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Showing posts from July, 2023

Runs In The Family (South Africa)

The summary of the film said "An Indian father takes his transgender son on a road trip across South Africa to rescue his son’s long-lost mother from a rehab clinic"; which, as you can imagine peaked my interest. And of course since I have lived in South Africa for a couple of years, naturally I wanted to feel close to the country and the people again. This film is truly queer in every sense and while watching the film and even after, I realized that there are so many nuances to everything in life that sometimes we tale for granted and its the people who are dealing with it will ever know for sure. India origin tailor Tarun used to be a scammer forging papers in his early life but that's all now past him. HIs trans son River has ambitious plans for himself. He wants to enter a drag competition to use the money form the winnings to get his top surgery. An unexpected call from Monica, River's long lost mother who abandoned the kid when he was 1 year old needs rescuing f

A Shoulder To Cry On (Korean Series)

Why do directors do this? Adding unnecessary conflicts, immature melodrama just to drag on a teen love story which otherwise could have been a good fun story to watch. Our protagonist's have complex personalities but frustrating love story is rough around the edges. And sometime in the middle of it. I really didn't care much. Also I am not sure if there was in fact any 'love' between the two. It felt very much like a bromance kinda deal to me, if I am being honest. About 30 minutes each episode, the show is only 7 episodes. Thank God! Da Yeol is school athlete and part of the school archery club. He could secure a spot in national team if he wins an upcoming match but he has a stiff competition from a schoolmate. To get his friend's shoulder injury checked, there is a misunderstanding where he sees the class president Tae Hyun in a suggestive position with his friend. When he tries to leave the room he accidentally trips and falls on Tae Hyun's body. They are bo

Chrissy Judy

My first thoughts having finished watching this film is that it is about how to balance your dreams v/s the reality of life. More importantly it's about friendship goes beyond anything you can imagine. It’s platonic, intense, and short of romantic. Shot in black and white, probably to give an artsy feel to it, and based in New York (and of course, I am a sucker for films based in the city), by the time film ends, it is a mirror to a very little discussed topic if loneliness and how it impacts all of us in todays life. Judy and Chrissy are two queer men, best of friends and have a rock solid relationship. They do drag shows together which are reflected in the names that they use, although very much struggling to get any audience. They are so close that they even had a pact to marry at some point if they are both single. Out of blue, one day Chrissy declares that he is moving to Philadelphia to be with his boyfriend leaving Judy in complete shock. This leaves Judy down a spiral of do

Naked Dining (Japanese Series)

One more show around the recent popular genre within BL series: Food. Personally I have been enjoying these shows, or at least a few of them which are done well. Unfortunately while my heart says that this show wasn't bad at all, my brain tells me otherwise. A whole lot of things were just taken for granted here, especially when it comes to detailing a character, their behavior, backstory and stuff like that. More on that later, but on a plus side, we do get to see again some yummy dishes being cooked in a show of 12 episodes of about 23 minutes each. Souta, a young man, works in Tokyo and for some off reason loves to eat food naked when he is alone. This is how way of relieving stress after work. After his grandma's death, he decides to visit the home where he grew up and have memories. There is that house he meets Mahiro, a young boy who happens to run a fruit and vegetable store. Souta realizes that his grandma has kept a recipe book of many international cuisines and in fac

Isaac (Spanish)

I wouldn't call this film a gay film. It's in the 'bi' spectrum at best. The film actually uses its imperfect characters to address a few societal issues while also relating to some of its queer characters. The story is simple but it's the complexity of the characters that make it interesting and complicated. Two school friends Nacho and Denis meet after a gap of almost 15+ years. Nacho is now a successful lawyer, married but as a couple they are struggling to have kids. Denis works at a bar and all he really wants is topes a restaurant and cook. Denis is quite quick to ask Nacho for a loan. Turns out, Nacho’s willing to give Denis a loan, but there’s a catch. The two men have decided to ask Denis’ wife to act as a surrogate for Nacho and his wife Marta. While the quad navigate through this complexity after some drama, through flashback we are told that Denis and Nacho had a third friend Isaac who used to get bullied in school and it was Denis who would usually save

All Man: The International Male Story (Documentary)

“Victoria’s Secret for men.” That’s how International Male, the clothing catalogue founded by Gene Burkard is described in the opening moments of this documentary. Telling a straightforward tale about this queer-skewing business, “All Man” opens up inquiries on how masculinity has been packaged for the American consumer, straight and gay alike.  International Male, like that famous lingerie brand, sold a lifestyle in addition to offering plenty of fodder for sexual fantasies. Its pages were full of photos of ripped, muscled men wearing everything from “jock socks” and tailored shorts to pattern-clashing shirts and animal-printed thongs. Talking heads reflect upon the power of seeing images that bucked the conventional American likeness of masculinity. They credit International Male for expanding notions of masculinity. The pages of International Male were by no means erotic, but the interviewees express how a man in a puffy shirt could prove as alluring as a Playgirl centrefold. The ph

Boys On Film 22: Love To Love You

Often a timely reminder that the freedoms we enjoy in the Western world aren’t the same across the globe, ‘Boys on Film’ brings together shorts under a similar theme with every volume. The next in series, BOYS ON FILM 22: LOVE TO LOVE YOU, after a gap of more than 2 years, also has diverse and thoughtfully curated collection that offers fascinating and insightful new perspectives on the gay experience – sensual, affecting, sometimes provocative and always entertaining. Have We Met Before? (UK) The film takes viewers through the history of how gay men meet starting in the 70s and running through to modern day. From the hanky code and public toilet hook-ups, to the Internet and smartphone apps, the short features stories from men who reveal what it’s been like to be gay through the ages and the various ways they’ve met other men. It makes you realize just how accessible hook-ups are these days, when you can literally have someone in your bed within minutes after speaking to them on an ap

I Kissed A Boy (UK) (Reality TV Show)

As you can easily imagine with the title of the show, this BBC show is reality TV with and for gay men. The concept is interesting. 10 individuals are matched with one another before entering the competition and are matched as a couple. They arrive at this villa and meet their prospective partner with a kiss. In each couple of episodes, there will be an evening kiss-off, with the chance to reject your partner and recouple from the leftovers. Those left alone are sent home. We meet 10 individuals forming 5 couples starting with a kiss and slowly get to know more about them. Ollie, 27, explains why he's cautious going into relationships, sharing with his cast members an experience of rejection when he took his top off with a date. Josh, 24, speaks about coming out to a very religious community or green-fingered Jake, 27, shared his decision never to share his sexuality with his late grandparents. And more contestants that come with their own personalities, their own stories but still

People Like Us: Seasons 1 & 2 (Singapore)

People Like Us is a poignant reflection and insightful look at being gay in Singapore, following the lives of four gay men in Singapore as they navigate life and relationships. The series is raw and telling, never shying away from controversial topics while being respectful of the subjects addressed. There are 2 seasons, each with 6 episodes of about 7-8 minutes each. Singapore does have a weird standing where legally gay men have no rights, yet the city-state does have a very active, gay community.  We meet 4 gay men based in Singapore. Joel has been looking for love but somehow all his ex's left him after sometime. He meets Ridzwan, a Malay origin muslim guy who is in closet. Something about. Him attracts Joel and he pursues him relentlessly till he agrees to go out. Before you realize they begin to like each other, but the conflict arises mostly due to Ridzwan not being out. We then have a 20-something old Indian origin army recruit who is constantly on Grindr looking for Mr. Ri

The Mattachine Family

This film's heart was in the right place and a sincere attempt that seeks to locate several conundrums of a queer life, but man the pacing is slow. There is a whole lot of nothingness and just like us watching someone's life. The point that it I staying to make could have been mad win a much shorter timeframe. So in that essence, I feel the film overstays its welcome multiple times. From a subject perspective, we don't see that many films talking about gay families with kids and all. I think it's the film maker's semi-autobiographical film, though I could be wrong. We meet Thomas, who quickly narrates us his childhood life and how he met Oscar, a famous child star in a popular sitcom whose acting career was derailed when he was ousted by one of the tabloids. They got married and also had an opportunity to raise a young kid as foster parents for one year before the kid went back to his biological mother. All this happens in literally first 10 minutes. The film finall

Los Placeres Ocultos (Spanish) [Hidden Pleasures]

I believe that this was the first movie with a gay main character in Spain. Released back in 1977, I can't even imagine how it was received by the audience. Sure in today's time, one can question how a lot of things have been taken stereotypical of gay population, especially when it comes to lonely desperate, self-hating older gay men; but I saw this film with a historical perspective. Almost 45 years old, the tardiness of old films like this made it a decent pleasurable watch for me. Eduardo is a director of a big bank, 40 something, single, sophisticated gay men who uses his financial position to sleep with younger boys. HIs sexuality is known to his family but still very much a secret. Of late, Eduardo has been eyeing a young straight boy Miguel who is from a poor humble family and almost falls for him. He somehow manages to get him a job in his bank, so that he can be close to him while he figures him out. He soon finds out that he has a girlfriend and would not be interest

Star Struck (Korean Series)

Childhood friendship turning to love is a story that almost all of us will connect with. We may admit or not, but probably most of us had some level of crush on our friend, because that person was the one closest to us who you could share all your secrets with, things that bother you and that vulnerability brings you close. The situation in this Korean BL series is similar but the show has way too many unnecessary conflicts and the pattern of presenting a scene, then showing us the background behind the scene, was fine a few times but every single time, this idea of direction started to become pointless. Also towards the end, the conflicts were not properly resolved. Thankfully this 8 episode series is about 17-20 minutes each and a breezy watch. Han Joon and Yoo Jae are childhood best friends. In the last year of high school, You Jae is a popular kid with even the girls swooning over him. But the friends stick together. Han Joon lives with his depressed mother and struggles financiall

Norwegian Dreams (Polish/English)

A journey of self discovery about a 19 year old Polish young boy working in Norway. The film tries to look at multiple social factors, your upbringing, surroundings etc and try and highlight why it's hard for our main character to come out and be open about his sexuality. The film revolves around young and queer individuals, vulnerability, and what it means to be an outsider. It balances these themes successfully and raises important questions while hinting at answers. The film also explores the tension between traditional masculinity and queerness, as well as the conflicts arising from national and social boundaries. Norwegian Dream is an impressive film with a strong message. 19 year old Robert has just moved from Poland to Norway to wrk in a fish factory, like many other immigrants form his country to support his family back home since he and his mother have huge debt. He is hiding his sexuality, because he has noticed how his friends make fun of Ivar, an out and proud man, work

Chocolate Babies

Some films clearly do not age well. This film from 1996 is a colorful but extremely messy satire about a bunch of HIV-positive Asian and black drag queens who decide to take matters in hand and fight the government’s apathy toward AIDS in New York City. It was probably too ambitious in its intent at that time, but is flawed execution makes it a very boring watch. Welcome to the front lines of AIDS activism, where the latest enemy raids are being run by a band of unlikely warriors: two drag queens, an HIV-positive man with tiny gemstones dotting his bald head, and his HIV-positive sister. With their status as “queer outcasts,” these protagonists form a terrorist gang dedicated to the agenda of attacking conservative and homophobic politicians. They stage a series of surprise attacks against conservative politicians whom they believe are collecting secret lists of HIV-positive individuals. The band’s multiracial alliance is threatened when Asian-American Sam, its youngest member is discr

Bite Me (Thai Series)

After having seen some good food based BL series, I was quite looking forward to this one. But despite having a high production, having spent money on presentation , decent actors, there are way too many issues with this show. The series is a classic example of a huge potential going to waste. There is absolutely no passion, no excitement, no drama, no connection; nothing. Of course, when expectations are huge, the disappointment is big too. I will talk more about it later. The show has 11 episodes of about 45 minutes each. Aek is a university student. He is very interested in cooking since he was a kid. HIs mother runs small local restaurant in his hometown, but despite Aek's interesting cooking, her mother wants him to focus on academics and get a job so he doesn't have to work in kitchen very day. To make ends meet, Aek works as a food delivery guy. One day his food pick up at a high end restaurant is delayed, the chef Aue personally comes to apologize and gives him food as

How to Tell a Secret (Documentary)

A film that brandishes the documentary form and art to try to dismantle the stigma of being HIV positive that still persists in society. This film highlights the stories of those whose lives have been affected by HIV in Ireland. Rather than using the project as a cautionary tale, the subjects share their ‘secrets’ and how their lives have continued despite their diagnosis. It is stressed throughout the film that its function is not to present another somber outlook on this disease, as we see there are many subjects living happily, rather, the film is meant to pose the exact question the title suggests. How do you tell a secret? For an illness that can be easy to live with – it is easier to live with than diabetes – there is still a staggeringly dangerous narrative surrounding HIV. The documentary handles these notions of advocacy, stigma and secrecy with impressive grace. If one woman can’t tell her dad about her illness, for example, she can’t be expected to openly tell the world. The

Gay Short Films : 105

Hotel Paraiso (Peru) Pierre is a young tailor who lives with his younger brother in a room of a gay club. He works in a textile microenterprise in order to raise money and move elsewhere. After being fired, Pierre turns to Omar, a young prostitute who usually visits the club and the duo feel some kind of kinship/love. Pierre tries his best to make an honest living but constant rejection leads him to the path that he never wanted for himself. Heart breaking with an extremely cute lead. Virgindade (Portuguese) [Virginity] A reminiscence of the director’s gentle awakening to sex before he loses his virginity. A voice. City images. Old memories about exploration of sexuality. And the feeling of well known. A story about early years and meetings and secrets and occasions and desire. Told us through random visuals of small town, I personally was able to connect to almost everything that the guy talks about right from twins in the bus, to thighs touching, to porn rental, to a possible cruisin

Arrête avec tes mensonges (French) [Lie With Me]

A hauntingly beautiful, heartwarming and touching film; this is exactly what I needed today. Within first 10 minutes I knew I am going to like this film, but I didn't know how much. But the time it's almost ending and the last 10-15 minutes just take the film to another level. It is hard to explain in words, why this movie works. The plot is not new, but it's the execution and most importantly two fantastic actors. It takes a certain kind of restraint from a filmmaker to tell a small story so tenderly and moving. Just a few days back I was wondering why we don't get to see some good old gay romance. This film may to be a typical happy ending romance that I wanted, but it was one of the most beautiful closure I have seen on a lost love. Stéphane, a celebrated author and openly gay, is visiting his hometown in countryside after almost 35 years. He has been invited by local council to celebrate his work and thank him on outing their small town on map. He is a bit uncomfort

Future (Thai Mini-Series)

Even though this mini series is only 6 episodes, albeit each of still 40-45 minutes; this show offers absolutely nothing new for us to watch. The plot is full of cliches, which to my disappointment, keep repeating, the story is absolutely pointless, the personalities are odd and this seems like a hastily put together project which is sub par at almost every level. This is the kind of love story that we don't need. He show starts with us meeting Ana, a medical student who has a crush on Fuse, an engineering student, but he never acts on his crush. Circa, one year later, Fuse is hanging out with his friends and most of them are in some relationships and Fuse feels lonely and wonders how come a handsome guy like hi cannot find a boyfriend. Sad, he goes to a dentist to get his teeth cleaned and meets Ana there who is working at his father's practice. The two make small talk. Fuse mentions how he's hopelessly single. Ana takes a bold initiative and offers to go out with him. Sta