Archive for Edinburgh Film Festival

Open Airing

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , on June 9, 2014 by dcairns


TOP HAT, screened outdoors in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket as part of a day of dance-themed screenings, a preliminary to Edinburgh International Film Festival.

The vid-screen held up pretty well in the bright sunshine, and the audience held up pretty well in the rain — we had both. I don’t THINK I’ve watched a movie outside in the rain since a programme of Laurel & Hardy shorts at the Ross Bandstand in Princes Street Gardens when I was probably nineteen. One thing about that experience that sticks in my mind was that L&H hadn’t been on TV for years at that point — a copyright dispute? — and so it had the effect of an astonishing rediscovery — not of the comedians, who were ingrained upon my memory, but of the sensation of laughing until one was in physical distress.


TOP HAT seemed well-suited to this rather unconventional environment. It wasn’t remotely like a cinema — people drifted in and out (it was free), chatted away, and kids danced in front of the screen. The last item I approve of — I have fond memories of kids doing this at CORALINE, jigging about with the flying terriers in the end credits sequence. (Fiona and I joined them and experienced what 3D is like when you’re inside it. Recommended.) Not every film would be improved by kids dancing about. LET US PREY, the horror film Fiona & I had a hand in, will screen later in the Fest and I don’t think cavorting bairns would really suit that one. But anything less explicit that DAWN OF THE DEAD would probably be OK.

TOP HAT is delightful, of course — it has precisely one clever plot twist (just like THE GAY DIVORCEE) and otherwise milks a single corny situation for its entire runtime (just like THE GAY DIVORCEE) and is none the worse for it. By some quirk of the video presentation, I was unable to see the loose feathers detaching from Ginger’s gown during the Cheek to Cheek routine, but that meant I became all the more aware of how beautifully the dress moves.



Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on June 3, 2014 by dcairns

Red Mill still 1

Image from RED MILL.

The programme for this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival is available to read online. I wrote one entry, for a movie called ONE OF A KIND. And in my duties as submissions editor I spotted that one, and a film called GREYHAWK, which you should see.

LET US PREY, the horror movie I co-wrote with Fiona, is screening.

Also exciting — my Facebook friend Christa Fuller is showing her biographical documentary on the legendary Sam Fuller, A FULLER LIFE. And real-life friend Nathan Silver presents his latest movie, the award-winning UNCERTAIN TERMS. SNOWPIERCER screens, featuring noted Scottish talents Tilda Swinton and Ewen Bremner along with man-myths Ed Harris and John Hurt. There are retrospectives on Dominik Graf, early Iranian cinema and John McGrath, the committed left-wing Scottish writer whose most exciting credit, for me, is Ken Russell’s THE BILLION DOLLAR BRAIN. My prolific friend Mark Cousins is back with yet another film, co-directed with Mania Akbari, LIFE MAY BE.

The image above is from RED MILL, screening in the experimental Black Box section, which promises to be as eye-popping as ever.

And right after it all ends, I’m off to the Cinema Ritrovato in Bologne to see A HARD DAY’S NIGHT under the stars with Richard Lester introducing. So that’s nice.



Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on January 12, 2014 by dcairns

Ace Shadowplayer Anne Billson writes in The Telegraph about Cocteau’s LA BELLE ET LA BETE, and mentions the story that the Beast’s makeup design was based on star Jean Marais’s dog, Moulouk.

I immediately wanted to find a picture of Moulouk to see if there was really a resemblance. There are lots of pics online, as it turns out, but this is the BEST —


The silly joy on the faces of both man and dog makes me insanely happy!

And Moulouk doesn’t look enormously like the Beast, but things don’t have to be literal (which is one of the lessons of the film, by the way).

When Henri Alekan attended Edinburgh Film Festival, Fiona asked him about how he lit the Beast as if he were a beautiful woman, with soft focus, a strip of light across the eyes, etc. “But ‘ee was beautiful, no?”