Thoughts on Writhing

HIV is the shadow that seems to lurk behind all gay men. Due to poor sex education in schools that all but ignore homosexual safe-sex practices, a lack of openness with parents in talking about sex to their queer youths, and other various reasons, HIV continues to be prevalent among gay men. According to a study the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ran in 2017, 66% of people with HIV obtained it from male-to-male sexual contact. For the younger generations who didn’t experience the onset of the AIDS epidemic firsthand, there’s often an attitude of “that couldn’t happen to me.” That is, until there’s a scare, and they end up in a doctor’s office waiting for the results of their antibody test.

Reed Alvarado in Writhing

This is the very scenario shown in Writhing, a beautiful short film that mixes contemporary dance and ethereal narrative to convey the agonizing feeling after your finger is pricked. Director and writer, Robert John Torres, has created a stunning and meaningful work of art that perfectly encapsulates the experience many gay men know all too well. The beauty of this film lies in the contrast between Everett (the main character) as he goes in to get the HIV test and the Red Man that twists and writhes in haunting shots that evoke feelings of pain and turmoil.

Keanu Uchida in Writhing

It seems that Torres’ concept of sporadic contemporary dance symbolizes both the gut-churning anticipation of waiting to find out your HIV status and the disease itself. The Red Man is painted head to toe in red and adorned with leather restraints including a mask, juxtaposing HIV and all of the stigma, fear, and tolls it takes on its bearer with the physical act of dancing.

Elizabeth B. Bates and Reed Alvarado in Writhing

For the majority of the short film, we see the dancer in a bed as Everett has quiet moments of fearful contemplation. The Red Man appears more and more as the film continues, the climax of his role appearing when Everett is sharing his fears with the counselor administering the test. It’s at this point when the Red Man is showcased in a strobing double-exposure where he looks as if he’s being tortured. It isn’t until the counselor gives Everett some kind words of support that the red figure is seen outside, dancing with more grace than we’ve previously seen and breaking free from his symbolic ties to the bed.

Writhing - Original Poster Artwork

This short film is a mesmerizing foray into one man’s journey that dips in and out of reality, and we couldn’t recommend it more. You can view Writhing right here on Dekkoo, available for streaming now.

Watch the new gay series Bad Boy… or we’ll give you a spanking

Sort of like The Odd Couple with the fast-paced sensibility of 30 Rock, the brand-new series Bad Boy  – now available on Dekkoo – explores the dynamic between Mack (Tony Harth), a young, dumb-ish “bad boy” with a crazy past, and Scott (Artie O’Daly), a straight-laced man Mack has chosen to adopt as his “Daddy”… much to Scott’s frustration.

Both characters are gay (Artie is in real life; Tony, sadly, is not) and gay themes and undertones are woven into the comedy.  Plus, there is a hell of a twist in store.

After releasing the first episode online, Bad Boy garnered hundreds of thousands of views. With limited resources, the creative team behind the show set out to complete what were clearly in-demand new episodes.

The lead actors originally met doing a play in Los Angeles. Artie, who also directs the series, is a prolific actor who has been on shows such as “Modern Family”, “Silicon Valley”, “The Big Bang Theory” and “General Hospital.” He also co-created the web series Successful People (which you can also watch now on Dekkoo). Tony is a recent arrival to L.A. from the state of Wisconsin and has already appeared in multiple commercials and sketches.  Together, they made Bad Boy, which took on a life of its own. Now they’re chasing it wherever it goes!

The first four short episodes are all available now on Dekkoo.

BadBoy

The gay classic Bedrooms and Hallways comes home to Dekkoo

Released in 1999 (a busy year for gay cinema that included Boys Don’t Cry, Better Than Chocolate, The Talented Mr. Ripley and Trick, among others) Bedrooms and Hallways was writer-director Rose Troche’s long-awaited follow-up to her 1994 indie sensation Go Fish. This film proved a complete departure from her lesbian milestone: a hilarious comedy set in London about the tangled love affairs of a gay man.

Failed romantic Leo (Trainspotting co-star Kevin McKidd) is just hitting thirty. His kitschy roommate Darren (Tom Hollander) only reminds him of what he’s missing, merrily touting Darren’s frequent, illicit meetings with a lusty real estate agent (Hugo Weaving). So with nothing to lose, Leo joins a men’s group to bond with his fellow males and get his mind off romance. However, the latter notion didn’t account for sexy straight Irishman Brendan (James Purefoy). But wait… is Brendan straight? For that matter, is Leo? Life is never as black and white as it seems, especially after Leo and his group go on a drum-thumping, chest-banging camping retreat where a snarl of love triangles and jealousy explodes.

Colorful production design, glossy production values and an energetic ensemble cast (including Simon Callow and Jennifer Ehle) contribute to the lighthearted proceedings, of which Hollander takes the cake. Darren’s snippy dialogue and misinformed sexual antics are a true highlight.

Two decades ago this year, before she became one of the masterminds behind The L Word, Rose Troche rattled the straight/gay/bi boundary lines and shook the sexual tree. The result is a knee-slapping spoof of gay life at the turn of the millennium and the New Age movement, as well as a witty and prescient send-up of any and all rigid notions of sexuality.

Bedrooms and Hallways is now available to stream on Dekkoo.

 

Get Out meets Grindr in The Skin of the Teeth

Get Out meets Grindr in The Skin of the Teeth, a sinister new drama-thriller from writer-director Matthew Wollin, who evokes the feel of a contemporary film noir.

Pascal Arquimedes and Donal Brophy in The Skin of the Teeth

When Josef (Pascal Arquimedes) arrives at John’s (Donal Brophy) apartment for a date, their prickly energy slowly gives way to an unusual and genuine chemistry. But after Josef swallows a pill with unclear effects, the night starts to take a shocking turn.

Chuja Seo in The Skin of the Teeth

Josef is suddenly plunged into a surreal world where he is forced into a literal and figurative interrogation of just who and what he is.

Pascal Arquimedes in The Skin of the Teeth

While evoking the surreal work of David Lynch, this wild new film examines race, sex, love and identity in a mind-bending way – and the lead performance will keep you holding your breath from beginning to end.

Pascal Arquimedes in The Skin of the Teeth

The Skin of the Teeth is now available on Dekkoo. Check out the trailer below.

New This Week – 4/26/19

When Josef arrives at John’s apartment for a date, their prickly energy slowly gives way to genuine chemistry. But after swallowing a pill with mind-bending effects, Josef quickly slides helplessly down a rabbit hole of temporal sleight-of-hand, plunged into a surreal interrogation of everything he is. ‘The Skin of the Teeth’ is streaming exclusively on Dekkoo!

Avery D. Wilson is a confident and conscientious pillar of his community…but it wasn’t always that way. In this powerful short doc, Wilson reflects on his troubled childhood, reckoning with the conflicts between sexuality, faith and family and growing up to become “Mr. United States.” Stream the gay short, ‘Mr. United States’ now on Dekkoo!

Upon the death of his mother, a gay man in blue collar America returns to his childhood home. There he discovers a cardboard time machine that he made when he was a boy. As he uses it to get glimpses of his future, he ponders the weight of his life’s choices. Dekkoo Films is proud to present ‘How to Get From Here to There’ streaming now, only on Dekkoo!

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Coming next week: “Seldom has blasphemy been so entertaining…” – Variety

Short Film Spotlight: Writhing

“I’ve been putting it off for so long, it’s almost funny how easy that was.”

“Yeah, I know, right? You think in the back of your head it’s gonna be this intense thing and it’s literally like 15 seconds.”

“Nobody tells you that.”

Elizabeth B. Bates and Reed Alvarado in Writhing

Part work of ethereal realism, part dance film, the twelve-minute short Writhing follows a young man facing the probability of a positive HIV diagnosis. Writer-director Robert John Torres (who also co-stars as a supportive clinic counselor) takes us through the process. While the film doesn’t provide any easy answers, it does offer a great deal of compassion.

Everett (Reed Alvarado), a young gay man, is “pretty certain” that he has contracted HIV. However, he has been mentally and emotionally unwilling to bring himself in for testing. Finally working up the courage, he confesses his fear to a friend (Elizabeth B. Bates). He wants to go alone, finally ready to face the truth.

Reed Alvarado in Writhing

Torres has a wide variety of visual tricks up his sleeve, perfectly deployed the convey Everett’s uneasy emotions. Vape smoke frequently crowds the frame, standing as a metaphor for the lead character’s hazy uncertainty. There’s also a man (Keanu Uchida), credited as “humanoid figure” who gives meaning to the film’s title. Clad in a leather harness with pink skin, he dances, contorts and literally writhes on Everett’s bed in a perpetual state of unrest. His presence creates a strange juxtaposition with the seemingly ordinary West Coast suburban neighborhood we see out the window.

Clearly, not everything is alright with Everett at this moment… but it will be again (regardless of the results of his test).

Keanu Uchida in Writhing

Writhing is now available to stream on Dekkoo.

Writhing - Original Poster Artwork

 

The Falls: Covenant of Grace concludes a powerful romantic trilogy

The third and final installment of a beloved romantic trilogy, The Falls: Covenant of Grace, originally released in 2016, follows The Falls (2012) and The Falls: Testament of Love (2013) in telling the story of two former Mormon missionaries who fell in not-so-easy-to-maintain love.

RJ Smith (Nick Ferrucci) and Chris Merril (Benjamin Farmer) were once practically poster boys for the Mormon Church: they were both Eagle Scouts with perfect academic records and pretty girlfriends. But once it came time to serve a mission and experience the Mormon rite of passage, things changed. They were paired up together… and fell in love. The strict restrictions of the Church, however, would keep them apart for some time.

Covenant of Grace picks up with their story many years later. RJ and Chris have been growing closer. Chris, now divorced but still an active member of the LDS church, lives in Salt Lake City with his young daughter. RJ has moved to Portland, and is a successful writer.

Chris takes a weekend trip to visit RJ in Portland, but their burgeoning relationship is thrown for a loop when the LDS church announces a ban against baptisms for children of same sex couples. They are divided about how to handle the announcement, and what it means for their relationship and their faith.

Even though he still has faith, RJ would rather just be done with the Church, but Chris is not ready to let it go. Chris goes home with the issue of their relationship still unresolved.
But when Chris’ mother unexpectedly dies, RJ drops everything to fly to Salt Lake City and be there for the man he so passionately, painfully loves.

After RJ returns home to Portland he struggles with his feelings about the Church and
Chris. With the help of his friends, he begins to gain some clarity about his priorities. At the same time, Chris is just beginning to understand that he doesn’t have to choose between God and love.

Don’t miss this powerful, romantic and deeply compassionate film – now available on Dekkoo.