DEKKOO DISPATCH 051 – ‘LOGGERHEADS’

Title – ‘Loggerheads

Director – Tim Kirkman

Starring – Kip Pardue, Michael Kelly, Tess Harper, Bonnie Hunt, Chris Sarandon, Michale Learned, Robin Weige

Release Date – 2005

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Merry post-Christmas everyone! I hope everyone got that special gift (:cough: sling :cough:) you had on your wish list. I got one of those nifty VR thingys which has been fun to play with. I have yet to watch any Dekkoo films on it, but that’s definitely in the future! Last week I recommended ‘Make the Yuletide Gay‘ to watch with your family as the perfect Christmas movie and this week since I figure many of you are still with family I’d recommend another good movie to watch with the fam.

Before ‘Brokeback Mountain’ set the world on fire in 2005 there was a smaller film called ‘Loggerheads‘ that made quite a splash via the Sundance Film Festival and Outfest where it won the grand prize. Following three characters and their search for inner-fulfillment Tim Kirkman’s third film is a quiet yet stunning piece of filmmaking. The three main characters from a sort of triangle:

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Mark – A handsome drifter, Mark sleeps on the beaches of Kure Beach where loggerhead turtles come to bury their eggs. An activist of sorts, he does his best to make sure tourists don’t inadvertently kill the turtles. After he meets George, an owner of a motel in the area, he begins a romance made more complicated by his relationship with his non-accepting family and his HIV status. The uber-sexy Kip Pardue plays the role of Mark who’s been in tons of films including ‘The Rules of Attraction‘!

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Elizabeth – “I know that it’s hard to be the wife of a preacher” is spoken to Elizabeth at one point in the film and for me that pretty much spelled out the difficulty she has going through her life. Elizabeth’s life is ruled by the church and her husband’s unwavering belief in the bible. That’s why she no longer talks about her gay adopted son Mark and why she becomes very nervous when a new family moves in across the street who could be gay. I believe Elizabeth is the one that makes the most progress in the film – she appears to give up several times, but something within her always pushes her to re-visit an emotion that defeated her once before.

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Grace – Now midway through her life the one decision she constantly regrets is giving up her child to adoption. She sees her son in so many people passing by on the street that she decides that it’s time to find him so she can find some peace within herself. Grace quits her dead-end customer service job to move back in with her mother and begins the search for her son. Grace is a character that you really feel for in the movie. Her mother convinced her that giving up her baby would have been good for the future, but now that she realizes that her future isn’t so great she pines for the life that she could have had as a mother. It’s also great to see Bonnie Hunt (‘Jumanji’!) in such a touching role.

The way that the movie cuts all three of these storylines together really elevates the film to another level where you feel connected to all of these characters. I also love the fact that all of these plot lines take place in small towns. It’s charming and gives the film a boost of authenticity that city films can lack. I hope you get lost in the romantic, longing, and intense spiritual feeling of hope that ‘Loggerheads‘ imparts.

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Watch it with: Family & Friends

Mix it with: A White Wine

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DEKKOO DISPATCH 050 – ‘MAKE THE YULETIDE GAY’

Title – ‘Make the Yuletide Gay

Director – Rob Williams

Starring – Keith Jordan, Adamo Ruggiero, Hallee Hirsh, Kelly Keaton

Release Date – 2009

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It’s that time of the year again folks. Time to take out all those ornaments and take down a few of the more racy photographs you’ve got hanging on your walls before your parents show up. The holidays have always been friend and foe to the gay community. While we’ve been able to make the best of them by celebrating the season with friends and lovers it also reminds us that we sometimes can’t be with our families because we’ve been kicked out or ostracized. Luckily things have been getting a lot better (especially for younger gays) and our families have started to accept the idea that Christmas can include handsome hunks in love.

That’s the topic of this week’s CHRISTMAS SPECIAL Dekkoo Dispatch! The straights have ‘A Christmas Story’, but we’ve got ‘Make the Yuletide Gay‘ to… make the Yuletide gay-er? I mean let’s face it. Christmas is pretty darn gayyy. You’re decorating a tree, wearing silly sweaters, making eggnog cocktails, and waiting for a stranger to come into your house in the middle of the night to give you a ‘gift’. These are all homosexual activities that the straights have claimed in the name of Christmas! But I digress…

Make the Yuletide Gay‘ has been a yearly holiday viewing tradition for many homosexuals I know since it came out in 2009. It’s universal tale of acceptance, love, and family-above-all attitude is exactly the kind of vision of Christmas that we all hope becomes a reality for everyone. The story revolves around the adorable couple of Olaf (aka Gunn) and Nathan. In school they’re completely out and proud. Olaf even sports an HRC t-shirt at the beginning of the film. Snazzy! For winter break they head their separate ways with Olaf travelling to his family in the Midwest and Nathan going on a cruise with his parents. Once we arrive there we quickly realize that Olaf, while out in school, is definitely not out to his family. Of course there’s a twist – Nathan suddenly shows up on his doorstep without knowing he’s still in the closet. Thus begins a movie full of the comedy of hiding in plain sight.

I say hiding in plain sight because a lot of the movie’s comedy plays on the parents being a little ‘thick’. The mother, played by Kelly Keaton, is so gosh darn adorable and nice. While watching her I couldn’t help but think of Stephanie McVay in ‘The Edge of Seventeen’. She’s the ideal Christmas mother: constantly baking cookies, making hot cocoa, and telling embarrassing stories about her son to his boyfriend. The father, played by Derek Long, is a stereotypical ex-hippy stoner professor. He’s extremely calm, rational, yet also completely out of it. Thus jokes made by Nathan about usually taking the ‘top’ bunk fly right over their heads to hilarious result. The other character I should mention is Abby. She’s the next-door neighbor that Olaf’s parents are trying to set him up with. Awkwardness definitely ensues.

This is absolutely a perfect movie to watch with just about anyone, but especially your mostly-accepting to totally-accepting family over the holidays. It’s definitely PG to PG-13 so you won’t have to worry about your mother fainting over a sex scene.

We at Dekkoo wish you all the best over the holidays and we’d be remiss not to remind you that the gift of Dekkoo is a totally amazing present for any gay, young or old.

 

 

 

 

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Watch it with: Family, Friends, Aliens, you name it!

Mix it with: Spiked Eggnog

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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

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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.

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Watch ’em with: You and yourself

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

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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

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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.

 

 

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Watch it with:  A romantic partner

Mix it with: A drink from your childhood

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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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