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Flare shorts - DAWN | DISCRETION | G O'CLOCK
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last update 17.Aug.16
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Boys on the Rooftop   4/5   Muchachos en la Azotea
dir Julian Hernandez
scr Emiliano Arenales Osorio
with Alan Ramirez, Hugo Catalan, Mauricio Rico
16/Mexico 18m
ramirez and catalan
Boys on the Rooftop A cat burglar (Catalan) prowls the roof of a building, where another guy (Ramirez) is tied up in bondage gear. Their game involves domination, puppy play and some light S&M. Director Hernandez shoots the film beautifully in the shadows, with lots of squeaky faux leather, a wandering spotlight and a rather hilarious shift in tone as the "dog" sets up a romantic picnic for two, while his "master" insists on continuing the degrading roleplay: "It's my birthday, lick my boots!" Clearly, the submissive one isn't into this at all, but is going along with it for his boyfriend. What follows is a pointed conversation that goes back and forth, trying to find the common ground between them. The film opens with a note that it's "based on real events, sort of", then takes a witty and knowing approach, with a nice sense of the connection between two guys trying to make each other happy but getting frustrated about it. It's sexy and funny, and a little bit silly. But there's enough depth to give it some provocative edge.

packaged on dvd with JAYSON BEND • 14.Aug.16

Lewd Acts   3.5/5   Actos Impuros
dir Roberto Fiesco Trejo
scr Jose Luis Gutierrez
with Oscar Trejo Lara, Yoatzin Hernandez, Pablo Molina, Ricardo Fiallega, Judith Marban, Salvador Hernandez
93/Mexico 23m

lewd acts Shot on film like a vintage movie, with rich colours and deep shadows, this short quietly explores suppressed feelings at a time when it was impossible to step outside expectations. A young guy (Lara) flirts with one of the cleaning ladies in his building, then at work he eyes up a colleague in the showers, clearly troubled and despising his inner urges. He takes the girl to the movies and a carnival, then they have sex, although it's clear that something isn't right. After things turn nasty, he tries another woman, with the same result. Then a guy comes on to him in the street, leading to sex with a very different outcome. Mostly silent with snippets of old songs, the film centres on the pained emotional connections between the characters. It looks terrific, in academy ratio with several cleverly staged visual touches. There are some startling plot points along the way that over-egg the theme. But this adds to the vintage style of melodramatic storytelling, and helps punch the themes without ever being too obvious.

packaged on dvd with JAYSON BEND • 14.Aug.16

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Mexican Men Shorts from BFI Flare: 16-27 March 2016 at BFI Southbank, London
Dawn   4/5  
dir-scr Jake Graf
with Nicole Gibson, Harry Rundle, Tommy Grabiec, Archie Crowle, Michael Billington
16/UK 11m
gibson and rundle

Dawn Beautifully shot and edited, this gentle short traces an early morning encounter between two strangers waiting for a bus. There's a lonely young blind guy (Rundle) and a bruised young woman (Gibson), both looking like they want to hide from the cruelty of the world around them. But they quietly chat as the sun rises, finding a connection that gives each of them a glimmer of hope. It's a simple idea with a couple of subtle revelations along the way to give insight into the woman's back-story, hinting at the things she endures on a daily basis. And even as the film reveals that it is grappling with some big issues, it does so in a way that's never pushy at all, merely pointing out a truth many people have probably never noticed. Nice.

18.Mar.16 Flare

Discretion   1/5  
dir-scr Tommy Garcia
with Colin Lawrence, Zach Gillette, Tim McCord, Doug Gardiner, Ray Parikh, Caige Coulter
15/US 35m
gillette and lawrence

Discretion It's clear that filmmaker Garcia wanted to make this short feel like a full-fledged feature, but the big generic score undermines him from the start. And then he coaxes his actors to exaggerated performances that ring utterly false. It's about creative writing professor Derek (Lawrence), who lives in Los Angeles with husband Franz (McCord) and daughter Cara (Coulter). But there's trouble brewing, as Franz wants to move the family to Toronto for his job. While pondering this, Derek falls under the spell of hunky, talented new student Trysten (Gillette). There are more issues gurgling around this couple, including friends (Gardiner and Parikh) who offer unhelpful advice and a clash about Derek having to do all the housework. Powerful issues are at play here, but Garcia tells us what to think rather than letting us grapple with our thoughts. So everything is overplayed, especially as the narrative takes a dark belaboured turn, leading to an emotional reaction that's laughably out of proportion. And the simplistic ending actually encourages deceit and repression.

26.Mar.16 Flare

G O’Clock   3.5/5  
dir-scr Mitchell Marion
with Phillip Weddell, Mark 'Kibo' Rovira, Leon Lopez, Damien Hughes, Seth Papworth, Anthony Selwyn
15/UK 10m
weddell and rovira

G O'Clock This intriguing film offers a rather mixed message about the heated issue of chem-sex, ending on an abrupt note that leaves the film feeling unfinished. But it's also bold and honest, forcing viewers into a new perspective on a topical theme. It opens with an ambulance arriving in a field, where the paramedic Alex (Weddell) attends to a young man having a nasty drug trip, lecturing the other guys about messing with something they don't understand. Then we see Alex arriving at a naked sex party at the home of a friend (Lopez). There Alex hooks up with young twink Nick (Rovira), helping him navigate his way safely through a night of chemically enhanced sex. The film is snappy and well-shot, with an energetic editing style (about half of the film is a montage) and an unflinching approach to sex and drugs. All of the performances are strongly authentic, with an especially layered turn from Weddell. But while this deliberately dark film definitely gets us thinking, it leaves us wondering what it's trying to say.

26.Mar.16 Flare

Inner Jellyfishes   3/5   Les Méduses
dir-scr Marc-Antoine Lemire
with Rudi DuPerre, Samuel Brassard, Jade Hassoune, Julien Lemire, Alex Trahan, Guylaine Jacob
15/Canada 24m

Inner Jellyfishes The title metaphor is a bit of a mystery in this skilfully shot and edited short, which continually cuts to beautiful slow-motion images of jellyfish in a pitch-black sea. Otherwise, it's the story of young guys who meet in a trendy bar, flirt and go home for sex. The central character creeps quietly out of his lover's bed in the morning, then has a lonely day reading, keeping the condom wrapper from the night before in his book. That night he does it all again. And repeats it the next day. He refuses to give any of the guys his number, preferring his solitary life. He doesn't even answer his supportive mum's voicemail messages. Then he meets a guy who encourages him to drop his guard. With the inclusion of these jellyfishes (his churning soullessness? his lost self?) the film has rather preachy overtones, implying that if casual sex eats away at you, then making yourself vulnerable is the answer. So even if it's all rather simplistic, at least it's finely made and delicately played.

26.Mar.16 Flare

No Strings   4/5  
dir-scr Eoin Maher
with Aaron Cini, Richard Hay
15/UK 23m
hay and cini

No Strings Strong performances make this short stand out from the usual one-night-stand dramas. It opens as Bryn (Hay) arranges to meet up with Sean (Cini), who arrives at his flat for sex. But afterwards, Sean has no way to get home, so asks to stay the night. The awkwardness is intense, even as they begin to get to know each other, comparing their Welsh and Irish backgrounds and trying to get some sleep. It's a very nicely shot film, with a terrific use of the single setting and a strong sense of momentum in the story. Hay gives Bryn a vivid hesitancy. This is a guy who wants to connect with someone but doesn't know how to. While Cini's Sean is more open to what comes along, but knows not to push things too far. The ending is a bit cute, but adds a gently hopeful kick.

25.Mar.16 Flare

Paradigma   3.5/5  
dir Valentino R Sandoli
scr Valentino R Sandoli, Ignacio Campon
with Kuba Tarasiewicz, Maria Crespo, Jedet Sanchez, Alex Richard, Carlos Arteaga, Daniel Arnau
15/Spain 18m

Paradigma Ambitious filmmaking sometimes makes it rather difficult to know exactly what's happening in this earthy, introspective drama. It centres on the shyly gay 17-year-old Guille (Tarasiewicz) and his chatty-silly friend Julia (Crespo). She encourages him to lose his virginity, so he creates a profile on an app and meets Alfonso (Richard). When Alfonso fails to reply to his messages, Guille takes Julia along to confront him, and Alfonso reluctantly invites them in to a party. Julia instantly falls in with some giggly shot-drinking girls, while Guille meets one of Alfonso's other discarded conquests (Sanchez), who introduces him to drug-fuelled sex. But is this what he wants? The film is very well-shot, with natural actors and a realistically dark tone. And while Guille's brief descent into this world of sex, drugs and alcohol feels oddly accelerated for maximum effect, at least the film avoids taking a moralistic approach, instead ending on a nicely open-handed note that encourages a positive approach to the topic.

26.Mar.16 Flare

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