Release Date: 16th June 2017 Running time: 88 mins Certificate: 15 Directors: Paul Toogood, Lloyd Stanton Cast: Chris Rock, Jamie Foxx, Jerry Seinfeld, Steve Coogan, Eddie Izzard, Amy Schumer, Billy Connolly, Paul Provenza, Sarah Silverman, Rick Overton, Jerry Lewis, Stephen K. Amos, Dave Attell, Sandra Bernhard, Tiffany Haddish, Frankie Boyle, Jo Brand, Neal Brennan, Bobby Lee, Jim Jefferies, Tom Dreesen, Kirk Fox, Cocoa Brown, Keenen Ivory Wayans
Synopsis: “DYING LAUGHING is a candid look inside the agony and ecstasy of making people laugh for a living. A stand-up comedian must be the writer, the director, and the star performer. There is no rehearsal, no practice, and no safety net when you’re in front of a live audience. For most people, baring their soul on stage and having an audience “boo” at you would become a life-long trauma, but for stand-up comedians, it’s a nightly challenge. The funny and heartfelt documentary contains original interviews interlaced with personal footage of life on the road – all from a comedian’s point of view. Once you take this step behind the curtain, you will never look at these funny folks the same way again.”
I seem to remember all of the comedy gigs I’ve been to in the past; where they were, who the funniest comedian was, and that one joke I always managed to carry away that when I think back, makes me chuckle. There is a sometimes a kind of uncomfortableness about some of the jokes, because they are very close to home, or something we shouldn’t be laughing at, but other jokes – the mere observation of our ridiculousness makes us laugh at ourselves. I’m always aware that I’ve gone to see a show, ready to laugh, prepared to be entertained, with no idea how the comedian is planning to entertain and keep me amused.
Dying Laughing sets the record straight. In it, iconic comedians speak to camera about their experience of stand-up comedy, from starting out, through writing, up on to the stage. These are well-known comedians, from the USA and the UK. They speak of laughter, hecklers, touring, loneliness, mental health, and bombing, and they took me on a rollercoaster of emotions.
At the start of the film, when they are speaking about the fun parts of comedy, there was a moment when I wondered if I could do stand-up. When they started to talk about me/you/us the audience, and the hecklers, it reminded me of that infamous Bernie Mac performance, ‘I ain’t scared of you….!’, and as the documentary goes on, I realised that it takes a certain strength to be a comedian. One I don’t have! I think Chris Rock sums it up best in the documentary, when he speaks about comedians being observers, intelligent observers – ignorance is bliss, and so the other side is quite painful, that observations, that knowing, being a viewer.
I left the cinema smiling, and in awe. An absolutely brilliant film, as I said, prepare to go on an emotional rollercoaster.
Running time: 70 mins
Release Date: 2 June 2017
Director: Claude Barras
Voices: Nick Offerman, Ellen Page, Will Forte and Amy Sedaris
After his mother’s sudden death, Courgette is befriended by a police officer, Raymond, who accompanies him to his new foster home filled with other orphans his age. At first he struggles to find his place in this often strange and hostile
environment. Yet with Raymond’s help and his newfound friends, Courgette eventually learns to trust and love, as he searches for a new family of his own.
My Life as a Courgette is a beautiful animation, looking at young emotions in difficult times. Throughout the film, I thought the children were in a loving and caring children’s home, rather than a foster home. The emotions and issues are portrayed well in children with differing problems. The film is great to see, amusing, sad, and hopeful.
Running time: 89 mins
Release Date: 5th May 2017
Director: Sean Foley
Cast: Julian Barratt, Russell Tovey, Andrea Riseborough, Essie Davis, Harriet Walter
Washed-up Richard Thorncroft (Julian Barratt) peaked with hit 1980s detective show Mindhorn, playing the titular Isle of Man sleuth with a robotic eye that allowed him to literally “see the truth”. Decades later, when a deranged Manx criminal demands Mindhorn as his nemesis, Thorncroft returns to the scene of his greatest triumphs for one last chance to reignite his glory days, professional credibility and even romance with former co-star/paramour Patricia Deville (Essie Davis).
What the hell? That was my first thought! But this crime-comedy-whodunit grew and grew on me! Deffo go and see this one, it is so bad, it’s good. Cheese upon cheese, with great performances from all, all set on the Isle of Man.
Running time: 97 mins
Release Date: 21st April 2017
Director: Michael O’Shea
Cast: Eric Ruffen, Xhloe Levine, Jelly Bean
An atmospheric, intricate study of a troubled young mind, The Transfiguration follows orphaned teen Milo (Eric Ruffin) as he immerses himself in vampire lore to escape his troubled life. In Queens, New York, 14 year-old Milo is a total outsider. Ignored by his schoolmates and bullied by older children, he takes refuge in the apartment he shares with his older brother. To escape his solitude, he studies vampire mythology, to the point of obsession. Milo hides a terrible secret, but a chance encounter with neighbor Sophie (Chloe Levine) leads him to develop new feelings. But will it be enough to quash his dark urges?
Milo, Milo, Milo, where to begin with Milo? He is at first, a school boy, bullied by his peers, he arrives as the victim – sad, friendless, loner, but soon enough, we learn of another side of Milo, and hope and nerves ride side by side as his friendship with his neighbour, Sophie develops. But Milo’s struggles continue in the colour-leached setting of his estate, as he strives to find a solution to end his troubles.
Running time: 117 mins
Release Date: 21st April 2017
Director: Lone Scherfig
Cast: Sam Claflin, Gemma Arterton, Jack Huston, Bill Nighy
Based on Lissa Evans’ novel, ‘Their Finest Hour and a Half’. 1940, London, the Blitz; with the country’s morale at stake, Catrin (Gemma Arterton), an untried screenwriter, and a makeshift cast and crew, work under fire to make a film to lift the nation’s flagging spirits; and inspire America to join the war. Partnered alongside fellow screenwriter, Buckley (Sam Claflin) and eccentric actor Ambrose Hilliard (Bill Nighy), the trio set off to make a film that will warm the hearts of the nation and capture the imagination of the American population.
I thoroughly enjoyed this romantic war-time comedy. Just looking at the images from the film brings back the rollercoaster of emotions, from Buckley’s lingering looks, to Catrin’s sadness. I try to avoid films that are based around war, but I am so glad I didn’t miss this one. It’s not so much about the hardship and drudge of war, but more about getting on with life in difficult circumstances. Do not miss this one. Take tissues.
Running time: 108 mins
Release Date: 14th April 2017
Director: Ritesh Batra
Cast: Jim Broadbent, Charlotte Rampling, Harriet Walter, Michelle Dockery, Emily Mortimer
Based on the Man Booker-winning novel by Julian Barnes. Tony Webster (Broadbent) leads a reclusive and quiet existence until long buried secrets from his past force him to face the flawed recollections of his younger self, the truth about his first love (Rampling) and the devastating consequences of decisions made a lifetime ago.
I haven’t read the book, but the trailer looked fascinating. Great performances from the cast, but the film was lacking a certain ‘umpf’ – not enough suspense and tension, and the conclusion of the story didn’t feel like the big reveal that the film had tried to build up to. It’s okay, not enough excitement for me.
Running time: 140 mins
Release Date: 24th March 2017
Director: James Gray
Cast: Tom Holland, Charlie Hunnam, Sienna Miller, Robert Pattinson
Based on author David Grann’s nonfiction bestseller, THE LOST CITY OF Z tells the incredible true story of British explorer Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam), who journeys into the Amazon at the dawn of the 20th century and discovers evidence of a previously unknown, advanced civilization that may have once inhabited the region. Despite being ridiculed by the scientific establishment who regard indigenous populations as “savages”, the determined Fawcett – supported by his devoted wife (Sienna Miller), son (Tom Holland) and aide de camp (Robert Pattinson) – returns time and again to his beloved jungle in an attempt to prove his case, culminating in his mysterious disappearance in 1925.
I shall display my ignorance and say that I had never heard of Percy Fawcett, or his expeditions, so it was interesting to learn about these. I really enjoyed the opening of the film, getting his background, and things that led to the first expedition, but once the expeditions started, the film seemed to slow down. I suppose I would have liked more excitement, but the story is based on truth, so if this is an area of interest to you, you may well find it fascinating. It does leave you with a wonder at the fate of Fawcett, and has a lovely and whimsical Magical Realism ending.
Running time: 98 mins
Release Date: 24th March 2017
Director: Christopher Menaul
Cast: Jenny Seagrove, John Hannah, Julian Kostov, Ronan Keating
Set during World War II, when the island of Jersey was occupied by the Nazis, and based on the true story of Louisa Gould, who took in an escaped Russian POW and hid him over the course of the war. Amid growing tension it became clear that British wartime leader Winston Churchill would not risk an assault to re-capture the occupied island, the community began to fray under the pressures of hunger, occupation and divided loyalty. Against this backdrop, Lou fights to preserve her family’s sense of humanity and to protect
the Russian boy as if he were her own.
A truly interesting WWII story about everyday people putting their life in danger to save a person, ‘Another Mother’s Son’. Jenny Seagrove plays a headstrong and heart happy Gould, who went about it with a breath-taking boldness that defies belief. Seagrove’s accent distracted me on occasion – I don’t know the Jersey accent, so it may be more that it didn’t seem right coming from her? I’m not sure. It was a pleasant surprise seeing Ronan Keating acting, and of course he gets a bot of singing in! John Hannah, in the role of is also excellent. It’s a story of courage, blind trust and touch of naivety with unexpected tragedy.
BFI Flare Film Festival is back for 2017. Opening with, Against The Law on Thursday 16th March. Our selection of films to look out for are listed below, and include Oscar winning Moonlight, hotly debated in our Oggscars recording. Set in Miami, the film follows Chiron from childhood to adulthood. Beautifully portrayed, it is a must see.
Also at the festival catch the new UK web series, Different For Girls, a smart, sassy, sexy multi-layered lesbian drama, directed by award-winning Festival alumni Campbell X.
Danny Glover appears in San Francisco-set black comedy, Pushing Dead, as boss to Dan, who is facing losing his HIV drugs after 20 years of keeping it at bay.
Uganda is back in the spotlight at the festival with, The Pearl of Africa. This unified six-part web-series follows Uganda’s first out transgender woman, Cleopatra Kambugu from home to Kenya and then Thailand.
We managed to see Jewel’s Catch One at the 60th London Film Festival. It is a celebration of Jewel Thais Williams, owner of the legendary Catch One bar – one of Los Angeles first gay venues. Covering Jewel’s journey from purchasing the bar, fighting through discrimination, and personal challenges. Jewel managed to create a disco bar that welcomed every one, including stars like Madonna.
Plus Brazillian film, Waiting for B, a kitschy, light-hearted and thoroughly camp portrayal of pop culture, mega fandom and the adoration of Beyoncé.
The festival runs for 11 days, and closes on the 26th March with a gala screening of, Signature Move.
Different for Girls | Fri17
A smart, sexy new lesbian drama web series from the award-winning director Campbell X.
Waiting for B | Fri 17 / Sat 18
A crew of queer young Brazilian camp out two months in advance of Beyonce’s big show. One for superfans of the beyhive.
Moonlight | Fri 17/ Sat 18 / Sat 25
The Oscar winning, much-anticipated feature in which a young boy growing up in a harsh environment learns what it means to love and be loved.
Jewel’s Catch One | Fri 17 / Sat 19
This is the story of how Jewel rose from humble origins to create one of the most inclusive, radical and star-studded LGBT discos in America.
The Pearl of Africa | Sun 19 / Mon 20 / Fri 24
After suffering persecution from Uganda’s government and media, Cleopatra journeys to Thailand to get surgery and finally live freely with her boyfriend Nelson.
Free CeCe! | Tue 21 / Wed 22
Laverne Cox leads this insightful documentary into the case of Cece McDonald, whose infamous case sparked protests around the world.
Can’t Stop the Music | Thur 23 [BFI IMAX, Waterloo]
A monument to camp with the Village People and some of the most dazzling musical numbers ever committed to celluloid.
Being 17 (Quand On A 17 Ans) | Thur 23 / Fri 24
Set in the French Alps, this beautiful and emotional coming of age tale has two boys in their last year at school coming to terms with their emotions.
Body Electric (Corpo Elétrico) | Thur 23/ Sat 25
A lively Brazilian drama set in a garment factory: young manager Elias finds distraction in some of his fellow workers, but is he getting too close?
The Trans List | Thu 23 / Sun 26
Famous faces abound in this new HBO production from Timothy Greenfield-Sanders celebrating trans luminaries.
Pushing Dead | Sat 25 / Sun 26
Delightful comedy set in San Francisco, in which an HIV-positive slacker/writer battles with life, meds and friends.
Pride? | Sat 25 / Sun 26
A warm and intelligent survey that examines the history of Pride, its radical off-shoots, like Black Pride, and what the future of queer organising will be.
Sat 18 / Sun 19 | Transcendent Tales – Bold and beautiful fictional shorts from first inklings to years after transition.
Diane From the Moon
Mya Taylor plays a pagan priestess who takes no prisoners.
Sun 19 / Wed 22 | Shadow and Act – Stylish shorts that compel you to know yourself, live freely and speak the truth to power.
A beautiful letter about migration, identity and love from a young Ghanaian man to his family.
Hattie Goes Cruising
An ageing African-American couple give a how-to on cruising and what it was like being young, queer and pretty in 1970s and 1980s New York.
A young migrant from Guadeloupe on the French vogue scene cares for his younger brother who is getting ready for his first ball. *Watch Free on #BFIPlayer or YouTube as part of #FiveFilms4Freedom
I am a Woman
The politics of gender, identity and race are explored in this short and energetic spoken word piece.
Bayard and Me
Civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, the organisational genius behind the 1963 March on Washington, is remembered by his younger partner.
When a sexy chat becomes an intense exchange on race, politics and war, two strangers find out how much they can accept in each other and in themselves.
Thur 23 | The Permanent Perception – The queer experience, both real and imagined. A collection of experimental short films, showcasing the best in contemporary artists’ film and video.
LGBT histories through a TV sitcom lens.
Generation Divide II
More politics and canned laughter.
Sat 25 / Sun 26 | Falling Free – An inspiring and varied collection of queer tales, showcasing our most exciting home-grown filmmaking talent.
We Love Moses
Twelve-year-old Ella discovers a secret about her brother’s best mate.
Sat 25 / Sun 26 | Trials and Liberations – Personal stories of transgender and non-binary experiences from around the globe.
Places of Fear and hatred (Lugares de Medo e Ódio)
Five diverse Brazilians speak out on surviving prejudice and violence.
Sat 25 / Sun 26 | Something to Remember – The unknowable path to self-discovery can take many an unexpected turn, as the young men in these poignant and accomplished short films are soon to discover.
A boxer finds his world turned upside down by the arrival of a new fighter at his club.
*Watch Free on #BFIPlayer or YouTube as part of #FiveFilms4Freedom