Saturday, 31 March 2018

Flare 6: Face your future

The British Film Institute's 32nd Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival holds its closing night gala tonight, with the premiere of Steve McLean's Postcards From London, featuring rising star Harris Dickinson. I spend a day on the set of the film about a year and a half ago, so it's great to finally see it on the big screen. And the party at BFI Southbank after the screening should be great fun. Then tomorrow there's Second Chance Sunday, when audiences can catch up with the best of the festival all day long for a reduced price (I think that, in my 20 years covering this festival, this is only the second time the final day has fallen on Easter). Here are some final film highlights, and I'll have one more report about short films and my best of the fest...

Postcards From London
dir-scr Steve McLean; with Harris Dickinson, Jonah Hauer-King 18/UK ****
A highly stylised exploration of the nature of art, this colourful British film is set out as an odyssey into a fantastical version of Soho, which has a history of remaining just outside the boundaries of polite civilisation. Boasting another riveting performance from Harris Dickinson, the film may divide audiences with its heightened approach and controversial plot. But it's worth hanging on for the ride, because the film has a lot to say.

Good Manners 
dir-scr Marco Dutra, Juliana Rojas; with Isabel Zuaa, Marjorie Estiano 17/Br ****
An extraordinary fairy tale that mixes comedy, horror and personal drama, this Brazilian film so resolutely challenges expectations that it's almost impossible to describe the plot without spoiling it. Lushly shot and acted with deep emotion, this film provokes the audience as much as it entertains, taking us on an outrageous journey that's both fantastical and properly grounded. It leaves us shaken and oddly satisfied.

Hard Paint
dir-scr Filipe Matzembacher, Marcio Reolon; with Shico Menegat, Bruno Fernandes 18/Br ****
There's a raw sensitivity to this Brazilian drama that digs deeply under the surface, pulling the audience into the internal journey of a painfully shy young man at a key moment in his life. While some sequences are painful to watch, the film is warm, humane and very sexy. It's shot in a darkly colourful visual style that continually reveals new details. And the central performance from newcomer Shico Menegat is mesmerising.

dir Robin Berghaus; with Will Lautzenheiser, Angel Gonzalez 17/US ****
This sharply observed documentary tells two distinct stories, initially chronicling how a young man turned to stand-up comedy to put his life-altering disability into perspective. And then it shifts into an often startling look at the process of organ transplants, as he goes through a relatively new procedure that would give him a new set of arms. The warm humour and honesty of everyone on-screen makes the film both engaging and vital.

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