The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin (2017) | Bfi Flare 2017
Dir: Jennifer M Kroot | Doc | US/UK | 91min
Armistead Maupin churned out copy like a demon according to his editor at the San Francisco Chronicle where he worked as a regualr columnist. His prodigious talent and remarkable work ethic was possibly due to his strict upbringing by a father whom he admits to hating, according to Jennifer Kroots informative biopic of the writer and longtime advocacy for queer civil rights, and creator of the popular Tales of the City franchise.
Enriched with a commentary from talking heads Sir Ian McKellen, Laura Linney and Amy Tan, Kroot’s documentary is the first to chart the life of a writer who has known success and personal tragedy and now seems to have largely vanished from the scene, so the film will certainly be greeted with warmth and appreciation by his fans and those who have enjoyed his work, whatever the critical appraisal.
Kroot covers Maupin’s career as a journalist right through to his status as a US household name with an impressive array of photographs and archive footage showing how the he struggled to come out, as the son of a white supremacist father, and ended up with a series of gay lovers, one of whom had partnered Rock Hudson, eventually emerging as an avant-garde figure of his generation, or so the luminaries would have us believe. Rather a shame then that the film has a rather lightweight quality with cartoonish 1970s visuals in the style of Monty Python or TV’s Magpie, and unimaginative and lacklustre format. MT
BFI FLARE FILM FESTIVAL 16-26 MARCH 2017