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, January 31, 2019

Venus (Canada)

I have seen a few transgender stories and in fact have reviewed some here as well. This film was interesting in the sense that it was an interesting blend of drama and comedy. Most trans theme films have a very serious approach to the subject, which is definitely needed to bring attention to the audience; but this film take s a different route and brings in an interesting twist alongwith some laughters along the way. I am not sure if the ethnicity of the protagonist just happened or was there a very specific purpose behind that.

Sid, an Indian by origin but born and raised in Canada, is a transitioning woman. She is already dealing with judgements not only from colleagues but also within the family. Her life is turned upside down when a pre-teen boy Ralph shows up claiming to be her biological son with her college ex. Ralph thinks having a transgender parent is pretty cool and is very upbeat about it. But he has not told his mother and stepfather that he had tracked down his biological father. They start to bond. Around same time, Sid gets back together his her ex Daniel, but another issue here is that Daniel has also not told his parents about his relationship status with Sid. It takes time for Daniel and Ralph to get along but Ralph soon makes Sid realize that Daniel never goes out with her. Sid , in the meantime is trying her best to be as open and honest to her parents, who by the way are thrilled with the prospect of having a grandson. With constant persuasion from Sid, ultimately Ralph's mother gets to know and reconciles, but by the time Daniel decides to come out, its too late and Sid throws him out of her life because she deserves better.

With so many stories going in parallel, the director surprisingly balances the importance of each effectively culminating the film in a credible yet dramatic climax. The script allows the humour to flow from the characters, especially the witty one-liners from Sid. Most of her scenes are chuckle worthy if not laugh-out-loud. Sid's facial expressions are also funny enough to evoke much laughter. As I mentioned before, the film smartly tries to avoid any serious discussions and issues around transformation of Sid. Ralph, very naturally becomes the bridge between Sid and her mother who is struggling the most to accept Sid. But, having a grandson now, she can pour all her love through food, like most Indian mothers. And hence, I felt that the film also becomes more about the immigrant experience than gender. All primary actors do a good job, although, I feel that Sid's parents were made to act very stereotypical and not natural. And culturally this hits closer to home for me, so I have the right to judge. Also the whole thing about Ralph hiding everything from his mother was stretched too long. It didn't have to. The moments between father and son bonding were beautiful. This is by no means a perfect film.  Direction could have been better and the a little more focus on the finness of the craft, but despite all this, the film didn't feel dragging at all and thats where I feel, it is successful in brining its point forward.

The film will definitely bring a smile on your face. Watch it with heart. Ralph's innocence and Sid's charm and wit will win you over. (6.5/10)

Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Raven

This is another one of those badly made gay horror films, which I still cannot fathom why it was made. I would be seriously surprised if there wad any audience for such shoddily made films with bad script and even worse acting and direction.

Roderick throws a masquerade ball inside a creepy mansion with a dark past. An infamous mass-murder happened there fifty years ago to the night, but that's part of the fun for the posh hotties who show up for some boozy partying. 2 of his friends show up early to prepare for the ball but they get murdered by a man wearing Raven mask. He finds out hat one of his arch nemesis David is also going to attend the ball. Very few guys show up and they start getting murdered one by one in badly executed scenarios and murders. We are later told that during the college days Roderick was a shy but rich kid who was befriended by a farmer's son David, whose aim to get rich. He dumps Roderick as soon as he finds another rich boy. But Roderick gets better and makes fun of David. They both think they have moved on. But apparently no one has forgotten the joke and this masquerade party is probably to take revenge. The killer's identity is as lame as the whole reasoning behind this murder mystery atrocity.

Absolutely nothing at all about this film is good. The characters are all so unlikeable, their dialogue so banal and boring, that when the killer starts picking them off, you wonder what took him so long. Then there is this girl who has nothing to add to the whole party mix. There are 3 different sex scenes which clearly have been added for extra attention but despite that there is not even proper skin show. The acting is bad, and the direction is horrible. Also, for an American-Canadian film, I am not sure why the actors were talking in a mish-mash of British/Australian accent. It was so bizzare.

Absolutely stay away from this film and don't even attempt to watch the film. You will only be wasting your precious 90 minutes. (1/10)

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Sauvage (French)

This recent French film is a very detailed character study of a young gay hustler in the streets of Paris. He is very lonely and vulnerable, yet situations around him have hardened him and he has figured out ways of survival. This is not an easy film to either act in or make. There is always a fine balance here and I think the director does a good job.

Leo is a 22 year old male prostitute practically living on streets, doesn't change clothes, picks food from garbage or steals. We also later find that he keeps coughing and probably has some signs of TB. He along with quite a few others look for clients day in and night. One of his closest friends, is an Arab looking hustler just like him who also proclaims he is straight. Leo is very much in love with him but he treats leo as a very good friend and is always available for him. But when an older ex-client shows up, Leo's friend moves back with him and Leo becomes alone again. But Leo is still in love with him. He later meets another hustler who likes Leo but Leo can't stop thinking about his friend. Finally he sees the reality and as told by his friend, looks for a older guy who will love him for who he is. In the interim, he also cleans himself up of drug use and prostitution.

The film is slow and a lot of focus is done on to create Leo's lonely world. he wants love which he looks via kissing clients or spending nights with them but he misses true love. There are long drawn scenes where we see him roaming around. But still there is an interesting sensual queer melancholy about the whole thing. The sex scenes have absolute no inhibitions. There is plenty of nudity and we get to see how Leo is used and abused on top of all the issues he is already facing. The mix of intensity and innocence in Leo's gaze suggests that while selling his body is obviously transactional, for him it's also personal. You start feeling for Leo and want him to find someone who could care for him and love him. As the doctor points out, he is in a very bad shape for a 22 year old. The scene where the lady doctor is doing a physical check up and he just hugs her is heart-breaking. I really would not wish anyone in the world to feel so lonely. Ever! The friendship between Leo and his buddy is amazing and tender. Its beautiful to see how he will always stick up for his friend. Acting by all the primary actors is top notch but its Leo's show all he way. His quiet demeanor and lonely existence just takes it to another level. Of course, given the film's pace is considerably slow at various places, could piss some viewers off and I myself was itching for it to pick up the pace. But that doesn't take away from the fact that this film is definitely worth watching.

A film that finally manages to show male hustlers as human beings in a merciless world. Its the choices you make in life and those choices have consequences. Definitely recommend. (7/10)

Friday, January 18, 2019

Goodbye Mr. X (Web-series) (Mandarin)

There was a series that played out in China called "Mr X & I". It was a few films shown and I have reviewed them here separately rather than anthology of the series. This series was aired with 9 episodes each of about 10 minutes each, so a substantial amount was spent in watching this. Sadly it was a huge waste of time.

Feng Yi Chen and Run Yi are medical students. Feng is the quiet type and Run Yi starts falling for him. They both separately run into each other at a gay party with Run Yi's best friends who happen to be a couple. About 8 of these guys are kidnapped and when they wake up, they find themselves locked up in a huge house. Soon they realize that a killer is on the loose (maybe amongst themselves) and 2 murders happen while more attempts are done. 2 new members come in home after 3 days. Soon it is revealed that an anti-homosexual organization ASAS is out there to kill gays and this is part of this. Apparently Feng Yi Chen is part of that organization and killing folks. There is a reference to a previous such party that may have happened where more gays were killed. Love for Run Yi wakes Feng Yi and he does the right thing and everyone escapes.

The story may not sound lame but almost everything about the execution was illogical and bad and almost laughable. How did the 2 new folks come into the house. Shouldn't they have helped the captured folks get out? And why did they come into the house in the first place? The boys spend almost 4-5 days there. Rather than being together, they prefer to be in groups of 2 in a room and just be by themselves. Where is the food coming from? There was unnecessary over drama for no reason at all and way too much talking. From the beginning of first episode, it seemed like the makers wanted to pay a tribute to the gay killings in US and middle-east but this seemed very insensitive. If they thought it was poetic or something, they are wrong.

This was a complete waste of my time and the money that was spent on making this series. Very disappointed. This is a story that didn't need to be told. (1.5/10)

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Postcards From London (UK)

The first thing you will notice while watching this film is that ho it is shot very differently. Part cinematic, part theatrical, it is very obvious it has been shot on very nicely designed sets and not real locations and this gives it a very different perspective. Definitely not everyone's cup of tea.

A small town boy, 18 year old Jim arrives to London looking for adventures. He has an angel face and perfectly sculpted body. He soon meets four international young male escorts who call themselves  "raconteurs" who take Jim under their wing. According to them, their speciality is in the post-sex intellectual conversation, when older educated rich men crave for intimacy. The talks most often involved literature, arts, paintings and painters. Jim commits to his course of study, reading books about painting and sculpture, until he's ready to start entertaining clients. Jim starts working but soon relaizes that he has a problem. When Jim stares at a great work of art, he goes into spasms of awe and then faints. Upon awakening, he finds himself actually in the painting which caused the convulsion. And this starts affecting his clients. Even when he picks up a job as a full time muse for a painter who has been looking for one, it is not treated. The raconteurs take Jim to an eccentric doctor who diagnoses him with the rare condition known as Stendhal Syndrome. Pretty soon, Jim starts using this to his advantage against his will to detect art forgeries.

The film has way too many reference to art, paintings and famous painters. Sometimes you feel that you are getting a sort of crash course in art. As mentioned above, the feature feels far more theatrical than cinematic with its sumptuous sets and costumes. Some of the best scenes in the film are when Jim imagines himself in a painting and the painting is recreated by the actors against a plain backdrop. It feels truly beautiful, even though I don't know shit about art and paintings. Jim and the other escorts are really truly beautiful and act well but the film gets too pretentious after a while. The discussions about painters and their history go one for a tad bit too long. The makers intention , I think, is not to show how young men are exploited into prostitution. Rather it explores how beauty has been used and exploited over the centuries. It was good to see Jim ( last seen in Beach Rats) give his all for the role.

And hence, despite gorgeous faces, a thin plotline and a frivolous approach towards making the film makes this film not for everyone. Its more of a personal film from a director about the artists who have mattered to him in life. (4.5/10)

Monday, January 14, 2019

Marvin ou la Belle éducation (French) [Reinventing Marvin]

I wanted to like this movie. It has some good reviews online and of course I do like French films. I tried my best but I just could not connect. Neither to the characters, nor to the way of story telling with constant jumps between time lines. It was hard to keep track after a while and when movie watching becomes tedious, I as an audience lose connect with the film right then and there.

Marvin as a young boy is an outsider. He is bullied for acting like a fag and even his home atmosphere is not condusive for him to be himself. Alcoholic father and an indifferent mother makes his life not easy. Told us in non-chronological order, we put pieces together of various events in Marvin's life. A chance meeting at school with drsama teacher brings new zest in his life as he proceeds to acting and enjoys it. A regional drama academy comes next, where he enrolls to study after growing up. Marvin meets a visiting author Abel, whose book sounds very similar to his own life and becomes friends with him and his partner Pierre and moves to Paris, where they are his support system. Another crucial encounter for Marvin is meeting a wealthy older gay man who takes Marvin under his wings who introduces him to Isabelle Huppert. The wealthy man dies but Marvin develops a bond with Isabelle, who becomes his support and the duo act in a stage play that makes Marvin popular.

LIke I said, not showing the film in a chronological order makes this film a hodgepodge. It blends emotions with uncomfortable stabs at kitchen-sink drama and blissful scenes of sexual healing. The film is too long and it makes you a bit impatient and you wonder where is this actually heading. Marvin's childhood stories feel repetitive after a while and it fails to create the necessary impact. On a huge positive side, both actors playing young and adult Marvin are brilliant. They are a big saving grace, that keeps you slightly hooked into the narrative. Its supposed to be an emotional different coming-of-age story but its way too experimental and too long for me. The “reinventing” theme is weak. Of course, college is where you reinvent yourself. But Marvin hasn’t reinvented himself as such: he was always gay, that’s why he was bullied and now he has come out.

I am sure most critics will see this a masterpiece work of art and something that needs to be cherished but as an ordinary viewer this time, this film did not work for me. (4/10)

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Where The Bears Are: Season 7

I can't believe that this is the seventh and final season of this hugely popular crowd-funded web series. Self-admittedly it is not a path breaking series and great by any standards but it has been my guilty pleasure for all the previous seasons and I have secretly enjoyed the  jibber-jabber between the 4 main protagonists. Getting my hands on season 7 was fun but after watching the final episode and finding out this is the last season brings some bittersweet emotions.

This season is different in the sense that no major murder happens this time and its not about the murder mystery, instead it focuses on 2 different aspects. Someone out there is sending threatening notes to out foursome that he/she will kill them. Also this is the time for the annual Mr. Bear America and someone wants to sabotage the entire contest. At the same time, Reggie is promoting his latest best-selling book and judging the parade of hairy hunks! Wood too is busy self-promoting, by hosting a pool party at a clothing optional resort to push his latest porn opus. Nelson is stressed out from shooting the pilot for his new series and, Todd has a mysterious secret that his tearing him apart with nightmares. One of the two detectives is asked to help our guys figure out who is sabotaging the whole thing. Nelson now gets to MC the show, Reggie is a judge and Wood, Todd and the detective decide to participate in the show for inner secrets. The mystery revealed in the end is a bit lame compared to the ones we have seen in previous seasons.

A I mentioned before, this has been my guilty pleasure. I always keep rolling my eyes while i watch the show but always secretly enjoy it. The good thing is that not much has changed and the actors pretty much look/do the same as previous seasons. Nelson is still the most annoying while Wood is the most charming. Surprisingly there is a lot less nudity in this season. I wonder why!. Also the killer mystery has always been a surprise in every season but this time the logic just sounds lame and something I wasn't convinced with. Anyway end shows us that Nelson and Todd are moving away to London and Reggie has decided to finally settle down and move to Istanbul. The friends remember the good old days of all the fun and good times they have had together.

Watch it, if you have been a fan. Slightly disappointing compared to previous seasons but hey, we will not be seeing any more of these bears, so might as well enjoy and laugh while we can. (5.5/10)

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Tama Hetki Kaislikossa (Finnish/English) [A Moment In The Reeds]

After 2 back to back just average films which seemed to have big potential failed to impress me, 2019 had not started on a very good note for me. I am glad I saw this film then. The film seems very authentic, seductive and romantic and something that as an audience you can connect with given the political climate around the world. Although t he film reminded me a lot of one of my fav films "God's Own Country" but this film itself has enough merit to stand on its own.

The story is pretty simple. Leevi, a handosme young Finnish guy has been living and studying in Paris and has just returned home to Finland for the summer to help his father renovate their old lake house. Leevi’s relationship with his father, is strained since he is an old-fashioned man. I believe he knows of Leevi's sexuality and doesn't approve of it. The father hires a young man, Tareq, through an agency who can help renovate the house . When Tareq arrives, he doesn't speak any Finnish and we get to know that he is a Syrian asylum seeker desperately looking to make a life for himself. When the father is called away for work, the two young men bond over beers and soon find themselves in bed together. This goes on for a couple of days till the father realizes and he fires Tareq with racial insults. Tareq's self respect is high enough for him to leave immediately, despite Leevi wanting to come with him but Tareq needs to be on his own to figure out stuff for himself. Love that could have been something so special is broken, just like that.

It's interesting how things are relative for each individual. Leevi found Finland to be suffocating and feels more at ease in Paris. Meanwhile Tareq sees Finland as a land of freedom and opportunity compared to Syria and his very conservative family. The film is very very real and the emotions are easy to connect with. The scene where Tareq is mad and unsure whether he wants his family to join him in Finland is brilliant. Its a brilliant depiction if family values of the middle-east and how family always comes first but its also about Tareq wanting to be free finally. How will he choose one over the other? Direction is brilliant with some amazing scenes overall. The built up of intimacy between Leevi and Tareq is filled with awkwardness but also love and passion. There are lots of silent moments that add to the authenticity of the film. Like someone said, "There’s an admirable quiet intensity to this film" and i cant agree more. The initial sex scenes eventually give them time to know each other better as people and it is very evident that both the boys are way too much into each other. They have both been looking for true meaningful love, yet its eluded them and this could be their chance. The chemistry between the 2 leads is 100% believable and magnificent. You can see they are in love and eventual pain after a sudden break-up, when rightfully so, Tareq's self-respect and dignity is bigger than anything else; even though if its not Leevi's fault. Its rare to see such amazing chemistry, completely natural with enough emotional and sexual intensity. Both men are forced to confront issues in their lives that have long been ignored.

This film is a low budget film but a very effective cinematography of the Finnish landscape and the magical chemsitry of the leads makes this film worth every minute. The actors are brilliant. Its slow, sensitive, poignant and hits the right emotions. This film lingers with you for long and I for once, want to get to know the sensitive refugee Tareq up and close. (8/10)

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The Dream Children (Australia)

I feel so sad when there are stories with huge potentials but somehow their execution lacks that extra zing to take them to next level. As a result they end of being just a very average mediocre film. This is especially sad when the subject has potential. Stories that do exceptionally well on theatre need that extra love and care when being adapted for the big screen.

Set in early 2000's, this film shows the time when gay marriage or adoption for gay couples was still not legal in Australia. Steven and Alex are a couple but since Steven is a TV show host, he has to live a closeted life. But he goes around having meaningful sex with random strangers and is almost always horny. On the other hand, Alex wants more from the relationship and expand their family. Steven always ignores this but when Alex asks their architect to include a nursery in their new beach home which is being built, Steven sees the seriousness. But since they are legally not a couple, their chances of legally adopting. Through an ad, they meet a pregnant girl Nerine, who after a series of meetings decides to give them her baby for a lot of money. Life is gonna change. Alex is prepared for it but it takes time for Steven to enjoy being a father. But Nerine comes back with a drug addict boyfriend demanding her kid back and literally steals back the baby. Alex and Steven's life falls apart. To make matters worse, a sex video of Steven with his intern is made public and his career goes down the drain. Thankfully Nerine comes to senses and realizes that his drug addict boyfriend is just an abuser and calls back Alex and Steve to take the baby back alongwith her. Steven decides to change his direction in life and starts championing for gay marriage.

Firstly, this film came out in 2015 and somehow connecting with the subject matter of early 2000's made me hard for m to relate to the subject. The whole process of getting a child for adoption seems believable then, but not when you watch it today. And what about surrogacy? I mean a plenty of options have always been available, especially when you have a lot of money to spend. And then I felt that a couple of sex scenes were forced. Agreed, that some of them were due to emotional distress but I felt that they were not really needed to be so explicit. The relationship between Steve and Alex is not very clear to me. They dont seem very compatible. Alex is not happy but he clearly stays in it. Steven is happy with his sexual escapades, so why try to be in a relationship! Alex exerts considerable pressure on Steve which appears to be the result of his own insecurity. I was hoping that the film would be focussed more on pros and cons of raising a child as a gay couple and how parenthood affects their relationship. But it was just a hope.

The actors were good looking and acted well and the story had potential but the fact that it failed me as an audience to emotionally connect with the leads, is a problem IMO. (5/10)

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Plaire, aimer et courir vite (French) [Sorry Angel]

By now, I have seen quite a few films that have been set during the AIDS epidemic. They all have focused on multiple aspects like activism, love stories, friendship etc. This french film shows us sympathy and love during an era of uncertainty and chaos. You don't hear or see anything about activism but its about individuals who are dealing with the outcry and what their outlook towards life and whether or not it changes with time.

Set in early 90's, Jacques is a 30-something writer who lives in Paris with his son. We are very casually told that he has AIDS but for now he is healthy and regularly goes on dates with younger guys but doesn't have sex. He is constantly wondering if ever now in his remaining life he will ever deserve true love. One of his closest friends is his neighbor and fellow writer. In parallel we are introduced to Arthur, a 20 year old young college student who has a girlfriend but is exploring his sexuality with boys too. On a work trip, where one of his plays is being produced, Jacques meets Arthur in a cinema hall and they both have instant chemistry. They hang out and have an amazing time and they continue to keep in touch via letters. In the meantime, his dying ex-boyfriend comes to live with him for few days and that gives us a glimpse of his past slightly. Arthur is completely bestowed upon by Jacques and wants to be with him but Jacques is stand-offish, as if protecting himself from getting attached. Jacques health starts deteriorating soon around the time when Arthur plans to visit him in Paris. Not to break his heart, Jacques first refuses but finally gives in to his love and admiration that Arthur brings with him in his last few dying days.

The film is poignant but a lot of stuff is left for the audience to figure out. Sometimes, I felt that even the chronology was a bit off and none of the relations between lot of characters is well explained. Why does Jacques have a son, who is the young boy whom he occasionally goes out with. how and why did Arthur start exploring sexuality with men etc. Given that the film is tad bit long with over 2 hours of running time, you would think these things would be clear but instead a lot of time of time is spent in moments and events that may stick with you. This would be liked by some people but others may find it slightly annoying. Some sequences are stretched out to the point where even the dramatic eventually becomes banal. Although others like the first meeting of the guys and their playful banter of wanting to spend time with each other reminds you of first love. On a positive note, the acting is brilliant by all principal actors and they share an amazing chemistry. You wait for things to happen but not much does. The story had potential had the screenplay and direction focussed more on the characters rather than situations.

The film seems personal to the director, which is fine, and I respect that but I also expected that something major will happen. The moments of tenderness, emotions are good. The film could have been awesome but stops shy of just being an average fare. (5/10)