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, October 16, 2019

Flyover Country

I am not sure why this film is being targeted as a romantic comedy drama about coming out. It is actually neither of these things. No comedy or romance as such and definitely not coming-out. If anything, its a story about friendship between a gay and a straight man and where does life and situations take them through over a period of a year of their friendship.

Todd and Russ are in the same literature class and soon become friends. Actually Todd is gay and has a crush on Russ and secretly hopes that Russ is gay too. But thats not to be the case. They bond over their common interest of foreign films and jazz music. Things go south slightly when Russ realizes that Todd is openly gay and that he has crush on him. Todd tries to explain but the friendship gets sour only soon to be mended around when Russ' grandfather passes away. None of Russ' friends and family approves of Todd as a friend and in fact even Todd's sister and her family don't approve. But they stick true to their friendship and by now Todd realizes that he can never have Russ as a boyfriend. A couple of times Todd meets possible suitors and boyfriends and they all get jeopardized because everyone thinks Todd is still obsessed with Russ. A misunderstanding soon follows and their is a big falling out between them. Todd finds a boyfriend and moves to California. A year later when he visits, they apologize to each other and revisit their good old days.

First things first, acting is pretty awful by all characters. Main actors as well as every single character that comes in and out is horrible. Everyone has to extreme reactions to everything that it gets painful to watch. There are so many random things that happen in this film. How come, Todd's sister only finds out after a decade that Todd is gay! Why does everyone think that Russ is gay, just because he hangs out with Todd. His grandfather, friends, colleagues, classmates, everyone hates the idea of homosexuality and after a while its a joke to hear them giving a lecture about Jesus and christianity combined with the really bad acting. It was also weird (making me roll my eyes), that how every guy who would approach Todd would talk just about foreign films and jazz music and as if these were the 2 most important things that one needs to be interested in for a meaningful relationship. It was very odd. The movie set in Omaha was super low budget and a terrible one all thanks to a poor screenplay, direction and acting. Thankfully it wasn't as bad as some of the recent ones I have seen but it is still pretty lame.

I would recommend watching it ONLY if you have nothing better to do in life other than look for ways to waste 2 hours of your life. The similar premise with an able director has a potential to give us a decent movie to watch. (3.5/10)

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Memorias de lo que no fue (Spanish) [Boy Undone]

This is one of those films thats stretched beyond reason and the story could easily have been told in a short story format. In this film I can easily snip off almost 60m minutes worth of scenes and as an audience you will not miss a single thing about the film. Long minutes of silences , awkward advances and just random memory flashbacks. I guess I am not going through a good time of watching decent films.

A young man finds himself waking up to no memory. He is at Miguel's house and he doesn't remember a thing about who he is, where he is from and how did he get there. He starts to panic but after being calmed down he decides to stay in the apartment as he attempts to piece his memories back together. Almost an hour into the film and 3-4 days later is when the young man asks Miguel on how he got there. Miguel tells him that they met at a nightclub and he come home with him , had sex and slept but the young man remembers none of it. Flashbacks to sexual encounters and violent confrontations begin to surface and Fernando begins to put the pieces back together with the help of Fernando. It turns out that some of his so called friends are responsible for this state who suspected that he was closeted gay.

I am trying really hard to think about anything positive about the film. IN fact at almost 2 hours the film was stretched beyond imagination . The acting by the leads was strictly ok and had absolutely no chemistry. There were so many sex scenes, almost soft-pornish thrown in every now and then which was very uncomfortable to watch. Then there is a scene when Miguel goes to meet a creepy old man who for no reason goes on and on for almost 10 minutes on Mexico's existential crisis, which had absolutely no relevance to the film. The director tried to make a homoerotic thriller but this was far from it. The idea had potential had it been done right.

Bad direction, ok acting, endlessly stretching storyline and moments of silences. This movie is without a doubt a miss. (2/10)

Monday, October 14, 2019

Thirty Years of Adonis (Mandarin/Cantonese)

I understand when film makers think they know every thing about art and they wanna use a new medium to show us what their version if art is, ultimately becomes very exhaustive for audiences. And when you take a gay theme subject on top of that, the line between soft-core porn and pompous art-house cinema grows ever finer. This film is nothing but a sensational film making.

The story is pretty thin. An aspiring gay actor Adonis has blind trust in his agent. He has an ailing mother and he is also supposed to take care of her. Keeping faith in agent, he agrees to work as a nude model a few gay art films which ultimately gets sold as porn films. He eventually joins porn and prostitution as well since he has to make money. We see various "artistic" scenes including Adonis getting raped by some 30 odd men for a film. Once his mother dies, he opens a bar with his agent to serve gay clientele and he also meets a caucasian man and falls in love. A tragic end awaits for Adonis when he is mercilessly murdered right about when he is thinking of leaving the country for good.

I really am in loss of words to write down how bad the film was made in the name of art. There was a LOT of nudity which wasn't needed. There were sex scenes, cum scenes and full on erection. There were scenes shot in artistic manner to somehow show link between life and karma and religion and faith and what not. I just did not understand the point of the whole thing. And why was Adonis so blindly trusting of his agent given that he got him in so many troubles. He would just give in to whatever he says. It was bizarre. The only saving grace was Adonis was quite good looking and acted quite good. Mr Scud or whatever you are called, please stop giving us your artistic BS.

Don't waste your time on this piece of garbage in the name of art. (2/10)

Friday, October 11, 2019

The Gay Bed and Breakfast of Terror

From the very first dance number, I knew this film was going to be bad. But I wasn't sure how bad it will be. It was very over the top as you would expect from a movie of this genre and a poster like this. I wonder if this was supposed to be a trashy spoof comedy, because it would have been so much better. Sadly, I had to bear the ungodly story, acting and the overall premise for almost an hour and 45 minutes.

The mother-daughter duo of Helen and Luella run a gay bed and breakfast far away form the center of the town. Its the weekend of the biggest party in town and we meet 5 gay/lesbian couples who are forced to stay in this BnB because they did not make prior arrangements. We have all stereotypes covered. A leather daddy and his boyfriend who happens to be the drag queen, a twink with a richer and older troll, an upscale gay couple with their annoying fag hag, an entrepreneurial lesbian couple and finally a singer and a tomboy lesbian couple. Luella also likes girls but Helen wants to use this opportunity to find a nice gay man and convert him to marry luella. We keep hearing about Manfred, who it turns out is the son/monster of Helen with 100 other men in an orgy. Slowly couples are cheating and we see murders start happening in this place. Secrets are revealed about why Helen is doing what she is doing, why Luella is the way she is. Murders continue and the film ends weirdly with everyone dead except the drag queen and tomboy girl who decide to take over the Bed and Breakfast place.

This film is very much aware of its B grade movie status. It tries to be a mish mash of comedy, terror, spoof, religious and christian bickering etc. Trying to be too much at once, it fails to keep any single focus and fails miserably in my opinion. All the gay couples cater to some sort of gay stereotype and are obnoxious not just to each other but others as well. This is a typical gay camp film which probably I would have tolerated 10 years ago but not anymore. Its my fault that I am watching the film more than 0 years after it came but still! I heard people say that its offensive but I really doubt it. I mean when the story and concept itself is so silly, who in their right minds would get offended by any of this, be it religious people, homosexuals or republicans.

My advice would be to strictly stay away form this, unless campy movies are something that excite you or you are drunk with 5 other friends and want to watch a non-brainer. The acting is horrible and every every scene lingers on way too long. (2.5/10)

Thursday, October 10, 2019

New Queer Visions - Men from the Boys

A compilation of short films exploring first love, revenge, new beginnings and more are unwrapped in this exciting collection from first-time directors from Portugal, Taiwan, Belgium, the UK and the USA. This collection, as expected is a very mixed bag of short films. None of the films really stood out for me.

CIGANO (Portugal): Wealthy young Sebastian finds out he has a flat tyre and ends up accepting help from a Gypsy passer-by. When Sebastian offers to give him a ride home, their expected destination is not what it seems. I am not sure what was the gay connection here.

TALKING TO MY MOTHER (USA): A young Asian man is trapped in a culture clash where traditions stunt his quest for personal happiness. He has a boyfriend but is expected to marry a girl who also is a close friend. The film shows the struggle to open up to his mother with the truth but maybe its too late now.

DAWN (USA): On an evening commute, Tye detects racism from another passenger's glance. In revenge, he decides to follow and confront the man. But things will clash when Tye will find a connection with his assaultee.

SPILT MILK (UK): An unconventional and highly moving love story between two teens leading up to the night of their prom as they begin to understand the differences and similarities of love, sex and gender and sexuality.

DINNER CONFESSION (Taiwan): In the hilarious and sweet 'Dinner Confession', Che is having dinner with his mom, but all of a sudden, she takes out Che's secret magazine and starts to question him about it. However, she is interrupted by the unexpected visit of Che's close friend, Chun-Hao, who is actually his lover.

PITTSBURGH (USA): An intimate, emotionally turbulent yet occasionally light-hearted look at a young deaf man's relationship with his boyfriend, who isn't quite ready to come out of the closet. Wonderful!

KISS ME SOFTLY (Belgium): 17-year-old Jasper lives in a small town. Jasper finds it hard to come to terms with his father’s career and also struggles with the problems of adolescence, but eventually he musters up the courage to be true to himself and those around him in this heartwarming coming of age tale.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Seat In Shadow (UK)

Don't let the poster or dvd cover of the film fool you. This is a very unconventional film. Sadly, not a very good one. It is very artistic with less focus on story but more on the unusual treatment given to it. Its a case of style over substance, disguised with wordy dialogue and random narrative turns. It was really hard to keep your interest intact during the narrative.

Albert is an ageing and eccentric painter who lives by himself in a very old and dirty house. He is visited by his friend who asks him to help her troubled grandson because he seems very sad all the time. I guess Albert is also a psychiatrist. When Ben visits Albert, we find that he had a boyfriend Adam, who dumped him and thats why he is sad, lonely and depressed. Albert tries to help but also at some stage is afraid of being alone himself. He knows he is growing old and through Ben, he tries to hold on to his youth. Using unconventional methods, he tries to cheer Ben and actually make a friendship. Albert even forces himself to go with Ben to a nightclub to meet Adam. Its not very clear if Albert is interested in Ben sexually or he is using him to relive his youth. The ending is bit weird where a few guys from the club come back to Albert's place. They have an orgy while Albert watches in awe and then he tries to give Ben a chance of an Australian experience.

If the summary sounded weird, its because the film actually was. Only some of the banter between Albert and Ben is ok, but most of the times, it just made no sense at all. Its not very clear whey Ben is depressed and sad. It can't be just because of Adam. There has to be more reasons which I wish were explored. Similarly, its not really clear who Albert actually is and why does he keep doing those random long momologues. The two characters are an odd match and to be honest it’s baffling why Ben’s grandmother would even entertain the idea of getting Albert to help her grandson as he hardly seems capable of looking after himself.

The film is very artsy with a wafer thin plot and its films like these where I struggle to understand what's the kind of audience who like these kind of films. (3/10)

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Hwanjeolgi (Korean) [In Between Seasons]

Though I have seen a similar themed film in the past and reviewed it here, this film does work on its own merit and sensibilities. This is a very sensitive film, that some may find slow, but its a beautifully directed and scripted drama without going over board at any stage. A beautiful setup of two main characters who come close to each other but then there is an invisible gap that comes between them and how it is handled.

The film starts with an accident, in which Soo-hyun goes into coma. His friend Yoon-hoji survives and then we go into flashback. Soo-hyun lives with his mother whose husband left her and it was 4 years ago that Soo-hyun introduced Yoon-hoji to his mother as his friend. As the friendship grows, Soo-hyun's mother soon finds herself to be a motherly figure for Yoon-hoji also. Time progresses during which individually both the boys spend time in college and then Soo-hyun goes to mandatory military service, but during these times, Yoon-hoji makes a point to meet the mother and also both Soo-hyun and Yoon-hoji make sure to spend some time with each other. Only slowly we realize. that the two boys are actually romantically involved as well and it was during one of their romantic weekend trips that this accident happens. When the mother accidentally sees the boys together on camera after the accident, she understandably shows a restraint and distance from Yoon-hoji and asks him to not meet her son Soo-hyun who is still in coma. At one point, she flatly asks him not to come to see her and her son again, and she subsequently moves her son to a facility located in some remote rural area. Few weeks later Yoon-hoji finds out where the 2 shifted and he decides to show up despite the mother's refusal. By this time the mother is also tired taking care of her son all by herself and reluctantly becomes a little more relieved than before as Yoon-hoji willingly helps her taking care of her son. The distance soon transcends between the mother and Yoon-hoji. She wants to know more about her son's relationship. Soo-hyun eventually opens his eyes and soon strats recuperating with love and support from his love and his mother.

As mentioned above, this film could easily have been your average over the top melodrama, but the movie wisely goes for quiet intimate drama instead of resorting to sappy sentimentalism or overwrought melodrama. And this is what I loved the most about the film. Not even a single instance is shown uberly dramatic. There is only one scene where the mother gets frustrated and lets out anger but even then the film continues to engage us with small nuanced moments to observe. The pace of the film is consistent and not all cards are laid out in front of us. We find out slowly the details which also helps us understand better where everyone is coming from. The story is not new but the treatment and sensitivity is fresh. I liked the non-linear narrative and acting by all the actors, primarily Yoon-hoji and the mother was really good. Yoon-hoji's co-worker's track was completely unnecessary and that could have helped trim the film a little. I got a warm feeling seeing the love between the two men and how they both also balanced their love and respect for the mother and not putting themselves in her face all the time. Both Yoon-hoji and the mother have their own emotional journeys as a lover and a mother, but its their interaction with each other which makes this film very endearing.

This film shows us how complex human relationships can get especially when they have someone common binding them. Be patient and this film can actually surprise you with the maturity with which the subject has been handled and delivered. (7/10)

Friday, September 20, 2019

B&B (UK)

There are very few gay thrillers out there which are even half decent. The few that I have reviewed were years ago. And of late, the ones I have seen in last couple of years have been horrible. So, I had my reservations while watching this film. Thankfully, it was not terrible as I had begin to expect from movies of this genre, but it wasn't also super exciting that I would go back and watch it again.

Marc and Fred are a married gay couple returning to a bed-and-breakfast after they won a court battle exactly a year ago against Josh, the owner of the establishment who is too religious to accept queers. There is an obvious tension when they check in and do not get a very warm welcome. Josh's teenage son Paul confides in Fred that he is gay and he has to deal with lot of issues because of his homophobic father. Tensions get higher when a mysterious Russian comes to B&B. Marc thinks he is gay but Fred believes that Josh has invited him for gay bashing. Meanwhile somehow Paul and the Russian decide to go out for the night at gay cruising park and now Fred is worried about the boys safety. In moments of heat, its not very clear if Russian was going to attack or not, but an argument leads to Paul killing the man. Now a cat and mouse game start where Paul tries to put the blame on Fred and the coupe try their best to get out of the mess. Some contrived scenes follow and eventually Josh takes the blame of killing the man and goes to jail. A year later the gay couple return to find Paul now running the B&B and now supposedly in a straight relationship with a woman because his father showed him the path of righteousness.

Its still not very clear to me whether the Russian was actually someone who harmed people or someone who was just a voyeur. The second half of the film felt very complicated and I was unable to comprehend a lot of scenes. Whatever be the case, the other big problem I had t he film was I wasn't able to connect to any of the characters. Be it Marc and Fred, who wanted their right to stay in a B&B, but clearly Marc was a dickhead who wasn't even bothered about the safety of his husband. All he cared of was being right and having the last word. He was so annoying that I couldn't understand why a reasonable man like Fred would be with him. Then , its difficult to understand how did Paul and the Russian make a plan to meet when he didn't even speak english. It was so random. And then finally when Josh was so against the gay couple, why would he hand himself over to the police for his son's crime instead of maybe accusing the gay couple. A lot of actions didn't make much sense to me in the film. The one thing I got from the film was how it was all about Marc's ego. Maybe he wanted to fight for his rights but there are ways to do it without being a dickhead, but then thats my personal opinion. All the actors thankfully did a good job at acting. You can tell they are good actors but lack of character development constrained my liking for any of them.

The film wasn't terrible but wasn't anything much to talk about. If you are looking for something that is not stereotypical gay, go for this film. It does offer something new. Sadly, the new is not that good. (4/10)

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Love @ First Night: Season 1 & 2 (Web Series)

I found this web series while randomly browsing on Youtube and I am surprised not many people know about its existence. I have to admit that. initially it took me a while to warm up to the characters and the over-the-top acting by its characters, but slowly I got sucked into the lives of the characters and must say I thought it was quite decent. There are few shows that show show queer African American community the way this show does.

Our main actors are Spencer and Jayden. They meet one night at Spencer's roommate Alex's birthday party and hook up. Its only the next day they realize that Spencer was actually the blind date that Alex had invited over. Alex is a player and just sleeps around but after this incident doesn't leave any chance to make Spencer guilty of stealing his potential love. Jayden and Spencer meanwhile are getting close and quite like each other. We also meet Jayden's sister, who is very supportive but is also dealing with own personal men issues. Alex and Jayden are slowly growing apart because of Alex' bitchy nature and also mainly due to his other friend Gary, who keeps giving all wrong advice to Alex. Gary hatches a plan to bring into picture Orlando, who is Jayden's ex partner who uses to physically abuse him. Exactly a year later on Alex's next birthday, he presents Orlando as a surprise pretending to not know who he is fully intending to take revenge and hoping Spencer and Jayden would break up. Season 2 starts with Jayden and Spencer dealing with Orlando's sudden arrival in their lives. Meanwhile Alex is slowly falling for Orlando, who clearly wants to sleep around and want to have an open relationship. This season we see more of Jayden's family background including his sister's issues. With the arrival of Spencer's mother, whom Spencer hasn't come out to, and with Spencer's co-worker hitting on him, the two of them go through their ups and downs but still managing to communicate. The season ends with Gary's true face being exposed but also with a question mark of what else is Jayden hiding from Spencer.

As I said before, my first reactions were, Oh ! My God! why are the characters so loud and over the top but after a few episodes, I got used to it. I have to say most controlled acting was by Jayden followed by Orlando. Jayden's sister was the most annoying and so was Alex. I think there could have been a decent balance of a loud character v/s showing him just a bitchy queen who has not grown up. Coming to Spencer, he was all over the place, sometimes he was too good and other times just random facial reactions and expressions would totally catch you off-guard. On a brighter side, no stereotypes are made of the fact that characters are African-American or the fact that they are gay. Its a regular story where no bones about both of the things are done and thats a very welcome change. Also the scenarios that have been shown could be happening in our everyday lives so connecting to them is easier (minus the loud reactions to everything). A few changes I would recommend is that it was only Jayden's apartment that looked like someone actually lived in .rest all other locations are so minimal furnished and used, its clear that they are being used just for shooting. I know its a trivial thing but the sets does make a difference.

Apparently Season 3 is in works and I for one would look forward to what's happening next. This is no great shakes by any means but its not bad either. Just get used to the theatrical Over the top acting style and you will be good. (6/10)

Friday, September 13, 2019

Soft Lad (UK)

At its heart, this film seems like a coming-of-age family drama centered around a love triangle. On paper this is a good story with a lot of drama and opportunities for conflicts, but good actors and direction makes all the difference. This is not a bad film at all, but needed a more mature film maker who could have done complete justice to the story.

David is a young 22 year old dancer who has just been accepted to a dance company of his dreams. He wants to go but is hesitant because he has feelings for Jules, who is a married man that David has been having an affair with. It turns out that Jules is actually married to David's sister Jane. Slowly David starts to understand that Jules cannot reciprocate the love that he expects of him and as a rebound hooks up with a guy Sam in a club. They both get along well and as David is starting to get serious with Sam, Jules misses him and wants to do something about it. He becomes irritable and picks fights with Jane all the time. Jane can't understand what's going on. Meanwhile, Sam and David want to get serious and they decide to go for HIV test. Turns out that David is positive and Sam is fine. David is heartbroken and confronts Jules on why he gave him the virus. This is when truth comes out that secretly Jules has slept with some other guys. David forces Jules to come clean to Jane, which of course puts a split between relationship that David has with his sister and family. Sam, initially can't understand how David could do that to his sister, but ultimately decides to give all the support that he can to David for him to continue a happy healthy life.

I am not sure why different characters keep addressing David as "soft lad". It was a bit annoying. Also, despite the fact that David's and Jules' affair started with a few drunken nights, David should have known better. Thankfully Sam is the only one who asks him towards the end on how could he ever do this to his sister. No one can ever get so blinded by love and lust. You can understand that Jules is a douche bag but why would David get mad for Jules not leaving his wife for him. Thats just being selfish. Because this clearly doesn't prove that David loves and cares for his sister. The acting and direction felt more theatrical than a film setup. and things just happened very conveniently. How can a young man like David have slept with only Jules or Sam; how does Sam and Jules fall so much in love with each other so quick and suddenly the husband goes from thinking he is straight to being gay. Overall, the makers were missing the point. Were they trying to educate the people about affects of HIV or is it love or is it something else? It was hard to say. By the way, it may sound weird but the accent was getting to me after a while, especially Jane. I wanted to feel bad for her, because in all this, she is the one who gets hurt the most but I just failed to connect with her character.

The film did little to develop its characters and towards the second half I would skip the film so I could just move along. Good scope from a subject point of view but an average direction fails to lift the movie to anything that you would remember the film for. (4.5/10)

Monday, September 9, 2019

The Male Gaze: First Kiss

I just reviewed the second in the series of the Male gaze recently, so I went and looked for part one to watch and review it here. This collection of short stories brings together five shorts that are based around men experiencing romantic and/or sexual interaction with other men for the first time. From regret to introspection to fighting back and all-out laughter, a confection of emotions await.

Naked (Sweden)
Straight friends Erik and Anthony sleep together after a night of drinking. In the aftermath Erik continues his relationship with his unsuspecting girlfriend while Anthony starts to consider that he may not be the person he’d always thought he was. Its time to confront his true feelings and likings.

Pria (Indonesia)
This is reviewed earlier here.

Walk With Me (USA)
While walking his dog, Eric bumps into the confident and carefree Ryan. Taking a nervous leap, Eric accepts Ryan’s invitation to walk through the city en route to a concert. In the next six blocks, the two men discover that intimacy through anonymity also exposes one another’s flaws and insecurities. Will they make it to the concert in one piece?

One Night Only (Australia)
A young confident man Tyler crashes a party with best friend Erika to check on a guy. BUt once dejected by him for putting on makeup, Tyler has to decide, how to get hold of his self esteem and  move on.

Tapette (France) [Mousetrap]
A builder Michel finds himself aroused by co-worker Thierry, which doesn’t go down very well with his long-suffering and totally unconvinced girlfriend, Charlotte. Nevertheless, Michel goes out into the night to a gay club to explore his new desire.

This set of shorts were actually pretty good and interesting and I had fun watching them. I would definitely recommend. (6/10)

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Steam Room Stories - The Movie

Its films like these that reaffirm what most people think: most gay films are trash. Apparently this is one of the most popular LGBTQ web series on youtube (surprising I have never heard of it before), but not every webseries can translate into a good film. Making a spoof is not an easy job.

Sally Fay's cosmetic business is not doing well and she spends all her money to find out the eternal fountain of youth. Unfortunately that sits under the steam room of a local gym. The steam room has a group of hot hunky men (straight and gay) who discuss random things. Sally sends her assistant to find dirt on the gym and soon the boys realize that they need to collect 25k USD to save the gym and hence the steam room. The film just goes downhill with the trashy ideas (and even worse execution) to collect the money. The assistant falls in love with one of the men and does right by the group by supporting them in raising the money. As expected the money is raised, Sally bears the brunt and loses the cosmetics company to the board and the boys are happy to be back in steam room.

The film is supposed to be funny but it is neither funny nor entertaining in any way shape or form. The only thing going for the film is the 6 pack abs of all the 5-6 men sitting in the steam room. They are easy of eyes and don't shy away from exposing but as an audience we need something more to keep ourselves entertained. It's a complete and utter waste of time, money and space. The only decent acting was done by Sally's assistant. Rest every character was forgettable.

The writing sucks, the acting sucks, the directing sucks. Watch one of your earlier favorite films on repeat rather than wasting time on this. (2.5/10)

Thursday, September 5, 2019

The Male Gaze: The Heat of the Night

When darkness falls, temperatures rise in these six stories about late night confessions, intimacy for sale, high speed hookups and full moon frissons.. This is a collection of short films from various countries.

Thirst (UK)
A young man delivers a stream of monologue with his wish list of the urban gay hook up life and dreams of his ideal future with the man of his dreams. Can gay men really overcome their internalized shame, when what they want is different from what they pretend!

According To Mateo (Spain)
This is a dark depiction of deep sexual desires, although its a bit unclear at times. Mateo and his boyfriend bring home a guy but Mateo leaves them both to go with another guy on street to have a more darker and harder sexual encounter which he is not getting at home.

Hardcore (Israel)
An encounter between two Israeli men and a German tourist, where they find themselves way above their head as he asks them to engage in extreme fetishes with him. Partly funny yet dark, snappy and definitely not sexy, this is a sarcastic exposé of dark sexual desires.

Beast (Sweden)
A young reclusive man meets someone he falls in love with, but as they become closer, the more scared he is for his secret to be revealed: why he has to live alone. A subtle-fantasy horror, where we sort of only know what may happen because of the title of the film.

Petit Ami (Belgium)
An encounter between a young sex worker and an enigmatic older man at a seedy motel but they connect at some level. This story of a fleeting connection between two men is a moving reminder that we can find solace and human intimacy in the most unusual of circumstances.

Skai Blue (Belgium)
Story about a man who meets an asylum seeker from Cameroon, we see the difficulty of gaining asylum in Europe for LGBT people through the eyes of a Belgian man who just wants his lover to stay.

The films are dark as the title suggests and none of them is boring. They make for a decent watch.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Tatuagem (Portuguese) [Tattoo]

This film was good and I wanted to like it, but I feel that some where this film will connect more with the Brazilians more than the international audience. There are multiple reasons for it IMO, a lot has to do with the political situation in 1970s in Brazil and how theatre in Recife specifically was perceived at that point. Sure the film gives us an idea and I admired it but I believe I would have been able to appreciate a lot more, if I was aware of the political and the cultural sub-context of the country at that point. Surely this is a gay love story but the surroundings and situations are all so contextual that it helps. Also, this film weirdly reminded me of the documentary "Cockettes" that I had recently seen; I guess more an anarchist theatre point of view and all the colorful characters we get to see.

Brazil is still under dictatorship. We meet Clecio, who runs an alternate theatre group that shows sexuality, nudity, political issues, in all campy but entertaining. The star is Paulette, an immature and young transvestite who couldn't care less about things. Clecio is a teenage son with a girl form his earlier days and both of them occasionally hang out with Clecio and his group. We then meet Finhina, an 18 year old young soldier, who is seeing Paulette's sister and happens to visit the theatre group and instant sparks fly between him and Clecio. Finhina is also struggling in military because of constant gay bashing by one of his sergeants, who himself may have sexual issues of his own. Paulette doesn't take this very well but eventually her and Clecio sort things out. A torrid affair begins between Clecio and Finhina starts gradually with some misunderstandings. But theor love is genuine and Finhina even gets a tattoo to show his love but rest of the team is worried that Finhina may be military spy. Things are clarified, The theatre group gets banned from performing by the government and Finhina is expelled from the military. The ending is where the two men are on their own individual paths hoping that one day they can reconnect.

The film is filled with at least 3-4 instances of full on lengthy shows themselves. It is good that they celebrate the diversity, and spirit of those times but for non Brazil folks, this becomes an overkill. Subtitles can never do justice to such elaborate sequences and after a while you want movement to happen in the story. Double standards of Brazilian society during those times are exposed while carefully reminding us that no one is completely gay or straight. We are fluid and it all depends on who we fall in love with. The way the first interaction between Clecio and Finhina is filmed and showed is so pure and true that I loved it. You see nervousness in both of them , with excitement of what may come and feelings of that first dance, first kiss and first sex. It was awesome. Somewhere in between it got confusing in terms of what kind of relationship they had since we see Finhina sleeping with other man but also struggling with his military days. But ultimately in the end things start getting clearer that the love they share is for each other but at the sam time neither of them owns the other person. They have a genuine chemistry and the graphical scenes be it the sex or the shows is a proof to the liberation spirit of what people expected.

A very colorful film that needs to be seen and appreciated. Unfortunately the very local subcontext hampers people like me to fully appreciate the film to the extent that it deserves. (5/10)

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

J'ai 2 Amours (French) (Mini Series) [I Have 2 Loves]

I absolutely loved this 3 part mini series. This series really had everything going for it. Love, romance, drama, light moments, emotions, uncertainties, fuck-ups, friendship, families and overall how we all do mistakes as humans. This is definitely one of the better series that deals with interesting aspects of bisexuality and love. This doesn't mean that the series was flawless. It did have loose ends and made me question logic at certain places but then sometimes you just have to sit back and get entertained, which this series did plenty of.

Hector is a doctor in emergency room and has been in a very happy and committed relationship with his boyfriend Jérémie for 5 years. Together they are trying to have a baby with their best friend Anna. Enter, Louise, who apparently was Hector's first love in school/college days. Sparks fly again and hector finds himself getting attracted to her charm again and he starts having an affair with her. Anna's trial to get pregnant with Hector's sperm fails twice and but succeeds when on a drunk night Jérémie and Anna have sex. Meanwhile Louise also gets pregnant. Hector tries to unsuccessfully juggle both his lives but is getting tired. Jérémie feels there is something odd but cannot put a finger to it. He feels guilty of not spending enough time with Hector and having lied to him about having sex with Anna. When he tells Hector the truth, now Hector goes in guilt and decides to introduce Louise and Jérémie to each other. The meeting doesn't go very well and as expected, they both don't wanna have anything to do with Hector because they both feel cheated by him. Both babies are born and its been 3 months and Hector has not seen babies yet, Jérémie and Louise both miss him. Eventually, they get to talk and at least start getting civil with each other where Hector gets to see and spend time with babies. The movie ends on a positive note where it seems hector, Jérémie and Luise will be able to work something out between them.

The series explores homosexuality, bisexuality and poly love all of it in some way or the other. Thankfully the series addresses some fo these issues head on. for example when Hector is accused of choosing to be bisexual, he reminds Jérémie that its not his choice. Its who he is. He did not choose to be attracted to both sexes. Most folks fear that if their partner is bisexual he/she will eventually go for other sex whereas the truth is they are as much of a monogamist as anyone else. Yes Hector doesn't come clean to either of them for fear of losing them but we all know sooner or later that will happen. We do see some good fun moments while Hector is trying to juggle two lives with the support of his colleague. An interesting relationship is also slowly established between Jérémie and Louise because they both 'share' Hector. As actors everyone does a fantastic job on their parts and never once I hoped anything different from the series. You could see Jérémie and Hector love each other so much that neither of them is actually capable to going for another man and you feel their pain after the break-up. For some reason, in al of these I felt most bad for Jérémie but I think at some point every character loses out in one way or the other and sadly that's life.

Strongly recommended. You will not be disappointed, I promise. You may not agree to how Hector deals with situations but you wont be able to deny that we all know someone who has fucked up in a similar-ish situation in life. (8/10)

Monday, September 2, 2019

An American Hate Crime

This movie is a good example of how bad direction can completely spoil a very important message and a good narrative. For this film, I will not really blame the actors, because I do think they had potential but the direction was bad. It was more theatrical and very amateur, because of which a film that should be more widely seen may not really get the audience.

Jake is a troubled teenage frustrated with life because he feels there is nothing going for him. He gets suspended from community college, has a dish washing job. To top it all the company he keeps is nothing to talk about. The 2 of his friends are homophobic and they convince Jake to join them in homophobic attacks on gays. They download a gay dating app and bash a couple of guys. Jake is not totally convinced but he goes along. On the third attempt, they badly end up beating a young 13 year old boy Noah. We then see Noah's story of how he is coming to terms with his sexuality, and also his first love and how his family has been nothing but super supportive of everything. When Noah goes to hospital after the crime, does Jake find out that the guy his group bashed up is actually his younger brother Noah. The guilt is killing him, so he turns himself to police and his friends get arrested too. After few months, Noah gets better and visits Jake in the jail with his boyfriend and forgives him for his actions.

Like I said, the story was very good and something that needs to be told. But in this case, I feel a docu-drama approach would have been better. Or some changes in screenplay with a better director could have changed things drastically around and would have made a much stringer impact. Hate Crimes are real and they still happen in today's time. There are as many people who hate Gays as there are who support. And the haters can sometimes go to any lengths. So to this, I applaud the makers to deal a delicate subject, but unfortunately they didn't do a very good job of it. It would have been nice to understand why Jake is so angry when he had such a supportive family around him. The entire story of Noah and his love was so cute and it would remind everyone of their teenage crush and love. Both those guys were super cute and they did their part very nicely, so did the mother. Jake's friend were quite annoying; not just as characters but also as actors.

I wish someone makes a more gut wrenching, hard-hitting film on this subject because hate crimes are not going anywhere sadly. Sadly, the bus has been missed in this attempt. Its not an American problem, Things are much worse in other parts of the world and the world just needs to be more tolerant and let people love. (3.5/10)

Sunday, September 1, 2019

The Rainbow Bridge Motel

Nothing about this film was good. Too lengthy, flat jokes, over acting, stretching a topic, LGBT stereotypes, mix of jewish humor. This is a classic example of a film-makers over indulgence in a subject that could easily have been a very funny short 20 minute film.

Darren and Dean arrive to Niagara Falls for their wedding. Alas! because of an online blunder, the hotel that they have booked for the occasion is totally rundown and instead of view of Niagara Falls, they are sandwiched between chemical factories. Dean, the diva of the two, demands Darren to fix everything for their wedding before the guests arrive. Sadly, because of a convention going on, no alternate place is available. The motel owner tries his best to convince the duo that things would be fine. While planning for the ceremony, Darren realizes that his ex-wife has not yet signed divorce papers. Which is even more of a shocker since Dean didn't even know that Darren was once married to a woman Maggie. Luckily she doesn't mind driving down to sign the papers. Bigger drama unfolds when Darren's parents come and his overbearing mother wants to control everything including trying to convince Darren to not divorce Maggie. Random misunderstandings follow, supposedly funny moments later, the couple succeeds in getting married with the backdrop of Niagara Falls.

Some of the big problems with this film are that the jokes are overextended, the plot developments frequently forced and the production values poor. This film is sufficiently lacking in passion that one would struggle to believe the central couple love each other if they didn't keep saying so. I mean, how can Dean not know Darren was once married. How can Dean not get involved in any planning whatsoever for he is wedding when he is clearly the more excited one and the passionate for the event. Both Darren and Dean overact but I blame that mostly on the bad and poor direction and of course the script that's stretched beyond limit. Darren's mother comes out as an even annoying character, where the makers probably thought that she would bring the house down with laughter. Also when the motel just hosted a lesbian wedding why was there so much fuss around a gay wedding!

This film is a let down in every aspect. The only redeeming factor could be editing it really short. (2/10)

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Posledice (Slovenian) [Consequences]

I had no idea what to expect out of this film, but I have to say that I was mighty impressed. A difficult subject, and something new to this genre, this film explores masculinity, repressed sexuality, crime and youth angst & anger issues like never before. Keeping sexuality as the core. its more youth who have somehow been living on the edge of social expectations and are  sort of outcasts.

Andrej is an 18 year old, whose life is around alcohol, parties and self-isolation. When his sexuality is challenged by a girl, he gets more violent. His mother has had enough and as a last chance, he is sent to a detention center where he and other delinquent boy-men are boarded during the week. But the environment only encourages Andrej's risk taking acts. He meets Zele and his side kick, the self appointed thug leader whom everyone fears because of his violence streak. When Zele realizes that Andrej is quite strong, he takes him under his wing. This means the trio spend weekends together running amok, robbing people, stealing cars, doing drugs and girls. We slowly start to see that Andrej may have hidden feelings for Zele and one night while partying Andrej and Zele sleep together. Zele realizes Andrej's fascination for him but forces Andrej to collect debts on his behalf. Zele continues to use his charm but soon Andrej realizes that something is off and refuses to budge. This pisses off Zele and he uploads one of the kissing videos of him on facebook and kills his rat, the only thing that Andrej selflessly loves. An angry Andrej gets cooled off only beating the crap out Zele.

The film initially focuses on expectations of masculinity, being part of the gang with the secret world but slowly the makers reveal the sexual exploration, crime, boundaries, power play and rebellion. Andrej has a magical charm about him. He is violent, but that smile and animalistic charisma draws you into him. And this exact quality about Zele is what attracts Andrej to him. I was thinking this will not end well, but I was happy to see that Andrej finally sees the real picture about Zele. That doesn't mean Andrej is going to improve but at least he begins to see the bullshit that Zele has been pulling through. Andrej is just amazing as an actor and so is Zele. He plays the manipulative character to the T. The film is dark and gritty and raw. Only after i saw a short clip of the director, did I realize that homosexuality is still not a widely accepted thing in Slovenia. And then it made sense of why Andrej may want to stay in closet after all.

The film is not afraid to deal head on with the complex issues of a young male also struggling with his sexuality and social acceptance. But is there a message that the makers are trying to show, I don't know. What I know is that the film makes for a very interesting watch. (7/10)

Friday, August 30, 2019

Gay OK Bangkok : Seasons 1 & 2 (Thai)

Wow! Thailand can actually produce some really good content and relatable storyline revolved around gay men. So far, I have always been skeptical of Asian gay films and web series because they are so over the top in acting and story but this has come as a complete surprise packet for me. Not only the story is very relatable and covers various aspects of gay life, but even the acting and direction are fantastic. This should not be missed. I saw both seasons back to back which is pretty much good 8 hours and a lot of time watching the show.

The story is about the lives of six diverse gay men living in Bangkok. The story focuses on their drama. Pom is a successful man but struggling to find love because of his own insecurities about his look & appearance. He lives with best friend Arm, a player, who enjoys being single and sleeping around. Oaf is in a happy long-term relationship with the much younger Big, although Oaf is starting to suspect Big of infidelity. Then we have Satang, who is MTF, bitchy but very loyal friend. When Pom tells Arm about his crush on an old friend Nat, Arm somehow manages to charm him first which causes rift between the two friends. Pom and Nat get into a relationship which doesn't last long and also Oaf throws out his boyfriend Big for cheating. Season 2 shows the story forward, specifically with respect to Nat's HIV status. He is cooking teacher and has a new boyfriend now. Big is back to Oaf and they are trying to work on their relationship. Arm meets an attractive man who is in a relationship and for first time Arm is not rushing to sleep with the man. Pom also finally meets a man but the success, money and insecurities of this guy (who happens to be Arm's ex) come in between them.

As mentioned above, the series tackles so many subjects but at no point it feels unnecessary. I felt as if every possible scenario and conflict in a gay man's life has been tackled in this series. Love, infidelity, throuple, insecurity, party goer, husband snatcher, HIV, safe sex, friendship, older-younger couple, Transsexual, family, loneliness. The show takes a very realistic approach and feels real. All credit goes to the actors, story writers and the direction. It seems the big reason behind the show was to educate audience about gay men's sexual health issues but it is beautifully blended within the screenplay. There's more than enough emotional drama and interest in the story lines.  It's all exciting to fall in love, but it's what you do trying to make the relationship last that counts the most. Personally my favorite was Nat. He has the most interesting storyline and is the cutest guy of all. His smile is so charming. Arm, even though is a selfish guy and cares about himself only even over friends is overall a character, that exists amongst us very much. There are people who think they are the best and can have any guy they ever want. The scene when Big decides to leave Oaf is heart wrenching. Pom's character is another relatable one, insecure and always wondering why are the bad things happening to me. One thing the series could have done better was maybe delve deeper into trans issues but its still commendable that every other aspect has been handled well.

This might actually be the best asian web series that you will ever see in recent times. Very strongly recommended. (8/10)

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Côte d'Azur (Crustacés & Coquillages) (French) [Cockles & Muscles]

I had seen this film way back in early 2000's when I had just been exposed to the queer films and also before I started writing my blog. So, I am glad I got to watch it again, relive how much fun this movie was to watch and how I wish more makers make this sort of light hearted comedy films which don't tale life too seriously. We all deserve to have a good time once in a while, when we can forget our stress and worries and just have a good time.

A Parisian couple, Mac and Beatrix, are enjoying a seaside summer holiday with their teenage son and daughter. While the daughter is off for a biking adventure with her boyfriend, Their son Charly is with them. Charly's best friend Martin also joins them later for vacation. The couple falsely convinces themselves that Charly is gay and that Martin is his boyfriend. Marc is initially uncomfortable with the idea but Beatrix is very happy. But the truth is only Martin is gay. Charly is straight and they both just happen to be the best of friends and Charly enjoys the fact that his parents suspect he is gay. Beatrix's lover from their hometown soon arrives there as well and we see some fun sexcapades between the two. Te lover wants something serious with Beatrix but she is not sure of leaving her family. Martin is teenage and has his hormones flowing and goes to local cruising place where Charly also follows him and meets a plumber Didier. Only later we find out that Didier is in fact an old lover of Marc from his younger days. But Marc wanted a family and kids and convinced himself to be straight. Beatrix and Marc confess their secrets to each other and thankfully there is no melodrama. The film ends a year later where all these couples (this time Charly has a girlfriend) come together in the same home to enjoy the summer.

The film is not path breaking by any means, its light hearted but I think thats precisely the reason it works. I loved the Dutch reference and how they are pretty cool about everything. All the scenes between Charly and Martin are really nice. Though Charly knows about martin's sexuality and that Martin possibly had a crush on him, this fact never comes between their friendship. They fight, they make up, they laugh. Its easy to relate with parents on why they would think the boys are a couple. Initially it is awkward to see why Marc is so uncomfortable with the idea of his son being gay but soon we find out why and it all makes sense. Beatrix and her rendezvous with her lover are all very funny. She clearly doesn't give a rat's ass of what others think and believes that everyone has the right to live their life the way they want to. Its rightly promoted as a sex comedy of errors, which it is and in fact is a lot of fun to watch.

I can't imagine anyone not liking this film. A fun light hearted very "French" film, that takes up topics like sexuality, fidelity, relationships, and youth and create a fun viewing experience for audience that ends up with a smile on your face. (7.5/10)

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Those People

I had mixed feelings while watching this film. At times it feels like this really nice British inspired film trying to be royal, other times it felt like the makers were confused on what they wanted to focus on between friendship and love. Some of the reactions by some characters would come so random, that it would feel a bit out of place. I understand that life and people are not straight forward and its not easy for all of us to make up our minds, but we all surely try.

Our main protagonist is Charlie, an aspiring artist, who has been closest buddies with Sebastian, son of a disgraced Wall Street criminal. Their group has some other close friends but these 2 are closest. Although they are both gay, they are nothing more than friends although its obvious to everyone that Charlie is madly in love with Sebastian. This entire group play nursemaid to Sebastian's drunken bouts of depression and anger because of his father's situation. Things change when Charlie meets Tim, a professional piano player. There is attraction and after a few weeks when Tim confesses his love, Charlie is confused because somewhere deep down he still yearns for Sebastian. He takes a break from Tim and kisses Sebastian & wants to know whey cant they be together. It seems Sebastian's situation is complicated and he feels that once they are together, Charlie will eventually leave him and their friendship will be gone forever. Completely heartbroken, Charlie gets back with Tim trying to leave everything about Sebastian behind. Tim soon gets a full time position in San Francisco which is a dream job and almost convinces Charlie to join him. Around this time, Sebastian's father commits suicide and all the friends get back together. Charlie still has very strong emotions for Sebastian and Tim gets into a fight with Sebastian when he kisses Charlie. Everyone realizes that Carlie can never get over Sebastian and Tim leaves them to sort their issues out. In a sudden turn of events, Tim comes back on Seb's insistence for a cleaner breakup and the Sebastian sells everything to move in some other part of the world. In the end I feel that Charlie is the one who lost both Tim and Sebastian.

The gentle blossoming of flirting leading to attraction and love between Charlie and Tim makes for some good tender moments in the film. Its a good balance to trying to really understand the friendship and bond that Sebastian and Charlie share. Charlie clearly loves him and cares for him more than anything, but why is Sebastian playing around. Agreed he is worried about their friendship, but it still feels like he uses his friends for his own sake. Its all about him, which makes me question his own loyalty towards his friends especially Charlie. The scene when Charlie confronts Sebastian head on for love which leads to a possible threesome is heart wrenching and superbly acted. You feel pain for both the characters and is a very different way the scene is handled. The actors all look very handsome and dress really well. Charlie os a dream. A superbly handsome man with a sensitive side, he brings the character to life. That combined with upper class setting in New York, gives it a very Brit feel. Nonetheless, this film is a very welcome change form all kinds of films out there. Sadly, in an otherwise fine film, the ending is quite disappointing and feels very rushed. Yes, sometimes its hard to truly differentiate and chose between love and friend (whom you also love), but there could have been better ways to end the film. For no fault of his, ultimately Charlie loses out on both and given how sensitive the guy is, it will not be a good sign.

Ultimately the film is about love and longing for a person who doesn't reciprocate your love. Devoid of any gay cliches (Thank God), this touching film will definitely strike a chord with most folks. (7.5/10)

Friday, August 23, 2019

Corpo Elétrico (Portuguese) [Body Electric]

This film is what we term as a slice-of-life film. It pretty much follows the path and journey of our lead character but doesn't really have a story or a clear journey for either the story or the characters. We are not told of any background of any characters, but its as if we have stumbled upon a camera thats just following life of its protagonist and we just keep looking it.

Elias, a very charming 23 year old is our main character. He works in a garment factory where the head designer considers him as an important asset and support. But Elias really hasn't figured out what he wants from life. His sex life is very active and actually he focuses on that quite a bit. His relationship with a little older well-to-do man Arthur just ended but they still hang out and occasionally sleep together too. He cruises for guys with a captivating smile and is forward with his desires without being pushy. He socializes more and more with the workers in the factory and his social circle stars expanding because of which he gets to hang out with various people belonging to different social strata of life including drag queens, workers and various ethnic and racial backgrounds. The primary among these is Wellington, a black youth who is the only other gay man in factory besides Elias. Elias enjoys company of all of them and is maybe scared of being alone. The film just ends on new years day where Elias is now spending some time with Arthur at sea, something that he misses a lot.

The first thing that stays with you after the film ends is that how unbelievingly charming Elias is. He has the most amazing sexy smile, beautiful eyes and overall a very true personality who doesn't limit or categorize who he hangs out with on any basis. It never feels Elias is acting and I felt that he is just being himself. He is a free spirit, an open-minded individual who is truly interested in fashion and fabrics. I loved many scenes with him like when he talks about seducing a security guard or about what he does when he gets sad. The film focuses a lot on Elias' desires and need for companionship and love through sex. Its erotic to some extent. Elias relationship with Wellington gets interesting because we then get a small insight into the world of drag queens and trans people. The director beautifully plays with the distinction between lust and platonic desire, focusing on the possibility of a relationship between contrasting characters driven towards each other only by friendly curiosity. But having said all this, I am still struggling to understand what was the whole point of the film. Unless its just about celebrating diversity in everything: sexuality, body, social class. Essentially celebrating your body and desires. Iy would have been nice if as an audience I knew a little bit more.

I can see this film being slightly frustrating to watch for most people because you don't know where it is heading, and it was the same for me. But having said that, it is still a genuine representation of a feel-good people & gratifying aspects of about your body and open sexuality. (6.5/10)

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Benjamin (UK)

I had all sorts of mixed feelings while watching this film. I thought it would be an average film, unsure of where it really is heading, but very soon I found myself sucked into the life of Benjamin. Its only after I saw the film and I was trying to find more about the actors and the director, I realized that its in some way semi autobiographical of the film maker. That takes my interest in the film to another level. Good gay love stories are hard to come by.

Benjamin is a 30-ish neurotic, bit lonely and a "weird" young film-maker. He is very stressed about his second feature film. He is uncertain about everything and has issues of self-loathing. Through his publicist, he meets Noah at a party and instantly falls for him. Noah is young budding French singer. Benjamin makes all sorts of lovely small talks and pretty soon they are hanging out, almost falling in love and Benjamin's insecurities prevent him from taking this relationship to next level. Primarily because of his own insecurities, instability, bad movie review etc. The two of them go in and out of taking the next step while Benjamin maneuvers around his life with his best friend Simon, his publicist and his co-actor from his previously directed film. The end is super sweet.

As I mentioned above, when the film started, I was a bit wary of Benjamin's character but with time when you get to know him, you fall more and more in love with him. You can totally see why Noah and Benjamin would connect at a level where so called 'normal' people  would not be able to relate. The theme of loneliness, human connection and the struggle of letting love in is something that we all at some point can relate to. Love is complex and even more so when you a bit different. The biggest star of the film are the dialogues and how Benjamin has to pretty much say out loud whatever is going on in his head and that makes for some great entertainment. Its a mix of embarrassed style, a very self-centred man who is pitiabe but also adorable. As actors everyone does a fantastic job. Its hard to define the genre of this film since it somewhat falls into romantic comedy but its not comedy. Its funny in a lot of areas but not strictly comedy. It's Benjamin's insecurities, which also reflect in the film he is making, keep making you as an audience more invested in the film. The director creates sweet contrast in the scenes between Benjamin and Noah, as Benjamin is simultaneously terrified and elated about being part of something he can’t guarantee will have a happy ending.

I really really enjoyed the film. It not great but a film that makes you fall in love with its characters is definitely something special. (7.5/10)

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

La Otra Familia (Spanish) [The Other Family]

I have always liked films which has something to do with a gay couple trying to expand their family. There are very few films that tackle with this subject and most of the films are actually pretty good. To be honest, there is not much variety that can be offered for such a scenario but we do get to see another facet in this film. A bit lengthy, this film offers an interesting perspective on families, loved ones and of course what society in general thinks of gay men.

Hendrix has been home alone for 3 days now. His drug addict mother Nina has abandoned him (like prior times) and is with her boyfriend cum drug dealer Patrick. When neighbor's report this, Nina's friend Ivanka takes Hendrix with her but since she has a trip to US coming up with her girlfriend, she hands over Hendrix to her friends, Jean Paul and Chema, a well-to-do, stable, gay couple. Chema is initially skeptical but soon finds himself warming up to the boy. The couple's gardener and maid initially worry if the couple would be a good role model for the young boy and also for his physical well-being but slowly their fears also go away. The drug dealer, Patrick owes money to some bad guys and he hatches a plan to sell Hendrix to a couple who are looking for a child. He forces Nina to go look for her son, whom she eventually finds and takes away from the gay couple despite Hendrix's hesitance. When Patrick leaves the young boy to the wannabe couple, Hendrix insists on talking to his dads and goes with them. The husband, worried about gay men taking Hendrix, calls the police. The police arrest Jean Paul and Chema for kidnapping and sexual assault. Nina, distraught over losing her son again, overdoses and dies. Patrick, trying to meet with the husband again to get money, is arrested. In the end, Hendrix is returned to Jean Paul and Chema, and allowed to resume a healthy life as their son.

This film is presented as a drama about couples and family that ends up being more. In some funny scenes, we see even though the maid and the gardener have been working for the gay couple for years but a young boy in their home brings forward all sorts of dirty things in their maid just because the couple is gay and not straight. I didn't mind it since, it adds a slight relief to an otherwise serious film and indirectly addresses issues that people think of but not many come out and say it openly. My one problem with the film was there were too many sub-plots and somewhere it starts to get too much. I don't think we needed the whole child angle for Ivanka, her girlfriend and brother. It really didn't add much to the story. On the other hand, its heart warming to see how the gay couple gets so attached to the young boy that they are ready to do anything for safety and well -being of him, although part of it is also for their reasons of creating a family, which was never part of their bigger plans. The horrible face of society is also shown when the gay couple gets arrested and are also charged with sexual harassment just because of their sexuality. The production of the film seems pretty good and acting by almost everyone is quite good.

Hopefully after watching the film, hopefully you will feel that gay couples can be just another family and not the other family. Besides the length of the film and too many sub-plots, the film definitely deserves to be watched. (7/10)

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Love's Coming (Thai)

There is a certain sensibility that is required to watch these Thai teenage boys love stories, be it films or web series. There's usually not a whole lot thats happening in terms of stories, it's about senseless interactions and chit-chat and just fooling around. This film is about friendship as much as it is about love.

Pid, Arm, Zee and Gump are a group of young teenage friends who are almost 18 years old. On their last day of exam, they all want to hang out but Gump excuses himself saying that he has to tutor his neighbour/friend Nai. Zee then realizes that even last few times Gump used the same excuse and he begins to wonder if Gump is gay! Pid and Arm are highly sceptical. They reach out to Uncle Lex (Aunt Alexandra) to help these boys figure out of their friend Gump is Gay. After a few failed attempts, the 5 of them go on a camp trip, where Gump remembers the entire story of how he became friends with Nai and falls for him. As part of the plan, Gump's ex-girlfriend shows up; which forces Nai and Gump to openly accept their feelings for each other. And the three other friends support Gump and tell him that they will always always be friends no matter what!

One of the best things about the film is that the friends are shown very supportive. They feel that Gump doesn't feel comfortable talking to them about his sexuality, so they take matters in their hand and make then open up to them. It is really great how supportive Gump's friends are as they gradually uncover the true story between Gump and Nai. When Aunt Alexandra shares her story, a very relevant question is asked, "Why do boys only have to love girls?". That moment is quite emotional. Also the moment when Gump's mother realizes he might be gay and offers her support. All the boys look cute, especially Nai. They all have acted quite well and their gradual attraction and love growth is shown well.

Its a decent blossoming teenage gay love story. But with all these positives going around for it, the film is stretched beyond a point. It could have been much smaller with focus on main story and no random  stuff to side track. (6/10)

Monday, August 19, 2019

Queer Britain (UK) (Documentary)

I cant remember the last time I had so much fun watching a documentary. And the entire credit for this goes to the very charming, charismatic and extremely handsome Riyadh Khalaf. He is a famous YouTuber (I am embarrassed to say that I had never heard of him before) and the way he talks , interacts and interviews people is so normal everyday types and never once you feel he is putting up an act for camera and thats why he stays himself and the other characters stay true to their self.

Riyadh (Iraqi/Irish descent) addresses a lot of issues wrt LGBTQ+ community in this six-part BBC3 series. Riyadh address many subjects in these episodes, right from religion & sexuality, discrimination & body shaming, how every 1 out of 4 people that are homeless are from LGBTQ community, what ethnic racism is like in Britain, pornography and finally the queer in LGBTQ+. In every episode we meet a few main subjects and hear their stories of that topic that we are learning about. Most of these things are not new to me, given I am 'ethnic", not have the 6 pack body, immigrant etc, I was able to relate but even to me some of the things shown was shocking. I was surprised to hear that ration of LGBTQ folks in overall homeless folks and hearing some of the stories of people who were thrown off their homes was very disturbing.

This documentary is interesting because Riyadh also tries to find something personal in each of these 6 segments: right from shooting a porn film, to doing a nude photo shoot and talking to the people as if he has known them for ages. The easy charm and connect he makes with people is unmissable and thats what I believe makes people open up to him. As an audience we are in awe of his charisma and yet shocked, surprised and even horrified at some of the stories you get to hear. We think times have changed and things would be different for LGBTQ community in a first world country like UK, but we have miles to walk. Its almost impossible to imagine how hard the life is probably for other countries if this is what can still happen in Britain.

This is absolutely a must watch documentary, for more reasons that just one. (7/10)

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Laurence Anyways (Canadian French)

Suddenly now everything makes sense. I should have know before that this is a Xavier Dolan film. The way relationships are explored in the film have become synonymous with the kind of films he makes. My one worry, before I started watching this film was that I hope it is not stereotypical story of a transgendered woman. And I am happy to say that this was more of a love story and what's the impact of transgender on a relationship. It film is as much a love story than anything else.

The film follows journey of Laurence over a period of 10 years. Laurence Alia, a man, has been in a steady relationship with his girlfriend Fred for many years. A time when Laurence realizes that he is in a wrong body, he immediately tells Fred about it who is clearly hurt. But soon she realizes that she loves Laurence for the person he is and willing it to give it a try. She becomes the support system for Laurence while he deals with all the regular struggles that come with the transition. They both soon lose their jobs but there is passion and love that binds them together. Time moves and Fred has had enough and she leaves Laurence for another man and builds a family. This doesn't mean that Laurence stops looking for her and in fact clearly him and her are central characters to the book he writes. They briefly get together and in fact Fred even contemplates of re-starting their life together but meeting another couple with a similar situation makes Fred realize that she cant do this. The film ends with Laurence getting interviewed by the publisher of the book and her gradual journey and growth to a more determined and confident person.

The film is almost 3 hours long , so as an audience you need to have patience. I agreed it is almost like watching life events in 10 year span of a couple, but there were so many scenes that I could have easily got rid off. The length is a big negative of the film. But there are enough positives too. The film questions whether we love a gender or a person. Various people will have different answers but at least the film asks this question. Fred is willing to try while Laurence is transitioning but she misses the "man" that Laurence was for him once. The film thankfully was not over dramatic when it came to scenes and situations and reactions pertaining to Laurence's transition. People around have mixed reactions and it takes more than just courage to face the world and be yourself. The film's biggest strength is dealing with a taboo as if it wasn't. And of course a fantastic performance by the lead actors. Both of them do a fantastic job. 

This film is beyond just the big T discussion. Its about relationships and love but the length of the film stops you to an extent to invest fully in the film. (6/10)

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Front Cover (English/Mandarin)

Endearing and feel good are the two phrases that come to mind after watching this film. Simple with some very fine cultural nuances and excellent performances makes this film an absolute must watch for everyone. Sometimes you have absolutely no idea what to expect out a movie and it ends up completely surprising you and this is the beauty of movie watching.

Ryan is an openly gay Chinese American, working towards his dream of leading a magazine cover shoot. He is doing ok but hasnt quite established himself yet.When upcoming Beijing film actor Ning arrives in New York , his request of being styled by a Chinese stylist fits the bill for Ryan. Ryan is very American in his ways, doesn't read or understand Mandarin and has no interest in his Chinese heritage. When Ning realizes that Ryan is gay, he first fires Ryan but this job is important for him , so Ryan convinces him to take him back and also making it very clear that Ryan is only into white men, so Ning need not worry about Ryan hitting on him. The strict professional relationship starts growing due to complications that involve race and cultural identity. During a photoshoot, when a guy casts racial stereotype on both of them, it unites them both. Ning and Ryan both slowly start to understand each other's world. Ning gets to know why Ryan is the way he is and his background is with his immigrant parents and how its important for Ryan. One night at a party, they get real close and get physical. No Ryan understands briefly on Ning's need to remain in closet and why that is important for a public personality like Ning who lives in China. You see both of them falling in love but they both hold back. When a magazine captures the two men together, Ryan is forced by Ning to make a statement that he is just a friend. Ryan, who almost decided to move to China for work, take a restock and looks forward to his life, especially when Ning tells him about this old Chinese saying that " You need to give you something in order to realize your dream"

There are so many good things and good moments in the film, that its difficult to put them all here. I absolutely loved the fact, how Ryan slowly gets to connect with his Chinese heritage, something he has always tried to ignore and become an American. This struggle is something I and a lot of my friends deal with constantly. The chemistry between Ryan and Ning is magical. You go on a journey with them where it starts with distrust, friendship and eventually what seems like love. Neither of them say it but you see both of them have this special feeling for each other but neither of them will be able to take the decision. Both the characters are complex and as an audience, we are made to understand why they are, the way they are without over justifying their actions and especially without over-dramatizing everything. The film is more about Ryan's self discovery and identity and not about sexuality. Its the way he reconnects with his heritage that makes this film more endearing for me. Both me are extremely good looking and bring the characters of Ryan and Ning alive on screen and its fun to watch them. There are also some nice light moments in the film. I was quite impressed with small touches of quotes written on Ryan's apartment wall which makes it very personal to his space. I am very glad that the film didn't follow a cliched path and ended up with 2 men being together. It was more practical that this could not happen and the two men will eventually go their own separate ways, but neother of them will be able to forget each other. Ning taught Ryan about reconnecting with his Chinese heritage and Ryan teaches Ning about how and why its not that hard to be true to yourself and not be in closet.

I would highly recommend this film. There are way too many good about this film and needs to be seen by more people. Besides sexuality, its also about your identity, personal and professional and relationships and people and everything. The film has soul. (8/10)

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Gay Short Films : 66

Pulsiones (Spain) [Drive]
Carlos is engaged to be married, but he’s worried, because he feels certain “drives.” He decides to hire a professional to help him explore those drives and decide whether he’s making a big mistake in marrying a woman.

Esperaremos Hasta el Fin (Mexico)
When a threat of an asteroid hitting the earth looms over head, two friend confess their love.

The Jealous Sea (USA)
The boyfriend of a handsome photographer tries to deal with his jealousy after finding nude photos he took of a gorgeous model. This film talks about over possessiveness and trust and how jealousy can break even a almost perfect relationship.

Desire (USA)
In the 40's, one autumn Sunday married couple meets 2 navy guys. The two get separated finding an obelisk and their respective desires take over.

Mes chers parents (France) [My Dear Parents]
A coming-out to parents. After twelve years of no contact a young man sends a movie to his parents to show them the man he has become.

Transient (Australia)
A gay couple living through the decay of their relationship, a poignant meditation on the nature of love and relationships. An end-of-love story that traverses themes of travel, capitalism, loss and love.

Sargento Garcia (Brazil) (Sergeant Garcia)
Set in 70's a tough sergeant takes a liking for a young shy recruit. He ultimately takes him to a motel, seduces him and has sex with him. This opens new adventures for the young boy.

Sombrero (USA)
Gringo comedy. James and Raymond meet for a blind date in a Mexican restaurant. As the two men learn more about each other, their rocky date has a twist. Funny!

Dopis (Czech Republic) [House Call]
Artur, an older man is coming to terms with his sexuality. When he finds a young boy as an escort, he turns out to be his ex-student. This makes him introspect of his life and truth.

Home (UK)
Luke longs for a meaningful connection, but the man he has fallen for torments him with acts of impulsive intimacy and spontaneous selfish thoughtlessness.

Visitor (USA)
After receiving an emotional message from his estranged father, a man cruises internet in hopes of finding solace inhookup but gets an unexpected visitor.

Plutot d'accord (France)
A shy young man with a friend as a sort of Cupidon. Jeremy is looking for perfect love by interviewing clients for a new cake in market. Delicate, precise, seductive and, in strange manner, realistic. A nice short film.

Al otro lado (Mexico) [The Other Side]
Felipe & Claudio love each other but his parents force Claudio to go to US. Felipe must now embark on a journey where he will risk everything, so he can finally meet Claudio at the other side of the border.

Ver (Spain) [See]
Biel works at a carpenter's workshop. A stranger will run into him on the subway and will make him discover the details around him, thanks to his camera.

Kufsaot (Israel) [Boxes]
A brother And sister set to blackmail a man by making video of him getting a blowjob from the brother in attempt to receive money that was allegedly taken from their family. It backfires!

Journey (USA)
The director's autobiographical video mix about his identity and an investigation into issues of desire, lust, longing, and love.

Burl's (USA)
A young boy encounters three drag queens outside Burl's Diner. This starts self-actualization that he's not like other boys, and follows his parents' attempts to prevent the inevitable from becoming true.

Sun In My Mouth (USA)
An experimental coming-of-age story about a young man who confesses his sexual past to an unseen phone sex operator, reflects on his sexual identity.

The Good Waiter (USA)
Kevin is a jaded aspiring actor whose only real success in life is his career as a restaurant waiter. Drew is the wide-eyed Midwest transplant who just wants to be Kevin. When Kevin is forced to train this newbie, sparks fly, and things get messy.

Aitona Mantangorria (Spain)
Josu comes back home for Christmas. A secret from the past of his grandpa will make him reconsider the relationship with his family.