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.

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.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Outs: Season 2 (Web Series)

I was so so so happy when I got to see the season 2 of this web series. I can’t believe I did not even know that it was under production. Having loved the season one, you can’t even imagine the excitement I had to watch the season 2, because I expected nothing but the best. This season may not be as good as season 1, but still this is a pretty darn good sequel where it returns from where the characters were left. And yes, I will continue to want more seasons and sequels to this web series.

Season 1 ended with Oona’s blog picking up, Jack & Mitchell were finally starting to work on their friendship and Paul was getting into a grad school. Time has passed and the stories continue. Paul and Jack are string to make their long distance relationship work by opening it up. Jack has been meeting few people here and there and as always is quite unsure about what’s happening between him and Paul (Scruffy from season one and we find out his name in this season). Mitchell has a new boyfriend, a British chef, whom he loves and adores but he relationship is still at a very early stages. Oona is now hugely successful mean and bitchy blogger and has written a few books. She is screwing her publisher and maybe the is the guy who would finally help her also realise that she is also capable of loving. Her friendship with Mitchell is still as strong as ever. We witness the growth of the characters but the series ends with Mitchell having broken up with his chef boyfriend, Paul and Jack still evaluating because Jack can’t “do this” anymore and Oona kicks her flourishing career because she won’t let people take her for granted. Also she has now met a man who likes her for who she is.

As I mentioned above, all my expectations were pretty much met by this whole season. It was a perfect season with the stories being moved in exactly the right direction. The cast is perfect and as actors they are still amazing and natural to the core. They can all be your next door neighbours and you could be watching them in real life. Jack is still the best and I really liked his chemistry with Paul. Interestingly this time, its the director/actor Mitchell who fell a bit short of expectations. He was too good in season one but maybe one mark less as an actor in the sequel. Doesn’t take away the credit from him on how excellent writer/director he is. As expected, i missed my New York city very much after watching the show and I can’t wait to return back. The show made me really nostalgic having shot at some of my fav places (including Taim restaurant, which is round the corner from where I lived). A few more characters are introduced on the side but the core of the story remains focussing on topics of friendship, happiness, and feeling lost when things just aren’t working anymore. Its the situations that viewers can definitely relate to. I , for once, can definitely relate to every single character.

Thank you so much for bring back the show with the new season. I have not been excited about watching anything in a while now. I still love this show. Highly recommend it. (8/10)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Chasing Pavement

It was  novel idea to take a couple of real life gay porn stars and make a film that probably enters around a similar theme, but not every idea on paper turns out to be a good reality. The film tries to examine the loneliness and the resiliency of the human condition, especially in our main protagonist’s case who also happen to be a famous porn star.

Rashawn, a young African-American wanna actor is now Elijah, the hot porn star and escort still struggling to pay his rent. When his roommate leaves abruptly, he rents his spare bedroom to Takeshi, a kindly employee at his favourite takeout palace. The shy Takeshi, who has no problems with Elijah’s job soon finds himself inundated in Elijah’s existence; although admittedly he is not gay. He is fascinated by how popular his room mate is, while he is practically invisible in and around NYC. aries that brings the two together for a moment of intimacy that neither will soon forget. In between, we also meet one of Elijah’s clients, Bryson, a man with some past (which we are never told). The deal between him and Elijah is not very clear except the fact that they frequently meet. Takeshi's obsession culminates in a violation of boundaries when the two guys end up having sex followed by Takeshi quietly leaving the house in the dark of night.

There is a lot to be desired in this film. It has a lot of silent, quiet moments which get on your nerves after a certain period of time. Elijah tries to act but clearly can’t. You can’t help but chuckle when he cheesily defines himself as a "hot twink super bottom porn star." Bryson, played by famous porn star Antonio Biaggi is wasted, has a terrible voice and just can’t acted. He should stay popular for what he packs and shouldn’t try more. Takes is the only decent catch of the film. I think the subject was interesting but should have been handled by mature actors and more importantly a tighter screenplay and direction. And what’s up with drinking cheap red wine all the time, everytime. I would have never thought that watching someone drink red wine could get annoying!!

This one just feels like soft porn with porn actors with very little porn but lot of silent quiet moments and real bad acting. (3/10)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Aligarh (Hindi / English)

First of all I would like to give a big thank you to the makers of the film for showing us this bitter truth and ugly reality of one of the aspects of Section 377 in India. The incident occurred six years ago, in 2010, but the film's themes – the violation of one's privacy, imposing one's morality on others, intolerance, and society's ten

Professor Siras is a 64 year old man who teaches Marathi at Aligarh Muslim University. He is shown living a very solitary lonely life busy listening to his favourite singer’s old classic songs. As part of the sting operation, he is caught and filmed having sex with a rickshaw-puller from worker class and is subsequently suspended from his position in the university just 4 years before he is supposed to retire from the university. Deepu, is a budding journalist, and when he reads this whole story, wants to help the professor. After initial misunderstanding, he finally manages to strike a bond with the professor; something that starts as a professional bond but eventually becomes that of friends. His story after listening to professor’s version becomes sensational and country-wide protests start. One of the most famous lawyers who represented common people for Section 377 decides to represent Dr. Siras for his case. The case against the university goes for a few months, but they finally win and his suspension orders are revoked. However, he never resumed his post as he was found dead, days after the court gave verdict in his favour.

Manoj Vajpayee as Prof Siras is unbelievably good in the film. His discomfort on being labelled ‘gay’ shows he just believes in people. He would also rather feel what ‘love’ is rather than telling if he was in love with the rickshaw-puller. But the film is beyond the debate of whether this is a gay issue or not. As highlighted by Deepu’s character, it is a case of violation of human privacy and basic human rights. Who defines what constitutes morale? The film moves with a very simple narrative, poetic and slow; so please be patient while watching it. When the professor says that “The poetry is in the silences between words; their meaning depends on the age and situation one is in”; the statement reflects the mood and the film that the makers were trying to make. Despite serious subject, the film does have a few lighter moments. I loved the fact that it wasn’t shown all at once on what happened at the sting operation. The film returns repeatedly to the pivotal opening sequence in which Siras' privacy is invaded, and each replay reveals crucial additional details and perspectives. And as a viewer, that’s what makes you angry at all those people because you don’t want  something like this to happen to anyone. Kudos to Manoj Vajpayee to take up this role and do more than just justice. He fills the depths of the understated but intensely moving drama with genuine, unsettling emotion.

Unlike Bollywood’s stereotype of the loud, floral-loving homosexual, Aligarh very sensitively champions their cause. An important film powered by sensitive writing and masterful performances. Definitely worth a watch. (8.5/10)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Gay Short Films : 46

Coming Out (UK)
Quirky comedy about deaf identity - a deaf teenager reveals a personal secret to his hearing mother. Why does he have ‘dirty’ magazines and videos hidden in his room? What will his father say when he finds out? The unexpected revelations question whether family life will ever be the same again. You can easily draw parallels with being Gay. Wonderful film!

Keep Breathing (Israel)
A young man’s strong feelings for his ex turns into an obsession when he starts stalking him and even turns up at his girlfriend’s house. Better sense prevails and he is back to reality with support of his best friend.

Just Tonight (USA)
Two strangers meet on a hookup app with very different expectations of how the night will go. For one, its the first time and for the other, its just a getaway from his boyfriend.

Listen (UK)
A government worker, who spends his time monitoring phone-calls, becomes inspired by a series of conversations between a gay son and his mother.

Duvid (USA)
When Duvid Stern is taken from his sheltered, ultra-orthodox community and introduced to the New York club scene, he is forced to reexamine the bedrock of his identity. Not necessarily a gay short since only relevance is that he discovers that his friend is gay.

Shining the Ball (Australia)
An attractive young man joins a cricket club and finds that the vice captain is gay and is interested in him but how sure is our protagonist? Will it be too late before he realizes and has the courage to accept?

After (Canada)
Three teenage boys idealize and fantasize about an older teenage football player. When he gets into an accident, each of them plays their own version in their mind.

The Fruity (Australia) 
The Fruity is an ageing gay pub, fraying around its fabulous edges. Lindsey is at his usual barstool and doesn’t plan on moving. But a proposition from the spunky new bartender, Jorge, tempts him to take to the stage.

For the Love of Julio (Australia)
Alice and George are best friends, young, passionate and looking for love. A story of desires and expectations.

Pink moon (USA)
In a society where heterosexuals are persecuted and abortion is forbidden, two ‘straight’ teenagers are forced to hide an unintended pregnancy before their secret romance is exposed to everyone. A powerful upside-down situation.

Limanakia
It is a visual sexual collage on homoerotic orgies. Male tanned bodies are freely exposed on the white sharp rocks, under the heat of the sun, tasting each others salty skin. The camera follows them into the sea capturing their playfulness surrounded by the magic of the Mediterranean waters.

Soy tan feliz (Argentina) [I Am So Happy]
On a lazy day, Mateo stops by to pick up his cousins and drive them to the country house where their mother awaits. A sudden break slam brings these cousins into the waste land, where one tries to get into the other’s pants.

Cariocas
The film makers voyeuristic hunt in Rio with lots of sea, sun, sweat and sexual encounters. Brazilian men care about their physique and they freely allow admiration of their sculpted bodies. The sensuality of those men creates blurry sexual identities.

Locas Perdidas (Chile) Lost Queens
In 1996, 18-year-old Rodrigo, working as a drag queen, is arrested by the police. He returns home fearful that his family will see him on the news. He makes plans to run away with the 48-year-old hairdresser Mauricio, a family friend and Rodrigo’s boyfriend. Based on true events.

Elgin Park (USA)
Michael Paul spent most of his life in reclusive struggling through bullying until he found a way to eliminate it all. His answer was to create a fictional town called Elgin Park which is nothing but modelling at 1/24th scale.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Nachthelle (German) [Bright Night]

This was an interesting weird film. I don’t think I still completely understand what exactly happened with the whole twist, but to be honest I really don’t care. Yes, the film is confusing, yet pretty straight forward and it still keeps for an engaging viewing. It never lets you bore besides the confusion that it adds. Also I don’t think it is a gay film per say. Yes there is a gay couple and yes maybe  they try to seduce the straight guy but thats that.

40-year-old Anna brings her much younger lover, Stefan, to her childhood home. She meets her old school friend Bernd and his boyfriend Marc of 20 years. The protagonists stay in a secluded location )of this house in east Germany) for a few nights, the house serves as a pressure cooker of emotions and sexual tensions. There is open-pit mine activities going o the town that sends occasional small quakes in the region. The metaphor also is important since it is the similar quakes thats happening in Anna’s life. Marc, who is a well respected psychiatrist, enjoys stirring up shit by asking very uncomfortable questions to everyone around him. He clearly flirts with Stefan and asks Anna very uncomfortable questions about the past when Anna and Bernd used to date each other. After a while Marc’s psychological pontificating seems to lead to a physical manifestation of…well…something. The narrative goes into a circular motion allowing Anna a unique opportunity to observe things from another perspective. And this is where the film gets very confusing, leading to 2 possible endings. Now which one is the correct one?

The best thing about this film were the actors. They all shared great dynamics with each other and were all really good. Their interactions are full of possibilities and hence as a viewer, I felt always on the hook as to where the story ill lead to. Clearly there is a big connection between the past activity and the present. The weird dream sequence that Anna has sort of gets explained by the circular narrative towards the end, which itself only adds to the confusion. I wonder if more time was given to it, would it have made sense? Also, the mood of the film kept changing between psychiatric evaluation by March vs he trying to create some sexual tension with Stefan. I wish there was more of the latter. The cinematography is beautiful and the quiet old town looks magical. I felt like I should go there for a holiday.

Bit confusing and a bit creepy, it was an interesting watch but the fact that I didn’t completely grasp the concept prevents me from giving it a high rating. (6/10)

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Stonewall

Taking a very important and crucial moment in gay rights history and reducing it to mere background for a coming-of-age story is not cool. The title and the trailer of the film creates expectations from the viewers, especially the ones who had witnessed the ordeal but alas! To be honest, I have not seen many films on the subject, so I am no expert to say whether the said events are shown to reality or not, but I can still very confidently say that, the title should have been used to make a better film with more facts.

Danny, is a small town Indiana boy who arrives to New York after he is discovered to be having an affair with his football team-mate. Danny’s father who is the coach can’t deal with it and the boy is exiled. He arrives on Christopher Street in Greenwich village and is befriended by Ray, an androgynous, who slowly starts falling in love with Danny. He also gets support from other trans members and hustlers (mostly street living LGBT members). The entire group hangs around the The Stonewall Inn, a mob-owned bar that was regularly raided by the police. This is where in June 1969, one such raid sparked riots by the patrons that lasted several days. Danny meets Trevor who he likes and even moves in with him. Trevor is a gay activist whose team is working towards getting LGBT members their rights. But soon Danny realises that he was just another guy for Trevor. We continue to witness the problems & heartaches of mostly the LGBt street hustlers and by the time the actual riot in Stonewall is sparked, its already too late for any of us to really care.

Stonewall has been billed as the story of a young gay man’s political awakening, and there insetting wrong with that. But then why promote a film with such a title. I, for once, expected more about the actual incident with a lot more facts than fiction. The riots are tucked away in the last 20 minutes, delivered almost as an after-thought to Danny’s character development. There are many sub-plots of other characters, which didn’t really add too much to the soul of the film. Danny acts well, but the scene stealer of the film is Ray, a charismatic portrayal of the triumphs of the trans community and the struggles they faced at that time. Attempting to do right by history, the actual facts have been complicated rather than clearly showing why the cops chose to raid the Stonewall Inn on June 28, and why the lesbians and female-attired trans clientele finally decided to rebel against the harassment they’d been getting from all sides.

Is not a bad movie per say, it really isn’t it but using such an important historical event and turning it into just a backdrop for a regular coming-of-age story is just not ok. (6/10)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Lichtes Meer (German/English/French) [Radiant Sea]

Now this would be a first for me. An entire film about journey based in sea, essentially a sea trip (not a road-trip) movie of coming out and finding love along the way. Almost entire narrative happens in sea. The film is actually shot in a very documentary style like where even the conversation between the 2 characters is told to us as a monologue from one of the protagonists point of view. An interesting experiment I would say!

Marek is helping out his mother on her farm an dreams of going to university to Berlin. But plans change and instead he decides to follow his dream of becoming a sailor. While waiting for his boat to sail, he meets Jean, a fellow sailor, youngest on the boat and they befriend each other. Marek’s first introduction to Jean is when he sees him getting intimate with another man. In the ship while Marek is training, a bond starts to develop between the two men which eventually leads to occasional sex sessions. But, alas, Marek is looking for a long-term boyfriend and Jean, who has been a sailor since he was 16, doesn't seem to have any desire to tie himself to one person. Realising this Marek starts to distance himself from Jean and even refuse to have sex with hi, something Jean was taking for granted so far. When the ship docks on an island, Jean offers to show Marek around and between arguments, fight and love; the boys open up to each other. By this time Marek has decided that he doesn’t want to continue on the journey anymore, which upsets Jean but in a beautiful ending, we see that both men have moved on after a night of compassion and intimacy.

There is a very affecting story being told about two very different individuals who look at love and sex in diametrically opposite ways. Thankfully, the director doesn’t judge either of the character. They both have their individual point of views and considering that they are both young, they will eventually learn about love and life. Th biggest positive about the film is how beautifully, naturally it is shot. You want to be in that ship. Having said that , the big negative is that the film moves at a snails pace. The core narrative is rather sparse and almost non-existent; which could have easily been told in a 20 minute short film. So it feels like a documentary on what happens in cargo ships wit a gay story thrown in. :) But then it would not have given us an opportunity to connect with the protagonists like we have done in this case. The guys look good and act week and depict the loneliness of working on the ship beautifully. Jean specifically is gorgeous. This film would be so much more in my opinion, if the pace was bit faster and the scene where Marek is mumbling edited out. There is a whole lot of time in the film where really nothing is happening.

Nevertheless, if you can be a little patient, this film still rewards you with a very different experience. (6/10)

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Holding The Man (Australia)

Timothy Conigrave’s bestselling memoir Holding the Man, an intimate account of his 15-year relationship with lover John Caleo, was published in 1995 and adapted into an award-winning stage production in 2006. This time the script gets moved into a cinematic version. I have neither read the book , nor have I seen the play , so I will be able to judge the film as standalone. Even if I thought the movie was a little confusing, it does give you a feeling of what AIDS involves and how it effects loved ones.

At 16, Tim, a budding actor has hots for his classmate John, who also happens to be this aggressive soccer player. This is in 1976 in Melbourne when being gay was probably not the easiest thing. Anyway the two start having an affair and are really too much into one another. Their parents soon find out, when John’s father discovers a love letter written by Tim to John. They are forbidden to meet each other but true love knows no bounds. Time moves and they are in college and are very happy with each other. But this is when Tim feels that should they take a break from each other or at least see if they can have fun with other people; an idea that is completely rejected by John. So they take break from each other. Tim join uni and has lots of fun with many guys around him but soon he realises that his true love is only for John. Years later when the AIDS epidemic hits country, the two men are devastated to find out that they are both positive. They have been together 15 years by now. Both John and Tim think that it is probably John who gave them the virus until later when we find outfit it was probably Tim who got it first. John’s condition deteriorates at a much faster pace. We see how the parents of the both the boys have come around about their relationship in private except for John’s father. Ultimately John succumbs to death and at his funeral Tim is reduced to just his ‘friend’. John decides to move to an island in Italy, writes his memoirs and dies 10 days later.

The film is definitely moving and touching. Tender love stories which had to got through the horrific phase of AIDS epidemic , if done well can still strike a very emotional chord with the audience and this film certainly did that with me. The story is moving, well crafted and the two men have very likeable chemistry. Having said that I felt that not enough moments were shown between the two men together that could give us a better insight into how their relationship grew over a period of 15 years. Another issue with the film was the non-linear narration. It didn’t seem to serve any purpose. In fact this film should have been told linearly to have much more effect. Back to positive side, the actors did a great job with great chemistry and the direction was handled very sensitively without over-dramatising anything. Neither love, nor parental opposition, nor the homophobia; which I liked. I have seen more than a few films which depicts the horror of the emergence of the HIV/AIDS virus in the gay community. This film is definitely one of the better ones.

Don't be afraid that this film may be too hard to take on - it's holds your hand all the way through. Pretty good! (7/10)

Monday, March 14, 2016

Naz & Maalik

An interesting idea and thought to showcase a day in the life of two closeted gay Muslim teenagers in Brooklyn. When I read this one-liner summary, I was definitely intrigued because there is so much that can be done in this subject and space. So I was really looking forward to it. I would summarise this film as a very simple indie film that gives you a glimpse into something that you may have not experienced first hand.

Reserved Naz and outgoing Maalik have formally taken their friendship to the next level, though the religious teens have yet to declare their sexuality to family or friends. They make money by buying lottery tickets, oils and other small items from a local convenience store and hawking them on the streets for a profit. At the start of the day, an innocent encounter with an undercover cop selling guns catches the attention of a FBI agent. The outrageous unfairness of her harassment of them loops into the larger theme of Muslims in New York becoming accustomed to surveillance ever since 9/11. Anyway, ultimately towards the end of the day, the confusion is cleared with the FBI agent, who ultimately understands that they are just two teenagers who are trying to hide their love. The sub-plot of killing a live chicken to prepare hall food for Maalik’s mom goes awry, when an innocent man gets into an accident. The film ends with malice considering that he should come-out to his family and see what happens.

The rapport between the two boys is easy, sometimes tender. They discuss about all kinds of things including “last night”. They hide in alleys to kiss. Overall pretty normal teenager stuff. The intense focus on the two lead characters emerges as both a strength and a weakness. There’s a lot of walking and talking, and what begins as rather charming ultimately turns tedious and tiring. On a positive note, the bustling New York City sidewalk feels have been captured really well like, its energy, chaos, casual hum of activity. That made me miss New York even more. The 2 boys have acted quite natural. There is a friendly chemistry between them which is very obvious. They are always honest, and gentle with that honesty. When one talks, the other one listens, really listens.

The film does a good job of showing brewing teenage love between 2 boys who happen to be muslims, but somewhere it doesn’t do to much justice on the racial profiling that ha suddenly crept up all over US post 9/11. (6/10)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Some Of My Best Friends (TV Series)

Some of My Best Friends (a terrible name)was an American sitcom shown on CBS shown in 2011. The series was inspired by the film Kiss Me, Guido. The show was cancelled after season 1. Its a shame that it was cancelled because guess what, despite full of stereotypes and caricaturing every character, this is still funny. I personally would have been very interested in watching what happens next but I guess we will never find out.

Warren is a gay man living in Manhattan. When his bf leaves him, he needs to find a room mate to pay bills. Italian guy Frankie replies to his ad for GWM looking for roommate thinking that it means ‘uy with money’ instead of ‘Gay while male’. The two end up sharing an apartment, alternately clashing and learning to respect each other. They are surrounded by an assortment of secondary characters who are all hilariously funny. Frankie’s pushy mother, his browbeaten father, his dumb straight best friend. Then we have Warren’s sister and his closets gay friend and his neighbour who is always in their business (the funniest character in my opinion). The 7 episodes follow a different story each time with able support from other characters and bringing the two room mates closer in a respectful manner.

You'd think that having so many stock characters in the same sitcom would be a recipe for boredom, but a quick pace and smooth performances all around make "Some of My Best Friends" work surprisingly well. The gay best friend and the straight best friend adds a whole new dimension in the comedy. My strong recommendation is to watch this show or humour and don’t take it too seriously. I am just surprised that I had never even heard the mention of this show till almost 15 years after it was originally aired.

Give this a try. You will laugh your ass off and won’t be bored. I promise!! (7/10) 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Gay Short Films : 45

The Image (UK)
The image being painted by an artist comes to life to terrify the life out of him (and us). The imagery is stark and disturbing, & the sound effects oppressive. The film presents the shockingly homoerotic relationship between a painter and the young man who was his inspiration. An homage to the impossible love.

Julekveld (Norway) [Christmas Eve]
it is Christmas Eve and Emil is coming home for dinner with his family after a long absence. His family is in for a big surprise. The family is a mix of transexual, gay, transgendered. When Emil comes home with a biological female as his girlfriend, all hell breaks loose.

De vuelta (Spain) [Back Again]
Alex returns to his village after long absense and goes out with friend Jordi to celebrate San Juan’s night. In summer storm they take shelter in an old abandoned house where they used to play when they were kids. There they have to face conflicts from the past, where the games were also of sexual nature.

Baby Cake (Australia)
In this delightfully funny silent short from Australia, a gay couple and a lesbian couple come together for a very important task: to make a baby; the old-fashioned way.

My Gay Roommate (Web Series)
A comedy YouTube series about funny tales of a straight and a gay roommates relationship. Season 1 follows him through his college freshman year, second season involved Nick’s time at home for summer and season 3 is about a new roommate in NYC. The roommates learn to love, accept, and support each other through hysterical challenges.

Nuts (USA)
Two roommates dramatically discuss the condition of their kitchen sink, leading to an unexpected kiss after eating peanut butter forgetting that one of them is allergic to nuts.

One year lease (USA) Short Documentary
You expect less space and high rents in NYC but what is not common is the most eccentric of landlords...directly above you...with an itchy speed-dial finger. Told almost entirely through voice mail messages, “One Year Lease” documents the travails of Brian, Thomas and Casper as they endure a year-long sentence with Rita the cat-loving landlady. The calls get scary and bizarre.

Contact (USA)
A dance video by choreographer Adrien Ouaki based on a music composed by FREON. Amazing!

Drowning (Australia)
Things are changing for Mik. His world has been turned upside down by the sudden death of his older brother forcing him to redefine his place in his family. The one solid thing in Mik's life is his best friend Dan. But Dan has a new girlfriend and that scares Mik. This is a story about friendship and the transition into adulthood.

Ljósið (USA)
To overcome the restraint of his fears a man embarks on a journey towards discovery through life, love, and self through a dance performance.

The Big House (Australia)
The movie is about a relationship between two men in prison, introduced in early scenes as non-consensual sexual exploitation. William ‘big man’takes care of ‘Sonny’ and asks for intimacy in return. This isn't some formulaic men-on-men fantasy. It's a realistic depiction of a kind of intimacy that those of us "outside the big house" are likely to have a hard time understanding.

Xavier (Brazil)
Upon discovering his 11-year-old son Xavier's attraction to boys, Nicolas follows the growth of his son in a respectful way. Over their shared love of music, the film culminates in a simple proclamation of a father's unconditional love.

Érintés (Hungary) [Touch]
Tamás rents a male escort for the first time. The documentary chronicles the unraveling of two male strangers who meet for pay and more; giving us a glimpse of the service and of the lives it touches.

Breathe (Ireland)
An Irish traveller becomes increasingly concerned with his nine-year-old son’s femininity and sets about toughening him up. Does he have  the capacity to change or accept him?

Virgindade (Brazil) [Virgin]
A man recounts his growing up years in his old city and things he did while he was sexually awakened in his teens.

Out Again (USA)
Made by the kids at Reel Queer Youth, this film shows 16-year-old Sam attempts to come out to his crush Jordan in various cycles.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Unter Der Haut (Swiss German) [What's Between Us]

An excellent subject, a different take on gay relationship from the point of view of the battered wife but only if the direction could have been as effective as the basic story plot. The director has understood the subject well but has handled the situations in a very superficial manner where as a viewer you don’t empathise with any character at all.

Alice and Frank are a happy couple with 3 kids and have recently moved to their new home. They have been married 18 years and have no issues at all and are a perfect family. One day Alice finds gay porn in browsing history of their home computer. Frank doesn't deny that the links are his and initially cites his interest as a sexual curiosity. Alice, though visibly uncomfortable, doesn't react in a cinematically conventional way. She opens up a dialogue about the subject and asks if Frank would like to experiment with threesomes. Frank dismisses it and tries to suppress his feelings but eventually can’t continue to fake and tells his wife that he has fallen love with another man. Alice is trying to cope up with situation and Frank continues to live double life till Alice had had enough. She can’t take it anymore and tells the truth to the children who are al devastated. She asks Frank to move out and goes into a depression. Suddenly the responsibility of keeping the house sane comes on the three kids who suddenly grow up. It is only when one day, their oldest son, gives his father  apiece of his mind, does Alice snap out of depression and decides to move on with her life because Frank is never gonna come back to her.

The film’s narrative is told from the wife’s perspective. The way the film is directed seems very cold. It seems as if the film was shot intentionally in a way so that viewers do not empathise with any character. Alice tries every trick in the book to keep her marriage safe for herself and for the sake of the children but Frank ultimately gives up. Also, I wonder why was the actor chosen to play Frank’s part was thin sickly looking and a slightly effeminate guy. Was it suggesting that Alice has been ignoring something that is abundantly clear to everyone else for years. We would not know what the intent was, but what we would know is that as a film it fails to entertain or even to emotionally connect to the story; which is a big failure in my opinion. Even the actors playing the kids had absolutely no chemistry with the parents. A big downer!

This film let me down, specially because there was so much that could have been done with the subject. (4/10)

Sunday, February 21, 2016

How To Win At Checkers (Every Time) (Thai)

The way to win at checkers (every time) is not something that this film will teach you. Instead, it’ll teach you about the unfair nature of ‘fair’ systems, and how life is for the lower class residents of Thailand. What may seem like a story about 2 gay lovers facing the possibility of being drafted into the military; it is actually not that. The story’s focus is more on the brothers and the relationship they share. The fact that elder brother is gay and has a lover is just another aspect of the story not the primary aspect.

The film is told in flashback when 21 year old Oat gets summoned for military lottery. He recounts the days and events, when his elder brother Ek had to go through the same. A decade earlier, after their father passed away, Oat and his elder brother Ek were living with their aunt. Ek worked at a local bar as bartender to support his family. He has been dating Jai, a rich young man from a respected family, since he was in high school. Despite everyone warning him that the social class difference will one day affect their love, Ek doesn’t believe it. Everyone is hoping that by miracle Ek won’t have to go to military. One day, Oat observes that Jai’s father is bribing local officials to get their son out of military, he decides to take matters in his hand and do something for his brother. He steals money form local goon, whose bar Ek works at so he can bribe him back. IT makes the situation worse and now Ek is moved from bar to working ‘upstairs’, essentially becoming prostitue. The fateful day of military lottery arrives and Ek witnesses himself the betrayal by his love to dodge the military. Ek gets drafted to military and a year later gets killed. But its the time and love and affection shared by his brother that will make Oat a strong independent man. As Oat tries to learn how to best his brother in Checkers, he learns that for someone to win, the opponent has to lose, whether it’s fair or not.

While watching the film, I thought it was quite interesting but I am appreciating it even more while I am writing this piece. Apparently the film is based on two short stories and i am quite impressed with the way the director has put the two stories into a beautiful film together. The overall story is simple, yet well told, with convincing performances. As mentioned before, Ek’s openly gay relationship features prominently in the story, it is more of a side note when compared to the film’s illustration of social class differences and corruption. And I am glad that neither gays or transgendered were made a big deal about in the film. The film is an inspiring coming-of-age story, in which a young boy seeks to transition to adulthood by beating his older brother at his favourite game. In this process he learn things about life, his brother’s life, growing awareness of sexuality and alternate sexual identity. The brother share an absolute crackling chemistry and not once you think that they are not real brothers. Th love, affection and care shown by Ek to his little brother is very very admirable.

A sweet and well-observed family drama, set in rural Thailand may not teach you anything about checkers but it will definitely leave you impressed. (7.5/10)

Saturday, February 20, 2016

4th Man Out

Why do they do it? Maker come up with an interesting idea but then they put in every stereotypical events and things they can think of and then make the film just plain ordinary. The story of a man coming out to his closest buddies on his 24th birthday and how the friends react and response is the basic premise of this light-hearted comedy.

Adam is a young garage mechanic who spends most of his time with his longtime best friend Chris. The other 2 of the quartet are Nick and Ortu and they do everything that you can think of stereotypical straight guys doing at evenings in a small american town including beer, games, chicks and gay jokes. On his birthday Adam break the news that he is gay. Chris tries to act cool and ok but others are haplessly frank in their bafflement. Upon realizing how vulnerable his best friend may feel in light of coming out, Nick devises a plan to help everyone acclimate to Adam’s sexuality by helping him find a man all his own. This leads the friends down several paths of self-discovery, some more entertaining than others, as well as overused genre territory such as gay clubs and dating apps. In between all this, Adam also comes out to his family. On one such occasion, when his double date ends bad, an honest misunderstanding happens between Adam and Chris that threatens to ruin the friendship. Thankfully without much melodrama, things get back to normal. The friends are there for each other and like a happy ending for everyone, they all find their lovers on July 4th weekend and eve Adam may finally find a suitor that he likes.

Saying that anything you see in this film, you haven’t seen before would be a lie. There is absolutely nothing new. Even the one scene of sexual tension between Adam and Chris was so obvious. I saw that coming right since the film started. Having said that, I can also say that performances from every individual was quite good and the rapport that the four guys saved was also really good. I am glad that the makers kept the film very light-hearted without too much of a melodrama and that was the only thing worked for me. I was tired of rolling my eyes otherwise seeing all the cliches of a gay film. All the side stories of a nosy neighbour, Nick’s girlfriend etc. were also alright. And oh! What’s up with the really poor choice of actors to play Nick’s mom-dad and sister. The actors had absolutely zero chemistry with each other that you would expect from a family. It was really odd.

Overall I think the weaknesses of the film overpowers the strengths and thats where I think this film failed to leave a much better impression for me. (5.5/10)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Danish Girl (UK)

This is a historical film in the whole transgender movement. Showcasing the life of Lili Elbe, the first male to female transition, her brave and pioneering spirit remains an inspiration today. Eddie Redmayne very deservingly is getting all accolades and nominations for his brave performance but in my mind, its Alicia Vikander who steals the show. More on that later.

Einar is a very successful landscape painter. He lives with his wife Gerda, also a painter, but not as successful yet. Living in Copenhagen, they live a bohemian and carefree life. An innocent game starts when Gerda asks Einar to pose as a girl for her and then join her as a woman to one of the artists ball as Lili. Initially Einar is able to keep Lili as his alter ego and both hubsanad-wife are having fun but we soon realise that the problem could be seeded much deeper. When Gerda starts painting Lily in her feminine state, she starts getting very popular and gets serious attention from art dealers. When it becomes hard for Einar to continue to live a double life in Copenhagen, they move to Paris. Gera tracks down Einar’s friend form childhood Hans. He still cares for Einard and Lili and Gerda and wants to be continuously supportive of them. As her struggles with her identity and continued existence as Einar become too much for Lili, she starts to seek help from psychologists but no results. On Hans’ insistence, they finally meet Dr. Kurt. He is the first person who says that he understands exactly what the problem is with Einar and proposes a new, innovative and controversial solution: male to female sex reassignment surgery. Lili agrees to this very dangerous operation, which has never been attempted before. Her eagerness to become woman is so much that she rushes for the second round of surgery sooner than she should have leading to complications and eventual death. Te film is based on the memoirs written by Lili between her surgeries.

The most interesting parts for me are where the innocent game between a very loving husband and wife soon become dangerous. lili slowly becomes very much a part of Einar’s life; so much that he can’t separate the two. This is where Gerda’s help and support becomes very critical. As a wife and a friend, she has always been there for her husband and she wants to continue to be there for her. The film is rich in emotions and presentation. It feels like a painting on canvas. Anything that you say performances would be less. Both lead actors are simply wonderful in their respective roles. What makes Redmayne's performance so exceptional is the way he captures both Lili's terror and her stubborn bravery. His study of a certain stylised female body language, with every tilt of his head and turn of his ankle. But Its Gerda, who IMO steals the show. Its hard to explain, but you have to watch her. She is brilliant. Having said all that, somehow something is missing in the film. I was very hooked on and interested in the on-goings for first half, but after a while, I started to feel that things were being dread and slow. Also, the film just stays n the very surface. It really doesn’t dive too deep into either of the character’s emotional state. Agreed that the story is far too complex but as an audience I would have appreciated it.

The film is pretty with rock solid performances but I wish it could have used a more probing, maybe even more painful, palette knife. (7/10)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Carol

I know I have not reviewed many lesbian films here but its because of the simple fact that I haven’t seen many. There are realign excuses for that but I feel there are so many gay themed films out there, so I end up watching only those lesbian films that get quite popular. Needless to say that with Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara being nominated for Oscars, everyone’s expectations are already high and that was one of the reasons for me also to watch this film.

The film is set in 50s. Therese is a young girl, who works behind a toy counter. She has a boyfriend and a group of male friends but something is missing. One day Carol, a very elegant blonde appears in the store. Their first interaction is business-like, but in reality it is a flirtatious scene, pierced with the thrill of danger. Carol and her husband Harge are separated and are fighting over their young daughter. We are given an indication that its probably Carol’s lesbian past with her closest friend Abby that is a reason for their separation. Carol is unsettled by her attraction towards Therese. She is older, richer and refine but can’t help her attraction to Therese which could even end up being dangerous. Therese doesn’t know what she wants. She is exploring herself. When the custody battle for the daughter starts getting ugly, Carol decides to go on a road trip and asks if Therese would like to join. To her boyfriends immense displeasure and surprise, she ends up going with Carol on the road trip where they both discover love and fondness for each other over a period of next few days. The road trip is running from something and towards a place where their relationship has a possibility of existing. But will there be happy ending? Marge’s appointed personal investigator find the 2 women together which now risks Carol’s chances of getting joint custody of her daughter based on immorality clause. Remember this is 50s. Carol leaves Therese for her daughter, and they both are individually trying to get back their life together, trying to be away from each other for the sae of Carol’s love for her daughter. Months pass and the ladies meet again> carol is ready to take her chances again and have Theresa in her life but would Therese forgive Carol for what she did to her?

The acting in this film is quite interesting, specially from Cate. She sometimes feel theatrical but I guess given that the film is set in the 50s, that was the demand of the film, also taking into account her social stature. She has fear yet confidence, self-doubt yet love. Rooney mara in my opinion has a more interesting role. She has no background that we are told. The way she behaves is very different to Carol, to her friends and to her boyfriend. She portrays the role of a shy girl doing out of her shell brilliantly, and how intimadated she is by Carol. The film shows us the mystery with which gay people in the 1950s could manage their lives with dignity, but it also inhales the clouds of depression and self-control into which Carol has had to retreat and from which she is now defiantly emerging.

The film is sad, depressing yet uplifting at the same time. Only if the film wasn’t as slow as it is, I would have rated it even higher but overall this sad love story impressed me. (7/10)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Parada (Serbian) [The Parade]

I can’t believe that I had not heard of this film before. Even more surprising is the fact that why is this film not popular among international circuits! It’s a shame. This film deserves to be seen for many reasons. A film that deals with very important subject of Balkan homophobia, but thankfully not in a dramatic. sad or depressing way. This film is perfect combination of cheekiness, humour, entertainment yet making a very strong point across.

Gangster Lemon meets veterinarian Radmilo when his dog gets shot. They part but are destined to meet again. Radmilo’s boyfriend Mirko is an artist who also helps planning weddings. Mirko is also part of the LGBT activist group trying to organise pride parade in Belgrade. Doing that is no easy task because they get harassed and beaten up all the time. Lemon is now ‘reformed’ and runs  judo clubbing his finance Pearl is working with Mirko planning her wedding. The eventual meeting of the two couples goes horribly wrong with Lemon’s violent and homophobic side emerging. Pearl decides to break up with Lemon and calls Radmilo to apologise for Lemon’s behaviour. This is when he hatches a plan. He comes up with a proposal to Lemon that is he can protect his love to get the pride parade going without any interruptions, he guarantees that Mirko would plan for the best wedding for him and Pearl. Lemon reluctantly accepts but gets into a problem when his own staff refuses to protect gays and leaves him. Put in a tight spot, Lemon thinks of hiring his former enemies from the Yugoslav Wars. Lemon and Radmilo embark on a recruiting trip all over ex-Yugoslavia, which by the way is the most important, funny and interesting part of the whole story. They sign up 3 recruits from Croatia, Bosnia and Albania. Things are still not as easy as they thought. Lemon’s heart slowly changes and he starts to see the so called ‘normal’ side of the gays. They all know that they are very few in number and probably could even die protecting the parade but he risks everything because that is what you do for your love. The parade eventually happens the next year but at a huge cost of love.

As I mentioned before, The film is raunchy, funny, hilarious , yet puts its point across us.  Its not easy to make film that deals with subject of gay-bashing and aftermath of civil war. This film reminded me a bot of the film ‘Pride’ from UK last year but of course, this film had come earlier. The acting is brilliant by every member. I would give very high points to the director and the screenplay writer to keep this amazing balance of keeping the ongoing entertaining yet thought provoking. Things like this can help start a debate. Sure maybe they showed a very stereotypical side of gays but these people do exist in reality and we all have a freedom of choice and freedom to live the way we want to. Pearl, as the gansgter’s moll was amazing. Her character initially irritating gave a lot of dignity to the people around her. We need more tolerant people like her around us. This movie breaks the walls of prejudices and helps people see that there's nothing wrong with being gay. It's a very refreshing movie on the Balkan scene, and it will make you laugh your ass out, and burst to tears in the end.

Laugh-out-loud funny, brilliantly acted and, towards the very end, also deeply moving, the film deserves all the attention and I hope it gets that. Highly recommended. (9/10)