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.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Mexican Men (Short Stories)

This collection of short stories titled ‘Mexican Men’ is a collection of five encounters that are sensual & seductive and are the works of 2 very popular film makers of Latin cinema. Most of the films emphasise on the aesthetics of some handsome Latino men, and very little attempt to include a conventional plot. I had mixed feelings after watching the series. Actually not all 5 short stories are gay themed (sigh!) but they are still good.

Trémulo (Trembling)
Carlos, an adult teenager works in a barber-shop. One day his eyes meet with Julio, a customer. Julio returns in the evenings asking for a shave (or maybe to meet Carlos). They spend the night together, eating, chatting and even dancing getting increasingly close, with sexual tension building between them. They both know that this is short lived but was still amazing. The best film in this collection, this is the sort of film that you watch and anna be in love again. Brilliant!

Young Man at the Bar Masturbating with Rage and Nerve
This documentary film follows a man who works as a rent boy, which helps to support his real passion of dancing. However, for him these two things are not mutually exclusive, with sex and dance playing similar roles. This is more like a constructed documentary with interviews and scenes and sections that have obviously been staged. But surprisingly, it still makes for uninteresting story with how our protagonist discovers what its like being gay, his passion and desire to do something with his dance and how does prostitution fit into all this.

Nubes Flotantes [Wandering Clouds]
This short film about swimmers uses highly choreographed dance movements to tighten the sexual tension and emotion between people. Two young men are swimming, while in voiceover one of them tells us about their relationship – a mix of friendship and rivalry with an undeniably homoerotic edge. When a third guy joins, who is homophobic, a bubbling anger is brought up to the surface. A decent exploration on homophobia and difficulties of maintaining relationship.

Atmusfera [Atmosphere]
So this is one of the films that is NOT a gay themed film. A loud speaker talks about the dangers of the world, a possible epidemic and caught between that are 3 characters. The streets are abandoned and slowly the characters want to find the truth. An incontrollable desire forces them to leave in search of the sea. Weird but lyrical !

Vivir [To Live]
Weirdest of them all and again not a gay film. A short film set in three parts showing three different emotions (at least that is my interpretation). Through art and dance, the film explores both the characters’ emotional closeness and distance.

The first 2 films are really good. The rest are just meh!



Saturday, September 24, 2016

Outings (UK) (TV Series)

Being promoted as an original homegrown independent gay British series and something of a sibling to Queer As Folk, this series was a sheer disappointment. The show, focussing on a group of gay 20-Somethings trying to work it all out; doesn’t even come close to the above mentioned show or anything else decent for that matter. Poor story, bad acting and just a big mess all over the place.

The show follows three characters – Kane, Kiegan and Tim; and we witness their lives over a course of three episodes. Each episode sort of concentrates on one of the characters. Episode 1 shows Kane getting dumped by his boyfriend in the middle of having sex because it was so terrible. He moves in with his mom (it looks like there is history there before) and we are introduced to the other characters. Episode 2 focuses on Kiegan. We are not told about the history with family but apparently there are estranged relationships. He has been asked by his brother to be his best man and now he has to visit home for his niece’s christening. Tim starts dating a fellow actor and Kane is now a gay converted o straight man in a relationship with Lucy. Episode 3 is about him when he throws a birthday party with 80s theme for Lucy. The couple is going through a rough time with respect to sexual compatibility. Is Kane really straight now? The show ends with lot of open questions with Tim’s date and Kane ending up together in the end.

As I mentioned above, the story was quite all over the place, the continuity etc. did not make any sense. The acting was really poor too. I think Kiegan was probably the only saving grace. I highly doubt they ill ever be able to come back with season 2 unless they come up with better writing and direction and bring some sense and reality to the show. I understand that the writes used this from their own experiences, but still there is so much that can be improved in this show, pretty much everything. Take tips from Australian show ‘Please Like Me’ , which is unbelievably good.

I would recommend to not waste your time on this bad mini-series, bad acting and non-existing storyline. (3/10) 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Boys On Film 15: Time & Tied

The newest volume in this series is all about short stories from Britain. Sadly and disappointingly, most of the stores in this collection are below average. At least I personally did not connect with most of them.

Closets
We look at the lift of Henry in this time-travel coming of age drama, as a teenager struggling with his sexuality in 1986. Hiding in his wardrobe, he time travels to the present day where he meets up with a similar teenager, Ben, occupying his same bedroom 30 years later.

Putting On The Dish
This is London in 1962, a time when being gay is still a criminal offence.  Two strangers meet in a park and strike up a conversation in slang to talk about their experiences. I did not understand a word of what was being talked about

G o’Clock
After being called out to an emergency, Alex, saves the life of a young boy who had overdosed on GHB. He later arrives at a chill-out and meets Nik, a sexy young Spanish boy who he takes under his wing but soon discovers his caring instincts comes with a dangerous price.

Nightstand
Two men meet over three consecutive nights – one is young and gay, and the other is married. Their tender affair unravels in the night-time metropolis leaving them to face their biggest fears. Interesting but needs more !

Morning Is Broken
At a family wedding Sam meets Nick, who’s fond of vintage cars. He invites Sam to go for a drive, a pact is made and an adventure begins. But maybe Nick has a past that scares him.

Sauna The Dead
A night in a sauna turns into a fight for survival. Two men must over-come prejudice and join forces in taking down a horde of towel-wearing zombies. Who will live to see the dawn?

Crossroad
Liam, a young man wrecked with confusion after an incident that one night guides him on a mission of self-discovery where the choices he faces may risk changing his life forever. Yawn !

Dawn
As dawn creeps across London, two lost outcasts meet in the darkness, as the sun begins to rise, and the veil of the night is lifted, the pair look into the cold light of day for hope.

Trouser Bar
Set in a London gentlemen’s outfitters c. 1976 and taking inspiration from the emotions aroused by the love of corduroy, leather and tight trousers, two men enter Sir John’s Trouser Bar, little do they know the adventure that await them. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Gay Short Films : 49

These are a few short films with great stories, done well and are generally above 20 minutes plus duration.

How Not To live Your Life - Don Goes Gay (UK)
This is one of the episodes from the TV sitcom. Don is forced to question his sexual preferences when he wakes after a night of heavy drinking to find himself sharing a bed with Samantha's brother Jamie. Unaware he is actually the victim of one of Samantha's pranks, he decides to open his mind to homosexuality, and asks his apparent bedfellow out on a date. Eventually Don realises he is not gay after Sam's brother performs oral sex on him. This episode was hilarious. All the small things that Don thinks on why he is gay was brilliant. I think I am going to use the term 'Gayman' going forward. Funny!

Tranny Trainer (USA)
An interesting concept and thankfully made into a short film. Forrester used to be an athlete and famous but is now old, down and out and works as a personal trainer in a gym. When nothing else works for me, a chance incident leads him to becoming a personal trainer for a transvestite and he leaves the gym. Next thing you now is that gym is getting calls after calls for this special program while Forrester finds his calling and trains the ‘ladies’ in the park. Each character has their unique identity. Alright but could have been funnier.

Invulnerable (Spain)
Elías is just beginning his career as a high school teacher and just beginning his relationship with Pedro, his co-worker. He just finds out that he's HIV positive. The film goes back-n-forth on Elias’ early life, how he met Pedro, his ex-lover and how possibly he got the virus. But now the big question is how will Elias tell the truth to Pedro and how is Pedro going to react? The film and the story was told in a light manner and I found myself even laughing at few points. Invulnerable came down as raw and honest but not overbearing.

Utopies (France)
Thomas is suspected to be gay, and mobbed by youngsters in his poor neighbourhood. He meets Julien, from a different social background via Internet, in search of a different experience. They discover the suburbs around Paris, utopian architectural projects from times where a better future for all was still an aim of society. These discoveries will nourish their own personal utopia. The film is ambiguous, albeit with a love story that preserves a form of innocence. Acting is good but movie is a bit slow paced.

Sex Chat with Pappu & Papa - Homosexualiy (India)
In the final episode of this Indian web series about sex education, Anand, the dad meets his old college friend after ages who’s there to get his gay partner’s fractured foot fixed. This time both his son and his father have some awkward questions this time for Anand about homosexuality. Anand patiently explains them about homosexuality and also educates them on it.

Panorama, The Orlando Nightclub Massacre (UK BBC Doc)
It's America's worst nightmare: an armed gunman on the rampage in a gay club going around killing people. Panorama reveals what it is like to be caught up in the carnage of a mass shooting, telling the story of the Orlando massacre from the people who were there. Like everyone else, I too had been following the news but this short 30 min documentary showed with graphics and interviews, how terribly scary it was for people to be trapped inside and really not knowing what to do. I felt deeply for the people so far but not to the extent that I did after watching the documentary.

Tonight It's You (USA)
Browsing profiles on his phone, handsome CJ arranges a late-night hookup with misfit Hunter, only to discover more going on in Hunter’s backwoods farmhouse than he bargained for. This is going to lead him to something much more sinister than he could ever imagine. Misfit Hunter is going to haunt CJ for a while and he will not be able to control. A gothic, sexy, thrill and horror ride. Ending was bit confusing but still at least something different from the standard run-of-mill stuff.

Statross le Magnifique (France)
This film is the first chapter of a trilogy about Statross Reichmann, an incarnation of the western world and all of its contradictions. Statross is a mixed-race baron who lives in a mansion haunted by the ghost of his father, a Nazi colonel. Statross is tormented by his identity and the past of his ancestors.I had to watch this film without subtitles, so most of it did not make any sense to me.

Alfa (Cuba)
Alfa Mendez, Cuban gay porn actor, has to face returning to a film set without Yerry, his boyfriend with whom he used to shoot a few years ago. Sentimental and artistic by nature, on his first day of shooting without him, Alfa tries to act as in the past but things can not be like before. He is having difficulty getting close to anyone or even getting it up to be ready for the shoot. The film shows that the loss of one’s loved ones is equally painful to any profession.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Brokeback Mountain

Finally, the mother of all gay films. Of course I had seen the film way back when it released on the big screen but I started writing my blog only much later. So, it was in my TODO list to watch the film again, so that I can review it for my blog. Whoever watches or has any slight interest in gay films, knows and has probably even seen this film. I finally got to see the film again with a buddy who is just getting into the world of gay cinema, and what better film than this to onboard him to this wonderful world.

The film begins in 1963, when Ennis and Jack, about 19 years old, get a job tending sheep on Brokeback mountain. Ennis is a boy of very few words. He learned to be guarded and fearful long before he knew what he feared. Jack, who has done some rodeo riding, is a little more outgoing. After some days have passed on the mountain and some whiskey has been drunk, they suddenly and almost violently have sex. Denying the initial incident as one-off thing, slowly the 2 men fall in love with each other and have a wonderful summer up the mountains but its time for reality. Time passes and both men are now married with kids. One day out of blue, Jack decides to visit Ennis, and the passion they both have for each other suddenly reignites surprising them both. The 2 men start having “fishing trips” every few months for a few days so that they can spend some quality time with each other and plan for a possible future. Jack thinks he and Ennis might someday buy themselves a ranch and settle down. Ennis who remembers what he saw as a boy: "This thing gets hold of us at the wrong time and wrong place and we're dead.”. Frustrations increase as the men grow older but one thing never changes for them is their love for each other. Unfortunately one evening, in an accident, Jack dies (which we are told through visual images, might have been a hate crime). Ennis’ world is devastated. He was always lonely but had Jack with him in spirit. He is now all alone with only memories of Jack.

The film is heart-breaking and yet in some way gives a hope for lovers. The way the 2 men react and understand their relationship is all because of the way they grew up. Ennis was always taught by his father to hate homosexuals, and hence he hates himself. In an incident of frustration he still feels immense pain and says "Why don't you let me be? It's because of you, Jack, that I'm like this -- nothing, and nobody." Jack, on the other hands more accepting of himself and wants whats best for both of them. The two respective wives have important characters especially Ennis’ wife, when she calls him out of the fake fishing trips. She had earlier seen the two men kissing and knew what the trips were all about. The closing scene involving a visit by Ennis to Jack's parents is heartbreaking in what is said, and not said, about their world. A look around Jack's childhood bedroom suggests what he overcame to make room for his feelings. This is a story of forbidden love marked by brilliant and amazing performances by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. The chemistry between the two men is impeccable and you wish you had a love like that for whom you would be ready to anything.

The film hits you like a shot in the heart and no wonder it rates as one of the best films ever made. A desperate sad story but a beautiful and moving experience. (9.5/10)

Friday, August 26, 2016

Een Goed Leven (Dutch) [One Night Stand]

This was a sweet and short (50-min) made for TV film. I wouldn’t particularly classify this is a gay themed film but one of the two protagonists happens to be gay and hence it makes sense to review it here for my blog.

Helen in her mid-late 40s has been leading a very affluent life. One day she comes home to find her dead husband and later realises that her husband had overdrawn his credit account and that suddenly Helen is now penniless compare to the rick upper class woman that she was so far. She moves in her daughter’s room (who is going for a long holiday), which is a in s shared space with common living room and everyone having a personal bedroom. She meets Joeri, a carefree good looking young man living a wild and i-don’t-give-a-damn attitude. He is not ashamed to admit that he works as an escort and his clientele is mostly gay men and married men and that he is open for any kind of fetishes as long as he can make money. Joeri and Helen form an interesting bond of friendship because another of them judges the other person. One drunken night, things get out of control and the dreaded ‘one night stand’ happens. This creates an initial awkwardness between them but thankfully both of them handle things in a mature way. Eventually Joeri finds love through Tindr and hopefully Helen will also find her way through life.

The story was simple and not very complicated and thank god that the tim was not unnecessarily stretched. Joeri was really cute and I could see why he could make big bucks being an escort. Helen and Joeri also acted their part very well. I think character-wise, they both filled in the gap in the other person’s life and hence the unlikely friendship between the two of them. I am not too sure of the motivation or what was the point hat the film-maker was trying to tell through this film but maybe it is a just another story and doesn’t necessarily have to have a point.

A short feel-good film, that won’t let you be bored. Nothing more, nothing less. (6/10)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Mein Sohn Helen (German) [My Son Helen]

This film continues in the trans bandwagon, just as the title of the film suggests. The film had potential and could have addressed issues and talks but sadly it misses on that count. This doesn’t mean that the film is bad. The film is more of an emotional story between a father and his child, than really addressing the underlying issues.

Widowed Tobias is happy in his life with his 15 year old son Finn. Finn is trying to hook up his father with potential dates. When he gets to study in Sf for one year, he cannot leave this opportunity and he decides to go. Problem starts a year later, when Finn comes back home. 16-year old Finn is now Helen, a big secret that somehow Finn managed to keep secret from his father. Tobias is shocked at first but tries to understand. Thankfully there is no full-on drama. Next we see how people around Helen are getting used to the transition. As expected, problems arise at school at various levels and harassing also happens but Helen bravely faces everything on her own, with some support of a few friends in the class. Soon Helen wants to undergo a gender reassignment surgery. While Tobias is shocked at first, then he deals with the question of why he never realized how unhappy his son was. As a good father, he tries to understand the new situation and gets adjusted to the fact that he has got a daughter now.

Finn/Helen makes for a very convincing character/actor. The issue os about the plot which doesn’t give anyone much to do. It feels too convenient to send Finn off to SF and bring him back as Helen, a year later. What’s important is precisely what happens in that transition phase, which is the most difficult part. And why would Helen assume that its perfectly ok to just shock her father without any heads-up. I also felt the pain that Tobias feels when he realises that his dead wife and Finn had been planning this for a while but he for some reason was always kept out of the picture. He is heart-brown and starts questioning his own parenting style. A minor glitch happens which brings the daughter and father close again and Helen’s surgery is successful Miraculously, everyone who was opposed to the whole thing is shown in full support a year later. Common now, I understand that this is a movie but lets be practical. Life is not full of roses. There are difficulties and challenges and it would have been nice if some of those were shown as well. Having said that, the film never felt dragging or boring. It always stuck to the core issue.

Good intentions but story writer failed to address more dire issues that todays trans community needs and desires. This is ok as first step for now. (5.5/10)

Non Accettare i Sogni Dagli Sconosciuti (Italian) [Dreams From Strangers]

This film was such a waste of time. It’s one of the this instances when you feel like the maker was totally self-indulgent and pretentious and we as viewers had to bear his experiment of artistic cinema. The film has absolutely nothing going for it. To top it all, the film is filled with random murky artistic inserts throughout every 5-7 minutes for no reason whatsoever, just so that the duration of the film could be increased.

From a story perspective there is nothing. Massimo is an Italian swimmer who is visiting Russia for a competition. He meets Vladimir, who happens to be a translator. They hit it off and that grows into love. They walk around, talk and dance. And at some point they talk about freedom, meaning of being gay in Russia. Yes, thats pretty much it. And in between you get to see old footage of Russia, and some old film that made absolutely no sense to a viewer like me. Acting by leads was ok but they are cheated by a low production value and absolutely lazy and dull story and direction. This story was at best a 8-minute short film, which in itself again would not have said anything new.

A really boring bloated short-film-in-the-format-of-a-feature. Completely avoid. (1/10)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Looking: The Movie

Like most fans, I was also very disappointed when TV show looking was cancelled, but at the same time good news came that a film will be made with the characters to give a logical conclusion to stories, some of which were left open at the end of season 2. Having seen the film now, I think it was a good decision to make the film. The film delivers everything that the show had promised. Much like the series, the film is not about the plot but its about all those wonderful moments that unfold before you, as if you are part of the group.

Patrick is back to SF after having moved to Denver 10 months ago. Its Augustine’s wedding and what better occasion to reconnect with his old friends and his old life. Everyone is surprised at Augustine’s decision to get married since he has become exactly the guy whom he used to despise, but as film unfolds, we are told its all part of growing up process. When he has finally met the love of his life, why not take the plunge and move on. Dom’s restaurant is doing well now and he seems happy, except that he has no lover but somehow that doesn’t seem to bother him. Richie is back in picture with his new boyfriend and you still feel there is some emotional/sexual tension between him and Patrick. Patrick’s ex-boss Kevin also features briefly when Patrick decides to meet him to give their relationship a proper closure. The meeting doesn’t go as planned but it makes Patrick think. Doris, my favourite, is also happy in her relationship with the boys. The movie keeps unfolding with all different interactions between these individuals and the wedding finally happens. The highlight of the film is the argument between Patrick and Richie’s boyfriend on who is the perfect symbol for the gay community, which eventually leads to Richie breaking up with him. Looks like Patrick may be back with Richie at some point.

The films plot is simple but you see a maturity and growth in the characters. All 3 of them have grown up. Dom is more settled at work and life and really happy with what he is doing. Augustine clearly is not the same wild guy that he used to be. Even Patrick seems mature and wanting to do something more meaningful with his life. Clearly so far he has been the one, whose life has been most rocky. After initial reunion, the film picks up when Patrick meets a young 22 year old in a bar and spends night with him. One of the best scenes is when the two guys talk about job, relationships and future plans over some heated left over food. This is when Patrick realises that this young man is maybe a lot mature than what he ever was. He questions all his decisions in life so far. His decision to meet Kevin, his ex boss, to close the loop was also brilliant. Kevin’s outburst that Patrick didn’t even try to make the relationship work was outstanding. There are some brilliant scenes where you see a drop of tear in patrick’s eyes and instantly you feel what’s going on in the man’s head. I have a confession to make. I saw a lot of myself in Patrick. With his actions, things he was doing, his indecisiveness and the things his friends would tell him about him just running away from problems rather than facing them head on. Richie and Patrick still care for each other but will that ever turn to something, only time will tell. Part of me feels that I belong to the same category and will do anything to avoid confrontation. Anyway!!

Nothing in the film is particularly profound, its all subtle and that beauty of it all. Isn’t that how our conversations with our friends like? They’re oftentimes unfocused, simply meant to chide or console or get us on to the next thing. So film like this that  portrays gay characters with such close attention, such warmth, humor and insight, and such sensitivity to the complex human emotions should be cause for celebration. Looking: The Movie is essential viewing, and hopefully, fingers crossed, HBO may rethink of their decision to bring back the series once again. (8.5/10)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Gay Short Films : 48

Dániel (UK)
Dániel is from Budapest and is studying child psychology in London. He is kind & patient and works as part time as a male escort to pay for his tuition fees. Dániel is invited by his closest friend Nori to have lunch where she introduces her  lover Tom. Tom has plans for Nori and they don’t include Daniel and he quietly asks him to back off. Beautifully made but perhaps not as ambitious as it could have been.

Un mundo brillante (Spain) [A Bright World]
A coming-of-age tale about fantasies and pain, when a boy has this huge crush on his football player mate.

Soft (UK)
When a father and son are independently terrorised by the same gang of youths, Dad is forced to deal with fears that he hasn't had to face since leaving school, rediscovering his fear of confrontation at the worst possible time. Very interesting!

Pretty boy (Spain)
The story of Pablo, a hustler who dreams of being a filmmaker. When he falls in love with a guy he meets, his life begins feel like a movie. But in life endings are not always happy. He is heart broken when his lover cheats.

Shotgun (Israel)
A brief encounter in the school toilet turns into love as a sixteen year old Springsteen fan and an eighteen year old trouble maker find a way to make high school a little less boring. When mom finds out, she tries to ship away the boy, testing their love for each other. Lovely boys.

Estudo em Vermelho (Brazil)
A guy just sitting and reading some lines which made no sense. A boring 10 minutes of my time lost.

Páginas (Brazil)[Pages]
Lost in his memories and writing his memories of love, Crispin doesn't realize that true love could be right there in front of him, but he is too busy living in the past. But with Tonho's company the boy discovers the true sense to continue on his own path.

Trevas (Brazil) [Marrow]
Two travelers inside strange landscapes. An intimate portrait of lovers. Good landscapes and chemistry but yawn !

Casa Forte (Brazil) [Strong House] 
Images of various local landmarks are shown while the narrator talks with reference to plantations, slaves and slave traders. The two competing stories are put in dialogue with each other, creating a complicated analysis of the haunting power of colonial institutions. May make sense for locals but I could get nothing out of this film.

Bekir (Turkey)
A young boy is trying to come out his mother. The way she reacts and what follows.

Daniël (Netherlands)
The coming-of-age story of a teenage boy on a summer day. The boy meets a girl but finds himself attracted to the girl’s brother. A tender love story evolves. Like in a dream the reality of the surroundings disappears, leaving the mysterious beauty of a sweet memory.

Pink Lemonade (USA)
A guy realises that he likes the guy selling pink lemonade more than his girlfriend. Bad acting!

Queer Hutterite (Canada)
A 23-year-old photographer, Kelly’s story has been recorded in this short documentary film. He always felt different, but realising you're gay while growing up on a Hutterite colony isn't just unusual — it's almost unheard of.

The Red Bike (UK)
Mikey is fifteen and can't ride – he’s got a balance disorder. But this doesn't stop him making the perfect bike for someone else.  Besides, you can't stay asleep forever and Mikey, despite his mother's fears, has something that he wants to say. Weird but last reaction was good.

Platinum (Germany)
When Felix loses his voice, he believes he needs treatment. But is it really a disease that blocks it or rather the feelings he tries to choke?

And besides above , there are a few more really short and weird films/docs that I saw:
Canto de Outono (Brazil) [Song of Autumn] - Just a video
Honest Conversations Fathers and Their Gay Children
Tres Gotas de Agua (US Short Doc) - Interviews of 3 different immigrant mothers and them coping up with their child’s sexuality
Homophobia in Jamaica (short doc) - Few people’s personal experiences of their everyday life
Mbodiment - 2 different case studies of feeling safe in a gendered space for men
The Life of Alex (short doc) - Alex’s rowing team members are very cool and accepting of him being gay.
Necesitamos Mas Besos - People's reactions when they see 2 guys kissing in Argentina and Colombia.
En Onze (In Eleven), Silva, Moves By Bright Light, Naked Bienne

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Mardistan (Hindi/English) (India) (Documentary)

Mardistan (Macholand) explores what it means to be a man in India. I was under the impression that this documentary would focus more on the gay aspect of men in the country but I was disappointed. Though they touch upon the subject in a minor segment but overall the documentary does try to enlighten the fact of what it means to be a man in India, a nation increasingly defined by social inequality and gender related violence.

There are 4 main protagonists in the documentary whose life story we get to hear. Interestingly they represent different phases of generation as well. First we have a middle-aged writer trying to make sense of the physical and sexual abuse he witnessed studying in an elite military academy and the shock he goes through. He grows up confused as to what real meaning of manhood is. Secondly we have a Sikh father of twin daughters resisting the pressure to produce a son. And we find out this is because he was born when his father was quite old. The social pressure of having a son to take your legacy forward is still very much prevalent in India. Then we meet a young 20ish college student looking for a girlfriend with whom he can lose his virginity. He talks about what girls want these days and how it is not the easiest thing to have a girlfriend. He also talks about the fact of losing virginity is a big social pressure among the friend circle. If you don’t do it, you are called names. Finally we have a working class openly gay man who is married to a woman and has children as well. He came out to his wife but continued to stay married for her and kids sake. , and a working-class gay activist coming out to his wife after twenty years of marriage. The documentary starts a conversation on critical issues including patriarchy, son preference, sexual violence and homophobia in a nation increasingly defined by social inequalities.

I would say that the idea behind the documentary is interesting but you really cannot generalise anything in a country like India. A country with 1.2 billion people and growing will have all sorts of views and opinions and it would be unfair to judge anyone through these 4 people. They have interesting stories to tell and does bring to light few interesting aspects of what does it mean to be a “man” in Indian society. One other thing glaringly missing in the documentary is total lack of female point of view. What about the women in their lives and where do they fit it. That hasn’t been talked about. Also what about the machoism aspect where men treat women as slaves and servants and object of desire. Why don’t we talk about that?

As I said, decent idea but grossly missed opportunity. (4/10)

Friday, July 22, 2016

Saugatuck Cures

These days I barely am getting time to watch films. It breaks my heart because there is so many films to see and once in a while when I do get time, I hope that the film is a good one. So imagine, when you end up watching some bad spoof in the name of comedy with loopholes plenty. The intent probably is nice but its a very bad execution.

Maggie runs a bed and breakfast in the town of Saugatuck. The planned thanksgiving dinner does not go well with her gay son Drew and her stuck up daughter Penelope, who thinks Drew needs to pray for his sins. She brings with her, her fiance Paul and we also have Brett, who is Drew’s best friend and also Penelope’s ex.  It turns out that Maggie’s cancer has come back but the said procedure will take a lot of money. Penelope refuses to help. Brett comes up with an idea of travelling church to church pretending to cure latent homosexuality and raise money for Maggie’s procedure. They start making money in ludicrous and over the top acting, until one day their money gets stolen. In the meantime Drew discovers that Penelope’s finance Paul is closet gay and they fall in love (huh!). When Drew and Paul try to steal Penelope’s money , they get arrested and are put on trial. Surprise surprise, Penelope has a change of heart, takes her case back and family is back together.

The big problem of the film is that we don’t care about any of the characters. none of them, emotionally or emphatically. They are all so over-the-top in their familiar jokes so as to barely even register that its probably a satire, which it is. Every character is cliche. I mean whoever watches gay films could predict that Paul is closet gay and soon enough he and Drew will have something going. Penelope’s character on the other hand was a mere caricature and deeply annoying. No explanation on why so much hatred for gays and her mom and why sudden change of heart. Only actor bearable is the friend Brett and that too because he is supposed to be stupid and is in fact stupid. So you don’t mind. Trying to address the issue of religion and homosexuality is a good thought but if not executed right, it sometimes could further damage.

The film misses its mark on a lot of accounts and felt a bit waste of my time. (3.5/10)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Gay Short Films : 47

Poker Gayme (USA)
On a regular poker night, one of the friends in accidentally outed and is hurt when no one acts surprised and gives him a hard time. Cute n funny.

Tenho Local (Brazil) [Get A Room]
Daniel makes a date for casual sex with a stranger at his place. He lives moments of adrenaline in this strange crazy night. This is what role-play is about because the stranger happens to be the boyfriend.
Bloom (USA)
A dismal used car lot is owned by a very angry man. His vicious dogs guard the inventory at night, when only two other people work: Doug, the security guard and Rose, the bookkeeper. Rose likes Doug but he is going through a rough patch with his boyfriend, who in turn decides to surprise him; only to be attacked by vicious dogs.

Cinquième Fugue (France)
A young student takes lessons with a teacher to learn piano. Yawn!

A Song for Your Mixtape (USA)
An exploration about love and loss where the guy has lot his love first to a girl and then to life but he is still celebrating his birthday to keep his love alive.

For The Love Of God (UK)
An animation film that shows love for God by both mother and son but in a very different ways. Will Graham consummate his unholy fantasy and can it live up to his expectations?

Faut Pas Penser (France) [Must Not Think]
It's not simple when two boys at 17 find out they like each other.

Zack & Luc (US)
A split-screen film telling two versions of the entire story of a relationship. Each memory becomes intertwined with all the others: the firsts, the lasts, the middles, each of the small nothing moments that add up to something in the end. Confusing !

Intervalle (France)
Two boys who share a room wake up, but see each other differently than before. They are confronted with the impossibility of total unity.

Cuarto de hotel (Mexico) [Hotel Room]
Pablo finally decides to pick up Diana, a trans prostitute he has been watching for a few days. He takes her to a hotel room with very different intentions than her other clients but Diana is smart and soon figures out what exactly Pablo wants to know from her. Pablo’s life is about to change. Interesting but sort of obvious where it was going.

Sí A Todo (Spain) [Yes To Everything]
An encounter between a deaf/mute and a regular guy and their mutual attraction.

Juillet électrique (France) [Electric July]
In the burning heat of July, Thomas and Victor, two 14 years old teenagers, are bored to death and want to escape. Victor decides to take Thomas to an abandoned bridge. He will have to confront his fears and desires.

Le Phallomètre (Czech) [Phallometer]
Czechs were using Phallometers till 2010 for refugees who were trying to enter the country on pretext of being gay.

De Terça Pra Quarta (Brazil) [Tuesday Overnight]
At dawn, a boy, a city and unexpected encounters. Weird but cute boys.

12 Points (Austria)
Jonas's father is surprisingly enthusiastic about drag queen Conchita Wurst's victory at the Eurovision. So his 18-year-old son works up the courage to come out and introduce his boyfriend... but unexpectedly, his father's tolerance and open-mindedness comes to an end.

Bleus Cycles (France)
Things are different for Loup when he returns to a small country town. His childhood friend Yves is now with Camille, who works in a café across the street. When the two boys are to repaint the walls of a bike shop about to open, Camille feels she needs to watch them. I wish I had subtitles to watch this with. It was really interesting.

Marrow (Australia)
A daring, exciting and poignant film about desire and sexuality, where a physically disabled guy is shown stripping to challenge society’s perception of people with disabilities.

Fadeout: Chase The Clouds (USA)
Video about gay boys in a conversion therapy center. How they beat their odds and will they still come out victorious.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Drown (Australia)

This film tries to explore the masculinity of modern Australian make. The subject is a bit dark, in terms of the amount of pain that these men are ready to inflict upon each other and exploit each other. The film is shown a lot in flash backs and things start to make sense only after a while, so be patient.

The film is about three guys: Len, Meat and Phil. Len is the champion of a NSW surf life saving club and finds his position threatened by the club’s new golden boy Phil. Phil is younger, more handsome and gay. Phil being gay is an issue for Len, which we later find out does not come from ignorance, but rather his own repressed gay desires caused by an abusive father and the relentless machismo of his social circle. On the night of celebration of Phil’s win Len manipulates Meat (who for some reason does everything that Len wants him to do) into stripping an almost unconscious Phil of his clothes, burying him in sand up to his neck, and forcing him to sit back and watch the tide come in and drown Phil. Fortunately Meat succumbs to his instincts and rescues Phil before the waves take his life. Len, however, purposely swims too far into the ocean, ultimately drowning himself.

As mentioned before, the story unfolds in bits and pieces. At some point you feel the bis are getting along well together while at the other instant, it seems they are not. There are a lot of scenes involving bar shopping and straight-ish male bonding. I am not really sure if actually Australian beach culture (especially life guards) are as homophobic as its shown in the film but none the less the film makes for a thrilling watch. The men are pretty good looking and can also act well. The one big down side of the film for me was the non-linear story telling approach , which takes a while to put pieces together. The three-way balance of this relationship is the film’s most interesting element. Len and Meat’s relationship for example seems to be the only one in the entire film born of an actual friendship and loyalty. I am not sure of the voyeuristic approach to a twisted act of sadism and humiliation was necessary but I guess this is what shows an example of human psyche.

The film could have been lot more powerful but at the end it just ends up being an average satisfying thrill movie experience. (5/10)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Outs: Season 2 (Web Series)

I was so so so happy when I got to see the season 2 of this web series. I can’t believe I did not even know that it was under production. Having loved the season one, you can’t even imagine the excitement I had to watch the season 2, because I expected nothing but the best. This season may not be as good as season 1, but still this is a pretty darn good sequel where it returns from where the characters were left. And yes, I will continue to want more seasons and sequels to this web series.

Season 1 ended with Oona’s blog picking up, Jack & Mitchell were finally starting to work on their friendship and Paul was getting into a grad school. Time has passed and the stories continue. Paul and Jack are string to make their long distance relationship work by opening it up. Jack has been meeting few people here and there and as always is quite unsure about what’s happening between him and Paul (Scruffy from season one and we find out his name in this season). Mitchell has a new boyfriend, a British chef, whom he loves and adores but he relationship is still at a very early stages. Oona is now hugely successful mean and bitchy blogger and has written a few books. She is screwing her publisher and maybe the is the guy who would finally help her also realise that she is also capable of loving. Her friendship with Mitchell is still as strong as ever. We witness the growth of the characters but the series ends with Mitchell having broken up with his chef boyfriend, Paul and Jack still evaluating because Jack can’t “do this” anymore and Oona kicks her flourishing career because she won’t let people take her for granted. Also she has now met a man who likes her for who she is.

As I mentioned above, all my expectations were pretty much met by this whole season. It was a perfect season with the stories being moved in exactly the right direction. The cast is perfect and as actors they are still amazing and natural to the core. They can all be your next door neighbours and you could be watching them in real life. Jack is still the best and I really liked his chemistry with Paul. Interestingly this time, its the director/actor Mitchell who fell a bit short of expectations. He was too good in season one but maybe one mark less as an actor in the sequel. Doesn’t take away the credit from him on how excellent writer/director he is. As expected, i missed my New York city very much after watching the show and I can’t wait to return back. The show made me really nostalgic having shot at some of my fav places (including Taim restaurant, which is round the corner from where I lived). A few more characters are introduced on the side but the core of the story remains focussing on topics of friendship, happiness, and feeling lost when things just aren’t working anymore. Its the situations that viewers can definitely relate to. I , for once, can definitely relate to every single character.

Thank you so much for bring back the show with the new season. I have not been excited about watching anything in a while now. I still love this show. Highly recommend it. (8/10)

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)