via NYTimes: Movie Review
It is only at the end of Daryl Wein’s documentary portrait of the onetime AIDS activist Richard Berkowitz that its agenda as a polemic against societal amnesia becomes apparent. Noting that in recent years H.I.V. infection rates among gay men have begun to climb, this sad, useful film sounds an alarm about the return of unprotected sex among young gay men who believe that contracting the virus is unlikely.
Twenty-five years ago, Mr. Berkowitz, the musician Michael Callen and the virologist Dr. Joseph Sonnabend (whom Mr. Berkowitz describes as his Moses) were among the first public voices to promote protected sex strenuously and warn against unbridled promiscuity. The movie concentrates on the years 1982 to 1985, when the three men developed a theory, controversial at the time, that multiple partners, drugs and repeated sexually transmitted infections were crucial factors in contracting the disease. The movie jolts you with the realization that the AIDS epidemic and the public debate about such issues have retreated so far under the news radar as to be half-forgotten.
When the epidemic struck, Mr. Berkowitz, now 53, was already a gay activist. As a student at Rutgers in the 1970s, he led one of the first gay protest marches in New Jersey, against a homophobic fraternity prank. Mr. Berkowitz received a diagnosis of AIDS in 1995, and he is extremely candid about his colorful sexual history. For years he made a living as a $100-an-hour dominant S-and-M hustler — work that helped him release his anger, he recalls.
Today he lives on disability and has the aura of an army veteran who served on the front lines in a war that took the lives of countless comrades.
“Sex Positive” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian) for graphic sexual situations.
Opens on Friday in Manhattan.
Directed and edited by Daryl Wein; director of photography, Alex Bergman; music by Michael Tremante; produced by Mr. Wein and David Oliver Cohen; released by Regent Releasing. At the Quad Cinema, 34 West 13th Street, Greenwich Village. Running time: 1 hour 16 minutes.
Fri, Sat, and Sun at 7:45pm, and 9:45pm shows: Daryl Wein and Richard Berkowitz;
(with the exception of 7:45pm on Sat night: Richard only).
NY Mag Critics Pick:
Feature in Time Out; critics pick in Gay section: