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Edinburgh Film Festival Wishlist

Posted by: Matthew Turner 25/05/2012 @ 14:06
Subject: Film

Total films seen so far this year: 149
Films seen in the last week: Tales of the Night (3D), Barbaric Genius (again), Men In Black 3, Free Men, Think Like A Man, The Pact, Personal Best, Ill Manors, A Fantastic Fear of Everything

FILM OF THE WEEK: Moonrise Kingdom

Edinburgh Wishlist
Next week is the press launch for the 2012 Edinburgh Film Festival, which I'm already committed to (and excited about), even if it turns out the line-up is disappointing. At least we can be one hundred percent sure that it won't be as bad as last year's festival and everyone involved seems keenly aware of the fact that the EIFF is in desperate need of rehabilitation after last year's utter shambles. To that end, they were off to a good start with the announcement of Killer Joe as the opening film (an extremely bold choice, for reasons that an embargo forbids me to go into right now) and also the announcement of Pixar's Brave as the closing film (a perfect choice), the subject matter of which (feisty young Scottish girl warrior) easily explains its inclusion as the festival closer rather than the mid-festival flagship position it would usually hold (Edinburgh almost always has a Pixar and it was notable by its absence last year).

Anyway, since no details on the rest of the line-up are available, here are a handful of predictions, some of which are more fanciful than others. It's a tricky game, Edinburgh prediction, but you can be reasonably sure that anything opening before the London Film Festival (or currently without distribution) is up for grabs.

1. The one film I desperately want to be in the festival is Rian Johnson's time-travel thriller Looper, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis. I wrote about the trailer a couple of weeks ago and have been unable to stop thinking about it ever since.

2. Also more of a fervent hope than an honest-to-god prediction, but I really hope that Ben Wheatley's eagerly-awaited Sightseers makes it into the festival, since it's just gone down a storm in Cannes.

3. It's currently without a UK distributor, but I'm thinking Sundance London hit Safety Not Guaranteed (five stars, ViewLondon, etc) is likely to make an appearance, not least because it FEELS like an Edinburgh film and Edinburgh almost always has a couple of Sundance hits in the line-up.

4. Eran Creevy's Welcome to the Punch, a thriller starring James McAvoy, Mark Strong and Peter Mullan. Again, more of a fervent hope, although it would provide Edinburgh with some decent and obtainable star value. And finally,

5. Ping-pong, because there's nothing Edinburgh likes more than a feel-good competition-based documentary. Me too, for that matter.

Films I Am Dying To See: The Great Gatsby
One of the luxuries of the film reviewing game is that it's frequently possible to go into a film entirely cold, ensuring that you're as spoiler-free as possible. Before I started reviewing films professionally, if I was in the cinema and a trailer came on for a film I wanted to see cold, I would actually shut my eyes, put my hands over my ears and go “La la la la la” for the duration, much to the annoyance of the person next to me (although the person next to me was usually a like-minded film obsessive doing the same thing).

Nowadays there are only three reasons I'll watch a trailer:

1. if distributors put them on in front of press screenings,
2. if everyone on Twitter is buzzing about an exciting new trailer or
3. in order to write this section of the blog.

In the case of this week's trailer, for Baz Luhrmann's upcoming version of The Great Gatsby, it's something of a combination of 2 and 3, plus general excitement, since it's one of my favourite books (I did a degree in American literature) and so, unusually for me, I was aware of the casting etc. at an early stage. For my money, DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire are all great casting for Gatsby, Daisy and Nick, respectively, while Joel Edgerton is an interesting choice for Tom Buchanan. I'm slightly disappointed that they've gone with a relative unknown (Elizabeth Debicki) for Jordan Baker, but that may be because Moonraker's Lois Chiles made such a huge impression on me at an early age when I first saw the Robert Redford version.

Watching the trailer, you could be forgiven for thinking that almost the entire film takes place in an impossibly glitzy nightclub, which seems like a Luhrmann touch too far (for the record, I love Romeo + Juliet but hate Moulin Rouge), but hopefully that won't be the case. Also, that said, the nightclub scenes look really stunning and there's a hint of a Busby Berkeley-style musical number too. The soundtrack also suggests Luhrmann may use contemporary music, which ... well, I suppose I'm okay with, despite being a fan of the music of the period.

As a fan of the book and the previous films, it's fun to spot the various key scenes from the novel, such as the shirt-throwing sequence (1m23s) and the heavily symbolic giant pair of glasses billboard (1m56s). That said, in the second consecutive week of actors looking a bit weird, has Tobey Maguire been digitally altered in some way or has he lost a shocking amount of weight? Anyway, the film is scheduled to open at Christmas, which means it's an excellent bet for the London Film Festival. Can't wait.

Top 10 Films On Release This Week (as recommended by me)Only two new entries into the top ten this week, with just Wes Anderson's wonderful Moonrise Kingdom and John Healy documentary Barbaric Genius making it into the top ten. There wasn't room in my review of Moonrise Kingdom to point out that Wes Anderson is admittedly an acquired taste (or rather, that his fiercely idiosyncratic films don't exactly appeal to everyone), but surely everyone knows that, right? There also wasn't room in my Barbaric Genius review to confess that the director is actually a good friend of mine, but I hereby solemnly swear that I would have written the exact same review even if that had not been the case.

I will also put in a good word for Men In Black 3, which is “a solid three” (as we film-reviewing types like to say), plus I feel like I should point out that The Kid With A Bike is down to its last cinema on its second run and therefore unlikely to stick around for much longer, so catch it now while you still can.

Interview-wise this week we have an exclusive interview with Barbaric Genius director Paul Duane and a press conference interview with Cameron Diaz, Anna Kendrick, Chace Crawford, Matthew Morrison and Rodrigo Santoro, the stars of this week's What To Expect When You're Expecting (short verdict: not as bad as Valentine's Day/New Year's Eve, but not as good as He's Just Not That Into You).

Elsewhere you can still read our exclusive interview with The Raid director Gareth Evans and star Iko Uwais, our exclusive interview with She Monkeys director Lisa Aschan, our exclusive interview with Damsels in Distress director Whit Stillman, an exclusive interview with horse whisperer Buck Brannaman (subject of Buck), and press conference interviews with most of the Avengers. There are also semi-exclusive interviews with American Pie Reunion stars Eugene Levy and Jennifer Coolidge, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Tara Reid, Eddie Kaye Thomas and Chris Klein, and directors Hayden Schlossberg and Jon Hurwitz; our exclusive interview with Marley director Kevin Macdonald; a press conference interview with Salmon Fishing in the Yemen stars Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt; our exclusive interviews with Battleship star Taylor Kitsch (since Battleship has only just opened in the States) and director Pete Berg.

Come back next week for press conference interviews with the stars of Snow White and the Huntsman as well as director Ken Loach for The Angels' Share.

1. Avengers Assemble
2. Moonrise Kingdom
3. The Kid With A Bike
4. Damsels in Distress
5. The Hunger Games
6. The Raid
7. She Monkeys
8. Barbaric Genius
9. Jeff Who Lives At Home
10. The Dictator

DVD of the Week: Shame (out now, online RRP £10.99)
This week's DVD of the Week is Shame, directed by Steve McQueen
(Hunger) and starring a frequently full-frontal Fassbender as Brandon, a New York office worker with a compulsive sex addiction, whose soul-less but efficient day-to-day existence involves an endless cycle of prostitutes, random pick-ups, explicit pay-per-view webcam encounters and online pornography. However, when Brandon's troubled lounge singer sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) comes to stay, Brandon finds his carefully controlled routine disrupted in more ways than one.

Fassbender delivers a mesmerising central performance as Brandon, with his compulsive, though not yet self-destructive behaviour hinting at a deeply buried past that he's clearly not ready to deal with; his interactions with Mulligan's character are particularly telling in that regard, though it's strongly to the script's credit that the details of their presumably shared background are never made explicit, leaving the audience to fill in the gaps for themselves. Mulligan is equally good as Sissy, managing to convey a huge amount about her character with comparatively little screen-time or dialogue. There's also terrific support from Nicole Beharie as Brandon's attractive co-worker Marianne, whose date with Brandon forms the film's most heart-breaking sequence as the hope of an actual human connection slowly turns sour when Brandon realises he's incapable of having sex with someone he actually cares about.



The film is also beautifully shot throughout, with cinematographer Sean Bobbitt making strong use of a series of New York locations that aren't overly familiar from a thousand other New York movies. McQueen also orchestrates a number of stand out scenes, including a brilliant pair of book-ending moments on the New York metro and a breathtakingly emotional sequence in which Mulligan's character sings New York, New York in tight close-up. In short, this is a beautifully shot, brilliantly acted and intelligently scripted drama that's by turns explicit, thought-provoking and powerfully moving. Highly recommended.

Extras include: short interviews with Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan and a 33 minute on-stage Q&A with Fassbender. No deleted scenes or commentary though, plus, if I was in charge of DVD extras, I'd have made it possible to watch Carey's singing scene at a single click.

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