Monday, 21 March 2016

30th Flare: Reaching out

The 30th BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival had a great weekend of screenings - it's an unusually strong programme this year, with beefy films that tackle big issues in inventive ways. For some reason, I haven't managed yet to attend a festival party since the opening night, but I'm hoping to rectify this over the next few days and the coming weekend. Here are some more highlights...

Nasty Baby 
dir Sebastian Silva; with Sebastian Silva (pictured above), Kristen Wiig 15/US *** 
Meandering through a series of messy events in the lives of a group of hapless people in Brooklyn, this film has a gripping authenticity to it that's both engaging and knowing. And then a momentous plot point kicks in, suddenly making it feel utterly fictitious as the characters suddenly become very different people. This is probably actor-filmmaker Sebastian Silva's point, but it's seriously jarring.

4th Man Out 
dir Andrew Nackman; with Evan Todd, Parker Young 15/US ****
With a very clever script, this is much more than the usual coming out comedy, as its focus is on the way a group of friends are forced to redefine their friendships when one of them reveals that he's gay. Intriguingly, the film is much more about how the straight world copes with homosexuality than the other way round. Which makes it both important and hilarious.

Beautiful Something 
dir Joseph Graham; with Brian Sheppard, Zack Ryan 15/US ***. 
Strikingly introspective and honest, this multi-strand drama is set amongst gay artists from various strata of society. Writer-director Joseph Graham invests the film with a poetic sensibility that taps in to deep feelings that will resonate with anyone in the audience. Although the structure feels artificial, the emotions are honest.

Theo and Hugo [Theo et Hugo Dans le Meme Bateau] 
dir Olivier Ducastel, Jacques Martineau; with Geoffrey Couet, Francois Nambot 16/Fr ****. 
With striking honesty, this lovely Before Sunrise-style romance is bold and unflinching in the way it approaches the drama around the moment when two young men meet. As the events unfold in real time in the early morning, filmmakers Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau and actors Geoffrey Couet and Francois Nambot take a refreshingly realistic approach to some very big issues.

Women He's Undressed 
dir Gillian Armstrong; with Darren Gilshenan, Jane Fonda 15/Aus **.
This rather indulgent hybrid biopic/documentary is tagged as the story of someone "nobody has ever heard of". But triple Oscar winner Orry-Kelly is one of the greatest costume designers of all time. With some 300 films to his credit, he certainly made Hollywood's greatest actresses look fabulous. Although his personal life remains something of a mystery.

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