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

______________________

“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.

gods-and-monsters

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.

 

___________________________

Watch it with: A group of your creative friends.

Mix it with: Champagne.

____________________________

DEKKOO DISPATCH 064 – ‘IN BLOOM’

Title – ‘In Bloom

Director – Chris Michael Birkmeier

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

Release Date – 2013

______________________

 

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 😉

800full-in-bloom-screenshot

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.

800full-in-bloom-screenshot

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.

___________________________

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

Mix it with: Beer and weed!

____________________________

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

______________________

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:

kip

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‘!

tess

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.

bonnie

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.

___________________________

Watch it with: Family & Friends

Mix it with: A White Wine

____________________________

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

______________________

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.

 

 

 

 

___________________________

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

Mix it with: Spiked Eggnog

____________________________

DEKKOO DISPATCH 048 – ‘THE RULES OF ATTRACTION’

Title – ‘The Rules of Attraction

Director – Roger Avary

Starring – James Van Der Beek, Ian Somerhalder, Shannyn Sossamon, Jessica Biel, Kip Pardue

Release Date – 2002

______________________

On Dekkoo we’re turning our gaze to the glorious year 2002 with ‘The Rules of Attraction‘. While Ben Affleck was soaking up his Sexiest Man of the Year award from People Magazine there was another kind of sexy happening in cinemas. One involving James van der Beek from the legendary ‘Dawson’s Creek’ in an on-screen gay kiss with the smoking hot Ian Somerhalder. The film based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis (who also wrote ‘American Psycho’ and ‘Less Than Zero’ – both of which were also made into movies) follows the lives of 3 students as they make their way through the sexual angst of college.

Unlike ‘American Psycho’ and ‘Less Than Zero’, Roger Avary’s adaptation of the book actually tries to follow Ellis’ crazy narrative structures and wildly explicit views of sex and drugs. The film’s use of slow-mo, reverse motion, split-screen, and intense montage all call to mind the frenetic energy of Ellis’ visionary 1987 novel. The movie focuses on three main characters:

2002_Rules_Of_Attraction_173

Paul Denton – The gay one. The defiantly gay one I should say. Paul’s attitude towards his queerness is refreshing even to this day. He’s confident in being himself completely even if it ends in being shoved or spit on by a guy he makes a move on. Paul’s love interest in this movie is Sean Bateman who’s in love with Lauren Hynde. Oh did I not mention this was a love triangle movie?? Ah my bad. Yeah it’s a love triangle movie. Paul falls head over heels for Paul’s rugged looks, his ‘slutty’ attitude, and his devil-may-cry attitude towards almost everyone. Personally I think Paul (played by Ian Somerhalder) is the hottest character in the film. He’s constantly wearing the tightest outfits and has permanent pouty-lip syndrome. The shirtless dance scene with his friend ‘Dick’ is easily one of the highlights of the film and worth the price of admission!

image-w856

Sean Bateman – Enter the psychotic (or is he just a troubled genius?) straight character of the film. Funnily enough Sean is supposed to be Patrick Bateman’s (‘American Psycho’) little brother so it all makes sense why he’s a little unhinged. Sean’s religious views consist of sex, drugs, and more sex. Honestly he’s probably a dream boyfriend for a lot of people. Sean starts getting mysterious love letters from someone just around the time he first runs into Lauren Hynde. The two circumstances align in such a way that trigger a burst of longing and perhaps even love which he chases throughout the film. Oh and there’s a plot line involving him having to pay his drug supplier that honestly I could’ve done without. But c’est la vie!

Lauren-the-rules-of-attraction-901111_852_480

Lauren Hynde – Ok so Lauren is basically the sweeter version of Daria if Daria did cocaine. Lauren is probably the most grounded character of the film. She’s very much a good girl when it comes to sex, even going so far as to study venereal disease textbooks before parties to discourage hooking up. Perhaps that’s what makes the connection between Sean and Lauren so intense. Her desire to hook up with someone who has so much sex and tame him and his desire to settle down with someone so virginal.

Besides those three adorable human beings you can also look forward to:
-Early career cameos by Jay Baruchel & Kate Bosworth.
-An appearance by the legendary musician Paul Williams as a crazy doctor.
-Legendary actresses Faye Dunaway & Swoosie Kurtz in a hilariously awkward dinner scene.
-Jessica Biel!

___________________________

Watch it with: Two friends that you’re in a love triangle with

Mix it with: Beer and cocaine

____________________________

DEKKOO DISPATCH 047 – ‘DESERT MIGRATION’

Title – ‘Desert Migration

Director – Daniel F. Cardone

Release Date – 2015

______________________

Derek Jarman. Keith Haring. Freddie Mercury. Rock Hudson. Liberace. Michel Foucualt. Leigh Bowery. David Wojnarowicz. Brad Davis. Perry Ellis. Arthur Ashe. Rudolf Nureyev.

Today is December 1st – World AIDS Day. Today we recall and mourn all of our role models, friends, family members, and lovers that have passed away far too early from HIV/AIDS. It’s also a day for us to raise awareness of all the work that needs to be done to erase the virus from the face of the earth. An estimated 36.7 million people are living with the disease and almost 5,000 will contract it today. We’ve made great progress in education, treatment, and prevention, but there’s still so much more to be done.

On Dekkoo we’re bringing you the documentary ‘Desert Migration‘ by Daniel F. Cardone. An official selection of Outfest and Frameline this film takes a deep look at 13 older gay men living with HIV in Palm Springs, CA. From morning medications to afternoon meditations we get to experience their daily routines and thoughts. Half of the people living with HIV in the United States are over the age of 50 and much of this generation are gay men whose lives were saved by antiretroviral treatments in the 90s and are now coping with both that intense medication and plain old age. Palm Springs is not only a haven for Los Angeles denizens desperate for a break from busy city life, but it’s also a mecca for gay men. They come for the beautiful scenery and lively gay social life and stay for the exact same reasons. Once you’re there it’s really hard to go back to city life. It’s so peaceful and serene and warm!

All of the men in this documentary are heroes. They’ve overcome insurmountable odds to still be alive and the fact that most of them have a positive outlook on life is astounding. This film isn’t an advertisement for Palm Springs, but they all credit the oasis in helping them find joy and meaning in their lives. All of their stories are similar yet different. Eric wants to find a boyfriend who doesn’t embraces his identity as an HIV-positive gay man. Steven is looking for any sort of relationship. Joel loves being healthy enough to go back to work. Doug is most at home in the gym cruising the guys and trying to look his best. I found this documentary to be incredibly uplifting and inspiring. The cinematography of the desert was stunning and made me yearn to be back in Palm Springs’ warm and loving embrace. While the film is incredibly inspiring, it doesn’t have an agenda it’s trying to push beyond the message that life finds a way. A way to cope, to rebuild, and most of all to have hope.

___________________________

Watch it with: A few close friends

Mix it with: A glass of white wine

____________________________

DEKKOO DISPATCH 043 – ‘COFFEE HOUSE CHRONICLES’

Title – ‘Coffee House Chronicles

Director – Stewart Wade

Starring – Chris Salvatore, Drew Droege, Max Emerson, Darryl Stephens

Release Date – 2016

______________________

It’s movie madness at the moment in most of the big cities. Studios are starting to hype us up for awards season by pumping out their hit films into major markets. Of course the ‘big’ gay film this year is ‘Call Me By Your Name’, but I’d also highly recommend ‘BPM’ which won the Grand Prix (essentially 2nd place) at the Cannes Film Festival this year. It’s an incredibly touching and intimate look at the ACT UP movement in France in the early 90s and does a fantastic job as both a study of activism and a portrait of the tragedy of AIDS itself.

Because I’m being exhausted by all these grand Hollywood showstoppers, I decided to focus on a film that I think is a bit like chicken soup for the soul. It’s an adorable little film called ‘Coffee House Chronicles‘. It follows a cast of diverse characters looking for love, sex, and everything in between as they live their lives in the city of Los Angeles.

Originally penned as a YouTube series, the version presented on Dekkoo is a smartly edited movie version that switches back and forth between the various vignettes making it feel much grander and sophisticated than the separated counterparts. Running just over 75 minutes I found it perfect for a relaxing evening at home and was charmed time and time again by the smart writing and hilarious situations. If you’re a Dekkoo binger then you’ll also love how many familiar faces you’ll encounter in it: Drew Droege (‘Big Gay Love‘, ‘We Are Animals‘), Darryl Stephens (‘Boy Culture‘), & Chris Salvatore (‘Eating Out: All You Can Eat‘) to name a few.

Among the vignettes my favorites were:
1. A cute white boy goes to hook-up with a guy who he thinks is Latino, but ends up being Asian once he takes off his sunglasses (I was fooled too, no lie!!).
2. For their 25th wedding anniversary one guy has the idea to get a famous porn star to sleep with them.
3. A man sees his dead boyfriend as a talking imaginary friend and it’s up to his best friend to get him to leave behind the past.

Check the film out tonight and comment with your favorite story from the film!

Oh and don’t forget that if you want queer cinema to keep getting made go support them this awards season by watching them in the theaters! Then go home and watch Dekkoo 😉

___________________________

Watch it with: A couple of your romantic friends.

Mix it with: White wine!

____________________________