›› A cinematic mix of Gay Film Reviews ‹‹
If you think that there's not that many reviews on this page, then you're right! For many of the original reviews featured in this blog styled layout, have since been revised
as stand alone reviews. In time, I dare say that the remaining reviews featured will equally be given the stand alone treatment, as they rightly deserve.

In the meantime, check out the links below to jump to the title of your choice. Dave :)

›› reviews on this page ‹‹

  Anoraak: Figure | Closets | Esteros - Estuaries | Everybody Is Having Sex... But Ryan

Fathers | First-True-Last | Gareth Thomas v Homophobia: Hate in the Beautiful Game | Good Morning | Gorjetas - Tips

Is It Safe to Be Gay in the UK? | Pyotr495 | Queers / eight short monologues

Taekwondo | The Ornithologist | Tonight It's You | Wonderkid

›› Pyotr495 ‹‹

a short film by Blake Mawson.

2016 | 15 mins | Canada.

a gruesome short of the horror variety.

starring: Alex Ozerov / Pyotr, Max Rositsan / Sergei,
Juliana Semenova / Dominika and Justin Strazzanti as Vlad.

Dave says:

You know, you wait for ages for a creepy gay short to come along and then two arrive almost at the same time, as each other. And spookily, both share the same theme. For just like the outstanding short that is Tonight It's You, here we once again find a young man searching online for an anonymous hook-up for the night, only for the narrative to turn in a decidedly dark direction. That however is more-or-less where the similarities end.

For this short film from writer and director Blake Mawson is set in the Russia of today, where under Vladimir Putin homophobia is not only rife, but by way of the gay propaganda law is all but encouraged, seemingly with impunity. It's an alarming state of affairs that was highlighted in the eye-opening Channel 4 documentary Hunted and which here forms the basis of the first act, one that by no surprise finds an innocent youth eager for man-sex the unsuspecting target of a group who get their kicks, torturing gay men. It's a situation that in reality is the true horror of this short, only here could it be the case that the group get more than they bargained for?

And the answer to that is clearly - yes, if to say more would be a spoiler. What can be said is that both shorts take the setup in notably different directions and whilst personally I prefer the more menacing atmosphere of Tonight It's You, that is not to say that this is a poor short; far from it, given act two is delivered with all the bloodstained OTT gore of the genre. Then again, this is one of those works whereby the truth is hidden in plain sight, with Pyotr's bedroom decorated with images of the undead, only for his man for the night more than happy to live in an art house styled apartment filled with representations of women - now there's a clue if ever there was one! As too are the numerous production stills that depict actors not present in the master print, photos that reveal that many an additional scene was shot only to end up on the cutting room floor, apart that is from bit footage still present in the official trailer.

Bottom line, this makes for a gruesome short of the horror variety, even if personally and given the shocking scale of homosexual persecution in modern-day Russia, I would have preferred the narrative not to have taken the supernatural and dare I say, the easy way out and instead resolved the situation in another manner. But then, perhaps that's just me?

›› check out the Official Trailer on YouTube.
›› posted: Saturday, 23rd December, 2017.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - from the waist up. 
Overall - file under ... 3 stars. 

›› Tonight It's You ‹‹

a short film by Dominic Haxton.

2016 | 17 mins | US.

a spine-chilling "cabin in the woods" styled thriller.

starring: Jake Robbins / CJ, Ian Lerch / Hunter, George Alvarez / Knox,
Roy Allen / the Preacher and Ellie Schwartz as the Preacher's Wife.

Dave says:

Regulars to this website will know that I rarely give 5 stars to a film, let alone to a film short. There are exceptions however; this outstanding work from writer (story) and director Dominic Haxton of Teens Like Phil fame, being one. For this is everything that a short film should be; as first class directing, razor sharp editing and solid acting combine in a story that will have you riveted to the edge of your seat. No surprise then to find that this is but a rollercoaster ride of emotions, as lovable hustler CJ last seen in Haxton's Tonight It's Me, gets more than he bargained for when he arranges an online hook-up with misfit Hunter in a rundown farmhouse, miles from anywhere.

In short, this is but a "cabin in the woods" styled thriller and it's brilliantly played by one and all. Set in the Bible Belt of America where homosexuality is not just a sin, but more a demon that must be cast out, here we find CJ getting up close and personal with loner Hunter. Only alarm bells should have sounded for CJ well before then, as ever fearful of being discovered by his homophobic father, he's asked to get-it-on in an abandoned shed that seems to be a set leftover from The Exorcist. In short, you just know that things are about to go bump in the night and not in the way that us boyz like. Yet to say more would be a spoiler.

Tense, menacing and downright creepy in parts, yet equally proudly gay to the core, this is a work whose strong performances from Jake Robbins as CJ and Ian Lerch as Hunter are enhanced by the music of Justin Marshall Elias and an ace sound mix from Scott A. Jennings. Written with hair-raising style by David Davin and beautifully shot by Matthew David Chavez, frankly I cannot give this short enough superlatives, given it plays like a feature with enough twists and turns to keep you well and truly entertained. Yet this is also a cautionary tale on the dangers of the anonymous online hook-up, even if here it's taken to a spine-chilling extreme. It's also available free to view courtesy of the good folk at ASPD Films; frankly - GO SEE.

›› check out the FreeView on YouTube.
›› posted: Thursday, 30th November, 2017.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - bare-arsed cheek. 
Overall - file under ... 5 stars. 

›› First-True-Last ‹‹ ›› First / 8'35'' ‹‹
a trilogy of Guatemalan gay short films Pablo: Jorge León Girón / Eric: Martín Azurdia
›› True / 14'09'' ‹‹ ›› Last / 8'33'' ‹‹
Jorge: Santiago Javora / Alejandro: Johnnie Quijada Fernando: Julio de León / Gabriel: Fernando Marroquín
›› First-True-Last ‹‹

a trilogy of short films by Luis Fernando Midence.

2017 | 33 mins | Guatemala.

a heartfelt work aimed at addressing the lack of Guatemalan LGBT rights.

Dave says:

It's easy to forgot that the gay rights that we take for granted in the West and yes, we fought a long hard battle to achieve them, are rights that are far from universal. Rather many a country is still living in the legal dark ages; one such country being Guatemala. Thankfully going out of his way to shine the spotlight on such is writer and director Luis Fernando Midence of One on One fame, who here has crafted a trio of short films aimed at addressing the issue. Yet whilst presented as an overall production, apart from a tenuous location link between the three, these are stand-alone works, beginning with...

FIRST is the story of "two teenage boys, Pablo and Eric, who don't fit in at their school and randomly meet at Eric's birthday party." No surprise to find that both young men are gay and soon out to each other, as they head off into the night, along the way discussing their hopes and dreams for the future. In short, this is but a showcase piece for the aspirations of Guatemalan LGBT youth in yearning to find "the one", yet equally only too well aware of the difficulties in finding love in a country devoid of gay rights. This is also my favourite of the three works, highlighting the difficulties of coming out and the ever present fear of parental rejection. Sweet, charming, yet equally poignant, the simplicity of this "you are not alone" short works to its advantage, even if the glorious Guatemalan sunshine gets in the way of one too many camera shots. Moving on...

TRUE is billed as "a comedy of errors" built around the story of Alejandro opting to attend the wedding of his ex-boyfriend Jorge, only to discover that Jorge's future husband has a secret. Yet even for a wedding scenario the whole production is just too saccharine for my liking, given it's all but obvious from the start that the ex-lovers still have the hots for each other. Still the story does lend itself to the most man-on-man lip-service of the three, with the comedy(?) element courtesy of Alejandro's best friend Daniel (cue Jose Peñalonzo in the straight talking and well just straight period, role) having to "play it gay" as the supposed new man in Alejandro's life, even if his lines are laced with too many stereotypes. It's also odd that in "playing it gay" Daniel is never introduced as boyfriend #2. Thankfully Johnnie Quijada as Alejandro plays his role to a narrative tee, in many ways saving a work that by no surprise goes out of its way to make the point that the wedding rehearsal depicted, is for a ceremony that is not legally binding in Guatemala. It's a fact that's repeated time and time again, given and whilst former President Álvaro Colom supports civil unions for same-sex couples, the truth remains that the majority of country's population and not surprisingly the dominant political parties strongly oppose the motion. Moving on...

LAST is the tragic story of the seven-year closeted relationship between Fernando and Gabriel. Indeed and if the second short was too saccharine, then Midence ends his trilogy with a work that's the polar opposite. For this is a sorry tale, with long-term partner Fernando ever dreaming of living in an apartment with the man he loves. Yet theirs is an odd couple relationship, with Fernando longing for Gabriel to show his feelings for him. Only could this be a case of being careful what you wish for? What it is, is a sad reflection on life and not just by way of how the short concludes; albeit to say more would be a spoiler, but in terms of the reality for gay men living in Guatemala. For in a country in which consensual sex between men in private has been legal since - 1871 (and yes, you read that right), such are the negative attitudes towards homosexuality, that hate crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity are seemingly tolerated - even by the Government. Little wonder then that so many Guatemalan gay men opt to remain firmly in the closet, as this cold-blooded short is indicative of; only was there any need for it?

And there you have it folks; three shorts that for all of their pros, equally and like many a film I could mention, have some negatives in the mix, not least of which in the last act, given come close of play you cannot help but ask yourself - why didn't they also take the car and all of its contents? But that said, this nonetheless makes for a heartfelt work aimed at addressing the lack of Guatemalan LGBT rights and credit to Luis Fernando Midence, for doing so. And the fact that this trilogy of gay short films was officially selected and screened at the national Guatemalan film festival Icaro in November this year, cannot help but be a major step forward in the right direction. Bottom line; this is the first gay film from Guatemala I've reviewed and I sincerely hope that it won't be the last.

›› check out the Official Trailer on YouTube.
›› posted: Monday, 27th November, 2017.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - none. 
Overall - file under ... 3 stars. 

›› The Ornithologist aka O Ornitólogo ‹‹

a film by João Pedro Rodrigues.

2016 | 117 mins | Portugal.

a surreal take on the life of Saint Anthony of Padua.

principal players: Paul Hamy / Fernando, Xelo Cagiao / Jesus - Tomé, Han Wen / Fei,
Chan Suan / Lin and João Pedro Rodrigues as António.

Official Synopsis:

Ornithologist Fernando is travelling through remote northern Portugal in search of black storks when his kayak capsizes and breaks in rapids and he is washed ashore where he is found unconscious by Chinese Catholic pilgrims Fei and Lin. The pair take him into the nearby forest and tie him up, but after escaping Fernando begins a journey in which he experiences events similar to those of Saint Anthony of Padua.

Dave says:

Okay, let's cut to the chase, given this is far removed from your standard gay film. Then again, this is hardly your standard film - full stop. Written and directed by João Pedro Rodrigues, this is but a surreal (and then some) take on the life of Saint Anthony of Padua; namely the patron saint of lost things and whose original name was Fernando.

The result is a film that you will either love or loathe, given and for all of the pros of this work, there's equally a pile of negatives. Yet to be fair it starts well, with the breathtaking beauty of the wilds of northern Portugal captured in all of their glory, as we witness solitary bird-watcher Fernando swept away by the rapids whilst looking for black storks. Rescued by two lost Chinese Christian lesbians who turn out to be more foe than friend, Fernando eventually escapes into the night, only to find himself in a forest filled with strange ritual sites and perhaps the spirits of the dead. And that's it folks; well more-or-less, given and after a promising beginning, albeit one in dire need of a nip 'n' tuck, the narrative turns plain weird, for how else would you describe scenes of a trio of bare-breasted huntresses, to a jungle filled with animals of the stuffed variety.

True, there's a vivid sense of dread in the early scenes where the Chinese pilgrims take Fernando captive, even if the soundtrack will have you rushing for the mute button and yes, whilst full frontal nudity from Hamy and Xelo Cagiao as a deaf shepherd boy is on the somewhat explicit side, you'll have to wait for over an hour for the gay element of the story to kick-in, by which time I dare say that many will have lost interest in the proceedings well before then, having given up trying to figure out just what the hell is going on?

On the positive side and doing whatever the narrative dictates, it has to be said that Paul Hamy in a largely dialogue free role gives the film his all; from being tied up - bondage fashion one moment, to being urinated upon (or made to look like) the next, to getting up close and personal with Jesus! As too, the wildlife footage is beautifully shot, to the point that it would not be out of place in a David Attenborough documentary. Yet this is just a bizarre film - period, with Rodrigues and for reasons known only to him later appearing as the patron saint himself. But for all that, if you're looking for something different from the cinematic norm, then this film certainly fits the bill. Enough said.

›› available on DVD from Amazon.
›› check out the Official Trailer on YouTube.
›› posted: Sunday, 19th November, 2017.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - the full monty. 
Overall - file under ... 2 stars. 

›› Gareth Thomas v Homophobia: Hate in the Beautiful Game ‹‹

a documentary by Jody Cusack.

series editor and producer: Ian Durham | narration: Eve Myles.

2017 | 59 mins | UK | first shown on BBC1 Wales.

a compelling account of Gareth Thomas' personal quest to eliminate homophobia within Professional Football.

screened as part of the BBC's Gay Britannia season: Sunday.6.August.2017: BBC2 22:30 - 23:30.

Official Synopsis:

Fifty years since the partial decimalization of homosexuality in England and Wales, Gareth Thomas takes a hard-hitting look at what he sees as the last bastion of open homophobia in sport - professional football. Meeting fans, players and pressure groups alike, he asks just what is preventing gay footballers from coming out?

Dave says:

In the world of rugby union, openly gay former Wales and Lions captain Gareth 'Alfie' Thomas has proved time and time again that "where there's a will, there's a way" or in his case - there's a winner. Yet here my heart went out to him, as he faced the disturbing reality of the truth behind homophobia in the not so beautiful game and moreover, the apparent lack of a support programme for any footballer contemplating coming out to his teammates and the public alike.

To that end, Gareth discovered the shocking view that since no player in the Premier League is "officially" gay, then there is "seemingly" no need for such a programme. Yet with around 5,000 professional footballers in the UK, such is not only a statistical improbability, but a sheer impossibility. Indeed, Gareth's own agent confirmed that he knows of a number of gay footballers in the PL and the lies that they're living and the fears that they have. And no wonder when Gareth as ever throwing himself in at the deep end, witnessed first-hand the vile "does your boyfriend know you're here" and a lot worse, abuse from the terraces. Yet what shocked him more was the "normality" of it; that for some it was all "part and parcel" of match day. Only as bad as such verbal abuse is, such is nothing when compared to the appalling abuse found online, that of a series of abhorrent homophobic comments posted by supposed fans who when challenged by Gareth to meet him face-to-face to explain their views, like cowards hiding in the shadows, failed to show themselves in the light of day.

More than willing to meet Gareth however were others who shared his desire to show homophobia the red card, including Amal Fashanu, the niece of Justin Fashanu; namely the sole player in the UK ever to come out while playing the game only to suffer a tragic end, to that of Robbie Rogers; ex Leeds United footballer, now LA Galaxy international and seemingly the ONLY openly gay footballer - full stop! And here I dare say that if it was up to them, then homophobia in professional football would have been booted out well before now. Yet sadly it's not up to them. And whilst credit must go to all those players who participate/d in the likes of Kick It Out, Football v Homophobia and Rainbow Laces, all being praiseworthy campaigns aimed at challenging discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity at all levels in football, as run by those who truly care about making the game a beautiful one, the absolute power to make it so, again does not lie with them. Rather it lies with the Football Association and the Premier League itself. No surprise then that Gareth requested meetings with FA Chairman Greg Clarke and PL Chief Executive Bill Bush to discuss the situation with them direct, only for Bill Bush to agree to a meeting on the condition that no cameras were present, whilst the FA failed to reply to ANY of Gareth's 16 weeks of calls, emails and texts. That this is an utter disgrace, is the understatement of the year.

Undeterred however, Gareth went where some would prefer him not to have gone, and with legal advice, formed his own Code of Practice; an action plan aimed at eliminating homophobia within professional football and one that he duly emailed to the Football Association, the Premier League, the Professional Footballers' Association and all 92 clubs within England and Wales. What they will do with this highly constructive document remains open to question. One would hope that they will act upon it. I suspect however that nothing will happen. Indeed and to be blunt, I would be surprised if anyone got of their highly paid backside to put into practice any one of the 17 common sense points noted within it.

You know, I like Gareth - a lot. For this is a man who gets things done and here he's done his upmost to address the issue of homophobia in professional football head-on. Indeed, if it was up to Gareth and others of like minds interviewed in this compelling documentary, then the UK may well have had by now its first and who knows, second and third openly gay footballer, as backed by a full support programme, in a game that could hold its head up high and truly call itself - a beautiful one. Only, we're not there yet. Not by a long way. For this is an ugly game, one in which the majority of football stewards turn a deaf ear to homophobic abuse, where sickening online abuse is rife and where homophobic banter in the locker room and on the training field itself seemingly goes without challenge.

Yet to my mind the most telling aspect of this work, was the attitude of FA Chairman Greg Clarke and Premier League Chief Executive Bill Bush, the latter of whom only agreed to meet off camera - what a copout that was, whilst the former failed to do even that. And here you have to seriously ask yourself, that if THAT is their attitude to meeting, or in Greg Clarke's case not, one of the most respected openly gay ex sportsman in the world who here is trying his darndest to right a homophobic wrong, then just what would their commitment TRULY be in supporting a footballer wanting to sexually say it, like it is. And here the words of Eldridge Cleaver spring to mind, given "you either have to be part of the solution, or you're going to be part of the problem". Frankly, that says it all.

See also: HARDtalk with Robbie Rogers | Inside Sport Special - The Last Taboo | Undercover: Hate on the Terraces | Wonderkid.

›› posted: Monday, 11th September, 2017.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - none. 
Overall - file under ... 4 stars. 

›› Queers: The Man on the Platform - 1/8 ‹‹ ›› Queers: A Grand Day Out - 2/8 ‹‹
Perce: Ben Whishaw / Writer: Mark Gatiss Andrew: Fionn Whitehead | Writer: Michael Dennis
A man returning from the trenches of the First World War recollects a love that dared not speak its name. In 1994, 17-year-old Andrew comes to London for the first time - with unexpected results.
›› Queers: More Anger - 3/8 ‹‹ ›› Queers: Missing Alice - 4/8 ‹‹
Phil: Russell Tovey | Writer: Brian Fillis Alice: Rebecca Front | Writer: Jon Bradfield
It's 1987 and with AIDS hitting the headlines, a new part looks like a game-changer for actor Phil. Alice and her husband share a secret, but with 1957 Wolfenden Report, need it be a secret anymore?
›› Queers: I Miss the War - 5/8 ‹‹ ›› Queers: Safest Spot in Town - 6/8 ‹‹
Jackie: Ian Gelder | Writer: Matthew Baldwin Fredrick: Kadiff Kirwan | Writer: Keith Jarrett
Dapper gent Jackie is determined that the 1967 Sexual Offences Act won't revolutionise everything. As the Blitz hits London, Fredrick is grateful that he survived in a very unlikely place of refuge.
›› Queers: The Perfect Gentleman - 7/8 ‹‹ ›› Queers: Something Borrowed - 8/8 ‹‹
Bobby: Gemma Whelan | Writer: Jackie Clune Steve: Alan Cumming | Writer: Gareth McLean
Bobby is a swaggering man about town. But Bobby
has a secret. Can it survive when it really matters?
As groom-to-be Steve prepares his wedding speech, he wonders what has been won and moreover lost?
›› Queers ‹‹

produced and directed by Mark Gatiss.

2017 | 8 x 20 mins | UK.

a series of eight short monologues written in response to the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act.

a BBC4 drama premiere: Monday.31st.July.2017 to Thursday.3.August.2017: 22:00 - 22:40.

Dave says:

Wonderfully revisiting the monologue genre made famous by Alan Bennett's Talking Heads, this outstanding series of eight mini-dramas as produced and directed by actor, writer and director Mark Gatiss is one of the, if not THE highlight of the BBC's Gay Britannia season. Told direct-to-camera in a pub-based environment, each beautifully crafted short film vividly conveys the emotions of each character and the world, pre or post the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, that they live in.

As to the stories themselves; well putting hands to the keyboard, series producer-director Mark Gatiss delivered perhaps the sweetest tale of the series in The Man on the Platform, one that saw Ben Whishaw recall two memorable railway station encounters; the first as a child and later as a WWI soldier returning home from the war and how a tender kiss on the hand on a railway platform meant so much to him. Forever in the closet over a love that at that time dared not speak its name (and with a neat link to such), this is a romantic and yet achingly sad tale of a gay man taking happiness where he can and often, in the briefest of moments. Whishaw acts this piece beautifully, as too does Alan Cumming in Something Borrowed; a story that brings gay love right up to date as Cumming expresses the anxious feelings of a man about to get married to the prince of his dreams. Pointedly charting the opposing ends of the marriage spectrum, this short begins with Cumming relating his characters' "uncertainty towards marriage - towards men", only for it to end by no surprise with a declaration of his devotion to Adam; the love of his life.

Focusing on the AIDS epidemic, Russell Tovey delivers to my mind the most poignant piece of the series in More Anger; here portraying a 1980's actor relating the varied gay characters he finds himself playing and how he's getting "quite good at dying". Written by Brian Fillis, who also wrote the moving drama Against the Law, this is a work filled with emotion and rage, one that finds Tovey's character revisiting the pub at differing times to tell his tales, including his lust for 'ever so fit with incredible legs' dancer Simon, only for their relationship to falter when Simon tells him that he has AIDS. Yet it's Tovey's anger during the last minute or so that stays with you, expressing the sheer outrage that we all felt at the time when our friends and lovers were dying in the face of an uncaring government and press.

For light relief, check out I Miss the War in which Ian Gelder wonderfully camps it up as a gentleman's tailor ever keen for a bit of trade. This is by far the funniest of the monologues, with Gelder dressed head to toe in maroon as Jackie, pondering his future in the year in which the Sexual Offences Act came into being, whilst equally reflecting on his saucy past, all the while sipping a glass of dry sherry. Frankly Gelder is splendid in the role; camping it up one minute, whilst telling tales of his days as a "renter" the next, along the way slipping into Polari every now and again, lines that take you back to the days of Julian and Sandy. Yet it's his telling account of his love for an American private that hits home; that of a one-night stand that forever stayed in his heart.

Not to be outdone is Gemma Whelan as swaggering man about town Bobby; dressed up for the night in top hat and tails, Bobby's the object of every girls' dreams, just as and by no surprise, the girls are the object of 'his' dreams in The Perfect Gentleman. As for the secrets of a perfect marriage, well here Rebecca Front shines as Alice reflecting how she ended up in a seemingly blissful marriage, only for it to be a lavender one. Linked to the publication of the 1957 Wolfenden Report, this touching tale finds Alice discussing her life before and after her husband came out to her and how he would forever be Missing Alice should they ever part. Beautifully written by newcomer Jon Bradfield, Front plays Alice to a narrative tee.

Turning serious on the racist side for a moment, Kadiff Kirwan is brilliant as Fredrick; an immigrant still acclimatising after three years in the UK and who here relates his sexual experiences in London and the trendy art circles therein. Set at the time of the Blitz, Fredrick now finds himself welcome in clubs that would have refused him entry just a year ago, and yet with an invitation to dance the night away in the Café de Paris, he opts instead to take refuge in what would turn out to be the Safest Spot in Town.

Finally there's A Grand Day Out; a story that finds Fionn Whitehead on fine form as teenage gay boy Andrew who travels to London on the day that MPs are voting over whether to lower the age of homosexual consent. This is a great story of a naïve young lad new to the capital and new to a lot of other things too. Staying overnight with a man of thirty with "unexpected results," he returns home to Nottingham the next day more sexually confident, yet equally hoping that in lending his support on the march the day before, his parents weren't watching the news that night. Like many of the monologues this is somewhat risqué in content, words that here wonderfully paint a picture of a 17-year-old's sexual encounter in London, on the day that Parliament deemed it wasn't legally permissible.

And there you have it; eight individual monologues, screened two per night, over four consecutive days, with each actor beautifully conveying the innermost thoughts of their character and the sexual openness, or not, of the day. Yet this is also a series that's credit to its writers, many new to television, who between them have created a sublime series of diverse tales for the boys that whilst premiered on BBC4, would by sound alone, frankly be at home on Radio 4. In short, there's a lot to like here; indeed this is simply - fantabulosa!

›› check out the Official Trailer on YouTube.
›› posted: Saturday, 19th August, 2017.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - none. 
Overall - file under ... 5 stars. 

›› Is It Safe to Be Gay in the UK? ‹‹

a documentary by Mark Henderson.

2017 | 59 mins | UK.

the graphic reality that homophobia is still alive and literally kicking.

a BBC2 premiere: Tuesday.1.August.2017: 21:00 - 22:00.

Official Synopsis:

With homophobic hate crime a daily occurrence and on the rise, this film talks to the victims about being attacked, offering an insight into the challenges faced by gay people in Britain today.

Dave says:

Screened as part of the BBC's Gay Britannia season, the question in the title is probably one that most, if not all of us have asked at some point. Indeed, it's a question that arose during a conversation I had just a few weeks ago with a close group of friends, both straight and gay, and our views not surprisingly varied from personal experiences. All of us however voiced our concern over the alarming increase in homophobic hate crime; both verbal and physical.

Indeed, that's what makes this compelling, yet equally chilling documentary so raw. For whilst we're all aware that homophobia hasn't gone away in the fifty years following the partial decriminalization of homosexuality, here the graphic reality of homophobic attacks is laid bare and frankly, it's a shocking picture. For just how safe is it to be openly gay in the UK? Going from the moving testimonies given here, for some the answer has tragically proved to be not safe at all.

Take for example the likes of long-term partners James and Dain who open up their hearts on the pressure put on their relationship after they were assaulted in supposedly gay friendly Brighton; a brutal attack that left both of them with multiple injuries and Dain with a broken eye socket, wondering if he would ever be able to see again. That Dain regained his eyesight is nothing short of a miracle. Yet their story is far from unique, as Jenny loving remembers her brother Ian Baynham who died of injuries sustained in a frenzied homophobic attack in the centre of London, having been kicked to death on the ground.

And then there's Connor's horrific tale; habitually bullied at school, with the words "you're gay - you should be dead" echoing around every corner, things should have got better for him when he moved into his own flat, only to have been attacked by another resident with a hammer with such force that it was still embedded in his head when the ambulance crew arrived. In a coma for four weeks, surgeons fought to save his life, having to remove a quarter of his skull to relieve the pressure on his brain. Thankfully Connor not only survived, but has since found love in the arms of boyfriend Dom. Yet once again he's not alone, as here victim after victim recall painful memories of being kicked in the face until unconscious, of being repeatedly stamped on the head, of having a scaffold pole smashed across their face - just for being who they are. That their words cry out for justice to be served is the understatement of the year.

Alex and Becky are one such couple seeking justice, having been groped, punched and slammed into a street light, on what was meant to have been a quiet night out in Croydon. Yet justice was not served, with one defendant having fled to South Africa to avoid sentencing, leaving the couple struggling to move on from both the assault and the court case itself. And whilst the man responsible for the vicious attack on Connor was duly sentenced to nineteen years for attempted murder, Connor is left unable to run or use his right hand, having to take tablets every single day, with epilepsy and severe migraine now with him for the rest of his life. Jenny meanwhile is starting the restorative justice programme in the hope of gaining peace of mind, whilst James and Dain's relationship has notably changed and sadly not for the better, with their views of being out in public now at odds with each other.

For make no mistake, this is not an easy film to watch, given that and whilst we like to think that we're living in enlightened times, in particular in view of all of the legal advances made in gay rights during the past fifty years, the truth is that we still have to ask ourselves - just how safe is it to be openly gay in the UK? The obvious answer is that you "should feel", indeed "should be" perfectly safe. But as this sobering work makes all too clear, homophobia hasn't gone away and if anything is still alive and literally kicking. That this documentary also questions the motives behind such, is to its credit. Yet it equally shows what is often overlooked, that of the repercussions of such unprovoked attacks on the victims, their families and friends; many mourning the loss of loved one and the void that forever is in their life.

In short, this is one of those shows that cannot help but make you angry. Angry that outside of the Pride marches attended en mass, outside of Soho and your local gay scene, outside of your arthouse cinema and café, LGBTQ men and women are still being brutally beaten up and left for dead on the streets of the UK. It's appalling. It's a sheer outrage. And it is a crime. Yet it's a sickening reality for one in four LGBTQ people living in Britain today. And in spite of all of the promises made by the authorities, I fear that such a deplorable situation is only going to get worse. And that makes me bloody angry.

›› posted: Saturday, 5th August, 2017.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - none. 
Overall - file under ... 4 stars. 

›› Esteros - Estuaries ‹‹

a film by Papu Curotto.

2016 | 83 mins | Argentina.

childhood friends rekindle feelings long thought forgotten.

starring: Ignacio Rogers / Matías, Esteban Masturini / Jerónimo, Joaquín Parada / young Matías, Blas Finardi Niz / young Jerónimo
and with María Merlino / Marilu, Renata Calmon / Rochi, Marcelo Subiotto / Esteban and Felipe Tito as Tuto.

Adapted Synopsis:

Matías and Jerónimo have known each other since childhood. Their friendship takes a new turn during the holiday before starting high school, when they both experience their sexual awakening. Suspecting that his son could be gay, Matías' father breaks up their relationship by accepting a job in Brazil, a move that will cause Matías to deny not only his love for Jerónimo, but his very sexuality. More than ten years later, Matías with girlfriend Rochi returns to Argentina for a carnival held in his old town, only to unexpectedly run into Jerónimo. Slowly, but surely feelings between the two reappear, but at what price?

Dave says:

Based upon the characters in his poignant 2015 short film Matías and Jerónimo, this, the debut feature from Argentinian director Papu Curotto is but a captivating ode to suppressed sexuality, as a chance encounter between former childhood friends rekindles feelings that for Matías, have long been thought forgotten. To that end, the narrative is somewhat predictable; in particular the love that both men clearly hold for each other. But that said, Curotto has nevertheless packed his tale with a series of lush moments between the boys, as tender scenes of youthful playfulness give way to longing looks, strictly of the adult kind.

Cross-cutting between the differing time frames with considerable ease, frankly, there's a lot to like here, as Curotto's gentle approach wonderfully captures the boys' summer days together, when fun is but the order of the day, to their chance reunion ten years or so later, when their yearning to be together is complicated by Matías arriving with girlfriend in hand, only to and by no surprise end up spending more time in the company of Jerónimo; talking about times past, getting to know each other again, sensing that spark of romance is still present. Yet for all of the pros of the piece, there's a nagging negative in the mix, as the scenes of manly hanky-panky between the two men (and yes, you just knew that boys would be boys) are shot way too dark for my liking, to the point that you cannot really tell who's doing what to whom! Thankfully, all other scenes are well lit, with the outdoor cinematography vividly capturing both the wildlife and sheer beauty of the surrounding wetlands.

As expected child stars Joaquín Parada and Blas Finardi Niz are simply adorable, ending up almost stealing the show, only for the parallel storyline to tug at your heartstrings, with Ignacio Rogers as Matías achingly showcasing his inner turmoil, seemingly unable to express his true feelings for Jerónimo; a role that all-round cutie Esteban Masturini excels in, his out personality and vibrant joie de vivre making him the perfect boyfriend that anyone would wish to spend their days and nights with. In short and whilst the ending is way too convenient, at the end of the day I liked this film, it's introspective style and sheer simplicity being its charm. Say no more, other than this review having been marked down for breaking Dave's Golden Rule of 'either show it OR suggest it, but NEVER film sex scenes in the dark' given to do so, is frankly pointless for the actors and the audience alike. Enough said.

›› available on DVD from Amazon.
›› check out the Official Trailer on YouTube.
›› posted: Tuesday, 25th July, 2017.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - naked, but dark. 
Overall - file under ... 3+ stars. 

›› Fathers ‹‹

a film by Palatpol Mingpornpichit.

2016 | 96 mins | Thailand.

the emotional ups and downs of gay parents raising a child.

principal players: Asda Panichkul / Phoon, Nat Sakdatorn / Yuke, Arituch Pipattangkul / Butr
and Sinjai Plengpanich as Miss Rattiya.

Official Synopsis:

Phoon and Yuke have been a couple for 13 years. They also have an adopted son, Butr, whom they took in as an abandoned child. When Butr is old enough to start school, Phoon and Yuke are faced with his questions: who is my mom, and where is she?

Dave says:

With the notable exception of Lisa Cholodenko's The Kids Are All Right and Robert Chuter's The Dream Children, films that deal with gay parenting are relatively few in number. Thankfully where others opt not to go, writer and director Palatpol Mingpornpichit takes pride in throwing himself in at the cinematic deep end, here seizing the opportunity to showcase the emotional ups and downs of gay parents raising a child in an environment that all too often, is far from accepting. Such however is but the backdrop to a film that specifically deals with the father's reaction to their son's ever inquisitive mind about his biological mother and moreover how an unexpected visit from Miss Rattiya of the Children's Rights Protection Organization; an officialdom who takes it upon herself to locate Butr's birth mother, sets in motion a chain of events that threatens to destroy the very happiness of both parents and child.

Sure, parts of this feature are overly sentimental. Yet equally this is a work that highlights how important it is to have joint legal custody of an adopted child. The fact that here only one parent has, is a recipe for woe as Yuke, the 'mother figure' of the pair, finds that his love is not legally enough. Only as touching as the performances from Asda Panichkul and Nat Sakdatorn as the devoted parents of the piece are, by no surprise it is Arituch Pipattangkul as Butr who steals the show, his adorable facial expressions wonderfully showcasing the innocence of a child who views the world through eyes where love is as it should be - unconditional.

Beautifully shot throughout and played with a warmth that genuinely conveys the deep love that both parents hold for each other and for their son who they clearly wish only the best for, frankly this film has a lot going for it, being sweet, albeit somewhat simplistic, (you can predict the ending), yet equally poignant, whilst the narrative is not afraid to touch upon homophobia, in a country in which same-sex couples still have to fight for the right to marry and where gay parenthood is viewed by many as a social stigma. That said, what stays with you come close of play are the many tender moments shared between fathers and son; from teaching Butr to play football, to the drive to school in the most innovative of children's transport. Need more be said, other than - go see.

›› available to Watch Online in HD from the good folk at filmdoo.com.
›› check out the Official Trailer on YouTube.
›› posted: Saturday, 15th July, 2017.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - from the waist up. 
Overall - file under ... 4 stars. 

›› Good Morning ‹‹

a short film by Stephen Dunn and Peter Knegt.

2014 | 10 mins | Canada.

exploring a thirteen year age gap to sexual identity.

starring: Peter Knegt and Oliver Skinner.

Official Synopsis:

Good Morning comically examines the ideas of sexual identity and age anxiety via the story of a man, who on the morning after his 30th birthday party wakes up with both a massive hangover, and a 17-year-old boy sleeping on his couch.

Dave says:

Staying well clear of anything sexual, here we find writers and stars of the show Peter Knegt and Oliver Skinner opt instead to explore the thirteen year age gap between two young man and specifically the differing attitudes to sexual identity that both have grown-up with. It's a set-up that works remarkably well, as we find Mr. Thirty somewhat shocked at the ease in which the seventeen-year-old in front on him, is with his sexuality, reflecting how society and gay visibility for many, albeit not all, has changed for the better in recent times. And whilst the narrative is a bit preachy in parts, in particular on the pros and cons of Grindr, it nevertheless has a seductive sweetness to it, as the older man assumes the role of an older brother, concerned for the well-being of a young man who twenty-four hours earlier was but a stranger to him. Delightful.

›› available as part of the BOYS ON FILM #12 shorts compilation - Confession.
›› posted: Sunday, 9th July, 2017.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - none. 
Overall - file under ... 3 stars. 

›› Anoraak: Figure ‹‹

a music video by Simon Savory.

2017 | 5 mins | France - UK.

a three-way relationship expressed in music and dance.

featuring: Brandon Miel Masele, Mellina Boubetra and Ablaye Dadinio Jhones.

Dave says:

From multi-talented writer and director Simon Savory of Bruno & Earlene Go to Vegas fame, comes this wonderfully creative short film that focuses on how a "three-way relationship expands and contracts".

Shot on location in Paris, France and using such locations as the Bibliothèque François Mitterand, Parc Martin Luther King, Parc Butte du Chapeau Rouge and Canal Saint Denis to striking effect, this is in essence a music video for Anoraak; as choreographed throughout with a series of expressive hand turns. Yet the power of dance can say SO much and in just less than five minutes, here it says a lot, movements that are intercut with some beautifully scripted, often tender moments. Enjoy.

›› check out the FreeView on Vimeo.
›› posted: Thursday, 7th July, 2017.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - none. 
Overall - file under ... 3+ stars. 

›› Taekwondo ‹‹

a film by Marco Berger and Martín Farina.

2016 | 105 mins | Argentina.

a sensuous tale of sexual awakening.

principal players: Gabriel Epstein as Germán and Lucas Papa as Fernando, together with a bevy of Argentinian cuties.

Official Synopsis:

In a picturesque country house in Buenos Aires, Fernando gathers his mates for a boys-only vacation. Free from work, responsibilities and their girlfriends, this close-knit gang of bros kick back by the pool, sunning their impeccably toned bodies and sharing pot-fuelled stories of sexual conquests. The guys have known each other for years, only this time Fernando has brought with him newcomer Germán, a friend from his taekwondo class, who neglects to tell the group that he's gay. As the lazy summer days disappear, the connection between Fernando and Germán grows and slowly the boundaries of their relationship begin to blur.

Dave says:

In many ways this sensual work reminds me of the Derek Jarman classic Sebastiane; namely a film in which a group of men - cue soldiers, spend their days and nights in each other's company. And ditto here; as a group of straight best friends delight in an all-male environment, either engaged with each other in sport or conversation. And it's their conversations that dominate throughout, as talk of relationships past and present echo off every wall, frank exchanges about sex, girls and well - girls. Only it's evident from the onset that at least one of the group is batting for the other side, with Germán clearly gay, his longing to be with Fernando his sole reason for putting up with the homophobic comments from those around him. Sure, there's a bit of jealousy thrown in and yes, a number of gay issues are touched upon, albeit lightly, but in the main this is a plot-free piece that focuses on the camaraderie within the group, men who are at ease to let it all hang out, both verbally and physically, with seemingly all (?) of the central cast naked at some point.

Yet whilst there's many a manly member on display, it's the bond between the two would-be lovers that captivates, and like any good card player here writer and co-director Marco Berger keeps his cinematic hand close to his chest, playing the "will they OR won't they get together" card right up to the end credits. The result is a work high in homoeroticism, with longing looks and convert glances juxtaposed with lingering crotch close-ups and frontal nudity. Only it's too much of a narrative tease, being a film that's crying out for the romance between Fernando and Germán to take centre stage throughout.

In short, it's all a bit too much hetero, not enough homo; a crying shame given what we see of the developing relationship between the boys is beautifully played. Not that this sensuous tale of sexual awakening is not without its gay pay off, given the two men and by no surprise do get up close and personal come close of play, even if it's oddly something of a silhouette affair. The man-candy is however SO easy on the eye.

›› available on DVD from Amazon.
›› check out the Official Trailer on YouTube.
›› posted: Tuesday, 6th June, 2017.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - the copious monty. 
Overall - file under ... 3+ stars. 

›› Wonderkid ‹‹

a short film by Rhys Chapman.

2016 | 31 mins | UK.

a poignant short on coming out in the so-called beautiful game.

principal players: Chris Mason as the Wonderkid, Leeshon Alexander as Johnny and Troy Glasgow as Cumbo.

Official Synopsis:

After earning a dream move to a London Premier League club, Wonderkid should be on top of the world. The reality? He's faced with callous friends, a hostile changing room, vitriol-filled messages on social media and, crucially, Wonderkid's having to deal with himself. The film highlights the key issue - why should his sexuality be an issue?

Dave says:

This compelling British short dares to tackle the ultimate sporting taboo; namely coming out in the so-called beautiful game. It's an issue that's at the heart of this work, as the raw emotions of a talented footballer are laid bare, with the Wonderkid yearning to give his all to the game, yet held back from displaying his full potential by not being able to "be himself" on the pitch, and indeed to those around him. That is, apart from his agent Johnny; a man only too aware of his client's desire to come out to one and all, but equally conscious of the ramifications such sexual openness could have on a series of lucrative endorsement and media deals and moreover, his cut therein. The result is a Mexican standoff, one that finds the Wonderkid holed up in his hotel room longing to break free, only for promises of coming out from his agent, forever accompanied with the line - "when the time is right". Only when is the time ever right?

Played for all its worth by Chris Mason, an actor recently seen in a pivotal role in the final series of the acclaimed UK crime drama Broadchurch and made with the full support and moreover the participation of a number of Sky Sports pundits, this short repeatedly asks the question - why should one's sexuality be an issue? The answer is it shouldn't be and well, it's not, that is in seemingly every other sport, bar football that is. And it's here that the writing team of Matt Diss, Terence Corless and director Rhys Chapman score big time, achingly showcasing the inner turmoil of a young man yearning to be his sexual self, yet too afraid to be seen in a gay bar. Sick of the ingrained homophobic comments both on the terraces and from his teammates and with the weight of "playing it straight" dragging him down, something clearly has to give and give it does, even if the key act itself is surprisingly not shown, opting instead for a voiceover styled commentary to say it - like it is.

That said, this is still premier league material, with the narrative not afraid to show overt man-on-man lip-service, whilst addressing the central issue at hand. It's a subject that I've written about on more than one occasion and here cue Undercover: Hate on the Terraces and Inside Sport Special - The Last Taboo, although perhaps the most cutting comments came during the HARDtalk interview with Robbie Rogers; now a US international footballer who in February 2013 publicly come out as gay. That he is not the only professional footballer who is gay, goes without saying. Yet as the closing credits of this poignant short roll, you have to wonder just how many real life Wonderkids yearn to set their spirit free, yet feel either financially or mentally compelled to remain in the sporting closet?

›› check out the FreeView on the official website.
›› posted: Monday, 24th April, 2017.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - from the waist up. 
Overall - file under ... 4 stars. 

›› Everybody Is Having Sex... But Ryan ‹‹

a short film by Brian Pelletier.

2009 | 14 mins | US.

a gloriously gay-to-the-core piece about finding the one.

principal players: Jeremy Lucas as Ryan, Mark Strano as Dustin and Alan Palmer as Toby.

Adapted Synopsis:

When it comes to dating, aspiring dancer and all-round cutie Ryan has the worst luck. Fortunately, or perhaps not as the case may prove, his best friend Dustin has a plan to find him his Mr Right.

Dave says:

Frankly, there's nothing really special about this short film from writer and director Brian Pelletier; yet there's no denying that is has a comical charm all of its own. It tells the story of Ryan, who as the title implies, isn't getting any manflesh in the night, or the day for that matter and whose mission to get laid seemingly almost always takes second place to the rampant love life of his best friend Dustin and here cue an early screen appearance from Mark Strano of Out to Kill fame.

Sure, the dance sequences are blatantly OTT and yes, some of the characters are all but stereotypical, but that said this is equally a gloriously gay-to-the-core piece about finding The One, be he at times right in front of you, with the ever nimble Jeremy Lucas in the lead playing the sitcom styled comical tightrope just right, to the point that you know that our boy will not be spending the night alone, come close of play. Sexy, camp and somehow irresistibly charming, as ever check out the FreeView link below and see what you think.

›› check out the FreeView on YouTube.
›› posted: Monday, 17th April, 2017.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - from the waist up. 
Overall - file under ... 2+ stars. 

›› Closets ‹‹

a short film by Lloyd Eyre-Morgan.

2015 | 18 mins | UK.

a gem of a sci-fi styled coming out short.

principal players: Julie Hesmondhalgh as Penny, Tommy Lawrence-Knight as Henry and Ceallach Spellman as Ben.

Adapted Synopsis:

Tommy Knight (The Sarah Jane Adventures) stars in this light-hearted drama as Henry, a teenager struggling with his sexuality in 1986. Hiding in his wardrobe, he time travels to the year 2016 where he meets a similar teenager, Ben, occupying his same bedroom. Offering each other both support and friendship, it isn't long before they come to realize that despite the thirty year time difference, some things all too sadly, have remained the same.

Dave says:

Beautifully played throughout, this gem of a sci-fi styled coming out short poignantly showcases the timeless emotions of being true to both yourself and to those around you, courtesy of two teenage boys who by way of a time-travelling wardrobe, find that they share more than just the same bedroom. It's a clever idea that writer and director Lloyd Eyre-Morgan of Dream On fame employs to pointedly illustrate the fact (and here cue the shocking statistics detailed in the end credits) that the ingrained homophobia of school life is an abhorrent reality for all too many, whatever the year be.

Complete with a series of delightful turns from Julie Hesmondhalgh as Ben's unconditional loving mum and in particular from leads Tommy Lawrence-Knight and Ceallach Spellman who between them vividly portray the "coming to terms with their sexuality" emotions of the boys, this is a work in which the real star of the show is the script itself, with the closing cross-cutting narrative wonderfully juxtaposing the differing time frames and the coming out experiences of both young men. Poignant, sweet and uplifting in equal measure, it's no surprise that this short film won the Best British Short award at the IRIS Prize Film Festival of 2015. And that frankly - says it all.

›› available as part of the BOYS ON FILM #15 shorts compilation - Time & Tied.
›› posted: Sunday, 16th April, 2017.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - none. 
Overall - file under ... 4 stars. 

›› Gorjetas - Tips ‹‹

a short film by Mauro Carvalho and Thiago Cazado.

2016 | 18 mins | Brazil.

a webcam boy goes that extra inch to generate tips.

principal players: Thiago Cazado as Mário and André Aires as the Robber.

Adapted Synopsis:

Broke and in need of money fast, gay boy Mário has taken to earning tips from showing off his cute body; webcam style. Only when a robber interrupts the show demanding money, rather than call the police, Mário decides to turn the situation to his financial advantage.

Dave says:

Here's a short film that's sure to bring a smile to your face, courtesy of MACA Entertainment; namely the home of many a sexy short for the boyz. To that end, this scenario was in many ways ripe for the taking; that of a webcam boy who is more than happy to go that extra inch to generate tips. And generate a lot he does, with co-director, writer and star of the show Thiago Cazado frankly all too realistic as the all-round cutie of the piece, getting down and dirty webcam style to the point that you almost feel that you could be watching a live broadcast; playing with his nipples, whilst wearing nothing but a jockstrap that perfectly shows off his prize ass-ets.

Yet for all of the light entertainment feel of the piece, the narrative is not afraid to touch upon some serious issues and in particular the dire need for money, not refreshingly for drugs or the like, rather in this case for health insurance and moreover, how a close-up camera - webcam style, can all too often hide the financial hardship of its owner.

That said, there's no denying the sensuous side of this work, even if it's something of an odd mix, juxtaposing comical asides by way of Mário's somewhat clichéd clientele, with the alarming act of armed robbery, let alone a climactic sexual scene that surely would have been the opposite way around? Whatever, this short reaffirms Brazil as one of the leading producers of gay short films that seductively mix drama with sex appeal, being proudly gay to the core. Frankly, need more be said, other than check it out below - oh, I see you already have!

›› check out the FreeView on YouTube.
›› posted: Tuesday, 21st March, 2017.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - bare-arsed cheek. 
Overall - file under ... 3 stars. 

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