Film Blog

Blog Entry

Edinburgh Film Festival Roundup

Posted by: Matthew Turner 06/07/2012 @ 14:54
Subject: Film

Total films seen so far this year: 222
Films seen in the last week: Friends With Kids, Gattu, Pusher, The Invader, Grabbers, The Imposter, Fred, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Flicker, Life Just Is, Tabu, Leave It On The Track, Young Dudes, Brake, Kid-Thing, Day of the Flowers, The Life and Times of Paul The Psychic Octopus, Exit Elena, California Solo, First Position, Rent-a-Cat, Small Creatures, The Lifeguard, Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie, V/H/S,  Home For The Weekend, Future My Love, Eddie The Sleepwalking Cannibal, Sexual Chronicles of a French Family, Berberian Sound Studio, Feel My Pulse, Unconditional, Dragon, Guinea Pigs, Black's Game, The Unspeakable Act, Brave, Sun Don't Shine, Lawless (again), Borrowed Time, The Ambassador, Au Pair, Demain?, Evelyn, The Hunter, The Players, 7 Days In Havana, Detachment, Ping Pong, You've Been Trumped, Twenty8k

FILMS OF THE WEEK: Ping Pong and The Amazing Spider-Man

Edinburgh Film Festival Roundup
Well, Edinburgh Film Festival fans can all breathe a huge sigh of relief – after a disastrous 2011, it has well and truly bounced back, recapturing a sense of its identity and instilling hope for Edinburgh festivals to come, something that was reinforced this week by the announcement that Artistic Director Chris Fujiwara (or #TheMightyFujiwara as Edinburgh Twitterers were calling him by the end of week one) is to stay on for at least another three years. Though the festival may have lacked any real big hitters (aside from the blistering opening and closing film choices of Killer Joe and Brave), the quality of the films was extremely high – I saw my usual Edinburgh average of 42 films (see list above, from Gattu to Evelyn) and only three of those were actively terrible, while there were at least two stand-outs in The Imposter and Tabu.

It was an incredibly busy festival too and I sadly didn't have time for a single post on my EdFilmFest blog (I won't link to it – it's too embarrassing), though I did find time to contribute to this Edinburgh round-up discussion on the MostlyFilm blog with co-contributors UncleFrank (@UncleFrankFilms) and EK McAlpine (@whatkatie_did). Other than that, a short list of Edinburgh highlights would include:
1. watching Jim Broadbent dance an enthusiastic Ceilidh
2. winning the annual EIFF film quiz with a hand-picked superteam comprised of fellow film reviewers (team name: Quiz Fujiwara)
3. discovering that a fellow London film reviewer not only slips into a thick Scottish accent when she speaks to Scottish people but can moderate it accordingly
4. being put up in a luxury apartment for two nights (a one-off, I'm sure, but a very, very welcome one) and
5. interviewing William Friedkin and being thrilled that he called me by name throughout the interview, only to discover that that's his thing and that everyone who interviewed him was telling the same story. That's some Nick Clegg shit, right there.

As for the films, my Edinburgh Top Ten is as follows:

1. The Imposter
2. Tabu
3. The Unspeakable Act
4. First Position
5. Unconditional
6. Grabbers
7. Brave
8. Berberian Sound Studio
9. Eddie The Sleepwalking Cannibal
10. California Solo

I reviewed five of those films for ViewLondon here but I also want to put in a good word for Exit Elena, VHS and Leave It On The Track, all of which could easily have made the list. Also, if you want to see either Grabbers, Berberian Sound Studio, VHS or Guinea Pigs, all four are playing at FrightFest at the end of August.

Please Release Me: The Unspeakable Act
This is the trailer for one of the best films I saw at Edinburgh this year (see above), a film that, to the best of my knowledge, doesn't yet have a UK theatrical release, though I remain hopeful that someone like Peccadillo Pictures will pick it up as they tend to specialise in this sort of thing (in a good way). Though the subject matter initially sounds off-putting (it's about a girl – newcomer Tallie Medel as Jackie - who's in love with her brother, played by the awesomely named Skye Hirschkron), it's not at all the film you might be expecting and it treats its central premise with remarkable maturity. The trailer actually gives a good indication of the mood and style of the film: Jackie's deceptively flat-sounding narration occurs throughout, augmented about halfway through the film with her sessions with a psychiatrist. (I haven't seen the TV series In Treatment, but I imagine this film might appeal to fans of that show).

Medel is terrific in the film – she has an incredibly expressive face that's utterly compelling to watch, her eyes filled with sadness even as her voice remains calm. What's fascinating is the approach the film takes to its premise: rather than demonising Jackie or being freaked out by her, her family members accept the feelings she has (presumably hoping it's just a phase) and allow her to live with her desires; the brother, too, accepts her for who she is, while ensuring that clear boundaries are in place. The film is also very funny in places, such as when the psychiatrist asks Jackie if she has similar feelings for her other brother and she replies, “No, that would be – oh my God, I'm so fucked up ...” genuinely shocked. It also featured the best (non-explicit) sex scene at the festival, if that means anything, when Jackie experiments with getting a boyfriend. Ultimately, this is as much a film about being in love with somebody you can't have, as it is about “the unmentionable act, the I-word,” and it deserves to be seen.

Top 10 Films On Release This Week (as recommended by me)
It's all change this week with a whopping seven new entries into the top ten, partly as a result of there being no blog while I was in Edinburgh. These include: heartwarming competition-based documentary Ping Pong (one of my favourite genres), surprisingly successful Spider-Man reboot The Amazing Spider-Man, important but depressing doc You've Been Trumped, Lynn Shelton's offbeat relationship comedy-drama Your Sister's Sister, William Friedkin's Southern-fried Gothic noir Killer Joe, Jennifer Westfeldt's mostly unconventional romcom Friends With Kids and Nadine Labaki's Lebanese comedy-drama Where Do We Go Now? Of those, if they are playing anywhere near you at all, please see Ping Pong and You've Been Trumped this weekend, as they are much smaller films (See Smaller Films First, #SSFF, etc) and need your support on their opening weekends, whereas the likes of Spider-Man will be around for weeks to come.

It's all change interview-wise this week too, thanks to something of a blitz on interviews while in Edinburgh. New interviews include: an exclusive interview with the lovely Nadine Labaki, writer, director and co-star of Where Do We Go Now?; an exclusive interview with director William Friedkin (who, rather brilliantly, repeatedly calls all interviewers by name during his interviews) and an exclusive interview with Gina Gershon for Killer Joe; an exclusive interview with Eduardo Sanchez, director of Lovely Molly; an exclusive interview with Jeremy Jordan, star of Joyful Noise; and an exclusive interview with Bobcat Goldthwait and Joel Murray, director and star of this week's God Bless America.

Elsewhere you can still read our exclusive interview with Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, star of the magnificent A Royal Affair; an exclusive interview with Maiwenn, director, co-writer and co-star of Polisse; and our exclusive interview with The Angels' Share director Ken Loach and screenwriter Paul Laverty. On top of that, with the recent DVD release of the unfairly maligned John Carter, now is the perfect time to reread our exclusive interview wuith director Andrew Stanton and stars Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins and Willem Dafoe.

1. Avengers Assemble
2. Moonrise Kingdom
3. A Royal Affair
4. Ping Pong
5. The Amazing Spider-Man
6. You've Been Trumped
7. Your Sister's Sister
8. Killer Joe
9. Friends With Kids
10. Where Do We Go Now?

DVD of the Week: John Carter (out now, online RRP £11.99)
This week's DVD of the Week is John Carter, Pixar's first foray into live-action adventure, directed by Andrew Stanton. The film is based on the series of fantasy novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs (the first written in 1912) that set the template for such future genre staples as Superman, Flash Gordon, Star Wars and so on. Taylor Kitsch stars as disillusioned American Civil War vet John Carter, who's mysteriously transported to Mars – which the locals call Barsoom – where he's captured by a four-armed race of green-skinned, nine foot tall Tharks lead by Tars Tarkus (Willem Dafoe).

Carter soon learns that Barsoom is under threat, thanks to a raging war between rival tribes the Zodangans - lead by the villainous Sab Than (Dominic West), who's been given a game-changing superweapon by manipulative, all-powerful Therm Matai Shang (Mark Strong) – and the peace-loving Heliumites, lead by King Tardos Mors (Ciaran Hinds) and his feisty daughter, scantily-clad philosopher-slash-warrior Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins). Discovering that his bone density gives him super-strength and the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound, Carter rescues Dejah from the clutches of the Zodagans and makes a powerful enemy of Matai Shang in the process.

The performances are excellent: Kitsch and Collins have strong chemistry together and there's superb support from the likes of Strong, Hinds, Dafoe and James Purefoy, who has a scene-stealing sequence as Dejah's sworn protector, Kantos Kan. There's also good work from Daryl Sabara as Edgar Rice Burroughs in framing back-on-earth scenes that allow for the reading of Carter's journal.

As you'd expect from Pixar, the digitally animated special effects are flawless – there's not a moment of dodgy CGI in the entire film and the Barsoom landscapes are gorgeously rendered throughout. Stanton also delivers a number of exciting set-pieces and the script is refreshingly intelligent throughout, though it's perhaps fair to say that the film could have used a nudge more comedy, Carter's adorable alien space dog notwithstanding. Rather disappointingly, the film was a huge flop on release, but it deserves to find an audience on DVD as it's a a hugely entertaining, pleasingly old-fashioned space adventure that's well worth seeking out. Shame the planned trilogy now looks unlikely.

Extras on the DVD include: a commentary with director Andrew Stanton and producers Jim Morris and Lindsey Collins; and a ten minute featurette entitled 100 Years In The Making. The Blu-Ray also has bloopers, deleted scenes and an additional Making Of featurette, all three of which should really have been on the DVD release too. As a bonus bonus feature, you can check out our interviews with Andrew Stanton, Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins and Willem Dafoe.



Add A Comment
Write your comment here:


Film Archive

Latest Comment
02/12/2015 @ 22:34
Other Subjects
Clubs (229)
Film (235)
General (2)
Whats On (25)
Recent Entries
by Steve


Tell Us Your View

Seen or know something you want to tell us about? Get in touch with us here.