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

Monday, July 25, 2011

Going Down in La-La Land

This movie was definitely a surprise. Closing night film of the Q-Fest, somehow when I read the synopsis, I thought this film be more on the lines of a wannabe comedy but I was very wrong. This film was actually very realistic, to an extent scary as well specially for actors who wanna make it big in the big bad world of hollywood. It shows the dark realities of what goes on behind those closed doors, how people exploit one another and how once you get sucked in, there is no way out.

Adam has recently moved from NY to LA and is living with his best gal-pal Candy, who once used to be a wannabe actress but all she now does is think of obscure projects to make more money. Her finances are stabilized only because of her fiance. Once the fiance storms out in anger, Adam becomes permanent room mate and now he needs to find a job. He tries a couple of jobs but none goes well. When he is cruised by Nick at the gym, he offers him an office job at a gay porn film office where Nick works as a photographer. Adam is pressured constantly to work in front of the camera. Still hoping for a legit career, he holds out at first but eventually consents to a photo shoot, then a solo video, then a regular porn feature. This eventually leads him to become an escort in hopes of meeting a director who will give him work one day. Things change when he escorts for a John, the closeted star of a mega-successful sitcom. John offers to take Adam on as his personal assistant, a good gig that might open doors and definitely encourages the romantic liaison between them. Unfortunately, Adam's brief porn past results in a tabloid-fueled scandal for Adam and John. By this time, Adam is madly in love with John. Of course, love wins when John makes a bold move to invite press and openly confess his love for Adam.

The director, who also played the role of Nick in the film did a fabulous job. You get to see the stark realities of the filmdom. You see how Adam has no choice eventually but to get into the porn industry and slowly become an escort. It hurts, he doesn't want to do it but somehow has no other option. People around you can make you believe in things that you know are wrong. John and Adam made a good couple. The side story of Nick and Adam's romance which eventually ends up because of drug usage was also handled with sensitivity. The film had good amount of humor thrown in all the scenes featuring Candy. She was funny, I must say and all her scenes with evoke laughters in the theatre. The film has several surprising cameos which adds to the fun of the film. In the end, audiences will connect with Adam, not for his beauty, but for the fact that Adam is genuinely a nice, down to earth, good guy and and in LA-LA Land, a nice guy’s dream, can come true!

I would strongly recommend this film. A good example of a book translating into a movie. (7.5/10)

Romeos (German)

The Q-Fest this year has definitely been better than last couple of years. Surprisingly, the number of lesbian and transgendered movies have also seen a raise in this years film festival and thank god that most of hem have been good ones. I will see these movies any-day over crap, really pathetic gay movies. FTM transition and a love story woven between this, the film is definitely a great debut from the director. This film shows us the mindset of people transitioning and how it affects their relations with family, friends and of course how they go about finding love. This has been done in a very subtle manner.

Lucas is a 19 year old FTM. He is on hormone replacement therapy and still has breasts that keep him bound and hidden. He is invariable put in a female dorm while doing community service. He is stressed there and wants to move to male dorm as soon as possible. In this time, his lesbian friend Ine is always with him and keeping his secret safe with her. Lured by Ine and his new friends, he starts hanging out in the gay life where he meets Fabio, a cocky, dark haired extremely good looking gay hunk who beds whoever he pleases. The two are opposite but somehow strike a friendship. There are many beautiful scenes of friendship. Soon Fabio starts making romantic moves but Lukas holds back. One evening when Lukas' parents are visiting, his younger sister spills out his secret which Fabio hears. They start ignoring each other. In the meantime, Lukas moves to male dorm. Fabio decides to keep his secret and eventually they start talking again. Fabio now becomes his friend, his guide into the male world and very soon, his lover as well.

First things first I have to mention about Lukas' performance. The guy has done such a fantastic job, it is unbelievable. INternet search revealed that the actor who played Lukas is actually a man and al scenes with breasts etc were prosthetic makeup (which I must say could've fooled anyone). Lukas plays his part of a FTM with conviction specially in the scenes where he is interacting with other trans people over the internet. The film thankfully devoid any cliches and shows the positive side of things and hope in Lukas' life. Fabio also played his part very well of a cocky all-man gay guy and he looks pretty hot too. There's a nice, tender moment where we get to meet Lucas' mother and father and how they interact with him. The film also showed how over a period of time the friendship of Ine and Lukas progresses and how Lukas' transition affects not just him but people around him as well. I am still remembering the film and how much I liked it while watching it.

It is a small film but a big gem in the world of queer cinema. Please watch it. (8/10)

Mangus!

I am still not very sure why was this film shown as part of the LGBT film festival in Philadelphia. A couple of characters are gay but hen that has become a very common phenomenon in recent films. It is no big deal. In any case, that doesn't take away from the fact that was a guilty pleasure to watch the trailer park white trash story which brings smile to your face and often brings the house down with laughter as well. I am glad they did make Mangus' character a pity boy.

Mangus has always had one dream; to play Jesus Christ in the musical spectacular in his high school drama thereby following the footsteps of his dad and grandfather. He lives with his father and step mom (who by the way is hilarious in a weird way in the film). When he gets selected for the part, he celebrates with his friends and get in an accident which leaves him crippled and thereby he looses the part to a gay flamboyant son of the mayor of the town. When his father has to leave town for war, the step mom very cleverly drops him off to his mom Cookie's trailer who lives with a very young man Buddy and Mangus' elder sibling Jessica. Mangus gets friends with Buddy but the siblings hate each other. When Jessica is forced to baby sit Mangus one day, they come closer and she comes out to him as lesbian. Now hell bent on getting his dream role back, they plan to scare the gay kid away but the plan goes wrong and the siblings have to run to save their life. Meanwhile the committee calls back Mangus to play the part because the other child has met with an accident. A series of comic incidents happen but Mangus finally gets to live his dream. His mother Cookie and father get back together and four of them are a happy family back.

The synopsis might sound a little slow and boring but the way the film is directed is very funny. I loved the southern accent, the trashiness of the people and how it is portrayed and all the characters in general. Even the drunk Buddy was fun specially when he takes Mangus to a strip club. Both the moms were funny. Dad was alright. The drama instructor brings the house down every time he comes to the screen. The movie succeeds in maintaining its light-heart comedy feel despite there being major ups and downs in the story. This is probably a very very low budget film with low expectations and that is why you dont feel cheated because you never went in with any expectations whatsoever and you come back with a smile on your face.

It is like watching one of those reality shows which you love to watch but would never admit that you actually see it. (5/10)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Auf der Suche (German) [Looking For Simon]

I read somewhere online that this is a thriller but of a different kind. I can't disagree more. This is nowhere close to being a thriller. It is a tale of a mother looking for her son and in the process discovering things about him, his friends and even her own relationship with her son. This film ultimately ends up being a soul search rather than a search for an actual person. Not sure how many actually this kind of genre in the gay cinema but nevertheless it was a decent viewing.

Simon has been missing for only a week but it is enough to get his mother Valerie worried. She has travelled from Germany to South France and has also called her son's ex boyfriend Jens to help her out in searching for her son. High-strung and fearing the worse, Valerie has barely accepted her son’s gayness and having his former boyfriend around only adds to her stress. Jens has his own mixed feelings for his ex. He takes excursions in search of nightly casual sex where he encounters an Arab boy who recently had an affair with Simon. Through him they find out that Simon probably had booked a trip to Morocco with the Arab guy but did not go. The search is leading nowhere. After a week, Simon's body is found in an empty apartment, death by drug overdose.

Both Valerie and Jens are essentially sketchy figures, simply caught up in the search for Simon in the atmospheric French port city and revealing little about themselves. It is very hard to gauge where each of them is coming from. It doesn't really look like they were really interested in searching for him. The drama here is all in Valerie’s head – and her stubborn insistence that something might have happened to her son is a less-than-subtle reminder that he might not be missing, but she surely misses him. Obviously not content with the fact that her son is gay, she is trying to cope with and understand his homosexuality. The actors have played their part well but there were lot of questions unanswered in the film. The film was supposed to solve mystery and give answers but when the film ends you are left with more questions.

It is not bad but nothing great about it at the same time. It is strictly alright. (4.5/10)

Tomboy (French)

Gender identity has rarely been explored with tender care and nurture in queer cinema before. This is such a sweet, heartfelt story of a young girl who just wants to be a boy. She doesn't understand the implications etc but just wants to be a boy. The film is poignant and humorous at times and filled with very believable performances.

Ten year old Laure, is moving with her parents and 6 year old sister to a new town. She spends time baby sitting for her sister because her mother is pregnant. She usually dresses up like a boy. Looking to play with the children from the same apartment complex, she meets Lisa to whom she tells that her name is Mikael. They both start hanging out and even with other kids of the building and a mutual crush develops. Mikael is now enjoying playing with boys, manly games and even taking his short off while playing. Soon her kid sister also joins the fun and addresses Laure as her brother in front of other kids. When the mother finds out about this, she gets completely furious and makes Laure wear a frock and goes to Lisa's house to clear the air. Laure/Mikael is devastated but her mom explains that he had to do it because soon people in school will find out anyway. Lisa is shocked by ultimately comes around and sticks with their friendship. Now the air is clear but Laure still dresses up like a boy.

The film makes an excellent watch just because of the kids. They are just superb. Each and every kid is great but how can you ever forget the charming performance out in by Laure and her little sister. Their chemistry in the film is something that i have never seen before. I just cannot forget the scene when at dinner the young sister tells her parents how she played with new friends and how some boy called Mikael is her favorite and how he takes care of her. That scene is just so natural and remarkable, it is incredible. In fact the tenderness and understanding present in that relationship extends throughout the family as well: the film is filled with quiet, intimate moments shared between them. Although quite a bot of film's portions just shows bunch of kids playing around but they are best scenes. they bring genuine laughter with their antics. Towards the end when Laure's identity i being revealed, you feel for the girl but at the same time you also understand why a mother is doing so. She doesn't have any problems whatsoever with her daughter being the tomboy but she needs to tell the truth until she is grown up and can decide what she wants. Thankfully the films ends on a positive note.

Great direction, beautiful performances by the 2 girls, makes this film a very worthy watch. Thank you Qfest for this film. (8.5/10)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dirty Girl

First of all I fail to understand why would this film be shown in a LGBT film festival. Agreed that one of the 2 characters happens to be gay but still the story is primarily about Danielle, a perfectly straight girl. The gay guy just happens to be his side kick and yes there is a mall parallel track. I have nothing against the movie, at least not till I finish writing the review but I was disappointed by the choice of this film for QFest.

Danielle is a dirty 'slut' girl in the Oklahoma high school. She does not mind sleeping with every boy in the class. She is angry at the world specially her mother because she never mentioned to Danielle about her father. She meets Clarke, a fat and obese gay guy whose father gives him a hard time for everything he does and fail and specially anything to do with being gay, when the two of them are forced to do a school project as a team where they have to act parents to a flour bag and write a project report. Danielle suggests that they run away to find her father, Clarke hesitantly agrees because he cannot take the bullying and abuse anymore. The two pals take off in Clarke’s dad’s car; their trip will see Clarke lose his virginity, Danielle soften and both learn about themselves while Jean, the flour baby, looks on. Meanwhile their respective mothers fearing the well-being of their kids go in search of them. Danielle does find her father who never knew about her existence. She feels much better now after meeting him. She comes back home a much changed girl.

This is one of those high school comedy type movie which might be lapped up by teenagers but I think I am past those kind of films. The film has filthy language and ample sex talk but it is just not enough to hold a film together. The film is full of cliches. There is decent amount of time given to Clarke , how he meets a very cute hitchhiker to whom he loses his virginity etc but still the film does not do much for me. What is weird is when suddenly towards the end the film suddenly becomes all serious.

It is a strictly ok road trip movie with a dirty girl and her male fag. (3/10)

Longhorns

I dunno why but I had very minimal expectations from this film. Somehow the title, story or even the actors were connecting with me after watching the preview but of course I still had to watch this film. It was actually not all that bad. Set in 80's film takes a hilarious look at a group of friends. Agreed that this is no oscar worthy movie or anything but I have seen much worse gay cinema, so in comparison this one did not turn out to be bad at all.

he setting is a Texas college circa 1982 where big hair, loud shirts and cowboy boots are considered high fashion. Kevin is a straight frat-boy who enjoys bonding with fellow schoolmates. He does not even mind helping out his friend Justin once a while. But things change when he meets sexy and charming openly gay Cesar. Kevin starts hanging out with him and his heart starts beating for him and of course Cesar is also falling for Kevin. Too many encounters suddenly make Kevin confuse and he sets out for a weekend full of beer and women with his best friends from old times. Random events including Kevin helping out his pal jerking off or even sucking him off are shown , all the while maintaining it is all about helping out a buddy. In the meantime, homophobic Justin gets over his phobia of Cesar, becomes friends with him to get close to a girl. The weekend is over and Kevin realizes that he actually might be gay and is now all in love with Cesar.

The film had a lot of nudity. Never before you will see men supposedly straight drop their pants to get buck naked, bed hop, 'help out' buddies etc. Every action was gay except they all said we are straight. Kevin is a very good find. He was a very lovable character in the film and it was his charm alongwith Cesar to an extent that made the film watchable. Kevin's friend from school for the weekend were annoying specially the guy ho plays the role of always horny guy. I think directors aim was total entertainment of the viewers which he succeeds to quite an extent. It i again one of those guilty pleasure films which you probably secretly had fun but are not quite prepared to admit it.

It is an alright film with a lot of eye candy and humor galore. (5/10)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

eCupid

These brainless dead "comedies" are the kind of films that sometimes makes me wonder why do I come to these film festivals. This is an excellent example of a wannabe film. Except a few laughs here and there on some dialogues, this film is a pretty bad attempt at making something illogical and ridiculously absurd. Just putting in hot men, some hot scenes and a real life full on plastic surgery commercial actress in the end will not bring the audience. But at the same time I think that many gay men have not really branched out to see all the beautiful wonderful gay films out there that the expectation they have is very low and they enjoy these mindless , so called entertainers.

Marshall and Gabriel have been together for 7 years and now their relationship is getting stale. Marshal is cocky and very physical but Gabe always pretends tp be tied and busy and has to work. He is also turning 30 and needs some thrill and something new in life. He starts looking online and finds an app called ecupid which promises to help him find true love. The app suddenly takes over his phone, his computer and in fact his whole life. Marshall tells Gabe that he’s bored via a text he didn’t send; a surprise hustler arrives at the door; and a party planner plans spontaneously. He is also getting a lot of attention from a new trainee at work. Things go downhill when Gabe walks out hurt by everything that Marshall is doing. Series of incidents happen back and forth where they both justify their acts. Marshall is getting attention from all hot guys but still he doesn't find them half as stimulating. End is happy as always when they realize that true love has always been there and you just have to look and work for it.

Pretty lame if you ask me. The message from the director is good that it’s easy to get distracted from the love that’s right in front of us, especially in an age of texts, apps and technology but the presentation is not even half as good. The acting from the lead characters is good but that chemistry is missing that you would expect form a couple of 7 years. There is enough sex appeal from all male characters. The constant phone buzzer and ecupid voice was becoming so annoying after one point that I just could not take it anymore. I think i would have liked the film if I saw it is isolation and had not much to compare to but there is so much good gay cinema out there that in comparison this film falls so behind and thats why I said this is more a wannabe film.

It depends on what cinema you like. My opinion as pretty bad of the film but I can bet, I can find you people from the same screening who absolutely loved the film and enjoyed it. Its all relative. (2.5/10)

August

The moment the producer of this film introduced this film is a full length feature version of the short 'Postmortem', I was super excited because I had no idea. That had been one of my most favorite shorts and for some reason had stuck with me. I was super excited to watch a feature version and when I saw that 2 of the principal characters were retained from the short, it was all the more better, The actors just suited the part so well in the short that I would have hated to see someone else play those parts. I would strongly recommend the short also to people to watch it.

Jonathan and Raul are a very happy couple of few years. They practically live together though Jonathan still has his apartment. Raul is married to Jonathan's best friend so that once the immigration goes through, they can have Raul stay in the country so that they both can live happily. Enter Troy from Spain who is planning to move back to LA. Troy and Jonathan were ex-lovers and apparently Troy broke Jonathan's heart and left for SPain. It took a long time for Jonathan to get over him. Troy is trouble and naughty. We can see that all he wants is Jonathan back. Jonathan is also not completely over Troy and they have a sexual tension between them. They meet for coffee after Troy comes back but something takes Jonathan back to Troy's house and after initial reluctance on their second meeting, they end up sleeping. Raul suspects something but doesn't say much. He expects a mature man like Jonathan should know what he is doing. This goes on for a while. Jonathan doesn't really know whom he really wants, Troy trying to get back to Jonathan and Raul's dilemma when he knows and pretends to ignore what is going on. Finally on Jonathan's 30th birthday, Raul encourages the 3 of them to get in a 3way because they are drunk and stoned but Raul knows exactly what he is doing. He wants to see the extent of their passion. This incident outs some sense in Troy's head. He decides to move back to Spain leaving the 2 men to deal with each other on their own.

The director and editor of the film have very excellently used time jumps and creatively edited the film. The scenes going between past and future add a different feel to the film. We have all seen many love triangle gay movies but this one is handled very differently. Raul's character is the most complicated because he is going through various emotions to decide what o do with jonathan, try to make him understand. He had to speak a lot with his eyes and I must say he did an excellent job. Jonathan and Troy acted very very well too. here is something about Jonathan that makes him very charismatic, at least for me. The film shows how at various points in our life we always keep looking for true love, have to make some very tough decisions to get through the phases in our life and how compassion and passion can make us stop looking at things in a more logical way. Special mention to the background music. It was mostly middle eastern which for some reason fitted so well with the theme and the mood of the film. It was excellent. I wish I could get my hands on the music of the film. I really really loved this film. It is hard to describe in words but the way some of Jonathan's actions are showed are interesting because he thinks what he is doing is ok but from Raul's point of view, he is trying to show that he still has a thing for Troy and as we all know that Troy is trouble.

I strongly recommend this film. An excellent example of how direction and editing can do wonders to a film. I so wish our US based directors who make all kinds of bad film in the name of gay cinema can learn something from this. (8.5/10)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Circumstance (Persian)

Set in modern day Tehran in Iran, this beautiful story focuses on two attractive rebellious high school friends. The girls dare to dream in an otherwise orthodox world. Watching this film definitely opened up my mind a little bit about some of the notions that I had about women in Iran. But at the same time there was so much hype around this film, that it ended up turning out low on those. This is what happened earlier too. I think that is why it is very important to watch films without expectations because they tend to surprise you quite a bit.

Atafeh is a privileged daughter of an educated well to do family but her friend Shireen is not so lucky. Despite this they are very good friends. Over a period of time they have learnt about the vibrant maze of underground parties where they can be free, head uncovered, drinking, dancing, skin show. They once in a while have also defied the morality police and are enjoying and having fun. One night Shireen tells Atafeh that she loves her very much and they soon cross the boundaries of their friendship. When Atafeh’s brother, Mehran, returns home with newly fundamentalist views, the once-liberal haven of the family home is transformed into a scary place where secrets can no longer be contained. When the police threatens to put the girls behind bars for immorality, Atafeh gets support of her parents but there is no one for Shireen. She agrees to marrying Mehran who now likes her but soon we know that he knows about the relations between his wife and sister. He starts to become controlling. Atafeh confronts Shireen on why she is doing all this but all she can tell her is that she wants to live. Atafeh can't take it any more and being the rebel that she is plans to escape to Dubai hoping for a better world for herself.

Circumstance is an intriguing film on multiple levels, examining not just gender and sexual orientation, but also class in contemporary Iran. Though frank in its portrayal, it is still shocking to see some of the scenes on the film. Apparently after making the film, the director is no longer allowed to go back to Iran, which is such a shame. The 2 girls are absolutely beautiful and their struggle with society, with themselves and each other is portrayed beautifully. My problem with the film was that it tried to cover too many things in the film. It is unclear if Shireen’s husband’s descent into fanaticism is an allegory for government oversight or patriarchal control. Acting of every character is interesting and good. It was intriguing to watch something so different between different cultures and countries.

A nice film, definitely worth watching for its simple and complicated at the same time. (6.5/10)

Ausente (Spanish) [Absent]

I have never ever seen such a long scene of sexual tension built up as it was shown in this movie. And at the same time, I have never been in a theatre with such pin drop silence because there are no scenes that evoke laughter. You are just waiting and watching as to whats going to happen next. I dunno if it is right to call this film as a thriller but there is a different thrill that you feel while watching the movie. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

16 year old Martin finds his swimming instructor Sebastian very attractive. One day he fakes of an eye injury in the class, and Sebastian take him to the hospital. Martin has already planned in his mind a web of lies for why he cannot go back home and finally succeeds in getting an invitation from Sebastian to sleep at his house. But thing are not simple as they seem. The night seems pretty long where neither of them is able to sleep really well. Sebastian next day finds out that Martin's parents were looking for him all night. He also finds a note in his car from Martin apologizing for telling him the lies. When Sebastian confronts him, he very openly tells him that he was hoping something will happen between them that night. This infuriates Sebastian and he hits him. Things are not same. Now Sebastian is having weird feelings and he cannot even concentrate on his girlfriend. He keeps thinking of Martin. Martin meanwhile stops coming to swimming class and is spending more time with his friends. In an unfortunate accident Martin dies and this is when Sebastian has to deal with his emotions. He recalls how maybe on some occasions he might have possibly given the boy some hints and starts questioning his own feelings for the boy. Guilt struck, he is now hoping that somehow Martin will forgive him for what he did.

You have to really watch the film to closely absorb the beauty. The entire night sequence where Martin stays at Sebastian's house and events unfold is simply superb. There is so much sexual tension on the screen that as a viewer it was a completely new experience for me trying to anticipate what can happen next. Another beauty of the film is that there is no heightened drama or dialogues or anything. None of the scenes have been filmed with melodrama, however drastic they are. The subtlety of these scene make a much more stronger impact. The end is so beautiful when Sebastian follows the image of Martin in his head in the swimming club just hoping to be forgiven. Excellent acting and a fantastic direction. It is an incredible sexy drama of repressed passion, guilt and regret. The slow build of the characters is fabulous with the relationships unfolding, refolding and unfolding back again.

Strongly recommended. Whenever there is something new, I just have to lap it up. (8/10)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Buffering (UK)

When I finished watching the film, I wondered what would this film have been like if it was done in US by an independent film maker. It would visualize a raunchy, really bad film , something like a couple of ones that I recently saw in the film festival. This is not to say that the UK version was any better. The film was simple but there was something about it that saved it from being a cheap thrill vs a decent attempt at a satire comedy. The story is pretty simple and straight forward actually.

Seb and Aaron have been together for a while. Suddenly now they find themselves in huge debt because they both lose their jobs. Aaron has been hiding about his unemployment from Seb and has been engaging in internet porn for about 3 months now. This crisis forces them to channel in their entrepreneurial skills. Aaron secretly starts filming their sex life and uploading on internet. Soon he finds that people are actually paying to see them. When Seb finds out, he is initially quite disturbed but goes along since they both need the money. Becoming better at selling themselves, the physical, emotional and industry demands start to take a toll on their relationship. Enters Jem , their old roommate, who soon becomes their director and plans the whole record and upload internet phenomenon. She gives them tips to raise more money. The final nail in the coffin is when she suggests that it is getting repetitive and they need a third person to join. Enter their hot neighbor who is not gay but is progressive and wants to apply for the post. This is too much for Seb who has to deal with his inner fears and finally goes with the plan, making this live event their biggest success and also making all the money they need to pay off their debt.

The film has various humorous moments as Seb and Aaron move from casual vanilla sex going all the ay to kinky to make the videos more spicy and satisfying for their increasing fan base. It is all cheesy but then it is a gay film after all. The 2 guys acted well but the story gives them only a limited scope. Most story just is about they filming and people watching. IO am guessing the budget of the film would have been pretty low, since everything just happens in one house. The film is not bad but there is nothing in the film for repeat value.

It is purely a one time entertainer and that too if your entertainment expectations are very low. (4/10)

Gun Hill Road

The first thing after you finish watching this film is that the director has handled the subject with such compassion for his characters (all 3 lead actors). The film beautifully displays sensitivity towards a character whose sexual identity is evolving. The film is a wonderful emotional roller coaster, and shows how in a family when we love someone, we want to do everything that we think is right for them and we dont want them to go through pains in their life.

Enrique has just been released from the prison after 3 years and he needs to keep his act in control be it drinking, smoking, drugs etc or he will go back to jail without any warning. He feels a little oddball between his wife Angela, who he soon finds out that she had been having an affair with another Latino and his son Michael who is in the process of transforming into Vanessa, a transwoman. When Enrique finds out about Angela, he warns her to not do that since he is now back home. They have their issues to deal with since Angela now loves this other man but for the sake of her family is ready to sacrifice her happiness and stick by her man. After a series where Michael avoids to be with Enrique, he finally finds out what is going on and lashes out at him in fear. He cannot digest the fact why would Michael want to become a girl and even takes him to a prostitute .Meanwhile a teenage guy approaches Venessa for dating despite knowing he is a transsexual but it turns out that he is interested only in sex but fees very shameful being out in open with her. Michael's support are his mother his best friend who is gay. When Michael cannot take it any more, they way his father treats him , he leaves home. This incident finally makes Enrique realize how important his love for Michael is whatever way he is. But he does some mistakes in dealing with his criminal past. He pleads for Michael to come back home but his criminal past catches up and he is arrested again.

Harmony, a real life transitioning woman is superbly cast in this role and has acted so well that you deeply feel for her character. Enrique and his wife also play thei parts very strongly where Enrique's despair for his only son and his wife's love for their only child is so evident in the film. The film beautifully and sensitively shows the tribulations Michael has and is going through to become Vanessa. The direction in the film is very sensitively portrayed. The film makes you both laugh and cry and think and educate you to be more sensitive to everyone around you.

I will definitely recommend this beautiful film. The QFest is actually turning out to be not a bad experience after all. (8/10)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hold Your Peace

You can have a very decent idea on paper and it does sound very exciting when you start working on it. But when it comes to execution, the impact goes completely missing. This is exactly what happened with this film. On paper, it would have sounded quite new and nice, and to an extent it came out fine on screen as well but in totally this film was missing a lot of things, the main thing being the connection with me. I just was not able to connect to the film. I will write more on why it failed to do so.

Its been 2 years since Aiden and Max broke up but Aiden is still hung up on his old love. Meanwhile Max found Forrest and they are about to get married. When Max's best man bails out at the last minute, his only option left is Aiden who after initial reluctance agrees. He realizes that he cannot go to the wedding alone and he needs a boyfriend. With help from his female roommate Janice, he convinces blond, cutie twink Lance to go with him. But things are not exactly what they seem. Soon it i evident that Max doesn't really appreciate everything that Forrest does for him. Aiden cant stop thinking about Max and lance is falling in love with Forrest. Max finally confronts Max who categorically makes it very clear that it is only Forrest whom he wants and Aiden's chance is lost. Lance in sot so many direct words lets Forrest know about his feelings for him who doesn't reciprocate because he is getting married. And ow the wedding is about to happen and with a sudden twist, the real lovers unite.

This end comes so sudden that I was life WTF. Despite having so much discussions and arguments, no on was ready to give in and now suddenly when priest asks if anyone has any objection, Aiden and Lance just say they do and then suddenly Max is with Aiden and Forrest is with Max. It was so absurd and weird and came out totally bizarre. I man we all knew it will happen, but so sudden? C'mmon. And what was up with Max. His acting was so lame and bad that I cant describe it. His facial expressions wee so forced be it with any of the characters. The only real connection seemed to be just between Janice, Aiden and Lance. Even Forrest was shown a just a sugar sweet guy which just so did not suit his personality. This was one of the reasons that film looked so fake. It just did not connect with me at all. I mean I really did not even feel that Aiden really cared that much about Max, so after a point it rally didn't bother me on who ends up with whom. There were definitely some funny moments but they were all because of Janice and Lance who did decent in their characters.

This romantic comedy falls much short in expectations. (3.5/10)

Mi Último Round (Spanish) [My Last Round]

Some films just surprise you. You hardly expect anything from them and then they spring out like something totally worth spending your time and money on. This Chilean drama is beautiful poignant and even sad. It shows what love is all about, it doesn't have to by mushy but it is all about what you feel internally.

Hugo has just lost his mother and leading a very mundane life. He soon becomes captivated by a boxer Octavio who is diagnosed as epileptic. Although Octavio keeps his tough and masculine facade, it is he who make the first move on Hugo. Life in a small town in southern Chile is hard for the two, for they can never be accepted in their community, and work is very hard. After Octavio finds out that if he boxes again he might die, Octavio and Hugo pack their bags to start a new life in the capital of Chile. Octavio gets a job as a barber and Hugo also manages to get a job. There he meets this girl who gets instantly attracted towards Hugo. Meanwhile, Octavio get s a boxing gig which he just cannot refuse because he needs money plus he misses boxing too much. When this girl one day shows up unannounced at Hugo's home while he is not there, she tells Octavio that her and Hugo are a couple. This doesn't go down well with Octavio who feels hurt and leaves the house immediately. His last fight is coming up soon which will give him enough money. But destiny always has some other plans for us and the film ends on a very sad note.

This was a truly unusual, moving and tender story about two very different working class men determined to love despite the obstacles. Like I mentioned, there might be many scenes that show heir physical relationship and mushy romance but this film shows it more realistically where they are there for each other, they care for each other, cook together etc. This i what happens in a real life. Both the lead characters have acted their part so well and with such conviction that they fit their roles to T. It does get a little boring somewhere in the first few reels but the ending does break your heart. I am up for a realistic good drama any day over a big budget crap.

This film will definitely touch you at somewhere. (7.5/10)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fyra Ar Till (Swedish) [Four More Years]

This film provides a very different take on the effects of secret desire on public office in otherwise open minded Sweden and how it also affects the relationships of the individuals involved. A bold romantic comedy that pushes boundaries on several thematic levels, this i another brilliant gay themed Swedish film after Patrick 1,5 a few years ago.

David Holst has just lost the election he was slated to win. His good looks, political savvy, and humor made him the front-runner for the Prime Minister of Sweden, but his lead has suddenly taken a downfall. It is during this time of disappointment that he meets Martin in an elevator and falls head over heels in love. Despite his marriage to his closest co-worker, Fia, and his professed heterosexuality, David pursues a relationship with Martin only to find out that Martin is the Secretary of State for the political party that beat him in the recent election. He is very confused on what to do. He tries his best but cannot control his desire to be with Martin. He just cannot control it and their very meaningful and pleasant affair stars. But can the double whammy of not only falling for a man, but also a political opponent, ever allow the two to be together. They have a falling out when David feels that Martin is cheating on him. He decides to break up and comes out to his wife. After a series of events, the two men decide to give it another shot because they both think that they fit in so well with each other but this time also some misunderstanding happens. Finally when David gives in that he will be forever lonely, when Martin comes in one final time to get back together, David refuses despite wanting him so bad saying that he cannot be selfish and just think of himself. He needs to think of his party too. But thanks to Fia, sense prevails before major damage can be done and finally the lovers reunite.

The dialogues in the film are witty and the characters behave in ways that people find very comforting. There is a maturity in the interactions that you typically don’t see in American film. I loved the interactions of both t he men when they visit David's parents. The overall story is very heart warming and its comedic tone is a nice compliment. Watching lot of bad films has given me some idea on how to appreciate a good film. The film gets a little preachy when there are too many discussions around politics but the comic tone helps to keep the check. I felt at a point that it is being stretched by that did not bother me too much. The best thing is that the 2 actors were chosen based on their characters. They are not averagely attractive but that suits the character who end up developing such a refreshing bond between them which is both sexual and friendly.

Highly recommended. It had love, mature romance, comedy and drama. (7/10)

Eating Out 4: Drama Camp

I think this film is a pretty good follow up to the last 3 Eating out series. This film is a typical gay cheesy guilty pleasure film but trust me these kind of films are also needed in addition to some serious thoughtful cinema. Sometimes asa viewer I dont want to think too much and just want to be entrained. And this film very successfully did that. And not just entertainment, this film has a pretty good helping of eye candy as well which by now you have started to expect from the eating out films.

In this series, the gang heads out for a special theatrical camp headed by experienced Dick Dickey, a weird dude who hasn't had sex for 7 years now. He has one rule hat there will be no sex on the camp for the duration of the camp which in turn only builds up the sexual tension. Casey and Zack are going through a rough patch in their relationship. The situation worsens when Zack has instant attraction for another camper Benji. Benji initially comes out too strong towards Zack but he pretends to be straight the moment he figures out that Zack has a boyfriend. The duo are signed up for a Shakespeare modern twist on a story where they are supposed to play gay lovers. The film focuses on how both casey and Zack have to come to terms with the fact that there relationship is almost over and is time for them to move on. We also have Jason , the straight director who is starting to fall for Lilly, the transgendered girl. Of course, the film ends with everything fit and fine in place, new friendships, relationships made and a hot sexy camp finished.

As said above, the film is an over the top raunchy comedy which tickles your humour cells in the right places. There are so many places where I just burst out laughing. It will be very difficult to put them all here but trust me they were funny. Most actors in the film are supposed to look smoking hot which they do. As far as acting is concerned, they fit well in the realm of this movie but the real test would come if they did something more, outside this to explore their acting abilities. The surprise part of the film was Lilly's character. I am glad that the filmmakers decided to keep this angle as well because not many people have dealt with this subject.

This film is a total guilty pleasure whose aim is just for fun with its many witty one liners. (7/10)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Stadt Land Fluss (German) [Harvest]

This film is shot as realistically as you can get it. In the QnA, with the director, it turns out that all the people except the lead actors were actual farmers who ended up in the film as well. It is a sweet gay romance involving two young budding farmers but it is so subtle and devoid of cliches, that it make s a wonderful watch.

Marko is from a broken home where his father left him when he was very young. He is studying to become a farmer and is doing apprenticeship as a farmer. He is a loner who doesn't hang out with other young students who are also working on the farms. He is just aimlessly going on with his life. Jakob, a new boy joins their group as an apprentice who quite his training as a banker and decided to become a farmer. Marko and Jakob start hanging out with each other. There is no apparent love shown between them. Marko doesn't know how to reciprocate Jakob's increasingly stolen glances at him. Something that he likes. They end up kissing one day but Marko is not very sure of it. One night Jakob invites Marko to go to Berlina dn they spend a very good time there. They come back and the film ens witha very very beautiful hug between the two where the two declare thir love for each other without saying even a single word.

The film is shot straight out of a farmer's life. There are long scenes of a farmer's chores done throughout the day and other mundane activities (for city person) and how even eventually the characters are built in that environment. The film pays very detailed attention to every single thing happening in and around the farm. This helps to keep the film very real and grounded with no frills or fancy fares. The 2 actors have done their job very well. Apparently, a lot of scenes were improvised but my favorite will definitely be the last hug scene. A simple action can speak so many unspoken words.

The film will definitely need a lot of patience. I am now rethinking of re watching some of the film that I had earlier discarded. This one was good. (6/10)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Drei (German) [Three]

This German film had a very interesting story to tell. We all have seen plenty films on adultery even when both husband and wife are cheating but this one has a very very interesting twist. German gay themed films can be hit or miss. They are very unpredictable but at least they are not outrightly bad and unbearable. This one was a fun watch. It had the right amount of tension, stress, sex and a story to tell.

Doctor Hanna and Art engineer Adam have been together for about 20 years but they have not married yet. Of late they realize that they are maybe getting a distance between them and their sex life is far from being satisfactory. But they never talk about this and it is just a big elephant in the rom. They even sometimes do things on their own thereby giving each other enough space. In such an environment, Hanna meets Simon who comes to the hospital for some grant on a research. After a rocky meeting, they accidentally meet a couple of times and begin having a sexy torrid affair. Hanna doesn't feel guilty about this. In fact she is enjoying it. At the same time, Adam meets Simon at his pool club where he tells him about his testicle removal surgery casually. Simon demands to see the scar and they end up having a sex encounter which in turn again ends up in an affair. Hanna and Adam , both having an affair, find that their sex life is also improving but both keep it a secret and after 20 years of being together finally decide to get married. One day when Hanna finds out she is pregnant, she freaks out because she does not even know whose baby is it. When she goes to tell this to Simon, she finds Adam there as well and the cat is now out of the bag. Hanna and Adam take a break and meet after sometime. They miss each other and each of them miss Simon too. They confront deceit, bisexuality and they both decide to share Simon which is fine with him because after all these years of being single, even Simon fell in love with both Hanna and Adam.

The story and the execution of this film was brilliant. Although, I personally had issues with Hanna's character. She was shown making weird faces and her personality was also not shown very clearly. Was she control freak, demanding, intelligent, bored? What was it? To me she came out as a weird person for no reason whatsoever. And then the whole episode of Adam's mother having cancer and a few scenes thereafter had totally no relevance to the film whatsoever. Actually now that I think of it, the encounter between Adam and Simon is also pretty random although it is believable. Simon acted his part very well of a mysterious man who you will never know. what does he like, whats his life, he does everything, he loves everyone etc etc. The ending of the film was done in my opinion very beautifully, artistically with grace. It is sometimes good to think out of the box.

Watch this film. It's different. (7/10)

Quelques jours de répit (French) [A Few Days Of Respite]

Sometimes, a stillness in a film is all it needs to tell a heartfelt story. It does not have to be heavy on dialogues. I mean they help, of course, but sometimes you just have to let the viewers sink into the characters and their life and miseries. The film shows what 3 individuals go through in their heart, their pain, their heartache and longing and also some decisions that you have to take in life even unwillingly.

A middle aged gay couple, Mohsen and Hassan flee Iran illegally to France to avoid a death sentence. They find themselves in a small village in France. They decide to travel separately for safety reasons. Mohsen, who speaks French fluently, meets an elderly Lady Yolande on the train and they strike up a conversation. In a spur of moment, she offers Mohsen a job in her house to paint. They both need extra income, so they stay in the village in a cheap hotel and Mohsen goes to work while Hassan stays in the hotel. The next day since Yolande is out, Mohsen takes Hassan to her house but he has to lock himself up in the attic when Yolande comes back. Clearly Yolande has been longing for a man which is more than evident when she offers Mohsen to marry her so that he can get papers. They both end up getting physical that night which is witnessed by Hassan. The 3rd day police catch Mohsen for having no paper and he does not contest. When Yolande comes to meet him, he says that he is ok to go back to Iran but he would really like if she could take care of a very good friend of his, Hassan. She agrees but Hassan wants otherwise. He ends up boarding the same train that cops are taking to deport Mohsen back to Iran.

The performances in the film are subdued, full of grace and subtlety. Majority of the film combines intimate character studies of all the individuals. I got the impression that Mohsen purposefully gets himself caught because he does not want to either leave Hassan or be disrespectful to Yolande. Plus he realizes that Hassan had seen him with Yolande, so maybe he does not want to be with Mohsen anymore. But by his actions in the end, Hassan proves that whatever happens, he will always follow Mohsen wherever he goes. The pacing of the film is extremely extremely slow. I have an appetite for god cinema but this one for me particularly was very slow. It was visually beautiful and handles the subject of longing in middle age with grace without heavy dialogues going back and forth. It does calm you.

This film will definitely make you think. (5.5/10)

Como Esquecer (Portuguese) [So Hard To Forget]

This Brazilian film is an honest portrayal of a woman, consumed with grief, taking baby steps to get her life back in shape after the loss of her partner. This film could easily have been a story of a man or a straight couple even, but I am glad that the film makers did not decide to go through the regular route instead focus on a lesbian aspect. What is most fascinating that even though the lead character happens to be a lesbian, that is not the story focus of the film rather than it is on her individuality.

Julia is 30 something professor in college. She has just lost her partner Antonia of 10 years in an accident. It seems that she has now completely lost interest in life and is completely overtaken by sadness. Any slight memory or sound makes her even more sad and she is almost on the verge of depression. In comes, Hugo, her long time friend whom she helped and was there for her when he was overcoming loss of his partner. Hugo decides that it is time for both of them to move on and would not take no for an answer. He gets a 3 bedroom house so that julia can be away from the house where she and Antonia lived near the sea hoping that change of scenery will bring back some energy in her rather dull life. Lisa, another friend of Hugo who was dumped by her boyfriend is the 3rd person in the mix. Not much changes in their life with Julia trying her best to move on and Hugo making every attempt to keep her happy and motivated. Things change when Lisa's cousin helena arrives to visit Lisa. She is an artist, a great chef and a woman with great looks. With her charm, wit and experience, she is finally able to break the mould that is there is Julia's life and shows her a ray of hope. Julia sees some change and is ready to embrace the sad truth which should now be a thing of past. She is not yet ready for relationship which she makes it clear to Helena but at least allows some light to re-enter her soul.

The story was beautiful and all the actors suited their part. They were all good actors. I wasn't very clear on what was the intention behind showing how Julia's student would try to be close to her and she would push her off. Was it because Julia did not want her sexuality to be the reason for people to judge her in the college? I dont know. The other problem that I had with the film was its pace. Like I said, these films sometimes need a specific pace. It was not that bad but I guess you have to be prepared to watch this film. And why was there no light in the film. Most of the scene sin the house were so dark that once for a change I was like, is there no sun at all in this city? lol..

Anyone who had to go through the pain of losing their loved ones would be able to connect with this film at an emotional level. (7/10)

The One

I absolutely loved this film. There are more than one reasons why I did. The story is very close to my heart and it was handled so beautifully. Not once did I feel bored in the film or wanted it to end. It might not have the highest or best of the production values but it was 100 times better than the usual crap US cinema throws at us in the name of gay cinema. The story is pretty simple actually, something you have seen before quite a few times but the treatment is very different here and so many surprises thrown, it is just too good.

Openly gay Tommy, reconnects with his old classmate from college Daniel in a sports bar. Tommy always had a thing for Daniel and surprisingly one that day they end up sleeping with each other. Tommy is happy but soon Daniel announces that he is engaged to Jen and will definitely marry her. Daniel has a perfect life with perfect job, parents, career and soon to be wife. He cannot screw that up. Tommy is now head over heels in love with him. He also happens to meet Jen as they all workout in the same gym. He makes up a story forcing Daniel to join him for a weekend vacation where they spent very good time and get physical again. Tommy thinks maybe has a chance now but Daniel again mentions that there is no way he is leaving Jen. The two men meet once in a while while Tommy trying to persuade Daniel to not get married because he clearly loves Tommy more than Jen but Daniel would have none of it. They eventually end up getting married and Tommy is left heart-broken. Meetings between Daniel and Tommy decrease but Jen grows fonder of Tommy specially after she realizes that he is gay after a failed attempt to hook him up with her girlfriend. Things are moving fine. Tommy is finding hard to get Daniel out of his mind. Couple of times when Daniel meets Tommy is his aptt and tries to have sex, Tommy refuses because it is not the right thing for Jen. A few months later Jen announces that she is pregnant. This changes everything for Tommy. He realizes there is no more chance and moves on with his life. In the meantime, Daniel has totally devoted himself to work. Very close to the delivery date, Tommy meets daniel and Jen in the park with his new boyfriend and announces them that he is getting married just so that he can hurt Daniel and hurt he does because the way Daniel and Tommy look at each other tells Jen the entire story. She leaves Daniel and later reassures him to be his friend. Daniel comes out to his family which very surprisingly remain supportive. Now when he wants to go back to Tommy, he has already left. Daniel is all alone. The movie ends beautifully with Daniel spending time with his daughter alone in the park hoping to maybe find love.

Such a sweet film. The scenes just passed by my eyes all over again while writing this. Chemistry between all 3 characters was awesome. From Tommy and Daniel's reconnecting to awkward sex, to love to betrayal and getting married, everything was just perfect. Tommy showed good skills of a man who cannot get his love however hard he try. At the same time, Daniel did an excellent job as a man who wants a perfect so called normal life and even though he clearly likes Tommy, cannot do anything about it. His reaction when Tommy introduces his new boyfriend is very good. It shows that he somehow expected that Tommy will alway wait for him but people move on. SImilarly, when Jen realizes the whole truth, her reaction was just right. Not over board but something how people would react in real life. There were so many scenes that I can clearly remember even now. The subject of a gay man falling for a straight jock as been done to death but it is the screenplay and direction and the way the characters are portrayed which makes so much of a difference. The film had a right mix of comic elements as well and thank god had no stereotypes associated.

I absolutely loved it. Even though predictable at times, this film meant a lot to me. (8/10)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Órói (Icelandic) [Jitters]

Jitters is a coming of age drama set in Iceland. This film is like watching a group of teenagers through a secret camera and following the happenings in their life. The incidents can be positive, tense, romantic, eye openers or whatever but it does provide a fun , positive look at today's youngsters focussing specifically on Iceland.

This is a group of trouble proned friends lead by Gabriel. On a 3 week English Immersion trip to Manchester, he shares a room with Marcus who is free spirited. He brings some character in life of Marcus and on their last day, they share a kiss. It is a short lived romance as it ends when they both come back home. They do keep sharing text messages though. Friends and family notice a change but he decides to keep a secret. We also get to know the lives of all of his friends. His best friend is having troubles with his girlfriend. He wants to score with her but she is not so easy to budge. We also have Greta, who just cant live with her mother anymore and decided to find a place for rent. She is also in search of her father and finally fins the man who could possibly be her father. She just wants to finish this so that she can move on. We also have Stella who likes Gabriel and who lives with her over protective grandmother who doesn't allow to let Stella live the life she wants to. She is always interfering. In between the lives of all of these friends, Gabriel is trying to find his own identity. When he and Marcus meet again, sparks are there but no one does anything. Gabriel is upset when he sees Marcus getting physical with a girl which ends up in a fight. When his friends interfere, Marcus tells them that Gabriel is gay. The friends are finally accepting and now it is time for Gabriel to move on and decide what he wants to do with Marcus.

The excitement and traumas of a group of Icelandic teenagers as they tentatively enter young adulthood, is very effectively and brilliantly captured in this film. The entire ensemble cast is very good and very very well acted by the whole group of teenagers. I personally feel that if the focus could have been given more on Gabriel's relationship rather than focussing so much in details on the 2 girls, it would have been clear on what exact;y is going on in his head because he is always so quiet. But I guess in the process the film could also have missed out on a big chunk of audience. Overall, a pretty good job. I would have loved it even more if it was somewhat focussed rather than all over the group of friends but that's just me.

The film although showing young teenage drama still is insightful and remains true in showing emotions. (5.5/10)

The Perfect Family

I dunno why but I have always liked well made films on dysfunctional families. This one falls in the same category. And when the film mixes comedy and religion which makes people sit up and take notice, laugh and think at the same time, the director and the writer's job is well done. The film was house full for the only screening in the LGBT film festival and it was very good to see a good mix of men and women to enjoy this thoughtful, hilarious and poignant comedy.

Eileen is a god fearing woman who is all about Church and being catholic. She has devoted her life to this. This effort is noticed by the parish and she is nominated for the 'Catholic woman of the year' award which suddenly becomes very important to her. All the work she has done so far definitely vouches for her being the right winner but she faces a hurdle when its the time for interviewing he family with the bishop. She is now finding out that her perfect daughter Shannon is lesbian, is 5 months pregnant and is about to marry her life partner Angela. At the same time her son, Frank Jr. is planning to leave is wife because finally for once he has found his true love in another woman. Her husband is also a recovering alcoholic who takes side of his kids but with the controlling nature of Eileen cannot say much. There are some finely times comic scenes when Eileen tries to balance all this. She hesitantly attends her daughter's wedding. She is even helping Shannon and Angela with house chores because Shannon pregnancy is delicate. There are serious moments also, when she goes a little overboard in her controlling nature, forcing her husband to leave her and take a temporary break, her son wants to have nothing to do with her and Shannon loses her baby thereby despising her mother even more. Finally Eileen realizes that it is not the award that is important to her, it is her family and the happiness of the family. And at this time, her family comes to support her full time when the awards are to be announced which she rightfully deservingly wins.

Kathleen Turner playing EIleen does a fantastic job playing her part. She shows excellent expressions and acting abilities as a woman trying to balance her religion and her family. She is hysterical in some scenes. Some of the dialogues are out-wittingly funny like 'I am not supposed to think. I am catholic'. The side story of Shannon and Angela has also been done very well. I am glad that the y showed at least Angela's parents are fully supportive of the relationship. I was a little confused by the whole equation that husband and wife shared but after a while, I was like yeah whatever, I dont care because I am enjoying this film a lot.

Strongly recommended. It will be wrong to classify this film strictly as queer cinema but the festival did give me an opportunity to watch some good cinema. (6.5/10)

I Am (Hindi / English) [Documentary]

I am so glad that I did go to watch this documentary film in the ongoing LGBT film festival in Philly. This was such an eye-opener in many different ways. There is no way that this film will not touch your heart. You will be able to connect with the film in some way or the other. It gets emotional too at some points. If you are like me who can certainly relate to few of these incidents shown in the film, you will love it. I was so glad to see the director getting a standing ovation after the screening. She deserves every bit of it.

'I Am' chronicles the journey of an Indian lesbian filmmaker Sonali Gulati who returns to Delhi, eleven years later, to re-open what was once home, and finally confronts the loss of her mother whom she never came out to. She starts hr journey wondering how her mother would have reacted after knowing t he truth about her only daughter's sexual identity. In the process she also meets, discusses and interviews various other gay. lesbian and transgendered members in India for whom it would have been a huge step to give these interviews. We also get to se the reaction of family members specially the mothers of how it took them time to come to terms with what their child is going through. During the interview process, Sonali also ends up putting together pieces of her life of what family truly means in a country where until very recently being gay as considered a criminal offense.

The interviews, interactions and stories are so poignant and touching that you wanna see more of them. The characters are not just playing parts, they are sharing their inner most feelings and life with the audience. They take the courage to be the leaders so that other in a similar situation like them can see a path already ben opened for them. The film shows how in most cases the mothers have been the pillars of strength. I think the most strength the children get is if their parents are accepting of the whole thing. It is very important to understand why someone is homosexual and why this is not a disease. People and their basic nature does not change based on their sexuality. They still remain same and this film does a fantastic job of showing that. It is not about education or awareness but a lot about love and acceptance for your child which gives the child and the family the strength to overcome all hurdles.

I salute Sonali Gulati for making such a brave film, a film that definitely needs to be seen by people in and out of India. I can't wait for my family to see this documentary. (8/10)

The Love Patient

The unanimous reaction after most of us walked out after the screening of the film was 'It was so bad'. A few of us looked at each other and remarked how could this film have been in the top 10 favorites of the festival committee but then hey everyone has their own choices. But it seemed like most of us belonged to the category where they questioned this American indie comedy. The story of a self centered executive who will go to any lengths to win his ex-back just did not go well with me and quite a few others.

Paul, an ad-executive now realizes after almost a year of breakup that he might have lost something very good with his ex Brad. Since Paul is a self centered man who just thins about himself, and is not used to losing, he wants to win his man back. Brad on the other hand is now dating another colleague Alex who is bisexual. Paul comes up with a plan with his doctor friend Burt. Burt needs a lot of money to save his clinic which Paul offers to give him if Burt plays along with the act that Paul has cancer. This could bring Brad back to him. Initially reluctant, Burt agrees and this is when the mess begins. Because of the news, Paul's family of parents and sister move in with him to take care of him. It also brings Brad back to him. Brad starts working with Paul at home on the project and slowly they start remembering old days. It seems things are falling back in place. Meanwhile Paul's sister seduces Alex following which Brad and Alex break up. But when he finds out the truth about Paul's fake cancer from his sister who was always suspicious, he is deeply hurt but as expected everything ultimately falls in place after some drama.

This movie could never make up mind whether they wanted to be a simple comedy, over the top comedy, a lil bit serious or just plain simple annoying. Paul's character was supposed to be annoying which I guess he did well but Brad seemed as if he just came out of a sugar jar. So sweet always and with pretty much similar expressions on his face throughout. And dont even ask about the woman who played Paul's mother. She was sooooo over the top that it was annoying. The film took a long time to build up the whole story of fake cancer and then just suddenly out of the blue, the beans are spilled (as if the director just ran out of steam and wants to finish the film). But that does not actually happen. As sudden as Paul's secret is found, in the next 5 minutes we also see how Paul realizes his mistake and finally over a period of time wins back Brad by right means. The end seemed so rushed. The screenplay was not evenly divided throughout the film. And to top all this, there wasn't enough eye-candy too.

This movie joins the rank of really bad indie gay cinema that US produces. Please, lets learn from some of our best foreign gay films. (2/10)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Blackmail Boys

The best thing according to me of this film was that no one had a gym perfect body and your 2 main protagonists were your usual run of the mill guys. There was nothing out of the world with them be it look wise, body wise or talent wise. This is what makes it more believable. But why are directors hell bent on shooting a film guerilla style where camera is shaking half the time. I understand your passion to show the proceedings as realistic but dude, it gives the audience a terrible headache.

Sam and Aaron have been in a long distance relationship for over 3 years now. Aaron lives in Chicago. Since he has monetary problems, he soon starts hustling in his apartment which I guess is ok with his boyfriend Sam. One day Sam decides to pay visit to Aaron and they have a good time. When one of Aaron's regular good payer client comes, Sam recognizes him as the the famous author Andrew Tucker, anti-gay activist who uses social networking sites to spread his message to teens. He is pissed with Aaron for having sex with him but then they soon come u with a plan to make a video of the two and blackmail Tucker. They need the money because Aaron wants to stop hustling and they both wanna get married. Things are falling in place but when Tucker arrives to give money to the boys, the unexpected happens. Tucker stabs Sam, gets the last copy of the video and does not even give them the money. Once home, he feels terrible guilty and tells his wife the entire story. Back home aaron uses help of one of his doctor client's to make sure Sam is ok. Tucker's wife visits the boys, gives them the money and asks them to please forget the entire episode. The 2 boys get married and and having fun with money with college full time.

The first thing when you are watching this film you realize is that the lead characters have absolutely zero chemistry. They dont even act like friends forget lovers. I mean, if a long distance couple is meeting after such a long time, there would be more intimacy, love , passion etc but here you see them treat each other as if they are 2 strangers who have got together for a hook up and are now forced to talk. You could see how awkward they looked even while kissing. The scenes with Tucker and the doctor were the ones where you could see some signs of maybe good director duo. Aaron I guess had no inhibitions to display his meat so there are scenes where we see his dick flopping around just for the sleaze quotient. I will give writers A grade for a novel story but not as much to the directors. Oh ! and there was a lot of typing and story telling which was novel when it started but then there is more than what it should have been.

Interesting idea gone wrong because of not so suitable direction. (3.5/10)

La Robe Du Soir (French) [The Evening Dress]

We have all gone through the teacher crush phase in our life. It is a sweet memory that we cherish when we grow up and just laugh in a silly way about it. But when the crush becomes borderline obsession, this is when an interesting story starts to build up. The theme of the movie sounded interesting and I decided to go and watch this film in the ongoing Philadelphia LGBT film festival.

Juliette is a 12 year old young teenage tomboyish girl. She has huge crush on her French grammar teacher Hélène Solenska. Actually most of the class has that. Hélène might be old but she has amazing dress sense. She is witty, humorous, popular and takes pleasure in giving lessons in life and love to the class specially to the boys. Since the boys get all her attention, this makes Juliette a little bit jealous. What particularly bothers Juliette is the special attention that Adrien gets in the class. He is the most good looking boy n the class and gets most attention from Hélène. Now Juliette starts becoming obsessive. She finds where Hélène lives and goes to her house only to find that Adrien is there. She hides there to see what is going on. She becomes so obsessive that everytime she sees Hélène with Adrien she bursts with jealousy. One day she cannot control, accuses Hélène of sleeping with Adrien and just rushed out of the school. She comes back home knowing very well that she has done a huge mistake. She is suspended from the school for a few days and when she goes back, she has a very hard time. Everyone gives her the strangest looks, no one talks to her. Hélène's equation with the class is now completely changed. She no more gives private classes to Adrien who according to her has huge potential but needs some push. When the results are finally out, Adrien finally fails and even Juliette scores pretty low despite being one of the brightest students of the class. This angers Adrien and he attacks Juliette. She cant take it anymore and goes home and eats a lot of sleeping pills. Hélène reaches in time and saves her. At home, Juliette's brother finds a box which reveals how Juliette had a huge crush on Hélène. Hélène, in the hospital, talks to Juliette and tells her own experience of how she had a crush on a teacher and how it is normal but teachers only respond to those who satisfy their ego and reassures them that they are doing their job right. Juliette finally gets sense and is now over her crush and ready to begin life new.

The film had a very interesting plot and a very believable performance by Juliette. She very nicely portrays the emotions of having a crush on the teacher, her passion and also the angst and the pain when she is completely boycotted by pretty much the entire school. It is interesting to see how this also changes the equation within the family because her elder brother now gets crap in school because of her. The first half of the film although was very very slow. There are long scenes of just watching Juliette's mundane activities at home and trying to be a girl and not tomboy. These scenes though necessary to explain her mentality, just test your patience with no dialogues for a long intervals. I liked the film but it could have been much better in my opinion but at the same time this is why I like the french cinema because they are simple, very slice of life kind of stories which dont make you feel as if you are watching a movie but someone next door.

Beautifully shot with bravura performances, this film is easily a one time watch. (5/10)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Leave It On The Floor

Let me first say that I thoroughly enjoyed this film today. Initially I was 2 minds about whether to watch this film or not in the film festival but since I had nothing better to do, I decided to go for it and I am o g;ad that I did. This movie had pretty much everything that I like: BBW, ghetto accent, black attitude and lots of mmm hmmm... The audience and also me were laughing so hard in some of the scenes, it was just he perfect way to end my day today. The film is all about African American ball culture to which I recently was introduced and it was exciting to get to know more about it through this film.

Set as a musical, film starts when a young man Brad is thrown out of his house by his mother soon after she discovers that he is gay. Not that there is any love between the mother and son anyway. Now living on the streets, he meets Carter in a pickpocket incident. SOmething about him attracts Brad who follows him to a club which turns out to be a ball club. Once there he is seduced by charming Princess who also introduces him to whats and hows of the ball culture and takes him back to the 'House of Eminence' lead by Queef Latina, the matriarch. The house which has not won a trophy in quite a few years is filled with people from the ball and who at some point or the other were disowned by the family. After a lot of initial hesitation, Queef finally warms upto Brad. Princess meanwhile is still seducing Brad who in turn is falling for Carter. There is a love triangle going on. Meanwhile Queef is waiting for her husband to return from jail. Jealousy soon follows and Princess and Brad leave the house to join rival gang but the death of one of the most loved members of the house in an accident finally brings them back together. Brad finally decides to find himself and participates in the ball with Queef finally bringing back that coveted trophy.

Although I am not a big fan of musicals, I loved this movie. There were so many hilarious dialogues like ' I am glistening' which means gay listening and 'You've been hanging around Tyler Perry's sets' when Brad talks about family and all. Every member of the cast has done a fantastic job in acting. Music and choreography is equally engaging. The film slows down n the latter [part of second half when it gets all serious but apart from that, the film was on a roll. Hilarious and poignant, it also gives a good message on social acceptance of the members of the LGBT community. The whole scene at the funeral between fundamentalists family and the LGBT group is pretty strong. Oh! And I got to see some pretty good vouging. What else can I ask for !!

It had its share of hiccups but I thoroughly enjoyed his joy ride. (7.5/10)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Judas Kiss

Wow!! I guess I have been so busy that I haven't had time to watch too many films but here I am back and plan to watch a lot more films in the coming days. I just came back from the opening night of Philly LGBT film festival and saw this film. It is very hard to say at this moment whether this film was the right film to open the festival or not because unless I watch some of the other films, it will be very hard to compare. But still it was a decent effort. The story line is definitely very novel and I must admit, I could not have thought of it but not every story turns out well on screen. This film also defied some general logic but more on that later.

Zack is a 30 something failed film-maker. He was a wonder film maker in his college days but hollywood glamour and partying brought him from fame to dust and now he makes wedding videos. On his best friend's insistence, he returns to his college to judge a film festival for short films made by students to choose the winner for the scholarship. The first night he meets a guy in a bar and ends up sleeping with him. He is shocked when he sees the same guy turn up for his interview on the short film 'Judas Kiss' that he has made. The guy is Danny and his background is absolutely same as Zack. WIth turn in events, it turns out that Danny is no one but his own younger self. Zack is facing his past. And it was Zack originally named Danny who made the film 'Judas Kiss' and won the best film-maker award. With the help of his old college teacher, he finds out that somehow he has been given a chance to maybe change his past, rectify some of the mistakes and in the process change his future. Danny is very confident of winning the scholarship because his film is talk of the campus. Danny catches fancy of Shane who just likes to use the budding film makers. Then there is Chris who has a huge crush on Danny since they met but Danny wants to be with Shane because he is the one who can solve his immediate monetary needs. Zack explains his younger self hard to see the reality otherwise he will end of being an utter failure like him both in professional and in personal life. Zack reveals the truth that Danny will be disqualified from the competition since he broke the rules thereby changing what happened in the past and also helps him realize why Chris is the right person for him and not Shane. Cutto today, things are all good and Shane's future now seems to be treading on the right path.

The theme of time travel has not really been tackled before in gay cinema so that way it was refreshing to watch something new but many a incidents just defy logic. 2 entities of the same body cannot be in the same time zone but I am sue director was not looking for a scientific justification. It was an idea which he turned into a film. The first half of the film was kinda suspenseful where the viewer is tying to figure out what is the actual relationship between Zack and Danny and when the truth is revealed, it is a little (just a little) hard to digest but dont we all love escapist cinema? Zack was very good in his role. You could feel the struggle and questions that were going inside him for everything that was happening around him. Surprisingly, I did not like the actor playing role of Danny initially. He seemed cocky (but in retrospect, that is what he was supposed to be) but he grew on me over a period of time. Amongst the supporting cast Chris was a feast on the eyes. His innocent looks fit the character. Shane was OTT according to me. The production values were pretty good for a gay film and it did not look like a rushed job. Since it is pretty much filmed in a campus, there are not many scenic locations. By the way, I loved the flowy hair of Zack in the film. lol

Interesting plot (though not translated to the best potential), convincing acting and the fact that this is the first of the many films I am going to watch in next few days made this a decent watch for me. Let the film festival begin. This one was just ok. (6/10)