19th Jun2017

Rock Dog (Film)

by timbaros

0300RAD_0140_master_v025.l.0246 0300RAD_0140_master_v025_l_0246A young dog from the Tibetan mountains heads to the big city to pursue his dream of being a rock star in the new and fun animated film Rock Dog.

Bodi (Luke Wilson) lives with his father in a tiny village high up on Snow Mountain. His father Khampa (J.K. Simmons) is a leader of the village, and it’s him who is in charge of a motley gang of sheep guards who protect the village from the dastardly, and hungry, wolves who are constantly trying to attack them. Then one day a plane drops a box into the village, and it’s Bodi who is there to investigate it’s contents. In it is a radio which Bodi turns on and instantly he’s in love with the music of a musician by the name of Angus Scattergood (Eddie Izzard). Bodi tries to copy the sounds of Scattergood by piecing together items found in the village to make a guitar – and Bodi thinks he’s found his calling! After an incident which causes havoc on the village, it is agreed that Bodi should be given a chance to head to the bright lights of the big city so that he can further explore his passion for music and his admiration for Scattergood. But once Bodi leaves the mountain, he is followed by two of the wolves who plan to kidnap him and use him as bait in order to take control of Snow Mountain. But in the big city Bodi meets fellow music and Scattergood enthusiasts in a place called Rock and Roll Park, it’s where Scattergood began his career. It’s not too long before Bodi comes face to face with Scattergood, but he also comes face to face with the wolves, who, at the behest of their leader Linnux (Lewis Black), vows to kidnap Bodi and do whatever it takes to take control of Snow Mountain.

This Chinese-American production is a simple tale of someone from a small village out to seek fame and fortune and explore his passion in the big city, themes most of us can relate to. But Bodi has more than a sense of adventure, he’s got charm and curiosity and a wit about him that should make this film appeal to both children and grownups alike. This film has been a flop, both in the U.S., with a measly gross of $20 million versus a budget of $60 million, and in China, where it has only earned $5.7 million (the film, though not explicitly mentioned, takes place in China). But in my opinion, it’s a great tale told very well with animation that’s passable and an excellently-voiced cast (even Matt Dillon pops up as a yak). It’s a cute story with cute characters – Rock Dog Rocks!

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16th Jun2017

Destination Unknown (Film)

by timbaros

Ed Mosberg wearing the Tallit in Birkenau whilst listening to the HatikvaTwelve Holocaust survivors tell their moving stories in the excellent documentary “Destination Unknown.”

These survivors tell, in vivid detail, the horrors they suffered in the concentration camps during WWII. These men and women were lucky enough to have lived through, and survived, the suffering and the horrors in the Treblinka, Mauthausen and Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps. They tell about losing their mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters, and how, now 70 years after the liberation of the camps, they are still haunted by the memories. We get to meet Ed Mosberg, who was 13 years old when the war started, and who lost all of his family, and how, 70 years later, him and his wife, who is in a wheelchair, visit Mauthausen Camp for the first time since they were liberated, with Ed wearing a prisoner’s outfit. His wife bittersweetly tells him that he never really left the concentration camp. Then there is Polish Eli Zborowski, who survived the war by being hidden by a local family, and Stanley Goglover, who had to remove his Auschwitz tattoo to completely erase the memories of his time in the concentration camps. Roman Ferber speaks in perfect english as he remembers when he was three years old that all of a sudden his Polish nanny disappeared only because she was not allowed to work for a Jewish family. The memorable story of couple Victor and Regina Lewis, who knew each other before the war and who, after the war, being the only members of their families to survive, ended up reconnecting and eventually getting married. Plus some of the lucky survivors who ended up on Schindler’s list and who thus were not sent to the camps get to tell their harrowing tales. “Destination Unknown” just doesn’t concentrate on death, the documentary also highlights these people’s amazing lives after the war, how they got married, had kids and even grandchildren, and how they created their own families after the horrible horrible crimes against humanity that took place under Adolph Hitler’s short but devastating regime.

“Destination Unkown,’ completed in 2016, uses rare unseen archive footage from the war, as well as the participant’s own home video footage, to tell their individual stories of fear, hope, survival and courage. After 14 years of tracking down and talking to survivors, Producer Llion Roberts, along with Director and Editor Claire Ferguson, have made a documentary that is both memorable and still necessary, with an incredible and moving soundtrack. Sure there have been dozens and dozens of books, films and documentaries on this subject, but it’s a subject matter that still needs to be told for each survivor has their own story to tell, unique, frightening, courageous, and just as important, perhaps even more so, than anything in the news today.

“DESTINATION UNKNOWN” is in cinemas 16 June

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12th Jun2017

Norman (Film)

by timbaros

1Richard Gere is excellent as always as a man who is desperate to do a deal but can’t seem to get a break in the new film Norman.

Gere is Norman Oppenheimer, a New York hustler who appears to be living a life of lies – he’s doesn’t appear to have a place to live, he spends most of his time at a church that could possibly be a homeless shelter, and talks about a daughter who may or may not exist. But he sees his fortunes possibly change upon a chance encounter with an up and coming politician. Then One day, after attending a conference, he sees Israeli politician Eshel (Lior Ashkenazi), Norman ingratiates himself with him by buying him an expensive pair of shoes, shoes that Norman probably can’t afford to pay for, but he does (though luckily for him Eshel refuses to get a suit as well). Three years later, as Norman still struggles to get one of his deals done, Eshel becomes the Israeli Prime Minister, so Norman realizes that this could be his big chance to get into the big leagues. But what turns out to be a friendly relationship between Norman and the Prime Minister turns into nothing as Eshel sees Norman’s desperate attempts to be close to him a liability, which leaves Norman basically back to where he began – a fixer with nothing to fix.

Gere does a nice turn as the ageing New York Norman who never quite seemed to have been much of a success in life. He plays Norman with such believability, desperateness, and a bit of wit that it’s hard not to fall for him a bit. The film’s subtitle – The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer – pretty sums up this film – but it’s Gere, who was excellent as a homeless man in 2014’s Time Out of Mind – who shines and makes this film worth a watch.

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10th Jun2017

Berlin Syndrome (Film)

by timbaros

berlin-syndrome-07A young Australian woman visiting Berlin meets who she thinks is a perfect man but then he turns out to be too good to be true.

In the new movie Berlin Syndrome, Is it a game or is it a nightmare? When Clare (Teresa Palmer) meets Andi (Max Riernelt) by chance on a Berlin street, she can’t resist his charms and good looks. She was planning on going to Dresden the next day but instead she changes her plans to go out on a date with him. The date turns into a one-night stand, at Andi’s flat, in an isolated building in the middle of nowhere that’s typically Berlin . The next day, as Andi goes to his teaching job, Clare wakes up and realizes she can’t get out of his flat as the front door and the windows are locked. She’s not too concerned about it because she assumes that Andi just forgot to leave her the key. He comes home from work and they spend the night in Andi’s flat having a romantic dinner, and Clare can’t resist spending another night there. When Andi does leave the key for her the next morning, Clare attempts to open the front door are futile – it’s actually locked from the outside. It’s at this point that Clare starts to panic. She breaks one of the living room windows only to discover it’s double glazed and can’t break the second window. And it’s only a matter of time until Andi comes home from work that their relationship takes a turn from a romantic one to a one fraught with panic, danger and suspense for Clare as she does not know what’s going to happen next. Minutes turn into hours which turn into days and Clare is fraught with more terror as she does not know what Andi has in store for her.

Berlin Syndrome is almost two hours long, but it’s a film that will make your heart beat a bit faster, and will keep you holding your breathe – it’s that suspenseful. Director Cate Shortland has given us a woman’s survival story, that, while the finale is a bit predictable and silly, starts out pure and innocent but then turns into a nightmare. It’ll make you have second thoughts the next time a guy invites you back to his place.

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05th Jun2017

After the Storm (Film)

by timbaros

image003There’s a typhoon heading towards Tokyo while the lives of several of it’s citizens go on as normal in the new film After the Storm.

But Ryota (Hiroshi Abe) and his mother Yoshiko (Kirin Kiki) are really not too happy the way their lives turned out. Ryota (played by Abe Hiroshi), divorced with one son, wrote one hit book decades ago but now works in a detective agency spying on cheating letharios. Yoshiko lives alone in a housing complex. Her husband has recently passed away but she still can’t come to terms with the fact that he was pretty much a bum. Both Ryota and Yoshiko appear to have wanted more out of life but they’ve got accept where they are and what they have. And Ryota has to accept the fact that his ex-wife Kyoko (Maki Yoko) is dating a man who Ryota is worried will became a father figure to his son Shingo (Yoshizawa Taiyo). But with the 24th typhoon of the year on it’s way, Kyota as usual spends his one day of the month with Shingo, and at night they end up at Yoshiko’s apartment where Kyoko goes to pick him up. But as the typhoon has already hit land, it brings the whole family under one roof to discuss, yell, ponder and contemplate the relationships they now have with each other.

After the Storm is a thought provoking film. While nothing really happens, it’s the relationship these people have with each other that you will inevitably compare to your own. And at 117 minutes, it’s a bit long, but the acting and the story are crisp and original, and ultimately it’s worth watching.

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04th Jun2017

Wonder Woman (Film)

by timbaros

WONDER WOMAN

First seen in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (as well as on television in the 1970’s), in Wonder Woman we finally have our first real female action hero. The film, appropriately titled Wonder Woman, is out now and it’s good, very good!

It’s two hours and 21 minutes of action, drama, and adventure as Gail Gadot plays Wonder Woman, a demi-god created by Zeus and raised by Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) who fights evil with her special powers (including her bracelets). Wonder Woman is the continuation of the character created in Dawn of Justice – who in the civilian world was known as Diana Prince. She lives in the land of Amazonia where it’s women-only and where she is Princess Diana of Themyscira. In this film she is accompanied all the way through with Chris Pine as Steve Trevor. He is a WWI United States Army Air Service fighter pilot who crashes off the coast of Themyscira, where Wonder Woman grew up and was taught to fight by her fellow Amazonians. She ends up going with Trevor to find Ares, the god of War, in the hopes that killing him will stop the war. But it’s the evil Doctor Isabel Maru (Elena Anaya) who has created a deathly chemical that will ensure quick death to those who are exposed to it, so Wonder Woman has several battles to fight in her quest for world peace.

Diana and Steve’s adventure and mission takes them to London and then into Europe and to the front trenches, where Wonder Woman (an hour and 22 minutes into the film) finally sheds her clothes and lets loose in the infamous Wonder Woman outfit. And it’s spectacular fight scenes that will leave you gasping for air until the very last few scenes when Wonder Woman comes face to face with pure evil.

Gadot is spectacular as Wonder Woman. To hell with male action heroes – there’s now a woman who can take anything that comes her way and she sure nails it. Pine makes a fine side kick, but it’s about time it’s all about the woman. Let’s hope this character becomes a franchise – no more Superman but more Wonder Woman! Director Patty Jenkins brings a new twist and a nice feminine touch to the DC Comics Extended Universe by directing a film that’s smashingly good and is great summer movie fare. Long live Wonder Woman!

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02nd Jun2017

Sundance Film Festival London (Film)

by timbaros
Beatriz at Dinner

Beatriz at Dinner

Sundance Film Festival Colorado comes to London this weekend and features a lineup of 14 films that were shown at the festival in Colorado earlier this year. This year’s festival will take place from June 1 – 4 at Central London’s gorgeous Picturehouse Central. Here’s a small selection of what’s on offer:

The opening night film is Beatriz at Dinner where Selma Hayek plays Beatriz, a poor Mexican-American holistic practitioneer who finds herself at a wealthy client’s dinner party. Also starring John Lithgow and Choe Sevigny.

The Big Sick is a rom-com about a Pakistani-American man and his white American girlfriend who negotiate family interferences in their relationship. With Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter and Ray Romano.

There are two films at the festival that take place in New York’s Brooklyn neighborhoods. In Crown Heights, one man is wrongly convicted of murder in this true-life miscarriage of justice. Crown Heights was the Audience Award Winner at the January Sundance festival. Bushwick deals with a woman (Brittany Snow) who steps out of the subway to discover her neighborhood is under seige from militia forces.

Recent Best Actor winner Casey Affleck plays a ghost who was recently deceased and returns to his suburban home to try to reconnect with his wife, played Rooney Mara.

The unusual Bitch stars Marianna Palka who plays an unhappy housewife and mother who, when she snaps, turns int a vicious dog. A bit strange and unusual….

Woody Harrelson is Wilson, a middle aged man who lives alone with his dog who is on a mission to track down his ex-wife only to discover that he has a teenage daughter.

The documentary Dina, winner of the Sundance Documentary Grand Jury Prize is an unconventional love story about two autistic adults while Icarus takes an investigative look at doping in sports. And also scheduled into the program is a surprise film on Friday night.

Short films will also be played at the festival, and include Come Swim, the directorial debut of Kirsten Stewart, and Tough, about a mother-daughter misunderstanding. There will also be events during the weekend, including several of the directors and stars will be attending post screening Q&A’s. One of the highlights should be a discussion called Independent Film Trumps Reality where movie makers discuss movies in the current political climate.

To buy tickets to any of the screenings and events, please go to picturehouses.com/sundance. Festival passes as well individual screening tickets are sold.

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27th May2017

Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge

by timbaros

"PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES"..The villainous Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) pursues Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) as he searches for the trident used by Poseidon..Ph: Film Frame..©Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Johnny Depp is back, for a fifth time, as Jack Sparrow in the new installment of Disney’s very successful franchise Pirates of the Caribbean. This one is called Salazar’s Revenge (also known as Dead Men Tell no Tales).

Was there a need for a fourth sequel to the original, titled The Curse of the Black Pearl? In my opinion, no. It’s not that this film is not very good, it’s just that Depp’s Sparrow is starting to get a bit boring, eccentric, and at the very most unnecessary to the plot.

In this sequel, Sparrow is pursued by an old nemesis, Armando Salazar (Javier Bardem). And it’s practically Bardem as Salazar who steals the movie. His Salazar, physically half there, half not there, is one of the most exciting movie characters in recent times. He’s scary and ugly, speaks with a dark, deep voice, and is in a word fascinating. Salazar blames Sparrow for his downfall, so it’s race between him and Sparrow to find the Trident of Poseidon – Salazar wants to use it’s power to destroy all the pirates in the world while of course Sparrow spends his time in a race with Salazar to get this powerful tool.

In the meantime, we are introduced to two new characters (perhaps to inject this film franchise with fresh faces): Kaya Scodelario is Carina, an astronomer, while Brenton Thwaites is very good as Henry, the son of the characters of Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley from a previous film.

Salazar’s Revenge is dark, very dark, and it includes memorable scenes including the Devil’s Triangle (where Salazar and his evil gang do their dirty deeds) and stunning special effects. But It’s Bardem who carries, and excels, in this movie. Perhaps in the next sequel they can completely leave out Sparrow and focus more on Salazar. Sparrow’s character has become a bit dull and unnecessary, so it’s time to either leave him out completely and focus on new characters or end the franchise for good. No doubt this film will make a lot of money for Disney – but this franchise with Depp is starting to become a tale Dead (or alive) men don’t want to tell.

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19th May2017

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (Film)

by timbaros

KA-15164r5‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ is Guy Ritchie’s telling of the story of the legendary and some would say mythical life of Arthur who was orphaned at a young age but who became a King and the man who would become synonymous with the Excalibur myth. Charlie Hunnam plays King Arthur in this film which is visually spectacular yet leaves a lot to be desired for it’s silly plot and poor casting choices.

When Arthur’s father the King (Eric Bana) is murdered (in a scene played over and over and over again), his uncle Vortigern (Jude Law in a very meaty role) seizes the crown. But the very young Arthur, who was cast adrift on a boat during the murder, has to grow up the hard way, and from the very beginning is unaware that he is the son of a murdered King. As he grows up, he is helped along the way by a band of warriors, but it’s when he pulls the sword from the stone is his mission clear – he needs to get back the crown from his uncle, no matter at what cost.

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No expense was sparred in this film, which cost $200 million to make, and it shows in every clip. From the most amazing costumes to the glorious scenery to the spectacular special effects, and even down to the monsters and serpents that provide this film an amazingly dark and scary and fun tone. We even get to see an old Londonium – shown to great effect. But there are some distractions and poor choices that take you out of the story (and will make you unintentionally laugh). David Beckham’s two minute scene as a soldier who prompts Arthur to pull the sword is disastrous because Beckham can’t act and his voice too soft for the part. Another bit of bad casting are most of the men who make up Arthur’s coterie – they all have geezer accents! It must be a case of Ritchie casting all of his friends to be in the film, and while these men can act, their accents are all alike! And Hunnam, while nice to look at, is a very wooden King Arthur.

But don’t worry about all of this. It will only cost you £15 to watch this film – it’s worthy because it’s a film fully of fantasy and mythology that while doesn’t quite live up to it’s hype, it is, for the most part, entertaining and escapist – and that’s the experience we all want when we to go the cinema.

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17th May2017

70th Annual Cannes Film Festival starts today (Film)

by timbaros

Festival2017_30X18_DEFThe glitz, the glamour, the stars, the red carpet, the sun. Yes, it’s time again for the Cannes Film Festival.

From May 17 – 28, the film and party bacchanalia is the place to be and be seen. It’s a festival so unlike any other, the stars come out in full force. And for this, the 70th annual, there will be eighteen films competing in the main competition. Among these include:

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-Sofia Coppola’s American Civil War thriller The Beguiled, a remake of Clint Eastwood’s 1971 film, with high wattage stars Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, and Kirsten Dunst.
-Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories are two films produced by Netflix. Okja stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Tilda Swinton about a girl who risks everything to prevent a powerful multi-national company from kidnapping her best friend – a massive animal, while The Meyerowitz Stories stars Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman about siblings dealing with an ageing father.
Amazon is also in the game with:

Wonderstruck-movie-1
-Wonderstruck, starring Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams and tells the story of two deaf children living parallel lives in the 1920’s and 1970’s, and
-You Were Never Really Here starring Joaquin Phoenix as a war veteran who tries to save a sex-trafficking victim.
-Good Time. Robert Pattinson plays a bank robber who struggles to evade the police.
-Happy End. Isabelle Huppert, fresh from her award-winning performance in Elle, is in this family drama that is set against the backdrop of the European refugee crisis.

Brody-Genius-1200
-The Killing of a Sacred Deer. Kidman and Farrell (again) star in this tale of a boy attempting to bring a talented surgeon into his family, with disastrous consequences.
-L’Amant Double (The Double Lover). Popular French Director Francois Ozon’s thriller about a young woman who falls in love with her therapist before realising he’s not who she thinks he is.
-A Gentle Closure. A Ukrainian film that tells the bleak tale of a woman trying to learn the truth about a prison in remote Russia.

The year’s film festival includes 49 films from 20 countries, including nine feature debuts. The Opening night film – which is out of competition – is French film Ismael’s Ghosts by director Arnaud Desplechin – which follows a filmmaker whose life is sent into a tailspin by the return of a former lover just as he is about to start shooting a new film, and starring festival favorite Marion Cotillard. The closing, a highlight of the festival, will be, as always, the film awards that honour the best films and performances that were shown. Other areas of the film festival include the Un Certain Regard section (the official selection). There will be 16 films in this section – with actress Uma Thurman to preside over this jury. One of the Out of Competition films include How to Talk to Girls at Parties, by John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) and stars Kidman (again), Elle Fanning and Matt Lucas and is about a couple of British 1970’s teen-aged boys who go to a party to meet girls, only to find that the girls are very different from their expectations. Kidman will also be seen in a screening of Jane Campion’s television series “Top of the Lake” – Kidman will be very busy during the festival! The Cinéfondation is the short film section of the festival, to be be presided over by Romanian Director Cristian Mungiu. And Italian actress Monica Bellucci will host the open and closing ceremonies.
Non-film industry members of the public (who without a pass are pretty much locked out of all the events and screenings of the festival) are welcome to watch films in the evening public screenings that take place on the beach (Cinema de la Plage), while those with VIP passes will be invited to go to the many parties, events, and the A-list fundraiser gala Cinema Against AIDS.

Members of this year’s main jury include filmmaker Pedro Almodovar who will be joined by American actress Jessica Chastain, among others. One of the prizes to be given out is the Caméra d’or, awarded for best first feature film (which was won by British Director Steve McQueen in 2008 for Hunger). And the town of Cannes will be taken over by the attendees of this film festival which is a must to attend for anyone in the film industry, and even if you are not, it’s just great to soak up and take in the glitz and the glamour, and it will make you feel like you are really part of something special.

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02nd May2017

Heal the Living and Four Days in France (Film)

by timbaros

heal-the-livingTwo French films opened this past weekend – one that will emotionally rip you apart and the other that will make you feel that you’ve wasted your time.

Heal the Living

Heal the Living (Réparer les vivants) deals with a tragedy that changes the lives of two families – it’s very sad and very dramatic like most French films are, but it’s also well acted and well told. It deals with the delicacy of life, family, relationships and decisions that need to be made in a tragic time. Teenager Simon (Gabin Verdet) is experiencing his first true love, but when him and his friends get into a tragic car accident it’s up to his parents (Tahar Ramin and Emmanuelle Singer – both very good) to make a heartbreaking decision.

Meanwhile, Claire Méjean (Ann Dorval) needs a new heart, and while she is waiting she can feel her life ticking away. She’s got two grown boys, and she loves them very much. But without a new heart, she doesn’t have much time to live. So Simon’s tragic accident has very sad consequences for one family but the opposite effect for another family – in a film that is both beautifully and delicately told. Heal the Living, directed by Katell Quillévéré, will leave you in tears. It’s hard hitting yet it comes with an excellent original story (Maylis De Kerangal and Katell Quillévéré) and superb performances all around.

Four Days in France

Four Days in France (Jour de France) is basically one very long advert for Grindr.

One man uses the app to find his missing partner – in the middle of France! I can’t even find a shag in my own neighborhood much less find someone in the middle of nowhere. But that’s the premise of this film, very far fetched and not quite durable.

Pierre (Pascal Cervo) up and leaves his partner Paul (Arthur Igual) in the middle of the night with no explanation whatsoever – he just gets in his car and heads out of town. Pierre drives and drives and drives and uses Grindr to hook up with various men along the way – to nowhere. He also encounters all sorts of people, including taking a man’s photograph on the very snowy border between France and Italy, is then yelled at by a woman who is tired of gay men using her neighborhood as a cruising area, and a much older man who refuses sex because Pierre smells (he’s been sleeping in his car). What is Pierre’s motivation for doing this? This very long 127 minute film doesn’t give us a clue. Paul, meanwhile, is hot on the trail looking for him, and narrows his search by using Grindr. It’s only a matter of time (a very long time) until the predictable happens, but before we are expected to believe that they both picked up the same woman on the side of the same road and had the same conversation with her (she tells both of them that they look depressed), and that Pierre goes out of his way to deliver a package to a woman who lives high up on a mountain because one of his shags asked him to do so. Really?

Writer and director Jérôme Reybaud really tests the viewers endurance as some of the driving scenes are way too long and this film could’ve been cut by at least 45 minutes. It’s a bit of an indulgence that Reybaud puts us through this journey, it’s a journey that’s very unbelievable and the payoff it not even worth it. And while there is only one hot hookup in the film, it may be better that you spend your time looking for sex in the middle of France, because according to this film there are lots of lonely and sexually frustrated men there, and all are on Grindr.

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27th Apr2017

Handsome Devil (Film)

by timbaros

HD_3One of the most buzzed about films at London’s recent Flare LGBT Film Festival is getting released this Friday.

Handsome Devil played to sell out crowds at the festival (though at one screening there was a power outage so all the attendees were invited back to another screening). Irish movie Handsome Devil is the charming story of an out and proud young gay man who is attending boarding school for the first time. Fionn O’Shea plays Ned, and shares a room with jock and star of the rugby team Conor (Nicholas Galitzine). The rest of the school doesn’t quite know what to make of Ned, he’s a bit of an outcast, yet him and Ned form a special bond, after a rocky start between them, they realize they have more in common with each other than being roommates. Ned’s school life is made much easier with the help of teacher Dan (Andrew Scott in a very winning and sexy performance), who also happens to be gay. But it doesn’t help Ned (and teacher Dan) that the rugby coach is on to both of them – he’s full of prejudice and let’s everyone know it. And it’s just a matter of time until the rest of the school comes around and accepts Ned for who he is, especially just in time for the school’s big upcoming rugby match.

Writer and Director John Butler’s coming of age story is a winning combination of great performances and a story that’s time and tested and that never gets old. Winning lead performances from O’Shea and Galitzine make this one to remember, but it’s Scott as the supportive English teacher that will tingle your loins. His sympathetic teacher is handsome and oh so sexy, especially when he brings his boyfriend to the rugby match outing himself on the spot to the principal. More of these kind of roles please Mr. Scott. Though at times some of the accents are a bit hard to understand, Handsome Devil is very charming and memorable.

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23rd Apr2017

Their Finest (Film)

by timbaros
Their Finest Hour and A Half Directed by Lone Sherfig

Their Finest Hour and A Half
Directed by Lone Sherfig

A film about London in 1940 during The Blitz is finally being released in theatres – Their Finest – a year and a half after principal photography began and 6 months after it had it’s European premiere at the London Film Festival in October 2016.

I’m not entirely sure why it has taken this long for the film to finally make it into the cinemas – it’s not a bad movie, but it’s also not a great movie.

Their Finest details a motley crew of screenwriters tasked with writing a script for a film that would hopefully lift up Britain’s flagging spirits during WWII as well as inspire America to enter the war. That’s a lot of responsibility for three people to take on, in a film based on the 2009 novel by Lissa Evans. Gemma Arterton’s character Catrin Cole (based on a real woman, Diana Morgan, who wrote for Ealing Studios) actually has no screenwriting experience, but she’s basically just looking for a paycheck to help her artist husband Ellis (Jack Huston) pay the bills. But she gets more than what she bargained for when she’s hired by the British Ministry of Information to assist Tom Buckley (a very good Sam Claflin) on a film script. Winston Churchill tells them that they need to write a story that will inspire the nation, and so they write a propaganda film amidst all that is happening in Europe. But it’s Bill Nighy as the leading man of their film (playing Ambrose Hillard) who steals the movie. He’s wonderful and witty and oh so debonair when he’s on set in the making of the movie within the movie, and he’s wonderful off the set when he’s telling jokes to the rest of the cast and crew, and tender and fatherly when he is giving advice to Catrin. But all is not ok in her life, she catches her husband cheating on her on one of her few visits she makes to their home, and her and Buckley realize they have more in common with each other than just putting words to paper. Set this all against the backdrop of WWII and what you’ve got is a classic in the making.

But Their Finest is not quite a classic. Some of the scenes look a bit staged, not very realistic for a film that relies on the portrayal of London during the Bliz. Arterton is fine and lights up the screen with her beautiful face, and Claflin is very handsome as her mentor, but director Lone Scherfing (who directed the wonderful An Education with Carey Mulligan) along with a script by Gaby Chiappe, don’t quite make it 100% believable. Production values are fine, costumes wonderful and the score very dramatic when it needs to be, but it’s Nighy that you will remember – he’s deserving of nominations for this film – but the film itself not so much.

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02nd Apr2017

The Best of BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival 2017 (Film)

by timbaros

The best films of BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival 2017 was always going to be hard to choose. There were so many wonderfully well-done, and in some cases, amazing films that were shown at the film festival – one of the biggest, and best, in the world. There were over 50 features and more than 100 shorts shown, as well as a wide range of special events, guest appearances, discussions, workshops, club nights and more. And while it was virtually impossible to watch all of the features and shorts, I did manage to catch most of them. So herewith is my non-exhaustive list of the best of Flare:

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1:54 is an explosive film that stars the excellent Antoine-Olivier Pilon (Mommy) which goes from a simple gay love story to an unexpected and shocking direction. It touches on all the relevant themes (bullying, young love, etc.) and first time director Yan England excellently pulls it all together. A must see!

Pushing Dead, directed and written by Tom E Brown, is a lighthearted comedy about a HIV+ man (a very good James Roday) and his trials and tribulations in getting his medication, finding love, and dealing with his boss and female roommate in San Francisco. It’s bittersweet, funny and lighthearted and will tug at your heart.

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Dear Dad is an excellent Indian film about a middle-aged father who comes out to his son while driving him to boarding school. It’s heartwarming and funny, with great performances all around.

Eight long-term HIV+ survivors discuss their fears, challenges and milestones in the relevant and timely documentary Last Men Standing. With the HIV+ population getting older, these men celebrate life as they remember the past.

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The Trans List is an important documentary where several prominent trans and nonbinary people get to tell their story. Well known celebrities Laverne Cox, Caitlyn Jenner and Buck Angel are featured, but it’s the less well-known who make more of an impact; lawyer and activist Kylar Broadus, teenage student Nicole Maines who won a landmark lawsuit in America after she faced discrimination for wanting to use the girl’s bathroom, and Bamby Salcedo, founder of the Los Angeles-based TransLain Coalition and who faced lots of issues growing up. There are a total of 11 interviews in this documentary, but I could’ve watched a dozen more. It’s an important and relevant documentary.

Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four, another important documentary, is about four Lesbians who were tried and convicted of sexually abusing children in the 1990’s. Fast forward and the women are finally exonerated for their alleged crime, and this documentary shows – through interviews and news footage – the women’s journey of their nightmare. Gripping, and bittersweet.

Chilean film Jesús starts out as a buddy movie where the two young leads hang out with their friends and then have sex with each other, but their lives are changed, and the film takes a surprising turn, when they are involved in a crime. This event will tear their lives apart and the ending packs a wallop!

Lauren (Velinda Godfrey) has to deal with the death of her girlfriend in the film Heartland. She also gets kicked out of the house they shared, so she has to move in with her bigoted mother, while her brother and his long-term girlfriend are visiting in order to set up a local wine business. But Lauren and the girlfriend develop more than a friendship in an event that tears the whole family apart, and brings up bad memories.

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Blow Job 2017 is a reimagining of the Andy Warhol classic, directed by Charles Lum and Todd Verow, that, for it’s four full minutes, focuses on David J. White, getting, as you guessed, a blow job. Why remake the 1963 classic? Because it was time to do so, and Lum and Verow do it in an excellent, grainy style.

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A film with commercial potential is Handsome Devil. Out gay student Ned (a wonderful Fionn O’Shea) is faced with another year in boarding school. His new roommate, lucky for him, is the star rugby player. But most memorable is Andrew Scott who plays a gay and sympathetic teacher. Scott is brilliant (and extremely handsome) as always.

A film that will astound you is the documentary Out of Iraq. It’s amazing that this film was even made as it’s the true story of two Iraqi soldiers who fall in love, but of course, living in a country where gay men are killed is not the ideal place for a gay relationship. So one of them is lucky enough to move to the U.S. and it’s a four year wait for them to be back together. Their long-awaited reunion, and eventual wedding, will leave you in tears.

This was just a few of the highlights of the BFI Flare film festival.
The entire program can still be found in the link below and hopefully some of these films will find their way to the cinema, or to the BFI website, or anywhere online. Let’s support and celebrate gay cinema.

http://www.bfi.org.uk/flare

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