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

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Gay Short Films : 9

In Between Men (USA)
In Between Men follows four friends in NYC who live "in between" a gay world, whose cliches they don't relate to, and a straight world they don't belong to. They are successful, professional men not defined by their sexuality. Through wild adventures, racy story lines, joys and pains, underscored by the pulse of New York City. From acting to story to presentation, this one is pretty bad. It is nothing but a guilty pleasure but at least it did make history by being the first gay web series. (2/10)

Eu Não Quero Voltar Sozinho (Brazil) [I Don't Want to Go Back Alone]
I absolutely loved this film. 15 year old blind teenager Leonardo is good friends with Giovana. She is his best friend and drops him home every evening from school. A new guy Gabriel joins the school and Leonardo's life changes. He starts accompanying them and Leonardo starts to have feelings for him. Giovana has o struggle with finding out about this new found feeling of his best friend and in his own sweet way Gabriel does reciprocate to Leo's feelings. Beautiful and very touching. Excellent acting by everyone. (8/10)

Postcard (South Korea)
Another beautiful film. A post office clerk mistakenly thinks that a customer is trying to get her attention by writing open love letters on postcards he sends out. After fighting with her co-worker , she finally decides to go and meet him. Little does she know that his love letters were actually being written to himself to catch the attention of the postman who delivers his mail and on whom he is developing a crush. A very interesting short story of teenage crush and how hearts are broken. Very touching and nice beautiful film and very well directed. (8/10)

Brookton Hollow
Kyle is a young farm boy who lives with his father. They have a cow Willis. Kyle is so lonely that the only pleasure he gets is being with Willis. One morning at breakfast the father announces that their meat supply has come to an end, and he will have to kill the cow. That night Kyle hears Willis' cowbell off in the distance but when he goes to see, he finds a young naked boy wearing just a bell who disappears in the morning. Kyle soon realizes that it is his cow who i sunder curse of being a man in night and cow during day. It will be now only Kyle's true love that can save the farm Brookton Hollow from this curse. An interesting innovative story directed decently. (5/10)

Burning Palms - Buyer's Remorse (USA)
This is one of the stories from the burning palms segment. Tom and Jerry are a well to do couple in West Hollywood. They are anticipating their daughter Mahogany whom they ordered from remote part of Africa. When she comes to their custody, they realize that she doesn't speak and prefers to stay in the bushes and fields rather than comforts of home. After repeated attempts, the couple gets frustrated, leave the girl in the jungle and instead buy a dog. This is supposed to be a black comedy and is a little funny in a weird sense of way. (4/10)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Before Night Falls (English/Spanish)

The fact that this film had Javier Bardem was the primary reason for me to watch this film. I had no clue that this film was based on a real character of that of late Reinaldo Arenas, Cuba's most charismatic literary voices. The film is made in a documentary way and it touches on his childhood, but concentrates on the '60s and '70s, during which time Arenas was considered a counter-revolutionary by the Cuban government because of his writing, as well as his homosexuality.

As a young man, Arenas is singled out by his teachers and encouraged to further his skills as a writer -- no easy task, considering the Castro regime's censorship of any work considered to be subversive or anti-authoritarian. Still, the author manages to smuggle his work out of the country through friends, who arrange for one of his novels to be published in France. Not only persecuted for his creative beliefs, the openly gay Arenas is jailed on a bogus sex charge; he escapes internment only to be captured and persecuted later for his contraband dispatches. In 1980, Arenas is finally allowed to leave Cuba for the United States, where he achieves freedom of expression but not prosperity.

Because the film is based on a memoir, it proceeds episodically, following the young Arenas from his boyhood to his early accomplishments as a poet and novelist through his imprisonment and later his escape to the United States during Castro's 'purge' of undesirables in 1980, when criminals and homosexuals were invited to voluntarily expatriate to Miami so that the demand for basic resources in Cuba under the US-led embargo could be relieved somewhat. The film spends considerable time reflecting on Arenas' sexual initiation and his gay lifestyle, which is slightly problematic in that it suggests that Arenas was persecuted solely for being homosexual, which is at best a half-truth. Though Arenas himself was probably persecuted less for his lifestyle than for his public criticism of the regime, it is probably not inaccurate in its portrayal of the turn against art, life, and experimentation taken by Castro's brutal totalitarian ethos. In any case, Arenas ultimately makes his way to New York with his friend Lazaro, where in 1987 he began to suffer symptoms of AIDS. He died in 1990, after which his memoir and several letters condemning Castro and the failure of the US to rescue the Cuban people from his tyranny were published, to wide acclaim.

Javier Bardem's performance was definitely worthy of an oscar nomination. Johnyy Depp features in 2 vastly diverse roles. I wish I had seen the film knowing a little bit history about the writer and his life. That would have made me appreciate the series of events and the film even more. It is sad that there have been so many people who have sen so many hardships in life to reach to a position where they are today and here we are complaining of slightest of things.

Watch it for the performances, information and a serious piece of cinema. This is not entertainment. This is art. (7/10)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Finding Mr. Wright

This one was a pretty lame movie. I am so glad that I did not waste my time in the Philly QFest on this film and rather watched it in the comforts of my home on dvd. At least I was able to take breaks and yawn and be amused at stupidity and absurdity of the film and the characters. The acting was so pathetic especially for Eddy, it just blew my mind. As much as I would like to promote indie films, it is senseless films like this that just dont cut the deal with me.

Clark is a work-obsessed gay man who seemingly has it all. Not only is he one of the hottest young men in West Hollywood, he has managed to turn his first client, Eddy Malone, an eccentric party girl, into one of the most sought after actresses in Hollywood. He throws a dinner party at his new condo and invites his friends and colleagues, including TJ, a powerhouse lesbian publicist, who's quickly losing patience with Eddy's wild ways. With TJ comes longtime friend, Pierce, a slightly awkward, down to Earth, spiritual life coach who becomes infatuated with Clark at first sight. However, Clark is far too wrapped up in Eddy to notice, especially when she pulls a stunt that threatens her career and forces TJ to drop her as a client once and for all. Hoping to win Clark over, Pierce makes a deal with TJ. He'll take Eddy and crew on a wilderness therapy retreat, so he can convince her there's more to life than parties, and TJ will give her another chance. That weekend, the group of them head to a cabin in the woods, where Pierce hopes to give not only Eddy a new perspective on life, but Clark as well. After quite a few twists and turns and sudden change of heart on Eddy's part (when she realizes that Clark also deserves a life of his own), everything magically falls in place. Clark and Pierce get together and her career is back on track.

Matthew Montgomery is getting typecast in the kind of acting he does. I have liked him so far but this film was a huge letdown. It is probably not all his fault because the overall direction and execution was so lame that I could hardly believe what I was seeing unfolding on the screen. Its a shame how some film-makers take audiences' intelligence for granted and present them with such.

Just about ok. Better than a lot of crap but still leaves a lot desired. (3.5/10)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ssang-hwa-jeom (Korean) [A Frozen Flower]

This movie was a visual treat and complete with all emotions of love, romance, drama, betrayal, angst, war, everything. The costumes, the sets, the acting, cinematography, everything was spot on. I had absolutely no expectations from the film but I must say that I was completely bowled over by the film. As the story was progressing, more and more surprises were thrown and it completely kept me hooked. The story though fictional was very new and something that I always appreciate.

The film is set in Goryego dynasty. The king when younger had appointed personally selected 36 young boys to be trained as bodyguards. When they get older, king gets fascination for Hong Lim and he favors him. Hong Lim is the chief of the bodyguards. Him and the king some a lot of quality time together including sleeping with each other. With the arrival of the queen, pressure mounts on royal family to produce an heir, otherwise a successor from outside will be appointed. But the king is completely gay, doe snot get an erection and hence cannot do the job. The only man he trusts is Hong Lim and asks him to sleep with the queen and impregnate her. Of course Queen objects but because of her duties towards the king and the country she does it. These couple of forced encounters arouses uncontrollable sexual awakenings in both Hong Lim and the queen. They start meeting up secretly. The king never makes it obvious but he gets an idea that something is going wrong. Quite a bog part of the film deals with the growing relationship of Hong Lim and the queen and how slowly he is probably betraying the king. The king is totally in control now and one day finally he question Hong Lim of his loyalty towards the king. He is very ashamed of himself and promises that he will never meet the queen. The king is ready to forgive everything and start their relationship all over again because he really loves Hong Lim. Hong Lim tries his best to stay away from queen to fulfill his duties but when he finds out that the queen is finally pregnant, he meet the queen. The king catches them red handed while having sex and gets really mad and orders his men to castrate Hong Lim. He still tries to put sense into him into loving just the king but now its too late. Hong Lim doesn't fear anything. In the final battle between the king and Hong Lim, they both end up killing each other.

The acting was so spot on by everyone in the cast, it was unbelievable. I would specially like to mention the scene when Hong Lim tries to sleep with the queen for the first time, the kind of expressions that queen gives and her reactions are so overwhelming, it gave me goose bumps. It was so good. The film talks about love between man-man or man-woman. Many people put the king in a wrong position but i dont thin it was entirely his fault. He loved Hong Lim very deeply. In fact he was the only one whom he ever loved and how could he see Hong Lim betray his love? In fact Hong Lim was also in love except that he didn't know he could love a woman much better than the king. Actually, maybe he just confused love with his loyalty and duty. He just did not know better because his whole life growing up, all he knew was the king and his love. As far as queen is concerned, she falls in love with Hong Lim because she missed that throughout with her husband. Its interesting when the king asks the chief is he was in love with queen or was it just lust and when the chief says it was lust, the king is ready to forgive him. But in the final when chief admits his love for the queen, he is so mad and upset on losing his only love. There is a good dose of sexual scenes in the film, though mostly heterosexual but they form an important part of the story. The film also has some very strong moment of bonding like the one where the king is painting him and chief together riding. One point that I di dnot like was when chief says he never loved the king before the king dies. Not maybe it was loyalty but it was clearly love as well and I wish he told king the truth because the king was not wrong at any place. Like everyone else, he also wanted love to be at his side.

The film was just beautiful, wonderful, sad, slightly depressing but with everything that makes for a wonderful royal queer cinema. Though a little lengthy, this film is not to be missed at all. (9/10)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Amphetamine (Cantonese)

I had heard a lot of good things about this movie. A lot of people who saw it at the Qfest said nice things about it. I purposely did not see it in the festival since I wanted to watch it on dvd. For some reason this film looked to me like a more homo-erotic film rather than a one with stories and emotions. The film kept going in and out of being good to bad to doesn't make sense. But it still was an interesting view into the Hong Kong gay life.

Daniel, an openly gay banker can't decide whether to stay in Hong Kong or return back to Australia until he meets Kafka. Kafka is a straight swimming instructor. Somehow the 2 men develop a bond of friendship, admiration and even love for each other but Kafka cannot get physically intimate with Daniel which he doesn't mind because he is in search of true love. Kafka is a rebel and has a troubled past which we later find out that when he was trying to save a girl, he was raped by 4 men and left to die and this is the reason he cannot reciprocate Daniel's love. Kafka is slowly introduced to drugs by his brother who makes and sells amphetamine. Kafka really loves Daniel but he needs time, he needs to get through drug problem, so that he can be with him. Daniel is trying his best to be the best support he can for Kafka even to the extent that if he cannot take his drug problems away, he himself starts taking drugs and enjoy those moments with Kafka. Slowly the drugs completely take over Kafka and he ends up jumping from the top of the building.

The direction of the movie is a little odd. There are some time jumps and the narrative is filled with sexual scenes. But hidden in all this is also sadness. Kafka though straight loves Daniel and likes being with him but cannot reciprocate his sexual desires. Daniel truly loves Kafka and is ok with not getting intimate and wants to heal his drug problems. I think the 2 men acted really really well in this film. My problem was mostly with direction and the way the story is narrated. Some of the supporting characters act very weird throughout the movie. Somehow the director in this film leaves a lot for the viewers to decipher. His idea is challenging but direction leaves a lot to be desired.

Decide on your own. My rating is just average. (5/10)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Gay Short Films : 8

Cappuccino (Switzerland)
Despite his marginal and extrovert looks, Jeremie is a shy teenager who keeps a heavy secret: his homosexuality. While trying to find his way between his classmate and sexual fantasy Damien and his very generous but protective mother Gina, his life is about to change. A mother's love, despite her own misfortune, is expressed in a very subtle way. The title of the movie somehow did not go that well with the story. (4.5/10)

Caught (USA)

In 1962, police use camera surveillance to capture sex deviants in a public park. Based on a true story set in Ohio town that filmed gay men when film surveillance was very new. Lester visits the public restroom and tries to make friends, while on hidden camera by the police. A lot of people get arrested by the cops but some lucky people like Lester get lucky. (6.5/10)

Little Love (USA)
This film explores what happens when a new guy to the town gets very friendly with a gay couple and in moments of heat/friendship ends up sleeping with one of them. What happens is that each of the 3 people lose something while trying to find passion in life and they all try to pursue their own truth. (6/10)

Verona (Canada)
Inspired by William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Verona is the story of two young lovers separated by their rival fraternities. Set in a small college town wherein young men are groomed for corporate success in All-American hyper competitive fashion, Verona presents the fate of star-crossed lovers in a society that condemns the very nature of their love. Very high production values, this short film was made to get funding for a full length feature film. Now that will be something to look forward to. (7/10)

Sweat (UK)
Simon's first time in sauna and he meets Tim, but soon going through the ups and downs of bath-house and meeting random people make him forget about Tim. Further into his journey, an experiment with poppers and some very public sexual displays, leave him wondering what he came for, and possibly leaving none the wiser, albeit with a phone number and a wry smile. (6/10)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Férfiakt (Hungarian) [Men In Nude]

The title of this film cannot be more misleading. Not only was there no nudity wrt men (by which I mean , no frontal nude shots), the title itself had absolutely no relevance to the film. I took a break from watching gay films after the Philly film festival hoping that when I start watching movies again, I will pick the ones which will be meaningful, entertaining and relevant. This film clearly did not belong into any of these categories. I am hoping the results will be better next time.

Tibor is 49 year old aging writer married to a narcissistic actress who is out for work most of the time. One night he surprises himself by taking home an effeminate young street thug / hustler named Zsolt who comes out of nowhere and literally forces himself on Tibor. Always straight, there is something about Zsolt that he cannot resist and they start having an affair. Things start taking an awkward turn when his wife comes back. They need to find new places to meet. Because of this love, passion and secret affairs, a new creative spirit awakens in Tibor who starts writing o book on this. What Tibor doesn't realize is how risky is this whole thing filled with blackmails and someone who is just after money. His wife ultimately finds out the truth by reading his book and confronting him. Their sexual life is so bland that one day even she ends up cheating on him. For Zsolt, Tibor is just another guy whom he uses for money. The movie just abruptly ends as it started with Tibor and Zsolt's meeting.

The acting I would say was alright by the lead characters but things were just not explained right. The scenes would get randomly cut, the sub plots would be truncated randomly. And what was the whole point of those drug scenes in the so called 'red' flat where Tibor used to visit to meet Zsolt. If Zsolt was using Tibor for money and passion, how could he have been so idiotic and stupid o not realize what he was after. I feel that at some point even he wanted Zsolt to be with him since he had to finish his book and only Zsolt could keep his creative juices flowing.

It is a weird film. I would really not recommend this one. (3/10)