DEKKOO DISPATCH 034 – ‘STAY’ AND ‘FOUR’

Title – ‘Four

Director – Joshua Sanchez

Starring – Wendell Pierce, Emory Cohen, Aja Naomi King, E.J. Bonilla

Release Date – 2012

Title – ‘Stay

Director – Brandon Zuck

Starring – Brandon Tyler Harris, Julian Brand, Zach Vinci

Release Date – 2013

______________________

Happy September everyone. I doubt many of you have children, but if you do I hope you’re very much enjoying having them off of your hands and back in school! And if you’re still in school then I’m so very sorry. Maybe these two films will cheer you up!

We’ve brought you two short films now from Brandon Zuck (‘The Happy Ones‘ ‘Goodbye Blue Sky‘) and this one is my favorite so far. ‘Stay‘ is an intimate drama (with a hint of action that we’ve become used to with Zuck’s work) taking place in the Florida keys (having the convertible top down while it’s raining is soooo Florida) concerning friendship, drugs, and intimacy issues. Ash tries and tricks his ex-boyfriend (Jacks) into joining him for a road trip that’s actually a drug deal. Once Jacks finds out he’s infuriated and only calms down when there’s an offer of money (sigh. typical dude-bro). The rest of the film is spent with discussions about their relationship – a lot of which feels very honest and heartwarming. After researching the film a bit more I found out that Brandon Zuck is attempting to make it into a feature film – very cool!

Continuing on with the theme of character-studies our featured feature film of the week is ‘Four‘ – a heartfelt drama about 4 people living their lives and trying to figure out how love works. The film premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival and took home an ensemble acting award for all 4 actors. For a tight 75-minute film it’s an incredibly honest piece of work and one definitely worth watching.

June – A young man struggling with his homosexuality who turns to anonymous online dating sites to find some kind of happiness.
Joe – A hardworking family man. Everyone he knows would describe him as honest, happy, and smart, but he hides his homosexuality from everyone and seems disgusted with gay men that aren’t him or those he holds in his favor.
Abigayle – Joe’s daughter who has to take care of her ill mother when her father is ‘away on business’.
Dexter – Half bad boy / half poet who wants to find love. A bit of a slacker, but charming nonetheless.

Over the course of one night these characters talk, kiss, scream, cry, and try to interpret the world around them. The most interesting plot line is definitely June & Joe who’s interactions sometimes feel like spoken-word poetry. Joe’s outgoing nature is the perfect compliment to June’s shy bordering on mute personality. I do wish the movie went a little further in its investigation of Joe’s family. There’s an easy 10 minutes that could have been added to it, but my guess is that the filmmaker wants us to understand how secrets can congeal in a nuclear family and remain undisclosed. Regardless this is a very moving film that I think you’ll all very much fall in love with.

____________________________

Watch ’em with: You and yourself

Mix it with: A drink that reminds you of your first love

____________________________

46b08dcc-8fac-4ad5-8af5-49bbc8be0e2d-76fea824.jpg

 

DEKKOO DISPATCH 030 – ‘NORTH SEA TEXAS’

Title – ‘North Sea Texas

Director – Bavo Defurne

Starring – Jelle Florizoone, Luk Wyns, Thomas Coumans, Eva van der Gucht

Release Date – 2011

______________________

 

Days spent playing card games, sitting on sandy beaches, listening to old records, drawing pictures of your crush, pining after romance. Bavo Defurne is a master at evoking these deep emotional moments that leap onto the screen with the clarity of the present and the warmth of nostalgia and longing. Before making his first film, ‘North Sea Texas‘, Bavo spent years travelling the LGBTQ film festival circuit with 4 short films that each contained queer longing, magic, history, and everyday life.

North Sea Texas‘ tells the story of Pim, a dreamer who more than anything else wants to be with Gino, his handsome older neighbor and friend. Early on in the film Gino seems happy to return Pim’s feelings albeit with the hesitance of a closeted gay man. After Gino gets a girlfriend however things definitely fall apart. We mostly follow Pim in his daily routine – dealing with his party-loving mother, his avoidance of Gino’s sister who has a crush on him, and the new boarder in his house, Zoltan, a handsome gypsy. Pim’s bravery in the face of everything is breathtaking and inspiring and the movie is worth watching for that alone. Of course the incredibly handsome Gino helps things as well.

I was lucky enough to interview Bavo shortly after the film came out back in 2012. Here are some highlights where we talk about distribution, homophobic Flemish audiences, and steamy romance:

F: About distributors; I know you were involved with that a while ago for the compilation DVD of your short films. What is it like working with them again?
B: Oh, it really depends. At this point, I’m very happy working with Strand on . But we’re just in the first steps now, so I’m still curious as to how it will go. In Holland, it was fine, but I think they could have done more, especially because the lady who plays the mother is actually very popular in Holland. I think they should have used that much more in the press. They didn’t maximize their potential. Right now, things are great in the U.K., because the film is now in its third or fourth week in the U.K. cinemas, and it’s still running, which is amazing.
F: Yeah, that’s pretty great for a gay film.
B: And for a Flemish gay film!
F: Yeah, that too. Subtitles! Oh my god!
B: Flemish isn’t really spoken anywhere else in the world, so I’m very proud of what they did in the U.K. Because, once I had finished the film, I had done what I set out to do; I couldn’t make it better. But sometimes when your producer gives the finished film to the distributors and they want to make it ‘better’ by actually putting in some work. For example the poster that Peccadillo created is very beautiful and it’s an image that didn’t actually exist. They collaged it together from various images taken on the set. That’s how creative and smart some of the distributors can be.
F: Do you not get the creative final say, when it comes to the distributors?
B: No, not at all. For the Belgian poster, you can see the boys, but they didn’t want them to be any closer together in the picture than that.
F: Did a gay company handle the distribution?
B: No. It was a big family chain and they thought it would be too controversial. To which I thought: “Why take the film in the first place?” The way they handled it was really awful. Homophobic, actually. I don’t know why they wanted to distribute it. It was a homophobic, art-phobic company. Anyway, the person who worked there and was responsible for that is now gone, and maybe it will get better. I hope so. For them.
F: Is homosexuality controversial where you live?
B: Yeah. Well, they said no, no. It was because it’s with young kids that it was controversial.
F: What do you think about that? Because that peaked my curiosity. I know there weren’t many explicit scenes in the film, but if there had been, do you think this film would have had trouble getting released? Say there were more explicit sex scenes between a 15-year old and an 18-year old. I guess for your ideal artistic expression, would you have made the film more explicit?
B: No. Because, it’s not a porn film, right? A porn film is to excite people only, and not to tell a story. Is sex an emotion? I don’t know. This film is more about emotions: people laugh, people sigh. So with the sex scenes, we thought, well in the book they’re there, but they’re poetically explained. You know in poetry you don’t have to use the word ‘penis’ or ‘masturbation’ to talk about very intense love scenes. But for a film, you have to show something. So our artistic problem was how to stay poetic and beautiful and still tell the audience what’s going on. Pim discovers sexuality and his body and how he feels about another boy, so we couldn’t not show it. In an action movie, it’s easy not to show sex. In action movies, sometimes there’s a romantic subplot and they kiss almost, and then it’ll cut to an action scene. But this film is really about love, so you have to show all the key steps in the process. I think the love between Pim and Gino really changes from the beginning of the film to the end. You see how they get closer, how things get more intense, and they do more things with their bodies. So that was the balance we sought: to be precise without showing pornographic images.
F: I thought that for how “steamy” the sensual scenes were, it was still extremely romantic. And let’s not even focus on when they’re kissing in the tent, but after, when Gino’s mom asks Gino, “How did you sleep in the tent?” and Gino slyly replied, “Very well. We should do it more.” That was almost even better than the sex, showing that there was going to be more, and that Gino was very attracted to Pim.
B: Yeah. You see it in his eyes; he played that very well.
F: I think that’s one of the few times we see a quick smile from Pim. We don’t see him smile too often.
B: Yeah. He doesn’t smile often. He’s very…not unhappy, but he keeps his emotions to himself. He doesn’t have someone to share his emotions with. He keeps everything internal.
F: So, speaking of keeping things internal, he has that box he keeps a lot of his memories inside. Did you have something like that as a kid?
B: Yeah. I think many of us have them. I still have boxes. I keep a lot of things. I thought I was the only one, but now that I’ve made the film, a lot of people tell me, “Oh, I have a box like that, and do you know what’s in it? Hair.” At the London premiere, many people shared their box experiences with me. Maybe we should make a website and people could post what’s in their boxes. I haven’t really kept my things in a box, but I definitely have a lot of things. When I talked to my actors, I explained things to them. My main actor was a 14 year old, so I tried to explain things in simple words. When I talked about the box, I explained that the box is a fetish. Pim is a bit of a fetishist. So when you love someone and you don’t get him, then there’s something physical to replace or symbolize that love. That’s fetishism. And you actually love things more than the person, because it’s the things you can touch and feel and love and the person is so far away or so unreachable. So that’s how I explained to him what the box is about. That’s what a lot of our boxes are about. Not a fetish for rubber or fabric, but a fetish for someone to whom you can’t show your love.

 

 

____________________________

Watch it with:  A romantic partner

Mix it with: A drink from your childhood

____________________________

DEKKOO DISPATCH 029 – ‘I KILLED MY MOTHER’

Title – ‘I Killed My Mother

Director – Xavier Dolan

Release Date – 2009

______________________

Hey Dekkoo’ers! We’ve got a special treat for you today. Film critic Kyle Turner is the guest blogger today and has offered a critical analysis of ‘I Killed My Mother‘, the first film by Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan. The film concerns the relationship (at times a very bitter relationship) between a gay high-schooler (played by Xavier Dolan) and his mother. It’s got great visuals, awesome, music, and super super sexy guys. Take it away Kyle!

—–

Xavier Dolan may have beaten most of us to the punch when it comes to crafting your identity around moody monologues told to a camera, with abstracted close-ups and a performative sense of intimacy between the audience and the lone subject. At least, as far as the Internet age goes; though it’s inconclusive, the first YouTube coming out video was, according to KnowYourMeme, posted in 2007; the first popular YouTube coming out video was posted in 2011. The Quebecois filmmaker’s debut feature, ‘I Killed My Mother’, debuted at Cannes in 2009, directly between those public confessionals.

True, Dolan, or rather Dolan’s veiled alter ego Hubert, never explicitly comes out to anyone in the film, much less his on screen mother Chantale (Ann Dorval), nor is the angsty videotaping anything new, even within queer art, but there is something oddly profound about a young queer man treating the camera, and a movie audience, like the void in which it is safe to reveal your most dysfunctional relationship and how it impacts you.

i-killed-my-mother

“I don’t know what happened,” Hubert says, unable to find the root of the tensions between he and his mother. He almost never looks directly into the camera during these soliloquies, making the videos, shot in black and white (against the rest of the film’s rather colorful palette), reveal in Hubert an ambivalence. There is the call for attention, the desire to confide, and yet perhaps a trace of shame. There’s little more devastating than knowing a once loving, close relationship with one’s parent has decayed into a series of endless arguments, nitpicks, and battles over how power has shifted as a child moves recklessly from adolescence to adulthood. It is hard to admit that such a dynamic has soured, to you beyond fixing. And the jealousy that infects your every move, jealousy over the peers and friends and boyfriend whose parental relationships are normal, comparably delightful, makes you ache.

The ache is what colors those quasi-confessional videos, where Hubert rocks back and forth between vitriolic tirades padded with mildly philosophical musings about parent/child relationships (which are of the utmost showy, in a fun way), to a potent honesty about his regrets, about how he still loves his mother in spite of their fractured relationship. “It’s a paradox of having a mother that you’re incapable of loving, but incapable not to love.”

Certainly, Hubert is bratty; brattiness and insolence are heavily defining features of Dolan’s films, particularly ‘I Killed My Mother‘, ‘Heartbeats’, ‘Mommy’, and ‘It’s Only the End of the World’. While he has matured as a filmmaker and his ability to delve into the complexities of different kinds of relationships, the cheekiness that was there from day one still appears in his work; it’s either part of his charm or a turn-off. But that audacious brusqueness is what shapes his films as well; ‘I Killed My Mother‘ is well-aware of its rudeness, and it’s almost proud of it. It thrives in aesthetic approaches which reek of art school fag, an impudent rejoinder to conventional straight filmmaking, both earnest about how the film wants you to get lost in paint splashed against a wall and random shots of fake butterflies, but as much as a mockery of it. Without that backhandedness or brazen quality, the film’s emotional core would not work, at least not in the same way.

xavier_dolan-hubert-francois_arnaud-antonin

 

If the film’s primary tension is the way that Hubert communicates his relationship with his mother – flippant and volatile with her in the room, a bit more contemplative alone and with the camera – ‘I Killed My Mother’ needs something that hits the sweet spot of sweet and sour for Hubert’s character and therefore his perspective. You can’t let him off the hook for being sassy, nor can you help yourself from sympathizing. Dolan, as a writer, has struck a balance between someone who is able to be sympathized with but also worthy of being chastised, and back and forth. Without the rudeness, Hubert’s rawness and bareness wouldn’t feel as striking or resonant.

The film’s irony lays in understanding the kind of person who is both outwardly emotional but internalizes all of the doubt and shame and sadness. Angst and brattiness are, as always, only a shield for something else. He has no one else to really talk to, not even the teacher (Suzanne Clement) who lets him stay over – he’s never as intimate with her as he is to his camera. There, his blunt armor remains in place. It’s protecting the boy who’s heartbroken at his inability to understand his toxic relationship with his mother, never mind repair the damage. One of Dolan’s most accomplished scenes is in his first film. Remember the video where Hubert talks about the paradox of being incapable of loving his mother and incapable of not loving her? She finds it. She looks at the tiny LCD screen. Silently, her face changes. She’s heartbroken, too.

____________________________

Watch it with:  Your loving mother 🙂

Mix it with: A Canadian white wine

____________________________

DEKKOO DISPATCH 026 – ‘Animals’

Title – ‘Animals

Director – Marçal Forés

Starring – Oriol Pla, Augustus Prew, Dimitri Leonidas, Roser Tapias

Release Date – 2012

______________________

Happy Outfest! I hope everyone who’s in sunny Los Angeles is having lots of fun and watching lots of sexy cinema at the film festival. If you’re not in LA then you should join in on the fun by watching the Outfest award-winning film ‘Animals‘ on Dekkoo which took home the Artistic Achievement prize back in 2013. I’m really psyched this film finally has arrived because it’s one of my all time favorites!! This is the first feature film of Marçal Forés who also directed ‘Everlasting Love‘ and while the two films are actually very different thematically, they’re very similar in regards to gorgeous cinematography (by Eduard Grau – ‘A Single Man’), exciting musical choices, and extremely attractive men. The soundtrack to the film in on vinyl and it’s one of my most played records. Soooo good!

AnimalsPol.jpg

When I was growing up there was always lots of talk about having an imaginary friend. I was always sort of jealous when I’d watch movies and all these kids that were my age had this intense connection to something that I couldn’t really fathom. I wanted to be crazy too!! While I didn’t have an imaginary friend I certainly had a favorite teddy bear. I slept with it every night all the way through high school in fact (there were one or two replacements along the way). But right when I went to college he went in the closet and I don’t really miss him. In the film ‘Animals‘ though a teddy bear named Deerhoof is both Pol’s imaginary best friend and sole companion.

Deerhoof can walk and talk (in English bizarrely enough!) and talks to Pol about life, music, and comic books. Early on in the film we see Deerhoof grabbed by a dog and we get our first glimpse of how attached Pol is to his best friend and companion. But its not only the dogs that want to steal away Deerhoof, but also Pol’s brother who you can tell used to have a closer relationship before he joined the police force. Now he just acts as a demanding parental figure that wants Pol to get rid of Deerhoof and face reality. Luckily Pol has a few friends at school like Laia (who has a major crush on him) and Mark.

animals-marçal-fores.jpg

Complicating Pol’s serene yet angsty life of comic books and cool Spanish punk music is Ikari, the new incredibly sexy boy in school. Pol can’t keep his eyes off him and eventually Ikari lets him inside a world that well… I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but the film definitely takes a turn! I feel like I’ve been making this movie seem normal minus the teddy bear, BUT IT’S NOT! Most people compare it to ‘Donnie Darko’ and I can’t really argue against that. It’s very surreal, goes unexpected places, and is quite serene and thought-provoking by the end. I had the privilege of being able to talk to the director right after watching it for the first time and I immediately asked him how much of an influence the short film ‘BUGCRUSH’ (which happens to be my favorite short film of alllll time) had on it and he smiled knowingly and said, ‘Quite a bit’. So if you’ve seen that then you know a little bit of the tone of the film at least.

Take a trip with Pol, Deerhoof, and the rest of the gang in the genre-bending and very queer film ‘Animals‘. On Dekkoo now!

____________________________

Watch it with:  With a few of your ‘cool’ friends.

Mix it with: Being stoned sativa-style works for this one.

____________________________

DEKKOO DISPATCH 025 – ‘The Country Teacher’

Title – ‘The Country Teacher

Director – Bohdan Sláma

Starring – Pavel Liška, Zuzana Bydžovská, Ladislav Šedivý, Marek Daniel

Release Date – 2008

______________________

It’s Wednesday!! Only 2 more workdays until 4th of July weekend! I don’t know what your plans are, but I’m venturing into the desert and drinking Tiki drinks poolside for 4 days straight. Heaven… Did everyone see the exciting news about ‘Screwed’ being picked up by Dekkoo out of Frameline?? I’ve seen it and it’s an incredibly sexy Finnish tale of first lust with a great sense of humor about it. I talked to a few people who saw it at the sold-out screening at Frameline and they said it was a super high energy screening. Get psyched!

As a city-living boy for most of my life I’ve always romanticized the life lived in the countryside. When I saw ‘The Country Teacher‘ at the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival back in 2008 it completely fed into that romanticism and I was swept away by the golden fields of hay and the ancient practice of drawing of water from wells. Of course we’re also talking about a movie from the Czech Republic so in addition to the romantic stuff we’re also talking about insane Eastern European drunks that harass people and beat each other up. Although come to think of it that seems sorta romantic as well…

Anyways let’s talk about the characters at the heart of this emotional drama. Petr is a teacher that decides to move to the countryside from the busy city for unspecified reasons. After arriving and settling in (his landlord/boss gives him 6 months before he can’t stand the small town anymore and runs away) he falls asleep on a bed of hay and wakes up to find Marie standing over him, the woman who owns the farm he’s wandered into. She’s kind to him and invites him out to socialize with some of the villagers. He comes to realize that Marie is falling in love with him, but he’s too awkward to admit what we here at Dekkoo realize right away… he’s gay. He really likes her and feels affection for her, but he’s much more interested in her teenage son and offers his teaching skills to become more ingrained in his life.

I don’t want to go into much more detail because Petr goes through quite a journey in the film and it’s very emotional. By the end of the film you’ll absolutely fall in love with Marie who is so unbelievably kind and I fear that there aren’t many of her sort left in the world. ‘The Country Teacher‘ is a striking picture that combines the best of European art-house cinema and Queer self-discovery cinema into one wondrous picture that will leave you swooning.

____________________________

Watch it with:  By yourself or someone else that won’t talk much. It’s very meditative.

Mix it with: Coffee.

____________________________

DEKKOO DISPATCH 019 – ‘BLOKES’ & ‘REMINGTON AND THE CURSE…’

Title – ‘Blokes

Director – Marialy Rivas

Starring – Alfonso David, Pedro Campos, Paula Zúñiga, María de Los Ángeles García

Release Date – May 22, 2010

Title – ‘Remington and the Curse of the Zombadings

Director – Jade Castro

Starring – Martin Escudero, Lauren Young, Kerbie Zamora, Janice de Belen

Release Date – August 31, 2011

_________________________

Heya! Hope everyone’s week is going swell. It’s that time of the year in the film world when everyone seems to be asking, ‘Are you going to Cannes?’ I’m not, but that doesn’t stop me (nor should it stop you!) from watching some Cannes-worthy films this week and it just so happens the short film, ‘Blokes‘, was an official selection of the Cannes Film Festival a few years ago!

Luchito lives in a poor apartment complex somewhere in Chile during the military dictatorship which lasted from 1973-1990. He lives with his nosy mother who keeps barging in on him while he’s trying to jerk off to thoughts of the hunky boy playing soccer in the courtyard downstairs. Luchito is a dreamer and to that end spends a lot of time staring out of his window. Finally he gets to see his crush naked with a girl, but that’s just the start of a cat and mouse game with an ending involving a really big ‘cat’.

Blokes‘ was based on a short essay by a famous queer Chilean author and activist named Pedro Lemebel. I can’t read Spanish, but the google translation hinted that it was written really beautifully.

Next, we’ve got a mega silly film that I couldn’t get out of my head for weeks afterwards: ‘Remington and the Curse of the Zombadings‘ is a super queer zombie/witchcraft-comedy out of the Philippines which is known for a very flamboyant gay community due to the presence of the ‘Bakla‘. Sadly, gay people are barely tolerated in certain communities and violence does occur which is one of the focal points of the film.

The story concerns Remington (a super-cute Martin Escudero) who was cursed at a young age by a Pops (Roderick Paulate) who he mocked for being gay while Pops was mourning for a dead lover. However the curse is hardly your average cut-and-dry you’ll die soon or you’ll get boils on your butt. No! It’s that Remington will become gay when he gets older! Fast-forward 10 or so years and the curse starts to take effect right at the same time a rash of strange murders begin to plague his small community.

Watch the trailer and you’ll quickly get a sense if this movie is your taste. I’d highly recommend it though. Where else can you watch a straight guy struggling with a gay curse and having mood swings between the girl he’s falling in love with and his ‘straight’ best friend while at the same time solving a murder mystery?!?

Some fun facts about the movie:

-Once Remington starts to ‘turn gay’ he starts talking in bakla slang like ‘Hi Mumsie!’ and ‘Must dash!’ and you’ll notice that those subtitles are in pink!

-There’s a cameo by Daniel Fernando who was in the classic film, ‘Macho Dancer’.

-Remington can’t control his ass in one dance scene; emoji’s and rainbows take over the frame and it’s legit one of the best parts of the film.

_________________________

Watch ’em with: Your mega-gay friends

Mix ’em with: A Mojito, or two, or ten…

_________________________