Archive for Uncanny


Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on June 18, 2015 by dcairns

Lynn 2

I got to write copy for five movies in the Edinburgh International Film Festival catalogue this year. Here are the opening lines of each entry.


Lynn is a chambermaid – so the title is honest, but that’s the one straightforward thing in this quirky, oddball, erotic, uncomfortable, amusing, touching and deeply idiosyncratic tale. Among Lynn’s quirks are dressing in guests’ clothing when they’re out, and hiding under their beds to listen in on their private activities.


Hard on the heels of artificial human flick Ex Machina comes Uncanny, a new film exploring similar ideas, clearly developed in parallel, the resemblances coincidental (or the influence of some replicant zeitgeist) and the differences fascinating. Here, the humanoid AI is male, and his robotic mannerisms, his low affect and his childlike social skills make him curiously similar to his tech-nerd creator.


To explore the psychology of the stand-up comedian, actor and comic Kevin Pollak has corralled a staggering line-up of comics. Steve Coogan and Rob Bryden represent the UK, but from America we have Jason Alexander, Richard Lewis, Martin Short, Janeane Garofalo, Jimmy Fallon, Whoopi Goldberg, Lewis Black, Penn Jillette, Greg Proops and dozens more.


Ruby and Josh meet one night in Hong Kong. They’re obviously attracted, but the timing isn’t right (Josh is in a relationship) and the evening doesn’t end well. A year later they bump into each other and the circumstances have changed – but maybe not enough?


The scandal of Taiwan’s “comfort women,” indentured into sexual slavery in the 1950s to service the armed forces, is one the country has been slow to acknowledge and deal with (as with Japan’s identical abuses during WWII). Paradise in Service does address this story, but using a surprising and indirect genre: the male melodrama.

Each piece is about three times longer than these extracts, which isn’t enough to say anything much. The goal is simply to attract audiences, so you can’t be too critical. This makes it tricky when the most interesting thing about a film is a flaw or misstep, which would be fun to get into but must be saved for another venue. I think I’m allowed to say that my favourite of these is THE CHAMBERMAID LYNN, which is quirky, deadpan, touching, funny, off-balance and askew in fresh and unusual ways. And I met a former festival director coming out of IT’S ALREADY TOMORROW IN HONG KONG which he’d enjoyed, so I’m reassured that my copy isn’t luring anyone in under false pretenses.

If you’re in town you can read the complete entries in the catalogue, which can be purchased at Filmhouse. If you’re a delegate you’ll get one for free.

That’s all for today as the opening party has left me with a slight hangover. New reviews tomorrow! Bruce MacDonald, Peter Bogdanovich, Robert Carlyle.