Film Review: 4th Man Out (2015)

On his 24th birthday, Adam comes out as gay to his three best friends – Chris (Parker Young), Nick (Chord Overstreet), and Ortu (Jon Gabrus). Naturally, the three freaked out but immediately reassured Adam that nothing is going to change between them.

The whole film actually seems to be about Adam finding a boyfriend and his male pals acted like Adam’s long lost fairy godmothers intent on finding a guy for him. They’re even more knowledgeable that Adam’s about the gay scene. Like seriously? There are a bunch of cringy moments in it and a number of funny scenes too. I still liked this movie. It is something that you could watch to combat boredom but it didn’t deliver its intended message. More like, the film didn’t actually have a message at all.

Director: Andrew Nackman
Cast: Evan Todd, Chord Overstreet, John Gabrus, Parker Young, Jennifer Damiano, Jordan Lane Price, Kate Flannery, 

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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Film Review: Beach Rats (2017)

This film is like a Coldplay music video for me. It’s affecting and it’s melodious and by the end of it, it felt like you’re grasping for something. Beach Rats is so much like that. Its enigmatic lead Harris Dickinson is nothing short of spectacular playing a repressed youth from Brooklyn finding his sexuality and his place in the sun. It’s a rough environment for him and he’s got to fit the mold to survive.

The film was is so different from the young-adult LGBTQ+ stories with the usual arc of realizing their sexuality and coming out of the closet. In context it is almost the same but also different in the way Director Eliza Hittman explored the depth of a teenage longing for freedom, longing for identity and longing for self-expression.

The whole thing was like a loop with beautiful shots and grainy atmosphere. I enjoyed it immensely because I find it so realistic and Dickinson so effective. You can really see everything in his eyes – the fear, the excitement, his vulnerability. He’s someone to watch out for that’s for sure. I’m not sure if this would be most people’s cup of tea but it’s a good kind of film that doesn’t come very often in the genre.

Director: Eliza Hittman
Cast: Harris Dickinson, Madeline Weinstein, Kate Hodge, Neal Huff, Nicole Flyus, Frank Hakaj

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Film Review: Handsome Devil (2016)

I absolutely adore this film! It’s very old school in a way but very refreshing at the same time as its story revolves around two gay schoolmates and the friendship between them that you won’t even mind that there’s not a single whip of romance in it and I loved it for that! Not every gay guys are out there are looking for their “one true love!” I also loved the fact that there’s nothing remotely sexual about it. It’s just about two high school boys trying to fit in or in Ned’s case, trying to get through high school.

At first though, I find it a bit Glee-ish but then it transitioned so fast when Ned, the bullied outsider and Conor, the star athlete transfer student started to interact with each other. They have such amazing chemistry and that it’s easier to root for both of them.

There’s a ‘scene’ here that I did not like in so many book characters and even most recently, from the movie Love, Simon when one of the characters outed the closeted character. It was not cringy at all here. It was actually heartbreaking because it felt like Ned did it out of necessity, being fed up with the bullying and the feeling that he’d finally have the upper hand just for once. It wasn’t right but at that moment, for him it must be some sort of vindication. As he was narrating the whole film, he said that this story is about his ‘most embarrassing moment’ ever. This must be that moment.

The conclusion was not exactly what I was expected because it felt a bit rushed but I appreciate the sort of a happy ending the movie has given us. Also, It’s just so good to know that a lot of LGBTQ+ films are now being produced for mainstream viewing!

Director: John Butler
Cast: Fionn O’Shea, Nicholas Galitzine, Andrew Scott, Moe Dunford, Michael McElhatton, Ruairi O’Connor, Ardal O’Hanlon, Mark Lavery, Jay Duffy, Jamie Hallahan

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Film Review: The Danish Girl (2015)

The Danish Girl is inspired by the true story of married Danish painters Einar and Gerda Wegener. When portrait artist Gerda Wegener as her husband Einar to stand in for a female model who couldn’t make it on time, it reveals her husband lifetime identification as a woman.

I just absolutely adore this film. The whole time, I was transfixed to Eddie Redmayne’s transformation into Lili Elbe’s character. His sublime performance as one of the pioneering transgender individuals is nothing short of amazing!

After Redmayne’s beyond amazing Oscar winning performance in The Theory of Everything, this I thought should’ve gotten him his second Oscar. Alas, he was pitted against THE Leonardo DiCaprio whose time to win has been long overdue and it would be a total injustice if DiCaprio’s equally incredible performance in The Revenant will be ignored yet again. If this was released last year, he could easily snatched the Best Actor trophy from Gary Oldman.

It is also undeniable that without Vikander’s affecting performance as Einar Wegener’s devoted wife, the whole vibe of the film won’t be as convincing! Her subtle intensity is what made Gerda’s character truly mesmerizing on screen.

The story felt as powerful today as when it was released a couple of years back, what with all the stories and media mileage the Transgender community is getting at the moment, one that I’m hoping will continue until such time everyone could just mind their own business.

Director: Tom Hooper
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ben Whishaw, Amber Heard, Sebastian Koch, Adrian Schiller, Emerald Fennell, Nicholas Woodeson, Pip Torrens, Henry Pettigrew

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Film Review: Mamma Mia 2! Here We Go Again (2018)

The first film, Mamma Mia was an absolute delight! I’m a big Meryl Streep fan and I absolutely adore the storyline of the first installment which was released a decade ago. Can you believe that it has been 10 years? Doesn’t feel like it at all!

I was able to catch Mamma Mia 2! Here We Go Again during its first week of showing in Manila and I’m pretty surprised that aside from its expected demographics lining up for it, a lot of younger viewers were actually there to watch it. Imagine that!

This film would disappoint some, if not all of Meryl Streep fans because this is a Meryl-less Mamma Mia! Ugh. It was rather head scratching at first when it was revealed at the start of the film that her character, Donna died a year before. The heart of the first film just had a little scene (but definitely the highlight) at the end and that’s it. I’ll be glad to tell you though that it wasn’t so bad that they killed Meryl’s character – I mean, they need something to work on. Although, personally I wasn’t convinced that it was the best route.

The first good thing about this installment is the inclusion of more music from ABBA (obviously) that I’ve never heard before aside from the more popular ones like Fernando, I Have A Dream and Waterloo that were not part of the first film. I have to be honest though, ABBA was not my generation, hence, my lack of knowledge about their catalogue. Secondly is the casting of Lily James (Cinderella, 2015) as the young Donna. She’s an absolute delight on screen and I couldn’t think of any other actresses that could do the role justice. And then there’s Cher. I was giggling throughout her scenes because she’s such a fucking queen especially when she sang the iconic Fernando. That was one of the highlights for me.

There’s also a bunch of eye candies here! The young fathers of Sophie are just all so dreamy! I particularly liked the very charming Josh Dylan as the young Bill! But really, the casting was fantastic!

Overall, it wasn’t as enjoyable as the first film because I wanted more Meryl in it but you cannot fault the treatment of the film paying homage to ABBA and Meryl Streep’s character – a film filled with beautiful people and jaw-dropping musical productions!

Director: Ol Parker
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep, Dominic Cooper, Christine Baranski, Jessica Keenan Wynn, Julie Walters, Alexa Davies, Pierce Brosnan, Jeremy Irvine, Colin Firth, Hugh Skinner, Stella Skarsgård, Josh Dylan, Cher, Andy Garcia

Music: When I Kissed The Teacher, I Wonder (Departure), One of Us, Waterloo, Why Did It Have to Be Me?, I Have a Dream, Kisses of Fire, Andante, Andante, The Name of the Game, Knowing Me, Knowing You, Mamma Mia, Angel Eyes, Dancing Queen, I’ve Been Waiting For You, Fernando, My Love, My Life, Super Trouper, The Day Before You Came

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Film Review: Cargo (2018)

Cargo reminds me a little bit of John Hillcoat’s The Road starring Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee or maybe it’s simply because of the same father and his kid scenario in a post-apocalyptic world – a sort of Zombie apocalypse for this film. I honestly didn’t like The Road that much when I initially watched it but rewatching it has been a rather enlightening experience.

Cargo, though is a totally different experience compared with my first impression watching The Road. I actually find it more emotional and the reason perhaps, is because it has a baby in it! When Guido sacrificed himself to save Giosue in La Vita e Bella, his kid has some great memories of him. Smit-McPhee’s character in The Road is old enough to remember his dad. But Rosie. Poor Rosie is just a wee thing wearing her diaper and needing to feed every now and then and she won’t even remember a thing about her father – his sacrifices and all that. Just heartbreaking!

The movie’s bleak overall feel was juxtaposed by its ginormous setting of the Australian wild. It would’ve been boring if not for the affecting performance of Martin Freeman as a sensible and loving father who will do everything to keep his baby safe. The baby may be the heart of the film – the center of everything that’s happening in the film – but Freeman is definitely its heartbeat.

This is an affecting film, that’s for sure – not scary, startling or even groundbreaking but its emotional impact is its strength. It’d be a worthy film to watch, most definitely!

Director: Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke
Cast: Martin Freeman, Anthony Hayes, Caren Postorius, David Gulpilil. Susie Porter, Kris McQuade, Bruce R. Carter, Natasha Wanganeen, Simone Landers

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Film Review: Alex Strangelove (2018)

At first glimpse, Alex Strangelove looks like a mere rip-off of Love, Simon but far from its smiliar LGBTQ+ lead characters, this coming-of-age film has a charm of its own with Daniel Doheny adorably playing the role of Alex Truelove and his quest – with the help of his supportive friends – to lose his virginity to his awesome girlfriend / bestfriend Claire (Madeline Weinstein).

Unlike Love, Simon – this isn’t as wholesome and as realistic in terms of how accepting the high school kids are and virtually just about everyone around Alex. That is where it falters a bit in my opinion. Alex Strangelove is a cliché yet poignant and optimistic movie in an unforgiving high school setting moving towards acceptance, rather than just mere tolerance when it comes to sexuality and individuality. It is beautiful yet too ideal a scenario that we only see on TV and the big screen – this time, through my smartphone.

That being said, Alex Strangelove is a step forward towards education. A step towards acceptance. We’ve already made some progress. One step at a time. One step at a time.

Director: Craig Johnson
Cast: Daniel Doheny, Antonio Marziale, Madeline Weinstein, Daniel Zolghadri, Nik Dodani, Fred Hechinger

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Film Review: Annihilation (2018)

I’m not big on these kind of films but this one piqued my interest from its very visually appealing trailer, plus one of my favorite actresses is starring in it so I ‘d easily searched it thru Netflix where it was widely released and tagged as one of Netflix originals.

Annihilation follows a group of an all-female scientist who enter a mysterious quarantine zone they call The Shimmer – a place where there is constant mutation from virtually all living things the shimmer touches.

There were several failed mission before the group where nobody has ever returned except for one – Lena’s (Natalie Portman) husband. Nobody has ever gotten information about The Shimmer since said husband couldn’t remember a thing and communications is jammed inside the Shimmer.

I’ve several questions about the central premise of the film but the major thing that bothered me is – if and when the / a group was able to gather information from The Shimmer, then what? It’s not like, we’re advanced enough to counter such entity (if you even wanna call IT that). Obviously, the whole thing was expected to expand and invade cities, states, countries and the rest of the world in time but what can we do exactly? I mean, all throughout I was just thinking about what are they going to do about a world that is constantly evolving, the way we are evolving now. If you wanna go deep and a philosophical about it – even without the Shimmer. We are evolving. Maybe not in appearance (just yet) but in every aspects of our lives.

It was a fascinating and visually stimulating film to say the least. Very typical alien-esque movie, not as artsy as the tree of life but definitely worth a watch or two!

Director: Alex Garland
Cast: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny, Oscar Isaac, Benedict Wong, Sonoya Mizuno, David Gyasi,

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Book Review: In Other Words…Murder (Holmes & Moriarity, #4) – Josh Lanyon

36546081Published July 13, 2018 by Josh Lanyon
Genres & Themes: LGBTQ+, Mystery, Murder, Romance, Family
Ebook Edition, 215 pages
ISBN13: 9781945802263
Characters: Christopher “Kit” Holmes, J.X. Moriarity

Blurb:
Mystery author Christopher Holmes, now comfortably married to sometimes rival, sometimes nemesis J.X. Moriarity, is starting a new career as a true crime writer when threatening anonymous notes start arriving.

Even worse, Christopher’s ex also arrives–asking for help locating the man he left Christopher for!

It’s life–and death–as usual at Chez Holmes. In other words… Murder.

It’s been ages since I’ve read something from Josh Lanyon and reading the fourth book off her Holmes and Moriarity series made me realized how much I missed her storytelling and it reminded me how much I absolutely loved almost all of her catalogue!

In Other Words…Murder is no exception. I absolutely adore this installment of the series where we see J.X. and Kit being all so domestic with each other, much more the inscrutable and super adorably funny Kit! I could totally picture him being all so awkward, snooty and of all things – romantic!

I totally enjoyed the mystery here. There are three things that are happening at the same time so I was a bit puzzled at first on how the author would tie up all the loose ends and being the awesome Josh Lanyon, ofcourse she’d find a way to do it neatly and I’ve to say that I’m more than satisfied with it.

This is highly recommended for the fans of the series and for those who have not had the chance to read anything from Ms. Lanyon, I suggest you start with this series and you’d definitely won’t regret it!

My only problem about the whole thing is the last page where she said that the next Holmes and Moriarity installment is still in 2020!!! Ugh. That’s like forever!!!!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

About The Author
A distinct voice in gay fiction, multi-award-winning author JOSH LANYON has been writing gay mystery, adventure and romance for over a decade. In addition to numerous short stories, novellas, and novels, Josh is the author of the critically acclaimed Adrien English series, including The Hell You Say, winner of the 2006 USABookNews awards for GLBT Fiction. Josh is an Eppie Award winner and a three-time Lambda Literary Award finalist.

Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm Review (Philippines)

I seldom post product reviews but I thought ya’ll should know how satisfied I am with Burt’s Bees Besswax Lip Balm. It’s the first lip balm I’ve tried that works well with me after being a ‘petroleum jelly’ user for years! Yes! Kind of icky but I’ve been using it for my lips for several years now disregarding its eventual negative effects! I hope that I’d still be able to counter said effects overtime.

I got the classic Burt’s Bees Beexwax Lip Blam with Vitamin E and Peppermint from Watsons in Megamall for P225. It maybe pretty pricey compared with other lip balms out there but I’d sya it’s worth it.

Upon application there’s this tingling feeling of mint at first until it disappear and bye bye dry and chapped lips for the day! I usually apply it whenever needed. It’s so different from Petroleum Jelly and other lip balms I’ve tried since it doesn’t feel icky that you barely feel that you applied it on your lips.

I’ve been using it for a week now and loving it so far!