Another year of Flare
The 32nd edition of BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival has just wrapped up on the Southbank after 11 days of queer cinematic bliss. If you missed anything, many of the films will be arriving over the next several months. Here are seven of the festival’s best…
POSTCARDS FROM LONDON • The closing night film was this tricky, artful drama starring the gorgeous Harris Dickinson (Beach Rats) as a rent boy trying to survive on the streets of Soho. Surreal and provocative, it’s well worth a look (in cinemas late summer).
THE WOUND • From South Africa, this award-winning, unnerving drama is centred around an isolated Xhosa rite of passage, during which one of the mentors finds ways to express his forbidden sexuality with an old friend. And the guys who catch them bring up unexpected reactions (in cinemas 27th April).
HARD PAINT • This nakedly sexy Brazilian drama follows two Cam4 performers who get together to put on webcam shows involving pots of neon paint. And between the steamy scenes is a darkly moving romance (release to be confirmed).
THE HAPPY PRINCE • Rupert Everett writes, directs and stars in this drama about Oscar Wilde’s final years. Obviously, it’s not a laugh-fest to watch a 46-year-old fall from London’s top celebrity into poverty and illness. But Everett finds wit everywhere, the film looks beautiful and costars include Colin Firth and Emily Watson (in cinemas in June).
LOVE, SIMON • A rare mainstream American high school comedy with an offhanded gay plot, this comedy-drama centres on a teen (Jurassic World’s Nick Robinson) who falls in love with an anonymous online friend while being pushed to come out (in cinemas Friday).
MALILA: THE FAREWELL FLOWER • From Thailand, this elegiac odyssey follows a young man who has an encounter with his ex-boyfriend before deciding to do a stint as a monk, roaming through a dense, ghost-filled forest. It’s thoughtful and profound (on DVD/VOD this summer).
FREAK SHOW • Directed by Trudie Styler, this black comedy stars Alex Lawther (Departure) as a teen who revels in his fabulous queerness, despite being treated with disdain by pretty much everyone. It’s a colourful celebration of finding the tenacity to be yourself (in cinemas this autumn).
The BFI holds special Flare screenings and events all year, and there’s a range of LGBTQ+ films on BFIPlayer.
Coffee House Chronicles – review
Based on the web series, this film chronicles a series of dates that touch on a wide range of issues in mainly comical ways. Although there’s always a barbed point involved that sometimes gets preachy. But with a cast this charming, engaging at sunny locations and coffee bars around West Hollywood, it’s very easy to watch.
One story runs through the movie, as Eli (cute ginger Luis Selgas) goes on a couple of messy dates, has a sexy hook-up with a super-hot guy (Max Emerson) and gets advise from some straight friends. In between those scenes, there’s a guy (Darryl Stephens) haunted by his hunky ex (Chris Salvatore) as he contemplates a proposal from his sassy best pal (Drew Droege). A 30-year-old (Nicholas Downs) discovers that his date (Hunter Doohan) is only 16. Two actors (Mark Cirillo and Damian Pelliccione) in a zombie movie try to imagine if they’d like each other without the makeup.
It goes on like this: there’s a wager about sexual experience between a gay man and his straight pal; a young guy who comes to regret preferring Latinos to Asians; a trans date that brings up some unexpected secrets; a lunch between couples where the husbands are having an affair; and a guy who hires a pornstar (John Suazo) as an anniversary present for his husband. So if one of these little sketches doesn’t engage, it’s not long to wait until one does.
Much of this is rather cheesy, shot in a bland low-budget style, while the mixture of comedy and drama with bigger themes is sometimes forced. But there are moments throughout the various scenes that touch a nerve, drawing both laughter and sighs of recognition. And with this veritable who’s who of gay Los Angeles-based actors, there’s plenty of eye candy and some surprisingly strong performances as well. JC
Coffee House Chronicles is released on DVD/VOD on Monday 9th April.
Boys on Film is legal!
Yes, you need to brace yourself for the impending release of BOYS ON FILM 18: HEROES, Peccadillo’s next collection of gay shorts. Running over more than two hours, there are 10 films here, including the award-winning Mother Knows Best (Sweden), a fiendishly clever depiction of casual bigotry that’s wickedly funny and properly moving. Four of these shorts are from the UK, and the collection includes animation, teen drama, documentaries about politics and the Aids epidemic, and stars from God’s Own Country (Josh O’Connor in The Colour of His Hair) and Poldark (Henry Garrett in Daniel). We can’t wait. JC