Review: MOFFIE Scores Amid Testosterone, Tension & Toxic Masculinity

Kai Luke Brummer in 'Moffie'
Kai Luke Brummer in 'Moffie'
Kai Luke Brummer in ‘Moffie’ (images via official website)

Set in South Africa in the early 1980s, Moffie follows Nicholas (Kai Luke Brummer), who dutifully leaves home to serve a mandatory stretch of military service as required of all white men over 16-year-old at the time.

The title of the film comes from the Afrikaans derogatory term for gay men.

Nicholas is shipped off to boot camp where life is brutal, bleak, and harsh. As he and his fellow grunts prepare to defend the Apartheid regime from a conflict at the Angolian border, Nicholas contends with survival in an environment that reeks of toxic racism, homophobia and machismo.

All while quietly coming to terms with his burgeoning homosexuality.

Kai Luke Brummer in 'Moffie'
Kai Luke Brummer in ‘Moffie’

As we’ve seen in previous military movies, the new recruits’ basic training is humiliating and violent on both physical and psychological levels.

Drill Sergeant Brand (Hilton Pelser) takes the hyper-masculine environment to levels reminiscent of R. Lee Ermey in Full Metal Jacket.

The direction by Oliver Hermanus is taut and sensitive as he artfully plays elements of the film against each other.

During a barracks game of ‘spin the bottle’ where those chosen by fate must fight for the entertainment of the other soldiers, Hermanus offers a classical fugue as sonic soundscape in contrast with the bare-knuckle brawling.

A scene from 'Moffie'
A scene from ‘Moffie’

Throughout the film, Hermanus deftly balances scenes of war and brutal machismo with momentary touches of intimacy and humanity. The screenplay (by Hermanus and Jack Sidey) displays an economy of dialogue allowing the actors to express achingly tender moments of sensitivity.

In one episode where the soldiers are forced to dig (and then sleep) in trenches during a nighttime downpour, Nicholas’s fellow grunt Dylan Stassen (Ryan de Villiers) convinces him to huddle together under a blanket to keep warm. While the moment leads to a mere brush of Stassen’s hand on Nicholas’s face, the sexual tension is palpable.

Brummer is especially impressive in his first major screen role offering a compelling and continually nuanced performance.

Matthew Vey and Kai Luke Brummer in ‘Moffie’

Additionally, the riveting score by Braam du Toit and gorgeous cinematography by Jamie Ramsay become almost full-fledged characters in the film’s storytelling.

I’ll warn readers that the beginning of the film can be difficult to watch as Hermanus sets the tone and emotional scale of harsh journey ahead. Ultimately, the film – built on testosterone, tension, and trauma – resolves with a surprisingly delicate touch.

The BAFTA nominated film premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2019 and was released in South Africa two weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic closed cinemas there.

Moffie is available in select theaters and digital streaming sites in the U.S. today.

Drama: Pageant Crown Snatched From Winner On Live TV

Former winner of Mrs. Sri Lanka snatches crown from new queen
Former winner of Mrs. Sri Lanka snatches crown from new queen
The crown has been snatched! (screen capture)

Crowned and uncrowned!

There was serious drama during a beauty pageant this weekend when Pushpika De Silva won the title of “Mrs Sri Lanka” during the nationally televised event on Sunday.

Moments after being crowned by the wife of the country’s Prime Minister, the 2019 winner and current Mrs. World – Caroline Jurie – dramatically appeared on stage and declared De Silva was disqualified from winning because she is divorced.

“I am taking my first steps saying that the crown goes to the first runner up,” Ms. Jurie told the live TV audience. “There is a rule that prevents women who have already been married and are divorced.”

She then approached a stunned De Silva, snatched the crown from her head, and placed the prized headpiece on the runner-up leaving De Silva to tearfully exit the stage.

The national director of Mrs Sri Lanka World, Chandimal Jayasinghe, told the BBC that the crown would be returned to De Silva on Tuesday.

Expressing his disappointment in the history-making moment, he added, “It was a disgrace how Caroline Jurie behaved on the stage and the Mrs World organisation has already begun an investigation on the matter.”

In a Facebook post, De Silva emphasized that while she is separated, “I’m still an un-divorced woman,” and dared her detractors to show documentation otherwise.

She also shared she suffered head injuries when Jurie hurriedly took the crown from her head. According to the BBC, she plans to take legal action for the “unreasonable and insulting” way she was treated.

Who thinks this might inspire some shenanigans in a future season of RuPaul’s Drag Race? Here’s another view of the snatching as seen on Sunday.

Alabama: Judge Roy Moore Hopes He Doesn’t Die Fighting Marriage Equality

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore spoke yesterday at a hate rally meant to whip up those opposed to equal rights for the LGBT community.

During his speech, Moore showed a flair for the melodramatic:

“William Barret Travis from Conecuh County, Alabama, came to draw a line in the sand at the Alamo. He took a stand in the face of an enemy that was far more numerous, but he knew that he had to make a statement for the people of Texas and that he would give his life.

“I hope I don’t give my life, but I’m going to tell you this is a very serious matter. There’s today another threat not only in Texas and Alabama, but across our country where state and federal court judges have overruled constitutional amendments passed by the people of those states, and people have just sat by and watched it out of fear of the federal government.

“But nothing in the Constitution of the United States, nothing in the laws or precedence of the federal courts give federal courts any authority over domestic policy of family and marriage in the state of Texas, in the state of Alabama, or anywhere else.”

What Moore gets wrong here is that the amendments to keep loving gay and lesbian couples from marrying are unconstitutional.

The constitution very clearly guarantees all Americans the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Clearly, marrying the person you love is a part of life’s “pursuit of happiness.”

When you couple that with the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection clause it’s clear the state’s that passed marriage equality bans years ago did so out of fear and animus, not “constitutionality.”

I’m all for Roy Moore’s right to be dramatic. Let him get onstage somewhere if that’s his thing. But working against the rights of others is a second rate act that is getting less and less approval on the national stage.

YouTube comment reconstruction – “Nelson Mandela is dead”

For everyone who’s ever been a theatre major in college.

This kind of thing would have made for FABULOUS acting exercises. I can see so many of my college friends getting miles and miles of material out of bringing actual YouTube comments to life.

From the clip description: It’s tragic when the world loses a figure like Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, it’s even more tragic when clueless people comment about it on YouTube. This latest reconstruction is the conversation between ‘Sudasha Patel’ and ‘SGOR2047’ from the video “Nelson Mandela Is Dead – Official News”

Actors are Grahame Edwards and Eryl Lloyd Parry.

Two thespians reenact a bitter, name-calling “flame war” over whether One Direction’s Harry Styles is or is not gay

Going viral today, this video is a dramatic reenactment of a “flame war” on Youtube between two One Direction fans – one of whom seems to “have proof Harry Styles is gay.”

Ever wonder what it would be like if trained actors played out these silly back and forth online squabbles aided by dramatic lighting and music?

Pretty funny.