Monthly archives "June 2015"

EIFF announces new Honorary Patrons and the winner of the 2015 Audience Award.

  

Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) has announced two new Honorary Patrons of the Festival. James Cosmo and Karen Gillan will be joining Tilda Swinton, Robert Carlyle, Seamus McGarvey and Mark Cousins as EIFF Honorary Patrons as the Festival heads into its 70th anniversary year.

 

EIFF Artistic Director Mark Adams said: “We are thrilled to add two Scottish luminaries to our illustrious troop of EIFF Honorary Patrons. James Cosmo is a powerhouse of acting fortitude, acknowledged this year by the Michael Powell Jury, and Karen Gillan is not only a star onscreen – her directorial debut at EIFF has shown her talents also extend behind the camera. Karen is unable to join us this evening as she’s on a long-haul flight, and James has been backwards and forwards to the Festival so many times with his two films and the Awards Ceremony, he needed a night off! But they are both with us in spirit, and we’re delighted to know they’re flying the EIFF flag worldwide for us.”

 

James Cosmo said: “It’s a real honour, and a genuine privilege to serve as Honorary Patron for the Edinburgh International Film Festival. As a Scots born actor, EIFF has always held a place in my heart and I look forward to working with the other honorary patrons and all the staff there as the Festival moves into its 70th edition in June 2016.”

 

Karen Gillan said “I am so thrilled to become a Patron of Edinburgh International Film Festival. I moved to Edinburgh, from Inverness, when I was sixteen to study acting. I developed such a creative connection with the city. So to come back and celebrate Scottish and international filmmaking is an honour.”

 

The recipient of the 2015 Audience Award went to BIG GOLD DREAM: SCOTTISH POST-PUNK AND INFILTRATING THE MAINSTREAM, directed by Grant McPhee.
   

 

Winners unveiled at 69th Edinburgh  International Film Festival 

  
The 69th Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) Awards were announced today.

 

The Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature Film was awarded to Andrew Haigh’s 45 YEARS.

 

Special Mentions were given to Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT and J. Davis’ MANSON FAMILY VACATION.

 

The Michael Powell Jury said: “We’re delighted to present the Michael Powell Award for best British feature. This year it goes to a quietly explosive film which represents classic filmmaking at its best. This is a measured yet provocative film, a masterclass in understated acting that was the unanimous choice of the jury.”

 

Director Andrew Haigh said: “This is a real honour and made even more special when you consider the list of British films that have won before. All you can hope for when you make a film is that it resonates with people and that is why receiving an award such as this feels so fantastic.”

 

The Award for Best Performance in a British Feature Film was shared between James Cosmo for his performance in THE PYRAMID TEXTS and Charlotte Rampling for her performance in 45 YEARS.

 

Jury member Ian Hart said: “There’s an old actor’s joke when someone’s rehearsing a scene and they come across a certain piece of text and they say I don’t need that line, I can do that with a look. But most people can’t so the line goes back in. But certain people can, they can do more with a gesture, they can do more with a look than most people can do with ten words, and this is why this award goes to Charlotte Rampling.”

 

Jury member Karen Gillan said: “I think I speak to all up and coming Scottish actors when I say James Cosmo is a huge inspiration, his acting is a lesson to us all, you show us how it’s done.”

 

Charlotte Rampling said: “It is an extraordinary moment when you are singled out when the craft that you have been perfecting throughout your life is appreciated and rewarded. It is thrilling and humbling and I thank you so much for giving me the chance to feel so proud. I thank Andrew Haigh for seeing what he sees, Tom Courtenay for moving me to tears, and Tristan Golligher for believing that this could be made.”

 

The Award for Best International Feature Film was awarded to Marielle Heller’s THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL.

 

The International Competition Jury said: “The Diary of a Teenage Girl is imaginative both visually and narratively, emotionally gripping and completely unapologetic in tone. We had a tough decision to make as we had some very strong contenders.”

 

Marielle Heller said: “Although this is an American film, it was made by a very international group, including our North Star, the British Bel Powley, whose brave performance is the heart of this film. I am so pleased to have such a prestigious UK premiere for the film at Edinburgh, and I am especially thrilled for Bel’s performance to be brought to her home turf for the first time. And I am so honoured by this award, which was a wonderful shock!”

 

The Award for Best Documentary Feature Film was awarded to Crystal Moselle’s THE WOLFPACK.

 

The Best Documentary Feature Film Jury said: “Out of a very strong field, the Jury has selected THE WOLFPACK as the best documentary in competition at the 2015 Edinburgh International Film Festival. Shot over five years, the director Crystal Moselle turned a chance encounter with six brothers into an intriguing, intimate portrait that shines a light on the warmth, humour and underlying tension of an extraordinary situation.”

 

SCRAPBOOK directed by Mike Hoolboom won the award for Best Short Film.

 

Special Mentions went to Juliana Bao’s performance in Maruani Landa’s CIPRIANA and Ahmet Simsek’s performance in Jannis Lenz’s SHADOWBOXER.

 

Mike Hoolboom said: “I feel touched this afternoon by a hand that has reached all the way across the Atlantic to find me in my Toronto home: who knew that hands could reach that far, and with such kindness. It reminds me that the cinema is able, sometimes, at least occasionally, to bring far away people so close, close enough that they can feel like part of our lives, and help us with this fundamental task: how can we get along with each other?”
The McLaren Award for Best New British Animation, supported by the British Council, went to STEMS by director Ainslie Henderson.

 

The Student Critics Jury Award, went to BLACK MOUNTAIN POETS directed by Jamie Adams.

 

The Student Critics Jury citation read: “We’ve seen such a variety of films, and all of us have our favourites, and our guilty pleasures – and what’s more, they’ve all been very different! It was genuinely challenging to pick just one – but in the end, our vote was unanimous.”

 

Jamie Adams, director of BLACK MOUNTAIN POETS said: “The idea that a dozen or so students have concluded that our movie Black Mountain Poets is the one that has excited their collective imaginations the most out of the brilliant movies they considered is a beautiful thing – it reminds me why we set out to create our modern romance trilogy in the first place.”

 

   

The Wolfpack ****

  

U.S./ Director Crystal Moselle/ 2015 / 90 mins

 
Synopsis: A couple raise and homeschooled their seven children in the confinement of their apartment in the Lower East Side of New York City.
 
Shot over five years, the film captures the lives and experiences of the Angulos family. The children comprise of six teenager brothers and a sister who are trapped in a cramped apartment by an overprotective  father. But they yearn for their own independence and to have some sort of normal existence. They learn everything about the outside world from the thousands of Hollywood movie DVDs.

The film is almost like a warped  version of Michael Apted’s Up documentary series mixed with Be Kind Rewind as it opens with the kids reenacting scenes from Reservoir Dogs then shows them going onto do scenes from The Dark Knight and Pulp Fiction. 
Throughout the course of the documentary we learn more about how the kids have been treated in the past and how the family is slowly breaking up.
The kids were given Sanskrit names including Bhagavan, Govinda, Narayana, Mukunda, Krsna and Jagadisa, and the sister Visnu. Their father is an alcoholic with beliefs rooted in Hare Krishna who can show signs of untolerable cruelty.

Things start to change when one of the boys escapes is briefly arrested and then institutionalized. At that stage the family’s secret no longer involved just them.

The unusual thing is that although they are mostly confined to social isolation and homeschooled by their hippie mother, they appear to behave and react to things any geeky teenagers would be like. They will joke and revert to movie quotes in order to convey their feelings in awkward moments.
The kids are very forthcoming regarding their story even when their father is in the apartment. Which is also amazing in itself when compared to other stories where individuals are kept away from society. 

 
Unusual, compelling and disturbing all at the same time. Hopefully Director Crystal Moselle will make another instalment so we can all see what happens next in the lives of the Angulos family.
 
Reviewed by Paul Logan

  

Bereave *

  

U.S./ Directors Evangelos Giovanis and George Giovanis / 2015 / 99 mins
 
Synopsis: Fatally ill, Garvey (McDowall) is dying and thinks he has figured out how to die alone. But when his beloved wife Evelyn (Seymour) goes missing on their anniversary, he must live to save her.

 

A low budget drama from brothers Evangelos and George Giovanis who raised the funds to make the film through Kickstarter.

 

Sitting on the edge of his bed on the morning of his 40th wedding anniversary, Garvey (Malcolm McDowall) contemplates his life with a revolver in his hand. He is struggling with his dark secret which is frustrating his wife Evelyn (Jane Seymour) who does not understand what is going on with her husband. Struggling with pressure of the secret and with the arguments between the two increasing, he runs away from home for a strange day of misadventures.

 

There may be be a good film somewhere, but this script hides any potential it may have. The problem is the multiple storylines involving Garvey’s family which do not connect with the central premise.

 

This is especially the case with the strand involving his brother (Keith Carridine), a character that appears to be some kind of gangster. But there is no character development and aspects about their lives are never fully explained. Not only that, but some of the dialogue is absolutely terrible.

 

With the actors involved in this film, it would at least be expected that the performances would be good. Unfortunately everyone overacts and give over the top amateurish performances. Only Garvey’s granddaughter (Rachel Egglestone) shows any promise and outshines the professionals.

 

Bereave may have some great actors in the cast, but the characters that are hard to emphasise with. This muddled mess is extremely challenging to watch.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

  

Chuck Norris vs Communism ***

  

UK, Germany, Romania/ Director Ilinca Calugareanu/ 82mins

 

Synopsis: In 1980s Romania, thousands of Western films were made available through a black-market VHS racketeer. With the assistance of a courageous female translator, they brought the magic of film to the people and sparked a revolution.

 

Romania was under the Communist regiment of Nicolae Ceausescu. All of the media was strictly controlled by the secret police, who used intimidation and violence. Entertainment was censored before being broadcast to citizens.

 

Then VHS tapes and VCRs appeared on the scene with films from the West being made available via a black-market ring led by a mysterious figure, Teodor Zamfir. In towns and villages secret underground parties would happen so people could watch the best and worst of Hollywood. From Sylvester Stallone to Jean-Claude Van Damme to Chuck Norris of course.

 

The film comprises of archive and film footage, reenactments and interviews with the people who attended these parties along with the entrepreneur Teodor Zamfir and his dub artist Irina Nistor who translated around 3,000 films.

 

Overall the material is extensively researched and the viewpoints from the individuals are interesting. However at the midway point these become incredibly repetitive, during the focus on the actual parties.

 

The most interesting aspect is the details about Zamfir’s organisation and how Nistor thought she would be caught by the Secret Police at anytime.

 

A fascinating and educational piece shows how the power of images can encourage people to take stand.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

  

Manglehorn ***

  

U.S./ Director David Gordon Green/ 97mins

 


Synopsis: Manglehorn, an eccentric small-town locksmith, tries to start his life over again with the help of a new friend.

 

Director David Gordon Green brings another character study after Prince Avalanche and Joe, with another star who has struggled with their career. This time it is the turn of the once great Al Pacino.

 

In a small Texas town, an eccentric locksmith Manglehorn (Pacino) writes letters to a girl he claims is the one that got away many years ago. He has few friends apart from his white person cat Fanny. While his estranged financially successful son Jacob (Chris Messina) will have little contact with him. Every week Manglehorn visits the local bank to see teller Dawn (Holly Hunter). But when he eventually goes out with Dawn, things do not go according to plan.

 

The film is marred by an episodic script and fails to match Pacino’s reserved fantastic performance. Random scenes including one where the Manglehorn walks past an accident involving a car crash are never explained and have very little to do with the overall narrative. Whether this is due to the script or whether it is part of Green’s vision is unclear, but the on the whole distracts from the story.

 

Green experiments with slow motion and flash-forwards, in order to give a sense of the man’s frustration with his own life, which to be honest is not really needed.

 

Not much is known about Manglehorn, only a few key details are given. He is man longing for his long lost love, what happened is very much left to the audience to fill in the gaps. What is detailed is his violent past with his own family.

 

However Pacino makes the film compelling, as he has not given this good a performance in years. Not once does he chew the scenery or go completely over the top as seen in recent features. Hunter gives warmth and quirkyness to her underwritten role as love stricken bank teller. While Harmony Korine who is known as a controversial Director and screenwriter brings some much needed humour as an old acquaintance.

 

Even although the film is not as good as Green’s previous works, it has brought a Pacino that many thought had vanished from our screens.

 
Reviewed by Paul Logan

  

Welcome to Me ****

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U.S./ Director Shira Piven/ 87mins

 

Synopsis: When a woman with borderline personality disorder wins the lottery, she decides to come off her medication and become a star. 

 

Alice Klieg (Kristen Wiig) is a woman with borderline personality disorder who lives alone and has not worked for a while. At the beginning of the movie, she wins $86 million in the lottery and decides to move into a casino and embark on being a TV star.

 

The film mainly looks at the exploitation of Alice by those she works with and does so in an interesting and sometimes comic way. The events of the story are unpredictable and give an insight into living with borderline personality disorder and the choices a person might make given the opportunity.

 

Kristen Wiig gives a gold standard performance as Alice. While the character can be a source of amusement to the audience, she also highlights a number of realistic issues that affect those with a mental illness. Her relationships with other characters, including the exploitation of the ideas she has by TV station owner Rich (James Marsden), her interactions with his brother Gabe (Wes Bentley) and the gradual alienation of the people close to her show how things can change when someone is unwell and the consequences that come with it.

 

The supporting cast also perform well. Tim Robbins is believable with a comic edge as a psychiatrist at the end of his tether while Linda Cardellini is very likeable as Gina, Alice’s supportive but despairing friend.

 

While the film may be viewed as a mockery by some people, it deals with heavy issues in an light hearted way that is still respectful and doesn’t sugar coat Alice’s illness.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan 

  

Inside Out *****

INSIDE OUT

U.S./ Director Pete Docter  & Ronaldo Del Carmen / 94mins

 

Synopsis: A pre-teen girl’s emotions work together to get her through life changes in Pixar’s latest animated movie.

 

When a little girl called Riley is born, a group of emotions appear in the “headquarters” of her mind and guide her through everything that happens. When she turns eleven, her family moves to San Fransisco and the emotions have to work together to make sure her happiness stays intact.

 

The story is enjoyable, comic and also sad at times. While it deals with the difficult changes children face in their lives, it does so in a light hearted way that will hold the audience’s attention. In terms of predictability,the viewer is likely to expect a good ending due to the nature of the film. However, there are a few twists and turns in the story that bring an element of doubt into the mix.

 

The emotions are the key players in the movie, with Amy Poehler and Phyllis Smith taking the lead as the two most prominent ones: Joy and Sadness. Both give performances that are both entertaining and likeable, while Bill Hader, Lewis Black and Mindy Kaling make up a good supporting cast.Riley’s character seems secondary to the emotions but Kaitlyn Dias plays the part well.

 

The animation is colourful and well designed, which will likely hold the attention of younger viewers while the deeper themes within the story will create extra interest from the adults amongst them. Overall, a great film for the whole family.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

  

Precinct Seven Five ****

  
U.S./ Director Tiller Russell/ 102mins

 

Synopsis: A gripping documentary about corrupt NYC cops in the 1980’s.

 

The film focuses on the real-life story of dirty cops who worked at Precinct 75 in Brooklyn where they worked alongside notorious drugs gangs in New York in the 1980s.

 

A young patrolman Michael Dowd would develop from a smart young rookie into a criminal. He stole money and drugs with his fellow patrolmen as well as having a working relationship with a Dominican drug baron.

 

Interviews involve all the relevant parties who were involved at the time, from Federal agents to the drug gangs to Dowd and his crew. Giving an highly insightful and balanced point of view from all sides, along with interesting archive footage.

 

Dowd never makes any attempt to shy away from the deeds or make excuses for why he did it. He is a arrogant and greedy individual with no remorse.

 

Well researched and highly compelling, the whole story feels like some unmade Hollywood crime thriller.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan
  

Love & Mercy *****

  

U.S./ Director Bill Pohlad/ 121mins

Synopsis: A biopic of The Beach Boys Brian Wilson which centres on 2 different time periods, one in the 60’s during the Pet Sound sessions the other during his problems in the 80’s.

 

A story of Wilson’s life seems to be a hard thing to bring to the screen with the amount of stories that had to be covered. Thankfully director Pohlad has focused on the two most interesting aspects of the time. The stories are interwoven between the time periods.

 

The 1960s story sees Wilson and the Beach Boys after their early successes. Brian decides to not go on the Japan tour to stay home and write something bold and new, which would eventually become “Pet Sounds.”

 

The 1980’s story involves Wilson (John Cusack) and his harmful relationship with Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti), a man who claims to be his legal guardian and the person who saved his life. Events take a dramatic turn when he meets a young car saleswoman Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks) who tries to uncover Landy’s sinister motives.

 

Even although both leads look nothing like Brian, they take on the mannerisms which eventually makes anyone forget about the physical traits. The actors give a fragile and innocent complexity to the man who is torn between his music and the strange voices he hears in his head. In fact Cusack’s performance is a return to form after years of disappointing roles.

 

The 60’s sequences are shot ins filtered style which gives it an almost archival feel. The sound design is exceptional with music and effects being used to encapture what Wilson is feeling in his mind. Bringing some sense and understanding of mental illness.

 

The film brings justice on bringing one of the greatest musical icons story to the big screen with terrific music and powerful performances.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan