Tag Archive: Film


I accepted that I was transgender in my late 20s because I made friends online and in real life who helped me develop a vocabulary to explore my gender identity. I am now and have always been transgender because I had two parents who raised both my sister and I not to accept the shackles gender had placed on their own lives. They’ve never been able to experience the freedoms my sister and I cherish so dearly and I doubt that they ever will.

I thought about my mother and my father a lot as I watched 20th Century Women, Mike Mill’s electric follow-up to his beloved sophomore feature, Beginners. 20th Century Women is about a teenage boy, Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann), raised in SoCal in the late 70s by his single mother, the engineer and independent spirit Dorothea Fields (Annette Bening). With Jamie’s father a non-presence in both Jamie and Dorothea’s life, Dorothea worries that she can’t sufficiently raise her son on her own and recruits two young women, ill photographer Abbie (Greta Gerwig) and troubled teenager Julie (Elle Fanning), to help shape her son into a whole person.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Up until I was twenty one years old, I wanted to be a cop. Specifically, I wanted to be a Fed, working public corruption cases. I had my whole beat figured out. Undergrad in political science and criminology. Law degree. FBI. Public office. I had neoliberal Appalachian rags-to-riches legislative ambitions.

I was making waves in WVU’s political science department as a potential candidate for the Truman scholarship. I was a well-respected RA in the school dorms, and I was active in student government. I had great grades, and I was heavily involved in a political summer camp for teenagers each year — where I was developing an important and formative friendship with an FBI agent. I had roots of fond supporters throughout the state.

Continue reading

My grandfather told my mother we were Jewish on his deathbed.

That was the observation I fixated on as I watched Dekalog: Eight. My maternal grandfather’s family name is Swartz. “Swartz” was the Anglicization of the very German and very Jewish “Schwarz”, and it was the name that my forebears were given when they immigrated to America in the early 20th century. My narrow line of the Swartz tree settled in West Virginia, and at some point between the 1910s and the 2000s, our Jewish identity had become such a point of shame and was covered in such secrecy that my mother — a devout Evangelical Christian — was in her 40s before she found out she was Ashkenazim.

Continue reading

ManchesterByTheSea1

[Author’s Note: This post contains significant spoilers for Kenneth Lonergan’s 2016 film, Manchester by the Sea. If you don’t want some of the film’s major reveals spoiled, you might want to avoid reading this until you’ve seen the film.]

I don’t  believe in God, but I do believe in Hell. Hell doesn’t have to be Satan inflicting infinite pain for eternity. Hell can be something as simple as you and everyone you love suffering… suffering and not having any answers for why you hurt or any solutions to make the misery go away. Manchester by the Sea‘s Lee Chandler isn’t just trapped in his own private Hell. His self-immolation is burning everyone around him.

Continue reading

Persona1

Throughout the 1960s, Ingmar Bergman would tackle the question “How are we able to live?”

That’s not a question you ask when you’re happy with the state of the world. It’s a question you ask when you have thought seriously about the history and perpetuation of suffering and oppression. It’s that inescapable, nagging thought that humanity’s power structures, humanity’s base drives, and humanity’s future is fundamentally evil and you’re terrified that these cycles of destruction, violence, and wanton cruelty will never disappear.

Continue reading

dobby1

The first labor agitator I ever admired was Hermione Granger.

When you’re a kid, you don’t know names like Mother Jones or Eugene Debs. Generally speaking, your parents aren’t going to sit you down and have you watch Matewan or Norma Rae or better yet Harlan County, USA. They aren’t teaching you Das Kapital or The Wealth of Nations in primary school. But if you were of a certain age, you did have Harry Potter.

Continue reading

thesorrowandthepity1

(Author’s Note: I originally posted these thoughts as a series of tweets. I’m posting them here for people who don’t follow me on Twitter or who want these thoughts in a more readable format.)

If anybody needs an explanation for what happened this week, watch Marcel Ophuls’ ‘The Sorrow & the Pity.’ It’s a documentary from the 1960s that decimates the enduring myth of the united French resistance to fascism during the Occupation.

Continue reading