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.

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)