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To me, I find it seemingly hard for people in life to gain influence or to have a perspective on one particular area of life. Temple Grandin, it would appear, was known in two aspects: for her work in creating a more humane system of slaughterhouse in America (in which we learn in the end that half of all slaughterhouses today uses her system); and, more importantly, for her work in autism, as she herself is autistic. This is especially important, cause at the time (60s and 70s), very little was known about autism. If it weren’t for her mother, she would have been institutionalized, and her eventual life’s work would have never occurred.

Not that it was easy. Temple did not like physical human interaction, which upset her mom deeply when all she wanted from her daughter was a hug. She was prone to “go wild”, to put it mildly, in that it only took a slight disturbance in her life to set her off. She only ate jello and pudding, the reason of which she did explain but I couldn’t remember what it was.

But Temple was extremely gifted too despite her autism. She thought in pictures, often times in very literal ways (early on, a mention of walking on water brings an image of Jesus walking on water). She used this to help build her hugging machine, among other things that she constructed in her life, and she did quite a lot of building.

Of equal importance was an empathy that she gained when interacting with animals. She was able to sense when animals were angry or upset, and sought out ways to alleviate their suffering. This became the source of her graduate thesis, and the creation of a system that created a more efficient, but also humane way, of bringing cattle through a slaughterhouse before it was stun-gunned.

By the way, she also has a doctorate.  For a woman with a disability like hers, that is very impressive.

The film covers the whole of her life story, from when she begins college until she completes her graduate thesis and becomes a spokesperson for autism.  Flashbacks are used to help flesh out the story – early childhood, boarding school, etc. – that help give meaning to who Temple is, plus add to the overall story.  There are little animations that accompany some of the instances that Temple sees pictures: most of it is used effectively and doesn’t distract.  It often helps, actually, in showing how Temple views the world.

The film is a little manipulative at times, especially since it doesn’t need to be (do we really need the shot at the end of Temple’s mom crying?).  It occurs rarely though, which is good, compared with other made-for-TV shows (I’m looking at you Lifetime).

Probably the greatest aspect of the movie is Claire Danes at Temple.  She is hardly recognizable, between the bushy hair and the acute walking style she exhibits.  Comparing her voice and demeanor during the film with the making of feature  is astounding.  I do believe she won awards for this role, and rightly so.

The film is available on DVD, so definitely check it out.  Very inspirational and uplifting.

From what I can tell, there is no official trailer for this movie. I’ll update this post whenever an actual trailer does come to light. For now, this is what the QFest website provided for a trailer.

Speaking of QFest, welcome to my first ever film festival. As you can see, QFest involves the promotion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered films. I’m not sure of the exact count, but there are well over 100 full length and short films. Obviously I won’t see them all, but I’m going to see a small sampling of films from the festival, hopefully providing a glimpse of what the festival has to offer.

First one is Howl, which made its debut to mixed reviews at Sundance.  The movie is a biopic of sorts, involving Allen Ginsberg’s four-part poem and the obscenity trial that resulted from the publishing of the poem.

The movie is definitely a mixed bag, though it’s decent enough to see and enjoy. The movie can be broken down into three loosely linear story lines: Ginsberg explaining the writing of the poem, the obscenity trial, and a reading of the poem through live action and animation.

The best of these is the first, which is possible by James Franco and his portrayal of Ginsberg. Franco, at least to me, is severely underrated as an actor. Between this, Milk, and even Pineapple Express, Franco has shown a repeatedly ability to become the person he portrays. Hopefully he’ll get more roles like these, or even bigger ones, like he got in the Spider-Man films.

Ginsberg here is filmed in his apartment during the trial, being interviewed by a journalist about the writing of the poem. Ginsberg is rambling, but coherently, taking about various loves, his homosexuality, his mother, and just the world at large and how it has forsaken his generation. The sequences in the apartment are filmed in color, while the flashbacks are done in black and white, with random color splashes to make things stand out differently and uniquely: the sky is red, a painting in an art museum is a swirling mass of colors, all of it referencing Howl.

The trial is standard fare: supposed experts explain to the judge about the validity of the poem. The insight is interesting, and the acting is fine, but compared to the rest of the film, it seems lacking, especially since we already know of the outcome of the trial.

The mixed bag is the animation during the reading of the poem. Ginsberg, in the live action portion, is reading the poem in an underground coffee shop or bar to a live audience. They cheer and scream out when he condemns the industrial machine and sympathize with him when he laments about his mother. Meanwhile, the animation is used to help drive and explain the poem through a variety of images, many of them sexual and many more rallying against the system. The style is unique and expressive, but it doesn’t help explain some parts of the poem, and more troubling, it’s also rather distracting. There were times when I wanted to listen to the poem (read marvelously by Franco, by the way), but I couldn’t because of what was happening on the screen. A shame, a least to me, because the poem was really something else.

So, not a terrible film by any means, but it’s not the greatest either. Just decent, but it’s enjoyable.

Note: Wikipedia lists the film as having a domestic release in the fall. I don’t imagine this going beyond a limited release, but I would urge people to see this anyway, because it still is a somewhat interesting film.