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, September 26, 2018

Check It (Documentary)

I need to double check my taste of documentaries. Why do I not end up liking most of them which get glorious reviews in press. This one again is an example. "Check It" follows local African-American gay and transgender youths who started their own gang for self-protection as a handful of fed-up 9th graders a decade ago. Many of them armed and dangerous as well as fierce and fabulous.

The documentary is set in DC, known for highest rate of anti-gay violence and shows its subjects through their passions and dreams, and the film’s narrative emerges from the peaks and valleys of their ambitions. These “sissies” might look and act girlishly flamboyant, but they were packing brass knuckles, knives and trigger-tempers.. Most of the members of this gang make their living through prostitution. We see the primary focus on few of the key characters. Tray sports long dreads and speaks softly about their shifting gender identity. His real love is fashion, which they and a few other members are able to explore through a summer fashion camp. The youth is supported by a former social worker Mo, who connects the group to a serious professional fashion producer because fashion is one thing  that gets everyone excited. We also meet Duke who helps one of the other members Skittles in boxing training. Getting training in fashion production, at least a couple of these folks have a better future prospect, which we see one year later when they come to New York to be a part of a big fashion show.

It’s important to remember that a story like this in fact an everyday reality. Though the film tells a compelling story — and one that should be seen — it’s not the whole picture. And sadly its hard to connect the protagonists. There is a fine line between taking up a cause as a rebel for safety vs picking up fights just for heck for it. I understand that as individuals people have gone through so much, which I could never understand, that their self-defense mechanism kicks in. But the fact that most of the folks are not even ready to use the opportunity for a better life surprises me. Some passages border upon frustrating as the tone of each “scene” can change without notice — depending on who has beef with who and why — constantly keeping us and the filmmakers on their toes.

It is a fascinating portrait of inner-city youth without offering easy answers or solutions. Even though the subject is critical, personally I found difficult to connect with the documentary and I blame mostly for the style of film-making more than anything. (3.5/10)

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Surge of Power: The Stuff of Heroes

Yet another one of those films, which I cannot decide if they should be reviewed here or not. Given that this played in a few LGBT film festivals, I am gonna write a very short review. Besides the fact that most characters in the film are gay, there is nothing queer about it. There are no talks of love, closeness or nothing. For some, this may be a good thing, because it shows that the film is focussed on the core subject; but for others (people like me), it is a slight disappointment. Because truth be told, I would have never touched this movie of not for the gay context.

Gavin is a comic book nerd and a lawyer for a company developing new technology. He is good friends with the scientist Robert and one day an accident happens and Gavin realizes sudden subtle changes inside him. One night after a party, Gavin jumps to save a hot guy from hate crime on an alleyway, thereby realizing his powers for the first time. With the help of scientist Richard, he realizes that he now has energy surge that he can release to blast things away. However every time he hears dance music, the power goes away (how gay!). He gets a costume for himself to save people from evil. We also have a rival scientist Hector planning his carrier as a super villain (The Metal master). After a series of events, a huge fight happens between the two, with Surge emerging as a winner and finding the love in a man whom he saved for the first time.

The movie claims to be a new high in low budget camp movies and it is true. This movie is one long running joke about the classics and clichés of the Superhero genre. Sadly, I didnt laugh on most jokes. Maybe because I wasn't aware that this is a spoof and my expectations were completely different. As mentioned before, tThe movie had gay characters, but they weren't all just stereotypical buffoons like in many gay movies & sitcoms. Though romance was in the air, the characters abstained from any physical contact. The acting in the film is not the worst but it is pretty bad. And same is true for special effects and editing. But the film still has some charm and mostly because of Gavin/Surge's character. For example, Surge is a fanatic about his cape, even though everyone and everything conspires to convince him it is a bad idea. And we see how it comes in the way of enacting his full potential as a super hero but in a campy sort of way.

With a half baked script and bad acting, I am not sure if I can recommend this film but what the hell, I am sure there are folks who enjoy spoofy campy fun. To each his own. (3/10)

Monday, September 24, 2018

Nicht der Homosexuelle ist Pervers, Sondern Die Situation, in der er lebt (German) [It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives]

Its hard to call this film as either a documentary or a proper feature film. And that has nothing to do with the longest title for a movie I have ever seen. The entire film is accompanied by voice-overs that are sometimes commentaries about the different gay life's styles and sometimes represent dialogue or narrations. There is no synch sound. The voice over and dialogue recorded do not match what is on the screen. It takes some time to get used to the format but then you find it ok. I think this is meant to be a perspective of and for a young gay man back in 1971.

Daniel is a young, shy and innocent gay man who has just moved to Berlin. He meets Clemens and immediately both fall in love and get into the marriage kind of arrangement. But Daniel soon feels suffocated and leaves him. He find a rich older man who introduces him to art life style but once at a party the old man leaves Daniel for his other rich older friends. Daniel leaves him too, finds a place of his own and get a job. This is where he actually gets into the gay 'scene'. He spends time cruising guys on terrace, being in shape is suddenly important, fashion sense and making themselves attractive for others and just sleep around with anyone you can find. 2 years into the scene and Daniel is now bored of meeting men in elegant cafés, boutiques, and beaches. Now, he seeks out pickups at the bars for quick sex or even public toilets for that matter. Gays rarely have difficulties connecting in big cities. It is easy for them to find men they can have sex with because they offer themselves on every street corner like whores. Towards the end, Daniel meets Paul who takes him to his commune where a group of men, lying around naked, openly criticize their superficial, closeted lifestyles, sexual hang ups, fashion, and need to be validated.

You may think that the film is dated, given it came in 1971, but if you look clearly, its not so dated as many viewers might prefer to think. Most of the topics that are covered in this docu-drama the idolization of youth and marginalization of older gays; the materialism of gays; the competitiveness of gays; and the hypersexualization of gay "culture" with its tendency to cause isolation and loneliness are discussed with honesty and are as relevant in today's time as they were in 1971. `coming to the presentation aspect, the film is full of flaws. There is not a single stereotype about gays that is not included here. The acting bit is also boring. I wish at least the direct scenes had synced dialogues and not voice overs. I fail to understand what the whole point was. And then there were long scenes of music and dancing, which added nothing to the story and feel like a drag after a while. The topic, though. interesting, soon gets very boring after a certain point

This is different, very different. Watch it, if you have nothing better. Its not awful but  adds nothing more to the fact other than that all not much has changed in the gay scene between 1971 and now. Yes we have more acceptance but our internal marginalization within the community still very much exists. (4/10)

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Hooked

This film has its heart in the right place but somewhere the makers lose the plot and the intention behind the film. Or may they try to focus on too many things. The idea to talk about LGBT youth, homelessness, prostitution and suicide is a genuine problem that needs to be addressed. Showing this in an engaging manner is not an easy job, and I think the film was going in the right direction but somewhere, something happened in the whole Miami section and the movie was very hurriedly brought to an end.

Jack is an 18 year old hooker in Manhattan. He lives in a hostel with his boyfriend Tom, an aspiring photographer who's nervous about Jack's criminal tendencies, and they're planning a future together. The couple is very much in love. After a few minutes enter Ken, a married man with a wife and a kid; who takes a sudden fancy for Jack. After playing hard ball, Jack finally gives in and agrees to go an all expense paid trip to Miami with him and an addition thousand dollars. Things change when he is in Miami and rather than asking for money, he wants Ken's help for him and his boyfriend. But the next day Jack, realizes that Ken lied about his wife and he loses trust in Ken and leaves his condo. Back in streets, he takes back to hustling to make money for the day but unfortunately gets stuck with an abusive client. Searching for Jack everywhere, Ken invites Tom to Miami where they save Jack just in time from the client and the lovers end up killing the guy.

As I mentioned above, the film tries to tackle way too many issues in its last 30 minutes. Drugs, crime, prostitution and even the fact that Jack may have some psychological issues. He is in very much love with Tom but the sudden switch from things going ok to Jack's outburst was random. The film makers had quite a few urgent topics on their mind, but trying to weave them all into one single narrative makes it feel bit contrived. The spiral downward is perhaps a bit too fast. The pacing in the third act can feel a tad rushed. . This lack of nuance undermines any core message that might be in here. The acting by Jack is very very good as per his character demands. He shares a very good chemistry with Tom and together they make for likeable teen couple. But the problem is as an audience you never reach a stage where you empathize with what's going on around them. Ken, on the other hand, when introduced, seems like an out and proud gay man but he is shown as a married man with a kid. Somehow the 2 didn't go well together. And I have to point about the OTT Date-rape guy whom Jack and Tom ultimately kill. He's over-the-top, hyperactive, horny, restless, loud and aggressive, almost to the point of sadism and makes me sick that people like that actually exist.

While the film is aesthetically pleasing with some stunning shots throughout, the narrative leaves some elements to be desired. These issues are forgotten in LGBTQ community and need to be talked and addressed but as a film, this is slightly disappointing. (4.5/10)

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Puppenjungs - Der Fall Haarmann (German) (Documentary)

I had no idea about this documentary and I got hold of this totally by chance. Even when I started watching it, I had no clue on what this was about, but standing at less than 50 minutes of run time, it wasn't bad at all. It focuses on Fritz Haarmann, who was one of the most notorious serial killers of the 20th century in Germany.

Time is early 1920's, just before WW1, poverty is at its peak and the town of Hannover in Germany. People have found various ways to make money, including prostitution. And before you realize there are a lot of male prostitutes in teens and twenties. But soon reports of young boys missing start happening. Investigations point to a guy called Haarmann, who has previous records of sexual assault to young boys. We then get to hear Haarmann's childhood story and his growing up days. How his life was spent between detention centers and jail. At one point in his adulthood, he met a man 20 years younger than him named Hans Grans and how they had this beautiful relationship that lasted for years. They were both addictions for each other and Hans was the only person, who could get away with anything with Haarmann. Apparently they looted people together. It wasn't clear if the killings of the boys was done by Haarmann alone or with Hans. After trail, Haarmann was found guilty of killing 27 boys. Since Haarmann acted with canned meat, it was speculated that he would have processed the bodies into sausage. Haarmann has always denied this, but could not give a verifiable source for the meat sold by him. Haarmaan was later executed to death in 1924.

I am actually surprised that I had never heard of this story about the serial killer before. I am sure there are films that were made on the subject but this documentary definitely brings a very interesting perspective and I am glad that this is the first that I saw. I may have to look for movies now.  The documentary provides a very good insight. Its a shocker to see how even the Hannover police was also involved in some of these murders and were partly responsible for delayed investigations. There are interviews with some witnesses but I didn't think much of that.

Without being lurid, this documentary manages to bring Haarmann's deeds to the fore. I would recommend this. A blend of horrifying real story combining homosexuality and serial killer. (6/10)

Thursday, September 13, 2018

4 Days (Tagalog/English)

“4 Days” takes on the struggles of a gay relationship in times of confusion, curiosity and whether to stay inside or come out of the closet. This film is not the highly typical gay love story. Its the questioning of one man’s own sexuality, whether or not to choose a woman because of societal culture or to accept the fact that it is okay to love a man even if you’re a man yourself. `conceptually the film has the heart set in the right place, but boy oh boy! does it take time to come to the point.

The film actually spans 4 years and we see what happens on 4 consecutive valentine days. Mark joins half-american half-filipino Derek in his dorm room as a roommate. He is initially very shy in the first year. The second year, they have come close as friends, where Mark is now helping Derek in opening up to his girlfriend because he thinks she is the one. The third year, we see a heartbroken Derek who is questioning if something is wrong with him. Mark continues to be his very very supportive friend but in the process they end up sleeping with each other and questioning if what happened the night was right. Cut to year 4 (or day 4), they have been together for a year but Mark is frustrated by the fact that Derek doesn't acknowledge their relationship outside their room. Its valentine's day and Derek's mother is visiting yet Derek doesn't tell anyone the truth. They fight ad arguments happen and the film ends with Derek planting a kiss on mark in full public view.

One of the best things about this film is that we get a close and intimate look at the relationship between two friends. The two actors are simply superb and actually very good looking. They also share an amazing chemistry. The beauty here is in watching their feelings change year after year as they realize what they mean to each other. The last section when Mark is mad at Derek is shot in one go and the emotions and pain that Mark has can be felt. The arguments seem so real that it feels you are being intrusive in someone's personal moments. You can feel the pain or emotion of both characters even if they never talk. Having said that, personally I do not agree with the behavior of Mark. No one except Derek (extremely handsome) has the right to decide when and to whom to come out to. Now to the bad part, there are so many scenes of long silences that its unnerving. Long scenes, such as periods of brooding silence, aerial shots of trees and buildings, and one of the lead characters serenading his girlfriend with an entire song, or Mark near a swimming pool ; test your patience to the maximum. If you removed those long silent scenes, this movie could be a perfect short 25 minute film.

You have to watch this film on a device where you can fast forward these long drawn scenes and focus on the content. Once that is done, you will be satisfied by what you see. More for the chemistry and the brilliant acting in the last couple of scenes when the movie reaches a whole new level. (5/10)

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Bangkok G Story (Web Series) (Thai)

Web series are a hit or miss. This series is nothing ground breaking but given that the episodes are so short, it does bring a smile to your face after every episode. You know what's exactly going to happen but you still dont mind. Thankfully the episodes to address most common problems that most gay men face trying to date and find a boyfriend and balancing random hook-ups alongwith all this.

The focus is mainly on three friends while other characters are introduced later. T is a player, G is a newbie who wants a boyfriend and no hookups and the third is B, who hooks up for money although he has a good job. We are introduced to M later, a super hot guy who is also from a small town like G and becomes apart of their friend circle. After many sexual escapades, T & B becomes boyfriends but that doesn't last long since T cannot stay away from prostitution much longer and ends up cheating. M also finds a boyfriend who is bottom and he now has started enjoying being a versatile , so his sexual life is quite frustrating. He ends up hooking up with G after he catches his boyfriend in an orgy. After all these issues, the series finally end sup in T & G getting together as true love and boyfriends. It takes time to get there but eventually does.

The episodes are short, quick and witty. Its a bit stereotypical with all the themes they handle as part of the show but sometimes, its just fun to watch stupid stuff that brings a smile to your face. Every individual story is good for a but of laughter. The characters may seem bland initially but there is a proper trajectory growth and you start connecting with them. The boys are all gorgeous but acting was very evidently off at many places. They were clearly not experienced. But despite all that, it was still fun to watch these episodes. Short, crispy and clear. The end episode summarizes the crux of life of a gay man. We are all different and each one of us has our own way of living it. Its the path we choose of single, hook-ups, boyfriend and your job. Love can be sometimes so close to you that you may overlook it. The right person for you may not be the best person but he is the person who accepts your bad sides.

It's a good watch with lots of comedic relief. The episodes aren't that long, so it's not a very long watch either. I would recommend people watch this, you won't regret it! (6.5/10)

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Flag Wars (Documentary)

I watched this documentary completely not knowing anything on what its about. Actually I didn't even know that this was a documentary. It follows the conflicts that arise when gay white professionals move into a black working-class neighborhood. I am still not very sure if this needs to be reviewed here, but what the heck!

Focusing on the suburbs of Columbus, Ohio, there is a neighborhood called "Olde Towne". When economy hit hard in 80s until later, White Homosexual homebuyers were attracted to the neighborhood because of the cheap, beautiful, historical homes in the area. These new incoming residents in turn displaced older residents which primarily consisted of poorer African-Americans. The main focus is on two people. An older gentleman who is ordered by the city to take down a sign on his entrance. And then on an older lady, who has been summoned by the city for building code violations due to lack of maintenance. Also she is in no mood to sell her property. We do see the point of view of the gentrifiers who are sympathetic and want to care and nurture the history that these houses bring but at the same time, they are also looking to make money and profits out of all this.

This is a documentation of Gentrification; a war between low- and high- income parties. The sexual orientation has nothing to do with this, and race plays only a small part. I am not sure of this was a biased documentary but I felt that the gay community were shown off as uncaring and money-hungry.

Its hard for me to connect with either party in such scenarios and as such its hard for me to recommend this documentary or not. For me, based on entertainment or information quotient, I would still rank this pretty low. (2/10)

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Truth About Alex (Canada)

I can't believe this made for TV movie came way back in 1986. The movie, just under an hour, seems to be way ahead of its time and is definitely as much relevant in today's time as it was back then. This movie needs to be seen by more and more people, because this focuses on a facet of a gay man ad his friend; that not many movies have touched upon without making it weird. It offers poignant perspectives on friendship and personal honesty.

Alex and Bradley are best friends, both on the football team and make a great pair. Brad has a girlfriend and always wonders why Alex doesn't come out to party. Alex loves piano and constantly practices for his recital so that he can go to college. This is something he cannot compromise with. One day at the rest stop of a gas station, he gets beaten up by a truck driver for refusing his advances. To his horror, the driver accuses Alex of trying to make a pass at him. News soon spread about this. When Brad finds out, he wants to fix things but is shocked to hear that the reason Alex didn't contest that was because he is actually gay. Brad is shocked and leaves and comes back around the very next day, like a true friend. The rest of the movie is less about Alex holding up to being gay or his struggles, but is more about how Brad stays true to his friend, to his friendship, face all odds, even go against his militarian and disciplinarian father and always be there for his friend; even if that means that he risk football and scholarship from his school.

Like I said before, the context is very relevant even in today's time. Every Alex needs a friend like Brad who do not go 180 degree on their friend just because they are gay. The last scene when Brad shows up for Alex's recital after going against his dad was awesome. Even before that, the way he stands up to his football coach to make sure no injustice is done to Alex is praiseworthy. I liked the fact that no unnecessary drama was introduced in the film just for the sake of it. If this film was made today, the makers would probably wanna throw in a romantic angle between the leads and thank god for this being absent in this film. It was also good to see Alex having a very supportive and accepting father. You have to see the film from teenagers point of view. It very effectively offers likable young characters and riles you up about their issues before offering moral lessons. And this is where the film scores big time in my eyes. The actors playing lead characters are both good looking and act really well.

Set in a small town, at the time the film was made, in reality, probably the openly out gay teen would have been left all alone; but I am glad to see that Alex had a friend who stands by him against some pretty tough pressure from teammates, the coach, his girlfriend and his own father. Highly recommended. (8/10)

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The Delta

What the hell!! Very rarely have I seen where there is absolutely no character development and the viewers are just left to make up their own version on why a certain individual is behaving the way he is or doing things that he is. This film is unbelievable. Despite having a very good looking man as one of the leads. It was just the huge discrepancy of what this movie could've been and what it ended up being.

Lincoln is a 18 year old young man with a happy life with friends and a girlfriend. Except he is also closet gay, which he accidentally discovers about himself after being propositioned by a older man. One such occasion he meets Minh, an Vietnames half black immigrant, who makes Lincoln do stuff that he wouldn't do normally. He forces him to take his father's boat down the river to explore unexplored while professing his love for Lincoln. They bind with each other but soon reality dawns. Lincoln goes back to his girlfriend. Minh continues to look for his ideal boyfriend / partner. He finds a man in a bar, tales him to a secret place and then just kills him and this s where the movie just ends. I am not kidding.

It seems like the film was supposed to be an odd love story between this rich white boy and a Vietnamese immigrant, but sadly the film doesn't go anywhere. The story takes forever to get started...and ends up going nowhere! It just stops with no resolution at all. Actor playing Lincoln was super attractive and even acted well but Minh's accent was hard to comprehend at certain places. The production quality of the movie was very poor, grainy, poor audio and terrible direction and screenplay. The stories don't hold together. Emphasis shifts from one character to another.

Don't be fooled by the poster. Please dont waste your time on this film at all. Besides the extremely good looking lead actor, nothing about this film is worth investing your time in. (1/10)

Monday, September 3, 2018

About Him : Season 2 [Web Series]

After the decent Season 1 from Signal TV, I was looking forward to the next season. I was hoping the story would continue, but this season brings a completely fresh subject and storyline. Titled as 'The Revolution', this series takes place in the 1980's during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The main protagonist this time is Dustin. Closet gay, he had an abusive father who beat him when he found out his son was gay., His object of affection is Armani, a cute fellow student and soon they begin a relationship but Dustin is haunted when he witnesses gay bashing of his friend Moses. He is too scared to tell the truth to anyone. Dean and the mayor refuse to do anything, so the budding Gay Rights group on campus the Monroe 5 decide to take matters into their own hands under the direction of their leader Martin. They do get support from their African-American studies teacher but that is not enough. There is lot of gay bashing and murders for hate crime but no support from administration or the police. The gay rights movement becomes too much for Armani to handle and he breaks up with Dustin. Dustin and Martin then start a relationship because they both share a common passion. Ultimately their struggle does give way for a better future.

This season was a huge huge letdown from season 1, which itself was no great shakes in the first place. Dustin, who acted so well in season 1 becomes so plastic in this season as the main character. Its really hard to connect with him. All the interactions happening between students feel so fake and just too much to handle. His chemistry with Armani seems very fake. Thankfully its much better with Martin. Martin was the only actor alongwith the female teacher who were half decent actors. Everyone else was just poor. The direction was plain bad and the series got too preachy in every single episode. To salvage, there was always almost a 5 minute sex scene in every episode and that too was somehow managed to happen between a different couple every time. I guess just to keep viewers excited. Alas, thats not the only thing which is needed to keep one's attention.

Huge letdown. I wouldn't waste my time on this season. This needs a proper editing big time. This season is unnecessarily stretched way too much. (2.5/10)