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2010 Edinburgh Film Festival Roundup

Posted by: Matthew Turner 28/06/2010 @ 15:02
Subject: Film

Films seen so far this year: 233
Films seen over the last two weeks: Winter's Bone, Trash Humpers, Two Eyes StaringThe Last Rites of Ransome Pride, Monsters, Son of Babylon, The People vs George Lucas, Pelican Blood, Boy, Red Hill, A Real Life, The Dry Land, SoulBoy, Lucky, Out of the Ashes, The Runaways, Superhero Me, Huge, Toy Story 3, Barry Munday, Thelma Louise and Chantal, Putty Hill, Third Star, High School, My Words My Lies – My Love, The Kid, The Good Heart, The Crab, My Son My Son What Have Ye Done?, The Secret in Their Eyes, Vacation!, Mr Nice, Get Low, Crimefighters, Skeletons, Ollie Kepler's Expanding Purple World, Gravity, Honeymooner, The Extra Man, Lucky Luke, Donkeys, R, Yo Tambien, Freetime Machos

2010 Edinburgh Film Festival Roundup
Well, it's been a pretty strange Edinburgh all round. Apart from anything else, we had glorious sunshine for the entire two weeks. I've been going to the Edinburgh Film Festival for 10 years in a row now and that NEVER happens – usually you're lucky if you get half a day or so of sunshine and even then, it's still never hot. Secondly, it was a fairly low-key festival in terms of big movies (Toy Story 3 aside) and that meant a lack of tabloid-pleasing talent attending (not that Edinburgh is or should be about the stars, but try telling that to journalists with sleb-happy editors to appease) but at least that allowed the smaller films to shine. My Edinburgh top ten is as follows:

1. Winter's Bone
2. Toy Story 3
3. The Crab
4. Barry Munday
5. Lucky
6. Skeletons
7. Boy
8. The People vs George Lucas
9. World's Greatest Dad
10. Heartbreaker

Special mentions to: Monster (which was pretty much the film everyone was talking about, after Winter's Bone), SoulBoy (notable for both its depiction of the Northern Soul scene and for having the best party of the festival), Nick Moran's The Kid, Spanish Down Syndrome romcom Yo Tambien, quirky, Wes Anderson-esque New York comedy The Extra Man, Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist, British drama Third Star, Best Foreign Film winner The Secret in Their Eyes (which I need to see again) and, last but not least, James Huth's Lucky Luke, which was everything I wanted from a Lucky Luke movie, short of them actually doing the plot of Dalton City.

The official winners were as follows: the Michael Powell Award for Best New British Feature Film went, delightfully, to Skeletons; the PPG Award for Best Performance in a British Feature Film went, slightly unfairly, to David Thewlis for Mr Nice (as much as I love Thewlis, this was very much a supporting role – I'd have given it to James Cosmo for Donkeys); the Best International Feature Award went to The Dry Land (good, but it should have gone to Winter's Bone); the Moët New Directors Award went, deservedly, to British director Gareth Edwards for Monsters; and the Best Feature Documentary Award went to The Oath, which, shamefully, I didn't see. The Audience Award looked like going to SoulBoy all week but was pipped to the post by a late showing of Get Low, which I liked, but wouldn't have thought was Audience Award material. Good thing I'm not a betting man. Personal highlights for the festival included: interviewing Jennifer Lawrence, Debra Granik, Brian Cox (for The Good Heart) and Shameless's Gerard Kearns; having a geeky Lucky Luke-based chat with James Huth after the Lucky Luke screening; and, um, meeting EastEnders stars Michelle 'Zoe Slater' Williams (at the Huge party) and Emer 'Zsa-Zsa Carter' Kenn, whose cousin wrote closing night gala Third Star.

Trailerwatch (Edinburgh Special): Winter's Bone
Since Debra Granik's Winter's Bone beat even Toy Story 3 into the coveted Film Of The Festival position (see above), it seems appropriate to give it an extra plug in the trailer section this week. Based on a “country noir” novel by Daniel Woodrell (which I am now *dying* to read and will be buying this afternoon), it stars Jennifer Lawrence (who played the young Charlize Theron in The Burning
) as a 17-year-old girl in the remote Ozark mountain community, who has three days to find her bail-skipping father or she'll lose their house. I love the economy of the film's opening – the scene with Garrett Dillahunt (one of my favourite unsung actors) in the trailer is basically the second scene in the film.

I also loved how much it resembled a traditional film noir-style detective thriller, with Lawrence's character in the detective role, knocking on doors and asking questions (at great personal risk) until she uncovers the truth. Almost everyone I spoke to in Edinburgh named Winter's Bone as their favourite film of the festival (public and journalists alike) and I suspect it'll be highly praised by UK critics when it opens here on September 17th. I also think Jennifer Lawrence has an extremely good chance of a Best Actress Oscar nomination. At any rate, it has shot right to the top of my Best of 2010 list and I can't recommend it highly enough. Incidentally, Granik's debut feature, Down To The Bone (she joked in our interview about making The Bone Trilogy), starring Vera Farmiga, is also well worth seeking out.

Top 10 Films On Release This Week (as recommended by me):
What with covering the Edinburgh Film Festival (see above, if you're one of those people who skips to this bit) I was unable to see a lot of the releases for the last two weeks but I'm reliably informed that most of them were pretty bad. I haven't seen Get Him To The Greek so I'm leaving that off the list, but my able replacement gave it four stars, so I assume it's better than the trailer made it look. That leaves just four new entries from the previous two weeks: Nicole Holofcener's New York comedy-drama Please Give (make more films, Nicole Holofcener!), Francis Ford Coppola's astonishing Tetro (like Fellini meets Almodovar), Chris Rock doc Good Hair and Woody Allen's Whatever Works, starring Larry David. Interview-wise, you can check out our exclusive interview with Shirley Henderson (for Life During Wartime) here.

1. Bad Lieutenant
2. The Brothers Bloom
3. The Killer Inside Me
4. She's Out Of My League
5. Greenberg
6. Please Give
7. Tetro
8. Good Hair
9. Whatever Works
10. Kick-Ass

DVD Of The Week: Life During Wartime (out now, RRP £15.99)
This week's DVD of the Week is Life During Wartime, Todd Solondz's companion piece to Happiness (1998), which was one of the best films of the 1990s. In fact, if you've never seen Happiness (and even if you have), it's worth watching both films back to back, though Life During Wartime works on its own terms too. Part sequel, part revamp (all the roles have been recast) and part something else altogether, the film follows Joy Jordan (Shirley Henderson) as she heads to Florida to visit her sister Trish (Allison Janney) after discovering that her husband Allen (Michael K. Williams in the part played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) is still making obscene phone calls. Joy also visits her other sister Helen (Ally Sheedy) in LA, while Trish faces her own problems when her ex-husband Bill (Ciaran Hinds) is released from jail after serving time for abusing a young boy.

Despite a slightly unfocussed plot, this is definitely worth seeing thanks to superb performances and a cleverly written script that's simultaneously darkly funny and painfully emotional. The dialogue is excellent too, with several quotable lines. Sadly, the extras package is a massive disappointment – the only extras are a trailer for the film and some trailers for other Artificial Eye films. Hardly worth making a DVD menu option for them, really. In fact, there are more extras on this blog post, since we've got an interesting piece from The Playlist about the soundtrack here and our own exclusive interview with Shirley Henderson here.



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