Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Praia do Futuro (2014)
Beautiful, Filmic, Thoughtful, and Completely Unsentimental
This is one of those films thatwhen you read the story synopsissounds like it will be utter sentimental tripe, lousy with cliché-ridden dialog.
This film is anything but.
This is one of the best gay male-themed films I've seen in a long time. I'd put it right up there with Weekend in quality, but the two films couldn't be more different. Weekend is dialog-driven, Futuro Beach is not. There are long spans where nobody says much of anything; you just observe.
In the beginning, the story doesn't seem like it of holds a lot of promise.
But just wait. When this film shifts gears, it really shifts gears. It's impossible to predict where it's going next, always a sure sign of a good movie, IMO.
While the dialog is sparse and unsentimental, there is emotion all around. The men may be terse with each other, but they're expressive. We don't know if they're in love. That's how unsentimental this movie is. The words "I love you" is never going to be spoken in this modern relationship. What we do know is that there is a dynamic between them that neither wants to abandon.
The themes of this movie are big: life (truly living) and death (just existing). So you might be tempted to assign life-message metaphors to the locale and action. Don't. Just let the film wash over you. This is one of those rare movies that immerses you in its own universe, and by doing so, gives you some insight into your own.
L'armée du salut (2013)
Simple, slightly exotic, unsentimental, and good
Though adapted from an autobiography by a Moroccan writer, this is very much a French film, and quite a good one IMO. This is a gay-themed movies for grown ups. It's a film that transcends its deceptively simple storyline and it packs a wallop.
It's difficult to summarize this movie without making it sound like less than it is. It's a coming of age movie, yes, but that's just the framework for some very unusual fare.
We first meet Abdellah as a young teenager. He's at the age when it's becoming inappropriate for him to hang with his sisters and mother, and time to be with the men, though his family doesn't see him as a man yet.
Nevertheless, he's already sexually active with adult men in his Casablanca neighborhood. Though family life is a little grim, his father seems to know that his son is an object of desire and that he has crushes. Interestingly, this doesn't seem to be a big deal.
Midway the film jumps ahead to show Abdellah in very different circumstances leading a very different life. It's an abrupt change, one that startles. But it's the latter part of the movie that gives it its heft. It may be a simple story line, but it's a weighty theme.
It's worth noting that the only time we see Abdellah smile in the movie is during an encounter with a man who is perhaps six or seven years his senior. We see an exchange of emotion between two equals, despite their age difference. It's a brief scene, and neither the partner nor that feeling is shown again. I'm noting this scene because if you see the movie, you may need to be reminded that there was once a smile....
Lest you be put off by the title, a Salvation Army facility is seen briefly, but the title is a metaphor.
Notre paradis (2011)
Should have been better
I had high hopes for this movie, especially when, surprisingly, early in the film we see Stéphane Rideau as a somewhat slovenly, out-of-shape hustler. His benign and enigmatic smile is perfect for this role.
This is more complicated than a love story, and much more complicated, emotionally and psychologically, than a mere thriller. It's an ambitious story that doesn't quite make the grade. It's impossible to go much further without spoilers, and I do believe this is a movie that doesn't deserve spoilers. Other reviewers' citations about who is nude when and where and how and which sex acts are performed aren't fair either. This movie is better than that, or at least it aspires to be.
The photography and editing is clinical and detached and very much at odds with a sentimental and somewhat hokey soundtrack. The music used in one violent scene was so overly-melodramatic I found myself wondering if it was a reference to some old movie. It might have been, but I really think it was just bad stock music, and it seemed like a misstep for such an accomplished director.
There are other missteps as well, but the movie is eminently watchable, especially for gay men. It is not Gael Morel's best work by far, but if you like this and haven't seen his other movies, you will want to.
Sweet, well done, but don't kid yourself--it's no masterpiece
At this writing the previous reviews save one all heap praise on this sweet little movie. The lone dissenter hated it.
I understand both points of view. It's well done, nicely framed, and tells a story that flows quite naturally. It is subtle, and it shows us what's happening rather than tells us, which is what a good movie needs to do. On the other hand, we have seen this story and virtually every plot device it uses in countless other gay films from the last 30 years.
More than one review here compares Boys to Beautiful Thing. No, sorry. Not even close. Beautiful Thing is unflinching in its hard boiled, sardonic view of teen age angst. This movie should only be compared to Beautiful Thing by calling it Beautiful Thing Ultra Lite.
Now, that's not a bad thing, necessarily. And, evidently, for a lot of people, Ultra Lite is enough. I won't say I didn't enjoy it, because I did; it's very watchable. But if you go into this expecting a masterpiece, well, you may not find it. Especially if you've seen a lot of gay-themed movies that are really good.
Last Summer (2013)
Hard to fault, but hard to cheer for either
Two life-long friends and lovers face their first parting when one heads off to college. That's it. Period. And we really only know that because that's what we're told. If that hadn't been spelled out for us at the beginning of the movie, we'd have no idea what was going on.
Both boys seem unrealistically pragmatic about spending one last summer together. What most kids in this situation would consider traumatic doesn't seem to phase these two. Maybe knowing each other since third grade has left them with nothing more to say. Because they don't say much, and what they do say is curiously devoid of emotional content.
So it leaves you feeling a little hollow, even though the overall artiness more or less demands that we value the content of this film. It's like, "this is art, dammit, and you WILL appreciate it!"
Well, I do and I don't. Much of the photography IS striking, but what we see mostly are scenes that might as well be stills, and most of those are in close up. The actors are so immobile I couldn't help feeling they were trying to help the DP keep the shot in focus.
I didn't hate this, but I can't say I enjoyed it. It's pretty, the boys are pretty, and, mercifully, it's only 66 minutes long, so, you know, why complain?
Well, because it doesn't add up to much.
Yellow Fever (1998)
refreshing gay short.
I came across this short on Amazon, directly after watching an indie gay drama that had a lot of sound and fury and while it held my attention, ultimately it signified nothing.
This short and fun film, on the other hand, tackled its subject in a way that I found refreshing. The plot is entirely predictable, but we don't care. The dialog is quick and sharp and often very funny. And, as a Caucasian American gay man, an Anglophile Chinese-Brit gay character was something new for me, especially one who would never date another Chinese guy.
The up and down tone and pace of the film is just right, complementing the lead actor's ability to seamlessly morph from handsome to goofy with the slightest adjustment of his face. There are bits that are completely over the top, and bits that don't work. But it's a short film, and they're BITS. So you don't really mind.
It's a sweet little bit of fluff, and the slightly amateur quality gives this '98 film a quality of antiquity that to my mind adds to the pleasure.
L'inconnu du lac (2013)
Makes You Think It's More Than It Is
At one point, after two men have had sex, they shake hands, as in, nice meeting you. If you're gay, like me, the absurdity of the situation may be familiar.
This story of lust and death portrays gay men cruising and having sex with a clinical detachment that doesn't flinch. Clearly, many straight people will be appalled. But if you're gay, that probably won't bother you, but you will be appalled by the irresponsibility of the main character, Franck. He puts himself at risk every time he has condom-less sex. When he pursues and has sex with a man he has seen kill someone, it's no longer mere irresponsibility. That you're not sure what Franck's motives are keeps you from dismissing him outright as a Grade A idiot, but that remains a possibility up to the bitter end.
I understand why this is seen by many as a metaphor for human alienation in general. From a gay perspective, however, it's not a metaphor, it's a slice of life.
So I'm not sure if us gay folk have been used or been celebrated here. Made fun of or commiserated with. Maybe a little of each. The fact that it's not obvious is probably what tilts this film in the direction of Art.
Granted, this movie didn't just hold my interest, it was gripping. However, as much as I admired the storytelling technique, it was tempered by a suspicion that the auteur's seemingly detached depiction of a part of our lives was in fact a moral judgment.
It's a comedy, but most lines and situations meant to be funny fail to deliver. Maybe it would be better to say they don't soar. They get off the ground, but they don't soar.
Three friends in LA wade into gay culture, West Hollywood style. While doing so, they critique it, and themselves. There is a lot of self-questioning, a lot of self-doubt. And there is also fierce individualism and determination. There's an attempt to define--in a lighthearted way--what it means to be a gay man. And there seems to be the expectation that we will come away having witnessed something profound.
On that score, I'll say A for effort. The movie wants so much to tell us something important, but, alas, it doesn't. I'll also say A for effort re mixing scenes and themes. It's close, but still not a cigar. Ultimately we get quite a lot of talking head stuff. The characters, for the most part, tell us what they are, what they're feeling, and what they're experiencing, instead of just showing us. It doesn't take long to notice the deficit.
This is not a good movie. But it's a movie that was aiming high, so failing at that makes it better than a lot other gay movies. I will say I stuck with it, so that's something. Generally, when I see a movie with scene after scene of 20-somethings sitting around talking, I bail. Even more so when it's a bunch of 30-somethings playing 20-somethings. But with this one I didn't.
I think some people will like this movie, and get a lot out of it. Being younger would help with that. Others will quickly become bored. And there's a middle ground that I apparently found.
With the explosion of gay cinema nowadays, and with so much of it dreck, I try to say whether or not I found a movie worthwhile. I don't know that I can this time. I think you might have to try it and see for yourself...
Monster Pies (2013)
Wow, this is pretty bad
I'm kind of astonished at the glowing reviews here. Did we all see the same movie?
The one I saw was chock full of scenes plucked from dozens of other movies and a plot that was picked up in a second hand plot store.
The actors seem adequate, but it's a little hard to tell because the material they have to work with is so awful. The film is in always in focus, and the sound quality is good. That's about it for positive qualities.
I suppose if you're young, or haven't seen many gay movies, you might mistake this for art. It's not. It's tripe. Cross it off your list.
Hors les murs (2012)
Good, not great, but good
I have to disagree with the other review here (and at the time I write this, there's only one), Weekend is a much better movie than Beyond the Walls. I see the similarities, but this is far more complex than Weekend.
Not nuanced, mind you, complex. With Weekend, I felt I really knew the two principle characters well, warts and all. They were lifelike and real.
These characters are somewhat one-dimensional. Despite the life changes made by Paolo, the young guy, I didn't really understand him fully. More of a back story on him might have helped me understand how he goes from conflicted, to needy, to clingy, to obsessed, to victim, to detached, all in the space of a year. Which is entirely possible, but unlikely in a first-world early-20s-something.
And, evidently, he only knows two gay people, both older men. We only see him in the first scene with contemporaries (and they abandon him, so are they really friends?) except for his girlfriend. And all we learn about their relationship is that she's finally had enough of his sleeping with men.
And, I know it sounds petty, but it bothered me that I didn't know how Paolo was earning a living. That isn't revealed until half-way into the movie. I found it a distraction, wondering if it was a plot point. He uses an inhaler frequently in the first part of the movie, so I wondered if he was on disability. We don't see the inhaler in the second part of the movie, so maybe that's meant to signify he's more comfortable with the life choices he's made? If so, that's a LOT to hang on an inhaler.
His first lover, Ilir, is a little more sketched out, but I wasn't convinced that he was the kind of person who would have succumbed so quickly to the petulance and coquetry of Paolo, particularly when the aforementioned's "charms" were at least partly motivated by his needing a place to stay. The second lover, the owner of a gay sex shop, is about as flat a character as you'll ever meet.
If you sketch out the plot line on paper, it makes sense, and is plausible. But I don't think the movie makes the sell. Still, I wasn't bored, and was curious to see how things resolved. I did not quite buy the ending, but again, I could see how it might happen.
This is an above-average movie, and many may like it. But for me, it was no Weekend. By far.