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, March 25, 2017

Moonlight

This film is very important not just for the black community but also very much for the African-gay people, who like a lot of other communities struggle to be themselves. This film especially becomes important form a US standpoint when politically things are going downhill and people are very quick to judge anyone who doesn’t cater to the social norms. I have been hearing so much about the film, especially after winning the Oscar award, so naturally my expectations from the film were quite high and I have to admit that the film actually meets expectations to a large extent. It is important to understand and relate to what and how a child goes through and how any small thing can infest a kids mind and ultimately shape his or her future.

The movie is told in 3 parts and focusses on life of Chiron, a young boy. Drug dealer Juan watches Chiron being chased after by school boys shouting faggot behind him. He rescues a boy but in a manner that doesn’t shelve his self-respect and bring him home to nourish and be good. Chiron lives with his drug-taking and single mother, who really doesn’t care much for him. Chiron gets bullied in school and just occasionally his latin friend Kevin comes to him as a true friend. Juan takes him in his wings just to gives a loving nourishing environment. Stage two in teenage years. The bullying hasn’t stopped and life hasnt much improved for Chiron. He is still the same shy boy and still only has Kevin as a friend. One night along the beach, the two come closer but just the next day Kevin ends up beating Chiron because of provocation by another classmate. Chiron brings out all his anger and hits that classmate badly and gets jailed for it. We move to stage 3, where Chiron is a different man. He deals with drugs on street and is now all buffed up. But what hasn’t changed much is his shy demeanor. His mother is now is rehab and apologizes for how she dealt with him. A chance call by his friend Kevin brings him back to the town. The 2 friend relive old days; each one not showing what really they want form each other. There is the awkwardness between them , before Chiron finally gives in and tells exactly what brought him there. The film ends at a very tender moment.

Story wise although film may feel simple but its the treatment that sets it apart. No where you get to see over the top drama. The way Juan and his wife bring Chiron in their family while respecting the fact that he still has a mother raising him is handled really well. The scene where young Chiron asks Juan, what a ‘faggot’ means and if he is one; its brilliantly handled. Juan takes the word apart, and doesn’t take Chiron apart with it. In the teenage years, Chiron, now skinny lad is still dragging himself with no friends. So that one night when Kevin and he end up kissing at the same beach where Juan taught him to swim, it breaks your heart to see that Chiron asks for forgiveness after the kiss. Thankfully Kevin (very very cute) simply says “What have you got to be sorry for?”. And the boys get a little more closer. And finally the young grown up Chiron. Yes we wonder what happened in the jail that made him change so much as a person but you see the light in his eyes and confusion on getting that call from Kevin (again really handsome). The scenes that follow between grown up Chiron and Kevin are some of the best scenes of the movie. You see the hapiness, confusion, ecstasy, eagerness; all in both of them but they both just don’t know how to express the feelings and the tension is just brilliant. Acting wise, everyone is simply brilliant. There is an interesting continuity between the three boys and you feel that yes its the same boy that has grown up. The three of them have brilliantly managed to keep the skin of character inside them. The film is slow yes, but thats what makes it even more of a classic. I feel like I will have to watch this film again in a few months just to understand all the intricacies, the nuances and silences of the characters. Scene where Chiron talks about crying and fearing of turning into an ocean just before the kiss is also so sad. I am now remembering more and more scenes like that. The best impact come from that final moment when the two best friends just hold each other because they know what they want.

Its about human emotions and connections and not race, skin or color. Its about men and fact that its ok for men to cry and feel vulnerable. A toast to all those who have struggled to identify and accept love and finally achieve it; this movie is brilliant and an absolute must-see. (9/10) 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Un Bacio (Italian) [One Kiss]

A beautiful and touching film, although not-necessarily a centrally gay-themed one. The film deals with issues of friendship, acceptance, rebel, self-confidence. Equal focus is given on all three primary characters in the film. More than anything it is about friendship and how one kiss could change the lives of friends.

Slowly, three of our primary characters are introduced to us. Lorenoz is new to town. He is outgoing, exuberant, very gay and likeable (if you want to). He has been adopted by very liberal parents and brought to town. Parents are ready to fight with school authorities if they have to, to make sure Lorenzo is comfortable with who he is. He becomes real close friends with Blu, daughter of hippy parents. She has been labelled as rebel and slut because of an infamous incident where she slept with her bf and three other friends of him. She gets called names in school, so she prefers to be by herself. And finally we have Antonio, a gorgeous young boy and basketball star but considered very stupid by most of his classmates. His brother died in an accident few years ago who used to be the poster child for his family and school both. So now Antonio, spends much of his time talking to the ghost of his brother. The three of them become really close and star taking fun revenge back on their classmates. All is fun and good till we realize that slowly both Blu and Lorenzo start liking Antonio. Since Lorenzo is co confident of himself, he goes ahead and kisses Antonio and that one incident just changes the equation between the three of them. Things get worse, although Lorenzo and Blu still occasionally hang out. Crazy things happen when hatred completely takes over. Antonio kills Lorenzo in a fit of anger and things will never be same again. Film ends with showing a scenario, if Antonio had reacted differently on the kiss that Lorenzo gave him; how things would have been much different and happier.

There are a lot of things that I liked about this film. The film has very interesting animations, songs and dancing; especially when Lorenzo goes into this zone where he ignores the real world and imagines living in this cool place. All the dance routines were pretty darn good. The story, though simple, is told in a very likeable manner. I liked the humour and for a change Lorenzo’s character was shown as a very strong character. He is gay but not apologetic and not afraid to get back to anyone who dares to point a finger at him. So refreshing and nice. Also, the storyline of Blu was quite important. How only a year later, she realizes that actually she was not being a slut but instead she was drugged and raped and all this while she had been blaming herself. Some of my favourite moments include when Lorenzo’s adopted parents argue with the school to let Lorenzo be himself. Hats off to those parents and wonderful writing of those characters. In fact, the acting throughout is quite raw & natural and this is the reason that its emotional impact is quite high.

It is a simple story of love, identity & friendship with a perfect balance of comedy, music and drama. (7.5/10)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Godless

A very taboo subject, whenever someone tackle sit, can be very easily met with extreme negative reactions. Although I personally may never endorse the feelings, but I do respect and am ready to give my view point to a film makers motivation on taking up a complicated subject and present it to their audience.

Shown us through Nate’s view point and through flashbacks, we are introduced to brothers Steven and Nate. Steven is a year older, and a medical student from out of town. Nate stays local and is a physical trainer in a local gym. Steven returns to town after their mother’s demise. We learn through flashbacks that their father is already dead. Steven stays back to comfort his brother Nate emotionally, who was very close to their mother. But soon enough more secrets are revealed and we find out that both Steven and Nate have been in a secret relationship with each other. Something that started as sexual experimentation in their pre teen years soon evolved in a very very strong love for each other, despite clearly understanding that it was wrong. Despite being atheist, they both fear that their parents might see their relationship with judgements. Anyway, it turns out when Steven moved out, the brothers decided that they both need to move on for everyone’s benefit. Steven has moved on and lives with his bf Ray now who also comes and stays with the brothers after the mother’s demise. Nate, on the other hand has been struggling so much to move on. He is not even ready to look at his co-worker at his gym who is madly in love with him. Steven struggles to keep his love for Nate while making him comfortable around his new boyfriend. He is conflicted between the two men and talks about how we are capable of loving more than one person at the same time. The boys get physical again after years, but Steven wants to continue his relationship with his now bf. The decision is final and Nate needs to move on. Maybe his gym colleague could be his new love of life.

I had very mixed feeling throughout watching the film. Firstly because the film was really really slow. I could have watched it on a fast forward mode and still would not have missed a thing. Secondly both the production quality and the acting abilities of the leads left a lot to be desired. Steven is lot better but Nate feels just like a whimping cry-baby. Always demanding and needs to be hold in arms. It feels like he is in depression forever and totally taken over by his obsession with Steve. Steve, on the other hand is more practical and rational. The other good thing is that the film never goes over the top. There is no grand melodrama. The scenes between the brothers are handled with sincerity and even the arguments are pretty normal but my gosh!! the pace; it really tests your patience. The maker seems to be more interested in creating an atmosphere but c’mmon , give the audience something more. I was shocked to see how bad the acting from the parents was. Actually besides Steve, the only other person who did a decent job was Nate’s gym co-worker. He seemed pretty normal and real. On the other hand, the guy who played Steve’s brother was plastic and wooden.

I know I have said lots of negatives about the film but I still give it an average rating because of subject and sincerity. Although slow, the film still left some sort of impression and made me think. I appreciate how Steve handled the entire situation and believed that we are capable of loving more than one person at the same time. (5/10)

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Slash

Slash is definitely not a gay themed film but has enough references for it to have a review here on my blog. I’ll try to keep it short and simple for 2 reasons. a) Because I didn’t think too much of the film, and b) My blog is supposed to be mainly about queer cinema but this film falls in a grey area.

Neil is an introvert 15 year old, questioning high school freshman. He thinks he might be gay but isin’t sure, although he continues to write steamy fan fiction for his own pleasure. He writes about Vanguard, the brawny, galaxy-hopping hero of a popular sci-fi franchise. When his stories are exposed in class Neil is mortified, but the slightly older, effortlessly cool Julia comes to his defense, who is a fan fiction writer herself on an online “adult” forum. They both become good friends and Neil has someone with whom he feels comfortable with. He feel she is falling in love with Julia. Until Neil grabs attention of Denis thorough the website, who is the site moderator and he invites Neil to present his work at a comic con live-read event. Secrets are revealed there, when it comes out that Neil and Julia both lied about their age, Denis recommends him to be himself. Neil and Julia hook-up but neither knows what it really means and Neil wants to hook up with Denis to explore his queer side. The event doesn’t go as planed and it puts a strain in the relationship of two friends. But at least Neil gains confidence on his writing and he continues to write gay fan fiction on Vanguard.

Was this really a coming-of-age story as the makers portray it to be? I somehow don’t think so. Unless I completely fail to understand the genre of the film. I think ‘Slash’ as a term has a whole different meaning and reference, which , I know I fail to understand. But a film is supposed to be for a wider audience and this is where it fails. Also I think too much focus is given on the adult (specifically homo-erotic) aspect. What happened to good old fan fiction writing? ON a plus side, the production values and the acting by everyone is pretty top-notch. I never had to fast forward the film. But it could easily have been a few minutes shorter or the pace could have been better.

I can see few people liking this film but this was definitely not my kind of cinema. Its not bad, really, but just one-dimensional and superficially uninteresting. (4/10)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Skam: Season 3 (TV Series) (Norwegian)

Thanks to one of my blog followers lina, I finally managed to watch the third  season of the show ‘Skam’ which apparently translates to ‘Shame’. My initial thoughts, (a) Why didn’t I watch this series sooner (b) How do I now find time to watch the first two seasons.? For those unaware of the show, like I was till a few days back, this is a hit Norwegian show, a cross between TV/online/web series that focusses on lives on teenagers studying in a high school. Each season focusses on a different character and tackles various issues. The main theme of season 3 is the gay storyline and this is how I came to know about the show in the first place. Its 10 episodes with each episode being 20-25 minutes each.

Since I haven’t seen the show’s first 2 seasons, my review will be based on this season as an individual. The main character of this season is Isak, who hangs out with his close group of 3 other male friends. He flirts with one of the popular girls Emma, but very soon we realize that he has his eyes on a really hot guy Evan. He steals glances on him at various occasions. They both finally meet each other at one of the school group parties and become friends. They share this inherent chemistry and a friendship soon blossoms. When Isak realizes that Evan has a girlfriend, he forces himself to like Emma more but things don’t go as planned. Finally, the two boys just give in and they hook up in a very passionate love affair. Just when everything was going perfect for Isak, he gets a message from Evan that things are moving too fast and that he needs a break. He is devastated and has no one to talk to. When constantly quizzed by his friends, he finally tells them all the truth and all his friends are very supportive. Evan apologizes to Isak and soon things are back on track till another blow strikes Isak. Soon it is revealed that Evan is bipolar. Initially Isak freaks out but on some coaching by one of his friends Magnus, who’s mother is also bipolar, he decides to give it a go and take care of Evan. Slowly things start coming back to normal and they love between the two guys rekindle and reaffirm their faith in closeness. The season ends with a Christmas party and Evan recovering good in proper care of Isak and his friends.

The above is the main storyline but of course we have so many other characters who add beautifully to the story We have Isak’s pals, especially Jonas, who is the first one whom Isak comes out to. Then there is Sana, the Muslim girl, who slowly becomes Isak’s study partner and consecutively a friend and confidant. We have girlfriends for both Isak and Emma and other school students and then finally Isak’s gay room mate, who gives him comfort in his own way. There are way too much good things about the show. First thing is the acting by every character and a unique identity that is given to each of them. You feel for Isak, who cannot stop himself from looking at Evan at every given opportunity while struggling with questioning his sexuality. I absolutely loved that how no one cared a shit about Isak being gay when he comes out. His friends are as supportive (maybe even more) when he comes out and they even help him get back with Evan. The storyline, actors and dialogues and so real and believable that you feel you are a part of the group. It was refreshing to see the forward approach by Evan to make Isak feel comfortable. Their first kiss underwater was so special and wonderful. I struggled initially on why Evan wanted things to slow down but that is clarified later. We find out that Isak’s background has something to do with his parents broken marriage, especially his mother’s mental issues, so when you see the supporting text messages from his parents, you cheer and cry alongwith Isak. I, for some reason, felt the pain that Isak was going through in each of these phases that he was going through. First to accept his sexuality, then finding love in life with subsequent heartbreak, the true friends he has in his life with whom he can talk about religion and sexuality and finally when the whole bipolar incident happens. I mean, if a young 17 year old teenage has to go through so much, I can only imagine. Everything has been handled with a mature, yet natural way, that nothing feels over the top. The chemistry between the boys is great. They way they look at each other with their piercing eyes, you feel the love between them and you also feel the heartbreak that Isak has ben through. You cheer for their love, you want them to get together and stay together for ever and ever.

I had the same mixed feelings of happy and sad when I finished the series, like I had for some other shows in the past. Sad that is over, but really happy that I still have faith there people will continue to come up with innovative ways of good TV/cinema focusing on LGBT community and present issues in a more realistic manner. Bring it on. (8.5/10)

Friday, February 10, 2017

Gay Short Films : 52

Entre Amigos (Mexico) [Between Friends]
A quick short film of two teenage friends. One of them is in hospital and THE other one has secret crush on his friend. When the sick guy asks his friend to jerk- him off since he is his friend, things may take a different turn when the other guy will try to go beyonD just jerking off his friend. He has now accepted his sexuality. What will his friend do? The boys were cute and the film is kept at a perfect short length of just abut 5 minutes.

1992 (France)
It's 1992. Martin is 17 and he films his daily life with his Hi8 camera. He films anything and everything around him. One day he meets Dominique, 23 and works as a student monitor at Martin's high school. Soon an affair begin between the two. Its also the time when Martin is trying to figure out why his relationship with his father is so strained. Maybe filming him also would help.

Bed Buddies (USA)
An interesting take on what happens when three gay friends take their relationship into unknown territory. Three best friends wake up one morning only to realize that they slept with each other. Intense conversations begin on what this will do to their friendship. Should they stop immediately but what if they all enjoyed it, and they all actually like each other. Fantastic film. I loved the concept and I also liked how every possibility was explored without giving us a conclusion.

Why Does God Hate Me (USA)
A coming-of-age comedy about Matthew, a 14-year-old boy living in a very religious town, whose best friend Ester tries to ‘cure’ him of being gay, every time he sees a hot guys in either school or outside. But a trip to San Francisco shows Matthew that he might not be the one who needs curing. It’s comedy, yet a very emotional story of how we all need to be more tolerant to everyone and that its not some sort of disease, or something that can be cured. I like how Matthew decides to be on his own and take control of his own life.

South Park S19E06 - Craig x Tweek (USA)
Interestingly done episode. Introduced by the Japanese art of Yaoi, school students are horrified to find that Tweek & Craig are part of the homoerotic and homosexual paintings done by this art students. Neither is gay but soon they may have to pretend to be one because that’s the only way they will be able to get out of it. In my opinion, the episode was just Meh!

You Are Beautiful (Bulgaria)
A very interesting film. We see a young teenage boy chatting on a gay chat website planning to meet a man. Our young friend also has some communication issues with his mother, who finds out about his son's adventures online. As it turns out the young boy was talking to his father and they are both shocked to see each other. With everyone in family knowing a secret, the dynamics suddenly change at dinner table where everyone is now an adult.

Alex y Fabio Ya No Están (Puerto Rico) [Alex And Fabio Are No Longer Here]
Alex and Fabio’s intricate relationship is examined through a series of flashbacks, highlighting their initial insatiable desire for one another to the inopportune turn of events that led to the dismantling of their relationship. What results is not only an examination of a broken relationship, but an honest portrayal of modern love and its oftentimes fleeting nature. A very fine and warm film.

The Curse of the Un-Kissable Kid (USA)
Josh spends his days dodging bullies and snarky school principals. To make his problems disappear, he drinks a gypsy’s magic potion… if only he’d read the fine print! Life is going to change for him now.

La Collana (Italy) [The Necklace]
Marco is a shy courier instructed to deliver some jewels in a photo studio. Here he meets Giorgio, the photographer: handsome, gay, cheeky who comes on to Marco.

The Tormentors (Australia)
This film deals with the subject of homophobia in a family run motor mechanics business. The father has always been hard on the two sons. The elder son is supposed to take over the business but the younger son is hiding something. With the arrival of an intern at the premise, things may change for him, who can’t take it anymore and comes out of closet but it might be too late by then.  Informal discrimination is a prevailing problem, despite dramatic cultural and legal improvements in recent years.

Gorjetas (Brazil) [Tips]
Mario is broke & is unable to pay bills. In order to earn money to pay them he takes radical measures as he starts as a webcam boy on a famous porn site. To keep and increase the attention of his viewers he goes to extreme lengths, when an intruder walks in to his room to rob him. He uses the event as an opportunity to make more money for himself. A very interesting take on what lengths people will go to satisfy their urges.

Mañana Todo Será Mejor (Spain) [Tomorrow Everything Will Be Better]
A couple though living together has strains. The guy is not sure of what he is doing. Next day he meets another guy at the pool and the two start to flirt but cant do anything. Our man is in for a surprise when he goes back to his girl’s house only to realise that the other guy is her brother.

The Confession (UK)
A lovers quarrel, when one of them asks his partner to be open about his love rather than being conscious about his image, especially when he is leaving for a voyage and wont be back for months.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Hurricane Bianca

A campy film, I wasn’t expecting much from it to be honest but it wasn’t bad at all. Broadly divided into two halves, the first part is actually a bit of drag (no pun intended) but the film gets a lot funnier, quirky and exactly what you hoped for once we have our main character in drag. Which one us doesn’t like the offensive and insulting one-liners specially from drag queens. This film definitely delivered on that front but how I wished there was more of it.

The plot is simple. Richard has been in New York for a while and soon moves to a small town in Texas to teach in a school in the middle of nowhere, as part of the Teaching Ambassador Program. But the stint lasts only a couple of days till the Vice Principal realises he is gay and gets him kicked out. He meets an RJ at an empty bar who soon makes Richard realise that he may have some hidden talents. Richard soon transforms in drag as Bianca Del Rio and applies for a job back at school. The cat and mouse fun games begin now with hilarious incidents with school kids, the vice-principal, the principal and most importantly with the very good looking gym coach. She cuts down the students who try to mess with her to gain their respect and protects the kids who get teased. The film ends with people in the school coming around, being accepted and Bianca winning the teacher of the year award.

As mentioned, the first 30 minutes of the movie was a a little slow but provided the groundwork for the plot. As soon as we got the Bianca transformation, the movie was full of sarcasm, wit, and more insults. Her equation with Vice-principal was hilarious. As an actor Bianca was fabulous. No doubt. But as Richard, he fails completely. I could not have empathy at all. I mean, I agree this is supposed to be over the top, camp, quirky style movie but still a lot was missing. Things just feel into place a little too conveniently including the affair with the coach and the family acceptance by the RJ who has a hidden past. Some other LGBT related topics were highlighted but not addressed, which is fine with me, since the film is a bit superficial anyway. The fact that they were brought up itself was a good gesture. had the film focussed a lot more on Bianca’s wit and humour, that would have received an other plus one from me.

You can enjoy this film only if you like over-the-top camp sensibilities and total sassiness. (5/10)

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Theo & Hugo (French)

You will never be able to forget the opening of the film. An explicit sex scene is a dungeon of the club is not something many movies start with, but I think this film wanted to make a statement and it sure did. Thankfully the 15ish minute scene, although very graphic (with actual penetration scenes), is never meant to arouse the audience, rather wen the film progresses, you realize why the whole build up. More on that later.

Starting in a sex club in Paris, curly haired Theo has his eyes set on Hugo, who is engaged in a passionate sex act with a random boy. You can tell that Theo is so mesmerised with him that he wants him at all cost and eventually he manoeuvres his way through to him in that orgy of the sex club. The two have crazy instant chemistry, physically and passionately (and the scene that depicts this is absolutely fantastic). They both leave club and still can’t get enough of each other. Remembering their passionate sexual act, they soon realise that they had unprotected sex, which is even more of a problem, given that Hugo is HIV positive. Even though Theo was active and Theo has undetectable viral load, he is still at risk now. Hugo forces Theo to go to the emergency room and even stays with him throughout as his support. As expected Theo is going through all sorts of emotions of anger, love and confusion. To be honest nothing much significant happens after this. The two walk around the city for sometime, getting to know each other better and still feeling that warm fuzzy feeling for each other which only happens when you really are falling in love for someone. Neither of them wants to leave each other’s side but they are also both aware that they should not appear too pushy. The film just ends with them wishing to spend more time together till they do their follow up appointment with the hospital and then take it from there.

I have mentioned a lot already about the beautifully directed sex scene in the beginning of the film, so I am gonna move on from there and talk about other things. After the couple comes out of the club, this is where the real flirtation begins. I loved the way Theo still keeps looking into Hugo’s eyes because he is still under the same spell of his charm as he was inside the dungeon. Yes, things change when he discovers what a blunder they have made by having unprotected sex and this causes for more extreme confused feelings. We also witness Hugo falling in for Theo. He can’t stop raving about how much of a good time he had and how he thinks that “they actually made love and contributed to world peace!” Their conversations move from physical to emotional and intimate. A chance to really get to know each other. Hugo is more experienced and somehow more mature among the two and stands up every minute with Theo to support him. First half of this film till about the point they leave the hospital is amazing. It has light hearted scenes and breezy mushy moments that I absolutely loved. Personally for me the film went into a no-zone when they just randomly explore Paris looking for food to eat and are just walking around talking stuff. Its important to build their relationship but as a viewer I started to get a bit bored by how heavily dominated the dialogues were in this section. Even the chemistry was not so passionate as it was in the first half of the film. Anyway, the two actors in the film were brilliant and shared an unbelievable great chemistry. And since the sex scenes were explicit and we saw everything, their penises were also damn beautiful :)

The film set in about a time interval of 2 hours is totally believable. Yes towards the last 30 minutes (and hence a bit of low rating), I lost touch; but i completely got a warm fuzzy feeling when two strangers meet, feel an instant connection and how they continue to talk about random things just to get to know each other while unable to keep their hands off each other. The HIV scare just gives another edge to the whole situation. (7/10)

Monday, January 30, 2017

Shared Rooms

This film clearly falls in the low budget, not much thought to the story, just make a gay-film for the heck of it kinda category; which I have reviewed many a times on my blog before. Thankfully it is not that terrible, well, maybe barring a few actors but at least the movie moves along a decent pace and finishes before you realise that you are starting to get bored.

The film follows three parallel tracks set between Christmas day and New Years. We have a married couple Cal & Laslo. They live happily for many years and cannot fathom the fact that all their friends are going the family way adopting kids. Imagine their surprise when Cal’s nephew shows up unannounced at their doorstep after he gets kicked out from his home by his mother for being gay. Even though unprepared, they very sportingly take on their new responsibility of caregivers and family to their nephew. Second story is about room mates Julian and Dylan. Since Julian travels a lot for work, Dylan has been secretly renting out his room to make extra cash. On Christmas, Julian comes back early and is horrified to find the truth. They are both forced to share Dylan’s room and bed which soon becomes odd because Julian has had a crush on his room mate for past 2 years and is now forced to face his demons. And finally we have Sid, who hooks up with Gray as a random sex hookup for Christmas day but they find a lot in common with each other over the holiday period. There is instant connection, & chemistry between them. They share each other’s secrets and spend the holidays together naked. All these people come together as a family to celebrate new years where a happy ending follows for everyone.

Although the prime directive of the film is to show that families are important for gay men and how we make our own family; that doesn’t come out very clearly. The only connecting factor among the three stories in the end is when they all attend the same party, so the whole idea feels a bit hollow. Having said that, the film is funny in bits and parts especially when the nephew shows up and the whole interaction between the trio is funny and somewhat natural. All the other actors sadly are not good performers. Dylan, especially, is really bad. he so called surprises and twists just happen suddenly. There is no build-up or a satisfactory conclusion. IS the film supposed to be comedy or a romantic comedy or a film with twists; you will never know. As mentioned before, the short length of the film is definitely a saving grace.

I have seen much worse, low production crap gay cinema. This is still much better than the rest but compared to some good cinema out there, the film will still rank quite low in my ratings. Not a disaster but nothing to rave about either. (3.5/10)

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Spa Night (Korean/English)

I struggled a bit with the film for two reasons: One, whether this film truly belongs the LGBT genre and second, related to the first is what is the point and message that is being tried to made. I am not by any means saying that its  abad or a confused film. I feel, for viewer like me who wants (or rather prefers) a clear distinction between queer cinema and otherwise gets confused when served with something like this. This film may be promoted as a film about a Korean teenager discovering his sexuality but it is actually a broader story of being a first-generation Korean- American, sense of tradition and responsibility for the family and everything that come with it.

We meet a Korean family based in LA. David, a young 18-ish boy uses most of his time helping out his mom and dad running their restaurant. The parents have dreams of him studying hard and making something more successful out of himself but clearly David is not very good at studies. The times are tough and the family is forced to give up the restaurant and this is where all the troubles begin. The parents force him to take tutorial classes to prepare for SAT while the relation between the mom-dad is deteriorating. The mother find a a job of a waitress but the father is too busy drinking himself and feeling sorry for being a failure for himself and his family. In the process we also see that David has been trying to find an identity for himself. So far he had the comfort of his parents and the restaurant but now he needs to look out for himself. David find s a job at a Korean spa to help his family but the spa has more to offer than David imagined. He witnesses a sensual world of naked men and also sometimes men trying different things with each other sexually. He notices glances and feels some sort of sexual pleasure by just watching but too careful to not ever indulge in any of those activities. David struggles with his own sexuality a few times in the spa and its hard for him to manage the ‘upstairs’ room and keep a check on it because ‘gay makeout sessions’ happen there time to time. With the family relationship deteriorating and him questioning and coming to terms with his own sexual identity, David has to figure out a way to accommodate his orientation and his position as the only child of Korean immigrants in US.

The biggest problem for me was the super slow pace of the film. As much as I can appreciate the build up and subtle nuances of the dynamics of a Korean immigrant family, the film is not an easy watch watch. It is one of those films that is generally enjoyed for cinema lovers who are looking for something different. There are hints of various things and events and many things are never clearly explained, which personally made it hard for me to fully connect all the dots. I fully empathised with David’s struggle to find a balance between doing the right for the family but also finding an identity for himself and letting himself free. He has Korean values but will he be able to give the up to adopt a more American approach to life? The film raises all of these issues but sadly never resolves any of the. We really don’t know what will happen with David and it seems that he is just going to let life happen. And hence despite excellent performances by all 3 lead characters, it does make for a little bit of unsatisfying movie experience.

Maybe the film was touted as being that special something, but trying to keep everything subtle and refraining themselves; the film makers leave this film as a bit of disappointment for most of us. (4.5/10)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Closet Monster (Canada)

At the outset, the film may seem like another coming-of-age story but the treatment of the film is quite different. Bit of style and a bit of fantasy intermixed with the normal storytelling methods makes this film an exciting watch. The way the treatment of the film was done, reminded me constantly of Xavier Dolan’s film. The film may not be everyone’s cup of tea but you will surely be impressed by the novelty of the treatment of the subject.

Oscar is really young when his mother decides to leave them & the parents separate. We find out later  the reasons but we see that the once loving father slowly becomes aloof an distant. He is probably gay even as a kid and he witnesses a hate crime happen to one of his schoolmates. On asking his father why did that happen, his father mentions that probably because the guy was gay and this makes Oscar further hides his sexuality. He starts dealing with internalised homophobia, specially also given the fact of what his father has always been telling him.. His only close friend is his classmate Gemma, on who he experiments with his artistry about makeup and she is probably the only one who knows the truth about Oscar. He also has had a hamster Buffy since he was kid, who talks to Oscar and they are each other’s confidant. Buffy is suppose to be his ‘spirit animal’, someone who is supposed to represent the true spirit of Oscar. When Oscar gets a job at a local store, he meets a young, attractive and mysterious man Wilber. Oscar finds himself having a crush on him. He starts feeling emotions, reactions of love so surreal that his real world starts merging with his fantasy world that he has had lived with ever since childhood. He cant love because the memories from childhood are so strong that psychologically he can’t get rid of them. When Wilber invites him to a costume party, his father stops him (by now realising that his son might be gay) but Oscar kicks him and still goes. He gets attention from guys including a kiss from Wilber but Oscar’s internal fears don’t let him deal with it. He decides to leave his father’s home because of whom , Oscar became what he is and decides to go live with his mother and get his life back in order.

As mentioned above, its the treatment and the direction that makes this film special. Oscar is suffocating with his father and his own homophobia and is longing to go to New York, which sadly also doesn’t happen. Its just the father and son staying together. It is interesting to see how the father-son relationship gets more and more distant over a period of time and only later you realise the reason is primarily because Oscar is afraid what his father may do of he knew the truth. The film, in a very interesting way, shows a hidden side of broken families and the inner turmoil of coming to terms with ones sexuality because of that. Oscar acted really well in the role of the confused teenager and the sexuality in the film is done in a very tasteful way. A simple screenplay but very well written, and the directing really impressive visually and thematically; especially from a first time film-maker.

This may not be a path-breaking cinema but definitely deserves to be seen. Coming out is never easy for anyone and when there are psychological reasons behind it; that makes it even more painful. (7/10)

Friday, January 13, 2017

Seed Money: The Chuck Holmes Story (Documentary)

I had heard about Falcon studios but never knew the history of it. Most of us probably have seen porn, especially gay porn and quite enjoy it as well but I, for once, never thought of the history behind, how this industry came about. Who started, why, under what circumstances and all that jazz. This documentary primarily focuses on Chuck Holmes, fonder of Falcom Productions, a pioneer of gay porn industry. It provides a decent insight into how . when and why did this all start and end.

Told through various interviews of his friends, colleagues and actors, we learn that in 1971, Chuck Holmes moved to San Francisco to sell real estate. That was the time when the sexual revolution was in full swing and the city was known as the 'Smut Capital of the United States.' Soon his real estate business turned into VHS producing films with mailing list of interested customers, who would pay him all cash money to get their hands of the porn films that he would produce, maybe only twice a year. After a few years, the mailing list had become a studio, Falcon which would soon become a became a revolution. In an era of homophobia, legal loopholes, laws and fear of prosecution for producing and distributing obscenity, Chuck took a hobbyists' industry and modernised it. The way he initially presented his actors and gay men slowly changed from hairy to complete all white American clean male after Calvin Klein came up with their brand. Needless to say that the industry made him a multi-millionaire. The money helped Chuck become a political force both in San Francisco and nationally. He was one of the founders of Human Rights Campaign, and a fundraiser for Democratic politicians, only to find that while his money was always welcome, he often wasn't.

The documentary doesn’t show any footage of Chuck Holmes speaking or interacting besides just one instance where he accepts an award. Rest everything is either shown through porn movie clippings that may have sometimes mimicked his life or through pictures. I felt that was missing a bit. I was glad to see that they did address the AIDS epidemic and how the studio failed to address the issue immediately till they finally gave in to the demand of actors and started using condoms. Interestingly, the documentary glorifies Chuck Holmes way too much, and in the process doesn’t even acknowledge the contributions that the actors or technicians would have had in the success of his business. having said all this, a film still deserves a decent mention to know a bit more of the history about the man who started and revolutionalised the gay porn industry.

Story of Chuck Holmes and his movement from a pornographer to philanthropist to political force. (5.5/10)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Gay Short Films : 51

Hazel (Switzerland)
An obsessive mother, on the verge of a nervous breakdown, attempts everything to scare the gay away from her precious child.. A father, carefully blotted out from all the family photos and a dreadful child psychiatrist with unconventional methods. Its a colourful film with OTT characters.

A Gay Hike (US)
2 friends make their third friend, who is in closet, come out to them comfortably in the magic of nature. Short and sweet.

Slap (UK)
A teenage boxer finds expressing himself with make-up and female clothes more natural to him. But in the society where we have gender-defining conditions and expectations, our protagonist confronts the standards of masculinity in sports with keeping your identity intact.

Hora (Israel)
This animated short documentary investigates what it means being intimate by holding hands in public in various countries.

Golden (Germany)
A tale of being different and growing up. It talks about how gay people find their safe space in the world and naturally gravitate towards each other’s comfort space, because thats what is normal to them.

How Tasty Was My Little Cafuçu (Brazil) 
Two friends just talking about the various parties that they have been a part of. Talks about dreams, fun, pleasure and nothing else.

Closet (UK)
A forbidden love in a brutal comprehensive school. A closet guy bullies his companion while the story unfurls around a wardrobe that appears on a desolate beach.

Place (Israel)
Yair takes care of his sick mother, who develops dependence upon him while his boyfriend asks him to move in. He loves his boyfriend very much and chooses his boyfriend by making his mother realise the importance of him in his life. Very cute guys.

Man In The Mirror (US)
Jason, a Puerto Rican from New York City, has to deal with rumors that he is gay. With his identity questioned, Jason pushes himself to understand who he is and how far he will go to prove that he's just one of the boys. Loved it!!

Love Without Limits (Portugal) 
Young people and the party. A short scene from the movie "O que há de novo no amor”.

Agua (Mexico)
The life of an introvert teenager takes a turn with the arrival of his new swimming partner. His extrovert nature makes him question his own personality and sexuality.

Une Voiture Rouge [A Red Car] (France)
Time seems suspended in the gas station lost in the middle of nowhere. The arrival of a red car is going to stir things up.

La Donna (Argentina)
A guessing game between 3 characters (a couple and a man). The characters start to drink and loosen up, this results in less innocence and more seduction. The guest kisses the wife and then the husband, which sparks questions in the mind of the couple. Not really gay themed.

That App (USA)
Film showing the heart-breaks, deceptions and games people play using gay apps. you talk, you fall in love, get heart broken. You don’t learn your lesson and start all over.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Cruising

This film features in pretty much everyone’s ‘Must see Gay Films of all times’; so I finally decided to stop procrastinating and give this film a chance. I think I was just worried that because the film was a while ago, I just assumed that I may be disappointed and was just trying to delay that as much as possible. But boy, was I wrong! It may be old, but the situation, scenes, landscape and scenarios are as relevant today as they were yesterday.

New York city in 1980, some murder victims are found and it is suspected that it is a work of a serial killer. The targets are all gay men (similar age and looks) hanging around in West Village bars. The head of the detective department picks Al Pacino to go undercover, since he resembles the victims. He gets an apartment there, and moves out of his girlfriends home. Unfortunately the assignment takes a toll on their relationship since he cannot tell her the details. He starts frequenting the S&M bars in the area and MeatPacking district and makes friends with his neighbour Ted. After days of going in and out in the bars, he suspects on of the guys as a potential killer that they have been looking for. The cops force and traumatise the guy, which leaves our man disturbed by the hole sequence of events including police brutality on a poor unsuspecting man just because he is gay. Following a new lead, Al Pacino starts following a music student closely. When he sneaks into his house, he finds the leather outfits and some letters and is convinced that he is the killer. He lures him into a cruising park and brings that guy into custody. While the police department thinks that the case is solved, murdered body of Ted is found which the police dismisses the murder as a lover's quarrel turned violent. The end of the film is a bit open ended when Al Pacino returns to his girlfriends home and his girlfriend inspects his clothes that look very similar to the outfit that the killer wore.

The film is interesting but apparently it went through a lot of controversy when it was released way back when. The bar scenes and murder scenes seem to be shot at real locations. Some of us still dont realise this but some aspects of our world could be filled with danger especially when temptation seems to be everywhere. It was fascinating for me to see what NYC was probably like in 1980s. One thing that I personally felt that the murderer in ever scene looked similar but a different person. I wonder if this is my imagination or does it mean that they may be one killer on the prowl. I mean given the fact that Ted’s body is found after the killer is behind bars could support this theory. The ending is what makes the film special. During the film we see how his relationship with his girlfriend is deteriorating and they have even stopped having sex. Also he says t his boss that the assignment is personally affecting him a lot. Does that mean, that he was cared to come to terms with the possibility that he may be gay, or at least, feels attracted to the idea!! When the cops catch the first guy, why was Al Pacino tied up in bed. Clearly, he wanted to try things out and experience. Otherwise won’t he have tied that man instead? I also think that maybe there was a hint that may he himself was the killer. If not the original one, then maybe became one in the process.

An interesting, intense and dark thriller with good performance and open-ended interpretation. Although now that I write this review, I wonder if the film was really supposed to be a thriller or was the main focus to actually show the character graph and development of Al Pacino’s character and his possible involvement in the 1980s gay S&M sub-culture. We may never find answers to some these questions. (7/10)

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Familie Verpflichtet (German) [Family Commitments]

Some movies are just meant to be fun. You must watch them, don’t think about it too much, stay in the moment and just have a good time. Don’t try to find logic behind things that are happening and try to question “How is this possible?”. You will only hurt yourself whereas your friends will be laughing their asses off. This is one such film. Nothing but a comedy farce. It doesn’t promise to change your world, rather it just wants to make you smile with silliness and it works !

David and Khaled are much in love couple who live together. David is Jewish, flamboyant and openly out gay man. Khaled on the other hand is arabic origin and is in closet because of fear of his father who is homophobic & runs a restaurant. David runs an art gallery and Khaled is a quiet gym teacher, who must pass his final exam before becoming certified. David’s possessive controlling Jewish mother always interferes in their life and David can not do anything about it. Enter Sarah, a barely 19 year old girl who shows up unannounced with news of her pregnancy. David is the father from a drunk hookup o a previous year party. Initially shocked, David’s mother takes up on her to make sure she wants to have the grandchild. Even Khaled wants the child but David is reluctant. Confusions continue and in the process Khaled decides that he must tell his father the truth. But instead, what the father understands is that Khaled has a girlfriend Sarah who is pregnant with his grandchild. Khaled lies and says that he has come out to his father. More comedy of errors follow. When Khaled’s father shows up a their home to meet Sarah, David’s mom blurts out the truth which devastates the father. The boys are both heartbroken because the other person has not been truthful but then its time for Sarah’s delivery. When the baby is born, things all fall in place. David and Khaled both realise that hey are meant for each other and they force their individual parent to sort out their difference and they use the grandchild as blackmail, which unsurprisingly works for both. All’s well that ends well.

The film was just right length. At any point it did not feel unnecessarily being stretched. Yeah, maybe the comedy feels sometime over the top but it somehow works. David and Khaled are both gorgeous looking and act really well. They both have amazing chemistry. All the supporting actors are also too good. My favourite 2 scenes are actually the ones where a lady teacher hits on Khaled in school. They were so funny. Khaled’s aunt is also funny as the strong matriarch of the extended family. We also have the artist who lives in the couple’s attic and just fucks around. The comic scenes were not stretched and were smart, short and witty. The drama never went OTT and felt like you wish it was real. Actress playing David’s possessive Jewish mom was also really good. The whole situation, characters just fit well together.

The film is definitely worth spending an evening of fun-filled good times where you don’t wanna spend energy and just wanna chill and have a good time. You will not be disappointed. (6.5/10)

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

American Crime : Season 2 (TV Show)

I debated for a while whether I should review this on my blog, not really sure why; but finally I decided to do it because it made sense. This series dealt with a lot of things that anyone of us has to bear and go through in life. Yes, the show is more in crime series, but the context and setting is very relevant to my blog, so reviewing it here made perfect sense.

The story is primarily about 2 high schools in mid-west America. One school is a private school and the other one is public. Within first episode, the context is established. Taylor, a young high school kid, gets assaulted and later is revealed that he has , in fact, been raped by one of the other school students. Because he was drugged, he cannot remember who it was. His single desperate mother, gives all her energy and focus in getting her son the justice that he deserves. Eventually, the name of the guy is revealed and is Eric, one of the co-captains of the private school basketball team. This is the basic premise of how people go about solving the case and what happens to everyone involved in and around the case. Another important character is the black guy who is the other captain. The rape happened at the party hosted by him, so he also comes indirectly in the line of fire and we witness stuff that goes around him. And finally we have 2 of the most important characters; the coach of the basketball team and the principal of the private school. At times Taylor is driven to such madness and craziness and torture that he ends up killing one of the school boys as his measure to take revenge and stop being that helpless boy. This just makes everything more complicated. Layer by layer , different pieces of puzzle are solved and eventually everyone gets what they deserve.

I had mixed feelings after I was done watching the show. It was thrilling in the sense that every episode would bring something new. Great details and thought was given to different characters and what happens in their life. One incident (supposedly done for fun) can make so many changes and impact so many people that you would have never thought of! So I would look forward to every new episode. What I found was a bit of uneven pace. Sometimes a lot of detailing would be shown while other times the story moved so fast that you would be like, ‘what just happened’. I also didn’t understand the relevance of the whole story of the public school and the principal there. Was it to just to add and address the racism issues? Because honestly, the essence and core of the primary story could still have been achieved without bringing the public school in the picture at all. Th end episode also felt a bit rushed. A lot of good scenarios were created and points established, but the finale seemed rushed. I guess that the makers had permission just for 10 episodes :) But despite these flaws I still think that 10 episodes of about 40 minutes each, still was successful in addressing issues of rape in men, especially teenagers, the politics behind everything, how kids are still afraid of coming out as gay and what happens in a closed knit community when all these issues surface up.

Definitely give it a god because it is a good mix of story, good acting by pretty much everyone and sensitive issues that need to be discussed. It includes the school board, teachers, students (especially basket ball players), and their families. The series does touch upon the issues of racism alongwith sexuality and homohobia. (7/10)