Movie Review – “Call Me By Your Name”

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*Contains spoilers*

I have watched this film three times now, and it gets better at each viewing.

Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name is a feast for the senses – an erotic buffet filled to the brim with symbolism, intellect and culture.

But most of all, innocence.

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Call Me By Your Name is the story of 17 year-old Elio’s sudden infatuation with 24 year-old graduate student, Oliver, one of a succession of yearly summer visitors brought to the beautiful Italian villa by his father to help with paperwork and for the chosen student’s own intellectual and spiritual enrichment. It is based on the book of the same name by André Aciman, which I read before viewing the film. In this case, the movie exceeded the promise of the book – which in itself was wonderful – by immersing the viewer in the lush Italian summer that Aciman writes about and by selecting Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer as the two lead actors.

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Their chemistry is palpable from the moment they first meet through the tentative attempts at flirting and seduction, through to the final moments at the train station when Oliver has to leave. Chalamet was deservedly nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor. Somehow, he is able to show every emotion and thought that crosses Elio’s mind as he tries to figure Oliver out and decipher his own confusing feelings of attraction.

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This is one of the most mature films I’ve ever had the privilege to watch. It is a story in which sex is as natural as breathing, as wonderful a part of growing up as anything else, where nothing is shameful about embracing one’s desires and enjoying the fruit of life. The peaches that ripen in Anella’s orchard are as full of promise and as sweet as Elio. They are innocent but sensual in their own right, just like him.

As Elio and Oliver bicycle through the Italian countryside growing ever more aware of their mutual attraction, the viewer is treated to such a natural growth of love and longing that it becomes a part of the landscape.

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The house in which Elio lives and where Oliver stays for the summer is a character in itself. Like Elio’s parents, the ancient villa is always welcoming, doors open wide to the sunshine, balconies overlooking vast expanses of grass and trees. But there are hidden passages and secret rooms too, where only the most loyal companions are taken. Elio’s private escape above back of the kitchen, where he brings Marzia to wile away the hours until his tryst with Oliver, is also the room where he has intimate relations with a ripe peach and later cries in Oliver’s arms over the fact that Oliver must soon leave.

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This film is a celebration of summertime, first love, sexual exploration of all kinds — opposite sex, same sex, solitary sex with a peach — beauty and desire. It is also a celebration of how a parent can let their child become an adult by sitting back and letting that child explore the world on his/her own terms. By understanding that sexuality is a natural part of living and that putting barriers around who we’re allowed to fall in love with or engage with sexually is a losing game, and why would we want to play it anyway?

Call Me By Your Name Movie

Call Me By Your Name Book

Book Review – “Confessions: Robbie”, by Ella Frank

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*I fell in love with the character of Robert Bianchi in Ella Frank’s fabulous Temptations series. While reading the final book in the six-book series, I was dying to know more about the “Priest” (Joel Priestley) and the “Prick” (celebrity chef Julien Thornton) who seemed to have an unconventional marriage and a private obsession with the young, extravagant Robbie. Luckily, Frank has decided to follow Robbie’s story with the first book in her new Confessions series. And, luckily for me, Robbie very quickly decides that he needs to know more about the married men who’ve shown an interest in him as well.

When I heard that Frank was accepting requests for ARC copies of the new book, I threw my name in and then promptly forgot I had done so. Wasn’t I thrilled and surprised when I received an email on Thursday promising an ARC copy in my inbox come Friday morning?

I started reading on Friday, tore myself away for a couple of hours to work on my own project, then continued, and finished this morning. I almost wish I’d read it a little more slowly to savour it, but I’m afraid that was impossible and, really, that’s what the reread is for, right?

Ella Frank has the innate ability to see into my head and write exactly what I want to see in her books. It is really quite rare for me to find an author that seems to think exactly like I do and writes a book that is perfectly what I want to read (usually, I have to write those books). She did that with the first half of the Temptations series and she’s done it again with Confessions: Robbie.

Because my own James Lucas Trilogy revolves around the development of a close and committed relationship between three different men, I loved the premise of this book. And Frank executed the resulting story perfectly. Ella Frank is able to write sizzling hot sex scenes AND scenes that cut through the bullshit of outward appearances and reveal the inner emotions of her characters, so VERY well. The entire first part of this book was a slow, delicious and tantalizing lead-up to what I knew was coming and what I was desperately waiting for. By the time I got it, the flames were licking up the sides of my Kindle.

Seriously. This book is HOT.

But it is also full of three dimensional characters who are all struggling with something and who find answers in each other.

I highly recommend Confessions: Robbie and look very much forward to the rest of the series. I was thrilled to read in the back matter that Confessions: Julien is supposed to be out by May of this year, because I so desperately want to read more about the Priest, the Prick and the Princess.

*A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Is It March Already?

Whew, is it really March??? Winter flew by incredibly fast this year!

We just celebrated my son’s 11th birthday and spring weather is upon us a little early. I know that the snow and cold will make a reappearance before this month is over but I’m really enjoying it right now.

I only have one work week left (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday) before getting 11 days off for March Break. Three years ago when I got this job I spend part of the March Break training but every year since I’ve taken the week off to spend time with the kids. Usually we travel somewhere nearby but this year we are staying in town. We plan to visit a couple of museums, go bowling, out for lunch and dinner, maybe a movie. It’s really nice to be able to spend a week together as a family once a year.

In February I read two really good books that I want to recommend:

The first is a book called Priest by Sierra Simone.

I don’t often read MF anymore because I love MM so much, but every once in awhile a blurb will call out to me and I’ll give it a try. This one got me with the whole conflicted young priest thing and the author’s very straightforward disclaimer that this book represented her own interpretation of the way sex and religion can go together.

Anyway, the sex was smoking hot, the angst bearable and appropriate to the story. I liked both characters very much and felt the writing was excellent.

 

The book I just finished reading is Verismo, by E.M. Lindsey. This one is MM and a slow burn which I also tend to not read as often as other sorts of stories, because I am obsessed with well written sex scenes – in my own work and in others’.

But I found the story entrancing from the start and loved all the classical music and piano references. It was fairly obvious how the story would play out and it was lovely going along on that ride. Again, both central characters were compelling and fascinating. I especially loved Cedric, the young, formerly blind pianist who I couldn’t help visualizing as being played by Thimothée Chalomet (Call Me By Your Name) in the movie that was running in my mind. The writing was outstanding and I will definitely read more by this author.

 

Anyone else read anything good lately?

 

Craving – Friday Flash Fic., Feb. 15th

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I was on the treadmill at the gym when I got an idea for this flash fiction prompt.

I realized that these guys could easily be two characters from my Vampire erotica WIP, Diamond Dogs.

Theo Matowski is a devoted lover to my protagonist, Gemini (a bisexual, androgynous female vampire who keeps Theo and his male lover, Justice, as human pets/companions). However, when an older male vampire, Kristofer Vallespi, comes to Ottawa seeking excitement, Theo finds his loyalties tested.

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Theo waited restlessly on the park bench, eyes glancing furtively about and hands in his jeans pockets.

Kristofer Vallespi had texted him the night before, requesting that Theo meet him here at noon because he needed to ask him something.

Theo knew he shouldn’t have replied. Shouldn’t have texted Kristofer that he’d come. Shouldn’t have thought about Kristofer all evening and all morning.

Gemma had told him that Kristofer was dangerous. She’d said Kristofer was not like she was. He’d want to take advantage of Theo – use him for sex or food and then toss him away like spoiled fruit.

But Theo didn’t believe her. He didn’t think she was lying. He believed Gemma supposed Kristofer to be like that. But from the moments Theo had spent in Kristofer’s commanding presence, he couldn’t believe it.

And now, as he glimpsed Kristofer approaching along the gravel path in his pea coat and jeans, looking so very human and yet not-at-all human, he wondered if perhaps Gemini was right. Theo knew vampires had powers he didn’t yet understand even though he’d been sharing Gemma’s home for seven years. Perhaps he shouldn’t have come.

But it was too late now.

Theo straightened as Kristofer approached. Even though he knew very well that most vampires could walk about during daylight hours, it still made him uneasy. These creatures were supposed to be night dwellers. But maybe that was what people believed in order to feel some kind of partial security.

Theo knew better.

Kristofer stopped in front of the bench. He looked Theo over with a frank and obvious hunger.

“Theo,” he said in greeting, offering a small smile and a glint of fang. So he was hungry. Hungry for either sex or blood, or his fangs wouldn’t have descended.

Theo shuddered in the face of such desire. “K-Kristofer. I wanted to see you.” This was the truth.

Kristofer nodded, sitting down beside Theo on the bench. “I know. I wanted to see you too. Needed to.” His vibrant blue eyes drifted over Theo, consuming him on the spot.

They locked eyes and Theo felt that connection, the same one he experienced with Gemma but even stronger here, now, with Kristofer. Was it because Kristofer was male, or because he was an older vampire?

It didn’t matter.

“Theo, I need to taste you. Now.” Kristofer’s voice felt like smooth amber covering him as if Theo were a tiny insect who would soon be trapped and paralyzed.

Theo nodded, his desire ramping up in Kristofer’s intoxicating presence. “I know.”

No sooner had Theo said those words than Kristofer’s cold hands slid along his neck and the handsome vampire pressed his lips to the younger man’s mouth.

A bomb could have gone off nearby and Theo wouldn’t have cared. Kristofer’s cool lips on his, the vampire’s soft tongue pressing inside Theo’s mouth, the fingers pressing against his pounding jugular – this was everything.

Theo opened his mouth and let Kristoffer have his way, loving how the vampire savoured his taste. He hadn’t taken blood yet, only kissed Theo like any man or woman would. But Theo knew it was coming. He moaned into Kristofer’s mouth and gripped his coat.

But Kristofer didn’t bite. Instead he pulled away and swore softly. “You do this to me, Theo,” he murmured, licking his red lips and gripping Theo’s neck tightly enough to alarm him. But just as Theo noticed, Kristofer’s fingers loosened and he let go. “You make me want you.”

Theo just sat there, trembling, cock hard and full of blood from that kiss and from Kristofer’s nearness.

“I want to really taste you,” Kristofer breathed, eyes drilling into Theo’s.

“Yes,” Theo replied without question. It was too late for any other answer.

“Do you know what I’m asking?” Kristofer said carefully.

Theo nodded. “Yes.”

Kristofer smiled, slowly, with genuine pleasure and relief. “Then come with me.”

Theo nodded again and stood, taking Kristofer’s offered hand.

He would go. He had to. He needed to experience everything that Kristofer was, everything that Kristofer had to offer him, if he was ever to sleep again.

Robotics – Friday Flash Fic., Feb. 2

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The guy was hot, there was no doubt about that. How he’d ended up aboard a Class D transport instead of a Class A fighter was beyond me. He looked like a Class A+++ fucking soldier.

We ended up at the same table in the cafeteria one day and I asked him about his arm. How he’d lost it. He’d blushed and said there’d been a stupid teleporting accident. He and a group of friends had been fooling around and hadn’t used the machine properly. Part of him had been left behind. He was just glad it had been something he’d had two of to begin with.

I told him I thought the mechanical arm looked pretty bad ass.

He’d smiled and winked. “I can do lots of cool stuff with it.”

The next day he’d deliberately sat across from me in the cafeteria.

“Is this seat taken?”

“Nope.”

He put down his tray and sat that gorgeous ass down in front of me. “What’s your schedule today?”

I blinked. “Huh?”

“I mean,” He said quietly, picking up an apple and taking a big juicy bite. He chewed deliberately for a few moments, making me wait. “When do you get off?”

His choice of words left me breathless. Luckily I didn’t say Whenever you want to help me and instead coughed out, “In three hours.”

He nodded, checking me out. I sat up straighter and hoped my uniform was immaculate. He kept eating that lucky apple and all I could do was stare and hope I wasn’t drooling. Food was the last thing on my mind.

“Room 21337.”

“Pardon?”

“Meet me there. In three hours.”

“Okay?” I could barely make words. The desire in his eyes made them turn a dark, dark blue.

“If you want me to show you.”

“Sh-show me?”

He smiled slowly, flexing the fingers of his mechanical hand with a small buzzing of the motor that powered them.

“What this arm can do.”

He stood up, taking his tray and dumping the rest of his lunch into the trash. He turned to look at me again, the white flesh of the apple now fully devoured. He held up the bare core and showed me before tossing it away.

“See you there.”

I managed to keep from fainting but had to sit still for a long time before I could get up. I checked my watch. These would be the longest fucking three hours I’d ever have to wait.

 

But First, Coffee – Friday Flash Fic., Jan. 25

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The final shot I wanted to get was of the luxurious Master bathroom with the view out the sliding doors to the hardwood deck and the sliver of beach, the expanse of blue ocean stretching to infinity. It took about five tries to get that perfect shot.

“And, done.”

Mr. Yanofsky grinned. “I can’t wait to see them. When will the issue be out?”

I looked everywhere but at Mr. Yanofsky’s intense grey eyes, because I felt safer behind the camera. Safer from my own desires. “Uh, well, it’s the July issue, so probably beginning of June. But they’ll send you a copy earlier.”

Mr. Yanofsky nodded, his hands in the pockets of his snug beige board shorts. “Would you like a coffee? I’ve got a lovely dark roast from Venezuela…”

I fiddled with my camera, pretending to readjust some settings before I put it away. “Sure, yeah. I could use some coffee.” I smiled, letting my eyes meet his and seeing something very attractive there. In a spur of the moment move I lifted the camera and took a quick shot of him standing, looking at me.

“Sorry,” I blushed. “Couldn’t resist.”

He smiled, and yeah, there was definitely something there. “Come on.”

I followed him to the absurdly beautiful main room of his luxury beach house where he bade me make myself comfortable while he moved into the adjoining kitchen and began to prepare a pot of coffee.

“How long are you in Fiji, Mr. Stone?”

I looked over at him from my seat on his white leather sectional. “Hmm? Oh, I go back Friday. I’m shooting two other homes while I’m here.”

“Will you have time for sightseeing?”

I nodded. “I hope so.”

“If you like I could take you around some of my favourite spots.” Mr. Yanofsky’s voice held a tenor of insecurity, like he wasn’t sure of my answer.

I was, however, positive. “That would be great. Sure.”

Mr. Yanofsky finished in the kitchen and set the coffee to brew, then walked slowly over to where I was sitting. He stood directly in front of me, a little closer than two relative strangers would normally be comfortable.

“Well, then. It’s probably a good idea to be on a first name basis, don’t you think?” He smiled down at me.

I straightened my position on the sofa, finally letting my eyes drift down Mr. Yanofsky’s trim form and back up to his eyes, in which the invitation seemed plain as day now.

“Jameson,” I breathed, anticipation and arousal swirling inside.

“Kevin,” Mr. Yanofsky said in a soft tone that seemed to stroke over my skin. “Of course you’ve already seen my very favourite spot on the island.”

“I have?” I said, clearing my throat and trying not to stare.

Kevin nodded, a pink flush spreading across his cheeks. He laughed softly and sat down beside me. “Well, that would be my bedroom.” He reached out a hand and touched the back of my own. “Would you, maybe, like to see it again? No camera this time?”

I flipped my hand over so his fingertips grazed the sensitive skin of my palm, and said, “No camera.”

When he leaned in and kissed me with a polite, testing pressure that only teased of the future possibilities here, my body responded.

He pulled back and assessed me with satisfaction.

“But first, coffee.”