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.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Our Fathers

By now, I have seen a few films on this subject: the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. All of them true and focusing on different part of the world. This, as a subject, will never go old and the more we talk about it, the more people need to know these stories. Interestingly, while I was watching the film, I realized that the context and setting is the same as that of movie 'Spotlight' which won the best film oscar a few years ago. This, made for TV movie, is shown from the perspective and lawyers and the church.

The film is set in the time of Cardinal Law, who during his time in Boston apparently turned a blind eye to all the cases of child abuse and sexual abuse of young boys and continued to support the priests. We see a few very uncomfortable scenes where priests are seen molesting young boys. Primarily amongst these were Father John Geoghan, whose arrest in many years later starts to uncover all these hidden truth. The victims start to come forward, and a lawyer Mitchell Garabedian sues Cardinal Law & the diocese for hiding the crimes from the authorities. Cardinal Law arrogantly defends his behavior, and refuses to resign. The film follows through how the lawyer gets all victims together to make a string case in the court and how law and media come together to expose one of the biggest scandals and cover up by the church.

This film is not an easy watch at all. There is a scene where one of the victims is taunted by a couple of insensitive men at a local deli. When he graphically describes to them how he was abused, I was almost in tears. Any amount of graphic details cant match that short scene that make you truly feel what those young boys must have gone through. Its hard to not become angry at the double standards of the church and see this film objectively. It took many brave souls to take on the Catholic Church on such a horrifying subject as the pedophilia that occurred by the very same Priests to which we entrusted our children. The cast of the film is just perfect. Everyone does a standout job and the film brilliantly shows the impact on the lives of those abused and focuses on the church, in not the best of terms.

Its hard to rate movies like these. Something with a very strong message, very gripping and you are curious to know how the church is going to react to the whole scandal. Besides the bad title of the film, I would generally rate this movie quite well but still a very difficult to watch film dealing with a very controversial and sensitive subject. (7.5/10)

Thursday, December 6, 2018

En Algun Lugar (English) [A Place To be]

Sometimes good intentions and ideas don't always translate into a gripping movie. Especially when you are trying to leave a very strong social message through the film, it becomes even more important to get a handle on the subject and where you are trying to go with it. The film tackles the main issue too late and only touches upon it in the surface.

Diego has a chance encounter with Abel on the streets of Chicago. There is attraction but both men are shy. Eventually after two more unexpected meetings, they start dating. They have instant connection and soon they are meeting families and friends. But Diego seem to be hiding something. Being of Mexican descent, we see him facing racist slurs and hence he has become a man of strong opinions. The romance is at its peak when we find that Diego's mother is dying in Mexico. Diego, actually came to US when he was 6 years old and still after so many years is an undocumented illegal immigrant. Abel convinces him and joins him to go to Mexico but the mother already dies. Diego tries to reconnect with his sister and with his origins but it is soon time to go back to US and it will have to be illegally. Abel refuses to go on flight directly and insists he will join Diego whatever way he does. Tragedy strikes when Diego is killed in transit after a fight. On his return to US, Diego finds out from Abel's sister that Abel actually gave his whole identity to Diego and now a new world should open up for him.

The pace and the mood of the film is very contrast in two halves. While the first half is romantic drama focusing solely on the men getting to know each other and falling in love, the second half is slightly darker. From making a statement and giving out a message, it is not very clear if its making a political point, or immigration issues or just capitalizing on Trump administration's recent development on the issue. I feel somehow that issue was missing. The story is good and the actors have acted decent (not good) given what they were asked to do. But at almost 2 hours running length, the film felt stretched in a lot of places. Also, what I don't understand is why would Abel leave his identity for Diego just because he was going on a trip to Mexico. Its not like he was illegal. What made him think that he may not return. I don't get it. Like I said before, the subject is interesting and relevant but it failed to touch me. It was a surface level exploration.

With tighter editing and shorter length, the film could have been even more enjoyable. Unsure of what exactly the film wanted to say made my experience a bit disjointed. But may be its just my mood. You may like the film, but I feel a more coherent focus would have been much better. (5/10)

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Ein Leben Lang Kurze Hosen Tragen (German) [The Child I Never Was]

I have always enjoyed thrillers. And this one is about a serial killer in the 60s in Germany who was arrested for murder of at least 4 young boys and their sexual molestation. Partly told as taped confessions and partly as events recreation, this film gives us an insight in the minds of a notorious serial killer.

Jürgen Bartsch, while recounting events on how and why he killed those boys, tells us that he was a loner as a child. When he is teen , he doscovers that he was adopted by his parents. They do not allow Jurgen to have friends, to socialize, to have any interests. When Jurgen begins to get in touch with his sexuality, they foster care him and seek professional advice for his sickness of homosexuality, after it is found that he beat and touched a neighbor boy. Jürgen Bartsch recounts events on how he almost fell in love with a boy whom he ran away with but almost also killed him under the train just because he would then be able to express his love. He is shocked by his own behavior. But he years for friends. He discovers a cave where he can escape form his ugly world and fantasize about many things, including sexual fantasies about boys 'ages 8 through 14'. Gradually he gives in to his compulsion to seduce boys into his cave where he tortures them, eviscerates them, and once they are dead he has sexual acting out with them. In one of the final murders, the boy being tortured surprisingly enjoys the beating and kissing and leaves the boy tied up but he escapes, which eventually leads to arrest of Jürgen Bartsch three days later. Eventually he serves time in prison, gets out, gets married but died during anesthetic complications getting a surgery.

The film reminded me of the TV series Mindhunters which talks about what actually goes in the mind of these serial killers. In this case, Bartsch’s confused sexuality turns to a bitter hatred of all things sexual, resulting in his crimes. Its a fascinating story, except that the makers decided to tell the story with constant back and forth and its sometimes hard to keep a track of which chapter of Jürgen's life are we looking at now. I am sure if we, as audience, are supposed to be sympathetic to the killer and understand the reasons and motivations of why the kills because it felt a bit one sided to me.  The narrator describes all of his feelings. One might think that he is being vulgar or proud when in reality - it shows that he is innocently sincere. Thankfully, the film doesn't portray Bartsch's extreme deviancy as being a product of or related to his homosexuality. Since the subject is grim, the cinematography is accordingly which creates an atmosphere. It is a disturbing film with pretty good acting by the teenage guy playing the titular role. Even the actor playing the adult version in jail, is a tough job, since he has to act while just looking into the camera.

An interesting subject handled well but the docu-drama feel of the narrative makes it slightly less of an entertainer or even a tout thriller that could keep you on the edge of your seat. Still worth a shot. (5.5/10)

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The Secret Kiss (UK)

This film was a terrible waste of my time. I have seen many bad films as you can tell from this blog, but this film definitely joins one of the worse films in the gay genre.

Ray is a loner who has recently been getting a lot of dreams where he sees masked men following him around in the woods. And surprisingly for whatever reasons, he decides to roam around the same woods during day time filming on his phone. He tells his shrink that he feels his death is near. He meets Paul, a mysterious guy in the same woods and they both get a liking for each other. Every time Ray finds Paul in the woods and then in morning he mysteriously disappears and of course Ray doesn't think anything of it. Then apparently it turns out that those masked figures are after bot those boys and the end of the film forms how they get freed from those masked figures and are united.

The story and execution are both so so lame, that I cannot describe in words. The only saving grace about the film is that the actors actually can act, given a proper script and director. Otherwise such films get worse by horrible acting. But other than that the film is boring. Its not clearly explained about those figures, the relationship and everything else. It has absolutely no meaning, no plot and the loud background music starts to get on your nerves.

I honestly cannot bother to write anymore about this film. Totally avoidable. (1/10)

Monday, December 3, 2018

Hjartasteinn (Icelandic) [Heartstone]

This film is a story of teenage sexuality and teen angst in an idyllic Icelandic village. Agreed the film was stretched too much, for something that could have been shown in much less time but that doesn't take away the fact that it is an authentic and emotional look at growing up and becoming aware of your feelings, surroundings and sexuality.

Thor and Christian are two pre-teen best buddies in an Icelandic fishing village where apparently everyone knows everyone's business. Its an idle summer and the two friends spend time playing, walking around, enjoying nature. Thor has a restless single mother and two intrusive older sisters, while Christian's volatile, homophobic father and mother are on the verge of a split. In between all this, they also try to flirt with 2 sisters but clearly Christian has very strong feelings for Thor, which he fails to see. Completely dejected by his surroundings, Christian decides to take his life. This is when Thor realizes about Christian's feelings for him but its too late since he is now going to move to the city. But Thor manages to plan one final kiss to Christian as good luck and good bye and thank you gesture that cements their friendship forever.

The surroundings of the beautiful Icelandic village is just breathtaking. I so feel like wanting to go to that location and spending a few nights in those gorgeous settings. As mentioned before, The film take a long time testing viewer's patience to go about showing what they exactly wanna say. It needs a much tighter editing, to make it an interesting watch. Coming to performances, the two boys strongly and firmly hold the film together. They are both absolutely brilliant actors and have a very strong screen presence. The brashness of Thor concealing his insecurities is all too familiar, as is the great conflict running beneath the surface of shy Christian.

This film reminds us that it's tough to grow up gay anywhere. Friendship keeps you strong, even though the confusion about sexuality leaves you frustrated sometimes leading to extreme steps. The harshness of the wilderness with the first feeling of the youth coming of age would have been a lot more enjoyable and relatable had there been some serious editing. (6/10)

Sunday, December 2, 2018

This Close (Web Series)

This is such an interesting 6 part series on Sundance Now. The fact that the two protagonists are deaf is both the whole point and completely beside it at the same time. And to top it, the actors who play the protagonists are actually the writers and stars and deaf in real-life makes it even more interesting. Sadly, I also fall in the category of people, like when our protagonist says “You focus on our disability, but not who we are.”

Michael and Kate are best friends. Michael is a graphic book writer, who is trying to get over his breakup with his boyfriend Ryan. He is on a downward spiral, most often drunk and dealing with the writer's block and hence unable to come up with the idea of next book, there by risking his future and breach of contract. Kate is confident, sparky young girl, who works at a PR firm. Her boyfriend Danny has just proposed her. Michael is not a huge fan of Danny but Kate wants them to work through. We later find out why Michael broke up with Ryan and now Ryan is trying to win him back. At the same time, Kate is struggling with her relationships with Danny and almost calls off the engagement. A lot of what transpires in the six half-hour episodes focuses on the things people fail to tell each other, either on purpose or because their communication systems are too flawed to function properly.

Kate And Michael being deaf is just one aspect, because the friendship they share and the romance and break-up they are dealing with is universal to all. But then this specific aspect also makes it important because Kate and Michael's relationship with others and with each other depends a lot on what and how much is communicated amongst all of them. Kate fights and reconciles with Danny, Michael does the same with Ryan, and Kate and Michael do the same thing with each other. The series thankfully has a comical touch to it and is not all serious. The ability to say nasty, smutty things about hearing people right in front of them using sign language, which is always good for a laugh. Its an interesting experience since there are very few dialogues and a lot of focus is on hands and mouths. The production quality if very high, the acting is brilliant by both main and supporting actors and this is an engaging watch. Having said this, the cliches of gays always have drinking and sex on mind and the PR workplace dynamics, sort of slide the series slightly downwards.

This is not strictly a gay series, but 50% focus on gay character and his life; and so definitely deserves to be reviewed her. Six episodes, each of 25 minutes is not much investment and trust me it will be worth it. (7/10)