Edinburgh Film Festival 2011/ Take 10

Day 10

Bobby Fischer Against The World ****

Director Liz Garbus/ 92 mins 

Unless people are interested in chess or can remember the events in the early 70’s surrounding his life, very few have probably heard of Bobby Fischer.

 

American chess genius Bobby Fischer taught himself to play chess at six. He was the U.S. champion by the age of 14. Then in 1972, Fischer unseated reigning Soviet champ Boris Spassy for the world title in Reykjavik, Iceland, a match that dominated world headlines,. After his win, Fischer became increasingly eccentric and retires from professional chess in which he becomes angry recluse and fugitive from the law.

 

Another documentary becomes one of the most entertaining films of the festival with this fascinating case study of an interesting man with a fairly uninteresting profession. The film starts off by showing Fischer is a symphathic light showing his poor childhood. This changes towards his later years when he is portrayed as a demented nutcase who is convinced of conspiracy theories and in one act of particular madness applauds the Twin Towers attack on 9/11. It is hard to not dislike the guy by the end of the film.

 

The film is comprised on archive footage and one to one interviews new and old. It is an unbiased portrayal with insight from everybody in Fischer’s life and also from Bobby himself.

 

No one needs to be a chess fan to enjoy this movie, fans of the game and of Fischer will probably already know the facts behind the legend.

 

 

My Brothers ***

Director Paul Fraser/ 90 mins 

An unusual, fairly interesting take on the usual buddy road movie which involves siblings rather than friends.

 

After accidentally smashing his dying dad’s beloved cheap Casio watch during a fight at school, Sensitive Irish 17 year old Noel (Timmy Creed) decides to set out on a road trip to find another watch just like it. He borrows his employer’s bakery van and sets off with his cocky, chubby middle brother, Paudie (Paul Courtney) and young Scwally (T.J. Griffin), who seeks refuge in the universe of “Star Wars” despite having never seen the films.

 

Shane Meadows’ longtime collaborator Paul Fraser makes his feature directing debut. The most staggering thing about this film,  is that the young actors he has cast have never acted before and this is their first time in front of a camera. Especially the kids who are so natural and give an honest simplicity to their performances.

 

The script is not as good as it could be, while the overall concept is pretty believable, but the overall road trip is stuffed with too many characters and situations. The scenes with the girlfriend who runs a pub and the man Paudie has an unpleasant experience with are established then merely forgotten about with no explanation. While convenient plot points involving the whale and the tractor seemed to forced and an easy resolve to problems with the narrative.

 

At the end of the day the central premise and the acting is really what makes this film work. The film is accompanied with a fantastic soundtrack provided by Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody and his producer Jacknife Lee.

 

Reviews by Paul Logan

 

 

 

 

 

 

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