Started in 2007 to keep a track of gay films that I watched, this blog has come much further than I had planned. There are tons of movies that I need to watch and review here. Through this blog, I want to give you genuine, my personal heart-felt review of the films that I see. These are my personal thoughts and opinions about the films and I would love to hear your thoughts on these films as well. I always reply to comments in a day or two. Please help me make my blog more popular by becoming a member, following it and by recommending it to your friends. As far as I know this is one of the very very few gay movie review blogs where reviews are not linked or copy-paste imdb summary. Enjoy and do keep writing your feedback.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

L'Armee du Salut (Arabic / French) [Salvation Army]

I don’t know why but I had many expectations form the film. Something about the poster, the story about an Arab teenage got me all very intrigued but alas as always expectations kill a film. I did not know until very recently that the film was based on the autobiography of the director, which in fact surprises me because then the maker should have taken the best parts of the film.

Film primary focuses on Abdellah, a young teenage boy who lives with his parents and 6 siblings in Casablanca. His father and elder brother have their own room whereas his mother, 5 sisters and younger brother all share one rom which gives him the familiar feel of intimacy and closeness. Abdellah is a quiet kid, slightly bullied by everyone and a boy struggling with his sexuality. He looks upto his elder brother Slimane and has a huge crush on him. But since he cannot do anything with him, he finds sexual release with older men in the neighbourhood. Its not very clear if they use him or he uses them. Slimane once takes Abdellah and his younger brother to a seaside holiday but leaves them one day for another girl which kinds of crushes Abdellah’s love and dreams. Fast forward 10 years and Abdellah is now in a relationship with an older Swiss professor and they are having a good time holidaying. Its not very clear as to how and why they got together but in the third segment we see that Abdellah, now a young man, goes to Geneva for his college but arrives a month earlier than planned and has nowhere to go. The professor sees him and offers him love but Abdellah doesn’t want it. Was he really just using the man for his benefit as his ticket out of Morocco, we won’t know? The film ends with Abdellah finding a shelter with the Salvation Army, where his new room mate joins him and finally he may find a friend.

I have to admit, I was really enjoying the first 30 minutes of the film. The setup, the casting, the family dynamics and everything was spot on. Although it gets a little puzzling as to why Abdellah is the way he is but it still is interesting to watch him going through his daily routine, while meeting random guys on streets who have sex with him in construction sites. I am guessing thats not a very uncommon scenario. Similarly Abdellah’s longing for his brother and his subsequent heartbreak when he leaves them for a girl while on a holiday was interesting. Later when Abdellah is with the Swiss professor, his interaction with the boat guy was also interesting. I think culturally, it was acceptable that the local boy found a rich man to take care of him. Had it been just for pleasure, Abdellah would have been judged by everyone. Still, even after finishing the film, I cant tell whether its the men that were exploiting the young Abdellah or it was just his way to get some acceptance of love. The scene when he hugs an older man on the seaside love makes me believe that all along Abdellah is craving for love and affection from someone and he is not getting it. I feel there is too much left untold or unexplored and there is a scope for a lot more. I wonder now what the book is like!

In summary, this is a film that started with a lot of promise in first act but somehow it lost focus and steam and then we as viewers failed to emotionally connect with the main actor and what he really is going through. (5.5/10)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Baisers Cachés (French) [Hidden Kisses]

A teenage love drama, a story of coming-out and acceptance, a story of bullying etc etc. We have seen them all, heard them all; but the makers keep coming up with more of these films, which I am glad because the situations haven’t changed much in a lot of places and we need to continue to educate people around us regarding these issues. Its important to keep them in focus.

Nathan, a 16 year old, lives with his single father Stephan, who is a cop. They have moved to a new neighbourhood and Nathan is adjusting in his new school. Within a few days, a picture of him kissing another boy surfaces on facebook and soon he is an object of everyone’s bullying. The situation is bad that even his father completely stops talking to him. Nathan tries his best to protect the identity of the other boy, who happens to be Lucas, another guy in his class. The bullying takes harsh turn and one day he gets beaten really bad, primarily by Lucas. This shakes up his father completely and he starts to try and understand his son and come a bit closer. Meanwhile Lucas continues to hang out with his girlfriend, feeling the pressure of his educated parents who are big time homophobic and wanna make sure that Lucas is not friends with Nathan. The truth eventually comes out and suddenly Lucas finds himself completely isolated in his own house. Depressed, he runs away from home and decides to take away his own life but i saved in time by Nathan and Stephan. Even this incident doesn’t change much in Lucas’ parents but slowly his mother starts coming around and supports her son. In fact she even leaves her home till the father comes around. Unfortunately, his father does come to see Lucas play his boxing match but leaves because he cannot still accept his son.

As I mentioned before, films like this are important and relevant even in today’s time, especially for teenagers who are struggling in coming to terms with their own sexuality. There were several scenes that I connected with while others, I felt, were a bit over the top. When Nathan’s father stops talking to him, you feel the sadness in him because his only true supporter is taking a step back. You feel how brave he has to be every single day to go to school and be bullied and face the brat students. Eventually his father comes around, which is quite believable. Similarly, the way Lucas is treated by his parents, you feel so bad. I mean, just imagine yourself as a young teenager and if your parents make you eat alone, not talk to you, beat you and lock you in your room; how would you feel? I felt really really sad in those scenes. But having said that, I also found it a bit odd that in the year 2016, an educated doctor father and a corporate mother thin that this is a choice and disease and that he needs to fix himself was a bit over the top. I mean I have never seen so much homophobia, when the parents ask him to stay away from Nathan, even in class, just because rumour is that he is gay. I also did like the support that 2 of the teachers provide to Nathan when is dealing with all the bullying. Acting wise everyone does a great job and in films like this, the most important thing is to connect with protagonists and I sure did with both of them. You have Nathan who fully accepts who he is and then you have Lucas, who is struggling to be himself because he is pressured by his parents expectations.

This is no great film but surely an important film that deserves to be seen by people. Hopefully parents will start becoming more understanding of their teenage kids struggling to fit in. (7/10)

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Lazy Eye

An interesting film where ex-lovers reunite after 15 years. I think the film is supposed to be a delicate and mature touching love story with heartbreaks and everything intercepted in between to make it watchable and more realistic. Somehow the parts of the film made it a bit hard for me to believe. The simple fact of why would there b still so much passion and love for someone who you spent a summer 15 years ago. Isin’t that a long long time ago? By the way, the title of the film comes from the eye condition that Dean has.

Dean, who works as a graphics designer in LA, is a bit bored with his job and how his life is going. An out-of-the-blue email from Alex brings a kind of storm in his life. We find out that Alex and Dean spent a summer together 15 years ago before Alex abruptly disappeared and now wants to reconnect with Dean. After an initial reaction of “Fuck off!”, they start exchanging emails with a bit of flirtations and finally decide to meet each other. Dean Dean invites Alex to spend a weekend at his house in the Southern California desert. As nervous as Dean is anticipating Alex, they both can’t keep their hands off each other as soon as they meet. They start talking about what happened and through a series of flash-backs we get o know how they met 15 years ago. Things are going fine till they both drop a bomb on each other. Dean admits to being married to Brian who is travelling for work. Agitated Alex leaves home but comes back to give his secret that he disappeared that summer since he met someone else. Rest of the movie is about reliving past, coming closer and pulling apart again. Alex expects Dean to leave everything including Brian to be with him, but thankfully Dean questions his commitment to anything in life and says that he would rather prefer to make his marriage work and be honest. And just as Alex disappeared 15 years ago, he again leaves in the crack of dawn.

Though the pace os the film can be a bit questionable, the director adds enough layers, giving an intimate insight into the lives of the reunited lovers. Though Dean blames Alex for leaving abruptly; we soon find that there are always two sides to any story and how communication is important. The locations are new, and the lead actors are both very good looking with their tidy matching beards. They definitely act really well and there is plenty of lounging around near pool in tasteful nude scenes. The story is relatable but personally for me, not very believable as I said before. People change drastically in 15 years both physically and emotionally and it seems this was never discussed.  Its a film for mature audience who have been in love. The pace of the film could have been faster but the whole idea was probably us, as audience, to spend the weekend with these 2 protagonists and feel what they are going through.

The film is a no-frills, simple, to the point, very well acted film. (6/10)

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Muerte en Buenos Aires (Spanish) [Death in Buenos Aires]

We have had very few mystery/thrillers in gay genre. I think if we tried, we would easily be able to count them on fingers. This film although may sounds just a standard, simple police-procedural crime thriller but the director has used a lot of homo-eroticism (not just for the sake of it) and that is what makes this film even more charged and exciting. Also important to note is that the film is set in 1980’s in Argentina.

The film starts with the murder of a wealthy gay member in Buenos Aires who also happens to be an art collector. Rookie cop Gomez, ridiculously good looking, is at the scene waiting for the cops to arrive. Detective Chavez, a family man and a tough cop is given the responsibility to close the case soon as possible. The initial suspect is Kevin, victim’s lover who left a message on his answering machine. Chavez asks Gomez to join his team and goes as an undercover into the gay circle to get more information. Gomez befriends Kevin and extracts information from him while enacting various sexually charged scenes. Also we see a strange sexual tension between Gomez and his boss Chavez. As Chávez delves into uncovering the identity of the murderer, he is challenged both professionally and sexually by the involvement of Gomez. Kevin is taken into custody, but there he gives some information to Chavez that makes him question the whole motive of the murder. Nothing is what it seems and Chavez starts to believe that maybe Gomez is behind al this and maybe all the money and power is visually becoming appealing to him. After various twists and shocks, the films end is left for viewer’s interpretation but at the same time it is made clear as to who was the involved party.

First things first, lets talk about how hot Gomez was. No one can deny that and the sexual charge and tension between him and Chavez was so cool, you could feel it. The two instances where they almost kiss and Chavez wants to fuck Gomez were wow. Now this is what chemistry is all about. And acting by them was brilliant. You have to give al the credit to the director for presenting them they way she did. Visually also I thought the film showed some brilliance in terms of recreating an old era. The story had enough twists for the viewers to keep guessing who really could behind the murder. You question yourselves about who could be involved in this. The film also shows how corruption, money, sex all played out in that era in Argentina. I did not, for a moment get bored and was always looking forward to whats going to happen next. Yes, everything that happened may not be totally believable, but who cares!!

A very rewarding and fulfilling experience with good twists. Hopefully, a sequel would follow soon. (7.5/10)

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Retake

An interesting story of someone trying to relive his past in an effort to fix it or make it better. The film is one of the few in the genre of a road-trip film in queer cinema but still it does not completely succeed in keeping audience’s interest peak for a long while. At least I had to watch film more in a fast forward mode, just in the hopes that something more worthwhile will happen.

Jonathan, a middle-aged man travels to find a young male escort. After a few tries, he hires a young male prostitute to accompany him for a road trip to Grand Canyon, with the condition that the entire trip will be about role play. The young man is playing Brandon, a young, temperamental, rough around the edges kinda guy who is Jonathan’s boyfriend and they are madly in love with each other. As the young man, he is more interested in finding the true reality but Jonathan insists that he stick to the role he was hired for. Slowly, he starts to put small pieces together to understand who Brandon really is and what does he mean for Jonathan. Eager to leave his own past, he finds an odd connection with Jonathan. Slowly their affection starts to grow. Clearly the young man feels a stronger connection to Jonathan which he reciprocates, but is it for Brandon or is it for the real man that the young escort really is.

The story was very unidirectional. The entire film is on the road trip and motels where Jonathan is taking pictures of his companion in exactly the same places that he took with his ex-lover. I really did not understand the motivation behind that. He kept saying he wants to fix things but how does this trip help, is not really explained. The escort has had a rough childhood when he was thrown out form his own home but a little bit more background would have helped to show why did he get so attracted to Jonathan towards the end. Was it because finally someone showed him love and affection! The acting by both the leads was actually quite decent as per the script demanded but I had personally issues with the pace of the film. I really don’t mind slow films as long as they are trying to say something. but this one definitely tested me.

An average film on a lazy evening. Its not bad at all, in fact an interesting story but the slowness of the film can be challenging for some. (5.5/10)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Fair Haven

Now this is how you can make a very ordinary and simple story, gripping for an audience. The treatment, direction and emotions is what it matters when a viewer watches a film. You have to be able to empathise with the characters ad feel their pain and angst and happiness and other emotions and only then, in my opinion, you can justify the money that you spend on a film. I am not saying that this is a great film by any means but it is an excellent example of staying focused on the core issue without getting unnecessarily dramatic or anything.

We meet James, a 19 year old young teenage boy, who is just returning home after being part of a religious reparative therapy called ex-gay conversion therapy. He comes home believing that he has been “cured” of his same-sex desire. He hopes to go to college soon but after his mother’s death, his father is struggling with money and cannot afford to send him to college. After a spat, James decide to go to community college and help him at his orchard. One day the encounter with ex-boyfriend Charlie starts changing things. James, who thought, he has been cured is confused again. In an attempt to control his desires, he starts dating the preacher’s daughter Suzy. Charlie and James start to hang out together and be civil with each other and in Charlie, James again find a confidant with whom he can speak whats exactly in his mind. Finally James gives in and decides that Charlie is the right person for him. Suzy and his father both find out about this. James is in distress and he decides to move out of his father’s home, move away somewhere with Charlie and start a new life. Thankfully, his father comes around, decides to try to support James for what he is and what he wants in life and will always be there for his son.

The title of the movie comes from the name of the orchard that James’ father’s run. It really has no bearing to the movie itself. James acted really really well. The internal emotional struggle that he goes through is amazing. Right from being angry at his father for everything and trying to control his emotions; then trying to figure out what’s this fling with Suzy and finally with Charlie, on how can he control and hide his real feelings for Charlie. His emotions, at some points, start getting very unidirectional but it does convey his inner feelings. The recurring overhead shots of James in his childhood bedroom convey this feeling brilliantly. Actor playing his father also does really well in the character that he is supposed to be. Charlie is real cute and in the very few scenes that he and James have together; they both show excellent chemistry with one another. You can feel their love for one another. In an otherwise normal film, the only over the top thing, was Suzy’s parents. Their dialogues were overly enthusiastic and somehow didn’t fit in to the overall pace and sound of the film. The other negative in my opinion is the father’s sudden change of mind.

Its a beautiful captivating story, that touches the audience without being preachy. A simple, sweet and graceful film; that you wouldn't regret watching. (7/10)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

A Young Man's Future

What a wasted opportunity!! This was the first thought that came to my mind after I finished watching the film. The one person who should immediately be fired is the casting director, followed very closely by the director, who couldn’t see what was going on. I feel so sad and disappointed when something that could have been so wonderfully fantastic ends u being so cheap and terrible to watch.

The story is based in a college where Jeremy lives with his partner Elliott for the past 2 years. However, Jeremy has had enough of betrayals and mistreatment by his partner and he decides to break-up. Very next instant we find him moving in with Scott, who he had met just a few days back. A charming young man, Scott genuinely likes and care for Jeremy. The relationship is going fine till its time to meet parents. When Scott’s father comes to meet the couple, he is very visibly unhappy and disapproves of their relationship. Thankfully Jeremy’s parents are much more positive but shock comes when Scott starts behaving weird and ultimately being diagnosed with schizophrenia. Thankfully Scott agrees for a proper treatment and Jeremy wants to be there every step of the way for his love. His parents are equally supportive till there is a point where financially and logistically its not possible for Jeremy to take care of Scott. Scott’s father takes him to take care but after a few months Scott runs away and becomes dangerous to the community. Jaded by life and circumstances, Jeremy gets back with Elliott, who now together are looking for Scott everywhere in town. They find him but find it very hard to convince Scott to get medical attention. Ultimately he is admitted into a hospital and the film ends with Jeremy handing a pen to Scott hoping that it will reignite his passion for Maths in him and will get better.

So if you read the above synopsis, you really feel that there is so much potential but ultimately everything depends upon execution. The film was so badly directed, that I can go on and on finding faults in the film; lot more than positives. Firstly for a subject like this, there has to be a crazy chemistry between the leads; which is clearly missing between either of the couples. The acting by supporting cast is terrible. Both sets of parents are just awful and there is absolutely no explanation given for their odd behaviour. Why does Scott have estranged relation with his father and why won’t he talk to Jeremy about it? (Maybe his disease has some origin there). Jeremy’s parents are all good till suddenly his mother shows up saying things are not ok financially. They look and act totally like strangers than a couple. They are both terrible. The pace of the film was odd. Sometime sit felt it was being stretched beyond a point while they zipped through the illness so fast without delving deeper into the causes. And what kind of college were these guys studying in? I never saw any other student walking in the campus, or apartments or parks besides these 3. And as far as I know , most students are really poor, but here , our protagonists live in fancy houses and have money to drink wine pretty much every day. C’mmon now!! The only saving grace in this film was Jeremy. He looked pretty and acted well as the character that of confused young man who doesn’t know what to do. He has to choose between his past, his present and will he have a future. But how much can a poor guy save the film by himself. Scott was ok for what was given to him but I think his character was all over the place.

A beautiful story about two college kids who experience a terrible disease, could have been a great film in the making; however a poor screenplay, a shoddy direction and supremely bad acting makes this film a terrible watch. (3/10)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Esteros (Spanish / Portuguese)

What a beautiful film!! I did not have much expectations from the film and did not have any idea what the film is all about but I was pleasantly surprised. Agreed that the pace of this film could be found a bit too slow for a lot of viewers but in my opinion that just made this film even more beautiful and an experience to watch the relationship between the two friends.

The film is told in two simultaneous generations. Childhood friends Matias and Jero spend many summers together in the Argentinean wetlands of Esteros. They both are really close to each other, just like their families. The boys spend all the time together and one such summer night, they get much closer and intimate. Unfortunately, their mutual attraction never finds a conclusion because Matias’ father agrees to a job in Brazil. Present day, Matias now has a girlfriend and the two are visiting his hometown for her cousin’s graduation celebration. Matias and Jero reconnect and you see the initial awkwardness soon turning into connection that was long lost. Jero is now a handsome young man confident and comfortable in his sexuality. The two men try to reconnect, including taking a day trip to the summer house (despite Matias’ girlfriend’s reservations). As the two men tentatively reconnect, the unresolved tensions of their youth rise to the surface slowly. The inevitable happens and the two friends finally make love to each other but as expected, the morning brings the awkwardness back for Matias, who now has to reassess his choices and to figure out whether he can turn his back on his girlfriend in favour of the man he's always loved but ignored.

I really like the film and it connected with me in a way that pure love touches you. Actor playing Jero was fantastic. He showed all feeling with just his eyes. The happiness on seeing his friend again after all these years. the longing and love that he still has for his friend, but still aware that one wrong move on his part may lead to losing his friendship, the happiness and satisfaction on finally making love and ending in disappointment and heart-break on seeing how Matias reacts the next morning. Everything is so subtle and innocent and not OTT at all and thats what makes it ever so special. Matias in his role was good too as a confused man trying to find out what the right thing to do is. The film doesn’t really explore this but my view is that Matias always hid his feelings or emotions because of his dominant father, which becomes evident in the scene where the father stares the young Matias when he is dancing with Jero. Th direction was simple yet elegant. The silent moments and the picturesque details that just show us that these friends are connected emotionally and spiritually and they don’t need elaborate dialogues to show the connection to anyone else. Besides the pace of the film, I really cannot find much fault with the film but then that itself could be a downer.

I Believe this is more a story about friendship turning into love and not necessarily about being gay. If slow paced films do not bother you, then you may connect with this film. (7.5/10)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Departure (UK)

I love fucked up family dramas. They give an insight into human emotions and what they are capable of. Its also goos to see that not all families are happy-go-lucky. They all have some real issues that they have to deal with.

Beatrice and her son Elliot arrive somewhere in France to pack their bags and empty their summer house, because it is sold now. A decision that was taken by Elliot’s father, Philip (who doesn’t show up until later). We also have Clement, a young boy form Paris, visiting his aunt in the same town because of a family turmoil. Elliot falls for Clement in their first meeting, which he knows but Clement is very indifferent to it. He agrees to their invitation to help them pack giving Elliot an opportunity for them to hang out. Clement is friendly and proves to be a sympathetic ear to Beatrice, which makes Elliot jealous. He thinks she is now his rival and wants Clement. Elliot knows what he wants and he is vocal about his feeling to Clement who just ignores it. Clement takes time for his buried feelings to come out, which we don’t know since he submits to a lustful kiss by Beatrice and also to a handjob by Elliot. The father son arrives to sign papers and seemingly there are more secrets in family, which we are not told besides that their marriage is crumbling. The marriage finally crumbles and life for Elliot will not be same again in England. As a budding poet, his new life will be a departure that proves both literal and satisfyingly figurative.

The film is slow, so as an audience you need good patience to watch this The film draws heavily on emotions and the surroundings to create the longing of aloofness. It shows considerable promise when it comes to show the sensitivity of emotions and aesthetics but the same becomes tiring after a while. I men for how long can we watch the characters stare into open space? The characters sketch is interesting. I like it that we know enough about the characters but not everything, which leaves room for individual interpretation. Yes it wasn’t very clear whether Clement was into Elliot or not but thats not important, is it! Clement is aware of Elliot’s liking for him and he plays along. He himself comes from a disturbed background and takes the opportunity of human touch in his stride. Whats wrong with that? I love the scene when both mother and son ask each other why they didn’t tell me about Clement.

The film is a good story but it could easily have been cut short by 30 minutes. I don’t think it will appeal to most people but do give it a try. (5.5/10)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Amor Eterno (Spanish) [Eternal Love]

Now this was a weird film! When someone says that this film fans in a similar genre like ‘Strangers by the lake’; you automatically have huge expectations an thats where the fault lies. The film neither has suspense, nor content or skin show for that mater. The makers did try to make it a thriller but to a viewer like me it just seems like a wanna thriller, or was it a vampire thriller (we will never know).

Carlos is a middle age bearish language schoolteacher who frequently visits the local cruising ground after work where gay men, lesbians and teenagers find fleeting sexual partners. One afternoon he recognises one of his students, Toni, wondering through the woods with his friends. After class the next day, Toni asks Carlos for a ride, and the two end up having hot and steamy sex in the back of the car. While Carlos is adamant this is a one-time thing, Toni’s youthful innocence makes him develop a crush on the teacher. Despite his wishes to keep it a one-night stand, Carlos and Toni meet again. On the side we also see a group of teenage friends, all of them pretty much been dejected by their lovers, hanging out together inside and outside the forest dong something which is never very clear. Anyway, towards the end of the film Carlos and Toni are started outside the school and are given a lift by these “teenagers” who sexually tease Carlos and end up going to his home. It eventually results in a tragedy, that was probably mastermind of the group with Toni as one of the members.

Like I mentioned before, the film was quite confusing. There is an effort to make the film mysterious, but the confusion of what is even happening gets in the way. It is never made clear who these random bunch of teenagers are and whats Toni’s connection with them. The erotic love making scenes between Carlos and Toni are ok but most of the film is set is such dark, its really hard to comprehend whats going on. The music of the film is jarring. It feels so out of context and forced. There is nothing much good about the film. As viewer, I didn’t empathise with any character or even did identify with them. Was this supposed to be horror because it was not? Were the teenagers some sort of vampires? I don’t know! They were more like sex-driven zombies.

I think, this film was director’s self-indulgence to give the zombie-vampire-horror genre a new style but in my opinion it fails miserably. (3/10)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Quand On A 17 Ans (French) [Being 17]

“Another coming-0f-age sexuality film”; this is the first thought you have when you see the title and ponder over what different can this film offer. But it does offer a lot more. Yes, the primary focus is on the two teenagers who are confused about everything and have feelings of fear and not knowing whats what! Combined this with the sheer beauty of the French alps, this film makes it for a spectacular watch.

Damien and Thomas are the 2 protagonists, turning 17 and both a bit unpopular in school. Thomas is a quiet kid and not very good with studies whereas Damien is a smart intelligent guy and on one such occasion Thomas trips him and thats when fights between the two of them start. But Damien is too tough to just accept the bullying and he fights back. Damien’s father is a soldier and mother is a doctor. Thomas is adopted and lives with his parents in the mountains. When his mother gets ill, Damien’s mother treats her during which she also has to spend some time in the hospital. She then invites Thomas to come stay with them so that his school doesn’t get affected. She also does this party because she is aware of the tension between the two and that maybe they can be friends. Battings have started to change. The boys, though continue to fight, you can feel something more is happening. And one such day, Damien very honestly feels Tom that he is attracted to him. Tom’s reactions are priceless and he is as confused as Damien. I mean he is a teenager. Since Thomas doesn’t know better, he hits Damien and in the process ends up breaking his arm. Damien’s mother cant take it anymore and send Thomas back to his home. In a twist of events, Damien’s other dies in the war and this brings the 2 boys closer yet again. Thomas becomes the emotional support for both Damien and his mother and this is the time when the two boys also realise how much they love each other, Although Damien is more sure than Thomas. Love losses and Damien tells about this to his mother who is supportive and happy for her son and totally accepts the relationship. What is to be seen is where this relationship will go forward.

Although the film starts slow with a few repeated scenes, it is still really pretty and establishes the base context for us on whats going on between the 2 boys. The eruption of confused feelings between Damien and Tom is portrayed with great sensitivity and a brutal reality. I mean when the boys fight and hit each other, you can totally imagine todays’ teenagers doing the same. It is interesting how the sexual tension finds an outlet in spontaneous outbursts of violence.Both of the boys are amazing in there acting. Damien, the geeky awkward guy but who wants to learn to defend himself, realises his love for Tom but is not sure whats happening to him and where this will all lead. And then we have Tom, who is a bit confused with his mother’s pregnancy, what that would mean to him, his dreams and now what Damien is doing to him. The director shows us the feelings of loneliness, fear, longing and magnetic attraction in moments so tender and private you almost feel like an intruder. But at the same tim, this is the only way to feel attached and empathise with the characters. I loved the last scene when Tom comes to Damien’s home when his mother goes in labour and asks Damien to stay by his side. We shouldn’t forget Damien’s mother’s character, who is critical and central to the film. She is real, warm, intelligent and relatable. Her husband’s death is a big game changer in all their lives. I know I have mentioned before as well, but the setting of the film through season right from winter through summer adds another interesting element. The calm and reasonable pace of the film helps the audience to absorb everything happening around them.

The movie is alive, real and full of love that started with violence. It at least made me wanna be 17 again. (7.5/10)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Mexican Men (Short Stories)

This collection of short stories titled ‘Mexican Men’ is a collection of five encounters that are sensual & seductive and are the works of 2 very popular film makers of Latin cinema. Most of the films emphasise on the aesthetics of some handsome Latino men, and very little attempt to include a conventional plot. I had mixed feelings after watching the series. Actually not all 5 short stories are gay themed (sigh!) but they are still good.

Trémulo (Trembling)
Carlos, an adult teenager works in a barber-shop. One day his eyes meet with Julio, a customer. Julio returns in the evenings asking for a shave (or maybe to meet Carlos). They spend the night together, eating, chatting and even dancing getting increasingly close, with sexual tension building between them. They both know that this is short lived but was still amazing. The best film in this collection, this is the sort of film that you watch and anna be in love again. Brilliant!

Young Man at the Bar Masturbating with Rage and Nerve
This documentary film follows a man who works as a rent boy, which helps to support his real passion of dancing. However, for him these two things are not mutually exclusive, with sex and dance playing similar roles. This is more like a constructed documentary with interviews and scenes and sections that have obviously been staged. But surprisingly, it still makes for uninteresting story with how our protagonist discovers what its like being gay, his passion and desire to do something with his dance and how does prostitution fit into all this.

Nubes Flotantes [Wandering Clouds]
This short film about swimmers uses highly choreographed dance movements to tighten the sexual tension and emotion between people. Two young men are swimming, while in voiceover one of them tells us about their relationship – a mix of friendship and rivalry with an undeniably homoerotic edge. When a third guy joins, who is homophobic, a bubbling anger is brought up to the surface. A decent exploration on homophobia and difficulties of maintaining relationship.

Atmusfera [Atmosphere]
So this is one of the films that is NOT a gay themed film. A loud speaker talks about the dangers of the world, a possible epidemic and caught between that are 3 characters. The streets are abandoned and slowly the characters want to find the truth. An incontrollable desire forces them to leave in search of the sea. Weird but lyrical !

Vivir [To Live]
Weirdest of them all and again not a gay film. A short film set in three parts showing three different emotions (at least that is my interpretation). Through art and dance, the film explores both the characters’ emotional closeness and distance.

The first 2 films are really good. The rest are just meh!



Saturday, September 24, 2016

Outings (UK) (TV Series)

Being promoted as an original homegrown independent gay British series and something of a sibling to Queer As Folk, this series was a sheer disappointment. The show, focussing on a group of gay 20-Somethings trying to work it all out; doesn’t even come close to the above mentioned show or anything else decent for that matter. Poor story, bad acting and just a big mess all over the place.

The show follows three characters – Kane, Kiegan and Tim; and we witness their lives over a course of three episodes. Each episode sort of concentrates on one of the characters. Episode 1 shows Kane getting dumped by his boyfriend in the middle of having sex because it was so terrible. He moves in with his mom (it looks like there is history there before) and we are introduced to the other characters. Episode 2 focuses on Kiegan. We are not told about the history with family but apparently there are estranged relationships. He has been asked by his brother to be his best man and now he has to visit home for his niece’s christening. Tim starts dating a fellow actor and Kane is now a gay converted o straight man in a relationship with Lucy. Episode 3 is about him when he throws a birthday party with 80s theme for Lucy. The couple is going through a rough time with respect to sexual compatibility. Is Kane really straight now? The show ends with lot of open questions with Tim’s date and Kane ending up together in the end.

As I mentioned above, the story was quite all over the place, the continuity etc. did not make any sense. The acting was really poor too. I think Kiegan was probably the only saving grace. I highly doubt they ill ever be able to come back with season 2 unless they come up with better writing and direction and bring some sense and reality to the show. I understand that the writes used this from their own experiences, but still there is so much that can be improved in this show, pretty much everything. Take tips from Australian show ‘Please Like Me’ , which is unbelievably good.

I would recommend to not waste your time on this bad mini-series, bad acting and non-existing storyline. (3/10) 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Boys On Film 15: Time & Tied

The newest volume in this series is all about short stories from Britain. Sadly and disappointingly, most of the stores in this collection are below average. At least I personally did not connect with most of them.

Closets
We look at the lift of Henry in this time-travel coming of age drama, as a teenager struggling with his sexuality in 1986. Hiding in his wardrobe, he time travels to the present day where he meets up with a similar teenager, Ben, occupying his same bedroom 30 years later.

Putting On The Dish
This is London in 1962, a time when being gay is still a criminal offence.  Two strangers meet in a park and strike up a conversation in slang to talk about their experiences. I did not understand a word of what was being talked about

G o’Clock
After being called out to an emergency, Alex, saves the life of a young boy who had overdosed on GHB. He later arrives at a chill-out and meets Nik, a sexy young Spanish boy who he takes under his wing but soon discovers his caring instincts comes with a dangerous price.

Nightstand
Two men meet over three consecutive nights – one is young and gay, and the other is married. Their tender affair unravels in the night-time metropolis leaving them to face their biggest fears. Interesting but needs more !

Morning Is Broken
At a family wedding Sam meets Nick, who’s fond of vintage cars. He invites Sam to go for a drive, a pact is made and an adventure begins. But maybe Nick has a past that scares him.

Sauna The Dead
A night in a sauna turns into a fight for survival. Two men must over-come prejudice and join forces in taking down a horde of towel-wearing zombies. Who will live to see the dawn?

Crossroad
Liam, a young man wrecked with confusion after an incident that one night guides him on a mission of self-discovery where the choices he faces may risk changing his life forever. Yawn !

Dawn
As dawn creeps across London, two lost outcasts meet in the darkness, as the sun begins to rise, and the veil of the night is lifted, the pair look into the cold light of day for hope.

Trouser Bar
Set in a London gentlemen’s outfitters c. 1976 and taking inspiration from the emotions aroused by the love of corduroy, leather and tight trousers, two men enter Sir John’s Trouser Bar, little do they know the adventure that await them. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Gay Short Films : 49

These are a few short films with great stories, done well and are generally above 20 minutes plus duration.

How Not To live Your Life - Don Goes Gay (UK)
This is one of the episodes from the TV sitcom. Don is forced to question his sexual preferences when he wakes after a night of heavy drinking to find himself sharing a bed with Samantha's brother Jamie. Unaware he is actually the victim of one of Samantha's pranks, he decides to open his mind to homosexuality, and asks his apparent bedfellow out on a date. Eventually Don realises he is not gay after Sam's brother performs oral sex on him. This episode was hilarious. All the small things that Don thinks on why he is gay was brilliant. I think I am going to use the term 'Gayman' going forward. Funny!

Tranny Trainer (USA)
An interesting concept and thankfully made into a short film. Forrester used to be an athlete and famous but is now old, down and out and works as a personal trainer in a gym. When nothing else works for me, a chance incident leads him to becoming a personal trainer for a transvestite and he leaves the gym. Next thing you now is that gym is getting calls after calls for this special program while Forrester finds his calling and trains the ‘ladies’ in the park. Each character has their unique identity. Alright but could have been funnier.

Invulnerable (Spain)
Elías is just beginning his career as a high school teacher and just beginning his relationship with Pedro, his co-worker. He just finds out that he's HIV positive. The film goes back-n-forth on Elias’ early life, how he met Pedro, his ex-lover and how possibly he got the virus. But now the big question is how will Elias tell the truth to Pedro and how is Pedro going to react? The film and the story was told in a light manner and I found myself even laughing at few points. Invulnerable came down as raw and honest but not overbearing.

Utopies (France)
Thomas is suspected to be gay, and mobbed by youngsters in his poor neighbourhood. He meets Julien, from a different social background via Internet, in search of a different experience. They discover the suburbs around Paris, utopian architectural projects from times where a better future for all was still an aim of society. These discoveries will nourish their own personal utopia. The film is ambiguous, albeit with a love story that preserves a form of innocence. Acting is good but movie is a bit slow paced.

Sex Chat with Pappu & Papa - Homosexualiy (India)
In the final episode of this Indian web series about sex education, Anand, the dad meets his old college friend after ages who’s there to get his gay partner’s fractured foot fixed. This time both his son and his father have some awkward questions this time for Anand about homosexuality. Anand patiently explains them about homosexuality and also educates them on it.

Panorama, The Orlando Nightclub Massacre (UK BBC Doc)
It's America's worst nightmare: an armed gunman on the rampage in a gay club going around killing people. Panorama reveals what it is like to be caught up in the carnage of a mass shooting, telling the story of the Orlando massacre from the people who were there. Like everyone else, I too had been following the news but this short 30 min documentary showed with graphics and interviews, how terribly scary it was for people to be trapped inside and really not knowing what to do. I felt deeply for the people so far but not to the extent that I did after watching the documentary.

Tonight It's You (USA)
Browsing profiles on his phone, handsome CJ arranges a late-night hookup with misfit Hunter, only to discover more going on in Hunter’s backwoods farmhouse than he bargained for. This is going to lead him to something much more sinister than he could ever imagine. Misfit Hunter is going to haunt CJ for a while and he will not be able to control. A gothic, sexy, thrill and horror ride. Ending was bit confusing but still at least something different from the standard run-of-mill stuff.

Statross le Magnifique (France)
This film is the first chapter of a trilogy about Statross Reichmann, an incarnation of the western world and all of its contradictions. Statross is a mixed-race baron who lives in a mansion haunted by the ghost of his father, a Nazi colonel. Statross is tormented by his identity and the past of his ancestors.I had to watch this film without subtitles, so most of it did not make any sense to me.

Alfa (Cuba)
Alfa Mendez, Cuban gay porn actor, has to face returning to a film set without Yerry, his boyfriend with whom he used to shoot a few years ago. Sentimental and artistic by nature, on his first day of shooting without him, Alfa tries to act as in the past but things can not be like before. He is having difficulty getting close to anyone or even getting it up to be ready for the shoot. The film shows that the loss of one’s loved ones is equally painful to any profession.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Brokeback Mountain

Finally, the mother of all gay films. Of course I had seen the film way back when it released on the big screen but I started writing my blog only much later. So, it was in my TODO list to watch the film again, so that I can review it for my blog. Whoever watches or has any slight interest in gay films, knows and has probably even seen this film. I finally got to see the film again with a buddy who is just getting into the world of gay cinema, and what better film than this to onboard him to this wonderful world.

The film begins in 1963, when Ennis and Jack, about 19 years old, get a job tending sheep on Brokeback mountain. Ennis is a boy of very few words. He learned to be guarded and fearful long before he knew what he feared. Jack, who has done some rodeo riding, is a little more outgoing. After some days have passed on the mountain and some whiskey has been drunk, they suddenly and almost violently have sex. Denying the initial incident as one-off thing, slowly the 2 men fall in love with each other and have a wonderful summer up the mountains but its time for reality. Time passes and both men are now married with kids. One day out of blue, Jack decides to visit Ennis, and the passion they both have for each other suddenly reignites surprising them both. The 2 men start having “fishing trips” every few months for a few days so that they can spend some quality time with each other and plan for a possible future. Jack thinks he and Ennis might someday buy themselves a ranch and settle down. Ennis who remembers what he saw as a boy: "This thing gets hold of us at the wrong time and wrong place and we're dead.”. Frustrations increase as the men grow older but one thing never changes for them is their love for each other. Unfortunately one evening, in an accident, Jack dies (which we are told through visual images, might have been a hate crime). Ennis’ world is devastated. He was always lonely but had Jack with him in spirit. He is now all alone with only memories of Jack.

The film is heart-breaking and yet in some way gives a hope for lovers. The way the 2 men react and understand their relationship is all because of the way they grew up. Ennis was always taught by his father to hate homosexuals, and hence he hates himself. In an incident of frustration he still feels immense pain and says "Why don't you let me be? It's because of you, Jack, that I'm like this -- nothing, and nobody." Jack, on the other hands more accepting of himself and wants whats best for both of them. The two respective wives have important characters especially Ennis’ wife, when she calls him out of the fake fishing trips. She had earlier seen the two men kissing and knew what the trips were all about. The closing scene involving a visit by Ennis to Jack's parents is heartbreaking in what is said, and not said, about their world. A look around Jack's childhood bedroom suggests what he overcame to make room for his feelings. This is a story of forbidden love marked by brilliant and amazing performances by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. The chemistry between the two men is impeccable and you wish you had a love like that for whom you would be ready to anything.

The film hits you like a shot in the heart and no wonder it rates as one of the best films ever made. A desperate sad story but a beautiful and moving experience. (9.5/10)

Friday, August 26, 2016

Een Goed Leven (Dutch) [One Night Stand]

This was a sweet and short (50-min) made for TV film. I wouldn’t particularly classify this is a gay themed film but one of the two protagonists happens to be gay and hence it makes sense to review it here for my blog.

Helen in her mid-late 40s has been leading a very affluent life. One day she comes home to find her dead husband and later realises that her husband had overdrawn his credit account and that suddenly Helen is now penniless compare to the rick upper class woman that she was so far. She moves in her daughter’s room (who is going for a long holiday), which is a in s shared space with common living room and everyone having a personal bedroom. She meets Joeri, a carefree good looking young man living a wild and i-don’t-give-a-damn attitude. He is not ashamed to admit that he works as an escort and his clientele is mostly gay men and married men and that he is open for any kind of fetishes as long as he can make money. Joeri and Helen form an interesting bond of friendship because another of them judges the other person. One drunken night, things get out of control and the dreaded ‘one night stand’ happens. This creates an initial awkwardness between them but thankfully both of them handle things in a mature way. Eventually Joeri finds love through Tindr and hopefully Helen will also find her way through life.

The story was simple and not very complicated and thank god that the tim was not unnecessarily stretched. Joeri was really cute and I could see why he could make big bucks being an escort. Helen and Joeri also acted their part very well. I think character-wise, they both filled in the gap in the other person’s life and hence the unlikely friendship between the two of them. I am not too sure of the motivation or what was the point hat the film-maker was trying to tell through this film but maybe it is a just another story and doesn’t necessarily have to have a point.

A short feel-good film, that won’t let you be bored. Nothing more, nothing less. (6/10)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Mein Sohn Helen (German) [My Son Helen]

This film continues in the trans bandwagon, just as the title of the film suggests. The film had potential and could have addressed issues and talks but sadly it misses on that count. This doesn’t mean that the film is bad. The film is more of an emotional story between a father and his child, than really addressing the underlying issues.

Widowed Tobias is happy in his life with his 15 year old son Finn. Finn is trying to hook up his father with potential dates. When he gets to study in Sf for one year, he cannot leave this opportunity and he decides to go. Problem starts a year later, when Finn comes back home. 16-year old Finn is now Helen, a big secret that somehow Finn managed to keep secret from his father. Tobias is shocked at first but tries to understand. Thankfully there is no full-on drama. Next we see how people around Helen are getting used to the transition. As expected, problems arise at school at various levels and harassing also happens but Helen bravely faces everything on her own, with some support of a few friends in the class. Soon Helen wants to undergo a gender reassignment surgery. While Tobias is shocked at first, then he deals with the question of why he never realized how unhappy his son was. As a good father, he tries to understand the new situation and gets adjusted to the fact that he has got a daughter now.

Finn/Helen makes for a very convincing character/actor. The issue os about the plot which doesn’t give anyone much to do. It feels too convenient to send Finn off to SF and bring him back as Helen, a year later. What’s important is precisely what happens in that transition phase, which is the most difficult part. And why would Helen assume that its perfectly ok to just shock her father without any heads-up. I also felt the pain that Tobias feels when he realises that his dead wife and Finn had been planning this for a while but he for some reason was always kept out of the picture. He is heart-brown and starts questioning his own parenting style. A minor glitch happens which brings the daughter and father close again and Helen’s surgery is successful Miraculously, everyone who was opposed to the whole thing is shown in full support a year later. Common now, I understand that this is a movie but lets be practical. Life is not full of roses. There are difficulties and challenges and it would have been nice if some of those were shown as well. Having said that, the film never felt dragging or boring. It always stuck to the core issue.

Good intentions but story writer failed to address more dire issues that todays trans community needs and desires. This is ok as first step for now. (5.5/10)

Non Accettare i Sogni Dagli Sconosciuti (Italian) [Dreams From Strangers]

This film was such a waste of time. It’s one of the this instances when you feel like the maker was totally self-indulgent and pretentious and we as viewers had to bear his experiment of artistic cinema. The film has absolutely nothing going for it. To top it all, the film is filled with random murky artistic inserts throughout every 5-7 minutes for no reason whatsoever, just so that the duration of the film could be increased.

From a story perspective there is nothing. Massimo is an Italian swimmer who is visiting Russia for a competition. He meets Vladimir, who happens to be a translator. They hit it off and that grows into love. They walk around, talk and dance. And at some point they talk about freedom, meaning of being gay in Russia. Yes, thats pretty much it. And in between you get to see old footage of Russia, and some old film that made absolutely no sense to a viewer like me. Acting by leads was ok but they are cheated by a low production value and absolutely lazy and dull story and direction. This story was at best a 8-minute short film, which in itself again would not have said anything new.

A really boring bloated short-film-in-the-format-of-a-feature. Completely avoid. (1/10)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Looking: The Movie

Like most fans, I was also very disappointed when TV show looking was cancelled, but at the same time good news came that a film will be made with the characters to give a logical conclusion to stories, some of which were left open at the end of season 2. Having seen the film now, I think it was a good decision to make the film. The film delivers everything that the show had promised. Much like the series, the film is not about the plot but its about all those wonderful moments that unfold before you, as if you are part of the group.

Patrick is back to SF after having moved to Denver 10 months ago. Its Augustine’s wedding and what better occasion to reconnect with his old friends and his old life. Everyone is surprised at Augustine’s decision to get married since he has become exactly the guy whom he used to despise, but as film unfolds, we are told its all part of growing up process. When he has finally met the love of his life, why not take the plunge and move on. Dom’s restaurant is doing well now and he seems happy, except that he has no lover but somehow that doesn’t seem to bother him. Richie is back in picture with his new boyfriend and you still feel there is some emotional/sexual tension between him and Patrick. Patrick’s ex-boss Kevin also features briefly when Patrick decides to meet him to give their relationship a proper closure. The meeting doesn’t go as planned but it makes Patrick think. Doris, my favourite, is also happy in her relationship with the boys. The movie keeps unfolding with all different interactions between these individuals and the wedding finally happens. The highlight of the film is the argument between Patrick and Richie’s boyfriend on who is the perfect symbol for the gay community, which eventually leads to Richie breaking up with him. Looks like Patrick may be back with Richie at some point.

The films plot is simple but you see a maturity and growth in the characters. All 3 of them have grown up. Dom is more settled at work and life and really happy with what he is doing. Augustine clearly is not the same wild guy that he used to be. Even Patrick seems mature and wanting to do something more meaningful with his life. Clearly so far he has been the one, whose life has been most rocky. After initial reunion, the film picks up when Patrick meets a young 22 year old in a bar and spends night with him. One of the best scenes is when the two guys talk about job, relationships and future plans over some heated left over food. This is when Patrick realises that this young man is maybe a lot mature than what he ever was. He questions all his decisions in life so far. His decision to meet Kevin, his ex boss, to close the loop was also brilliant. Kevin’s outburst that Patrick didn’t even try to make the relationship work was outstanding. There are some brilliant scenes where you see a drop of tear in patrick’s eyes and instantly you feel what’s going on in the man’s head. I have a confession to make. I saw a lot of myself in Patrick. With his actions, things he was doing, his indecisiveness and the things his friends would tell him about him just running away from problems rather than facing them head on. Richie and Patrick still care for each other but will that ever turn to something, only time will tell. Part of me feels that I belong to the same category and will do anything to avoid confrontation. Anyway!!

Nothing in the film is particularly profound, its all subtle and that beauty of it all. Isn’t that how our conversations with our friends like? They’re oftentimes unfocused, simply meant to chide or console or get us on to the next thing. So film like this that  portrays gay characters with such close attention, such warmth, humor and insight, and such sensitivity to the complex human emotions should be cause for celebration. Looking: The Movie is essential viewing, and hopefully, fingers crossed, HBO may rethink of their decision to bring back the series once again. (8.5/10)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Gay Short Films : 48

Dániel (UK)
Dániel is from Budapest and is studying child psychology in London. He is kind & patient and works as part time as a male escort to pay for his tuition fees. Dániel is invited by his closest friend Nori to have lunch where she introduces her  lover Tom. Tom has plans for Nori and they don’t include Daniel and he quietly asks him to back off. Beautifully made but perhaps not as ambitious as it could have been.

Un mundo brillante (Spain) [A Bright World]
A coming-of-age tale about fantasies and pain, when a boy has this huge crush on his football player mate.

Soft (UK)
When a father and son are independently terrorised by the same gang of youths, Dad is forced to deal with fears that he hasn't had to face since leaving school, rediscovering his fear of confrontation at the worst possible time. Very interesting!

Pretty boy (Spain)
The story of Pablo, a hustler who dreams of being a filmmaker. When he falls in love with a guy he meets, his life begins feel like a movie. But in life endings are not always happy. He is heart broken when his lover cheats.

Shotgun (Israel)
A brief encounter in the school toilet turns into love as a sixteen year old Springsteen fan and an eighteen year old trouble maker find a way to make high school a little less boring. When mom finds out, she tries to ship away the boy, testing their love for each other. Lovely boys.

Estudo em Vermelho (Brazil)
A guy just sitting and reading some lines which made no sense. A boring 10 minutes of my time lost.

Páginas (Brazil)[Pages]
Lost in his memories and writing his memories of love, Crispin doesn't realize that true love could be right there in front of him, but he is too busy living in the past. But with Tonho's company the boy discovers the true sense to continue on his own path.

Trevas (Brazil) [Marrow]
Two travelers inside strange landscapes. An intimate portrait of lovers. Good landscapes and chemistry but yawn !

Casa Forte (Brazil) [Strong House] 
Images of various local landmarks are shown while the narrator talks with reference to plantations, slaves and slave traders. The two competing stories are put in dialogue with each other, creating a complicated analysis of the haunting power of colonial institutions. May make sense for locals but I could get nothing out of this film.

Bekir (Turkey)
A young boy is trying to come out his mother. The way she reacts and what follows.

Daniël (Netherlands)
The coming-of-age story of a teenage boy on a summer day. The boy meets a girl but finds himself attracted to the girl’s brother. A tender love story evolves. Like in a dream the reality of the surroundings disappears, leaving the mysterious beauty of a sweet memory.

Pink Lemonade (USA)
A guy realises that he likes the guy selling pink lemonade more than his girlfriend. Bad acting!

Queer Hutterite (Canada)
A 23-year-old photographer, Kelly’s story has been recorded in this short documentary film. He always felt different, but realising you're gay while growing up on a Hutterite colony isn't just unusual — it's almost unheard of.

The Red Bike (UK)
Mikey is fifteen and can't ride – he’s got a balance disorder. But this doesn't stop him making the perfect bike for someone else.  Besides, you can't stay asleep forever and Mikey, despite his mother's fears, has something that he wants to say. Weird but last reaction was good.

Platinum (Germany)
When Felix loses his voice, he believes he needs treatment. But is it really a disease that blocks it or rather the feelings he tries to choke?

And besides above , there are a few more really short and weird films/docs that I saw:
Canto de Outono (Brazil) [Song of Autumn] - Just a video
Honest Conversations Fathers and Their Gay Children
Tres Gotas de Agua (US Short Doc) - Interviews of 3 different immigrant mothers and them coping up with their child’s sexuality
Homophobia in Jamaica (short doc) - Few people’s personal experiences of their everyday life
Mbodiment - 2 different case studies of feeling safe in a gendered space for men
The Life of Alex (short doc) - Alex’s rowing team members are very cool and accepting of him being gay.
Necesitamos Mas Besos - People's reactions when they see 2 guys kissing in Argentina and Colombia.
En Onze (In Eleven), Silva, Moves By Bright Light, Naked Bienne

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Mardistan (Hindi/English) (India) (Documentary)

Mardistan (Macholand) explores what it means to be a man in India. I was under the impression that this documentary would focus more on the gay aspect of men in the country but I was disappointed. Though they touch upon the subject in a minor segment but overall the documentary does try to enlighten the fact of what it means to be a man in India, a nation increasingly defined by social inequality and gender related violence.

There are 4 main protagonists in the documentary whose life story we get to hear. Interestingly they represent different phases of generation as well. First we have a middle-aged writer trying to make sense of the physical and sexual abuse he witnessed studying in an elite military academy and the shock he goes through. He grows up confused as to what real meaning of manhood is. Secondly we have a Sikh father of twin daughters resisting the pressure to produce a son. And we find out this is because he was born when his father was quite old. The social pressure of having a son to take your legacy forward is still very much prevalent in India. Then we meet a young 20ish college student looking for a girlfriend with whom he can lose his virginity. He talks about what girls want these days and how it is not the easiest thing to have a girlfriend. He also talks about the fact of losing virginity is a big social pressure among the friend circle. If you don’t do it, you are called names. Finally we have a working class openly gay man who is married to a woman and has children as well. He came out to his wife but continued to stay married for her and kids sake. , and a working-class gay activist coming out to his wife after twenty years of marriage. The documentary starts a conversation on critical issues including patriarchy, son preference, sexual violence and homophobia in a nation increasingly defined by social inequalities.

I would say that the idea behind the documentary is interesting but you really cannot generalise anything in a country like India. A country with 1.2 billion people and growing will have all sorts of views and opinions and it would be unfair to judge anyone through these 4 people. They have interesting stories to tell and does bring to light few interesting aspects of what does it mean to be a “man” in Indian society. One other thing glaringly missing in the documentary is total lack of female point of view. What about the women in their lives and where do they fit it. That hasn’t been talked about. Also what about the machoism aspect where men treat women as slaves and servants and object of desire. Why don’t we talk about that?

As I said, decent idea but grossly missed opportunity. (4/10)

Friday, July 22, 2016

Saugatuck Cures

These days I barely am getting time to watch films. It breaks my heart because there is so many films to see and once in a while when I do get time, I hope that the film is a good one. So imagine, when you end up watching some bad spoof in the name of comedy with loopholes plenty. The intent probably is nice but its a very bad execution.

Maggie runs a bed and breakfast in the town of Saugatuck. The planned thanksgiving dinner does not go well with her gay son Drew and her stuck up daughter Penelope, who thinks Drew needs to pray for his sins. She brings with her, her fiance Paul and we also have Brett, who is Drew’s best friend and also Penelope’s ex.  It turns out that Maggie’s cancer has come back but the said procedure will take a lot of money. Penelope refuses to help. Brett comes up with an idea of travelling church to church pretending to cure latent homosexuality and raise money for Maggie’s procedure. They start making money in ludicrous and over the top acting, until one day their money gets stolen. In the meantime Drew discovers that Penelope’s finance Paul is closet gay and they fall in love (huh!). When Drew and Paul try to steal Penelope’s money , they get arrested and are put on trial. Surprise surprise, Penelope has a change of heart, takes her case back and family is back together.

The big problem of the film is that we don’t care about any of the characters. none of them, emotionally or emphatically. They are all so over-the-top in their familiar jokes so as to barely even register that its probably a satire, which it is. Every character is cliche. I mean whoever watches gay films could predict that Paul is closet gay and soon enough he and Drew will have something going. Penelope’s character on the other hand was a mere caricature and deeply annoying. No explanation on why so much hatred for gays and her mom and why sudden change of heart. Only actor bearable is the friend Brett and that too because he is supposed to be stupid and is in fact stupid. So you don’t mind. Trying to address the issue of religion and homosexuality is a good thought but if not executed right, it sometimes could further damage.

The film misses its mark on a lot of accounts and felt a bit waste of my time. (3.5/10)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Gay Short Films : 47

Poker Gayme (USA)
On a regular poker night, one of the friends in accidentally outed and is hurt when no one acts surprised and gives him a hard time. Cute n funny.

Tenho Local (Brazil) [Get A Room]
Daniel makes a date for casual sex with a stranger at his place. He lives moments of adrenaline in this strange crazy night. This is what role-play is about because the stranger happens to be the boyfriend.
Bloom (USA)
A dismal used car lot is owned by a very angry man. His vicious dogs guard the inventory at night, when only two other people work: Doug, the security guard and Rose, the bookkeeper. Rose likes Doug but he is going through a rough patch with his boyfriend, who in turn decides to surprise him; only to be attacked by vicious dogs.

Cinquième Fugue (France)
A young student takes lessons with a teacher to learn piano. Yawn!

A Song for Your Mixtape (USA)
An exploration about love and loss where the guy has lot his love first to a girl and then to life but he is still celebrating his birthday to keep his love alive.

For The Love Of God (UK)
An animation film that shows love for God by both mother and son but in a very different ways. Will Graham consummate his unholy fantasy and can it live up to his expectations?

Faut Pas Penser (France) [Must Not Think]
It's not simple when two boys at 17 find out they like each other.

Zack & Luc (US)
A split-screen film telling two versions of the entire story of a relationship. Each memory becomes intertwined with all the others: the firsts, the lasts, the middles, each of the small nothing moments that add up to something in the end. Confusing !

Intervalle (France)
Two boys who share a room wake up, but see each other differently than before. They are confronted with the impossibility of total unity.

Cuarto de hotel (Mexico) [Hotel Room]
Pablo finally decides to pick up Diana, a trans prostitute he has been watching for a few days. He takes her to a hotel room with very different intentions than her other clients but Diana is smart and soon figures out what exactly Pablo wants to know from her. Pablo’s life is about to change. Interesting but sort of obvious where it was going.

Sí A Todo (Spain) [Yes To Everything]
An encounter between a deaf/mute and a regular guy and their mutual attraction.

Juillet électrique (France) [Electric July]
In the burning heat of July, Thomas and Victor, two 14 years old teenagers, are bored to death and want to escape. Victor decides to take Thomas to an abandoned bridge. He will have to confront his fears and desires.

Le Phallomètre (Czech) [Phallometer]
Czechs were using Phallometers till 2010 for refugees who were trying to enter the country on pretext of being gay.

De Terça Pra Quarta (Brazil) [Tuesday Overnight]
At dawn, a boy, a city and unexpected encounters. Weird but cute boys.

12 Points (Austria)
Jonas's father is surprisingly enthusiastic about drag queen Conchita Wurst's victory at the Eurovision. So his 18-year-old son works up the courage to come out and introduce his boyfriend... but unexpectedly, his father's tolerance and open-mindedness comes to an end.

Bleus Cycles (France)
Things are different for Loup when he returns to a small country town. His childhood friend Yves is now with Camille, who works in a café across the street. When the two boys are to repaint the walls of a bike shop about to open, Camille feels she needs to watch them. I wish I had subtitles to watch this with. It was really interesting.

Marrow (Australia)
A daring, exciting and poignant film about desire and sexuality, where a physically disabled guy is shown stripping to challenge society’s perception of people with disabilities.

Fadeout: Chase The Clouds (USA)
Video about gay boys in a conversion therapy center. How they beat their odds and will they still come out victorious.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Drown (Australia)

This film tries to explore the masculinity of modern Australian make. The subject is a bit dark, in terms of the amount of pain that these men are ready to inflict upon each other and exploit each other. The film is shown a lot in flash backs and things start to make sense only after a while, so be patient.

The film is about three guys: Len, Meat and Phil. Len is the champion of a NSW surf life saving club and finds his position threatened by the club’s new golden boy Phil. Phil is younger, more handsome and gay. Phil being gay is an issue for Len, which we later find out does not come from ignorance, but rather his own repressed gay desires caused by an abusive father and the relentless machismo of his social circle. On the night of celebration of Phil’s win Len manipulates Meat (who for some reason does everything that Len wants him to do) into stripping an almost unconscious Phil of his clothes, burying him in sand up to his neck, and forcing him to sit back and watch the tide come in and drown Phil. Fortunately Meat succumbs to his instincts and rescues Phil before the waves take his life. Len, however, purposely swims too far into the ocean, ultimately drowning himself.

As mentioned before, the story unfolds in bits and pieces. At some point you feel the bis are getting along well together while at the other instant, it seems they are not. There are a lot of scenes involving bar shopping and straight-ish male bonding. I am not really sure if actually Australian beach culture (especially life guards) are as homophobic as its shown in the film but none the less the film makes for a thrilling watch. The men are pretty good looking and can also act well. The one big down side of the film for me was the non-linear story telling approach , which takes a while to put pieces together. The three-way balance of this relationship is the film’s most interesting element. Len and Meat’s relationship for example seems to be the only one in the entire film born of an actual friendship and loyalty. I am not sure of the voyeuristic approach to a twisted act of sadism and humiliation was necessary but I guess this is what shows an example of human psyche.

The film could have been lot more powerful but at the end it just ends up being an average satisfying thrill movie experience. (5/10)