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 18, 2018

Freak Show

A story of an wildly eccentric teenager, who faces intolerance and persecution at his ultra conservative high school makes the crux of this story. You have to admit that the main character has got to be the most flamboyant, confident, i-don’t-care-a-damn, fabulous character in any of the high school movies that I have seen so far and its fun to watch. But the question is, are we as society ready for someone like Billy Bloom. Are we there yet or will it still take us a while before we can accept without inherent discrimination in our minds for anyone who doesn’t pass the social norms that we expect out of an individual.

Billy, a flamboyant kid has grown up in the company of his mother’s glamour world. He has never worn anything that he doesn’t like, which makes him wear all kind of funky, fashionable, gender non-confirming clothes with makeup. But when she has to go for rehab (which we find out quite later in the film), he has to go live with his father for one semester of high school and this is where all the problems begin. Billy has always had strained relationship with his father but thats not what he cares about. He is ridiculed and mocked, as expected, for his appearances in college. But an expected friendship from a girl Mary Jane and an even more surprising friendship from the dreamboy football star Flip , makes things a little better for him. When Billy is beaten in school and lands in a 5 day coma, we find that he would have been dead, had Flip not intervened. Flip and Billy become close as friend and it is revealed that Flip is a footballer with the soul of an artist. Billy ultimately comes back to school , where his attackers have been expelled and there is a new zero-tolerance policy. He becomes  celebrity in the school but just for a short while. But after a while the hostility towards Billy just keeps growing and after a near-suicide attempt, Billy decides to run for homecoming queen. He promotes himself as a freak who is here to make people aware of tolerance. The film ends with a predictable wrap-up. Billy loses the contest but it as never about winning. His father has a change of heart thanks to some counseling by the house-keeper. The hiccup in Billy-Flip friendship, comes back to normal and everyone in high school accept Billy for who he really is.

The first impression that the film leaves you is the effort that has gone into Billy’s wardrobe. We see everything that you can or cannot imagine. I know one of the things that I kept looking forward to is what he is gonna wear next. On the flip side, there are random side stories that play which doesn’t add much to the meat. Billy’s mom returning to tell how she never wanted a kid, Billy’s closet gay stalker, other football coaches, Billy’s random stage scenes are some of the scenes that didn’t make much sense to me. I am a simple viewer and sometimes expect simple things but maybe it works for the teenagers who, I guess, would be the target audience for the film. I do like the bond that Billy shares with Flip and thank the lord, the makers didn’t try to mess it up by showing them in love. Some relationships are good in the way they are and Flip’s and Billy’s unconditional friendship is a testament. Yes, Billy may have feelings for him but he is intelligent enough to keep those to himself, like we witness when his caretaker points this out to him. And what about the sudden change in heart of Billy’s dad. That was random, hollow and completely unearned. It felt fake. The film is saved by a brilliant performance by the actor playing Billy who gives his heart and soul to the character and brings life to it.

A tighter editing and focus on prime story could have made this film a tremendous effort to represent kids who struggle to be accepted for who they are. This a step in the right direction, because the heart is in the right place. Now we just need to balance between reality and aspirations. (6/10)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

120 Battements Par Minute (French) [120 Beats Per Minute]

If you don’t get teary-eyed and sentimental and emotional after watching this film, I don’t know what else will make you feel that way. I have seen multiple movies that show us the reality of what AIDS epidemic was like and how people suffered but I have to say this is one of the better ones. Yes, the film is long and very wordy, but its worth it. The 140-minute duration of the film helps give the audience a good look at several characters, their history, their past,  sharing a proximity in different ways and their interactions with each other. In a film which is full of many delights, is so active and engaging, whose finale in every way earns its deeply emotional payoff, nothing can beat the beauty of the last ten minutes, which see life carrying on in all its former charm and banality.

The film actually shows us the dramatic few years of ACT UP Paris, a direct action AIDS advocacy group. We are introduced to various participants, how the meetings are held, protests planned, actions taken, debates ensured but at the same time we see the diversity of the group and the people affected by AIDS. Thibaut is the head of the group who i always trying to keep a balance and lead the discussions with government officials and pharmaceutical companies. A teenager boy and his mother are another passionate factors in the group. Over the course of the film and after almost more than an hour, we realize that film focuses on two main characters: Sean and Nathan. Sean is HIV+ and slowly developing AIDS. He has been in the group for a while and very actively is fighting against the government and the pharmaceutical companies. Nathan is new to the group but very son realizes the social and political landscape of the whole thing. Nathan eventually falls in love with Sean for his spirit and wants to be with him and take care of him. This happens sooner than either of them imagined since Sean’s health goes form bad to worse and eventually the worse happens.

From a story perspective, it may feel by reading above that there is not much to it but believe me, there is a whole lot of stuff going on in the film. A large part of the film focusses on ACT UP Paris and their meetings and discussions. Among their many goals, they seek to combat the French government’s silent indifference toward gays and lesbians, drug users and others affected by HIV and AIDS, and to call out the dishonesty of pharmaceutical firms withholding potentially life-saving new treatments from those who could most stand to benefit. Its like watching a real meeting happening where the debates are confrontational and members are outspoken. Balloons full of fake blood are hurled at government officials and pharmaceutical executives. Meetings and conferences are disrupted. Demonstrators lie down in the street like corpses. Friendships form, dancing in clubs happen to de-stress and of course sex. But overall, I can’t even fathom the efforts that our previous generation has taken to get us to a point of where we are today. And then when we focus on the main protagonists, Sean has this charismatic eloquence about him and fierce logic that instantly attracts the hunky yet quiet and shy Nathan towards him. Their love story is so real, honest, sometimes funny and very very heart-breaking to watch. The tender love-making moments, how delicately they understand their HIV status makes for a wonderful watch. It is hard to separate personal and political differences. The scenes between the 2 men, from two almost healthy individuals to where Sean’s health deteriorates while Nathan helplessly just taking care chokes you. The worse thing is that these guys and many others like these are only in their 20s. All the hospital scenes, the talks between the two guys are splendid. The performances are top notch and I have to give full marks to all the actors, screenplay and the director to make such an awesome awe-inspiring film. While the running time may seem long it is understandable when seen in context with the emotionally powerful last quarter of the film.

The film shows how this disease claimed so many young lives within a society that for the most part did not care about their plight and stigmatised them because they were gay, had AIDS, and/or did not like their sexual practices. There are many many many scenes in the film that will stay with you and will haunt you and make you think. I would really encourage to have some patience and watch this film. Trust me, you will be thankful for a lot of things including the fact that you are alive, hopefully healthy and at a stage where you can appreciate what life has given you. (9/10)

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Frangipani (Sinhalese)

YAY!  Asian countries are finally making a mark and finding their foothold in the queer film industry. This film is the first LGBT film from Sri Lanka. Having recently visited the country, I was so looking forward to seeing this film. For a first of its kind in the country, I quite liked this passionate, diverse, loving and thought-provoking film. I, for some reason, was expecting a blunder but this story of friendship and love while exploring sexuality and identity was quite charming. It doesn’t mean it did not have its share of hiccups but we can talk al about it later.

This film is a sort of love triangle. Sarasi is a string, wealthy girl who doesn’t want a traditional wedding in a arranged way. She falls for her childhood best friend Chamath. Chamath, on his part years for freedom from his family, to be himself. Enter a handsome young mechanic Nalin and sparks fly between everyone. Chamath and Nalin end up hooking up with each other on the day he is getting engaged to Sarasi. This is what Chamath had been waiting for and the two boys instantly fall in love with each other, thereby, breaking off the engagement and souring the childhood friendship between Sarasi and Chamath. Chamath leaves his village and joins a fashion class. Nalin, now is not very sure because he is not comfortable being openly gay (Something which Chamath is now comfortable with). Sarasi and Nalin end up marrying and when news reaches Chamath, he tries to commit suicide. This is when Nalin realizes that he cannot take out Chamath from his heart but is now also responsible for his wife who son becomes pregnant. The couple has cracks in their relationship because Sarasi now suspects that Nalin is gay. Nalin occasionally still meets  Chamath but neither is sure where this is leading to. Chamath now is a cross dresser and doesn’t want to live a li and Nalin is still not ok accepting him this way. They both realize that the two have ultimately grown apart over the years. Sarasi’s daughter grows up and eventually the trio meet after many years, trying to forget the bitter past and lead a new happy and healthy life.

First thing we all should know is that, legally being gay is still illegal in Sri Lanka and police can arrest and prosecute homosexual people. If found guilty, they can be imprisoned up to eight years. So, this alone makes choosing a subject like this very interesting. But the execution of the script gets a bit complicated every now and then. The movie keeps jumping in future for no reason, thereby creating confusion for the viewers. But knowing the culture closely of the country, I can empathize with the characters and the behaviors they exhibit and why. One good thing about the film is that it never goes over the top. It stays grounded and subtle with exceptionally good performances by every actor. Being gay is still quite a battle. I think the film can use a bit of crisper editing and better lighting and I am sure this film can do exceptionally well in film circuits and festivals. This film offers something fresh and original and reminds us all that in South Asian context, the very basic lack of understanding the nuances of human sexuality makes life so much more harder.

Frangipani proves that gay relationships are often just as complicated as straight relationships, despite whatever the feelings of their surrounding society may be. Strongly recommended. (7/10)

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Like You Mean It

‘Like You Mean It’ is a very delicate film IMO. Two wonderful people, growing apart in their intimacy and love for each other; is presented very somberly in this film. Yes, this makes the film painfully slow and repetitive but still that provides the audience a chance to connect with the character and try to get in his mind as to why he is doing what he is doing.

Mark and Jonah look like your typical happily monogamous gay couple. Although happy, we see that Mark is increasingly unhappy and frustrated with all the demeaning auditions that he has been giving. He also feels diminishing passion for his musician boyfriend Jonah. Jonah realizes there is an issue but Mark never opens up to him. Since, Jonah is happy, very much in love, and caring; Mark feels maybe its his problem and suggests couple’s therapy. But once in therapy, he continues to resist any exercises or methods that therapist suggests. We also find that he takes anti-depressants. Also we don’t know much about his background. His sister constantly calls him but he never returns calls even when his father dies. Ultimately, Mark confesses to not being in love anymore with Jonah and they break up. Months later, they meet at a friends wedding and this is when for the first time Mark apologizes to Jonah for everything that he did to him.

As I mentioned earlier, the film is simple but quite repetitive. There are multiple scenes of Mark practicing his audition, giving auditions and getting his car cleaned. Long shots of hi lost in thought and unsure of what he wants from life. Yes, he knows the passion with Jonah is missing and he tries to bring back passion using alcohol and drinks, but that doesn’t work either. Mark is confused and unsure of what he wants from life. Clearly there is a strained relationship that Mark shares with his family back in Austria but we never find out the details. Mark, who also happens to be the producer/director of the film , is in every single frame. It gets tiresome watching such a cold, self-absorbed and self-destructive character continuously. It would have been really good to see Jonah’s point of view as well, because he just became a mute spectator in all this without any say in everything. A tiny hint of emotion only comes towards the end when the two guys meet but its to late in the game. Despite all this, I liked the film (minus the slow pace). You do feel for the character because of brilliant acting by both Mark and Jonah. Jonah is extremely good looking with a very infectious smile. Someone that you would love to take home to your mother.

I think, if more thought and planning went into the project, this could have easily taken the route of ‘Weekend’. In fact, if same actors were used, it could have been a brilliant sequel. The former was about 2 people coming together and this one is about a gay couple’s failing relationships. Pretty good but it quite didn’t reach there. (6.5/10)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Garçon Stupide (French) [Stupid Boy]

I think I saw this film long time ago but I really can’t remember much (including the fact of I have even seen it). I started to like the film initially, especially since the lead was quite cute in a very interesting sort of way. Its difficult to describe his looks. Anyway, as the movie progressed, boredom started taking over and i wasn’t sure where this film was headed. I believe that the film was not just about the male protagonist. Equally important was his relationship with his best friend Marie.

We meet Loic, a twenty year old very beautiful guy, who works in a chocolate factory by the day and spends pretty much all his nights having anonymous sex either online or through cruising the streets. All he cares about his physical satisfaction, until he meets Lionel (whom we never see), who is more interested in Loic’s personality , history, likes and dislikes rather than going to bed with him. And this is a new feeling for Loic. He shacks up with his best friend Marie, who works at a museum. The two friends are very close. Loic takes a lot of photographs with his phone and when Lionel praises him, he thinks he can be a photographer. Typical young adult confusion. When Marie starts dating a guy, that makes Loic very mad and upset and they both have a fallout. This changes everything, since now he has no friend he can count on, or any friendly place to sleep. Next thing we know is that Marie is dead and Loic is wandering around and it is during this phase, he gets obsessed with a soccer player. He is very attracted by the man's family life and celebrity status and wants to emulate him. Is he straight now or just confused? Is this longing for emotional connect that is missing because Marie is gone or something else? Only time and Loic will tell us.

As I mentioned earlier, Loic is enigmatic and incredibly attractive, and the film could have developed well based on that, but instead it wanders hopelessly after its first 20 minutes. Loic sees the world has part real and part fantasy, which is never very clear or evident to the viewers. Second half felt completely disconnected with what I started watching the film and this is where I feel that the movie went into an experimental zone. With a blend of emotional innocence and sexual hyperactivity, Loic is a loner who is looking for more. He constantly blurs the line between sex and love and leaves us wanting to know more about his turbulent life, if only to help him discover his true identity. There is a lot of talk without taking the plot somewhere and after second half even that goes missing where there is hardly any talk. Quite a few scenes seem to be there to just provide a shock.

For most people, IMO, this film will work only because of the lead actor. Barely any credit to the makers of the film. (5/10)

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Nature of Nicholas (Canada)

This was a very very odd and weird coming-out film. Such films that focuses on teenagers are usually cute, romantic and helps the audience to come to terms and accept really who they are. Instead, all this film does is confuse the viewers to a very large extent. I have seen films where a plot doesn’t always make sense but this one definitely takes it up a level since even after reading online a lot about this film, trying to interpret the director’s vision, still leaves me very confused.

Nicholas lives with his mother, who is worried about Nicholas’ introvert nature. Hid father was a cop and is dead now. HIs only friend is Bobby. Nicholas definitely has a very strong attraction to Bobby but Bobby’s feelings are not always clear. Nicholas is confused because just when he thinks Bobby also likes him, he starts showing more interest in girls and the parties. Nicholas just plays along. We also see Nicholas’ father’s ghost that apparently he also sees and feels that he is guiding him, but we are not sure. After an impulsive kiss by Nicholas to Bobby, things start to change. Bobby suddenly appears to be a Zombie like creature but its confusing what he really is. It seems this figure is the flesh expression of Bobby’s unwanted sexual desires that he wants to suppress. Nicholas keeps this zombie at his home, while his dad continues to talk to him through his mother and other people around him. Even the ending of the film was quite odd.

If you are confused after reading above, trust me, it will stay this way. There are so many ways that you can interpret the whole zombie situation, but none makes sense. Even worse is Nicholas’ father showing up every now and then trying to guide him. Is this whole point about showing Nicholas’ mental state and confusions he is going through and how he is dealing with? I dunno and its frustrating to not understand what the makers are trying to portray. The only positive thing about this film is the brilliant acting by both the kids. The look and act the part and do a fantastic job of it. How Nicholas is confused and trying to deal with his sexual identity was shown well. But was he also dealing with some sort of trauma is not explained well. Yes, he lost his father but what kind of damage did that do to Nicholas mentally is not explored very well, which leaves us even more confusing.

What could have been a good film, ends up being a very confusing film and frustrating experience. I am sure few viewers must have watched and liked the film, but I am definitely not one of them. (3/10)

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Como Una Novia Sin Sexo (Spanish) [Bromance]

I actually quite liked this film. I didnt know what to expect but there were plenty of things about this film that kept me glued to it. When you notice 3 extremely good looking guys together in a supposedly gay film, I always think there are gonna be compromises wrt the acting and direction. I am so glad that I was proven wrong. Primarily this film is about friendship, bonding, love and prejudices and the subtlety of emotions and the connections in the film makes it for a very heart-warming and delightful watch.

Three young, late-teenage friends Adrian, Santiago and Daniel go for a camping trip near the beach. This trip is supposed to be about friends spending time together and chill. They all have this amazing chemistry between them. In a brief moment while swimming Daniel and Santiago end up kissing each other. Santiago moves on but it sticks with Daniel , who clearly has stronger feelings for Santiago. To deal with this, he somehow drifts away from Adrian as well. Enter Julie, whom both Adrian and Santiago want to win. She starts a relationship with Santiago, mentioning how Adrian is the cute one among the three and this makes Daniel uncomfortable because he wants Santiago. At just the same time, Adrian is struggling with some personal family issues. Julie keeps asking if Daniel is gay because she senses a desire in him for Santiago. Because of constant nudge, Santiago gets fed up and breaks up with Julie. Daniel confronts him asking about his feelings but Santiago tells him that he is not sure about what he wants, which Daniel interprets as him wanting to stay as a closet gay. Julie then hangs on to Adrian and one morning at the beach asks Santiago and Daniel if they are a couple now. This leads to a rift between friends, because Adrian finds himself blinded with all these developments and he doesn’t take it easily that Daniel is gay. A camping trip that was supposed to be fun filled ends up in a much different way than either of them could have ever imagined.

Story may sound simple but thats the beauty of it. I found it very very real account and depiction of youth and friendship and love. None of the scenes were over the top but at the same time, they conveyed beautiful emotions and thoughts of what the individuals must have been going through. Daniel’s walking around alone with a handy camera and struggling for his feelings for Santiago was amazing. I loved it when he tells Santiago that “he gets nervous around him and he gets chills in his body when he is around him but he loves that feeling and he will never be able to change that”, shows a sign of young love and what it means to actually have that feeling for special someone. When love is love and is not about sex or anything. Adrian is absolutely fantastic when he hears about the news of his grandfather’s death and how he deals with those emotions. I thought that whole scene was magical and performed with so much maturity. I feel in love with Adrian right then and there. And finally, Santiago, the most handsome of them all and the character with most conflict internally. He os not sure of his feelings but knows that he doesn’t want to lose his friends. There is virtually no bedroom or– action scenes here, so please keep your expectations accordingly. One thing that I am not very sure of is why was the film set in 1996. There was no reason for that because this could very easily be a movie set in today’s time and be equally relevant.

A great screenplay, wonderful matured acting and a superb direction makes this film a definite watch. When you have the above three join forces, there is no reason this film should not be reaching out to a wider audience. (8/10)

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Dream Boat (Documentary) (English/French & more)

Now this was an interesting documentary, although if I was to sum it up in short, I would say the makers were not very sure of where they wanted to head to and what is it that they really wanna talk about or convey through this documentary. Extremely high on production values, gorgeous men and walking us through on what happens on a huge cruise liner of all gay men, it was indeed a good insight. My reaction was, ‘Oh My God! Its a lot of work to be on one of these cruises’.

The documentary walks us through lives of 5 different men, from different backgrounds and age groups and what goes on in their head while they enjoy an all-male week-long voyage from Lisbon to the Canary Islands in a ship that holds 2k plus passengers.. What do they expect from the cruise, what are they feeling emotionally and how was their overall experience. We meet Marek, Polish born but UK resident, extremely good looking but unsure of what to do with his charms. He is looking for the ideal love and partner and doesn’t believe in hook-ups. He is also very close to his mother. An Indian guy, living in Dubai, is overwhelmed with everything around him. He considers himself not an attractive man and is trying hard to fit in. He is so intimidated that he feels a bit depressive and mentions that he has never felt so lonely in his life ever. A Frenchman bound to wheelchair is our next guy. He is happily partnered and is grateful but can’t keep his eyes off from all the gorgeous men around him and wonders what it would be like to be single and be able to walk. We also meet Ramzi, a Palestinian guy who moved to Belgium for his personal safety, is now very very happy with his partner and also thankful that his partner os cancer-free. And then we have Martin, who’s living with HIV. His was the most underdeveloped character and we don’t know much about him. We see all these men moving from one costume party to another every day with music, (thankfully no drugs) and talking about their hopes and fears.

Their is talk about everything. The cliches of having the perfect body and feel and look young. You need to have either perfect dick or ass and every other part of the body is negotiable. But if you don’t have either of these , then you need to compensate for those by other means. Nothing serious is discussed because all we see is all-night dance parties that give way to flirting during the day time. What I liked was the fact that the film chose people from multiple ethnic background, different age groups and everyone dealing with a different issue per say. The subject were not cliched white or black men. The men are referred to as “buffet” being ready and how would you pick the food that you wanna eat. This documentary sadly doesn’t seem very interested in exploring the implications of the pronouncements that such individuals make.

Visually, this documentary is dream but content wise, I wish there was more focus. When the guy who never felt so lonely till he came to the cruise, suddenly says that its the best time he has ever had in life at the end; I feel something big is missing here and not all issues have been talked about. This would have have been a perfect setting to talk about the sky high expectations of being a muscled good-looking forever young gay man, which adds stress, anxiety and leads to depression in a lot of gay men. (4.5/10)

Friday, January 5, 2018

Boys On Film 17: Love Is The Drug

New year, new beginnings and the newest volume of Boys on Film. Except one short film in the end, all the other films were new for me but as expected the overall quality of the short films was ok, barring maybe Pedro and Sugar Daddy. Explore hidden desires on a sleepover, fall in love with the handyman and be seduced by a stranger on the beach as you discover why LOVE IS THE DRUG.

Alex And The Handyman (USA)
When Alex, a precious nine-year-old boy, develops a crush on Jared, the moody twenty-five-year-old handyman who works in the mansion where he lives, he will stop at nothing to get his attention. Creepy but with a unexpected twist.

Mr Sugar Daddy (Sweden)
Fifty-something Hans is looking for a fresh start. When he is pursued by the handsome younger Andrej, he falls for him fast. As the pair get closer, his wallet becomes looser. But you can see Andrej is also interested in friends of his age. Is Andrej interested in Hans, or just the perks of an older man?

Spoilers (UK, Australia)
Leon’s loved and lost. Scarred by his experiences, his life takes a turn for the better when he meets the ideal man. Life seems full of possibility again, but what if he knew the ending before it even began? Bizarre yet good. Only film with great acting and very high production values.

Tellin’ Dad (UK)
A year into his relationship, Dan finally agrees to come out to his family. He writes letters to all of them. As each arrives, he deals with the aftermath, until there’s only his father left. Surprise surprise, he is most open minded of them all and even throws Dan a coming out party.

Boys (USA)
Set on the first day of summer, Brian sleeps over at Jake’s house, as they have done countless times before. This night however, the two encounter unfamiliar desires that illuminate a new side of themselves. This film could have been explored more but was left half-baked.

Hole (Canada)
A daring portrait of a disabled man yearning for intimacy in a world that would rather ignore him. Supported by his helper, this was a very emotional and poignant short film to watch.

Happy And Gay (USA)
A queer revisionist history of 1930’s black and white cartoons, Happy and Gay is a musical cartoon inspired by the power of representation. Just meh!!

Pedro (Portugal)
When Pedro gets home at dawn exhausted, he is dragged to the beach by his loving mother. Initially reluctant, his interest is peaked when he catches the eye of a handsome stranger by the water. A slow film which peaks curiosity, a la ’Stranger by the lake’ kinda desires.

Kiss Me Softly (Belgium)
An unexpected kiss from a friend brings a shaft of light to 17-year-old Jasper’s dull existence. It provides the spark he needs to embrace who he is, but how can he persuade his self-involved father to do the same? This is the film that I have also reviewed before.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Beach Rats

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Against The Law (UK)

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Where The Bears Are: Season 6

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 11, 2017

Onthakan (Thai) [The Blue Hour]

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Speechless (Mandarin)

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Poster Boy

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Taekwondo (Spanish)

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Don't Love Me

My first reaction within 10 minutes of watching the film was that this film already looks like has a hangover from one of my favorite films “Weekend”. Too bad this film doesn’t even come an inch closer to the great film that it was. The basic premise was pretty much the same but over all this was a disappointing film. Ah! and I did all kinds of research but I could find what country this film is from (since it is English but set in Berlin).

The film starts with two guys having hot anonymous sex and only after that they introduce themselves to each other as Alex and Alexander. They feel they have some chemistry and decide to date while exploring the city of Berlin, sharing their stories, their secrets, partying; all in the city of Berlin. It seems like slowly they are falling in love. And yes, thats pretty much it that is to this film.

Firstly, this film could easily have been a decent short film finished in like 10-15 minutes. Every single scene was stretched and elongated beyond a point. We see Alexander skateboarding for like 7 minutes with a very patchy camerawork and then we see Alex walking again for like 4 minutes. They talk about mundane stuff which is not bad because the idea is that the two individuals are getting to know each other but the camera angles and the dialogues are so uninteresting. There are long shots of everything like cooking, showering, just sitting and watching a movie and those scenes go on and on. Both the leads act well but honestly I felt absolutely zero chemistry between the two. Although it is good to see a few penis and ass shots :) As per the makers, a lot was unscripted and the actors went with the flow which is a good experiment but then at least you could have edited the film and make it a likeable short film of 15 minutes. I can guarantee that trimming all that excess will make this film a lot better. A lot!!

Do not watch this film to waste your time. (1.5/10)

Romil And Jugal (Hindi) (Web Series)

These are interesting times for makers to explore subjects that were once considered taboo. Being native Indian myself, especially when it comes to bringing out anything with gay storyline is still a big no-no. So when I heard of this online web series of 10 episodes, I was surprised and happy that at someone took charge and dared to present a side of Indian society that most Indians wouldn’t admit to. Yes, I was a bit skeptical because I expected the subject to be handled in the typical carcaturist manner but thank god the makers did not resort to that.

The story is told from Ramya’s perspective who happens to be Jugal’s sister. The setting is a small town hill station where everyone knows everyone. Jugal is teenage son of an assistant manager, knows very well about his sexuality but only his bestest friend Mehr knows about it. She is his only true friend. Jugal dreams of the perfect boyfriend and his prayers are answered when he sees Romil, his new next-door neighbor. Romil is a macho dude who only talks about girls. After an awkward start, a nice gentle friendship starts to grow between the two guys despite the fact that both the parents hate each other because of the job situation and of course the big north-south divide in India. Anyway, one evening Jugal dares to kiss Romil and Romil beats him up only to later realize and accept that he is gay himself. Love blossoms and the couple decides to tell their respective families. All hell breaks lose when the parents find out and both the boys are thrown out of their home. With the help of Mehr and her mon (the only 2 people supportive of them), they both move to Mumbai to find jobs but neither of them can forget their families and they come up with a brilliant idea to bring the parents back close to them. All’s well that ends well, albeit bit of dramatic situations. Both the families finally come around and after a few years of dating and settling in jobs, the couple gets married. Of course there are many funny anecdotes and side stories of the parents , siblings and friends but core is still the love story.

This series is interpretation of Romeo-Juliet with a twist. It has the elements of a typical Indian film full of drama, music, comedy, romance and even dancing but I was so relieved to see that we are not treating gay characters as comic relief, but as important sensitive central characters. The screenplay was quite good but on the flip side, the momentum and charm that the first 4 episodes had, is missing somehow in later episodes. Moments shared between Mehr and Jugal were my favourite. Both the lead actors do a commendable job. They look good and have very good chemistry. Although I feel that Jugal had an edge over Romil because of is character. He makes the whole series watchable because of his raw emotions, honesty and bravery. In fact the acting by all characters is pretty god. You have to watch this as small town TV show, so don’t expect any Oscar worthy performances but things that are shown in Indian context are all pretty accurate. Initial refusal by Romil of his sexuality and how he ultimately feels comfortable accepting himself with Jugal’s help was shown very beautifully. The scenes where the parents react so aggressively was also very true to reality. I have known of families and friends who have dealt with very similar situations. The love between the couple is real, in fact that actors share a few kissing scenes too. This is not to say that there are no loopholes. Mehr’s character shows some change when she gets jealous of seeing Romil and Jugal together because she secretly loves Jugal. I felt that it was a bit far stretched given she was the one who knew everything about him. And a few more scenes but who cares!

My rating will be a bit high for this series, since it is a big step ahead in Indian context. finally there is something that shows how being gay is normal and their love is normal. It is a bold step to introduce Indians to the idea of homosexuality and how and why it is not a choice but just the way you are. We all probably have gay friends around us. I hope this series will help, so called straight people to get more empathetic to the whole idea. (7.5/10)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Where The Bears Are: Season 5

I couldn’t resist myself from watching Season 5 of this series, just a few days after I watched season 4. After all, this is what guilty pleasure is all about. I was having a great holiday and watching a couple of episodes right before going to bed every night was like stress buster. No time to use your brain on why things are happening the way they are, but just chill, sit back, relax and enjoy.

Nelson and Todd are now married and after a delay of few months, have finally decided to go on their honeymoon. But it takes a dark turn when Todd suddenly leaves Nelson for a hotter man. Nelson doesn’t know what hit him and he calls for Reggie and Wood. Reggie has met this new guy and they have sexual chemistry and Wood just hired a nice model who surprisingly has eyes for his business partner George. when they also use the help of their fellow bear detectives to track down Todd, they find who’s the guy is that Todd is with. Nelson goes to confront Todd and thats when a big surprise is revealed. Turns out Todd has been hired by a national security agency and him flirting with this guy was part of a coveted operation that has now gone busted. Todd still needs to find the bad guys out their who are a threat to national security. Reggie, Wood and Nelson force their way into helping Todd to nab the bad guys and put an end to this story.

I have to give it to the writers, for coming up with something novel and different of this season. Otherwise the random murder and then investigation was getting too repetitive and there was nothing new being offered. So in that department, plus one to the writers. Sadly, the execution this time was not upto the mark. I think thats because the idea was too ambitious to be handled by a crowdfunded, smaller production team. I mean, to be fair, the team did the best they could within their constraints, budget and people and I am not complaining but this is just my opinion. In terms of acting, the main characters are pretty much the same as before. Nelson is still very annoying. But the supporting cast has improved a lot. I actually look forward to them in the mix because they add a very interesting flavor to the mix. Some more new hot eye candy characters were introduced this time also and that always keeps the proceedings very interesting.

Nothing but strict time pass. Not earth shattering, but you don’t get bored either. (5/10)

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Where The Bears Are: Season 4

Just when I thought that the bears were done after season 3, I find out that i was wrong, and I was already three seasons behind now, so I have a lot of catching up to do. And yes, I knew what exactly I was getting into, but to be honest, my work has been a bit crazy of late and I just needed some dosage of stupid madness, truck loads of beef muscled bears to look at and laughing at stupid jokes; and this show gives you all that.

So whose murder mystery are the bears solving this time? Lets see. Nelson and Todd have decided to get married. But at their wedding shower 2 weeks prior to the d-day, Nelson’s best friend gets poisoned and this is where the search begins. Even though Nelson never liked his friend because of professional rivalry of being an actor, he agrees that the culprit needs to be found. Reggie through his sources and his TV show agrees to lead this with the help of usual gang of detectives and his friends. My fav character Wood decides to open a sporting underwear store for which we do see a lot of hunky hot men and hence suspects as well in the process. A lot of new characters are also introduced so that we cant guess who the killer is including Todd’s brother with a drug background, Nelson’s fag hag and his parents and many others. While they still haven’t solved the mystery of the death, Todd is shot as well at the wedding and thats when the story is told in flashback. The mystery is ultimately solved but there is a little more to the story than just the mystery of the murder.

The series was fun as always but as I have mentioned before, you need to know what to expect out of this series. There will be flat lame jokes, which y now you have got used to but still funny. The episodes are all small enough to watch them in one setting. Wood is still my favorite character and the whole episode of quiz game was quite funny. Nelson, still for some reason annoys me. I need to do some introspection. Todd and Reggie are quite good and the undercover CBI guy is super super hot. My recommendation would be to watch the movie version of the series because that will keep you more engaged.

The actors have gotten better, especially the supporting cast. I’d watch another season but wont be dying to watch it. (5.5/10)

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Man In An Orange Shirt (UK mini-series)

BBC Two, the erstwhile UK channel, has been celebrating 50 years since the partial decriminalization of male homosexuality through a plethora of documentaries, radio programs and dramas. This 2 part mini-series, each of one hour, was broadcast as part of this. The show chronicles lives of two gay couples in two very different time periods and we also see how the stories are connected. For people from the pre 60’s era, such shows always bring a nostalgic value to whereas for younger generation, I think we should all feel gratitude and thankful to be living at a time where my sexual orientation is not considered to be a taboo and a crime in most countries, if not the entire world.

Old schoolmates, Michael and Thomas are brought back together in war. Michael saves bloodied Thomas in one of the wars and nurses him to good health. Clearly, both men have feelings for each other and Thomas does the bold step of making the move. War ends and the men come back to London where Michael tracks down Thomas and they both spend a weekend together in Michael’s cottage home. But expectations bound Michael who ends up marrying Flora, as promised and even bears a child where Thomas is the best man. Flora soon discovers her husband’s true love and is devastated by it but to continue to be family and to prevent her husband from going to jail, she asks him to never get caught. Thomas meanwhile gets arrested for gross indecency and this is when Michael realizes his true love for Thomas but cant do anything about it. Years later they meet again but neither of them has the courage to do the unexpected acceptance of love for each other. Circa to part 2 set in modern times. Flora, now a grandmother, lives by herself and her 34 year old grandson Adam, who spends his time working or on online hook-up apps. There is something preventing him from opening up to other men or find true love. He is not even officially out to Flora but she clearly knows about it and totally disapproves. Adam meets Steve, an architect and feels something for him but finds out that Steve is already in a relationship. When Flora gives away the country cottage to Adam, he thinks of possibly redoing the whole place and invites Steve to do that. The two have connection but Steve is in another relationship and Adam can’t get past his addiction for hook-ups. With true love and compassion, Steve tries to bring Adam to reality and make him see the power of love and accepting who he truly is. Flora comes around slowly but surely. The film ends when Adam sees the letter that Michael (his grandfather) wrote to his love Thomas moons ago and how somehow the love and story between the two couples have similarities though generations apart.

As someone on twitter mentioned about their feelings on the show, I totally concur, that this is a very thoughtful contribution in this period of reflection on pre-1967 and post-1967 attitudes in the LGBT world. Its a moving and beautiful story, directed brilliantly and with soul and emotions. The acting and the screenplay is just brilliant. We clearly see two different eras and how gay men have had to deal with situation differently. Michael was superb and you feel for him. You wanna hug him and hold him because you know in the 40s, there is nothing that you can do for him. And then on the other hand you see the current times with John, an actor does a fantastic job of his character,, where yes the sex maybe easy but its increasingly difficult to find true love and to find the one who you can trust on and truly commit to. Both the couples are extremely likable and their love stories are impossible to root against. As such, the moments of loss, regret and pain within the show are extremely effective, as the audience empathizes - experiencing such emotions themselves. Both Michael and Adam are flawed characters, perfectly human in their imperfections and thus more realistic and compelling for viewers to follow. Michael cannot follow his heart and therefore is unhappy but thankfully, Adam puts his pride aside and hence opening the doors of happiness for himself. On the flip side, I feel Flora’s character should have been further developed. After all she is the one who most gets affected by things going around her.

Strong casting, great acting, marvelous storytelling makes this mini series must watch. It entertains audience and leaves them intrigued with ‘what if’ scenario. Must watch. (8/10)

Friday, November 10, 2017

Boys Briefs 4

And continuing with another anthology of short films in this series. Just like the cover says, this series is a collection of 6 stories about guys who hustle and this is the common theme. The hustler is a common figure in gay arts and culture who is simultaneously tragic, romantic, and heroic. Often his tragedies appear the result of dysfunctional if not outright abusive families, and are further tied to a general and pervasive societal homophobia.

Into the Night (Australia): This short deals with the need for companionship, as a lonely older man hires a street boy mostly for company, and also portrays a much younger boy just entering street life.

Boy (New Zealand): A young hustler learns the truth about the death of a young woman in a small town, and has to fight for his life when the town wants him silenced. This film is shot in short choppy scenes of 3 seconds each. It was a little bit confusing for me.

Gigolo (Germany): Offers a complex character who hint towards larger social problems. Karim isa hustler who is with a rich older woman. When she dumps him he find a a rich man but neither has given him contentment. He is a man shaped by French racism.

Build (Canada): A college student who quits his studies and turns to hustling goes through disappointment in a lifetime of failed aspirations. He needs to support his alcoholic mother and himself financially. When he is betrayed by his fellow co-worker whom he had a crush on, he has to face disappointment and somehow continue on.

Rock Bottom (USA): A sweet, overweight, 30-something, picks up twink street hustler Jason and takes him home where typical hustler shenanigans take place. Yet a real rapport develops between the two, and the film ends with Jason crossing his own hustler boundaries to kiss Billy, suggesting things might get better for both.

Gold (Canada): A nearly blind artist employs hustler Jay not for his body, but to assist him in painting new canvases. In teaching Jay about passion and beauty, he leads the young man to a kind of salvation.

I have to admit that in general the shorts in this series have been a lot better than the previous ones that I saw and hence it deserves a slightly higher rating. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Boys Briefs 2

Boys Briefs 2 is the second in series of international short films about discreet gay love affairs. The collection of short stories in the first part was quite average, so to be honest I did not have too many expectations from this one in the first place, which is good because the films were really not that impressive.

Doors Cut Down (Spain): Has been reviewed here

Chicken (Ireland): A 3 minute really short film about one boy trying to break the ice with another and touch him just to let him know he was interested in him.

Backroom (Spain): This erotic short film is about a bunch of guys hanging around a backroom having sex with whosoever walked by. They never spoke to each other except in their mind fantasizing what they want to say vs what they actually say. Started well but then didn’t have much to add.

Breakfast (Germany): Story about 2 friends. One wants something serious while the other is more than happy to continue to have hook-ups with strangers. A promising couple together who just happen to ant different things from their relationship. Strictly OK.

Touch (Canada): A dark film which shows an 8 year boy kidnapped and abused for 8 years before he gets free. As a free man, he cannot adjust to reality and longs for love. But the definition of love is totally different for this guy. He still wants to be beaten and abused and seeks to find himself back in the abusive cage he came from. He is also hopeful that one day his lover (abuser) will come back looking for him. Its a evil dark fantasy of a continuously abused teenager.

Take-Out (Canada): A young 18 year old guy quite doesn’t understand his own sexuality. He is confused. and works as a delivery boy for a BBQ joint. A customer whom he regularly delivers to and who is gay man, makes moves towards the boy but he holds back. But, by the time he finds peace to pursue his desire, the man has sold his home and moved on leaving the boy questioning his own desires.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Getting Go: The Go Doc Project

This film was a very interesting watching experience. Filmed in completely documentary style of film-making; I can already see most people confusing this film to be actually a documentary. But make no mistake, this is a full length feature film which is just innovatively shot given the story premise and I have to say that more or less it works to a great extent. Story wise, to be honest there is nothing new or novel that this film offers but despite that this film proves to be an engaging watching experience.

Doc is a regular student awaiting graduation, who spends most of his time online either jerking off for his fans or stalking Go (a go-go dancer in NY) because he has huge mancrush on him. One night he drunkenly sends email to Go pretending to make a documentary about the NY club scene and asking if Go wants to be his subject. Surprisingly and to Doc’s horror, Go replies and agrees to be filmed. The movie follows the next three weeks, as Doc tries to make a documentary about Go. They interact in a way that makes viewers feel it more like a documentary. We visit Go’s apartment, we get to know what he lives like, what goes through his mind when he performs and his intimate thoughts and desires. During this, as expected, Go and Doc come closer physically as well and start a relationship. Thankfully, Go knew that this documentary making was all a facade for Doc to get closer to him (which we find out only later in the movie) but it works for the film. Things move on and slowly Doc realizes that there is more from life that he wants. He doesn’t want to be a regular run-of-mill gay man in NYC. Instead he wants to be in country, farm and create his own life. Finally, Doc leaves his shell of online stalking and Go proves to be a lot deeper than the shallow facade he displays.

First things first, the film has only 2 characters and the whole film rests on them being engaging and likable. Thankfully both the actors are amazing in this department and thankfully both of them can also act well. So half the job of the film was done with the absolute right casting that keeps the viewers engaged with their half scripted and half natural dialogues. The film also dissects the gay culture vis-a-vis the conversations that the two have with respect to whats normal, acceptable or radical. Taking in two polar opposite characters, this task becomes easy. Doc is anti-social and feels comfortable in the recluse on his online world in the safety of his room. On the opposite, Go’s character brings certain expectations of who he is, but actually getting to know him is such a sweet surprise. On a flip side, the beginning 30 minutes takes time to like and is a bit slow. And then there are 2 long scenes which just go one forever: one where we watch Go sleeping and the other where Doc and Go are kissing all over NYC.

This is one of those films that seems fairly small and simple on the surface but reveals surprising depths as it unfolds, with interesting characters, some intriguing ideas and plenty of sexiness. (7/10)