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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

L'Armee du Salut (Arabic / French) [Salvation Army]

I don’t know why but I had many expectations form the film. Something about the poster, the story about an Arab teenage got me all very intrigued but alas as always expectations kill a film. I did not know until very recently that the film was based on the autobiography of the director, which in fact surprises me because then the maker should have taken the best parts of the film.

Film primary focuses on Abdellah, a young teenage boy who lives with his parents and 6 siblings in Casablanca. His father and elder brother have their own room whereas his mother, 5 sisters and younger brother all share one rom which gives him the familiar feel of intimacy and closeness. Abdellah is a quiet kid, slightly bullied by everyone and a boy struggling with his sexuality. He looks upto his elder brother Slimane and has a huge crush on him. But since he cannot do anything with him, he finds sexual release with older men in the neighbourhood. Its not very clear if they use him or he uses them. Slimane once takes Abdellah and his younger brother to a seaside holiday but leaves them one day for another girl which kinds of crushes Abdellah’s love and dreams. Fast forward 10 years and Abdellah is now in a relationship with an older Swiss professor and they are having a good time holidaying. Its not very clear as to how and why they got together but in the third segment we see that Abdellah, now a young man, goes to Geneva for his college but arrives a month earlier than planned and has nowhere to go. The professor sees him and offers him love but Abdellah doesn’t want it. Was he really just using the man for his benefit as his ticket out of Morocco, we won’t know? The film ends with Abdellah finding a shelter with the Salvation Army, where his new room mate joins him and finally he may find a friend.

I have to admit, I was really enjoying the first 30 minutes of the film. The setup, the casting, the family dynamics and everything was spot on. Although it gets a little puzzling as to why Abdellah is the way he is but it still is interesting to watch him going through his daily routine, while meeting random guys on streets who have sex with him in construction sites. I am guessing thats not a very uncommon scenario. Similarly Abdellah’s longing for his brother and his subsequent heartbreak when he leaves them for a girl while on a holiday was interesting. Later when Abdellah is with the Swiss professor, his interaction with the boat guy was also interesting. I think culturally, it was acceptable that the local boy found a rich man to take care of him. Had it been just for pleasure, Abdellah would have been judged by everyone. Still, even after finishing the film, I cant tell whether its the men that were exploiting the young Abdellah or it was just his way to get some acceptance of love. The scene when he hugs an older man on the seaside love makes me believe that all along Abdellah is craving for love and affection from someone and he is not getting it. I feel there is too much left untold or unexplored and there is a scope for a lot more. I wonder now what the book is like!

In summary, this is a film that started with a lot of promise in first act but somehow it lost focus and steam and then we as viewers failed to emotionally connect with the main actor and what he really is going through. (5.5/10)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Baisers Cachés (French) [Hidden Kisses]

A teenage love drama, a story of coming-out and acceptance, a story of bullying etc etc. We have seen them all, heard them all; but the makers keep coming up with more of these films, which I am glad because the situations haven’t changed much in a lot of places and we need to continue to educate people around us regarding these issues. Its important to keep them in focus.

Nathan, a 16 year old, lives with his single father Stephan, who is a cop. They have moved to a new neighbourhood and Nathan is adjusting in his new school. Within a few days, a picture of him kissing another boy surfaces on facebook and soon he is an object of everyone’s bullying. The situation is bad that even his father completely stops talking to him. Nathan tries his best to protect the identity of the other boy, who happens to be Louis, another guy in his class. The bullying takes harsh turn and one day he gets beaten really bad, primarily by Louis  This shakes up his father completely and he starts to try and understand his son and come a bit closer. Meanwhile Louis continues to hang out with his girlfriend, feeling the pressure of his educated parents who are big time homophobic and wanna make sure that Louis is not friends with Nathan. The truth eventually comes out and suddenly Louis finds himself completely isolated in his own house. Depressed, he runs away from home and decides to take away his own life but i saved in time by Nathan and Stephan. Even this incident doesn’t change much in Louis  parents but slowly his mother starts coming around and supports her son. In fact she even leaves her home till the father comes around. Unfortunately, his father does come to see Louis play his boxing match but leaves because he cannot still accept his son.

As I mentioned before, films like this are important and relevant even in today’s time, especially for teenagers who are struggling in coming to terms with their own sexuality. There were several scenes that I connected with while others, I felt, were a bit over the top. When Nathan’s father stops talking to him, you feel the sadness in him because his only true supporter is taking a step back. You feel how brave he has to be every single day to go to school and be bullied and face the brat students. Eventually his father comes around, which is quite believable. Similarly, the way Louis is treated by his parents, you feel so bad. I mean, just imagine yourself as a young teenager and if your parents make you eat alone, not talk to you, beat you and lock you in your room; how would you feel? I felt really really sad in those scenes. But having said that, I also found it a bit odd that in the year 2016, an educated doctor father and a corporate mother thin that this is a choice and disease and that he needs to fix himself was a bit over the top. I mean I have never seen so much homophobia, when the parents ask him to stay away from Nathan, even in class, just because rumour is that he is gay. I also did like the support that 2 of the teachers provide to Nathan when is dealing with all the bullying. Acting wise everyone does a great job and in films like this, the most important thing is to connect with protagonists and I sure did with both of them. You have Nathan who fully accepts who he is and then you have Louis, who is struggling to be himself because he is pressured by his parents expectations.

This is no great film but surely an important film that deserves to be seen by people. Hopefully parents will start becoming more understanding of their teenage kids struggling to fit in. (7/10)

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Lazy Eye

An interesting film where ex-lovers reunite after 15 years. I think the film is supposed to be a delicate and mature touching love story with heartbreaks and everything intercepted in between to make it watchable and more realistic. Somehow the parts of the film made it a bit hard for me to believe. The simple fact of why would there b still so much passion and love for someone who you spent a summer 15 years ago. Isin’t that a long long time ago? By the way, the title of the film comes from the eye condition that Dean has.

Dean, who works as a graphics designer in LA, is a bit bored with his job and how his life is going. An out-of-the-blue email from Alex brings a kind of storm in his life. We find out that Alex and Dean spent a summer together 15 years ago before Alex abruptly disappeared and now wants to reconnect with Dean. After an initial reaction of “Fuck off!”, they start exchanging emails with a bit of flirtations and finally decide to meet each other. Dean Dean invites Alex to spend a weekend at his house in the Southern California desert. As nervous as Dean is anticipating Alex, they both can’t keep their hands off each other as soon as they meet. They start talking about what happened and through a series of flash-backs we get o know how they met 15 years ago. Things are going fine till they both drop a bomb on each other. Dean admits to being married to Brian who is travelling for work. Agitated Alex leaves home but comes back to give his secret that he disappeared that summer since he met someone else. Rest of the movie is about reliving past, coming closer and pulling apart again. Alex expects Dean to leave everything including Brian to be with him, but thankfully Dean questions his commitment to anything in life and says that he would rather prefer to make his marriage work and be honest. And just as Alex disappeared 15 years ago, he again leaves in the crack of dawn.

Though the pace os the film can be a bit questionable, the director adds enough layers, giving an intimate insight into the lives of the reunited lovers. Though Dean blames Alex for leaving abruptly; we soon find that there are always two sides to any story and how communication is important. The locations are new, and the lead actors are both very good looking with their tidy matching beards. They definitely act really well and there is plenty of lounging around near pool in tasteful nude scenes. The story is relatable but personally for me, not very believable as I said before. People change drastically in 15 years both physically and emotionally and it seems this was never discussed.  Its a film for mature audience who have been in love. The pace of the film could have been faster but the whole idea was probably us, as audience, to spend the weekend with these 2 protagonists and feel what they are going through.

The film is a no-frills, simple, to the point, very well acted film. (6/10)

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Muerte en Buenos Aires (Spanish) [Death in Buenos Aires]

We have had very few mystery/thrillers in gay genre. I think if we tried, we would easily be able to count them on fingers. This film although may sounds just a standard, simple police-procedural crime thriller but the director has used a lot of homo-eroticism (not just for the sake of it) and that is what makes this film even more charged and exciting. Also important to note is that the film is set in 1980’s in Argentina.

The film starts with the murder of a wealthy gay member in Buenos Aires who also happens to be an art collector. Rookie cop Gomez, ridiculously good looking, is at the scene waiting for the cops to arrive. Detective Chavez, a family man and a tough cop is given the responsibility to close the case soon as possible. The initial suspect is Kevin, victim’s lover who left a message on his answering machine. Chavez asks Gomez to join his team and goes as an undercover into the gay circle to get more information. Gomez befriends Kevin and extracts information from him while enacting various sexually charged scenes. Also we see a strange sexual tension between Gomez and his boss Chavez. As Chávez delves into uncovering the identity of the murderer, he is challenged both professionally and sexually by the involvement of Gomez. Kevin is taken into custody, but there he gives some information to Chavez that makes him question the whole motive of the murder. Nothing is what it seems and Chavez starts to believe that maybe Gomez is behind al this and maybe all the money and power is visually becoming appealing to him. After various twists and shocks, the films end is left for viewer’s interpretation but at the same time it is made clear as to who was the involved party.

First things first, lets talk about how hot Gomez was. No one can deny that and the sexual charge and tension between him and Chavez was so cool, you could feel it. The two instances where they almost kiss and Chavez wants to fuck Gomez were wow. Now this is what chemistry is all about. And acting by them was brilliant. You have to give al the credit to the director for presenting them they way she did. Visually also I thought the film showed some brilliance in terms of recreating an old era. The story had enough twists for the viewers to keep guessing who really could behind the murder. You question yourselves about who could be involved in this. The film also shows how corruption, money, sex all played out in that era in Argentina. I did not, for a moment get bored and was always looking forward to whats going to happen next. Yes, everything that happened may not be totally believable, but who cares!!

A very rewarding and fulfilling experience with good twists. Hopefully, a sequel would follow soon. (7.5/10)

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Retake

An interesting story of someone trying to relive his past in an effort to fix it or make it better. The film is one of the few in the genre of a road-trip film in queer cinema but still it does not completely succeed in keeping audience’s interest peak for a long while. At least I had to watch film more in a fast forward mode, just in the hopes that something more worthwhile will happen.

Jonathan, a middle-aged man travels to find a young male escort. After a few tries, he hires a young male prostitute to accompany him for a road trip to Grand Canyon, with the condition that the entire trip will be about role play. The young man is playing Brandon, a young, temperamental, rough around the edges kinda guy who is Jonathan’s boyfriend and they are madly in love with each other. As the young man, he is more interested in finding the true reality but Jonathan insists that he stick to the role he was hired for. Slowly, he starts to put small pieces together to understand who Brandon really is and what does he mean for Jonathan. Eager to leave his own past, he finds an odd connection with Jonathan. Slowly their affection starts to grow. Clearly the young man feels a stronger connection to Jonathan which he reciprocates, but is it for Brandon or is it for the real man that the young escort really is.

The story was very unidirectional. The entire film is on the road trip and motels where Jonathan is taking pictures of his companion in exactly the same places that he took with his ex-lover. I really did not understand the motivation behind that. He kept saying he wants to fix things but how does this trip help, is not really explained. The escort has had a rough childhood when he was thrown out form his own home but a little bit more background would have helped to show why did he get so attracted to Jonathan towards the end. Was it because finally someone showed him love and affection! The acting by both the leads was actually quite decent as per the script demanded but I had personally issues with the pace of the film. I really don’t mind slow films as long as they are trying to say something. but this one definitely tested me.

An average film on a lazy evening. Its not bad at all, in fact an interesting story but the slowness of the film can be challenging for some. (5.5/10)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Fair Haven

Now this is how you can make a very ordinary and simple story, gripping for an audience. The treatment, direction and emotions is what it matters when a viewer watches a film. You have to be able to empathise with the characters ad feel their pain and angst and happiness and other emotions and only then, in my opinion, you can justify the money that you spend on a film. I am not saying that this is a great film by any means but it is an excellent example of staying focused on the core issue without getting unnecessarily dramatic or anything.

We meet James, a 19 year old young teenage boy, who is just returning home after being part of a religious reparative therapy called ex-gay conversion therapy. He comes home believing that he has been “cured” of his same-sex desire. He hopes to go to college soon but after his mother’s death, his father is struggling with money and cannot afford to send him to college. After a spat, James decide to go to community college and help him at his orchard. One day the encounter with ex-boyfriend Charlie starts changing things. James, who thought, he has been cured is confused again. In an attempt to control his desires, he starts dating the preacher’s daughter Suzy. Charlie and James start to hang out together and be civil with each other and in Charlie, James again find a confidant with whom he can speak whats exactly in his mind. Finally James gives in and decides that Charlie is the right person for him. Suzy and his father both find out about this. James is in distress and he decides to move out of his father’s home, move away somewhere with Charlie and start a new life. Thankfully, his father comes around, decides to try to support James for what he is and what he wants in life and will always be there for his son.

The title of the movie comes from the name of the orchard that James’ father’s run. It really has no bearing to the movie itself. James acted really really well. The internal emotional struggle that he goes through is amazing. Right from being angry at his father for everything and trying to control his emotions; then trying to figure out what’s this fling with Suzy and finally with Charlie, on how can he control and hide his real feelings for Charlie. His emotions, at some points, start getting very unidirectional but it does convey his inner feelings. The recurring overhead shots of James in his childhood bedroom convey this feeling brilliantly. Actor playing his father also does really well in the character that he is supposed to be. Charlie is real cute and in the very few scenes that he and James have together; they both show excellent chemistry with one another. You can feel their love for one another. In an otherwise normal film, the only over the top thing, was Suzy’s parents. Their dialogues were overly enthusiastic and somehow didn’t fit in to the overall pace and sound of the film. The other negative in my opinion is the father’s sudden change of mind.

Its a beautiful captivating story, that touches the audience without being preachy. A simple, sweet and graceful film; that you wouldn't regret watching. (7/10)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

A Young Man's Future

What a wasted opportunity!! This was the first thought that came to my mind after I finished watching the film. The one person who should immediately be fired is the casting director, followed very closely by the director, who couldn’t see what was going on. I feel so sad and disappointed when something that could have been so wonderfully fantastic ends u being so cheap and terrible to watch.

The story is based in a college where Jeremy lives with his partner Elliott for the past 2 years. However, Jeremy has had enough of betrayals and mistreatment by his partner and he decides to break-up. Very next instant we find him moving in with Scott, who he had met just a few days back. A charming young man, Scott genuinely likes and care for Jeremy. The relationship is going fine till its time to meet parents. When Scott’s father comes to meet the couple, he is very visibly unhappy and disapproves of their relationship. Thankfully Jeremy’s parents are much more positive but shock comes when Scott starts behaving weird and ultimately being diagnosed with schizophrenia. Thankfully Scott agrees for a proper treatment and Jeremy wants to be there every step of the way for his love. His parents are equally supportive till there is a point where financially and logistically its not possible for Jeremy to take care of Scott. Scott’s father takes him to take care but after a few months Scott runs away and becomes dangerous to the community. Jaded by life and circumstances, Jeremy gets back with Elliott, who now together are looking for Scott everywhere in town. They find him but find it very hard to convince Scott to get medical attention. Ultimately he is admitted into a hospital and the film ends with Jeremy handing a pen to Scott hoping that it will reignite his passion for Maths in him and will get better.

So if you read the above synopsis, you really feel that there is so much potential but ultimately everything depends upon execution. The film was so badly directed, that I can go on and on finding faults in the film; lot more than positives. Firstly for a subject like this, there has to be a crazy chemistry between the leads; which is clearly missing between either of the couples. The acting by supporting cast is terrible. Both sets of parents are just awful and there is absolutely no explanation given for their odd behaviour. Why does Scott have estranged relation with his father and why won’t he talk to Jeremy about it? (Maybe his disease has some origin there). Jeremy’s parents are all good till suddenly his mother shows up saying things are not ok financially. They look and act totally like strangers than a couple. They are both terrible. The pace of the film was odd. Sometime sit felt it was being stretched beyond a point while they zipped through the illness so fast without delving deeper into the causes. And what kind of college were these guys studying in? I never saw any other student walking in the campus, or apartments or parks besides these 3. And as far as I know , most students are really poor, but here , our protagonists live in fancy houses and have money to drink wine pretty much every day. C’mmon now!! The only saving grace in this film was Jeremy. He looked pretty and acted well as the character that of confused young man who doesn’t know what to do. He has to choose between his past, his present and will he have a future. But how much can a poor guy save the film by himself. Scott was ok for what was given to him but I think his character was all over the place.

A beautiful story about two college kids who experience a terrible disease, could have been a great film in the making; however a poor screenplay, a shoddy direction and supremely bad acting makes this film a terrible watch. (3/10)