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.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Kru Lae Nak Rian (Thai) [Teacher And Student]

In my opinion this is a dark, weird and a twisted film that focuses on fetish. The subject is taboo and disturbing but I am all game for out of the box story ideas. Sadly when the execution fails, nothing for the film goes right. This one falls in the later category.

Ton and his boyfriend of 5 years have been living together since they were teenagers. Ton is now a high school teacher and his partner is in some sort of security work. In the beginning we see that Ton gets very sexually aroused seeing his partners sweaty back and shirt and that eventually becomes his fetish. Going through a 5 year itch in their relationship, Ton, invariable gets attracted to one of his students Joe after one day he sees his shirt wet with sweat. This is when he tries to get close to the student and even steals his sweaty clothes, so that he can carry on with his fetish in the privacy of the home. His partner clearly sees that Ton is not invested in the relationship as much as he is. When the boyfriend finds out about his fetish, they try to fix but he eventually leaves him. The truth eventually comes out in school as well when Joe finds his teacher Ton sniffing his clothes while he is practicing in sports class.

It is an interesting story line in the sense that it is very different, but I think this could have been a very interesting and crisp short film. This full length feature film has long long moments of silence and nothing else. To make matters worse, there is zero chemistry between Ton and his partner. Forget lovers, they don’t even look like friends. We see history of how Ton was traumatized as a child, when his friend was accidentally killed but that doesn’t really explain his fetish for sweat or his paedophile behaviour. Besides some good natural beauty i suburbs of Thailand, this film doesn’t really offer anything exciting for the viewers.

An artsy film which could as well be an experimental cinema. (3.5/10)

Beach Rats

This film may be thin on plot, but OMG! the acting by the lead actor more than makes up for everything. I have to very clearly point it out on the onset that the lead actor is nothing short of being marvelous in a character that shows us varied emotions and what his character is actually going through. He is absolutely sensational as a repressed teenager who has no idea what his heart really wants and yet he is trying to balance to be straight with his friends while hiding his true ‘gay’ feelings.

The film starts with Frankie, a young hot teenager, checking out gay dating website and checking out older guys. He says he is not sure what he is looking for (or maybe he cannot admit). And then we get to know him better. He lives with his dying father, sister and mother in a cramped Brooklyn house and he along with 3 of his other friends spend most of their time just walking on the beach, boardwalk, trying to pick girls and just getting high on pills, drugs, smoke and weed. One such girl. Simone, gets liking for Frankie and our man hangs onto her, more for social acceptance and to truly hide his feelings. In the meantime he continues to meet older men, while continuing to tussle between who he truly is and whats expected of him. When his friends start questioning him about his behavior of late, he tells them that he has been smoking with gay guys since it is easy and free weed. They are convinced ultimately and and then ultimately convince him to rob off weed from an unassuming happily self-accepting gay man. The whole situation shakes up Frankie completely. And at the same time, his mother (who is very supportive) finds out about him as well. The film boldly concludes while Frankie is just walking on the boardwalk and still processing the fact that his life may have just changed for ever.

During the entire film, you feel Frankie’s claustrophobic world of longing. His frequently used phrase is ‘I don’t know what I want’ yet he looks for comfort and love with older men. He is gay but finds it hard even for self-acceptance. The scene when Frankie tries really hard and his best to have sex with Simone is heart-rending to watch. You know it when you are gay and your body resists sexual path with opposite sex, yet, it is expected. I have already talked enough about how awesome the actor playing Frankie is. His eyes, uncertainty what and how to do when he meets strangers speaks volumes and you feel for him. Reminds you of when you were teenager and were probably going through similar emotions and feelings growing up in a very hyper-straight environment. Drugs and alcohol are his companion to take the edge off his private turmoil. The mother tries to be supportive but its hard to bridge that generation gap and confide in her mom even when she coaxes him when he once comes back home high on drugs. Film overall is a bit slow and may remind of you ‘Moonlight’ in its struggles of a man to come to terms with his sexuality in the surrounding environment but the two films are very different from each other. This film brings to the forefront a lot of issues of our growing teenagers in a not very friendly environment, especially if they are Jobless, carless, and out of school, smoking weed, and aimlessly hanging out with fellow jocks.

A heart-rendering beautiful film that stands top-notch simply because of good direction and a very very impressive lead actor. (7.5/10)

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Male Rape: Breaking The Silence (Documentary) (UK)

We have seen many films/documentaries on rape with women, this documentary on BBC offered something new. According to the statistics that examined male rape, just an estimated 10% of victims report the crime. With this documentary we hear and see the stories  of three men who are breaking their silence.

If one in six men are victims of sexual abuse, then why are so few people talking about it? We hear stories of three men: Tanaka, Neil and Alex. Each of them going through the story of why and how the abuse happened; what made them not go report the crime to the police and how each of them had their own way of coming to terms with what happened and just moving o with their life. Alex, after staying silent for many years, has now set up a charity, Stay Brave UK, in a bid to provide a voice for all rape victims - male, female, LGBT and non-binary. Neil's relationship with his partner at the time, Lloyd, crumbled under the pressure of trying to cope with the assault and he turned to drugs, alcohol, fighting as he battled with suicidal thoughts. Tanaka, a student from London, had refused to have unprotected sex with a man who then went on to rape him. He admits in the documentary he felt suicidal afterwards.

The documentary, in my opinion, is to bring awareness that the age old belief that “men were perpetrators not victims” needs to be changed. Men are scared of people finding out, they have their fears and just like women they also need support and a voice to help them. We see how police also co-operates with these guys after years and recommend them what they can do if rape victims do not feel safe to come to the police. I personally was expecting more from the documentary, not sure what though. Sure, we hear 3 men bravely talk about their story, but I felt somewhere this was not powerful enough for people to sympathize with the guys and the story and that in turn makes you the whole case of male rape, taken for granted. But maybe thats my personal option.

To keep things on positive side, in its own quiet way, this documentary will have helped to change that perception that male cannot be victims of sexual abuse (by other males or females). Its value cannot be overstated. (5.5/10)

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Nagisa No Shindobaddo (Japanese) [Like Grains Of Sand]

A very interesting film that chronicles adolescent emotional questions and longing. What is youthful love all all about? Do you really know what you want, what you like, who do you long for, any gay desires and other issues; these are all pretty universal questions that most teenagers find themselves going through. So in that respect, this film is not completely a gay themed film but touches upon the subject as the prime narrative very strongly and hence definitely deserves a mention on my blog.

Ito and Yoshida are close friends but Yoshida is completely unaware of the huge crush that Ito has on him. When a new girl Aihara joins their class, she somehow gets a pang of Ito’s fascination for Yoshida. Initially she taunts him but slowly the two of them become friends, especially given that they are both being treated by same psychiatrist (Ito’s father finds out he is gay and wants him treated And we later find that Aihara was raped in her previous school). Ito is constantly ridiculed by his classmates who make fun of him for him love for Yoshida and finally one day Ito confesses his love to Yoshida who doesn’t understand how to react to this news. Ito begs for a kiss in a beautifully done scene. Yoshida slowly finds himself drawn towards the mystery of Aihara, who knows that her best friend Ito is madly in love with Yoshida. This is where a bizarre love triangle happens because part of everyone wants to do the right thing and also do the right by themselves.

This is not an easy film to watch. It is slow, sometimes with no dialogues but at the same time showing young adult confusions very clearly. There are a lot of scenes which have been handled very sensitively. The whole sequence when Ito tells Yoshida about his feelings. They are friends, so Yoshida lets him hug him and kiss him but instinctively feels it wrong and pushes him back. And from now, there will always be a very uneasy rift between the two boys. Every character has a story and we don’t question too hard on thoughts and feelings behind the actions of each of the characters. Yes, the finale is a bit unsettling, without any clear direction. Their understanding of what romantic feelings mean at all just breaks down. I found it very very interesting when Aihara asks Yoshida is he likes her just because she is a girl and would he love her if she was a man. Yes, she is trying to help her friend Ito but this does pose an interesting thought challenge to everyone who watches this film and make you ponder about yourself.

A not-so-easy to watch coming-of-age film, I wish it was not such a long film and the ending was clearer but I think a similar story has a better prospect in today’s day and time. This film was probably way ahead of its time in 1995. (6/10)

Friday, December 15, 2017

Brüder der Nacht (German/Romany) (Documentary) [Brothers Of The Night]

Only 10 minutes into this is when I realized that I was actually going to be watching a documentary and not a feature film. Not that I had any problem with it, but I feel you need to have a different sort of mental preparation to watch documentary films compared to when you do for feature films. I have seen a few films where the focus is on male hustling, especially, by the so called straight guys to make easy money. This documentary also focuses on this aspect.

From a story perspective, it is easy breezy. The focus of this is the Bulgarian Roma guys who are here working in Vienna and looking for living. None of these guys came to Vienna thinking of becoming a prostitute but its the circumstances that made them do it. All these guys get together in a bar/club every night which is where they find most of their customers. They are all straight, have wife and kid back home, even though they are all very young. They know they are young and good looking and they call it 'doing business' to make a clear distinction between work and pleasure. We hear different members recounting some of their memorable experiences where they met weird customers or made lot of money and how did it all start. Sure, there is no ray of hope in the end to get out of this work but they have learnt to be content.

Unlike most hustler films, this documentary focuses on connection rather than alienation. There is a ray of comfort in their feeling of togetherness with their pals, despite being so far from home. They are friends, brought together by destiny and work and they can share their dreams, stories and fears with each other. They are away from home, young, free and restless, but having responsibilities back home at the same time. They sell their bodies as if that’s all they have. The thing that warms them, so far from home, is the feeling of togetherness. But the nights are long and unpredictable. When the film started, I thought the guys were all arabic or middle eastern because they al had this very sharp looks but I guess Bulgarian Roma guys have the same look too.

An interesting insight and view point of how and why guys get into hustling business. I am shocked to see how some of these guys make thousand of euros. I guess there are all kinds of consumers. (5/10)

Against The Law (UK)

Yes, we all know that there was a time when being gay was illegal and crime and you could be put behind bars and tortured; but even now when you see films that focus on this, it still gives you goosebumps. It is really hard to imagine for us what it would have been like to live during those times and what people had to go through. It makes you think and thank and respect our seniors for everything that they have done to make the world a slightly better place for LGBT community to thrive and live freely (relatively!)

The film follows a docu-drama pattern, which after a while starts working. You need to watch the film with heart and not mind. Peter Wildeblood is struggling with his sexuality. His only companions are Lord Montague and his cousin who he can have discussions with. One night in 1952, he bumps into Eddie McNally, a Navy man, and begins a relationship that will lead to his arrest, trial and imprisonment for gross indecency and buggery. The arrests start with that of Lord Montague and Peter just becomes a pawn in a bigger game of aristocracy. Police gives immunity to Eddie if he confesses about the act of buggery with Peter and hence the he finds himself behind bars. The one year that he spends in prison is the time of pain and reflection. Because of this high profile trial, the government sets up a Wolfenden’s committee to re assess homosexuality laws. Even though the committee recommended the decriminalization of homosexuality in Britain in 1957, the actual law didn’t come to play until much much later. Peter Wildeblood was the only openly gay man in Britain who gave evidence to this committee.

The above film is based on the book that Peter wrote after he came out of jail. And the makers have done a brilliant job. My reaction in first few minutes was very objective and I thought this was gonna be just another one of those films. But my views changed when Eddie turns against Peter and becomes a witness. Peter is heartbroken and his face drops in disbelief. Did his love betray him or his country. And the scenes that followed showing his entry into the prison cell, discussions about all kinds of aversion therapies including electrical and medical were all unbelievable. The film caught my attention and I was completely engrossed. I mean how could anyone ever ever think of any such methods to make a man ‘straight’. The occasional memoirs from older men recounting their days living in Britain those times make so much sense towards the end and I am glad they were included. It made the impact much stronger. This film truly succeeds is in its combining together of past and present, drama and documentary. Imagine being arrested just for looking or smiling at someone. The loneliness, self-denial and shame is hard enough to comprehend, but the physical harm done to some of them is beyond that.

This film is an important piece of film that needs to be seen. We need to know and appreciate how lucky we are to be living in today’s time devoid of fear and guilt. (7/10)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Where The Bears Are: Season 6

Its time, yet again, for another season of bear madness. and just like the predecessors, the idea is pretty clear. 4 bears, a murder trial, lot of sex and some stupid stuff. Although I have to say that this season was lot better in production quality compared to the previous ones and even in terms of storyline. But then these are the kind of shows, where you are not supposed to use your brain too much.

Nelson is being his usual annoyed self and is quite jealous of his co-star, who happens to be more popular than him. While shooting for a scene, Nelson shoots at the beloved TV star and he actually dies. The gun happened to be real and so now the trial begins. We also see a flirtatious middle eastern man, who is buying the Inquisitive channel that Reggie works for and they start being flirtatious. Wood decides that he wants to expand his business and venture into porn but soon realizes that maybe its too late for him to continue to be as popular but with the help of his associate George, he makes things work. And then we have Todd, who is being threatened by hi colleague for promotion. He refuses promotion because that would mean leaving Nelson for 3 years and as we find out later in the series, this has consequences. The banter continues and we finally see how Nelson is convicted and freed form the trial.

Season 6 continues to bring in more eye candy for the show besides our usual suspects, including the detective couple, who are turning out to be lot better than the four principal actors. The storyline is finally improving and so is presentation. I think the audience base of the bears is finally growing. One other things that I realized in this season was a lot more sexual scenes. Not that I am complaining, but its just an observation. George, the tiny little business associate of Wood definitely is funny and I wish there was more of him in the show. The new addition to Todd’s team (from previous season) was quite pleasant addition as well and he acted well, quite different from everyone else.

A courtroom drama with quite a bit of outdoor shoots, this series delivered exactly what you would expect. I don’t have much more to say about the series. (6/10)

Monday, December 11, 2017

Onthakan (Thai) [The Blue Hour]

The biggest problem with these kind of films is that you need to really spend time in trying to understand what the film director was really trying to say. Its definitely not in-your-face very clear story. In fact, you need to watch every scene very carefully to totally understand whats real and what maybe unreal. I have personally always struggled on what do I exactly feel about such films. You dislike it after the first viewing but then you discuss with friends, read posts online trying to decipher the film and then 2 days later, you feel, “OMG! That was brilliant storytelling!”. But was it really? If you had to spend so much time just understanding the film; was it really a brilliant piece of work?

Tam is gay and is bullied in school. His family also disapproves of him and constantly accuse him of anything that goes wrong in the house including anything stolen. Tam meets a much confident Phum at a deserted pool area. The two are looking for mutual physical satisfaction. Initially Tam is scared but the two form a connect, since Phum is the only real connect Tam has outside the bulling classmates and a hateful family. Phum informs Tam that the pool area is haunted. One day Phum takes Tam to a garbage dump on land that Phum says his family owns and that still could provide them a fortune. But Tam soon sees corpses and bodies laying around. This is when film moves to a darker territory. All kinds of images and scenes start appearing and in random places that as a viewer it becomes hard to place what’s real v/s what is really imagination of Tam’s psyche. This hide and seek game continues with Tam’s and Phum’s being together and Tam ultimately finds his whole family killed.

As I mentioned above, it is hard to understand what really went on in the film. If I had to interpret, I would say that Phum was Tam’s figment of imaginations. Phum was Tam’s stronger self, who gave him courage to fight odds. Or maybe Phum was a ghost who possesses Tam to get him out of his unhappy misery. There were a few scenes where we see them together and also Tam alone, which gave me that idea. Also, otherwise what would have been the point of Phum telling him that the swimming pool area was haunted. I dont know if others felt that way, but even the voice and tonal quality of both the characters was quite similar. You couldn’t differentiate one from the other. Film is shot creepily with dark undertones there by giving it a feeling of psycho/supernatural drama. The 2 boys look cute and act quite well but still the pacing of this film is really slow and could have been amped up a bit.

Still not very sure, what was the exact messaging behind this film. Does repression generate anger, do troubled souls find a way to connect to one another? We will not know. But this film IMO is strictly a timepass fare. Maybe, I still haven’t graduated to a phase where I can start admiring and appreciating the “different” cinema. (4/10)

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Speechless (Mandarin)

The story of this film is interesting yet dumb at the same time. The characters seemed a bit unbelievable and awkward. The story is told via some flashback sequences , which just add a bit to the confusion. Thankfully the movie is not too long and ends after a decent time.

A foreigner is found naked by the police by the side of river. Unable to extract any information out of him, he is sent to the hospital. The male nurse, Jiang, forms a bond with this foreigner (Luke). When hospital decides to send this guy to mental asylum since he refuses to speak anything, Jiang decides to take matters in his own hands and smuggles him to his uncle’s village. When the foreigner one night calls a random number on Jiang phone, he tracks the number and meets a girl Ning, who is not helpful at all. But later Jiang finds out the real truth. It turns out that Luke had met Ning and her boyfriend Han at the college campus and they strike a friendship. Unaware to Ning, Han and Luke start an affair. When she finds out about this, she publicly outs Han, which leaves him mentally in a very bad condition and he tries to commit suicide and is hospitalized in coma. and This is the reason Luke has lost his speech. The final fate of the characters was somewhat confusing to me at least.

The story is novel but not completely thought through. Also thankfully this film shows the rural side of China/HongKong that I have not seen before. This was quite refreshing for me. Sadly the film execution felt a bit underwhelming. The whole reason for losing the speech and all was ok, but at least Luke could have written down things and explained himself. Rather than making the people driving him to mental asylum. We learn via flashback as to why Luke lost his speech but the problem with this is that the flashback is long enough that it changes the flow of the movie, and the transition back to the current story feels awkward. Was Jiang also physically attracted to Luke or not is still a  question that wasn’t answered. Interestingly the movie was apparently shot in secret because of the  stigma associated with homosexuality in the region. The acting by the characters was all good.

It may seem that I did not like the film, but it was strictly average. There are many better films out there. (5/10)

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Poster Boy

It is such a shame when a very promising premise comes alive on screen in a very naive and uninteresting way. Sure this film came back in 2004 but film-making wan’t so ordinary then. Such a film made in 80s would have been a lot more acceptable but I found the screenplay and the treatment leaving a lot to be desired. It seems that makers just wanted to incorporate all kinds of stuff in their film rather than focus on the core story line.

The film is told in flashback by means of the lead character Henry by a reporter and the events being discussed happened 6 months ago. Henry, a teenager, is the only son of Republican senator, who is up for re-elections. Being conservative, the senator condemns homosexuality, not knowing Henry himself is gay. The senator plans to kick off his re-election campaign at a luncheon at Henry's college campus and he expects Henry to deliver his introduction so that he can influence the youth of today. Henry doesn’t have a good relation with his father at all but somehow he is forced to agree to his father’s demands. We also meet Anthony, a gay activist who despises the senator. co-incidentally the two meet at a party and end up sleeping together just the night before this talk needs to happen. When Anthony finds out about who Henry is, he conspires with campus gay activist group to boycott the senator’s speech. On the day, after Henry reluctantly does introduction for his father, he just cannot bear lies after lies that his father speaks. He kisses Anthony in front of national media, outing himself before activists have a chance. By this time Anthony realizes that he has made a mistake but its too late and Henry soon finds out the truth too. Six months later now, Henry doesn’t have any relation with his father and hasn’t also spoken to Anthony since then.

Ten minutes into the film and I thought that the handling of the subject wasn’t very professional given that this is not a very old film. The lighting is crap and the camera work is distracting and shaky. The movie also had a lot of side stories which didn’t really add too much to the main story. The whole scenes when Henry’s mother sends an eager young Republican student head to Palm Springs to fetch the son after he runs away, was totally extended for no reason. I am not too sure what was the point in showing the camaraderie between Henry and the guy. Then we had Izzie who was Anthony’s room mate. Her role has HIV+ girls who recently lost her boyfriend started to get on my nerves. Again, I am not very sure what purpose was the movie trying to solve, when she comes under the Senator’s car and the couple takes care of her to the extent that they invite her to sit with them. Instead of broadening the scope to other characters, if the plot had Henry torn between his lover and his family. There wasn’t just enough drama. Thankfully, both the actors do quite a decent job of enacting their parts. Henry is charming and Anthony has his activist agenda but not enough ground is established between them to show sudden affection between the two men in a matter of just a day.

The film isn’t awful but could have been so much better with better production quality, better screenplay and better camerawork. (4.5/10)

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Taekwondo (Spanish)

Margo Berger, one of the co-directors of this film has a super knack of creating sexual tensions. In all his previous films, this was one of the common scenarios, even though the stories he tells are quite different. I remember not liking his first film ‘PlanB’, but I think I have started to appreciate his kind of cinema and vision I went back and watched that film again as well, I would like it. If you break it down to the story level, honestly there is nothing much to it but its the treatment and the homo eroticism that wins the game.

Taekwondo follows a group of friends who share an “all boys” summer getaway in a beautiful country house that happens to be of Fernando’s mother. The real soul of the film is however, the building friendship between Fernando and Germán whom he met at his Taekwondo classes, has known him for a year and invites to the vacation with his friends. We are soon told that Germán is gay and has a huge crush on Fernando and he has no clue about Fernando’s feelings. Even worse, he doesn’t even know if he is gay or not. All Germán has around him is straight guys pretty much naked or with just swimming shorts at best, he is getting confused more and more. Fernando is generally overall a nice guy and his signals are hard to read even though he knows that Fernando keeps looking at him. The film just moves about one day at a time, where we also see the relationship that this group of friends share and get to know a little bit about each of them and their life. Finally the weekend ends, everyone leaves except the 2 boys and at last Fernando asks Germán, if he can kiss him.

Firstly, nudity a constant presence in the film, and the camera purposely seeks it. We are confronted with copious close-ups of male genitals, and their bodies in a good way. And I smirked when Germán phones a gay friend for advice and expresses his frustrations, telling the guy that he would lose his mind if he found himself in the midst of such a non-stop tease show. Just like most of his other films, this film unfolds at a very slow pace, and there is nothing much to story. Its just like watching someone enjoying their summer week but you do feel the continuous tension between Fernando and Germán, who keep exchanging those ardent glances. Audience knows that Fernando is also gay but it is not made very evident. Both the lead characters do a wonderful job and their characters slowly are established pretty well. Germán has no problem being gay, but because he is unfamiliar with the other guys’ sentiments about homosexuality, he doesn’t bring it up. He is just careful but not pitiful. And Fernando , on the other hand is charming and nice person who is as comfortable being with his friends of many years and making sure he makes Germán alaso feel safe in the new environment. I absolutely loved the fact that his friends were so comfortable being naked around him. Heteronormativity is changing in today’s landscape. A gay man needs to be comfortable and be himself amongst friends and society without having to explain himself.

The makers do tease us this time till the very last minute but we know it will happen. Film, though slow, has this easygoing feel and playful camaraderie about it; not to mention the non-stop continuous flow of naked bodies around. Patient viewers like me will get used to the setup pretty quick and in fact quite enjoy it. Bring me more!! (7/10)