›› Latest Reviews #1 ‹‹

Welcome to the first page of Dave's gay film reviews for 2018 and what a cinematic year, it's been. As ever, check out the links below to jump to the title of your choice, OR scroll down to see all the reviews featured to-date.

Latest Reviews #2 as is obvious, links to a series of reviews I penned later in the year.

More reviews are - coming soon.
Dave :)

›› reviews on this page ‹‹

Ceramic Tango | Cigano - aka: Gypsy | CrossRoad | Dawn by Jake Graf | Dawn by Leon Le | Dinner Confession | G O'Clock | God's Own Country

Kiss Me Softly | Morning is Broken | My Brother the Devil | Nightstand | Pittsburgh | Putting on the Dish | Sauna the Dead: A Fairy Tale

Sign | Spilt Milk | Sports | Talking to My Mother | The Definition of Lonely | The Violation | The Way He Looks | Trouser Bar | Un Mundo para Raúl | Wild Awakening

›› Un Mundo para Raúl - A World for Raúl ‹‹

a short film by Mauro Mueller.

2012 | 14 mins | Mexico - Switzerland - US.

a thought-provoking narrative on sexual assault.

Dave says:

Wonderfully played, this short film begins as a tender tale of friendship, only to turn decidedly dark. It focuses on the bond between farmers' son Raúl and Hernán; the son of a wealthy landowner whom Raúl's father visits in the hope of securing seeding equipment needed for his fields. As the men discuss business, their sons catch up on old times caused by Hernán's move to Mexico City three years ago. Yet this is a short in two halves, with the opening section as upbeat as they come, as the two boys play football, drink beers and casually talk about their love lives. Such however is not to last, as a dip in the pool reveals a different side to Hernán's nature, as the young man knowingly takes advantage of the situation to his sexual gratification. And it's this sudden cinematic left turn that takes you off guard, with writer and director Mauro Mueller here opting to avoid comment. The result is a non-judgemental, if thought-provoking narrative on sexual assault, all of which makes this short film standout from the standard boy-meets-boy scenario. The look on Raúl's face at the end however says it all.

›› available as part of the BOYS ON FILM #14 shorts compilation - Worlds Collide.
›› posted: Sunday, 21th October, 2018.

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


›› The Violation ‹‹

a short film by Christopher Bradley.

2013 | 13 mins | US.

a voyeuristic take on falling in love with the boy next door.

Dave says:

Closeted but clearly gay, fifteen-year-old Mickey Dougherty (Slade Pearce) has the hots for his next door neighbour Oscar Heim (Shayne Topp) spying on him at any given moment to the point of obsession. And as fate would have it, Oscar also has a crush on the Dougherty household; only for his sexual yearnings to lie in the direction of Mickey's sister Tina; love triangle fashion. Yet this doesn't stop Mickey and his drunken mother from housesitting for their wealthy neighbour whilst they're attending a family wedding, with Mickey all too keen to seize the opportunity to invade Oscar's bedroom. Only what's a boy to do when the family return early - too early for Mickey to hide, shall we say - the embodiment of his desire. In short, this is another variant on the 'falling in love with the boy next door' scenario and it's wonderfully played in a natural style. Along the way, it nicely contrasts the class divides between two households at different ends of the income scale, whilst equally showcasing that the object of Mickey's unrequited love doth protest too much, given the opening scene features Tina's stolen bikini. Pearce is wonderful in the role; his subtle eye movements beautifully defining the true nature of his heart. Yet as good a short film as it is, one that borders on the voyeuristic, to my mind it could have been SO much better, having played it all too safe in the homoerotic department. Say no more.

›› available as part of the BOYS ON FILM #14 shorts compilation - Worlds Collide.
›› posted: Sunday, 21th October, 2018.

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


›› Nightstand ‹‹

a short film by Charlie Parham.

2015 | 26 mins | UK.

a poignant exploration of the two-edged sword that is sexual longing and self-loathing.

Dave says:

Supported by Sir Ian McKellen and Executive Producer Stephen Fry, this is but a poignant exploration of the two-edged sword that is sexual longing and self-loathing. Not that Ramsey (Amrou Al-Kadhi) is anything other than out and proud, his shift as a barman in a Soho club bringing him in contact with middle-aged Rob (Nicholas Gleaves); a married man who with his wife away is only too keen to spend the night with Ramsey in a near-by hotel. It's a sexual act they will repeat, meeting up over the next two nights. Only the scales are uneven, with Rob's sexual yearning at odds with his heterosexual façade. Somewhere, somehow you just know that something has to give. And give it does in an ending that frankly I don't like. Then again, it perfectly expresses the inner turmoil of a man who appears to be accepting his homosexual self, only for the reality of the situation to hit home. Actor and screenwriter Amrou Al-Kadhi is however excellent in the role of Ramsey, appearing arrogant at first, only for his own mask to break to reveal a man longing not for sex, but rather to love and to be loved. Well-played throughout, if ultimately a sad reflection on life and the loneliness that all too many feel.

›› available as part of the BOYS ON FILM #15 shorts compilation - Time & Tied.
›› posted: Friday, 19th October, 2018.

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


›› Trouser Bar ‹‹

a short film by Kristen Bjorn.

2016 | 20 mins | UK.

a naughty but nice send-up of a corduroy gentlemen's outfitters.

Dave says:

And here's another short film told without dialogue. Then again, no words are needed in this comical take of a London gentlemen's outfitters circa 1976 and a clientele with a love of corduroy, leather and men in ever so tight fitting trousers. In short, this is but a naughty but nice send-up of times that were, as both staff and patrons are soon to be found with their trousers off, rather than on. Produced by David McGillivray of Peter De Rome: Grandfather of Gay Porn fame and complete with a series of cameos from the likes of Julian Clary, Barry Cryer and Nigel Havers, among others, as passers-by seemingly shocked by what they see through the shop window, yet perhaps wishing they were inside, together with more OTT styled '70s wigs than what you can shake your comb at, this is one of those films that not surprisingly is played for all its worth; softcore style. Clearly director and gay porn king Kristen Bjorn had a whale of a time making this and it shows, being funny, sexy and yet more erotic than pornographic, as a series of manly bulges get their close-up to the throbbing disco beat of Stephen Thrower. Frankly, what's not to like?

›› available as part of the BOYS ON FILM #15 shorts compilation - Time & Tied.
›› posted: Tuesday, 16th October, 2018.

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


›› CrossRoad ‹‹

a short film by Leon Lopez.

2016 | 11 mins | UK.

an exhilarating rollercoaster ride of emotions.

Dave says:

This, the fourth short film from noted UK actor, writer and director Leon Lopez of Soft Lad fame is but an exhilarating rollercoaster ride of emotions, charting the highs and the lows in the life of Liam; a young man wrecked with confusion after an incident that forces him to make choices that will change his life forever. Told partly in flashback and almost without dialogue, you're kind of left filling in the blanks as to just what's going on; albeit until the end reel plays. What is obvious is that Liam's relationship with his girlfriend is at breaking point. Walking the streets of London in the early hours and returning home to give himself a haircut that would not be out of place in the prison barbershop, this is a man in emotional meltdown. Yet what is equally apparent is that his failing relationship is not the sole reason for his inner turmoil, given Liam's close bond with his best friend is also playing heavily on his mind. Only here, you kind of feel that you're missing the final piece of this cinematic jigsaw, forcing you to draw your own conclusion, one that may not necessarily be what writer and star of the show Mark Kibo Rovira of G O'Clock fame, had in mind. Whatever way, it's a powerful short that leaves you thinking about how fragile life truly is. And if you want to live that life, as a lie.

›› available as part of the BOYS ON FILM #15 shorts compilation - Time & Tied.
›› posted: Sunday, 14th October, 2018.

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


›› Dawn ‹‹

a short film by Jake Graf.

2016 | 13 mins | UK.

a beautifully played tale charting the growing friendship between two strangers.

Dave says:

Written and directed by Jake Graf of {Brace} fame, this in essence is the story of how two strangers - a man and a woman, bond with each other whilst waiting for the early morning bus in what has to be said is one of the most picturesque, if isolated bus stops seen in cinema for ages. Only there's more to the narrative than that, given young and lonely Will (Harry Rundle, also of {Brace} fame), is partially blind to the world, whilst Dawn (Nicole Gibson) is running away from home. A fact that Will is set to discover when a tender touch to her face reveals the bloody reality of domestic violence. With the sunrise as the perfect cinematic backdrop, frankly I found this beautifully played tale charting the growing friendship between two strangers not only wonderfully refreshing, but quite touching. And yes, there's still more to the story than what I'm saying. But I'm saying no more.

›› available as part of the BOYS ON FILM #15 shorts compilation - Time & Tied.
›› posted: Sunday, 14th October, 2018.

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


›› Putting on the Dish ‹‹

a short film by Brian Fairbairn and Karl Eccleston.

2015 | 6 mins | UK.

a vivid flashback to times that were when speaking Polari was so bona.

Dave says:

How's your Polari? Well to be frank, mine's more than a bit rusty and clearly nowhere as articulate as the two men here, who strangers to each other, soon strike up a conversation on a park bench in the popular tongue used by many a gay man before homosexuality was, in part, decriminalised in Britain through the Sexual Offences Act of 1967. And therein lies the problem with this sharply played short, for unless your knowledge of Polari is as good as that spoken by Maureen (Steve Wickenden) and Roberta (Neil Chinneck), what they are saying is almost impossible to understand. And that's a shame given the narrative is laced with a series of acid-tongued punchlines, as the two gossip about who's with who, until the story takes an abrupt reality check, reminding you of times when many a gay man found themselves arrested for carrying out acts of - gross indecency. Then again, that was the whole point of Polari; the secretive language of the homosexual underworld, where gay men could openly be themselves if only in conversation, in an era when such talk was otherwise taboo. Written and directed by Brian Fairbairn and Karl Eccleston, this wondrous work is also available as an Official FreeView on YouTube, complete with a translation in English of the screenplay itself. What can I say, but as a vivid flashback to times that were, it's so bona.

›› available as part of the BOYS ON FILM #15 shorts compilation - Time & Tied.
›› also available as an Official FreeView on YouTube.
›› posted: Sunday, 14th October, 2018.

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


›› Morning is Broken ‹‹

a short film by Simon Anderson.

2015 | 10 mins | UK.

feelings of sexual repression come to the surface in this exquisitely shot short.

Dave says:

When is a kiss not just a kiss? And when is a kiss wanted, ever yearned for and yet seen as the confirmation of a sexuality that you would rather not have defined. Such is the situation that Sam (Matthew Tennyson) finds himself in, when at his brother's wedding he meets Nick (Nigel Allen), who like himself has a-liking for vintage cars. Only that's not all they have in common as both are soon to discover. For escaping the after hours of the wedding reception, they end up at Nick's nearby country farm and a gentle boat outing that is an outing in more ways, than one. In short, this is not so much a 'coming out' story; rather that of a 'coming to' piece; that of the realization of how a longed for first-kiss signals feelings that seemingly neither wish to face up to - at least at this moment in time. Frankly, I would have liked to have seen more, given this short film plays like a feature, being exquisitely shot throughout, with cinematographer Craig Dean Devine wonderfully capturing the breathtaking beauty of the English countryside in all of its idyllic summer glory. Written and directed with considerable flair by Simon Anderson, this short has a lot going for it, even if it beckons a sequel to see how and indeed if these two men can finally resolve their feelings of sexual repression and come to terms with their true nature. Say no more.

›› available as part of the BOYS ON FILM #15 shorts compilation - Time & Tied.
›› posted: Saturday, 13th October, 2018.

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


›› Sauna the Dead: A Fairy Tale ‹‹

a short film by Tom Frederic.

2016 | 20 mins | UK.

two men run for their lives in this fun-filled gay zombie horror.

Dave says:

Back on more familiar horror territory, here we find two men, strangers to each other, running for their lives in a gay sauna overrun with flesh eating zombies; is there any other kind? Yes, it's a return to the gay zombie horror genre and nothing wrong with that, as resident hunk Jacob (Tom Frederic), namely a narcissist who delights in turning down the advances of those below his sexual benchmark, finds himself forced to team up with kind-hearted Aseem (Kumar Muniandy) in a desperate attempt to evade the undead. Sure, it's an enjoyable, if somewhat OTT fun-filled romp, as towels seemingly attached with superglue stay in place throughout the endless 'chase me' sequences. But it's well-shot throughout and played with glee by writer, director and star of the show Tom Frederic, previously seen in fine sauna form in the John Lochland short Sweat. Only if you cut to the chase so-to-speak, you'll find this work is actually a morality tale that explores "how the way we treat each other ultimately creates the world we live in". And that kind of says it all.

›› available as part of the BOYS ON FILM #15 shorts compilation - Time & Tied.
›› posted: Saturday, 13th October, 2018.

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


›› Ceramic Tango ‹‹

a short film by Patricia Chica.

2013 | 10 mins | Canada.

an unnerving tale about the fragility of life.

Dave says:

Both disturbing, yet equally captivating, this psychological horror tells how, after receiving some disturbing news, a young man spirals into a deep depression, only to become vulnerable to the will of a dangerous intruder. Yet there's a lot more to it, than that. Written by Charles Hall and wonderfully played by newcomers Holy Scar and Richard Cardinal, this, in essence, is a work about fear. That of the fear of death itself. No surprise then that the grim reaper (Cardinal) is soon to come knocking at the door, as a young man (Scar) prone to sexual indulgence and armed with a cut throat razor, finds himself at the mercy of an entity that delights in tormenting its victim. Directed by award-winning Montreal filmmaker Patricia Chica, the meaning of this dark, menacing and frankly unnerving tale is as expected saved for its closing moments, even if those of studious mind will have already noticed the acronym in the narrative. Not an easy piece to watch by any means. But it is a work that certainly makes you think about the fragility of life. And its brilliantly produced, getting under your skin at every cinematic turn.

›› check out the Official FreeView on Vimeo.
›› posted: Saturday, 13th October, 2018.

Gay Visibility - covert. 
Nudity - naked, without being naked. 
Overall - file under ... 4 stars. 


›› Sports! ‹‹

a short film by Kyle Krieger.

2018 | 5 mins | US.

a touching twist to a gay boy gate-crashing the sports field.

Dave says:

Starring Zach Graves, screenwriter Eduardo Sanchez-Ubanell and Cody Callahan, this well-played short charts the relationship between two flatmates; one obviously out to the world and the other who just wants to play some basketball with his teammate. Yet this is more than just a stereotypical take on a gay boy gate-crashing the sports field, or rather the court, given there's a touching twist to this tale that to say more would be a spoiler, even if it not surprisingly revolves around which side macho man Zach is really on. Directed by Kyle Krieger, sadly this is one of those works that's all but over before you know it. But it's available as a FreeView worth checking out, playing as it does like a five minute segment of a gay sitcom and there's nothing wrong with that. Indeed, I would have liked to have seen more.

›› check out the Official FreeView on YouTube.
›› posted: Friday, 12th October, 2018.

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


›› My Brother the Devil ‹‹

a film by Sally El Hosaini.

2012 | 111 mins | UK.

a vibrant mix of homosexuality and East End gang culture.

Dave says:

Daring to mix homosexuality within the macho world of East End gang culture, this striking debut feature from writer and director Sally El Hosaini follows the lives of brothers Rashid and Mo; British Arabs seemingly unable to escape the local drug dealing ways. That is until elder brother Rashid meets French-Arabic photographer Sayyid; a man who not only makes him question his way of life, but also that of his very sexuality. Yet being gay is not something you shout about when dealing drugs and to say that something has to give, is to state the obvious.

Avoiding every cliché that you would expect, this compelling work brilliantly showcases the close bond between two brothers caught up in a life of crime and the human price it takes. Yet here we find Hosaini not preaching a moral sermon at you. Rather she delivers a screenplay that reflects the reality of the situation and of youngsters fixated by the chance to make a quick quid; rather than the downward spiral of dealing, let alone the bloody consequences of straying onto another dearers' territory.

True, the scenes of gay sex between Rashid and Sayyid; cue the excellent Saïd Taghmaoui in the role, are as U certificate as you can get. But that said, there's no denying the homosexual element of the story, given its integral to the plot and one that not surprisingly culminates in a violent close of play. Yet what really makes this film work is the brilliant interplay between James Floyd as Rashid and in an astonishing screen debut, Fady Elsayed as Mo; a kid who idolizes his elder brother and his drug dealing ways, only for such adulation to crash in on him. Fresh and vibrant throughout, if just too clean a portrayal of the bleak desolation of the world of dealing and addiction, this nevertheless is a work equally about murder, revenge - and forgiveness? And it's one that cannot help but get you thinking about a whole range of emotive issues.

Oh, and if you think you've seen actor James Floyd before, then you probably have, as he went onto portray Freddie Mercury in the TV movie The Kenny Everett Story and is currently to be seen playing the lush Dr. Gabriel Varma in the hit UK primetime series The Good Karma Hospital.

›› available on DVD from Amazon.
›› check out the Official Trailer on YouTube.
›› posted: Monday, 13th August, 2018.

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


›› The Definition of Lonely ‹‹

a short film by Leon Lopez.

2015 | 14 mins | UK.

a touching meditation on life and friendship.

Dave says:

Winner of numerous awards, this, the debut work from writer and director Leon Lopez tells the story of an introverted young man seemingly content with his lot; be it one that sees him pass his lonely hours away by watching others enjoying a life that he can but dream of. That is until a stray dog brings its owner to his attention and a man who you certainly could not miss. Openly gay and with a bright 'n' breezy personality to match, the two soon strike up a conversation and perhaps something more?

In short, this is but a wondrous play on the 'odd couple' scenario, one that is played with such naturalness by Nick Hayes and Lucas Rush, that it's almost as if we're eavesdropping on their private conversation. It's one that showcases the value of friendship and how a simple gesture; be it a smile or a few words or both, can mean so much. That we live in times in which all too many folk, gay or straight, old or young, rarely speak to anyone from day-to-day is a sad reflection on a society that has become detached from its core values. That in his uplifting screenplay Lopez has gone out of his way to remind us of them, is to his credit. All of which makes for a touching meditation on life and friendship. Simply beautiful.

›› check out the Official FreeView on YouTube.
›› posted: Thursday, 26th July, 2018.

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


›› G O'Clock ‹‹

a short film by Mitchell Marion.

2016 | 11 mins | UK.

the graphic reality of sex, drugs and death.

Dave says:

Sharply written and directed by Mitchell Marion, this makes for a welcome wake-up call to the dangers of the so-called 'party drug' GHB. It's a reality that gay paramedic Alex (Phillip Weddell) is all too aware of, having rushed to save the life of yet another young man overdosed on GHB. Only Alex is a user himself, chilling the night away in the company of Nik (Mark Kibo Rovira); a sexy young Spaniard who he soon takes under his wing. As sex 'n' drugs combine for a night of hedonistic highs, is Alex's conviction that his medical knowledge will keep him and those around him safe from the perils of the chem-sex world, about to be tested?

With a cast in various states of undress throughout, this sermon on the dangers of drug use is but a broken record aimed at those who can be heard repeatedly saying that they've "got it under control", only to end up on a mortuary slab. And whilst the drug here is GHB, frankly it could be any of the name-your-high drugs taken at all too many house parties, by all too many folk who clearly like to play Russian roulette with their very life.

True, the ending is somewhat abrupt; that of an and with a spoiler warning firmly in place - "will he live or die" cliffhanger, one that to my mind somewhat undermines the short's objective. That said, it's wonderfully staged throughout, with Weddell delivering a multi-layered performance, in what in many ways is a montage of scenes that together showcase the graphic reality of sex, drugs and death. Or as here a close call, given in Marion's hands you're never quite sure if anyone actually dies. Soft Lad director Leon Lopez however excels as the host with the most!

›› available as part of the BOYS ON FILM #15 shorts compilation - Time & Tied.
›› posted: Tuesday, 24th July, 2018.

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


›› The Way He Looks ‹‹
›› aka: Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho - Today I Want to Go Back Alone ‹‹

a film by Daniel Ribeiro.

2014 | 92 mins | Brazil.

a beautifully crafted tale of first love.

Dave says:

Thankfully retaining the original cast, this joyous ode to falling in love, coming-of-age style, is as warm and tender as the award-winning short I Don't Want to Go Back Alone upon which it is based. So once again we are treated to the story of Leo (Ghilherme Lobo); a seventeen-year-old blind teenager who when not having to put up with the ill-natured jokes from the bully boys in class, finds himself having to deal with the emotional ups 'n' downs of his best friend Giovana (Tess Amorim); a girl whose place as Leo's guiding arm is under threat by way of the arrival of new-boy-in-town Gabriel (Fabio Audi). As the three form an at times uneasy friendship, Leo finds himself having to come to terms with his true feelings for Gabriel. Only does Gabriel feel the same way about him?

Originally running at two hours, but cut by thirty minutes for pacing, here writer and director Daniel Ribeiro delights in injecting new life into the tried 'n' tested teenage crush scenario by telling the story refreshingly from a blind angle. Thus not only do we find Leo dealing with the issues of being blind, coupled with his burgeoning sexuality, but also his desire for independence, ever tired of the way his devoted, if over-protective parents constantly want to wrap him up in cotton wool.

Sure; the film can at times feel somewhat on the slow, if just too relaxed side and yet this is far from being a criticism. Rather it works in the films' favour, given the whole production is so well staged and played, in particular by the two young men, that it cannot help but take you back to your own teenage years and emotions that are but universal. Complete with a shower scene that is revealing in more ways than one, this is but a beautifully crafted tale of first love, complete with an ending that should arrive as no surprise. Simply heart-warming, kind of goes without saying. As do the words; a pure delight.

›› available on DVD from Amazon.
›› check out the Official Trailer on YouTube.
›› posted: Monday, 23rd July, 2018.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - bare-arsed cheek. 
Overall - file under ... 4 stars. 


›› Sign ‹‹

a short film by Andrew Keenan-Bolger.

2016 | 15 mins | US.

a beautifully crafted silent love story.

Dave says:

Written by Adam Wachter, this compelling short tells the story of how when cutie Ben (Preston Sadleir) summons up the courage to talk to Aaron (John McGinty) at their local Manhattan subway station, he's surprised to find that Aaron is deaf. In short and what at first appears to be just another variant on the boy-meets-boy theme, is in reality anything but. For under the ace direction of Andrew Keenan-Bolger, this is actually a beautifully crafted silent love story; one that relates how two men, both lonely, come to find love and companionship in each other, only for their different worlds to threaten to tear them apart.

Wonderfully told by way of imagery and music throughout, such I dare say may leave some in the narrative dark in places, with one part in particular yearning for subtitles for the benefit of those without a knowledge of Sign Language. That said, the overall story is all but clear, as our two boys meet, strike up a friendship, fall in love, move in together, run into relationship woes, fall out and then... well, that would be saying. What can be said, is that this wondrous work is beautifully played by the McGinty / Sadleir pairing, who between them showcase more emotions in a mere fifteen minutes, than in many a feature I could name. Available to view on the Boys On Film 16: Possession shorts compilation, this touching, yet equally bittersweet work is also available as an Official FreeView courtesy of the good folk at Peccadillo Pictures; be sure to check it out.

›› available on DVD from Amazon.
›› check out the Official FreeView on YouTube.
›› posted: Sunday, 3rd June, 2018.

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


›› God's Own Country ‹‹

a film by Francis Lee.

2017 | 100 mins | UK.

an achingly realistic coming-of-age rural love story.

Dave says:

Described by some as the UK version of Brokeback Mountain, such a comparison is only apt given the story revolves around two men of different backgrounds who come to find comfort in each other's arms in the great outdoors; in this case the harsh, yet equally beautiful farming countryside of West Yorkshire. Yet it's a lot more than that, for in telling the tale of how gay boy Johnny (Josh O'Connor of The Durrells fame) numbs the daily grind of working long hours on the family farm with a heavy mix of binge-drinking and casual man-sex, this is in essence a good ole fashioned coming-of-age love story, courtesy of the arrival of hired help Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu); a Romanian migrant who forces Johnny to face up to the responsibilities of life and love.

Yet in showcasing an achingly realistic depiction of gay life in rural England, first-time feature writer and director Francis Lee has also delivered a character study of a man all but trapped in a life that's taking both a mental and physical toll on him. For Johnny is far from a likable character at first; selfish and downright annoying, he's the polar opposite of Gheorghe who radiates warmth and compassion, whilst not suffering fools gladly. Told with minimal dialogue, their scenes together and in particular their lovemaking strikingly juxtapose raw animal lust with acts of a man learning how to love, and moreover accepting love back in return.

As expected, Ian Hart as Johnny's stroke-laden father and Gemma Jones as the grandmother taking care of them are splendid in their roles; both being far more open-minded than what they may at first appear. Yet whilst the film belongs to the O'Connor / Secareanu pairing, boys who do not shy away from showing you the men they are, it also belongs to the vivid cinematography of Joshua James Richards that captures not only the breathtaking beauty of rural Yorkshire, but equally the joy and sheer heartache of the lambing season. Complete with a close of play that is both compelling and emotionally rewarding; frankly, this is one of the best British gay films in years. But then you already knew that. Say no more.

›› available on DVD from Amazon.
›› check out the Official Trailer on YouTube.
›› posted: Monday, 28th May, 2018.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - the full monty. 
Overall - file under ... 5 stars. 


›› Wild Awakening aka Salvaje Despertar ‹‹

a film by Joan Fermí Martí.

2016 | 93 mins | Spain.

an entertaining mix of high camp and homoerotica.

Dave says:

Some films aren't meant to be taken seriously and this is certainly one of them. And if you bear that in mind, then this is an entertaining mix of high camp and homoerotica. Played like a cross between melodrama and a Spanish gay themed soap opera, it tells the story of all-round cutie Toni (Fabián Castro), who along with his sister Emma (Júlia Hernández) run a riding school, that is when Toni's not out getting up close and personal with seemingly most of the men in the area. Until he falls for the manly charms of their foreman's son and resident hunk Aarón (Christian Blanch). And that's when things get complicated, given sister Emma also has the hots for him, not the mention - oh, I'm about to, the outright homophobia of Aarón's father Ramón (Richie Ormon); a man who would prefer a dead son, over a gay one. And then Aarón is suddenly no-where to be found...

In short, this is gay Jim and certainly as we know it, with enough man-candy on hand to more than keep you glued to the screen, some of whom by no surprise lose some, if not all of their clothes. And whilst the low budget of the piece at times shows, the outdoor beauty of the ranch location is easy on the eye, as too are the ever so fit cast who play their largely undemanding roles with just the right amount of tongue-in-cheek humour. Complete with more studs than what you can wave your riding stick at, let alone Jordi Pujol as a tranny styled Sharon Stone impersonator, or should that be more Marilyn Monroe, then how can you not say that this is anything but fun 'n' cheesy entertainment for the boyz. But then I guess you already knew that. Say no more.

Other than, and for those wondering just what the PLUS denotes in the nudity rating, then put it this way; Christian Blanch is more than happy to give you a tantalizing glimpse of "the big boy" he clearly is; that is, when he's not getting down to some sensuous man-on-man action with lead Fabián Castro. Oh, some folk have all the luck!

›› available on DVD from Amazon.
›› check out the Official Trailer on YouTube.
›› posted: Saturday, 26th May, 2018.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - bare-arsed cheek PLUS. 
Overall - file under ... 2+ stars. 


›› a compilation of acclaimed gay short films ‹‹ ›› Cigano - aka: Gypsy ‹‹
2017 | 116 mins total running time. 2013 | 18 mins | Portugal
›› Talking to My Mother ‹‹ ›› Dawn ‹‹
2014 | 18 mins | US 2012 | 11 mins | US
›› Spilt Milk ‹‹ ›› Dinner Confession ‹‹
2016 | 23 mins | UK 2015 | 12 mins | Taiwan
›› Pittsburgh ‹‹ ›› Kiss Me Softly ‹‹
2013 | 18 mins | US 2012 | 16 mins | Belgium
›› New Queer Visions: Men from the Boys ‹‹

a compilation of seven gay short films
by first-time directors from Belgium, Portugal, Taiwan, the UK and the USA.

Dave says:

This, the first gay short film compilation released by the acclaimed New Queer Visions Film Festival explores first love, revenge and new beginnings.

CIGANO aka: Gypsy / There's an acute sense of menace in this accomplished short from writer and director David Bonneville, one that finds a wealthy young man with a flat tire accept help from a Gypsy passer-by, only for Zé-Tó to expect Sebastian to give him a ride home in return. In short, this two-man thriller is but a variant of the classic hitchhiker setup of the driver becoming ever fearful of the stranger in his car and here its delivered with both aching tension and style. Only and in as much as Jaime Freitas as Sebastian plays his part to a narrative tee, it's Tiago Aldeia as Zé-Tó who steals the show, given his character is but a tense take on the theme of the Good Samaritan turned bad. Taking charge of events from the onset, taunting an ever nervous Sebastian along the way, this is a work in which you're never quite certain just what is going on in the minds of these two men and moreover if, or indeed when Zé-Tó became aware of the nature of Sebastian's sexuality, even if the gay element of the story itself is but a slow burner, with a key photo, alongside telling glances at Zé-Tó's physique homoerotically stating the obvious without the need for words. And whilst I dare say that the open ending will not be to everyone's liking, such is nevertheless indicative of a short that can only but leave you wanting more / covert - none - 4 stars.

TALKING TO MY MOTHER / Beautifully constructed, if somewhat overly sentimental, this nevertheless makes for a poignant look at the relationship between a mother and son. Yet it's more than that, for in the hands of writer and director Leon Le, this is a work all about being true to yourself and moreover to those close to you; be it to your mother, or be it to your intended fiancée. No surprise then that closeted Asian American Michael, achingly played by Zilong Zee, finds himself in a corner, devoted to his boyfriend, yet equally aware of the pressure to succumb to social conformity and marry the beautiful Julianne. Something, somewhere has to give and give it does in a work that is as unhurried, as it's beautifully scored. This is also the first of two shorts by Leon Le on this compilation and whilst this is the polar opposite of the one that follows, it does however perfectly illustrate the demands of Asian culture to carry on the family line; that of a seemingly inherent "duty to marry" tradition that all too often triumphs over personal sexual freedom / overt - none - 3 stars.

DAWN / Produced two years before the above, frankly it's hard to believe that both works are by the same director, given this is a brutal, yet equally telling short that wonderfully explores prejudice; be it race or sexual. And it all began on an evening commute on the subway when Afro-American Tye detects, or rather thinks he does, racism from another passenger's glance. Opting to follow the man home to get to the heart of the matter, what was meant to be a verbal confrontation soon turns into a violent mugging, leaving Tye with the bitter home truth that the man without prejudice is the man he's just beaten up. Violent by nature and complete with a gay twist in its tale, this well-written story plays on preconceived opinions to challenge stereotypes, in the process revealing a common link that neither victim, nor perpetrator were aware of. Frankly, this "message in a bottle" piece has a lot going for it, being well-played throughout, even if you have to question why anyone would leave their car in such a secluded place? / covert - none - 3+ stars.

SPILT MILK / There's some quite touching moments in this short film from first-time director James Dunstan, as written for the screen by Dillon Beagley. Then again, this is but a variant take on the theme of unrequited love, as we find Scarlett falling for her best friend Frankie; a teenager who as a boy came to her rescue and so began their deep bond. Only Frankie is gay, his close friendship with Scarlett complicated by burgeoning feelings of the trans variety. All of which culminate on the night of the high school prom, where Frankie has to decide what to wear; the traditional tuxedo, or that dress he's being longing to wear to the ball. And it's here that the Dunstan / Beagley pair take delight in playing with the audience, splitting the screen into two so as to showcase two vastly different sequence of events; one with Scarlett and Frankie hand in hand as lovers, and the other with Frankie coming out to one and all in the best dress of the night. Only which is real and which is fiction? To say would be a spoiler, even if it's fairly obvious given the context of the narrative, but it's a scenario that's achingly played by Lucy Chappell as Scarlett and Tom Rhys Harries as Frankie, with Bobby Schofield on hand to supply some manly delights for the Prom Queen. In short, there's a lot to like here, given this is a work that not only shines the spotlight on gender and sexuality, but equally on love and abuse. Above all however, this is the heart-warming story of two young people coming to terms with who they are and the reality of their feelings for each other. And it's a story beautifully told / overt - from the waist up - 3+ stars.

DINNER CONFESSION / If this short film looks somewhat amateurish, then that's down to the fact that it's the result of improvisation. Yet therein lies its beauty; given it has a lush, natural feel to it. In essence, it's a coming out tale, as during an evening meal a mother confesses to her son to tidying up his bedroom, duly asking him if there's any secret he's hiding from her, upon the discovery of a "muscle magazine". Only that's not the true confession of the piece, as the son's boyfriend is soon to arrive and in a neat twist to the coming out narrative, tentatively outs the pair as lovers with the question - what would you do if Che likes boys? Somewhat sweet, yet equally telling, this Taiwanese tale is all but over before you know it. And that's a shame, given this is but a charming variant on the coming out scenario, and how a mother accepts both her son's sexuality and his lover over the course of dinner. Anyone for dessert? / overt - none - 3 stars.

PITTSBURGH / There's a real sense of intimacy in this short film from writer and director Rory Dering. Indeed, it's as if you're eavesdropping on the private conversation between two men. Then again, this is all but a two-man play; albeit one in which both of its players are deaf and that for the main part subtitles fill the screen. Largely score free as a result, it's the "sound of silence" to this work that achingly reflects the reality of the situation, and the language of sign. All of which makes for an emotional rollercoaster ride of mixed feelings, given here we find Brett deeply in love with his boyfriend of two years Alex, ever hoping against hope that Alex will openly accept his sexuality, only for the man himself and in as much as he loves Brett, to also want a girl, marriage and children. Something, somewhere has to give and give it does in this telling discourse on sexuality and relationship blues, as the pair struggle with their feelings for each other and whether or not to continue with their turbulent, yet equally loving relationship. Tommy Korn as Brett and Brandon Crowder as closeted Alex shine throughout / overt - none - 3 stars.

KISS ME SOFTLY aka: Kus me zacht jes / Whilst this is hardly groundbreaking gay cinema, there's nevertheless something rather endearing about this short film from writer and director Anthony Schatteman. No surprise, given this is yet another variant of the coming out scenario, one that here finds a family all but blind to the fact that their son Jasper is habitually bullied at school just for being gay. Not that his father's views would seemingly be any different, fixated as he is on his career as a Schlager styled folk singer whose closing number Kiss Me Softly On My Mouth wouldn't be out of place in a repeat screening of Eurotrash. Sensing something is troubling her son, but addicted to the lottery, talented artist Jasper finds himself instead seeking refuge in the arms of his boyfriend Mathias, in the knowledge that perhaps the time has finally come to make his own kind of music. Well-played throughout with some neat comical turns along the way, this is one of those works in which the closing scene has all but been telegraphed in advance, even if you cannot help but wonder what happened next, given the look on Jasper's face come close of play is all but yearning for love and acceptance, in this tender take on saying it with pride / overt - from the waist up - 3 stars.

Closing Comment: There's some really good short films here, although and like many a compilation I could mention, they've played their ace first, given and if there's one short crying out for feature development, then it has to be CIGANO. And certainly it would be interesting to know the backstory to these two characters, so as the audience is in-the-know, whereas the protagonists would have no idea of the checkered past of the stranger seated next to them. That said, every short has its merits, being a sure case of something for everyone.

›› available on DVD from Amazon.
›› check out the Official Trailer on YouTube.
›› posted: 20th / 22nd / 27th January, 2018.
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