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, July 8, 2020

Socrates (Portuguese)

A drama that delves into the life hardships of marginalized people cannot be an easy watch. Especially if that person happens to be gay and teen. this film surprised me with its sincerity in projecting the pains of a teenager, who is not struggling because of his sexuality, but just to live and make ends meet. This is definitely not an easy film to watch.

Socrates is 15 when his mother suddenly passes away. They left his father's home. Give that they come from very poor area, Socrates has to figure out a way to earn for himself and to make sure he can pay the rent. And hence starts the process of him knocking on familiar doors in the hopes that someone opens up to provide understanding and shelter. We don't know yet why Socrates left his father's home but he will do anything to avoid going back to him. He eventually get a temporary gig at a construction site where he meets fellow worker Maicon. Before you know on another day the two men are making out. They talk, have sex and Socrates feels he finally has an ally but thats short lived too. When Socrates is kicked out of his home, he is also rejected by Maicon, who apparently has a son and a wife. Starved, penniless and homeless, Socrates is a fighter unwilling to give up before every last conceivable option has been exhausted. He finally takes shelter at his cousin's home who informs his father. Its only when the father beats him up, we realize that the mother and son left his house because of his homophobia and he probably physically beat him about this.

The film is gut wrenching and depressing but its full of hope at the same time. The film is not about sexuality at all. That Socrates just happens to be gay explains his father's behavior, but the message is around empathy, hope and survival. Yes, he and Maicon have to keep their secret to themselves and pretend to be all masculine, but they can't ignore their social surroundings to be themselves. Shot in probably very real life locations of Sao Paulo, this film wouldn't have worked so beautifully if not for the masterful act by Socrates, who's onscreen for virtually every minute of the brief running time. Whether he is attempting to navigate his attraction to Maicon or coping with the traumatic loss of his mother or fighting to survive, genuinely looking for a legit job, the young actor fully draws us into the character's inner turmoil. It's heartbreaking to see the struggles given he is only 15 and suddenly he is expected to be all grown up. He keeps getting hopes and then dashed down again. In a very poignant scene when all the options are gone, he briefly decides to turn to prostitution but gives up at the very last minute. This gives us an insight into the kind of beautiful person Socrates is. Being gay, just adds a whole another layer to his complicated life. I think this is a powerful and important film that eventually gives us hope. The final scene of his mother's ashes slipping away form his hands is tear jerker. I think of what I was like at 15, and this portrayal gives me goose bumps.

I would highly recommend this film purely for good cinema and just the right amount of running time. Nothing over the top, very real portrayal of a teenage trying to survive in the big bad world where he is all alone. (7.5/10)

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Deviance

Some people would argue that in times where LGBTQIA community is fighting for their rights, a film about gay hustler and a serial killer is probably not the thing t hat you want to be seeing but then art is never supposed to be politically correct. So, in that sense I will not question the storyline itself. But this is not to say that we can ignore, what a terribly badly acted and directed this film was.

Connor lives with his drunk abusive father and his sister who will soon be a cop. When his father catches him kissing another boy, he is thrown out. Before you know, Connor becomes a hustler satisfying older men. We have a parallel second story of Milton, who is obviously gay, which doesn't go down well with his very religious parents. He has a crush on a classmate who doesn't return Milton's advances. His family is blown apart soon. A few years later, we see that Milton has now violent impulses and he kills men who do not reciprocate to his advances. And Connor, while trying to live off his prostitution, accidentally kills a man. Before you know these 2 men are drawn to each other for want of company and comfort which soon turns deadly for both of them.

The film is probably trying to show how bad parenting and extreme religious fanatism can destroy the souls of the young, no matter their orientation. Unfortunately the treatment of the subject is so dated, that you cant help and just roll your eyes at the ridiculousness of everything thats unfolding on screen in front of you. Milton is a nerd, struggling with sexuality and being rejected eventually leading to become a killer. In an ideal scenario this role can give an actor an excellent opportunity but neither the actor or the director use this. It was just stupid. And let's talk about the dialogues. OMG! They were so basic. Every dialogue coming out of the sister's mouth was like has it been written by a 10 year old. Could no one had spend some time in at least putting an effort to make this a better product?

Just for the fact that the makers attempted to tell a different story, this film can get a ranking, but the treatment is pure garbage with over the top reactions and guys in their late 20s being passed off as high school boys. (3/10)

Monday, July 6, 2020

More Than Only

Who doesn't like a good romantic film, especially when it has a happy ending. This film is a perfect example of how when done right, a simple story can be so much effective to hold to audience's attention. This film is a journey of self-discovery to learn what we have to offer. I am really amazed that this film is not popular among the LGBTQIA audience. In my opinion, this film deserves a lot better.

As a young boy, Justin knew he was different and gay but under the watchful eye of his very strict father, he was never allowed to act upon them. Slowly, Justin learnt how to hide his true emotions and feelings and started to write them down. Of course when he moves to college, things are different. He is open about his sexuality and has an amazing circle of friends, Brooke being his best friend. His father usually calls him twice a quarter and because of years of built up of father's pressure makes Justin hurt himself one way or other when his father calls, making him a frequent visitor to ER. There he meets Michael and for some reason takes an instant liking for him. Michael is a stable nurse who has purpose in life, whereas Justin is carefree, free spirited person trying his best to live his life. Justin never gives up and persistently pursues Michael, who eventually gives him and they start dating. Both guys have some hidden past about them which needs to be shared. Turns out Michael was severely bullied and beaten up by a group of guys as a child including a guy who kissed him. This allows Justin to also slowly open up about his father's disapproval. When Michael tries to make Justin see things from a more practical way, they have misunderstanding but eventually come closer. After graduation, after the parents visit, things go much worse for Justin and this time he harms himself even more. But Michael takes good care of him. Justin eventually comes out and builds a life with Michael slowly. He gets a purpose and becomes a writer. The last 10 minutes are a sort of fast forward into how things work out for the couple with a marriage, home and a kid.

This film i a light hearted and a beautiful and emotional love story with a lot of soul. The first 45-50 minutes of Justin trying to woo Michael are superb. The chemistry they share is absolutely magical. They both are so much full of love. It was as if you are watching in real life two boys trying to get to know each other and connect. You feel the sincerity of their performance, of the director and you feel how much love probably went through to create those scenes. Justin had an amazing screen presence which is like battle half won. Michael brings in the stability that Justin needs. I mean, they even sleep together after almost 3-4 months of knowing each other. Special shout out to all the friends who are there for Justin, always. Everything was going so good in the film, with no unnecessary drama that I would have rated this film high high up, until the last 25 minutes. as good Justin and Michael were, equally horrible were the actors playing Justin's parents. Look at his mother's reaction. She seems all plastic and wooden and sa e for the dad. I felt cheated that all energy was used up in building and directing two beautiful people as one soul, that no attention was given to other actors. The parents were soooooooo bad. Also, personally I feel that there could have been a better way to cement the relationship than the almost suicidal event that happens. But that's just my view. The marriage proposal also comes out of nowhere given that Justin has just graduated. But then fast forwarding into their life happily with a kid brought. a much needed smile on my face and I was ready to forgive some of the blemishes that the makers could have avoided and made this film great to marvelous.

This film is a very small production but its all heart and soul and love. I can assure you that if you are slightest bit of romantic, you will not regret watching this film. And please, we need to promote this film a lot more. (8/10)

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Open

This is exactly the kind of mindless braindead gay "comedy" films that I am afraid of ruining my time. I really can't believe that anyone at all will find this film funny by any means, and if people do, then there is definitely something wrong. We need to really make people aware of the difference between trash and good cinema.

David and Kyle are celebrating their 10th year of being together. Taking a clue from one of their other gay couple friends, they decide to maybe try out opening up relationship and make a few set of rules. Only dating, no sex etc etc. Kyle gets an online profile created on a dating app by his sister and meets a couple of weirdos. Meanwhile David is approached by a hot younger student of his and they end up having sex. They both feel odd and decide to put a stop to this open thing. But David is again approached by his hot student and he can't control. Kyle finds them together and they break up. Eventually love is stronger, they both get to their senses and eventually get back together.

I can't believe that this film has won certain awards in a few LGBT film festivals. I mean, who are these people. The acting is terrible for a 2017 film. Right from the very first scene where guests are interacting with the hosts in such a fake way, I knew this is going to be a long film to watch. This film would have been termed amazing had it come out in like 2000, when gay films were just a very rare thing but this kind of product is totally unacceptable. Stereotypical lesbians, wannabe bisexual, a gay couple with no chemistry and seriously, just bad acting overall. I really blame the director for such a hot mess. the story was fine and simple and could have made for a fun film. But this was atrocious. This is part of your regular staple of your campy gay actors and stupid movies that keep getting churned out in US. I think people really need to be exposed to world cinema of today where some of the most amazing stories with central gay characters are being told. I am still in shock as to how can such a film win any award at all.

I would really not recommend this film to anyone at all. This is sheer waste of time. Even my eyes started to hurt by constant rolling of them because of the sheer stupidity that I had to sit and watch. (2.5/10)

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Wei Hun Nan Nv (Mandarin) [We Are Gamily]

Although this film is from Taiwan, it is set in the town of Chengdu in China. We have seen a few films in many languages where social stigma about being gay is depicted in a humorous way. The thing with comedy is that you have to be crisp and to the point, which is somehow missing in this film.

Wu Gang and Sam are a gay couple who have been together for over three years. To give into his mother's pressure, Gang gets into a fake marriage with Yang Duo. Yang is a lesbian who has been in a steady relationship with another girl. But when after the wedding, the other starts showing up unannounced at their home, Duo is forced to move in with Gang which leads to her breakup with her girlfriend. At one such event, the mother shows up with Gang's sister and she asks Duo to convince her to get married. We soon realize that the sister is also gay and before you know the sister and Duo are getting together. Some awkward hilarious scenes with a very dominating mother follow, who even fakes to have cancer to have the sister marry Sam. Eventually the truth comes out. Initially the mother is mad, as you would expect, but eventually gives in.

My big problem with the film was that it tried so hard to be funny but barring few scenes it just wasn't funny. It felt more drama. Some genuine humor would have elevated this film to another level. Also a lot of scenes were unnecessarily stretched. To use up 2 hours to tell a simple story is a bit too far. Gang acted well and was funny but you could see how he is totally momma's boy. He can never say no to whatever she asks or says. In contrast, the sister is more outspoken and wants to fight back to just be herself and live life on her own terms. The mother, my god, is very very dominating and nosy. I understand that culturally children respect their parents very much in Asia, but this was just taking it to another level. Forcing them to get married, and then forever asking them to have kids is just super annoying after a while. As a couple Sam and Gang have thankfully great chemistry. There is no awkwardness. Same can't be said about the girls. It was funny to see Gang having a penis shaped pillow that he carries everywhere. I want one of those now.

the film's premise was interesting but its funny only in bits and pieces. This could have been a lot better. (5.5/10)

Friday, July 3, 2020

Ang Lalake Sa Parola (Tagalog/Filipino) The Man in the Lighthouse

This is an independent gay themed film which feels like it was made on a very shoestring budget, mostly because the production quality doesn't seem that high. But then the film came back in 2007. I was surprised to see a few very explicit sex scenes, which I dont think I have seen in any other Pinoy movie before.

Set in small town Lobo known for its lighthouse, we meet Mateo, the 20 year old caretaker of the lighthouse. The local legend says that the lighthouse in inhabited by a fairy who seduces desirable men who can then never marry. He has been doing that for 3 years and since has been dating a girl. City boy Jerome soon arrives into town and Mateo becomes his caretaker. Mateo is also looking for his father in the same town who abandoned him. Jerome befriends Mateo and before you know they get into a physical relationship. The day of Mateo's wedding is when Jerome leaves back to Manila. Mateo cancels his wedding and goes to Manila to be with Jerome. Jerome welcomes him with open arms but Mateo is a tad uncomfortable. He finds himself unable to adjust to how openly gay Jerome is but Mateo is not. They have a big fight and Mateo comes back to town. Maybe Mateo is struggling to accept his reality because of the hardships he saw a local gay man go through in their town where everyone abuses him. Back in town, Mateo hears to the story of the older caretaker before him and its only the end we understand how similar the story of the two men is. Mateo is in the midst of his conservative rural community, and should he cross the thin line between being straight and being gay

The plot seems very simple yet complicated. It’s a metaphorical rendition of how homosexuality encompasses the lives of men even from the remotest of area. But in an attempt to sway away from the regular formulaic movies, somewhere the film becomes a little messy. The older caretaker using fairy as the metaphor for city life, gay life etc brings an interesting parallelism but it fails to actually deliver something exciting. I didn't understand why would Mateo get suddenly attracted to Jerome, when he has been having very happy and successful sexual relations with his girlfriend. Jerome's interest was genuine, I mean, Mateo is a very handsome man. The one thing that I was able to relate to was how uncomfortable Mateo is in the city life. Clearly he was not being himself and that was the only time I felt for him. Only if Jerome had been more patient of him and given him time to accept the reality without forcing him, they both could have been together. Mateo gives some full on nude, erect penis, shots as well, which is always welcome :)

Overall the film is strictly ok. The intent behind making the film was nice but somewhere it failed during execution. (5/10)

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Njan Marykutty (Malyalam) [I Am Marykutty]

There are not many Indian films that question and talk about sexuality, given that its the producer of largest number of films worldwide. So, in that sense, this is a film with a beautiful story of a transgender who faces prejudice from society but fights on. Sadly, screenplay is a little weak but a good performance by the lead actor is definitely worth applauding.

Mathukutty leaves home when he is being pressured to get married. He knows that he has been born in a wrong body and goes for sex change operation to become Marykutty. The problems and predujice just begin when she moves back to her native town. Disowned by family, the town parish priest gives her all the support. She is determined to become a sub Inspector and joins a coaching institute to prepare for the exam. In between, with the help of priest she also works as a Radio Jockey hosting a popular show "Hapiness Hour". A lot of the film is focussed on how she is most mistreated by the local police authorities and she continues to be strong and determined to pursue her dreams despite all the obstacles that are thrown to her face in the shadow of bureaucracy. Eventually with the support of local District Collector, 2-3 of her closest friends and well wishers, Marykutty eventually succeeds in making her parents proud of her achievement.

When a man plays the role of a female, it is so easy to cross the line of making it weird and vulgar but the grace with which actor Jayasurya plays Marykutty as a man is truly marvelous. his portrayal is relatable and every action is just real. Even all the reactions and emotions are done with a poise. The film truly stands on its own strictly because of the lead actor's performance. I liked the fact that the character is not shown weak or feeble. Instead she is determined, even though she is sensitive as a person. She is ready to fight for her rights. For her, making her dream a reality is more important — like she says, “It’s not a lost cause. We can always fight till we actually lose.” Having said this, even though the subject and treatment is done with respect, this film could have done something lot more. The film is a bit high on melodrama and that could be toned down a bit. The film could have used more conflict and avoided cliche of the sister asking Mary to not come to her wedding. Make this film a bit crisp, reduce some of the melodrama and this film could have had the potential tom make a huge difference in the way much of Indian society perceives and treats transgendered people.

This film educates you and sensitizes you towards the prejudices faced by transgendered community in India. We all definitely need to be more sensitive and educate ourselves on the subject. (6/10)

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Somos Tr3s (Spanish) [We Are Thr3e]

This is an interesting film on the whole concept of a thruple. Bisexuality is at the core of this film and it at least asks all kinds of questions that people in such situation would have , mostly from the perspective of how society will perceive them. But sadly, the overall impact of the film is not the greatest. Th elove story somehow feels shallow.

Nacho, an accountant meets Ana at a party in Buenos Aires and they get along well. Things become interesting when Sebastian, the bartender starts flirting with both of them. Both of them find this interesting. Noah is starting to accept that he is bi. Before you know the trio is spending a weekend in a nice big country house belonging to Sebastian's friend. Sebastian tells them that he has historically been dating women but on 2 different ocassions he had extended relationship with a couple and thats when he realized that its the only kind of relationship he would ever want. He says that he doesn't want to join a couple who is already together but rather would find people who can date together. Noah and Ana are very unsure but they say lets enjoy the weekend and see what happens. Week arrives and Ana and Noah decide its not for them. But back in city, they start dating but feel something is missing. They realize its Sebastian in the mix. They both meet him again. Decide to finally give it a try and they move in together. They go through all the problems that happen when you live together, except, thankfully they never have any jealousy issues. All of them try to give equal attention to one another. Although tiring, the relationship works for three of them and they decide to buy the home they are living in and make a life together.

The film felt very low on production quality. And the background music was very distracting. The premise is interesting but i am in double mind about the feasibility of it all. I can see this happening but will all members be satisfied and happy? I am not too sure of that. The trio tries to make it work with each other, no jealousy or problems, except cleanliness issues. No one ever feels left out. As Sebastian says, Ana gets best of both worlds: safety and boyfriend in Nacho and excitement and lover in Sebastian. Its good to see Nacho and Ana having all possible doubts in the world about this relationship but we never get to understand Sebastian's point of view. His feelings are static, his character never develops, he is just that hot guy that lets Nacho and Ana plug and play all day. Thankfully we do get to see and enjoy Sebastian's package in its glory and sigh! He is not only blessed with good looks but also down there. Nacho is also pretty good looking and Ana is strictly ok.

There is nothing out of the world in this film. Its a simple though a bit shallow love story of boy meets girl meets boy trying to tell us that gone are the days when people used to worry about labels. (5/10)

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Love, Victor (Series)

Love, Simon was one of the most talked about queer movies of 2018. No wonder makers came up with a wonderful idea of doing a spin off of the film. This is a 10 part series telecast on Hulu.

Victor is a Latin teenager, whose family has just moved to the new city and will now be going to the same school that became popular thanks to Simon's perfect love story. His parents are from a modest family and he has a sister and a younger brother. The parents moved out of their home because the mother had an affair, which the kids eventually find out. Simon is struggling with his sexuality and is not sure if he is gay, straight or something else. He introduces himself to Simon and they both start chatting on instagram, with Simon giving Victor advice. Victor soon makes best friends with Felix and before you know him and Mia, a popular girl in school, start going out. We are also introduced to Benji, the openly gay kid in school who part time works at a barista. Victor feels attracted to Benji, gets a job at same cafe, but is still very much dating Mia and is still confused. On a work trip Victor ends up kissing Benji confusing him even further and that freaks Benji out because he has been in a stable relationship with his boyfriend. Embarrassed, Victor decides to take a trip to New York having heard so much about it from Simon. There he meets Simon's boyfriends and their room mates and is literally introduced to the gay scene. He is initially awkward with the openness of it all but eventually warms up to it and realizes and accepts that he is in fact gay. Felix is the first person he comes out to, who as expected is quite cool about it. He wants to tell Mia asap but there is never the right time. On the dance night, kiss between Benji and Victor comes out and Benji breaks up with his bf and kisses Victor which Mia sees and is heartbroken. Victor decides to go home and come out to his parents. He does that and season ends. I am guessing there is scope for season 2.

Interestingly, Victor is the only character who is shown with a full graph and character. He is cute an everything he does is mature, nuanced and humane. So him doing this with Mia seems a little out of place but its ok in the larger context since the other teens are actual teenagers. I mean clearly Victor is harboring a crush on Benji but he goes ahead with Mia as his girlfriend to avoid any school perceptions. I have fixed feeling about it, because at one point I feel its 2020 and people in US at least can be open but then, who I am to judge. Every person's story is different and we all have the right to explore, accept and come out with our story in our own way. The other characters, like most teen shows, are there to use up almost 5 hours time to fill in the context with being a web series, but a lot of them is really not needed. It really depends on how the makers want to extend the show further beyond season 1. This series could engage with the material and the other characters much more deeply than it does, but it keeps good track of Victor’s emotional journey. This is a story that doesn't need to be stretched and thats why Love, Simon worked very well as a film. Here, you get invested in characters storylines but you never connect with them at the deepest level and feel for them. The soul is somehow missing.

I would say, this series is strictly average. Don't have very high expectations, especially is you were a lover of the film like I was. Worth watching though just for Victor's charm and if teen stories really are your thing. (6/10)

Monday, June 29, 2020

Gay Short Films : 75

The Younger (Taiwan)
Hao became a male masseur to make ends meet and pay for his grandmother’s costly medication caused by her recent stroke and her Alzheimer’s. The job forced him to deal with his previously suppressed sexual urges for men. Hao begins to lose the balance he once had with family, work, and himself.

The Distance Between Us and the Sky (Greece)
Two strangers meet for the first time at an old gas station. One has stopped to gas up his bike, while the other is just stranded. Lacking the 22.50EUR he needs to get home, he will try to sell him the distance that separates them from the sky.

Orange Zest (Germany)
Two guys just dance on their feelings for each other depicting 3 different stages of love in a gay man's life.

Moros en la costa (Spain) [Breaking and Entering]
A poor young Arab is called to his mansion by Angel for a hookup. But when the parents unexpectedly come back home, angels begs him to hide since he is only 16. More secrets will now come out.

Easy (USA)
Two high school guys are in love. One's Christian, one's Jewish. A father disapproves, the other's parents are thrilled. Who cares that it's not perfect? They got this.

Zero One (USA)
Jimmy Park is visiting home for the first time in years and has nothing to show for his time living overseas in Seoul. But old tensions come to a head when he confronts his homophobic sister at a family dinner.

Other Black Boys (USA)
When an old friend visits, a black gay guy is forced to confront the masks he wears in his many relationships with his friends, one of whom he is also sleeping with.

Pico de Orizaba (Spain) [Orizaba’s Peak]
In a cozy bistro, an increasingly heated discussion between two good buddies reveals their latent sexual prejudices, as one admits to feeling finally set free by a book he has just read, and the other mistakenly assumes that he is coming out of the closet!

Beyond Repair (South Africa)
A young man is sent to live with his homophobic brother after he is forced out of the closet.

Missed (Netherlands)
A young dying man meets with his estranged father after a four year absence since his coming out and subsequent marriage to a man, hoping to reconnect before their ideological differences keep them apart.

Frozen Heart (Germany)
A silent film highlighting the bullying from friend and even family when one comes out as gay and outrightly rejected.

In Einem Moment (Germany) [In A Moment]
Max isn't sure about his sexual orientation until he meets Leon at his new school. When Max is singing a song at a school concert something beautiful happens. Great film and beautiful song.

Beloved Sam (Germany)
For David, it was a big step to visit a LGBT* youth group but he doesn't regret it because that's how he met Sam. A boy, that he loves, but that he couldn't be together with.

Hann (Iceland) [Him]
Andri, an anxious teenage boy, hides and represses his sexuality in fear of his masculine father’s reaction but, on the eve of Andri’s first date, he finds a clever way to reveal his secret.

I Love You, But I Can't (Germany)
Two men live together, but one of them cheats with a stranger. Guilt ridden, he tests himself and finds to be HIV+ and ends up taking a drastic step.

JAin (Germany)
Fabi is gay  and straight guy Benni is his secret occasional lover. When Fabi is attacked by Benni's friend Maik in a party, Benni has to make his choice between keeping his secret or defending Fabi against Maik.

My Gay Friend (Germany)
Story about a few school kids in a school where thankfully people are accepting of various sexualities. Film was made as a school project.

Lonely Dietmar (Germany)
He jus turned 18, his mother is an alcoholic and short on money. When he nearly has spend his last money, an older gay man offers him cash for sex. He is nervous. He goes ahead but what does future hold?

One On One (USA)
A story about compromise, 'One On One' follow Alex and Trevor as they work out their relationship on and off the basketball court, after one of them asks the other one to join a waltz class together.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Thưa Mẹ Con Đi (Vietnamese) [Goodbye Mother]

This film is a perfect blend of romance, drama and some comedy as well. I have to admit that personally I am drawn to dysfunctional family dramas and I quite enjoy them. This film not only focuses on the dynamics of a gay relationship in a still conservative Vietnamese society, but at its core its about family values and how extended families live together, support each other and what do they all expect from one another.

Nau Van returns home to Vietnam from USA after quite a few years. The occasion is his father's death anniversary and moving of his tomb. Joining him is Ian, his boyfriend, which no one is aware of. Ian is of Vietnamese origin and has been in US since he was a kid. Part of Van's plan is to also come out to his mom. The mother lives with 2 other sisters, one is married with 2 kids and other is single. Together all of them take care of Van's grandmother who has senile dementia. When introduced, granny thinks of Ian as her grandson and takes an instant liking for him. Meanwhile Van is helping out his mother, who apparently are not doing too well financially. He also later finds out that hi smother is dealing with diabetes. The whole family and neighbors all have just one question as to when Van will get married. One night when Van and Ian have a fight, Ian confides in the grandmother that Van is his boyfriend. The grandmother is happy that the boy is in love and doesn't judge. In a family function, she eventually tells everyone the news and the entire family is shocked. In fact in an unrelated incident, Ian gets beaten up also. The mother, usually silent doesn't say much but continues to shower love on both boys. Eventually it's time to go back to US. Van is heart broken that he is leaving his family behind with all the troubles and the news that he will not be getting married to a girl. He is sad that he will be going back to his happy content life in US, and meanwhile his family will have to deal with consequences of life, death, money and care.

The treatment of this film is very fresh and nice. I have always maintained that I connect very much with the whole family dynamics in Asia and Middle East and this is no different. All scenes with the grandmother are pure gold. When she wants Ian (Nau, in her mind) to sleep with him, or when Ian comes out to her, or when she says to Ian, if this doesn't work out, find some other boy and many many more like this). She is definitely the scene stealer of the film. Although the second half shifts more towards drama, the film never loses focus on 2 things. How Ian stands with Nau every step of the way to support him and love him and be there for him and similarly, how Nau tries to do the exact same thing for his family. The chemistry between the 2 boys is incredible and you really feel they are in love. The quite glances, the long gazes, and a couple of rare kisses all make them very relatable. Everything from their romantic scenes to their arguments and the tears feel genuine. And did I say how gorgeous they both are. The film is filled with love and also frustration at some levels. Thanks to a wonderful screenplay and direction, the film very real and organic. None of the drama, or indeed the comedy, feels forced. You can see the mothers struggle to balance her family obligations as the primary bread winner but also make sure she does the right thing by her son and also her mother. Her's is the most challenging life so to say. The film is visually very rich. For some reason, i liked this film a lot more than a lot of people otherwise it. I know the reasons for the personal connect but will leave it at there. The last scene of Ian and Van waiting at the airport, while tears trickling down Van's cheek is going to remain with me, just like the last scene of Call me By Your name'.

The film’s title, “Goodbye Mother”, means more than a parting adieu, but a farewell to one’s homeland. Because of his sexuality, not only Van has given up his Vietnamese citizenship, its unlikely he will ever come back and the ending brings tears to your eyes too. The film has impressed me a lot with its simplicity, sincerity & authenticity. The film deserves to be watched by a wider audience. (8/10)

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Label Me

This is a very moody and broody film that makes you wonder and think. We have seen a few films with gay hustlers trying to make ends meet and eventually looking for companionship. The film is similar but with its differences. This is strictly a transactional exchange but somewhere both parties are involved are maybe looking for something more (not necessarily love). Also interesting to note that this whole German film is in English.

Young and rich German guy Lars meets Waseem on a hookup app on a railway platform and takes him home. Waseem's rules are clear. No kissing and he will only fuck. They have a good time, with barely any exchange of words. Afterwards, Waseem goes home to a communal Syrian refugee shelter where he has to share a communal shower and deal with bunkbed roommates. Lars is intrigues enough with Waseem to want to meet him again. When Waseem responds to Lars' curiosity about him with chilly silence, the German playfully extends the transactional nature of their relationship by paying him 20 Euros for every question he answers. on one such encounter when Lars has to leave midway , he leaves Waseem back at his place. This time Waseem thinks of stealing his goods. But when the German returns home hours later, Waseem casually informs him he changed his mind: "You're lucky. It takes me more effort to sell it than fucking you." The two men are getting to know one another and this is when the first time they even ask each other their names. Waseem says he is not gay but truth maybe more complicated because of his culture and social norms and the fact that a supposedly gay guy gets beaten up badly in that shelter. When one night Waseem gives into urges and kisses Lars, he freaks out and start blurting slurs to Lars. Confused with what's going on with him, he even lets an older client of his to fuck him. In the last scene, Waseem shows up at Lars badly beaten up and just goes and lies down in bed. I guess his secret is out and now they both are contemplating where life will take them next.

The best thing about the film is that it is not over dramatized at any point. We never know what lars does, how does he have so much money and why he doesn't have any friends, but that provides a good intersection and similarity that possibly the 2 men share. They are both lonely and their respective homes couldn't have been more different from each other. Their casual meetings soon bring in trust between the two men and they are trying to understand each other. Clearly Waseem has bigger demons inside, possibly struggling with sexuality, having to leave Syria, trying to make ends meet; there is a lot more inside than you see. This made me wonder, how we always judge people by their appearances or by what they do; but rarely does anyone try to understand why someone does what they do. We don't know for sure whether Waseem harbors any sexual feelings for Lars. But what matters is whether or not he can accept Lar's friendship and a means of escape from his trauma. The power dynamic between the two men keeps shifting throughout, neither altogether willing to surrender control although they both want the closeness that could make room for. The performances from both the leads are absolutely fantastic and very restrained that adds to the sense of mystery as both men keep their secrets. With just under one hour of running time, this film is set in certain pace and gives you an opportunity to get into their heads.

A beautifully acted and superbly directed wonderful film. The film never goes into addressing the problems that refugees go through but I guess that was never the intent. (7.5/10)

Friday, June 26, 2020

Strange Fruit

Touted as a film that follows an overly complicated exploration of racism, homophobia, family dysfunction, police corruption, prejudice (racial and gender), and most important gay homophobia! What it ends up being is a contrived and confused film which is all over the place stretched beyond belief before it starts to make a point.

William Boyals is a successful lawyer from south, who is gay and he keeps himself busy with work. he is off and on seeing another guy in the city. In a small neighborhood of New Orleans, a young gay man is killed outside a gay bar. When the local cops dismiss the murder as a suicide and refuse to do anything about it, his mother reaches out to Boyals for help. When he comes to town, he meets a lot of people, untrustworthy cops, closet black gays unwilling to help, hateful white trash and finally his mother that disowned him when he came out of the closet to be a successful gay man. Boyals is attacked by different men and he struggles to find the killers. The story proceeds to follow leads about the lynching and along the way there are other murders and lynchings that muddle the picture. Eventually, randomly suddenly Boyals magically realize who it could be, but he gets caught up in the drama when he is almost murdered and the cops arrive just in time to save him. The film then just randomly ends.

The ending of the film is very random. It comes out of the blue, without any reasonable build up or explanation, confusing the message of the movie hence questioning the intelligence of the audience. How can such a gruesome murder happen and cops not do anything about it especially when media could be all over the place. And whats up with cops watching lesbian porn openly. Thats just disgusting. The acting is amateur and so is direction. There are a lot of scenes thrown in just to increase the length of the film which don't really add much to it. This could have been. a very good murder mystery but with the stereotypes, the bad acting, cheesy dialogues, and ridiculous script, this film is a major disappointment in every aspect. We get to see a fake detective work, platitudes about homosexuality, and a cliché with a the one good white man trying to save the day.

Completely avoidable. (2/10)

Thursday, June 25, 2020

2gether (Thai Series)

Time for one more Thai BL stories. Gosh!! I feel that I am slowly starting to get addicted to these stories. Slightly unbelievable and very sugary sweet love stories, these all fall into the whole romantic fantasy world that we all want to live in but is probably not very realistic. Still, given that these stories are usually set in school or college times, where the harsh realities of life have not come in yet; it's good to live in a calm, sweet and loving world. This is 13 episodes, almost 40 minute each.

Tine and his group of 3 other friends are new to college and are always looking for girls. But soon enough, a very enthusiastic gay admirer Green starts to be after Tine all the time. After trying various tricks to keep him off, his friends suggest that he should get a pretend boyfriend, which can probably help him get rid of attention from Green. Initially reluctant, he soon gives in and Sarawat comes into picture. Sarawat is a very introvert yet handsome guy with huge fan following. When Tine approaches him, he first declines but eventually agrees. Soon fake boyfriend and flirting starts bringing in some real feelings for each other to both of them. It feels Sarawat is very sure that he wants to pursue Tine but Tine is not very sure. The two boys bond over music and songs from a band Scrubb. Eventually, we find out that Sarawat had first seen Tine a year ago and since then he had fallen for him but he had no idea who Tine was. Things changed to Sarawat's surprise when Tine reached out to him to be his fake boyfriend and then how Sarawat's friends helped and supported him throughout the journey. The series follows the ups and downs of the couple and then in last 5-6 episodes also introduces 2 more couples. One involving Tine's brother and Sarawat's friend. And the third one being of Sarawat's younger brother, who had a crush on a guy who hates Sarawat, because he also secretly has a crush on Tine.

In a different time and world, I would have called this show cheesy because of the constant flirtations and "love" scenes that happen between Tine and Sarawat, but I am now very used to understanding the psyche behind these shows. Fake date, move from enemy to lover, flirting, side kick of friends; these BL shows check all these boxes catering to the target teenage audience. As mentioned in prior series, here no one judges you for your sexuality, its all about falling in love and a very seamless witch from loving a girl to loving a boy. Contrary to most other series, this one gets to point from very beginning but surprisingly feels too stretched to wards the end. The last 2 episodes were totally not necessary. the whole angle of bringing back Sarawat's school girlfriend was completely uncalled for. Tine and Sarawat had good chemistry but surprisingly that chemistry feel less real when they both start dating for real and move in together. I was soo excited in initial few episodes but was a bit let down eventually. And like I mentioned before, the other two love stories seemed very forced in last few episodes, and they really dont add much to the overall story. That could have easily been avoided. There’s a lot of cringe-worthy scenes, problematic lines, and the acting may be questionable at times, but at the end of the day it’s a series that positively depicts the nuances of a very real love story between two people of the same gender. A lot of scenes felt repetitive but I guess thats a risk you have when you make a series.The 2 actors look good together and act ok. I didn't think they were the hottest looking where in the crazy college girls would just shout and scream everytime they even hear rthe mention of Sarawat. T hat was completely over the top. Music plays an integral part of the show since the 2 boys are part of a music club and its over learning guitar that they eventually connect.

Slightly disappointing especially compared to some of the other recent real good BL series that I have seen in recent past few months. (6.5/10)

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Breaking Fast

We have seen a few films deal with being gay and how it affects their religious beliefs, especially with Christianity, but there haven't been many films that give us an Islamic point of view on the subject. This  film tells us that religious and sexual identity is not as simple as black and white. Individuals have their own interpretations and we need to look it through the harmonious lens by which those individuals interact with the world.

Mo is a doctor and openly gay and accepted by his family. On the last day of Ramada he realizes that his 3 year long relationship with Hasan needs to come to an end since he is not out to his family and is in fact seriously contemplating marrying a girl to keep up the charade. One year has passed and Mo has completely immersed himself in work and hangs out mostly with his other gay muslim friend Sam. Its Ramadan time again and also Sam's birthday where Mo meets an al American man Kal, who occasionally speaks Arabic because of his time spent in Jordan. Initially reluctant, Mo slowly starts to warm upto Kal because they find that they genuinely share common interest and also because of the fact that Kal takes interest in his religion and teachings without passing on a judgement. Kal invites himself for iftar one day and before you know the two of them are breaking fast everyday together with Kal cooking delicacies for Mo. They slowly grow closer, learning their ways around around each other including their insecurities. A fight occurs when one night Mo tries to defend his religion but Sam tries to show him the other picture where just because his work, family and friends have worked out well for Mo, doesn't mean that problems don't exist for other muslims around the world. We eventually get to know a little bot about Kal's family history which eventually brings the two men even closer.

Lets talk about food first. There are so many gorgeous scenes and beautiful shots of food being prepared and eaten that it made me realize what a delicious 3 years of my life in Turkey were. I do miss middle eastern food a lot. And this was not just for nothing. Do not underestimate the power of food to discuss cross cultural boundaries and issues. Mo's character is interesting. He has looked at all the good and brighter things about his religion and practices them. Luckily his family is very accepting. It's only when there is the big fight with his best friend Sam, he is forced to see the uglier side of things. That scene was a very important scene for me in the film because it showed us how Mo has built a safe wall around himself to avoid get hurt, especially after breakup. He is failing to understand other people's perspective and also finally acknowledges that he could have been more patient with his ex and understand his point of view as well. I think that was a very brave statement. Kal's chaarcter was nice but needed a little more graph. I am not very sure what was the point the film was trying to make by having a dead mother and a brother in coma. Was it because of this that Kal was more empathetic to Mo? I am not sure. The film is primarily interested in exploring these tensions along lines of race, faith, class, and gender presentation that makes this a very interesting and an easy romantic film. Sam's character provides some light moments in the film and i quite enjoyed them.

Overall, the film is a well acted story of two culturally very different people who make an effort to know and trust one another and who knows, maybe they also want they same thing. (7/10)

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Say Yes

I am not very sure on how to write the review of this film. The film's heart is in the right place but I have dilemma against the practicality of it all. It's heartfelt, it's emotional but is it practical? I really doubt if you or anyone knows of such a scenario or would even believe in such a thing. I mean, some can even say it is ridiculous, but I will try to objectively review this.

Beau proposes to his girlfriend Lily (who we are told could be bisexual) and they soon get married. Their life goes on a spiral when Lily is diagnosed with stage 3 cancer and it seems like she will really not survive for long. Lily's twin brother Caden then movies in with them to help out and take some burden off Beau. There are moments of frustration as Lily fights through cancer and Beau is very unsure of what his life would be without Lily. But what Lily notices is that the two men who once shared a tense relationship and slowly getting used to one another and maybe even fond of each other. This is when Lily individually proposes to both guys that nothing would make her happier than for her brother and her husband to be together as a couple when she is gone. They are both surprised to hear this but not shocked. They even laugh about it on how this is possible. Caden then tell Beau that he has had some experience with men before, so he is willing to try but this is completely new territory for Beau. They kiss but they stop right there. Eventually, Lily dies and the two men end up having sex. While Caden is ok with everything, Beau completely freaks out and doesn't know what's happening. Eventually, he asks Caden to stay with him. He know he likes him and is willing to try but he will need time.

The primary three actors all do a good job of their character. They all have good chemistry and the whole premise is slightly unbelievable. Also, for some outgoing people, not seeing any friends or family is a very weird thing. Lily's parents are so cold on her news of cancer, that you wonder if they are even humans! They have absolutely no empathy. And the doctor whom Lily sees is the weirdest ever. All she paints is a gloomy picture for Lily without a single ray of hope. I really hope no doctor in real life is so blunt and odd. Coming back to story, I am not sure why Lily would suddenly want Beau to be with Caden. It is an odd idea to begin with, but the fact that a straight man would actually consider it is bizarre. I understand people do all kinds of things for love, but this is stretching a bit. Yes, maybe we all fall somewhere in middle on Kinsey scale, but still a straight man doing a 360 turn is highly unlikely. I mean why would Lily even come up with such an idea when neither man has shown any same sex inclination is beyond me and then someone actually going ahead with the idea is even weirder. Also the two of them having sex right after Lily does was uncalled for. I don't buy into that sort of grieving.

An interesting thought and a film with heart but the premise IMO is a bit absurd for anyone to actually believe in it. (5/10)

Monday, June 22, 2020

Evening Shadows (Hindi)

It is positively surprising to see more and more LGBTQ+ stories coming out of the Indian subcontinent, something which is the most relatable for me. More than an actual gay love story, it's more about family. What happens to a conservative tradition-bound Hindu family when the son comes out as gay? More so, it is the story of the mother and son and how their relationship evolves over the time. Even more, how the mother is able to come out of the shadows of her husband.

Kartik is the only son of a very conservative Hindu family. He is coming home after four years of living in Mumbai as a photographer for some religious ceremony and holiday. The reason for the long break is because he and his father don't see eye to eye on career decisions. To his surprise, the parents are trying to get him to see girls for a marriage proposal but he very sternly refuses. The mother loves the son to death and asks her husband to chill. Soon, we are told that Kartik has been a monogamous loving relationship with his boyfriend of many years and they have a very happy and stable family together. The mother tries to find the truth about not wanting to get married. Eventually, when Kartik comes out on a day trip with his mother, as expected, her reactions are a mix of shock, surprise, hurt, worried etc. The duo don't speak for a couple of days, while Kartik is trying his best to explain her mother the situation. Slowly over the course of next few days, the mother has all sorts of questions ranging from how it works, will he change, should they go see a doctor, what about kids, did they fail as parents etc. All this while, Kartik's boyfriend tries his best to support him over the phone. The mother has still not come to terms but at least she is trying. Things go south, when one day the father sees pictures of Kartik with his boyfriend. He beats the boy really bad and throws him out of the house. The father is so mad that he decides to do the ceremonial death ceremony of his son and this is when the mother loses her control and finally confronts her husband, who all these years has been dominating her. She gives him a piece of her mind, and tell shim that no one but her son has the right to decide and live his life. Kartik, finally gets the love and acceptance from his mother for being gay, something that he has been craving for.

This films narrative is brave but slightly flawed, the details of some of which I will try and explain. I like the fact that the gay men were not made to act effeminate, although, giving the son an emotional side, loves to clean and cook and is hence different, still puts him in a certain box. The whole scene of coming out to his mother and eventual scenes of his mother trying to find the reasons, possible solutions and eventual questions was something so relatable to me. I would say almost 70-80% of that is what exactly happened with me when I came out, so some of those scenes were very personal and hit very close to home on how some Indian conservative parents would react. The whole angle to an abusive uncle (although Kartik doesn't believe he was abused. He says it was consensual) was not necessary in my opinion. It again fuels fire to the theory of abused children end up being gay. Also some of the dialogues were very chaste Hindi, and not something that are normally used in everyday talking. The main confrontation scene is the end between the mother and the father is the most powerful scene, in not just the film but something I haven't seen much of. Mona Ambegaonkar, a very underused actress, owns that scene like a pro and kills that. That scene is bound to give you chills. It's like a fierce lioness who will go to any lengths to make sure her cub is safe and sound. Amazing! Chemistry between the lovers is ok since most of their scenes are on telephone. Kartik acts really well as the son who is scared of what will happen when he comes out and more importantly what repercussions will that have on his mother. The father is a bit over the top but bearable. The film also slightly explores the problem of Indian parents always wanting a more stable conservative jobs for the children rather than them following their own dreams. The rustic village location of the film is so beautiful and now I really want to visit those places. The director does a good job of understanding traditional Indian family dynamics. There is a good scope to improve, but as long as you watch it in the context of culture, you may be able to relate to the film, otherwise not.

India is yet to give a beautiful gay love story but every films still that comes out focussing on any LGBTQ+ issue is a step further in the conservative film makers and the audience both. It can be an important film to watch for families of individuals who are struggling to come out of the closet in the conservative Indian culture and be used as a means to give more perspective. (6.5/10)

Sunday, June 21, 2020

The Panti Sisters (Tagalog / English)

A filipino comedy, this movie was recommended to me on this blog and I finally managed to get hold of it and watch it. It was a nice fun campy movie with its heart in the right place. The film lightly talks about LGBTQ+ acceptance in our society and makes you think beyond the norm. A nice feel good film, even though I didn't burst out laughing at any point, I can see why this movie is so popular.

The story follows 3 estranged brothers (or sisters) Gabby, Daniel & Samuel. Their father Don Emilio is dying and he summons all 3 of them. Samuel is his illegitimate son. Interestingly none of the 3 of them got the love from their father because they were all way too effeminate and gay. When Don Emilio finds out that he is dying, he gives the three of them a chance to earn their inheritance but with a condition. The three of them have to be "straight" and each of them needs to father a child. This is where comedy starts. Gabby brings in his best friend as his girlfriend, Daniel brings his neighbor who is pregnant by her abusive boyfriend, and Samuel brings home a girl who has a crush on him ever since they were kids. They try their best to get rid of all makeup etc but in their heart they know the truth. Hilarious incidents follow trying to get the girls pregnant. Even though Samuel is the only one succeeds, but when they have a miscarriage; all three of them come to senses that no money is worth losing their individuality. They also realize how their father has no heart or love for them. The three of them eventually get close to each other. Unfortunately, in a fight Daniel gets killed, which shocks the father and he finally comes to senses and accepts the sons (daughters) for who they are.

A lot of funny scenes follow when the sisters come back home hoping to get the share of inheritance. Each of them has a particular trait and do their best to try to have sex with a girl but fail miserably. They go mostly hilarious but some sad lengths to complete the tasks. Each of the sister is different. Gaby is someone who is older, wiser and likes to take care of everyone. She is a famous drag performer. Daniel is in a steady relationship with her boyfriend , who happened to be Gabby's ex and was the reason for the fight between the brothers. Samuel and a guy like each other and fool around. He is the youngest. The film touches on inequality in the Philippines, homophobia, and nontraditional family dynamics during this crazy pursuit. The scenes where the three sisters are physically attracted to their 3 hot cousins was too funny. And those cousins were damn hot, I have to say. I wish the characters were more developed, but I am not complaining. There is only so much you can fit in a film. But eventually it's the actors who keep it all together and make this film a fun dependable watch. All three of them did a great job, although I feel that Samuel's character makes the most impact. Gabby looks gorgeous in her drag avatars. Daniel's character, who dies, was the least developed and something I couldn't connect with unfortunately. The ending seemed hurried where the father suddenly warms up to his sons, for who they are and not for who he wants them to be.

The film is a fun ride of an odd yet interesting family. It is very over the top,  provides good laughs, if, for sometime you can ignore the stereotyping etc. Watch it for the fun banter. (7/10)

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Fur Coat and No Knickers

Irish film are so hard to understand. With such a thick heavy accent, half of the time I have to make assumptions on what is probably being said. This film looks like was made on a very low budget with a very simple and basic story. There are lot of tangential plots which really don't do much to add anything specific to the storyline.

Stephen and John are both struggling young actors who live in a very open and proudly gay section of Dublin. They are both extras (or crowd arteeeeest, as their agent likes to call it). They are close friends and enjoy the daily ups and downs of the single gay life including drinking, flirting and just having fun. John has a masculine lover, who is in prison and they both yearn for each other. Meanwhile Stephen meets a guy couple of times, but nothing happens. It turns out that this guy is David, who happens to be the director of the commercial who have signed Stephen for it, making that his big break. David is a player and doesn't shy away from hiring prostitutes for fun. After a few meetings, David and Stephen fall for each other but some misunderstanding occurs when one of David's old tricks gets overdosed in his apartment. All's well that ends well. John gets to marry his imprisoned lover eventually and Stephen and David start all over again afresh.

From a story perspective, it's a very simple one. The two friends are very close and thankfully the makers don't try and create any unnecessary sexual tension between them. Yes, gays can be just close friends too. Falling for David, in my opinion, was very opportunistic on Stephen's part, when he finds out that he is a director. David is the same guy whom he had subbed earlier saying that David will never be able to have him. Why would David forget that, is beyond my comprehend, but I guess eventually they both end up genuinely liking each other. John's love story is funny and adds some light moments to the film. Besides this, there are a lot of random characters who pop in and out not adding much to proceedings as a whole. My favorite was the agent who liked to be called Duchess. There is really not much to talk about in this film. It is a strictly very average, very basic, neither boring nor entertaining film. Oh! And I have no idea what's the reference of the title. I'd appreciate if someone could educate.

I usually like or hate or have simple opinion about a film, but this film was something I really didn't care much about. It wasn't horrible. It was just 'meh!'. (3.5/10)

Friday, June 19, 2020

Where Your Eyes Linger (Korean Series)

Having seen quite a few Thai BL series that are pretty lengthy to watch, this Korean BL series was a very welcome change. Just 8 episodes of about 10-11 minutes each, the series strictly focusses on the main story without other tangential stories that don't really add much main idea. This has been my one complain with BL series that I have reviewed on my blog and thankfully this series does not have this issue at all.

Focus of the story is two 18-year old best friends Han Tae Joo and Gang Gook. Han Tae Joo is the sole heir of their family run business, so his parents keep him under strict surveillance. Gang Gook is not only his closest confidant but also his bodyguard. He is something of a tough guy, with a powerful physique and a no-nonsense attitude. The family tries to keep Han Tae Joo's lineage a secret for safety purposes. Although Han Tae Joo has dated a few girls, Gang Gook has not and when finally one girl shows interest in him, Han Tae Joo pushes him to go it. But very soon Han Tae Joo realizes that his feelings for Gang Gook are not just for friendship. He is jealous to see Gang Gook with a girl and his long suppressed emotions take the better off him and in a fight he tries to kiss Gang Gook who hides his feelings. When the family finds this out, they beat up Gang Gook, fire him from his job and force Han Tae Joo to go to England for studies. The two boys meet three years later, back in their town, hoping to restart where they left off.

First thing that you realize after watching the show is what an amazing chemistry the two boys share. They both are in almost every scene and they light up the screen. Its hard to say who is better because both of them do full justice to what's asked of them. Secondly, the production quality of this series is very high. Sharp locations, wonderful acting and great direction. It's obvious that the two men probably have feelings for each other as more than friends but neither is willing to make the first movie. There are few scenes like, when Han Tae Joo touches someone else's ears or when Gang Gook takes the girl for a date which showcase their emotional connect with one another. The boys and character graphs by the script is just wonderful. The girl and her mother who runs a restaurant add to some comical moments in the series. But ultimately it's the magic of the 2 boys, every moment they share, the bed they share, their fighting, cooking, walking, talking; its all really really good. Needless to say that both of them are extremely beautiful and handsome too. As much as I wish the series was longer, but I think this was perfect. The duration was used cohesively to showcase a very tight love story from beginning to end. My only problem is with the sudden ending three years later that leaves many questions unanswered like what happened in last three years? Why did they not try to meet? How come Han Tae Joo suddenly was able to come back? etc.

Despite that , I will strongly recommend this heart warming teenage Korean boys love story.It leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling which I dont think anyone would be opposed to. (8/10)

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Happy Endings Sleepover (Danish/English)

You can tell this movie is going to be bad from the get go. You have go to be really stupid if you think that audience will really buy into the our lead actor who looks all of 17 year old, is actually a CIA operative, whose first assignment happens to be international one. C'mmon, give audiences some credit. Nothing about the presentation of this film is believable.

Young Johnny Allen arrives to Denmark from US as a secret CiA operative. His disguise is a college student. We are told that he is gay, which normally doesn't go well with CIA hiring policy and his job is to drive people from one place to another. He finds an apartment and quickly makes friend. He gets close to one of these friends named Sanders. Johnny is very attracted to Sanders but fears. if he comes on to me, that may spoil their friendship. When after almost 8 months, Johnny Allen gets his first job, Sanders decides to tag along not knowing what he is getting into. Seeing the enthusiasm and everything, Johnny tells him of his real identity and tells him that he needs to drive a man from Belgium. Things go awry when it turns out the asset he was supposed to meet has been compromised, and in his place is a villainous Russian. It's during this trip, the 2 guys also confess to each other that they both love one another. The Russian escapes and in the process all three of them get hurt. Eventually everything works out, the evil Russian is arrested and Johnny and Sander end up happily together.

The film is way too slow and lengthy for what its trying to show what they wanted to. No one would believe that the young man is either American or a CIA agent for that matter. Sanders is attractive and charming and you can see why the 2 men would fall for each other but their friendship scenes drag on for almost first hour of the movie. Also, the 2 men really don't have much chemistry together. It goes nowhere. I wonder whether this film was supposed to be a spoof or something but I guess not since apparently its based on a true story and on a novel. Kill me now!! And the random last 20 minutes where Sanders suddenly wants to meet Johnny's family and if that can't happen then they are not meant to be together. We are shown a bit of Sanders past that adds absolutely nothing to either of their stories.

Overall, it feels like a very amateurish attempt at making a film and both the director and editor just kept shooting without keeping a pulse on what audiences actually expect. (3/10)

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Brotherly Love

Let me just say it out clearly, I did not enjoy this film at all. And this is for multiple reasons. This is supposed to be a very simple story, which, for no reason is unnecessarily stretched beyond need. There were so many instances where I completely lost interest in whatever was going on. This could have been a very simple and effective short story, something that told us things about homosexuality and religion. Unfortunately good intentions don't always turn into good cinema.

Vito is a young gay man and an Italian Catholic man in the final stages of taking his Brotherhood vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. He hasn't let go of his circle of gay friends, hasn't given up partying into the wee hours of the morning, but has given up acting out on any of his sexual/intimacy impulses. he has one closest friend who has been with him forever and he likes to spend time with him a lot. Neither of his friends and mentors agree to his direction of brotherhood and tell him that since he enjoys the regular life so much, he should not force himself on the path of God but Vito is hell bent on making sure he sees it through. His spiritual advisor sets him up on a summer sabbatical volunteering at an AIDs Support Home in Austin, Texas. During this time he is introduced to positive gay role models, alternate spiritual/Christian views on homosexuality. He also ends up meeting Gabe, the landscaper of that house, who potentially could be his soulmate. Gabe and Vito realize that they both share a lot more in common than they think. They get closer, while Vito constantly tries to avoid physical intimacy. One night finally, Vito gives in to his physical needs but hey remain friends. When Vito is back at his home, everything around him finally makes him realize that eventually he will have to choose Gabe over God.

As mentioned above, the biggest problem of the film is its length. It way way lengthier than it needs to be. It needs some serious editing. Acting is not the worse but can actually use some finesse. There were moments in the film, when I was thinking, is this supposed to be a spoof for something and then it would go back to normal. it was filled with stereotypes and the dialogues were over the top, it wasn't easy to take either the characters or the story seriously. Besides the fact that probably the makers intentions were honest, I really can't bring myself to think of any other positive that will make me recommend this movie to anyone.

To sum it up, this film is simply boring, dull, lengthy and just not interesting. (2.5/10)

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Crystal City (Documentary)

I think it's hard to rate a documentary. Yes, there are some which are very exciting and hold your attention till the very last minute but then there are also these other kinds which are more about information and education rather than entertainment. And as you have guessed by now, this specific documentary falls into the latter category.

New York City, which is experiencing a 300–400% surge of crystal meth use, is the backdrop for this gritty, graphic, but ultimately inspiring and hopeful film infused with heart and compassion. This documentary takes us through lives of some 10-12 gay men in New York; some still using, some recovering, some long recovered and they are also in varying age groups. The documentary gives us an insight into the lives of these men, how they started using it, how they fought really hard to control the addiction, what are some the reasons for relapses etc. Finally, it also shows us how 12 step, one of the most popular programs help some of our men here.

New York serves as ground zero for Crystal City as we see how anxiety, depression, and addiction issues in feed into a "chemsex" phenomenon. Chemsex amounts to elevated self confidence (in part due to meth's contribution to a skinnier body) and a sense of ease in hooking up (abetted by dating apps) to the eventual orgasmic boost. Although we all know it, but some of the men talk about the fact that how they got into meth when they were really young and older men would buy drugs for them because they had money and these guys had youth, so it was exchange of services. Eventually, most guys used it for escapism, thinking they can control, only if that was so easy. a friend of mine is a recovering meth addict, so I know very well some of the stuff that happens behind the scenes and it was very relatable to me. Thankfully this documentary goes into a wide spectrum of men that it interviews, from dangerously dysfunctional to hearteningly flourishing.

This was a good informative documentary into the lives of those who struggle with addiction and their journey. I commend the men for having the courage to be transparent in sharing their stories, understanding that it may be help others as well as, standing in their own truth in their road to recovery and healing! (6/10)

Monday, June 15, 2020

2 Moons: The Series (Thai)

Time for another of the Thai BL stories. Thanks for the recommendations by folks here, I am watching the good ones first. Although I am way ahead of the age where I should be watching (and enjoying) these teenage romance dramas, but who cares! At least I get to live a little vicariously through these love stories. This series was 12 episodes of about 40 minutes each, so it needs a substantial investment of time.

Wayo and his best friend Ming have just been accepted into the university. Wayo is excited because he will finally get to see the person Pha on whom he had a crush for a while and who studies in the same university. Ming has known about his forever, so he is really excited and supportive of his friend. In the university the first few conversations between the two of them don't go very well. Its time for the "Moon and star" competition where one guy and one girl is chosen from every faculty to compete for campus moon and star. Ming and Wayo both get to represent their faculties. It turns out that Pha was campus moon last year and his fan following is off the chart. Slowly we see that Pha starts caring for Wayo and waits for him during his practice sessions. His best friends Kit and Beam also push him for it. We later find out that even Pha had a crush on younger Wayo for a while in school but Wayo has gotten much more handsome now and it took Pha a while to realize that its the same guy. Meanwhile another senior Forth takes a liking for Wayo, which makes Pha jealous. He gets even more possessive of Wayo. Ming meanwhile starts getting feelings for Kit and starts pursuing him aggressively. Kit agrees to go on a date with Ming if he wins the campus moon. Eventually competition day comes. Wayo gets popular vote and Ming becomes campus moon and finally indirectly the two couples confess their love for each other.

My one big problem with the BL shows is that it gets very repetitive episode after episode. And its until until the very last 2 episodes where the protagonists express their love and confess. Until then, all they do is flirt with each other, make each other jealous. eat almost all the time (What's up with the characters being hungry all the time in these shows). They are always hungry. The flirtations, the jealousy, the tease become repetitive; just the location and scenario change. And then there are a lot of scenes where the reactions are just frozen. I wish the editing was slightly more crisp. But on the plus side, I think the makers are very clear on their target audience and I can imagine why they would eat up shows like this. The guys are all amazingly cute and delicious and most of them have amazing chemistry. Wayo has a peculiar cute and innocent look that works in the characters favour. And I think most of his reactions were spot on, not only in this show but compared to even the others that I have seen. Pha on the other hand, was not that hot as his character i supposed to be. Beam and Kit were much cuter. Story of Forth wasn't really well developed for us to even be able to connect with his character. My absolute favourite character in this show was Ming. He was the best friend that anyone can ever ask for. He is always there for Wayo to the extent of even seriously asking Pha to take good care of him and not hurt him, knowing very well that he is senior. No wonder most guys think in the show that they are a couple. On the other hand, I am not sure Wayo paid enough attention to Ming, especially when he starts liking Kit and wants something concrete with him. Despite all this, Ming was amazing and I was happy that he is shown to win the contest.Even the way he pursues Kit and all their interactions were much more real and cute than those of Wayo and Pha. The good thing about these shows is that they try to not stereotype sexuality. I mean all these folks could be straight or gay and no friends judge them for it. It's about falling in love for a person. Whether it's a girl or boy is immaterial. Two things that I don't understand is how is these folks dorms so clean and huge. They all get to stay in individual hotel like rooms is amazing. And secondly when do these people ever study? Pha, somehow is always lurking around wherever the practice for the competition is going on.

If you have read some of my other reviews of Thai BL series, you will realize that you need a very specific temperament to be able to enjoy these shows. And this show stands very close to some of the other good BL shows that I have seen in last couple of months. (7/10)