Saturday, April 01, 2017

Flare: Tales of the City

As I have perused the Flare titles available as online screeners, I couldn't help but notice how many originate in San Francisco, a city dear to my heart as I lived there for a significant time in the 1990s. Much of what I knew is gone now, so I have heard, but I always sit up when I see SF locations in a film.

Naturally, I was intrigued to see a documentary on writer Armistead Maupin, he of Tales of the City fame, directed by Jennifer Kroot. The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin is a fine encapsulation of his extraordinary life, from growing up with "good blood" in the south, to serving in Vietnam, meeting Nixon in the White House, and of course his eventual arrival in SF, coming out and becoming a famous writer. Not that it is told in chronological order. Rather, themes emerge, signposted by some nifty animation, and famous talking heads such as Amy Tan, Sir Ian McKellen and Laura Linney chime in with their thoughts. One of my own thoughts was how extraordinarily privileged a life Maupin has led: not everybody gets invited to do half the things he has. But in the end even he is racked with insecurities and a need to find his own "logical family", as opposed to the biological one from which he felt so alienated. The city has certainly given him that, as well as inspiration for his books. It was a pleasure to view.

Not so much with Snapshot, which could have been a very suspenseful queer take-off on Hitchcock, but ended up being more extended sex scenes interrupted by some plot. I was quite creeped out in the first 15 minutes as photographer Charlie stumbles in on a couple having sex before a terrible murder takes place and she realises she has some photographic evidence. But clearly director Shine Louise Houston is more interested in the sexual shenanigans of voyeur Charlie and her new squeeze Danny than actually unravelling the mystery, which kind of evaporates half-way through. What a disappointment. But, even here sun-dappled San Francisco looks lovey. Nice setting, shame about the story.

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