Friday, 24 March 2017

31st Flare: Dance the night away

The British Film Institute's 31st Flare heads into its final weekend with a continual stream of receptions, parties, club nights and of course film screenings and events. It's been great to hang out with all of these filmmakers, actors and festival people, but all of these late-night activities aren't the most helpful for a critic who needs to be at a 10am screening each morning! At least the festival only runs for 10 days. And we'll miss it badly when it's gone. Here are more highlights (that's Lucas Andrade and Kelner Macedo, above)...

Body Electric
dir Marcelo Caetano; with Kelner Macedo, Lucas Andrade 17/Br ****
A loose slice of life movie, this Brazilian drama simply follows its young protagonist through a series of everyday situations and interactions. It's a striking representation of a rather normal gay man's life, as he enjoys his budding career, hangs out with friends, indulges in alcohol and sex, and doesn't worry about tomorrow. So without preaching at all, the film has a lot to say.

dir Nathan Adloff; with Tim Boardman, Molly Shannon 16/US ****
Based on a true story, this charming comedy-drama set in small-town America uses a collection of cleverly written and played characters to explore why it's so important so break out of the box sometimes. It's smart and warm, which makes it both funny and engaging, and filmmaker Nathan Adloff proves that he's also not afraid to generate some honest, dark resonance as well.

Handsome Devil
dir-scr John Butler; with Fionn O'Shea, Nicholas Galitzine 16/Ire ****
From Ireland, this breezy drama tackles some earthy issues as it tells an engaging story about inclusion and boarding school bullying. It's a sharply written film, with bold central characters and some surprisingly strong emotional moments along the way. Along with several pointed comments about the tyranny of sports-obsessed culture, the film carries an important message about finding the courage to be yourself, whatever the cost.

The Ornithologist
dir-scr Joao Pedro Rodrigues; with Paul Hamy, Xelo Cagiao 16/Por **.
This experimental film from Portugal starts promisingly, as it follows a bird-watcher on a trip into a spectacular wilderness. It's an intriguingly internalised odyssey, beautifully shot and played, with tantalising clues about a variety of issues. But as it continues, writer-director Joao Pedro Rodrigues drifts into pretentious metaphorical nuttiness that overwhelms any sense of narrative drama and loses the audience deep in the forest... FULL REVIEW >

Two Soft Things, Two Hard Things 
dir-scr Mark Kenneth Woods, Michael Yerxa; with Jack Anawak, Alethea Arnaquq-Baril 16/Can ***
There's nothing particularly inventive or flashy about this simple little documentary, but the situation it explores is utterly riveting. Centred in an isolated community near the top of the world, the issues the film explores are relevant all over the world, with some big implications for nations still struggling with their response to sexuality in society. And the people who speak to the camera are articulate and compelling.

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