Monday, March 28, 2016

Flare: Family Drama

As I did last year, I shall continue reviewing films from Flare, thanks to the online screening service available for a bit. Today I shall look at some films charting personal dramas.

One of the films that earned repeated screenings at the festival was Akron, prompting me to give it a look. It certainly pushes some populist buttons: two hunky jocks hook up in the US midwest, but then are torn apart by tensions between their families. Christopher and Benny have a meet-cute on a football field while playing "mudball" and then quickly get together. Refreshingly, the drama is not because they are gay, but rather improbably that they were witnesses to a death some years back, something their families can never forget. Aside from the ridiculous premise, it's actually a pretty decent film, with some juicy roles for the two actresses playing their mothers. And it's unusual to see a Mexican-American as the lead character, with his family not portrayed as homophobic. It's a bit neat and clean for me, but an unusual mix of first love and melodrama.

Almost entirely in the melodrama corner is the French short Between Silences, which is a rather drawn out encounter between two lovers, before one threatens to leave. It took me ages to figure out this was an adaptation of The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, and that the drama was in the power struggle between the two protagonists. Didn't really float my boat, but Fassbinder fans should take note.

A film featuring no dialogue whatsoever is the curious Trouser Bar, directed by Kristen Bjorn and with a script credited to no-one. A series of gentlemen arrive at the titular location sporting awful wigs (to suggest the 1970s), eye each other up, stroke some trousers and proceed to get it on in the changing rooms, all to a 1970s porny soundtrack. While not the target audience, I found it rather funny and silly, especially when other gentlemen arrive to peer through the windows, among them Julian Clary and Nigel Havers!! Online research reveals the gentleman responsible for the script. Well, well.

On a more innocent note, there were tonnes of films featuring kids this year, among them the Heathers-like Little Doll, in which dorky girl Elenore falls in with the beautiful but aloof Alex. At first, all goes well and it seems as if the two will form a band. But, then Elenore comes face-to-face with Alex's circle of friends, including a very jealous girl who looks about five years older. Anyway, it doesn't end well. Kids can be cruel.

On a more positive note, the gender-queer heroine of Take Your Partners, Ollie, finds a way of creating her chosen style and observing school regulations, all while charming the object of her affections. Result! If only all of life were so simple to negotiate.

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