BFI Flare 2017: Pushing Dead

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"This San Francisco-set black comedy by Tom E Brown opens with wannabe writer Dan’s struggle against health insurance bureaucracy, as he faces losing the drugs that have kept his HIV at bay for over 20 years. We’re soon rooting for Dan as he risks failure in almost every part of his life."

The tagline for director Tom E Brown's debut feature is "an AIDS comedy". A what? Yes, an AIDS comedy. That's not without precedent, of course. Jeffrey was an AIDS comedy, of sorts. But is Brown's Pushing Dead funny?

Yes. James Roday is utterly charming as the self-deprecation Dan, the kind of guy most boys would love to bring home to mother. Robin Weigert is adorable as the requisite fag hag. Danny Glover is also adorable as Grumpy Old Man. It's the kind of cast that's just a joy to watch.

The downside is the whole thing feels a bit dated. A bit 1995. There's a reason for that - Brown's been working on it for nearly twenty years. The sweet, self-deprecating gay guy, his kooky, forever single hag, and their friends the Huxtables. Even the notion that a comedy about AIDS is risqué is just... passé.

But that doesn't really matter. It's a good movie. It's a good, solid cast. It's funny. And I'm glad it was the last film I saw at this year's Flare. We went out on a high.

Every year, KAOS reports from the annual BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival. This year, I'll be reviewing eleven films (including a few programmes of shorts). Next time: Jesus.


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