The sexually charged tale of a woman’s journey of self-discovery, Bette Gordon’s VARIETY is a fascinating independent film that challenges common notions about feminism and pornography. Emerging out of the underground NYC arts scene that produced the late ’80s boom in American independent cinema, Variety contains the contributions of an impresive array of talent, including cinematographer Tom DiCillo (Living in Oblivion), actor Luis Guzman (Boogie Nights), a script by the late cult novelist Kathy Acker, and a score by actor and musician John Lurie (Stranger Than Paradise, Down By Law). Renowned photographer Nan Goldin appears in a supporting role, as does Mark Boone Junior (Sons of Anarchy, Memento)
Christine (Sandy McLeod), a bright and unassuming young woman, takes a job selling tickets at a porno theater near Times Square. Instead of distancing herself from the dark and erotic nature of this milieu, Christine soon develops an obsession that begins to consume her life. The character’s reaction unexpectedly flips normal gender roles; director Gordon daringly twists feminist ideology by showing a woman who finds self-expression through an interest in pornography. Variety becomes even more provocative when it dramatizes the changes that occur in Christine’s relationships with both Mark (Will Patton), her boyfriend, and Louie, a dangerous-looking patron of the theater.
Few films deal honestly with a female’s sexual point-of-view, and particularly with the way in which she develops her own fantasy world. Controversial and highly personal, VARIETY does just that, and in so doing announces itself as the major film of a director who embodies the essence of independent cinema.
“A feminist Vertigo.” -LA Weekly
“A daring departure into the dark, irrational and obsessional world of personal female fantasy” – Linda Gross, The Los Angeles Times.
“Sandy McLeod’s deliriously obsessive performance as Christine is the perfect blend of blond beauty and intelligent watchfulness” – Newsday
2. Je T’aime MOi Non Plus (1976)
Cult Love Story
4K Restoration. Cult icon Serge Gainsbourg wrote, directed, and scored this tale of doomed love between a lonely truck stop waitress (Jane Birkin) and a gay, hunky garbage truck driver (Joe Dallesandro), whose boyfriend (Hugues Quester) becomes increasingly jealous of the two. Sharing the title with Gainsbourg and Birkin’s sexually-explicit 1969 hit pop song, Je T’Aime Moi Non Plus is an equally provocative depiction of sexual gratification told through an unlikely couple.
3. Neon Bull
Wild, sensual, and utterly transporting, Brazilian writer-director Gabriel Mascaro’s second fiction feature unfolds within the world of the vaquejada, a traditional exhibition sport in which cowboys try to pull bulls to the ground by their tails. Neon Bull explores the vaquejada through the eyes of Iremar (Juliano Cazarre), a handsome cowboy who works the events. While he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty, Iremar’s real dream is to design exotic outfits for dancers.
Dogs, Humans, Bullies, Criminals, loyalty, friendship, and social dysfuntion.
5. The Hunt
Best of the best of the best … it is not happy, but true.
In a blink of an eye, your life can be flipped upside down, because what the people perceive, eventually you can’t escape.
10. Middleditch & Schwartz Improv (Netflix)
8. Better Call Soul
7. Ozark Lake
5. The Morning Show (Apple)
4. Tiger King (Netflix)
3. The Queen’s Gambit
2. The Crown
1. Kill it and leave this town
The audacious murder of the brother of North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jon Un in a crowded Malaysian airport sparked a worldwide media frenzy. At the center of the investigation are two young women who are either cold-blooded killers or unwitting pawns in a political assassination. ASSASSINS goes beyond the headlines to question every angle of this case, from human trafficking to geo-political espionage to the secretive dynamics of the North Korean dynasty.
“Ryan White’s fascinating documentary chronicles plays like a political thriller with tragic consequences for the two women at its center.” Matt Goldberg, Collider
“It’s a Kafka-esque and sometimes darkly comic tale of deception and exploitation that makes for a smartly assembled and eminently topical film that arrives at a crucial juncture in world affairs…” Justin Lowe, The Hollywood Reporter
On Disney plus … perfect for a family night.
5. Another Round
5. WWII in Color
4. Inside Bill Gates Mind
3. Epstein (Netflix)
1. The Kingdom of Hijaz (YouTube)
5. Lawrence of Arabia
Come on, you haven’t watched it yet?!
Well, me, I was avoiding it intentionally for years because I don’t want to feel angry. But I had to finally face the ultimate betrayal of Arabs by Great Britain during the The Great Arab Revolt.
The film is an epic, with Anthony Queen, Noor AlShareef, and a conglomerate of Hollywood’s best actors and film makers. Lawrence is a special personality who is more Arab than half of the arabs today in the Arab World. To see a glimpse of his story done right is great.
Off course, historically speaking, he had a less important role that it is shown here, and King Faisal had a much more important role that displayed here. Also, there were many arab heros who were ignored for the purpose of highlighting Lawrence in this film.
Over all it is a great film, and must be seen by at least every Arab.
4. The Climb
What a dark comedy … the intricacies and frustrations of imperfect friendships .. the vulnerabilities of men .. the subtle challenges of life that hurt slowly .. this will leave you happy and sad.
3. My King (Ma Roi)
Abuse and love … this film struggles in the problematic space between them. Science says that what a woman wants and what a woman thinks she wants are two different things. Sometimes they are opposite. Sometimes what we love in a person is also what makes him eventually a monster, the devours us. Epic performance … and if you love Paris, this is so parisian.
2. Joshy (2016)
This is the best American film of this year, and it is so independent and simple, that puts the multi million productions to shame. Another mastered dark comedy that you will relate to. A weekend to make Joshy happy turns into a self discovery for everyone, and a salad of different personality types. Awkward moments weave these scenes … an orchestra with 10 conductors, and no players.
1. Another Round (2020)
This is the guy of THE HUNT. The Hunt is one of the best films I have seen in my life, and this one turns into another Hunt, and makes it to the same list.
I don’t know how Danish or Swedish people think, but definitely they are years ahead in the understanding of the human situation. This shows up in their films, and this film is an epic display of Scandinavian realism.
The theme is about drinking in Western society, but behind the lines and scenes there are much deeper existential themes… so watch carefully and look into the eyes of the actors.
1. A Line in The Sand by James Barr
The story of Sykes Picot agreement in details, and from a very authentic, academic, and impartial author and sources. This is the most important story of how the Arab World was divided by colonial powers after World War I and it is the basis for everything happening today in the Middle East. A must read for every Arabic person.
To know more about the Arab Revolt, read the next book on this list, The Arab Awakening.
2. The Arab Awakening
The story of the Arab Revolt, starting from AlNahda (Arab Renaissance or Arab Awakening) in early 19 century, and ending in the Sykes Picot agreement and the division of the Arab World into small divided weak countries designed to fail and fight. A must read for every Arabic Person or a person who cares about the Middle East.
3. Sacrophobia (Phobia ALMukaddas) by Mustapha Alomari
Written in Arabic by my friend Mustapha AlOmary, Sacrophobia is a book about how the Islamic mind and culture have raised Muslims to be scared from challenging or questioning what have been deemed to be sacred, whether it is a holy book or text, or a holy individual. Mustapha challenges this phobia and induces the reader into a free conversation with the Prophet of Islam.
4. Permanent Record by Edward Snowden
I bought it fast fearing that it might be withdrawn from the market due to its high controversy and the challenge of the US Government to it. Edward Snowden, still exiled in hiding in Russia, is telling his story in details, and is reflecting on the issue of Privacy and freedom of citizens. Very informative and well written.
5. The 100 Years War on Palestine by Rashid Khalidi
If you want to understand the Palestinian issue, and the Arab Israeli conflict, this book is a must, especially for those who want to learn how to frame this subject in modern terms and vision. Professor Khalidi, the holder of the Edward Saeed chair in Columbia University, and one of the leading Arab American thinkers and intellectuals, and of the internationally leading figures on the Palestinian issue, explains this 100 years colonial project in Palestine.
He was also invited by us, the Executive Board of AlNadwa Freethinking society to speak in Dearborn Michigan about the same subject. Here is the video from the talk:
6. Guns, Germs, and Steal
How human cultures differed in advancement from one to the other and the roots of that.
7. The Case Against Reality by Donald Hoffman
Nature and our biological evolution have not set us up to know reality.
8. The War on Normal People
Ran for president 2020, and introduced UBI. Very intelligent candidate and the voice of the future. Endorsed by Elon Musk.
9. The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American by Andrew L. Seidel
Christian Nationalism is unAmerican … Andrew will 100% prove it to you and put an end to the delusion of any relationship between Christianity and America.
10. Sex Power Money by Sara Pascoe
I first came across her Sara Pascoe when I was in Paris in September of 2018 passing by the famous historical bookstore and cafe, Shakespeare and Company, where Sara was speaking and signing this book. Although I couldn’t even get a glimpse of her face, for she was deep in the small 18th century bookstore, while I was standing outside among the crowds listening to her over the speaker system. To my back exactly stood Notre Dam De Paris, so beautiful among the beginning of fall colors.
She is funny and scientific, impartial and blunt, witty and clear. It is a fun read for whoever wants the latest biological discoveries about our nature and the struggle of power between men and women in a smooth witty funny write up.