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.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Chasing Pavement

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Aligarh (Hindi / English)

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

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

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

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

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Gay Short Films : 46

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Nachthelle (German) [Bright Night]

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

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

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

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

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Stonewall

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Holding The Man (Australia)

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 14, 2016

Naz & Maalik

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Some Of My Best Friends (TV Series)

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 7, 2016

Gay Short Films : 45

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, February 22, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, February 21, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, February 20, 2016

4th Man Out

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

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

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

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

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Danish Girl (UK)

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Carol

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

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

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

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

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Parada (Serbian) [The Parade]

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

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

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

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

Boys On Film 14: Worlds Collide

The next edition in this series. Worlds collide in more ways than one in this stunning collection of award winning short films. These films will make you laugh and cry, question your inner self and give life to your darkest fantasies.

Want It (UK)
An intruder breaks into a luxurious home. He wants it. When the owner returns unexpectedly, the tables are turned. An interesting take of role play between a couple.

Brace (UK)
On his first foray into London’s thriving gay scene, newly single Adam meets Rocky, a handsome and mysterious drifter. The two instantly connect, but Rocky seems eager to reveal more of himself than Adam is prepared to discover. And when secrets from both ends are revealed, it will not be a pleasant one.

Un Mundo Para Raúl (Mexico)
When thirteen-year-old Raúl is asked to entertain the local landowner’s son, a game of power and pride starts between the two boys. A young man may have to lose his innocence to keep his family going.

Barrio Boy (USA)
It s a hot and sweaty summer afternoon in a macho Brooklyn hood and while cutting the hair of a handsome Irish stranger, a Latino barber secretly falls in love.

Aban and Khorshid (USA)
If you only had a few hours left to live, what would you share with the love of your life? Together Aban and Khorshid explore this question during the hours before sentencing for their crime of loving each other.

I Love Hooligans (Netherlands/ Belgium)
A football hooligan feels unconditional love for his club. However, being gay, he has to hide his identity in order to survive in the world that is so precious to him.

The Violation (USA)
Oscar has a thing for his neighbour, Tina. Tina s brother, Mickey, has a thing for Oscar. When house-sitting for the family one day, Mickey invades Oscar’s bedroom. Strictly Ok.

The Package (Brazil)
At a new school Leandro and Jefferson form an instant attachment and soon realise that theirs is no ordinary friendship. But young Jeff has something to reveal. A secret that can have any consequence.

An Afternoon (Denmark)
Today is the day! Mathias is in love with Frederik and now he s going to tell him just that... But when the moment of truth arrives is he brave enough to make the first move?

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Bizarre (aka Brooklyn Bizzare)

There cannot be a more apt title for this film, which totally lives unto its title. As a Viewer, you really can’t figure out what’s the purpose of the film, where it is headed and what’s it even trying to say. A truly bizarre film. set in Brooklyn about a young immigrant boy’s story trying to find his identity in a new city.

Maurice, a reticent young homeless man, somehow manages to get by in Brooklyn; he spends his nights in parked cars until he finds himself at Bizarre, an underground club renowned for its burlesque shows. Maurice is fascinated by the club’s playful revues celebrating self-determined sexuality and creative otherness, and the two female club owners both adore him. He soon becomes a part of their self-selected family, and begins to bond with introverted Luka, who also works in the same place. But Maurice turns his back on Luka’s growing affection. There is a bit of jealousy when Luka gives in to Maurice’s straight friend who fucks anything that moves. Luka just cannot understand what is Maurice’s feelings towards him. Running away from his true emotions he drifts aimlessly through the city and in his boxing club. Unable to withstand the pressure of his repressed feelings, Maurice unleashes a mounting foment of emotions, pervaded by tenderness and menace. There is apparently some back story which we are never told about.

There are so many  things that are ‘bizarre’ about this film. why did the girls end up approaching a random stranger to work with them and even live with them is a mystery. Luka, who forgets his keys one night, sleeps with Maurice but next thing we know is that he is pretty much moved in with him. What is Maurice’s past? Are the lesbian couple in open relationship or just teasing Maurice because he is so charmingly cute! We don’t know. Logic is not really the strong point of this film, for sure. The film is trying to not take any stand for anything; be it Maurice’s sexuality or other queer members, who strangely all have a double life. Maurice’s character is loosely defined and lack of no proper story track around him makes this film about nothing at all. Having said these, I thought the performances of all the actors was quite believable. They were god and yes Maurice was damn god looking in a twin sort of way.  There are too many burlesque routines in the film, although few of them good, have absolutely nothing to do with the plot. The dialogues are minimal and most important events are captured via loud background music.

All we have here is yet another gay themed tragedy that is ‘bizarre’ in true sense, a senseless odd film with a very attractive lead character for eye candy. (2.5/10)

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Webcam Boys (UK) (Documentary)

I am starting to realise that most BBC documentary follow a very standard tried and tested pattern. Pick a theme, identify 3-4 candidate who fit in the theme, follow a piece f journey of their life pertaining to the theme, give us details of things that we probably already know but don’t acknowledge, and finally end the deal with what the subjects are doing as of today. Ok! stop laughing now :) Its true, this is what they follow. Watch a few of them and you will know what i am talking about. This documentary looks at the growing number of young men who are stripping off for strangers online to make money.

There are a growing number of young men taking part in the sex industry by putting their bodies online to make money. We meet martyr, who has been jamming with his straight friend for last 6 years. They are straight, have never touched each other but have a huge following and make easy money. All they have to do is strip and keep their clients happy. Martin is very serious about his business and wants to expand and grow. Then we meet Joseph, who hosts a cam show five nights a week from a shed – which his parents helped refurbish just for his shows. He had a dark past of sex and drugs and his mom is very supportive of new money making venture. And finally we meet Pete, a newbie in the business, straight muscle guy with a wife and son who is trying to figure out the business. The requests he receive keeps getting weirder and weirder. Despite having support from his wife, we are told he finally decides to quit camping on focus on other ways to make money.

As per the documentary, A recent study showed that five percent of male students had worked in some capacity in the sex industry and this documentary explores this little-understood part of the sex industry, explores what drives these men to go online and uncovers the impact of what they do. They all have their own reasons for getting involved: for some it is a short-term way to make extra money to pay the bills, some see webcams as a means to longer-term work opportunities with good profits, whilst for others it is simply a world to explore their sexuality and flaunt their body. It tells you that if you’re going to do porn then just make sure you’re comfortable with the whole world finding out about it.

Thankfully the documentary was not unnecessarily stretched and was a decent watch. (5.5/10)

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Gay Short Films : 44

Underwater (UK) 
Jonathan, is taken to an elite swimming academy deep in the English countryside by his soon to be step-mother, kept away from her upcoming wedding to his father. At the academy, Jonathan struggles to find his place among the group. He may be a top athlete in his field, but here, he is not suave enough to deal with sexcapades and chauvinism of people in the group. They act straight but don’t mind fooling around with each other. The chemistry is real, the penis shots are real & the drama is real; except I don’t really get the whole point of this short film. Just Ok.

Todo El Sol Del Mundo (Spain) [All The Sun In The World]
Pablo & Mauro meet each other while clubbing. They stare, they like each other, they leave together. For some reason, not very clear, they are not together any more (or was it really just a one night stand). The film is captured through a video that Mauro makes for Pablo since he promised to make a video for him in their one night stand. I was a bit confused about the last scene where it seems that Paulo is now standing the bathroom in a position exactly where the two met. Interesting!

Kiss Me (USA)
Set in the world of Latino boxing, Kid mentally replays his ring opponent’s death over and over. Outside of the ring, it’s a violent match in his head and his heart: his love-starved wife is begging for affection, his son is looking for a father figure and, within himself, Kid must man up and admit what he really is: a homosexual. No gay scenes as such but the message is very clear. It wasn't very clear how did his opponent know that Kid was gay! Overall a different yet interesting story.

Slant (USA)
The film is inspired by Emily Dickinson’s poem.Ash, a college professor in his 50’s is looking for love after death of partner to AIDS way back. Ash fancies his gardener, a young attractive man who shows knowledge of poetry. Fooled by the fact that Luis is attracted to him too, he gets stood up. Patrick, his new neighbour comes for his rescue at this time with a bottle of wine, pleasant conversation and an age appropriate company. It is much easier to be with someone with commonalities than it is to train someone to like what we like. Very good.

The Main Event... in America (USA)
A Bronx is boxer and is living a decent life. He has a girlfriend and a son but still something is missing. He still prefers to have his single status and be a free man and ocassionally help out his family but something is bothering him. He is low on cash and needs to do something meaningful with his life. Only later we realise that he has a secret lover too. Now he must choose between his love for his dream of being a champion fighter, his family or his love for a man. Decent !

Butterfly: The Adult Word (Korea)
Cheol-soo is a grown-up who doesn't have a proper job and starts social life at a host bar. However, it's not easy adjusting to the bar,  where passion and lust swells. He is being well coached and mentored by his predecessor and slowly but surely he also learns the tricks of the trade. Now it is his time to open up to reality and become the new man. The cycle continues, when a new boy joins for job and he may not have feelings for the boy. To what extent will he go. I didn't like this film.

Pourquoi mon fils? (France) [Why My Son?]
This is the right time for Thomas and Louis to announce to their parents that they are gay and together. They are both teenagers at this stage. Everything goes well for Louis but Thomas’ father doesn’t take the news so lightly. He enters into a state of uncontrollable rage, and can’t live with the information. He even goes to the extent of threatening to kill himself. Better sense prevails and Thomas makes him realise that accepting the reality is much more simpler. All things ultimately fall in place.
Desnudos (Spain) [Naked]
Javier and Fran are naked in Fran’s bedroom and Javier has to leave. He forgot his phone at home and a innocent message by Fran leads to his parents discovering his sexuality. The father gets might upset about the contents on the phone. A can of worms of fear, homophobia & sexism opens at the dinner table. Javier has had enough and when his father asks him to leave, he gets naked (leaving everything that his father gave him behind) and his mother soon follows suit.

Beyond Plain Sight (UK)
Ryan is a popular member of his community. He’s charming, helping and a social butterfly. It feels like he’s lonely and in need of connection. However, when he returns home, we discover he has some extremely dark and disturbing secrets. The missing people in the neighbourhood may after all have something to do with Ryan. It is a pretty unnerving short, partly because the camera seems so neutral about what it’s showing you, to the point it sometimes feels like it’s taking you into the head of someone you might not want to be so close too.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Nasty Baby

This film has a very independent, next-door neighbour types, slice of life film. Its hard to put a genre to this film since it could be a comedy or drama but what is important is that the issue and the subject has been handled very sensitively with realism. A film about motives, hopes and fears; a small problem lies with the fact that while the film was happily going in one direction, it suddenly takes a different turn and as a viewer left me completely baffled.

Freddy and Mo are a happy gay couple living in a New York city apartment. Freddy, a budding artist working on a video piece featuring him like a baby, is trying to have a baby with is best friend Polly but it turns outfit Freddy has a low sperm count. Polly suggests asking Mo to be the sperm donor. Initially hesitant abut the whole thing, Mo finally gives in. Their neighbour homeless ‘Bishop’ has been making life of this gay couple a living hell by his antics. He doesn’t like gays and i a bit nuisance to everyone around. Freddy who has had enough of him is unto his hair with frustration. But when his meeting with the art producer doesn’t go well, his encounter with Bishop at the entrance of his house takes a nasty turn. Bishop is killed. What will the trio do for each other? Will they overcome their doubts and fears or will they go to extreme lengths to achieve their dreams!

Its a scary ending. Something that not many people may like but at the same time, the acting is so well and is done with such conviction that it is unbelievable. The natural chemistry that Freddy and Polly share as best friends. Their longing to have a child and be parents is very genuinely conveyed by their acting. Yes Mo is initially hesitant to be the substitue because he always considered Polly as Freddy’s friend but he changes his mind when he sees Polly taking care of a bruised patient. Almost two-thirds of the film is about trying to have a baby and the trio-chemistry which includes visiting mo’s family for dinner. Its when the whole Bishop episode comes, I am not too sure what I feel about the overall film. I would have much preferred it to stay one-track but I am sure the makers have their own motives. Will the trip be able to live the rest of their life having known what they have done? Happiness should not come at this cost, I believe. But it is for us the viewers to decide. By the way: Hats off to everyone to not make any racial comments about colour or ethnicity. In a city like NY, it all just co-exists without making such a big deal about it.

Having said that, it still doesn’t take away from the fact that the film is poignant, very watchable and has some of the best real natural acting I have seen in recent times. Freddy happens to be director of the film as well. Now I need to find out what else has he done. (7.5/10) 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Not Looking (Web Series)

If you are an avid gay movies/TV shows watcher; you definitely would have heard of HBO series ‘Looking’. This web series produced by ‘Funny Or Die’ is a hilarious spin-off of the original show and is about four gays not looking for anything but themselves. The girls ahem men are just living out the problems than any 20-something girl has while living in Los Angeles.

I saw 2 seasons so far and as annoying the characters seem to be; they are really hilarious. The web series follows 4 friends. One is older bitchy queen, who things he is the best thing to have happened to gay world and overtime he talks about his age, it cracks me up. He is the best part of the show. Then there is the other guy who keeps crying over has old boyfriend who has now suddenly become an internet sensation because of his hair. The guy with great hair has a stalker who follows him anywhere and everywhere. And finally we have the yummy bear, who adds his own spice. He is supposed to have dated Lance Bass in the show, who plays himself in a cameo. With its bad dancing, awkward hugs, morning alcoholism, this show address the critical flaws of Looking and show gay life as it really is. Hilarious & guilty pleasure watch. One of the shows I would hate to admit I watch but is stereotypically funny. (7/10) 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Cut Snake (Australia)

There are very few thrillers in the gay genre, at least among the ones that I have seen; so I was quite excited to see this film. Having read the brief synopsis, I hoped that the film would be good. This crime thriller comes with a twist because this one has a gay love story and a straight love story smashed together in a love triangle and thats what makes this film more interesting.

The film starts with Pommie entering an old woman’s house trying to con her to give him her son Merv’s address. We don’t know what he does with her. Then we meet Merv, also known as Sparra, who is soon to get married to his sweetheart Paula. Together they live in a small town near Melbourne. Paula doesn’t know much about Merv’s past but since he is the most caring, gentle, sweet man; she doesn’t question much. A surprise visit by Pommie to Merv changes things. It turns outfit Pommie and Merv were cell mates in prison and in fact they were lovers too. Tommie is furious to see that Mrv has forgotten him an dis in love with a woman. Paula is welcoming but Pommie threatens Merv that he will tell her everything, despite Merv reminding Pommie that he will never go back to the old ways including violence and loving a man. Things just go downhill from here. On evening, in a fit of rage, Pommie picks up a fight with people in the local bar who later destroy Merv’s entire home. This is when Paula is surprised and in Merv’s absence, Pommie tells Paula about his prison past. This shocks Paula but she still forgives him. Things take another turn when Merv & Pommie get back at the bar people and now the police is after them. When Pommie realises that Merv may be trying to flee the city secretly with Paula, he goes and tells her the truth about the love between the two men. Relationship between the couple turns sour and now Merv must do something and decide what direction does he want to go. Tommie is against him as well now. Will he reciprocate his love or try and win back her lady.

From a story point of view, it is interesting but I felt something somewhere was missing. The director wants us to care for Pommie’s feelings but it keeps shifting between his menace and his vulnerable side. Yes, he is a killer and psychotic but his love for Merv is pure and real. Unfortunately, as an audience you fail to empathise with other of the two men because it is not very clear at any point what was the extent of her relationship in the prison and what was their secret pact? Thankfully, both the men are not projected as any gay stereotype, although the tight pants and shorts definitely showed their juicy behind very well. Thank you 70s. hahaha. Acting from all principal characters is quite good and this film is decent attempt but it fails to leave any long lasting mark. And the very strong Ozzie accent didn’t help much either.

The film may be thriller but doesn’t have either much of a thrill or suspense. It is strictly average. (5/10)

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Please Like Me: Season 3 (Australia)

I was so excited and happy to know that season 3 of this fantabulous show is gonna be telecast soon. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it when it ended. Josh and Tom and Clair and everyone else was still so fresh in my memory. In fact me and a friend of mine who also loved this show, were both excited about this new season. And it definitely still lives unto the expectations.

This season’s focus is a lot on Josh and Arnold. After going back and forth with their relationship, they finally have sex and try and be together. They make a lovely quirky couple. Arnold eventually even comes out to his parents, who are initially taken aback but come to terms with it. Josh’s best friend Tom meets Ella, a girl at a bar, who now becomes a permanent fixture in the life. The friends make fun of how Tom also picks the wrong girls but thy stick together. Claire is back this season after a few episodes and brings her own baggage including an unwanted pregnancy. We get t see what’s happening in Josh’s parents life as well. Remember Hanna from previous season, the lesbian whom Josh’s mother meets at the mental institute. They are now living together and sharing a fun interesting life. Josh’a father is dealing with his own issues. His wife, May, tells him that she cheated on him during her pregnancy. After a few differences, eventually the couple gets back together. There are a couple of very interesting episodes about a new guy Ben, whom Josh meets on grindr. When Josh and Arnold decide to go for an open relationship, Josh hooks up with Ben, who has a brain condition and how they end up bonding with each other. Anyway, the show ends up at christmas luncheon, where everyone tries to be together but can’t help not being mean to each other, thereby, leaving josh, in a for of anger lashing out at everyone and reminding everyone that its their own faults.

The shows continues to be silly, funny and very real. The show is really about flawed, aimless young people living together. I love the fact that the show depicts a friendship between a straight person and a gay one without making a big deal of it. Season three is still about the little moments of everyone’s youth that are funny and tragic and wonderful and disastrous, often all the same time. The interactions between every character is just so good and real that I wanna be a part of this group. All these characters made me laugh and made me smile after a long day at work. I really am looking forward to more seasons of this show. It is sad that many people may not be aware of this series. This show needs to be promoted big time. It can make a huge difference.

And as I write this, I find outfit Josh and Tom are real life best friends and that a lot of scenes may have been inspired from their real life. Now this information makes this show even more special. Watch it to believe me. (8.5/10)

Friday, January 8, 2016

Margarita With A Straw (Hindi)

There haven’t been many Indian films that explore the queer theme in their cinema. Surprisingly the theme of lesbian is still far more acceptable than gay. But nonetheless, its every step that counts, and I hope that makers will take a leaf of lesson and would make more movies on similar themes. This film takes it one step further asking the question ”Do the disabled `also’ desire? Do they long for sexual exploration and intimacy?”

Laila, suffering from cerebral palsy is a free spirited teenager, who is an aspiring song writer. Her heart longs for the lead singer of the college band but soon her heart is broken. Keeping the timing right, she is offered a scholarship for creative writing course in New York and she along with er mother leaves for the city. She wants to lead  normal life in the city like any other song person and after initial hesitation, the mother allows. Here also she has a crush on a young man Jared in her class. But its her meeting with Khanum, a fiery young activist of Pakistan-Bangladesh descent, that changes her life.  Khan is blind and somehow the 2 girls instantly bond. Love soon follows between the two girls and Laila is happy. But she son discovers that she is actually bisexual because she is still very much attracted to jared and even ends up sleeping with him while she is still in relationship with Khanum. The girls are invited to India for their summer break because for the family, the two girls are best of friends. Getting courage, Laila confides in her mother about who Khanum really is. The mother totally disproves of her daughter’s choice but its too late since it is soon revealed that the mother has stage 4 colon cancer. When the mother dies, Laila decides to stay back in India & informs Khanum about her infidelity who believes that Laila just used her to explore her own sexuality. The film ends with Laila going on a date with herself thereby showing she has life in control now.

First thing that comes to mind after seeing the 2 actors is about their disabilities. Its unbelievable that the 2 girls are ‘normal’ yet play the differently abled characters with such confidence and grace. From the director’s perspective, the idea came to her form the thought that “When life hands you lemons you can be bitter and sour or you can make a yummy Margarita with them and raise a toast!”; the essence behind her film. Its refreshing to see that Laila’s character is shown as a perfectly normal girl who is rebellious, free spirit, what’s porn, makes songs, hangs out with friends, has crushes on boys and everything else. She just happens to have cerebral palsy and is wheelchair-bound. Laila acknowledges her difficulties but doesn’t let them overwhelm her. Khan’s character is another strong minded character who took a while to accept that she is lesbian and would not take nonsense from anyone. The love scenes between Laila and Khanum are aesthetically done that makes you feel tenderness towards the on-screen lovers. The mother’s part acted by Revathy is another essential soul. The chemistry that the mother and daughter share is so pure and real, i loved it.

The film has a lot of heart and very strong performances by the lead actors. A sensitive film and a subject that can be celebrated. (7/10)

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Gay Short Films : 43

Aban and Khorshid (USA)
Inspired by true events, an intimate portrait of two lovers, glimpsing into the world in which they met, moments before their execution for being gay. So real, shocking, touching and so very sad !

Dinner with the Woodburns (USA)
A son's revelation about being gay opens up a can of worms. What he thought was going to be a huge deal compares nothing to everything else that will be disclosed by the family members at the dinner table. Funny!

L' Appuntamento (Italy) [The Appointment]
Francesco, hurt by the discovery of his girlfriend's betrayal, is craving to meet his contender and makes an appointment with him only to be surprised himself. The film relates to the identical thought which two different people have in common from the heart and are destined to meet, beyond their genders and their sexual orientation.

Green Line (Canada)
In the Montreal metro, two young men exchange furtive glances. Yes, thats all that is to this film :)

Brácha (Czech Republic) [Brother]
Young skater has an eye on his sister's boyfriend. He does everything to attract his attention but the guy freaks out and leaves.

Impact (France)
Mental journey of a high diver seconds before his jump.

'P' (Netherlands)
A family reaches boiling point during a pit stop. Will the volatile cocktail of sweltering heat, restless hormones and suppressed frustration explode? The father is bored, mother is having an affair, sister is crazy and the boy is raging with hormones and discovers woods where men ‘help’ each other.

E Perfekte Tag (Switzerland) [A Perfect Day]
Two boys meet for the first time through an app. A certain vagueness takes over the night as they seek to decide what they want from each other.

Rótulo (Brazil) [Label]
This film speaks about the need that people have to define the sexualities of other people. This film was done in a a really funny humorous way. Loved it !

Am Gipfel (Switzerland) [At The Top]
The story of two best friends that go for climbing in the alps and one of them accidentally meets a possible love his life.


Relación Abierta (Spain) [Open Relationship]
Oscar and Sergio have been in a relationship for 5 years. A random afternoon one of them decides to ask if they should be in an open relationship. But when they start discussing the rules of engagement, things start becoming more complicated than they had originally anticipated. A funny take on the whole open relationship concept. Loved it.

Tourist (Germany)
A young tourist is cruising the park in Berlin. What is he looking for? Is he as innocent as he looks?

Saturn's Return (Australia)
Barney and Dimi are young men in love and are on a trip to visit Dan, Barney's dying father. Dan is planning his suicide and wants Barney there. In the process the men rediscover their love for each other.

Mrs Craddock's Complaint (Australia)
Mrs. Craddock lives across the park's public toilets. What are all those men doing there? She decides to go and find out. A silly yet funny short film.

The Disco Years (USA)
Tom Peters looks back to 1978, the year in high school that he came out of the closet. Tom's mom drags him to her disco-dancing lessons. His friendship with Matt becomes his first love, and then Matt turns on Tom with homophobic venom. Later, Matt and Matt's new girlfriend trash the classroom of an effeminate teacher with more vicious homophobia. This incident gives Tom courage to accept who he truly is and its time to open the closet door.

Love Kills (Germany)
Young Tim leads an easy life - spoiled by his eccentric mother and his older, well-to-do boyfriend. One day, he meets Bosi, a straight, low-level criminal thug, and falls in lust with him.