27th Apr2017

Handsome Devil (Film)

by timbaros

HD_3One of the most buzzed about films at London’s recent Flare LGBT Film Festival is getting released this Friday.

Handsome Devil played to sell out crowds at the festival (though at one screening there was a power outage so all the attendees were invited back to another screening). Irish movie Handsome Devil is the charming story of an out and proud young gay man who is attending boarding school for the first time. Fionn O’Shea plays Ned, and shares a room with jock and star of the rugby team Conor (Nicholas Galitzine). The rest of the school doesn’t quite know what to make of Ned, he’s a bit of an outcast, yet him and Ned form a special bond, after a rocky start between them, they realize they have more in common with each other than being roommates. Ned’s school life is made much easier with the help of teacher Dan (Andrew Scott in a very winning and sexy performance), who also happens to be gay. But it doesn’t help Ned (and teacher Dan) that the rugby coach is on to both of them – he’s full of prejudice and let’s everyone know it. And it’s just a matter of time until the rest of the school comes around and accepts Ned for who he is, especially just in time for the school’s big upcoming rugby match.

Writer and Director John Butler’s coming of age story is a winning combination of great performances and a story that’s time and tested and that never gets old. Winning lead performances from O’Shea and Galitzine make this one to remember, but it’s Scott as the supportive English teacher that will tingle your loins. His sympathetic teacher is handsome and oh so sexy, especially when he brings his boyfriend to the rugby match outing himself on the spot to the principal. More of these kind of roles please Mr. Scott. Though at times some of the accents are a bit hard to understand, Handsome Devil is very charming and memorable.

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23rd Apr2017

Their Finest (Film)

by timbaros
Their Finest Hour and A Half Directed by Lone Sherfig

Their Finest Hour and A Half
Directed by Lone Sherfig

A film about London in 1940 during The Blitz is finally being released in theatres – Their Finest – a year and a half after principal photography began and 6 months after it had it’s European premiere at the London Film Festival in October 2016.

I’m not entirely sure why it has taken this long for the film to finally make it into the cinemas – it’s not a bad movie, but it’s also not a great movie.

Their Finest details a motley crew of screenwriters tasked with writing a script for a film that would hopefully lift up Britain’s flagging spirits during WWII as well as inspire America to enter the war. That’s a lot of responsibility for three people to take on, in a film based on the 2009 novel by Lissa Evans. Gemma Arterton’s character Catrin Cole (based on a real woman, Diana Morgan, who wrote for Ealing Studios) actually has no screenwriting experience, but she’s basically just looking for a paycheck to help her artist husband Ellis (Jack Huston) pay the bills. But she gets more than what she bargained for when she’s hired by the British Ministry of Information to assist Tom Buckley (a very good Sam Claflin) on a film script. Winston Churchill tells them that they need to write a story that will inspire the nation, and so they write a propaganda film amidst all that is happening in Europe. But it’s Bill Nighy as the leading man of their film (playing Ambrose Hillard) who steals the movie. He’s wonderful and witty and oh so debonair when he’s on set in the making of the movie within the movie, and he’s wonderful off the set when he’s telling jokes to the rest of the cast and crew, and tender and fatherly when he is giving advice to Catrin. But all is not ok in her life, she catches her husband cheating on her on one of her few visits she makes to their home, and her and Buckley realize they have more in common with each other than just putting words to paper. Set this all against the backdrop of WWII and what you’ve got is a classic in the making.

But Their Finest is not quite a classic. Some of the scenes look a bit staged, not very realistic for a film that relies on the portrayal of London during the Bliz. Arterton is fine and lights up the screen with her beautiful face, and Claflin is very handsome as her mentor, but director Lone Scherfing (who directed the wonderful An Education with Carey Mulligan) along with a script by Gaby Chiappe, don’t quite make it 100% believable. Production values are fine, costumes wonderful and the score very dramatic when it needs to be, but it’s Nighy that you will remember – he’s deserving of nominations for this film – but the film itself not so much.

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18th Apr2017

Theo & Hugo (DVD)

by timbaros

theoandhugohero-1024x409Two men meet at one of Paris’ most popular, and notorious, gay sex clubs, and then embark on an evening with lots of twist and turns, in the new film ‘Theo & Hugo.’

You might think you’re watching a gay porn film as the first 20 minutes of ‘Theo & Hugo’ is full on man-to-man action – erections and anal sex are all on full display, filmed at L’Impact – a naked gay sex club in the Marais district in Paris. ‘Theo & Hugo,’ In French, with English subtitles, is shot in real time, and it’s in that club where Theo and Hugo meet, at exactly 4:27 a.m., amongst the writhing and moaning group of men who are all enjoying each others’ company.

While there, Theo & Hugo connect sexually, intimately, and emotionally. They then decide to leave the club together to carry on their night with each other. But what wasn’t discussed while they were having unsafe sex at the club was the use of a condom to prevent HIV transmission, as Hugo (Francois Nambot) tells Theo (Geoffrey Couët) that he is HIV+. What transpires after is a rollercoaster of a night for both of them, when Theo goes to the hospital to get PREP (Post-exposure prophylaxis), medication that should kill any traces of the virus that might be in his system. Romantically, and responsibly, Hugo joins him there. They then wander the streets of Paris, on a night that could turn out to be either very romantic or very tragic, with the ramifications of HIV staring them right in the face, and the possibility that their encounter could be more than just an encounter.

Is ‘Theo & Hugo’ a porn film or is it a film with an important message? This is something that you will have to decide, but nonetheless, it’s guerrilla and gay filmmaking at it’s finest. And Kudos go to the actors for ‘baring it all’ in scenes that are relevant to the message of the film, and to writers and directors Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau for bravely, and successfully, having the balls to make this controversial, yet romantic and engaging film.

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15th Apr2017

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (Theatre)

by timbaros

(left)Lizzii HillsWilton’s Music Hall in the East End has another hit on it’s hands.

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is their fun and superb new show now playing at the historic venue. And it’s got the right cast to succeed without really trying to be a hit!

Mark Pickering plays J. Pierrepont Finch – an ex-window washer who cleverly climbs the corporate ladder by taking tips from a book called ‘How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying’ (obvs). His first step is to get a job, so he starts in the mail room at World Wide Wicket Company, working with Bud Frump (a very good Daniel Graham) – the nephew of CEO JB Biggley (Andrew C. Wadsworth). Company secretary Rosemary Pilkington (Hannah Grover) takes a liking to Finch, but Finch has more climbing the ladder to do, and soon enough he’s a junior executive. In the blink of an eye he’s promoted to run the advertising department. And eventually Finch will be after Biggley’s job, who has employed in the company his mistress Hedy La Rue (an excellent Lizzii Hills). She’s stacked but not too bright, and unfortunately she gets enlisted in Finch’s new advertising campaign where she gives away the clues to a company competition, which could possibly lead to hers, Finch’s, and the company’s downfall. It’s a story told in laughs and colorful songs.

The cast are perfect and the staging particularly brilliant. Especially good are Pilkington (great voice and timing) Hills (great comedic wit), Graham (perfect for the role as the spoiled newphew who doesn’t quite get what he thinks he deserves – with great facial expressions), and Matthew Whitby as the HR Director. Excellent direction by Benji Sperring brings this production, which is based on the 1952 book and the 1961 Broadway musical (and which has not been seen in London since 1963 when it played at the Shaftsbury Theatre). It’s pretty much as relevant today as it was when it was originally produced. And the very last song – Company Way – where Maisey Bawden finally comes into her own and belts her heart out, leaves the audience wanting more.

Tickets to the show, which ends it run on April 22, can be bought here:
https://wiltons.org.uk/whatson/288-how-to-succeed-in-business-without-really-trying

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14th Apr2017

The Pass (DVD)

by timbaros

19 Arinze Kene (Ade) & Russell Tovey (Jason) smallTwo footballer players end up scoring with each other in Ben A. Williams feature film debut ‘The Pass.’

‘The Pass’ take place in a ten year time span which tracks the relationship between two Premiership football players. There’s always been some kind of chemistry and attraction between James (an electric and very good Russell Tovey) and Ade (Arinzé Kene – Hollyoaks – also very good). We meet both of them while they’re sharing a hotel room in 2006 in Bulgaria right before one of their first big matches. They’re both very young, and they’re also both very fit, masculine and extremely sexy, and they spend the first third of the movie in their tight white underwear. James and Ade are talking lads stuff, having a laugh about other players, and watching a video that was taken of another player having sex. The sex talk continues, and the banter goes something like ‘getting as hard as your sister sitting on my face.’ They’re playing around with each other; it’s hot, it’s erotic, it gets brutal, and homophobic, plus, we find out later, it leads to more than just talk.

‘The Pass’ takes us beyond the hotel room to tell us the story of the relationship between these two men, but especially about the relationship James has with himself. He’s all man, a star footballer, with all the trappings of stardom; money, women, celebrity, and eventually a wife with two kids. But he’s also battling with his sexuality, and even though he buys whatever, and whomever, he wants when he wants it, the thing he wants most is out of his reach. And when he’s questioned about his sexuality by a woman who has been paid to videotape having sex with him, he wants to go through with it, just to prove to the world (and obviously to himself) that he’s not gay. He’a a man who is not able to accept who he is and who he really wants to be with.

‘The Pass’ is 88 minutes of purely charged up adrenaline. It’s a movie that’s full of dialogue, dialogue that goes from playful banter to sexually-charged hi-jinks, up to and including the final third scene of the movie, which involves a hotel bellboy that’s a bit over the top. But it’s not to take away from a movie that brings up a real issue – that there is not one out gay football player in the game now. Let’s hope this film opens up the dialogue that it’s fine for a player to come out of the closet. Originally produced for the Royal Court Theatre in 2014, ’The Pass’ makes an excellent transition to the big screen. Kene brings a real toughness kindled with a bit of softness to his role, but it’s Tovey who owns the movie. He’s never been better; his James is battling with his sexuality while at the same time trying to uphold his image. Tovey is electrifying and is at the top of his game (he will soon be seen at The National next month in the play Angels in America). This is one pass that you will want to catch.



The Pass [DVD] [2017] (DVD)

Director: Ben A. Williams
Starring: Russell Tovey, Arinze Kene, Lisa McGrillis, Nico Mirallegro, Rory J. Saper
Rating: Suitable for 15 years and over

New From: £5.86 GBP In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

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11th Apr2017

Miss Nightingale (Theatre)

by timbaros

Miss Nightingale - The VaultsThe story of a chanteuse called Miss Nightingale who is caught between three men in 1940’s London during WW2 is now playing at The Vaults under Waterloo Station.

Leaving war-ravaged Berlin behind, Maggie Brown (a very talented Tamar Broadbent) and Polish George Nowodny (an excellent Conor O’Kane) arrive in The Big Smoke with Brown’s musical talent. Almost immediately, Brown is spotted by producer Sir Frank Worthington-Blythe (Nicholas Coutu-Langmead) and is urged to start singing for her supper. She’s a hit and starts dating Tom the drummer (Niall Kerrigan). But when their relationship goes down the drain (a bit unexpectedly), Brown, now known by her stage name of Miss Nightingale, falls into the arms of Frank. But Frank and the seductive George have struck up a relationship, all of this amidst the constant threat of blackouts, bombs and The Blitz – life in London during World War II was a treacherous and at times tortuous place.

Miss Nightingale is similar to the storyline in Cabaret where the songs are catchy and campy, however, there is the fear of the unknown, and it’s set amidst the drama and terror that is happening in the outside world. Broadbent is absolutely wonderful as the star of the show, petite yet singing with a big voice and big personality – she commands the stage. Coutu-Langdmead is just as good in his meaty role as Brown’s best confidante and Frank’s lover – though he’s got lots of emotional scars from his past that he can’t soon forget. But the actors in this show not only act, they also play the instruments! O’Kane is especially adept when he’s playing several instruments during one of Broadbent’s songs – is there nothing this man can’t do? The action (and drama) takes place in the small stage space that is The Vaults, not much space to move around but the actors do it, and class it up with their excellent performances and singing.

Miss Nightingale is playing at The Vaults until May 20th.

https://www.thevaults.london/miss-nightingale

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09th Apr2017

42nd Street (Theatre)

by timbaros
42nd Street  London

42nd Street
London

It’s got Razzle. It’s got dazzle. It’s the tapiest and most glittering show in town. It’s 42nd Street!

42nd Street is back in London and it played to a star-studded crowd on opening night (even the Duchess of Cambridge was there!). There were more stars in the room then in the skies, and there were more sparkles on stage than on Guy Fawkes night! 42nd Street is one of the most well-known and loved musicals of all time. Originally a 1933 film and based on a novel by Bradford Ropes, 42nd Street made it to broadway as a musical 47 years later (what took it so long?). It found it’s way to our shores in 1984, playing at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane (where it’s playing now!) and launched the career of Catherine Zeta-Jones, who was a chorus member fortunate enough to be bounced to the lead role one night when the main star and the understudy were both sick. The lead role, of wanna be musical star Peggy Sawyer, will definitely make Clare Halse, who is in this new production, a star.

Mark Bramble, who originally wrote the book (along with Michael Stewart) directs this new production, and it’s a non-stop bacchanalia of fun! And with an amazing and flawless cast of over 50, 42nd Street has gotten better with time, even though it tells the same old time-trodden story of a young girl from a small town – Peggy Sawyer – who goes to the big city and dreams of making it big. She gets a job as a backup dancer in a new show called Pretty Lady, and the Pretty Lady in the title is Dorothy Brock (fabulously played by singer Sheena Easton). Brock is in love with Pat (Norman Bowman), who disappears off to Philadelphia. So Brock wants to follow him there, forcing the show to move to there. But Brock breaks her ankle, so after getting fired for causing Brock to break her leg, Sawyer is roped back into the show, this time as it’s lead, and she’s only got 48 hours to learn the part, to learn the dance moves, and is wooed and coddled by director Julian Marsh (Tom Lister). But it’s Billy (Stuart Neal) who really takes a liking to her. Will she be ready and rehearsed in time to open the show? Will the nerves get the best of her? I’m sure we can all figure out how it plays out – and plays out it does, much to our delight!

42nd Street  London

42nd Street
London

But the story line pretty much takes a back seat to the musical numbers. Songs such as ‘I Only Have Eyes for you’ – beautifully sung by Easton, and ‘Lullaby of Broadway’ and ‘We’re in the Money – sung by the entire cast, are just as memorable now as when they were originally written. Act 1 moves us from the stage of the 42nd Street theatre to The Gypsy Tea Kettle Restaurant and then on to Philadelphia, while Act 2 takes us from the dressing rooms to Philadelphia train station – all realistically cleverly designed. And those dance numbers – wow! There is one amazing scene where a dozen or so female dancers are on the floor while a mirror hovers above them for the audience to see – it’s breathtaking! This cast is definitely the hardest working cast in town – from the opening number where they tap themselves to death to the finale where they all come down the amazing lite-up stairs – it’s one singing sensation after another. Halse is superb (with an excellent voice) as the lead, Easton is delicious as Brock – who would’ve guessed Easton had so much acting talent, and it’s her acting stage debut! And Maggie Jones and Christopher Howell excel in their supporting roles. With excellent choreography by Randy Skinner, 42nd Street is simply a must show to see.

42nd Street is playing until October 14, 2017. To buy tickets, please click here:

http://www.42ndstreetmusical.co.uk

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05th Apr2017

I Am Michael (DVD)

by timbaros

MBF141VOD.05James Franco is very convincing as a man who renounces his homosexuality to lead a religious straight life in the film I Am Michael.

Franco is one of Hollywood’s busiest actors. One look at his IMDB page shows an incredible 21 upcoming projects with a mix of indie and blockbuster films. He also likes to mix up his repertoire (and keep his fans guessing) by playing gay characters. He was a gay porn producer in King Cobra, and he directed and produced the 2013 controversial film Interior. Leather Bar. And now in I Am Michael, Franco has his gayest role yet. It’s based on the true story of Michael Glatze, who claimed he was no longer gay and became a straight pastor. But in 1999, Michael was in a gay relationship with boyfriend Bennett (Zachary Quinto) and was the editor of the successful real-life XY Magazine, while at the same time living in San Francisco – it was the ultimate gay life and gay lifestyle. But Bennett’s father has a job for him in Halifax, Canada, so they relocate there – it’s a city with not much to do, but they end up hooking up with the young goodlooking Tyler (Charlie Carver). But after a few panic attacks, and memories of his late father and mother, Michael starts to question his homosexuality – he starts re-evaluate his life, loves, and takes up to reading the bible for answers, until one day he leaves it all behind for a new life.

iAM_2D_Packshot_Cover

Shot in just 20 days in New York, on a budget of $2.5 million, I Am Michael didn’t get the proper cinema release that it deserved. It’s done the film festival circuit and it’s only now being released, on video on demand. Writer and Director Justin Kelly keeps the movie flowing, and it never once loses faith of it’s subject matter. Franco superbly carries this film (though his hairstyle seems to change in every scene) and the rest of the cast excellently support him. It’s a highly recommended watch not just for it being a gay film – it’s Franco’s performance that is more than worth the watch.

I am Michael is out now on DVD/Amazon/HMV/FOPP/ASDA



I am Michael [DVD] (DVD)

Director: Justin Kelly
Starring: James Franco, Emma Roberts, Daryl Hannah
Rating: Suitable for 15 years and over

New From: £6.18 GBP In Stock
Used from: £4.99 GBP In Stock

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03rd Apr2017

Adam & Eve and Steve (Theatre)

by timbaros

DSC_6077It’s not Adam & Eve but Adam & Eve and Steve (plus the Devil) at The Kings Head Theatre.

A musical version of the biblical story that we all know and love so well is just what we need in this time of Brexit and Trump. But in this story Steve (Dale Adams), and not Eve, is accidentally created by God (the voice and later the body of Michael Christopher) – thanks to Beelzebub – the Devil (played to camp perfection by Stephen McGlynn). But Adam (an innocent looking Joseph Robinson) thinks that Steve is actually Eve, but then God waves his magic wand and creates the real Eve (a sexy Hayley Hampson) and it all becomes very confusing for Adam. Beelzebub tempts them all to take a bite of, as he calls it, the pom (a/k/a apple) against God’s wishes. But Steve wants to be with Adam, and Eve wants to be with Adam, and Adam is confused, and what does Beelzebub (and the mostly gay audience) want? For Adam and Steve to hook up, and, of course, Beelzebub (and us) wants everyone to sin! Set to a sinfully silly musical score (‘I want to shop for furniture’ was one of the most memorable tunes) and tons of references to the existing world (Uber, Ikea, gluten free), with lots of skin on show, Adam & Eve and Steve won’t change your life but it will make you forget all about the outside world for a luckily brief 75 minutes.

For tickets, please go to:

https://kingsheadtheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/873566822/events/128005665

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02nd Apr2017

The Best of BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival 2017 (Film)

by timbaros

The best films of BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival 2017 was always going to be hard to choose. There were so many wonderfully well-done, and in some cases, amazing films that were shown at the film festival – one of the biggest, and best, in the world. There were over 50 features and more than 100 shorts shown, as well as a wide range of special events, guest appearances, discussions, workshops, club nights and more. And while it was virtually impossible to watch all of the features and shorts, I did manage to catch most of them. So herewith is my non-exhaustive list of the best of Flare:

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1:54 is an explosive film that stars the excellent Antoine-Olivier Pilon (Mommy) which goes from a simple gay love story to an unexpected and shocking direction. It touches on all the relevant themes (bullying, young love, etc.) and first time director Yan England excellently pulls it all together. A must see!

Pushing Dead, directed and written by Tom E Brown, is a lighthearted comedy about a HIV+ man (a very good James Roday) and his trials and tribulations in getting his medication, finding love, and dealing with his boss and female roommate in San Francisco. It’s bittersweet, funny and lighthearted and will tug at your heart.

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Dear Dad is an excellent Indian film about a middle-aged father who comes out to his son while driving him to boarding school. It’s heartwarming and funny, with great performances all around.

Eight long-term HIV+ survivors discuss their fears, challenges and milestones in the relevant and timely documentary Last Men Standing. With the HIV+ population getting older, these men celebrate life as they remember the past.

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The Trans List is an important documentary where several prominent trans and nonbinary people get to tell their story. Well known celebrities Laverne Cox, Caitlyn Jenner and Buck Angel are featured, but it’s the less well-known who make more of an impact; lawyer and activist Kylar Broadus, teenage student Nicole Maines who won a landmark lawsuit in America after she faced discrimination for wanting to use the girl’s bathroom, and Bamby Salcedo, founder of the Los Angeles-based TransLain Coalition and who faced lots of issues growing up. There are a total of 11 interviews in this documentary, but I could’ve watched a dozen more. It’s an important and relevant documentary.

Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four, another important documentary, is about four Lesbians who were tried and convicted of sexually abusing children in the 1990’s. Fast forward and the women are finally exonerated for their alleged crime, and this documentary shows – through interviews and news footage – the women’s journey of their nightmare. Gripping, and bittersweet.

Chilean film Jesús starts out as a buddy movie where the two young leads hang out with their friends and then have sex with each other, but their lives are changed, and the film takes a surprising turn, when they are involved in a crime. This event will tear their lives apart and the ending packs a wallop!

Lauren (Velinda Godfrey) has to deal with the death of her girlfriend in the film Heartland. She also gets kicked out of the house they shared, so she has to move in with her bigoted mother, while her brother and his long-term girlfriend are visiting in order to set up a local wine business. But Lauren and the girlfriend develop more than a friendship in an event that tears the whole family apart, and brings up bad memories.

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Blow Job 2017 is a reimagining of the Andy Warhol classic, directed by Charles Lum and Todd Verow, that, for it’s four full minutes, focuses on David J. White, getting, as you guessed, a blow job. Why remake the 1963 classic? Because it was time to do so, and Lum and Verow do it in an excellent, grainy style.

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A film with commercial potential is Handsome Devil. Out gay student Ned (a wonderful Fionn O’Shea) is faced with another year in boarding school. His new roommate, lucky for him, is the star rugby player. But most memorable is Andrew Scott who plays a gay and sympathetic teacher. Scott is brilliant (and extremely handsome) as always.

A film that will astound you is the documentary Out of Iraq. It’s amazing that this film was even made as it’s the true story of two Iraqi soldiers who fall in love, but of course, living in a country where gay men are killed is not the ideal place for a gay relationship. So one of them is lucky enough to move to the U.S. and it’s a four year wait for them to be back together. Their long-awaited reunion, and eventual wedding, will leave you in tears.

This was just a few of the highlights of the BFI Flare film festival.
The entire program can still be found in the link below and hopefully some of these films will find their way to the cinema, or to the BFI website, or anywhere online. Let’s support and celebrate gay cinema.

http://www.bfi.org.uk/flare

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