EIFF 2014: Greyhawk & Palo Alto


Greyhawk: ****
UK/ Director Guy Pitt/ 91mins


An interesting low budget drama, which centers on a quest for Man’s best friend.


Mal Walker( Alec Newman) a reclusive, disillusioned army veteran, has to venture into a rundown council estate called Greyhawk, when his only friend goes missing. As he journeys further into the estate’s, Mal starts to learn it is not just his friend he’s looking for, but his own humanity.


Newman is exceptional in the central role as Mal. It shows that he has done the research with spending time with the Blind Legion, as he is completely believeable as a blind person.


What is even more remarkable is that even although Mal is such an unlikeable flawed character, we are still routing for him as an audience to find his dog.


The style and look is dark, gritty, bleak and murky with none of the characters involved being at all likeable. The filmmakers use the standard clichéd use of jump cuts, close ups and overused slow motion that has really been done to death in this genre, especially in UK crime thrillers. The script is predictable and has several plot holes within the story.


The story has some cleverly structured with some good twists. Even the ending is unexpected.


Guy Pitt has made an impressive unique debut.



Palo Alto: ****
US/ Director Gia Coppola/ 100mins

Another Coppola joins the family business with an adaptation of James Franco’s self penned short stories.


Shy, sensitive teen, April (Emma Roberts) is the torn between a flirtation with her soccer coach Mr. B (James Franco) and a crush on sweet stoner Teddy (Jack Kilmer). As one high school party leads into another, April and Teddy struggle to admit their mutual affection.


This disjointed story of the troubles of being a teenager in suburban American revolve around a conflicted narrative. The young characters appear to be revolting against something or someone, which is never fully explained, as they appear to have the fullest lives with caring parents.


However strangely we seem to sympathise with the main characters. This is probably partly due to the impressive performances by Roberts and newcomer Jack Kilmer (son of Val, who also makes an appearance, and Joanne Whalley) who bring a believable teenage angst to their roles.


It is easy to see that Gia is Francis’ granddaughter with beautifully framed shots and in capturing subtle performances from her actors. She appears to be influenced by previous teen art house films including Van Sant’s Elephant. Coppola also clearly has an affection for her characters and the material.


While this may be an impressive debut for a first time director, the story is just not captivating enough to ensure the meaning of the piece stays with the audience once the movie is all said and done.


Reviewed by Paul Logan


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