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Regular contributor ("Carson City Limits" and other content) for Random Lengths (circulation 56,000) in San Pedro, CA, 2001-present. Manga reviewer: LA Alternative (circulation 150,000), 2005-2006. Some manga reviews also ran in NY Press around this time. Entertainment reporting: Music Connection (circulation 75,000), 1983-1906. Travel writing: Oakland Tribune (1998) and Life After 50 (2006). Other bylines: Goldmine, Star Hits, Los Angeles Reader, Los Angeles Times, Long Beach Press Telegram, Blade, BAM, Daily Breeze, LA Weekly. Specializations include community news reporting, writing reviews (book, theater, concert, film, music), copywriting, resumes, editing, travel writing, publicity, screenwriting, lecturing, and content development. Education: B. A. Theater Arts, UCLA. Post-grad work, Education, Chapman University.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

DVD Review: The Owls


A different version of this review was printed in Blade California, Sept. 2011.
Cheryl Dunye is a film professor and fairly successful black lesbian filmmaker, but she's never broken into the commercial mainstream. The Owls, available on DVD, is meant to be low-budget and experimental, but it's possible this work could attract an investor who wants to provide Dunye with the opportunity to make more diverse and more commercial cinema.
Approximately 66 min. in length, the movie concerns the multiple dysfunctional relationships between women who are bound together by their glory days as a big-time all-girl rock group, the Screech--but to paraphrase the Rolling Stones, it's all over now. The former band members all think they've become older wiser lesbians (owls)--but that doesn't hold true when one strangles a young starry-eyed lesbian to death in a drunken rage and the others help hide the body. As the plot unfolds, the four suffer the consequences--but in an ambiguous way that’s meant to stimulate audience discussion afterwards.
The primary reason The Owls will never amount to anything more than a cinematic experiment is how it breaks a major rule of dramatic narrative. The actresses regularly break character to tell us their characters' motivations--instead of the narrative showing us their motivations. The effect is like those true-crime TV reports that combine interviews with re-enactments--but the true crime here is that Dunye does so little to develop her premise.
The Owls was the first feature to come out of The Parliament Film Collective, a diverse but interconnected group self-described as "lesbian and queer" filmmakers, including Dunye, Alex Juhasz, Candi Gutierres and Ernesto Foronda. They have attracted a diverse gay and multi-racial community, at all levels of professional and artistic development, who work together in creating their art.
This film may be purchased from Amazon.

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