Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Flare 4: Walk on the wild side

The British Film Institute's 32nd Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival continues on the Southbank, and my main tasks over the past few days has been to watch films and interview filmmakers and actors. So I missed the special screening of Maurice, which reunited Hugh Grant and James Wilby on-stage. There are still a few parties to go, so I'm looking forward to seeing friends and getting to know some more of the guests who are in town. Here are some highlights...

The Happy Prince
dir-scr Rupert Everett; with Rupert Everett, Colin Firth 18/UK ****
With lush, deep-coloured production design, this film traces the last three troubled years in Oscar Wilde's life. It's a swirlingly artful approach, shifting around in time to paint a vivid, emotionally charged portrait of a shattered man trying to stoke the embers of his once-grand life. And he's beautifully played by Rupert Everett, who also makes a notable debut as a writer-director.

dir Elizabeth Rohrbaugh, Daniel Powell; with Lena Hall, Christine Lahti 17/US ***.
Skilfully shot and acted, this warm drama is grounded in an earthy sense of authenticity as it follows a young woman trying to rebuild what's left of her dreams. Even though the plot gives in to structural demands, filmmakers Elizabeth Rohrbaugh and Daniel Powell tell the story in an engaging way, quietly bringing out important themes without pushing them...

dir Marcel Gisler; with Max Hubacher, Aaron Altaras18/Swi ***.
Gently observant, this Swiss drama uses a gripping, personal story to confront a much bigger issue: the prejudice against homosexuality in football. Thankfully, director-cowriter keeps the approach personal, creating a character-based romance that's genuinely involving even when the politics threaten to take over. So although it feels rather overlong, it's packed with powerful moments.

dir Stevie Cruz-Martin; with Daniel Monks, Caroline Brazier 17/Aus ***.
There's an earthy authenticity to this very slightly fantastical Australian drama that catches the attention right from the start. Shot in an urgent, realist style, it never seems like the actors are performing, and some scenes are so raw that audience members feel almost invasive watching them. As it continues, the story becomes formulaic, but the characters remain solidly grounded.

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C R I T I C A L    W E E K

Outside of Flare, I've seen two very nice surprises, genre films that more than live up to expectations, namely the properly hilarious comedy Blockers and the genuinely terrifying A Quiet Place. There was also the somewhat dense financial scandal doc The Outsider, and a fabulous screening of GW Pabst's 1929 silent classic Pandora's Box, starring the incandescent Louise Brooks.

And the only non-festival screening in the diary for next week is the rescheduled one for The Hurricane Heist. But there are a few things I need to catch up with.

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