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.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Posledice (Slovenian) [Consequences]

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 30, 2019

Gay OK Bangkok : Seasons 1 & 2 (Thai)

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 29, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Those People

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 23, 2019

Corpo Elétrico (Portuguese) [Body Electric]

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Benjamin (UK)

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

La Otra Familia (Spanish) [The Other Family]

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Love's Coming (Thai)

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 19, 2019

Queer Britain (UK) (Documentary)

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

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

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

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

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Laurence Anyways (Canadian French)

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

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

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

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

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Front Cover (English/Mandarin)

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Gay Short Films : 66

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Outrageous! (Canada)

This film came back way back in 1977, so you have to watch it and review it keeping that statistic in mind. A classic story of friendship and care between an upcoming drag queen and a schizophrenic girl, this film has its highs and lows. Watching it in today's times, it feels a bit 'all over the place' but I bet it was a huge deal when it came out.

Robin works as a hairdresser, and loves to do his customers hair in an iconic movie star style. One day his close friend Liza, who is schizophrenic runs away from the institution and comes to live with Robin. After initial differences they both start supporting each others dreams. Everyone except Robin thinks that he can be a very popular drag queen. After Liza's convincing he takes the plunge and actually gets decently successful in Canada. Meanwhile, Liza's situation goes through ups and down and eventually she gets pregnant with a trick's baby. Wanting to do something new and different Robin decides to come to New York to take the next step. He meets a taxi driver who doubles up as his agent and very soon Robin starts getting popular here as well. Liza goes into labour but her baby is stillborn and she goes further into depression. Robin goes back to Toronto and bring sLiza back to NY with him. He will make sure with his gigs and performances, he will bring Liza back to life. They dance away the night together.

As a film, this is pretty straight forward. Not much drama happens. Life moves on ok and Robin easily reaches success and gets love from viewers. There is not much of a conflict in his life and its refreshing to see that. Robin does a great job of female impersonator but there were so many places where i couldn't stop laughing because how as a drag queen she would never stop moving her body or flutter her eyes. It was so distracting but all in good fun. The relationship between the two actors is ok but not very convincing, especially it wasn't clear to me on why would Robin go all the way out to help and support her, when they didn't even look that close together.

The film was slightly dated for me so I couldn't enjoy it as much as some others would. (4.5/10)

Monday, August 12, 2019

Because Of Meeting You (Vietnamese) (Web Series)

This is a Vietnamese series consisting of 29 episodes. Each episode is about 10-15 minutes long, so it does take a long time to go over all the episodes. And if you are not used to watching some of these Asian BL series, this, like most other series will seem ridiculous to you. More on that later.

Ha Sinh is our main character, who is a young teenager living in mountains. For some reason his younger siblings and his parents, they all think o him as a burden except his grandfather. One day grandfather's best friend's son comes to the village to repay his father's debt and asks to take Ha Sinh with him for a better life to city. The rich man is always traveling for work, but Ha Sinh meets few people at home: Ngiem Bac, boss's assistant, a really nice and tender guy; And Vien Truc, boss's spoiled son who always rude to him. To top this, there is a lovely lady who cooks and takes care of everyone at home. Ngiem Bac is like an elder brother but Vien Truc is very hostile towards Ha Sinh. Eventually they start getting close and between their fights, arguments etc they do fall in love with each other. Vien Truc used to have a girlfriend but he is over her now. Over a period of 4 years they have an amazing time. But when Vien Truc's father finds out, he begs Ha Sinh to leave his son since he needs to take family name ahead. Ha Sinh leaves Truc and meets with an accident and is presumed dead. Three years later, Truc is still not over Ha Sinh and he sees him in a cafe. All misunderstandings are cleared and the two lovers finally meet.

There are a few pluses and a lot of negatives for this series. First of all, the over the top acting. I have by now seen quite a few BL series and I still cant get over how OTT acting everyone does. But to be fair the leads do a decent job and don't overdo it. They are subtle in a lot of things. In fact even when it comes to their love, its not until much much later that there is any sort of intimacy. Even all the additional characters are OTT but the lady of the house, the cook etc is funny. She was fun to watch.There are many parallel tracks for the web series as you would expect, but none that does much. It just helps bring the two boys together. The story is built well as to how the 2 boys start with hating each other, to tolerating to finally becoming lovers. Having said all this, it takes a lot of patience to watch this series. Its a lot of episodes and after a while it gets to you because you want the makers to come to the point. And when you are in middle of a series, you cant even leave it midway. You have to watch it complete. I feel like makers get a sadistic pleasure out of this. Like I have said many times before, This could be edited sharply and made to a beautiful 30 minute short film which would have had a much larger impact. In terms of actors, Ha Sinh is immensely cute and anyone could fall for that innocent face. Ngiem Bac, as the boss's assistant does a very good job of keeping atmosphere sober. He is the only one who brings some normalcy in the entire proceedings. Vien Truc was initially getting on my nerves but ultimately he was also decent.

Watching this series is going to take up a lot of your time and patience. If you can ignore OOT acting and presentation, go for it. At the heart of it, its a cute little teenage love story but it takes forever to get to a conclusion. (4/10)

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Mía (Spanish)

I think the thought behind this film was novel and honest. A transsexual and an outcast of the society wanting to belong to and lead a normal life was a god thought on paper, but somehow the film gets too involved in a basic storyline, because of which it loses its grip on the basic premise, which could have added a lot more meaning to the film.

Ale is a transvestite who collects garbage and cardboards in the streets. She lives with fellow outcasts outside town with other people who have been shunned by their family or society for various reasons. They all have found peace with each other. But their existence is in danger when some builder wants to occupy the land that they have built their houses on. One day Ale gets her hands on a diary written by Mia, a woman who dies and has left the diary for her daughter Julia. She watches Julia, who is now a very angry child after her mother's death and her father Manuel. After few days of reading the diary, she feels a connect with Mia and infact starts imagining herself as Mia. Pretty soon, she enters their life and Julia gets an instant liking for her and eventually Manuel also gives in and hires Ale to take care of Julia. Ale's dreams start to come true by her getting acceptance from a normal social family including going for dinner outings. But this is not supposed to last long. Manuel has plans of eventually moving out south to his mother's place. A dark truth that Ale eventually accepts but by the time she reaches back her home, it is also destroyed. In an instant Ale loses everything that she thought she is starting to get acceptance from society for.

As mentioned above, the film has very honest intentions, but the problem is that it never connects with the audience. Some of the scenes seems stretched and I found myself struggling to keep my attention on the film. Ale's aspirations never really touched my heart and connected with me. I liked how Julia respects Ale and so does Manuel but never really it reaches a position where it makes a huge connect with people. I feel had more focus was given to transsexuals and their struggles as social outcasts; it would have made a lot more impact. I liked the film but it never engaged me completely. Actress playing Ale is pretty good but something is missing. She is too timid and slightly uninteresting. Manuel does a great job of a drunk father and so is Julia. I personally enjoyed the character of the gay man who has lost his lover of many years and is now with Ale. The makers tried to balance social issues with a family story.

The film plays safe and hence it never reaches the peak that it could have. It could have been better but ends up being an average film. (5/10)

Monday, August 5, 2019

Like Cattle Towards Glow (France)

If we were to summarize this weird anthology of short films, it is about troubled gay youngsters who attempt to resolve their psychological issues through bizarre fetish play or sinister self expression. And trust me watching it is as weird as reading this. Filled with graphic sexual scenes, these 5 short stories explore the darker side of teenage sexuality. The film, though is from France, but its all in English.

The five stories are diverse and not connected. In the first story we meet a suicidal teenager who sells his body but he normally plays "dead" for this act. The buyer this time is trying to process the suicide of a friend that occurred after he rejected him as a lover. The second story is about this young male in a dark punk club sharing his life when 2 members of the audience violently rape hi while he is performing. In the third story , two young boys meet, both drug addicts and depressed and then its all about one boy eating and playing with the other's ass and telling him how this is nothing like he has had before. Fourth story gets weirder, when a boy and a girl have denounced human form but when they meet a young boy, they both want him. They make him masturbate and then they kill him. The last story is about a woman following a broken man via camera and drones and how she is turned on by it.

Apparently this was put together by a duo of writer and visual artist, but I feel that nothing was meant to be thought-provoking or even shocking. None of the stories actually produces any emotional response. There is no discomfiting humor or melodramatic excess or even pornographic delight. Also I quite didn't get what was the point that was trying to be made with these stories. One thing I can tell you is that it’s definitely not a pleasant watch and it’s hard to understand who would actually find this kind of material appealing? Yes, there are plenty penis shots starting from the very first scene but they are not sensual. Actors, didn't seem seasoned actors. It felt they were chosen on their looks to suit the story. Its ok to want to do something different and unique but not with something that makes you say WTF!

I wouldn't recommend this unless you are an avid art lover. Maybe you may find something about these stories visually appealing but other than that, there's nothing much. (2.5/10)

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Gay Short Films : 65

StandBy: l'attesa (Italy)
Every six months Filippo goes to the hospital for HIV test. During one of those mornings, he meets Simone. Their good chemistry soon turns into a relationship, even after Simone confesses he is positive. Filippo is ok with it but Simone doesn't want to hurt him.

Be Brave (China)
A young man struggles to convince his love to be brave and accept his sexuality rather than cheating.

A Friend of Dorothy (USA)
Winston arrives at NYU as a freshman, knowing he's gay. He falls hard for Tom, his temporary roommate, and it's risk to express his feelings. With help from his hometown friend Anne, Winston keeps his equilibrium.

Will You Love Me Tomorrow (Vietnam)
A young man will have to marry a girl of his mother's choice to do the "right thing" by killing his feelings and love for another boy.

It Seems To Rain (China)
A guy who loathes himself and has a serious self-image problem fights inner demons while he is befriended by a new classmate. This is short, slow, sometimes bizarre, confusing, and so forth. Shot in Singapore, where the boys live after leaving home.

Miss Moneypenny (UK)
A bright and spunky comedy about gay dating, when one man wants sex and other more.

Versátil (Spain) [Versatile]
Alex and Hugo are a young couple. One is bottom and other is versatile. One night a simple discussion around sexual roles becomes something more serious exposing things that make a relationship work.

Lockjaw (USA)
Cracks in a relationship are exposed when a couple cannot agree on whether or not to have a three way with a Tinder match.

Huevos Rancheros (USA)
A gay man confronts his best straight friend on his hidden prejudices and his support for minorities.

From Here To There (Hong Kong)
Two college boys were so closed to each other that they had to escaped from their relation after graduating from college. They met again in a wedding banquette ten years after that and get time to review their relationship, but not good enough to repair it.

El Amigo (Peru) [The Good Friend]
Marcos confesses to Esteban that his relationship with his girlfriend doesn't excite him anymore. That night both will discover the limits of their friendship. Loved.

Landleben (Switzerland) [Country Life]
Julian, a simple farmer's son & gay loves country life. His best friend arranges a meeting with Adi from Zurich. Adi lives a very urban life and frequently goes to gay clubs. Two worlds collide.

Jag är Polisen (Netherlands)
Set in Southern Sweden, the film follows the mismatch of a Swedish police officer with a broken police car and a Dutch hitchhiker, as they walk over a deserted road to a gas station.

Bittersweet
In this charming animated film, an anxious schoolboy scrambles to retrieve a valentine he’s accidentally sent to his secret boy crush.

Un Instante (Spain) [An Instant]
A year. A boy. An instant. Hugo is a boy of routine whereas Cosmo is a free soul. One summer afternoon their gazes cross by chance. It is only an instant, but it will be the birth of a relationship that will make them stop for the first time to live the present.

Crashing Waves (UK)
Against the backdrop of a high-rise building, two young men connect as we see a beautiful dance.

Le Maillot de Bain (France) [The Swimming Trunks]
On holiday on a campsite by the seaside, Remy, 10, is fascinated by Stephan, 35, the father of one of his playmates. This is a new, confusing feeling for him. Nobody knows what he is going through especially not handsome Stephan.

Dos Veintitrés (Spain) [Two Twenty-Three]
A guy is pouring his heart to his friend on his feelings about him, while he is swimming under water.

Ce n'est pas un film de cow-boys (France) [It's Not A Cowboy Film]
Between classes, two groups of French teenagers who are really close friends talk about the movie they watched on television last night: Brokeback Mountain.

A Gay Victorian Affair (UK)
A period comedy following the sexy, queer escapades of Lord Reginald & Lady Vanessa, a gay man and lesbian woman in a marriage of convenience in Victorian times.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Truth

This is supposed to be a psychological thriller but according to me, its a film that has been stretched beyond what was needed. And of course, when you have Sean Paul Lockhart as your lead, you can't help but make it a sensual thriller. It just happens.

We see the film with Caleb in jail and doesn't remember what has happened and a detective trying to find the truth. Extremely good looking Caleb is dealing with a lot of issues and baggage with his family, especially his abusive mother. But outwardly he seems to be coping well with all of those. He meets Jeremy, a slightly older man, who seems to be hiding something but the two connect and they fall in love eventually. Caleb tells Jeremy that he had this abusive mother and he has moved from homes to homes but what essentially has happened is that Caleb has inherited his weird personality disorder from her. When Caleb finds out that Jeremy is married, he loses his control completely and makes Jeremy his prisoner and tortures him for a few days before his wife comes looking for him. IN an act of violence, the pregnant wife is killed by Caleb, who ends up being in jail and Jeremy is back with family.

Firstly, the end of the film was so bizzare and random that it didn't make any sense at all. The writing was decent but the acting is so bad, it all looks pretty wooden. Sean Lockhart has improved from his previous stints but still has a lot to learn if he wants to get into mainstream acting. As an audience, we don't invested in any character whatsoever, neither Caleb's nor Jeremy for that matter. From the start the relationship between Caleb and Jeremy seemed more weird than genuine and as it began to unravel the situations weren't particularly suspenseful or psychologically deep. There are unnecessary naked scenes purely for titilation and almost every other scene has the two of them wearing fancy underwears (this was a good promotion, if at all). As I mentioned above, the film was stretched beyond it had to. An interesting premise is ruined by poor direction, acting and execution.

Its a superficial film which could have been good with better execution. For now, if you are looking for some good looking actor with ample skin show, go ahead and have your feast. (3.5/10)

Friday, August 2, 2019

Primos (Portuguese) [Cousins]

After a long time I am seeing a nice feel good film about teenage love, coming out, without unnecessary drama just for the sake of it. Sometimes straight forward films are much better than the films that create plot twists and intense drama just for the sake of it. For some people life can be full of surprises and yet be all about sweet romantic love. And this is what this simple film is all about.

Set in a small country town, adult teenager Lucas lives with his very religious aunt Lourdes. He is a shy boy and keep to himself, with his gardening and music. One day his aunt tells him that his second cousin Mario is going to live with them for a few days. Apparently Mario is just getting out of prison and his family doesn't want him to come home after such an incident. Incidentally, the aunt has to go on a mission, so Lucas will have to welcome and entertain Mario. Mario comes next day and is a complete contrast to shy Lucas' personality. He is happy, extrovert and makes Lucas come out of his shell. They are both happy because they have both missed love and affection. They fool around and play with each other like most cousins do but they always have this sexual tension between them. Eventually the barriers are broken and they make love to each other. This makes them extremely happy and they both are very happy and content. A neighbor girl Julia is very interested in Lucas but never gets any attention from him. The aunt comes back and sees that Lucas is happier and is glad to see them. When Julia exposes the truth about the boys in front of the aunt and other neighbors, she shows maturity and accepts their love despite her religious background. Love eventually wins.

The story of the film is pretty straightforward but primarily works because of the amazing captivating chemistry between the two boys. They carry the film completely on their shoulders. Every single scene with the duo lights up the screen. We see the gradual change in Lucas from shy teenager avoiding Julia's advances to starting to be happy with Mario being around. They share their life stories, their passion, cook and clean together, play around like little boys but also make love to each other and make each other very very happy. The fact that boys boys are extremely good looking only helps it even more. The aunt's character was a little unclear. She was religious but not really and the whole angle with religious events with neighbors seems like a  spoof and not really serious. Also the whole voodoo angle of Julia for the boys added absolutely nothing to the story and was completely unnecessary. Besides these minor glitches, the film is all about pure sweet teenage love. Small and simple dialogues like when Lucas says. "I don't want you to go, not now, not ever" really shows the depth of the love they both have for each other.

Enjoy this sweet romantic gay love story just for the simplicity of it. I remembered my young days and wished I had someone like this in my life at that point. (7.5/10)

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Victor Victoria

I have been hearing about this film for many many years now. But for some reason, given it came out way back in 1982, I had my reservations and I couldn't bring myself to see the film. Also, top be honest, I am not really sure if it was a classic gay film or is it just a cult film thats loved by gays because of Julie Andrews. Finally, all my hesitation went for a toss after having seen this film.

Set in 1930s in Paris, aging Toddy is MC at one of the clubs. His male lovers are faithless and his career is at a standstill. A chance encounter with Victoria, a brilliant female singer changes his life forever. When she keeps getting rejected and finds herself starving in Paris, its Toddy who comes with a brilliant idea. He asks her to pretend to be a man and then play a female impersonator in a club. With her style she will become popular. Their bets pay off. They become best friends and we have a girl, pretending to man impersonating to be a woman. They soon become talk of the town and Victoria soon gets attention of King Marchan, a Chicago mobster on holiday with his bodyguard Squash. Soon the king finds truth about Victoria and pursues her, but Victoria refuses to live like a woman. This worries Marchan since he doesn't want people to think he is gay. Victoria educated him about tolerance and with their on-off love, things ultimately fall in place for everyone with Toddy finding love in Squash and Victoria and Marchan getting together as well.

The film is quite a nice light comedy and has some really good musical numbers. Even for a person like me who is not into musicals, this was quite a watch. Julie Andrews is pretty darn amazing as a female pretending to be a male pretending to be female. This is not an easy character to play and she does a great job.Toddy is another great character and he is fantastic to watch . Together they both share an amazing chemistry and support system for each other. They have boundaries but standby. each other. Even with Marchan's character, even though he doesn't want to be judged as gay, is quite ok with the idea of his bodyguard being gay when he comes out. There are some very good sequences when Victoria questions/educates the king about sexuality etc. But above all this the film is about wit and style and performances. Everyone does their part with galore and i can see this film making a huge positive impact for gay community with wit and humour.

I can see why this film is counted as one of the cult classic films for gays around the world. (7.5/10)