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, August 5, 2020

Stage Of Love (Vietnamese) (Web Series)

There was so many parallel stories crammed up into this series, that you dont really get time to connect with the characters. I mean, as it is the series is struggling with acting and direction, had they focused on just on the boys love, things would have been much better.  Everything else around distracts you from the main story.

Nguyen is a college senior, who left theatre club because of an accident, even though theatre is his passion. `enter Bao, a fun and active freshman who just joined theatre club alongwith his best friend. Bao gets to play the role of Romeo in the popular play. The theatre club president Khanh reaches out to Nguyen to share and mentor the new actors. Khanh is dating his best friend. After a few days of rehearsal, Nguyen and Bao have started to find a common ground. And even more, the chemistry between the two have gone past the stage of just pure friendship. Nguyen even tells Bao that he likes him but Bao stays quite. He is in fact shocked. But this info gets leaked and Bao is bullied, although Nguyen is always there to protect him. The play eventually happens and is a success. The secret behind how the stage accident with Nguyen happened also comes to light in the meantime. Eventually in a sudden twist of events, Bao's best friend proclaims his love for Bao to Nguyen who then realizes that Bao can never be his love. Bao finally takes the courage to accept that he also loves Nguyen and they both end up kissing.

Although above I have highlighted only the main focus of the story, which is a gay love story, almost half of the other time, there is focus on a lot of other characters. We have the girl playing Juliet, who is obsessed with handsome boys and sometimes write BL fiction. Her older brother is Nguyen's best friend and a lot of time is focussed on his relationship with Khanh. There is another guy in the club who is also obsessed with Khanh and is the actual perpetrator behind getting Nguyen out of theatre. Its just all too convoluted and contrived and after a point I really couldn't care less. Also the acting and the direction is sub par. The characters talk as if they have memorized their lines and just talking it out. There is absolutely no feeling, no connection, no empathy. There is not much of a back story as to why Bao lives alone. Or why does Bao suddenly have feelings for Nguyen at the end. It is all too random. The direction could have been lot more crispier. The only good thing about the show is how cute Bao is. All the girls are shown to be super annoying.

Having seen some good Asian BL stories of late, my expectations from the genre are a bit high. So when I see such a shoddy job, I am disappointed. It may be a big deal to have a gay series for the country as a starting point but as a seasoned viewer, I did not like the series at all. (3/10)

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

3 In A Bed (UK)

It's after a while that I watched an easy breezy romantic comedy, coming of age film. This movie was no great shakes by any means but it wasn't bad either. Sometimes, it doesn't hurt to not have to think too hard about what's going on and just enjoy the proceedings. this was definitely one such film.

Good looking Nate is a struggling musician. Before dying his mother took his promise to take care of his two sisters Samy and Jace. Of course both of them are a mess in their own way. Samy was seeing a married man and is now pregnant. Meanwhile Jace's boyfriend cheated on her, so she cant live with him anymore. All this happens around the time when a new neighbor Jonny is giving full attention to Nate. Nate, unsure of his sexuality can't resist Jonny's charm and there is a clear spark between the two. Nate's life goes for a spin when both the sisters come to live with him and he has to put their needs above his own. Jonny is openly gay and comfortable with who he is. But when the sisters confront Nate, he tells them he is not gay. Heart broken Jonny leaves the country for traveling around in France. Eventually the sisters find out the truth, thanks to Jonny's ex room-mate and they play cupid to make sure their brother Nate reunites with possibly the love of his life.

It was funny that every-time Nate and Jonny would try to do something together, on of the sisters would play the spoil sport. This scenario can be fun on a few occasions, but here it becomes so routine as to be almost slapstick. Also, it is 2014 and I am not too sure why would Nate feel uncomfortable coming out to his sisters. But I guess, we won't have a story then. Even though the movie is a bit cheesy, the acting by everyone is surprisingly really good for what I would consider a really low budget film. The two guys are both really handsome and shared a very good chemistry. The 2 sisters were a bit over the top. I enjoyed the rather dull Poppy (Jace's friend) and her comments and acting more. Samy was clearly the most annoying girl playing a white trash girl.

The film is about love in many different ways as well as self-acceptance. A dysfunctional family and 2 men struggling to maintain their love affair pretty much sums up the film. You wont be bored but dont keep your expectations high. (5.5/10)

Monday, August 3, 2020

Swell (Web Series)

I wont say that this show was bad, it was just silly in my opinion from every angle. Firstly I don't understand whats the point of making multiple episodes. There are 15 episodes of average 5 minutes duration and pretty much the episode starts where previous one left off. Could have as well released as a film. But even otherwise, there isin't really much that the makers are trying to show here.

Story is about 5 men living together on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. All claiming to be straight, we slowly find out how every single one of them is living a so called DL life. We meet Swell, who is visited by his secret hookup Brett, who wants more. Brett is married with kids and Swell has a girlfriend and neither of them wants to be known to have any gay tendencies. Then we meet to other slightly older guys talking about blowjobs. One of them convinces the other to try to go for a website and try it out. A couple of failed incidents happen for both of those men and some strangers as masseurs. We have Robert, a very straight man, who likes to be surprised. When his girlfriend brings a gay co worker in an attempt to try a threesome, it freaks him out. And finally we have their chef, a houseboy, who is also struggling with his sexuality. After a random encounter in a club where he pretty much gets raped, he comes out as gay and Swell tries to hook him up with a local guy. Brett's wife eventually figures out secret between Swell and Brett who by now are having some sort of affair and the three of them meet to dicuss what future holds for them.

Beyond the very high-level and insignificant one sentence background stories on each character, none of them seem to be fleshed out enough to understand why they share such a bond, why are they living together when they hardly spend any time. The series just moves right now. Clearly all the actors were acting. No one was natural. The openly gay guy just moved from one man to another reminding them they are hot and only seem to be wanting one thing only. The two older men trying out men at this stage comes out of nowhere.And the whole episode towards end where Brett's wife comes into the picture is so unnecessary. The show could have just easily focussed on Swell, Brett and their romance and how they navigate through it, given they are "straight". That would have been much better. 

Besides the beautiful views of Hawaii, there is absolutely no reason to see this show. It offers poor acting and a very poor storyline. But it does offer some good penis shots :) (4/10)

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Sobre Nós (Portuguese) [About Us]

This film is about two young men's first love. But more, it is also the cinematic memory of one of the partners some years later. So, it is first "about me" and then "about us" in my memory. Its actually a really simple film is some sense.

Diego and Matheus met sometime back and there is an instant connection. The two of them slowly start to get to know each other and fall in love. Diego likes photography and dreams of making a film one day. Matheus is an architect who loves plants and gardening.They take walks together, hang out together, share passionate moments; literally every single minute together ad you can easily tell they are madly passionately in love. But Diego can't let go of his dream of making a film. When he gets into  a film school in California for 4 years, he decides to leave everything and pursue his passion.Ten years later, back in Brazil, he decides to make a film about their relationship. This biopic shows how passion can increase people's motivation in life, but also shows how making choices can be cruel for passion.

The story of the film is real simple. Almost 75% os the film is just following the 2 boys madly in love and all kinds of moments that you would expect a loving young couple to share. The two actors have the most amazing chemistry, but that's it. As an audience, I wasn't really interested in their love for some reason. Despite good chemistry, it didn't seem real. And after a while their mundane life events seem so boring. I just waited forever for something to happen but you keep seeing scenes after scenes of their living together and learning to accept each other. The only conflict (if you can even call it that) is when its time to go to film school. There is no explanation on why Matheus doesn't want to go with him to US. They just drift apart and the film randomly ends and it started. It feels more like a project than an actual film.

I just did not connect with this film at all. Besides the good looking actors and good chemistry they share, there literally is nothing worth talking about. (3.5/10)

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Otôto no otto (Japanese Mini Series) [My Brother's Husband]

Now this is one mini series that everyone should watch irrespective of their sexuality. Through very simple examples and situations, this series very smartly focuses on themes of homophobia, cultural difference, and family. IT shows eventually how people grow up and evolve. This 3 part mini series  of about 50 minute each, in my opinion is something so good and refreshing that I have seen in many years without being overboard keeping everything simple.

Yaichi, a stay-at-home single father, lives with his daughter Kana in suburban Tokyo. They are visited by Mike Flanagan, the widower of Yaichi's estranged twin brother Ryōji, who has traveled from his native Canada for three weeks to learn about Ryōji's past. Kana is fascinated by Mike and is immediately accepting of him, though Yaichi is hesitant to accept Mike as family and worries will Mike hit on him given he looks exactly like his brother. While Yaichi is not overtly homophobic, Mike suggests that his tacit discomfort over his brother's sexuality drove a wedge between them that led to their estrangement. Mike, though, is an unexpectedly easy house guest, even in his grief – and Kana regards both her new uncle and gay marriage as marvelous novelties, things about which she can boast to her friends on the way to school. It isn’t long, then, before the distance between the two men begins to close. Eventually, as Yaichi's estranged wife tell him, Mike will always be family. Yaichi eventually takes Mike to introduce to his parents. to their grave and finally giving into grief apologizing to Ryoji and his parents for not being there for his brother. He will make sure that things change and Mike stays family forever.

You cannot help but get moved, not just by the story but also the brilliant execution of the script. It is very heartwarming and touching and something almost anyone can identify with. I guess gay life remains largely closeted in Japan and this story seeks to examine the effect such secrecy has not only those who must live it, but also on their wider family relationships. While Yaichi is the shy, quiet types; Mike is happy, open, frank and someone who believe in giving hugs. No wonder Yaichi's daughter Kana takes an instant liking to him. Yaichi's individual growth in the 3 weeks is something that more and more people need to see and learn from. Thanks to Mike's interactions with the family and neighborhood, Yaichi gets to confront his own prejudices around sex and sexuality, and his growing tolerance and eventual acceptance of Mike while confronting his own homophobia. The series takes so many examples to show the growth signs like Kana's friends mother not allowing her to visit and meet Mike' a teenager struggling with his sexuality completely breaks down after meeting Mike forcing Mike to understand what his brother probably must have gone through in his struggling teenage years. We also meet a school friend of Ryoji, who though gay is still very much in closet. Yaichi's acting was spot on. The guilt, the surprise, the happiness to see his daughter happy, cordial relations with his ex-wife and his willingness to learn and grow is just marvelous. Mike's character is shown to be out there. Sensitive yet honest. His interactions with Kana are some of the best.

This series absolutely deserves to be remade in multiple languages. I don't think this has received any press or popularity anywhere; which isa huge shame because this soooo deserves to be seen by all. As Yaichi's wife says, you will not grow up, but you will evolve after watching this. I highly highly recommend it. (9/10)

Friday, July 31, 2020

Moothon (Malyalam/Hindi) [The Elder One]

Its interesting how India film makers are slowly bringing in more gay characters interwoven into the story and treat them with respect rather than making a mockery or caricatures like how it has been happening for many years now. This film is not primarily a gay cinema but the chapter in the middle of this film brings so much freshness and love in an otherwise heavy violent film. The director makes some powerful statements about emotions, love, sexuality guilt and greed.

Mulla is a young teenager in the beautiful Lakshwadeep and in craving to find the older brother Akbar, makes a risky trip to Mumbai. The latter, seen as both an outcast and a legend by the locals, had left his home long ago. Trying to escape the evils of Mumbai, not understanding the language, Mulla get stuck between prostitute Rosie and Bhai, the gangster who everyone dreads in that slum area. Bhai tries to sell Mulla to make money and Mulla tries to escape. When Mulla finally tells Bhai that she is actually a girl dressed in boys clothes in search of her brother Akbar, we are told that Bhai is indeed Akbar, thats when the mystery of his departure revealed. Going into flashback, we meet Amir, an enigma, handsome guy, who is mute and can't speak. While he is visiting his village from Mumbai, some kind of sparks fly between the 2 men and you see the purest form of love develop between the two me. But as expected the society doesn't accept it and both the men hurt themselves in their own way. Amir ends his life when he is rejected by Akbar because of social pressure. But by the time Akbar realizes his mistake, its too late and he moves to Mumbai. Back in harsh Mumbai, life is no easy. The ending waiting for Akbar and his sister is dark but possible true depiction of what could have happened.

As dark as the film is, what stayed with me till the very end is the warm and beautiful relationship between Akbar and Amir. The love has been portrayed with such warmth and sensitivity that your heart reaches out to them , especially since not many words are spoken between them. The sign language and the silence amongst beautiful island landscape says it all. It captures the instant spark, the blossoming romance, and the sexual tension that burns like wildfire when Akbar falls deliriously in love with Amir. Theirs is an affair that grows in the shadow of secrecy and intolerance, and Akbar finds it both euphoric and terrifying. Their chemistry is so very organic and realistic, we can easily relate to every moment of their love story. In fact, I will applaud the makers for showing few more characters in the gender spectrum. We see Mulla as the teenager being gender fluid. The beautiful performance by the eunuch who strikingly has a real persona as a transperson nursing deep wounds. But the love is less than half the film. The primary focus is the teenage's search for her brother, who till end doesn't know who he is. The film is  intimate, gritty yet mythic. The transition of mild mannered Akbar to the menacing goon of Mumbai, both physically and emotionally is applaud worthy. It's a performance to watch out. And so is the teenager trying to navigate a city and a language, a big bad world is not an easy task. And finally I have to say that Roshan Mathew playing Amir, is like the perfect angel in the midst of mayhem, murk and grit that the overall film is trying to tell, which according to me was a little too harsh.

The film is a dark fairytale. Watch it for the taboo love between 2 men, watch it for the tonal extremes of two different timinigs being shown in the film and overall watch it for the beautiful performance. (8/10)

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Born Beautiful (Tagalog)

Just a few days back, I reviewed the very beautiful film "Die Beautiful". Its amazing to see that there is a worthy sequel to the film, taking a slightly different route. Barbs, as best friend of Trisha, was a secondary character but a very important one and it seems only natural to come up with a movie focussed on her character. also, the prequel was more emotional and drama; this film takes more of a comedy route and always keeps the proceedings very light.

It's been sometime since Trisha passed away and Barbs now works full time at "Happy Endings" funeral home. She is in love with her boyfriend Greg, even though he is married. She breaks off that relationship when he hits her. On top of that when she also loses her best friend, Barbs decides to embark on a conversion therapy. She removes her breasts and starts to live again as Bobby. In the camp called Way of Light, she undergoes various activities, including a night out to a bar, that will cure her sexual identity. But when Bobby is raped by the therapy priest, Bobby quits the program, leaving the camp in tears. He wants to move back to being Barbs and meets Michael Angelo, who is Trisha's ex-boyfriend. The two fall in love soon after, but he also turns out to be married. This time Barbs decides to give in, seeing that he is not hiding her from his wife and somehow the wife has also given in. Greg comes back into picture, pleads to take him back and Barb decides to get back with him. She is now dating both and the night that the two men find out truth, Barbs has another shocker in store, when a girl shows up pregnant claiming to be carrying bobby's baby from the night he had sex with a prostitute during his conversion therapy days. With three people vying for Barbs attention, she decides to not make a choice and offer them all her love and support.

Eventually this film is a story about boundless love, courage in speaking your truth, and acceptance by living your authentic self. Barbs is unapologetic about her sexuality and knows her wants and desires, a bold defiance against male-centric traditions and a firm declaration of queer identity. It is not serious and uses humour to take on serious issues, such as homophobia and non-monogamous relationship. It doesn't intend to solve anything, but instead opens up conversations generally considered taboo. I was actually surprised with how different the film was from its prequel, which showed more of an emotional story. Some humour occasionally fell flat but overall it was decent. Its sequences strung together like episodes of a sitcom rather than a feature length film. Barbs, mama Flora and the other girls keep the proceedings lively and the 2 boyfriends bring in the added hotness. The whole pregnant angle was unnecessary in my opinion. But the scattered plot brilliantly converges towards a single point, which is to celebrate the limitlessness of loving.

Despite its tiny flaws, Born Beautiful has a humongous heart. It's confident, funny and refuses to be contained by morality. The prequel asked for acceptance, this time around, not everyone will die beautiful, but everyone was born beautiful and deserves to live beautiful. (7/10)

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Nagarkirtan (Bengali) [The Eunuch & the Flute Player]

This multiple award winning Bengali film is a movie that is powerful on one hand and sensitive on the other, a scathing commentary on the life of transgenders in contemporary Indian society on one hand and a beautiful love story on the other. No India film yet has so beautifully captured the essence and soul of transgenders and eunuchs in such a detailed and sensitive way. The film reiterates that love has no gender.

The film is constantly told in 2 parallel timelines. The timelines change in the second half. Madhu is a Chinese food delivery boy who also plays flute in various religious kirtans across the city. Then we have Puti, who is transgender and he lives in eunuch community. The 2 meet, there is attraction and they fall in love much to the anger of the leader Guru-ma. Madhu and Puti decide to run away to another city to seek guidance from a successful transgender who was able to turn her life around and is a very respected school principal. They get good guidance on the sex change operation but they both realize that it will be a long time before they can save any amount of money to get that surgery. Madhu decides to take Puti to his hometown for few days but eventually her secret is out to the family and Puti runs away. Through parallel timelines we learn a bit more of Puti's  (born as Parimal) background. He has always been aware of being trapped in a wrong body and liked to dress up as female. How he loved a man but was heartbroken after his love decides to marry his sister. This is when he took the drastic step of leaving home and joining eunuchs. Back to present, Puti gets arrested by police after the local group of eunuchs beat him up for pretending to be them, while he is still a complete man. The ending leaves you shocked and heart broken for the loving couple.

This film is the naked soul of two people who are desperate to seek happiness in a world that won't even allow them a place to live peacefully. The film takes us deep into the world of transgenders and their hearts and gives us an unforgiving glimpse into their plight, a sight that we cannot un-see. There is so much love in the couple. Madhu is confused about his love for the woman he sees trapped in a man's body and is ready to do anything for his love. He protects her constantly with the embrace she deserves and demands. You just cannot ignore the superb performances from its leads. The exceptionally talented Riddhi Sen (who rightfully earned the National award for his performance) plays Parimal as a caged bird knowing it cannot fly. So complete and convincing is the actor's transformation into a gender-transferred entity that on several occasions you wonder is he is actually into crossdressing. At no point you feel that this is an act. it is so real and genuine and a beautiful tribute. This is a performance worth every applaud. and you cannot neglect actor playing Madhu. His confusion, despair, love is forever all on his sleeve and is ready to fight for his love at every opportunity with society, family and anyone else who comes in their way. I am not sure if the english title of the film is appropriate. Puti is not eunuch. He is transgender and looking for a means to become a complete woman but the path she choses is through the group of eunuchs. There are plenty of scenes in the film that make you think deep into your psyche of how you at some point as individual treated eunuchs. The director and maker of the film deserve applause for tackling a taboo topic and giving it the maturity it deserves.

Nagarkirtan is a must watch for its rare performances. It's a very emotional love story at the core devoid of any kind of melodrama. The non-linear structure initially gets time to get used to but eventually works to the advantage. Bengali films are way ahead of their times and quality of cinema that mainstream India films can offer. Be patient, it is slow but this film will reward you with an almost perfect film. (8.5/10)

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Story of the Stone (Mandarin)

I think this film was too ambitious for its own good. The exposure that I got to what Taiwan's gay life is like with this film has never happened before, but besides that there is really not much of a story to offer. It's as if you are peeping into the lives of many gay characters in a friend circle or group and being a witness to their day to day activities of sex, drugs, love and drama.

Red House is the gay district of Taipei and The Stone Bar is one of the famous gay bars. As expected, the gay life is very superficial and eventually what matters is what your body looks like and if you are hot. Lin, who runs a flower shop, recently lost his boyfriend. A new employee at Stone Bar Josh gives attention to Lin but he constantly keeps shying away. Lin, who wants to fully explore the gay world goes around literally sleeping with everyone and starts seeing Sean, a clothing store owner and gets into some threesome. Then we have the bar manager, who also tries to sleep around with older men to keep the money flowing. Eventually, in an accident a fire breaks out almost destroying Red House and Lin dies in it. And the film randomly ends, just like how it started.

The film is so confusing. You are introduced to character after character and are not sure whom to focus on. It is like going on a trip to the jungle without a road map, and even then, the potential to get lost is great. At first, it just feels like everyone is having sex with everyone and not much happens. A plot was just forcible inserted about the characters above in an otherwise just voyeuristic pleasures of Taipei gay district. Lacking both the maturity and the emotional depth, this film ends up dragging its own feet in a hopeless attempt to make some kind of point along its way. My only take-away from this movie is that gays do drugs, bad disco and sleep around with whomever and whatever is available and unless you are some guy with connections or money, you're pretty much hopeless. And we all know that is not the case. The film could have delved more into what’s really happening behind all those masks of party boys, too obsessively concerned with their own existence. 

This was a waste of almost 2 hours of my life. There are too many loopholes. I would not recommend watching this, unless you just wanna be a viewer to random acts of drama, sex and drugs without making much overall sense out of anything. (3/10)

Monday, July 27, 2020

Hidamari Ga Kikoeru (Japanese) [Theory of Happiness]

This film is not a typical gay themed film. The relationship between boys is that of a deep friendship with one of them having feeling for the other, and hence it easily qualifies to be reviewed here. It's a nice , feel good film, but please don't have any high expectations. Only then you will be able to enjoy it.

Kohei is a college student who has distanced himself from others unconsciously because he is hard of hearing and it keeps causing one misunderstanding after another. One day, his classmate Taiichi stumbles into him and notices his delicious bento. Kohei gives Taiichi part of his lunch, to Taiichi's delight, but leaves without saying a word to Taiichi. Taiichi only later finds out from others that Kohei is hard of hearing. Taiichi makes Kohei a deal. If Taiichi writes up Kohei’s notes for him in class, he can have part of Kohei’s bento everyday. Taiichi has a bright personality to the point of foolishness, and Kohei is a shy guy. Their friendship eventually starts growing and you see the feelings start to grow. They have a minute misunderstanding because of a girl and they both start to distance form each other thinking that the other person can go ahead with the girl. Eventually the confusion is sorted and Taiichi confronts Kohei forcing him to just come out with his feelings. Kohei kisses Taiichi at this moment. Very confused at what just happened, Taiichi leaves leaving Kohei perplexed. Eventually he does show up next day telling Kohei that he is not sure what all that was but he is willing to spend time to understand what the relationship is all about.

Besides that one very awkward kiss, there is no gay moment or context as well. This is more of a bromance rather than a gay love story. Yes, Kohei clearly has feelings for Taiichi, but that could also be because he is literally the first person to be nice to him and talk to him. The film is an important milestone in dealing sensitively with both the problems faced by the hearing impaired in building a bridge to others to express their deepest feelings and BL. Just under an hour, it is a simple story, apparently based on a Japanese Manga (comics or graphic novels originating from Japan). Taichi was adorable and he understands what Kohei is going through. I liked his constant loud outbursts and his goofiness. Kohei does a good job of the silent guy resigned to his life. The chemistry they shared was quite alright as well.

It is a decent film. Given the short duration and pleasant storyline, it is a decent one time watch. (6/10)

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Wilde (UK)

Oscar Wilde, as we all know is one of the most famous playwrights in the history. Wilde's personal tragedy would be of little lasting interest were it not for the enduring popularity of his work and the sensational nature of his fall. I had reviewed another biopic addressing similar story line of Oscar Wilde's life. Finally I got a chance to watch this film that came back in 1997 and starring some of the very big names of today's cinema.

The film starts with Wilde's return from his trip to US. Soon he gets married to Constance and they have two sons in quick succession. While their second child is still an infant, the couple hosts a young Canadian named Robbie Ross who seduces Wilde and helps him come to terms with his homosexuality. And soon after Oscar meets Lord Alfred also known as Bosie, played by Jude Law, and is immediately drawn towards him. The two fall into a passionate and tempestuous relationship. Sadly, Bosie doesn't believe in monogamy and constantly engages in sexual activities with other boys including rent boys. During all this time, his friend Robbie is always by his side, but Wilde is madly in love with Bosie despite his erratic behavior and disrespect to Wilde. Bosie's father, the Marquess of Queensberry, objects to his son's relationship with Wilde and demeans the playwright and eventually publicly exposes his homosexuality. Wilde is tried for gross indecency and sent to prison for 2 years and hard labour. His wife leaves him and moves to Germany for their kids sake. Wilde is released from prison and goes straight into exile to continental Europe.

I think when it came out, this film would have been a honest depiction of Oscar Wilde's life. A man torn between love for family, something accepted by society vs love for a man, something that eventually leads him to prison. We see his charm and conviction when creating his plays or amusing friends, we also see his weaker side and why he was the cause of his own eventual arrest and imprisonment. In contrast, Bosie or Lord Alfred's character. is a bit volatile. Jude Law, my once upon a time favourite actor, who plays Bosie, plays his part almost to perfection. He could be needy and tender, but he could also be a first-class ass and manipulator with an explosive temper. And that makes you question why would Wilde go for someone like him and not for a more suited man like Robbie. I mean eventually he says in the court that its all about youth. The acting, direction and everything is quite commendable and deserves a viewing.

A solid biopic, with fine performances. Watching this has expanded my appreciation for Wilde as a writer and as a person. I just wish that this was not an almost 2 hour film. (7/10)

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Die Beautiful (Tagalog)

Die Beautiful is one of the few films that really take an in-depth look into the everyday experiences, joys, and struggles of being transgender in the Philippines. It is rare in the sense that so far we have seen a lot of films where flamboyant gay characters provide a good comic relief especially in Asian films, so to see a film like this which gives the respect and sensitivity this subject deserves was very heart warming.

This is story of Trisha (born as Patrick), who has always had one dream: to win a beauty pageant. Shunned by his family for being gay, he is taken in by his best friend Barbs family. From hereon everything they do, they do together. The duo go internal pageant after pageant but never taste success but Trisha never loses hope. She also gets to become a mother by adopting a girl Shirley Mae and showering her with love and dreams that she never had. Trisha is now dead and as per her last wishes, Barbs is preparing her with seven different unique looks that Trisha always wanted of celebrities. It is between these wake ceremonies and through flashbacks we get an inside into Trisha's life. How she was brutally raped when he was still Patrick by various boys. At one point, she even meets possible love of her life as Trisha, but cancer takes that away too. Trisha eventually does win a beauty contest but collapses soon after leading to her death. The film shows how she has led a full happy life. The pageant dreams she spent her life pursuing are given a week-long final hurrah.

Trisha navigates everything in her life very sportingly and with able support from Barbs. Be it heartbreaks after losing pageant after pageant or being bullied at bars, prejudice at home, physical and sexual abuse, but there is always a hope that lingers with Trisha. The actor playing Trisha does an applaud worthy performance. He brings a liveliness, grace, poise and respect to the character. Whether rebelling against his father, offering advice to Shirley Mae regarding coping with bigots, or sharing his worst moment with Barbs, the actor imparts a balance of optimism and realism to Trisha’s many struggles. In any given scene, he movingly conveys both determination in his shoulders and vulnerability in his eyes. Same can be said for actor playing Barbs. Too good. The film is a lively medley of comedy and drama, portraying Trisha as a very human person in the face of her happiness and her struggles. A very good balance. The rape scene was heart wrenching and it sort of gives you an insight of how weak the marginalized communities feel. Trisha wonders that she was not forced to do things, nor was she prevented from walking away. She knew she had a choice; but she wonders why she felt powerless. The movie jumps back in present and past, slowly peeling off layer after layer of Trisha's past, which makes us understand how the characters come to life and how they deal with all sorts of conflict. The ending feels a bit abrupt though, and the duration of the film could be shortened.

Despite the very few flaws, Die Beautiful tells an amazing and beautiful story of how a transgender woman finds joy and fulfillment in the many things that come in her way in life, even in the face of abuse, despair, betrayal, and heartbreak. Highly recommended. (7.5/10)

Friday, July 24, 2020

Gay Short Films : 77

Furiant (Czech Republic) [Peacock]
A twisted gay romance set in the 19th Century telling a tabooed true story of the writer, Ladislav Stroupeznický. Suspense, laughter, violence, hope, heart, nudity, sex and happy ending. 

Thirty-Six Hours (France)
Two men. A way across desert. The beach and a house. Words and gestures. Real or imagination? Not exactly a story but seed for emotions and reflections. 

Authentic (Australia)
A sex-addict, who has spent his life trying to find the reason for his unhappiness, discovers that the answer is closer than he thought in a man and not girls, who happens to be his neighbor.

Stories That We Could Have Told (Belgium)
2 friends walk around, discussing various topics around all the things that they could have done and should be doing. Are they more than friends?

Negative Two (US)
A fresh look into the world of online dating through the eyes of a young Chinese New Yorker longing for connection. We see his exchange of intimate texts online with strangers.

Greco-Roman (Norway)
A school bully's father is an Olympic competing Greco-Roman wrestler. One day, he secretly spies his father engage in kissing his practice partner.

Svans (Denmark) [Fag]
Aksle is scared to tell his friend about his sexuality but regularly hooks up with Aleksander secretly, who is openly known to be gay to the school. He is vulnerable and fears his friends reactions. When the friends finally know and they even accept it, it maybe too late because he already beat up Aleksander, the one person who truly loved him. A well acted, touching and seductive short. A great reminder of sometimes we build up so much in our head that we forget to seek the true love thats awaits us.

Solo (Brazil)
An unlikely friendship between a motel cleaner and a motel long term visitor who is mourning the death of his partner. Angelo's brother also recently passed away.

Invisible Anguish (India)
A young handsome man lives with an older guy. When his son visits them, he mistakes his father to be gay and the young man using his father without realizing the truth about the situation. Bad acting!

Tim and the Fluteboy (Denmark)
A closet teen is seeing a psychiatrist, because he is suicidal and feels ghosted by the soul of a fluteboy who recently committed suicide. Eventually he learns that to come out of the closet, you first have to enter one.

Purple Light (Singapore)
Story of an army man who falls in love with his buddy in an environment where being openly gay is detrimental to not just his future, but also family relations.

Out Smart (USA)
In this short satire, a teenage boy seeks acceptance from his parents when he 'comes out' -- not as gay, but as smart. This was hilarious.

Confession (Ireland)
Pat O'Sullivan is an ordinary teenager. In a scripted drama, he tries to make a confession about the tremendous weight on his shoulders Is it time to come out and confess love?

Stranger (Sweden)
A cold winter night. An endless empty road ahead. A young driver picks up a stranger with car trouble. A big mistake. It turns out the stranger was not coincidence but a planned action.

La Vie selon Luc (France) [Life According to Luc]
Luc lives in the suburbs. The youth is both a hooligan and a prostitute. One day, the man who loves him offers him a job. Is he going to accept it?

In search of Avery Willard (USA)
Short documentary showcasing the portrait of one of queer art's most elusive innovators. Broadway photographer, physique artist, gay activist, experimental filmmaker, drag historian, leatherman, pornographer: New York City artist Avery Willard produced a lifetime of historically significant work that has remained widely unseen for decades. Problem is this movie is very slow and by the time, we reach to the point of why we should care, I had already lost interest.

Heile Gänsje (Germany) [Heal, Goose]
It's a day in the life of Max and his group of friends. It follows him through a key moment in the understanding of his identity and sexuality.

The Echo (UK)
David seeks out his childhood priest for a disturbing confession that will haunt them both long after their brief encounter. Child abuse by church again comes to the front.

Andie (USA)
When Andie is made to go to summer camp, can a boy and his doll be so easily parted? A perspective of society's underlying preoccupation with the masculine / feminine traits of youth.

Last Full Show (Philippines)
A young boy and and older man learn the meaning of love upon meeting at an underground Manila movie theatre.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

TharnType (Thai Series)

This series is definitely without a doubt one of the better Thai BL series I have seen. The range of character graph that this series shows has not been done before (at least of the shows that I have seen, and without a doubt there are plenty of those that I am still yet to see). Yes, at the heart of it , this is a love story between the oddest couple. It takes time to grow on you and a lot of episodes are used up in creating their hate to friendship to love. The big moments come only in the last 3 episodes which also add to a thrill element to this series and takes it to another level. And yes, there is plenty of kissing and that too proper one. Unlike most other Asian series that I have seen in the past which will go as far as just lips on lips.

Type is a college student, who shares his room with the music student Tharn and they hit it off really well. Because of a trauma from childhood Type has sworn to hate everything gay for lifetime. When he finds out that Tharn is gay, he tries his best to change his room but he can't. Eventually he grows on to like Tharn and as expected they start a relationship. This is after, Type tries to date a girl but fails when it comes to sex and realizes he is into Tharn. Their love grows over a period of time but Type is not ok to make their relationship public. Only Techno, who is Type's closest friend knows about them. Lhong, who happens to be Tharn's best friend forever also is not aware of this. Over the course multiple misunderstandings happen but the love continues to grow. The guy who was the first guy whom Tharn had sex with comes into picture, first to create misunderstandings between them, eventually making their love stronger. Things get much worse when Tharn's last ex-bf Tar comes into the picture. Tar continues to follow Tharn after a year of their breakup wanting him back. This causes further rift between Type and Tharn and they break up. We know something fishy is behind all this. And finally we get to know the secret Tar is sharing, why he is behaving the way he is, and who is the real culprit who is trying their best to break this couple apart. Eventually, Tharn and Type fix their broken relationship and finally get the ideal relationship they both wanted.

There is a lot of good in this show but a lot of weird situations too. The kind of hatred Type initially shows for Tharn and gays for general is aggravating. Of course, when we eventually find a reason behind it, you empathize better. But his character eventually grows. Type is shown as foul mouthed, who just says what he does, is unapologetic about it. Tharn on the other side is always looking for love and is soft spoken guy who loves music and for some reason is extremely attracted to Type. I will never understand why and how a openly gay man would wanna go into a relationship where the partner is always saying everything negative about gays in general. Anyway, yes Type grows over a period of time and acknowledges that he doesn't understand things as a whole but he only knows that he likes Tharn. The story of bringing in Tharn's first sexual experience guy seemed like a force filler just to bring in some conflict and to bring the two guys together. A bigger event happens when Tar comes into the picture. Every episode Tar is shown but there is an enigma around him. He has a trauma that he is dealing with and his brother has been taking care of him very closely. Tharn says that Tar broke his heart by breaking up. But we are only told later how it is Lhong all along who has been using everyone to get Tharn to like him as a lover. He apparently had even hired guys to rape a child in 10th grade (Tar) and blackmail him to breakup with Tharn and he uses Tar again to come back in Tharn's life so that he can make him break up with Type as well. The one good thing is Techno provides good fun and comic relief throughout the show. I found him slightly annoying in the first few episodes but he grew up on me eventually. He made some good funny faces and as you can expect some OTT reactions but were fun after a point. Tharn and Type make an excellent pair. Handsome, great chemistry and very much in love. With more than enough kissing scenes , and lingering moments of them looking at each other, they complemented each other very well. I have to admit that Tharn smiled way too much every time Type did anything and it started to get in my nerves but what can you do. Unlike other shows, I am happy that they did not randomly start to focus on 2-3 more couple on the side just to get the story going.

TharnType is an interesting yet complicated couple but the show had its charms. At 12 episodes of almost 50-60 minutes, it does take time to watch the whole thing. Overall it is a satisfying experience, if by now, you have become used to watching Thai BL shows, like I have. (7/10)

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Seven Days (Japanese)

This Japanese love story came out in 2 parts: Monday - Thursday and Friday - Sunday. Once you watch the 2 parts and the film as a whole, you will realize why this was done. As far as I knew, Japan wasn't so open to LGBT stories, so this high school love story comes as a fresh surprise.

Toji Seryo is a popular first year high school student. It's well known that Toji Seryo will date anyone that confesses their affection for him on a Monday, but he will break up with that person by Sunday. But despite that no one has anything bad to say about him. Our second guy is Yuzuru Shino, a third year student at the same high school. He looks pretty, but all of his former girlfriends end up dumping him and he is quite frustrated. Yuzuru Shino becomes curious about Toji Seryo when he hears this whole one week dating thing. On a whim, half serious & half joking, Yuzuru Shino asks Toji Seryo to date. To his surprise Seryo agrees to it. The almost 2.5 hours long film follows their hang outs through the course of the whole week. Every day, individually both of them realize that this may be something more and possibly their chance at love, but both of them also fear to bring it up with each other. They both think that the other person is doing this just as an experiment and a joke and eventually will go their own separate ways at the end of the week. Their love and attraction and passion to be with each other continuously grows every day. There is even jealousy when either of them gets surrounded by girls or ex-girlfriends. Eventually the last day, finally they open up to each other and figure out that they both want to actually get rid of this one week limit and properly date as possible boyfriends.

The premise of the story is very interesting. But I feel the execution left a lot to be desired. There is a painful amount of miscommunication and a lack of clarity between the characters. I do believe a lot of their problems could be so easily solved if they were just clear with their feelings. I understand that both boys are trying to maybe get adjusted to the idea of possibly being gay, but sadly neither of them is willing to cross the barrier. They just keep talking to themselves inside their head. I wonder if this is something to do with Japanese culture where people don't openly disclose their feelings. Also the film moves at a very snail's pace. this story can easily be told within less than 90 minutes. There is a lot of nothingness that's going on around ion the film for no reason whatsoever. The two boys look good but what's up with those cheesy hairstyles. It was difficult to move my attention from that especially Seryo's.

Overall an alright film, but the films length needs to be drastically cut short. (5/10)

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Suk Suk (Cantonese ) [Twilight's Kiss]

We really havent seen many gay films that focus on a love story of elderly folks, forget 2 elderly closeted gay men. You can probably literally count such shows/films on hand. To that, this film gives us an insight into lives of gay men, that we don't really focus on. And to top it, when you handle such subject with the respect and sensitivity it deserves, you know you are doing the right thing and you probably have a winner on hand. Thinking that anyone even close to retirement age would possibly feel physical or emotional desire, unless it’s for comedic purposes; is a bold choice for a film.

Pak, a man in his 70s, close to retirement is a taxi driver. His son is married with a young daughter and his daughter is engaged to be married. His wife is very homely, the sort who always thinks of everyone else before themselves. Acknowledging to himself, that he is probably gay, Pak starts cruising in a public bathroom. Finding no takers, he chances upon Hoi, another older guy sitting in the park. Pak tries to be aggressive but Hoi suggests being friends first. After a bad first meeting, they eventually meet again and strike a beautiful friendship and then a romance sharing their life in secret in bathhouse, trying to keep it all a secret from just about anyone out there. Hoi is a divorced man, who single handedly brought up his son and currently lives with his son, his wife and granddaughter. Both are doting grandfathers who fear what would happen if secrets would come out. Hoi fears his Christian fundamentalist son, whereas Pak also has his whole family to loose. Ona side, we see some older gay men being helped by younger lot asking for a gay old age home so they can finally be themselves. Their love and very sensitive romance grows where they spend time with each other, cook and eat together; but both secretly knowing very well that there may not be an eventual future for them. Finally Pak decides to call it quits.

The best thing about this film is the way everything is so understated yet very clear in what's going on. The final breakup of the couple is as subtle as the romance started in the first place. A story told with hidden glances and understated expressions, some of the best moments of this film are quieter interactions between the leads and with their family members. They maybe secretly having an affair, but not once for a second they forget their family responsibilities. The moments of two men sitting at waterfront or in the bathhouse are some of the most poignant scenes in the film. Pak's expressions on his first visit to gay sauna were also cute. The director keeps the proceedings sensitive, and the audience can’t help but feel that there is something more than mere pursuit of sexual pleasure to this unusual couple. This combined with. very powerful performance by the leads takes this film to another level. by the way, I feel that Hoi's son has all along known about his father's sexuality but somehow fails to acknowledge. I felt thats especially when he shuts down his wife when she asks Hoi too many questions. But I could be wrong. The film provide an insightful portrait of homosexuality in a conventional Chinese society. The isolation these gay men trapped in traditional family units feel is something we cant empathize yet.

Suk Suk is bold, sensitive film and should be regarded as a respectable piece of film making focusing on a subject that not many people would dare think of. It's the daily mundaneness of life that makes this film special. I would highly recommend. (7.5/10) 

Monday, July 20, 2020

Daburu Mintsu (Japanese) [Double Mint]

To be honest, I am not sure of I totally understood the film. A lot of scenes and the narrative felt disconnected and I just couldn't understand the reasons behind actions of a lot of characters. At one point, I was so confused to where the film is really headed to. So, given all this, you can imagine my review is not going to be a great one.

The story is about 2 boys, both incidentally named Mitsuo. By flashbacks, we realize that in school one was a bully and other other bullied and eventually they got into a master/slave kind of a relationship where the bully Mitsuo would insult him on every possibility. In fact he even takes the virginity of bullied Mitsuo just to show him his place. The film starts with present time when bullied Mitsuo gets a call after many years from bully Mitsuo informing him that he has killed a girl and wants his help. The bullied guy is calm, composed and doing well for himself where the bully is more rampant, aggressive and doesn't think through. Through careful thinking, they bury the girl, and bullied Mitsuo kisses the other guy very passionately. A cop starts following these 2 guys when the news comes out but turns out the girl was alive and was bully Mitsuo's girlfriend. Our bullied guy sleeps with her to take revenge and eventually the two guys get into a physical relationship. We are also told that bully Mitsuo works for a dreaded gangster (there is some homoeroticism there as well). He wants out but he can't. Mitsuo tries to help but instead gets entangled himself. The two try to get rid of gangsters after them and also the cop. Impulsive Mitsuo ends up killing a cop and in a separate incident get badly beaten and raped and tortured by the gang. In an ending that I am not very sure how it happens, the duo manage to escape to Korea.

As I mentioned above, I was so confused in so many scenes. Whey does impulsive Mitsuo go to cops and confess of a murder and when they start investigating, he then tries to run and avoid them. And if the girl is actually alive, then why the whole drama by the police in the first place? To try to get closer to gangster? I am not sure. Mitsuo is just an errand boy for him. When does bullied Mitsuo start having feelings for the other. It randomly starts and is equally randomly reciprocated by him. It just comes out of nowhere, especially after the years of master/slave relationship that they have shared, as we get to know via flashbacks. Coming to that, there was really no reason for Mitsuo to agree to such an arrangement. Does that mean that he was always a submissive kind of guy and was actually looking for a master? I wish more focus was given to the overall story line rather than the random of events in the film, especially since the production values seem above average. Its not like they were in shortage of finance or anything.

The actors’ (both younger and the older version) performances are generally well done and the two sets of Mitsuo actors complement each other. But there is way too much confusion in the plot. It definitely needs rewriting and a more seamless flow of narrative. It was strictly ok. I wont really recommend it. (4.5/10)

Sunday, July 19, 2020

El Príncipe (Spanish) [The Prince]

This was a very interesting and different film. Set in 1970's, it's a dark story about affections and loyalties between prisoners, the search for sexual identity, love, violence, and the rise to power behind bars. Apparently, its based on a homo erotic novel of the same name. Neither the story or the treatment of people in prison will make sense in today's time, therefore, it helps that the film is set in 70s.

Jaime is a blandly beautiful young man who’s thrown into prison after killing another handsome friend of his. He’s put in a cell with just one bunk bed already occupied by four others. They include the clear alpha male and oldest of the group, Stud, who orders his then young lover to sleep on the floor so that Jaime, who receives the nickname “the prince,” can serve as Stud’s new bed buddy. The 2 other cellmates are also lovers. stud tells him that to survive he needs to toughen up and eventually raping him at night. Another older guy and his extremely young lover are part of neighborhood cell. Through flashbacks, we see Jaime’s development as a sexual being in the real world and to the young man’s friendship with the victim. It's never clearly shown how/when he already got attracted to men. So the prison and sex with Stud gave him a platform to experiment. Jaime slowly starts to come out of shell. The film though largely is about sexuality, it never fails to remind you of the kind of environment these men are staying in while trying to find love. There is a big fight between Stud and the older guy over the former's cat and eventually they both die. Jaime has to toughen up now and the film brilliantly ends up with a new cellmate coming in and Jaime treating him exactly the same way as he was treated by Stud.

The prison in this film feels like the fantasy prison of many gay men. At some point you wonder, if anyone straight in the prison since everyone seems to be sleeping around. Now, this could also be due to the only available resources but doesn't hurt to dream. Even though Stud rapes Jaime first night, but he cares very much for him and eventually Jaime realizes that and they sort of become a couple just like the other couple in their cell. Those two attractive guys really don’t do much else besides look at each other longingly, which almost becomes a kind of strange running gag. I feel there was some history between Stud and the other older guy and even some sexual tension; very similar to the sexual tension that their two young lovers shared. There are a few shots of full front nudity which gay audience will appreciate. My big problem is I didn't understand Jaime as a person at all. What's the story with his father, why kill his friend whom he clearly longs for and then the whole love affair and respect for Stan in prison. Did he have daddy issues or something else was going on? The finale at least makes it crystal-clear what Jaime’s position in the prison hierarchy is. But, again, there is zero sense of how the boy feels about it or whether he even wants that position.

As a film, it was interesting to watch something new, something different. And since this is a adaption of a homoerotic novel, you will have to keep aside the practicalities of a lot of thing and try to enjoy the film for what it is. (6/10)

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Uncle David (UK)

The era of random mind numbing films continue. This film is yet another unbearable 94-minutes of non-plot, non-acting, non-scripted tedium which was probably filmed on video over five days in a caravan park. To be honest there is not a whole lot to review here from either story of anything else point of view.

The story is simple. Ashley is a young hot man, but with a childlike mind. Escaping from his abusive mother, he comes to live with his uncle David. Ashley enters into a sexual relationship with his uncle who offers his insights into the world and the nature of reality. He gives him random lectures on on consumerism and heteronormatism. Eventually Ashley tells David that he wants to die, and David agrees to carry out the killing. Over the course of next 2 days, David injects his nephew at three different points which make Ashley lose consciousness and suffer organ failure. The next morning, he goes onto the beach to place his nephew's body in a shallow grave, tearfully kissing the body goodbye before it is swept away by the sea.

There are plenty of scenes that drag forever and ever. There is a scene where they both put make up, dress in drag and drink and dance. That scene goes on for like 20 minutes. This film has no redeeming qualities at all. I don't know why does the nephew want to die and why on earth would his uncle agree to carry on such a thing. Uncle David's murderous use of drugs to kill Ashley is appalling! Even the most sadistic master could not call THAT love. OK, so Ashley is a complete passive masochist child/slave/dog. How could he possibly be so clearly ignorant? God, save us, the audience, the gay men who have brains to know better to not watch crap like this. (0.5/10)

Friday, July 17, 2020

Han Zi Gao: The Male Queen (Mandarin)

I believe this made for TV or web film is based on a true story. It's interesting how gay relationships can be traced back to hundreds of years back and still our current politicians can say that this is a western phenomenon and that homosexuality have never existed in our culture. This story is set in sixth century.

Han Zi Gao was born as Han Man Zi. He was well known for his beauty and during times of war, he always managed to escape because of that. Around 554, when he was 16-years-old, he met the future Emperor Wen of Chen, by then only a general. Chen was deeply attracted to Han Zi Gao's breath-taking beauty and urged him to go with him, promising the boy a life of wealth. Ever the clever boy, Han Man Yi agrees to serve him and Chen Zi Hua is changing his name into Han Zi Goa as a sign that they are going to be connected for the rest of their lives. They both start to take care of each other's need including physical. The general also starts to teach him fighting, martial arts, music etc. And what starts as a master-slave relationship soon turns into a quiet love story. Of course the relationship is not taken good by either general's wife or his sister, who wants Zi Gao for herself. As it is General has trust issues and we see some misunderstandings but eventually he promises to Zi Gao that if and when he becomes emperor, he will make him the queen.

The film, to be honest, at one point got very confusing because there were way too many names in the subtitles, and I couldn't keep a track of whether it was name of a person or a place or what was going on. The film moved from scene to scene very random so it was also difficult to keep a track whether it's a continuation of sort or we have moved beyond a few years or months. Clearly the 2 men were deeply in love, stuff that pure love is made of but the general couldn't help his jealousy. He always felt that Zi Gao will leave him for some woman or someone else. But that never happened. There are no kiss or love making scenes between the two men but they share good chemistry with their eyes, their dialogues, that you can tell that they deeply care for each other and are in love. They both were good actors and had good chemistry. I just wish the subtitles I had with me were clearer.

At just over an hour of length, this was good time spent watching a period gay love story, which also happens to be true. Decent, not great. (6/10)

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Gods Of Olympia

WTF did I just see? You literally have to be kidding me, if any one out there can actually call this a film and to top if someone can tell me anything at all positive about this film. The script is pretty non-existent. If you ask me, I still won't be able to tell what did I just see. There are 3 long sex scenes with everything exposed for you to see that come out of nowhere. The rest of the scenes are really really long random scenes of small group of people talking forever and ever.  The scenes don't flow naturally from one into the other, and in one, you hear someone off camera giving one of the actors his lines he forgot. I mean there is no editing, nothing. The acting, editing, cinematography, screenplay etc., was all amateurish and subpar. Every single scene just goes on forever. Trust me!! I hope no one invested any of their personal hard earned money to make this "film".

The story take place in Olympia, Washington where the characters includes a supreme court justice who dresses up in drag and is running for empress of the local drag competition, the Lt. Governor who is just coming out; a homeless man who is befriended by the waiter and and a relationship then develops, a dishwasher who falls in love with the Lt. governor; and the cook who inherits the restaurant. I honestly don't even understand what was the relationship between all these folks and why were they talking non stop about random things forever.

I wish I could find some redeeming qualities for this production, but there are none. The script is non-existent. There is no story, just a seemingly endless series of scenes between the untalented non-actors. There is no attempt whatsoever to tell a story or maintain any sense of continuity. The acting is also notably inferior. Imagine you and your friends decided to shoot a low budget movie. Everyone has his/her lines memorized, but often the deliveries are off. Nothing, absolutely nothing about this movie is worth spending even five minutes on. Do not get fooled by the poster. (0/10)

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

I Found Love In 7-11 (Thai) (Web Series)

There is like a tsunami of Thai BL shows. Sadly, only a handful of them do proper justice with the right kind of story telling and acting, while some others are just in the rat race trying to maybe get some recognition and make some money in the process. Sadly, this show falls in the latter category. Thankfully with 8 episodes, each of about 23-26 minutes; it didn't take too long to go through it.

11 years ago, Cho left to pursue a career path leading to managing a convenience store. At the time, his best friend Gavin ridiculed that choice, and the two lost touch. Now they meet again, when Cho comes to manage the "7-Eleven" nearest where Gavin works as a motorcycle driver. Cho, although hurt, eventually gives in to Gavin's charm; who happens to be the heartthrob motorcycle driver and eventually they move in together, start dating and find love. Then we have Toss, who is the main manager of the store. His wife walked out on him, and his toddler likes Tin, one of the motorcycle drivers, who looks after him. Caring soon turns to love and Toss takes a liking for Tin and even dismisses his wife to wants to return back to him after a few months. And in addition to the main 4 characters, we have a mix of other inquisitive staff at the store, and several more motorcycle drivers, and romantic possibilities are quite complicated.

The story is pretty straight forward which could have easily been shown in a short film. There was absolutely no reason to make such a long series. All the other characters except main 4 add nothing to the main storyline. Clearly they have been added as fillers and can be completely edited out from the final product to make it crispier. But I guess, if the makers do insist to keep this as series, then you need random fillers. The jokes from these folks were not funny at all. Cho and Gavin have good chemistry, but Cho's makeup was so glaringly uneven. I really wonder, why do they have to put such a thick layer of makeup and lipstick on him. It is so bloody evident. With that regard, Gavin's character is a lot more charming who wins people over with his smile and charm. Toss and Tin story is weird because it literally feels like Tin is just a kid. I understand Toss' closeness for Tin since he is taking care of his kid but is it really love? I am not too sure. I would question that.

This series has nothing new or novel to offer and is avoidable, unless you are a huge fan of Thai BL shows and wouldn't want to miss it for the world. (4/10)

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

HIStory (Mandarin) (Web Series)

HIStory is a Taiwanese web drama anthology series with different plots and main characters focusing on the theme of boys' love, also known as BL. This first season consisted of 12 episodes encompassing 3 stories over 4 episodes each. Interestingly each of the 3 stories are quite different from one another, but as I mentioned, the theme of BL is the constant that binds them together. Apparently, this series is the first Taiwanese web drama to air on Japanese television and it accumulated a large international fan following. Lets review each of these below.

MY HERO: After dying, a young girl figures out that it was a mistake. She negotiates with the death god to inhabit the body of the recently dead boy, so that she can again get close to her boyfriend. Little does she know that the boy whose body she is going into was also secretly in love with her boyfriend. However, she has only one week for her boyfriend to fall in love with her new body. Or else both her and the boy's body dies.

To be honest, I am still not clear, when the boyfriend eventually falls in love, was it for his ex-girlfriend or was it because he eventually discovers that the boy is in love with him and he just reciprocates; or maybe it was a combination of both. The cast is good looking and acts well and thankfully not many OTT scenes. The ending was cliched and bittersweet but overall quite alright.

STAY AWAY FROM ME: When their parents get married and leave for a long honeymoon, superstar Cheng Qing moves in with his new stepbrother Feng He. With Cheng Qing on the brink of failing out of college, their parents entrust Feng He to tutor him. Feng's best friend Meng Meng loves the whole BL stories and keeps dreaming and wanting that Cheng and Feng get together. She tries her best to push them together. Cheng eventually falls for Feng but Feng is constantly struggling between his feelings for Feng v/s his relationship as a step-brother.

Firstly, the guys in this story were both so cute and they had amazing chemistry. The way Cheng Qing would trouble Feng was cute. Their acting was very natural unlike some BL dramas where the acting would start off super awkward. Stories like this where society sees you as brothers (but they are forced to be brothers), but you actually want to be lovers; are always tricky and I think the series managed to keep a fine balance.

OBSESSED: Yi-chen, a man who dies in an accident following a scuffle with his ex-boyfriend Jin-teng, is reborn and sent back 9 years. To save his future self, he avoids Jin-teng and his feelings for him. Yi-chen proceeds to destroy his diary, where he writes about his longtime feelings for him. Jin-teng discovers a few pages, and develops a growing curiosity about Yi-chen which he can't explain. Yi-chen himself realizes that he can't resist Jin-teng, no matter how many times he tries to not fall for him again.

Personally, this was the most interesting story for me, although its a little confusing in the beginning wrt timelines. Also one good thing about this is that there is a lot more physical affection and kisses in this story , when compared to a lot of other BL stories that I have seen where pretty much there is hardly even a kiss between the protagonists. So there was even a sensual element for a change and good fun to watch.

These stories were good mix of fun, novelty and pretty much what you would expect from any regular Asian BL series. It doesn't go out of its way but it doesn't disappoint you either. (6/10)

Monday, July 13, 2020

For Min Brors Skyld (Danish) [For My Brother]

First thing first. This is not at all an easy film to watch. I have never wanted to turn off a film because it made me uncomfortable. This film does that to you. It's uncomfortable, revolting and its depressing. I have a seen a couple of incestual and also pedophilic behavior films, but the kind of discomfort and traumatic representation this film does, you should be prepared for what is to come and a lot of scenes WILL be hard to watch.

Aske and his brother Bastian are very young. We soon see that their father doesn't mind pimping his 11 year old son to his friend Hans for some money, which leads us to believe that the father himself has been abusing the child bot physically and sexually. When the mother finds out, she ends up in an accident and dies, leaving the 2 brothers at the mercy of their father. Five years pass and we see that the father is a drunk man still verbally and physically abusing the kids. Aske makes sure he takes as much care for his little brother Bastian as he can. Their father forces Aske to star in pedophilic home made porn videos where he is forced to have sex with paying strangers. Aske does whatever his father tells him to since there is the lingering threat of Bastian having to replace him if he doesn’t perform well. Of course this affects Aske's social life where even his best friend fails to understand Aske's behavior. One night when Aske goes for a party on insistence by his friend, their father ends up abusing Bastian. This is when Aske tells his friend what has been happening with them and he helps them escape to their cabin in Norway. Sadly, Aske's misery doesn't just end here. Their father manages to escape their home after killing Aske's best friend and finds where the boys are and ends up killing Bastian before killing himself.

As I mentioned before, this film is not an easy watch. The film is shot which feels like a hand held camera which is very distracting and shaky initially but you eventually get used to it. Not sure if this was due to budget (I doubt it) or more of a conscious choice because giving it a "home video" feel makes it even more creepy, tragic and utmost uncomfortable to watch. The abuse scenes, both sexual and physical, are not easy to watch at all. They feel very very real and huge props need to be given to all actors and the director to portray their roles so well. I hope they conducted proper workshops before filiming this film because a subject like this can scar you mentally for life. As audience, you are not sure why Aske is not leaving home or retaliating, but you realize that years of mental, and physical abuse, telling the kids that they are good for nothing take away all the power and energy that they have for themselves. In their mind, he is still their father and he probably has the right to do whatever with them that he wants to do. I was hoping that there maybe a positive ending and a ray of hope for Aske and his brother having endured so much pain, but instead we see just how hopeless, never ending, horrific the sexual abuse of children really is. The film is grin through and through. The only signs of hope you see are when the two brothers are together and how Aske's aim in life is to protect his brother at any cost and for him to not go through the hell that he has been going on as a kid. Some scenes in the film were unnecessary and could have been avoided but I guess the idea was to show the extent to which some pedophiles will go. I want to praise the actors and the maker for making something so real that you really hate the character and you feel for the young boys. You want to protect them, but as I write this, I am going through all kinds of emotions.

It is admirable that a film is trying to show an honest, raw depiction of child abuse, but this is nota kind of film I will go around recommending. I am glad I saw it, but it is a very very very uncomfortable watch and I have never ever been so affected by a film so much that I affected by sleep and pysche. It id a brutal and a powerful film. It will take me a few days to detach myself from this one. Read this and decide on your own if you have the stomach to watch this. (8/10)

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Go-Go Boy Interrupted (Web Series)

Sometimes you just have to put your brain aside and just enjoy the senseless comedies. And this 2 season series was just perfect. Comprising of total 21 episodes of 4-5 minutes each, the series chronicles the adventures of Danny Carter, a 30-year-old "washed up" male go-go dancer, who also happens to be extremely dumb. I have to admit, I thoroughly enjoyed it and it it managed to bring a smile on face pretty much in every single episode.

The premise of the show is simple. Danny Carter is soon turning 30 and for almost 10 years, he has been this hugely popular go-go boy. Now, with age catching up on him, must discover a way to find his 'purpose' and survive within a different lifestyle as he moves on from go-going. Every episode brings in different territory. For example, new 19-20 year olds are a threat to the "ageing" go-go boys. And within the gay community itself , people are not warm, instead they are extremely mean to each other trying to bring each other down. Danny's mother i a big supporter of him in every possible way. Danny thinks of day time go-go boy in a restaurant, even considers porn and decides to somehow get his job back at the club. Many other constant supporting artists that act as his friends, foes, lover, colleagues add to the fun of this delightfully entertaining slice of West Hollywood gay life.

Every single episode of this carefully edited show is just right. The right humor, no where it goes over the top and the best part is that the episodes are really short. There were really funny dialogues, like when Danny constantly gets surprised knowing that every single person has gone to college, or when he is trying to date a guy. Some of the best scenes were when he tries to get into porn. I was bawling. I personally have not been much of a club person but we all know that at some really popular clubs, especially in LA, you can see larger than life, extremely hot characters like drag queens, go-go boys etc. This series is a satire / comic attempt to see what happens when you get "aged out" of your career, when gay guys can no longer use their youth and sexuality as currency. Jimmy Fowlie as Danny is absolutely brilliant. He plays the character of the hot, dumb, slightly irresponsible ageing go-go boy perfectly to the T.

There is nothing game changing here but comedy and making people laugh is not an easy job. And this series does real good. It will make you smile, make you laugh and overall leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling. (7/10)