Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Carrey to Letterman: “It is Ok to Be Gay”

Jim Carrey won’t play into homophobia.

On the Late Show last Friday, Letterman asked Carrey about playing gay. Carrey is unwilling to crack jokes at the expense of gay folks, however.

Asked Dave: “And, in terms of a leading man, a heterosexual playing a homosexual, do homosexuals say ‘well, that shouldn’t have been a homosexual’ or do you worry about your image as a heterosexual leading man playing a homosexual?”

Replied Carrey: “Boy, we haven’t grown at all, have we? We haven’t grown at all…. We’re still children in the schoolyard. Honestly. No offense Dave, for god’s sakes, have you ever seen a gay man? Are there gay people in Indiana? Is it ok to be gay there, is what I’m asking. There’s not a policy against gay people there or here?”

It’s heartening to see a major Hollywood actor acting as an ally and standing up for mainstream acceptance of gays and lesbians. All before breaking into a rendition of A-ha’s classic, “Take on Me.”

Filed under: film, gay rights, homophobia, television, , , , ,

Robots in Love

Amazing what an indie soundtrack can do. That, and some fun special effects. All in the service of solid storytelling. “I’m Here” feels like the little movie that could.

I was particularly moved by this short film from Spike Jonze about a couple of robots who fall in love. Who says that a bunch of motherboards, some electrical wire, and a lot of plastic casing equals a soulless form? There’s more heart in this movie–and emanating from these mechanical characters–than many of us humans experience on any given day.

Seems like I’m not alone in my adoration. Take a look see.

Filed under: androids, film, technology, , , , ,

Removing a Gay Joke Isn’t Censorship

Ron Howard says he won’t cut a derisive joke from his new film, The Dilemma, just because protesters want him to. Last month more than 2,700 people signed a petition seeking to cut the gay joke from the film’s trailer.

Lead actor Vince Vaughn has also defended the joke:

Comedy and joking about our differences breaks tension and brings us together.

“Electric cars are gay,” says Vaughn’s character in the film.

I wonder if the gay kid and the school bully watching the film in Idaho realize that the joke’s meant to break any tension and bring them happily together.

How do we measure the impact of a careless quip like “That’s gay”? Dan Savage and Margaret Cho put in their two cents on gay jokes in The Daily Beast.



Filed under: censorship, film, gay rights, , , , , , , , , , ,

Why “The Kids are All Right” is So Good

1.) Julianne Moore. 2.) An airtight, carefully constructed script. And 3.) the simple fact of representation–an ordinary family that happens to be headed by two women–on the big screen.

A couple friends, my partner, and I joined a sold-out theatre last night for Lisa Chodolenko’s The Kids are All Right. Man, has this movie been gathering momentum (and not in the kitschy NOM way). The Kids are All Right raked in more than a million dollars over the two weeks it’s been in theaters. In Cambridge, where we saw the movie, it was playing on two screens, both sold out. I haven’t been to a theater that crowded since the release of Brokeback Mountain.

There’s obvious parallels between the two movies. Both movies have a gay couple as the focus; both movies boast major movie stars. And though they may seem like indie flicks, The Kids are All Right and Brokeback Mountain manage to also reach for mainstream ambition.

But must mainstream also mean playing into tired old tropes? Stereotypes about lesbians seem particularly jarring in this film by and about gay women (e.g. watching gay porn, over-processing their emotions, transforming from a lesbian to a straight woman by the right man). Though there may be some truth in these stereotypes, portraying them without also questioning them provides fodder for uncritical audiences. When Moore’s character, a lesbian who has two teenage children with her lover, suddenly throws herself at a man, you can’t help but let out a little groan. Why couldn’t she fall for another woman? Why does it seem like all it takes to “cure” the character of her gayness is a handsome man?

Still, for its faults, The Kids are All Right struck a chord for me and my friends. Everyone in the theater, in fact, seemed to laugh (or cringe) as the movie hit all the right notes–comparing marriage to a Russian novel, watching the college-bound daughter awkwardly seduce her crush. Chodolenko takes what’s ordinary in urban gay life (and which many of us take for granter) and uses it to frame her story of an ordinary American family. Good stuff.

Go support this little film that could.

Filed under: film, gay life, humor, , , , , , , , , ,

Casey Affleck’s Tour de Force

You know when you sort of just happen into a movie, knowing only the scant details (say, that you admire Jim Thompson’s dark, noirish fiction or that Michael Winterbottom is one of those directors not to miss) and end up open-mouthed, slack-jawed, wide awake?

Yesterday I caught a matinee of The Killer Inside Me, an indie film for sure, but also one of the most grotesque, artful, admirable films I’ve seen in a long time. Why is the film such a must see?

First, the violence is outrageously graphic, yet with purpose. There are gruesome, gasp-inducing acts of evil. The acts on screen are not for moviegoers who like their action movies with a lot of cliched showboating (the hoopla around the Tom Cruise/Cameron Diaz motorcycle gun fight comes to mind) or aesthetically stylized violence (in the vein of Kill Bill or The Matrix). This is violence intended to expose moviegoers to the screwed-up psychology of the film’s narrator, Lou, a psychopathic serial killer who has a double life as a small-town sheriff. As one reviewer described the film: “You were never going to get the Sunday School teachers for this movie anyway.”

But for all of the critical attention on the film’s violence, it is the performance of Casey Affleck that transforms this story from Hollywood schlock to Oscar-worthy consideration.

Affleck plays the film’s killer and protagonist, Lou. He’s got the most serene and creepy, thin-lipped smile throughout this film. As a viewer, you veer constantly between complete trust and silent horror. That smile hides it all.

When Affleck first appears, you’re thrown off by the boyish looks and his voice, which still seems to carry an air of teenage angst. Yet when he remains still, his face frozen, you know this is not a boy. When he walks down the hallway of a dank jail after murdering a young boy and casts a wicked, direct gaze at the camera, you’re chilled to the bone. I had forgotten how powerful Affleck was in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. That movie was about showcasing Affleck’s vulnerability; in contrast The Killer Inside Me highlights the young actor’s duality–his ability to embody the ingenue and the psychopath at the same time.

As Winterbottom says about his desires for Affleck’s character:

The Lou, as he sees himself, is different to the Lou he acts to the world. He puts on this front for the world and then when he’s at home, he’s a different person, so you want to constantly trying to work out “What is really going on in his head?” “What does he believe?” “What doesn’t he believe?” “What bit is the fake bit where he’s real?” “How much does he see that what he is doing makes no sense?” “How much is he lost in his world?”

He’s a very unreliable narrator in the book and you have to have that sense of someone you are trying to work out, really. I think Casey is a great actor generally, but I think that’s his particular strength, that he is able to make you curious about what’s going on inside his head.

Such an amazing movie. Dark, dark, dark–unapologetically so.

The Killer Inside Me is contemporary film noir (and exceeds, in quality, Thompson’s previous efforts to translate his pulp fiction to the big screen, like After Dark, My Sweet); similar to the faux-innocent suburban idyll of David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, this film attempts to show evil as it manifests itself in ordinary men.

Also shocking are the moments–however small–of clarity and empathy within this man’s convoluted heart. For example, a moment when Lou pauses in the midst of a violent murder to read his newspaper and acknowledge his victim’s efforts to reach pathetically for her black purse: it’s pure clarity for the killer, and may even be the seed–untended, of course–of love. Unfortunately, Thompson never allows his characters the release of a proper dénouement. Lou is a killer at heart, and Winterbottom–a masterful storyteller–know how to squash any empathy we feel for Lou when he returns to his savage ways.

The Killer Inside Me is a visually stunning, absurd, unapologetically violent film. Forsake the bubble gum out there and go see this dark little gem.

Filed under: film, , , , , , , , , ,



» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
August 2020


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Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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