Friday 20 March 2015

Flare 1: Start with a question

The British Film Institute's 29th Flare: London LGBT Film Festival kicked off at BFI Southbank on Thursday night with an intriguingly controversial opening film: I Am Michael, the true story of a gay activist who converted to Christianity and became an outspoken critic of homosexuality. The festival started as it means to go on, grappling with issues in an intelligent, balanced way that will force people to take sides. It should be a fun one. Here are some highlights from the first two days...

I Am Michael
dir Justin Kelly; with James Franco, Zachary Quinto 15/US ****
With remarkable restraint, director Kelly and his cowriter Miller tell a provocative true story without taking sides. Written and directed with an artistic flair that cuts beneath the surface, this is a story that raises questions without overtly answering them. It's also the kind of movie that will divide audiences and generate hopefully positive dialog.

Futuro Beach
dir Karim Ainouz; with Wagner Moura, Clemens Schick 14/Br ****
Intense and foreboding, and yet deeply human and emotional, this offbeat Brazilian drama explores the lives of three young men who are unsure about where they are headed. Shot and edited for a maximum visceral kick, the movie resists standard filmmaking structures for something much looser, forcing the audience to get involved in a story that remains intriguingly elusive... FULL REVIEW >

The Falling
dir-scr Carol Morley; with Maisie Williams, Maxine Peake 14/UK ****
There's a fiercely original sensibility to this film, which boldly explores female puberty through a series of rather outrageous events. By combining life and death with sexuality, writer-director Morley is definitely courting controversy, and some of the plot points feel like a step too far. But it's so strikingly intimate and fiercely artistic that it can't be ignored.

dir Martin Farina; with Tomas Farina, Facundo Talin 14/Arg ***.
This beautifully shot and edited voyeuristic documentary explores the life of professional footballers in Argentina, revealing things fans never get to see. While following his brother's team, filmmaker Farina seeks to capture the truth: work, fun and everything in between. And the film raises intriguing questions about whether that's even possible, since everyone edits themselves when a camera is around.

Dior and I
dir Frederic Tcheng; with Raf Simons, Pieter Mulier 14/Fr ****
Much more than a documentary about a fashion house, this film finds real resonance in its central characters, people who bring an open passion, artistry and depth of feeling to their everyday work. So watching them get ready for a pivotal show becomes utterly riveting. And by the time we reach the big event, the emotional catharsis is contagious.


Appropriate Behaviour
dir-scr Desiree Akhavan; with Desiree Akhavan, Rebecca Henderson 14/UK ****
Actor-filmmaker Desiree Akhavan is clearly exorcising personal demons with this lively comedy, which echoes the style of Girls by presenting the central character as a likably flawed real person doing her best to get through a messy life. (Intriguingly, Akhavan appears in the next series of Girls.) It's a very funny movie, with a remarkably astute script and some surprising textures along the way... FULL REVIEW >

dir Matthew Warchus; with Ben Schnetzer, George MacKay14/UK *****
Based on a seriously rousing true story, this British feel-good comedy-drama is energetically written and directed, and it's sharply played to get under the skin of a variety of characters. Even though the events took place 30 years ago, they have a present-day resonance that makes this one of the most important films of this year... FULL REVIEW >

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