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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New This Week – 3/30/18

This is the art for the gay horror movie, 'Alpha Delta Zatan'

In a frat house where no one can be trusted, a new brother becomes the target of a masked killer. This over the top horror flick is chock full of hot guys in their skivvies! Stream ‘Alpha Delta Zatan’ on Dekkoo!

This is the art for the gay short film, 'It Gets Better?'

After drinking heavily and getting stuck in a YouTube hole of “It Gets Better” videos, a man reflects on his life and decides to tell his own story. Watch the Dekkoo Films short ‘It Gets Better?’ now on Dekkoo!

This is the art for the gay documentary '108'

In her powerful documentary, which unfolds like a mystery novel, a young woman investigates the shadowy circumstances of her Uncles death. Watch ‘108’ now on Dekkoo!

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Coming next week: Sir Ian McKellen delivers a riveting, award-winning performance as gay Hollywood horror director James Whale.

DEKKOO DISPATCH 064 – ‘IN BLOOM’

Title – ‘In Bloom

Director – Chris Michael Birkmeier

Starring – Kyle Wigent, Tanner Rittenhouse, Adam Fane, Jake Andrews

Release Date – 2013

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Love is always best in the early stages when it’s ‘In Bloom‘. Chris Michael Birkmeier’s first feature film captures the innocence and tragedy of first love with a delicate touch reminiscent of Andrew Haigh’s ‘Weekend’. Although whereas ‘Weekend’ features leads from the UK that you can barely understand, ‘In Bloom‘ takes place in Chicago with super cute clean-cut American boys that definitely speak our language 😉

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As the film opens we’re introduced to Kurt and Paul who after running into each other awkwardly at a party try to be amiable with each other until… flashback! :SEVEN MONTHS EARLIER: A much more carefree Kurt smokes a joint in his bedroom while a frazzled Paul stocks shelves in bland looking grocery store. They’re a couple still in the early stages of love where they live separately, but spend all their time together. They go to the beach and play the ‘which guy is the hottest’ game, they have hot sex, and they go to parties together. We quickly find out the reason why Paul’s working hard and Kurt isn’t is because Kurt sells weed. Which isn’t to say selling weed isn’t hard work, but… it just isn’t.

Kurt and Paul’s relationship is tested by the arrival of Kevin, a new client/customer of Kurt’s. A wildly cute young-and-carefree type he definitely is someone that Paul could never be – younger, cuter, and a non-paranoid stoner. We can tell immediately that Kurt is trying his best not to be unfaithful to Paul, but it’s hard when Kevin is the one to make the first move and kiss Kurt. Gasp!! Of course this throws Kurt into a realm of uncertainty about Paul if he’s his one true love. Is he supposed to commit to this person if he’s interested in someone else? If only he didn’t smoke so much weed… Paul also is going through his own issues. “Don’t you get tired of doing the same thing over and over?” He wants to go to Paris and explore. Kurt just wants to ‘chill’ and have sex.

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When I first saw this film I was really taken aback by its honesty and its emotional connection that I could completely relate to. I was lucky enough to meet the filmmakers at their screening at Outfest and was thrilled to meet a group of people who were just like the film they created – smart, in touch with the gay community, and eager to make more films. The director has cited most of the film coming from his own life experiences and it totally shows. Here’s to hoping he creates more feature films – in the meantime he’s been busy creating queer music videos in Los Angeles.

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Watch it with: An ex you’re friendly with.

Mix it with: Beer and weed!

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New This Week – 3/22/18

This is the art for the gay documentary, 'Bones of Contention'

The dark history of Spain’s Franco era, including the punishing persecution of the LGBTQ community, is the subject of this absorbing and unsettling documentary. Stream ‘Bones of Contention’ now on Dekkoo!

This is the art for the gay short film, 'The End of My World'

After a few years of their relationship, Eryk leaves Filip and disappears without a trace. Filip is unable to handle the new situation and is convincing himself that the end of the relationship is also the end of his world. Watch ‘The End of My World’ now on Dekkoo!

This is the art for the gay film, The Secret Kiss

Ray is a loner until he meets the mysterious Paul whilst exploring the woods, a place he can see in his dreams. As their love deepens Ray begins to suspect that Paul may not be who he seems and that the sinister figures that haunt the woods may be coming for them both. ‘The Secret Kiss’ is now available on Dekkoo!

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Coming next week: A bloodbath of sexy studs!

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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