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, March 14, 2018

Deep Water (Mini-Series) (Australia)

This is a 4 part mini-series, each episode of about an hour each.There aren’t many good thriller, mystery series which focusses exclusively around gay characters. The drama is based on the historical, unsolved hate murders of possibly 30 to 80 gay men in Sydney's eastern suburbs and beaches in the 1980s and '90s. Murder mystery, detective series and gay characters; now tis is a series that ticks off all the boxes that I like when I look forward to watch something.

One morning, in one of the apartments on the beachfront of Bondi, a mutilated body of a young man is found. Tori Lustigman and Nick Manning are assigned the case. They soon discover that this could possibly be a gay hate crime of maybe an ex-lover or a hook-up gone wrong. Their boss wants the case to be closed soon but Tori strongly believes that this goes much deeper. With a series of investigation, she suspects that these murders go back to late 80’s and 90s of gay bashings and sudden disappearances of many young gay men during that time. Interestingly, as we soon find out, Tori’s brother was one of such men who mysteriously died in that phase. After a couple more murders happen, Nick and Tori realize that the killer is using ‘Thruster’, a hook up app, to lure gay men and kill them. As they meet more victims from the uninvestigated past crimes, they become convinced that the current killer is somehow connected. In reopening the cold cases the detectives reveal the hidden truth about the past murders and uncover critical evidence leading to the serial killer. In doing so they finally give closure to the victims' families by bringing the killers, both past and present, to justice.

The ending of the series was deeply moving, especially when you see the families of victims from the past finally getting a closure, including Tori herself and her father who never accepted the fact that their son was probably gay. Tori is always shown as full of distrust on anyone and questioning everything that comes her way. Although her partner Nick also wants the case to be closed and truth come out but he is also shown as a peripheral character. He and Tori have a very interesting dynamics going on. The beginning of the show is very interesting but Tori’s finding of unsolved cases from past and her finding people to give the details sometimes felt too convenient. And at one point there were so many characters introduced from past that I was so confused with all the names floating around but I know that this is my personal problem. I feel that a murder mystery works when there is enough thrill and drama to keep the viewers hooked, but this was somehow missing here. The characters lacked the richness and complexity that would have involved me emotionally, in spite of the plot having the potential to do so. It was a decent watch but not a compelling one. The deaths and reasons for murders from past made sense but I wish there was more solid reason and story behind the present day killings. It just didn’t feel justified enough, in my opinion.

The series is shot beautifully and the long shots of Bondi beach reminded me of my time, when i just walked briefly on the beach. I wish I could visit again and spend some more time there this time. Overall this was a fine murder mystery, just a bit sort of becoming a real good one. It is still much better than a lot of gay trash films out there. (6.5/10)

Monday, March 12, 2018

King Cobra

If you are occasional gay porn watcher like me and have a few favourites, then Brent Corrigan is a name that you must be quite familiar with. This film is a true story and is based around him as the central character around an incident that became a big deal and affected his career and his personal life to a large extent. I didnt realize this until the very moment I started watching the film. Had I known this fact, I would have seen this film, right when it came out. And it has, the now famously ambiguous actor James Franco as well. Anyway, better late than never.

Bryan is a gay porn producer and he own Cobra films. He meets Sean Paul who introduces himself as Brent Corrigan for his porn name. Brent signs a contract with him and Bryan starts producing a couple of porn films. Within a very short time frame. Brent gains immense popularity and becomes really famous. On the other side, we also meet a low key porn producer Joe, who runs his company Viper Boys whose sole porn star is also his lover Harlow. Joe also occasionally rents out out young Harlow to middle aged man. The couple has weird intensity, almost destructive, about their relationship. Brent soon finds out that he is not making even an iota of money that Bryan is making on his behalf and asks for more money, which Bryan refuses. Brent leaves him and gets a shock when he finds out that no other producer would hire him because they want top use his name, which is now copyrighted by Bryan. When Brent finds this out, he threatens to expose Bryan for child pornography since Brent was only 17 at that point. Joe and Harlow are in debt and desperately need to make money to keep up their lifestyle , so the reach out to Brent Corrigan to make a porn video with Brent and Harlow which will be the best gay porn ever. Joe tries to reason with Bryan to give up the copyright on Brent’s name which he refuses. In a fit rage and pre-meditation; Joe and Harlow end up killing Bryan and then burn down his house. Although Brent is the first suspect, because of the under-age scandal; he ultimately helps the cops by producing evidence that it was indeed Joe and Harlow. Finally Brent’s dream of making porn films, producing and directing them himself comes true.

Despite a subject matter that solely relies on gay porn, this film is far from being porn itself. It shows the inner workings of the porn industry, refrains from showing unnecessary sex and solely focuses on the intersection of the above four main characters over the period of time. The acting by all the main actors is all around pretty good. There are scenes that show a little bit of what’s going on in the head of the characters. The scene where Brent is lured by Bryan into having sex with him shows the loneliness that Bryan is dealing with but also shows the helplessness of Brent who doesn’t want to have anything to do with Bryan sexually. In another scene with his mother, Brent confesses that he is not ashamed of being a porn star. In fact, he likes to do in front of camera and he is good at it. The intense and jealous and over protective relationship between Joe and Harlow is also pretty good. But they are also emotional, especially while shooting for a sex scene, Harlow is reminded of his step-father who used to rape him. And finally in the end we do get to see Brent’s famous tattoo on his ass albeit played by another actor. I really wish Sean Paul has played some part in the film. I missed not having him here.

The surprising thing about “King Cobra” is that it winds up being a sex-positive movie that’s sympathetic to Corrigan while also poking some gentle, loving fun at him and committed to fully exploring the sadder fates of the three other men who came to their doom in his sunny presence. I was hoping that the film would be cheesy, bad with needless sex scenes thrown in for excitement but I was surprised to see that it was made with all honesty. (7/10)

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Una Mujer Fantástica (Spanish) [A Fantastic Woman]

I had been meaning to this film for a while, even before it won the Oscar for best foreign language film; but after that it just peaked my curiosity. So a friend of mine and I decided to check it out in the nearest cinema. I am glad I saw it on the big screen, because somehow the impact was stronger. Also, since the pace of the film is a bit slow, I Have a feeling that I might have gotten uneasy at some points; which didn’t happen at the movies. This is a film about a trans woman fighting for simple human respect in a world filled with hatred.

Marina, is a waitress and an aspiring singer. She goes on a romantic dinner date with hr much older boyfriend Orlando, who also happens to be rich. Later that night, Orlando wakes up feeling very unwell. Unable to stand up, he collapses and falls down a staircase. Marina rushes him to a hospital, but Orlando dies, apparently from a brain aneurysm. This is where the trouble begins where the cops and Orlando’s family both suspect her for foul play and if Orlando paid for sex. Orlando’s ex wife and son want her out of Orlando’s apartment as soon as possible. And if this was not enough, they forbid her to attend Orlando’s wake or funeral. The only person who is remotely empathetic to her is Orlando’s elder brother. All Marina wants is to pay her respects and be allowed to say her goodbye but what she gets isa humiliating physical examination, assault by Orlandos’ son and his friends. The exclusions have more to do with her identity rather than the death of Orlando. She's not only treated as a second-class citizen but as a non-Person.

The film has a certain calm and sensitive flow about it. The subject is treated with dignity, respect, sensitivity and empathy that a subject like this deserves. There are a couple of sequences where reality meets fantasy and others where there re long shots of Marina walking through the streets of Santiago all alone in her journey and survival in this big bad world. A good part of the film is also about marina trying to find what the mysterious key holds answers to which she finds in Orlando’s car, but the outcome is disappointing. Daniela Vega as Marina is absolutely fantastic. The pain and agony she portrays is really moving. She is in pretty much every frame of the film portraying her loneliness, fear, pain and agony of bereavement. This film is about a person asserting her right to be treated like a person. All the other characters also do their part with sincerity. It felt, sometimes, like watching an Almodovar movie, a bit poetic in certain scenes but it did hold its individuality. I don’t remember the film’s name but years ago I saw a film where the family doesn’t allow the partner of their son to say final goodbye to him just because world would know that he died of AIDS. The scenario is similar but with the transsexual angle, this becomes an even more sensitive.

A Fantastic Woman is a brilliant film and rightfully deserving an Academy Award. A richly humane, moving study of someone keeping alive the memory and the fact of love is not to be missed at all. (8/10)

Friday, March 9, 2018

Gay Short Films : 56

Antiman (Guyana)
Anil, an introverted young boy, is pressured by his father to become a cricket player the way he himself was years before. Although a skilled player, Anil refuses to play and takes refuge in his love for Dano, an older boy in the village.  In order to attend the local masquerade and see the boy he pines for, Anil must win the cricket tournament.

False Negative (Italy)
Luca is a shy and insecure guy and is hard to get along with. He has a problem with gay people: he is always very uncomfortable with them. One night, in spite of himself, he will have to face the problem and confront once and for all with himself.

Bangkok G Story (Web Series) (Thailand)
This is an 8 episode, each of 7-8 minutes, web series focusing on 3 gay friends. T is a player, G is a newbie who wants a boyfriend and no hookups and the third is B, who hooks up for money although he has a good job. The episodes are short, quick and witty. Its a bit stereotypical with all the themes they handle as part of the show but sometimes, its just fun to watch stupid stuff that brings a smile to your face.

¿Por qué no seguiste? (Peru) (You Should Have Kept Going]
A gay short that tells us about a boy's love for his best friend. What happens when there is a sleepover.

Thirst (Israel)
Two friends go on a hike to the desert. In the desolate wilderness something hidden comes out in their friendship. From then on, the only way they manage to communicate is sexually and violently. While one of them wants more than the other, he expresses his frustration by making sure they get lost and have no water - anything to escape from awaiting reality.

The Violation (USA)
Fascination of a young man for his neighbor gets close to reality when they are needed to house sit. His secret will be revealed and totally backlashed by the neighbor boy.

Bølgene (Norway) [Waves]
A relationship between two teenagers bordering between love and friendship. It is also a movie touching the fear of growing up, becoming adult, becoming alien to each other.

Iridescence (Canada)
A contemporary dance performance to show the growing resentment between a 16 year old and his homophobic father after his mother dies. The boy needs to learn that some people need more time in embracing who they really are.

Daddyhunt: The Serial (USA)
An online 2 season show of a few episodes, each of a couple minutes duration. A young cub moves in and falls for the neighbor daddy. The episodes follows them, their interactions, confusions, love and fear of being for each other. The search for the perfect Daddy is anything but straight-forward. Short in duration, brilliantly acted and directed; I think this was a fantastic short and sweet show.

Aceito (Brazil) [I Do]
In sunshiny Rio de Janeiro, Junior is planning to delight his long-term boyfriend Andre with a marriage proposal and has planned an elaborate surprise; but things don’t go quite as planned, leading them to some uncomfortable new understandings in this charming romantic short comedy. I absolutely loved the cute fights of the couple.

A Salvo (Spain) [Safe]
Victor and Hugo met through the ex-boyfriend of one of them, and they maintained an adjective relationship with insecurities and fears. The fear of a love over three years, counted in five mornings. How to move forward in a relationship while still feeling safe?

Beijing Beijing (China)
Two boys develop a relationship that is torn apart by family as one boy sacrifices their love to protect the other. Three years later they meet again. Even after such a long time, love will always see you through and bring you close.

Us Against the World (China)
Two school boys start dating and are faced with harassment, bullying, and violence. But in spite of all, this stage shows the face of love that can endure everything. You'll endure everything, sacrifice for the person you really love.

Promise You a City (China)
Two men are in a long-term relationship and struggle with joblessness and infidelity. If you can’t be ‘the one’ for the other person, would you at least let him go. Even if it's painful, even if it's the cause of your life, you will end your relationship with each other.

Baby Steps (India)
Communication is the backbone of any relationship. Dev’s catch up on skype with hi smom turns interesting when his boyfriend Ishaan joins. Dev comes out to his mom and th emother also has a story to share. Brilliant.

The Groomsman (China)
A happy gay couple celebrate their third anniversary but the relationship is threatened by a mother who wants her only son to have a proper family with kids. The other guy is willing to sacrifice the relationship so his boyfriend can be happily married to a woman. It hurts to think that you have left everything for him, but he'll will leave you too.

A Boy Named Noel (Germany)
At Christmas eve, Noel is anything but happy. He needs to hide a secret from his family.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Driver (Thai)

Now, finally, a decent thriller with a gay theme. My last few attempts of watching a film with this genre has been terrible, so I was a bit nervous about this one. Actually to be honest, I did not even know that this was thriller when I started watching but pretty soon, it was obvious. For some reason, one thing that caught my attention in this film was the background music. Somehow it was just really good and perfect and went very very well with the film. I usually don’t even pay attention to such things but this was good.

Businessman Tae has not returned from his Korea trip and this worries his wife Kade. She asks her police friend, Tum , to help her out but he advises her to wait for a few more days, because some work emergency may have had come up. But Kade is restless and can’t wait any longer so she asks her husband’s driver Mac to take her to his office to see if she can find something. There she finds an electricity bill for the house she never knows he had. Kade makes Mac drive her to the house hoping to find her dearest husband there. But she finds a set of keys and a card with spa appointment. They then find out that her husband used to visit male spas. From there they also find out about a house where once Tae ordered home visit. Turns out that this was the driver’s apartment and pretty soon it is revealed that Mac and tae were lovers. Now begins the cat and mouse game between the wife and driver and who’s playing whom. Mac gets a shock when he realizes that Kade has known for a while that Mac was her husband’s lover and she knew this all along while pretending to search. Now its Mac’s turn to find out what Kade knows and where is she hiding Tae.

The film has quite a few interesting twists and turns and you are always looking forward to what’s going to happen next and this is the mark of a good thriller. Agreed that sometimes, it felt a bit stretched, especially after, Mac finds out that Kade knew all along but despite that the film holds on its own. The actors are all good looking and their chemistry is very believable. The fact that they are all good actors helps. I always fear, actors going OTT in such thrillers but it was amazing how Kade’s character is shown as clam and always in charge. She is not ready to taken for granted and she has got plans. I, to be honest, wasn’t completely surprised when it is revealed that mac was tae’s lover; I somehow expected that but the journey before and after was still quite interesting. It would have been nice, if it was explored as to why tae married Kade when him and Mac were already lovers even before he married. Was it just because of her money? I think that was it, but it still would have been good.

There are very few gay themed thrillers, which are actually good. I will definitely recommend this one for a decent time-pass. You will not be bored for sure. (6.5/10)

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Geography Club

I don’t know why but I have been holding off to watching this film. Somehow the name did not seem  inviting enough for me to give it a chance. Finally I did and honestly it wasn’t that bad. Sure its a bit cliched and we have seen plenty of movies with similar theme about high school teenagers struggle with sexuality and coming out and what not, but even this film manages to hold on with its individual merit

Russel and Gunnar are best friends since kids. But Russel has a secret. He is gay and can’t even bear to tell anyone since his father has high hopes from him. For his friend Gunnar’s sake , he goes on double dates but is very frustrated. But his dreams soon start to come true when after a few meetings, he gets into a secret relationship with the hot and hunky Kevin, the school’s quarterback. At their first kiss, their classmate Min sees them and invites Russel to join ‘Geography Club’ which essentially is a cover for clandestine LGBT club. Initially reluctant, Russel does join the group and meets a few other friends there. When his sexuality is revealed to the school, by some random jealous girl, Russel, initially hurt, decides to do something about it. He alongwith Min decides that they will officially make their geography club as the ‘Gay Straight Alliance’ club, the first of its kind in school. Russel also tells Kevin that he needs to come out in open. Even though Russel loves him, he cannot do that because he is looking forward to a scholarship and this could hurt his chances. Kevin walks away and Russel and Min get a decent number of people for their club. Russel is super surprised by how supportive his best friend Gunnar is with the whole thing. Finally its about being there for oneself.

The film had interesting premise but a lot of things were just too convenient. The way Russel just out of the blue becomes part of the football team just so he and Kevin can spend more time together was a bit unbelievable. There are certain scenes that have been handled with extreme sensitivity while others are amateurish. There is not consistent pace. More than the love story of Kevin and Russel, I felt the friendship with Gunnar was given more prominence; which is actually not bad because kids need to know that there is a lot of support out there from people who they are close with. They just need to feel comfortable. Acting by all actors is thankfully pretty good but I would hope actors who actually look like teenagers were chosen. Kevin, though extremely hot, barely looks like a high school student. And that sometimes takes away the authenticity of it all. Interestingly, from the film’s perspective, the conflict comes mostly from within, rather than from school bullies or inflexible parents, as each of the characters must decide whether to go public with his or her sexual orientation.

It's a good movie, but could easily have been a better one had the writers taken better care on the screenplay. Not bad by any standards, I feel bad when a movie could have been so much more. (6/10)

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Passenger (German)

There are just a handful of thrillers in gay genre, and most of them are not even good. This film is sort of thrillers but not strictly in gay genre. Regardless, it is difficult to put this in either suspense thriller or psychological mind fuck. Actually if you look at the film as a whole, I don’t really get the point it is trying to make but anyway. more on that later.

Within first few minutes after he kills one of his male lovers, our protagonist tells us how he is dealing with issues of lust and killing and he can’t control it. He comes as Nick to Berlin and rents a room from Philipp. Philipp loves his charm and good looks and also introduced him to his best friend Lily. Clearly both of them are charmed by Nick and at the same time Nick systematically seduces them both. Lily with his charm and love and Philip with his friendship, although clearly Philipp has feelings for him. Nick is also sad about this whole thing because even though he genuinely likes both of these folks, he knows he will eventually have to kill them. In between all this, he cruises a gay man and kills him in second meeting and also follows a girl and kills her. As expected in the end he kills Philipp and Lily as well even though he deeply regrets it. And he is onwards to Paris as his next destination.

I am still not sure what the whole point of the film was and how and when did murdering someone and chaperoning their bodies through buildings and parks became that easy! He easily kills his gay guy target in the park. He carries Philipp’s body, undresses him and throws him in a lake and no one notices. He take Lily’s body also in the park. The cops come out as whimps in this whole situation. I can understand from Philipp and Lily’s point of view why they are charmed with Nick. There is nothing alarming about him. This is what anyone in this situation would do, but what is the film maker trying to tell us? To be cautious and careful of strangers? There is no back story on why does Nick go around killing innocent people who are just giving him love. Some insight into killer’s mind would have helped rather than just an absurd monologue in the beginning about “lust to kill” is “connected to certain star constellations”. The audience spends the film with two likable characters just to watch them get needlessly killed at the end. To be fair, the subtle homoeroticism and charm is very well played and all the actors do a very good job of what’s asked of them. Sadly the  poor story takes away any credibility the actors brought into this film.

This film is cold and without any real motivation , reasoning or passion and that’s too bad. With a good charming starcast, and decent direction, it could have been so much more, only if everyone paid attention to what was the point of story. (4.5/10)

Monday, March 5, 2018

Nächte in Wilhelmsburg: Die Trilogie (German) [Night In Wilhelmsburg: The Trilogy]

This trilogy is actually a set of three interconnecting short sitcoms and was quite interesting to watch. Each of the story is placed an year after the previous one, so its essentially a growth of characters over a period of time. Wilhelmsburg is supposed to be Hamburg’s worst district, where a lot of immigrant population lives.

Episode 1: Eine Nacht in Wilhelmsburg
Martin, a budding actor, has a crush on Murat, who works in a video store, but doesn't know whether he's gay or not. One day Murat invites him over for dinner but Martin's buddy Christopher however is convinced, that Murat is a gay-basher as Murat lives in the worst part of Hamburg. Martin leaves Murat’s address with Christopher just in case. Love eventually finds its way between the couple but has a hilarious ending when the cops show up.

Episode 2: The Lucio Fulci Experience
Martin and Murat are going through a rough patch after being together for one year. Murat conspires with one of their friends to surprise Martin with a party for their first anniversary. But things don’t go as planned. Murat's protective Turkish mother and the drama of Martin’s friends make this a truly unforgettable evening.

Episode 3: Das Haus am Anfang der Strasse
Martin's friends Kay and Bernd want a baby, and looking for a surrogate mother. Martin unexpectedly makes a career as an advertising star, and Murat's sexy brother Can appears in the picture. All the characters are going through own craziness and come together in the end.

I had a very good time watching this trilogy. I had a constant smile on my face. The gags and the interactions reminded me of so many sitcoms with gay characters that we have seen in the past. It was just relaxing and fun to watch something whose purpose is to just entertain. You sometimes just don’t want to put too much effort into thinking random things. Sure, the production values were low, and acting was silly, but I dod not expect anything different. This was great as it is. I just wished that the Turkish hunk Murat was someone hotter, given the fact that those guys are so bloody hot. But besides that, watch this harmless fun trilogy for pure & silly entertainment. (6.5/10)

Sunday, March 4, 2018

&Me (English/ French/ German/ Spanish)

Oh god! Another one of those wanna be pretentious movies, where probably the film maker thinks that its the best damn movie ever made. Only if the wishes could come true. European movies have sometime gotten away with what some people call as “weird” or “different” kind of cinema but this film has such a poor story and screenplay that it is unbelievable. I have never seen a film where no work has gone in any sort of character development.

Eduard, possibly gay, leaves his good life in Berlin to move to Brussels to take up a big bureaucratic position in EU parliament. His sister and his friends can’t fathom why. Around same time, Edurne, leaves her over protective mother’s home in Sitges and takes up an intern job in the same building. They have a chance meeting and they start hanging out and pretty quick Eduard asks Edurne to move in. They have a strange connection, while Eduard is still struggling with his sexuality. We see he hooks up with a guy when she is not around. Edurne enjoys his company, for whatever reason and literally demands that he should never leave her. Enter Richard, a handsome young man, whom they met on a couple of occasions. He is a moving man in the same building. Both Eduard and Edurne are attracted to him and they ask him to move in also. They have a weird sexual tension between them and things are ok, till one night Edurne and Richard have sex. This breaks Eduard’s heart but he does nothing. Richard leaves home and despite their attempts, he doesn’t come back. And then Edurne also leaves and thats it.

See, the story had potential. There could have been fantastic character development on trying to explain why the characters were behaving the way they were. There is absolutely no explanation on why Eduard leaves such a happy life in Berlin and then fall immediately in love with a woman even though he is gay. I mean, he is a handsome man, unless he has been in closet all his life. We just don’t know. I dont think he is in closet , because his sister acts surprised when she hears a girl’s voice. Edurne is another weird character. She comes out as clingy and so demanding asking Eduard to never leave her. Meanwhile there is no indication that they are sexually attracted to each other. As someone said, she just comes across as a demanding lunatic. Only good thing is Richard and the sexiness he brings and even his character is full of ups and downs. Initial scenes show him sexually aggressive towards Eduard and then he ends up having sex with Edurne. What was it that he really wanted. No reason on why he moved in, why he left and why is the couple so desperate to have it. The relationship between all characters end as abruptly as it starts. There is this scene when the couple is in bathtub and they cry and laugh at the same time. It was so amateurish that I felt embarrassed for the director. The only positive thing was Edurne’s mother. Her presence in a couple of short scenes would light up the screen.

The film had potential High production values and good looking cast. Sadly it fails in acting and screenplay and direction. Don’t waste your time. Oh! and btw, its not really a gay film besides Eduard being gay man. Such a disappointment after such high expectations. (2.5/10)

Saturday, March 3, 2018

The Journey of Jared Price

Dustin Lance Black is the name that became famous, at least for me, after his phenomenal oscar winning speech for Milk. So, when I realized that this film was directed by the said man, my expectations were high, but, to be fair to the man, this film came much before Milk came and hence I had to give him some slack even in terms of expectations. The film is actually a simple yet vulnerable story of a young man's search for independence and sexual discovery; the people who he meets along this journey, the deceit, the loneliness and perhaps a chance to love.

Young and very innocent 19 year old Jared arrives in LA from Georgia and books himself in a hostel. Jared’s room mate is hustler and he needs to use his room with clients often. Jared has no choice but to live with this arrangement. During one such time,, is when he meets Robert, openly gay, they become friends and even share a kiss but Jared is still an inexperienced man and doesn’t know what he wants. He soon finds a job as sitter and caregiver to blind Mrs Haine. He is hired by her son Matthew. Matthew is in a stable relationship with his boyfriend but is dealing with some issues. Things change when Matthew asks Jared to move in with his mom, so that he can better look after her. But the very first night, Matthew gets Jared drunk and the two have sex. Jared has no idea about Matthew’s relationship and he feels that if he gives his best to Matthew, his life could be good. When he shares this with Robert, he is disappointed but asks Jared to be careful.  One night Matthew thinks of having a threesome with his partner Jared, an idea that surprises the two guys, who till that moment did not know of each other’s existence and also an idea that disgusts both of them. Jared has now the tough decision on whether to continue his relationship with Matthew or just leave, ultimately being either homeless and jobless again? Mrs Haines guidance and wise words eventually help him take the right steps forward.

The movie and Jared’s character is very innocent and charming yet respectful at the same time. As a viewer you take instant liking for him. Even though the film comes out as amateurish, it has a old-fashion message at heart, ‘choose carefully between the lure of material goals and the joy of true love’. Jared’s growth as a character is shown really well, with the innocent young man opening his eyes to the ways of the world when Matthew tries to exploit Jared for his own set of issues with his partner. I thought that this was explored really well. But its not without share of issues. I am not really sure of the whole point of Jared making continuous recordings and spending all that money on cassettes. Performance wise, the film ably rests on Jared who does a splendid job with the right mixture of charm, innocence, and appeal. Mrs Haines’ stories and advices helps Jared to grow in the understanding of the world and how and why people take certain decisions in life. There were couple of sex scenes but nothing forced and done tastefully. I wish, there was a little more exploration done on Robert and Jared. To be honest, if not for the very amateurish production, I would have rated this film higher, but still, I think its a sweet tail of self-realization and sexual discovery.

Its not a great film by any chance, but given that it came in 2000, made on a limited shoe string budget, and relatively new cast and crew, its a sweet and watchable film from content and acting perspective. But from the perspective of an overall film, this leaves a lot to be desired. (6/10)

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Mango Souffle

Oh My God!! This film brings back all kinds of memories. This was the first-ever gay film that I saw in my life. I was doing my masters degree and hadn’t come to terms in accepting my sexuality. I used to love to watch independent films and went to the only local theatre, where this movie was playing. I din’t know what to expect, but I remember being slightly uncomfortable watching the film since it was my first exposure to the gay cinema and I was suddenly conscious of people around me and probably judging me. The movie ended and I went back to my room, had to make up stories for my room mates because I couldn't have told them what film I just saw. Thankfully, 16 years later, a lot has changed in my life and I am glad for everything. But watching this movie again was a reminder of what my growing up years were like and what I used to feel and go through. It just makes me more empathetic to other people’s struggles and stories. Ok enough of that, and now coming to this film.

Kamlesh is a successful fashion designer, openly gay to his family and friends. One day he invites closest of his friends for lunch and they all are wondering what thats about. The friends are a mix bunch. His ex-Sharad, a catty queen who is still bitter about his breakup with Kamlesh; TV star Bunny, who keeps reassuring himself and everyone else that he is straight, to the annoyance of his lover Ranjit and finally the fag hag who somehow loves and cares for Kamlesh. The big announcement turns out to be that Kamlesh is moving to Canada and that he wants promise from all his friends to never talk about Prakash, a guy with whom Kamlesh’s love affair did not end very well. Kamlesh’s sister Kiran makes a surprise visit and her fiance Ed. With a gasp, the group recognizes Ed as the elusive ex-boyfriend Prakash. Through flashbacks we find out how Kamlesh had met Prakash and love blossomed but Prakash was never comfortable being himself. And it was Kamlesh who introduced his sister to Prakash one evening at a club, knowing little that his sister will fall in love with him. And since, Prakash doesn’t want to come out in open, Kamlesh has decided to let the couple be and move away from everything around. Soon enough, the groups conspires to make sure, they make Kiran aware of the double game that Prakash (Ed) is playing. They all give a hard time to Prakash for not being courageous enough to be true to himself and in the process both Kamlesh and Kiran decide to let go off him from their lives.

This film now or at the time when it was released may not seem groundbreaking to Western viewers but the novelty of this film in the Indian cultural context is applause worthy. I mean, way back in 2002, there was no way anything like this could have been appreciated or seen by many. But I am glad someone had the balls to make a film on this subject. The film is entirely in English, reflecting the upper class status for Indians in this group. I guess the idea was to cater the viewers in urban centers with large gay and Indian-heritage populations. The direction is not the most polished, to be honest but now that I saw this film again, I appreciated the honesty and intent behind making this drama. The film, based originally on a play, feels very theatrical but I was trying to watch it ignoring all those negatives in this film. An Indian film dealing with both gay men and closeted men haunted by others' expectations was not easy. And guess what, it is still not easy. It’s a shame that the film never got the attention it deserved. As a viewer, it doesn’t come to as a surprise when it is revealed that Ed is indeed Prakash. But that’s not important. What is interesting to see how family and friends collide and how a gay brother is ready to give up love for the well-being of his sister who already is with low self-confidence and low self-esteem.

It’s a shame that not many folks have seen or heard about this film. Like I said before, it may be hard for anyone to connect with this film, but given the Indian sub context and culture and the fact that this film was made back in 2002, My ratings are just for the bravery shown by the makers and actors to do something groundbreaking. Yes, both acting and direction could be a lot better but sometimes its just better to let heart take over your mind. (6.5/10)

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Pihalla (Finnish) [Screwed]

A first gay themed film from Finland. No wonder I was wondering throughout the film, why this accent doesn’t sound familiar at all. In the growing trend of coming out gay films, this film is another one of those movies in which being queer is only one of the adolescent issues, rather than the defining characteristic. It is refreshing to have sexuality be only one aspect of the story.

Miku is 17 year old and just figuring and venturing out into sex and sexuality. His older brother Sebu talks him into throwing a party for his friends and also invite the girl whom Miku is very interested in. The house gets completely smashed and the parents come back angry and as a result Miku now has to spend the summer with them at their summer cottage in the country. Miku meets Elias, the boy next door, another 17 year old gay boy very comfortable in his sexuality. The two of them form an unlikely friendship and hang out with each other all the time. The friendship ultimately leads to physical sexual connect which neither of them thinks much of. For Miku, it is something he is coming to terms with but for Elias, we don’t know much. We find out that his sister is always high on drugs and their mother is in depression since their father left. The two boys decide that this ‘relationship’ that they have is just till summer and then they move on their respective paths. Miku eventually comes out to his brother and his parents who all take it very sportingly. Elias needs to deal with his own issues and Miku decides to take charge of his own life and will not let himself be thrown to the side so easily.

This film was a little bit of a mixed bag for me. At one end I did appreciate the realistic depiction of a young gay man’s sexual awakening, and the tender and erotic interactions of the two main characters, but on the other hand, it gets a little tedious to just witness the interactions between them and waiting for something to happen. I did like the fact that since Miku has just come out and had his first sexual experience with Elias, he would want to be clingy but his character showed immense maturity, when he himself suggests that why don’t they make this as their summer fling rather than anything serious. Both the boys have some sort of family dysfunctionality going on but the boys find happiness in the company of each other. I loved that. What I also loved was the character of Sebu, Miku’s brother. He barely had 2-3 scenes but in those scenes, it is amazing to see the love, warmth and care he shows for his younger brother. Sometimes the smallest of scenes make the most impact. When Miku comes out to his brother nad the phone abruptly disconnects, that leaves Miku confused and sad of his brother’s behaviour. And then he gets a “heart/love” message from his brother and his face just lits up. The acceptance from his brother meant a lot to him and that really short scene shows maturity on the director’s part.

Had the normal everyday escapades of 2 young teenagers and their interactions edited short, this film could have been a really cool film. The boys are good looking and talented and the country side is gorgeous. What’s missing is a tighter screenplay. Nevertheless, I still would rate the movie as above average and something that could be enjoyed on a lazy day. (6/10)

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Dark Place

This must be my lucky day. Two bad movies, back to back, :sad: :sigh: Someone, please recommend me a good movie soon. Anyway, coming back to this film, I didn’t expect much from it anyway in the first place. So that way, I wasn’t very disappointed. To be fair to the film, it wasn’t horrible. It was just bad. Poor acting and no emotional connect between characters is a major issue. And when as an audience, that doesn’t happen, then already the film has lost me as an audience, and all I do is watch the movie from a plastic audience with no emotional connect. Gay horror/mystery genre is not much explored and rightly so because most of it is downright terrible. Sadly, this movie as well does nothing to salvage that reputation.

Keegan has Hyperthymesia & he cannot forget anything, ever. He is incredibly smart and perceptive, which causes him issues dealing with other people. Even with his boyfriend Will, this causes a concern all the time but thankfully Will is an understanding guy. Keegan decides to visit his mom in suburbs and takes along Will with him. Once there, he finds out that his mom has married a man named Adrien whom she met at a cruise and who has a son Jake. Keegan finds something about the father-son duo very odd and warns about it to his mother and Will but neither of them take him seriously given his smartass attitude and him being a recovering alcoholic. We also meet his childhood friend Ernie, who is now a lawyer and helping Keegan’s mother Celeste make a large sum of money from the winery, and it is soon to become open to the public. Will, having had enough of Keegan’s secrets and sarcasm, leaves and Keegan is forced to face his damaged mental health. His mother Celeste falls in a sudden coma on the day of IPO and everyone including police suspects Keegan to be prime suspect for money reasons. Nowhere to run around to, he reaches out to Ernie. Keegan finds the strength to sort through the multitude of memories in his brain to figure out the clues and connections between everything going on, or he will also face a certain death, but at whose hands? Things start getting clear at the end, when it is revealed that this was all a pre-planned effort by Jake-Adrien-Ernie to get a hold of all of Celeste’s money. As expected, all things fall back in place.

Keegan acted well in the movie and so did Celeste. She was the one saving grace of the film but besides that, most sequences seemed too convenient and straight forward. The way entire mystery is resolved and how Keegan goes about finding the clues from Jake’s ex-girlfriend etc and very convenient. It feels that Jake-Adrien have a past and it just takes us a while to find out how this whole story will play out and that itself tests patience. The dialogues are a bot over the top and the execution leaves a lot to be desired. This is a good video film but given the huge leaps and bounds we have taken wrt story and execution, this film falls short and comes out as still amateurish. And since, it is gay and horror, there were a lot of scenes thrown in of shirtless men and even 2 sex scenes but neither of these really added anything to the homo-eroticism. Thankfully, characters being gay was just a part of the film rather being the sole focus and that was refreshing.

The film is definitely not a shaker but is neither downright bad. Makers need to work on making characters believable. Just mouthing heavy-duty dialogues while playing a shallow character doesn’t cut the deal. (4/10)

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Elijah's Ashes

What the hell!! How can a film be so bad and still get positive reviews! I just don’t get it. The film is touted as a comedy and not even once did I smile, forget laughing! Maybe I don’t get the weird American humor but I think I am fine. I don’t want to get it, if it means actually liking horrible movies like this.

Lawrence works for an advertising agency. He’s not straight enough for his job where he sells testosterone filled ad campaigns to beer companies and he’s not stereotypically gay enough for his boyfriend. One night he gets a call that his father Elijah has died and his last dying wish was for Lawrence to go on a road trip with Kevin, his extremely homophobic half-brother, to bury his ashes. We then witness the two brothers unwillingly take a trip together, all the while encountering weird situations, just for heck of it, in my opinion. Throughout the film, Kevin speaks gay slurs which are not funny at all. That’s pretty much there is to the film.

The acting from the characters is quite alright but its the script that falters big time. This is definitely not my idea of comedy. It’s low budget and very badly directed. Neither the characters, nor their relationship held any of my interest whatsoever. The film fails big time both in terms of storytelling and filmmaking. It suffers through lag and it felt it was just being dragged for no reason whatsoever, just for the purpose of introducing more and more characters, who the makers thought were going to add to the so-called humor of the film.

A highly flawed road trip journey, which was embarrassing to watch and waste your precious time. It’s not even worth writing a proper review here. (1/10)

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Bishonen (Cantonese) [Beauty]

This film has been on my watchlist for a long time but then I kept on postponing this viewing for some reason or the other. No specific reason, it someone didn’t seem interesting enough to watch it. I mean it was set in late 90s, so I just had to be a in a different mindset before I saw this film. Thankfully its a rainy day and I thought, maybe today is the day. Touted as the ill-fated romance where the past of a few individuals connect with each other in the present makes the crux of the film.

Jet is an extremely charming and handsome hustler who knows his strengths and plays by it. One day he notices a young couple Sam & Kana and somehow their closeness gives him a sense of warmth and he takes a liking for Sam. When Jet tells about this to his closest friend Ching, he tries to help him by putting an ad in newspaper. A chance encounter again with Sam changes things. It turns out Sam is a police officer and they both instantly hit it off. They become extremely close friends and Jet becomes a regular fixture in Sam’s house as the close friend. One day when Ching sees Sam, he address him as Fai and confides in their other friend how Fai was his first love. He shares the story of how Fai (Sam) and him used to work in the same company, became closest friends and lovers and its because of him, that Ching is in the hustling business. But unaware to Ching. Fai has had an affair with pop star K.S. Jet is completely unaware of these things and has very strong feelings for Sam. He is in love but he seen no reciprocation from him. When Ching sees the two together, he thinks that Jet stole his lover and Sam runs away fearing that his secret will be out. Jet follows him and tells him that they all have secrets and it doesn’t really matter. Finally when the two guys give into their passion, someone enters and sees them. Sam believes that it was his father and that he would be very disappointed in him. Unable to face his father’s disappointment, Sam kills himself. Jet lives on as a hustler and receives a letter knowing that Sam loved him.

I think the story was very interesting and how some of the major characters were interconnected, but a lot of things seemed too convenient. Agreed that Ching first sold his body five years ago to help Fai (Sam) financially so that Fai could help K.S. , but then why would he need to continue? He had a good job. When Fai was such a ‘good’ boy, why would he use his good friend Ching for money to help his then love K.S. Also what was Kana's role. She kept coming in and out aa couple of times, even appearing prominently in the film's poster but I think the whole character could be removed and would not have done any damage to the film. Jet’s feelings for Sam were real and so were his but by this time, Sam just wanted to do only the right things by the book. He could not bear to disappoint anyone and hence after both Ching and K.S. were gone from his life, he becomes a cop and even though he loves Jet, he doesn’t act on his feelings. I found this whole aspect quite interesting and realistic. Sometimes you have to choose between doing the right thing vs what your heart wants you to do. Jet and Sam were both absolutely gorgeous handsome men. Especially Jet. I can only imagine his popularity in Hong Kong after this film. The film is not very polished and there is no obvious sex scenes, but it still in its own ways tries to show that every human has the right to love and be loved. Sadly, for our protagonist Sam, it was a choice between love and family honor.

In some ways it is a film about a lost love and a missed opportunity for a deep and lasting love over fleeting sexual encounters and the superficiality of many gay/bi relationships. The film doesn't exploit gay sex by showing needless amounts of it nor does it reduce it along the way. Its not the greatest film but it was a very decent attempt given the time it came out and the impression it leaves. (6/10)

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Gay and Wondrous Life of Caleb Gallo (Web Series)

Having just watched the film “Everything is Free”, I did a bit of reading on its lead actor and director Brian Jordan Alvarez and found out that that he actually did a 5 episode web-series before the film and I had to immediately check it out. I can now see the kind of work this man does and how the former film in some way was an extension of all the various ideas and thoughts he had, which he presented so well in this web series. Everyone seems to be making web series these days, so its important to have that extra zing that can hold viewers attention.

Although the center of the show is the Caleb, the series is as much about his 4 friends as well, all struggling actors in LA. Caleb is best friends with Karen and Billy. billy is straight and Caleb has a crush on him but at the same time Caleb is also in love with Benicio who had to leave LA to move back to London. Karen and Billy are attracted to each other but do not know how to make it work and eventually get sexual. Just when Billy and Benicio decide to be monogamous, Caleb ends up sucking Billy’s dick as experiment. We also meet Len, who moves from audition to audition and has crush on Karen and decides to be bisexual. And then we have Freckel, the best character of all who tries her best to keep the entire crew together. The series just shows events in the life of these characters, how al these folks are struggling with love , sexuality, happiness. There is a happy ending with Caleb deciding to get married with Benicio to keep him in the country, but that doesn’t happen without the share of mandatory drama.

Someone said that this show is like watching people high on speed and its so true. The episodes and scenes move very quick. You don’t have time to think. The characters speak fast and you really have to pay attention, otherwise you could end up missing out some of the best dialogues from the series. Interestingly people’s different sexualities and gender identities are seamlessly integrated into the show and thats the best part of the show. After Billy and Caleb hook up, Billy is left confused but it doesn’t make the friendship awkward like you would expect. Karen, Caleb and Billy understand their individual place. The editing is fast paced, the acting is brilliant and the dialogues are down right funny. The show shows us non-traditional relationships but its cool. The show takes a very raw and real look at the way millennials date. At times it can be hilarious and other times, heartbreaking. Caleb is promiscuous. One second he wants to commit, and the next he wants to have sex with a cute bear. But this doesn’t make him a bad person. Similarly, the whole group of friends is either dating or fucking or heart-breaking. No one knows what they really want but isin’t that the truth and reality of today’s youth. There is so much out there. It's hard being young, hot and available! All the other actors have done a wonderful job but clearly its Freckle that stands out. Its the first time, I have seen and appreciated a gender-fluid character and actor, and I thank the makers for this.

The show, in spite of all its absurdity, is about friendship at its heart. Benicio, at their wedding says,  “this day is supposed to be about love,” and Len rounds the crew up into a big group hug. They dance and sing and hug and kiss and love each other. And ultimately, that’s what you wanna take away from this show. (7/10)

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Naked Boys Singing

First things first, I am not a fan of musicals. This may be weird for some people but American musicals are just not my thing. Either on broadway, off broadway or movies. So, mind you, my review, will have a bias just because of this simple reason. Coming to this movie, it is apparently a film version of the famous broadway show. As title suggests, I was expecting singing by naked men and sure enough, thats exactly what there is. It turns out that this particular film was shot while the group was performing in front of a live audience.

The entire film is song after song of experiences of gay men, including naked maid, when you are born, locker room, gym, pressure to have perfect body etc etc. You notice the nudity for first 5-10 minutes but after that you barely notice it. There is no teasing here. We’re treated to the full monty right out of the gate but thankfully it never gets sexual. Its fun. Music lovers will lap up the songs, few raunchy lyrics and the playfulness of it all. I m not sure why the songs and music and everything was gay focused because in my opinion, if done well, this could have appealed to a much wider audience. Each song is essentially one extended joke. If the jokes were ten seconds, they might work. These single several-minute-long jokes don't. On a positive note, the makers have kept a good diversity mix in the cast. Kudos to them for having no inhibitions to performing totally nude.

The actors are talented and dance well and act well and sing well but this kind of thing is simply not my scene. This may appeal to you, if you love musicals and have never seen or heard a musical comedy. But other than that, I have to scratch my head. (2.5/10)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Everything Is Free

What happens when a gay man falls in love with a straight guy? This is a question that a lot of gay men would be scared to answer. Quite a few of us have been in this boat and have made our on best judgement on how to handle this situation in our own ways. A few lucky ones even have had some sort of happy conclusions but not many of us are lucky. The protagonist in this film faces a similar dilemma.

Ivan is a gay American artist living in Colombia. His best friend Christian and his friend’s brother, Cole, both straight, come to visit him and they stay with him. Christian has never had any issue with Ivan being gay and infact they are both very close friends. As they begin to meet other Americans in Colombia, Ivan finds himself attracted to Cole, and is surprised by Cole’s tentative interest in return. As days progress, Ivan and Cole do get in a physical relationship while Cole repeating every time that “I am not gay”. Physical closeness eventually leads to Ivan falling in love with Cole, till one day Christian finds out and he warns Ivan very sternly to never touch his brother and leaves Columbia. Ivan cannot get Cole out of his mind and so his friends take him to LA. When he arrives unannounced at his friend’s house, Christian doesn’t take it kindly and abuses him again and asks him to never come back. Ivan does manage to talk to Cole who tells him that it was just an experiment for him and he is not gay and that Ivan should leave. Heartbroken, Ivan returns to Columbia. 2 years later, Ivan has moved on and Cole returns in his life. He apologizes and wants Ivan back. They get into an argument and it feels things may eventually fall back in place. But its not very clear if Ivan will take him back.

Story-wise the film is quite interesting but in terms of execution, it is a pretty mixed bag. There are moments and scenes in the film that look forced and drab and while on the other hand , certain scenes are absolute master strokes. It showed artistry but I wish that this was a consistent factor. Maybe the director/actor kept getting confused on what the focus should be. I was surprised to find out that actor playing Ivan is also the director of the film, which is mighty impressive. Ivan lives his life unapologetically, expresses attraction, tests limits, has multiple partners, and isn’t afraid of being in love and lust. I appreciated that fact. Acting wise he was good but the same expression of empty eyes with open mouth was used pretty much throughout the film. It would have been nice to explore why Christian had such strong reactions with Ivan being close to Cole. Clearly, he wasn’t homophobic, so what is creating these reactions. And what’s Cole’s situation. He flirts with Ivan at every given opportunity and even comes on to Ivan but is he too much under his brother’s influence? Its not very clear. What is very clear is how gorgeous the men are, how beautiful those bodies are and they are not afraid to flaunt it.

This is a film that should be given a chance. The editing could have been better and some of those solo scenes of Ivan’s need to be cut short, but not the seen with his erect penis. It is HOT! I am waiting for something much better because clearly there is a spark. (6.5/10)

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Fraternity Massacre at Hell Island

This film is a classic example of how and why to NOT make films and torture the audience with stupid experiments. This was such a waste of my 1.5 hours that I am never gonna get back ever. A terrible film by every standard , this should never have been made.

A group of 4 youngsters performing on July 4th in 1984 piss of an old lady who curses them that the four kids are doomed to wander the titular island for eternity. Only on the full moons will they get a chance to come out of the curse if they can convince 4 others to put on their clothes and perform. Now we are in present day 2007, we meet Jack who has just joined fraternity and his boyfriend is a frat vet. The senior along with many other seniors have one last initiation for new frat members to spend the night at the hell island. We are also introduced to plenty other weird characters; shady dean of the college, Jack’s clown room mate, a runaway patient from a mental institution and a possessive girlfriend of one of the senior frats. All these people end up on the island that night and then dead bodies start popping up everywhere. A silly clown goes around the island killing and no one can do anything about it. There is no real gay angle because his sexuality has nothing to do with any of this. He just happens to be alive with another closet gay couple. The annoying seniors get into 1984 and release the curse of previous folks. Dean turns out to be the killer. blah blah blah

This movie was so camp, that it cannot be taken seriously even for one second. Every single actor is busy acting over the top. It's almost embarrassing to watch at times. Also the killings are horribly done. Most of them happen off-camera or from a distance with the fakest stage blood I've ever seen. The dialogues are terrible. The interactions don’t make sense at all. The random ending comes with a sudden back story out of nowhere. The killings are so dumb. One tiny little clown and no one in the. group has the balls to fight the man. They just run. I mean, common. The only good thing is some gay kissing and nude back shots but thats it. And for whatever reason only the 2 gay couples and a girl are safe in the end and rest everyone dies. There is not even a slightest sympathy for people who have died.

Avoid at all costs! This movie has nothing to offer. (1/10)

Monday, February 12, 2018

Rökkur (Icelandic) [Rift]

What was this film? This was my reaction after I finished watching the film. One of my most regular visitors on my blog, Luigi, wanted me to check this film out and post my views here. But I am sorry my friend, I may not be very kind to this film overall. A visually striking and cinematographically one of the most beautiful films that I have seen in recent times, the film failed big time on my expectations. There are very few thrillers where the central character happens to be gay and anytime something new comes up, I really look forward to it. The good thing is that the sexual identity of the central characters is not the main issue here. They could as well have been any estranged straight couple.

Gunnar has broken up with Einar and has moved on with another guy. But Einar cannot quite seem to let go. One night, Gunnar receives a late night call from Einar that worries him and he leaves immediately to visit him to a remote outpost. This is Einar’s family home where the couple has also shared some history in the past. Not much happens for one hour besides the fact that gradually they both feel that there may be someone else in this seemingly lonely region. But neither can get their head around. We hear about Einar’s childhood friend who is probably dead. Gunnar shares his first time experience of being raped by 2 older men. But the constant presence of red jeep, red jacket, dark figure keeps them haunted (but not in a gory way). The mystery of who is stalking the two men is never definitively resolved, but the ending leads to Einar’s dead body that Gunnar finds in the rift and runs for his life.

I do appreciate the films sometimes that leave ambiguous endings for the viewers to have their own opinion of what may have happened. But this film leaves so many question unanswered that it doesn’t make sense. Firstly, when Gunnar shows up overnight to make sure Einar is ok, then why does he stay back day after day when clearly the two men haven’t sorted their issues out. The day and night merge into each other so quickly but pretty much nothing happening that makes you feel as if there is just a 10 hour day between the guys. The two characters spend an ambiguous amount of time crying and moping and dilly-dallying about random things. Only when Gunnar shares the experience of his rape, does something meaningful happen. And that happens after full one hour of the film. Till then all you can do is enjoy the most gorgeous landscape and natural beauty that is very charmingly captured in the film. It is stunning. Then we really don’t find who is mysterious stalker/ghost is? Is that grindr stalker or an old man in nearby village or just some ghost that they don’t. When both of them are a bit scared of this mystery around them, why would they go around exploring uninhabited homes and abandoned areas for no reason. The movie tries to be a psychological horrors but it really tested my patience. I bet that there are people who would think that this is the most poetic script written and directed but its not my cup of tea. And as I write this, I am reminded of films like ‘Melancholia’ and ‘Under the Skin’ where critics all over the world were going gaga over how amazing these films were, and my reaction was wtf!! What am I missing!! And sadly this film falls in the same category for me. I do appreciate slow films and I loved 'God's Own Country' but this ??Performance wise, Einar does a splendid job and portrays the character's confusion very well but for some reason I felt Gunnar was the weak link.

The gorgeous Icelandic backdrop, sprawling landscapes, a weak ambiguous story, psychological horror, abandoned structures and a countless questions unanswered; pretty much summaries the film. The first hour of the film needs to be drastically trimmed. You will need patience for this film. Lot of it. (3.5/10)

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Seminarian

Seminary is a place where people train to be religious leaders. So, by that definition the film title refers to  a student in a seminary especially of the Roman Catholic Church. The reason I start with this is because its important to understand what the film is probably going to get into. Story of a closet gay seminarian, who is juggling between finishing his thesis on God and love and his own trysts with love in real life including heart-breaks, friendship and being honest to himself and to the friends around him.

Ryan is in his final semester of seminary college and needs to submit his theological thesis to continue studies. He is also gay and to receive his grade, he has to fully convince his professor that his beliefs in the thesis are not just factual. He spends occasional nights with hi smother over dinner but do not discuss his relationships.  He also has a online friend Bradley who understand each other well but have never met. He has two gay friends Anthony and Gerald. Ryan talks to them but somehow neither of them has too much time. Anthony is dating a guy from another college but is struggling between him vs another guy. When Bradley and Ryan decide to meet, they both have an amazing time and Ryan is instantly in love. But their relationship is a tenuous one, while Ryan wants it to be a solid one. It's as intangible as air. He can't get a firm grip on it. And this keeps Ryan troubled because of which his view on his thesis also keep changing. Ryan is perplexed that why won’t Gerald listen to his problems and heart-break and soon we find that Gerald has always been in love with Ryan. When Ryan finally gets over Bradley, he decides to move to Gerald but he doesn’t want a rebound. Gerald wants real relationship. Ryan is now all alone, trying to figure out why God gives love, is it unrequited love or is it tangible? The film ends with the possibility that Ryan may soon be telling her about about his true self.

A lot of things about this film were not clear to me. Firstly being, whether the film was supposed to really focus on Ryan’s actual experiences and mapping that to God and love? Or was it just the story about a man, who happens to be a seminarian and gay. The film doesn’t show the obvious metaphor between Ryan’s practical experiences and his thesis besides the one minute monologue that he would be shown sharing with his professor. I felt the movie focussed a lot more on Ryan and how miserable he was an individual. He seemed to me like a needy kid, who want his friends to listen to him at all times. He also seemed desperate to fall in love with Bradley. It is never shown why he is so smitten by the man, who clearly has not made up his mind on where he wants their relationship to head to. The film starts slow, very slow. and the pace continues. And acting is also pretty lame. Actually its not the acting but the connection that the characters share with each other. The mother-son relationship seems pretty fake and even the friendship between the trio of gay friends doesn’t look natural at all. And hence, as a viewer, I fail to empathize with anyone. It seems the actors were just repeating their dialogues without either believing or connecting with them. Ryan is the only saving grace and he does have a hot body and nice penis that we do get to see in semi-glory in one of the scenes.

The film has excellent reviews in most places but personally for me, it just did not connect with me at any emotional level at all. There have been better movies trying to show the struggles between religion and homosexuality. My recommendation would be to skip but be your own judge. (4/10)

Friday, February 9, 2018

Kater (German) [Tomcat]

I still have mixed feelings after watching this film. At the onset, I wanna say that movie was terrible , uni-dimensional and doesn’t get into the details or provides any solutions; but on the other hand, part of me tells that, the relationship between a couple is shown in the most brilliant way, almost voyeuristically. Yes, the film is slow, repetitive, but after an anxious half an hour of not knowing where this film is headed to, it ultimately grabbed my attention when the unfortunate event happens.

Stefan (French horn player) and Andreas (orchestra manager) have the perfect life. They have a great house, beautiful luscious garden, close friends and a charismatic cat named Moses. The couple are so comfortable with each other and nature that a good amount of their time goes walking around naked. They are very comfortable, have sex quite often and sometimes before their friend Lorenz. One day when Stefan strokes Moses, the cat seems to try to bite him, and through some unknown compulsion, Stefan breaks its neck. And this one event changes their entire life. Stefan is in shock and mourning at what he did but Andreas cannot comprehend the fact that their beloved cat was killed by his lover. Unable to understand what’s going on, Andreas completely silos Stefan. The two guys who were always always together are now separate and barely talking to each other. Conversations start but clearly there is a gap. One morning Stefan falls from a tree while picking plums and ends up losing an eye. The accident brings the compassion back to an extent, but Andreas still cannot get himself physically close to Stefan. He tells him that he cannot have sex with him or kiss him, not now and possibly never. We see their dynamics change, step by step towards better but still a huge gap. Things improve a little when they need to take care of their neighbors cat, but that also brings constant fear in Andreas’ mind. The couple will deal with the situation at their own pace and none of this is gonna take a lot of effort if the two wanna be back together like before.

The first big question is that did this movie need to be so long? Obviously not. I could have easily cut short this film by good 30-40 minutes and still felt the impact. The long drawn scenes of the cat in the first 20 minutes is delight but I started to feel if I am watching a film about cats. All the scenes about music practice, friendly banter etc could have easily been trimmed out. There are a ton of scenes involving nudity, sex and yes, even hard-on but in retrospect, besides the cat scenes, all that was necessary to establish the kind of relationship that the couple share. You could feel the love, passion and compassion they shared for each other. And then post the incident, how everything changes. It was very very real. But one thing that I found odd was why was there no discussion around the subject. The motivation or the reason (impulse) is never discussed. Yes, Andreas makes Stefan go see a psychiatrist but what comes out of that is not shown. But yet, I felt the pain but both the individuals were going through and trying to come to terms with it. Rebuilding trust with anyone is never easy and we all know that. This film just shows how shit sometimes get real. The film is an example of art observing the intimacy of human emotions, communication and interpersonal relationships. And as I said before, you feel like a voyeur in their lives for first 30 minutes and feel like nothing is happening, but by the end, you know it was all important to create the setup. The acting by the leads is consistently brilliant and flawless. The happy moments, the pathos , the confusion, everything is readable in their eyes.

Watch this film with a very open mind. Most of you will not like it. Something like what happened with one of my fav films ‘August’ but I think this was a brilliant portrayal of human emotions and connections. (7.5/10)

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Zorro: The Gay Blade

This is again one of those film which would be wrong to call as a gay theme film, but give the tile of the film around the character, I think its reason enough to put a review about the film here. Having said that, I am gonna keep this review quite short because not much happens in the film according to me and it really doesn’t warrant a long write-up.

Set in a time long long ago, When Don Diego, alongwith his mute servant Paco, returns to Los Angeles, he finds that his childhood friend Esteban has become the captain of the guard. He finds out that his father was killed a riding accident. At his election speech, Esteban is confronted by Charlotte who tries to educate people of the atrocities that Esteban and his people will do on the common man.Despite their political difference Diego is smitten by her. While home, Diego receives his inheritance from his father which is meant for either of his two sons: Zorro’s black mask, cape, hat, sword and a letter saying that he needs to continue the Zorro legacy. Diego thinks he has found his future but when he returns injured after a masked ball evening trying to fight Esteban, he is not sure of he has what it takes to be Zorro. Esteban suspects if Diego is Zorro but has no proof. Esteban’s terror and taxation continues to rise and common people wait for Zorro to help. Fate intervenes, when Diego’s, brother, Bunny, shows up. He is gay, foppish, British educated and a Royal Navy officer. When Diego tell him the story, Bunny assumes the guise of Zorro, using a whip instead of a sword, while wearing flamboyant Zorro attire in a variety of coordinated colors. He always escape getting caught, so Esteban hatches a plan, and arrests Charlotte. Diego surrenders as Zorro to save her. Just in time, Bunny returns as Zorro and incites poor peasants and common man to a rebellion against Esteban.

This movie is, of course, intended as a comedy, and it has some funny moments, but I am not sure if that was consistent throughout. I can imagine enjoying the film when it came out in early 80’s but seeing it at this age, seemed too force. Even the gags, very limited, do not hold your attention for too long. I do appreciate the Spanish and British accents but thats that. A funnier comedy might have been made out of a more genuinely satirical examination of the Zorro character. Instead, this one provides Zorro with a gay brother who's a screamingly limp-wristed stereotype, and then goes for jokes that are disappointingly predictable.

Not much gay theme here beyond this point to warrant a detailed review here. Watch it at your own whims but if you go in the film expecting more around ‘gay stuff’; there is not much. (2.5/10)

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Scrooge & Marley

Oh my god!! What was this film? Such over the top acting, even for a 2002 film. Actually , more than actors, I would blame the director for not realizing what he was making his actors do. Maybe the idea of doing a gay version of the Charles Dickens’ holiday classic A Christmas Carol would have sounded really good on paper but real poor execution and unnecessary bland songs and broad performances makes for a difficult viewing of the film.

Its Christmas eve, and we meet Ben Scrooge, who owns and operates a gay Chicago nightclub. We soon see that he is a cold hearted old man, who doesn’t care about charity, people’s wishes, problems, his employees or even his extended family. All he cares about is his money and business. His gloom and doom life is a complete contrast to the happiness and warmth and cheer. When he is about to go to bed, he is visited by his long term, now dead, business partner Marley, who warns him that if he soon doesn’t change his ways, he will find himself in hell drowning under the pressure of all his evil-doings and to help him do that, three spirits will visit him over the course of the night. When ‘Christmas Past’ visits Ben, we see the history of what Ben was a youth, and was thrown out of home by his father, how he meets Marley and they become business associates and how they fucked up the guy who gave them both so much of love and support. Ghost of ‘Christmas Present’ shows him the life of one his employees, who has adapted a lot of orphan kids and wants home and food and good healthcare for them. But Ben’s rigidity prevents him from doing so. And when finally ‘Christmas Future’ gives Ben a peak into what his life would end up being if he doesn’t change his ways soon. As expected, Ben wakes up happy that he is still alive and vows to change and change he does. Christmas day starts with a new beginning, a new Ben, ready to embrace his extended family with love and be the good person and samaritan for his employees.

The one thing that was so obvious while watching the film was that the film was probably done at a very very low budget. There is just 3 rooms, where the entire movie was shot, including the apartment space where Ben lives for a duration of 30 plus years. Not even a single thing changes in that space. The execution is also more like a stage play, VFX is terrible and as I mentioned above, there is a certain amount of overacting and waving about of hands that goes throughout the film, which feels quite funny, unless that was the original intent.

I wouldn’t waste my time on this film, unless you really have exhausted the huge list of queer films out there. (3/10)

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

3 Generations

Sometimes, a movie has all good intentions but it fails to transform well on screen. And sometimes, its not all about bringing a core issue to the table but to also entertain the audience. It is not very easy to have a balance of the above two ingredients. I felt the movie above did a good balance. Actually at some point I felt like rather than dealing with the trans-issues , the film was more about family dram and about the mother dealing with her daughter wanting to convert. This film suffers the case of making sure entertainment taking over the core issue of gender dysphoria.

The film starts with Ray, born Ramona, 16 year old transgender teen discussing the process of converting with a doctor alongwith her single mom Maggie, and her lesbian grandmother and her partner. They all live together and are excited for the change. Though the grandmother is skeptical of this process, Maggie is convinced for her Ray. But is she really? When time comes to sign the paperwork, Maggie now needs to find Craig, an absentee father, whom Maggie hasn’t seen forever. Maggie discovers Craig to now be happily married, father of 3 and he refuses to sign the papers without understanding everything correctly. This angers Ray to no extent and he decides to show up at Craig’s place and says will not leave unless the papers are signed. A messy reunion happens, when Maggie also shows up and some secrets are revealed for the reasons behind spilt of Maggie and Craig. All’s well that ends well. Everyone works through their issues and get together once papers are signed and Ray can finally start the transition journey that he always longed for.

After I finished watching this film, it took me some time to decide whether to post the review here or not. The reason being, although the film on the onset seems like about Ray’s journey, I felt this was more about Maggie. The film focuses on her doubts and fears and how she goes around Craig and people surrounding to get that signature, just to avoid bringing mistakes of her past life back to the surface. Naomi Watts as Maggie is brilliant but my favourite are the grandmoms. A very liberal lesbian couple, they bring the house down with their one liners, every time they interfere in both Maggie and Ray’s life. The interesting twist of Ray’s father brings another interesting dynamic to the already frail relations between Maggie and Ray. I feel, had the purpose and the focus of the film been mor eon Ray and the transition and the actual difficulties that he faces as a transgender teen, t would have added a lot more meat to the film. (BTW: I have to mention, the house that these ladies live in, is like a dreamhouse in NYC. The ultra bohemian feel and look and decor was so spot on)

This film could have had a far wider reach and potential but sadly it fails and stays on strictly as an average fair. Its definitely not boring from any angle, but i wish it had more to it. Both soul and substance. (5.5/10)