Political Film Review #553

TOM OF FINLAND SPANS THE ERA FROM HOMOPHOBIA TO ACCEPTANCE
The biopic of Touro Laaksonen, known as Tom of Finland (played by Pekka Strang) begins by explaining why the very talented artist, born in a town in Finland during 1920, became the premier gay artist of all time. During the war with the Soviet Union, he has an ongoing relationship with his commanding officer. Whether fond memories, PTSD, or both, Tom begins to draw exotic pictures of men in uniform, police and well as military, sometimes in leather, revealing dominant looks that serve as turn-ons for Tom in memory more than in person. His drawings feature poses of men with fantastic builds, including body parts deemed too erotic when he begins, often featuring blond muscular studs as the passive partners of black-haired uniformed dominants. But he encounters homophobic incidents in Finland. When he goes to Berlin to find a commercial outlet for his erotic drawings, he is robbed and jailed. He ultimately communicates with someone in Los Angeles, where he is regarded upon arrival as a hero of the leather gay leather community and finds a printer who is willing to turn his drawings into paperback picture books, though he sells copies of individual drawings to adorn the gay bars of Los Angeles and New York. When the AIDS crisis begins, with gays dying in the early 1980s, Tom’s drawings are accompanied by condom warnings. Much of the film focuses on his relationship to a dancer friend in Finland, Veli (Lauri Tilkanen) whom he meets in a Finnish park only to see him beat up by police, Subsequently, Veli rents a room from Tom and his sister Kaija (Jessical Graabowsi) and later dies of throat cancer. Not featured is the fact that Tom is given a place to live in Echo Park Los Angeles by an admirer, publishiner of Physique Pictorial in 1958, now an official city monument. But in 1991 Tom dies of emphesma due to the smoking habit. Directed by Dome Karukoski, Tom of Finland has been nominated by the Political Film Society has nominated as best film exposé of 2017. MH

SUBURBICON IS GEORGE CLOONEY’S NOIR FILM
Depicting the era when Donald Trump believes that “America was great,” director George Clooney goes too far in demonstrating that the 1950s were a time of trouble in the suburbs. Although the first Levittown, which started sales in 1947, offered quickly built homes with modern conveniences and white picket fences away from the dingy cities, FHA required that residents must be White. (Most filming is in Fullerton, though some of the rest is in the San Fernando Valley.)
One part of Suburbicon focuses on the true story about the reaction of White residents to the day when the Mayers, a middle class Black family, move into one of the Levittown houses in 1957 and are greeted with massive hostility from almost everyone except for a 5-year-old White boy Nicky Lodge (played by Noah Jupe), whose mom (Julianne Moore) encourages him to play a little baseball with 5-year-old Andy (played by Tony Espinosa), the Black boy who lives next door. The other part of the film depicts Nicky’s family, consisting of an authoritarian father (Matt Damon), a sick mother, and her twin sister (also played by Julianne Moore), who is the housekeeper for the family. Doors in the community are never locked, so one day two thugs enter the Lodge residence, inexplicably asking for money. When they fail to collect, they tie up the family and chloroform them to sleep. In the next scene, members of the family have somehow untied themselves and are at the hospital, where the mother is dying. The next series of events plunge the family into even more trouble, leaving Nicky with Andy as his only true friend by the end of the film. Suburbicon prompts some to leave before the ending and informs those who stay, hoping for something redemptive, that they should have left earlier. MH