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

Monday, December 8, 2014

Children 404 (Russian)

For any documentary to be successful, it is very important for it to hold viewers attention. Tell a story that has something important to say, incorporate key characters and their interactions and present in a way that viewers wanna know whats going to happen next. Sadly, this documentary miserable fails in the latter. It does have an important story to tell. But it is so long and drawn and boring that within 30 minutes into it and you have already completely lost the interest.

Based on the stories from the Children-404 social networking project, which offered Russian (and international) youth a channel to express themselves and seek or offer support, this documentary’s name wants to say that ‘visibility is vital’. In 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin passed a bill forbidding the “promotion of nontraditional sexual relations to minors.” LGBT youth, now defenseless against insults and intimidation under this “gay propaganda” law, are considered sick, sinful and abnormal. The teens here detail their humiliations and discriminations, as well as their courageous stands against bullies. Although the documentary focuses only on 2 individuals mainly. A guy who wants to move to Canada and the girl who started the whole campaign. Not really sure what happened to all these other stories.

The documentary is brave and is an important story to tell that the world needs to hear but as I mentioned above, it fails to grab the attention. The one scene that was interesting for me was when the guy is standing with a banner in a square and the hateful comments he hears form the passers by and when the cops approach him. But otherwise there was a lot of drag. I guess lack of funds was probably one of the reasons to make it in a very home-made video style. In any case it is a very real and terrifying picture of contemporary Russia. (4/10)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Phi Chai (Thai) [My Bromance]

Wow! Another Thai film that impressed me. Some people may find this controversial and even cheeky to an extent but I thought that the direction was done quite well and most of the stations were handled bravely and sensitively. Its not a typical gay teen coming-of-age film but its more than that. Its about whats right and what’s not in a relationship.

Golf lives with his father and aunt. His father showers him with money but not love. When he remarries, in comes Bank, his step brother. Bank constantly keeps trying to reach Golf but is always met with hostility. Things change when their common friends make Golf realise on how bad he is treating his brother. The 2 guys start accepting each other as brothers. Bank gives Golf the love and warmth that he has always desired. The school’s pop start is interested in Bank who refuses his proposal because he likes someone else. The moment when the 2 boys confess their love for each other being a brotherly love is very emotional. The two start a relationship and even find acceptance form their friend circle. But hell breaks lose when the parents find out. Golf’s father warns him to break off the relationship or else he will send Bank to US. Reluctantly Golf decides to go to US for studies so that Bank’s life is not torn apart. When he returns after 6 months with a fiancé, Bank is hurt and doesn’t know what to do. Clearly the 2 boys still care for each other and love each other very much. Hurt by what Golf has done, Bank decides to go to the school pop-star. Angry with this development and to prove his unconditional love for Bank, Golf puts himself and Bank in an accident. Golf survives but Bank is critical since he will now need kidney replantation surgery. Golf offers his kidney. Time passes and Bank misses Golf because he thinks he went back to US. Only in the end the truth is revealed that Golf dies after donating his kidney. He had  tumour which was diagnosed after the accident.

An interesting story done very interestingly. While t is a reflection of teenage guys love and discovery, the film doesn’t touch on any issues around homosexuality, which I am fine with. Not every film is supposed to do that. I liked how the friend are acceptable of their love even though maybe they may be not approve of 2 guys loving each other in general. The underlying theme of friendship beyond the love of 2 guys was quite evident. Both of the guy acted well IMO although Bank was much better than Golf, even prettier. Some of the scenes with Golf seemed way over the top but Bank was more natural and real. They should lose of the weird whining and grits that the 2 boys randomly give out. Its very comic and no dramatic at all. The first half of the movie was quite cute and sweet and send half was completely dramatic. I think the mares wanted every element to be part of this film. They rely didn’t have to put so much drama and twists in the second half of the film.  There is a line from the film that I would not forget
“Love isn’t about wing brave or not,
it’s about whether you want to love or not”

Very watchabale and overall the movie was still above my expectations. (7/10)

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Fucking Different (German)

The idea on paper sounds very interesting. Get gay short films made by lesbian filmmakers and lesbian short films made by gays. How does the sex of the others work, how to deal with stereotypes, prejudice, sexual fantasies and pornography; all these areas could be explored.

So 15 queer crossovers filmmakers from Berlin were asked to make a short film about their idea of lesbian and gay love respectively.  All genres – animation, documentary, drama – were allowed. Filmmakers were also given a free hand in deciding which form their films would take – either experimental or conventional. The only parameters to which they were required to adhere were the length of each film – between three and seven minutes. It was interesting to see that even though we may think lesbians and gays co-exist, there is still a lot of cliches in the minds of many in the opposite group. Sometimes ridiculous and other times offensive. W are not just fucking differently, we are fucking different. And that’s just fine the way it is.

Of all films in this series, nothing actually caught my attention at all except one “Melancholy Road” and you can’t make a simpler film than this. A monologue about a teenage male’s first homosexual experience over a black screen. But the rest were ordinary, absurd and I felt cheated and wanted my time back so I can spent it on something more meaningful. (2/10)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Last Summer

My faith in good gay cinema has once again been reinstated. But I guess I knew that very well that I will encounter some wort of worse movies and some really decent to some really good ones. This film needs patience but that and the simplicity of this film is what makes it special and you feel connected to it. A small town life has to be portrayed in a way that it exists. Not more not less. So yeah, some of you may get very impatient but trust me, give this film your attention and no expectations. You would be surprised !

Like and Jonah have been inseparable ever since they were 4. Jonah is the smart one and an artist while Luke is just an average kid. It is their last summer together before Jonah leaves for college. Each one of them loves the other more than the other person thinks. It is killing both of them equally that Jonah is going to leave but is there anything that they can do except their time together? Faced with separation, they savour every remaining moment, hold it, cherish it, never letting it go. Their relationship has solidified over years and thats what keep them happy, loved and safe.

Yes, when it comes to the story line, there is nothing more than what I have mentioned above, but when you watch this 65 minute odd film, you are left in awe in the minimal dialogues, the silence, the beauty and the perfect image of summer, peaceful and tranquil. The film doesn’t overdo anything. Simple things like cuddling, intertwined feet playing with each other with their shoes on, falling asleep in each other’ arms, time spent with their family and moments of quiet contemplation as Jonas and Luke ponder what the future holds for them individually and collectively. Separately they contemplate the future and wonder about being left behind by the other, but together in the last lazy days of summer, they simply exist in the now and are content to do so. They being gay or being in a relationship is never an issue with anyone. This film is more about pure teenage love. Its weird that even though the guys never even kiss but the film still felt very romantic.

First love in a small town has never been shown so beautifully, romantically and simplistically. When you love someone, you just want to be with them and spend time with them. Everything else just waits. (7.5/10)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Where The Bears Are - Season 3 (Web Series)

And the bears are back ! By now, if you have seen the first two seasons, you have a general idea on the characters, their goofiness, their interactions and their silliness as well. So you know exactly what you expect and hence what you get is also what you expect. Its a win-win situation.

Like the predecessors, his season will also feature Reggie, Wood, Nelson and Todd into solving yet another thrilling murder mystery. Suddenly all chunky beefy male models of ‘Chunk Studio’ are being illdd and over a period of time there are 3 deaths. Nelson gets cast in a horror film, Chunk Studio owner wants Todd to join, which he ultimately joins as undercover. And Reggie enlists Wood to help him shoot a reality TV pilot to help him expand his brand as a true crime expert. We also have the usual dose of the 2 detectives also trying to solve the case. Thing sleep mystifying and eye are raised at all potential suspects including the make-up at its, ex-flames and anyone working in the Chunk Studio. Just when they the fours think that they have solved the murder mystery by catching the culprit, a rude shocks awaits them. Apparently it was not just one or two killers but its a team and now the bears must unite to solve this mystery for good.

The series was still fun and good time pass. Nelson’s hyper active praise of himself still gets to my nerves but its the combination of Wood and Todd that keeps it very interesting. Also the number of cute bears that you get to see in this series is just amazing. Since this is a web series, I can understand watching it like a movie feels dragged but its ok. I, for one, look for more seasons and stories coming out form this combination but as I mentioned earlier, the makers really need to keep the total length in check.

Definitely a laughter riot, but only if you have seen the previous seasons and you know exactly what you are getting. Otherwise you may end up with wtf reaction. (5.5/10)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Praxis

Oh My God!! What a piece of garbage this was ! yes, you read it right. I have actually written those words right at the beginning to save many viewers who are still yet to watch it, save themselves over an hour of their life. Sure the film wants to make some point about depression and loneliness but then why drag it to 90  long boring obnoxious minutes. The message could have been so well passed on in a 10 minute short feature film.

I will struggle to write the plot here because there was none but let me try in a couple of sentences. We see Brian, a handsome young man, going though past and present of his life and living in depression and fear of something. We also meet Joe. an older fit and handsome man, who time and again comes in Brian’s life as a source of strength. The chapters of their life are then shown in repeat mode with pretty much every scene repeated like 5-7 times, which didn’t make any sense to me. The films starts with Brian’s death so we know what’s in store finally for us. And that’s pretty much it. I am not kidding. I feel bad for actors who must have thought of this as a great potential film for them but alas, only if wishes could come true. There is one nude scene that barely lasts for the viewers to look forward to anything.

This movie feels like 2 lost actors looking for a film script and a director. And why this particular title? Please please do not waste your time on this at all. Just when you think you have seen the worse of movies, something comes up again to surprise you. (0.5/10)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Gay Short Films : 25

Can I be your bratwurst, please? (Germany/USA)
Jeff ‘bratwurst’ is tickling everybody’s fancy. When he arrives at a Hollywood hotel, all the guests have all sorts of fantasies set in motion at the sight of Jeff. We have a Marilyn Monroe look-a-like, a leather-man with a little white dog and the hotel-owner’s mother all craving for Jeff’s flesh. But fantasies turn wild at the dinner table set for christmas, where maybe these people are more than just humans and want even more than Jeff's bratwurst. Or is it just Jeff's imagination? A very well done and interesting piece of short narrative. (6/10)

The Disgustings (USA)
A comedic short film about a day in the life of two best friends, one an egocentric complainer and the other a judgmental ruthless witch, both ridiculous narcissists. This film clearly shows the abundance of assholes around you. I couldn’t believe some of the insulting to people remarks in this but I can also believe that people like these 2 exist. (6.5/10)

The Bash (USA)
This short film deals with internal and external homophobia. After movie screening, an argument breaks between the gay couple on why one can’t hold hand of the other. This gets unwanted attention of three rowdies who try to beat them but didn’t expect faggots to fight back. The couple’s relationship gets a new strength. (7/10)

My Father is Gay (India)
This is a very embarrassing watch. A young guy lives with his father and he hustles to make money. His father never asks where he gets this luxury life style from. ONe day when the son realizes that his father is in some kind of financial trouble, he along with his friend discovers that his father has closet gay tendencies and during one suck encounter he met a guy, who is now blackmailing him. The son agrees to accept his father and help him and tells him the truth about him being a hustler too. It turns out that the guy's friend had it all planned so that his friend could leave hustling and could see what his father really is. A great plot idea which if handled nicely can do wonders but with horrible acting, worst direction and utmost disgusting diction of english words, it was painful and then comedy to sit through the film. On the plus side, the guys were really HOT. (1/10)

It's elementary - Talking about gay issues in school (USA - Documentary)
A first film of its kind to address anti-gay prejudice by providing adults with practical lessons on how to talk with kids about gay people. It shows that children are eager and able to wrestle with stereotypes and absorb new facts about what it means to be gay or lesbian. Since it aired on more than 100 public television stations in 1999, It’s Elementary has fueled a growing movement of educators and parents - gay and straight alike - who are committed to preventing pervasive homophobia and anti-gay violence. The film shows what happens when kids in kindergarten through eighth grade discuss lesbian- and gay-related topics in age-appropriate ways. Shot in six public and private schools, It’s Elementary models excellent teaching about family diversity, name-calling, stereotypes, community building and more. Definitely worth a watch for everyone. Its so refreshing to watch some kids being so pure and just talking about what comes as a first thing in their mind. Highly recommend. (7/10) 


Ta av mig (Sweden) [Undress Me]
Mikaela recently changed sex from male to female. One night out she meets a guy who is more interested in her than her girlfriend but he keeps asking her about her dark husky voice. He follows her home, eager to know the reason. When told the truth, he is curious to see her breasts and vagina. There is a subtle power play between the two characters where we see how they are both a little intrigued by each other. The movie examines our perceptions of gender and how our identity can be formed by the perceptions of others. I liked it because it never gets ugly. It explores the curiosity of human nature. (6.5/10)

Sam (USA)
After being bullied and beaten for dressing like a boy at school, Sam escapes into the fields surrounding her house, where she’s forced to spend the night and choose between who she is and who the world expects her to be. It s avery short film with minimal dialogues but somehow it just failed to connect with me. I think a little more context would have helped the movie a bit. (3/10)

After The Sky Turned Black (USA)
After losing his vision in a terrorist bombing, photographer Frankie West closes off from the world, eventually forcing his frustrated boyfriend, Graham, to abandon him. Months later, a bitter and reclusive Frankie dedicates his time to seducing young men who sound exactly like his ex. They share an evening where Frankie recounts his past and wonders how things could have ben different. A very touching and emotional film though it ended too quick. This plot has a potential to be a full length feature. (6/10)

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Wedding Most Strange (UK)

With such an interesting title, the expectations from this film were a little on the north side. Unfortunately it was not the wedding that was strange but the film on borderline ridiculous. The dvd cover and synopsis of the film was also quite good and alas! only if the expectations could result in the film delivering what it promises. The movie is supposed to be funny, but what it really felt was badly acted and directed pseudo reality television.

We are introduced to Danny whose divorce has just come through. But in order for him to get his father's inheritance, he needs to get married within 2 weeks. and hence begins his search. He puts an online ad to find suitable male suitors to marry in a short notice. The search finally boils to 3 guys who are all invited for the wedding. We meet his best friend, a gay guy, his ex-wife and another odd friend Tracy, who probably has hots for Danny. Danny hasn't told any of them why is he getting married so soon and why this secrecy. When they find the truth, They all agree to help and Danny's ex-wife decides that she wants to compete as well. After indecision times, Danny finally decides on the guy he wants to marry and finally a gay wedding happens.

This film is a perfect example on how a bad direction can totally screw up a film. You never get to connect or sympathize with Danny as the main character. Quite a bit of film's portion goes in him trying to find a suitor and even when he finally decides, there is really no explanation since there has been no connection or chemistry or screen time between the 2 guys. No explanation is given on why did he divorce his wife in the first place. If being gay was the reason, then why is he ok with his ex-wife being a contestant again? It sometimes feels that Danny's best friend is in love with him, but that angle is never explored. Why does he deal with his weird friend Tracy, who is nothing but obnoxious to everyone including her boyfriend. The whole premise of the film seems like someone saw "The Bachelor" on TV and decided, 'Aha! this concept can be made into a film' and then directed it really badly. The 3 guys shortlisted were never given enough time to explore. Raj's family was Over the top and unlike most Indian families. He had that confused and 'I am desperate' for look all the time. The dialogues by everyone is silly and nonsensical. Danny was drawn as a sexless, fickle, two-dimensional character and I couldn’t help but feel I didn’t really care who Danny married, just as he himself didn’t seem to. But I blame this on real bad direction.

It is not a pathetic film but definitely doesn't deliver to what it promises or could potentially have delivered. (4/10)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

L'inconnu du lac (French) [Stranger By The Lake]

Wow! I have not seen an erotic gay thriller, which is drama yet full of eroticism. Although, at the same time, I can totally see people hating this film absolutely because a lot of scenes feel repeated. According to me that's necessary and I will talk about it in details later. The film is mixture of allure and menace. Most scenes have an underlying tension, and we really do not know what to expect beyond the lake and the bushes.

The basic plot of the film is very simple. A young man Frank, spends his summer days hopelessly searching for companionship at a popular cruising spot on the shores of a lake in rural France. The woods behind the beach is where the gay men involve in sexual encounters. Frank meets Henri, a flabby a guy whose wife has just left him and who sits alone on the beach away from most gay men. Frank also meets Michel, a very attractive yet darkly mysterious man and starts falling blindly in love with him. Although Michel is with someone, he and Frank does end up hooking-up. One evening Frank spots Michel drowning his current partner. Instead of calling the police, he is drawn more and more towards Michel and desperately falls in love with him; even as local police starts an investigation and both Frank and Michel are prime suspects. Henri has an intuitive understanding of what has happened and warns Frank who himself is scared but can't help being madly in love with him. When Henri confronts Michel of knowing what has happened, he goes to the woods signaling Michel to follow him, Frank overcomes with a bad feeling and rushes towards the woods. He finds Henri dying who tells him that he has finally received what he used to come to the beach for. With Henri dead, Franck is terrified and runs off into the woods to hide. Michel is now looking for Frank who is hiding but still his desire to be with Michel is greater than his fear.

The whole look of the film, as I said before is very thrilling. A slow thriller that sets the pace of the daily ritual of these individuals. The way characters move and interact is very very real. The naked male body is celebrated like never before and is treated very casually and with eroticism. Yes, the sex scenes are out there but as an audience we need to understand that yes Frank is driving himself to self-destruction because Michel is all worth it according to him. Sure I did sometimes get uneasy every time we see the similar scene of cards driving and parking, but you feel as if you are present there and are visually witnessing everything that is going on. The performances are beautiful and setting flawless. I can see why this film is being applauded in the film circuits. And at the same time I can also understand moviegoers saying WTF !!! This film needs attention, patience and your complete involvement.

The mystery may be resolved, but the suspense and uncertainty remains even in the end. I thoroughly enjoyed it but don't take my word because for all I know, you may actually hate it. (8.5/10)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Cockpit (Swedish)

Ok, so this may not really be classified as queer cinema, but it touches upon the subject tangentially, so there is no harm done in reviewing the film here. Plus this film was quite funny and interesting and I think more people should watch the film and get entertained. We don't always have to have films on serious subjects. Its time we lighten up the mood a little.

Valle is a successful pilot and leading a good life with a wife and kids. When the job market goes down, he unexpectedly finds himself out of job. To make matters worse, his wife divorces him and ends up with a much older man and Valle finds himself living with his sister in his childhood home. Unable to find a pilot job, he decides to impersonate as a woman with the help of his sister, when he finds an opening for a female pilot. Of course, he gets the job and this is where the fun begins. He starts getting close to a bi-sexual stewardess and a fellow pilot, known for his promiscuity, starts flirting with her. On a tragic flight, when there is engine failure, Valle starts freaking out and passes out. When he wakes up, he sees that most people are injured, including the co-pilot but everyone is safe. He becomes an instant star in the country. Everyone talks about feminism and brave women etc. Valle (now female) becomes a brand and much respected. The lines between his female and male life as well as his personal and love life starts to become a blur which he eventually cannot handle and one day the truth comes out in black box recording. Everyone is ashamed and suddenly female pilots are the worse pilots. Feeling pressure by his sister, who thinks that Valle should tell everyone that he is bad pilot. It has nothing to do with females. The way Valle comes out at a press conference is hilarious and so is the entire sequence thereafter.

Cockpit is light-hearted and charming film and serves as a potent reminder that identity is fragile, fluid but powerful. Humans are more important than gender and an individual is so because of his/her identity and not gender. Although this genre has been definitely tried before, it still remains funny depending on how well it has been done. There are more than enough funny scenes in this film, which continue to trickle your funny bone. Valle is funny and handsome. He is great when he is a man, but leaves a lot to be desired while portraying a woman. Make-up etc. could have been better. Maria, his sister's character was in fact the funny one and also his mother's who has now turned lesbian.

Decent time pass and funny film. You will not get bored for sure. (7/10)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

J'en suis! (French) [Heads or Tails]

Thank god for a nice funny film. Full of stereotypes and cliches, this hilarious satire pokes fun at both straight and gay attitudes and communities. The concept of a straight man pretending to be gay is not new and I at least have seen a few films in this subject but this was still quite funny. Sure it may be not a gem or a genius film but it does keep you entertained with a constant smile on your face and for me a viewer that does matter quite a bit.

Dominique and Pierre have been best friends and business partners. But when they go bankrupt, Dominique doesn't have the courage to tell his wit and kids and pretends to continue to live a lavish life. He also doesn't want to do any menial job. He has a keen eye for antiques. When he goes to sell of his own antique pieces, he gets hired to be the antique guy's partner. But this offer is made under the assumption that Dominique is gay an due goes ahead with it because the money is good. When he starts dressing gay, his wife becomes a little suspicious but never thinks much. When a boyfriend is needed, Pierre comes in handy and they act as a couple. When Dominique's wife sees them together on TV, she is appalled and doesn't know what to do. On the contrast, his mother is super excited to see him finally come out of the closet. A lot of funny scenes and situations follow. Ultimately, Dominique can't bear it anymore and comes clean to his partner who is very disturbed and asks him to leave job. But sense prevails and he comes back when he realizes how good Dominique is at his work and how he deserves every bit of it.

The film is a light heart comedy and no one should take it seriously. Pierre's and Dominique's scenes together are a laugh riot. The comfort and relationship that they share as 2 straight males is definitely very pleasing and same can be seen when they act as a gay couple. It also gets funny when Dominique starts questioning his own sexuality. Dominique's mother getting excited to know that her son is gay is the best. lol. The confrontation with his wife when she learns of his "alternate lifestyle" is priceless. The whole story with Dominique's employer and his boyfriend is also quite interesting. Thankfully the film never insults any minority group, and it succeeds exceedingly. This film is pure satire but it works really well. The 2 lead actors loo good and do a brilliant job in acting. Thankfully the humour is not cultural specific and anyone can easily understand it.

Strongly recommend the film. Its charming, its funny, its saucy and full of cliches. I loved it. It was pure entertainment. (7/10)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

L'homme blessé (French) [The Wounded Man]

All the time I was watching his film, I kept thinking "What is going on?" and you know how that is never a good sign. Expectation that this film will son start making sense,just always go downhill. Not much dialogue and only actions makes watching this film very boring and hard. I wonder if this has anything to do with not having context of homosexuality life in France in 1980's. I doubt because that should be no reason to not understand the context of a film.

A young man named Henri goes to the railway station with his parents to bid farewell to his sister, who is leaving on a vacation. The train is late, Henri has time to linger, and on a trip to the men's room he discovers that he has great passionate interest in men. One man in particular, Jean, a thug who implicates Henri in a robbery and then gives him a violent kiss, becomes for Henri a figure of enduring erotic fascination. Henri comes out of his shell that she starts getting obsessed with Jean. After a bit of gamesmanship, Jean takes Henri home, where Jean's girlfriend Elisabeth also lives. And then mutual mischief sets in. Jean sets a trap for Henri, who falls in. There is an older guy who is always after Henri and he then takes him to his home where Jean is also there and there is some hot-action there. I am not very sure of the time lapse  but its never clear. The old man ultimately takes Henri to this desolated place where Jean is sleeping. By then, the lust and passion and longing for Jean has built up so much in Henri that he takes drastic steps in the end of the film.

As I mentioned, I was quite confused most of the times as to whats actually going on. Who is the old man. Sure he fancies younger blokes but what is it that makes him want to help Henri all the time. What does he know about Jean. Does Jean have  medical problem or emotional issue? Why is Henri going all crazy over Jean. Why is Jean playing games with Henri, when he keeps saying that he doesn't want Henri to do anything. My list of questions will not end. Why is Henri always wearing dirty clothes. Why does he spend so much time in rushing and running form one place to another only to stop and look about ... left, right, left, right. This action of his would happen every single time and it started to bother me so much after a while. Jean has a comfortable life style at home, then why is he so attracted to the street life with hustlers. Shame, my questions will never be answered :(

In short, this film was just not meant for me. Portrayal of the turmoil of a young man wanting to escape from his boring socially acceptable family life while feeling disturbed and offended by the alternative world to which his emotions are driving him. Yawn! (2.5/10)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Gay Short Films : 24

Boris and Nadir (France)
A 9 episode, each of 60 to 90 seconds, promoting public awareness advertisements for prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. THis is one of the best things I have seen in recent times. How in such a sweet fun and easy way you can educate people on just use of condoms but only on post HIV positive status and how life doesn't end. Best thing is that actors are real porn stars. Fantastic!!. (8/10)

Love Ain't Magick (USA)
Athiest Will and his partner Om, a hippie, who loves to change his names, have their share of couple problems. But when their daughter comes home engaged to a guy who’s parents are extremely Christian, the two men bond together to make it work for her to meet the in-laws and funny secrets are revealed. Funny premise but such terrible bad acting. A good movie to watch and learn ho wont to act and how not to direct. (3.5/10)

They Say (USA)
We see an odd friendship between the most unwanted girl in the school and the boy who is always bullied. We hear various girls and boys talk about their daily lives and how it is vastly different from either of the two friends. When the girl spills the boy's secret hoping to make friends, the boy is bullied even worse and is force to move towns when he kisses a boy. Not everything that happens on a school playground is play. (6/10)

Praner Manush (India)
Chaitak and his mother deal with their soon-to-strike tragedy as he wants to confess to his mother every little thing about himself within the little time he has. He also gets confronted by his past during the same period of time when his boyfriend meets him. Very very novel and good concept but not such a good execution. (4/10)


With This Ring (USA)
All marriages have their share of problems, and this film takes a dark look at gay marriage gone bad. A young man brings home a sexy stranger and realizes the spark they are feeling in bed might be something special. As the night progresses the young man begins to think that there may be more to this encounter than he had thought. With right to marriage also comes right to divorce, which in turns comes with unexpected consequences. (7/10)

Is it a sin? (Germany)
Its the story of 3 friends who have been together since childhood in a small country village. Hanna, Magdalena & Samuel. Samuel is in a relationship with Robin but doesn't have the courage to tell his friends. When Magdalena finds out, she gets very disappointed in him saying horrible things to him. While Hanna is supportive, Samuel decides to end his life when he gets message from Hanna about "It Gets Better" project and that life for Samuel will be better soon. Decent film. Samuel was sooooooo obviously gay, why would anyone think otherwise? (5.5/10)

Believe The Dance (Norway)
This is NOT a gay short. Four different souls are stuck in their daily mundane job. They all get hit at the same time by the dance 'God' in a life-altering experience. I personally did not like the short film at all. It was odd, pretentious and quite boring and meaningless. (2/10)

A Star-Crossed Love (USA)
"Star-crossed lovers" is a phrase describing a pair of lovers whose relationship is often thwarted by outside forces. A gay version of Romeo -Juliet shown between 2 teenager boys. When one of the boy's friends find out, they beat up the other kid, forcing the 2 boys to individually commit suicide if they can't be with each other. Ironically, its the friends of the boy who attends theatre who have an issue with him being gay, whereas, the jock guy's friends are all cool about it. Very decent film. (7/10)

Roerloze Ontploffingen (Belgium)
The film is overall divided in theme of homosexuality with 3 separate stories, all with some sentimental value. First one about a woman falling for a married woman, the second one about a guy in the bar really longing for a man, who doesn't have the courage to accept himself and third and final about a gay teenager who is bullied in school. A very iterating way of direction and The camera work gives the viewer a feeling of how confined the character must feel. Quite decent. (7/10)

Miles Apart (USA)
Such a warm film inside and out, this film shows that compassion and transformation are possible. Jeffery and Miles are visiting Jefferey's mother's house for his sisters wedding. Despite the boys having been together for 5 years, the mother hasn't accepted Miles. This weekend things are set to change and like they say "never say never". Not the best production quality but the film positively portrays love, commitment and a very uplifting message. (8/10)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Pakistan's Hidden Shame (Documentary)

This documentary has been one of the hardest documentaries to watch. I haven't seen stuff like this before; so hard-hitting, absolutely raw, in your face about this social evil for which we wish we could do something about. This documentary focuses on the north-western city of Peshawar, where it is estimated that nine out of ten street children have been sexually abused, mostly young boys.

Pakistan is one of the world's most important Muslim nations. It's a nuclear power, it's allied to the West in the war against terror, and it's a democracy. But Pakistan is also a country in denial, turning a blind eye to the sexual exploitation of many thousands of poor and vulnerable children.. The 47-minute documentary depicts an unending cycle of stolen childhood, drug addiction and poverty. The scale of the problem is brought to light through a series of shocking confessions and accounts by both victims and perpetrators of child abuse. Bus conductor Ejaz confesses to raping on buses “about 11 or 12 kids” aged between eight and 10. The film discloses some of the bus stations and truck stops where men prey on young boys in the north-western city of Peshawar, revealing that “95% of truck drivers admitted that having sex with boys was their favourite entertainment.” The documentary focuses on the story of 13-year-old Na’eem, to highlight the grim reality of how the victim can become the perpetrator if help and support are not provided in time.

This documentary apparently hasn't been aired in Pakistan yet. So it remains to be seen whether a growing international audience is enough to challenge the country’s unspoken taboo and denial of the issues raised. For the time being, Pakistan’s shame remains hidden.

As I mentioned it is difficult watch bit this documentary needs to be seen and people need to be educated about this social evil. (7.5/10)

Love's Coming (Thai)

These days sexual ambiguity is the biggest trend in Thai films right now. This film, directed by a newcomer is a very light-hearted comedy-ish film that focuses on school going kids. Thai films so far for me have been a mixed bag, so I wasn't expecting much form this film and I think that worked in its favor. For some pople, it will seem a bit amateurish but then when you see the film from that perspective, you will be ok. This is not breaking any new grounds. The idea is to make people laugh.

There is a close knit group of 4 school going boys. Gump, Pid, Arm and Zee. They have just finished their exams and wanna hang out but Gump bows out saying that he has to teach his neighbor Nai. Nai is a very popular and handsome guy who is quite popular with pretty much everyone. This makes Zee convinced that Gump is hiding something and that he is probably gay. The remaining three friends take help of one of their gay uncles to to figure out the truth. They try many techniques and finally they all decide to go to a camping trip. Talks begin on how do Gump and Nai know each other. The film goes in flashback, where we see how Nai's mother asks Gump's mother to help Gump teach Nai to he can pass in exams. The 2 boys start spending a lot of time together and their is a mutual admiration for each other. They both have feelings but neither of them has acted on it. In this camping trip, Gump and Nai share a tent and they cuddle and sleep and exchange a quick kiss. There are some hiccups when Nai's ex-girl-friend shows up but it turns out it was Zee's plan so that both Gump and Nai could accept their feelings for each other.

The two things that stood out for me were the supportive mother and the supportive friends. As much as the trip was desperate to find out if Gump is gay, they never made fun of him for it. They tell him that they are still his friends and fully supportive. Similarly, when Gump's mother see how happy Gump is every time he returns from Nai's home, she says that she will be very happy if Gump is happy. Acting from all actors is same and childish, which some how works for the film given the premise and the target audience. All of them have exceptionally great fit bodies, so yes there is a lot of eye-candy for you all. The whole sequence of camping and flash-back was way too long and thats when I started losing my attention on the film. I think the film can use a tighter editing and shorten the duration to not more than 80-85 minutes. That can definitely help the film.

Its strictly a time pass movie for people who do not mind some brainless amateurish entertainment. (5/10)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Ma vie en rose (French) [My Life In Pink]

This was such a breath of fresh air. Although the film is over 15 years old, it is probably as relevant as today. I have been watching more and more cinema on gender identity issues and they have all been very interesting and eye-opening for me personally to understand the people better. Th film is comic yet heartbreaking and the subject is very sensitively handled by the director.

Seven-year old Ludovic lives in an upper-middle class Belgian suburban neighborhood. He behaves in a way that is quite natural to him, dresses in a dress or skirt whenever possible, and is quite convinced he will be marrying a neighborhood boy, Jerome, the son of his father's boss. He knows a boy doesn't marry a boy , so he will marry Jerome when he becomes a girl. The rest of the family humor him as best they can, rationalizing that Ludovic is only trying to find his identity and will be over it soon. While playing a game Ludovic and Jerome are caught while pretending to marry which is seen by Jerome's mother. The situation worsens when Ludovic stands in a Snowwhite for a school play. The parents of other kids file a petition to have him expelled. Ludovic's parents are so far very supportive and understanding and take him to a psychologist regularly. Ludovic's father gets fired after he shows up in a skirt to a party. Suddenly the all supportive mother starts blaming the young Ludovic for everything. She wants to set Ludo straight so she cuts his hair to make him look like his brothers. Ludo hates his mother for doing this and wants to live with his grandmother. The family later moves to a new town, where Ludovic befriends Chris, a girl who wishes to function as a male. The parents slowly start coming around in the new neighborhood.

Ludovic's parents confront the problem of their son's sexual identity with a minimum of hysterics, which is not to say that each of them don't go ballistic at least once. But even at moments of maximum stress, they never stop loving their self-proclaimed ''boygirl,'who thinks that God just misplaced one of his chromosomes as explained by his sister, and he will soon be a girl. The fantasy element of "Pam", a "Barbie-Doll-like" fictional character, serves as an escape for Ludovic and somehow its well in the whole storyline. My favorite thing about the movie is that it is neither over the top or unnecessarily melodramatic. I wonder how many parents would actually be so loving and supporting even in worst times like the way Ludovics parents were shown. Even the siblings were pretty normal in the sense they didn't bully or overtly support Ludovic. They are all kids after all and trying to figure out a lot of things themselves. The film captures well the sense of confusion and panic that can occur to any child when the sense of a warm, safe family environment is suddenly punctured when it bumps up against social expectations.

This film accurately portrays the struggles that hundreds of youth face today. Youth that are struggling to discover their identities, having to deal with family and friends that tease and taunt them for being "different". (7/10)

Monday, August 25, 2014

The DL Chronicles & Returns (TV Show)

The DL Chronicles is a gay-themed television series focusing on the stories of men who live secret lives, whats known as down-low or DL. It tells the stories of men of color who by consequence and by choice, live sexually duplicitous and secret lifestyles. More than just closeted, they do not identify as Gay or Bi-sexual and refuse to be associated with the Gay lifestyle or community. The opening season featured 4 episodes and the series then returned with one more episode. Not only sexy and provocative, it offers a socially-conscious insight into the lines between sexuality and perceived socially acceptable behavior within communities of color. It provides an unapologetic view of intimacy between men and explores these scintillating stories with honesty and integrity.

Each episode begins with Chadwick William, an aspiring journalist as he pursues research while authoring a book about men who have sex with men. The different episodes are:

WES: Wes is an upwardly real-estate banker, who is in this sexless marriage and soon finds himself overwhelmed by the demands of his marriage, career, and closeted attraction to men. When Wes' sexy but ambivalent brother-in-law Trent stops in for an unexpected stay, he is faced with temptation and ultimately falls for the forbidden fruit.

ROBERT: A closeted talent agent falls for a much younger health food store manager, Austin. They fall in love at first sight primarily because Austin wanted to take it slow. What Robert fails to share is that he has a daughter Rhonda who doesn't know her father's real identity. But the truth is finally discovered by his daughter, whig leads to some harsh words spoken between the two men. With honest and touching words, Robert finally wins Austin back.

BOO: Boo is an ex-convict, an oversexed young man who likes to get it on with anything and everything that he can get his hands on. His girlfriend Kesha is fed up with Boo's cheating and kicks him to the curb. His mother tells him it's time to settle down, but Boo is unfazed and continues having unprotected sex with multiple partners. When shocking news of one os his mates having AIDS, who is slept with rattles Boo, he is forced to reconsider his reckless life on the DL.

MARK: Mark and Dante are a loving couple, who have been living on the DL because Mark is not out yet. Unexpetced arrival of Mark's cousin jolts their personal lives. When Dante reluctantly agrees to play the part of Mark's "roommate" for their new houseguest, a chain of humorous events unfolds, including that the cousin is gay and Mark eventually comes to realize the ridiculous nature of living on the DL in their own home.

The series returned with another episode 4 years later. I think personally think that the makers show immense growth as directors. The amateurish direction that bothered me to a certain extent in the first 4 episodes was nowhere to be seen in this new episode. It was done with honesty, maturity and a better craft.

THOMAS: Thomas is a paralyzed firefighter. His caretaker Stefan, is there to assist and teach Thomas on how to be independent and self reliant. Lastly, there’s Columbus, Thomas’ former co-worker and best friend. Stefan tries to bring some zest back to Thomas' life which he succeeds in but Thomas in turn feels attraction for Stefan. Stefan leaves and this gives Columbus courage to tell and show his real feelings for Thomas.

As I mentioned there is a visible growth in the film-makers and I personally would be really looking forward to more of their work. As part of this series, I also saw The Chadwick Journals, a quick 20 minutes series which shows why did Chadwick start writing these journals and his interviews with black men. All these episodes are worth watching. I would have given this series average rating but the Thomas episode is done brilliantly. (6.5/10)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Meth Head

Thirty-Forty minutes into the film and I was losing my interest in the film. Although the film does get to the point right away, there is nothing that catches your attention instantly. Plus I thought the acting and direction were really really poor. But as the film progressed, my view changed, I got used to the actors and story finally picked up the steam before there was a sudden abrupt ending. Meth Head is a cautionary tale about extremes.

Julian and Kyle are a happy couple and just engaged. Julian is successful but Kyle wanting to become an interior designer is stuck in a dead end job and he thinks his family doesn't get him, despite having a very loving sister and brother-in-law. One evening while partying both Julian and Kyle are introduced to crystal by a guy named Dusty. Julian recovers but next thing we know is that Kyle is addicted. Julian tries his best to save Kyle but fails and ultimately throws him out of house. When his family refuses to take him in, he moves in with Dusty and his girl friend Maia who lives with her granny. Living the life of drugs and substance abuse, Kyle starts soon realizing that he needs more money to continue addiction. Dusty, supposedly straight, starts doing prostitution with Kyle to make more money for drugs. Maia is the most balanced mentally regardless of her addiction and everything going on in her life. She somehow holds the group together. All three of them are trying to escape reality. Maia and Kyle get a shock when Dusty falls terrible sick and dies. It doesn't change them but makes them think. Kyle ultimately reaches out to his father for help.

As I mentioned earlier, the film goes through phases of being very boring to meaningful. The subject is very relevant even today and must be watched but I wished as a movie there was more to this. Chemistry between Kyle and Julian was seriously lacking. Kyle looked and acted like an addict even before he started taking meth. Guy who plays Julian is same as he is in every single film. Dusty and Maia were actually much better characters and actors, specially Dusty who had a certain vulnerability about him. Kyle is shown to become an addict within minutes. The build up is missing and is so essential for a story like this. For a couple who were about to get married, Julian just leaving Kyle randomly was not justified at all. I doubt a gay man at his peak will take meth and just spend all his time at home rather than partying, so in that sense , I miss some sense of realism. The end again was very abrupt and sudden. Both Kyle and his family's decision to suddenly reconcile was vague.

There has to be better films on addiction in gay circle but till then his is not too bad. It might not be very interesting but in the second half the film does show you the evils of meth addiction very effectively. (5/10)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Gay Short Films : 23

Way too many problems (USA)
Two high schoolers talk about the death of a classmate. One friend says that no problem is so great that he needs to take an easy way out and commit suicide, while the other guy keeps defending him. His friend is surprised at the defense. Soon we find out that the dead friend actually tried to kiss this guy and now he feels partly responsible to be the cause of his friend's death.

Pause (USA)
A short story of very quick 4 stories of guys meeting each other and how they intertwine. This short has a great message on preventing yourself of HIV. Pause before you play, because you can't rewind.


Something Real (USA)
A celebrity packed short with a musical twist about the bar scene. Primarily focussing on an estranged couple who just don't want to say sorry to each other, the other celebrities musically walk us through what they all think and go through in a gay bar. Ultimately everyone is looking for that someone special in life. Great music and excellent short with  some known actors from gay scene.

The Astronaut On The Roof (Germany)
A comical road movie about two scriptwriters who write a film about two scriptwriters who write a film about a teenage couple who become bank robbers. A film about the struggle of writing a movie, getting lost in the way and end up starring your own script. IT is actually weirdly funny movie and shows how just random thoughts can sometimes transform into a movie script and actually do a great job in market.

Billy's Dad Is A Fudge Packer (USA)
Billy is a boy who has to decide what he will do with his life. His father works at the candy factory as a "fudge packer" (which is modern slang for homosexual anal sex) and "has several men under him". His mother is visited by a short, mannish woman who knows how to please the local housewives. His sister is preparing to be a good wife, and in almost every shot is moving a phallic object to her mouth. A random funny old B/W style short film.

Boygame (Sweden)
John and Nicholas are 15 years old and best friends. They are both very interested in girls but feel insecure when it comes to a first sexual encounter with a woman. That's why they decide that they will get some 'practice' on each other.

The Lonely Lights.The Color of Lemons. (USA)
A visual study of a young jogger who is shown a series of inkblot paintings that propel him into a collection of stories and memories centered on childhood, questions of sexuality and an enigmatic girl. The film is structured around eight of these painting each paired with a single word. I so did not get this movie at all. Hell ! its not even a gay short film.

El Antifaz (Peru)
A story told through the eyes of Priscilla, a transvestite, as he transforms himself in front of a mirror, and recalls how he went feeling guilty for having HIV, how he took off his mask to become an activist, overcoming his guilt and fear.

An overall average rating for combined films. (5/10)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

In Bloom

So, I am not very sure what was the main crux of this film. Surely it is about breakup and breakdown of lovers after having spent a beautiful part of their life together; but why sid story of a serial killer and so much loneliness and boredom in everyone's life? We meet an estranged couple and journey back with them 7 month sin to the pat when their love was 'in bloom'. The movie explores the complexity of first love.

Kurt is a small time drug dealer who supplies pot to his peers, whilst Paul his boyfriend of two years has a dead-end job in a local grocery store that he can barely tolerate. When the long summer starts, they are having fun and very much into each other and seem the perfect couple. Everything had been going well with them until one night one of Kurt's good-looking customers puts the moves on him, and although he initially resists Kevin's advances does it opens his mind to the possibility that there is more to life outside of his cosy relationship with Paul. Some thinking on his part makes Kurt realize that its better to break up and enjoy life than being in the relationship and he breaks up with Paul, an impulse that he will only regret when it is far too late. We also have a back story of a serial killer who is targeting lone men, who ultimately ends up killing Paul's lonely store co-worker. The film starts and ends with Paul and Kurt meeting each other and they are at a stage where they can barely even talk to eau other.

The plot is steeped in innocence and full of well-meaning intentions but personally for me, the movie leaves a lot to be desired. I completely disagree that the movie is reminiscent of one of my fav films "Weekend". The primary actors do a well decent job, but lack the chemistry and spark of a couple. It is also painfully slow and I am still not sure of why the back story of the serial killer and what was the relevance to the story. It is an alright movie but it will take a lot more to keep people completely engrossed in the movie.

A good concept and focus on gay-relationship, how I wish, this film was more engaging and absorbing. (5.5/10)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Hot Guys With Guns

With a title like this, there is already high expectations. Not just about the hotness of the guys but also of some action sequences in the process. Unfortunately, this film falls short on both of these expectations. Its more of a comedy-mystery genre. To give the credit where its due, The makers did come up with an interesting concept, thinking out  of the box from the regular gay movies that we get to see otherwise but it could have been so much better.

Danny is a struggling black actor/waiter, and his ex-partner Pip lives a comfortable upper-class existence with his overly controlling mother whose racist tendencies are very evident. And this is primarily the reason for their breakup. Danny is taking a course in private investigation in preparation for a possible role. There are a series of robberies happening in gay sex parties but none of the victims is contacting the police for the fear of being outed. These are all profile people. When Pip becomes the latest victim, he asks Danny to take up this case. As pissed as Danny is about his playboy nature and insensitivity, the residual spark still between them motivates the actor to help, however reluctantly. They come up with ideas with the hep of Danny's teacher to uncover this suspense. The finale or the reality when exposed is not as exciting as one would expect, but nevertheless, I don't think that shocking the audience was ever the expectation. But Pip's current bf coming out as one of the culprits really doesn't surprise.

I thought the acting was a little amateurish by the leads, despite this being an attempt for a comedy-thriller. I think a little more polish from the lead actors could have made a huge difference. Nonetheless they were cute, specially Danny. The mother was the worst actor. Similarly, the reason for the loots and the actors doing it, doesn't seem very convincing or menacing. But if you look from the comic angle, the amateur bumbling of Danny and Pip, makes it funny while downplaying the violence. The movie is essentially a comedy in the guise of a thriller, finding room along the way for effective moments of drama, romance and insider Hollywood jokes. There are some funny dialogues but gets bogged down with too many characters and pointless detours from the main story.

Good concept and a better direction could have given this movie a possibility of sequels. Still not bad. (6/10)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Test

I don't whether its me catching up on movies, but it feels of late I have been watching a lot of movies set in mid 80s during the whole AIDS epidemic times. This movie. although set in 1985 in San Francisco, deals with something different and the presentation is also very different. The film captures the fear raging through the gay community as the AIDS epidemic begins to devastate a lot of people’s lives. After years of accepting promiscuity as the new normal, they have to rewrite the rules for their sexual and romantic encounters. There is not crying or anything but there is definitely hope.

The film is about a gay dancer named Frankie and his day-to-day life as a back-up for a dance company. He is passionate about dancing and is constantly being told to "dance like a man". We don't know if he does have a crush on Todd, the manly gay bad-boy dancer on the group but you can see there is some sort of sexual tension between them. This is the time when AIDS reports have stated to come out and the gays are living infer of whats next. The latest blood tests have also just been introduced but the guys are afraid to take the test. There is not much known about how the disease is caused and spread. Frankie lives in fear and keeps reminding Todd of being safe. Finally Frankie gets a chance to perform when one of the guys fall sick and he does brilliant work. He meets Walt, a guy in a bar and hook up a few times but Walt is moving away soon. Before he moves, he tells Frankie that he has been tested positive. This bread Frankie's confidence. Thankfully his test comes negative and so is Todd's/ The two were meant to be together. And they do get together towards the end.

Clearly a lot of portions of the movie were focussed on dance and the leads are dancers and they both do a good job of it. Trying to create emotions and what was actually going in people's minds at that point, the film succeeds and provoking that but as a whole there is a lot to be desired. There is not much happening between Frankie and Todd till the very end of the film. Frankie's other flings (with Walt and his room-mate) are not interesting and the narrative is a little underdeveloped. Clearly the focus was more on dances (which are good) but some sort of further story development and character detailing would have helped the film tremendously. Minus the dance scenes, the film could be easily short film.

The film does promote healthy and safe sex suggestion. A story that could have been much more likable leaves a lot to be desired. (5.5/10)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Southern Baptist Sissies

Originally set as a stage play, thesis the film version of the play. It means the play has been recorded so that viewers like me can also enjoy the film. The setup, acting, sets and everything gives you a feel of a stage play which could be good or bad depending on how much are you willing to experiment with movies. The premise mostly is about how being queer can be quite a burden and trying to be a Christian an even greater burden. Being queer while trying to be a Christian at the same time can often seem impossible.

The play follows story of 4 childhood friends set in Texas. Each one of them struggles with his sexuality in a varying way. Mark, who also serves as narrator, questions the Baptist church that preaches love and forgiveness while decrying homosexuality; Benny fully embraces his gayness, growing up to become a flamboyant drag queen entertainer; TJ (Mark's first love) desperately tries to deny who he is, eventually getting married to a woman; and Andrew, the most troubled of the group, wrestles with the conflicting demands of his faith and his sexuality with ultimately tragic results. In addition to these we have an older gay man Peanut and his best friend, an alcoholic Odette, who humorously discuss their lives and comment on the proceedings during numerous sessions at a gay bar. We see how the boys interact, trying to teach each other a thing or two, help each other, support each other; we also see families reactions and how ultimately it affects all their lives.

It i snot easy to sit through this long movie/play, specially when there are a lot of monologues that keep coming one after the other. But its the humour by the old friends in a gay bar that keeps the goings alive. We do get to witness the pain, anguish and sufferings by the boys and what they all are going through. It is a good mix of pain and humour. Sometimes the pain comes abruptly in the midst of the comedy, but it is the real pain known all too well by young queers trying desperately to understand who they are and what other people think of them. The message of Sissies is one of hope and healing for those who grew up in the church. An unflinching portrayal of the kind of damage the church continues to do even more strongly today. The performances by all actors is incredible and praise worthy and kudos to the makers for bringing out something so important to a wider audience.

The format of the play will unfortunately find a very niche audience for the film but sensitive performances and an important subject warrant a viewing. (6/10)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Torka Aldrig Tårar Utan Handskar (Swedish) [Don't Ever Wipe Tears Without Gloves]

Thank you so much to one of my readers on this blog, who suggested that I should watch this series and that I would like it. I had in my list to watch this series but if not for the feedback, I probably won't have watched it so soon, and I would have missed out on such a great series. Made as a 3 part TV series of almost an hour each in Sweden, This film brings us a very interesting, genuinely touching, heart- wrenching and important piece of modern history. It deals with the start of the AIDS epidemic in 1980's homophobic Sweden.

19-year-old Rasmus, moves from rural hometown to Stockholm to attend university after graduation. As soon as he arrives in Stockholm he begins to seek out the gay community that he was always suppressing in his small town. He meets and befriends Paul as soon as he arrives in the city. At a Christmas dinner party in Paul's apartment he eventually meets Benjamin, a young man who is struggling to come to terms with his homosexuality (Paul helps him) and faith as a Jehovas Witness. There is instant connection between the two men and they start dating each other. Benjamin is still not out to his family but despite this they soon move in together. Their friend circle is Paul and some of the other close friends who they hang out with Paul. Their tradition is a family christmas dinner.  AIDS has started to spread among their friends, end eventually it also reaches them. They are losing their friends and everyone around them. When Rasmus is found HIV-positive, Benjamin finally decides to tell his parents and church elders that he is homosexual, in order to fully support Rasmus. This leads him to being shunned by the church, and forces his parents to stop all contact if they want to remain in the congregation. We see Rasmus and Benjamin struggling with things and others as well. We get glimpses of families not acknowledging that their sons are dying of AIDS or the fact that they were gay. When Rasmus in in a worse condition, Bejamin asks his parents to visit who visit and are the most nicest people. But after his death, just as others Rasmus' parents refuse to accept Benjamin's request concerning Rasmus's funeral, although they had been deeply in love and Benjamin had remained by Rasmus' side throughout. 20 years later, Benjamin is still surviving and dealing fine with support of memories of his love and their time spent together with friends.

The series fundamentally seeks and shows truth of the situation and in what actually happened; yet truth is coupled to the intensity of a well-crafted script and beautifully acted roles, something the pure documentary approach lacks, something that allows the story to become universal, outside time and place. The entire 3 episodes go back and forth with Rasmus' and Benjamin's childhood memories, their growing up times and days, their interactions with their family and surroundings; their current lives and in the last episode, the future life as well. The title of the series comes from an act of kindness when a nurse is wiping tears from an AIDS victim but as per the theory any human contact, even if it’s intended as the smallest act of kindness, risks passing on the infection. This film shows response across society to these extreme new circumstances. It beautifully shows the couples relationship growing, their joys and tribulations, how their contact with their blood families reduce and their new friends-family increase. There are moments on the screen that are emotionally very strong and need a strong heart to watch and sit through those. The fathers crying when Rasmus dies, the families not acknowledging, Benjamin watching everyone dying slowly, Rasmus' reaction of finding out he is positive and dying, Paul's funeral in the end and finally the old Benjamin's outburst when he finally gets to see the place where Rasmus grew up. There were so many scenes where I had a touch time controlling my emotions. Thanks god that the characters and their situations are treated with respect, according them dignity even when life has done its utmost to take that away. The 2 lead actors give honest, moving, raw and believable performances, fighting for their love and acceptance from both their families and society. The actor playing Paul was also very good and he stays happy until the end and keeps the group together.

An important series that shows the dangers of ignorance and prejudice during the worse times of AIDS epidemic; the importance of love, acceptance and remembrance. We who were not in that time period, need to sit back and reflect on those tough times and empathize with people who lived through it. Imagine how emotionally string they would have had to be, when I can't even watch it without crying. (9/10)

Friday, July 11, 2014

Geoff and Pavel

When I started watching this, I kept wondering why does this give a TV series feeling rather than watching a movie! And when in the first 5 minutes itself, the scenes were abruptly changing, I had to pause and look out what was going on. It turns out that this is not a film. The scenes were extracted from several episodes of the Irish TV series Raw. The result is a pretty decent watch (sometimes lethargic). It is not the usual youtube amateurish crap but it is not professional either. Overall a decent gay love story with a lot of stuff going around.

Geoff is the au-chef in a restaurant run by Tanya and her husband Max who is the main chef. People come for Max's cooking but his eccentric behavior more often than not, leaves Geoff in charge. A young Czech waiter Pavel has recently started at the restaurant. Like he does for most people, Geoff shouts at Pavel and makes fun but slowly starts caring for him. In the meantime there are a lot of side stories happening in the restaurant: drug dealing, restaurant not doing well and employee troubles. Geoff thinks he should be a partner because he works his ass off but Tanya doesn't agree. max really doesn't have much say in what happens or not. After hanging out a few times with Pavel, Geoff and him eventually hook up but for Geoff its another one-night stand. He starts treating Pavel even badly in the restaurant and that makes him hurt. Finally things start falling in place when everyone comes together to make restaurant a success. Geoff realizes his mistake and makes up with Pavel and they try to start a beautiful relationship together.

As mentioned This is not a film but scenes extracted, so as a viewer you will have to ignore when sudden scene jumps do not make any sense. Just keep focus on restaurant and Geoff And Pavel. To be very honest, there is not much to their love story either; jut a couple of interactions here and there but overall its still quite decent. Acting is quite decent by the cast. Again remember, this is supposed to be a TV show, so accordingly things just fall in place.

Overall a decent mash-up when you don't have better things to do and are looking for something strictly time pass. (4.5/10)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho (Portuguese) [The Way He Looks]

I was so excited when I saw that this cute short film (one of my favorites) has been made into a full length feature film. I was really curious to see what the makers can come up with when it comes to an entire length feature. Unfortunately, my expectations were not met completely. Don't get me wrong, it still is a fantastic film but can it match the humongous expectations that were set by the short film? Probably not! Maybe what the makers wanted to achieve versus my expectations didn't match  at a certain level. I was hoping the makers would focus on romance angle more (purely for selfish reasons), but makers tried to infuse the bling guy's struggle to be independent.

Leonardo is blind from north and is best friends with Giovana, who walks him him everyday from school. Leo is often picked up at school but he is used to it by now. The dynamics change after entry of Gabriel, a new student in the class who ends up sitting in proximity of Leo and Giordana. Gio probably likes Leo but can't do anything about it. She also wonders if Gabriel is interested in her. But Gabriel and Leo start becoming close friends. This is the first time Leo has found company in a male guy of his age group and unconsciously he ends up ignoring Gio in certain cases. She starts getting jealous of the close proximity between 2 guys. One night after a party Gabriel ends up kissing Leo but they don't talk about it anymore to avoid awkwardness. Leo clearly likes Gabriel but Gabriel says he doesn't remember anything and starts spending more time with another girl in the school. Gabriel also tries to make sure that misunderstanding is cleared between Leo and Gio, which ultimately happens. This gives Leo courage to tell Gio that he loves Gabriel. Initially shocked, Gio ventrally comes around and the film ends on a very positive note when it turns out that Gabriel has similar feelings for Leo.

You know as I am writing this review, I am realizing that barring a few issues that I had with the film, I pretty much liked most other things. Let's get over the negative first. There were quite a few scenes and dialogues where Leo wants to go to a different country and be on his own. His struggle to not always be helped but rather be independent. As a viewer I felt cheated because despite having spent so much time on discussing the issues, it was never given a proper closure. Although Leo riding a bike on his own in the end does show a sort of freedom that he gets. All 3 principal actors are simply terrific. Their performances are noting short of amazing and heart warming. The way these teenagers show emotions of love, jealousy, rejection, care & sensitivity is mind blowing. There is something endearing about the film that makes it worth the watch. The movie is very "go with the flow" and you feel a part of the film. Discussions between Leo's parents about their protectiveness for him were also handled with dignity and not pity. Actor playing Leo is superb. I was 100% convinced that he is blind in real life. Gabriel is so cute and adorable that I could eat him up :)

Complemented with a great musical score, this film is definitely worth a watch and highly recommended. (8/10)

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Gay Short Films : 22

These short films are all less than 4 minutes in duration. Therefore, I am combining these all here.

Dear dad, love Maria (Spain)
Maria, a young male-to-female transsexual, writes a letter to her disapproving father the night before her gender reassignment operation. An exploration of memory, loss of innocence, growing up, and being who you are.

Seven sins: Greed (Canada)
A young couple sings from their apartment windows about the unshared bagel that ended their relationship. And the guy finds a male lover.

The Wedding dance (USA)
Guests are leaving their love message for the newly wed couple specially groom, when he invites his parents for the first dance. The parents happen to be a gay couple. Fantastic !

Ageless (USA)
Love, sex and relationships are seen through the eyes of two men; one in his 50s, the other in his 20s. Their common struggles about wanting just sex or something more emotional, prove to be ageless.

The Closet (USA)
An old man recalls the moment that defined his life when his parents found out about him. A touching end when a little girl helps him tie his laces and goes with her gay dads.

Kaghaz-e Sefid (Iran) [White Paper]
A portrait of stick-figure kids who don’t fit in at home; they bring their rainbow of colors out into the world and meet each other.

De Kinderombudsman (Netherlands)
A shout out to stop bullying when  kid recalls how he was beaten and not helped by anyone.

Nakenlekar (Sweden)
A funny story where 2 guy are watching porn and suddenly one guy says that he wanna go for guys now because he thinks its too much of time waste to woo a girl. Guys are much more easier.

Samesies (USA)
Another funny tale from previous times, I guess where they show the probability of how there were only gays and being heterosexual was later then forced on them.

So God Made a Gay Man (USA)
Just a 2 minute run down on how gay men are goo and there is a reason they are in this world.

Tapin du soir (France) [Night Hustler]
A young man (not a hustler) is picked by a man and pays him 40 dollars for a blow job. The young man asks for the favor in return for money. He then says that he is just lonely and wants some company. This romantic short is well-made and to the point.

Waking up (Israel)
A guy wakes up to a happy morning with his partner and their kid and suddenly he finds everything close to his heart disappear.

Steam (UK)
Camera focusses for about 2 minutes on a perfectly ripped body of a man drenching with sweat who in the end is shown to be ironing his underwear.

An Act of Love (Italy)
Men are arm wrestling in an arena when two bears suddenly decide to stop it and start kissing. Everyone in the arena follows the suit.

Adam: Next Generation Robotics (UK)
A call to people to not be like robots: Never be controlled, suppressed or silenced.

Znelka (Slovakia)
A train full of prisoners, when a passenger years for a cigarette from a soldier, he passes the smoke in a lip to lip kiss.

Best (US)
2 black friends get together one last time for a quickie before one of them gets married for good while the other just watches.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Matterhorn (Dutch)

This was a very confusing film for me. I read this film has been featured in many comedy film festivals, which is weird because there is not a single comic scene in the film. I still am not very sure what was the point of the film and what was the exact message that the makers were trying to make in the film.

Fred is a widower, devout and religiously conservative Dutch man. Being a good Christian, Fred decides to help reform a homeless man Theo and teach him a few things about responsibility and the importance of work. Theo seldom talks or initiates conversations and is more like a slow-witted robot—doing things Fred tells him but seeming to have little in the way of intellect. Sometimes he makes animal noises and is more interested in hanging out with farm animals than people. And, sometimes Theo puts on Fred's deceased wife's clothing. Despite this, both men come to care for each other over time. In fact, eventually Fred comes to love Theo and is convinced that God has answered his prayers for a new wife in the form of Theo. One day telling his story of how he proposed to his wife , he says "Will you marry me" to which Theo replies and says yes. But soon Fred finds out about Theo's real life and that he has a wife (or an ex-wife). He drops Theo at his home and returns back only to find Theo again at his doorstep after a few days and he is back to being very happy. They get married in a church and decide to live together.

I have a few problems with this film. I think a man marrying a mentally child (even though with big body) irrespective of male or female is questionable, considering that he is from a very strong religious background. There is no proper build up of why is their marriage important. Its not as if Fred really proposed to him. Is there a guilt that Fred is dealing with and was he a closet homosexual or is he doing this for his son, who it turns out if gay and was thrown out of the house by his father. And what was the whole story about Fred's neighbor. First he accuses Fred of taking his love and marrying her and then he accuses of taking Theo from him. This film was nothing but a bunch of confusion. Despite major flaws in the story, the acting by all primary actors is very strong specially Theo.

There's no humor, there's no tragedy, the characters are bland. You don't get bored because you are waiting for something to happen but nothing ever does. (3.5/10)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Ming tian ji de ai shang wo (Mandarin) [Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?]

I think I am having a few good days here where I am getting to see more and more films that spring a peasant surprise. From a story point of view, this film would have seen yet another one of those late coming-out stories but I am so happy to see the maturity in the way the whole subject was handled in the screenplay and of course in subsequent direction. I will talk more on that later. But I have to admit, this film had everything in it, simplicity, family, love, emotion and wanting to do the right thing that is expected of you from each character's point of view.

Weichung, an optometrist, lives with his wife Feng and son. They have ben married for 9 years. At his sister's engagement party, Weichung bumps into an old friend, Stephen, a wedding photographer who, though also married, is living the high life of a younger, single gay man. When Stephen teases Weichung for his newly straightlaced lifestyle, dormant emotions are awakened in Weichung. Meanwhile Feng's parents pressure her to ask Weichung for another child. As soon as the discussions start, Weichung starts freaking out because it would mean physical intimacy. A chance encounter with a very cute flight attendant who visits his store gives him the courage to let his feelings come out. Meanwhile Mandy starts having second thoughts about her marriage and decides to break-up. Stephen and his group of friends try to bring them together but fail. Feng's boss admires and secretly loves Feng but can't do anything about it. One day Feng sees Weichung with the flight attendant and confronts him. Her world falls apart when Weichung admits to having gay feelings but also convinces that he really wants to be a family and be a family man to provide and take care of her and their son. When Mandy one day finds she is pregnant, her love for her fin ace rekindles and they decide to get married. Feng and Weichung very maturely decide to get a divorce, so that they both can have a second chance of love in life.

The film is not really a romantic comedy is being promoted but it is a real depiction of the struggles that a man has to go through when his attempts to deny his gay feelings resurface and what a wife has to go through when she finds her husband is gay. It is avery thoughtful family drama. Despite the topic being hectic, the film never gets melodramatic or cheesy and stereotypical which is very easy to happen. There is a easy rhythmic tone to the film. Acting by everyone is really really good. Mandy's character is a little caricature-ish but that provides some light moments in the film. Also Weichung's chemistry with the flight attendant is very effortless. You can feel the attraction and both of them wanting to do something about it. The film never crosses the decency line which will probably help it get a wider audience despite a bold subject.

This family drama will not disappoint you if you go with minimal expectations. You will enjoy it. (7/10)