Title – ‘Proteus‘
Director – John Greyson, Jack Lewis
Starring – Brett Goldin, Jeroen Kranenburg, Rouxnet Brown, Tessa Jubber
Release Date – 2003
Title – ‘Tonight It’s Me‘
Director – Dominic Haxton
Starring – Neil Elliot, Caleb James, Christian Patrick, Jake Robbins
Release Date – 2014
In case you hadn’t noticed, we’ve added another one of Dominic Haxton’s brilliant short films to Dekkoo. ‘Tonight It’s Me‘ stars Jake Robbins who appears in 2 of Dominic’s other films (to be added in the future!) and is also the star in Robert Hawk’s super sexy short ‘Home From The Gym‘. In ‘Home’ Jake felt far away and objectified. Here he feels merely objectified which isn’t bad for us! But seriously, in ‘Tonight’ we actually get to know more of what makes a muscled hustler like him tick.
The films starts off with CJ (Jake Robbins) dealing with one his usual ‘johns’; A fat older man who can’t stop insulting him and making his life miserable. Later on CJ stops off at a new trick’s house, Ash, who with his effeminate manner and his openness about sexuality and gender strikes a chord within CJ and he begins to open up more than he has with others in the past. The film is a masterpiece in subtle characterization and the hot interplay between the two main characters is the icing on top.
At Dekkoo we’re really proud to bring queer classics to the platform and John Greyson’s ‘Proteus‘ is one of those. Greyson has been a pioneering voice in the realm of queer cinema ever since hitting it big with the HIV/AIDS musical ‘Zero Patience’ back in 1993. His signature style of Derek Jarman-esque experimental narratives mixed with historical context and a few musical numbers thrown in for good measure combine to create significant works of cinematic art that still makes the festival and art-house cinema rounds to this day.
‘Proteus‘ was written and co-directed with Jack Lewis and concerns two men who were SPOILER ALERT! executed for sodomy in 1735 in South Africa. Normally I hate spoilers, but this is a historical film and it’s important to understand a little bit about history in order to grasp the subtle nuances throughout the film. Furthering the issue at the time was that they were a bi-racial couple.
Claas Blank and Rijkhaart Jacobsz are the two men at the heart of this story. Both of them are prisoners on Robben Island (an island on the west coast of Cape Town where Nelson Mandela was held for 18 years of his prison term). Claas is a Khoi, a native of southwestern Africa and Rijkhaart is from the Netherlands whose government had control over the so-called ‘Cape Dutch’ area until 1795 when the British stepped in. A botanist named Virgil realizes that Claas has a deep knowledge of the South African flora and puts him in charge of the prison garden. Rijkhaart becomes one of his helpers and then eventually his lover. At first their relationship is joked about and ignored, but eventually simmering tensions between some of the other prisoners and the guards becomes too much to ignore.
Greyson combines this intimate historical drama with fun quirks such as incorporating modern technology like typewriters complete with busybody secretaries that give us historical context for courtroom scenes. The scenes towards the end of the film are of course saddening, but this is the 18th century and it would be dishonest to present a ‘happily-ever-after’ scenario.
If you like this film stay tuned because there will definitely be more classic queer gems like this one to grace Dekkoo in the future!
Watch ’em with: A friend or two who like historical dramas.
Mix it with: A white wine.