BFI Flare LGBTQ+ Film Festival ’18: Ones to Watch

BFI Flare is just around the corner; the festival, now in its 32nd year, opens with Tali Shalom Ezer’s ‘My Days of Mercy’ on the 21st March. This year’s programme is bursting with wonderful queer content, ranging from cheesy teen romcoms, to sobering documentaries, to experimental short film. Flare takes great pride in its development from the “London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival”, to the “London LGBT Film Festival” and now, finally, to the much more inclusive “LGBTQ+”. This updated name is reflected in the diversity of the films on offer here – regardless of your label (or lack thereof), there’s something for all interests. Though we don’t have time to sink our teeth into everything on offer, here are a few feature films that we’re especially looking forward to:


Mena Suvari and Lena Hall in Becks (2017) © Blue Fox Entertainment

Director: Elizabeth Rohrbaugh, Daniel Powell

Cast: Lena Hall, Dan Fogler, Mena Suvari

Summary: After a crushing breakup with her girlfriend, a Brooklyn musician moves back in with her Midwestern mother. As she navigates her hometown, playing for tip money in an old friend’s bar, an unexpected relationship begins to take shape.

At first, I thought this looked a little kitschy, especially considering the focus on music. However, ‘Becks’ has been getting some fantastic reviews since its US release last month even despite the natural lesbian movie backlash, with many stating it to be incredibly genuine and heartfelt. As a result, my curiosity is piqued; it could well be that ‘Becks’ joins the elusive club of cute lesbian indies to be held in in the hearts of gay women for years to come.

Screening Info: Thursday 29 March 2018 18:30 / Saturday 31 March 2018 16:00

Links: Tickets| IMDB | Trailer

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SXSW Film Festival ’18: Elle Fanning and Ben Foster shine in ‘Galveston’, despite some minor flaws

This review is by our guest writer, Christina Huang. 

Being from Texas myself, ‘Galveston’ is a film that I have been anticipating for awhile now. Fortunately, I was not disappointed. Mélanie Laurent brings the small beach town that I have known for years to life in a beautiful way. Elle Fanning and Ben Foster are quite the duo, and the score is simply marvelous. Even though I was relatively satisfied with the quality of this film, I must say that the first twenty minutes or so were somewhat weak in terms of storytelling. Despite this, ‘Galveston’ is a solid crime thriller that is not to be missed.

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‘Tomb Raider’ promises a new age of action heroine, but doesn’t quite deliver

Tomb Raider’s popularity is genderless. For one reason or another, even the most misogynistic of men have found no problem raiding tombs as the one-woman legend Lara Croft, and many find a great deal of enjoyment in their female protagonist. Academics have investigated this extensively, with some speculating that the power of controlling a woman allows these men to overcome their initial prejudice. Another argument is that Lara’s sexualised form (the origins of which were apparently accidental) appeals particularly to these players and downplays the agency of the character via the male gaze.

The reboot of the game franchise, which began with 2013’s ‘Tomb Raider’ and is currently awaiting news on a third entry, focuses much more on Lara as a young, evolving adventurer. The first game – which the 2018 movie is based on – tells the origins of the icon, developing the character’s emotional and physical depth. The use of performance motion-capture means that this new era’s Lara is less overtly sexualised – she is, quite literally, a “real woman”. It isn’t much of a stretch to say that the Tomb Raider franchise today, whilst clearly influenced by the games that came before, reflects a Lara with much more agency, and a more easily accessible personality.

Lara Croft in Tomb Raider (2013) (Video Game)

From the very beginning, then, director Roar Uthaug had a pretty big mountain to climb with his film adaptation of this incredibly cinematic and story-driven game. Whilst his efforts are admirable, and Alicia Vikander forms a perfect modern-day Lara, ‘Tomb Raider (2018)’ suffers greatly from a poor script and a needless focus on male supporting characters.

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‘Mary Magdalene’ Review: The unseasoned chicken of cinema

Cinema is a powerful medium: it can make you shake with laughter, tremble in fear or weep profusely; you can be a different person when you leave the cinema from the one who entered. Mary Magdalene elicits none of those emotions. Never have I ever felt such an immense wave of nothingness from watching a film. The experience of watching Mary Magdalene is like staring blankly at a beige wall while eating a stale communion wafer. This is the unseasoned chicken of cinema.

Rooney Mara in ‘Mary Magdalene’ © Film4

Traditionally, plot follows a rise and fall structure. Mary Magdalene is a straight horizontal line — and on that straight horizontal line, Jesus, Mary and the other disciples walk and preach and baptise their way to Jerusalem. Even the eventual crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus is anticlimactic  the image of Jesus nailed to a cross with a crown of thorns is an iconic image, but it also left me feeling nothing beyond, “Oh, I know that!”, like some biblical easter egg. If only that scene involved Rooney Mara taking a drag of a cigarette next to a bloody Joaquin Phoenix.

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Review: A Wrinkle in Time

Last week, all I could think about was finally seeing Ava Duvernay’s latest directorial feat, A Wrinkle in Time. Despite the mixed coverage of the film, nothing was going to diminish my eagerness. Adapted from the classic novel by Madeleine L’Engle, the film follows Meg Murry, portrayed by Storm Reid, as she travels throughout the universe to find her scientist father with the help of her brother, Charles Wallace, friend, Calvin, and the extraordinary Mrs., Mrs. Which, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Who, played by Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling, respectively. My expectations were definitely high, but DuVernay and company didn’t just deliver an entertaining movie–they delivered an experience.


Storm Reid in A Wrinkle in Time. Disney ©

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TV Review: ‘Jessica Jones’ is the superhero we need

The first season of Netflix’s Jessica Jones was something of a miracle for superhero television programming. Jessica is not your typical superhero — in fact, she rejects the label altogether. She drunkenly stumbles her way through one night stand after one night stand as a distraction from the trauma she experienced under the hands of Kilgrave. David Tennant’s unsettling villain repeatedly raped Jessica and forced her to follow his bidding with his mind control powers. The show’s first season was one of the most compelling pieces of television as an honest depiction of the psychological pain that comes with rape and abuse, coloured by the accessible premise of a pseudo-noir superhero tale.

Krysten Ritter in ‘Jessica Jones’ © Netflix

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SXSW Film Festival ’18: ‘A Vigilante’ showcases the power of fighting back

This review is by our guest writer, Christina Huang.
Wow. I had no words after the screening for this was over. Sarah Daggar-Nickson’s directorial debut absolutely stuns. Olivia Wilde gives a truly phenomenal performance that showcases the hardships of leaving an abusive relationship and how we can use our suffering to help others. Although there were a few minor errors in terms of the narrative, the movie was beautiful, powerful, and most of all, eye-opening.
‘A Vigilante’ tells the story of Sadie (Olivia Wilde), a woman who rescues other women from their abusive relationships. The film opens with Sadie beating an abusive husband and forcing him into leaving his home and quitting his job. We quickly learn that Sadie herself has a tragic backstory. After she leaves her abusive husband, he comes close to killing her and completely shatters her life. Sadie attends a support group and by listening to stories from other women (played by actual domestic violence survivors), and realizes that she has to stand against this horrific abuse. She can no longer stand by and watch as other people endure the pain and misery from domestic violence.

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