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

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Coming Out: Season 1 (French Mini Series)

This mini TV series features 12 episodes each of which is about 10-12 minutes long. The series focuses on a lot of characters based in Montreal, their life, their love, and how they deal with each other. In today’s day and age, managing and maintaining a relationship is not an easy thing and sometimes it can just be a mess. The characters in this series show us how they tackle love and friendship, in their own unique way and how much they're willing to risk in the pursuit of love and happiness.

Our main focus is on Mat, a gay fashion photographer, who is going through a slutty phase post his break-up with his now ex boyfriend, Ian. He still is struggling to get over him, when he resurfaces after a homophobic attack. He can’t decide whether he wants Ian back in hi life or not. hey restart dating but when Ian realises that Mat cannot make up his mind, he leaves asking mat to take a decision. We also meet Hugo, is is having a secret affair with a cop named Olivier. And we find out that Olivier is husband of Gen, who is Hugo’s best friend and co-worker. Constant pressure by Hugo to come clean to his wife makes Olivier’s life complicated. And when things to come out, as expected, it is only supposed to get ugly. Finally we have Teo, 18 year old street kid, living on drugs off the street. Social worker Caroline wants to help him but he won’t take any of it. This has started to affect her relations with her partner. Teo, as it turns out has AIDS and because of his drug abuse, is reached beyond control. We have few there additional characters but they just help the stories above move along. We go through the lives of these individuals and see what outcomes does life bring for them. Two dies unfortunately, Olivier and Hugo are trying to make things work while keeping Gen happy as well. Mat, is confused still, specially after he gets an offer to move to New York temporarily. The series ends when we don’t know if he leaves for New York or does Ian finally convince him to stay back.

The series is a bit confusing in first 2 episodes when character after character is introduced and you fail to keep a track of who’s who. But after that you get hooked on. The fact that the episodes are shot an quick, you never get bored; there is always something happening. The acting by principal actors is definitely above average and the production quality and directions also above par. But from a story angle, there could have been more depth in characters and their story. the break-ups are quick and the make-ups are even faster. I don’t think most people in real life will react the way the characters do here but then we have to remember that its a show. A good mix of sexy scenes, good looking men, decent story line and some light moments; makes this show a decent watch.

It is worth your time and does not leave you feeling like you wasted part of your life. (6.5/10)

Monday, December 28, 2015

A Reunion

This film is pretty much a road movie in which american landscape plays a major role. Over the course of few days, two friends will try to rediscover themselves while we watch them clumsily fumble through their emotional confusions.

Michael and Josh are college friends who lost touch when Michael took off to Japan without a word and Josh settled in Los Angeles. Michael is back in country for the college reunion and wants Josh to take a road trip from LA to Chicago. the 2 guys are very dissimilar. Michael is playful, peppy and a bit vague while Josh seems more settled, quite and lonely type. The exact terms of their past relationship are never fully divulged, it's clear from the sexual tension between them that a longstanding mutual intoxication still exists. They visit their college friend Lisa, who is now 6 months pregnant where Michale recounts the college time when they all had a threesome. Josh gets very mad at this, yet the journey continues. At one point they both give in to the sexual tension between them and spend the night together. Just when they seem to think their life could be good together, they visit Michael’s brothers home where it is revealed that Micael is set to marry someone soon. This pisses off Josh, understandably, who finally tells Josh that he is ready to make the move. It is upto Michael to decide.

The film according to me was quite lame and boring. It felt unnecessarily stretched for no reasons. Te dialogues seemed to be spoken without forethought or reason. Michael is really annoying. He is the kind of guy I would NOT want to take a road trip with. And on the complete contrast Josh is super quiet. But I guess thats probably to show his unhappiness at being lonely and later we find out his hurt at Michael leaving suddenly because Josh could never find a connection with anyone else in life. I don’t think the acting by the actors was bad, but I d blame the screenplay and direction. Also there was very little chemistry between the prime actors, which just completely spoils the fun.

It a slow, unnecessarily stretched film, despite trying to show something new. Crisp editing and make it a 30 minute short film, and this film can hold you attention for far more benefit. (4/10)

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Winning Dad

I was a bit confused about the title of the film initially but it makes sense now. This film specifically is about a man wanting to win over the love and affection of his boyfriend’s father, who, although has come around accepting that his son is gay, is still very anti-gay and in his own words “gets sick to his stomach with the thought of 2 men together”. You can imagine that with a situation like this, things are ever gonna be easy.

Coby and Rusty are a couple. Coby works as a chef and right next door to him Rusty works as a bartender. Coby wants his father to know Rusty and comes up with a game plan for this. Coby and his father go an an annual camping trip and this time along, Coby forcefully manages to get Rusty along, as the man with whom he wants to get into partnership for opening of a new restaurant. As planned, at the last minute Coby bows out leaving Rusty and his dad to spend some time alone. Colby’s sister and mother know all about this but his father is a touch man to crack. Surprisingly Rusty and Coby’s father get along really good at the trip which makes Rusty comfortable telling the old man about who he really is and that he wants to get married to Coby. The old man gets very angry , upset and says all kinds of nasty things making it very obvious he will never accept such a thing. To retaliate, Rusty goes about telling Coby’s father about the details of their sexual life which breaks the old man down. He calls his wife depressed and comes back home. When Coby finds out what Rusty has done, he doesn’t want anything to down with him and they break-up without giving Rusty a chance to explain. Not that he is going to forgive his father either. The father soon realises what a huge mistake he has done (after he sees his son sad, his wife depressed and other signs), he decides to make amends. Because of him the boys happily come back together.

For a film like this, the subjects need to have a good chemistry, which was lacking between pretty much every relationship. Coby and Rusty seemed like friends rather than lovers. The father and son had absolutely no emotional chemistry. And finally the family, the mother, the sister; they all seemed characters but had no family chemistry among them. This is not to say that their acting was bad, but unfortunately thats exactly what it seemed it. Acting! It didn’t seem real or natural or even remotely believable. Coby was definitely better among the 2 actors but his character was so poorly fleshed out. He is not a big fan of his father but despite that he decides to just break up with Rusty after hearing what happened. If he is a true lover, he would have given Rusty a chance to explain. And then within a week they are both seeing other guys as if few months have passed. The father can’t decide what he is more upset about, accepting his son is gay or accepting his sex and complete family life? The sister’s character was required to read books and argue with her father, just to show even more how stubborn the old man is. Mom’s acting was pretty good and she was the most believable among all the actors in the film. The landscapes and the hiking areas shown in the film are beautiful and the cinematography is nice; but overall I think the film was probably made on a low budget, which is quite ok IMO. I feel the story had potential but somehow the soul was missing in the way it was treated.

Its not a bad subject, however i directed with more passion and realism, this could have been really good. (5.5/10)

Monday, December 21, 2015

You and I (German/English)

Eventually after the film ended, I ended up liking this film more than how much I thought I would, while the film was going. Touted as a ‘post gay’ film (whatever that means), this film is slow paced but very watchable for the amazing chemistry by the two leads. There are no forced sexual scenes, nudity is natural, and no hostile environments. And thankfully the subject and film is not about being gay is be all end all. There is more to life and friends.

Jonas picks up his best friend Philip from the airport and they both head for a road trip through the countryside of northeast Germany. We learn later that they met in London and also lived together in a flat for about a year in London. Jonas is a photographer and is looking at this trip to also come up with his next subject. The first half just focuses on this trip with them driving around, swimming naked; basically just pure natural friendly chemistry. They are both quite relaxed with each other and physically close (not sexually). Midway their trip, they pick up a Polish hitchhiker Boris who knows the countryside well. On a drunken night is when we find that Philip is actually gay and may also have some attraction towards Boris. The three are having a good time but attraction between Jonas and Boris is strong and they both hook up. This upsets and irritates Jonas who feels left out and jealous that his friend is having a good time. Out of the blue he kisses Philip passionately, who is completely shocked and blindsided. Philip then asks Boris to leave and the film then ends with Jonas and Philip preparing for the photo exhibition with Philip’s arms around Jonas and tenderly kissing his neck.

As confused and a little frustrated I felt after watching the film, I now feel that director wants us to have our own interpretation about the relationship between the two men. The topic of close friendships between gay and straight males i handled interestingly slightly touching upon whether is there sex in the back of mind always. Even more, does sex define sexuality or is it the emotional connection? The vague ending of the film makes us question if they are now lovers or still friends or both. Are they now sexual or still just physically close but not sexually because we saw Philip kiss Jonas on his lips even before. Is Jonas now gay or bisexual, or is this a case of his falling for an individual rather than falling for men generally? What’s most interesting is that as an audience why do we even care for these answers? Why can’t Jonas be straight but have a very special bond with Philip? Why is that wrong? I personally know of a few such relationships, so trust me, this is entirely possible. Anyway, as I mentioned above, the slow pace of the film may deter a few but the natural chemistry between the two guys is infectious. You feel that these are 2 real close friends on a road trip doing everything that 2 close friends would do; it just so happens that one is gay and the other is straight. Jonas is really good looking too.

This film may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I would recommend to be patient with the film. Let the scenes and chemistry between the characters draw you in and question your own thoughts about stereotypical definitions of sexuality and gay life. (7/10)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Gay Short Films : 42

Let’s Fall In Love (Italy)
The story of two boys in love, who opt to show their affection for each other in public by the simple, loving act of holding hands, only for one thereafter to have second thoughts about such a display of sexual openness.

April Fools (USA)
When a terrible April Fools prank goes terribly wrong, terrible things happen.

1919 (Canada)
The Winnipeg general strike as seen through the window of a bath house.

J Pee - I’m Not Gay (USA)
A comedic homo-bro rap song, in which J Pee (Jesse Pepe) performs all sorts of homoerotic actions as he claims he is NOT GAY-only to realize that ... he might just be lying to himself. Very funny !

Stand Up (Ireland)
Support for innocent teenage love by standing up in sovereignty with your gay friends.

Luigi and Vincenzo (Italy)
Years of a love story in clandestine, for shame, fear, thinking they do not have rights, no marriage, no family, neither walking hand in hand. But today on gay pride day, something changes.

Ha(r)d To Say (USA)
A speechless story of two men who meet one day on the busy streets of New York and all the things they have to say to each other.

Una notte ancora (Italy) One More Night
Feel the pain of the man who comes home to find his boyfriend leaving him. But is he really leaving him or is it a role-play that happens every day to forget and get over a very painful memory from the past?

The Rosa Song (Germany)
It is Not the Homosexual who are perverse, but the Society in which we lives. A group of men assemble to review, rewrite and restage the legendary final scene of the film.

Hookup (USA)
Two guys meet up on Grindr. But the young man loses interest after knowing that the other guy has a girlfriend, yet still meets guys online regularly and not accept his sexuality.

Sandanski (Italy)
A dance of passion, love, sex and fire. A unique love story.

Adam & Steve (USA)
Welcome in paradise; everything is nice and green but apparently there is a problem, instead of Eve there is a ... Steve

The Rain (Sweden)
The dance that slowly takes over, forming a pattern that none of the characters can see - they are all connected; the rain affects them all.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Guidance (Canada)

A classic example of how to live in continuos denial and self-appraisal; this film shows us that sometimes we can be our own worst enemies. Thankfully this film takes a dark-comedy route to tell this to us rather than being over dramatic. Also, it is worth pointing out that besides the lead character being closeted gay, there is nothing else gay themed about this film.

We meet David, a former child star who obsessively watches reruns of his hit television-show. He is drunk and has alcohol problems and is also flamboyantly gay. Although he is in denial about all these things including the fact he is gay, which no single person around him believes. When he is diagnosed with skin cancer, he is in denial of that as well. When he is on the verge of getting evicted from his apartment, he decides he wants to “help teenagers”, and studies for a high-school guidance counselor position as he would for a role.As luck would have it, he gets the job on temporary basis. Surprisingly, he becomes popular with a few kids, because he is ok drinking with them, having weed with them and having a ‘I don’t give a fuck” attitude. He is propositioned by the gym teacher but David is in denial of being gay, so doesn’t do anything about it as well. He specially takes a liking for Jabrielle, a guarded black student, who has her own problems at home. Soon David’s reality comes out and he is evicted from home. Around the same time Jabrielle also has had enough and runs away. The two of them steal a car and  lot of money from tanning saloons. But better sense prevails when David finally decides that Jabrielle deserves a better family life and that he should probably surrender to the cops.

I am not entirely sure of I liked the film or not, but I am quite sure I enjoyed the lead actor’s performance; who I believe is also the writer and director of the film. Its interesting how he lives in denial , which is summed up in a sentence when he says "I exist in the space between caring too much and not giving a fuck”. I wonder if one of the dead behind making this film was also to show the harsh realities of some of the child actors who get lost in oblivion when they grow up. Maybe!! The fellow teachers of the school were quite funny and some of the students that he helps get over with their awkwardness was also interesting. But overall the film failed to keep me entertained throughout. Something was missing. I am sure given the small scale, independent nature of the film, it will recover its cost.

Its not a bad film but nothing great to talk about either. It surely won’t disappoint you. (5.5/10)

Sunday, December 13, 2015

La Partida (Spanish) [The Last Match]

This film can easily be termed as gritty, shocking, very real and sexy at the same time. Set in Cuba, I am not sure how real is really is to the actual life but it the acting and story and content felt quite real. Its a shame that the things people have to resort to just to make ends met and enjoy simple pleasures of life. Life is hard, very hard and its even harder when you have to balance your duties with something that you heart years for.

Yosvani and Reinier are two young men who play in an amateur slum soccer team. Yosvani lives with his elder girlfriend Gema and his black-marketeer father. Reid lives with his wife, a small baby and her mother who is always looking for money and support from Rei, since he is the only male earning member of the family. She openly encourages him to be a gay prostitute since that will at least get them money. Reid meets a handsome man Juan visiting from Spain and hooks up with him occasionally. He makes him feel good and also awakens a curiosity in him of whether he is gay? At the same time, Yosvani starts feeling a strange physical attraction towards Rei and he takes his chances by kissing him. Their drunken kiss is a shock and intrigue for both of them and soon they are having an affair on a tall rooftop. You can see they both love each other but Rei has to continue to hustle to make some money. Yovani is doing ok financially because of his girlfriend’s family but can’t ignore a strong love for Rei. He is sad that Rei does hustling but he can’t help him. Thanks to Juan, Rei gets one opportunity to for a possible soccer career, he wants t focus on it. Meanwhile Yosvani’s situation turns for worse when his girlfriend’s father throws him out for his affair with Rei. Yosvani steals money from him, so that he can run some place far far away with Rei, but Rei has to take a call of what he wants to do. He loves Yosvani but would he choose him over his football career. What price will Yosvani have to pay for stealing money from a thug?

The way try is presented, you can feel that working class life in Cuba is not easy at all. The film is raw and real with brilliant chemistry and acting by the 2 lead. Yes, the film flaws in its narration because it becomes hard to see if Rei is really in love with Yosvani or Juan or is straight or may be he is really as confused as we feel as audience. The characters never really give in to their desire and take their friendship to a new level of intimacy. Having said that, some of best scenes involve Yosvani and Rei coming to terms with their feelings for one another, going from repulsion and disbelief to fun and love. A good mix of secret love, sex for hire, athletic aspirations, morality, hunger for survival; the film never gets over dramatic. I am not sure what the end scene was meant to be, something whose reference still eludes me. This film is a lot of things, from super sexy to a sad commentary on homophobia. The story will engage you, pique your interest and even anger you. The performances are electric, and the scenes reveal a side of Cuba that we outsiders rarely see.

An interesting film depicting a lot of emotions. Something that also shows that gay for pay is ok, but being gay for real is strict no-no. (7/10)

Friday, December 11, 2015

7ème Ciel (French Short Film) [In Seventh Heaven]

This short film was about 40 minutes long and therefore deserves its own review. This is a film that can be classified into gay drama, crime and poverty , depicts in a very short span of time about some of the life’s stigmas and a guys story of rediscovering himself.
It shows how society expects us to behave and belong and how some people are forced to live in a constant state of low self-esteem and self-rejection.

A gang of 4 thugs are eve-teasing a girl. When she doesn’t react, this makes one of the guys Mobutu very angry. They beat up her boyfriend and Mobutu flirts with the girl. Sofiane is the only guy in the gang who tries to keep things under control. He comes back home to his mother and sister studying. When alone, he logs in to a gay website to meet guy. He decides to meet a young man for the night when he agrees to pay him money. Meanwhile his girlfriend Julie is trying to get in touch with him. We later find out that she knows what he does for work (gay for pay) and is not ok with it. She is the only one who brings a smile on his face. Meanwhile his father is giving him a hard time for not working. We then witness an encounter where it is Sofia’s regular customer who calls him and has a degrading sexual encounter. This is the time when Sofiane realises that how much ever normal life he tries to live, his homosexual urge begin to rise. He ultimately in a fit if disgust comes out to his girlfriend and leaves home forever to meet the same guy who he had met earlier. Possibly love?

Sofiane’s charter is quite complex. His father is playas after him and he hangs out with good-for-nothing gang. When his gay urges increase, it causes him discomfort because no one will accept him the way he is. He even goes to the extent of suffering in a disgusting sexual encounter with a dominant guy, only to realise that the only ray of love he actually saw was with the guy whom he had met earlier. His outburst to his girlfriend over the phone was remarkable and equally sad was when his sister realises that he is leaving home forever. Acting was quite good by all characters given the premise.

A short and lovely film showing harsh realities of life and how some people deal with them , specially when you add gay feelings to the mix. (6.5/10)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

London Spy (Mini Series) (UK)

I was quite excited when I found out about this 5 part mini-series lasting a total of 5 hours. Spy/thriller/mystery is my favourite genre and of course, by my blog you can of your tell that I do watch a lot of gay films; so this series definitely brought with it a lot of anticipation and expectation at the same time. BBC is known to come up with series and drama like no one before. Will it be the same this time or will high expectations kill the fun. I am going to try and analyse in this review here.

Based on the foundation of love story, we meet Danny and Alex. Danny is carefree, occasional drug user, party-goer young man. A chance encounter with Alex changes something in him. Is it the beauty or his simplicity. he would never know. He takes chances, makes a move to Alex and his love is reciprocated. They are 2 very different people but somehow complement each other. Their love grows and Danny finally introduces Alex to his best friend, mentor and guide Scotty who has been with him through thick and thin. Just when things are going well, Alex suddenly disappears. About 10-11 days later, Danny finds his body in mysterious circumstances. This is where a whirlwind of receipts and lie start and its difficult to imagine whats truth and what’s lie. Danny is made to believe that Alex had a secret life that involved escorts, S&M, drugs etc but Danny would have none of it. Despite being severely threatened by everyone for his life, he doesn’t give up on his search for truth. He had found a secret metal cylinder when he had found Alex’s body and now Danny has to find how to decode it. He is supported by Scotty in his search. He mets various people, including Alex’s parents, his so-called escort service, his drug dealer, mathematics genius and all that. After a whirlwind of events, all charges against Danny are dropped but he still wants to know the truth. Danny finally finds out that the metal cylinder was carrying an algorithm that could identify lying simply by examining speech patterns. It promised the “end of all lies”. And that is exactly what became the reason for his own death, a secret that Danny ultimately finds out courtesy Alex’s mother much later he has given up on the whole event. But at least, he can live content now that he nows the truth.

London Spy started off really good. After the first episode finished, I was hooked onto it. There was mystery, drama, love, emotions; pretty much everything. Episode two was even better, but to be honest subsequent episodes failed to keep the magic and thrill alive. It always happens when the beginning is so brilliant, it is inevitably hard to meet the expectations and give a befitting finale. At places I felt that scenes and characters were just thrown for the heck of it (like drug dealer, gay orgies, drug etc). I am sure there could have been a way to just circle around the main story line rather than trying to create more elements. Having said that, performances in this series are extra-ordinary. Clearly, the winner is Danny. His growth from a reckless young man to a lover to a mature men who would leave no stone unturned to find out the truth is amazing. He portrays the emotions of a loner, heart-broken lover with extreme conviction. The scariest part was when he realises he has been intentionally infected with HIV. I think it was because of this actor that the series was still a great watch. I am not convinced with the finale and the reason given for Alex’s murder but I can’t even think of what else could the makers have come up with. The end specially where the mother agrees to drive with Danny to tell the truth to the world was way too cliched. It is scary of think of all this, if you even remotely believe in the whole spy world.

A strange yet inexplicably compelling story, Danny’s character and acting makes it worth a watch definitely, despite the fact that the finale may leave you rather disappointed. But wth, at least we got to see something new and exciting. (7.5/10)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Dōshitemo Furetakunai (Japanese) [No Touching At All]

Apparently this film is based on a short story by the same name that was quite popular in Japan. I haven’t read the book but my vies on the film are very average, for various reasons. We will discuss that further.

Shia is a young shy man. Having quit his last job, on his first day at his new job, he meets Togawa in the elevator who is brash and extremely hungover. Only later he finds out that Togawa is his boss. For whatever reasons, at least not clear to me, Togawa takes a liking for Shima and before you know an affair starts between them. Shima is still the shy one while Togawa constantly pursues him. Shia also makes a god friend with another guy in the office who is also close friends with Togawa. Shia has a history with his ex-boyfriend because of whom he had to leave his old job. So as much as he appreciates and likes and wants to reciprocate Togawa’s love, he is scared that this is just a phase for Togawa and pretty soon he will get bored and he will leave him. His worst fears come true when Togawa is offered a job in another city and he decides to take it. Togo really loves Shima and wants to make things work between them and does his best to explain to Shima that nothing will change between them. He moves to the new city, when Shima visits him because he realises that he is also truly in love with Togawa. The film ends with the duo trying to make things work between them.

The story is very simple and has been done ok. But really there is nothing much to it. Why is Togawa attracted to Shima is not very clear. Shima has this dead-exrpressionless face throughout the entire movie which gets annoying after a certain period of time. I think we needed some more back story on him, unless the makers were completely unable to bring out the difference between shyness and autism. :) Togawa’s character was interesting and charming and kept the film alive. He was a man who did what his heart wanted without caring for what others had to think about him. Besides this, I felt that the film was a bit slow. There could have been more energy in the film, or the films overall running time could have been reduced. The positive of he film is the story again. I like the idea of man who is shy & has some bad history finds the true love of his life and his love is ready to accept him and do anything for him.

A strictly average film. Slow paced and and drags at certain point. (4/10)

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Tangerine

What a surprise! I kept dilly-dallying to watch this movie but finally I gave in and what a wonderful surprise this film was. A quirky, wildly entertaining film about a day in the life of two transgendered prostitutes in LA on Christmas eve and the non-stop drama that goes on during the entire course of the day. Some people can also term it as a screwball, odd, buddy-comedy between the two prostitutes which has been told with a very daring quality.

Sin-Dee has just gotten out of jail after 6 weeks. She learns from her best friend and fellow transgendered  Alexandra that her pimp, Chester, whom she loves has been cheating on her while she was in prison with a white girl. All she tells is that the girls name probably starts with a ‘D’. Sin-Dee is mad and goes out on a quest to track down both Chester and this other woman, while Alexandra following her. They separate their paths at various junctures only to meet again. When Alexandra feels that there is going to be drama, she decides to leave Sin-Dee alone but son realises that since she more composed of the two , she needs to be with her best friend, before she has to make a stage appearance that evening. Sin-Dee finally finds the girl and drags her along with them both across the streets of LA. Alongwth this main story, there isa parallel, somewhat connected thread, of this Armenian cab driver  Razmik. After a few guests that he drives off, we find out that he is into transgendered prostitutes. Finally all these characters meet, and ultimate drama follows, and it does out that even Alexandra also slept with Chester. Meanwhile, suspecting of her son-in-laws weird behaviour, Razmik’s MIL sets to find out the truth and eventually discovers it as well. The film ends with all the individuals going their won ways and reflecting upon what has happened during the day.

Kudos to the main characters of Sin-Dee & Alexandra for pulling off an excellent team. They are so naturally compelling on screen, it is real, saucy, right attitude and a very strong self-assurance with which they carry themselves. These are two fierce heroines as they need to be to survive on the streets of LA by any means. I can’t believe the makers just found these two aspiring trans-actors. The movie could not have been same without them. Of course Sin-Dee takes a slight edge between the two. You cannot miss the high tempo high-energy background that follows each moves of these characters. It goes extremely extremely well with the film. At places I felt Si-Dee’s action were all over the top and her quest is getting tiring but it actually goes quite well with her overall wild, stubborn character. It was a very good decision to present the story in a more comic, pop-culture-ish way rather than going the dramatic route. I think more people will be able to relate with the premise that way. The photography, cinematography, lighting etc of this film were truly brilliant as well. There are multiple individual scenes that stand out and show the harsh realities of the actual life of street workers, including their interactions with the police officers with whom they are on the first name basis. The film has a lot of walking and more walking on the streets but the camera furiously follows and keeps it real. The characters of Razmik and Dinah also add their own reality and focus on the entire story. At any point it doesn't feel forced.

This film shows the harsh reality of what goes on out on the streets of LA for working class transgendered people. It is entertaining for us and dedicated to the women who are actually working the corner. (8/10)

Friday, December 4, 2015

Gays In Prison (Documentary)

Ever wondered what is life really like for LGBT people in prison? Reading the title you would think that this is a generic documentary but to my disappointment, this documentary primarily focusses on drag queen Latrice Royale, who became famous after featuring in Ru Paul’s drag race.

We meet Latrice and go through her life on how she was molested as a child, beaten, why she ended up being in jail and what happened inside. We then also look at how, with support from her loved ones and friends, she was able to get back her life on track and is now one of the most successful drag queens. And then we meet some other 4-5 inmates who share their stories of living in prison as an LGBTQ member. They talk about forbidden love, finding love online, making pen pals, forced sex in prison, being raped by both guards and fellow prisoners, hiding their true identity. Some say it was sexual torture, for others it was a fabulous sexual experience. We also witness struggles on trans people. Interestingly most of these inmates came to prison because of drug-related issues and a good percentage turned to drugs after being damaged and rejected by their families. The documentary also focusses on how important yet difficult it is to find a normal job with a criminal background.

As I mentioned earlier, I was a bit disappointed in the overall content because I think this subject could have been a lot more hard-hitting and emotional but the makes failed to capture that. Also I may not know a thing about documentary film-making but I couldn’t help laughing wit the way all the subjects were introduced. They ere made to do these awkward walks across the hall, across pathways etc. It looked ridiculous, staged and so fake. And the same repeated scenes of them doing the same walk came every single time they would come on screen. Initially irritated, I was soon laughing at that. I personally would have liked to see more detailed story about other inmates rather than the just touching the tip of the iceberg. One of the inmates summarises it well. "There's all kind of sex in prison. There's people that are married to each other, people that are dating each other... There's all kinds of sexualities and all kinds of gender in prison that don't necessarily translate to the outside."

An interesting insight into this side of prison life and LGBTQ members. (4/10)

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Gay Short Films : 41

Hopeful Romantic (USA)
A musical film about one man's emotional journey through love, heartbreak, and healing. It's a universal story about loving, letting go, and holding onto faith that there's somebody for everybody. It is dialogue-free, completely musical. I wasn’t sure if I would like it but it wasn’t bad at all. (6/10)

Gokugoku futsuuno! (Japan) [Quite Ordinary]
When a student comes out to his teacher (who is himself gay), he internally wows to protect him and sees it as God’s plan for his love. Butte student loves another boy who rejects his love. A story with comic touch that shows some realities of how people react when you come out. (5/10)

Brookton Hollow (USA)
Story of true love. Kyle loves alone on a farm with his father. Their cow is his only best friend. The father gives Kyle a warning that with meat being low, cow would have to go and just then Kyle starts dreaming (or is it reality) that cow takes form of a young man to be with Kyle. To save the young man fro body of cow, Kyle has to prove his true love to him, which he does by facing his father when he is about kill the cow. The age old concept of love wins all. (6/10)

Here Now (USA)
A random film of 2 straight couples: one hot passionate and the other boring. A fleeting glimpse of possible gay man. Senseless short. (2/10)

Ça prend des couilles (French Canada) [It Takes Balls]
A young man waiting for a sex change operation is confronted by his masculine conscience, which tries desperately to convince him not to do it. It is an interesting concept though may not have been directed as well as it could have. It still leaves questions unanswered. (5/10)

Abrase (USA)
The fading love of two men, remembered by one of them in a long monologue. A relationship once vivid, now dissipating into a fog of partial remembrance; the memories of heartbreak and loss that bend and change as the years go by. (4/10)

6 no es un color (Spain)
Men are as diverse as there are colors in the lines of cities metro. Taking this theme, we go through a cursory glance in the lives of a few men in the city of Madrid. Some get a second chance and some don’t. Sometimes fate is capricious and decides a return to the same station. Nothing great. Plain average (4/10)

Few Random Shorts
These videos were with homoerotic images, naked men dancing but no narrative as such.
Cherushii, A Study In Choreography for Camera, Midnight Swim, Another Me, Figure Scrub, Morning Sweat

Después del invierno (Spain) [After The Winter]
3 lives in extreme situations of pain, hurt and anger (one of them being a gay man). We witness the human ability to go through these challenges, bear the pain and still go on a and eventually succeed. (4/10)

La Mirada de las fotos (Spain) [Staring Pictues]
A young couple needs some place to have intimacy, so they use Arturo’s grandmother place, but Carlos has a problem: he can’t do ‘it’ in front of the pictures of dead relatives. His boyfriend makes fun of him, but some months later he is the one who feels the picture’s gaze. I think this one was totally bizarre. (4/10)

Dottie Gets Spanked (USA)
In 1960s America, a young boy is obsessed with Dottie Frank, wacky star of the eponymous hit sitcom The Dottie Show. While his mother gently encourages the boy’s fixation, his father grows increasingly frustrated by his son’s apparently “sissified” interests. Interesting concept but stretched too far. (4/10)

Papa’s Prince (USA)
A young girl with two dads tells the story of how her parents met to a new friend, trying to expand his knowledge of love. Full with singing, animations and imagination. (4/10)

Serene Hunter (Paris)
A randy gay Parisian moves in with his new boyfriend - just as an old flame from Los Angeles comes back into town. The man can’t keep anyone happy or satisfied including himself. He wants to have the cake and eat it too. Where will it take him or will he remain eternal hunter? (5/10)

Plan Perfecto (Mexico) [Perfect Plan]
A couple who are no longer in love comes up with a perfect plan to breakup individual but only one of them is able to execute it. I think this was quite funny and interesting. (6/10)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Paternity Leave

Yes, the premise about a gay man finding himself pregnant was really interesting and it was an excellent opportunity to make it a good fun watch. Unfortunately, a real bad screenplay and an average direction just makes this film barely watchable. Also the film title really doesn’t justify the story. In the beginning we witness a debate about paternity vs maternity leave when a woman asks why men should get such long paternity leave when woman does all the work. And this issue is never discussed again.

Greg and Ken are a couple and very happy with each other. On the night of their 4th anniversary, they have to cancel their plans and baby-sit Greg’s nephew. Greg is bit neurotic and always worries about his weight but doesn’t do anything about it. Ken, on the other hand is a normal-isn guy. who works as a lawyer. On their anniversary night, Ken feels he wants to top Greg and so he does but few weeks after that they realise Greg is showing signs of nausea and other symptoms. On doing multiple check-ups its established that Greg is pregnant. Everyone including doctors are surprised and Ken convinces Greg that its a good thing to become parents. But when the news comes out that this has become a normal phenomenon and other gay men are also having babies, Ken doesn’t feel special anymore. Now he doesn’t want the baby anymore but Greg has to live with the baby and his neurotic attitude. Greg , being alone now hires a man Thomas, who can help keep a check on him and also help him through his pregnancy. Ultimately Ken comes around, joins Greg back at home. There is a normal delivery and the couple lives happily.

As I mentioned before this film doesn't delve into any of paternity leave laws as the title would suggest. It's merely a drama about whether or not Greg and Ken even want to have a baby at all. If the intent f the makers was to make this film funny, it was not. It wasn’t drama either. It was something in between The acting was just average by the two principal actors. Greg scored a little over Ken. Lot of things in the film were forced and I felt it had absolutely no bearing whatsoever to the entire plot. Example, the whole backstory of Greg’s ex-boyfriend wasn’t needed at all. The side story of Greg’s friend having a stroke and going into a coma, serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever to the main story line. Ken’s attitude of not anting to have a baby anymore because now they are not that special couple seems quite forced and sudden. On a positive note, Greg’s one-liners are funny in places. Most of them are references to pop culture appropriated by gay men. And the random cat songs that he keeps singing is also fun. Thomas was o in his brief role and thank god! of not showing anything romantic between Thomas and Greg, which in normal scenario seemed like an obvious thing to do.

The film is just okay. Not earth shattering but not bad either. Few years bak I would have  rated it higher but not now when there is a lot more quality films out there. This was a decent attempt. (5.5/10) 

Monday, November 30, 2015

En la Gama de los Grises (Spanish) [In The Grayscale]

An interesting film that subconsciously debates love between two men; one a gay man for whom homosexuality is a black-or-white concept and the other who is not ready to choose a side because he needs to figure out the impact on not just him but people around him as well. I have been part of many conversations where gay men question the whole concept of ‘bisexuality and this film does a very interesting t make on the whole theme. Its a thoughtful, beautifully acted and nuanced film that makes you think.

Bruno, architect by profession, has recently moved out of his home, leaving behind his wife and son. They are not separated. He just needs time alone to think and figure out what he wants to do with his life. He is hired by city commissioner to design a new monument in Santiago that would mean something to the city. The commissioner also introduces him to Fer, a free spirited tour guide who knows the city inside out so that Bruno can make a more informed decision. Fed is young, fun, energetic, good looking and a happy man while Bruno is going through his internal struggles about life, work, family etc. Fed thinks of Bruno as a closeted gay and tries to flirt with him. Over the course of time Bruno finds himself getting attracted to Fer as well, and doesn’t know what to do. He is happy when he is with him but what does that mean? Ambiguity, regret and confusion soon pops up. Bruno realises that he has been meeting Fer for 3 months now and hasn’t started any real work. Meanwhile word comes out that Bruno was seen kissing another man which doesn’t go too well with his wife and son. This makes Bruno question even more on what he is doing. The movie ends with unanswered question for us on what will happen but what does happen is that Bruno finds an idea on what he wants to make the monument about.

As the title suggests, this film explores those difficult shades of gray of somebody trying to overcome their longstanding sexual repression. Or is it really that? Why can’t this be a whole new feeling, maybe? You empathise with Bruno but you also feel for Fer. fed has honesty and integrity and knows exactly what he wants from their relationship, so it feels he is cheated when Bruno can’t take a decision despite the fact that he clearly loves him. Thankfully , the film doesn’t go overdramatic when the wife and son find out. You see mature conversations happening and a glimpse into one of the secrets of their married life. The intimate moments between the two men are real, very real. Their hanging out, sleeping , coffee, breakfast, smoking; just about everything feels natural and real. The chemistry between the two men is good and you witness the journey of how and when they  move from guide to friends to lovers to estranged lovers. They have a very intelligent and an intuitive sense of physical connection. Did I mention that they are both quite hot and good-looking as well. Interestingly the surroundings of the 2 guys also give a depiction of how one is happy vs how the other is lonely and isolated. Yeah, we do see bits of history of Chile in the process as well , but it didn’t mean much to me as an outsider.

Definitely recommend this one. It may seem like an old story but treatment and direction is quite different. You relate to the characters and you understand why Bruno can’t take the decision which is expected of him. (7.5/10)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Stand (Russian)

It was disturbing to watch this film. Disturbing not in a bad way, but in a way that you feel like appreciating what you have in your life. There are worse places and countries to be out there being a gay man. Surely, we have seen films about homophobia and gay-violence; but this film IMO shakes you up from inside. It is so hauntingly real, that it is difficult to explain.

Anton and Vlad are a very happy domesticated couple in Moscow. One evening, having taken a wrong turn in their car, they witness what they believe is a vicious gay bashing. Anton wants to help but Vlad pleads him to not do so of this own safety. They later hear about a young man being admitted in hospital with what is believed to be homophobic attack who later dies. Part of Anton feels responsible in some way and wants to investigate the story behind it. It’s dangerous territory but Anton is persistent, Vlad agrees to help. They make a plan and get help from the deceased’s siblings. Anton also gets help from Katya, a budding journalist in France. Anton tries to meet people online, hoping to find and trace the people who were responsible for the young man’s death. As Anton gets more and more deep into the whole situation, Vlad finally gives up and can’t take it anymore and breaks up. For Anton, nothing else is more important than finding out the truth. The ending shocks us all and is very unexpected but it maybe is the true representation of what being gay in Russia would actually mean.

First and foremost, huge respect for the film-maker to make such a hauntingly disturbing bold film. As actors Anton and Vlad are pitch perfect in there respective roles. Their eyes speak volumes of what they are both going through. They make a handsome pair, sharing a loving and natural chemistry in the comfortable privacy of their Moscow apartment. The way we are shown this couple’s life and how in one split second, their life turns upside down when Anton’s zeal to find the truth becomes self-consuming and nothing else is important anymore. Vlad supports him all the way till he feels it right but ultimately he also gives up when he sees that Anton is not being reasonable anymore. Anton’s point of view also quite quickly suggests that his vision quest has narrowed into tunnel vision. The Russian winter, the slow moving life, the interactions, the abuses feel all very real.  Given the intense worldwide outrage over Russia’s mistreatment of gays and the country’s 2013 federal law prohibiting homosexual “propaganda”, this film feel so much more relevant in today’s time and honestly it scares me. As a film, t slows down a bit towards second half but still remains focussed

A couple’s risky search for the truth ultimately and sadly has unexpected and grim consequences. But this is what make the film real. A complex, heart-breaking, thought-provoking and brilliantly acted and directed film; I highly recommend this film. (8/10)

Monday, October 26, 2015

Muslim Drag Queens (Documentary) (UK)

This documentary was telecast on UK’s Channel 4. Being gay has never been easy for anyone past or present included. When you are asian, it is a bit harder because of culture and if you are asian and Muslim, then the difficulty goes on more level up. This documentary very effectively follows life of gay asians, specifically Muslims and drag queens. Narrated by Sir Ian McKellan, the documentary’s focus is on young men who are unable to publicly reconcile their sexuality with their cultural identity and traditions.

Asif, is a good looking young Muslim man who loves to dress up in drag and perform. The documentary starts with him showing us the death threat emails that he has received. He is popular and successful as his alter ego Asifa Lahore. But behind the expertly applied make-up, she is fighting a major battle on behalf of all those who don't dare to wear their sexuality so openly. Then we see Imran, whose alter ego is Zareena Khan and i looking of love everywhere. She gets lots of proposals from men all the tim, but ultimately they (Muslim married men, in most cases), want to just have sex with her because they feel that since she is in drag, they are still straight. And finally we have Ibrahim, you gay man, who grew up in Mauritius, recently came out and has supportive family and now wants to venture into drag. We see Asif training and nurturing him for his debut. All is not hunky dory though. Asif also wants to hold a walk to bring more prominence in the society for gay asians but is very disappointed when its the Britishers who show up for the march but none of the gay asian community shows up. She is very disheartened. But ultimately, things change for her when she is nominated for Attitude magazine’s pride awards, which she eventually wins as well.

The documentary shows quite a few examples, specially in the case of Zareena Khan, the difficulty for many LGBT Muslims in expressing their true identity. Unlike most documentaries, this one was not boring or bleak. In fact, the characters they picked had interesting stories to tell, good narration and direction; expertly injecting the subject matter with a hefty dose of humour. It is undoubtedly very brave of the three main characters who had the guts to open their hearts out in open for the world to see without fearing for their life. They can be role models for a lot of LGBT youth , not necessarily of Muslim background. In an interview apparently Asifa mentioned “I’m a Muslim, I’m British/Pakistani and I’m also a drag queen. I totally understood the risks and I totally understood the impact that it would have on my life and I decided to do it because the issue is really important to me."

An eye opener for me in various ways, more documentaries like these deserve to be shown on public platforms throughout the world. (6.5/10)

Sunday, October 25, 2015

El Tercero (Spanish) [The Third One]

A good concept which could very easily be shown in a 20 minute short film and I can bet you that the impact that this short film would have had is much greater than the impact that this film will ever have. The title pretty much tells us what the film is going to be about but in the process it becomes tiring and lethargic and you start to wonder whether anything concrete will ever happen or not.

Herman and Franco are an older gay couple who have been together for 8 years. They meet Fede, a very young man in his early twenties, online and have a few raunchy conversations about a threesome. Finally they invite Fede for dinner and more. A very nervous Fede arrives anther home and obvious discomfort is seen between the trio. Slowly as the three men eat, chat, and drink plenty of wine, they become more talkative and open. In due time, they are revealing intimate aspects of their lives and histories. Soon after dinner, the romantic encounter starts which ends up in a threesome (a really long scene). The trip sleep together and being good hosts Hernan and Franco make sure that their guest is comfortable and has everything he needs. Fede leaves and the film ends with him sitting in the classroom with memories from last night. We see him smiling with pleasure, having learnt something and most importantly a confidence that wasn’t seen before.

As mentioned, content wise there i snot much. The trio meets online,, meets in person, have threesome and part ways. This simple thing is stretched in such long drawn scenes that it tests your patience. The first act of online chat lasts of about 10-15 minutes where raunchy, steamy messages are exchanged. Then comes the dinner conversation done in 2 long takes of 20 minutes each and finally the sex scene that again last for more than 20 minutes. I really don’t understand why the director had to go so deep in every aspect of their acts and make it tiring. Haven’t the team heard of ‘Sometimes less is more’. This neither classifies as a relationship drama or an erotic thriller; it just offers a very slice of life film, but how I wish it was also an interesting one. The dinner conversations give us a peak into the trio’s character but it soon becomes very dull. It becomes difficult for an audience to care about Fede, as we know nothing about him; he simply seems young, innocent, and uncomfortable.

I seriously recommending doing a very tight edit of the film and present it as a short 20 minute film. The actor are fantastic, they look good, get into the skin of their character, have good chemistry and they do a great job but the screenplay and direction falters big time. In its current form, the film is a bit dull and tiring to be strongly recommended. (4/10)

L'amour au Temps de la Guerre Civile (French) [Love in the Time of Civil War]

What was the point of this almost 2-hour long film? Really!! Surely, we do see a very unflinching account of the life of a drug addict but then thats all there is to it. Its like we are following a drug addict and seeing what he is doing on a daily basis between trying to find money for drugs (mostly be being a hustler), getting high and then finding a place to sleep. I personally couldn’t find any more logic or reasoning to the whole film besides what I just said.

The film starts with a steamy and graphic sex and drug abuse scene between our protagonist Alex and Bruno. Exact nature of the relationship is not known until Bruno reappears towards the end of the film. After a couple of nights of intense drug use and sex, Bruno leaves and now Alex has to find to make money and get more drugs. He makes friends with his drug dealer and his girlfriend who use Alex’s car to distribute drugs to their customers. This goes on for about 30 minutes or so till they all get arrested. Alex gets released soon he wasn’t dealing and then again begins the same cycle of money, drugs and sex. He then goes to another old pal’s house who stays with his stoned girlfriend. After exhausting a couple of days of being high and sex, he leaves and meets Bruno again. They get a room and then again follows sex and drugs and in the end Bruno ends up ODing himself leaving Alex all alone.

Sure, we do see what these addicts go through, and will do anything o get their high, be a hustler but there is nothing besides that. Alex has no aim and no plans, he is taking one day at a time including where will he sleep at night in the chilly winter. And thats exactly what he makers have shown us. Alex just tries to get by. He maybe high but still not spaced out and till seems focussed. The scenes all start feeling very repetitive to me. The film’s rhythm sways back and forth between intense and impatient, and it indeed tested my patience. I still don’t know the motivation to make the film and making the film so long. On a positive note, the actor playing Alex is pretty darn good. He does his job really really well and given the right kind of opportunities can do some great work. We do not know either Alex’s history or anyone else’s but you still don’t feel empathy for any of them.

All that the film does is shine a light into the spiral of despair that drug addiction can create. You would need patience and maybe a personal history with someone to appreciate this movie better. (3/10)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Chutney Popcorn

This film came out in 1999 and is a light hearted comedy. I can imagine that in that time it was probably a risqué subject, only because its the story of an traditional Indian family as a background. Ideally I wouldn’t have classified this as a film in LGBT realm because there is so much more to it, like family, responsibilities etc. but it is still definitely worth putting up on my blog.

Reena, an Indian-American is a henna tattoo artist and lives with her lover Lisa. She and her sister Sarita were single handedly brought up by their mother. Like most Indian families, the mother and even Sarita are obsessed with babies. Few months into her marriage, Sarita finds out that she can’t get pregnant and about the same time Reena’s family make her feel that she is selfish and doesn’t do much for her family. Without discussing with Lisa, Reena offers to be the surrogate mother of the baby for her sister and her husband Mitch. Narita is not to keen on the idea but because Mitch seems really excited, she goes for it. After numerous attempts, when Reena can’t get pregnant, Sarita has hd enough and wants it to stop and wants to not be a mother. As destiny would have it, Reena does get pregnant and even though Sarita doesn’t want the baby now, reena wants to keep it for the family. This creates  friction between Reena and Lisa because being a surrogate for 9 months is very different from having a baby and then keeping it. In between some wisecrack jokes by the mother and occasional ‘dyke’ stereotypes thrown in by Lisa and Reena’s group of friends, the film continues its light-hearted journey till Reena delivers the baby. Lisa comes around and takes care of Reena and now they are all a big happy family.

'Chutney Popcorn' seems entirely predictable until the moment Sarita changes her mind about wanting to bring up the child, and Reena, without thinking twice, announces that she wants to have the baby anyway. But despite this, it does make for an engaging watch, mostly because of the mother. I loved the scene when she does the 8th month pregnancy ceremony. So sweet !! None of the characters are easy to play and as I said , specially given that it is the Indian context, my favourite had to be the mother. She could easily have been a snob, homophobic character, instead she conveys the pain of a devoted single mother who only wants best for her child. The characters do get evolved over the period of time. Everyone in the film has done a decent job of acting and as I said, it cam out in 1999, so you do have to keep that in mind. Apart from that the film is a delightful mix of culture clashes, sibling rivalry, and good, old-fashioned dyke drama.

I know I haven’t put in much lesbian film reviews on my blog, but I do hope that over a period of time, I will eventually grow up. This is definitely a feel good, subtly humourous film that shows family is still the single most important thing for everyone. (6/10) 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Drink Me (UK)

I was starting to wonder how come my recent stint of gay films have been quite decent and chances were quite high that I would son be watching a real crap movie soon, and behold here it is. This film is an attempt to mix vampire craze with tons of sex, wafer thin story line and expect to do wonders for everyone involved.

James and Andy are a perfect couple, until Andy loses his job suddenly. In order to make their ends meet, James recommends they allow a lodger to stay with them. In comes Sebastian, a loner, good looking, tall, muscular but weird guy. Andy goes through all kinds of dreams every day and begins to wonder that Sebastian is hiding something and is very scared of him. He suspects that Sebastian could be the killer who has been stalking the streets of their neighbourhood and responsible for so many people seemingly disappearing into thin air. James on the other hand doesn’t notice anything. The film ends at a bizarre note something similar to how it started in the first place.

The opening shots in the film really tell you what you’re in for. A bizarre dream sequence followed by a really long sexually charged shower scene between the couple. There is no doubt where this film is headed. with a lot of odd camera angles and equally impressive male nudity, the makers must have their target segment right tin their head. But c’mmon; no one in their gift mindset would wanna watch all these sex scenes with the backdrop of a really weird film which logically makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Might as well sit at home and watch porn. So many unanswered questions about what are these dreams that Andy keeps getting randomly, why isn’t he just looking for job rather than sitting at home, how does he leave house in shorts and return in jeans (lol), why is a lodger the rational choice for these two? And many more. Most bizarre scene is where James is naked and in a dream sequence is caressing a tree for some reason. I guess the makers wanted to make this film more about atmosphere and mood rather than substance, which is a shame since James and Andy were not bad actors per say and given a chance they could do better; its the director who IMO is just bad.

I dare you to watch this film sitting still in one place and not wanting to blow your head off. It is a bad film on all accounts minus a LOT of sex scenes and nudity. And my rating is only for that. (2.5/10)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Surface

A very interesting concept indeed. We all go through nostalgia. Watching certain scenes, places, listening to songs, reading old letters, reconnecting with friends etc brings back memories. But what if you didn’t have this luxury. Imagine having no cherished childhood memories to recall. The makers use this basic premise to come with an indie film, that touches the subject but slightly fails in passing on the actual message across.

Evan is  young college going student, who spent his childhood and youth moving between an endless list of foster homes. He is in a stable relationship with his boyfriend Chris who loves and supports him but at the same time can be a bit controlling and trying to make Evan into something that he is not. One afternoon Evan finds an old 8mm film camera in a garage sale. The old owner asks him to return back in a week to collect the editing equipment. When he returns a week later, he finds that the old man passed away and now it is his son Peter who lives there. To honour his father, Peter gives him the editing equipment along with the old family films that his father had shot. Evan goes through tons of childhood memories of Peter and starts to form a bond with Peter, getting to know him as he is today versus what he was as a child in those films and he struts living vicariously through Peter and his memories. Evan even leaves Chris to be with Peter because he thinks Peter can bring I’m that stability and happiness that Chris never could. But does Evan really know what he wants?

The Surface is a quiet, contained film, with the sort of melancholic air that could easily have come across as extremely pretentious. Thankfully it doesn’t go that route. But then at the same time, it doesn’t really invest much time building a stronger character graph for Peter and Chris. Why is Evan unhappy with Chris besides him being controlling. What attracts Evan to Chris? Is Evan really maybe looking for a protective fatherly figure that he finds in Peter? Or is it Peter wanting a younger evan to relive the movies of young adulthood that he had lost because he really didn’t care much and having seen Evan’s short film, he realises how important they were. The film ends with a slight feeling that perhaps Evan will continue to float from one place to another, look for something that will always allude him. The acting and direction of the film is quite simple and indie like. Thankfully there are no annoying or over-the-top characters. As I mentioned before, the story idea is indeed quite novel and interesting about a young man discovering the concept of family, even if its not his own.

The film is not bad. It is decent, just the right duration and enjoyable but it’s not quite as profound or remarkable as I would have liked it for me to rate it much higher. (6/10)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Gay Short Films : 40

Foreign Relations (USA)
Recently dumped Tom decides to take a Mediterranean group tour. Short of the money to get a double room just for himself, he is randomly assigned a roommate for the duration of the trip. While group tour guide is being flirty with Tom, Tom is so horny and can’t figure out if his room mate is gay or not. Their is lot of sexual tension in the 7 days that the men are together but its only on the last day that the truth comes out. Well acted and decent directed.

Fugaces (Spain)
In the week of Pride, Madrid is full of new guys. And there is always one that stands out from the mass.

Daddy's Big Girl (USA)
Widowed gay Cliff, a wealthy movie developer, has a strained relationship with his overweight adult daughter Millie. Millie is in a catch-22 situation where she feels negatively judged as an overweight person, but does nothing either to make her life better or to lose weight. Millie sees her father's life as a purely hedonistic one, where everything is all surface and no depth. It isn't until Cliff tells Millie a story about his deceased wife/Millie's mother that they come to a better understanding of each other.

The Saint of Dry Creek (USA)
Shown in animation, Patrick recounts how in 1950’s his father taught hi the message of being proud of whoever you are and whatever you do, subtly teaching Patrick to accept his sexuality.

Me siento culpable [I Feel Guilty] (Catalan)
Josean is Basque and Diana is Cuban based in Frankfurt. After making love, Josean teaches Basque words to Diana. She then asked him to say in Basque what he was thinking at that time. Josean takes a few seconds to answer: I feel guilty. When Juan, who is Josean’s boyfriend arrives, Diana also feels guilty.

No Bikini (Canada)
A 7-year-old girl refuses to wear her bikini top at a summer camp for her six week course of swimming classes and emerges out victorious. She recollects it as the best time of her life when everyone thought she was a boy.

Elder (Short Documentary) (USA/Italy)
In 1974, a Mormon missionary finds his world turned upside down when he falls in love with a handsome Italian Communist. With original 8mm film and fierce storytelling, Tom Clark recounts a love story set against the backdrop of coastal Italy wrought with faith, identity, cigarettes, and Thorazine.

After School (USA)
Fifteen year-old Jack is forced to come face-to-face with his growing romantic feelings for his best friend Danny. Special on the day when they are hanging out after school and Danny shows his vulnerable side crying when his puppy dies.

Mila Caos (Cuba)
Every weekend at an illegal drag show in a suburb of Havana, Sebastián, a 17 year old Cuban teenager, transforms into a diva. His onlywcsh is that housemother will one day come see him perform. The mother on the other hand is indifferent. How long will this last?

Morning Announcements (USA)
A teenage boy delivers a message of acceptance to his rigid Catholic school during the morning announcements, through which he explains how the institution's hypocritical message of 'loving the sinner' contributed to the suicide of his gay younger brother. A strong and a very hard-hitting film.

Vattnet [Water] (Netherlands)
James leads a lonely life. He is interested in the group of handsome Swedish soccer players staying at the hotel. When he finds one of the boys injured at the hotel's swimming pool, James offers his help and smuggles the boy into his room and locks the door. Locked up with a strange boy in his own room, James experiences the complexity of his own sexual feelings for the first time.

La última noche [The Last Night] (USA)
Two best friends, an American and a Spaniard, spend a last night together in New York. When the Spaniard talks about wanting to have a relationship, his straight friend kisses him. Will this destroy their friendship?

Chaser (USA)
Alienated from his conservative Jewish family and community, a promising, young, gay schoolteacher seeks solace in New York's barebacking scene. Interesting film but I not understand what was the point!

Paco (Spain)
Jota goes out every morning in search of love, and love is called Paco. He imagines love with every stranger he sees.

Independencia [Independence] (Spain)
Two men facing the Spain of their time during war times when accidentally one of the men comes out to his brother.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Płynące Wieżowce (Polish) [Floating Skyscrapers]

Oh no!! Why did they have to end the movie like this? I can’t watch another sad ending. According to the director, this is a film about love, or the lack of it and about the consequences of seeking out its substitutes. And as the film ended, I as a viewer was unsure of what the filmmaker intended to say with his story. Some of the characters get what they want, some of them don't, but none of them seem satisfied with the way things end up. What was the filmmaker's message?

In his fifteenth year of training, aspiring champion swimmer Kuba lives a normal, uneventful life - at home with his mother and girlfriend Sylwia. He happily switches back and forth from good sex with Sylwia to the occasional back rub his mother craves. At a gallery opening one night, he is out of place and totally bored until he meets Michal. Sylwia picks up on his fascination, but Kuba has her heart. Attraction between two men is instant and Kuba starts looking for ways to hang out more and more with Michal, and their bond grows. Sylvia sees all this and probably even knows what’s happening but doesn’t want accept it. Whilst Kuba dreams of a life with Michal, the latter takes on the task of convincing his concerned mother and distant father that his lifestyle isn't just a passing fancy. And at the same time Kuba comes to recognize he has never experienced feelings as deep as those he has for Michal. Not to be bothered by what the world thinks, the boy kiss in public and this is when Sylvia has to accept it. She tells his mother who is deeply devastated. She is so strong affect o him that she commands to stay away from Michal and stay with Sylvia. The film abruptly ends at a tragic, downbeat and open ended note.

I am not very sure how open & tolerant is Polish culture towards gays; I am guessing not a whole lot; which reflects in our film as well.. The sexual tension between the boys is very believable. They hang out a lot but don’t even get to kiss each other until very late. When asked by Michal on what does Kuba want to do now that he has him, he replies “Not to fuck this up!”. That was brilliant in my opinion. You see his eyes gleam in pride when he says that he adores Michal. At the same time, it is never very clear on what attracted Kuba towards Michal. Is it possible that Kuba was actually bisexual. Interestingly not many films have explored this aspect. A bit clarity on that would have helped between love and lust discussions. As viewer you do feel bad for Sylvia, because even when Kuba is going through his self-acceptance phase, he keeps telling her that he loves him which seems a bit out of context.By the way, there is a lot of nudity in the film but everything is done really very aesthetically.

Regardless, it was a very decent piece of cinema. You are left with questions that you want answers to but regardless you will see an interesting take on how a man's world got turned completely upside down. (7/10)

A Escondidas (Spanish/Arabic) [Hidden Away]

The best thing about this film is the subtle yet very powerful story. This is a film dealt with sensitivity and feelings as we ride a roller coaster of emotions. An intense story of two 14-something boys. At that young age, the world and your own self changes at such a speed. Our protagonists feel the changes and experience love for the first time but because they are both boys, they have to keep it hidden away and given into the social pressure.

14 year old Ibra, originally Moroccan, left his country long time ago hoping for a better future in Spain. Living in shelters, fully settled, going to school, he is hoping his paper work will get done soon. Then we have Rafa, a young boy living with his parents. He hangs out with his group of friends inclusion best friend Guille. Rafa gets visibly uncomfortable overtime the friends talk about girls and going out with them. A chance encounter a nightclub is their first interaction, but the spark between them develops much later. Rafa wants to be with Ibra and after initial awkwardness they both befriend each other. Fearing that his paper work may not come through, Ibra runs away. He gets mixed u with a local gang that gets him to sell drugs but Rafa finally manages to find him and they both run away again. Rafa and Ibra will now do everything to be together. Rafa goes over and beyond to help Ibra, using his friend Guille’s life. The bond, mostly emotional, is very strong but soon Ibra realises that he cannot have Rafa run with him. He has a stable life and he deserves one. An emotional climax, not in your face, makes me believe that this bond was not meant to last long.

The first problem, if you can call it that, you will notice is the non-linear story telling format. It is not told chronological, so it does take a while to put the jigsaw pieces together and understand but slowly it all starts to make sense. You feel the confusion and awkwardness that both these boys are going through. Rafa doesn’t want to be made fun of for not being interested in girls and top of that being interested in an Arab foreigner for friendship. Ibra on the other hand just wants to stay in the country legally and knows that it has to be his good karma that he met Rafa. The boys hang out together over games, walks and long silences. But don’t let that fool you. I believe that shows the emotional bond that is getting created between the two boys. We see both real love and denial as they realise how they feel about each other. The only kiss in the film that shows that they may be connected at physical level as well and not just emotional was fantastic and well-placed in the narrative. The scene where Rafa asks for help from his friend Guille is so pure. ITs pure friendship emotions. There are 2 very emotional scenes in the film and in each they demonstrate the fear of unknown and losing their loved ones at such a tender age. The acting by all principal last members is amazing and the story and direction is brilliant. Capturing and witnessing loss of first love at such a tender age is not easy but I really applaud the makers for bringing this to us without over dramatising any situation. I would LOVE to see a sequel of the film come through in next few years.

Don't be fooled into thinking that this is just another boy meets boy love story. At it's very core is a film that tells the story of young love, young love that we've all experienced. (8/10)

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Supernatural (Thai)

What the fuck was this? sci-fi apparently but what utter crap. Ok, some people will call it artistic, ambitious and what not, but c’mmon; the subject of the film and premise has to make some sense for the normal movie watching audience. The film lost me completely within 15 minutes and I had to fast forward and watch the whole thing. What a sheer waste of time.

Synopsis (copied from online, because I really do not have patience to write anything about this film): In a futurist world, the Thai kingdom has been transformed by ‘The Leader’ into 'the Realm of people who have done good deeds and earned merits'. It’s a nice place to be, even though the inhabitants are plagued by an indefinable nostalgia. In the old days, people could at least touch each other. Although the Realm has reached version 2.0, technical possibilities remain limited. This wondrous story of the future is interwoven with stories set in the present and past.

As per the director and online forums, this film is supposedly, a political metaphor about modern Thailand, in the form of a homoerotic sci-fi film. In reality, As mentioned above, it was just a pretentious, pointless, silly and utterly boring film that doesn't work at all, either as a feature or documentary or self-obsession. Save you brain and time. Avoid completely. (0.5/10)

Seek (Canada)

What the hell was this film? When it ended I had a mixed feeling of relief and regret. Relief that it was over and regret for having bothered watching it. But then, I have seen much worse films, so this one at least didn’t give me a headache and didn’t make me feel wanting to punch the director.

Evan is a young journalist who works for a gay magazine that covers the local community. He doesn’t get an offer from Gazette, his dream company but they do offer him a job of writing a piece about city’s night life. He knows that his colleague Aidan isa big circuit party man who writes about these pieces and could probably give him some insight. Aidan helps Evan meet Hunter, who is the king of the night clubs and hosts the best parties in the city. In hunter’s company, Evan finds out about all the hard work that goes into making these parties successful. Hunter, it seems likes Evan but Evan’s personality is so shy that he is completely oblivious to the admiration. In between all this, we see 2 long interviews with 2 different couples who are very happy inline despite being very different and we also get to see almost a 10 minutes long unedited drag queen performance. Also, memories of Evan’s ex-lover keeps coming through in hi mind and dreams. What’s the relation of his ex-lover with Hunter and Hunter’s love; this is a question that even I don’t have an answer to. Anyway Evan ends up finishing his piece, gets published and finally is making his mark in the big city. He and Hunter finally even hook up after playing cat and mice.

I have way too many questions unanswered after watching the film. Very obviously, the whole connection between Evan and Hunter and Hunter’s ex-Jordan. Was Jordan the same guy as Evan’s estranged love? Jordan never ended up hooking up with Evan, so why did Hunter become obsessed with Evan? Did he have a different motive initially which changed over a period of time or was he also attracted to Evan just because at one point he believes Jordan was attracted to him. And then besides this, what was the point of these 2 long drawn interviews, Evan’s relation with his girlfriend and subsequent fight; there just was no logic behind all that. There is absolutely no chemistry between Hunter and Evan or even Evan and Aidan as friends. And the stupid smirk that was a constant fixture on Evan’s face was quite annoying in the first half. After that I just assumed that this was a way of showing he is shy! Lame! I am trying to figure out what was the whole point behind making this film. Was it to show that we all have our own paths to happiness and we all ultimately get there. Who cares!

This film would have been better as a short film. Stretching it into a full length feature film was a real bore. (4/10)