New This Week – 4/20/18

This is the art for the gay movie 'Al Berto'

It’s the summer of ’75 in Sines, Portugal. Al Berto, the writer, embodies an entire moving generation. He and his friends exude youth, eccentricity and hope for the future – but right after the fall of Portugal’s dictatorship system, the country is not yet ready for his love story. ‘Al Berto’ is now available on Dekkoo two months before DVD!

This is the art for the gay film, 'Turtle Hill, Brooklyn'

A funny, sincere, slice of life about a couple just trying to figure it out. Mateo and Will invite their friends over for Will’s 30th birthday. After a few surprise visitors, they get through the day, but realize that doubting your partner isn’t nearly as scary as doubting yourself. Stream ‘Turtle Hill, Brooklyn’ now on Dekkoo!

This is the art for the gay short film, 'Bugcrush'

A small-town loner’s fascination with the new kid in town leads him into something much more sinister than he could ever have imagined. Watch the gay short film, ‘Bugcrush’ now on Dekkoo.

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Coming next week: From the Award Winning filmmaker Tadeo Garcia comes a love story for our time. 

New This Week – 4/6/18

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Ian McKellen delivers an award-winning performance as Hollywood horror director James Whale. It’s 1957, and Whale’s heyday as the director of ‘Frankenstein’, ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ and ‘The Invisible Man’ is long behind him. Retired and a semi-recluse, he lives his days accompanied only by images from his past. When a handsome young gardener (played by the beautiful Brendan Fraser) enters the picture, the pair develop an unlikely friendship. Watch ‘Gods And Monster’ now on Dekkoo!

This is the art for the gay short film, 'Turn It Around'

When the fifteen year old Bram meets Florian at a house party, he immediately falls for him. There’s only one problem: nobody knows Bram is gay. Watch ‘Turn It Around’ now on Dekkoo!

This is the art for the gay movie, 'Finding Neighbors'

A successful stay-at-home graphic novelist, has hit a mid-life and creative crisis. When his wife begins to suspect an affair she is surprised to learn he’s spending all of his time with his gay neighbor. ‘Finding Neighbors’ is now available to stream on Dekkoo!

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Coming next week: A gay story from Sri Lanka, where being gay is illegal.

DEKKOO DISPATCH 065 – ‘GODS AND MONSTERS’

Title – ‘Gods and Monsters

Director – Bill Condon

Starring – Sir Ian McKellen, Brendan Fraser, Lynn Redgrave, Lolita Davidovich

Release Date – 1998

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“To a new world of gods and monsters!” 
— Dr. Pretorius to Dr. Frankenstein in ‘Bride of Frankenstein’

We’ve got a wonderful treat for you this week on Dekkoo! The Academy Award winning film ‘Gods and Monsters‘ by Bill Condon! Released theatrically in 1998 it went to on win the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay and was nominated for two other categories – Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress. The script for the film was based on a biography of famous director James Whale called ‘Father of Frankenstein’ by Christopher Bram. Before we jump into talking about the movie I think it’s important to talk about the background of our protagonist: James Whale.

James-Whale A quick background on the real James Whale:
While James Whale directed nearly 20 films by now only a few have survived the test of time. Most notable among those are ‘Frankenstein’, ‘Bride of Frankenstein’, ‘The Invisible Man’, and ‘The Old Dark House’. Born in 1889 Whale was one of seven children and had to stop attending school in his teens because of money issues in the family. He started as a cobbler and ended up using his blossoming artistic abilities to paint signs for neighbors. When World War I broke out in 1914 he decided to enlist in the army and avoid the draft that he knew was inevitable. In 1917 he was captured in Flanders and remained imprisoned for more than a year. During that time he used his creative talents to amuse and entertain his fellow soldiers with amateur productions. After the war he spent his time trying to sell cartoons before eventually finding his calling directing plays which he did from 1922 to 1929. After the success of various productions he ventured to Hollywood where producers were looking for directors that had experience with dialog since Hollywood was going through a transition from silent films to talking films. He started off at Paramount Pictures and eventually made his way to Universal Pictures where he met Carl Laemmle, Jr. who offered him the chance to direct any property the studio owned. He chose Frankenstein.

The movie takes place in the 50s – long after the glory days of ‘Frankenstein’. In the 50s James had settled into his Pacific Palisades abode and had used the pool to his advantage; throwing pool parties where large groups of young men fooled around with each other while he watched. After having a small stroke in 1956 he became more withdrawn and hardly left the house. Enter Clayton (played by Brenden Fraser) – the new beefcake gardener. Some have noted that his tall lanky appearance is similar to that of the monster from ‘Frankenstein’. James takes an immediate liking to him and invites him to pose for some sketches. During these sessions they get to know each other and quickly become friends. There are some speed bumps though mostly owing to Whale’s tendency to lapse into memories about parties, sex, and boys which makes Clayton wildly uncomfortable. Watching from the sidelines during this tentative courtship/friendship is Hanna (played by Lynn Redgrave and nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars), his loyal housemaid who clearly disapproves of his homosexuality and tries to place herself in the middle of anything she deems suspicious.

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The film oscillates between these sketching sessions, memories from Whales’ childhood and later career, some interactions with fan, (‘take off your clothes and I’ll tell you everything’) and a past lover. Bringing the fun down a notch is Whales’ medical conditions – his strokes have left him severely ill and he toys with the idea of suicide. Ian McKellen is absolutely wonderful in the role of James Whale. He inhabits the playful, sexual, tormented, and reminiscent mind with the skill someone only of someone his caliber can deliver. He truly delivers a performance worthy of winning Best Actor at the Oscars, but sadly he was only nominated for it. The film is also a wonderful accomplishment for Bill Condon who later went on to direct ‘Kinsey’ and ‘Dreamgirls’ along with a host of other more mainstream fare like ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘Twilight: Breaking Dawn’. It’s a film that will stay with you long after the closing credits. A beautiful swan song to creativity and a life lived honestly.

 

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Watch it with: A group of your creative friends.

Mix it with: Champagne.

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DEKKOO DISPATCH 063 – ‘BONES OF CONTENTION’

Title – ‘Bones of Contention

Director – Andrea Weiss

Release Date – 2017

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“When the pure forms sank in the cri-cri of daisies, I knew they had assassinated me. They combed the cafes, cemeteries and churches, they pried open the wine-casks and closets, destroyed three skeletons to take their gold teeth. Still, they didn’t find me.”
– “Fabula y Rueda de los Tres Amigos” by Federico Garcia Lorca

Bones of Contention‘ by Andrea Weiss is a documentary that shines a light on a dark period of Spain’s history – the persecution of LGBTQ people under the reign of Franco (1939-1975). During his time in power over 120,000 murdered people were buried in unmarked graves along the roads of Spain. Many of these people were persecuted for political reasons which included their choice to live their queer lives out in the open. Federico Garcia Lorca was one of Spain’s most famous citizens – a poet, playwright, and theatre director. He was friends with other famous Spanish artists like Salvador Dali, Emilio Aladren, and Luis Bunuel. The film focuses on LGBTQ people in general but does focus quite a bit on Federico mainly because he became the most famous missing victim of Franco’s 120,000 victims that were buried in unmarked mass graves. To this day the body has never been found.

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Known as the ‘Spanish Hitler’ Franco rose to power with support from Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini and was responsible for the deaths of over 500,000 soldiers and civilians by the time he became Spain’s dictator in 1939. The aftermath of the civil war was horrible for Spain as thousands of prominent doctors, politicians, teaches, lawyers, and other professionals who had supported Spain’s Republic were forced to flee or possibly be jailed/murdered.

Because Franco’s Spain was very Catholic, sexuality wasn’t discussed in the open. Eventually though the government saw that they had to address the growing concerts of homosexuals and transvestites and so they created the ‘Law of Social Dangers’. It provided the police with a way to arrest anyone that appeared to endanger social mores in public OR in private. A funny exclusion to this rule were lesbians. The machismo ruling class saw women as so insignificant that they wouldn’t have ever thought of women as having the possibility of being homosexual. Sadly women were preoccupied with other injustices like no divorce and no birth control.

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The film does a great job of providing a myriad of subjects: scholars, gays, lesbians, ex-cons, and even a cabaret singer who was jailed for being a transvestite. They look at the past offenses to LGBTQ people under Franco’s rule, but more importantly they look to the future to map a path that will make them proud of living in Spain, a country that they all obviously have a love of.

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Watch it with: Yourself or a friend that enjoys emotional documentaries.

Mix it with: Probably water for this one.

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DEKKOO DISPATCH 045 – ‘CHRIS & DON. A LOVE STORY’

Title – ‘Chris & Don. A Love Story

Director – Tina Mascara, Guido Santi

Release Date – 2007

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“I think about you all the time, and about times I might have been kinder and more understanding, and I make many resolutions for the future — some of which I hope I’ll keep.”
-Christopher Isherwood to Don Bachardy

The touching, informative, and heartwarming love story between prolific writer Christopher Isherwood and his partner of over 30 years, Don Bachardy is superbly brought to life by Tina Mascara & Guido Santi in their documentary entitled ‘Chris & Don. A Love Story‘. After having heard about the film since its release in 2007 I finally was able to watch it last night and was glued to my couch with longing. As you’re watching Don Bachardy talk about his life with Christopher you begin to understand how special their relationship was and you have this urge to jump in a time machine and go swimming with them in Los Angeles circa 1955.

What differentiates this from a typical ‘I had a really long gay relationship movie’ is the fact that Don and Christopher had a 30-year age difference between them and they started dating when Don was only 18. Of course this caused all kinds of friction outside of their relationship; Christopher even had to leave his apartment when his landlady said it couldn’t go on. Inside the relationship however things were very different. They lovingly (and realistically) imagined themselves as a young cat (Don) and a lame horse (Christopher) and encouraged each other to have affairs outside the relationship. Christopher felt that he was a father to Don (‘without any of the downsides’ he joked in his diary). The other element heavily focused on is how an 18-year old develops (both emotionally and professionally) in the shadow of such a huge talent like Christopher Isherwood.

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Quick history lesson for anyone not aware of who Christopher Isherwood is because he’s pretty darn famous which is a big angle explored in the doc. Isherwood was born in England in 1904 and after failing college ended up in Berlin due to the enthusiastic letters sent from there by W.H. Auden who he become good friends with. There he was able to finally live his life as a gay man and have sex with working-class German boys which he preferred vastly over his upper-class British counterparts. His rise to fame came with the publication of ‘The Berlin Stories’ which was then made more famous by the movie ‘Cabaret’ starring Liza Minnelli. Other notable novels include ‘Christopher and His Kind’ & ‘A Single Man’.

The documentary doesn’t entirely rely on Don’s narrative point of view (although that is the majority). Many Isherwood scholars give notes based on interviews or Christopher’s exhaustive diaries that were published after his death. There are also some fun celebrity cameos like Liza Minelli, John Boorman, and Gloria Stuart. One of the most special elements of this film is definitely the archival footage that they were able to restore. Obviously Don and Chris were very interested in Super8 photography and we get fantastic snapshot of their vacations, parties, and general home life. Don almost always has a big smile on his face and you quickly understand why everyone (especially Chris) loved Don; he made you happy and that’s exactly how I felt through the whole documentary.

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Watch it with: Ideally a boyfriend, but an imaginary boyfriend will do in a pinch!

Mix it with: Whatever drink makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside 🙂

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New This Week – 9/29/17

c4cb64bd-8102-4977-b249-41cec7d9f6b1-080141a6A heartwarming coming-of-age romance, ‘Center of My World‘ follows Phil, a gay teen looking for excuses to avoid his quirky family. When he sets his sites on Nicholas, the mysterious new kid at school, he finds the perfect new distraction. Smitten, Phil watched Nicholas run track after school… and is thrilled to learn that his affections are reciprocated.

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Two prisoners in complete isolation, separated by the thick brick walls, and desperately in need of human contact, devise a most unusual kind of communication. ‘Un Chant D’Amour‘ is a voyeuristic, confrontational and poetic masterpiece. It is the only film made by French novelist Jean Genet. Forbidden in France upon its release, and only available in the United States in censored form through underground distribution, we are proud to present it in its complete version. Please be aware, this is a silent film!

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If You Could Only Be You‘ is a coming-of-age story that identifies the relationship between a father and son who are both at crossroads with their true identities.