Wednesday, March 25, 2015

BFI Flare 2015: Do I Sound Gay?

Do I Sound Gay?

Close your eyes and try and imagine the sound of a gay man’s voice.  Think you have it?  I’m guessing you can hear an over-excitable, perhaps nasal, high-pitched voice with a lisp.  Where did this voice come from and why does it ‘sound gay’.  Gay filmmaker David Thorpe is on a mission to find out how he got the voice that he does and why it has such a stigma around it, from both inside and outside of the gay community. 

BFI Flare 2015: Dressed as a Girl

“The guide to survival is you have to set yourself some rules”.  And those rules apparently are to be as outrageous, glamorous and fabulous as possible.

In nightclubs across the East End of London throughout the last decade, a collection of raucous drag performers where beginning to develop a fiercely loyal following that would push them towards the mainstream.  Dressed like a Girl is narrated by the ‘ringleader’ Jonny Woo, who poetically leads us through the rises and (minor) falls of the alternative drag scene as they get more and more attention from the elite fashion, theatre and clubbing communities. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

BFI Flare 2015: Vivant! (Alive!)


Which is inherently scarier? An external shock to the body – such as a parachute jump; or an internal shock to the body – such as a virus.  What about if you combined the two?  Vivant! is a tender look at 5 HIV+ men who spend a week camping together at a converted airbase as they prepare for their first solo sky dive.  They must learn how to jump and how to fall, and at the same time get to know each other and how each has adapted to the illness.

Good documentaries are all about empathy and insight and Vivant! offers a purely observational viewpoint of 5 gay men who live with HIV talking about the impact it has on their lives.  Director Vincent Boujon and the filmmakers do not interject and ask questions and there are no ‘talking heads’ interviews, the camera just collects their discussions as they sit round the campsite and talk – sometimes for up to 10 minute sequences. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

BFI Flare 2015: Appropriate Behaviour

Appropriate Behaviour

Shirin (Desiree Akhavan - also Writer/Director) is an outspoken twenty-something Brooklynite trying to please her Persian parents, from whom she is hiding her bisexuality, whilst trying to find meaningful employment after a break-up from her domineering, but likeable, girlfriend Maxine (Rebecca Henderson).  The news of her brother’s betrothal to a prize Iranian bride forces her to reflect on her own romantic decisions as she begins to unsuccessfully date a collection of ill-matched men and women around the city.

Friday, March 20, 2015

BFI Flare 2015: Praia do Futuro (Futuro Beach)

Futuro Beach

Futuro Beach bursts into life as two men, Heiko and Konrad, ride their motorbikes over beach sand dunes to the orgasmic repetitive pump of Suicide’s 1977 classic Ghostrider (which has frankly never sounded so good…) After running into the sea they quickly get dragged out of their depth and Heiko (Fred Lima) is seen being pulled underneath as Konrad (Clemens Schick) is saved by a local lifeguard Donata (Wagner Moura).

After Donata has to break the news to Konrad in the hospital, he gives him a lift home that ends up with them having intense sex in Donata’s car leading to a relationship that takes them through clubs, beaches and eventually back to Konrad’s native Berlin.  The only problem is that Konrad is leaving behind his partner and Donata is leaving behind his little brother Aryton, which causes some conflict that eventually leads to them having trouble in their new life in Europe… 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

BFI Flare 2015: I Am Michael

I Am Michael jumps chronologically around the ten years between Michael Glatze (James Franco) being a prominent gay activist and queer magazine editor in San Francisco and Canada and him becoming an evangelical, anti-homosexual Christian preacher in Wyoming.  A kind of going-back-in-the-closet true story that both delighted the Christian community and horrified the gay community around 10 years ago.

At first Michael is shown picking-up guys in nightclubs and taking ecstasy with his boyfriend Bennett (Zachary Qunito), before being somewhat radicalized by news of the tragic death of Matthew Shepard.  They eventually move to Canada due to Bennett getting a job, where they also meet Tyler (Charlie Carver) – a young gay radical that joins them as they live as a threesome.  The lovers decide to go on a road trip around the West Coast to lecture about LGBT rights and make a documentary about young teenagers telling their stories, where increasingly Michael complains about having heart palpitations and insists on getting advice from lots of medical professionals.  After finally getting the all-clear, he starts to attribute his recovery to a higher power and makes moves to get in touch with different religions and clear his head (and remove his homosexuality). 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Film Review: It Follows (2015)

When Jay (Maika Monroe) decides to have sex with her strange-acting new friend Hugh, he uses the opportunity to violently reveal that she has now been cursed by a dangerous demon that will follow her until she can pass it on by sleeping with someone else.  She, her two sisters Yara (Olivia Luccardi) and Kelly (Lili Sepe) and long-term friendly neighbor Paul, (Keir Gilchrist) all initially think that this is a cruel abusive joke so try to confront Hugh about it, yet Jay begins to be haunted by disturbing figures slowly approaching her that others cannot see.  This leads to the friends all trying to figure out a way to ‘cure’ Jay of her curse, that ultimately leads to tensions between the friendly men in her life who want to help her…

The premise is so simple, and feeds into such a pervasive fear among teenagers and young people (fear of sex / fear of sexually transmitted diseases), that the difficult ‘horror’ work of the film is instilled very early on without actually having to provide many twists or scares.  The very idea that casual sex can be deadly goes against every urge in teenager’s minds and is therefore a brilliantly uncomfortable theme to play out in such detail for 100 minutes…