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last update 13.Apr.14
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Brace   3.5/5  
dir Sophy Holland, Alicya Eyo
scr Jake Graf
with Jake Graf, Harry Rundle, Dannie Pye, Georgia Winters, Chris Walters, Alicya Eyo, Ingrid Evans, Mike Aherne
14/UK 30m graf and rundle
Brace After a night up to no good in a London nightclub, Adam (Graf) comes home looking guilty. In the morning he tells his girlfriend Zoe (Winters) that it's over, and it turns out that he has decided to live as a gay man. Then on a night out with his queeny pal Ryan (Pye), Adam meets the improbably named twink Rocky (Rundle), and the two hit it off. Taking it slowly, they're just getting to know each other when a vicious attack and startling revelations change everything. The film is nicely shot with a cool sense of the London club scene, although it's a bit over-serious, playing up the dramatic moments and only rarely letting scenes breathe with authentic real-life rhythms. This means that every line of dialog feels on-the-nose, and some people seem to exist only to convey a message. Still, there's a strong sense of the characters, and the actors register vividly on-screen. While Graf and Rundle have some punchy scenes, their relationship develops mainly off-screen, which limits the impact of the twists that come along. Pye is the most natural performer, stealing scenes without even trying. Where the film grabs hold is in its bigger themes, letting us see the characters yearning to be "normal" even though that's a constructed idea in society, including the LGBT community. There's also a running exploration of various levels of homophobia this community deals with every day, even from loved ones - from an offhanded comment to physical violence. So while the plot turns feel a little melodramatic, the film still has thoughtful things to say about some important issues.


Jayson Bend: Queen and Country   4/5  
dir Matt Carter
scr Andrew Faure
with Davis Brooks, Tom Read Wilson, Paul Norton, Djalenga Scott, Chris Lew Kim Hoi, Louise Templeton, Jonathan Hansler, William Ludwig, Wayne Fitzsimmons
release UK 8.Aug.16
14/UK 48m
wilson and brooks
Jayson Bend: Queen and Country You can tell a lot of thought and effort went into this extended short film - it's packed with witty touches and overcomes the clearly limited budget with sheer energy and invention. Jayson (Brooks) is the top agent for the Royal Intelligence Ministry, sent to Geneva to investigate a suspicious new hair product invented by impresario Raymond Perdood (Norton), who's clearly up to something nefarious with his assistants Dr Tu Yung (Hoi) and henchwoman Katya Khokov (Scott). Working with local operator Alec DeCoque (Wilson), Jayson infiltrates Perdood's lab, flirts shamelessly with everyone he meets, and of course saves the day. Every scene is a riot of innuendo as the cast and crew play gleefully with both Bond-style filmmaking and gay double entendre. The editing is especially sharp, as are the hilarious details that pepper every scene, from the ridiculous gadgets to violence that feels suspiciously more like a sex game than something truly dangerous. There's even a witty pastiche of an anthemic Bond theme, complete with a sexy opening credit sequence. And the cast is terrific, delivering the absurdly silly dialog with a straight face (a blooper reel after the credits shows that it wasn't so easy). The only frustration is the running time - too long to be considered a short, but not quite up to feature length either. So it was tricky for this entertaining film to find the audience it deserves. A special shout-out Iris Prize for programming it as the opening film in the feature competition, and also to TLA for releasing it on dvd/vod.

released with the Mexican shorts BOYS ON THE ROOFTOP and LEWD ACTS • 2.Mar.14

Party Central   3.5/5
dir Kelsey Mann
scr Pete Docter
voices Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Charlie Day, Sean Hayes, Dave Foley, Joel Murray, Colleen O'Shaughnessey, Peter Sohn, Julia Sweeney
14/US 5m
Party Central
Party Central Pixar continues to expand its empire with short films featuring its beloved characters, and this time the gang from Monsters University decide to throw a frat house party. But no one comes, since there's a much more exciting party across town. So they steal two closet doors and open a portal through some sleeping humans' bedroom and bit-by-bit tranfer the entire party to their house, turning their frat house into the place to be instead. Basically, this energetic and extremely colourful short is a series of witty gags without much in the way of plot or characters - although all of the familiar monsters (and their voices) are back. But even if there's nothing much to it, the laughs are fairly constant, leading up to Mom (O'Shaughnessey) teaching the partying students how to "door jam". Yes, it's raucous and silly and pointless, but it's also very funny. And of course expertly animated with an attention to the smallest detail.

Showing with: MUPPETS MOST WANTED • 18.Mar.14

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© 2014 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall