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Edinburgh Film Festival Round Up

Posted by: Matthew Turner 24/06/2011 @ 16:16
Subject: Film

Films seen so far this year: 207
Films seen in the last week: Green Lantern, Bobby Fischer Against The World, Truth About Men, Our Day Will Come, Tomboy, Arrietty, Project Nim, Page Eight, Perfect Sense, Angels Crest, Albatross, Troll Hunter, The Caller, Bombay Beach, Post Mortem, The Divide, Sound It Out, On The Shore, Jitters, Shut Up Little Man!, Weekender, The Bang Bang Club, Mrs Carey's Concert, A Better Life, American Translation, Oliver Sherman

FILM OF THE WEEK: Bridesmaids
LAST WEEK'S FILMS OF THE WEEK: Stake Land and Potiche

Edinburgh Film Festival round-up
This year's Edinburgh Film Festival has had some widely reported problems and is certain to go down as the worst EIFF in the festival's illustrious 64 year history. Speaking as one of the very, very few London-based film reviewers to have attended the entire festival this year, I have to admit that in terms of the usual rounds of parties and so on, it was indeed pretty disappointing. For example, there's normally a good one every night but this year there were maybe two good ones and several that were embarrassingly deserted, including the Opening Night party, which had maybe a third of the number of attendees you would normally expect, with the dancefloor looking exactly like this for the entire evening.

As for the films, it's no secret that Edinburgh failed to land any big hitters this year – at a “normal” Edinburgh you would have expected the likes of Cars 2 (Edinburgh always has a Pixar film), Lars Von Trier's Melancholia (Edinburgh had Anti-Christ after its Cannes premiere and has a good relationship with Von Trier), We Need to Talk About Kevin (starring EDINBURGH FILM FESTIVAL PATRON Tilda Swinton), Lone Scherfig's One Day (which has its opening and closing scenes set in Edinburgh, plus Scherfig has premiered several of her films here) and maybe even Pedro Almodovar's The Skin I Live In, to have appeared at the festival.

However, if you strip away the big hitters, the remainder of the films were actually of an extremely high standard this year (even if there were significantly less of them) and of the 25 films I saw (I'm actually still hoping to catch a few more and maybe make it to 30), there were only three that I didn't really like, while the majority of the rest I gave (or will give) 4 star reviews to. Anyway, this is my Edinburgh Film Festival Top Ten, though I reserve the right to change this by postscript next week if I see something mind-blowing between now and Sunday. Incidentally, capsule reviews of every film I've seen at Edinburgh can be found here.

1. Tomboy
2. Bobby Fischer Against The World
3. Arrietty
4. Project Nim
5. Bombay Beach
6. Albatross
7. Jitters
8. Troll Hunter
9. Mrs Carey's Concert
10. Oliver Sherman

Trailerwatch Special 1: Arrietty
Keen-eyed blog readers may have spotted that although there are reviews for three of my top five Edinburgh films, I haven't reviewed two of the others, so these trailer reviews are intended to redress that balance. Full confession though: I haven't actually watched either of the trailers, so I'm really just using the trailers as an excuse to write about the films.

First up is Arrietty, which was variously known in the programme and posters and online as Arrietty, The Borrower Arrietty, Arrietty The Borrower and The Borrowers, though the poster eventually settled on plain old Arrietty. I think I might have gone for Arrietty The Borrower, since Mary Norton's children's books are much loved in the UK, or at least they were when I was little. Essentially then, this is a Studio Ghibli animated version of Mary Norton's book and as such, it's every bit as lovely as you would expect.

The story revolves around a family of tiny borrowers (young girl Arrietty, her father Pod and her mother Homily), who live under the floorboards in a house owned by humans and occasionally make dangerous excursions to “borrow” sugar and so on. Advised to remain out of sight at all times, Arrietty accidentally gets spotted by sick young boy Sho and the pair gradually become friends, despite fears from her parents about “human beans” wanting to exterminate borrowers.

The animation is utterly gorgeous throughout and packed with wonderful little details, such as the double-sided sticky tape Pod uses to scale table-legs, the various insects that share their under-the-floorboards home or Arrietty's striking red dress (admittedly, not the best colour if you're trying to be inconspicuous). This is utterly delightful and I can't wait to see it again – it's opening in a few weeks in both subbed and dubbed versions.

Top 10 Films On Release This Week (as recommended by me):
Three new entries this week (sort of, anyway), with last week's (no blog from me last week, blog fans) Stake Land and Potiche entering the top ten alongside the wonderful Bridesmaids. It is very rare for this to happen, but at the multi-media press screening of Bridesmaids that I attended, the audience (myself included) were laughing so hard that entire lines of dialogue were drowned out. So I saw it twice to make sure and I stand by every one of those five stars.

Interview-wise we have the press conference interviews for Bridesmaids with director Paul Feig and stars Kristen Wiig, Chris O'Dowd, Rose Byrne and Melissa McCarthy. You can also still read our exclusive interview with the director (Jerry Rothwell) and central subject (JoEllen Marsh) of Donor Unknown (showing on More4 on 28th June) and an exclusive interview with Honey 2 co-star Melissa Molinario. Elsewhere you can still read our epic 45 minute long interview with Senna director Asif Kapadia (a must-read if you've seen the film) and our press conference interviews with X-Men: First Class stars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Kevin Bacon. Stop back next week for an interview with Tom Hanks, whose self-directed Larry Crowne is out in a couple of weeks.

1. Bridesmaids
2. X-Men: First Class
3. Senna
4. Donor Unknown
5. Point Blank
6. Stake Land
7. Thor
8. Potiche
9. Hanna
10. Heartbeats

Trailerwatch Special 2: Bombay Beach
Bombay Beach is an extraordinary blend of documentary and dance that is unlike anything I have ever seen before. Ostensibly a portrait of an impoverished California community in Salton Sea, director Alma Har'el's film follows around several different characters and occasionally they perform stunning choreographed dance sequences to the music of Beirut. I am not someone who is normally moved by dance sequences as a rule, but this really got to me. To be completely honest, I'm still processing it several days later.


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