Monthly archives "May 2012"

Edinburgh International Film Festival announces 2012 programme

Artistic Director Chris Fujiwara announced details of his inaugural programme for the 66th  Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF). This year the Festival, which runs from 20 June to 1 July, will host nineteen World premieres and thirteen International premieres.

The Festival will showcase one hundred and twenty-one new features from fifty-two countries, including eleven European premieres and seventy-six UK premieres in addition to the World and International premieres. Highlights include the World premieres of Richard Ledes’ FRED; Nathan Silver’s EXIT ELENA, Benjamin Pascoe’s LEAVE IT ON THE TRACK and European premieres of Lu Sheng’s HERE, THERE, Yang Jung-ho’s MIRAGE in the maiden New Perspectives section; and the International premiere of Benicio Del Toro, Pablo Trapero, Julio Medem, Elia Suleiman, Gaspar Noé, Juan Carlos Tabio and Laurent Cantet’s 7 DAYS IN HAVANA and the European premiere of Bobcat Goldthwait’s GOD BLESS AMERICA in the Directors’ Showcase. In addition to the new features presented, the Festival will also host twenty-nine older titles in Retrospectives and Special Screenings, bringing the total number of feature films to one hundred and fifty across the twelve-day event.


British films competing for the Michael Powell Award will include, for the first time, documentaries contending alongside narrative films. Among them are seven World premieres: Peter Strickland’s BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO, DAY OF THE FLOWERS by John Roberts, Katarzyna Klimkiewicz’s FLYING BLIND, Maja Borg’s FUTURE MY LOVE, Alex Barrett’s LIFE JUST IS; ONE MILE AWAY by Penny Woolcock and PUSHER by Luis Prieto. The Michael Powell Award contenders include Bart Layton’s THE IMPOSTER;  James Marsh’s SHADOW DANCER and Martin Wallace’s SMALL CREATURES, also compete for the Award for Best Performance in a British Feature Film.


The International Feature Competition, supported by Innis and Gunn, hosts a selection of outstanding new films from around the world and includes the World premieres of Mao Mao’s HERE, THEN and Alexandre O Philippe’s return to EIFF with THE LIFE AND TIMES OF PAUL THE PSYCHIC OCTOPUS. The International Feature Competition includes, for the first time, documentary films alongside narrative films. International premieres competing for the award are Jang Kun-jae’s SLEEPLESS NIGHT and Dan Sallitt’s THE UNSPEAKABLE ACT. While other titles include ONE.TWO.ONE by Mania Akbari, Oskar Alegria’s THE SEARCH FOR EMAK BAKIA, Yeon Sang-ho’s THE KING OF PIGS, David Zellner’s KID-THING; Maite Alberdi’s THE LIFEGUARD and TABU by Miguel Gomes. Two films are by co-directing couples: Clarissa Campolina and Helvécio Marins Jr’s GIRIMUNHO and Anka Sasnal and Wilhelm Sasnal’s IT LOOKS PRETTY FROM A DISTANCE. Gastón Solnicki’s PAPIROSEN and A WOMAN’S REVENGE by Rita Azevedo Gomes round out the International Feature Competition.


Focusing on two masters of their art, Spotlight on Shinya Tsukamoto and Spotlight on Wang Bing bring together a collection of their films, including Japanese cult director Tsukamoto’s latest project KOTOKO, and culminating in a Masterclass with Wang Bing, who will discuss his extraordinary documentary filmmaking career.  Accompanying their respective films, ¡VIVAN LAS ANTIPODAS! and CALIFORNIA SOLO, director Victor Kossakovsky and actor Robert Carlyle, EIFF Patron, will also have on-stage In-Person events, with Victor Kossakovsky presenting a Masterclass, while Robert Carlyle is the subject of 2012’s In Person: BAFTA Scotland Interview.


EIFF Artistic Director Chris Fujiwara commented: “Our programme reflects the exceptionally vibrant state of current cinema. Our audiences will be able to explore a wide range of outstanding films from around the world, including work by established masters and films from new and emerging talents. There are also some no less exciting discoveries to be made this year in our Retrospectives. Altogether it’s a rich and diverse programme that tells, I believe, a fascinating story about where cinema is today, what it can learn from the past, and where it is going in the future.”


Jules Bishop’s BORROWED TIME, Steve Rainbow’s NFA and Scott Graham’s SHELL are the three World premieres in the new British Scenes section, where it is joined by Bryn Higgins’ UNCONDITIONAL, in a strand introducing films from the UK that are made by new filmmakers, that try out non-traditional funding models or that venture into unusual thematic areas. WHAT IS THIS FILM CALLED LOVE? by Mark Cousins receives its World premiere alongside Nicholas Ray’s WE CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN and Susan Ray’s accompanying DON’T EXPECT TOO MUCH in the new Films on Film section.


The late-night Night Moves strand sees the World premiere of Ian Clark’s GUINEA PIGS and the European premiere of Jon Wright’s GRABBERS, both from the UK, and other titles include EDDIE – THE SLEEPWALKING CANNIBAL by Boris Rodriguez, Eric Wareheim and Tim Heidecker’s TIM AND ERIC’S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE, the multi-directed V/H/S; Quentin Dupieux’s WRONG and Magnus Martens’ JACKPOT, based on a story by Jo Nesbo.


Highlighting EIFF’s global curatorial expanse, the Philippine New Wave examines the creativity of young independent Filipino filmmakers, and includes the World premieres of Emerson Reyes’ MNL 143 and PHILIPPINE NEW WAVE: THIS IS NOT A FILM MOVEMENT by Khavn De La Cruz among the twelve strong section. A special Focus on Denmark features Mads Brügger’s THE AMBASSADOR, Nicole N Horanyi and Heidi Kim Andersen’s AU PAIR and SIBLINGS – FOR BETTER OF WORSE by Max Kestner, Mikala Krough, Laila Hodell and Aage Rais-Nordentoft. Showcasing the vitality of filmmaking in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, Looking South brings together a collection of films including Juan Ignacio Domìnguez’s RIDING ZORRO, MÚSICA CAMPESINA [COUNTRY MUSIC] by Alberto Fuguet; and Ana Katz’s LOS MARZIANO.


The Directors’ Showcase, presenting work from the established auteurs of our time, includes Denis Côté’s BESTIAIRE, Johnnie To’s LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE, Peter Chan’s DRAGON, Asoka Handagama’s HIM, HERE AFTER, Gakuryu Ishii’s ISN’T ANYONE ALIVE?, RENT-A-CAT by Naoko Ogigami and THE REST OF THE WORLD by Damien Odoul. New Perspectives, boasting 40 titles, presents a global array of work by emerging directors also including Tetsuaki Matsue’s TOKYO DRIFTER, DJ Chen’s YOUNG DUDES, Patrik Eklund’s FLICKER, Gabe Torres’ BRAKE, Petros Sevastikoglou’s ATTRACTIVE ILLUSION and NUCLEAR NATION by Atsushi Funahashi.


EIFF’s animation tradition continues with THE 99 UNBOUND by Dave Osborne and a Special Screening of Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda’s 3D version of DR SEUSS’ THE LORAX. In addition to the animated films and shorts at the Festival, EIFF continues to showcase the best of Scottish, UK and international shorts in a series of programmes which include Romola Garai’s directorial début SCRUBBER; FUNTIMES by Joe Carter and REVOLUTIONARY MEMORIES OF BAHMAN WHO LOVED LEILA by Sarahnaz Sharifi. The experimental Black Box section also presents a series of shorts programmes from innovators of the visual art world, as well as Abigail Child’s feature-length THE SUBURBAN TRILOGY.  The world of art is also represented by four free exhibitions and events across Edinburgh, through collaborations with Collective, Stills, Inspace and the Ingleby Gallery in Beyond EIFF.


Special Screenings and Festival Events throughout EIFF include the new digital restoration of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, marking the 50th anniversary of this masterpiece. The process of restoring the classic will be discussed by multi-Oscar®-winning editor Thelma Schoonmaker and Grover Crisp of Sony Pictures Entertainment at the panel event FILM RESTORATION IN THE DIGITAL AGE. Returning due to popular demand will be the SURPRISE MOVIE and EIFF – UNDER THE STARS 2012, a prelude to EIFF the weekend before the Festival kicks off, when family-friendly films will get an airing in St Andrew Square Garden.


The Shinji Somai Retrospective section will be joined by a second Retrospective exploring the creations of screen comedy genius Gregory La Cava including: MY MAN GODFREY (1936), two films starring Claudette Colbert, PRIVATE WORLDS (1935) and SHE MARRIED HER BOSS (1935), and the rarely seen masterpiece UNFINISHED BUSINESS (1941).  EIFF will screen six of La Cava’s films, and the Retrospective will continue at Filmhouse throughout July, with a further six films.


Special Screenings also include Penny Woolcock’s ONE DAY, Margaret Tait’s BLUE BLACK PERMANENT, Harmony Korine, Aleksei Fedorchenko and Jan Kwiecinski’s THE FOURTH DIMENSION and the World premiere of the London 2012 Festival-commissioned films by Lynne Ramsay, Mike Leigh, Asif Kapadia and Max Giwa and Dania Pasquini.


Other Special Events include MIDNIGHT SUN, accompanying a screening of the original Norwegian INSOMNIA which will give audience members an experience of the late light northern sky to celebrate summer solstice. THE BROCKAS IN FILM CONCERT will present Philippine art-rock improvisers The Brockas performing their first Edinburgh gig against the backdrop of GENGHIS KHAN, a Philippine film that originally screened at EIFF in 1952.


To help guide audiences in their exploration, for the first time this year EIFF is introducing Pathways. Each Pathway is a group of films, selected from across the different strands of the EIFF programme, that are linked by common themes or that appeal to particular tastes. Pathways include Teenage Kicks (films for 15-year-olds and upwards); Played for Laughs (films for comedy lovers); Relationships (films on love, couples and relationships) and Community & Conflict (films on themes of power, responsibility and history).


The 66th Edinburgh International Film Festival opens with William Friedkin’s KILLER JOE and closes with the European premiere of Disney/Pixar’s BRAVE.

Piranha 3DD *

Running time: 83 mins Certificate: 18


Synopsis: A year after a prehistoric piranha attack, Chet (Koechner) opens an adult-themed water park despite the advice of his marine biologist stepdaughter Maddy (Panabaker). At the grand opening, where celebrity lifeguard David Hasselhoff makes an appearance, the fish attack again.


A sequel to the 2010 comic horror film Piranha 3D, the film begins with a report stating the deadly fish have been eradicated from the original lake, but questioning whether they will re-appear. 


Throughout the film, we see Maddy’s friends attacked one by one by the deadly piranhas in a nearby lake. It is revealed the lake is connected to the waterpark, and the viewer does not have to be a genius to know what will happen next.


The actors in the film are below average, the highlight being guest appearances by David Hasselhoff and Gary Busey. The characters are also very one-dimensional and do not appear to have much depth. At times it feels like the audience is watching a spoof version of a “real” horror film.


There are some comic moments, although there seems to be a larger proportion of attacks than the audience would expect in a film of that length. The special effects are also good in 3D, but when coupled with a lack of story and poor acting these just make the film watchable at best.


Reviewed by Lesley Watt

Jeff Who Lives At Home ***

Running time: 82 mins Certificate: 15


Synopsis: A 30-year-old Jeff (Segel) loser, heads out to buy some wood glue for his long-suffering mother (Sarandon), only to become involved in the marital breakdown of his brother (Helms) and his partner (Greer).


An independent comedy film, Jeff Who Lives At Home shows a day in the life of 30 year old Jeff who does not work and still lives in his mother’s basement. The film follows Jeff, his mother and his brother (Ed Helms) throughout that day.


There are times when the audience will laugh during the film, particularly at the relationship between the two brothers and their pursuit of Jeff’s sister in law, when she is seen with a male work colleague. However the story is rather predictable and there are several occasions in which the viewer will think “I knew that would happen”. The subplot involving Jeff’s mother is amusing but also predictable. When the writer’s attempt at keeping the audience in suspense comes to an end there are no surprises.


As expected with well known cast members including Jason Segel and Susan Sarandon, the acting in the film is above average. However the story is very basic and does not really appear to have much point, meaning there is a lack of opportunity for the actors to shine. Throughout the film, the characters do not really develop or move forward. Despite having had an eventful day they are still in the same place at the end of the film as they are at the beginning.


Overall the film was pleasant to watch, but the predictability and lack of point to the story make Jeff Who Lives At Home decidedly average.


Reviewed by Lesley Watt

Dark Shadows ****

Running time: 113 mins Certificate: 12A


Synopsis: In 1752, Maine Barnabas Collins (Depp) spurns the love of witch Angelique Bouchard (Green). She sends his beloved Josette DuPres (Heathcote) to her death, turns Barnabas into a vampire and then buries him alive. Flashforward to 1972, Barnabas returns and vows to restore the family name to its former glories.

It has taken many years for Johnny Depp to bring his pet project to life, but with his friend Tim Burton’s help the film based on Dan Curtis’ late-60s supernatural soap has finally seen the light of day.


This is not the silly comedy that the enjoyable trailer makes this film out to be, but rather a weird blend of gothic quirkiness with serious black melodrama. In essence it is really a mishmash of The Addams Family, Death Becomes Her and even in some part Burton’s own classic Beetlejuice.


The movie is a really strange adaptation as tonally it is all over the place. At times it can be dark and foreboding, then completely shift gear to a farcical type comedy. Best selling author Seth Grahame-Smith (Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter) appears to struggle with the multiple character scenarios and what strand of the stories should take precedence within the overall piece.But on thinking the plot is fractually structured just like a soap opera would be and this could be the intention. But by doing this some of the minor characters are slightly waisted.


Depp’s Barnabas is a brilliantly fantastic creation that is definitely up there with his best creations and delivers most of the best lines. The vampire is a funny, charismatic monster who not only is struggles to figure out how to live in this time, but also what it means to be human.Pfeiffer brings a touch of class as the head of the household and is seems to be more concerned by the state of the family name than her own teen daughter Carolyn (Chloë Grace Moretz). While Bonham Carter and Earle Haley give memorable performances which appear to be influenced on Simpsons characters. Unfortunately both   the characters of uncle Roger (Miller) and his troubled son David (McGrath) make little impression with their underwritten roles.


The film is stunning shot with scenes reminiscent of Sleepy Hollow and fantastic costumes. The best thing is that Burton has relied less on CGI effects this time and focused on more a physical look. Danny Elfman haunting score is beautifully blended with some great classic 70’s songs.


While the film has faults mostly due to script problems and underused characters, it is a very enjoyable experience and sees Burton turn back to strange, funny character pieces that he used to make at the start of his career.


Reviewed by Paul Logan

Beauty & the Beast 3-D

Running time: 84 mins Certificate: U


Synopsis: The animated classic returns to screens in 3-D. When Belle’s inventor father goes missing, she tracks him down to a castle inhabited by a fearsome beast. Belle agrees to take her father’s place as hostage and soon starts to love the Beast.


Based on a fairytale written in the 18th century, Beauty & The Beast is an animated musical that tells the story of Belle (voiced by Paige O’Hara), a young woman who is bored with life in a French village. When her father, Maurice (voiced by Rex Everhart) gets lost in the woods and is held captive in a castle by the Beast (voiced by Robby Benson), Belle pleads with the Beast to take her instead so her father can be free, unaware he is a prince in disguise.


Despite being primarily a children’s film, the story has some darker themes beneath the surface. Watching the film as an adult, there is clearly the underlying message that people should look beneath the surface when choosing who they fall in love with.


The 3D version of the film is superb. The scenes in which the castle and the village are shown make the viewer feel as if they could jump into the screen. In addition to this, the sound is much clearer and the animation is sharper. The hand drawn characters look particularly stunning in 3D.


As with the original version, the songs in the film are excellent and will hold the attention of both children and adults. The characters are also very entertaining, particularly the talking objects that populate the castle.


With a great story, lovely artwork and a catchy soundtrack, Beauty & the Beast is a joy to watch. Regardless of whether the viewer has seen the original version or is completely new to the film, the 3D version is a must see.


Reviewed by Lesley Watt

African Cats ****

Running time: 89 mins Certificate: U


Synopsis: Disney’s latest documentary which follows two families of animals, a coalition of cheetahs and a pride of lions across the Maasai Mara game reserve in Kenya.


Filmed in the Kenyan savanna, the documentary tells the story of two families of cats. The first is a family of lions consisting of male head Fang, lionesses Layla and Malika and their cubs. The second is a female cheetah called Sita and her cubs. The film follows the cats as they hunt for food, fight for their territories and experience loss.


In the UK version, the film is narrated by Patrick Stewart (Star Trek, American Dad). The description of events and facts about the animals really adds to the film. The manner in which Stewart describes the emotions that may be felt by the cats helps the audience identify with the cats despite the fact that they are completely different species.


The way in which African Cats is filmed allows the audience to see the animals both up close and from a distance. Throughout the film, the audience is shown how the cats interact with other animals living in the same space and with each other. In particular there is conflict between Fang’s family and another group of lions. There are also scenes in which Sita the cheetah struggles to protect her cubs from other animals.


Overall, the audience are shown a combination of “family life” in the animal world and action scenes in which the cats fight each other and hunt their pray. This combined with Stewart’s narration makes for an enjoyable viewing experience.


Reviewed by Lesley Watt

American Reunion **

Running time: 113 mins Certificate: 15


Synopsis: It has been 13 years since Jim (Biggs), Michelle (Hannigan), Kevin (Nicholas), Oz (Klein), Finch (Thomas), Stifler (Scott) have graduated from school. They reunite for a delayed class reunion, to discover that nothing has really changed.


American Reunion is the 4th in the original “American Pie” series. It tells the story of the characters that previously appeared in American Pie (1999), American Pie 2 (2001) and American Wedding (2003) when they meet up for a reunion 13 years after leaving high school.


The opening scene involving main characters Jim and Michelle  is very comical and gives the audience the impression the film will be good. Unfortunately the next laugh does not come for 30 minutes when Stifler plays a rather disgusting prank on a group of teenagers. With the exception of those two scenes, the film lacks comedy.


The film also lacks story. Nothing really seems to happen and the appearance of high school sweethearts and teenage admirers does not seem to pose much of a threat. The characters seem to lack emotion and no one really stands out in terms of acting.


Jim’s Dad (Levy)  is particularly annoying this time round. His going off on a tangent whenever Jim asks his advice has become old and the pairing between him and Stifler’s mom (Coolidge) is predictable and cringe worthy.


While a reunion movie was a good idea, the script has been poorly written. The resulting film is watchable but not particularly entertaining. Compared to the previous ”American Pie” films it is disappointing.


Reviewed by Lesley Watt

Carnage ****

Running time: 79 mins Certificate: 15


Synopsis: After their two 11 year-old sons fight in a local park, two families gather in one of their apartments to discuss the issue. But the talks becomes more and more out of control as the day goes on.


Adapted from the play “God of Carnage” by Yasmina Reza, the film is co-written and directed by Roman Polanski. It takes place in the New York apartment of Michael (John .C. Reilly) and Penelope Longstreet (Jodie Foster) whose son has been hit in the face by another child in a squabble between kids. Following the incident Alan (Christoph Waltz) and Nancy Cowan (Kate Winslet) meet the Longstreets in their apartment to discuss it.


The film begins with a perfectly civil conversation between the two sets of parents, however when Michael  invites the pair to stay for coffee, the conversation turns into an argument as differences between the couples start to come out.


The arguments between the couples range from the original issue (i.e. the boys fighting) to differences in opinion regarding work, violence and parenting. Towards the end the arguments shift in dynamic from couple vs couple to men vs women, which makes for some entertaining scenes. The scene in which Nancy vomits spectacularly over the apartment is a cracker… particularly the look on Penny’s face when she realises her precious art books are covered in it. The constant ringing of Alan’s phone, which eventually leads to an infuriated Nancy throwing it in water is also laughable but realistic at the same time.


One criticism I do have is the fact that each time the Cowans attempt to leave, the Longstreets find a reason for them to stay. In a real life situation, the couples would likely wish to part ASAP, but in this case the meeting continues for the duration of the film.


Set in one room over a period of less than two hours, Carnage could easily have been boring. In this case, however, good performances by the actors and the use of comedy make it work.


Reviewed by Lesley Watt