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

Monday, February 22, 2016

Unter Der Haut (Swiss German) [What's Between Us]

An excellent subject, a different take on gay relationship from the point of view of the battered wife but only if the direction could have been as effective as the basic story plot. The director has understood the subject well but has handled the situations in a very superficial manner where as a viewer you don’t empathise with any character at all.

Alice and Frank are a happy couple with 3 kids and have recently moved to their new home. They have been married 18 years and have no issues at all and are a perfect family. One day Alice finds gay porn in browsing history of their home computer. Frank doesn't deny that the links are his and initially cites his interest as a sexual curiosity. Alice, though visibly uncomfortable, doesn't react in a cinematically conventional way. She opens up a dialogue about the subject and asks if Frank would like to experiment with threesomes. Frank dismisses it and tries to suppress his feelings but eventually can’t continue to fake and tells his wife that he has fallen love with another man. Alice is trying to cope up with situation and Frank continues to live double life till Alice had had enough. She can’t take it anymore and tells the truth to the children who are al devastated. She asks Frank to move out and goes into a depression. Suddenly the responsibility of keeping the house sane comes on the three kids who suddenly grow up. It is only when one day, their oldest son, gives his father  apiece of his mind, does Alice snap out of depression and decides to move on with her life because Frank is never gonna come back to her.

The film’s narrative is told from the wife’s perspective. The way the film is directed seems very cold. It seems as if the film was shot intentionally in a way so that viewers do not empathise with any character. Alice tries every trick in the book to keep her marriage safe for herself and for the sake of the children but Frank ultimately gives up. Also, I wonder why was the actor chosen to play Frank’s part was thin sickly looking and a slightly effeminate guy. Was it suggesting that Alice has been ignoring something that is abundantly clear to everyone else for years. We would not know what the intent was, but what we would know is that as a film it fails to entertain or even to emotionally connect to the story; which is a big failure in my opinion. Even the actors playing the kids had absolutely no chemistry with the parents. A big downer!

This film let me down, specially because there was so much that could have been done with the subject. (4/10)

Sunday, February 21, 2016

How To Win At Checkers (Every Time) (Thai)

The way to win at checkers (every time) is not something that this film will teach you. Instead, it’ll teach you about the unfair nature of ‘fair’ systems, and how life is for the lower class residents of Thailand. What may seem like a story about 2 gay lovers facing the possibility of being drafted into the military; it is actually not that. The story’s focus is more on the brothers and the relationship they share. The fact that elder brother is gay and has a lover is just another aspect of the story not the primary aspect.

The film is told in flashback when 21 year old Oat gets summoned for military lottery. He recounts the days and events, when his elder brother Ek had to go through the same. A decade earlier, after their father passed away, Oat and his elder brother Ek were living with their aunt. Ek worked at a local bar as bartender to support his family. He has been dating Jai, a rich young man from a respected family, since he was in high school. Despite everyone warning him that the social class difference will one day affect their love, Ek doesn’t believe it. Everyone is hoping that by miracle Ek won’t have to go to military. One day, Oat observes that Jai’s father is bribing local officials to get their son out of military, he decides to take matters in his hand and do something for his brother. He steals money form local goon, whose bar Ek works at so he can bribe him back. IT makes the situation worse and now Ek is moved from bar to working ‘upstairs’, essentially becoming prostitue. The fateful day of military lottery arrives and Ek witnesses himself the betrayal by his love to dodge the military. Ek gets drafted to military and a year later gets killed. But its the time and love and affection shared by his brother that will make Oat a strong independent man. As Oat tries to learn how to best his brother in Checkers, he learns that for someone to win, the opponent has to lose, whether it’s fair or not.

While watching the film, I thought it was quite interesting but I am appreciating it even more while I am writing this piece. Apparently the film is based on two short stories and i am quite impressed with the way the director has put the two stories into a beautiful film together. The overall story is simple, yet well told, with convincing performances. As mentioned before, Ek’s openly gay relationship features prominently in the story, it is more of a side note when compared to the film’s illustration of social class differences and corruption. And I am glad that neither gays or transgendered were made a big deal about in the film. The film is an inspiring coming-of-age story, in which a young boy seeks to transition to adulthood by beating his older brother at his favourite game. In this process he learn things about life, his brother’s life, growing awareness of sexuality and alternate sexual identity. The brother share an absolute crackling chemistry and not once you think that they are not real brothers. Th love, affection and care shown by Ek to his little brother is very very admirable.

A sweet and well-observed family drama, set in rural Thailand may not teach you anything about checkers but it will definitely leave you impressed. (7.5/10)

Saturday, February 20, 2016

4th Man Out

Why do they do it? Maker come up with an interesting idea but then they put in every stereotypical events and things they can think of and then make the film just plain ordinary. The story of a man coming out to his closest buddies on his 24th birthday and how the friends react and response is the basic premise of this light-hearted comedy.

Adam is a young garage mechanic who spends most of his time with his longtime best friend Chris. The other 2 of the quartet are Nick and Ortu and they do everything that you can think of stereotypical straight guys doing at evenings in a small american town including beer, games, chicks and gay jokes. On his birthday Adam break the news that he is gay. Chris tries to act cool and ok but others are haplessly frank in their bafflement. Upon realizing how vulnerable his best friend may feel in light of coming out, Nick devises a plan to help everyone acclimate to Adam’s sexuality by helping him find a man all his own. This leads the friends down several paths of self-discovery, some more entertaining than others, as well as overused genre territory such as gay clubs and dating apps. In between all this, Adam also comes out to his family. On one such occasion, when his double date ends bad, an honest misunderstanding happens between Adam and Chris that threatens to ruin the friendship. Thankfully without much melodrama, things get back to normal. The friends are there for each other and like a happy ending for everyone, they all find their lovers on July 4th weekend and eve Adam may finally find a suitor that he likes.

Saying that anything you see in this film, you haven’t seen before would be a lie. There is absolutely nothing new. Even the one scene of sexual tension between Adam and Chris was so obvious. I saw that coming right since the film started. Having said that, I can also say that performances from every individual was quite good and the rapport that the four guys saved was also really good. I am glad that the makers kept the film very light-hearted without too much of a melodrama and that was the only thing worked for me. I was tired of rolling my eyes otherwise seeing all the cliches of a gay film. All the side stories of a nosy neighbour, Nick’s girlfriend etc. were also alright. And oh! What’s up with the really poor choice of actors to play Nick’s mom-dad and sister. The actors had absolutely zero chemistry with each other that you would expect from a family. It was really odd.

Overall I think the weaknesses of the film overpowers the strengths and thats where I think this film failed to leave a much better impression for me. (5.5/10)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Danish Girl (UK)

This is a historical film in the whole transgender movement. Showcasing the life of Lili Elbe, the first male to female transition, her brave and pioneering spirit remains an inspiration today. Eddie Redmayne very deservingly is getting all accolades and nominations for his brave performance but in my mind, its Alicia Vikander who steals the show. More on that later.

Einar is a very successful landscape painter. He lives with his wife Gerda, also a painter, but not as successful yet. Living in Copenhagen, they live a bohemian and carefree life. An innocent game starts when Gerda asks Einar to pose as a girl for her and then join her as a woman to one of the artists ball as Lili. Initially Einar is able to keep Lili as his alter ego and both hubsanad-wife are having fun but we soon realise that the problem could be seeded much deeper. When Gerda starts painting Lily in her feminine state, she starts getting very popular and gets serious attention from art dealers. When it becomes hard for Einar to continue to live a double life in Copenhagen, they move to Paris. Gera tracks down Einar’s friend form childhood Hans. He still cares for Einard and Lili and Gerda and wants to be continuously supportive of them. As her struggles with her identity and continued existence as Einar become too much for Lili, she starts to seek help from psychologists but no results. On Hans’ insistence, they finally meet Dr. Kurt. He is the first person who says that he understands exactly what the problem is with Einar and proposes a new, innovative and controversial solution: male to female sex reassignment surgery. Lili agrees to this very dangerous operation, which has never been attempted before. Her eagerness to become woman is so much that she rushes for the second round of surgery sooner than she should have leading to complications and eventual death. Te film is based on the memoirs written by Lili between her surgeries.

The most interesting parts for me are where the innocent game between a very loving husband and wife soon become dangerous. lili slowly becomes very much a part of Einar’s life; so much that he can’t separate the two. This is where Gerda’s help and support becomes very critical. As a wife and a friend, she has always been there for her husband and she wants to continue to be there for her. The film is rich in emotions and presentation. It feels like a painting on canvas. Anything that you say performances would be less. Both lead actors are simply wonderful in their respective roles. What makes Redmayne's performance so exceptional is the way he captures both Lili's terror and her stubborn bravery. His study of a certain stylised female body language, with every tilt of his head and turn of his ankle. But Its Gerda, who IMO steals the show. Its hard to explain, but you have to watch her. She is brilliant. Having said all that, somehow something is missing in the film. I was very hooked on and interested in the on-goings for first half, but after a while, I started to feel that things were being dread and slow. Also, the film just stays n the very surface. It really doesn’t dive too deep into either of the character’s emotional state. Agreed that the story is far too complex but as an audience I would have appreciated it.

The film is pretty with rock solid performances but I wish it could have used a more probing, maybe even more painful, palette knife. (7/10)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Carol

I know I have not reviewed many lesbian films here but its because of the simple fact that I haven’t seen many. There are realign excuses for that but I feel there are so many gay themed films out there, so I end up watching only those lesbian films that get quite popular. Needless to say that with Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara being nominated for Oscars, everyone’s expectations are already high and that was one of the reasons for me also to watch this film.

The film is set in 50s. Therese is a young girl, who works behind a toy counter. She has a boyfriend and a group of male friends but something is missing. One day Carol, a very elegant blonde appears in the store. Their first interaction is business-like, but in reality it is a flirtatious scene, pierced with the thrill of danger. Carol and her husband Harge are separated and are fighting over their young daughter. We are given an indication that its probably Carol’s lesbian past with her closest friend Abby that is a reason for their separation. Carol is unsettled by her attraction towards Therese. She is older, richer and refine but can’t help her attraction to Therese which could even end up being dangerous. Therese doesn’t know what she wants. She is exploring herself. When the custody battle for the daughter starts getting ugly, Carol decides to go on a road trip and asks if Therese would like to join. To her boyfriends immense displeasure and surprise, she ends up going with Carol on the road trip where they both discover love and fondness for each other over a period of next few days. The road trip is running from something and towards a place where their relationship has a possibility of existing. But will there be happy ending? Marge’s appointed personal investigator find the 2 women together which now risks Carol’s chances of getting joint custody of her daughter based on immorality clause. Remember this is 50s. Carol leaves Therese for her daughter, and they both are individually trying to get back their life together, trying to be away from each other for the sae of Carol’s love for her daughter. Months pass and the ladies meet again> carol is ready to take her chances again and have Theresa in her life but would Therese forgive Carol for what she did to her?

The acting in this film is quite interesting, specially from Cate. She sometimes feel theatrical but I guess given that the film is set in the 50s, that was the demand of the film, also taking into account her social stature. She has fear yet confidence, self-doubt yet love. Rooney mara in my opinion has a more interesting role. She has no background that we are told. The way she behaves is very different to Carol, to her friends and to her boyfriend. She portrays the role of a shy girl doing out of her shell brilliantly, and how intimadated she is by Carol. The film shows us the mystery with which gay people in the 1950s could manage their lives with dignity, but it also inhales the clouds of depression and self-control into which Carol has had to retreat and from which she is now defiantly emerging.

The film is sad, depressing yet uplifting at the same time. Only if the film wasn’t as slow as it is, I would have rated it even higher but overall this sad love story impressed me. (7/10)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Parada (Serbian) [The Parade]

I can’t believe that I had not heard of this film before. Even more surprising is the fact that why is this film not popular among international circuits! It’s a shame. This film deserves to be seen for many reasons. A film that deals with very important subject of Balkan homophobia, but thankfully not in a dramatic. sad or depressing way. This film is perfect combination of cheekiness, humour, entertainment yet making a very strong point across.

Gangster Lemon meets veterinarian Radmilo when his dog gets shot. They part but are destined to meet again. Radmilo’s boyfriend Mirko is an artist who also helps planning weddings. Mirko is also part of the LGBT activist group trying to organise pride parade in Belgrade. Doing that is no easy task because they get harassed and beaten up all the time. Lemon is now ‘reformed’ and runs  judo clubbing his finance Pearl is working with Mirko planning her wedding. The eventual meeting of the two couples goes horribly wrong with Lemon’s violent and homophobic side emerging. Pearl decides to break up with Lemon and calls Radmilo to apologise for Lemon’s behaviour. This is when he hatches a plan. He comes up with a proposal to Lemon that is he can protect his love to get the pride parade going without any interruptions, he guarantees that Mirko would plan for the best wedding for him and Pearl. Lemon reluctantly accepts but gets into a problem when his own staff refuses to protect gays and leaves him. Put in a tight spot, Lemon thinks of hiring his former enemies from the Yugoslav Wars. Lemon and Radmilo embark on a recruiting trip all over ex-Yugoslavia, which by the way is the most important, funny and interesting part of the whole story. They sign up 3 recruits from Croatia, Bosnia and Albania. Things are still not as easy as they thought. Lemon’s heart slowly changes and he starts to see the so called ‘normal’ side of the gays. They all know that they are very few in number and probably could even die protecting the parade but he risks everything because that is what you do for your love. The parade eventually happens the next year but at a huge cost of love.

As I mentioned before, The film is raunchy, funny, hilarious , yet puts its point across us.  Its not easy to make film that deals with subject of gay-bashing and aftermath of civil war. This film reminded me a bot of the film ‘Pride’ from UK last year but of course, this film had come earlier. The acting is brilliant by every member. I would give very high points to the director and the screenplay writer to keep this amazing balance of keeping the ongoing entertaining yet thought provoking. Things like this can help start a debate. Sure maybe they showed a very stereotypical side of gays but these people do exist in reality and we all have a freedom of choice and freedom to live the way we want to. Pearl, as the gansgter’s moll was amazing. Her character initially irritating gave a lot of dignity to the people around her. We need more tolerant people like her around us. This movie breaks the walls of prejudices and helps people see that there's nothing wrong with being gay. It's a very refreshing movie on the Balkan scene, and it will make you laugh your ass out, and burst to tears in the end.

Laugh-out-loud funny, brilliantly acted and, towards the very end, also deeply moving, the film deserves all the attention and I hope it gets that. Highly recommended. (9/10)

Boys On Film 14: Worlds Collide

The next edition in this series. Worlds collide in more ways than one in this stunning collection of award winning short films. These films will make you laugh and cry, question your inner self and give life to your darkest fantasies.

Want It (UK)
An intruder breaks into a luxurious home. He wants it. When the owner returns unexpectedly, the tables are turned. An interesting take of role play between a couple.

Brace (UK)
On his first foray into London’s thriving gay scene, newly single Adam meets Rocky, a handsome and mysterious drifter. The two instantly connect, but Rocky seems eager to reveal more of himself than Adam is prepared to discover. And when secrets from both ends are revealed, it will not be a pleasant one.

Un Mundo Para Raúl (Mexico)
When thirteen-year-old Raúl is asked to entertain the local landowner’s son, a game of power and pride starts between the two boys. A young man may have to lose his innocence to keep his family going.

Barrio Boy (USA)
It s a hot and sweaty summer afternoon in a macho Brooklyn hood and while cutting the hair of a handsome Irish stranger, a Latino barber secretly falls in love.

Aban and Khorshid (USA)
If you only had a few hours left to live, what would you share with the love of your life? Together Aban and Khorshid explore this question during the hours before sentencing for their crime of loving each other.

I Love Hooligans (Netherlands/ Belgium)
A football hooligan feels unconditional love for his club. However, being gay, he has to hide his identity in order to survive in the world that is so precious to him.

The Violation (USA)
Oscar has a thing for his neighbour, Tina. Tina s brother, Mickey, has a thing for Oscar. When house-sitting for the family one day, Mickey invades Oscar’s bedroom. Strictly Ok.

The Package (Brazil)
At a new school Leandro and Jefferson form an instant attachment and soon realise that theirs is no ordinary friendship. But young Jeff has something to reveal. A secret that can have any consequence.

An Afternoon (Denmark)
Today is the day! Mathias is in love with Frederik and now he s going to tell him just that... But when the moment of truth arrives is he brave enough to make the first move?

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Bizarre (aka Brooklyn Bizzare)

There cannot be a more apt title for this film, which totally lives unto its title. As a Viewer, you really can’t figure out what’s the purpose of the film, where it is headed and what’s it even trying to say. A truly bizarre film. set in Brooklyn about a young immigrant boy’s story trying to find his identity in a new city.

Maurice, a reticent young homeless man, somehow manages to get by in Brooklyn; he spends his nights in parked cars until he finds himself at Bizarre, an underground club renowned for its burlesque shows. Maurice is fascinated by the club’s playful revues celebrating self-determined sexuality and creative otherness, and the two female club owners both adore him. He soon becomes a part of their self-selected family, and begins to bond with introverted Luka, who also works in the same place. But Maurice turns his back on Luka’s growing affection. There is a bit of jealousy when Luka gives in to Maurice’s straight friend who fucks anything that moves. Luka just cannot understand what is Maurice’s feelings towards him. Running away from his true emotions he drifts aimlessly through the city and in his boxing club. Unable to withstand the pressure of his repressed feelings, Maurice unleashes a mounting foment of emotions, pervaded by tenderness and menace. There is apparently some back story which we are never told about.

There are so many  things that are ‘bizarre’ about this film. why did the girls end up approaching a random stranger to work with them and even live with them is a mystery. Luka, who forgets his keys one night, sleeps with Maurice but next thing we know is that he is pretty much moved in with him. What is Maurice’s past? Are the lesbian couple in open relationship or just teasing Maurice because he is so charmingly cute! We don’t know. Logic is not really the strong point of this film, for sure. The film is trying to not take any stand for anything; be it Maurice’s sexuality or other queer members, who strangely all have a double life. Maurice’s character is loosely defined and lack of no proper story track around him makes this film about nothing at all. Having said these, I thought the performances of all the actors was quite believable. They were god and yes Maurice was damn god looking in a twin sort of way.  There are too many burlesque routines in the film, although few of them good, have absolutely nothing to do with the plot. The dialogues are minimal and most important events are captured via loud background music.

All we have here is yet another gay themed tragedy that is ‘bizarre’ in true sense, a senseless odd film with a very attractive lead character for eye candy. (2.5/10)

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Webcam Boys (UK) (Documentary)

I am starting to realise that most BBC documentary follow a very standard tried and tested pattern. Pick a theme, identify 3-4 candidate who fit in the theme, follow a piece f journey of their life pertaining to the theme, give us details of things that we probably already know but don’t acknowledge, and finally end the deal with what the subjects are doing as of today. Ok! stop laughing now :) Its true, this is what they follow. Watch a few of them and you will know what i am talking about. This documentary looks at the growing number of young men who are stripping off for strangers online to make money.

There are a growing number of young men taking part in the sex industry by putting their bodies online to make money. We meet martyr, who has been jamming with his straight friend for last 6 years. They are straight, have never touched each other but have a huge following and make easy money. All they have to do is strip and keep their clients happy. Martin is very serious about his business and wants to expand and grow. Then we meet Joseph, who hosts a cam show five nights a week from a shed – which his parents helped refurbish just for his shows. He had a dark past of sex and drugs and his mom is very supportive of new money making venture. And finally we meet Pete, a newbie in the business, straight muscle guy with a wife and son who is trying to figure out the business. The requests he receive keeps getting weirder and weirder. Despite having support from his wife, we are told he finally decides to quit camping on focus on other ways to make money.

As per the documentary, A recent study showed that five percent of male students had worked in some capacity in the sex industry and this documentary explores this little-understood part of the sex industry, explores what drives these men to go online and uncovers the impact of what they do. They all have their own reasons for getting involved: for some it is a short-term way to make extra money to pay the bills, some see webcams as a means to longer-term work opportunities with good profits, whilst for others it is simply a world to explore their sexuality and flaunt their body. It tells you that if you’re going to do porn then just make sure you’re comfortable with the whole world finding out about it.

Thankfully the documentary was not unnecessarily stretched and was a decent watch. (5.5/10)