Daily archives "June 21, 2013"

EIFF: Day 2


Shooting Bigfoot: ****
US/ Director Morgan Matthews /90mins


Shooting Bigfoot is a documentary, however it feels more like a mockumentary with humourous & colourful characters. The movie is directed and presented by award-winning documentary filmmaker, Morgan Matthews.


The movie follows three different humters. Dallas and Wayne are two old men who have devoted their lives to finding the creature. Dallas has been retired since an injury at work, and claims he was attacked by a Bigfoot. The two friends who play cassettes of animal noises in the wilderness in order to attract the monster. Tom Biscardi, a Bigfoot documentarian who comes across as an egotistical maniac who verbally abuses people even his wife. Finally Rick Dyer who has been involved in a recent hoax and even manipulates his own little daughter into believing the creature is real.


The focus is primarily on Dyer’s adventure into Texan woods. The other strands are really entertaining, but when they end unexpectedly and without any satisfactory conclusion it is a little frustrating.


Matthews has made a compelling and extremely entertaining documentary. It is hard to say if the film is truly non fiction or a work of fiction as the interviewees and what they say are so hilarious, it feels like it is too good to be true.


Svengali: **
UK/ Director John Hardwick / 90mins


Based on writer and actor Jonny Owen’s original five-minute webisodes, the film is about Paul ‘Dixie’ Dean (Owen) who stumbles across unsigned band The Premature Congratulations (eventually shortened to ‘The Prems’) and heads to London with his girlfriend Shell (Vicky McClure). He wants to become their manager and make them famous. He confuses the industry by giving out audio-cassettes, but attracts interest of from various people including Alan McGee (as himself). But in order to succeed he must overcome financial, family and band problems in order to make his dream to be a music Svengali to become true.


What might of worked as a short web based idea, certainly does not work as a full length feature. The plot feels very episodic, rather than cinematic.The main character is continually ridiculed for being Welsh and stupid. This kind of humour would have been funny in the 60’s and 70’s TV sitcoms of yesteryear, but not now.


The other problem is that celebrity names (Martin Freeman, Katy Brand and The Libertines’ Carl Barat) are brought in to the story in roles that are not necessary to the story. It feels more like a commercial exercise.


If it was not for McClure as the feisty girlfriend, the film would be an absolute disaster. An unoriginal idea that has been done before in a better version notably in Still Crazy.


Frances Ha ****
US/ Director Noah Baumbach / 86mins


The Squid and the Whale auteur Noah Baumbach returns with a black and white comedic melodrama which totally feels like a 1960’s French New Wave cinema piece.


An aspiring dancer 27 year old Frances (Greta Gerwig) hopes of becoming a professional dancer are becoming less successful. She is broke, and has no fixed abode. Making matters even worse her best friend Sophie (Mickey Summer) is spending all her time with her boring boyfriend.


A surprisingly uplifting and fun film with superb performances by all, most notably from Gerwig. Strangely audiences will feel sympathy for a character who is not entirely likeable. All her problems are of her own doing. The awkwardness of her experiences can be felt by everyone as most people have encountered these situations in life at one time or another.


Greta Gerwig’s performance is Oscar-worthy. She gives subtle facial expressions that show a range of mixed emotions while conveying something different to a character she is interacting with.


The highlight of the film is a beautiful extended tracking shot of Frances dancing and running down the street, while David Bowie’s ‘Modern Love’ plays in the background. This sequence will make even the hardest heart smile. A powerful and touching piece of work.

Reviewed by Paul Logan


EIFF: Day 1


The East: ****
US/ Director Zal Batmanglij / 116mins


Brit Marling’s makes her second film with director/co-writer Zal Batmanglij with an original thought provoking political thriller.


Sarah is a private intel spy sent to undercover among to find a gang of anti-corporate terrorists. She finally infiltrates the hippie terrorist commune headed by Benji (Alexander Skarsgård).
Sarah soon ends up having the group’s trust & helps them with their plots.


Marling and Batmanglij have made an intriguing and original premise about the problems with capitalism.


The filmmakers have enlisted a fantastic bunch of actors to the mixture. Ellen Page plays the usual tomboy with attitude character, Skarsgård is the mysterious unconcerned leader of the group, while Toby Kebbell brings heart and soul to the piece as the caring and tortured Doc. However it seems a strange decision to make Shiloh Fernandez’s character look like a Johnny Depp impersonator.


Batmanglij composes each scene with close ups and tight shots which gives the film a claustrophobic, but more personal experience. There are no bright lit backgrounds or colours, but dull monotonous shades which gives a 1970’s movie feel.


The plot has a slow pace, but never feels long or dragged out. It is similiar in tone to The Purge. Unfortunately
The story becomes convulted predictable and cliched within the third act. When Sarah’s arc becomes more about romance and giving a rather pointless lecture to her boss.


However the movie has enough drive going for it to be an enjoyable, tense and intelligent piece of cinema.


Reviewed by Paul Logan