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GAY CHORUS DEEP SOUTH - Official Teaser...

A Film by David Charles Rodrigues

Led by Gay Chorus Conductor Dr. Tim Seelig and joined by The Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir; the tour brings a message of music, love and acceptance to communities and individuals confronting intolerance. Over 300 singers travelled from Mississippi to Tennessee through the Carolinas and over the bridge in Selma. They performed in churches, community centers and concert halls in hopes of uniting us in a time of difference. The journey also challenges Tim and other Chorus members who fled the South to confront their own fears, pain and prejudices on a journey towards reconciliation. The conversations and connections that emerge offer a glimpse of a less divided America, where the things that divide us—faith, politics, sexual identity—are set aside by the soaring power of music, humanity and a little drag.

 

Years and Years: Trailer

From award-winning writer Russell T Davies, Years And Years is a brand new six-part drama which follows the lives of a single family, the Lyons, over a period of fifteen years in a Britain rocked by unstable political, economic and technological change.

HALSTON | Official US Trailer...

America’s first superstar designer, Halston rose to international fame in the 1970s, creating an empire and personifying the dramatic social and sexual revolution of the last century. Reaching beyond the glitz and glamour, acclaimed filmmaker Frédéric Tcheng reveals Halston’s profound impact on fashion, culture, and business.

HALSTON captures the epic sweep of the life and times of the legendary designer Roy Halston Frowick, the man who set women free with his unstructured designs and strove to “dress all of America." Framing the story as an investigation featuring actress and writer Tavi Gevinson as a young archivist diving into the Halston company records, Tcheng expertly weaves rare archival footage and intimate interviews with Halston’s family, friends and collaborators including Jacqueline Kennedy, Liza Minelli, Andy Warhol and Iman. What results is a behind-the-headlines look into the thrilling struggle between Halston’s artistic legacy and the pressures of big business.

DIRECTED BY: Frédéric Tcheng

FEATURING: Tavi Gevinson

ORIGINAL INTERVIEWS WITH: Liza Minnelli, Marisa Berenson, Joel Schumacher, Gino Balsamo, Karen Bjornson, Walter Bregman, Alva Chinn, Pat Cleveland, Bob Colacello, Fred Dennis, Carl Epstein, Tom Fallon, Don Friese, Lesley Frowick, R. Couri Hay, Sassy Johnson, Naeem Khan, Malcolm “Nick” Lewin, Michael Lichtenstein, Podie Lynch, Patricia Mears, Nancy North, Michael Pellegrino, John David Ridge, Faye Robson, Fred Rottman, Joel Smilow, Paul Wilmot, Jeffrey Wirsing, Peter Wise, Lisa Zay

CHILD'S PLAY Official Trailer #2...

Time to play. The full trailer for Child’s Play is finally here. From the producers of IT comes a modern reimagining of the horror classic. Child’s Play hits theaters June 21.

Cannes 2019: The Films...

Cannes 2019COMPETITION (18 FILMS):

Matthias & Maxime - dir. Xavier Dolan
The Traitor - dir. Marco Bellocchio
Pain & Glory - dir. Pedro Almodóvar
Sorry We Missed You - dir. Ken Loach
A Hidden Life - dir. Terrence Malick
Parasite - dir. Bong Joon-ho
The Young Ahmed - dirs. Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne
The Wild Goose Lake - dir. Diao Yinan
Oh Mercy! - dir. Arnaud Desplechin
Atlantique - dir. Mati Diop
Little Joe - dir. Jessica Hausner
Les Misérables - dir. Ladj Ly
Bacarau - dir. Kleber Mendonça Filho & Juliano Dornelles
The Whistlers - dir. Corneliu Porumboiu
Frankie - dir. Ira Sachs
Portrait of a Young Girl on Fire - dir. Celine Sciamma
It Must Be Heaven - dir. Elia Suleiman
Sibyl - dir. Justine Triet

OPENING NIGHT FILM:

The Dead Don't Die - dir. Jim Jarmusch

OUT OF COMPETITION (5 FILMS):

Rocketman - dir. Dexter Fletcher
The Best Years of a Life - dir. Claude Lelouch
Diego Maradona - dir. Asif Kapadia
La Belle Époque - dir. Nicolas Bedos
Too Old to Die Young – "North of Hollywood, West of Hell" - dir. Nicolas Winding Refn

UN CERTAIN REGARD (16 FILMS):

Adam - dir. Maryam Touzani
Beanpole (Dylda) - dir. Kantemir Balagov
A Brother's Love - dir. Monia Chokri
Bull - dir. Annie Silverstein
The Climb - dir. Michael Covino
Evge - dir. Nariman Aliev
Freedom (Liberté) - dir. Albert Serra
Invisible Life (Vida Invisivel) - dir. Karim Aïnouz
Joan of Arc (Jeanne) - dir. Bruno Dumont
Room 212 (Chambre 212) - dir. Christophe Honoré
Papicha - dir. Mounia Meddour
Port Authority - dir. Danielle Lessovitz
Summer of Changsha (Liu Yu Tian) - dir. Zu Feng
The Swallows of Kabul - dir. Zabou Breitman & Eléa Gobé Mévellec
A Sun That Never Sets (O Que Arde - dir. Olivier Laxe
Zhuo Ren Mi Mi - dir. Midi Z

MIDNIGHT SCREENINGS (1 FILM):

The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil - dir. Lee Won-Tae

SPECIAL SCREENINGS (5 FILMS):

Être vivant et le savoir - dir. Alain Cavalier
Family Romance, LLC - dir. Werner Herzog
For Sama - dirs. Waad Al Kateab & Edward Watts
Share - dir. Pippa Bianco
Tommaso - dir. Abel Ferrara

VITA AND VIRGINIA | Official UK Trailer...

RELEASE DATE: 5th July 2019
DIRECTOR: Chanya Button
STARRING: Gemma Arterton, Elizabeth Debicki, Isabella Rossellini

Based on a true story, VITA & VIRGINIA details the passionate relationship between literary trailblazer Virginia Woolf (Elizabeth Debicki), and enigmatic aristocrat Vita Sackville-West (Gemma Arterton).

When their paths cross, the magnetic Vita decides the beguiling, stubborn and gifted Virginia will be her next conquest, no matter the cost. The ensuing relationship leads to the birth of Woolf’s bold, experimental novel - Orlando.

A daring celebration of an unconventional bond, and a vivid exploration of gender, sexuality, creativity and passion, VITA & VIRGINIA details the love story of two women - two writers - who smashed through social barriers to find solace in their forbidden connection.

Dark Phoenix | Final Trailer...

This is the story of one of the X-Men’s most beloved characters, Jean Grey, as she evolves into the iconic DARK PHOENIX. During a life-threatening rescue mission in space, Jean is hit by a cosmic force that transforms her into one of the most powerful mutants of all. Wrestling with this increasingly unstable power as well as her own personal demons, Jean spirals out of control, tearing the X-Men family apart and threatening to destroy the very fabric of our planet. The film is the most intense and emotional X-Men movie ever made. It is the culmination of 20 years of X-Men movies, as the family of mutants that we've come to know and love must face their most devastating enemy yet -- one of their own.

In Theaters June 7

Written and Directed by: Simon Kinberg

Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Evan Peters, and Jessica Chastain

Anna Trailer...

Beneath Anna Poliatova’s striking beauty lies a secret that will unleash her indelible strength and skill to become one of the world’s most feared government assassins. An electrifying thrill ride unfolding with propulsive energy, startling twists and breathtaking action, ANNA introduces Sasha Luss in the title role with a star-studded cast including Academy Award Winner Helen Mirren, Cillian Murphy, and Luke Evans.

Directed By: Luc Besson

US Release Date: June 21, 2019

PAVAROTTI - Official Trailer...

From the filmmaking team behind the highly-acclaimed documentary The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years, PAVAROTTI is a riveting film that lifts the curtain on the icon who brought opera to the people. Academy Award winner Ron Howard puts audiences front row center for an exploration of The Voice...The Man...The Legend. Luciano Pavarotti gave his life to the music and a voice to the world. This cinematic event features history-making performances and intimate interviews, including never-before-seen footage and cutting-edge Dolby Atmos technology.

Tales of the City | Teaser...

Inspired by the books of Armistead Maupin, the new Netflix Limited Series Tales of the City begins a new chapter in the beloved story. Mary Ann (Laura Linney) returns to present-day San Francisco and is reunited with her daughter Shawna (Ellen Page) and ex-husband Brian (Paul Gross), twenty years after leaving them behind to pursue her career. Fleeing the midlife crisis that her picture-perfect Connecticut life created, Mary Ann is quickly drawn back into the orbit of Anna Madrigal (Olympia Dukakis), her chosen family and a new generation of queer young residents living at 28 Barbary Lane.

Premiere on June 7

The Queen (1968) – Official Re-Release Trailer...

Back in theaters starting June 28 in a new 4K restoration from the original camera negative!

Decades before Paris Is Burning and Rupaul's Drag Race, this ground-breaking documentary about the 1967 Miss All-America Camp Beauty Pageant introduced competitive drag to the world, along with LGBT icon and activist Flawless Sabrina. Watch for Andy Warhol one of the pageant’s judge.

BEATS - OFFICIAL UK TRAILER...

BEATS - In UK and Irish cinemas May 17

Best mates Johnno and Spanner share a deep bond. Now on the cusp of adulthood, life is destined to take them in different directions – Johnno’s family are moving him to a new town and a better life, leaving Spanner behind to face a precarious future. In pursuit of adventure and escape the boys head out on one last night together to an illegal rave before parting ways indefinitely.

A universal story of friendship, rebellion, and the irresistible power of gathering youth, set to the soundtrack as eclectic and electrifying as the scene it gave birth to, BEATS is a story for our time.

Directed by Brian Welsh
Written by Kieran Hurley and Brian Welsh
Produced by Camilla Bray
Executive producer Steven Soderbergh
Music director JD Twitch

Starring Cristian Ortega, Lorn Macdonald, Laura Fraser, and Brian Ferguson

J.T. LeRoy Trailer...

US Release Date: April 26, 2019

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Diane Kruger, Laura Dern
Directed By: Justin Kelly

A young woman named Savannah Knoop spends six years pretending to be the celebrated author JT LeRoy, the made-up literary persona of her sister-in-law.

RuPaul Talk Show Gets Summer Run...

RuPaul Charles is headed to daytime TV! FOX will premiere “RuPaul” this summer, starting June 10. The show will air Monday through Friday on select Fox TV stations, including WNYW in New York and KTTV in Los Angeles.

Wild Rose Official Trailer...

Jessie Buckley delivers a star-making performance as Rose-Lynn, a would-be country singer who dreams of leaving her rough life in Glasgow, Scotland for the bright lights of Nashville. Fresh out of a stint in prison, Rose-Lynn is a single mom with an ankle monitor, a curfew, and a concerned mother (Julie Walters), who wants her to focus more on her two children and less on her music. But when Rose- Lynn tries to hold down a housekeeping job, her boss (Sophie Okonedo) hears her singing and becomes an unlikely supporter, intent on getting her to Nashville despite the long odds. Caught between hope and responsibility, Rose-Lynn must find her place without abandoning her raw talent and grand ambitions.

ANNABELLE COMES HOME - Official Trailer...

“Annabelle Comes Home” is the third installment of New Line Cinema’s hugely successful “Annabelle” films starring the infamous sinister doll from the “Conjuring” universe. Gary Dauberman, the screenwriter of the “Annabelle” films, “IT” and “The Nun,” makes his directorial debut on the film, which is produced by Peter Safran (“Aquaman”), who has produced all the films in the “Conjuring” franchise, and “Conjuring” universe creator James Wan (“Aquaman”).

Determined to keep Annabelle from wreaking more havoc, demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren bring the possessed doll to the locked artifacts room in their home, placing her “safely” behind sacred glass and enlisting a priest’s holy blessing. But an unholy night of horror awaits as Annabelle awakens the evil spirits in the room, who all set their sights on a new target—the Warrens’ ten-year-old daughter, Judy, and her friends.

The film stars McKenna Grace (TV’s “The Haunting of Hill House,” “Gifted,” “Captain Marvel”) as Judy; Madison Iseman (“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween”) as her babysitter, Mary Ellen; and Katie Sarife (TV’s “Youth and Consequences” and “Supernatural”) as troubled friend Daniela; with Patrick Wilson (“Aquaman,” “The Conjuring” and “Insidious” films) and Vera Farmiga (“The Conjuring” films, upcoming “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” TV’s “Bates Motel”) reprising their roles as Ed and Lorraine Warren.

The film is set to open in theatres and IMAX on June 28, 2019

Special: Season 1 | Official Trailer...

Why be normal when you can be Special?

Special, is a distinctive and uplifting new series about a gay man, Ryan with mild cerebral palsy who decides to rewrite his identity and finally go after the life he wants. After years of dead-end internships, working in his pajamas as a blogger and communicating mostly via text, Ryan eventually figured out how to take his life from bleak to chic and began limping towards adulthood. The offbeat comedy is based on series creator and star Ryan O’Connell’s memoir, “I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves.” O’Connell also serves as executive producer alongside Jim Parsons.

End of the Century | Trailer...

An Argentinian man from New York and a Spanish man from Berlin hook up by chance while in Barcelona. What seems like a one-night encounter between two strangers (played by Juan Barberini and Ramón Pujol) becomes an epic, decades-spanning relationship, which Lucio Castro depicts in a nonlinear fashion, and in which time and space refuse to play by the rules. Castro’s inventive and enigmatic debut feature is consistently surprising, turning a love story into a cosmic voyage with no clear beginning or end.

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum | Trailer...

In this third installment of the adrenaline-fueled action franchise, super-assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves) returns with a $14 million price tag on his head and an army of bounty-hunting killers on his trail. After killing a member of the shadowy international assassin’s guild, the High Table, John Wick is excommunicado, but the world’s most ruthless hit men and women await his every turn.

Starring Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Saïd Taghmaoui, Jerome Flynn, Jason Mantzoukas, Tobias Segal, Boban Marjanovic, with Anjelica Huston, and Ian McShane.

 

TUCKED | OFFICIAL TRAILER...

Trailer for TUCKED the drama comedy starring Jordan Stephens (Rizzle Kicks), Derren Nesbitt (WHERE EAGLES DARE), Steve Oram (SIGHTSEERS) and April Pearson (SKINS). With music from Robbie Williams and Celeste. Winner of Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at LA Outfest 2018 and 9 other awards.

TUCKED is a raw and tender drama about an aging 80 year old drag queen who forms an unlikely friendship with a younger queen, both struggling with their own issues of gender identity and mortality. As they discover more about each other, they realize how to truly be themselves. It's a 'slice of life' drama about love, loss and friendship; a feel good film with a great charm and sense of humour.

Photograph - Official Trailer...

A struggling Mumbai street photographer pressured to marry by his grandmother convinces a shy stranger to pose as his fiancée during a family visit. Despite vast cultural differences, the pair develops a surprising connection that challenges their worldviews in a wistful and funny romance from Ritesh Batra (The Lunchbox). Starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Sanya Malhotra.

Toy Story 4 | Official Trailer...

Woody has always been confident about his place in the world and that his priority is taking care of his kid, whether that’s Andy or Bonnie. But when Bonnie adds a reluctant new toy called “Forky” to her room, a road trip adventure alongside old and new friends will show Woody how big the world can be for a toy. Directed by Josh Cooley (“Riley’s First Date?”) and produced by Jonas Rivera (“Inside Out,” “Up”) and Mark Nielsen (associate producer “Inside Out”), Disney•Pixar’s “Toy Story 4” ventures to U.S. theaters on June 21, 2019.

Gentleman Jack: OFFICIAL TRAILER...

"She doesn't conform to the way people think a woman should look, or think, or be."

Suranne Jones stars in Gentleman Jack as the one-of-a-kind Anne Lister, who's on a mission to marry a seriously wealthy woman.

BBC April 22...

Monos | Trailer...

Monos, which won a Special Jury Award at Sundance, is sure to be one of the most hotly debated films of 2019—one critic called it “Apocalypse Now on shrooms.” In Alejandro Landes’s intensely thrilling twist on Lord of the Flies, Julianne Nicholson plays a terrorized American engineer held captive by teenage guerilla bandits in an unnamed South American jungle. Leaderless and rootless, the child soldiers puff themselves up with names like Rambo, Smurf, and Bigfoot (the latter a brutal Moises Arias), and survive the tedium and predation of the wilderness through sexual games and cult-like rituals. As they wage physical and psychological warfare on perceived enemies—and, inevitably, among themselves—they are reduced to a state of desperate barbarism. The film’s sense of surreal menace is amplified by Mica Levi’s discordant soundscape and Jasper Wolf’s cinematography.

#FiveFilms4Freedom: a global LGBTQ+ short-film celebration...

Five Films For Freedom 2019The world’s widest-reaching LGBTQ+ digital campaign returns from 21 to 31 March 2019.

The British Council, in partnership with BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival, makes five LGBTQ+ themed short films available for the world to watch online for free, over an 11-day period each year.

The programme, which features work by emerging filmmakers from across the world, is selected from and coincides with BFI Flare. Through our global network in more than 100 countries, we encourage people to watch the films in solidarity with LGBTQ+ communities in places where freedom and equal rights are limited. We ask audiences to share the films using the hashtag #FiveFilms4Freedom in recognition of the fact that Love is a Human Right.

Running since 2015, the programme has seen more than 10 million people viewing one of the films in more than 200 countries and principalities, including many parts of the world where homosexuality is criminalised, and in some cases, punishable by the death penalty.

2019 films

CRASHING WAVES (UK)

Emma Gilbertson, Director
Amir Majlessi, Producer

Two young working-class men explore the intimacy and vulnerability of relationships in a combative dance against the backdrop of an inner-city estate, risking all under the scrutiny of a tight-knit, ever-judging community.

Watch an interview with Emma Gilbertson and Amir Majlesso 

CARLITO SE VA PARA SIEMPRE/CARLITO LEAVES FOREVER (PERU/FRANCE)

Quentin Lazzarotto, Director

A short, poetic film following Carlito, a young man living in an indigenous village at the heart of the Amazonian jungle, who decided to leave and change his life forever.

Watch an interview with Quentin Lazzarotto 

LADIES DAY (UK)

Abena Taylor-Smith, Director
Loran Dunn, Producer

Amma, a young, black lesbian, spends the day in an Afro-Caribbean hair salon full of fun, sheen spray, gossip and laughter - but how will she deal with the casual homophobia?

Watch an interview with Abena Taylor-Smith 

EG/I (ICELAND)

Vala Omarsdottir, Writer/Director
Hallfridur Thora Tryggvadottir, Writer/Director
Ugla Stefanía Kristjönudóttir Jónsdóttir, Co-Creator 

A young trans person living in a small town travels to the city searching for the freedom to be their self.

Watch an interview with Halla Tryggvadottir and Ugla Stefanía 

A NORMAL GIRL

Aubree Bernier-Clarke, Director
Shawna Lipton, Producer
Pidgeon Pagonis, Producer and Lead 

1.5 per cent of people are born with an anatomy that doesn’t fit typical definitions of female or male. It is common practice for doctors to perform genital surgeries on intersex infants - often with disastrous results. A Normal Girl brings the widely unknown struggles of intersex people to light, through the story of intersex activist Pidgeon Pagonis.

Watch an interview with Aubree Bernier-Clarke and Pidgeon Pagonis 

Join us on Twitter  using #FiveFilms4Freedom and help spread the word!

This year, #FiveFilmsforFreedom is part of Anyone//Anywhere: the web at 30, our global season looking at the impact of this invention on every aspect of our lives. 

 

Long Shot | Trailer...

Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) is a gifted and free-spirited journalist with an affinity for trouble. Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) is one of the most influential women in the world. Smart, sophisticated, and accomplished, she’s a powerhouse diplomat with a talent for…well, mostly everything. The two have nothing in common, except that she was his babysitter and childhood crush. When Fred unexpectedly reconnects with Charlotte, he charms her with his self-deprecating humor and his memories of her youthful idealism. As she prepares to make a run for the Presidency, Charlotte hires Fred as her speechwriter, much to the dismay of her trusted advisors. A fish out of water on Charlotte’s elite team, Fred is unprepared for her glamourous lifestyle in the limelight. However, sparks fly as their unmistakable chemistry leads to a round-the-world romance and a series of unexpected and dangerous incidents.

Starring Seth Rogen, Charlize Theron, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Andy Serkis, June Diane Raphael, with Bob Odenkirk, and Alexander Skarsgård

Hurley | Official Trailer...

In the 1970’s, Hurley Haywood was the dominant force in motor racing, but his personal life remained a mystery. Hurley chronicles a remarkable life, revealing a greater insight into the tightrope walk between career and personal life.

DIRECTED BY Derek Dodge
FEATURING Hurley Haywood, Patrick Dempsey

Non-Fiction - Official Trailer...

Directed by: Olivier Assayas

Starring: Juliette Binoche, Guillaume Canet, Vincent Macaigne, Christa Théret, Nora Hamzawi, Pascal Greggory

Juliette Binoche and Guillame Canet reunite with acclaimed director Olivier Assayas (Personal Shopper, Carlos) for this wry, slyly seductive tale of sex, lies, and literature. Set amidst the bohemian intelligentsia of the Parisian publishing world, Non-Fiction traces the romantic and emotional fallout that results when a controversial writer (Vincent Macaigne) begins blurring the line between fact and fiction, using his real-life love affairs—including a passionate fling with an actress (Binoche) who happens to be married to his editor (Canet)—as fodder for his explosive new novel. Balancing dry wit with keen observations on the tensions between art, commerce, and technology, Non-Fiction is a buoyant, breezy delight from a master director at his most effortlessly brilliant.

BFI Flare 2019: Our [remote] Coverage...

Flare 19 Artwork 830x467

Yes...it's that time of the year: BFI:Flare has returned!!!

Sadly, regrettably and unavoidably...we are unable to be there in person...but, the good folks @BFIFlare have given us access to many a fine film...and, practically all of the shorts!

So...without further ado...let's get this [remote] party started...!

Vita & Virginia
Day 1...

The opening night...and, by all accounts, everyone had a blisteringly good time!

Day 2...

Light In The Water

Light in the Water
Directed by Lis Bartlett

Here's a film that defines the whole concept of the 'safe space' for LGBT folk. Why they were established, why they are [still] needed...and, why - seriously - are they being eroded!?!

This is a journey - often heartbreaking - from before the dawn of AIDS, through that maelstrom and into - what can be now considered - a brighter future. But, for those [of a certain age] the memories and pain [will always] linger. They share their stories...of brief histories and of a community that rallied...West Hollywood, we love you. You took care of your own when everyone else turned their backs...in a not-so quiet and barbaric disgust.

Indeed, times have changed...as Light in the Water so amply reveals...but, it's a bitter/sweet sort of change...some of it good, some of it not so. Every generation needs to make its mark...but, not at the expense of muffling the preceding generation! Older voices are being silenced, old ways are being dismantled...

The uber-sensitive politically-correct-inclined 'elite' scream and shout and stamp their feet whenever there is an instance of 'cultural appropriation' - many artist(e)s have felt their vehement wrath!

But...what about LGBT appropriation? Let's face it, in these connected and concocted times: It's chic to be LGBT - whether you are LGBT or not?!? Everyone's gonna be fluid! There goes the 'community', there goes all of those safe spaces!

Lis Bartlett's [mighty fine] film tells a history and asks some rather fiesty questions concerning the current buzz-word: Inclusivity. What was [once] a gay man's swimming club, became a gay & lesbian swim-club...which became, you see where we going with this...and now, a [very] significant percentage of its members identify as straight! There goes the neighbourhood!

If we keep on adding to the ridiculously contrived alphabet of...LGBTQQIP2SAA+*...why not just add an extra 'S' [for straight] and be done with the whole caboodle!?! Give us an 'I', give us an 'N', give us a 'C', 'L', 'U' - you see where we're going with this...!

Jings...never thought a film about a 'once upon a time there was a gay man's swimming club' would be so far reaching, would pack such mighty punches...and, most importantly...it certainly leaves you thinking [and, perhaps, reminiscing]...about the states of affairs, both then & now!

A rather brilliant, beautifully constructed film.

Girl

Girl
Directed by Lukas Dhont

Be still my breaking heart...

There has been a recent uproar - by [those] anonymous, gobby, armchair activists [who scream and shout at everything streaming on Netflix] - demanding a boycot of this film. Listen to them not! A trans*character does not need to be played by a trans*actor...the best 'actor' for the job should play the role. And, Lukas Dhont found the perfect actor in Victor Polster to play Lara.

Breathtaking is not a word we use regulary...but, breathtaking is what Victor Polster is! Lara says little throughout the film, she has so much on her young mind...the transition, the secret...and, the ballet. All punishing on the body, the mind and soul Can she keep it all together? Or, will she break? The entire film leads up to that question...the answer is...well, you will have to watch it to find out.

At times, there's a real sense of this being a fly-on-the-wall documentary...Lukas Dhont observes...and, it so immersive that at no time do you disbelieve anything that is shown. Gleaned from his short film, Girl is one mighty fine debut feature. Let us hope he has more [quality] projects up his sleeve!

To be overwhelmed by a film is a remarkable achievement...be overwhelmed!

Tell It To The Bees

Tell It to the Bees
Directed by Annabel Jankel

Pre-sexual revolution of the 60s, setting: small-town Scotland...and, some Sapphic stirrings in the undergrowth. Oooh the scandal of it all!!!

Tell it to the Bees is a mixed bag of youthful loveliness and domestic trauma...with one major [and inexplicable] problem: The ending! Why change the perfectly good ending [of the book] into something so unsatisfactory and implausible?!? Or, perhaps, this man's mind is completely at a loss when it comes to the woman's psyche...and, the swarming instinct of bees!

Seriously, this is a lovely film that [sadly] asks [just a little] too much from its audience...when belief flies out of the window [and bees, literally, fly in]. Up until this point, the gentleness of the story is a delight, young Gregor Selkirk is a joy to watch as he confronts and computes the harsh realities of life. Anna Paquin and Holliday Grainger, they do the story proud. There is so much to commend this film...however, when the 'fantasy' hits the fan...aaargh! It's so frustrating, tripping before the last hurdle...it all boils down to...the bees had one scene too many!

Lizzie

Lizzie
Directed by Craig William Macneill

The enduring tale of Lizzie Borden...gets overhauled, yet again! How many times can this tale be told? Countless, it would seem.

For those unacquainted with Lizzie...well, over a hundred years ago, Lizzie was put on trial for the murders of her [rather wealthy] father and step-mother. She was acquitted!

This Lizzie is a total and mindless fabrication of the facts...making out that Lizzie - unequivocally - did do the murders due to being 'discovered' - en flagrante - in a lesbian tryst with her maid...who was her incompetent accomplice in the crime...but, a competent witness in aiding and abetting her actual acquittal.

The question has to be asked: Why is the Lizzie Borden story so enduring? Legally, it highlights the 'irregularities' within the judicial system. It also gives an insight into the inadmissibility of evidence and the competence to testify...as well as highlighting the well-defined route of probate...and, the oldest of legal chestnuts, the jury's [and the public's] ability to subjectively pre-judge. Where's that good old-fashioned objectivity when you [legally] need it!?! Many an accused has been 'saved' due to the lack of it! Legally, it's a fascinating case.

Sadly, this film is not...for it does not concern itself wholly with the trial. Instead, it relies on strings of sapphic invention that get [all] knotted up within an inexplicably muddled time-line. Craig William Macneill's cinematic pace is too slow to start and too quick too finish...and, with a middle that stumbles all over the place.

Now, the whole Lizzie-was-a-lezzie theory is not new...Ed McBain dreamt up this little peach way back in 1984...so, Bryce Kass' screenplay is a shining example of brazen plagiarism. Or, to be politely euphemistic, he borrowed the idea...but, failed to make his script as brazen as it had the potential to be...even with those [eccentric] lines infused with some neo-feminist chic!

Chloe Sevigny, Kristen Stewart and Fiona Shaw all convince. Even the cinematographer convinces. Such a shame that neither director nor writer could do a similar [good] job.

Leitis In Waiting

Leitis in Waiting
Directed by Dean Hamer & Joe Wilson

Obviously, Dean Hamer & Joe Wilson realised that there was more to the story than their 2017 short film - Lady Eva - told.

Thank goodness they did...because, these stories need to be heard...as the scourge of christian fundamentalism [an imported religion] has systematically tried and [thankfully] failed to eradicate a people, a way of life...because, that 'way' and these 'people' do not 'fit' into their bashed-bible idyll of sanctimonious, discriminatory, hate-fuelled piety. When will this religious arrogance end?!? Not until the day when [global] religious denouncement arrives!!!

Whatever happened to: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself?!? These evangelicals hold onto to their rule-book with vice-like grips...but, subjectively ignore quite a few of the 'rules' found therein! Live and let live...you shower of idiots!

Oooh there's nothing quite like a good rant...

Thankfully, Leitis in Waiting is not all 'fire and brimstone' - it's also about support and camaraderie...in the face of toxic masculinity and religious adversity...with a twist! Leitis provide service to the wider community...and, to the Royal Court...members of the Royal family even participate [most supportively] in the film! If Leitis are good enough for Royalty, they are good enough for everyone...stick that in your gripped bibles!

There is sadness...and, there is joy. The film culminates with a beauty pageant like no other...this is a pageant that allows each and all to let off steam, a safe place where everyone can be who they are...rather than it [just] being a beauty pageant...it is a beautiful pageant that emboldens and embraces all that we should all hold dear...individualism and diversity!

Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life

Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life
Directed by Tomer Heymann

This is exhibition. This is exposure. This is exposition. This is as intimate as any portrait could possibly be. Is this the point where we all have come to in this time of mass information...watching the train-wreck of a [mightily] fine-looking man's life...as it agonisingly happens?

Tomer Heymann's film is not only voyeurism...this is a deafening cry for help. Filmed over 8 years, documenting the peaks and troughs of a porn-star's life...interesting to know if this is the expected film he set out to make? Quite possibly, not!

Anyone who 'documents' has to address the permanent elephant-in-the-room: Ethics. Mr Heymann does come precariously close to the drawn line...but, as in natural history documentaries, the filmmaker cannot/must not intervene with the wildlife..but, hey, this is not a baby gazelle about to be guzzled by a lion. This is a man falling apart. This is a wild life...out-of-control...with a fairly predictable conclusion. Stop, wait a minute, as the penny drops...this film may actually be the [much-needed] intervention that could, perhaps, save a valuable and vulnerable life.

Yes, this is one seriously powerful film...

The sex industy does not produce 'stars' - it produces casualties...and, too often, fatalities. So, as personal as this film is...let's get personal...

Jonathan, life can't always be lived on a high...and, as sad and true as it is, beauty fades. Take a step back, or sideways, or [even] outside of yourself, just as long as it is out of that damned spotlight...now, breathe. Take stock. Take [back] control...because that's what's slipping away from you. So what if the reality didn't meet your ambitions...hey, you didn't do too badly! You did get to the top of your profession. But...nothing lasts forever...find your strengths, you have many. It's not true when they say...only the strong survive...those who adapt, evolve into something stronger. Become strong, dear sweet man. Adapt...and, grow.

And the next film will be: How Jonathan Agassi Saved His Own Life...we look forward to watching it. Take care of yourself.


Flare Day2 ShortsChallenge Accepted - Short films

Wildfire by Bretten Hannam
Concern for Welfare by Fadia Abboud
Piscina: Pool by Leandro Goddinho
Transmission by Emily Mkrtichian & Anahid Yahjian
Dressed for Pleasure by Marie de Maricourt
Masks by Mahaliyah Ayla O


Day 3...

Cassandro

Cassandro, the Exotico!
Directed by Marie Losier

When a documentary filmmaker ties themselves up into artsy knots...the subject matter suffers!

When you have to question [too] many of the filmmakers decisions...the subject matter suffers!

All that fake noise - the scratches and dust - it all just gets in the way of the story. Why pretend the film is older than it is? It just doesn't make any sense whatsoever! Cassandro is in the here-&-now...facing the end of his incredibly agile career. He is a born entertainer...let him entertain, let him tell his story...that's what he's there for! But, no...Ms Losier has to meddle and spoil.

The editing is savage, all those eye-jarring jump-cuts. And, there are [too] many editorial decisions that should not have made it to the final cut...especially that telephone call when the filmmaker just wants to give Cassandro a kiss...because, he's having a bad day. C'mon!?! What's the first rule of documentary filmmaking? Do not get involved!!! Yes, we all know [artistic] 'rules' are there to be broken...but that is only applicable when a true visionary breaks them! If you ain't got the vision, don't break the rules!

Back in 2010, Cassandro was the subject of Michael Ramos Araizaga's 23 minute short film: Cassandro, el exótico - 8 years later, armed with the same title and no visible improvement, Ms Losier has delivered a film that celebrates her own [visionary] filmmaking prowess rather than adhering to the documentarist's job description...tell the story...without all the faux and frills.

Cassandro deserves [much] better than what he has been given.

The Heiresses

The Heiresses [Las Heredras]
Directed by Marcelo Martinessi

This really is an agonising heartbreak...on so many levels.

An elderly lesbian couple are separated by a prison term, crippling debt and a love that may have seen better days. They say opposites attract, Chela and Chiquita are opposites and their contentment has just been turned upside down. Will they ever get back to what/where they were? Do they want to?

Ana Brun's careful portrayal of the pernickety Chela is like watching a fragile flower bloom. She's a snob, she's cold, she's pedantic...but, when faced with a desperate situation, she slowly strips off her protective layers to reveal the warmth and desire that has been dormant for so long...but, there's a hint that it might be too late to seize her day!

Marcelo Matinessi's film is a contemplative, gentle, delicately detailed, tour-de-force of emotion...a low-lit resonance mumbles throughout loaded with wasted opportunities and regrettable regrets. It's a sad, sad, beautiful film...it will leave you with goosebumps and a tear.

A remarkable debut.

The Gospel Of Eureka

The Gospel of Eureka
Directed by Michael Palmieri & Donal Mosher

When a single edit in a film - especially a documentary - takes - quite literally - your breath away, you realise you are watching something very special indeed.

Special...for so many reasons. The artistry shown by the filmmakers, too rare in documentaries. The composition...it glides from the ridiculous to the even more ridiculous and is punctuated with tearful testimony, torrid theatre and the downright absurd...how can it not be absurd?!? Eureka, the town of...overseen by a giant, white-washed statue of Christ and overrun with bible-bashers, drag queens and bikers. And yet, they all get along just fine...who would have 'thunk' it!

Modernity and social media have so much to answer for...the decline of christian extravagance, the moratorium on gay bars...both [big] businesses, both struggling with faith and profit.

An oceanic amphitheatre...with a mere puddle for an audience. A drag queen performing - heart and soul - to a disinterested few...times, in Eureka, have changed and are still a-changin' - from its homophobic, anti-semitic, hateful past...into a town of tolerance and acceptance.

The witch that is - Anita Bryant - even tried to make a comeback in this here town...doomed. Christ [just like the town's statute] turned his back on this unholy woman. There's comedy and there's emotion...the devoted trans*woman, sitting in the rain with her husband, a little tipsy on the religious fervour spewing from the stage...poignancy in the rain!

Lee Keating and Walter Burrell talk of their [joint] histories and faith...then, there's that edit!

Silence. A pin could drop and it would sound like thunder. Time to take stock, gather those emotions. To Hell with it...let the flood-gates open...tears flow like there's no tomorrow.

The Gospel of Eureka...inspired and inspiring. Thank you for this film.

Little Miss Westie

Little Miss Westie
Directed by Dan Hunt & Joy E. Reed

Parents should do absolutely everything to keep their children safe and happy. But...where do you draw the line...when it comes to two trans*kids, brother and sister...one wants to transition, the other wants to start puberty blockers? Both being under the legal age for [medical] consent, it's the parents who have to make those mighty decisions. The stage is [duly] set for a complex storm of emotions and difficult questions...and, even more difficult decisions.

Well...the storm didn't happen. It all boils down to: What the child wants, the child gets! Whether you agree or disagree with puberty blockers, it's immaterial. The crux of the matter is...there have been no long-term [medical] studies as to the possible permanent effects puberty blockers have on the body [and mind] of the child who takes them. Should that not have the alarm bells ringing in your ears before any decision is made?!?

Puberty blockers may not be a permanent solution...but, taking hormones as part of the transition process is irreversible. Decisions made now have consquences later...and, to make those decisions so young should be a cause for concern. Kids change their minds, quickly and often!

Little Miss Westie does not dig deep...and that's its problem. Anything controversial is quickly side-stepped...or, avoided. To be completely reductive, this film is about a kid who wants to take part in a beauty pageant and a moody teen being moody...both just happens to be trans*kids...but that doesn't seem to be too big a deal for either them or their parents...hence, it ain't no big deal for the audience...which kind of renders the film rather redundant!

Beauty pageants: Do they have a place in today's ultra-PC society? Just another question the film completely avoided. Just another cause for concern.

Call Her Ganda

Call Her Ganda
Directed by PJ Raval

As a film about a crime...it tells the story adequately, from one perspective.

As an analysis of that crime...it falls short. And, somehow and for some unknown reason, amid all the news footage, talking heads and a whirlwind history lesson...the bare bones [of the case] get lost.

Jennifer Laude was killed. Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton was charged, tried, found guilty and duly incarcerated. She was 26, he was 19.

By all accounts, the case caused a media frenzy and became a political battleground for Transgender rights and anti-American sentiment...and, still, the bare bones of the case got lost.

This film serves a purpose...as secondhand reportage for a [potentially] wider, hand-picked audience. It's neither investigative nor revelatory. It neither approaches nor even addresses the defence...nor, most importantly, the mitigation.

Yes...it has to be addressed, as horrendous [and avoidable] as this case was, there were mitigating circumstances that reduced Pemberton's charge from murder to manslaughter. It was not premeditated. He did not possess the mens rea - required for murder.

Yes...it has to be said, now...loud and clear. Trans*sex workers [just like any other worker] have to have a duty of care...clients must know what they are paying for up front, no surprises...and, perhaps, armed with this trans*transparency the violence will end. Neither of these young lives deserved their fate...if this film helps in any way...good. But...in reality, if anything is ever going to change [for the better], all sides, all opinions have to be brought into the fray!

A film that skirts around the big issue without ever addressing it...that's called negligence. And...negligence is dangerous.

Carmen & LolaCarmen & Lola
Directed by Arantxa Echevarria

Here's a first...a lesbian love story set in the gypsy community...with a gypsy cast of non-professional actors!

Due credit must be given to the director - Arantxa Echevarria - for (1) getting this film made in the first place...and, (2) getting such credible performances out of these non-pros! Definitely, an actor's director!

It would be interesting to find out the how the gypsy community reacts to this film...they are a minority who are under-represented in cinema...and, when they are, it's not exactly positive. And, no surprises, Carmen & Lola doesn't exactly paint a brighter picture.

Same-sex love is not what this religion-dominated minority is well-versed in...so, for a film, to address the subject - with actual members of the community - is ground-breaking. You know how it's going to end, the in-grained homophobia is not going to change overnight - indeed, it may never change.

What this film does...is to face the difficult choices that men and women have to be make. Living in denial seems like the 'easier' option. Life in the 'closet' is another. There are also the 'fight-or-flee' options...fighting?!? One against many! Flee..leaving all that you love...behind...to walk into an unfamiliar world, a world that is - quite franky - racist towards the gypsy community!

What will Carmen and Lola do? Watch to find out! You won't be disappointed. This is an important film...it educates and enlightens...for those within and those outside the gypsy community.

Well done!


The Time is Now

Flare Day3 Shorts

Isha by Christopher Manning
Break Me by Irasj Asanti
October Boy by Søren Green
Black Lips by Adrian Chiarella
High Tide by Claire Zhou


Flare Day3 ShortsbLife in Transit

Please Mind the Gap by Mitali Trivedi
First Day by Julie Kalceff
ÉG by Vala Omarsdottir & Hallfridur Thora Tryggvadottir
Finding Home by Abraham ‘AB’ Troen
Silvia in the Waves by Giovana Olmos
The Third Movement by Josephine Anderson


Day 4...

Deep In Vogue

Deep in Vogue
Directed by Amy Watson & Dennis Keighron-Foster

The category is: Post-modern [sub-cultural] appropriation!

To hell with all that appropriation stuff...this is all about creating safe spaces and having a good old [creative] time doing so!

So what if it is derivative of the New York Ballrooms...there is no bigger compliment than mimicry, impersonation...or, a fuzzy photocopy of the original. Ballroom and everything that goes with it...is having a [second] global renaissance...there's the Paris scene, the Berlin scene, the London scene...there's even a Sydney scene...and now, the powerhouse of the North [of England], Manchester, is setting their houses on fire!

Jennie Livingstone's Paris is Burning...paved the way.

Madonna took it into the stratosphere.

And, Ryan Murphy's Pose has opened the floodgates for new generations to find, appreciate and participate in a sub-culture that has much to say and more to show...good grief, even the BBC has climbed on-board...buying the series and broadcasting it on BBC2!

So, forget the critics...ignore the academics...slip on your fake Manolos...and, V-O-G-U-E!

A fine wee film.

Consequences

Consequences
Directed by Darko Stante

False accusation and the fallout. Be assured, it's grim...watching a young man dissolve in front of your eyes is...as unpleasant as it gets. But...what a film, an agonising white-knuckle ride into despair. Without a doubt, the best first feature of the year! Kudos to Darko Stante and his cast.

These young, relatively inexperienced actors give their self-identified, alpha-male thugs the conviction they need...you wouldn't want to be meeting any these lads on a dark, lonely street. Timon Sturbej does psychopathic scarily well...with a thread of sensitivity that he switches on and off like a light-switch as he also does with his sexual preferences. He has a diminutive side-kick who is rotten to the core...not exactly the best friends a young man can have. That's exactly what the become...Andrej's 'friend' - he won't be needing any enemies with chums like these!

Andrej is 'comfortable' with his sexuality, it's what got him into trouble in the first place. But...unrequited love for a psychopath is always going to end in tears. Darko Stante stretches his characters to breaking point, they all break...in different ways. Matej Zemljic does a remarkable job in bringing Andrej to life...you really do feel for this kid, all his stupid decisions...knowing, in there somewhere, there's a good kid screaming to get out. He doesn't stand a chance!

Consquences is a tough watch...especially in these super-sensitive days when an accusation becomes an automatic indictment. Innocent until proven guilty is - seemingly - a thing of the past! This film certainly looks at responsibility...with a scathing attack on parental responsibility - when should it end? Sould it ever end?

Slovenia is not known for its cinematic output, this mighty fine debut from Mr Stante has put his country on the cinematic map. It really is a remarkable piece of work.


Calm Inside the Storm

Flare Day4 ShortsSparrow by Ali Kurr
Maybe Today by Sarah Rotella
They Found Her in a Field by Ellie Rogers
If Only for a Moment by Sophie Kurpershoek
Parker by Rhianon Jones
Treacle by Rosie Westhoff
Home Girl by Poonam Brah


Labyrinths of Desire

Darío by Manuel Kinzer & Jorge A. Trujillo Gil
Gentleman Spa by Yu Jhi Han
My Loneliness is Killing Me by Tim Courtney
Foreign Lovers by Timothy Ryan Hickernell


Day 5...

Water Makes Us Wet

Water Makes Us Wet: An Ecosexual Adventure
Directed by Annie Sprinkle & Beth Stephens

What a surprise...from the ecosexual stable comes forth an educational and entertaining film! Who would have 'thunked' it!?!

Mad as a box of frogs and deeply in love, Annie Sprinkle & Beth Stephens are the perfect blend of hilarious hutzpah and Gaia-loving-demi-goddesses-of-a-certain-age...if they took themselves too seriously, this dippy-earth-loving-hippiness could have been a step too far into Sprinkle-land.

But...when Annie likens the eating of a great big, greasy, quarterpounder more embarrassing than making porn...any trace of seriousness plops - like a dollop of mayonaisse - straight right onto the floor. Thank Gaia for that!

This is a road-trip, quite like no other...it really is all about water...and, travels between watersheds and autobiography...meeting space-cadets and affable activists, mothers and memories. There is emotion. There is hilarity. There is drama...and lots and lots of water. What more could you ask for?

It was nothing less than an absolute delight to have spent these 79 minutes in their company...full of warmth, full of silliness, full of love...these are - most definitely and more refreshingly - glass-half-full-kinda-gals. Cheers...it was a pleasure.

Two In The Bush

Two in the Bush: A Love Story
Directed by Laura Madalinski

An innocuous foray into the worlds of polyamory, BDSM and bisexuality...it does suffer - a little -  from this light-hearted approach. But, hey, it's a rom-com!

So...if you are looking for a meatier approach, look elsewhere. Even the BDSM - which [usually] is no laughing matter...becomes the butt of a few - misjudged - jokes. Aficionados may be a little disgruntled at 'their' portrayal. But, hey, it's still a rom-com!

This could have been - quite easily - a far grittier film about alternative lifestyles...but, it's not...it's safe...perhaps, too safe. Even the sex scenes [of which there are quite a few] wouldn't nudge a PG rating! The use of a few 'safe-words' might have spiced things up a little! It kind of needed it!

Too vanilla for most tastes, Two in the Bush is an entertaining wee film that may raise a few conservative eyebrows...but, the hardcore will find it way too flaccid.

The middle-ground is not always the best place to pitch a film...family-friendly bisexuality and polyamory is - perhaps - a little too ambitious at this moment in time! But...well done for trying!

No Box For Me

No Box for me. An intersex story [Ni d'Ève, ni d'Adam. Une histoire intersexe.]
Directed by Floriane Devigne

Quite possibly...the most intelligent and moving film about being born intersex.

Imagine...you have absolutely no choice as to the direction of your life...and, after that choice has been made [irreversibly, on your behalf], your life becomes a hushed secret, a secret that is kept from you and everyone around you...it is unimaginable.

Doctors and surgeons have made and are still making these choices. Parents, call them [what you will] naive, gullible, misinformed, uninformed, stuck in the binary...have and are still allowing the medical profession to dictate their [preferable] steadfast [binary] road. This binary has caused and is still causing untold suffering...until now.

Floriane Devigne's film shines a light...the bravest of voices speak out...and, a surgeon apologises. Grappling with your sexuality is hard enough. Wrestling with your gender is monumental...not knowing your gender must be catastrophic...these women have taken their secret and shared it...

This film is an education and a warning...no-one should be allowed to make life-changing decisions for anyone...your body, your choice. Accept that [all] binaries are mere fictional constructions...wrought from narrow minds and religious hypocrisies.

When these mindsets are abolished, just as the flat earth was...then, we will all be truly enlightened, enjoying life on the spectrum. Because...that's what life is a colourful, glorious spectrum. Enjoy.

Thank you for this film...both emboldening and enlightening.


Day 6...

Giant Little Ones

Giant Little Ones
Directed by Keith Behrman

Not the usual run-of-the-mill, rites-of-passage, coming-of-age, coming-out...this is one special little film.

First off...Keith Behrman does what many directors don't [or, can't]...he actually manages to capture that elusive essence of 'youth' - helped [enormously] by a blisteringly good soundtrack. The joie-de-vivre is amplified by the immaculate beauty of the two boys...to be young and beautiful, the idyll...that is, until it snaps!

Giant Little Ones becomes 'ugly' in next-to-no-time...but, what sets this story apart [and makes it soar] boils down to one giant humdinger...that crazy little thing called: Presumption!

Once upon a time, teenage sexuality was a [predictable] harem for hysterical hormones...now, in these days of mass information and social media...[teen] sexuality seems to ebb and flow...leaving many [temporarily] high and dry on the tidal plain...or, [permantently] stuck in the mudflats...that is, until the next wave comes along and sweeps them off in a completely different direction...or, drown. You either sink or swim...that's sexual fluidity for y'all!

But...do young adults have the whereabouts/thereabouts to really/fully understand their burgeoning sexuality? Not in a million years! Keith Behrman, most decisively, asks that question. And...the answer is as vague as fog! And, quite rightly...Mr Behrman takes it a little further by proclaiming that this fluidity is not - solely - the realm for the young!

Quite brilliant...this is a script that has been - painstakingly - fleshed out. There are no right or wrong answers...but, there are consequences. It would be wonderful to see where these two boys end up in - say - 10 years time. That's the power of this film...you feel totally invested in these young [and beautiful and painfully familiar] lives.

With some 'packing' comic relief, a beautifully composed reconciliation, toxic masculinity and violence...and, with perfect music, faces and performances...Giant Little Ones is a titantic...of emotion. Will Franky and Ballas drown or swim? And...what of Mouse? We are left wondering and supposing and presuming...what a lovely way to be left!

Truly...this is one very special film...a coming-of-age Titan. Thank you, Mr Behrman.

Splinters

Splinters
Directed by Thom Fitzgerald

Bitter/sweet bisexuality...with an eye-popping tattoo!

Active bisexuals can never be faithful...well, that's that [old] cat out of the box! Cue: Audible meows, caterwauling and screeches!

Splinters is a stereotypical tale of a stereotypical bisexual woman...with a little twist. Belle has done the big coming out as a lesbian...now, she's a closeted bisexual...in a heterosexual relationship...which kind of negates that whole bisexuality-is-just-a-stepping-stone-to-full-blown-homo kind of thing! Well, at least, the filmmaker has brought - not only - something new to the table...but, has swiveled it around completely!

The problem with Splinters is Belle herself...although performed perfectly, she's just not very likeable! Me, me, me, me-ow. Make her loathesome, make her lovable...all this sitting on-the-fence gets the story nowhere. Even her boyfriend, he's a rather flaccid foil to her sword...in other words, a well-trodden door-mat...with little in the way of conflict. Fight back man!

The conflict comes between the lesbian-loathing, bisexual-doubting, heterosexual-loving mother and her I'll-do-anyone-who-comes-along daughter...yes, it is that old bisexual cliché yet again! Cue: Meows, caterwauling and screeches!

By no stretch of the imagination is it a bad film...with the comedy set-pieces [and that tattoo], it's definitely an entertaining wee ride...it just needed a bit more rambunctious conflict! The result being...wait for it...as indecisive as a bisexual.

Cue: Deafening meows, caterwauling and screeches!

Greta 2019

Greta
Directed by Armando Praça

She wants to be left alone! You heard the lady! No doubt, she'll change her mind!

This is a difficult film...if you can stomach [and swallow] a medicine-stealing, patient-abusing nurse who - even though he wants to be left alone - takes in and shacks up with a [much younger] on-the-run murderer...then, this here film is for you. Clinical ethics don't get a look in!

It's a big ask...not helped by Armando Praça's tendency to over-stretch - practically - every scene. More focus would have helped...especially in the stronger [and less-explored] storyline - between Pedro and Daniela - a palliative friendship...that should have brought a tear to the every eye. Alas, Mr Praça favours the more controversial route...ablaze with [unnecessary] explicit sex.

Intergenerational relationships seem to furrow quite a few brows...is it love? How can it be?!? Or, is it just a meal-ticket? Of course it is! If Jean [the murderer] hadn't been a murderer-on-the-run...then, these questions might not have been answered with such ease. It's a simple case of sex in exchange for sanctuary. It's all too easy...although a couple of spanners are thrown into the works...remember, she want to be left alone...and, then there's a bit of blackmail to spice things up...in truth, it all becomes a bit of mess...which is a shame.

Marco Nanini delivers a solid and revealing performance...this could have been an absolute tear-jerker...about two friends running out of things to say, running out of time together...their vulnerabilities could have/would have/should have gripped any audience.

All this film needed was a damn good script editor...and, a box of tissues.


Day 7...

Making Montgomery Clift

Making Montgomery Clift
Directed by Robert Anderson Clift & Hillary Demmon

This will definitely ruffle the feathers of all Monty's [many] biographers...charlatans, each and all. Newsflash: He was not a self-hating, miserable homo...with his finger permanently hovering over the self-destruct button!

According to this film: The 'longest suicide' of the 'beautiful loser' was a fiction...created by those [parasites] who wanted to sell their books. Let's face it...who wants to read about a happy, handsome homo?!? Tragedy sells!

This is a rather loving portrait of the Uncle by his nephew, although they never met. Still, the affection is clear to see...and, hear. Montgomery and his brother, taped everything...telephone conversations, you name...they taped it. That's just plain old weird. The other weird thing is...there's not a mention of Ethel Clift McGinnis, Monty's twin sister...she died in 2014, aged 94. If anyone ever 'knew' Monty, it was her. Not even mentioned...such a screaming omission as this...well, it kind of throws a whole lot of shade on this entire project.

Robert Anderson Clift has done exactly what Monty's biographers did...re-invented the man to suit his audience. And, what a pleasant re-invention it is...but, is it true?

Who knows what is hidden in all those tapes? Well, Robert Anderson Clift knows...and he has chosen what to release and what not to release. Perhaps, Ethel would have something to say about that!?! We'll never know.

Still, a refreshingly, positive portrait...perhaps, not as authentic as it purports to be!

Rafiki

Rafiki
Directed by Wanuri Kahiu

Hasn't this little film caused quite a stir...in Kenya. Banned, ban temporarily lifted...so that it could qualify for Mr Oscar [it needed a theatrical release]...and then, presumably, banned again! At the time of writing, Rafiki is Kenya's second most successful film. Any guesses as to what is the most successful?!?

A mighty congratulations must go to Wanuri Kahiu [& team]...for getting this made [in Kenya] in the first place. And, a thank you...it is an absolute delight of a film...with some particularly unpleasant moments. Rafiki is a plain-and-simple, run-of-the-mill love-story...between two young women in a religiously-littered, narrow-minded Kenya. So, the plain-and-simple ain't too plain and it - most definitely - ain't so simple.

Samantha Mugatsia & Sheila Munyiva are adorable as the young-in-love couple, their acting is both free and natural...oooh, you just want everything to work out for them. Wanuri Kahiu amplifies the depth of their feelings with very tight framing, the [many] close-ups really do invite you into their affection. So, when a film as affectionate as this is ruffles the feathers of the Kenyan Government...surely, the Kenyan Government should look inwards and ask itself some very serious questions!

Shelter

Shelter: Farewell to Eden
Directed by Enrico Masi

A look at migration...through very different eyes. Not a film made with the audience in mind.

It's mind-numbing. Rather than hearing Pepsi's story in-depth, Enrico Masi has favoured a more abstract route...he films - ceaselessly - the mundane. By cutting these - wholly unnecessary - scenes out, the film would have been reduced to a less-monotonous 20 minutes or so.

Less monotonous, yes...but, more unpalatable. So, rather wisely, Mr Masi has diluted Pepsi's story. She does not show her face...after listening to what she has to say, she would be wise to conceal her identity forever!

She wants war - especially in Libya - so that she can work as an untrained nurse. Lives lost, lives in turmoil...so, that she can have a job! Some things may be thought...however, not everything 'thought' should be said out loud! Some people should learn to button their lips...

Not Pepsi...after what she has to say about immigration, not one country in the world would accept her! Quite right too! Her anger over colonialism may be justified in some circles...but, her solution is...absolutely terrifying.

Pepsi is an economic migrant from the Philippines...war has not torn her life apart. She does not come from a country where being trans is intolerable and/or criminal...she is an economic migrant who wants more, more and even more.

Immigration is not a 'right' afforded to everyone who wants to emigrate...and, neither should it be. Immigration should be about welcoming people in dire need. If Pepsi wants to progress in this world...she should deny all knowledge of this film and learn when to button it!

When a film is this anonymous...the credibility has to be questioned and challenged. Believing everything the filmmaker presents is akin to devouring every word printed in a tabloid newspaper.

United We Fan

United We Fan
Directed by Michael Sparaga

Heartbroken that your favourite TV show got cancelled? Write a letter!!!

Most people would just say...well, it ran its course...moving on.

But...there are quite a few who will not take 'the end' for an answer. They bombard the TV stations...with [outraged] letters! Haven't they got better things to do with their lives?

Fandom is a queer phenomenon. It would have been so [perhaps, too] easy for Michael Sparaga to make all of these TV-armchair-activists the butt of the joke...however, he treats the subject [and the subjects] with utmost seriousness. He almost makes you fell guilty for laughing!

Look...we're not talking about high-brow or educational TV, programming that could change lives...we're talking about the likes of Star Trek [original series], Cagney & Lacey, Person of interest et al...not exactly high-brow!

Still...people have made [weird and successful] careers out of fandom, some have even risen to positions of influence! For example...the nonsense that was 'Viewers for Quality Television' [VQT] - bored, suburban, TV-watching housewives...rallied and became a force to be reckoned with. Then, after 16 years, it was dissolved due to apathy...no letter-writing campaign to save it?!?

Now...in these days of 'followers' and 'likes' - the letters have dried-up, replaced by alternative methodologies...and, still you ask: Haven't they got better things to do with their lives? 

There's Kaily Russell who is not too-pleased with TV shows that 'queer-bait' - and, still you ask: Haven't they got better things to do with their lives? 

As ridiculous as it is, this is a serious film about a silly subject. As 'entertaining' as it is, it would be prudent, when watching, to remember: One person's meat is another person's poison.

Touché!


Making History

Framing Agnes by Chase Joynt & Kristen Schilt
Meet Me Under the Clock by Sonya Reynolds & Lauren Hortie
Tomorrow Island by Gwenn Joyaux
This Year, Here by Alison Taylor & Sabine LeBel
Wicked Women by Anna Brownfield
Pirate Boys by Pol Merchan
Nirvana by Jess Kohl


In Place of the Real

Flora by Chaerin Im
Lift Little Tokyo by Tina Takemoto
Donebeing by Kengné Téguia
Between Us Two by Wei Keong Tan
On the Line by Tina Takemoto
Crystal Clear by Max Disgrace
Polymorph by Mike Hooves
Wayward Emulsions by Tina Takemoto
Queer Babel by Timothy Smith
Aphrodite by Hannah Beadman
Sworded Love by Tina Takemoto
Turning by Linnéa Haviland
The Bed and the Street by Heather Frise & Mike Hoolboom


Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

A Great Ride by Deborah Craig
Invisible Women by Alice Smith
Monica - Loose on a Cruise by Angie West & Veronica McKenzie


Day 8...

Papi Chulo Promo

Papi Chulo
Directed by John Butler

Casting is everything...and, John Butler got it spot on with Matt Bomer & Alejandro Patiño...the unlikeliest of [lovable] duos!

Kudos to a writer/director who can lull their audience into a false sense of [comfortable albeit oddball] security...Mr Butler does just that. Messieurs Bomer & Patiño are the quintessential odd couple...the comedy is mostly derived from the reaction to a given line, to a given situation...it is a delicious thing to witness, actors reacting to each other and a director who is able to capture it all. Crowd-pleasing, heart-warming stuff.

And then, just when you least expect it...one short line changes absolutely everything. There's an audible gasp...as the reality sinks in. From where it starts to where it ends up, Papi Chulo is a finely crafted travelogue of the human coping mechanism. It veers [seamlessly] from the downright ridiculous to a heartfelt humanity...again, one line changes the perspective...empathy...and all that that remarkable word encompasses. Another audible gasp!

It really is just a beautiful, enriching and rewarding film...laugh, cry, empathise.

The Silk And The Flame

The Silk and the Flame
Directed by Jordan Schiele

Sometimes...a film presents itself...and leaves you wondering: Why?

Yao goes back home...with a filmmaker in tow. Is this going to be his [filmed] 'big' coming out to his family? No.

So...what is Jordan Schiele's film trying to do? To be truthful, not quite sure...an outsider's look at the domestic hardship endured in rural China. [Tick]. A poor family's history...warts and all. [Tick]. The return of the not-so-prodigal [closeted gay] son - who goes to great lengths to hide his sexuality, he actually introduces his fake girlfriend - via facetime - to his family. [Tick].

Why would anyone want to watch such a charade? Why would anyone want to be filmed - blatantly - performing - what can only be described as - a rehearsed lie? It - truly - is baffling...and, uncomfortable. Why go to such lengths, giving false hope!?! Either, tell them the truth...or, don't! The word 'disrespectful' comes to mind.

The grainy black-and-white makes this film look better than it is...at the end, as the filmmaker and subject jump into their car and drive off, away from the hardship, back to the comfortable city...they leave in their wake...[false] hope and an unnecessary lie.

Surely...the family will want to see the completed film...will they be served with carefully edited highlights!?! One more lie!

A film...too difficult to digest.


Day 9...

The Ground Beneath My Feet

The Ground Beneath My Feet
Directed by Marie Kreutzer

Clutter and clarity...obligatory ingredients for a successful psychodrama!

Marie Kreutzer does not disappoint, she doles each one out by the bucket-load. Mental mayhem and corporate control are incongruous [and surprising] partners...yet, they walk hand-in-hand, self-harming and back-stabbing, leaving in their wake a visceral trail of casualities.

Control and chaos...madness and mayhem...big business and doomed lives. Marie Kreutzer does not make it easy...the ground may - indeed - be beneath her assured directorial feet...but, the audience hasn't a clue where to stand, there's nothing concrete here, nothing to cling onto. Indeed, a complex cocktail of collision...two worlds, two lives...how detached can you [and they] really be?

Lines are blurred...but, never crossed. This is playful filmmaking, the questions keep coming, the answers duck and dive...and, the tension becomes more and more palpable. It's exhausting, it's exciting...it's involving.

This is a slow-burning, stylish piece of work...with a story that keeps you guessing right up to the end...and, beyond!

We The Animals

We the Animals
Directed by Jeremiah Zagar

Take the old worn out cliché: Over-protective mother + distant father = gay kid...turn it on its head, rip it to shreds, smash it up until it becomes unrecognisable, add a distinctive filmmaking talent and one of the most beautiful-looking kids you will ever see...and, you have: We the Animals - a stunningly original feature debut from Jeremiah Zagar.

This film is soaked in artistry...yes, it is arthouse...but, with such an all-embracing narrative, it pulls you in and never lets go. Not only can you can see the turmoil this kid is going through, you can feel it. It's both heartbreaking and joyful. Mr Zagar's direction is as inventive as it is imaginative, he really does get the best out of all of the kids...but, it is his skill at weilding a double-bladed sword, everything/everyone has an ambiguous edge...the father, the basement-dwelling 'friend', the mother...but, the scene that nails it is when the boy sits on his father's knee and snuggles into his protection...I got myself a pretty one...killer line, killer scene, killer film.


Day 10...

Sunburn

Sunburn
Directed by Vicente Alves do Ó

Ever heard about the film that ends exactly where it should have started?

3 men, 1 woman...friends, with one thing in common...they all have had some sort of relationship with never-to-be-seen, only-to-be-heard, David. After 10 absent years, they await his impending arrival. It's a bit like a sun-soaked Waiting for Godot...without the existentialism!

Despite the sunshine, it's a bit of a dull affair and as anticlimactic as a story can ever be! David is set-up to be God's gift to human-kind, as an irresistable Adonis...oooh, you'll be champing at the bit, drooling and dribbling in anticipation...until your eyes feast upon the demi-god himself! Champ, drool and dribble away, David's arrival is - fiendishly - delayed by forest fires and other lame excuses.

So...the friends carouse and quarrel...re-live, re-examine their personal histories with each other and with David...and, it all ends up going absolutely nowhere. A series of minor conflicts in no way compensates for missing the major showdown...perhaps, there will be a part 2!?!

It's a waiting game! And, waiting, for most people is a chore, rather avoided.

Knife Heart

Knife+Heart
Directed by Yann Gonzalez

Nothing quite like mixing up the genres to get the critics sizzling and scribbling...

Yann Gonzalez has thrown just about everything at the screen...and, depending on your taste and/or sense-of-humour...and, with a very large pinch of salt...most of it sticks! You are either going to love or loathe this film. We loved it!

If ever Hammer House of Horror, the House of Giallo and the Carry On team teamed up...then, Knife+Heart is what could have been produced. Well, Mr Gonzalez has done the improbable. With a(n) unique vision and the frequent nods to many a fine flick...this is a camp and twisted, dark and chaotic, [soft-ish] porn-infused melange of style and substance.

Vanessa Paradis holds it all together with her portayal of an alcoholic, recently dumped, broken-hearted, lesbian-gay-porn-director...fighting, tooth-and-nail, many a battle...against the bottle, for her lost love, her dissolving business...and, against the madly bewigged, masked murderer who is murdering all of her cast!

At no point can any of this be taken seriously...though, thankfully, nothing is played for a cheap laugh...and that's what makes it screamingly funny. With a fluffer known as the Mouth [of Gold]...who could take this seriously!?! What a job!!!

The story does go off-the-rails in places - but, finds its way back...and - dare we say it - it could have been a little more explicit, all the porn scenes were very vanilla - perhaps, Mr Gonzalez is holding out for the Director's Cut!

For horror aficionados, it has all the required ingredients. There's blood [lots of it], gay sex [lots of it], alcohol [lots of it], murders galore...and, a deadly dildo! What's not to like?!?

Total escapism...bizarre and borderline brilliant - depending on your taste and/or sense-of-humour!


Flare Short D10 SmallWhat Makes a Man, a Man?

Main Man by Florian Forsch
Thrive by Jamie Dispirito
Rubber Dolphin by Ori Aharon
Mankind by Layke Anderson


Dancing With a Stranger

Foxy Trot by Lisa Donato
Children Alike by Julia Boström
The Half Wall by Ida Hansen Eldøen
Night Out by Amelia Hashemi
Misdirection by Carly Usdin
The Date by Emmalie El Fadli
When Abbie Met Emmy by Kevin Walls


Day 11...

Hook Ups and Downs

Marco by Saleem Haddad
Parking by Ahmad Seyfipour
Renovation by Fábio Leal
Estigma by David Velduque
Fun Only by Lukas Revzin
Infinite While It Lasts by Akira Kamiki


The Way Things Are

The Foreigner by Ben Allen
Anemone by Amrou Al-Kadhi
Diva by Adam Csoka Keller
Land's End by Ben Strebel
None of the Above by Siri Rødnes
Crashing Waves by Emma Gilbertson
Ladies Day by Abena Taylor-Smith
Listen by Jake Graf
Jas by Alice Trueman
Batty Boy by Blain Ho-shing & Dior Clarke


Short films...not in a collection...

Battle Cry by Kyle REAUME
Self Destructive Boys by André SANTOS, Marco LEÃO
The Orphan by Carolina MARKOWICZ
Ponyboi by River GALLO, Sadé Clacken JOSEPH
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by Matthew HOPPER
Finding Home by Abraham TROEN
Londonstani by Nirpal BHOGAL
Stage Name: Victoria by Taran MORRISEAU
See the Man by José Miguel JIMÉNEZ


The Very last film of the festival...

Jeremiah Terminator Leroy

Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy
Directed by Justin Kelly

It's a well-know story/scam...yet, this biopic - flatly - refuses to name names!

Eva = Asia Argento...and, if you want to know the names of all the celebs who jumped on the LeRoy bandwagon...watch the 2016, mightily funny, jaw-dropping documentary: Author: The JT Leroy Story - with this [more] truthful account, there's no hiding behind the [obvious] gagging order...put in place by God-knows-who!?!

Eva = Asia Argento...her vehicle - The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things - to plaudits and awards...despite a Cannes premiere...crashed and burned.

So...the scam continues...or, more's the case, squeezing every last penny [possible] out of a thoroughly decomposed story. Hopefully, this is the last re-hash...by the vicarious [in so many ways] Savannah Knoop.

Good grief...she does come across [via Kirsten Stewart's characterisation] as the epitome of moody and miserable...you would think that pulling off a scam [such as this] would bring a certain joie-de-vivre [she's been living off of it for years]...being flown around the world, entertained by the glitterati...but, no...she moans and whines ceaselessly...sucking the 'joy' straight right out of the story.

But, hey...when you take it too far and fall in love with someone - who falls in love with you - who thinks you are someone else entirely...well, that ain't no laughing matter...but, when you think about it...it's absolutely hysterical. Savannah/Kirsten does not laugh...jeezus, she barely breaks a smile throughout the entire film. But...when the 'serious' take themselves too seriously, they crash and burn.

Thank goodness for Laura Dern [she steals the show]...aka Laura Albert [LeRoy's creator], aka Speedy [LeRoy's effusive fake manager]...she's having an absolute hoot...and why wouldn't she!?! What a different film this would have been...if penned by Laura Albert!

As inventive and creative as the story is...the story-telling is anything but inventive. Justin Kelly tells it with the minimum of artistic/creative flair...what this fictionally factual film needed was a bit of pomp...the circumstances were crying out for it...the literati, the glitterati...all standing there...with egg...smeared across each and every face.

It should have been a hoot! Despite Laura Dern's best efforts...the hoot was - sadly - reduced to a dullish toot!


 

Flare 2019 Films

 

 

Tell It To The Bees | Official Trailer...

A single mother Lydia (Holliday Grainger) who is abandoned by her husband, meets the small village's Doctor Jean Markham (Anna Paquin) who has recently returned to her hometown when Lydia's son Charlie is taken under the doctor after being bullied in school. When Lydia and Charlie are unhoused because of Lydia's earnings from her work are not adequate to pay the rent, Jean invites them to stay in her home and she and Lydia soon develop a friendship and maybe something more.

Sauvage / Wild - Official US Trailer...

Leo is 22 and sells his body on the street for a bit of cash. The men come and go, and he stays right here — longing for love. He doesn’t know what the future will bring. He hits the road. His heart is pounding.

SHAFT – Official Trailer...

In theaters June 14...

New Line Cinema’s action comedy “Shaft” is the next chapter in the film franchise featuring the coolest private eye on any New York City block.

JJ, aka John Shaft Jr. (Usher), may be a cyber security expert with a degree from MIT, but to uncover the truth behind his best friend’s untimely death, he needs an education only his dad can provide. Absent throughout JJ’s youth, the legendary locked-and-loaded John Shaft (Jackson) agrees to help his progeny navigate Harlem’s heroin-infested underbelly. And while JJ’s own FBI analyst’s badge may clash with his dad’s trademark leather duster, there’s no denying family. Besides, Shaft’s got an agenda of his own, and a score to settle that’s professional and personal.

Oscar Nominations 2019...& Winners...

Oscars 2019“Roma” and “The Favourite” lead the nominations for the 91st Oscars, scoring 10 nods each. Both films were nominated for best picture, alongside “Black Panther,” seriously!?! It really does show how ridiculous these awards have become!

The biggest snub has got to be "If Beale Street Could Talk", with only 3 [less major] nominations! "Roma" is destined to win big...this beautiful [but terminally boring] film has been over-hyped and over-praised and spends too much time on dog pooh! Why has it been nominated in 2 'Best Film' categories!?!

LGBT representation is all over the nominations...but, we're rooting for Richard E. Grant. And, of course, Rami Malek. Between Olivia Colman & Melissa McCarthy, we just can't decide...

Nominations were announced on Tuesday morning by Kumail Nanjiani and Tracee Ellis Ross. The Academy Awards will air live Feb. 24 at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET on ABC.

Here is the full list of 2019 Oscar nominations:

Best Picture:

“Black Panther”
“BlacKkKlansman”
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“The Favourite”
“Green Book”
“Roma”
“A Star Is Born”
“Vice”

Lead Actor:

Christian Bale, “Vice”
Bradley Cooper, “A Star Is Born”
Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”
Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”

Lead Actress:

Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma”
Glenn Close, “The Wife”
Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”
Lady Gaga, “A Star Is Born”
Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Supporting Actor:

Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”
Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman”
Sam Elliott, “A Star Is Born”
Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Sam Rockwell, “Vice”

Supporting Actress:
Amy Adams, “Vice”
Marina de Tavira, “Roma”
Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Emma Stone, “The Favourite”
Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”

Director:

Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”
Pawel Pawlikowski, “Cold War”
Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”
Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma”
Adam McKay, “Vice”

Animated Feature:

“Incredibles 2,” Brad Bird
“Isle of Dogs,” Wes Anderson
“Mirai,” Mamoru Hosoda
“Ralph Breaks the Internet,” Rich Moore, Phil Johnston
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman

Animated Short:

“Animal Behaviour,” Alison Snowden, David Fine
“Bao,” Domee Shi
“Late Afternoon,” Louise Bagnall
“One Small Step,” Andrew Chesworth, Bobby Pontillas
“Weekends,” Trevor Jimenez

Adapted Screenplay:

“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” Joel Coen , Ethan Coen
“BlacKkKlansman,” Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee
“Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
“If Beale Street Could Talk,” Barry Jenkins
“A Star Is Born,” Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters

Original Screenplay:

“The Favourite,” Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara
“First Reformed,” Paul Schrader
“Green Book,” Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly
“Roma,” Alfonso Cuarón
“Vice,” Adam McKay

Cinematography:

“Cold War,” Lukasz Zal
“The Favourite,” Robbie Ryan
“Never Look Away,” Caleb Deschanel
“Roma,” Alfonso Cuarón
“A Star Is Born,” Matthew Libatique

Best Documentary Feature:

“Free Solo,” Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
“Hale County This Morning, This Evening,” RaMell Ross
“Minding the Gap,” Bing Liu
“Of Fathers and Sons,” Talal Derki
“RBG,” Betsy West, Julie Cohen

Best Documentary Short Subject:

“Black Sheep,” Ed Perkins
“End Game,” Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman
“Lifeboat,” Skye Fitzgerald
“A Night at the Garden,” Marshall Curry
“Period. End of Sentence.,” Rayka Zehtabchi

Best Live Action Short Film:
“Detainment,” Vincent Lambe
“Fauve,” Jeremy Comte
“Marguerite,” Marianne Farley
“Mother,” Rodrigo Sorogoyen
“Skin,” Guy Nattiv

Best Foreign Language Film:

“Capernaum” (Lebanon)
“Cold War” (Poland)
“Never Look Away” (Germany)
“Roma” (Mexico)
“Shoplifters” (Japan)

Film Editing:

“BlacKkKlansman,” Barry Alexander Brown
“Bohemian Rhapsody,” John Ottman
“Green Book,” Patrick J. Don Vito
“The Favourite,” Yorgos Mavropsaridis
“Vice,” Hank Corwin

Sound Editing:

“Black Panther,” Benjamin A. Burtt, Steve Boeddeker
“Bohemian Rhapsody,” John Warhurst
“First Man,” Ai-Ling Lee, Mildred Iatrou Morgan
“A Quiet Place,” Ethan Van der Ryn, Erik Aadahl
“Roma,” Sergio Diaz, Skip Lievsay

Sound Mixing:

“Black Panther”
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“First Man”
“Roma”
“A Star Is Born”

Production Design:

“Black Panther,” Hannah Beachler
“First Man,” Nathan Crowley, Kathy Lucas
“The Favourite,” Fiona Crombie, Alice Felton
“Mary Poppins Returns,” John Myhre, Gordon Sim
“Roma,” Eugenio Caballero, Bárbara Enrı́quez

Original Score:

“BlacKkKlansman,” Terence Blanchard
“Black Panther,” Ludwig Goransson
“If Beale Street Could Talk,” Nicholas Britell
“Isle of Dogs,” Alexandre Desplat
“Mary Poppins Returns,” Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman

Original Song:

“All The Stars” from “Black Panther” by Kendrick Lamar, SZA
“I’ll Fight” from “RBG” by Diane Warren, Jennifer Hudson
“The Place Where Lost Things Go” from “Mary Poppins Returns” by Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman
“Shallow” from “A Star Is Born” by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, Andrew Wyatt and Benjamin Rice
“When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” from “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch

Makeup and Hair:

“Border”
“Mary Queen of Scots”
“Vice”

Costume Design:

“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” Mary Zophres
“Black Panther,” Ruth E. Carter
“The Favourite,” Sandy Powell
“Mary Poppins Returns,” Sandy Powell
“Mary Queen of Scots,” Alexandra Byrne

Visual Effects:

“Avengers: Infinity War”
“Christopher Robin”
“First Man”
“Ready Player One”
“Solo: A Star Wars Story”

Glasgow Film Festival 2019...

Glasgow Film Festival 2019It's that time of the year...when we all head North, anticipating what the weather will throw at us! Seemingly, there's going to be a heatwave...in Scotland, in February...that will be a first!

No matter what Mother Nature has in store, the Glasgow Film Festival will keep us cosy and entertained for the next 12 days...with a scrumptious selection of films.


Here are all the films on our menu:

Day 1...

Mid90sMid90s
Directed by Jonah Hill

Didn't love it, didn't hate it, didn't believe a word of it!

Jonah Hill's directorial debut is a watered-down version of Larry Clarke's Kids and, presumably, an homage to skateboarding culture. Yes, there are heaps of drugs, buckets of alcohol and too many words beginning with 'N' and 'F' - it really does become more of a critique on toxic [youthful] masculinity than an homage to a vibrant counter-culture.

If you can by-pass the chronic miscasting, the unnecessary [let's-do-it-for-authenticity] 4:3 aspect and strange song choices...Mid90s offers little more than a tissue of a story, delivered via episodic vignettes...they range from the plausible de-railing of a likeable kid to the totally implausible de-railing of this unlikeable kid. The seduction scene is nothing but absolute baloney. As for the mother, she 'cares' for one scene - shouting the odds - then, releasing her son back into the grips of extreme hedonism. A tiny, pre-pubescent body could not take this amount of abuse! 

In truth, if Jonah Hill had not been the [famed] director...this film would have appeared briefly and disappeared quickly...without trace.


Day 2...

The Hole In The GroundThe Hole in the Ground
Directed by Lee Cronin

Many a fine film falls and fails in the final third...this is a classic example.

WTF happened!?! Everything was skipping around rather spookily...a good build of atmosphere, replete with madness and mystery...and, a massive hole in the ground [aka: A crater]. Fine performances, good writing...then, boom...WTF happened!?! Imagination malfunction and/or budget over-spend!?! Whatever it was...[film festival] audiences are far too sophisticated to accept this kind of belief suspension...

In the blink of an eye, an inescapable predicament goes all-out Houdini...and, the film - quite literally - goes tits up! Such a shame...this really could have been a wholly chilling tale...if only the ending had been re-thought...then, re-written...and, optimally, re-worked for the desired/best effect...the potential was there!

The Sisters BrothersThe Sisters Brothers
Directed by Jacques Audiard

Hooray...for a French take on an old, worn-out Hollywood staple: The Western.

Not a trace of the John-Homophobic-Wayne-Big-Ham-Style-of-Acting, no designer-damsels in distress, none of that 'there'll be injuns in dem hills' nonsense...instead, a story of brotherly love, idealism, greed and duty. Most definitely, not your usual kind of Western...this has intelligence, blooming bromances and a golden stream of rich subtext.

The 'Goodie' [there really is only one, although there is a convert to the good-side] is - perhaps - too good to be true...and, the 'Baddies' [there are many] are as savage and uncouth as you would expect...with the odd twist...with the oddest couples. John C. Reilly & Joaquin Phoenix - seriously - do do odd [assassin] brothers well...unlike [yet, like] oil and water, they mix their psychopathies with humour and violence towards a mesmerising conclusion. Simply, one of the best double acts of recent memory...and, most definitely, one of the best Westerns ever made!

Good to see Rebecca Root in a small but significant role...although the armchair activists will probably wail & moan about her on-screen treatment!

The Man Who Surprised Everyone

The Man Who Surprised Everyone [Chelovek, kotoryy udivil vsekh]
Directed by Aleksey Chupov & Natalya Merkulova

Here's a film that will challenge those who like to be challenged!

The message this film delivers is loud...but, not so clear! From the off...violence. Incomprehensible violence...in the opening minutes, two men are killed for poaching a deer. There are consequences...when you don't follow the rules, when you step out of line, when you dare to be who you are! At times, you would be forgiven into thinking that this is a Russian propaganda film...warning the radicals, the free thinkers, the individual against any kind of reaction against the machine! Putin's Russia is synonymous with homophobia...Putin, himself, is the poster-boy for toxic masculinity. Here, in this film, that toxicity is play-out in full...for all the world to see. It is not pleasant.

This is a trans*film like no other...the acquiescence of the character is as startling as it is muted. She does not say a word, accepts her lot without indignation...but, with a steadfast resilience. Complex characters do not come more complex than this...this transition is - for the audience - sensory. Perhaps, quite possibly...the best cinematic explanation of the force behind transition...breath-taking.

A bewildering, bleak, bizarrely beautiful film.

Papi ChuloMatt Bomer & John Butler @ Glasgow Film FestivalPapi Chulo
Directed by John Butler

Casting is everything...and, John Butler got it spot on with Matt Bomer & Alejandro Patiño...the unlikeliest of [lovable] duos!

Kudos to a writer/director who can lull their audience into a false sense of [comfortable albeit oddball] security...Mr Butler does just that. Messieurs Bomer & Patiño are the quintessential odd couple...the comedy is mostly derived from the reaction to a given line, to a given situation...it is a delicious thing to witness, actors reacting to each other and a director who is able to capture it all. Crowd-pleasing, heart-warming stuff.

And then, just when you least expect it...one short line changes absolutely everything. There's an audible gasp...as the reality sinks in. From where it starts to where it ends up, Papi Chulo is a finely crafted travelogue of the human coping mechanism. It veers [seamlessly] from the downright ridiculous to a heartfelt humanity...again, one line changes the perspective...empathy...and all that that remarkable word encompasses. Another audible gasp!

It really is just a beautiful, enriching and rewarding film...laugh, cry, empathise.


Day 3...

Mothers InstinctMothers’ Instinct [Duelles]
Directed by Olivier Masset-Depasse

Oooh there's nothing quite like a psychological suburban thriller to get the brain-cells a-sparking.

Sweet domesticity, the perfect life...is shattered by a tragic accident. Mothers’ Instinct is all about style and substance. True to its obvious influence, this Hitchcockian homage will keep you guessing from the moment the [parental] paranoia set in. Even more...there's a little boy who could challenge the most patient of Saints. He is the angel and demon combined! And that's the power of the film, you never quite know what you're dealing with...until it becomes [perhaps, a little too prematurely] apparent.

No faulting the production values, the period is captured with a stylised eye and the cinematography is a joy to behold. Performance wise, everyone delivers...our only quibble is, the neatly-packaged ending...not every story needs to be tied up with string and bows...keep them guessing, that's the thrill of the thriller! But...a damn decent thriller nonetheless.

The Third WifeThe Third Wife
Directed by Ash Mayfair

If ever a film had the potential to be something special...this was it.

Great premise, a young bride brought into a polygamous marriage, set in the breath-taking scenery of a distant Vietnam...the romance of it all...but, alas, there was absolutley no romance...and, despite the on-screen beauty, the constant battle with sleep was near-overwhelming and uncomfortably tortuous throughout. Why, oh why, did this happen!?! All the ingredients for a great film were there...except for a fully fleshed-out script!

It would seem that Ash Mayfair's cinematic punctuation is...when in doubt, film [interminably] a leaf, or a silk worm, or water...or, anything that fills the gap. Stick with the story!!! Yes, indeed, the sensitive souls will argue in favour of the mood, atmosphere and tone creation...but, when the effect is as soporific as this, a gross misjudgment has been made. Wake up!!! Why? For the lesbian scene...it comes out of nowhere, ends in a flash and is forgotten! Yes...all this film needed was a fully fleshed-out script and a brutal editor who has a particular distaste for leaves, silk worms and water. And then...it could have been a marvel.

BorderBorder [Gräns]
Directed by Ali Abbasi

The less you know about this film...the better!

Watch with an open mind...as a tale of incredible cruelty, depravity and love-in-the-unlikeliest-of-places between an unlikely couple uniquely unfolds. They are not what they seem!

Ali Abbasi - basically - draws a very fuzzy line between man and monster. He mulls it over and presents a jaw-dropping treatise on humanity and plays with the whole concept that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and real beauty is within!

This is bold, challenging and daring cinema...in the wrong hands it could have disintegrated right before your very eyes...but, Eva Melander and Eero Milonoff deliver remarkable, grizzly performances.

It does have moments of extreme tenderness...but, on the whole, it's as unpleasant as can be...human depravity is an assault to the senses.

Here's a film that will touch all of your senses and make you think long and hard!

Tell It to the Bees @ Glasgow Film Festival

An un-missable achievement!

Tell It To The Bees

Tell It to the Bees
Directed by Annabel Jankel

Pre-sexual revolution of the 60s, setting: small-town Scotland...and, some Sapphic stirrings in the undergrowth. Oooh the scandal of it all!!!

Tell it to the Bees is a mixed bag of youthful loveliness and domestic trauma...with one major [and inexplicable] problem: The ending! Why change the perfectly good ending [of the book] into something so unsatisfactory and implausible?!? Or, perhaps, this man's mind is completely at a loss when it comes to the woman's psyche...and, the swarming instinct of bees!

Seriously, this is a lovely film that [sadly] asks [just a little] too much from its audience...when belief flies out of the window [and bees, literally, fly in]. Up until this point, the gentleness of the story is a delight, young Gregor Selkirk is a joy to watch as he confronts and computes the harsh realities of life. Anna Paquin and Holliday Grainger, they do the story proud. There is so much to commend this film...however, when the 'fantasy' hits the fan...aaargh! It's so frustrating, tripping before the last hurdle...it all boils down to...the bees had one scene too many!


Day 4...

Yuli

Carlos Acosta at UK premiere of Yuli

Yuli
Directed by Icíar Bollaín

Quite unlike the usual bio-pic...thank the lord-of-the-dance...and, Paul Laverty's script!

The film is punctuated [beautifully] with dance [the male pas-de-deux is a sensation not to be missed], reflection and invention. Having the man himself in his own film was a blatant and questionable risk...and, even Señor Acosta said he didn't want to ruin his own film. Well, he didn't and it was a risk that paid out dividends by the score. Sharing his story, on such a personal level, took guts...the lengthy applause he received...well-deserved.

Those lucky enough to have seen Señor Acosta dance...those who have not, well you are just denying yourself of something truly special...and, after watching this film...inspirational. Talent is given...but, success has to be earned...well-earned.

Yuli is a credit to the collaboration between subject, writer and director. This is a film that has been choreographed with precision and finesse...infused with reluctance and politics...and, a tough love between father and son. If that love had not been so tough, the world may not have gotten the intense pleasure [and release] of experiencing Carlos Acosta dance.

A bio-pic quite like no other. Thank you.


Day 5...

Coincoin And The Extra HumansCoincoin and the Extra-Humans [Coincoin et les z'inhumains]
Directed by Bruno Dumont

200 minutes of WTF!!! Is this a case of 'absurdism' being taken too far? Definitely, 100 minutes too far!

Because...the first 50 minutes are an explosion to the senses. This is mayhem...with some of the best visual gags in recent memory. The next 50 minutes, the gags start to repeat, over and over again. As for the final 100 minutes...well, let's just say they were unnecessary. Talk about stretching something out until the breaking point is well and truly reached...Bruno Dumont certainly reached that point and went over it. He even writes how repetition becomes monotonous...pity he didn't take his own words and applied them to this sprawling project.

It is actually a shame...because, Coincoin could have been something truly special...casting people with learning disabilities is something that more directors should do...but, everyone on-screen [still] needs to be directed. And, every director should know when they have taken it [all] too far!

Let Me FallLet Me Fall [Lof mér að falla]
Directed by Baldvin Zophoníasson

This is the bleakest of the bleak.

Well, drug addiction is no laughing matter...unless you're off your face and don't give a month-of-sundays about those around you. Those unfortunates, the family, those friends, the collateral...caught in the cross-fire...until they have no choice other than to walk away.

From the opening scene, these lethal lesbians [together with their toxic love] care for absolutely no-one but themselves and their habit...and, only for each other, when it suits! It would be crazy to say Let Me Fall is an enjoyable film, it's almost unimaginable to even 'like' this film...not because it's a bad film - it most certainly is not bad...it's just so unflinchingly desolate.

Baldvin Zophoníasson takes no prisoners and pulls no punches whatsoever...the critique he delivers upon State and Church and Rehab and addicts and their chain of supply are damning and absolute. This is 'sensational' filmmaking...and, as sure as Hell, it is not pretty.

Her SmellHer Smell
Directed by Alex Ross Perry

10 minutes in the company of Becky Something is quite enough thank you.

She is exhausting, unpalatable and really rather talentless. Ironically, Elizabeth Moss is a damn fine actor and this may sound like an [unintended] insult...but, she does do 'talentlessness' very well indeed! It's just a shame that she is so damned irritating to watch...what's more is Alex Ross Perry's decision to have a perpetual [background] drone-like noise playing throughout the entire film...it just adds insult to injury.

As for the songs...of which there are [thankfully] few...it's difficult to find the appropriate word...but, 'dreadful' will do for now.

With a runtime of [an agonising] 134 minutes, this is - indeed - an unrelenting torture. This ain't Rock'n'Roll, this was as authentic as a Courtney Love tribute act.

GirlGirl
Directed by Lukas Dhont

Be still my breaking heart...

There has been a recent uproar - by [those] anonymous, gobby, armchair activists [who scream and shout at everything streaming on Netflix] - demanding a boycot of this film. Listen to them not! A trans*character does not need to be played by a trans*actor...the best 'actor' for the job should play the role. And, Lukas Dhont found the perfect actor in Victor Polster to play Lara.

Breathtaking is not a word we use regulary...but, breathtaking is what Victor Polster is! Lara says little throughout the film, she has so much on her young mind...the transition, the secret...and, the ballet. All punishing on the body, the mind and soul Can she keep it all together? Or, will she break? The entire film leads up to that question...the answer is...well, you will have to watch it to find out.

At times, there's a real sense of this being a fly-on-the-wall documentary...Lukas Dhont observes...and, it so immersive that at no time do you disbelieve anything that is shown. Gleaned from his short film, Girl is one mighty fine debut feature. Let us hope he has more [quality] projects up his sleeve!

To be overwhelmed by a film is a remarkable achievement...be overwhelmed!


Day 6...

Everybody KnowsEverybody Knows [Todos lo saben]
Directed by Asghar Farhadi

Secrets don't have much mileage in small towns...and, with Asghar Farhadi in the driver's seat, low mileage is the least of his concerns - especially when his script runs out of fuel before he gets to the final destination!

Everybody Knows oozes quality - how can it not with Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem...they bring Farhadi's script alive. But, alas, despite their best efforts, it all leads to what only can be described as anticlimactic as a good film should not be.

The whole film is geared towards an unavoidable and obvious [but, with whom] confrontation...the only problem is...that confrontation never takes place! What a disappointment...it's akin to sitting in an Aston Martin that has two flat tyres and an empty tank!

The MergerThe Merger
Directed by Mark Grentell

Played almost entirely for laughs...with the odd dollop of cheesy sentimentality thrown in to crowd-please the crowd. What The Merger needed was a bit more gravitas...considering, at its core, this is a film about racism!

When the writer is the star of the film, the director has to take the bull by the horns and claim control over his film. Well, that just didn't happen. This is Damian Callinan's film...his writing needed a bite and a punch and a kick to the...well, you know where. It's all just too lightweight [and, weirdly, polite]. When tackling big, important issues [racism and immigration] a certain aggression is needed [with some killer put-downs] rather than what's on offer here, the spoonful-of-sugar approach accompanied by some gentle preaching!

Small-town, Australian-football-loving Australians will - no doubt - love it. It's not a film that travels particularly well.

Maria By CallasMaria By Callas
Directed by Tom Volf

There was Maria and there was La Callas...two people in one person. And then there was the voice. Tom Volf's film is a celebration of that voice...accompanied by some previously unseen footage of the woman herself. For a fan, it is an utter joy.

Much has been written and said about Maria Callas...here, she speaks for herself...mostly as La Callas...but, snippets of Maria do creep in. Feminists will cringe as she talks about love and marriage and the Prince Charming who never materialised. It is amazing to [think and] hear this remarkable talent would have given it all up...for love. It seems to be true what they say: It's lonely at the top!

Seriously, you have to admire the staggering amount of work that went into the making of this fine film. Finding the 'lost' footage is an unenviable and admirable task. Maria by Callas is a labour-of-love...thank you Mr Volf for your labour. Sublime.

BenjaminSimon AmstellBenjamin
Directed by Simon Amstell

Well, well, well...Benjamin turned out to be an unexpected, awkward delight...with some surprisingly scathing swipes at 'creatives' and their [often questionable] 'produce' - performance artists and [read: experimental] filmmakers get it in the neck - all done in the best possible way...with wit.

Add to the mix a [frustrating] love-story: Boy woos boy, boy gets boy, boy dumps boy [TBC]...boy oh boy does this boy need a stiff glass of Red...and - quite possibly - a big juicy steak!

Yes, Benjamin is a duff filmmaker, a tea-totalitarian, an over-thinking meditating vegan. The archetypal fun-guy [ha ha]...yet [amazingly], he meets his 'yang' and he's adorable! Together, they are adorable. Due credit must go to Colin Morgan and Phénix Brossard [and, Mr Amstell's writing] for bringing alive - what would seem - two of the - quite possibly - most boring characters ever to appear on a page! On-screen...oooh you just want to tweak their cheeks...and then - gently, of course - smack them about their other cheeks!

And...the goodness doesn't stop there...there are some seriously immersive, original songs...to boot! The opening 'gag' is - really - rather brilliant. The audience member battling against sleep is - hysterically - familiar. The ending...well, no spoilers here!. But...the film does leave you asking one question...and, perhaps, it's a question that no-one should ask...especially in polite company, to Hell with it, we'll [royally] ask it anyway: Do gay [male, since everyone is-and-are calling themselves 'gay' nowadays] vegans spit or swallow!?! How uncouth! But...glad we got that one off our collective chests!

A damn fine wee film.


Day 7...

The White CrowThe White Crow
Directed by Ralph Fiennes

Rudolph Nureyev was given 45 minutes alone in a room...to contemplate his future - to defect or not to defect. The enormity of that decision is completely lost in this mismanaged film. And, it all boils down to the writing...which is all over the place with a scrambled timeline that simply confuses...one minute Nureyev has a broken leg in plaster, the next...he's bouncing around like a March bunny! Apart from the black & white flashbacks, there is no visible differentiation between the different stages of Nureyev's [earlier] life.

His homosexuality is [increduously] down-played, there's a brief bedroom scene with him in bed with a naked male 'friend' - however, the emphasis seems to be misplaced upon a clandestine relationship he had with his mentor's wife - the dynamics of this relationship are not explored, it was a very complex situation - the couple moved him into their home...alas, Mr Hare's writing only shows the surface of the story without digging deeper...rather than using Julie Kavanagh's biography, perhaps he ought to have spoken to more people [outwith the Ballet] who knew Mr Nureyev personally. A whole different story would have emerged.

If only Paul Laverty had written the script, if only Icíar Bollaín had directed it...if only Carlos Acosta had been the choreographer...too many 'if onlys'.

ProphecyProphecy
Directed by Charlie Paul

Utterly fascinating...to see an artist-at-work...still, breaking the rules. Peter Howson may have put his wild days behind him...thankfully, his art is still as striking [and recognisable] as ever...perhaps, even more so! If Prophecy is anything to go by!

This is a gentle film. There are no great revelations [regarding the art world], no artistic tantrams or traumas...just a portrait of a down-to-earth artist at the top of his game. It really is a rather spellbinding experience...especially with the animations of Mr Howson's art...from where they start to where they end up.

There is a great sadness to this film...Prophecy - quite possibly - will never be seen by the public-at-large. It is destined to remain hidden in a corporate collection, lost in an executive boardroom...where executives may glance and nod and say: Ah, a Howson...but, ultimately, pay-it-no-mind. The true tragedy of Art: Ownership!

The Aftermath

The Aftermath
Directed by James Kent

A film that will force you to question your national pride! Not what you would expect from a quintessential, period love story.

Martin Compston - who is rapidly becoming one of the best character actors we have - dishes it out...without reserve. His Burnham is a skin-crawling savage, devoid of compassion...and, a total stranger to the dignity of humility-in-victory. He is not alone...wars create deep-rooted and long-lasting hate. When such characters are pitted against humility-in-defeat and those unable to accept that defeat...tempers explode and tensions snap. And, with the hindsight that we all pocess, James Kent's film makes us squirm against something we hold dear: Pride.

Love and loss, guilt and grief are additional characters that play their part in the clean-up after war. Here, in this aftermath, souls are bared, straws are grasped, realities are confronted. Indeed, the emotion displayed is touching to the core. The actors with their set monologues...deliver some noteworthy and impeccable performances. Ms Knightly - wow - does she deliver!

Stunningly photographed, The Aftermath is a romance with a twist and a sting...and, perhaps, a happy ending. It's about perspective and hindsight. A clever, rewarding and beautiful film.


Day 8...

Out Of BlueCarol MorleyOut of Blue
Directed by Carol Morley

When Schrödinger's cat pops up in a murder investigation, you take notice! Indeed, mesmerising stuff!

David Lynch also pops into mind...in this subtext-laden, not-your-average whodunit. That subtext is shattered with one killer line...involving a bar with some exotic dancers! With as many red herrings you could squash into a tin, Out of Blue doesn't take itself as seriously as you would expect...and, does become a little fantastical and - dare we say - fanciful in places. But, that's it's joy...Patricia Clarkson plays her defective detective [almost] tongue-in-cheek. And, when a film kills off Mamie Gummer in the first few minutes, expect the unexpected. Because, that's what Carol Morely delivers...a labyrinth of ideas with some philosophical existentialism thrown in just to bamboozle and bewilder. It's right up there with all the other bamboozlers and bewilderers! How we love those off-the-dial filmmakers!

JoseJosé
Directed by Li Cheng

Winner of the Queer Lion award [@ Venice, beating The Favourite] and one of our most anticipated films in the festival...the word 'disappointing' doesn't even come close to describing it!

Nothing much happens...and, when something does happen [e.g. the earthquake] it's over in a flash with absolutely no dramatic consequences whatsoever...why bother!?! Li Cheng seems to favour filming [his actor] from behind...too too many shots of the back of José's head.

José is a closeted, duty-bound young man who likes to get his kit off whenever he can...yes, there is [needless] abundant nudity [& sex scenes]. However, the crux of the story is the relationship between mother and son...she, a God-fearing, emotional blackmailer...he, a closeted Lothario who can't see a gift-horse even when it smacks him across the face. Everything is ripe and set for the expected [coming out] showdown...the only problem is...it doesn't happen! What?!?

José is screaming out for conflict and confrontation...and, resolution. Nada. We get it, the conflict was inward, with himself...but, it all makes for some very dull viewing and duller story-telling. As for that ridiculous ending...Li Cheng obviously got bored with the telling of his dull story and - out-of-the-blue - just when you least expect it...ended it! Talk about an anti-climax! What a [frustrating] disappointment.


Day 9...

Under The Silver LakeUnder the Silver Lake
Directed by David Robert Mitchell

A prime example of throwing just about everything at the screen...hoping that something will stick! Ooops...what a mess of a film! Nothing stuck!

Andrew Garfield is - practically - never off-screen...and, he does a decent job at being the hapless layabout with too much time on his hands. And that's the problem...this writer/director - unwisely - decided to fill in the gaping gaps with 'classic' film references [they are - literally - all over the place]. So, if you love playing name-that-film...this film is for you!

It's not all bad...the suicidal squirrel is inspired stupidity, What's the Frequency Kenneth? - makes you want to dance in your seat...but, once it goes all 'cult' the derailing is terminal. Shame...because, it is a mighty fine looking [and sounding] film. Think: Hitchock on magic mushrooms. Many will probably think it's genius...those who do not partake in 'Shrooms' will not.

Are You ProudAre You Proud?
Directed by Ashley Joiner

The question is: Does this film answer its own question? Not quite.

This is a documentary for milennials...made by a milennial. Apart from the [fantastic] opening scene, where an elderly gentleman recounts his life led within a lie...Are You Proud? descends into a rather sweeping précis of LGBT history [with one glaring omission: The Age of Consent debacle] done via archive footage [most, if not all, all available on YouTube]...and, the obligatory, talking heads. Nowadays...everyone is seems to be an activist and Ashley Joiner reels them out, the old and the new. There are the usual suspects: Peter Tatchell, Michael Cashman & Co. Then, there are the new...moaning about how Pride has become overly commercial and underly political. Bless their cotton socks...they know not what they are fighting for! Commerce made Pride what it is today! Politics...well, it certainly looks like politics has bent to the will of the [LGBT] people. Boom Boom!

Are You Proud? is not a bad film...it's just a little under-researched and one-sided. Not everyone is [or was] a card-carrying activist...and, not everyone wants to hear from the activists alone. Give the non-activists a voice! It's called balance.

Once upon a time, many years ago...there lived a wicked witch, Margaret was her name. She ruled her land with tyranny...Y'know, the 80s were not as glum as many make out...yes, many of us [gay men] were 'illegal' [being under 21 years of age]...but, we danced and partied like there was no tomorrow. Bars, like The Bell in Kings Cross was a hub for the more politically-savvy...yet when the 'gay-unwashed' [as they were rather offensively known as then] came a-rattling their buckets for donations to this cause or that cause, most would run in the opposite direction...usually to the dance-floor, where we danced until tomorrow came! Pride is what Pride is now because...we just wanna f*&king dance!

Are You Proud? Yes...because I danced until the cows came home and was dragged - by the police - from the steps of Parliament...because, my boyfriend - at the time - was committing a crime for loving me. He was 22 and I was 18. Then, the age of consent was 21...Proud? Damn bet I am...we, all of us, helped to change that. Pride? I remember when it was free...I remember when it was cancelled because of the idiots running it. Pride, now...should be free, paid for by the corporates. Pride has evolved from being a political statement into a cause-for-celebration...stop the moaning...and...dance! That's what we call: A Party Protest!

Real LoveReal Love [C'est ça l'amour]
Directed by Claire Burger

A slow burner...but, definitely worth the wait!

Teenagers...difficult things at the best of times...but, when you are in the middle of a mid-life meltdown...they become unbearable. Not the case for this malfunctioning father.

 

 

Wild RoseWild Rose
Directed by Tom Harper

Just about as good as it gets.

 

 

 


Day 10...

Happy As LazzaroHappy as Lazzaro [Lazzaro felice]
Directed by Alice Rohrwacher

Every now and then a film comes around that will affect you deeply. This is one such film. And, quite possibly, the best film in the festival.

Alice Rohrwacher's scathing parody is a remarkable, deeply moving, cerebral achievement. This is a film of two halves: The ordinary and the extraordinary. The less said about it, the better. Because...in places, it simply takes your breath away as you realise and think...what the Hell is going on? Once you get your head around it all, it all starts to make perfect, brutal sense...in the most gentle way imaginable...so surprising, since this is a tale about greed pitted against innocence, criminal exploitation by mean-spirited manipulation.

Adriano Tardiolo is prefect as Lazzaro, beautiful, innocent and adorable - he carries the film from the humble beginning to the bewildering end. If ever a character could bring out the 'protector' in all who bears witness to this tale...then, Lazzaro is it! You would - without hesitation - take a bullet for this young man.

This is nothing short of a masterwork. Alice Rohrwacher should be extremely proud. Do whatever you can to experience this film...you will not - by no stretch of the imagination although your imagination will be stretched - be disappointed. It really is that good!

Making Montgomery CliftMaking Montgomery Clift
Directed by Robert Anderson Clift & Hillary Demmon

This will definitely ruffle the feathers of all Monty's [many] biographers...charlatans, each and all. Newsflash: He was not a self-hating, miserable homo...with his finger permanently hovering over the self-destruct button!

According to this film: The 'longest suicide' of the 'beautiful loser' was a fiction...created by those [parasites] who wanted to sell their books. Let's face it...who wants to read about a happy, handsome homo?!? Tragedy sells!

This is a rather loving portrait of the Uncle by his nephew, although they never met. Still, the affection is clear to see...and, hear. Montgomery and his brother, taped everything...telephone conversations, you name...they taped it. That's just plain old weird. The other weird thing is...there's not a mention of Ethel Clift McGinnis, Monty's twin sister...she died in 2014, aged 94. If anyone ever 'knew' Monty, it was her. Not even mentioned...such a screaming omission as this...well, it kind of throws a whole lot of shade on this entire project.

Robert Anderson Clift has done exactly what Monty's biographers did...re-invented the man to suit his audience. And, what a pleasant re-invention it is...but, is it true?

Who knows what is hidden in all those tapes? Well, Robert Anderson Clift knows...and he has chosen what to release and what not to release. Perhaps, Ethel would have something to say about that!?! We'll never know.

Still, a refreshingly, positive portrait...perhaps, not as authentic as it purports to be!

Troisiemes NocesThe Third Marriage [Troisièmes noces]
Directed by David Lambert

A film that shifts form in the blink of an eye...from being an endearing gentle comedy to toxic comment to something that cannot be mentioned...as it will ruin the film.

The plight of economic émigrés is a difficult subject at the best of times...add duplicity and deceit...well, those two added ingredients make it even more difficult for anyone [sympathetically] trying to understand their situation.

 

Buy Me A GunBuy Me A Gun [Cómprame un revolver]
Directed by Julio Hernández Cordón

It's a little bit weird...to say the least.

 

 

 


Day 11...

Jeanne Dielman

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
Directed by Chantal Akerman

Be warned and informed: Absolutely no talent was used in the making of this film.

 

 

 

GenesisGenesis [Genèse]
Directed by Philippe Lesage

Special...very special indeed. And so very chilling.

 

 

 

Vox LuxVox Lux
Directed by Brady Corbet

Here endeth the directorial [and writing] career[s] of Brady Corbet. What a load of absolute drivel!

Her Smell was stinking. Vox Lux is laughably bad. It's a cross between the Columbine shooting and the Eurovision Song Contest [yes, you read that correctly]...with a Madonna-cum-Gaga crossbreed...singing the Sia-penned songs that record company rejected.

 


Day 12...

Float Like A ButterflyCarmel WintersFloat Like a Butterfly
Directed by Carmel Winters

This wee film certainly packs a few impactful punches...with a knockout performance by Hazel Doupe.

Toxic masculinity, domestic abuse, tradition...and, putrid discrimination [that can also be read as: Racism].

 

 

 

A Bread Factory1

A Bread Factory2

A Bread Factory, Part 1 & 2
Directed by Patrick Wang

Patrick Wang has a habit of letting his camera roll on and on...his previous film, In the Family has a runtime of 219 minutes.

A Bread Factory [parts 1 & 2] runs for 242 minutes...4 hours long...that really is a big ask! The big question is: Is it worth spending that amount of time [and money] in company of these characters?

Put it it this way...if Mr Wang had entered the editing suite, hellbent on cutting his film down to 2 [and, possibly, a wee bit] hours...then, there would be smiles all round. Because...there is so much goodness in these two films...but, unfortunately and infuriatingly, - the good bits are surrounded by too much dough!

Mr Wang certainly has something to say about all kinds of artistic endeavours, practitoners and institutions...with 'perfromance art' [seriously] getting it in the neck. Hey...everyone has the right to their opinion, everyone has the right to compliment or criticise [especially if they had to pay for the pleasure/displeasure]...and, let's be truthful here, the world would be a thoroughly drab place if everyone thought the same. So...let Mr Wang speak...even if he does so at length!

The 'absurd' and the 'mundane' are not usual bed partners, they are in this here tale. The little 'peculiarities' are [mostly] charming and serve as a foil to the financial crisis that has beset this arts centre...however, in part 2, they really become a little too much. And, with the overly-lengthy performance of Hecuba...this second instalment really does become a bit of a chore.

There is some much to like and there's too much that will [simply] drive you up the wall. No faulting the performances, Tyne Daly delivers a solid, stalwart character...hellbent against change...well, everything changes - especially art. The only thing that needed changing with A Bread Factory Parts 1 & 2 was...the runtime!

BeatsBeats
Directed by Brian Welsh

Yes…we will probably be accused of reading subtext into everything…but, this is loaded with the stuff, it whizzes off the screen and slaps you bang on the forehead.

Two lads…born, raised and living on different sides of the tracks are best mates…with subtext! Their love of music is equalled by their [mutually unrequited] love for each other…it’s both joyous and agonising to watch.

There are moments when you think that those [sexual] barriers will come crashing down…remember, this is 1994…coming out and expressing your feelings wasn’t as easy as it is now… the internet was still in its infancy…and, the only mobile phone were those great big, bulky boxes that weighed a ton, cost a fortune and [usually] died mid-call! Kids were isolated in their own communities…pirate radio stations [remember Kiss?], disparaging TV [rave] reports, word-of-mouth and [to a certain extent] Section 28 of the Local Government Act all helped whet the appetites…for change.

In 1988, rave culture was born [I was a member of Shoom…gloriously sweating in the fitness centre]…really, that second summer of love was a revolution, dancing on Clapham Common, finding yourself in the middle of nowhere, lost…until you heard the music, found the byre and threw yourself into those uplifting, high-as-a-kite beats. Glorious. It was l-o-v-e…fuelled by Ecstasy. And, it was.

Slowly [but surely]…rave spread up and down the land. The kids were having fun, the establishment didn’t like it one iota. They reacted…and then came: The Criminal Justice and the Public Order Act 1994…basically, banning raves. Whatever/whoever beats me…makes me grow stronger!

This is when Beats is set…in the dying days of the ‘illegal’ rave. Capturing all the madness, the music and camaraderie…of the time. The [mostly] inexperienced cast rise to the occasion, they give it absolutely everything. But…Lorn Macdonald and Cristian Ortega steal the show, they are polar opposites who bond-like-superglue…together, to the inevitability of the last days of rave and the last days of being together. This is the bitterest/sweetest sweet to swallow.

Brian Welsh has delivered a chiming story and a damn fine film. For those who attended those ‘illegal’ raves…let this wave of nostalgia wash over and submerge us back into the good old days.


As usual a great big thank you to Galsgow Film Festival, to all the volunteers, to Ruth [Press office] and her team...simply, a great festival. Glasgow...you never let us down!


 

Poms | Official Trailer...

POMS is an uplifting comedy about a woman (played by Keaton) who moves into a retirement community and starts a cheerleading squad with her fellow residents, including Pam Grier and Jacki Weaver.

Zara Hayes directed the script by Shane Atkinson. Alisha Boe, Phyllis Somerville, Charlie Tahan, Bruce McGill, Rhea Perlman and Celia Weston also star. Producing are Kelly McCormick (Atomic Blonde); Alex Saks (Book Club); Mad as Birds Films’ Andy Evans, Ade Shannon, Celyn Jones, and Sean Marley; and Rose Pictures’ Rose Ganguzza. Keaton, Sierra/Affinity’s Nick Meyer and Marc Schaberg, and Will Greenfield are executive producing.

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