dir Wade Gasque; with Mark Strano, Frankie Valenti (pictured above) 14/US ****
An unusually strong script confronts some darkly resonant issues in a simple story about two brothers working out who they are both together and as individuals. The low budget may make it look simplistic, but the characters have an unusual complexity, and the themes are provocative and important... FULL REVIEW >
The New Girlfriend
dir Francois Ozon; with Romain Duris, Anais Demoustier 14/Fr ****.
Based on the Ruth Rendell novel, this slick, sexy film plays cleverly with genders to tell a remarkably entertaining story. A terrific cast makes the characters not only surprising but also thoroughly resonant. And writer-director Ozon juggles the plot and themes so effortlessly that it can't help but worm its way under the skin.
Dear White People
dir Justin Simien; with Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson 14/US ****
Almost too clever for its own good, this knowing comedy-drama plays with cliches using by placing parody within pastiche. Set in an American university, this sharply played film is populated by people trying to both fit into and rebel against racial, economic and sexuality stereotypes. It may be somewhat overpacked, but it's fiendishly clever and very funny.
dir-scr Colin Rothbart; with Jonny Woo, Scottee, Holestar 15/UK ***.
Focussing on a few shining stars from the London drag scene, this documentary is packed with telling observations as performers reveal the real person under the wigs and sequins. It's entertaining and enlightening, but the film is also rather fragmented, never quite building up a sense of momentum to bring new fans into the scene. (World premiere)
dir David Thorpe; with David Thorpe, Susan Sankin 14/US ****
In the style of Morgan Spurlock, filmmaker Thorpe puts himself at the centre of a documentary about an intriguing issue everyone's aware of but nobody talks about: why gay men have distinct vocal patterns. Or do they? It's a fascinating topic, especially as Thorpe delves deeper into bigger issues about identity and equality. So in the end the film is both witty and surprisingly empowering. (Centrepiece film)
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I had a few days out of circulation this week, but still managed to catch a few press screenings, including the Will Ferrell/Kevin Hart comedy Get Hard, which is funnier than it looks; the Anthony Hopkins thriller Kidnapping Freddy Heineken, which is oddly low-key and hard to engage with; the French drama Samba with Omar Sy and Charlotte Gainsbourg, which is long but sharply pointed and beautifully played; the scruffy French black The King of Escape, which is odd enough to be engaging; the Swedish coming-of-age drama Something Must Break, which is honest and original; and the documentary Altman, a wonderful film-by-film love letter to the iconic director.
Next week's films, in addition to those I'll catch at Flare, include Vin Diesel and Paul Walker in Fast & Furious 7, Keanu Reeves in John Wick, the Kiwi drama The Dark Horse, the German horror The Treatment and the Cannon studios doc Electric Boogaloo.