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

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Brokeback Mountain

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 26, 2016

Een Goed Leven (Dutch) [One Night Stand]

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Mein Sohn Helen (German) [My Son Helen]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 22, 2016

Looking: The Movie

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Gay Short Films : 48

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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