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Glasgow Film Festival 2020...

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...by David Anderson Cutler

FrightFest-2020Glasgow Film Festival: Wednesday, 26 February 2020 until Sunday, 08 March 2020

FrightFest Glasgow: Thursday, 05 March 2020 until Saturday, 07 March 2020


It's that time of the year...when we brace ourselves and head North...to the warmth of the Glasgow Film Festival. As per usual, there is a staggering array of films with LGBT themes, characters and issues. Some will surprise, some will shock, some will make you howl with laughter...and, some will make you weep like there's no tomorrow.

So...we've lined up 40+ films to watch over the next 12 days...when it's this cold outside, there's no better place than to be all warm and comfy inside a cinema, glued to the screen! Let the show begin...


26 February / Day 1...

Proxima@GFF20Glasgow Film Festival 2020Proxima
by Alice Winocour

Juggling parenthood, an impending divorce and a career...not just any old career...but, that of an astronaut...it's a tough job with tough decisions...and they all centre around her daughter. The big question is: Will she or won't she go...to the final frontier...and, perhaps, beyond to Mars!?!

This is a journey of [often raw] emotion rather than an intergalactic jaunt. It will disappoint those expecting to see the first [human] foot on Mars...but, it will resonate with women who have had to choose between career and child[ren]. The thing that makes this film tick is...this not about money and success. This is about living life and mortal risk. Some will argue that she is being selfish rather than selfless...towards her child. Others will applaud her achievement and bravery. But...what is achievement and bravery in the mind of a child? She just wants her mum...and, her mum just wants to leave the planet!

Two-thirds of the film is a fascinating exploration into a departing mother's psyche...alas, in the final third, it succumbs to unnecessary sentimentality that rattles at the core of plausibility. Quarantine does not have a revolving door!

Still...Eva Green delivers a cut-throat performance, slicing down a sexist Matt Dillon. She has that steely determination, an obvious requirement to make it to the final frontier...all that was missing was a razor sharp conclusion...one that highlights the sacrifices some people make to get where they want to be. Proxima swerves towards the having and the eating of the cake...with only a hint of ruthlessness...that ruthlessness should have been a great big in-your-face cherry on top!


27 February / Day 2...

Invisible LifeInvisible Life
by Karim Aïnouz

Sometimes...when you walk into a cinema, pick a film at random...you are transposed into other lives, other stories...and, it can be magical. Invisible Life is magical...and, heart-warming...and, heart-breaking. This is story-telling at its absolute finest.

Two sisters separated...by a mistake. A mistake that any young woman can fall prey to...rose-tinted love! When that tint starts to wear off...reality hits. It's the 1950s, Brazil...with an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy, Guida returns [from Greece], hoping [needing] to be welcomed back into the family sanctuary...but, no. Because of her father's shame, she is thrown to the wind and her memory dissolved. Only her sister keeps her memory alive...and she has no idea that she returned...or, even, where she is.

What follows is an imagined, two--way communication between the sisters...one with words, the other with music. Both are desperate, both are beautiful. Karim Aïnouz captures that proximity of being so-near-but-so-faraway with skin-tingling precision...at one point, you can actually hear the audience holding their breaths...waiting to release those collective gasps...with a 'finally' - this is the power of a director who knows how and when to manipulate an audience. It is truly thrilling...even down to Eurídice's husband, is he a good man or a bad man? Their wedding night will have you on the edge of your seat...it's an incredible balance between farce, fear and the feral!

This is the good, the bad, the ugly...and, the beauty of humanity...all rolled into 139 deeply immersive minutes. It's a joy. It's a heartbreak. It's story-telling the way it ought be. And...the piano playing is out of this world.

VivariumGlasgow Film Festival 2020 - Vivarium PremiereVivarium
by Lorcan Finnegan

Mind-blowing...and, a little perplexing...because, Vivarium gets to its destination [rather early on] and never leaves...oooh there has got to be some kind of deep and meaningful [totally hidden] message...and all will be revealed in the final scene...surely?

After a promising start and a scene-stealing performance by Jonathan Aris...it all becomes a little repetitive. They are given a baby, who they are supposed to raise...to be released! Well, the baby grows at an alarming rate, screams the house down when he doesn't get what he wants, pretends to be a dog...and, remains nameless and unloved.

Jesse Eisenberg smokes and digs a hole. Imogen Poots moans and utters "I am not your mother" [often]...and, the kid keeps on growing. How will it end?

The moral of the story...absolutely no idea...other than, if you are ever given a baby to raise...let all those paternal and maternal instincts kick in [without reserve]...name it, love it, protect it, dote on it. With this self-absorbed couple, not one of those human instincts did kick in...they deserved everything they got. Oooh...was that the moral of the story?!?

You will either love it or loathe it.

RialtoRialto
by Peter Mackie Burns

A no-frills [or thrills], premature mid-life crisis...played out with neither respite nor humour...nor, [a much-needed] backstory. Other than a hint of that old cliché...distant, domineering father and a repressed, overly protective mother...resulting in...you can guess the rest.

Colm is 46, in a sexless marriage [perhaps, not loveless], with a daughter, an absolutely horrible 19 year old son, a recently deceased [and despised] father, a needy mother, looming [obligatory] redundancy, a few suicidal tendencies and a drink problem. Happy days! Wait...there's more, he's also [strangely] besotted with a gay4pay [yawn] 19 year old rentboy. Their [sexual] encounters and his infatuation form the crux of the story. It really is a case of...what you see is what you get. There is no [much-needed] scratching below the surface. Is this [just] his mad half hour? Or, has he done this before? Or, will he do it again? Or, will he simply regress back into his sexless marriage?

Story-telling is reliant on why things happen, why people do the things they do...Rialto doesn't explain the whys! And when Colm says the [horrendous] things he says to his [horrible] son...well, there's no coming back from that intractable and unretractable place! And that is exactly where the film should have started...everything before, the run-up, could have taken 15 minutes to tell...followed by this knockout punch and the subsequent fallout and the decimation of a family. It wouldn't be pretty...but, there's nothing pretty about this Rialto...it's just too damn pragmatic...rather than being an emotional rollercoaster. Think about it...Colm cheats on his wife with a prostitute [aka survival sex worker]...a boy the same age as his son! This is an emotional minefield littered with IEDs. Yet, the only explosion comes from him! Question: Could you feel any compassion for a man like this? Let's face it...Colm is a working class man in absolute turmoil...he is neither a disgraced politician nor a much-loved celebrity! Was that a bit below-the-belt? The similarities are too striking not to be mentioned!

Peter Mackie Burns has delivered Mark O'Halloran's [rather unadventurous] script as given...adequately, without any bells or whistles. Perhaps, a few bells and whistles would have been welcomed additions...because, this - indeed - is dour, dour stuff.

The True History Of The Kelly Gang

Glasgow Film Festival 2020 - The True History of the Kelly GangTrue History of the Kelly Gang
by Justin Kurzel

Take an historical figure...who has [inexplicably] become an Australian folk hero...turn him and his story upside down...and, shake them all about. Add a twist of fiction to the fact...what do you get? A true history...the revisionists will be either squealing or applauding...depending on their respective raisons d'être - fictionalising fact...or, factualising fiction. No matter, this 'true' history is the visual equivalent of a page-turner.

George MacKay's mulleted 'Ned' is [quite startlingly] all muscle and sinew..with - not only - an eye for the lassies...but, for the laddies too! He leads a motley crew of dress-wearing renegades into all sorts of criminal antics...oh you just can hear the 'Ned Kelly' purists howling [at the screen] in abject horror! Let them howl!

There are villains aplenty...Nicholas Hoult's Constable Fitzpartick is a brothel-appreciating, naked revelation! Essie Davis gives Ned's mother more spit and spite than a venom spouting snake. And, Charlie Hunnam gets his kit off too! And then, there's Ned...beardless and slightly psychotic, tender at times and always determined...Mr MacKay gives him everything...it really is an eye-popping performance.

This is unapologetic grand guignol...a mad, bad and thoroughly entertaining ode to the now mythical Ned Kelly. Take it for what it is and leave your 'history' on the doormat. Absolutely loved it.


28 February / Day 3...

Jesus Shows You The Way To The Highway

Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway
by Miguel Llansó

Sometimes...words are simply not enough! But, hey, who needs words when there is complete and utter madness!

Yes...for this imaginatively titled little film is - quite possibly, without a word of a lie - the goofiest film ever made. It's not for everyone...but, what film is? It really is a case of whether you can enjoy watching actors [with varying degrees of talent] cavort and frolic all over the screen...or, for some, this amount of mayhem is just a little too much to stomach.

There is very little rhyme of reason to JSYtWttH, most of it looks as if it was made up on the spot...yet, there is a semblance of a story - making sense of it is a different kettle of fish. But, hey, not everything needs to make sense. Miguel Llansó has thrown everything - including the kitchen sink, drainer and plug - at this. The cornucopia of characters include a bisexual Batfro...in a cheap, ill-fitting Batman costume with the copyright infringed logo scrubbed out [hysterical].  There are pizzas and Stalin, a drag queen and Robert Redford, kung fu fighters and many, many more.

This is DIY film-making at its very best [or worst]...stitched together from crowdfunding and good will. It truly is a global film with a multitude of nationalities and nations taking part...and, for that fact alone, it should be applauded.

They must have had a ball making it...and, for a few enlightened souls, it is an absolute hoot to watch.

 Roys WorldRoy's World: Barry Gifford's Chicago
 by Rob Christopher

Cool sweet jazz...accompanies wave upon wave of nostalgia.

Just like everyone else, Barry Gifford has a story...but, unlike everyone else, he decided to share his story - via his fictional creation, Roy - with the rest of the world. And now, Rob Christopher attempts to untangle the invisible links between author and character. It's an interesting idea...however, Mr Gifford is alive and well...and, still writing. Why not just ask the man outright...what is real and what's not? That would certainly defeat the point of this film...so, what is the point?

Perhaps, there isn't one. Perhaps, it doesn't need one. 

The beauty of reading is how everyone imagines the same words differently. Many are either delighted or horrified when they see their favorite book brought to cinematic life. The main thrust of criticism is...I would have done it this way...or, I would have done it that way - that's not criticism, it's [just] different imaginations [clashing]. This is Rob Christopher's imagination...he gives Roy's words a voice [he hears], Roy's world a picture [he sees]...it really is a thoughtful and admirable piece of work.

For aficionados of Barry Clifford, for a lost Chicago...and, all of a certain age...this will - most definitely - please.

Simple Women

Glasgow Film Festival 2020: Simple WomenSimple Women
by Chiara Malta

Who said: You should never meet your heroes? Well...if experience is anything to go by, they certainly banged that nail squarely on its head! As does Chiara Malta.

Now...let's address the [beguiling] 'celebrity hall pass' phenomenon [y'know when you are allowed to have sex with a celebrity without any consequences whatsoever]...by way of mere [and simple] extrapolation...how many male football fans would [if they could] have sex with their male footballing heroes? Hall pass! Hall pass! I am not gay! T'is - indeed - an intriguing phenomenon.

Simple Women approaches it...but, doesn't quite nail it down. So...any evidence of a lesbian subtext becomes a little blurry...although it is there, in the background. Instead...Chiara Malta focuses on the dissolution of hero worship...Federica is making a film with her childhood hero, [the real] Elina Löwensohn - who turns out to be a complete pain in the proverbial! Let's hope she was acting...because, the passive aggression is startling.

Everything starts to blur...between truth and fact, what is real and what is not, who is who...it's an intriguing meltdown to witness. It is a fascinating premise to ponder - especially with Elina playing an Elina. A truly ambitious feature debut...that, perhaps, needed the same amount of thought that went into the initial idea...for the rather sudden and unexpected ending.

Glasgow Film Festival 2020

Martin Eden
by Pietro Marcello

Nothing is quite as it seems in Pietro Marcello's anachronistic re-telling of Jack London's semi-autobiographical tale.

Set in Naples and delivered with the same kind of flare and style...that the Italian neorealists brought to the screen way back in the 1940s, Martin Eden is tribute and testament to the Italian film industry, both past and present. The temptation to wax lyrical about the cinematic language used to convey the politics and philosophy of the story has been a little too over-powering for quite a few reviewers...does anyone really want an overly verbose analysis? No, not really. All that anyone really wants to know is...is it any good? Yes, it absolutely is.

Luca Marinelli [as Martin Eden] is all brawn and sensitivity, he wears many shoes and dons many a hat as he makes his way down the path to [his] enlightenment. It really is an extraordinary performance about a man who achieves everything he set out to achieve...namely, respect.

This is Jack London's 'American Dream' put into a different context...with the same result. It's no great secret, knowledge is power...and, we all know what power can do when placed in the wrong hands. Pietro Marcello succeeds where many reviewers failed, he has brought Martin Eden to life without burdening him with many of Jack London's gnawing hypocrisies.

Glasgow Film Festival 2020

Glasgow Film Festival 2020 - Director of Our LadiesOur Ladies
by Michael Caton-Jones

Such good Catholic girls...Pope Francis will absolutely love this! Aye right!

This is teenage sexuality...with nothing held back. These girls know exactly what [and who] they want and nothing, not even a strict religious education/upbringing, will impede their ferocious desire to drop their knickers whenever they want! Sex is - strictly - on their terms...and, although their dialogue is like an exercise in aural pornography, ranging from the crude to the crudest, it's all very refreshing...especially in these #metoo times...well, these ladies will not be taken advantage of...and, those who try, Hell mend them! Oh, and it has to be said...it is bloody funny...at times. Older generations - most certainly - will recoil at some of the frankness.

Glasgow Film Festival 2020: Our LadiesIs is just played for laughs...or, is there a more serious intent? As a statement on the redundancy of catholic teachings - namely, all sexual acts outside of marriage are intrinsically evil - Our Ladies pulls no punches whatsoever, screaming: We're not evil, we're just horny. This is an outright and welcome assault on an institution that not only doesn't know its arse from its elbow...but, has buried its pompous, pious head in the sand for far too long. Celibate men, supposedly virginal, dictating doctrine to women...everyone. Basically, unsubtly, Our Ladies...tell them where to stick it.

And, just to turn that screw, even tighter, something to rustle their cassocks...there's a bit of bisexuality...and, lesbianism! And, this is where the films really shines...a girl at odds with what's she's been taught and told, taking the boldest of steps...to enter the [at first] most daunting of safe spaces...a gay bar. Remember your first time?

This is a film about femininity, friendship and feeling. You will laugh. You will cringe...most definitely, you will cry. Hey, there are no miracles...life is yours, grab it, enjoy it, love it, be it ...and, don't let any man say otherwise.


29 February / Day 4...

Glasgow Film Festival 2020Glasgow Film Festival 2020, Director of GutterbeeGutterbee
by Ulrich Thomsen

Who would imagine that the humble [and delicious] sausage had so much history!?! Well, Urich Thomsen certainly knows so...and, thankfully, he decided to share his acquired knowledge with the rest of us.

It's always a pleasure to sit down and have a wee chat with the director of a film you admire...Gutterbee is a beautifully-shot, often bizarre, totally madcap, [sharp] poke-in-the-ribs at everything we should [all] fight, fear and despise: Racism, homophobia, evangelism, cultural myopia, ethnic cleansing...the list goes on.

Now this all sounds like it's going to be a bit of an arduous trek [for a comedy]. It's not. What makes it even funnier [and more terrifying] than it is...is the fact that Mr Thomsen readily admits that he neither wrote [nor invented] the craziness...it was all there [for the entire world to see] on the internet. He just pieced it together, placed it in America and wrapped a story around it. And...what a story it is...from the opening monologue [full of eyebrow-raising ambiguity] to the closing [sensational] line...and, in between...it's not just sausages, lederhosen and hate...but, love. There is the love that dare not speak its name and a love that is wrought out of wood...oh, and, there's a racist cock too!

It's mad. It's scathing. It's scorching and searing...and then...just when you least expect it, delivers an emotional suckerpunch that will leave you...numb. Absolutely. It's an image that will linger.

Most certainly, Gutterbee will offend many, not only [non-liberal] Americans, but liberal ones too...perhaps, even a few Bavarians. But...it's the people who can't laugh at themselves, who take themselves far too seriously, who ram their outlandish and out-dated beliefs into the faces of other people...these are the people who deserve to be offended. Mr Thomsen has simply shown how ridiculous and dangerous these people are...and, he has done so with unbridled artistry, a wicked sense-of-humour...and, an underlying hint of menace.

Gutterbee should have a place in LGBT film festivals...it is a film that will both challenge and entertain. And, as the director said himself...homophobia has to be avenged. Well, his idea of revenge is not only jaw-dropping...but, utterly eye-watering. His message is loud and clear: Don't get on the wrong-side of Mr Thomsen...he might make a film about you!

Sizzling stuff.

Glasgow Film Festival 2020The Death of Dick Long
by Daniel Scheinert
 

From the man who brought us the bamboozling Swiss Army Man...we expected the unexpected! And, the unexpected was duly served.

Where to start with this one...without giving anything away. It's actually impossible. Three [redneck] friends have a night of drug and drink fueled debauchery...one dies. We're not quite sure the cause of his death...but, the other two dump his body outside a hospital and use the next 50 or so minutes to cover his death up...throw in a couple of bumbling, bungling policewomen...and yes, it does sound all rather Fargo-esque. Then, bang, crash, wallop...the cause of death is revealed...and, the film - quite literally - collapses into a quagmire of distaste.

As you would imagine, with a name like Dick Long...there are many 'dick' jokes...but, please, do not be misled into thinking that this is a comedy - although [strangely] billed as one! This is dark. This really does enter into the realm of the unimaginable...but, if you can get your head around this...this actually happened, it really is one of those WTF revelations!

Daniel Scheinert manages to do the nigh on impossible...helped by an incredible soundtrack, especially using The Avett Brothers' The Weight of Lies - he generates an uncomfortable [and self-questioning] emotion, compassion even. It really is an absolute mindf**k of a film.

Glasgow Film Festival 2020Glasgow Film Festival 2020Love Sarah
by Eliza Schroeder

An innocuous little ditty...with lots and lots of cakes.

After a very powerful start, Love Sarah doesn't really do anything. It kind of ambles along, hinting that there is a bigger story...lurking just around the corner...sadly, it turns out to be a complete dead-end. Talk about anti-climactic!

It's hard to pigeon-hole this film: Is it a rom-com? There is a bit of 'rom'...but, very little in the way of 'com' - Celia Imrie is a little under-used and given very little to work with...she's a comedic gem, use her and her strengths! There are a couple of eccentrics, de rigueur in Notting Hill...but, no-one who rocks the boat...and, this boat needed a bit of rocking.

It's a sweet, safe little film that really will appeal to grannies everywhere. 

Glasgow Film Festival 2020Escape from Pretoria
by Francis Annan

Y'know...when a story is this good, it doesn't need directorial bells and whistles. Francis Annan tells it how it is...with an incredible amount of heart-pumping tension...truly, an admirable achievement for this sophomore director.

Who would have thought that a piece of wood [coupled with an exceptional mind] could be the answer to all your prayers!?! This is not one of those quick, jump-over-the-wall sort of escapes. This was a methodical, meticulous, laborious and monotonous sort of escape...with a vital added ingredient, ingenuity. Tim Jenkin [played by Daniel Radcliffe] carved a series of keys out of wood...that took him to the front door of the prison...it's the stuff of which folk heroes are made from...and, Tim Jenkin is a South African folk hero...he stood proudly and resolutely against apartheid...and  received a 12 year sentence for his stance. 

This is exactly why cinema is necessary...to get these stories out there. Mr Annan, now you have told this story...how about part 2: Their escape from South Africa?


1 March / Day 5...

Glasgow Film Festival 2020The Capote Tapes
by Ebs Burnough

Mr Capote in all of his disingenuous glory.

This here film certainly does him little in the way of favours...but, it may fuel fresh interest in this little man of big words. It's part character assassination, part hidden/lost manuscript mystery...definitely entertaining and somewhat controversial...if some of the claims are to be believed!

From the peak of his fame to the hard-drinking, pill-popping, disco-dancing pitiable diva he became...Truman took no prisoners, regarded [rather cruelly] as a figure of/for fun, had and lost many a noteworthy friend...all in the name the literature that made and [eventually] slayed him. Pieced together from recently found audio tapes, this is a montage of archival footage with 'fresh' voices and opinions...not quite the definitive portrait...and, definitely not a tabloid kiss-and-tell...Ebs Burnough's curation displays a balance of the good and bad...but, undeniably, the unwavering affection he has for his subject is what makes this film tick so splendidly.

Glasgow Film Festival 2020The Painted Bird
by Václav
Marhoul

The absolute depths to where humanity can sink. This is unmitigated horror.

Václav Marhoul shows, he doesn't tell. Dialogue is kept to the minimum...simply because, words are not enough. The cruelty is explicit. This amount of cruelty is unbearable. You cannot 'enjoy' this film, it would be paradoxical to say so...but, the visual beauty is staggering. And...without a shadow of doubt, this is a master-at-work, producing a masterwork that took years to film.

A boy's journey through [what would seem 1 shy of Dante's 9 circles of] Hell, divided into 8 chapters, each as traumatic as the one before and the one after. And...not one person asks this boy's name throughout the 169 minute runtime...not even the priest. The scale of abuse this boy receives is indescribable...physical, racial, psychological and sexual [heterosexual as well as homosexual]. Julian Sands' character buys the boy...for work and for 'play', mercifully, this abuse is off-screen...but, the boy's derelict face...says it all.

The Painted Bird is a nothing but a scorching and damning indictment on the world as it is today...with modern-day slavery, ecclesiastical paedophilia, this rise of nationalism and the far right, fundamentalist terror, mass migration and fear...it's all in this film and it's all too prevalent now. Really, the question is...what has history taught us? Absolutely nothing.

Once seen...never forgotten. 

Glasgow Film Festival 2020Invisible
by Ignas Jonynas

Abject misery...the premise alone raises hackles. A failed, middle-aged dancer pretends to be blind...in order to succeed...in a dance competition. Yuck! Throw in a recently released murderer with an axe to grind...and the stage is set for an unpleasant, yet intriguing, tale of love, ambition and revenge. 

Ignas Jonynas doesn't take his audience for granted. It's a bit of a guessing game...you know that these two men are going to come together, it's just a question of how-and-when. It feels like an eternity...but, it is a revelation...whether it's worth the wait depends on your propensity to sit through all the unpleasantness and that includes the dancing! This is angry choreography...obviously reflecting the frustration that this failed dancers feels...let us just say, it is - most definitely - an acquired taste...as is the film. But...it does have an ending that is the equivalent to an earth-shattering mic drop! It will leave you speechless.

Glasgow Film Festival 2020The Twentieth Century
by Matthew Rankin

A wild imagination...matched with revisionist history...you are either going to love it...or, hate it! Oooh...to Hell with the whole revisionist thing...this is pure and unadulterated fiction...stuffed with a smidgen of fact. And...what a tasty and original little morsel it turned out to be!

This is Matthew Rankin's first feature...he certainly pulled out all the stops...and, unashamedly, plasters his influences and influencers all over the place. From Monty Python to Guy Maddin, with a nod to Baby Jane, homage to Fritz Lang, even John Waters gets a look in, The Twentieth Century is a cinematic smörgåsbord that will tickle the cheeks and tweak the buns of the open-minded...especially shoe fetishists! Those not so open-minded will probably recoil in abject horror, screaming...how dare he besmirch our [if you are Canadian] most revered Prime Minister...a shoe sniffer indeed! Whether William Lyon Mackenzie King was a shoe-sniffer or not, he did have a few inappropriate [for his office] idiosyncrasies...Mr Rankin has merely amplified these idiosyncrasies above and beyond the facts...and, this is cinematic chutzpah...love it, loathe it...one thing is for sure...you can't ignore it! 

Glasgow Film Festival 2020Glasgow Film Festival 2020, Director of One Taxi RideOne Taxi Ride
by C.K. Mak

This is intense...maybe, too intense. This is [his] catharsis...maybe, too much so...for a paying audience.

The big question is: Why would you want to bare your soul on camera? Sometimes...no, scrub that...most of the time our private lives should remain private. However...what this film does show is...if you are a victim of sexual assault [or any form of assault or abuse], report it to the police, tell family and friends, get professional help. Erick did none of these things and the trauma has slowly eaten away at him...causing relationships to fail and creating [unnecessary] strains in [and on] his family.

An unignorable controversy exists [within the film and the situation]. There is a time and a place for everything...especially when it involves disturbing revelations about sexual violence...when a young child is present...is a clear indicator that this is neither the time nor the place to let it all out. Sorry...but it had to be said.

The last 10 minutes is absolute [raw] emotion and shows the shocking range and scale of these crimes. Catharsis it may be...but, it has obviously helped Erick and - hopefully - will help many, many others...to find their voices and [eventually] heal.

It really is a difficult film to watch...but, it does a deliver a vitally important message, most loud and most clear...if this is happening or has happened to you: Tell someone!     


2 March / Day 6...
Moffie

Moffie
by Oliver Hermanus

When a filmmaker hits the nail on the head, capturing an experience, a memory, something that will resonate deep within...that is a filmmaker who demands and deserves attention.

This goes out to all the 600,000+ boys and men who were conscripted during the South African Border War which lasted for 23 years, 6 months, 3 weeks and 2 days.

This goes out to all the men who remember their first instances of same-sex attraction...Oliver Hermanus captures that moment with harrowing perfection and precision.

Way before the nude-infested internet, a naked man rarely [mostly never] appeared on screen. Swimming pool changing rooms were the place where young [gay] boys could - furtively - glimpse at a mature naked man. It was thrilling, dangerous, heart-thumping...and, breath-taking. Being 'caught' was unimaginable...because, we really did not know what we were really doing...but, we knew it was [somehow] wrong. It was an amalgamation between looking, wishing, hoping and desiring. It was curiosity and innocence all rolled into one...it's all here, in Moffie.

And...this goes out to all those boys and men who ended up in Ward 22. A 'hospital' where gay and conscientious objectors were 'treated' by Aubrey Levin...a man most foul.

Here's to the survivors of that war and of Ward 22...and, here's to the dead on both sides. It's time for your stories to be told...Christiaan Olwagen's [exceptional] Canary brought South Africa's contemporary history to a new audience. Oliver Hermanus continues the story...two very different films, different voices...both, mighty fine films of the same inexhaustible story.

Easily, one of the best films to come out of 2019.

And, finally...here's to all those who opposed Apartheid. Let your voices and stories continue to ring out!

BacurauBacurua
by Juliano Dornelles & Kleber Mendonça Filho

When you cheer at someone's head being blown off...you just know that these directors have hit the nail squarely on that head!

Take one tiny pueblo in the middle of nowhere, populate it with some 'savoury' characters...throw in a flying saucer, some mind-altering drugs and a few murderous guns...Bacurau is a place you wouldn't want to visit...but, will definitely want to experience...from afar, from the comfort of your living room!

From where it starts to where it ends up is akin to popping a pill [or two] downed with a bottle of Mezcal...this is definitely a trip into foreign and strange territories. The cruelty is unnerving, the corruption is soul-destroying and the twists and turns are a hallucinogenic rollercoaster return to normality.

As a statement on poverty, Bacurau is relentless. This is a community that is - quite literally - preyed upon...by absolutely everyone, in ways you couldn't imagine. Yes, it's political. No, it's not a head-spinning whine against capitalism. This is a thrilling, often hysterical, shot-gun approach to social commentary. This is what happens when everything goes barking mad and the underdogs [collectively] raise their hackles. Seriously...this is sensational film-making. 


3 March / Day 7...

Glasgow Film Festival 2020A White, White Day
by Hlynur Palmason

Here's a director who demands - perhaps - a little too much from his audience. Despite garnering a multitude of awards, A White, White Day suffers from being overly punctuated with the director's self-indulgence. A mean and efficient editor could have shaved, easily - at least - 20 minutes off the runtime, removing all the film-school twaddle...the result would have been a more compact and involving film.

The opening scene follows a car [for too long]...until it crashes. Then, for what seems like an absolute eternity, static shots [and horrible jump cuts] of a house/barn in all seasons, in all weather conditions...accompanied by - what sounded like - an out-of-tune, screeching violin. It was enough to consider a quick cinematic exit. But, hey, this film has won countless awards...give it time!

Time is something that Hlynur Palmason plays with, nothing is rushed. Because, presumably...grieving is a slow and painful process. And, that grief compounded with a newly discovered betrayal...it's is a powder-keg ready to explode. After a while, it does...with varying degrees of plausibility and leaves quite a few loose-ends...that never manage to find their much-needed conclusive knots. The ending is a challenge...perhaps, an unnecessary one.

Glasgow Film Festival 2020Gay Chorus Deep South
by David Charles

This is not going to go down well...this much-praised/much-loved/do-not-dare-criticise documentary is an affront. Tim Seelig makes his case early on...why is the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus singing religious music? To win the hearts and change the minds of those hardcore, those unturnable worms, the [un]Christian[-like] fundamentalists. What planet are you on!?! Planet catharsis, it would seem. For Mr Seelig is an expunged Baptist.

Good intentions are not always interpreted in the same way as the 'good intenders' intended them to be! Watching this film is a mixed bag of emotions...there's a strange arrogance to it all, accompanied by great big dollops of disillusionment...and, the [obvious] playing-to-the-camera is an absurdity we can all do without. One disgruntled Southern [gay] chap made no bones about his 'issues' with the Chorus coming [uninvited] to the South...his case is - most definitely - food for [considerable and considered] thought.

On the other hand, as many have said, this is up-lifting, heart-warming stuff. Praise be! But...dancing to 'their' tune did not warm the cockles of this old, cold, cynical heart.


4 March / Day 8...

Glasgow Film Festival 2020Les Misérables
by Ladj Ly

There's blame on both sides...but, Ladj Ly doesn't see it that way...the Victor Hugo quote at the end of the film, clearly places the blame on one side and one side only. Nonsense.

Society is infinitely complex...it's a mixture between the haves and the have-nots, between women and men, races, religions and ages. Everyone has to take some responsibility...or, the ugliness of the 'Nanny State' rears its gruesome face. Let's face it...nowadays, the police are more like social workers than a law-enforcing organisation.

Deprivation breeds contempt [for the law] and is a conduit for crime. This is where Les Misérables is set...in a no-go ghetto of Paris...little has changed since the time of Victor Hugo...sure the buildings have, the people have...but, the disparity and malcontent remains the same. The police [here] are the enemy...because, they enforce the rule of this land. Of course, there's corruption, because power corrupts...but, it's on both sides!

In truth, this part of the arrondissement is nothing more than an open prison...once you are in, it's practically impossible to escape. And, if it wasn't for that ridiculous quote at the end, Ladj Ly manages a fine balance of neutrality throughout...basically, the 'goods' and the 'bads' on both sides are put in the spotlight...with immigration [and all that goes with it] taking centre stage. This is containment with a semblance of [outside] control...the reality is, the residents have their own hierarchy, their own power structures and, to the outside world, it is a truly terrifying look at lawlessness.

Les Misérables is a remarkable, tense film...marred by an incredulous opinion. 

Glasgow Film Festival 2020Disco
by Jorunn Myklebust Syversen

Bible-bashing and disco...what an odd combination. An even 'odder' film.

Sadly, it just doesn't work. Too preachy...as in, way-over-the-top preachy. If it's not one religious nut babbling on about the bible, it's a group of christian rockers [indeed they do exist] delivering their godly message through an ear-offending selection of [Eurovision rejected] songs. This is cult mentality...the converted controlling the converted. Now...when we [the audience] are told that God's plan for the beautiful young Mirjam is...to be the greatest disco dancer there ever was...eyes start to roll. Equating skimpy outfits and licentious disco-dancing with God's plan is...[unintentionally] hilarious. Even funnier, when she buggers up a dance routine...she's thought to be possessed by a demon - presumably a disco-hating one! Sadly, though, Disco is a serious film...with too many contrivances.

Watching this is akin to offering yourself up for a radical religious conversion...with make-up, sequins and bizarre music...why, oh why, is it called disco?!? The music is not disco...and, the dancing is just plain awful. Seemingly, Norway takes these 'disco dancing' competitions very seriously indeed! Perhaps, they do elsewhere...who knows, who cares?!? Disco is a film that - probably - won't travel very far.

Glasgow Film Festival 2020Glasgow Film Festival 2020, premiere of James Vs His Future SelfJames Vs His Future Self
by Jeremy LaLonde

Good ole rom-com delivered with a scientific twist. It's deliciously awkward...with the added addition of unique [and identifiable] genitalia!

Clever...is the word. Delicacy, is the touch. This is film-making with a contagious enthusiasm. Shamelessly commercial...and, quite rightly, nominated for a few Canadian Screen Awards...screenplay, supporting role, song and score...all mightily well-deserved.

There is a little story behind this review...one that all filmmakers should take note of. When we cover a film festival, we prepare an A-list of the films we have to see [no matter what]...and, a B-list to fill in the gaps [there is alot of hanging around at festivals... and, Glasgow do - thankfully - have a few surprises up their sleeves, no exception in this year of 2020]. Remember...we do have that LGBT agenda to fill. Woefully, James [shame on us] was on neither of these lists. That is...until...via email, Jonas Chernick [screenwriter, star & producer] reached out and, quite literally, sold his film to us...now, that's what we call promoting...and, thank goodness, he did. Because...

James will entertain, shamelessly.

The writing is en pointe. Plot-holes appear and are filled-in, with due diligence...which is no mean feat...especially, with this kind of budget. Look...Hollywood [sci-fi] blockbusters have plot-holes galore...yet, their writers take their audience[s] for granted...because, they can...because, they have an A-list star...[sometimes] talking gibberish [to the gullible]...over production values that mask all the [obvious] faults.  James does not do that...James has a wonderful sincerity about it. Messieurs LaLonde & Chernick took time over their script, adding and subtracting along the way...and, after a wee chat with Jonas [Chernick] himself...revealed...nothing but enthusiasm...and...pause...

Glasgow Film Festival 2020Now, you may wonder...why are we enthusing so much about this film? Because...hey...it's not an overtly LGBT film...but, it does have a wee lesbian [and terribly sweet] story-line [tick that agenda box]...that is beautifully highlighted in one single [almost throwaway] line [added in post-production]!

Asked whether this was [just] a box-ticking exercise for LGBT inclusivity...he [Jonas] - simply - said: No...it was just natural. How refreshing is that!

James is the reason why we go to film festivals - no, not all films in festivals are [as many may think] inaccessible arthouse...some [films] surprise, some delight, many entertain...Glasgow Film Festival really does deliver on all those fronts...it really is a[n] unique wee festival.

Let us re-iterate: James will entertain, shamelessly...with the added bonus of...the [fantastic] Frances Conroy being given great lines...and, delivering them masterfully. Finally, thanks to Jonas...without his intervention, we may have never had the absolute pleasure...of/in [weird grammar/weird science] seeing his film. And...credit, when [and where] credit is due...Jonas, you do do 'awkward' to perfection.

Let us re-iterate [again]: James will entertain, shamelessly. 

Glasgow Film Festival 2020Oliver Sacks: His Own Life
by Ric Burns

Who knew the sacrifices Oliver Sacks made for his profession? This is a monumentally moving portrait of a polite, gentle giant.

This is his own obituary, these are his last months...Ric Burns was given an honor and has delivered a dignified film of a dignified man...who spent much of his life...misunderstanding and, being misunderstood. Dr Sacks died - aged 82 - on 30 August 2015, he knew he was dying...with his final wish being...to share his story. The question is: Is his story worth sharing?

His life has become [even] more remarkable with the generosity of his startling truth. Depression, obsession, addiction and celibacy...all featured prominently in his life. Yet...his propensity for empathy, to care, to understand the misunderstood...like, the man who mistook his wife for a hat...was unconditional and unwavering.

Ask yourself this question: Would you be prepared to give up love and sex for your profession? Dr Sacks did, for over 30 years, he abstained. He was - for most of his life - a non-practicing gay man...because, he did not want his sexuality to be misconstrued malignantly and used [by idiots] to attack him and his career...those in the [catholic] clergy should take note...and, Dr Sacks did not swear an oath!

Acceptance was always an issue...being jewish, being gay, being clever...being himself, singled him out. Even the medical profession doubted and decried him. But...bit-by-bit, he won them over...and, more importantly, he won himself over...finding love [and sex] when he was in his 70s. How lovely.

Hopefully, he died a happier man. He left behind a formidable legacy and achieved his final wish...it' has been an absolute [and emotional] pleasure...hearing your story. Thank you.   


5 March / Day 9...

Glasgow Film Festival 2020Glasgow Film Festival 2020Days of the Bagnold Summer
by Simon Bird

A moody, metal-head teen and his mum...sounds dour...but, it is as sweet as sweet can be. 

 

 

 

 

Glasgow Film Festival 2020Patrick
by Tim Mielants

Never separate a man from his hammer!

This is one special film...challenging, in so many unimaginable ways...but, still...so very special. It doesn't take too long before the nudity [practically everyone is naked] becomes superfluous...but, never unnoticeable, swinging penises do tend to grab your attention!

Stripped bare, Patrick is an uncomplicated man of few words. His world his wobbled by a missing hammer, the death of his father...and, a murder. Doesn't sound too much like a comedy, does it? But, it is...dark as it is. Tim Mielants straddles the obvious absurdity with unbridled ease...and, skill. Watching two out-of-shape, slightly-over-the-hill, naked men fighting in an unstable caravan has got to be a scene seen to be believed. This is just one of the film's many pièces de résistance. An other is, the funeral tableau...in the forest, with naked mourners...the beauty is - quite simply - breath-taking.

The surprises are as frequent as the swinging penises and wobbling boobs. There's a surprising gay love-story, a salacious illicit affair, turf wars and subterfuge...there's even some beautiful, bespoke furniture. There is so much content and detail...but, that bloody missing hammer is never far from centre stage. For sure, there will be many a metaphorical interpretation...the hammer symbolises Patrick's latent grief...bollocks. And...there are a lot of bollocks in this film...because, this film has balls...great big magnificent, magical, mouth-watering cojones! 

This is Tim Mielants' debut feature...what a voice, what next will he pull from his conjurer's hat? The only problem is...we will all have to wait. Hopefully, that 'wait' won't be too long. 

Glasgow Film Festival 2020Driveways
by Andrew Ahn

Friendships...they comes in all shapes, sizes and age. Prepare yourselves...for gentility and beauty. This is a delight.

 

 

 

 

  


6 March / Day 10...

Glasgow Film Festival 2020Bombay Rose
by Gitanjali Rao

A ridiculous imagination - seriously, it's breath-taking..and, so so heart-breaking [at the same time]. And...uplifting. Wow!

 

 

 

 

 

Glasgow Film Festival 2020Radioactive
by Marjane Satrapi

So much...but, why focus on the negatives! 

 

 

 

 

 

Glasgow Film Festival 2020Glasgow Film Festival 2020The Garden Left Behind
by Flavio Alves

An inspirational way to make a film. A joy to find out how they did it! 

 

 

 

 


7 March / Day 11...

Glasgow Film Festival 2020Deerskin
by Quentin Dupieux

What a peculiar film.

 

 

 

 

 

Glasgow Film Festival 2020Two of Us
by Filippo Meneghetti

Perfectly laid plans crushed by reluctance, secrets and circumstances [and people] beyond your control...this is Filippo Meneghetti's [mighty] debut feature.

This is poised and elegant film-making. A film that will rip at your heartstrings and make you consider the bigger picture...if this was you, what would you want? When decisions are taken away from you...what else have you got left?

Life is all about choices...you pick and choose, rightly or wrongly, rejoice or regret...and, with age, there is the opportunity to take stock, to reflect, to smile, to grimace...perhaps, even, to make amends.

Two of Us delivers many a potent message...

Don't dilly-dally, grab the bull by the horns...before it's too late. Because, you never know when it's too late!

Be prepared for the unthinkable...because, sad but true, the unthinkable invariably [and eventually] happens.

Respect your mother, her life, her wishes, her past, her secrets, her wishes.

And, finally, respect those who love those you love.

This is a monumentally mature piece of work...graced by two precise and comparative performances. Opposites attract and the hand fits perfectly inside the glove...this is love...in all of its joy and terror.

This is immaculate and heartbreaking film-making...merci pour cela.

Glasgow Film Festival 2020Saint Maud
by Rose Glass

A religious nutcase loses the plot!

 

 

 

 

 

Glasgow Film Festival 2020Make Up
by Claire Oakley

 

 

 

 

   


8 March / Day 12...

Glasgow Film Festival 2020The Other Lamb
by Malgorzata Szumowska

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glasgow Film Festival 2020Billie
by James Erskine

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glasgow Film Festival 2020How to Build a Girl
by Coky Giedroyc