an act of terrorism."

    I do not think it wise to use such language. Terrorism, in the usual use of the word, has taken thousands of lives during the past few years, and has (as the artist has pointed out) been associated with islam in many minds - just as Northern Ireland or the basques have been associated with terrorism in earlier years. To use the word terrorism when talking about a drawing, is to imply that violence is less of a problem than it is. To naive readers, it may even suggest that the ambassador does not take (real) terrorism seriously.