Archive for Edinburgh International Film Festival

The Adams Family

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2015 by dcairns


“I feel like I’ve joined a family!” burbled Fiona, who is now a submissions editor at Edinburgh International Film Festival.

“The Adams Family,” suggested Diane Henderson. Mark Adams being the new creative director, you see.

Anyhow, one film Fiona spotted in her viewings was BEREAVE, which got programmed and now she’s hugely looking forward to meeting the filmmakers, Evangelos and George Giovanis, and their stars Malcolm McDowell and Jane Seymour, who are all coming. The latter two are doing an In Person event each. Also In Person: Ewan McGregor, Johnnie To, and Seamus McGarvey interviewing Haskell Wexler, which is unmissable.

Also of interest to me: FUTURE SHOCK! a documentary on 2000AD, the comic book that warped my young mind; seasons on Walter Hill, American TV movies of the seventies (Michael Mann, Steven Spielberg, Tobe Hooper, Sam Peckinpah), and Mexican cinema, featuring a few revivals of classic cine dorado offerings MACARIO and MARIA CANDELARIA.

Fiona and I are equally excited about Neil Innes, whose The Rutles is showing.

I’ve written four reviews for the program this year, on MISERY LOVES COMEDY, IT’S ALREADY TOMORROW IN HONG KONG, THE CHAMBERMAID LYNN and, um, something else. Maybe more on that later.

The long-awaited new Peter Bogdanovich, SHE’S FUNNY THAT WAY appears! Which I think used to be listed on the IMDb under the title SQUIRRELS TO THE NUTS, a CLUNY BROWN reference which indicates his heart is in the right place. The cast is a VERY exciting medley of P-Bog favourites, including Tatum O’Neil, Cybill Shepherd, Colleen Camp. Austin Pendleton, Joanna Lumley, with leads Jennifer Aniston, Owen Wilson and Imogen Poots. I’m going to give it a shot.

COP CAR stars Kevin Bacon but second lead is Shea Whigham, and that’s enough to get me seriously stoked. Whoh!

THE HALLOW is a new Irish horror film from producer Brendan McCarthy (no relation to the 2000 AD comic artist and MAD MAX: FURY ROAD scribe) who co-produced LET US PREY. Working closely with him on that picture caused me to form the view that he is a diabolical hazard to any artistic undertaking, so I am morbidly curious to see what he’s come up with next.

They’re showing ROAR! That’s the one WTF decision. Otherwise, you get revivals of THE THIRD MAN, WATERLOO, THE TAKING OF PELHAM 123, DREDD (3D), THE BRAVE DON’T CRY and the newly-restored, de-Weinsteined director’s cut of 54. I saw the original release version, about the popular disco for heterosexuals. I’m assuming the new cut will be about 89% less heterosexual otherwise I’m still not going to be satisfied.

Animation: Barry Purves, possibly the best stop-motion artist in the world, is attending with his oeuvre. And from the sublime to Ralph Bakshi: three of his seventies features are screening. Plus Pixar;s INSIDE OUT and three shows of shorts (not enough, in my view).

I always pick a random smattering of the Black Box screenings, which is the experimental strand. I never know what I’m going to get, because it’s not really my area, but I’ve learned to trust the programmers there.

Most exciting, for us: though this is the first time in two years we don’t have a film in the fest, our great friend Colin McLaren, who wrote DONKEYS, does, and it’s the opening film. Robert Carlyle stars and directs with an unrecognizable Emma Thompson in THE LEGEND OF BARNEY THOMSON (see top). More soon…



Iran All the Way

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on September 18, 2014 by dcairns


It’s Throwback Thursday as The Forgotten harkens back to June’s Edinburgh International Film Festival and its retrospective of movies from Iran before the revolution — that brief glimmering between the birth of cinema in that country and its descent into theocracy.

This comes, ironically, just as Chris Fujiwara announces that he’s leaving his position as director of the festival, after a stint in which he reinvigorated an event that was pretty much on the rocks. He will be missed — but he leaves us with an EIFF in great shape.

Not their finest hour

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on July 26, 2014 by dcairns


Gillies Mackinnon, Scottish director of THE GRASS ARENA and THE SMALL FACES always seems like a lovely guy when I’ve glimpsed him, but his films never quite came together for me, and his new one, CASTLES IN THE SKY, in which Eddie Izzard invents radar and wins the Battle of Britain, actually made me angry. The story of Scottish scientist Robert Watt Watson, it covers some interesting scientific ground and manages to make the simple explanations of how stuff works both credible and absorbing. Everything else about it struck me as unimaginative and tired. The script is full of expository “As you know…” moments in which characters not only tell each other things they already should be aware of, but announce it to us in advance. An end title, if you unscramble the syntax, seems to be saying that the Battle of Britain was the Luftwaffe’s finest hour. Laura Fraser from Breaking Bad plays Izzard’s wife — she first worked for Mackinnon as a teenager, and she’s Scottish, so it makes sense that he’d think of her, but he doesn’t have a role to offer her. We’ve all seen the movies where the wife is upset because her husband is too wrapped up in his work — they do not compel our interest, and those scenes (think of Sissy Spacek in JFK, if you can even remember her) are a drag, because there’s a character who is actually trying to persuade the protagonist not to do the things we want to see. Even in Breaking Bad, where the scenes are well written and the wife-persuader-character is morally in the right, audiences hated Skylar because she was trying to halt the story. The mean characters who made things happen, like Laura Fraser’s ice queen, were enjoyable and popular.

Then there’s the filmmaking, or lack of it. A low-grade TV-ish mess of random coverage; colorized stock footage of Spitfires; what looks like a photograph of Whitehall, pasted in as an establishing shot (“Establishing shots are a waste of time.” ~ B. DePalma); trumped-up rivalries with nasty professors and politicos; supremely unconvincing Churchill impression by a famously tall, thin actor (Tim McInnerny).

Izzard is quite good — nice Scottish accent, an attempt at suggesting dotty charm and eccentric genius, but the camera never holds on him long enough or wide enough to let him introduce any real behaviour. And we certainly never believe the marriage. The movie is short, but feels endless because, ironically, there’s no air in it. Consequence of a low budget, for sure, but also, unforgivably, a low level of creative enthusiasm.

Edinburgh International Film festival wasn’t wrong to show the movie: there’s a lot of love for Izzard here and the film has strong Scottish credentials and the movie sold out immediately. Maybe they were wrong to show it again during the Best of the Fest? But again, it sold out, I’m sure. And I don’t blame the audience: the combination of Izzard and an intriguing subject matter sounded interesting. It SHOULD have been interesting. You have to blame the filmmakers.


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