DEKKOO DISPATCH 067 – ‘BUGCRUSH’

Title – ‘Bugcrush

Director – Carter Smith

Starring – Josh Caras, Donald Cumming, Eleonore Hendricks, David Tennent

Release Date – 2006

 

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Well it’s a very dark and yet exciting day here in Dekkoo-world with the launch of Carter Smith’s award-winning short-ish film from 2006 ‘Bugcrush‘! This is absolutely, positively, my favorite short film ever – it’s disturbing, sexy, and gorgeously made. The photography, sound design, and choice of locations all come together to reach a level of perfection for my particular aesthetic interests. The short premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and went on to win the Grand Jury Prize for Best Short Film! Based on his success at Sundance Carter Smith went on to direct the Summer blockbuster horror film ‘The Ruins’ and later in 2014 the intimate ghost love-triangle film ‘Jamie Marks is Dead’.

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Bugcrush‘ is set in a small town in the forest-heavy state of Maine. We meet Ben – a mousey nerd-ish loner type who happens to be the first person to talk to the dark, mysterious, and sexy new kid in school, Grant who immediately upon arrival gets an immediate detention for smoking. What does Ben do then? He gets detention on purpose so he can stare at Grant for a couple of hours. Ben’s friends try to talk him down from his obsession with Grant. They warn him that he’s just a straight guy that’ll beat him up if he knew Ben was into him. But none of this deters Ben who proceeds to work up the courage one school day to propose a hangout with Grant that leads to a very bumpy night to say the least…

The film is an adaptation of a short story by Scott Treleaven, an artist who founded the queer pagan punk ‘zine ‘This is the Salivation Army’ back in the 90’s. It was collected in the queer horror anthology ‘Queer Fear 2’ which is where Carter Smith first read it. “The moment I read the short story the very first time, it was like being hit by a bus,” Carter Smith said, waiting in a Dallas airport for a changeover flight to Salt Lake City. “I was like, ‘This is the film that I can make better than anybody else. This is the film I have to make.’ It just sort of clobbered me over the head.” Before making ‘Bugcrush‘ Carter Smith was a professional fashion photographer and commercial director. He was certainly able to bring over his keen instinct for stylization and photography to create a dark and foreboding landscape of teenage angst and sexuality.

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The film was shot on 35mm and the color timing is some of the best I’ve ever seen. Greens have a corpse-like quality to them (except when it comes to Ben’s eyes which seem to be leaping out of the screen at you) and the roads at night are a gorgeous yellow-grey color. Another part of the production that leaps out at you is the sound design. The entire film is filled with eerie moans and distorted childish voices that promote the escalating tension in everyday normal situations like school hallways. The idea to un-synchronize the sound during the driving scene at night is totally brilliant! And so was the idea to have lots of whispering voices giving you additional info about characters. Turn up your volume!!

This movie has everything! Pretty guys, teenage crushes, weird drugs, sexy smoking, metal music, awkward hidden sexuality, creepy straight guys, and cockroaches! Watch ‘Bugcrush‘ with your ‘crush’ tonight!

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Watch it with: Someone you have a dark crush on…

Mix it with: Vodka.

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DEKKOO DISPATCH 066 – ‘SHORT FILM ROUNDUP!’

Title – ‘Turn It Around

Director – Niels Bourgonje

Starring – Valentijn Avé, Tonko Bossen, Timo Dries, Faye Gunther

Release Date – 2017

Title – ‘Breath

Director – Margien Rogaar

Starring – Yannick de Waal, Moo Miero, Roeland Fernhout

Release Date – 2007

Title – ‘It Gets Better?

Director – Stephen Riscica

Starring – Gys de Villiers, Luka Fric, Samuel Ashkenazy, Adam Davenport

Release Date – 2016

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Three short films – Three snapshots of queer life at three different points in a gay man’s life. I’ve been focusing too much on features lately so this week I decided to take a glance backwards at some of the short films that have been added to Dekkoo’s catalog. I found three recent additions that speak of love at different stages in life and they’re all exquisitely crafted! I’d recommend starting from young to old. In this case from ‘Breath‘ to ‘Turn It Around‘ to ‘It Gets Better?‘.

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‘Breath’ is an heartwarming poetic coming-of-age short film from The Netherlands. Infused with a warmth you can only get from shooting on real film, ‘Breath‘ focuses its camera on 12-year old Erik. He’s fascinated by the world around him and constantly observes his surroundings with the remnants of child-like awe. His friend Sophie invites him to the beach where he meets her handsome and playful father. Clearly Sophie has a bit of a crush on Erik, but Erik has his eyes on her father. Margien Rogaar definitely has an eye for colors, occasionally flashing us with bright swatches of color reminiscent of scenes from ‘Beginners’ by Mike Mills. The whole film felt like falling into a dream for me – a dream that put me in the shoes of my childhood self and reminded me of what having a crush at that age was like.

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Ten years later in the same country Niels Bourgonje created ‘Turn It Around‘. A film set squarely in the post-‘It Gets Better’ world with the coming out process being awkward rather than difficult. In the short 15-year old Bram is attending a house party with his girl crazy friends. We can tell immediately that he’s your typical closeted gay teenager – lazily reacting to girls his friends point out as ‘hotties’. But then Bram spots Florian at the party and immediately falls for him. In the span of just ten minutes we’re witness to the beginning of a really adorable love story. If you can only watch one of these shorts make it this one! Soooo cute and heartfelt.

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Lastly we enter old age with ‘It Gets Better?‘. Getting older is something very few people (especially gay people!) want to happen to them. This feeling is programmed into us from a very young age where being attractive and youthful is prized above almost everything else. Slowly, but surely more narratives are changing that view point and ushering the values of old age corresponding to wisdom and insight into the cultural consciousness. In this short we meet an older man who’s watching an ‘It Gets Better’ video on the internet. In the video we see a teenager repeating the same monologue we’ve heard a million times before, but it’s affecting this man differently. Instead of being calmed by it he’s agitated by the teenager’s words. After drinking a heck of a lot of wine we finally hear what’s on his mind. Gys de Villiers (who is actually a pretty famous South African actor) is unbelievably compelling as the anonymous older gay man who tries to impart some of his wisdom (and melancholy) to a jaded modern culture.

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Watch it with: A friend or two!

Mix it with: A glass of white wine.

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DEKKOO DISPATCH 054 – ‘BULLY’

Title – ‘Bully

Director – Larry Clark

Starring – Brad Renfro, Nick Stahl, Bijou Phillips, Michael Pitt

Release Date – 2001

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Oh Larry Clark. What a strange and unusual artist. In the late 90s his name was synonymous with the new wave of transgressive cinema coming out of Sundance from the likes of Gregg Araki and Bruce LaBruce. His subject matter is primarily troubled youth coping with the boring, sad world around them – usually through drugs and sex. On Dekkoo we’ve made one of Clark’s classic films – ‘Bully‘ available for your voyeuristic pleasure.

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Still from ‘Tulsa’

Before I tackle ‘Bully’ today I want to talk a bit more about Larry Clark. The preface of his now legendary first book of photography ‘Tulsa’ reveals a lot about Larry:

i was born in tulsa oklahoma in 1943. when i was sixteen i started shooting amphetamine. i shot with my friends everyday for three years and then left town but i’ve gone back through the years. once the needle goes in it never comes out. L.C.

We’re clearly dealing with an artist who spent a great deal of time living in a world that he know he’ll never actually escape from so he instead decided to explore his own world deeper through photography and expose it to the world. ‘Tulsa’ caused a big stir when it came out in 1971. Many viewers were shocked by the world contained within – a world of junkies, teenage sex, and violence. Obviously people responded to the work (Gus Van Sant & Martin Scorsese have cited ‘Tulsa’ as an influence on their work) and he was able to follow up ‘Tulsa’ with ‘Teenage Lust’ in 1983 – building on his world of drugs and isolation.

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A young Harmony Korine

In 1993 Larry Clark saw a young Harmony Korine skating with his friends in Washington Square Park, took a few photos, and then after finding out he was an aspiring filmmaker asked him to write a script about skaters and include a plotline about AIDS. Harmony was thrilled and eagerly wrote the script ‘Kids’ which then premiered in 1995 at the Cannes Film Festival. Chronicling the life of a group of NYC wayward youth, one of whom was unknowingly infecting girls with HIV generated massive controversy just like ‘Tulsa’. Due to it’s NC-17 rating it didn’t earn much money at the box office, but it certainly cemented the careers of both Harmony (who went on to direct ‘Gummo’ and ‘Mister Lonely’) and Larry Clark. After ‘Kids’ Larry Clark directed three movies in a span of nine months! Those films turned out to become ‘Bully’, ‘Ken Park’ (still unreleased in the U.S. to this day!), and ‘Teenage Caveman’ (a silly movie that’s worth watching if you’re into B-grade schlock).

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Nick Stahl and Brad Renfro in ‘Bully’

Bully‘ takes place in Hollywood. Hollywood, Florida that is. There’s definitely no glitz and glam here. Take it from me. I’ve been there. Many times. Don’t go there. Buttt it’s the perfect setting for a Larry Clark movie. It’s full of disaffected youth dying to escape the heat and move to the real Hollywood to make it big. ‘Bully‘ starts out innocently enough with horny teenagers just trying to get laid. But soon we come to realize that we’re witnessing a microcosm of sexual and interpersonal dependency between the main characters of Bobby and Marty. Bobby constantly has Marty in an iron grip of dominance that Marty simply can’t escape from. He might even like it a bit. But eventually the abuse becomes too much and Marty’s girlfriend convinces him that the only way the abuse will end is if they kill Bobby.

Wow – what a crazy-ass movie. I remember watching this in high school and enjoying it, but I definitely did not pick up on how freaking homo this film was. And hot. Bobby is basically Marty’s pimp. He makes him have gay sex over the phone for cash AND forces him on stage to strip at a gay bar. Also there’s a fantastic scene where Bobby literally accuses Marty of being gay, “Don’t lie to me boy I know you like dick”. Messages are mixed in the film as to whether or not they’re actually gay (for other guys. I mean Marty does have an Eminem poster in his bedroom…), but I do think they’re at least gay for each other.

The film is loosely based on a real crime that took place in 1993 – the murder of Bobby Kent by a group of kids hereafter known as The Broward County Seven. Comprising the ‘seven’ are a number of awesome cameos. Most surprising was the fantastic performance by Daniel Franzese (‘Mean Girls’) as a fat drug-taking Mortal Kombat addicted teenager (FATALITY!!). It’s also great to see Michael Pitt (pre-‘Hedwig’) as a complete brain-dead drug addict who can’t make any decisions in life without a tab of acid taking the wheel.

This film is totally bizarre, hot, ridiculous, and disturbing which really adds up to fun-ass time. Watch it tonight!

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Watch it with: Your trouble-making friends.

Mix it with: The traditional bad-ass high school dropout drink: Jack & Coke

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DEKKOO DISPATCH 053 – ‘I’M FINE’ SEASON 2 TRAILER PREMIERE

Title – ‘I’m Fine Season 2 Trailer

Director – Brandon Kirby

Starring – Perry Powell, Lee Doud, Shaughn Buchholz, Brittney King

Release Date – 2018

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THEY’REEE BACK! Well almost anyway…

Nate, Jeff, Andy, Brian, and Nicole: They’re all back and ready for more life lessons and queer hijinks in ‘I’m Fine’ Season 2! It premieres January 25th and today you can finally see the full season 2 trailer here. And here! and heeereeee.

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Season 2 picks up right where the last one left off with our titular hero/anti-hero Nate finally getting over his relationship with Joey, but still figuring out his delicate friendship with Jeff. The rest of his friends are each figuring out life in LA – job hunting, open relationships, and of course – sex.

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I asked the director what viewers should look forward to in season 2:

They should be excited to get to know the incredible cast of supporting characters who orbit Nate – we get a more in depth look at their friendships. Oh, and there is some fresh eye candy, too. 🙂

‘I’m Fine’ Season 2 premieres January 25th exclusively on Dekkoo! Catch up on Season 1 here.

 

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DEKKOO DISPATCH 052 – ‘KUNTERGRAU’

Title – ‘Kuntergrau

Director – Kai Kreuser, Maik Scholz, Nick Schröder

Starring – Fabian Freistühler, Daniel Kosic, Marcel Meyer, Moustafa Tarraf

Release Date – 2015

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Happy new year everyone!! Hope you all had at least some chance to rest, relax, and reflect on the coming year and all the exciting (and dreadful) surprises that lie in wait. Here’s to hoping you also got the chance to watch some movies to ring in the new year. Did any of you watch ‘Make the Yuletide Gay‘ with friends and/or family? I showed it to my mom and she was quite tickled by it!

I know the wait for Season 2 of ‘I’m Fine’ has felt like forever, but it’s nearly over!! It premiers January 25th right here exclusively on Dekkoo and you can check out a little teaser here! The full trailer is coming out veryyyy soon! In the meantime we’ve got something very similar for you – a webseries from the capital of Germany – Cologne dubbed ‘Kuntergrau‘. At 5 episodes averaging 12 minutes each you’ll be either binge it in one sitting or give yourself 5 fantastic morning commutes or work lunches worth of cute young queerness!

Being gay and living in Cologne in Germany and not Berlin must feel just like living in Pittsburgh versus NYC. But that’s where ‘Queer as Folk’ succeeded and that’s how ‘Kuntergrau‘ works its charm. There’s definitely something about portrayals gay life in a smaller city that seems more tight-knit and adventurous. It’s also this exact need to come together that inspired the production of the series. Volunteers aged 17-27 worked on this project over the course of several months and you can tell that a lot of love and hard work went into it.

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Kuntergrau‘ follows five friends living as openly gay men in Cologne. It absolutely tries to do away with the typical coming-of-age closeted stereotypical storylines and instead tries to focus on issues that young gay men are living with in metropolitan areas. All the characters are very charming and unique in their own way, not to mention very cute! Jan and Noah are the first of the friends we meet and they also happen to be lovers. Complicating their relationship is Noah’s desire to be extremely masochistic and submissive in bed which cuddle-friendly Jan doesn’t enjoy. The handsome Marcel seems to tie a lot of the characters together with his openness towards sexuality and the fact that he’s the only single one. The final couple of the 5-some is the extremely cute and shy Leopold and a fresh face in Cologne; Lukas. There aren’t many supporting characters, but Leopold’s Grandma Margarethe is adorable!!!

It’s hard to pack a lot of content into something so short, but ‘Kuntergrau‘ absolutely has a lot to say. There’s a lot of emotional digging around the issue of sexuality in Jan and Noah’s relationship – is it truly love if one person’s sexual desires can’t be fulfilled? Lukas and Leopold have their own baggage to unpack – Leopold is very virginal/shy and Lukas is hooking up with someone outside of the relationship. Finally the show even tackles HIV with Marcel as a proud HIV-positive man simply trying to not let the virus take over his carefree and hookup-friendly life. The show really took me by surprise as I hadn’t heard of it, but I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this team as I think there’s some fantastic talent both in front of and behind the camera.

 

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Watch it with: A few friends

Mix it with: Vodka/Soda

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DEKKOO DISPATCH 026 – ‘Animals’

Title – ‘Animals

Director – Marçal Forés

Starring – Oriol Pla, Augustus Prew, Dimitri Leonidas, Roser Tapias

Release Date – 2012

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Happy Outfest! I hope everyone who’s in sunny Los Angeles is having lots of fun and watching lots of sexy cinema at the film festival. If you’re not in LA then you should join in on the fun by watching the Outfest award-winning film ‘Animals‘ on Dekkoo which took home the Artistic Achievement prize back in 2013. I’m really psyched this film finally has arrived because it’s one of my all time favorites!! This is the first feature film of Marçal Forés who also directed ‘Everlasting Love‘ and while the two films are actually very different thematically, they’re very similar in regards to gorgeous cinematography (by Eduard Grau – ‘A Single Man’), exciting musical choices, and extremely attractive men. The soundtrack to the film in on vinyl and it’s one of my most played records. Soooo good!

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When I was growing up there was always lots of talk about having an imaginary friend. I was always sort of jealous when I’d watch movies and all these kids that were my age had this intense connection to something that I couldn’t really fathom. I wanted to be crazy too!! While I didn’t have an imaginary friend I certainly had a favorite teddy bear. I slept with it every night all the way through high school in fact (there were one or two replacements along the way). But right when I went to college he went in the closet and I don’t really miss him. In the film ‘Animals‘ though a teddy bear named Deerhoof is both Pol’s imaginary best friend and sole companion.

Deerhoof can walk and talk (in English bizarrely enough!) and talks to Pol about life, music, and comic books. Early on in the film we see Deerhoof grabbed by a dog and we get our first glimpse of how attached Pol is to his best friend and companion. But its not only the dogs that want to steal away Deerhoof, but also Pol’s brother who you can tell used to have a closer relationship before he joined the police force. Now he just acts as a demanding parental figure that wants Pol to get rid of Deerhoof and face reality. Luckily Pol has a few friends at school like Laia (who has a major crush on him) and Mark.

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Complicating Pol’s serene yet angsty life of comic books and cool Spanish punk music is Ikari, the new incredibly sexy boy in school. Pol can’t keep his eyes off him and eventually Ikari lets him inside a world that well… I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but the film definitely takes a turn! I feel like I’ve been making this movie seem normal minus the teddy bear, BUT IT’S NOT! Most people compare it to ‘Donnie Darko’ and I can’t really argue against that. It’s very surreal, goes unexpected places, and is quite serene and thought-provoking by the end. I had the privilege of being able to talk to the director right after watching it for the first time and I immediately asked him how much of an influence the short film ‘BUGCRUSH’ (which happens to be my favorite short film of alllll time) had on it and he smiled knowingly and said, ‘Quite a bit’. So if you’ve seen that then you know a little bit of the tone of the film at least.

Take a trip with Pol, Deerhoof, and the rest of the gang in the genre-bending and very queer film ‘Animals‘. On Dekkoo now!

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Watch it with:  With a few of your ‘cool’ friends.

Mix it with: Being stoned sativa-style works for this one.

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