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.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

La Dea Fortuna (Italian) [The Goddess of Fortune]

I have been waiting for a Ferzan Ozpetek movie in a while now. The Turkish origin Italian film director has made some very memorable movies, which I have already reviewed on my blog, so you can imagine my happiness when I came across this one. This film goes from a cheery rom-com to emotional drama to tragedy, showing us the painful disintegration of a gay couple whho have been together for 15 years.

The film starts with a wedding, where we are introduced to most characters. Arturo, a frustrated translator who dropped his plans to become a college teacher and Alessandro, dark, hunky plumber have been together for fifteen years. Passion is a thing of the past and the two open their relationship sexually, even though they are jealous because of that. Enter Annamaria, Alessandro's friend for life who also happens to be a Sicilian baroness who leaves her two young children in their custody while she is hospitalized for medical examinations. Their friends see the presence of the two children as a positive step in strengthening the fractured relationship, but in fact, the children inadvertently hasten the breakdown. Even though the kids are well behaved, it takes a stroll on the couple and eventually they are sent to their witchy grandma, all the while the couple continuing to disintegrate. Annamaria eventually passes away and when the couple goes to visit the kids is when they realize what an evil woman the lady is. Even though they may not love each other, they unite to get the kids out of situation and take them with them back to Rome in a stunning and heart-wrenching climax.

Like Ferzan's other films, this film also boats of some stunning visual locations, including impressive ancient Roman Sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia, echoing the film’s title. Legend according to Goddess Of Fortune is that if you want someone to stay with you forever, stare them long enough, capture them in your eyes, close eyes and wait till the image reaches your heart. And this sentiment is echoed in how the gay couple finally reconciles their differences and also for the children who will stay with them. The evolving relationship of the couple is so real in the film, and I would have expected nothing less. In any other director's vision, this would have been very very melodramatic, but with subtle performances, a well-constructed screenplay, believable characters, excellent actors, Ozpetek molds his story of middle-age crisis into something gripping and ultimately, extremely entertaining. The parenthood comes at a worst possible time for the couple who are already at their maximum stretched to continue with their relationship. You see the agony that comes only when you have deeply loved someone for so long. Neither of them is really to be blamed here. Coming to the kids, you can imagine they are suddenly forced into the lives of two strangers who are not even family, so it's as difficult for them as it is for the couple. The cutest kids feel loved by the two men, even though they question the responsibility given their personal crisis. They are all brilliant actors. In other films of the director, the supporting characters get a prominent time and exploration but here they are only at a surface level. I really really enjoy and appreciate the friends and support structure that the film maker shows in his films. It's not the family that you are born with but the family of friends that you make.

I had high expectations from the film and thankfully they were met. I would strongly recommend this film to add good movie lovers and understand a different psyche of a gay relationship. (8/10)

Monday, October 12, 2020

Des (UK) (Mini Series)

A three-part British television drama miniseries, Des is a true story of the Scottish serial killer Dennis Nilsen, who called himself Des, and was arrested in 1983. Serial killer, mini series and a brilliant actor like David Tennant, whats not to look forward to for a series like this.

Cops get a lead that drain pipe of one of. the flats in blocked by what seems like human remains. Nilsen is then arrested, who admits of having remains of human body in his current apartment and also his previous apartment. We are told that Nilsen, Des, himself had called in the complaint. DCI Jay is in charge of the investigation. Des is more than co-operative and it turns out that he may have killed 12-15 boys, all homeless, looking for food and love, may or may not necessarily be gay. Enter a famous writer Brian, an older yet successful gay man himself, who is hired by Des, to write his biography providing an additional point of view beyond that of Nilsen and the police. The rest of the investigation tries to find out who the murdered victims were. Cops are able to identify only 6-7 names including a very high profile case from three years ago. When the case finally goes to the court, everyone is shocked when Des pleads "not guilty". His logic is he admits to murder but maybe he was not in the right frame of mind. Eventually the jury finds him guilty and he is sent to life imprisonment. No one will ever know what his real motives were for the murders. 

I didn't know this but apparently there was homelessness crisis during the 80s, which is what Nilsen takes complete advantage of when he meets vulnerable young boys and take them home, offer them drinks and eventually strangle them to death. Its a true story, so not much to review here but whats pretty obvious is the brilliant acting here. David Tennant has proved himself a versatile actor many times and he is no less brilliant as the calculating yet intelligent murderer. With no "who", the question hanging over Des is why. What made this unassuming man do these terrible things? He is not likeable but seems very reasonable. He also emerges as a vain, arrogant psychopath, haunted by his own sexuality and all too aware of his value as a story. And hence he hires Brian, a gay biographer. Joe, Brian and others also do a very good job. It's strictly not a queer themed series tbh. I mean, yes the killer is gay and his victims are all young men whom he brought home for sex but sadly we will never know the motives for his actions.

A must see for thriller genre lovers. (6.5/10)

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Mala Noche (English/Spanish) [Bad Night]

This film must have been something when it came way back in 1986. It definitely seems way ahead of its time. Not just to have a full on gay story but also the dark and gritty direction path it chooses to show the story with. the narrative’s driving force—blind, unembarrassed homosexual lust—is established in a matter of seconds.

Walt is a young lower-class shopkeeper who lives a necessarily minimal existence. He longs for Johnny, a young Mexican immigrant who frequents his store often and who in turn repulsed and intrigued by his friendly advances. Johnny and his best friend Roberto always hang around. Walt makes his first pass at Johnny by offering him $15 to sleep with him. He refuses, so settling for second best, Walt takes Roberto home and they have sex. However, he does not give up on trying to win over Johnny. He befriends them and the trio hang out together goofing around. One day Johnny suddenly vanishes and both Walt and Roberto don't know why. They become close friends and Walt thinks maybe he can get Roberto but he eventually is killed by police. Johnny comes back after he was forcibly sent back to Mexico and reaches out to Walt as a friend. But hearing about Roberto angers him and he just leaves Walt's place. Maybe Walt will have to move on.

The chemistry and the interactions between these 3 individuals could be an interesting study. It's like three individuals, lost in a barely navigable jungle of a big city, users and abusers but also friends and lovers. They all need each other for money, for comfort, for fun and have some ulterior motives too. There is a bit of power play. Walt throws money but the Mexican boys know they have youth hand charm. And isn’t imbalance of power the basis for a certain kind of sexual attraction? Its interesting how Walt comes to assume a quasi-parental role, teaching them to drive, take care of them and drive them for holidays even though he is a young boy himself. Actor playing Walt is very charming IMO. He is likable, decent, relatively well-adjusted, confident in his own skin and sort of knows most people in the neighborhood. Yes he is desperate for Johnny and he admits. And Johnny takes full advantage of the situation. The film's direction is very unique. Shot in black and white, most scenes are unusually dark and sometimes hard to comprehend. The film just follows 3 men with their relationships unbalanced by age, language, money, race and sex. 

This film was quite decent, especially given it came out moons ago. The film is not slow, but somehow doesn't move beyond Walt willing to do anything to be with the boys. I fail to understand his desperation when he himself is quite handsome and charming. Still worth a watch. (5.5//10)

Monday, October 5, 2020

Divos!

A comedy about LGBT characters performing for a high school musical. This phrase makes you think of musical numbers, drama filled gay romance and some melodramatic coming out stories. Surprisingly this film has none of it. Its campy, funny and sassy. Having said that its not howlingly hilarious, it has good moments and some bad ones. 

Ricky is a star who is gay and is into drama and musicals big time. Ricky’s dream is to move to New York and become a Broadway legend. But he also has flaws because he always looks down upon everyone, cares only about himself, has massive insecurity. A quintessential Divo, a male Diva. But money is tight and he needs to win scholarship to go to college. Things change when Josh, the school basketball star, shows up for audition for the musical having broken his arm and unable to play the game. Surprisingly they both get selected as co-leads to play one night each. After understanding why Josh wanted to do theater, Ricky took him under his wing. But as time passed, Ricky began to realize that helping Josh might have been a mistake. Then it all turns sour, as Josh is bitten by the acting bug and turns all his competitive energies toward 'winning' on the stage, and driving Ricky out. They both try to outdo each other and eventually thanks to jealousy, they both end up losing. But hey get an interesting life lesson that even though hone door may close, life will present you with multiple opportunities.

You should not take this script or the film very seriously. This is here to entertain and entertain it does. Ricky is clearly a star and you would expect him to be humble, but he is sassy. And with hJosh, you would expect hatred towards LGBT folks but he turns out to be equally opportunist, not willing to lose out his new found passion for musicals and taking it all away from Ricky. Isn't his what high school is about? Jealousy, being mean etc. Thankfully, most of the side characters have also been given decent space and opportunity to shine. Everyone’s carrying their own baggage and while certain people do have an air of confidence about them, that doesn’t mean they aren’t fighting insecurities. Ricky's acting was a bit OTT but I think that was expected. Josh fits the part well. Ricky's side kick, gender fluid Michael are 2 characters that stand out. Thankfully, no forced romance was shown between the boys. Their sexuality just happened to be just there. It was just a silly one-man upmanship about 2 high school boys.

It’s a queer-centric comedy that knows it’s crazy and has a lot of heart. My ratings are a bit low since these kind of campy films are not normally my kind of thing. But on a sad day, I can see this film bringing a smile to your face. (5.5/10)

Sunday, October 4, 2020

My Big Gay Jewish Conversion (Documentary) (UK)

This BBC documentary is looking to explore whether sexuality and religion can be in harmony with each other. I have my personal views on the subject, but given that this documentary is barely 50 minutes long, it definitely seems worth spending my time.

Simon is Irish Catholic and a practicing Cristian. But things dont matter till he meets his boyfriend Matthew, a Jewish man. Matthew's Synagogue allows same-sex marriage whereas Simon's church doesn't and there begins Simon's mission. Simon goes on a personal journey as a gay man to discover if he could convert to Judaism and whether it is worth sacrificing his Catholic upbringing. Simon starts by talking to a variety of people, including other gay Jewish men and a Rabbi, before traveling to the birthplace of Judaism, Israel. He also visits Tel Aviv, where Gay Pride has been celebrated since 1979. He finds everyone open and accepting there. But as he delves deeper, Simon is hit with big doubts. In Jerusalem, he is faced with more conservative and hostile views. Finally, Simon visits one of the holiest sites in Christianity, where Jesus Christ was believed to have been resurrected and meets a trainee Catholic Priest to question his own faith. Eventually eh realizes that no religion will ever give him the 100 percent support he is looking for.

See, I could have guessed it before that no religion will ever have a universal acceptance of gay people. Simon thought that Jewish people had it all - religion, culture and ability to get married in a synagogue. But just because one synagogue does that in Ireland, that cannot be generalized. Similar to the fact that just because his church doesn't allow gay marriage, I am sure there are many others who do. Yes, he wanted answers but I believe those answers were already there. I personally didn't learn anything new from this documentary, admitingly that I don't know much about Judaism. There is no neat solution, it is a constant push and pull with extreme highs and lows. If you’re looking for answers from religion alone, you’re never going to find them. On the plus side, it was fun to see the party and accepting side of Tel Aviv with some really gorgeous beautiful guys and Simon and Matthew themselves made a very handsome couple. This doc offers nothing novel but given it is not too long, it makes for an easy watch. (5/10)

Horror In The Wind

Yet another one of those slightly older silly gay films, that was made just for the heck of it. A crappy, supposedly funny script wit stiff acting and low budget production value. I mean, yes the idea and thought was novel and the film in itself was quite boring. It could have made for an interesting 15 minute short film with better actors and director.

Best friends and biogeneticists Richard and Ed have been working on some secret formula that involves inhibiting the sex drives of rats. The duo are also secretly screwing around with each other's wife. When the president gets a wind of it, he throws money to them to speed up the experiment to use this formula to suppress teenage horniness so that people can have sex only in marriage. While they are testing the product, they realize something is off and the product actually reverses sexual orientation instead of suppressing sexual drive. Th product is stolen and sprayed across all over the world. Sadly, there is no antidote. As you can expect, some funny moments are supposed to happen when the best friends fall in love, president turns gay, and world topples all over. The duo continue to work on antidote and even succeed in making it but secret services try to kill them. The duo realize that they would much rather be with each other because they liked one another even before this happened.

As you can see that the storyline was novel but sadly the execution was bad. I mean why would families openly talk about sex and sexuality all the time for no rhyme or reason. Of course they also tried to make a caricature out of president and VP of America also and I think those were probably the only few seconds which I found funny. Thankfully they also dont make a buffoon out of Ed and Richard's characters. A positive picture is painted portraying them as awkwardly monogamous and generally responsible. Acting throughout is below average. This is definitely not the worse gay film I have seen, but it is pretty low down there.

Totally avoidable. (2.5/10)

Friday, October 2, 2020

SOTUS S: The Series (Thai)

SOTUS has been one of the more popular BL series. In fact, even I thought it was a pretty novel content with a gay love story as the backdrop. Like most fans, I did wis to know what would happen to the life of the main couple after they got together. Sadly, the extremely high expectations after Season 1 is a major reason that this season feels short on many levels.

Arthit has started his new job at an electrical goods company Ocean Electric and feels like a fresher all over again in an adult world. Kongpop is now an Engineering senior at university and the head hazer. His approach to hazing is the complete opposite of the violence and humiliation that he received. He prefers being constructive, helpful and positive. The story focuses on a junior Day who still is opposed to any idea of hazing. After a few episodes, the shift happens. Kongpob is now looking for a place for internship and he prefers Ocean Electric over his father's firm. Even though their social group now knows about their relationship after season one's terrific finale, Arthit insists on keeping Kongpop hidden from his new colleagues, which starts to create tension and difficulties and unhappiness for Kongpob who is very comfortable in his skin. When a picture of them kissing spreads across the office, Arthit finally takes the courage to admit his true love in front of everyone and eventually , as expected love wins.

On a positive note, there were no over the top dramatic scenes between the couple. Their arguments seem natural that a normal couple would have, but I also felt that given they spent so much time together, how come they have so many communication gaps. Kongpob should have hidden the fact that he is looking for internship in Arthit's company and that he is looking to move next to his room. I would be mad too. Also, somehow I found their chemistry more as good friends and less that of a couple. I would have expected more intimacy given that they are supposed to have been together for over 2 years. The characters didn't seem to have grown. Most of the characters come back for a few scenes here and there, but there are a few more couples that this series focuses on. The junior Day, the rebellion boy and a classmate of Kongpob who makes sure he gives him support. Then we have another intern who joins the company and his relationship wit hone of the guys in the factory. Personally, I thought there's was also a cute one. So while the focus is still very much on the strangely inert relationship of Kongpop and Arthit, the screenplay is interesting and well-written enough to allow for a large number of secondary sub plots without overwhelming the central narrative. Although personally, I would have preferred the central couple to still be the focus. There is very little of BL and more about office, production, politics and what not; so in that sense I was a little disappointed for not enough BL content. Having seen all 13 episodes now, I wonder if this sequel was really needed (unless they could have come up with a better story).

Overall, its strictly average viewing. The show is better when it focuses on the romance, trials and tribulations of Kongpop and Arthit, but there is very little of it. Too many sub plots diverted my attention and really those were not doing much for it. (5/10)

Saturday, September 26, 2020

The Garden Left Behind (English/Spanish)

More and more film makers are coming up wit humane stories about transgenders. Tackling this subject is not easy with any story. Showing the struggles of the transgender community and violent attacks on them has to be dealt with sensitivity. This film is a poignant drama about Tina, a trans woman and undocumented Mexican living in New York.

Tina, a 30-year-old transgender woman and her grandmother, have been struggling to make a life for themselves in New York since emigrating from Mexico when Tina was only six years old. Grandmother yearns to return to Mexico, while Tina struggles for acceptance as a transgender woman in America. Working as a gypsy cab driver to save money for her transition, Tina battles the constant anxiety of being undocumented. She has a lover of 2 years, who suddenly disappears from her life when she decides to actually go through the transition. She is seeing psychologists and doctors for the process and around same time, after yet another brutal beating in the transgender community, she emerges as an outspoken advocate, a role that changes everything. When she joins a trans advocacy group, Tina gains courage and dignity. All this while, she has a secret admirer, the neighborhood deli boy, who longs for a different life as much as Tina does. Tina sells her car for the surgery but disappointingly finds out the hormone injections will not be good for her liver. In a tragedy of sorts, Tina meets a sad ending, that too through the hands of his admirer.

The ending tells us the stats for most hate crimes against transgender women especially trans women of color. This is a very sad reality of our society. Coming back to the film, much of the film is devoted to immersing us in Tina’s daily life, how she thinks of herself and how she is regarded by others. In the process, the director failed to establish the character. I would have liked to know why did the grandma decide to stay for almost 24 years in the city. We would like to have known more of Tina's history. Sure we see how she feels while being mistreated by people around her including her boyfriend, but somehow I still felt a bot disconnected with the character. The whole angle of the neighborhood stalker was a bit ambiguous. Was he a secret lover or a stalker or a hater? The film was still ok when we followed Tina's life and her support system. There are many such small flaws but I can see the makers heart in the right place. But that doesn't mean the importance of the film is any less. I am so glad to see real life trans people playing trans characters. 

A slice of life drama set in unfamiliar New York neighborhoods, this is a fresh story. I wanted to like the film much more than I did, but that could be just me dealing with some personal stuff. Despite everything, this film still deserves to be seen. (6/10)

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Skam France: Season 3 (French) (Web Series)

The original Norwegian show Skam is one of my favorite shows, so when I started watching season 3 of the French remake, of course I had reservations. Each actor and character of the original show is still very fresh his my mind. I still decided to give it a fair shot. I decided to not watch all seasons, instead just focus on season 3, which is the gay love story and thats what I am going to do with the other remakes as well.

As expected, the story is exactly the similar as the original show. Lucas is in closet but has to date girls to feel part of the group. soon he meets Elliott, a new mystery boy in one of the hangout groups. Something about him mesmerizes Lucas and soon they strike a friendship. They clearly have a spark. Also since both have girlfriends, neither wants to make the first move. Eventually they both give in and a torrid affair starts. Lucas' friends feel there is something off about Lucas but he never confides in them. Elliott's behavior is a bit erratic at times. He sometimes goes missing and gets back with his girlfriend a few times. He cant take it anymore and eventually comes out to his friend. But soon, a secret is revealed that Elliott is bipolar. Lucas' life is shattered but when he is coached by his friends that bipolar is something that can be managed, he brings back Elliott in his life. With his continuous love and support, the two lovers rekindle and reaffirm their faith in closeness.

Even though Isak & Evan from Norwegian show gave a great performance, Lucas and Elliott here are no different. They have a sparkling chemistry and the two boys look soo good together. They bring the screen alive. since I was familiar with the storyline, I was more interested in the actors and I have to say that I wasn't disappointed. A few scenes tugged my heart. The first kiss between the boys brought a smile to my face. But I literally had tears in my eyes when Lucas comes out to his flatmates, tells them about Elliott and how he has lost love even before finding it and how his best friend is now not even taking to him. That scene was so natural which shows the depth of understanding that the actor had of Lucas character. Absolutely no one can be left unmoved by that scene. I also enjoyed and appreciated the scenes where his closest friends are his support system. They don't make a big deal out of him being gay. Instead they sort of teach him how to flirt and date and what not. Elliott beings the required intrigue and charm that his character is supposed to bring. Needless to say that both the boys are extremely good looking and handsome. The love between them is pure and is shown with so much dignity and respect. I wouldn't have expected anything less.

This is a must watch, if you are a SKAM fan. I am one of them, and I totally enjoying the french version. I know its not fair, but I will still continue to be biased towards the original version, but this one is pretty darn close. (8/10)

Sunday, September 13, 2020

A Rosa Azul de Novalis (Portuguese) (Documentary) [The Blue Flower of Novalis]

This is one man's monologue about his life experiences in a monologue style. I would call tihs more of a documentary than a film, to be honest. Between making coffee and gay hook-ups, Marcelo’s fetishes and longings are revealed, casually and full of intensity. This documentary apparently wanted to understand what can we see through the eye of the ass (the third, mystic eye)?

Marcello, in his mid 30's, early 40's occupies the image from beginning to end and talks about a jumble of things: his passion for coffee, his HIV status, his chronic headaches, his homophobic father, his fantasies of having his father watch his lovemaking with passing boyfriends, his lovers’ passion, his Catholic grandmother or his incestuous brother. At times, he takes himself for Genghis Kahn, Novalis or a French courtesan; at others, he talks about Bataille or the Saint whose name he has forgotten and who, on the scaffold, is said to have taunted his executioner with a startling sense of humour. We see his dick, his ass, his fucks.... everything.

As per the director, although asshole is considered to be obscure for many people, for them it is the gateway to their character. The asshole is a part of the body that can produce excitement and pleasure, it is a site for the re-elaboration of the body and its perspectives, and since it is not intended for human reproduction, it escapes the traditional system of ideas pertaining to sexuality and gender. The camera observes Marcelo and captures his stories with total concentration, until a simple panning shot initiates the reenactment of one chapter of his biography when his brother died. We keep following him memories after memories. To be honest, I found it quite interesting for the first 30 minutes but eventually, it started to feel as one man's obsession with himself and I completely lost interest in the last 30 minutes.

Even though hits hard to rate documentaries, I would say this one ranks pretty low in my list. (3/10)

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Los Fuertes (Spanish) [The Strong Ones]

The film is a classic example of how the passionate chemistry between the lead characters can change the way you perceive the film. Right form when they meet, they sensuality, the chemistry, the emotions, everything is so palpable, you can't not root for them. This is one of the most beautiful and amazing love stories i have seen in a recent while that brought smile and tears both in my eyes. Special mention to the gorgeous and beautiful town of Valdivia where the whole film is so magically shot.

A young handsome man Lucas, an architecture student, comes to visit his sister Catalina and her husband in Valdivia before heading to Canada on a scholarship. We soon find out that there is some stress with their parents, probably something to do with him being gay. There he meets Antonio, the grandson of Catalina  housekeeper, a strapping very very handsome young man, who is a fisherman by profession. Romance slowly blossoms between the two men. They don't display their love openly but neither of their families has an issue with it. Antonio loses his job as a boatswain, when he refuses the physical advances of a colleague, he decides to take matter in his own hands. Situations cause some drift between the lovers since the feelings are getting so strong that the idea of Lucas leaving soon is very painful. But both men will eventually have to grow up, find out who they are and continue with who they are. The ending may not be good for them as a couple but maybe the right thing for each of them as individuals.

Let me just say it right out the bat, the two men are absolutely freaking gorgeous, especially Antonio. I mean, him driving a pickup truck, caring grandson, proud of his heritage, dirty jeans and rough around the edges personality is something that no one can be left without getting charmed. But this doesn't take away from the warmth and inner struggle to better his life that Lucas brings to the character. This film is somehow a magical mix of two of my other favorite films, Weekend and God' Own Country. While appreciating and being mesmerized by the beauty of the locations of Valdivia, you don't even realize how the director surprises you with their first kiss and the slow yet steady romance tat develops between the two guys. It's almost perfect. The beauty of their scenes together lies in their body language, how much can be expressed without saying a word. The sparks are there, but he gives his characters room to breathe. As an audience you connect with the natural chemistry and the smoldering passion they share, the whole time respecting their family. Neither of them knows what the future holds for them together since neither is willing to make a compromise but none of that is over dramatized. The scene where Antonio has tears in his eyes knowing that Lucas will leave very soon and he really doesn't want him to leave choked my heart. it was a natural yet such a powerful scene. The ending is bittersweet, but i am happy the director didn't feel compelled and stayed true to his characters nature. Very subtly he also hints at the social disparity that the two men have.

I can't stress enough hon how highly I will recommend this film to everyone. This film is magical. Love at its purest raw form. Please watch this NOW. (9/10)

Friday, September 11, 2020

Cầu vồng không sắc (Vietnamese) [Rainbow without Colours]

This film is a beautiful love story. Depending on how you see it, this may or may not be taboo for you, since the love is between two brothers, albeit one of them is adopted. its also a film about relationship with families and how narrow minded view on homosexuality can sometimes destroy a perfectly happy family.

Hoang and Lan are kids living with their wealthy parents in countryside in a beautiful mansion. Also with them in Hung, their adopted son, who lost his parents in an accident. The two boys Hoang and Hung spend all their time together and as they grow up, they realize that they are very much in love. The sister sees it and in fact the father sees it too and all he asks Hung is to be nice and take care of his son Hoang. But when the mother finds out the truth, all hell breaks lose. she just cannot accept her son to be gay and demands Hung to leave since she thinks he is the reason for Hoang's "sickness". Her blind motherly love eventually drives Hung to his death by a freak road accident, which in turn makes Hoang lose his mind to madness and he disappears into wilderness. Almost 10 years later on a full moon day, a day on which Vietnamese people believe their relatives' spirits will return home, maybe Hoang will finally find his way back home.

The film had a very very interesting plot, but it was slow. A good time in spent on their childhood and early adult life, but it is made us to believe as if they live in this fantasy world where the two boys are always together with each other. What happened with mingling with other people. I am not very sure what kind of upbringing they had, but yeah you get to see how the love between them gradually develops. it was really nice to see the father being able to read through his sons behavior and be respectful of that. The mother on the other hand was absolutely crazy. her scenes towards the end are OTT hysterical. I wish it was a little subdued to be more impactful. The boys both look very handsome and they share a great chemistry with each other. I wish the story was set more in contemporary times. The whole remote country lifestyle gave it a fantasy-land feel which somehow led me to not be able to connect with the overall storyline and premise. I feel the duration of the film can be trimmed, and it may have a better impact. I really enjoyed the scene where the boys go to gay bar, they feel they are in a safe place and get formally dressed to sing a sing. That was really beautiful.

An average film which could have been so much more. The locations are beautiful, the leads are gorgeous, so what if it is a little slow and maybe at times over the topa. Nonetheless its a good decent love story with a tragic end. (5.5/10)

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Das Flüstern des Mondes (German) [Whispering Moon]

These kind of weird dystopian futuristic, low budget films are not my kind of cinema at all. An Austrian film, filmed in a mockumentary style, this is not really a gay themed film to be honest. So don't get fooled by the posters at all. By the end, I wasn't sure whether this film, is satire, comedy, drama, love story or what? It was a big ball of mud in my opinion.

Recently there have been a spat of assassination attempts. Jannis and his mute boyfriend Patrick are convinced that these are politically motivated. They decide to infiltrate a circus to shoot an undercover documentary exposing an underground political conspiracy. But when Patrick meets Mo, a young woman whose sensitivity to sunlight forces her to live by night, Jannis’ jealousy threatens the entire project. Now, the only way Patrick and Jannis can be certain to get the answers to their questions is to stick together until the bitter end.

The script of the film is very amateurish and all over the place. To top that, the performances are pretty bad. The whole way of presenting the film is very new, where you get a feel that the film is being edited while you are seeing it using software controls; but this just did not work for me. Everything else kind of falls apart around that premise. Part of that is the fault of the script, which has stilted dialogues and a cop-out of an ending and just gets lost in the weirdness of it all. After trying to stay focussed fo rover 30 minutes, I couldn't bear the torture anymore and was waiting for this atrocity to end.

Completely avoidable. (1.5/10)

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Lan Yu (Mandarin)

There are a lot of tragic love stories but not many come to mind in the LGBT context. Yes, you will see a lot of queer themed films which have a sad ending, but either they were not really romantic in the first place or the tragedy didn't hit the audience like it does in this film. Apparently, this movie was filmed in Beijing without government permission and is based on a novel published anonymously on the Internet in 1997.

Lan Yu is an architecture student and is desperately in need of money. Someone who knows him suggest prostitution for one night, and Lan Yu is introduced to Handong, who is a successful businessman and international trader. They spend the night together and Lan Yu starts feeling emotionally attached to Handong, for whom this was just another sexual night. They meet a couple more times and Handong showers Lan Yu with expensive gifts and money. ONe night when Lan Yu finds handong wit another young man, he is heart broken and he leaves. Handong does reconnect wit him until a few years later on the night of Chinese army's Tiananmen Square crackdown. The two men start a new chapter in life. Handong now almost loves Lan Yu, gives him time, attention, money and an expensive house to live in. But soon enough Handong meets woman and gives in to marrying her for social pressure. This comes as a shock to Lan Yu, who decides to leave the big house and him and Handong lose all contact. A chance meeting at the airport and Lan Yu's invitation to a home-cooked meal reunited the pair. Finally, Chen Handong reciprocated the love and commitment Lan Yu had so freely given and the two were truly a couple. But again, Handong's company gets into government investigation because of which he is put into prison. Lan Yu sells the home, takes out al his savings and gifts that he was saving to go to US to help Handong come out of prison. Unfortunately, just as he realized that the younger man was truly his beloved and his destiny, Lan Yu is killed in a construction accident. Three years later, Chen Handong is still grief-stricken.

The film shows us a span of almost 1-12 years in the life of these two lovers and how things and situations change with them and around them. People grow up with time and mature and this is so well portrayed in the film. Sadly, its never made clear how much time has passed between the scenes and as an audience you just have to guess whether few months or few years have passed. But lives of both these men go on and the film is about the lovers reuniting a few times and getting separated time and again for one reason or the other. Lan Yu is passive, loves Handong but he never stands upto him. He always just blindly accepts him for what he is. In contrast, Handong is a sharp focused man. He is just not sure of whether he loves this man or not. Also remember, we are talking of the situation in late 80s, when probably being gay was not the easiest thing. One of my personal favorite scene is when they reconnect after Handong's divorce and there is this awkwardness between them. They both clearly still love each other but neither wants to make the first move. Lan Yu still feels cheated and hurt while Handong feels guilty for leaving his true love for a woman. The end was a bit sad, more for Lan Yu, who never really got to live his dream or true love.

I think the film definitely deserves an audience. At less than 90 minutes of run time, this did not disappoint me. (6/10)

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

2 Moons 2: The Series (Thai)

This reboot/sequel is interesting. I had reviewed 2 moons earlier on my blog, but the season 2 is a combination of being a reboot and a sequel in true sense. Whatever the legal reasons were for the old cast to not continue with this show are none of my concern. Like most people. I was also apprehensive of watching new actors take over characters that I had already associated faces with, but it didn't take much time to like these actors as well. The first 4 episodes does a recap of what we saw in prequel, right till the moment of Ming winning the Moon title. The following 8 episodes takes the story further.

Recap of 2 Moons. Wayo and Ming are best friends. The moon competition has just ended, which Ming has won.Wayo is now in love with medical student Pha and they are officially a couple now. Ming continues to flirt with Pha's best friend Kit, who still can't decide whether he likes Ming or not. Beam is the other friend, with whole we have not seen much yet and finally we have Forth, who had crush for Wayo but understands now that he is with Pha. Continuing further, Wayo and Pha are in a happy space although occasional jealousies keep coming in. Wayo still thinks that Pha may go back to his ex girlfriend and Pha is annoyed with a new guy Park giving constant attention to Wayo. Ming meanwhile is continuing to pursue Kit. A chance trip to Kit's home finally seals the deal for him. Shy Kit can no longer deny his true feelings for Ming, despite knowing that Ming has been a player in the past but he is looking to change. Most unexpected love story comes for Forth and Beam. After an evening of drinking, Beam and Forth end up having sex. Fort doesn't believe in one night stand and likes Beam but Beam has never thought of it like that for a man. Eventually with constant love and admiration from Forth, Beam falls for the guy and we see three beautiful and romantic passionate love stories in front of us.

What i most liked about this series is that finally all couples got their due. The prequel was solely focussed on Pha and Wayo and no other character got to shine. A good and substantial time in spent in building the love story of both Ming & Kit and Beam 7 Forth, to be able to connect with them. And this is a huge plus. I was quite excited that first 4 episodes very smartly summarized the story of prequel, and was hoping that same pace will continue but my happiness was short lived. Rest 8 episodes followed the similar pattern that most series in Thailand follow where there is constant love, fight, food, annoyance, and random side kick characters that would expect in a web series of this sort. If you want, you can easily fast forward many of the scenes and still appreciate the growing love and respect between these couples. Acting wise, I think Ming and Forth were the best and most natural. I did not like Wayo or Pha. Wayo for forever just looking down and moving his eyes left to right. There wasn't much arc given to him. And similarly Pha was alway there with a stern look always there for Wayo, just like a bellboy. he lacks conviction of a man who is supposed to be so hot that he is desired by everyone. In contrast, the chemistry that ming shares with Kit is more natural. And I was so happy that they finally gave Ming the depth he needed. This was my big grudge from the prequel. Beam and Forth comes as a complete surprise to me but that was also well handled. Both strong individuals and how they eventually get close. One thing these Thai shows need to do is stop calling partners as 'wifey'. It is so damn annoying. Why do we have to always label this?

This reboot/sequel is definitely worthy, as much has the previous one. It is no better or weaker than the previous one. Personally i would have preferred the older cast but to give the credit, this cast does a good job of making you forget the older actors as best as they can. (6.5/10)

Monday, September 7, 2020

Cas (Dutch)

I was already sold on to the film because it was just under an hour long. i was really curious to see how film makers try to wrap up a story in such a short time, with hopefully, something meaningful to say. I have to admit that it did not disappoint at all. Primarily due to the fact that it felt very real and natural and something that can truly happen to someone in real life.

Pepijn, is a freelance writer and Sjors works in a corporate company. They have been in a relationship for seven-years and have been exploring the idea of traveling the world. Their plans hit a roadblock when Sjors invites student Cas, new to town to sleep on their sofa without asking Pepijn for a few days till he gets settled. Quickly Pepijn begins to obsess over Sjors relationship with Cas and it brings out insecurities in their relationship. But soon enough, Pepjin himself begins to fall for Cas’ charms. In the meantime, clearly there are communication challenges between the couple. Pepjin wants to travel but Sjors is not very sure. Also they want to ask their best friend to carry baby for them as a surrogate. In between all this. after a drunken night out, the three of them end up having sex which gets repeated a few times. The couple keeps checking with each other if they are ok, but something is off. They decide to end things with Cas and ask him to leave. The true test of their relationship begins now. Sjors is happy in a more settled life but this is not what Pepjin signed up for. He feels he misses the old adventurous Sjors, whom he met when he had just come back after traveling more than half the world. The duo decide to break up. Pepjin needs to expand his wing and follow his passion.

This film actually shows us a lot in a short running time. We see a long-term relationship where two people have become comfortable and forgotten how to voice their wants and needs. Cas’ arrival makes both men think about what they actually want and they’re excited by having a hot, young boy living with them. The whole dynamics between the duo change rapidly. First Pepjin thinks that Sjors is cheating on him with Cas but as he gets to know Cas better, he finds himself attracted to him. There are some nice sexual tension between Cas and both individuals. And it's stuff like that, in my mind, which makes this film very real and relatable. From acting perspective, its Pepjin that overshines completely. he goes through a range of emotions in t his film and does an amazing job of putting them across. That doesn't take away from the fact that the other 2 actors are equally good. Thankfully the film doesn't make Cas to be the bad guy. At no point is he trying to seduce any of the guys, but he is young, so he is not going to refuse advances made by them. The film could ave avoided the whole surrogacy angle would be my constructive feedback.

A fascinating look at a long-term relationship where communication starts to become a challenge. Their situation changes drastically but they have both grown up as individuals during this time. Not many films show thing so up, close and personal. (7.5/10)

Sunday, September 6, 2020

The Lawyer (Lithuanian/English)

To be honest, I am not very sure what was the basic theme that the film maker was trying to show and focus on. There seemed multiple themes going on, or you can see it was sort of like episodic events that happening with hour main protagonist. Sure, enough in the second half, he gets a purpose and the film focuses on immigration and LGBT issues but it takes forever to reach that point.

Marius is a corporate lawyer in Vilnius. He is a player who spends time with friends and chasing young lovers for sex. The death of his estranged father shakes him and he finds himself striking up an unexpected relationship with a sex-cam worker, Ali, a Syrian man stuck in the refugee camp in Belgrade. Marius decides to take a trip a trip to Belgrade to meet Ali. The polar-opposite pairing ignites unexpected passion, with Marius using Ali’s unfortunate circumstances to uncover his own sense of purpose. Ali asks for Marius' help in moving to other part of Europe, which he initially refuses saying he is not an immigration lawyer, but eventually decides to help and manages to get him out of Belgrade.

As mentioned above, the story takes forever to come to the point. In between there is this side story of a very popular female artist, with whom Marius makes an unexpected friendship with. None of their scenes add any value whatsoever in the film. Even the scenes between Marius and Ali, they take forever to come to a point. They speak so slow that you feel like fast forwarding it. Its the troubled love story between Ali and Marius. interestingly Serbia doesn't have a special refugee program for LGBT individuals and neither is being gay legal in Lithuania. The film eventually becomes a metaphor for their isolation and marginalization in a time and a place (today’s Serbia) where “being different” is still problematic. This movie itself had lack of consistency and depth, feels like some characters play unnecessary roles. On a positive side, the leads actors really did a commendable job, but besides that I feel the issues of being gay, refugee and being in a country which doesn't support these were very lightly handled.

This film could have been so much better, shorter and very meaningful. Sadly, in my opinion, it misses the opportunity it had on its hands. (4/10)

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Gay Short Films : 79

Agua (Mexico) [Water]
Camilo is a young rower in village discovering his sexuality meetings with a local man. One day he thinks he is being discovered & accidentally ends up revealing his homosexuality. Confused with what just happened, Camilo reacts violently and decides to flee the village.

O Presente (Brazil) [The Gift]
Awkwardness steeps in when a man makes a sex video with another man to gift it to his girlfriend on his birthday. the other guy happens to be the girls brother.

Onko sulla nälkä (Finland) [Are You Hungry]
An overprotective mother's assumptions about her son's needs and desires lead to cascading series of calamities.

Rêver Comme Lui (Swiss) [Dreaming Like Louis]
Louis and Paul are on holiday in the depths of the countryside. To pass the time, they make love, play tennis, go for walks & sleep. But Louis feels rejected, while Paul is becoming increasingly distant. Louis takes refuge in his dreams, which shift between desire and repulsion, longing and destruction, dream and paranoia.

Victory Boulevard (USA)
13-year-old Oscar Guzman secretly crushing on his older hot neighbor Carlos. When Carlos invites Oscar for a car ride, he is surprised to hear how open and helpful Carlos' insights about life end up being for Oscar, who is struggling with his sexuality. 

Anti Reproductive Mating Ritual (Norway)
Two young men skateboarding on the dock as they undress. A beautiful and intimate courtship ritual.

Antes Que Seja Tarde (Brazil) [Before It's Too Late]
Brazil's new right wing president takes office in a scenario of fanaticism, prejudice, and violence. Locked in a hotel room, two popular teenagers decide to change the course of their lives before it’s too late and embrace their sexuality and come out to their fans.

Jericho (USA)
A really short film about two men longing for unrequited love over a nice love song.

S.A.M (UK)
A beautiful love story between 2 Sam's, one with Down syndrome and other a loner. An unexpected connected is formed on the swings in a local park.

In Search of Mike (Australia)
A middle aged man tries to communicate with his ailing mother, despite her colorful misuse of the English language.. It is a slice of the reality of growing up gay in a working class town.

Hand Off (South Africa)
A team rugby player admits to having a crush on his friend/teammate, causing a rift between them. He retreats into a fantasy world, complete with an imaginary glitter friend, as he struggles to fit into the macho world of rugby, and to confront and rebuild the friendship with his friend.

Le Cadeau (France)
A short movie about the gift of love and poetry. Yawn!

Hidroalcohólico (Spain) [Alcohol Gel]
2 guys looking to hookup in times of Covid. They are both quite attracted to each other but also scared because of the various. Could the alcohol sanitizer help them and will this be new normal?

Dream A40 (UK)
An experimental drama which explores a gay man's fears about his sexuality and physical attraction to another man. Initial scenes are beautiful when the two men are driving.

Dudes (USA)
Matt, Jay and Bobby struggle to process the news brought by their best friend Denny, who is now out of the closet. Initially shocked by the news, eventually tey are back to their regular self. A funny but real portrayal of how guys would react.

Roosevelt's Operative (USA)
A Navy recruiter recalls the enlistment of sailors during the Navy Sex Scandal in Newport, RI, during 1919, to find out gays and perversion in navy at that time.

Les saints de Kiko (France) [Kiko's Saints]
Kiko, a Japanese illustrator on assignment in France, gets suddenly overwhelmed by a strange new inspiration, while she realizes she's been spying on a gay couple on the beach next to the chapel where she's working. Obsessed by such a vision, she will continue spying on those men and drawing them secretly. These drawings will slowly push her towards an encounter that will change her life and break the barriers she created around her. Very nice !!

Acuitzeramo (Mexico)
Salvador, an older gay man, has lost Robert, his partner of 15 years. Unaware of their relationship, Robert's son Anthony visits Salvador's home in Mexico to pick up mementos his father wanted him to have, family secrets are exposed, identities and perceptions are challenged.

Ode To Pablo (USA)
A young, queer deaf man holds his ground against the neighborhood boys on the basketball court.

Flex (USA)
After a break-up with his long time girlfriend, Charles explores parts of his sexuality that he never allowed himself to explore before. Will he succeed on his first time with another man? Nice with a touch of comedy.

Infidels (Australia)
A silent film. A guy comes back home to catch his boyfriend cheating on him with another guy whom they know. So many things unspoken.

How To Say I Love You At Night (USA)
When Paul shows up unannounced, he catches Benny off guard, throwing their first encounter into an agonizing seventeen minutes of posturing. Dealing with notions of male on male intimacy, violence and socioeconomic differences, this film suggests that the differences among us are often first embedded as fears.

Friday, September 4, 2020

The Surrogate

This film was nothing like I had expected. This was a very pleasant surprise, in a good way. its an independent film, promising some very positive and real performances by pretty much everyone in the film, and arguments about a touchy subject, which it would be impossible for you to take a side for, and this is where the film's strengths lies in.

Jesse is a young African American woman who works at an NGO. She agrees to be the surrogate for her best friend Josh and his partner Aaron. Aaron is a lawyer and the three of them believe they have every possible aspect of the arrangement spelled out in a contract. The prenatal testing reveals that the baby has Down syndrome. And that scrambles everyone's ideas about what was happening. Jess finds a new purpose in reading about the DS and looks into community resources, and urges Jos hand Aaron to do the same. She even makes a special bond with Leon, a child with DS and his mother. But the couple are struggling to adopt with this new information and ask Jesse to abort the baby, since they feel they may not have the financial, emotional or other means to cope with a DS child’s heightened care requirements. But she is not so sure and she begins to do research on what would it take to raise the baby on her own. This, as you can expect, brings all sort of arguments between her and her best friends. And even people around her, think she is crazy. Eventually Jesse take a final decision.

Now this is a subject that almost any parent, or anyone who has ever considered becoming a parent will be able to relate to. The film asks some tough questions about parenting special needs children. Its not an easy watch, but i believe its pretty authentic. The film never gets over dramatic. There is a magical, nervous energy when Jesse, Josh and Aaron are together because no one wants to talk about the news they have just heard and they are going around getting more information. There’s a welcome complexity to the relationship and the actors here that them relatable, with some useful gaps left for our imaginations to fill in. I mean I can't stress enough how natural and good all of the actors are. A huge credit goes to the director for bringing out the best in everyone. Jesse's character is the most interesting but even the gay couple is not made out to be the bad people for taking the decision to not want the child. You do understand their point of view.  They acknowledge their limitations with the wariness of two men for whom the right to marry and have children is a relatively recent gain. Wit no background score at all, the film subtly underlines the overall tension between nice people increasingly at odds with one another’s wishes.

The Surrogate is a thought-provoking drama about a very touchy subject about parenting for special needs children. Its also the mirror to the possible reality in which challenging experiences can shatter the loving friendships of chosen families. Highly recommend for lovers of some good cinema. (8.5/10)

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

The Invisible Men (Hebrew/Arabic/English)

Documentaries are hard to make, they are long projects and you need some solid material to keep the interest of audience going. This documentary scores big on both these issues. As it is we know very little about Palestine, so an untold story of gay Palestinians dealing wit hIsrael-Palestine conflict was never going to be an easy subject to film and prepare.

We meet Louie, a gay Palestinian forced to flee the West Bank when his father attacks him with a knife after learning of his sexual orientation. Louie escapes to Tel Aviv, where he lives by taking odd jobs and dodging Israeli police. He has been sent back to Palestine multiple times by the police but everytime he manages to come back. When he takes connects with lawyers, he learns about Abdu, an outspoken gay Palestinian who is seeking refuge to get out of this mess. According to him "The Palestinians won’t accept us because we are gay, and the Israelis won’t accept us because we are Palestinians without permits." He is eventually granted asylum, but Louie is very confused about leaving his land. and culture. In his words, “I want to breathe my culture, my land. I really don’t want to go abroad.” but unfortunately there is no other option for him. We also meet briefly Fares, who was sent out of home for being gay and now his family is trying to find him to kill him. He follows the suit and manages to get asylum.

Firstly, I have to say that it is very very courageous of these 3 men to come out and show their names and faces in such an important documentary. Thank God they are now all living in another country happy and safe. The documentary focuses predominantly on Louie and his friendship with Abdu after the pair are introduced by the Israeli LGBT community centre that is handling the refugee applications. It is done in a simple story telling format, there are no ups or downs as such. It is weird to understand that when Israel is one of the countries known to be very tolerant of its own gay community, their unwillingness to grant asylum to gay Palestinians is a whole different beast.
This is a very new subject for me and opens my mind for more thought on how much different situations we all have and makes me thankful and gratitude for me not being in a bad situation as some gay people around the world are. This film came back in 2012, but I can't imagine things being any different today in the region.

I'd like to have hope that one day people and society will get over a few things and be better supports for each other. Till then I am appreciative of watching educating documentaries like this to increase my worldly knowledge. (6.5/10)

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Al Óleo (Spanish) [Oil On Canvas]

I can see the film maker being inspired from "call me by your Name" film in terms of the rural village setting and creating a nice holiday mood with the film. The film is simple yet the characters are complex. Luckily no one is grey and they understand each other, even though they may not say it.

Maria is an upcoming artist. She has recently met Julio, whom she decides to bring along on a planned vacation in the countryside at her parents home. Her mother is no more and her father manages an orchard with Maria's brother Hugo, and their cousin Ramon. Hugo is young, gay and has a crush on Ramon. Maria knows it but he has not come out to his father yet. She realizes that the small town mentality of man being the strong one is very much there and that she did the right thing by moving out. She wants Hugo to move to city and start living life but part of him feels guilty leaving their father alone. Julio has to go back to the city to arrange for an art gallery for Maria, which gives the family to spend time and talk out things. Emotions are stirred and they decide to sell orchard since everyone can use money. Maria, Hugo and Ramon party and finally Hugo and Ramon do it. Thankfully there is no awkwardness the next day and Ramon decides to stay friends since he is the cousin and also he is married about to have a baby anytime. The father tells Maria that he knows about Hugo and that he agrees he should move to the city for a better life. The film ends with the hope for a better future for all with Maria taking Hugo back with her to the city.

The film is not strictly gay themed, but an important character is gay and hence reviewing here. i guess its hard to put this film in a specific genre. Its a feel good film about family dynamics and people wanting better out of life, thinking out of box and definitely leaving behind the rudimentary thoughts of what society is. The film has a natural flow and some of the best moments are when the actors are just hanging out spending time with each other. They all share an amazing chemistry which his really important for a film like this. Personally I am also glad how the whole sexual tension between Hugo and Ramon was handled. You could tell that Ramon was equally curious, which his very clear with the whole pizza with pineapple conversation where he says that we should all try things. Hugo gets to feel Ramon and now he will finally be able to move on because he understands that there is no future with him. It was just a crush. And hey, who will mind a few full front penis shots! lol

A sweet simple film to watch on a sunny day. The countryside is beautiful, actors share great chemistry and are good looking. (5/10)

Monday, August 31, 2020

Fanatic Love (Mandarin)

It was really hard to follow this film. The constant movement in two different time zones made it really hard to focus. Also , I wish they would at least show one full scene in one time scene. SO often and so fast were the switches that one scene would get completed almost in 3-4 cuts. At one point I was so confused.

Yue Yue has been in love with his best friend Su Yi since high school but he cant confess his love. However, Su Yi has hots for another boy Bai Yu, who doesn't reciprocate his feelings. Tired of seeing the person he loves suffering, Yue Yue makes a deal with Bai Yu in order to make him agree to go out with Su Yi, offering him money to pay for the medical costs of his sick mother. Bai Yu starts a relationship with Su Yi based on lies, but soon Bau Yu disappears without giving any explanation. Three years later, Bai Yu reappears and Su Yi tries to resume his relationship with him, much to the chagrin of Yue Yue, who has not yet managed to confess his feelings for his friend. Meanwhile, Yue Yue's younger sister plans with the help of Bai Yu to have her brother confess to Su Yi by having them participate in a new virtual reality game called "Fanatic", which was being developed by her company. Eventually circumstances in the game lead to Yue Yue confess his love for Su Yi, who is totally surprised but understandably the two lovers finally unite.

The whole idea of the game and virtual reality etc was a little too much to handle. There is only so much someone should go into the fantasy land. It would still have been ok , had they not made the sister become a man in the game. We see why Yue Yue made a deal with Bai Yu, but even after the end I am not very sure what deal did his sister make with him. Was it for him to disappear to allow Yue Yue to confess his feelings? Maybe! Acting wise Bai Yu was ok but Su Yi was so over the top, I almost laughed and rolled my eyes so many times. His body language was bad and loose. Its hard to explain. You will know when you see it. The film would have been much better had they gone into flashbacks only a couple of times, but the constant back and forth for such a narrative almost every 3-4 minutes was getting on my nerves. Yue Yue's sister was the only saving grace of the entire film. Rest everything was a little overboard for my tastes.

This is definitely not the worst film I have seen, but its not the kind I wanna see. The premise was nice and could have made for a very warm love story with the right screenplay. (3.5/10)

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Fathers (Thai)

Fathers is an emotional drama that tries to show struggles being gay parents to a young child and both the society and their internal challenges. Sadly most issues in this film are touched upon only at the surface without exploring them deep. It tries to showcases both tolerance and challenges for Thai LGBT couples and I really appreciate the subject matter but the unsatisfying ending, just as I was getting excited about the movie, left me not too happy at the end.

Phoon and Yuke have been together for a long time. Their adopted son Butr makes their family complete. Due to the lack of legislation for same-gender wedding, Phoon appears as his only father, on paper. Butr has always been happy with his 2 fathers but when he starts going to elementary school, he starts questioning about his mother. An incident in school, makes a social worker of the Children’s Rights Protection Organization gets involved, questioning the idea of Butr growing up in a family without a feminine presence. She even tracks down his real mother, which totally disrupts life of this happy family. With pressure from social worker and Butr's mother wanting to get involved in his life, Phoon decides to send Butr to stay with his mother for a couple of weeks because of which his relationship with Yuke becomes rather strained. It is hard to say what is right and what is wrong for situations like this.

This is probably the first time that talks about gay parenting in South East Asia. Almost nobody in the film overtly discriminates against the gay couple. However, when Butr comes into the equation, things become more complicated. The film’s main conflict arises from the question of whether having gay parents could be detrimental for a child’s development compared with having straight ones. You may or may not like the characters presented (the school teacher, the social worker, Butr's mother, Phoon and Yuke themselves) but everyone's position is rooted in concern for Butr’s welfare rather than malice. We are made to question and consider different points of views rather than denigrating them straightaway. Yes, Butr wants his mother but tat doesn't mean he doesn't wants his fathers. How do you explain this to a child what is the relationship between his fathers is with each other. Personally I also have issues wit why the child was sent to temporarily live with the mother. There are various other ways to incorporate a mother's love in his everyday's life. And as I mentioned, the ending was rather abrupt and you wouldn't know what will really happen with Butr's life. Phoon and Yuke have excellent chemistry with each other as a gay couple. In fact, their chemistry with Butr and their interactions are so real, they feel like a family. My heart broke when Butr cries asking to not be sent to his mother. Kids at this age are very impressionable and everyone has their view on what's right for Butr. I get it that its a hard story to present just one side of the coin, but in my mind, there is no two way about the fact that the fathers are the real parents and social worker and society need to find a way to bring motherly love in a different way. someone actually asks the question, "What's the difference between Father and Mother", and in the context this movie is, it is a hard question to answer.

The film has its faults, but the sincere portrayal of the film’s main theme makes it a definitely wort a watch, particularly when one considers the lack of films about gay parenting, especially in Southeast Asia. (7/10)

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Monsoon (UK)

Continuing with the theme of first- and second-generation emigrants trying to stay connected with their roots and their new life, its a balance thats hard to maintain. a story about young British Vietnamese man trying to find his place in the world. not just that, he is also trying to find his true identity and connect.

Kit , a young British Vietnamese man, returns to his birth country for the first time in over 30 years. He is a stranger, a tourist to his own relatives. He recognizes very little as he and his family fled Vietnam (Saigon specifically) when he was six years old. Vietnam has changed and so has Kit. To ease pain he hooks up with people where he meets Lewis, an American whose father had fought in the war & with whom he forms a bond with. They discuss how their lives were affected deeply by the Vietnam war and they clearly bond through their pain. Kit is in the country to see if he wants to spread ashes of his mom on this country, and to do that he makes a trip from Saigon to Hanoi in search of his ancestral home. During his travels, Kit finally starts to connect to the memories of his parents and his own roots.

The film doesn't talk much but at the same time, a lot gets said in those empty glances and stares that Kit has. He sees places, homes, streets trying to jog his memories as a kid to figure out what the place should mean for him. Kit travels in awe which turns into melancholy every time. The maker s keeps a good balance of showing the modern Vietnam along with the traditions and beauty of the pre-war beauty of Vietnam. Henry Golding of Crazy Rich Asians fame play Kit and gives a powerful performance as a man unsure about what is place is in a country that he should feel at home. His relationship with hLewis is a tender and warm story of two people dealing with the fallout of two separate families dealing with the same horror. In tat essence, its less of a gay love story and more a story of family and individuals trying to find a place and a home. The film is slow and will not be everyone's cup of tea, but in those slow movements and shots, Vietnam has been captured so beautifully. It brought back all of my memories of my trip just over a year ago. in a very relevant and poignant scene towards the end, when Kit tells his cousin that neither of his parents ever spoke of their homeland, his cousin’s response goes to the heart of the complexity of the refugee predicament. “They went through so much to leave here, and now you bring them back?”

Films like this touch your heart but at the same time, subjects like this are something only emigrants can relate to. We all have had our reasons to leave our motherland. Do not expect entertainment from this film. IT is a sensitive portrayal of cultural displacement. (7/10)

Friday, August 28, 2020

Futur Drei (Farsi/German) [No Hard Feelings]

This film is so real, so today and yet so poetic at the same time. There is something uniquely so pure and magical about this film that even the sometimes slow pace didn't bother me at all. Its the small little things in this film that complete the film. Youngsters struggling with sexuality and ethnic identities and their need to belong somewhere is all very relevant in today's time.

Parvis is the first generation German Iranian whose parents moved to Germany for a better life. Despite this, most people, whom he meets in clubs, never think of him as German. he is accepted bu his family for being gay but his parents are also struggling to connect with him at some level. Parvis is a bit immature and a mistake costs him community service in a refugee detention center. There he meets the brother sister duo of Bana & Amon who fled Iran and are looking for legal status. Most people at center are immediately wary of his homosexuality, except the duo. The 2 boys have instant attraction but Parvis ends up becoming friends with Bana, who keeps pushing her brother Amon towards Parvis. A beautiful love story starts developing between the two, wit Amon struggling to accept his sexuality and Parvis with his identity, since every sexual encounter with a German seems to end in some sort of racial stereotyping. Their struggle increase when Bana's refugee request is denied and she is at the risk of deportation. Parvis will do everything to keep his best friend and his lover both safe with support of his family.

This film has so many sources of conflict like homosexuality, family, refugees, migration and love, that it could easily have fallen into a melodramatic hellhole. But instead, the film maker brings to us a story about the barriers to cultural assimilation. Its not important why siblings left Iran but what they want out of their life now. And this makes Parvis re-examine what his parents went through coming to Germany after the Iranian Revolution, especially because he cannot avoid being racially stereotyped in his own country since he was born in Germany. The relationship that grows between the 3 people is just impeccable, believable and magical. Bana wants to protect her younger brother at every cost and Parvis gives a ray of hope to Amon, who by the way is the most gorgeous and beautiful actors I have seen in recent times. Amon and Parvis share a totally electrifying chemistry. Their first halting kiss in a bathtub is equal parts steamy and sweet. The way Amon and Bana unquestioningly locate home in each other beautifully evokes a foundational sibling bond, while Bana and Parvis’ relationship may have no romantic component, but it, too, plays out like a falling-in-love, like a simple echo in the blood she shares with Amon. All three actors are bloody darn good and amazing in their portrayal and that's a huge win for any film.

“No Hard Feelings” is a love story, an immigrant tale and a coming of age story for a whole generation of displaced young people. Thankfully the film never goes melodramatic. Highly recommend. (8.5/10)

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Kiss Me, Kill Me

I am a huge fan of thrillers. Sadly not many gay film makers have explored the genre as deeply as it has the potential. This film had a good story in its hands, and to be honest, it was executed quite well to an extent but somehow this still leaves you with a lot to be desired. Hopefully by the time I finish writing this post, I will have figured out what was missing.

Stephen is a successful TV producer with a perfect boyfriend Dusty, who is a bit possessive about him. When Stephen's ex-boyfriend Craigery also shows up at his birthday party, it leads to arguments. Humiliated, Dusty leaves the party, walks down to a convenience store. Stephen follows; trying to explain the affair is over, but out of nowhere an attack happens. When he regains consciousness, it turns out Stephen has been killed and now Dusty is the prime suspect. But Dusty cannot remember what happened. The whole premise is filled with suspects and characters out of which anyone could have done the murder. We have an unstable female lawyer desperate for sperm for baby and best friend of Dusty,, a couples’ therapist, the jealous ex-boyfriend, Dusty's sketchy best friend, a resentful lesbian couple, and a drag queen hypnotist. A lesbian and a "straight" cop are trying to follow leads to identify the killer. Dusty is desperate to put the pieces of the puzzle together, regardless where the truth leads, even if it means he did kill Stephen.

The most interesting thing is that the identity of the killer is not obvious till more than halfway. everyone is shown to have few quirks which keep moving your suspicion from one person to another, which is a good sign. But somewhere the execution fails. The makers tried to stereotype a lot of gay lifestyle and culture which prevented me from being able to connect to any character. The clichés about the gay community are so 90s. Dusty is barely sad, for someone whose boyfriend was just murdered. He is already out and about hooking up with strangers, with therapist, with Stephen's ex etc.  They all continue with their fancy lifestyle, rich cars and houses and just gymming and clubbing. The lawyer seems to know everything but pretends not knowing. The therapist keeps pushing individuals to think harder. Everyone wants to sleep around. Lesbians are shown angry. The only decent character was that of drag queen, who sadly doesn't add much to the story itself. Some of the liberties and leaps in logic was just too much for today's time; anyone can just walk into a crime scene or a girl trying to get pregnant with semen wiped with shirt.

I wish more time was spent on proper research to make a nail biting gay murder mystery, rather than taking audience for granted. (4.5/10)