Thursday, 31 March 2011

LLGFF Part 1: An explosive start

The British Film Institute's 25th London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival kicks off tonight with a film (Gregg Araki's Kaboom with Thomas Dekker, above) and party as usual. But things are rather stripped-down from last year's 16-day series of daily star-studded screenings and parties. Due to budget cuts at the BFI, the festival is only six days long this year, and it's a much leaner affair in other ways: no delegate facilities, no travel allowances for filmmakers and, most startling, no travelling programme of festival films around the UK over the rest of the year. There's a lively Facebook campaign to save the LLGFF, which was the UK's third largest film festival after Edinburgh and London. Well, Edinburgh is also drastically truncated this year, and the BFI also runs London in October, so we'll see what happens then.

But back to the festivities at hand. Here are highlights from the first two days of the 25th LLGFF...

Kaboom (opening film)
dir Gregg Araki; with Thomas Dekker, Juno Temple 10/US ****
As this scruffy coming-of-age sex comedy turns into a horror movie, the combination is completely disarming. It's both silly and creepy, with honest subtext about youthful searching and the complexities of human sexuality... FULL REVIEW >

Mysterious Skin (special screening)
dir Gregg Araki; with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Brady Corbet 04/US *****
Araki takes a huge leap forward with this deeply provocative and moving drama based on Scott Heim's novel. While maintaining his jerky editing style, he avoids his usual amateurishness and plays on his strengths. This film is lushly filmed and acted with raw beauty and subtlety even when the story gets seriously disturbing... FULL REVIEW >

L.A. Zombie
dir Bruce LaBruce; with Francois Sagat, Rocco Giovanni 10/US ***
LaBruce brings his usual eerie comical moodiness to this outrageously graphic tale of a lonely zombie in Los Angeles. So clearly it's a metaphor, right? Indeed, the film is impossible to categorise. And even though it's utterly in-your-face, we still somehow feel for this guy... FULL REVIEW >

Unhappy Birthday
dir Mark Harriott, Mike Matthews; with David Paisley, Christina De Vallee 10/UK ***
You have to give credit for the cast and crew for trying to create a gothic atmosphere in this low-budget British horror movie. It doesn't quite work, but it's still rather good fun to watch, if only for campy, creep-out vibe... FULL REVIEW >

House of Boys
dir Jean-Claude Schlim; with Layke Anderson, Benn Northover 09/Lux ***
Starting with the same plot as Burlesque, this ambitious film turns into a full-on Aids drama. And while it feels somewhat dated, as well as melodramatic, the filmmaking is intimate enough to keep us engaged with the characters... FULL REVIEW >

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