New This Week – 8/4/17

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When his long-term partner hurls him headfirst into fatherhood, troubled TV personality Steven Evans starts to shed his playboy reputation and embrace his new loving family bond… until an unexpected visitor arrives to shake everything up. Watch ‘The Dream Children’ on Dekkoo!

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New Year’s Eve 1999 finds college-bound Clark and Trevor concerned about the future of their friendship, and a request for Clark to be Trevor’s wingman ensures things will never be the same again. Watch ‘Tomorrow’ on Dekkoo!

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Making It Big’ is a reality series that follows the lives of seven friends, each with a unique connec-tion to the LGBTQ+ community, living abroad in Barcelona. While attempting to establish their ca-reers in a foreign land, their struggles coming of age and coming out in Ireland and Great Britain are revealed.

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Coming next week: A harrowing relationship drama will linger with you long after the credits roll. It won the coveted Teddy Award at Berlin International Film Festival.

DEKKOO DISPATCH 029 – ‘I KILLED MY MOTHER’

Title – ‘I Killed My Mother

Director – Xavier Dolan

Release Date – 2009

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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!

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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Watch it with:  Your loving mother 🙂

Mix it with: A Canadian white wine

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New This Week – 7/28/17

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In ‘I Killed My Mother‘ a cute gay teen’s fiery relationship with his mother drives this audacious, comedic debut from 20-year-old writer-producer-director-star Xavier Dolan.

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In ‘Vito‘, filmmaker Jeffrey Schwarz pays tribute to Vito Russo, a founding father of the gay liberation movement, author of “The Celluloid Closet,” and vociferous AIDS activist in the 1980s.

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A young drifter searches for a connection on the streets of Los Angeles, trying to understand his place in the world, and wondering who’ll remember him when he’s gone. Watch ‘The Happy Ones’ now on Dekkoo.com.

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Starring Big Brother contestant Will Wikle, ‘The Stillest Hour‘ is a twisted new take on the psycho-sexual thriller that explores the power of perception and reality.

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Coming next week: An Irish reality web series, following the lives of 7, 20-something, friends living in Barcelona.

DEKKOO DISPATCH 028 – ‘VITO’

Title – ‘Vito

Director – Jeffrey Schwartz

Release Date – 2011

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Today we at Dekkoo are paying tribute to Vito Russo: activist, author, academic, film fanatic, and most importantly a friend and father-figure to every LGBTQ member of our community. Jeffrey Schwartz’s 2011 film ‘Vito‘ is a stirring tribute to this legendary trailblazer of queer cinema and HIV/AIDS activism.

Growing up and browsing the shelves at Blockbuster I’d always walk by a tattered old looking DVD entitled ‘The Celluloid Closet’. Once I finally had made my way through most of the sexy films I’d been dying to rent I finally checked it out one night. The amount of queer stories that had to be hidden underneath various guises through time was sobering of what I had been accustomed to given my young age. ‘The Celluloid Closet’ was based on Vito Russo’s novel of the same name published in 1981 with the subtitle “Homosexuality in the Movies”. It woke people up to queer tropes like the predatory lesbian and the sissy homosexual. Vito truly believed that these tropes were perpetuating the oppression of gay people and that media needed to change in order for society to change. Vito wasn’t just sitting at home writing though. He went on college tours lecturing about his work and about queer cinema in general.

After publishing ‘The Celluloid Closet’ Vito Russo went on to form the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. That’s right, Vito Russo formed GLAAD! They’re the ones that to this day keep a very close eye on everything happening in media around the world and hold them accountable for their actions. And as much as I get annoyed with how much they hit me up for cash, they’ve done some great stuff like issuing a Studio Responsibility Index that ranks the major Hollywood studios by the quantity, quality, and content of LGBTQ representation in the films they produce.

Vito also left a big imprint on HIV/AIDS activism in the 80s through his involvement in the Gay Activists Alliance & ACT UP, his creation of a gay TV series called ‘Our Time’, and his participation in the 1989 Academy Award-winning documentary ‘Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt’. He told the story of his lover Jeffrey Sevcik who passed away from his battle with AIDS. The directors of ‘Our Time’ are Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman. Besides directing masterpieces like ‘The Times of Harvey Milk’ and ‘Word is Out’ they also were the ones to lovingly direct ‘The Celluloid Closet’ after Vito had passed away from his own battle with AIDS.

I’ve left you with a very basic skeleton of what Vito Russo did with his life, but when you watch ‘Vito‘ you’ll actually see his whole body and hopefully see even deeper.

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Watch it with:  A group of friends who appreciate gay heroes!

Mix it with: Beers!

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New This Week – 7/21/17

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Stray‘ is a brom-com in which Jay, a brash gay dude, and Rich, a nerdy straight guy, navigate sexuality and friendship in New York City. When Rich and Jay, once college buddies, reconnect after years apart, Rich discovers Jay is gay, even though Jay has been out as long as they’ve known each other. Rich’s repeated miscues earns Jay’s constant ridicule.

Don’t forget to check out our Dekkoo interview with ‘Stray’ creator Pablo Andreu!

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This revealing documentary invites you into the day-to-day lives of gay dads Scott, Steve, Randy and Drew, who are fathers through adoption, co-parenting and surrogacy. These men represent a new possibility, showing how in a modern world gay parenting can transform from a distant dream into a reality. Watch ‘Fatherhood Dreams’ on Dekkoo!

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The insecurities of sexual attraction, intimacy and connection are explored in the sensual short film, ‘Last Night‘.

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From John Greyson (‘Lilies’) comes ‘Proteus‘, a thrilling and erotic historical gay love story set in a South African penal colony during the 1720’s when sodomy was punishable by death.

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Coming next week: “An emotionally powerful documentary portrait with an impassioned voice.” – The Hollywood Reporter