Monthly archives "May 2014"

Edinburgh International Film Festival 2014 lineup announced


The full line up for this year’s Edinburgh international film festival was unveiled today by artistic director Chris Fujiwara. The programme includes 156 feature films from 47 countries with 11 world premieres, eight international premieres, seven European premieres and 95 U.K. premieres.


Highlights include Anton Corbijn’s “A Most Wanted Man,” starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, Gia Coppola’s “Palo Alto,” starring James Franco and Emma Roberts; and Abel Ferrara’s “Welcome to New York,” inspired by the case of former IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, starring Gerard Depardieu.


EIFF will also host the world premiere of “Castles in the Sky” from Gillies MacKinnon, the story of the Scottish engineer and developer of radar Robert Watson-Watt (played by Eddie Izzard). The film is one of the contenders for the Michael Powell Award for British films, whose line-up was announced previously. Competitors also include “Set Fire to the Stars,” the debut feature from Andy Goddard, a semi-biographical drama depicting the life of Dylan Thomas and starring Elijah Wood, also screening as a world premiere.


Special Screenings include Anthony Baxter’s “A Dangerous Game,” the follow-up to “You’ve Been Trumped,” exploring American property developer Donald Trump’s incursion into Scotland; and this year’s family gala will be the U.K. premiere of the animated heist adventure “The Nut Job,” featuring the voice talents of Will Arnett, Brendan Fraser and Liam Neeson.


The International Feature Film Competition, which highlights filmmaking that is imaginative, innovative and deserving of wider recognition, includes deadpan tragicomedy “The Owners” from Kazakh director Adilkhan Yerzhanov; Nils Malmros’ study of the extremes of human tragedy in “Sorrow and Joy”; Alejandro Fernandez Almendras’ “To Kill a Man,” a tense and restrained study of a how far a man will go to protect his family; “Ice Poison” by Midi Z, portraying the economic and moral crisis affecting young people in Taiwan; and Dietrich Brueggemann’s emotionally wrenching “Stations of the Cross,” which screens as part of the Focus on Germany.


The International Feature Film Competition line-up also includes the international premiere of relationship drama “X/Y” from actor-director Ryan Piers Williams, starring America Ferrera; Koji Fukada’s “Au Revoir L’ete,” a portrait of a girl of the edge of adulthood; “Han Gong-Ju,” the debut feature from South Korean director Lee Su-Jin; Nathan Silver’s “Uncertain Terms,” set at a home for pregnant teenagers; “Club Sandwich,” a coming-of-age drama from Mexican director Fernando Eimbcke; and “Concrete Clouds,” the directorial debut of Lee Chatametikool.


After a three-year hiatus, this year’s festival will see the return of the award for documentary feature film. The nominees include “Garnet’s Gold” from director Ed Perkins and “‘Til Madness Do Us Part” from Chinese filmmaker Wang Bing; Samantha Fuller’s tribute to maverick American filmmaker Samuel Fuller in “A Fuller Life”; Davi Pretto’s “Castanha,” a portrait of a 52-year-old cross dresser; and the world premiere of “Life May Be,” a meditation on art and identity from Mark Cousins and Mania Akbari.


Completing the line-up are Farida Pacha’s “My Name Is Salt”; “Chantier A,” an imaginative account on the reshaping of Algeria, directed by Tarek Sami, Karim Loualiche and Lucie Deche; Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez’s “Manakamana,” which stages a meeting of technology and spiritual belief aboard a Nepalese cable car; Thomas Heise’s look at the everyday lives of inmates and guards at a juvenile prison in Mexico in “Staedtebewohner”; and “My Red Shoes” by Sara Rastegar, a family portrait set against the backdrop of the Iranian Revolution.


EIFF’s audience award will return this year. This year the nominees include Jim Mickle’s revenge thriller “Cold in July” with Michael C. Hall and Don Johnson; John Maloof and Charlie Siskel’s investigation of the life of a brilliant photographer, “Finding Vivian Maier”; and Jeff Baena’s zombie romantic comedy “Life After Beth,” featuring star turns from Aubrey Plaza, Dane DeHaan and John C. Reilly.


Several Special Screenings take place across the festival, including the world premiere of “Tony Benn: Will & Testament,” directed by Skip Kite, a portrait of the long-time Labour M.P., who died in March, and a retrospective screening of docudrama “Culloden” from Peter Watkins, which portrays the 1746 Battle of Culloden in the Scottish Highlands.


EIFF has teamed up with Empire magazine to host “The Greatest Movie of All Time” as voted for by Empire readers for their 301st issue. The winning film has been revealed as “Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back,” and it will have a rare theatrical screening at the festival on June 25.


EIFF and Empire will also present a series of Hero Hangouts, which will see a variety of celebs interviewed live on stage, including “Cold in July” star Don Johnson; Elijah Wood, in Edinburgh for his starring role in “Set Fire to the Stars”; Noel Clarke, who produced “We Are Monster,” and produced, directed and starred in “The Anomaly”; and Simon Helberg and Jocelyn Towne, the co-directors of the Closing Gala “We’ll Never Have Paris.”


The American Dreams strand has been expanded to highlight the resurgence of American Independent cinema and includes the European Premiere of Craig Johnson’s “The Skeleton Twins,” starring Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig and a powerhouse performance from Nicolas Cage in “Joe,” directed by David Gordon Green. International premieres include insightful family drama “Hellion,” directed by Kat Candler and featuring Aaron Paul and Juliette Lewis, and Leah Meyerhoff’s poetic road movie “I Believe in Unicorns.”


Directors’ Showcase presents work from established auteur directors and emerging talents. The selection includes the long awaited U.K. premiere of Bong Joon-ho’s futuristic thriller “Snowpiercer,” starring Chris Evans, John Hurt and Tilda Swinton, and the hand-drawn animation “Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?” from Michel Gondry. Also in the Directors’ Showcase are “Cathedrals of Culture,” an expansive project exploring the soul of buildings from six acclaimed filmmakers including Wim Wenders and Robert Redford; and Taiwanese master Tsai Ming-liang’s “Stray Dogs,” allegedly his farewell to cinema.


Wicked and Wild will feature the world premiere of Noel Clarke’s futuristic thriller “The Anomaly,” starring Ian Somerhalder and Brian Cox; Eli Roth’s depraved take on cannibalism in “The Green Inferno”; the nerve-shredding thriller “Let Us Prey” from Brian O’Malley; and Leigh Janiak’s intimate horror “Honeymoon” starring Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway as newlyweds.


The For the Family strand brings together films from around the world that both children and adults can enjoy, including the international premiere of “Island of Lemurs: Madagascar,” the IMAX film narrated by Morgan Freeman; the tale of one cat’s adventure to save the day in “The House of Magic”; and the family adventure “Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang,” based on a Spanish comic book.


The New Perspectives strand offers a range of work from emerging filmmakers, including Terry McMahon’s gritty drama “Patrick’s Day”; Noh Young-seok’s thriller “Intruders”; and Hisham Zaman’s “Letter to the King,” an ensemble piece about five people who take a day trip from a refugee camp to Oslo. The world premiere of London gangster drama “The Guvnors,” directed by Gabe Turner, features a notable performance from Harley Alexander-Sule, one half of the hip-hop duo Rizzle Kicks; and Geethu Mohandas’ “Liar’s Dice” explores an uneasy alliance between a vulnerable young mother and an ex-soldier.


Fujiwara said “A film festival must keep trying to remain challenging, provocative and responsive, and I believe the programme we’re unveiling today shows our success at doing that this year. It’s a diverse and artistically strong programme that will delight and surprise our audiences, both old and new, and that will reward those who share our passion for exploring cinema in all its forms.”


As previously announced, the festival opens with the world premiere of Gerard Johnson’s “Hyena,” and the Closing Gala is the international premiere of “We’ll Never Have Paris,” co-directed by Simon Helberg and Jocelyn Towne.




Newsreel (W/e 25th May 2014)


DreamWorks Animation has announced that The Penguins of Madagascar will now open in Nov 2014 & Home will move to March 2015.


Joel and Ethan Coen will write the Tom Hanks-Steven Spielberg project that chronicles the true story of James Donovan.


Benedict Cumberbatch & Adam Scott join the cast of Black Mass.


‘Godzilla’ director Gareth Edwards set to direct first ‘Star Wars‘ spinoff film for 2016.


Edgar Wright has left AntMan due to creative differences with Marvel.


Winter Sleep, a film by Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, has been named the winner of the Palme d’Or award at the Cannes Film Festival. Julianne Moore won a Best Actress prize for Maps to the Stars, while Mr. Turner star Timothy Spall was named Best Actor. Bennett Miller won Best Director for Foxcatcher starring Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo and Steve Carell.


X-Men: Days of Future Past transports to the top of the U.S. Box-office.


Newsreel (W/e 18th May 2014)

Warner Bros has set a date for the release of Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on November 18, 2016.


Pussy Riot in talks to star in Springbreakers 2.


Screenwriter Roberto Orci is set to direct the next Star Trek.


Ridley Scott is reportedly in talks to direct Matt Damon in the science fiction thriller The Martian.


Godzilla wrecks havoc at the top of the U.S. Box-office.


Searching for Sugar Man director Malik Bendjelloul has been found dead, aged 36.


R.I.P. HR Giger


20 Feet From Stardom *****



Run Time: 91 mins        Cert: 12A


Synopsis: Directed by Morgan Neville, the documentary tells the story of the backing singer and features long time session vocalists Darlene Love, Merry Clayton and Lisa Fischer amongst others. 


Based in the USA, “20 Feet From Stardom” covers a period from the 1960s to the present day and follows the careers of three African American backing singers.


The documentary is both informative and entertaining. In depth interviews with Love, Clayton and Fischer provide the audience with an intimate knowledge of their careers from start to finish and explore both their musical aspirations and feelings about life in general during those times.


While the three women clearly love what they do, nothing is held back during interviews. The downsides to being a backing singer such as lack of recognition and issues with record labels are openly discussed and, as time passes, changes in the music industry make it increasingly difficult to secure jobs.


Interviews with musicians such as Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen and Sting give an insight into their relationships with backing singers and what they feel they add to their music both on stage and in the studio. The film also features extensive footage of each singer performing alongside a variety of musicians which is enjoyable and will likely make the viewer want to sing and dance with the music.


With its great storytelling and top class soundtrack, “20 Feet From Stardom” is a gem that any music fan should watch.


Reviewed by Lesley Logan

HYENA to receive its World Premiere at Edinburgh International Film Festival

EIFF has announced British drama HYENA will be the Opening Night film at the 68th edition of the Edinburgh International Film Festival on Wednesday 18 June.


This will be the first opportunity for any audience to see this hotly anticipated title from the award-winning producers Stephen Woolley (Made in Dagenham, The Crying Game, Mona Lisa), Elizabeth Karlsen (Great Expectations, Ladies in Lavender) and Joanna Laurie. HYENA reunites director Gerard Johnson with Peter Ferdinando (A Field in England, Starred Up), who played the lead in his debut feature Tony which received its World Premiere at EIFF back in 2009.


The film also stars Stephen Graham (This is England, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), MyAnna Buring (Twilight, Downton Abbey), Neil Maskell (Kill List, Wild Bill), Elisa Lasowski (Somers Town) and Richard Dormer (Good Vibrations).


Chris Fujiwara, EIFF Artistic Director, said: “We’re excited to be opening the festival with the World Premiere of HYENA. It’s a powerful and beautifully directed thriller that clearly establishes director Gerard Johnson as a major talent in British filmmaking. It’s also an exceptional example of the kind of film that our festival has traditionally supported: a work in which a director of artistic integrity takes a vigorous and imaginative approach to the renewal of a film genre.”


HYENA Producer Stephen Woolley, said: “I vividly recall seeing the World Premiere of The Long Good Friday in 1980 at EIFF and presenting my first production The Company of Wolves there in 1984. The design of Wolves was heavily influenced by Michael Powell’s Black Narcissus. So to bring Gerard Johnson’s dark London crime thriller HYENA to the festival to compete for the Michael Powell Award completes a perfect thirty year circle.”


HYENA Director Gerard Johnson, said: “My first feature Tony had its World Premiere in Edinburgh in 2009, that same year I won a Trailblazer Award for future talent. It feels right to say thank you and return with my new film HYENA and for it to open this prestigious festival is a huge honour.”


HYENA revolves around Michael Logan (Ferdinando) an anti-hero for our times: a natural predator and a complex mix of high-functioning addict and corrupt police officer. But his dark world is evolving. A recent influx of ruthless Albanian gangsters is threatening to change London’s criminal landscape. Michael’s razor sharp instincts have always kept him one step ahead, but now his increasingly self-destructive behaviour and the sheer brutality of the new gang lords find Michael in a spiralling descent of fear and self-doubt.


HYENA will receive its World Premiere at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre on Wednesday 18 June and will be released in the UK by Metrodome in October.


HYENA will join eight other British films in competition for the Michael Powell Award at this year’s Festival. Films are eligible from across the Festival programme at the discretion of Artistic Director Chris Fujiwara and will be judged by an international jury.


Gillies Mackinnon returns to EIFF with the World Premiere of CASTLES IN THE SKY, the fascinating story of visionary Scottish engineer and developer of radar, Robert Watson-Watt, played by Eddie Izzard.


GREYHAWK, the debut feature from Guy Pitt, will receive its UK Premiere at the Festival. Revolving around an outstanding central performance from Alec Newman, the film follows a withdrawn, blind ex-soldier who loses his beloved guide dog on an infamous housing estate.


World Premiere HIDE AND SEEK is directed by Joanna Coates and is a study of a modern attempt at living a utopian ideal.


A very special romantic comedy set in Brighton, MY ACCOMPLICE is the directorial debut of Charlie Weaver Rolfe and will receive its World Premiere at EIFF.


Celebrating Dylan Thomas’ centenary, EIFF will host the World Premiere of SET FIRE TO THE STARS, an intriguing drama following Thomas battling his demons in 1950s New York. Featuring strong performances from co-writer Celyn Jones as Thomas and Elijah Wood as John Malcolm Brinnin, and an accomplished original score by Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals), the film is co-written and directed by Andy Goddard.


UK Premiere A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO A SPECTACULAR SUICIDE, directed by Graham Hughes, is a sharply scripted and poignant comedy telling the story of a young man who wants to kill himself and starts a blog charting his plans for the ultimate ‘spectacular suicide’.


Uberto Pasolini, director of Machan and producer of The Full Monty and Palookaville, presents a poignant tale of life, love and the afterlife in STILL LIFE, which will receive its UK Premiere at the Festival. Eddie Marsan stars as a council worker charged with finding the next of kin of those who have died alone.


Delving into the tragic real-life case of an Asian teenager brutally murdered in his cell in a UK young offenders institution by a racist fellow inmate, WE ARE MONSTER, directed by Antony Petrou, is another title set to receive its World Premiere at Edinburgh.


The 2014 Michael Powell Award will be presented at the EIFF Awards Ceremony on Friday 27 June at Filmhouse.


Bad Neighbours: ***

bad-neighbours-seth-rogen-rose-byrneRun Time: 97 mins         Cert: 15


Synopsis: When a Frat House moves in next door to Mac and Kelly Radner (Rogen and Byrne) they find they get more than they can handle when relationships break down between the two parties.


Seth Rogen teams up with Zac Efron for a different take on the Animal House style frat movie. Also yet another movie that has been renamed by the studio, incase we are confused about a college comedy and a tedious Australian soap.


In that instead of adults moving into a fraternity or a fraternity running wild within the town, we have a fairly original concept of what happens if a Frat House moves into a suburban neighbourhood next to a family with a baby.


The humour as can be expected from both Rogen and director Nicholas Stoller is fairly low brow, but is very funny. Unfortunately it is a case that if viewers have seen the trailer then they have seen the movie as all the great gags are shown.


The script is seems very fractured as a rather than a well paced narrative with plenty of gags, what is presented is a series of sketches with a story that does
not flow coherently.


Nevertheless the concept is enjoyable with good performances by all, especially by Dave franco who has some of the best moments in the film. Rogen and Byrne have great chemistry together as the conflicted parents who want to party while raising a child.


Even Efron who is not known for his comic timing surprises with an energetic and funny performance. Hopefully he will do more comedies than bland romantic love stories from now on.


In essence what is presented is a comedy that has some great jokes, but by the end is fairly forgettable.


Reviewed by Paul Logan


transcendence-movie-johnny-deppRun Time: 118 mins         Cert: 15


Synopsis: When Computer Scientist Will Caster (Depp) is shot by an anti-technology activist group, Caster’s wife and fellow expert Evelyn (Hall) finds a way of uploading his mind into the mainframe of  a computer. Virtual Will aims to aid mankind, but is this still Caster or merely a form of artificial intelligence?



Director Wally Pfister is usually known as Christopher Nolan’s Cinematographer, however he has decided to make the giant leap and make a feature of his own with mixed results.


Johnny Depp seems very one dimensional and uninterested within his performance in the lead role. However his character is a man of science who may have control t his fingertips, but little control of the real world. The only interests he has are his wife and his work and appears to be very isolated. Which leads on to when he becomes one with the machine. his voice becomes more monotone as would be expected from a computer than can not show any emotion.


Even although Depp is the lead , the supporting players have more to do, therefore their performances are interesting compared to Castor. Both Rebecca Hall and Paul Bettany are sympathetic in different ways. Hall’s character is consumed with grieve that it clouds her judgement, while Bettany’s character is torn between doing the right thing and trying to help a friend in grieve. We believe in their performances throughout the piece. While Morgan Freeman and Cillian Murphy are wasted in very limited supporting roles, which do not enhance the narrative.


Pfister’s direction is beautifully shot with well framed images, which would be expected from a good cinematographer. By emphasising the Biblical elements within the story whether it is v, or raindrops leading to an eventual flood. He also keeps the pace of the narrative going on an even keel.


The script by Jack Paglen appeared on the 2012 “Black List” (the best  unproduced screenplays ) may seem like an interesting idea, however the idea has been done before in other forms. Namely in the  camp cheesy film Electric Dreams and has ideas from the classic altered States. The film raises interesting ideas for the first two acts until it becomes an overblown action movie that is more akin to the works of Michael Bay or Len Wiseman. Before bringing things back to the ground for a clever and subtle ending.  At the end it has lost the focus of what the story was trying to say about Humans playing God.


Extremely flawed, but is by no means the disaster than has been publicised within the media.


Reviewed by Paul Logan