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By The Gay UK, Dec 20 2014 08:00PM

Our Web Series ‘Pick of The Week’ for a change is neither a comedy or a romance or drama but a useful series of good advice of how to avoid having any of them in your own life.

Actor/writer and very funny man JASON FARONE has created the most hilarious list of tips that we have seen in a long time and that we highly recommend. The first one in his PORNOMEDY series is aptly entitled ‘6 WAYS GAYS PISS PEOPLE OFF’.

After you have played this several times (and we know you will) try the second video which has a title that needs no explaining ‘5 WAYS BAD PORN RUINS SEX.

by Roger Walker-Dack

By The Gay UK, Dec 20 2014 03:00PM

Mandy Rice-Davies actress, model and ‘good time girl’ who with her best friend Christine Keeler almost brought down the British Government in 1963, died yesterday at the age of 70.

After Keeler’s affair with War Secretary John Profumo and also a Russian naval Attaché became a public scandal there was major court trial, which uncovered tales of sex, wealth, and national security, which rattled the Establishment and became the fixation for the entire nation for months.

In the witness box Rice-Davies was told that aristocratic party host Lord Astor had denied her allegation of an affair. She replied with her now famous quip ‘WELL HE WOULD, WOULDN’T HE?’ which was splashed over the headlines of all the newspapers next day and endeared her to the public.

The story was made into a movie called ‘SCANDAL’ in 1989 for which Bridget Fonda picked up a Golden Globe Nomination for her portrayal of Rice Davies, and was the basis for the 2013 Andrew Lloyd Webber musical ‘STEPHEN WARD’.

Rice-Davies went on to be a cabaret performer, before running a chain of restaurants in Israel, and she married three times to wealthy men.

She and Keeler will however always be entrenched in our memories as the two people who exposed the hypocrisy of the British Establishment who preached about the sanctity of family values whilst at the same time many of them had scant regard for them in real life. They also made sex a front-page story and became symbols of the 1960’s era of hedonism. Looking back on those days, Rice-Davies recently said ‘Good girls didn't have any sex at all, and bad girls had a bit’.

by Roger Walker-Dack

By The Gay UK, Dec 20 2014 09:00AM

Ex-Batman actor Michael Keaton must have felt more than a touch of deja-vu in the title role of Alejandro G. Inarritu's brilliant dark comedy about an actor trying to redeem his career by staging a serious dramatic Broadway debut after his career as a movie comic-book hero has faded.


The movie filmed almost entirely in the St James Theater on West 44th Street starts as Riggan Thomson (Keaton) is about to begin previews of a play that he has adapted from a Raymond Carver novel, which he has both directed and also stars in. Having the camera follow the actors at close quarters as they rush around the theatre gives the movie the illusion that the whole proceedings are just one big single take. It's an inspired idea and succeeds in keeping the adrenaline flowing at a rapid pace throughout the whole piece.

Riggan's nerves are very raw as he has sunk everything into this production from his reputation to every single cent from the Bank, and he is racked with such self-doubt about the production being a success. The play's cast include Lesley another film actor making her Broadway too, and Laura who is also doubling the role with also being Riggan's on/off lover too. The third member of this four-handed drama is such a hammy actor that when an accident (!) incapacitates him, Laura persuades Riggan to re-cast the part with Mike a well-known and popular stage actor who just happens to be her current boyfriend.

Mike is possibly the most talented actor of the play's cast which he is happy to remind Riggan at every single opportunity, but he is a bit of wild card who can behave erratically on and off the stage. He however isn't the only problem that Riggan has to face. There is Sam his teenage daughter just released from re-hab who he has misguidedly employed as his personal assistant. When she is not rebuking her father for ignoring modern phenomenon of social media try and boost his sagging career, she is having inappropriate sexual relations with Mike. Also girlfriend Laura announces she is pregnant just before the curtain rises too.

The deeper the mess that Riggan seems to find himself too, he resorts to listening to the voice of his alter-ego and he has also convinced himself that he has this superpower to move inanimate objects by the power of thought alone.

During the countdown to the opening night of the play there are manic scenes straight out of a comic farce. Such as when a near-naked Riggan is accidentally locked out of the theatre's stage door midway through a preview and must stride through the packed crowds of Times Square in just his underpants to get back in. Then there is the encounter in the bar next to the theater when he has a contretemps with Tabitha the NY Times Theatre Critic who tells him she has vowed to give him the worst review in history to ensure the play is a flop as she bitterly resents Hollywood celebrities invading Broadway which she considers is her holy grail.

However, convinced that Mike will yet again upstage him on the play's opening night and firmly believing that he is about to lose everything, Riggan finds some inner strength to add a totally unexpected twist that shocks us all and wins him rave reviews from the Times after all.

Throughout this whole process Riggan is still completely obsessed with his past playing the infamous Birdman that brought him fame and success and has unquestionably shaped who he has become on so many levels. In the end he accepts the inevitability and simply gives in and let's him take over completely.

This is one amazing joy ride of a movie that never lets up both delighting and confronting the audience for the entire two hours. Inarritu's has imbued this, his 5th feature, with his extraordinary impassioned imagination that as, is his raison d'etre, is evident in every minute detail of the movie. The stunning cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki) is nothing less than breathtaking. and it's accompanied by constant bursts of jazz drumming from Antonio Sanchez.

Keaton's very raw and brilliant performance as Riggan is what really makes the movie soar. He literally exposes himself in a role that could easily be conceived as based on his own life with a career that has hardly been in ascendant since his last Batman movie twenty years ago. Here he shows what a remarkable and honest actor he really is as he totally captures every nuance of this fallen star who wants to rise and fly again. I'd go so far as to suggest that this is a career best for Keaton, a fact which will be borne out when the Acting Award season starts soon.

He however wasn't alone up there on the screen and was complemented in particular with two powerful performances from the remarkable Emma Stone as Sam, and the ever wonderful Edward Norton as Mike. Nods also to Naomi Watts playing Lesley, Andrea Riseborough as Leslie, a very low key Zach Galifianakis as Riggan's manager, Amy Ryans as his ex wife, and also Lindsay Duncan as Tabitha.

I would hesitate to declare that this is director/co-writer Inarritu's best ever movie as the four memorable ones that proceed this (especially 'Amores Perros') are quite brilliant. However it was good enough for me at least to consider the thought for more than a moment. He is nothing less than a cinematic genius who continually successful pushes the boundaries of our imagination and gives us something remarkably refreshing and unique that is always such a sheer joy to experience.

Reviewed By Roger Walker-Dack

By The Gay UK, Dec 18 2014 07:00PM

Here’s our Top Ten List of Fab Films to Fill a Christmas Stocking to suit any (movie) buff boyfriend from Amazon that will still arrive by the 25th if you have still not bought a Christmas gift for ‘him indoors’?

1) LA FOLIE D’AMOUR: THE XAVIER DOLAN COLLECTION. A box set of three of the award winning movies from Canadian Wunderkind (still only 25 years old). These astonishing, glorious films explore themes that are always deeply personal: fundamental questions of sexual identity and the boundaries of love, the testing of friendship, the obsessive nature of desire, and sexual awakening.

2) THE WIZARD OF OZ: SING-ALONG VERSION. To mark the 75th Anniversary of the release of this wonderful classic, Warner Brothers has released this new Blu-ray that encourages you to be Dorothy in your own home.

3) BOYS ON FILM 12: UK film distributor Peccadillo Pictures much acclaimed series of gay short films has a new 12th Edition called CONFESSIONS. Like all the previous collections this shockingly-good compilation of movies from mainly first-time filmmakers around the world features different stories about the lives of young gay men. As the title indicates the theme of this latest collection is about exposing private lives and uncovering secrets and presenting a choice or whether to keep hiding or to confess?

4) THE NORMAL HEART: Unquestionably one of the best gay films to hit our screens this year, Ryan Murphy’s powerful adaption of Larry Kramer’s celebrated play about the onslaught of the AIDS epidemic is an unmissable and compelling part of our history.

5) THE EROTIC FILMS OF PETER DE ROME: In the late 1960s and early 1970s British-born New Yorker and unsung hero of gay underground filmmaking Peter de Rome produced a number of explicit, painstakingly crafted Super 8 films each of which took the viewer on an immersive sexual journey. In 1973, eight of these films were brought together as The Erotic Films of Peter de Rome producing one of the finest cinematic examples of the intersection of artistry and eroticism. Now released on DVD for the first time, these extraordinary films are accompanied by a new BFI documentary.

6) THE LAST MATCH: A heartbreaking and touching wee drama that is completely engaging as it so accurately portrays the price that young men have to pay when they discover their sexuality in such an un-accepting and intolerant culture like Cuba.

7) THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL: A wonderful drama/comedy about a group of older impoverished Brits who seek an alternative cheaper retirement in a charming but dilapidated hotel in Mumbai with a star studded cast that includes both Maggie Smith and Judi Dench.

8) EASTSIDERS: an edgy and intense dramatic comedy that shows a slice of contemporary gay life in LA, which refreshingly does not just focus on his characters sexual orientations as its major plot point. Highly enjoyable.

9) FIVE DANCES: Alan Brown's latest movie has one of the most accurate titles that pulls no punches and is exactly what it promises i.e five dances. Held together by the strands of a wisp of a tenuous plot, it is however still a sweet and sensual coming-out-tale thanks to the presence of a charming young dancer who proves he is quite a mean actor too, despite his inexperience. You don't have to be a contemporary dance fan to love this one, but if you are, it does help.

10) JOAN RIVERS: A PIECE OF WORK: The late great gay icon allowed the filmmakers unfettered access to her for a whole year and the result is an extraordinary frank and compelling documentary when we see the real Joan up front and personal. This one should be everybody’s stocking this Christmas

By The Gay UK, Dec 18 2014 03:16PM

Renowned world champion ballroom dancer Pierre Dulaine returns to his home town of Jaffa for the very first time since his family fled when he was just 4 years old. At that time when the state of Israel was established the majority of the Arab population were pushed out, and those that remained became Palestinian Israelis.


Dancing In Jaffa
Dancing In Jaffa

Sixty years on it is still a deeply divided city and Dulaine believes that through his program of teaching children to dance he can break through some of the political and cultural differences and bring a moment of unity that hopefully may even endure.

Enlisting the support of six local schools, all but one segregated by religion, he realises early on that his task will not be an easy one. What he is asking them is literally that they dance with the 'enemy' which both the parents and the children themselves have deep reservations about, especially as it doesn't just involve close social interactions but physical touching between the children.

Dancing In Jaffa
Dancing In Jaffa

At the beginning Dulaine struggles to hide his sheer frustration that despite all his charm and elegance he seems to simply fail to convince many of the reluctant children of how much they would enjoy learning to dance if they would just at least try it. Things start to improve when his ex dancing partner Yvonne Marceau flies in for a visit so that she can help demonstrate all the dances he is trying to teach them. The children are entranced by the elegant Marceau and in response to their questions about his 35 year old professional relationship with her, Dulaine tells the children that 'you don't have to marry everyone you dance with!' 

As the weeks pass, the camera follows a handful of the children around so we can see how this new activity will impact on their particular lives. They include Noor a slightly chubby Palestinian girl who seems to have no friends and who lives alone with her unemployed mother. Her unhappiness with her lot is carried through to school where she is often in trouble for being a disruptive influence and a bully. She is not initially keen on the dancing lessons especially as none of the boys want to be her partner, but when Dulaine selects her to be part of the team to represent her school in the Competition they have been working towards, she somehow remarkably transforms into a totally different, and rather charming, young lady. 

Dancing In Jaffa
Dancing In Jaffa

It is actually a reflection of Dulaine's success that by the time it comes to naming the children that will make up the teams, some of the unlucky ones who are so upset that they didn't make the cut, round on him demanding explanations.

The day of the Competition in the packed local Community Hall the atmosphere is rife with excitement. Palestinian mothers sit next to Jewish parents to watch their children dance with other children from other schools and other faiths.  And somehow the patient Dulaine with his irrepressible good humour has turned these once reluctant and clumsy ugly ducklings into graceful swans that just glide around the dance floor. It is a rather sensational success and one that we could have never have forecasted after watching Dulaine struggle to break the children's initial deep-rooted resistance. The main pay-off was not who won medals of the gold cup, but the scenes in the days after when Arab children are playing with their new Jewish friends, something that no-one would have ever deemed feasible just a few weeks ago.

This enchanting documentary from prolific filmmaker Hilla Medalia (also has just released the excellent 'Web Junkie') cannot avoid being compared to 'Mad Hot Ballroom', a highly emotional roller-coaster story of kids in New York Public Schools getting addicted to a mean tango too. Both movies so beautifully prove their point that dancing like this not only crosses the divide but also is a great eye-opener as to how it affects the children's social behaviour and attitudes.

This is a heartwarming tale beautifully told that makes one feel so greatly encouraged that one man's vision of putting something back into society could pay off so handsomely.


By Roger Walker-Dack

By The Gay UK, Dec 18 2014 09:00AM

In a new twist to the annual plea to drivers not to ‘drink and drive’ the South Dakota Highway Safety Commission issued this video telling us that when the winter weather conditions are really bad that we shouldn’t ‘jerk and drive’.

As the exceedingly polite female voiceover says at the end ‘no-one loves a jerker’ which renders one momentarily speechless.

However now some more worldly person in this remote US State has pointed out to the Safety Commissioners the real message that that are sending out and so they immediately withdrew it from all the media. We however have tracked it down on YouTube to show all you bad drivers who get so easily distracted.

By The Gay UK, Dec 17 2014 07:30AM

If you loved the wonderfully funny and touching 2011 movie about a bunch of impoverished older Brits seeking out a cheaper retirement in a dilapidated Hotel in India that had a veritable cast of the cream of the crop of wonderful British superstar actors, then you will want to see this new trailer just released by Fox Searchlight of the sequel that will open in our cinemas this Spring.

Dames Maggie Smith and Judi Dench are once again joined by Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup and Dev Patel and with newcomers David Strathairn and none other than silver fox Richard Gere (who knew he was old enough to ‘retire’?).

You will see from this clip that the Dames are still sparring with each other... in the nicest possible way...

and we cannot wait to see the whole thing play out in the new year.

By The Gay UK, Dec 16 2014 10:00AM

After you have watched Laura Poitras’s powerful documentary on the NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden you will never want to use your bank debit card, mobile phone or even turn your computer on ever again. Whilst it’s not always easy to totally understand the intricate technical details of what Snowden reveals, it is however impossible not to avoid his very serious warning that Big Brother is most certainly spying on every single one of us.


What’s remarkable about this extraordinary movie is that is that Poitras was part of the whole process of Snowden going public with his astonishing information, so what we see is a blow by blow account as she films this unprecedented event from the very beginning. Oscar nominated Poitras (‘My Country My Country’) was in the middle of making another film about surveillance when Snowden contacted her anonymously, using the pseudonym ‘Citizenfour’, and asked for her help in exposing the government’s practice of indiscriminately wholesale spying on all its citizens. Unlike others with conspiracy theories Snowden, a computer intelligence expert who worked for one of the NSA’s main contractors, had hard proof to back up all his claims but as this was classified information he knew that revealing the details would be both difficult and dangerous.

In May 2013 he flew from Hawaii from Hong Kong where he had arranged to meet up with Poitras and Washington Post journalist Glenn Greenwald. They had deliberately chosen this Chinese territory as it has no extradition treaty with the US and both Poitras and Snowden knew that the moment they started to go public with the story the US Government (and maybe the British one too) would want to skin them alive.

When the three meet Snowden makes it clear about his intentions to reveal how widespread these surveillance programs are, but he is unsure about exactly what information he should make public without compromising national security. Here the journalists take the lead, and they with British journalist Ewan MacAskill, make the decisions on what to release to the media and when. These few days in with the ‘team’ in Hong Kong holed up in Snowden’s undisclosed hotel room are tense and nerve racking to witness, and asides from worrying about future consequences, Snowden also wants to ensure that when the story breaks that it focuses on the revelations themselves and not about him personally.

It turns out he was right to be concerned as when the world starts to reel with the news of the far-reaching relentless spying that government agencies have been doing aided and abetted by the likes of the major cellphone and broadband providers, the NSA and the US Government desperately try to move the focal point by accusing Snowden of traitorous acts rather than attempting to explain why all this surveillance is happening. His life is definitely in danger and the UN consulate in Hong Kong help spirit him away to a safer location whilst they can work out his next move.

The one thing that one is sure of after seeing Snowden at close quarters and intently watching and listening to him as he shares the information he is about to reveal and explain exactly why he feels the need to take such actions, is that this very regular-type-joe simply thinks that the world has a right to now. He is devoid of any committed political convictions and he even takes great strides to ensure that his actions do not place even the smallest risk to national security. Whatever doubts one may have had about him previously thanks to the highly personal vitriolic backlash in the media that followed the disclosures, they are totally banished when one realises what a responsible and sincere individual Snowden is. He is in fact a true patriot and hero.

Once he was publicly identified as being the Whistleblower, there is a very tense time when he is talking with his long-term girlfriend back home who had no inkling at all of his plans for her own good. Now he worries that the authorities will put pressure in her in retaliation, but one of the high points the movie finishes on, is seeing the two of them re-united in their flat in Moscow after the Russians eventually gave him asylum.

Credit is also due to the intrepid Greenwald who became both the moderator and the front-man who articulately dealt with the world’s media throughout the whole process. His ‘reward’ was British Immigration Authorities ‘detaining’ his partner at Heathrow airport for 4 hours to ‘question’ him. In fact less we should think that this is whole surveillance thing is a problem for just the American public, Snowden makes it very clear that the UK agency GCHQ have far less legal restraints placed upon them and their spying on all British citizens is probably even more intense and widespread.

Although the movie ends with the concern of Snowden’s future (the Russians gave him a one year Visa) there is naturally the much more vexing question of what will happen to all this wholesale spying once this current furor dies down. The sad thing is, we know the answer.

P.S. This excellent movie has just won the IDA’s Best Documentary Award and has also been shortlisted for a Nomination for the Academy Award for Best Documentary.

Reviewed by Roger Walker-Dack

By The Gay UK, Dec 16 2014 09:32AM

A more apt title for this preposterous and painfully unfunny comedy would be ‘Lost in Translation’. Based on a best selling novel by Richard C. Morais this new movie from the Oscar nominated king of syrupy schmaltz Lasse Hallstrom (‘Cider House Rules’ & ‘Chocolat’) and produced by Oprah Winfrey and Stephen Spielberg must have seemed like a fantastic idea on paper as they managed to persuade none other than Oscar Winner Helen Mirren to be their very uncomfortable looking star. After filming this very inane and somewhat patronizing piece she could only have only ended up asking the same question as we do now i.e. whatever possessed her!

The Hundred-Foot Journey. Photograph: Rex
The Hundred-Foot Journey. Photograph: Rex

The story is of an Indian family who have to leave Mumbai in a hurry when their restaurant is destroyed and the matriarch is killed after a political uprising. They seek asylum in London and settle in a cramped home next to Heathrow Airport right under the flight path. However it’s not the fact that they can almost touch the planes as they land that drives them out, but the cold and damp English climate, and they set off in a dilapidated camper van to warmer climes of France.

When their van breaks down outside Saint-Antonin-Noble-Vala small picturesque one-street village in the middle of nowhere, Father espies an empty restaurant for sale that he deems will be perfect for the family to establish their new Indian Restaurant. This village evidently only has one other eating establishment (other than the café where everyone has breakfast) and this is smack opposite their new venue. It is in fact just a hundred feet from their front door. This very popular fine dining establishment, which possess a coveted Michelin star, and a fancy Chef, is run by a chauffeured driven Grand Dame who, for some inexplicable reason, is paranoid about the new competition from a fast-food Indian eatery run by a cook.

The rivalry is petty and too silly for words and is as ridiculous as the silly French accent of the English speaking Madame Mallory. After a chance encounter Hassan the Indian cook falls in love with Marguerite a sous chef who works for Madame and she encourages him to read a recipe book about fine French cuisine. Then after a few attempts at re-creating classic dishes and before you can say Nigella Lawson he is a cordon-bleu chef and immediately deserts his family to work for Madame herself. Next stop for him is Paris and an even fancier restaurant where as Chef de Cuisine he becomes an overnight sensation winning more Michelin stars with easy.

However fame and success isn’t everything for Hassan and as he misses his family he hurries back to Madame‘s country restaurant where he can get the taste of both Marguerite and fresh local produce once again.

This rather innocuous tale is an excruciating 2 hours long and has no redeeming features other than the location of the small town, and the rather scrumptious food.

Reviewed by Roger Walker-Dack

in Cinemas now.

By The Gay UK, Dec 15 2014 07:00AM

Mike Leigh's stunning biopic of J.M.W.Turner is the portrait of the leading English Romantic landscape artist who was evidently also quite a philanderer and misanthrope too. Set in the 1820's (although Leigh never tells us that) the movie focuses on the last 20 years of the painter's life when he was at the height of his success and his work was being exhibited at the Royal Academy and also commissioned by wealthy aristocrats.


Leigh's story starts when Turner returns from a painting trip in Belgium to his London home that he shares with his elderly father who dotes on him and acts as his studio assistant, and also the sad-looking maid who allows Turner to have his way with her whenever he gets the urge. The maid just seems to be the latest of several mistresses, as the previous estranged one who has two simpering grown up daughters by Turner often comes around to harangue him looking for support which he never ever gives them.

When his precious father dies, Turner sinks into a deep depression and is even more bad-tempered with nearly everyone he comes into contact with. In one rather glorious scene when he is visiting the Summer Exhibition as it is being hung at the Royal Academy he is openly disparaging about the work of the other Academicians who constitute a veritable who's-who roll call of every major artist of the day (Constable, Stothard, Callcot etc).

On a trip to the small seaside town of Margate, which would become the inspiration for many of his most famous paintings, Turner meets the twice-widowed Mrs. Booth who becomes his live-in mistress, and later the pair moves to a house in Chelsea where Turner lives out the rest of his days.

Leigh and his cinematographer Dick Pope don't just show Turner in action manically slathering paint over his canvasses but also capture evocative and powerful images of the landscapes often at dawn just as Turner would have viewed them. They are a real visual joy. As too are the sets of Victorian Britain that production designer Suzie Davies has lovingly recreated.

Like all Leigh's movies, Mr. Turner is created through an improvisational method from which the final script evolves. Enabling his actors to have more input than normal into creating their characters certainly plays off, as so brilliantly demonstrated by Timothy Spall who gives a career-best performance as Mr. Turner. With his expressive squashy face he so convincingly portrays the short-tempered genius that never lets anything distract him from his work. Even when he faces public ridicule after he experiments with his painting style, and also right to the very end when he is on his death bed he cannot but help himself seize one final perfect moment to sketch.

The talented cast is mainly made up of many of Leigh's regular actors that include Dorothy Atkinson pitch perfect as the put-upon maid, Marion Bailey as the loyal Mrs. Booth and veteran actor Paul Jesson as Mr. Turner Snr.

Overly long with a running time of 150 minutes which makes the action seem too slow and stretched out at times, nevertheless this screen biography lovingly gives a wonderful portrait for the only artist to ever now have a whole permanent gallery dedicated to his work at The Tate Gallery in London. Mr Spall's (potentially) award-winning performance also makes this an unmissable film.

Reviewed by Roger Walker-Dack

In Cinemas Now

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