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Showing posts from June, 2022

Driving Not Knowing

Why? Why do filmmakers sometimes get so over indulged in thinking thatchy are making such a masterpiece that they stray away from the every basis of film making that can convey the story and message that they ant to portray. This film in a random rambling and a very uninvolved piece of work, that fails to hold your attention just after the very first 10 minutes. I struggled to even comprehend what was happening and if I was seeing random scenes, what were the timelines and what really is the problem. Will is a poet and he lives with his boyfriend Lee who is a musician. They have occasionally worked together and indulge in sexual flirtations but Lee is definitely more involved in relationship than Will is. When Lee realizes that his romantic feelings for Will cannot be fully reciprocated due to Will's sexual confusion, Lee abandons Will and moves back to his rural hometown. A year later, Will, alone, has lost motivation in his work. Lee has seemingly got himself on the right track,

The Effect (Thai Series)

The way this series started, I thought 'The Effect 'was your typical BL story until the shocking twist derailed all my expectations. The show gets uncomfortable to watch but it does address a very important issue and trait that was so far being almost taken for granted. I appreciate the fact that makers kept the screenplay tight with only 3 episodes of about 50-60 minutes each. It knows what it wants to say, what it wants to present and doesn't waste much time in unnecessary side stories. Shin is a shy introvert guy who has just joined university. Initially forced to study together, soon the trio of him, Bright and Pramote become real close friends. Shin considers his college senior Keng to be his Ido since he is popular, studious and also school’s ambassador for their marketing campaigns. One day running out looking for tie to be able to sit in exam, the duo run into each other and an unlikely friendship strikes. We see that Keng had noticed Shin on day 1 and had taken an

Unlocked (Filipino Anthology Stories)

Produced by GagaOOlala, Unlocked is an anthology of 9 short stories dealing with queer relationships during one of the longest lock-downs in the world in Manila. It aims to give an honest portrayal of dynamics of human relationships under depressing circumstances. Initially this was billed as six stories, which is even evident from the poster, but then it was extended to 9 stories. The hope of viewers being able to connect to some aspects of these stories to something personal, is to be seen. The stories are about 20-30 minutes each. These are the official synopsis from the website. Personally, I think the idea was well thought of, but none of the stories actually stayed with me. They were all done very amateurishly and somehow the fitness that's needed was missing in acting, direction and everything. I still, however, applaud the effort to try and bring something new to the audiences with some innovative stories to tell. 1. Andrew & Brix t's been months since Andrew broke

How To Get From Here To There

Its really hard to make sci-fi genre when you are extremely short on budget, which is a very normal thing for independent LGBTQ stories. Keeping that in mind and being very aware of it, this film still failed to keep my attention focused on what was unfolding in front of my eyes. A middle aged gay man goes home when his mother dies to arrange the cremation and pack up. Drinking heavily, he stumbles across the time machine he made as a kid and gets inside to take a trip. The machine will not allow travel back in time, but it will allow a look into the future. He sets off himself in the machine and arrives at a time when he meets and falls in love with a much younger, strong-but-silent type, unnamed man. How they meet, and why they connect so quickly, is not explained. During the course of three such trips into the future, the relationship blossoms and then starts to fall apart. At the end, when the loss of power of the time machine means no more trips forward, it's time for him to f

The Skin Of The Teeth

In the days of social media and dating apps, it's easy to pretend someone you are not and hide information about you be it age, your occupation, health status anything at all. All it takes is some hot pictures and need for sexual fulfillment. This experimental film tries to show us what happens if a person is forced to come clean and be truthful about themselves, are there repercussions to that? The plot is simple yet complicated. A young gay man named Josef goes over to the apartment of an older man named John for a date night. After taking a pill in John's bedroom, they both start dancing and soon Josef starts to find reality slipping. Next thing you know is John falls down and Josef is arrested for allegedly murdering John. Now he's forced to deal with two boxer-clad police detectives, a mask-wearing public defender, and all kinds of odd figures who come in and out of the interrogation room, trying to extract information about him and decide whether or not he'll be c

Gameboys 2 (Filipino Series)

Coming up with this sequel makes no sense. Gameboys The movie came out lat year which was actually a worthy continuation the much loved and appreciated origin story of Gav and Cairo. This season 2 is just the rehash of the film with some extended scenes. So my review is going to be really short and tiny.  I repeat, For those expecting a brand new season and storyline following Gav and Cairo, prepare to be disappointed like me. Season 2 ended up being Gameboys: The Movie, with some extended scenes (not that many really). Even the show ends as the movie did but I guess just for fans they also added a scene with a very happy ending. But the way it has been added also doesn't make any sense. You don't know if it's after Gav goes to NY and comes back, Cairo returns to the province with his family and they both meet later, or they never leave Gav's house in the first place. As audience you make your own theories and thats it. The makers had famously announced in an interview

Olly Alexander: Growing Up Gay (UK Documentary)

This documentary traces the back journey of Olly Alexander, the frontman of the band 'years and years'. He talks about his journey from school bullying victim to diversity role model, while exploring the mental health issues faced by members of the LGBT+ community. The film came out in 2017, and now Olly is much more popular thanks to his leading role in hot UK series 'It's a Sin'. The documentary starts with Olly visiting his mother in the home he grew up in. He tells her the full extent of his depression and self-harm. Her reaction is to blame herself and wish she could have helped more. He meets his life-long school friend Georgia and she too admits self-harming and depression – only just recently having come out. Olly recounts the school bullying. And he says how this bullying leads to a spiral of feelings of loneliness,  insecurity, and a sense of unfairness. Two-thirds of LGBTQ+ teens will have self-harmed and many will have tried suicide. He meets Sean, a dan

Unguarded (Filipino Mini-Series)

This series definitely has one of the most different twists that I have seen so far in any BL series. Sure its a short series with only 4 episodes of about 20ish minutes each, but the two leads keep the premise pretty engaging, even though the overall execution is a bit clunky. Apparently this mini series is part of a trilogy or something focusing on one of the main characters, but I am guessing these are pretty independent. But now that I know this, I will probably go and watch the other ones also real quick. Henry asks his best friend Lukas if he can take in his boyfriend Mark Lee in his house for few days since the latter's home is flooded. Initially reluctant Lukas agrees and Mark Lee starts living with him. Over the course of few days, two strangers start to become good friends and hang out all the time. Things change when Lukas confides into Mark Lee that he likes him and kisses him. Unsure where this is headed, first he brushes this away but eventually he figures Lukas is no

Die Konsequenz (German) [The Consequence]

It's almost impossible to comprehend that such a tragic gay love story came out back in 1977, almost 45 years ago. I mean, this has to be groundbreaking in its own. Its a proper love story filled with drama, love and tragedy and the homophobia that existed in those years (some things haven't changed despite all these years). Sure, some may question the taboo theme of an older man's love with a 15 year old boy, but I think its important to understand that the age on consent is/was probably lower in Europe, otherwise I can't imagine this film being allowed to be watched. Martin, an actor by profession, is in prison for having sex with a 15 year old boy. Martin agrees to stage a fellow prisoner's play and it is here that he meets Thomas, the warden's teen-aged son. Before you know, Thomas is completely smitten by Martin and they sneak here and there to spend time together, but the warden gets wind of it, so they wait for the time till Martin is released. Once relea

Finished (Documentary)

Finished is an experimental documentary by film maker William E Jones that traces his obsession with Québécois porn actor Alan Lambert. Lambert saw himself as a revolutionary, ultimately taking his own life in a misguided act of political transgression. Jones’s confessional film takes us from the politics of porn film industry to the consumer appeal of porn trying to understand what led to his muse take his own life. Alan killed himself at age twenty-five to keep from getting old and losing his looks. A last letter, several friends, and a handful of videos point to a contradictory, volatile Alan Lambert, who was very likely manic-depressive. There are no tearful talking heads, no shocking re-enactments, no lengthy excerpts of the suicide letter, and most pointedly, not a single glimpse of full frontal nudity. Alan Lambert's political convictions lead him to criticize the circulation of commodities and the alienation it produces, and yet paradoxically, he sold himself, becoming a co

Queer As Folk (Series)

Queer as Folk , way back when, was one of the shows that introduced me to the whole world of gay movies and TV shows and I never looked back. This is maybe a year before I started writing reviews here. So that will always have a special place in my heart and I hav many find memories. When I heard about this reboot on Peacock TV, I had my reservations and I was both nervous and excited. I was curious to see if this is going to be a rehashed version of the same characters or something totally new. It is new for sure, but they have tried some essence of the original characters. But there is something distant about this version. I tried, but at no point was able to connect to any of the characters. Despite their emotional upheavals, they all felt very self-absorbed, very superficial and very hard to understand beyond the labels and a cover that they all had put on. None of them have enough warmth or depth. More on this later. Brodie is a 20-something charming yet arrogant and full of himse

Why R U - Saifah Son Story (Thai Mini series)

I guess I should have watched the complete Why R U series first before watching this side mini series of 3 episodes of about 30 minutes each. Having said that, its actually pretty independent and even though I haven't seen the original series, I didn't think I was losing any context here. So I will review this as an independent story. Zol, in her BL novel has included the story about Saifah and Zon (her brother). Son ad Saifah had kissed after a music concert but now Zon is worried that everything that was written in novel may come true, so he starts avoiding Saifah and asks him to stay away. With the help of his friends, Saifah comes up with a plan to confuse Zon that maybe the kiss never happened and that they barely now each other. Zon doesn't like this and finally Saifah comes clean to him. They finally start their love story. As I mentioned before there is not much of a story here, but whole lot of fluff and cute moments. I am sure lovers of the parent series would app

Kasal (Filipino) [The Commitment]

I had absolutely minimal expectations from this film, but the film, despite its flaws, manage to surprise me in a good way. This normally happens when you keep your expectations super low. The film, in its own small independent way, tries to carefully present an argument on why gay men have been fighting for basic right like marriage. Sadly, the director does get too swayed in self indulgence where some scenes go on and on forever thereby diluting the impact that they were probably going for.  Sherwin, a lawyer by profession and Paolo, an indie film director have been in a relationship for a few years. Still dwelling on a cheating episode by Paolo more than a year ago, they are still together. But when Paolo suggests that they should get married, Sherwin refuses the proposal because he knows that the law of marriage here in the Philippines was only for men and women couples and as a lawyer he must abide by the law. We meet Paolo's family who are every welcoming of Sherwin as his pa

Desert Migration (Documentary)

Desert Migration is a documentary that tells the story of a generation of HIV-positive men who have been afforded new life through the introduction of AIDS combating drugs, but still struggle with a number of internal and external problems associated with the virus. The film follows the stories of about a dozen HIV+ men in their 50s and 60s who are currently living in Palm Springs, California. It focuses on a group of men, who had given up on life when they were diagnosed until medicines started showing up that could help HIV converting to AIDS. While these medicines gave these men a new lease of life, but now suddenly all these men have to plan to live and put back their life together, something that they had given up on. It follows a sort of day-in-the-life of these men, watching them as they eat breakfast, brush their teeth, take medication, smoke a cigarette, go to the gym, do yoga, paint, have dinner with friends, or go out drinking and dancing at a bar. They discuss wasting, fati

You Are Ma Boy (Vietnamese Series)

A low budget quick web series of just 6 episodes, this is a small addition to Vietnam trying to come up with their set of BL shows for viewers like us. The show was bring promoted as love between two straight boys, but I think that sort of promotional material is misleading. Why do the makers think that they will get more viewers just by bringing in the 'straight' angle. That way I do appreciate Thai shows where most folks are shown to be sexually fluid and fall in love with a. Person and not the gender. Duong is your regular boy next door who works in a cafe. He goes with his best friend, a girl co-worker to take signature of a famous singer Nhat Nam and make his acquaintance. Next day when Nhat Nam comes to the cafe, he is followed by his fans and Dung helps him get out. They exchange numbers. Somehow Nhat Nam takes a liking for Duong but Duong is very dismissive of the whole thing. Eventually they start becoming friends. Clearly Nhat Nam has feelings for him, but Duong is un

Chou Jue Deng Chang (Mandarin) [Enter The Clowns]

Billed as a gender-bender film, this film is quite odd and weird and stage itself more like a series of vignettes, trying to shock you possibly using queer, trans, gay themes. The way this film is shot, I doubt if this was ever seen outside any film festivals. Having said that, I am suite surprised that a film like this (with its bold theme) actually came from China. Opening scene has Xiao Bo nursing his father on death bed who now wants him to call his mother. She shows remorse for not being able to feed Xiao her breast milk and as a dying wish, asks for his son's milk, who obliges the father with an act of oral sex. Yes this is just the beginning. We then see Xiao Bo renting with his boyfriend Nana who has had sex change now. Even though Xiao denies being gay, he is no longer attracted to female form of Nana. Desperate for revenge, Nana decides she will find many lovers but never let any man love her. He joins a club as singer where the owners brother falls head over heels in lov

Eastsiders: Season 4 (Web Series)

I had already reviewed the first three seasons of this show earlier. With its fourth and final season, this Netflix show is coming to a closure, all of the characters are given an equal opportunity to bring their story to as much closure as a six episodic series can probably do justice to. Interestingly, this comedy drama deal with all of the challenges of a relationship in 21st century especially in the gay community - monogamy, polyamory, marriage, STIs, gender, bisexuality, finances, adoption, and careers. It doesn't shy away from conversations around these topics and somehow they are all so seamlessly integrated into the main story, you don't feel like you are being preached or anything. The main story of this season is of course the continued straind relationship of our lead couple Tom and Cal and how they are navigating through their open relationship. But besides that the focus is on the upcoming wedding of Douglas and Quincy with the drag theme. We are told through a fl

The Second Life of Thieves (Malay)

I think watching this film was like watching a film-makers pretentious non-linear story that lingers on long shots of village, first, after and the mundane life of some of its inhabitants. Trying to connect the mystery of the past with the present, it uses very lo-fi aesthetics and the film moves at such a slow pace, it tests you. An arthouse piece of cinema, it will be hard to find people who would really appreciate this film. Older police chief Tan has just found out that his wife has ran away with an old friend Lai. This brings Tan, in touch with Lai's daughter Sandra, who has just been deported back from UK. Through Sandra's first hand and sometimes second hand recollection we get to learn about the past. Lai was an immigrant who married his wife but also was having an affair with another girl (Tan's now wife). But that affair goes nowhere since Lai is married. In a sudden twist we are told that Lai also had an affair with Tan, but given the strict laws against gays in

Sasaki To Miyano (Japanese Series) [Sasaki And Miyano]

I am starting to like these anime shows. I think I have seen only a couple of them so far but this one was actually quite nice, simple and endearing. A simple tender love story of two school boys , one year apart, who are both struggling to tell each other how they really feel. This heartfelt series features an introspective coming-of-age journey, handled sensitively and thoughtfully. The sweet, gentle anime will appeal to many fans of the BL genre. With 12 episodes of about 20-22 episodes, its a good watch. Miyano, an all boys high school student is obsessed with BL novels and his friends know it. But he is very self-conscious of his hobby around strangers and would rather keep it a secret for the fear of people judging him. Till this point, he has never questioned his sexuality just because he likes BL novels. He insists that he likes girls. One day when his friend is getting bullied, his one year senior Sasaki suddenly appears to his rescue and they realize that the two have a commo

Rabioso Sol, Rabioso Cielo (Spanish) [Raging Sun, Raging Sky]

I am not sure why this film got such great reviews and press at the time when it came out. Agreed that it is an interesting mix of poetic and erotic cinema at the same time but with hardly any spoken dialogues, you really have to focus hard to understand what's actually going on, what the storyline is and what is it the are trying to actually say. Shot in black and white, I want to say that cinematography is excellent and there are plenty dreamlike sequences, but with a duration of over 3 hours, it tests your patience like no one has ever done it before. And I am not ashamed to say that I am definitely not one of those who was willing to venture into this 3 hour of sensory world. I have better things to do and I just had to fast forward at many places just to make sense of this film. The official synopsis says this about the film "Youthful Kieri and Ryo share a deep and passionate love for each other. Kieri sets off in search of his soul mate after Ryo is kidnapped. A female s

Queer Duck: The Movie

I recently saw the Queer Duck series, with its zany short episodic format was a decent time pass watch. The film follow the same adult animated format using the same cast members Queer Duck, Openly Gator, Bipolar bear, Oscar Wildcat and a whole lot of new members. This 72 minute non stop gagfest is full of gags, puns, caricatured celebrities and just overall time pass pop humor. After a night of full on parting , Queer Duck sees a show with a reverend turning gay to straight. And when the gay day at amusement park gets cancelled, he begins wondering the point of being gay when everyone is against it. Around same time he meets once popular Broadway actor Lola and they become great friends. Queer Duck convinces her to go back on stage for a one woman show. She does and wins Tony and proposes marriage to Queer Duck stating most of her ex-husbands were gay. He asks his friends who reluctantly agree including the heartbroken Openly Gator who is in love with Queer Duck. When Lola does she le

Jayson Bend: Queen and Country (UK)

How come no one overthought of a gay super-spy, a James Bond-is character before. Surely this film is not as old, and it feels like this idea was right there for someone to just pick it up and build. And now we have Jayson Bend. This film is a great time pass spoof with gay secret agents, bad guys trying to take over the world and more puns than you could shake your weapon at. Leave your brains, forget the bad CGI and average direction and just try to enjoy. Jayson Bend (also known as “Agent 009”) is an openly gay British super spy! He drives fast and plays hard - always with other hot boys - flirting with them and more. In this film, Jayson teams up with a sexy Swiss counterpart Alec DeCoque to stop the activation of a newly launched satellite that will turn Raymond Perdood, the billionaire owner of the largest global chain of hair salons, into the most powerful man in the world. In the process he meets a Twink doctor 'Tu Yung' who has been making a special chemical. The story

Norman... Is That You?

I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I actually really enjoyed this thoughtful but totally funny look at an old man trying to understand his son's sexual identity even though quite a few scenes were at the expenses of outdated racist and homophobic comments. But given that the film came back in 1976, part of my brain decided to keep those facts aside and just enjoy this play inspired film. Norman, a young gay black man lives with his boyfriend Garcon in LA. One day he gets a surprise visit from his father who is having a rough time since his wife ran away to Mexico with his brother. He is distraught and so is his son Norman who doesn't know what to do. He ass Garcon to relocate for a few days, but Garcon indirectly comes out to the father which hits him like anything. He is confused as to what he did wrong in bringing up Norman. He brings home a hooker for Norman which he gets insulted by and leaves home. When Garcon shows up home, him and the father end up bonding on unusua

Big Boys (Series) (UK)

This is exactly the kind of show that is up my alley. With 6 episodes of about 25 minutes each, this kitty sitcom has the most amazing premise and an amazing mix of everything from comedy, drama, emotion, relevance, tolerance, love, friendship, coming-of-age, mental health. It's unbelievable that a show of such short length manages to capture all of this without being preachy about anything and keeping a warm smile on your face. Somehow British shows have a lack of keeping this wonderful balance without having to over dramatize every situation. And this show is no different. A growing relationship between two young men, one gay one straight, makes for a genuinely uplifting, warm, tender and witty show. Since it is almost semi-autobiographical, we meet Jack, who is supremely close to his mother, especially after his father passed away from cancer. He is uncertain of what life will bring for him when he moves to university. Jack knows he is gay but hasn't ever told anyone. In col