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Scottish Filmmakers set to make an impression at the Edinburgh International Film Festival

    

Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) has announced a number of Scottish titles in the 2015 Programme showcasing the works of numerous Scottish filmmakers and acting talent. 

This year’s includes Peter Mullan’s  in HECTOR, about a homeless pensioner Hector McAdam with a tragic past. The film will receive its World Premiere at the Festival. James Cosmo’s in PYRAMID TEXTS, which tells the story of veteran fighter Ray who talks about his life and career in the ring. BAFTA-Scotland award-winner Colin Kennedy’s Glasgow-set directorial debut feature SWUNG, which a drama about the secret underside of a very modern relationship taken to its emotional and sexual limits based on Ewan Morrison’s debut novel of the same name. Former EIFF short award Former EIFF short award winner Martin Radich’s NORFOLK is about a tough-love father (Denis Menochet from Inglourious Basterds) whose strong relationship with his teenage son (Barry Keoghan) is tested when the boy befriends a girl (Goda Lethauskaite).  Talulah Riley’s writer/directorial debut feature SCOTTISH MUSSEL with Martin Compston as a Glaswegian chancer who moonlights as an illegal pearl fisher in the Highland streams, but falls for a beautiful English conservationist (played by Riley herself) who is passionate about saving endangered mussels. The film co-stars Rufus Hound, Joe Thomas, boxer “Amazing” Alex Arthur and Harry Enfield, and talent from the film are expected to attend the Festival.

Fascinating true Scottish stories make a  appearance in this year’s Programme, ANDREW CARNEGIE: RAGS TO RICHES, POWER TO PEACE details the infamous figure from his humble beginnings in his hometown of Dunfermline, to one of the wealthiest men in the world. David Street’s BATTLE MOUNTAIN follows cycling legend Graeme Obree, aka “The Flying Scotsman”, as he prepares for the human-powered vehicle land speed record attempt in Nevada, using a very unusual bike designed by himself, and christened “The Beastie” by his friend Sir Chris Hoy. Obree is confirmed to attend the film’s World Premiere at the Festival on Friday 19 June. The European Premiere of THE CLOSER WE GET is a autobiographical story from Scottish director Karen Guthrie, about  an apparently ordinary family having to stoically deal with broken dreams and hidden secrets. 

Scottish shorts this year include Karen Gillan’s directorial debut COWARD which receives its European Premiere at the Festival. The film tells the story of a young girl and the pressures she gets from her mother to become a famous actress. Additional shorts include Still Game star Greg Hemphill’s irreverent comedy GASPING starring the brilliant Frankie Boyle as Harvey Higgins who tackles his demons, and loses, which receives its European Premiere. The World Premiere of Edinburgh-based director Owen Rixon’s animation TOONOCALYPSE sees two Edinburgh students document the seemingly harmless infiltration of Earth by cute little cartoon characters. 

Presenting a number of music documentaries, EIFF will host the World Premiere of Grant McPhee’s BIG GOLD DREAM, a contender for The Audience Award, which tells the previously untold story of a post-punk/indie music scene that reverberated from Edinburgh, throughout the UK and beyond. The film takes a look at Bob Last and Hilary Morrison’s independent record label Fast Product in the late 1970s, which quickly became the hub for an eclectic group of musicians. There will be an exclusive gig following the film’s Premiere on Friday 19 June at the Traverse Theatre featuring some of the musical talents from the film including singer-songwriter Vic Godard. Stefan Schwietert’s fascinating glimpse into the mind of a musical maverick, IMAGINE WAKING UP TOMORROW AND ALL MUSIC HAS DISAPPEARED documents Scottish artist, musician and writer, Bill Drummond’s idiosyncratic approach to the music industry. Here he provides exclusive commentary on his work, past and present, whilst working on one of his current passions, his choral project The17. Drummond will attend the UK Premiere of the film and take part in a special performance after the screening. Artur Guza’s access-all-areas documentary POLSKA delves in to the world of Scottish singer, songwriter and actor Derek Dick, better known as “Fish”, who was the lead singer of British rock band Marillion. A deeply moving and honest portrayal, Fish will be in attendance at the Festival where the film receives its World Premiere.

Mark Adams, EIFF Artistic Director, said: “We are delighted to be presenting so many films with Scottish links at this year’s festival. Not only are we opening and closing with brilliant new local films, but the festival is punctuated with terrific Scottish documentaries, shorts, animation and features.”

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, said: “This year the Edinburgh International Film Festival is bursting with Scottish talent. From the opening scenes of The Legend of Barney Thomson to when the credits roll on Iona, the festival will celebrate a wide variety of talented Scottish actors and filmmakers. This extraordinary level of Scottish creativity on show at the EIFF is also apparent to those attending Cannes this week. The Scottish Government is committed to supporting the hard work of Scottish filmmakers at festivals in Scotland, the UK and overseas.”

Natalie Usher, Director of Film & Media at Creative Scotland, said: “We are delighted to see such a large number and variety of projects with a Scottish connection screening throughout the Festival, demonstrating the talent and skills of filmmakers and crew working in Scotland. To have the premieres of films from Scottish directors as the Opening and Closing films in this prestigious programme is tremendous. EIFF is a key event in Scotland’s cultural calendar, delivering inspirational, world-class cinema experiences to audiences and providing an excellent platform for emerging and established filmmakers to build their national and international profile. We look forward to an engaging and exciting EIFF 2015.”

Edinburgh International Film Festival runs l from 17-28 June.

   

Mad Max: Fury Road *****

  

Run Time: 120mins           Cert: 15
 
Synopsis: 
In a nuclear-devastated future, the road warrior Max (Hardy) reluctantly helps Furiosa (Theron) escape from Immortan Joe (Keays-Byrne) and his band of War Boys, along with Joe’s quintet of brides.

After 13 years in production, George Miller at last presents his long awaited sequel to a classic
 
Along the way the film lost the original Max (Mel Gibson), however he has been replaced. Tom Hardy has taken his place and is evident from the first scenes of the performance that he is trying to emulate Gibson with a gruff American cross Australian accent. Even although he is given very few lines, the performance is driven by the expression in his eyes.
 
Charlize Theron’s Furiosa has the most screen time and feels like the film is about her struggle and survival. She is the soul and the humanity of the piece 
 
Joe’s five Wives played by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Zoë Kravitz, Abbey Lee Kershaw, Courtney Eaton and Riley Keough not as well developed with each character being labelled as the fighter, the loner, the weirdo, the quiet one and the carer. While Nicholas Hoult’s Warboy Nux is given the most depth going from a wannabe killer to a saviour.
 
Miller may have lost his original star, but he has brought back the villain from the original. Hugh Keays-Byrne who played Toecutter, now plays Immortan Joe the most terrifying bad guy seen in a quite awhile.
 
There is not much plot to the film, which is basically a two hour chase movie which is relentless, as it never stops from the moment it starts to the minute it ends. Over the top car sequences are masterfully expedited by Miller with such choreographed precision. He has come up with a vast array of looks for the many characters which would not look out of place in Terry Gilliam or David Lynch movie. There is no timeline to the previous entries, however it could easy be placed after the events of Mad Max 2 (The Road Warrior).
 
Director George Miller makes a fantastic to form with the most exciting and stunning blockbuster in years. It may be tiring and completely crazy, but it never feels drawn out or dull. This is what the Fast & Furious franchise should have been.
Reviewed by Paul Logan


Big Game ***

  

Run Time: 90mins           Cert: 12A
 
Synopsis: While hunting Oskari, a 13-year-old Finnish boy saves the President of the United States from terrorists.

A few years back, Jalmari Helander made his feature debut with the festive horror, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. He has now been given a bigger budget with a a big Hollywood story
 
Rare Exports’ Onni Tommila also returns buddying up with Sam Jackson who work incredibly well together, interacting with sly, snarky, humorous wisecracks. The duo are joined by an all cast with over the top performances from Jim Broadbent, Felicity Huffman and Victor Garber as the Pentagon officials trying to bring the president back home.
 
The action pieces are not only spectacular, but completely insane with helicopter chasing  a chest freezer down a mountain side being a particular highlight. The saturated colourful snow filled mountainous landscapes are spectacularly shot. 
 
While the film is completely entertaining, it is letdown with a weak predictable script.
 
An old school action flick disappoints with an obvious twist filled plot, but the fun performances, exciting set pieces and short runtime make this worth a watch.
 
Reviewed by Paul Logan


EIFF Announces the World Premiere of Iona as 2015 Closing Night Gala

  

Edinburgh International Film Festival announces that Scott Graham’s second feature Iona will have it’s  world premiere on Sunday 28 June 2015 at Festival Theatre Edinburgh.

This follows Graham’s award-winning Shell (2012), the feature version of his debut short film of the same title, which had its world premiere at EIFF 2007. His second short, Native Son, also screened at the Festival in 2010.

Part coming-of-age story and part returning-home drama. The film is set on the Hebridean island of Iona. Named after her birthplace, Iona (Ruth Negga) returns to the island with her teenage son to seek refuge from a violent crime in Glasgow. Iona’s return exposes her tormented son, Bull, to a way of life she rejected when she left the island as a teenager and sends a shockwave through the family she left behind.

Shot entirely on location in Scotland, Iona stars Ruth Negga (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Douglas Henshall (Shetland), Tom Brooke (The Boat That Rocked) and Michelle Duncan (Atonement).

Director Scott Graham said: “I discovered many films and filmmakers at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Edinburgh was my home all through my twenties, and it was in venues like Filmhouse and the Cameo where I learned the value of the stories we tell and the emotions we share. I’m thrilled Iona will have its premiere here and doubly thrilled it will close the Festival. What an honour.”

Mark Adams, Artistic Director of EIFF said: “We are thrilled to be closing this year’s Festival with Scott Graham’s lovely, moving and enthralling Iona. He is a striking cinematic talent and the film will wrap this year’s Festival in the perfect way.”

Iona is set for release in the UK later this year. 

  

Robert Carlyle’s The Legend of Barney Thomson to open the Edinburgh International Film Festival

 

Edinburgh International Film Festival have announced that the opening gala for this year will be the world premiere of The Legend of Barney Thomson. The film directed by Honourary Patron Robert Carlyle will receive its world premiere on Wednesday 17 June 2015 at Festival Theatre Edinburgh with stars and filmmakers in attendance.

The Legend of Barney Thomson is a darkly-humourous, Glasgow-set thriller that tells the story of awkward barber Barney, who inadvertently stumbles into serial murder. Complicating matters, Barney’s mother has a secret of her own, setting off a bloody chain of events. While Barney tries to cover their tracks, local police inspector Holdall fights his own battles within his inept homicide department as he tries to solve the crime of the century. A black comedy of errors unfolds as the police try to capture the murderer at large.

The film stars director Carlyle as Barney Thomson, alongside a remarkably transformed Emma Thompson as his mother, Cemolina, and Ray Winstone as Inspector Holdall. The film’s extraordinary cast also includes Tom Courtenay, Ashley Jensen, Martin Compston, Brian Pettifer, Kevin Guthrie, James Cosmo, Stephen McCole and Samuel Robertson. The film’s screenplay is by Colin McLaren and Richard Cowan.

Carlyle said: “After a career-long association with EIFF, it gives me enormous pleasure to have The Legend of Barney Thomson chosen as Opening Night Film. It really is such an honour for me to have my first feature as director premiered here in Edinburgh at the Festival that has played such a huge part in my life.”

Mark Adams, the new Artistic Director of EIFF said: “We are thrilled to be opening this year’s Festival with Robert Carlyle’s wonderful black comedy. It is a marvellously macabre and playful film, impressively directed and with a terrific cast. It is the perfect film to kick off what promises to be an exciting festival.”

The Legend of Barney Thomson will be released in cinemas later this Summer.

  

 

 

Avengers: Age of Ultron ****

  

Run Time: 142mins           Cert: 12A
 
Synopsis: During a mission, the Avengers find technology which interests Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) to create an artificial intelligence entity which he feels is the only way to keep the world safe. However, Ultron (James Spader), is more hellbent on wiping out the Avengers than saving humanity.

 
Marvel and Joss Whedon return with an action packed, but darker sequel to their previous hit. 
 
It was hard to believe that the first instalment worked so well. A comic book movie with more than three lead characters never works as a rule, but somehow The Avengers was a thrilling roller coaster ride but sadly lacking in story. By making the plot and the look of the film darker, Whedon has tried to do a different take for the sequel as Burton did with Batman Returns.
 
What he has actually done is repeat that exact same formula but with more characters. This time Scarlet Witch (Olsen) and Quicksilver have been added to the lineup along with familiar faces from other Marvel franchises. But the film seems to overload with characters each with their own subplot that never really becomes fully developed. Even Ultron is forgotten about have way through the film. The dialogue in the film is well written and at times incredibly funny.
 
In regards to Ultron, the effects are fantastic with the robot encapsulating Spader’a facial mannerisms. While the actor brings menace to his overall performance. But Ultron never comes across as a terrifying foe.
 
There are endless spectacular action sequences, from the Hulkbuster sequence to the climax. The film is never boring or dull. As usual with Marvel movies recently the final action set piece is far too long and could be cut down a bit.
 
The cast appear to be having a ball, with the same chemistry audiences witnessed in the previous film. This makes us care about the characters .
 
If the script had been more developed with fewer characters, this could have been significantly better than the first. What Joss Whedon has given us is more of the same but on a much grander scale.

Reviewed by Paul Logan
 

Fast & Furious 7 ***

 


Run Time: 137mins           Cert: 12A

 
Synopsis: Deckard Shaw (Statham) seeks revenge against Dominic Toretto (Diesel) and his family for his comatose brother.

 

Vin Diesel and the gang return with the long anticipated next instalment of this popular franchise with mixed results. 

Anyone who witnessed and enjoyed the silly finale from last sequel will be happy that this one has even more ridiculous with situations ramped up to the max. Even after the first scene with Statham’s character visiting his brother in hospital has to be seen to be believed how stupid it really is. 
 
The action scenes have clearly been influenced by The A-Team as characters walk away either unhurt or with minor injuries that no human could ever undertake. 
 
The plot is completely all over the place and makes absolutely no sense. While Jason Statham’s villian is weak and very underwritten.
 
The Conjuring’s James Wan takes over as Director from Justin Lin and it would expected that the franchise is in good hands. Unfortunately  it is the editing that lets him down with headache enduring quick cuts, it is hard to focus what is going on.
 
Sadly Paul Walker died during the filming of the movie. The additional scenes shot after his death, are well done and it is quite hard to tell when Walker was actually there on set. Usually the filmmakers have some respectful tribute, but what the Furious 7 team has come up with something that just comes across as cheesy and quite sickening.
 
It is not all doom and gloom though. Kurt Russell is a welcome addition, the only downside is that he is not in it enough. The action is thrilling and exciting. The humour in the movie is really funny.
 
Ultimately though the franchise has turned into a spoof of itself. The film comes across like Hudson Hawk, but without the ingenuity or the cleverness that movie brought. Enjoyable, but also dissatisfying at the same time.
 
Reviewed by Paul Logan

Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 **

 
  Run Time: 94mins           Cert: PG

 
Synopsis: After six years of keeping our malls safe, Paul Blart (James) has earned a well-deserved vacation. He heads to Vegas with his teenage daughter before she heads off to college. But safety never takes a holiday and when duty calls, Blart answers.

Kevin James returns with a sequel no one was asking for. There may be a different location and villain, but the plot is the same Die Hardesque, Home Alone structure that was witnessed in the first instalment.
 
This time round the portly security guard is in Las Vegas for a convention. Instead of problems in looking for love, this time he has problems trying to understand his teenage daughter.
 
The humour is pretty infantile, but at times can be amusing and is completely made up of slapstick violence. Whether Blart is being kicked and attacked by a Crested Crown Crane or hit by a car while on his Segway or being kicked by a horse. The violence itself is very A-Team influenced as no one appears to be fatally injured.
 
Pacing is a problem with the first half being rather dull and tedious with too much focus on the father daughter relationship. Once the terrorists make an appearance the film becomes a lot more fun. Although the main bad guy played by Red 2’s Neal McDonough is completely forgettable and underwritten as antagonistic characters go.
 
While by no means one of Kevin James’ worst movies ( that honour goes to the Grown Ups and Zookeeper films), but at the end of the day this is a pointless sequel and six years too late for anyone to really care. 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

Edinburgh International Film Festival  launches Crowdfunding Campaign

  

Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) has announced that DISTRIBUTION REWIRED, a new initiative will support filmmakers in
reaching new and wider audiences, through the creation of a marketplace dedicated to
emerging and innovative film distribution models, is launching a campaign on Indiegogo.
EIFF
is now inviting both its loyal supporters and contributors along with film fans everywhere to
be a part of this exciting new adventure. In order to make this event a reality, EIFF is aiming
to raise £15,000 of funding to go towards the creation of the first event and hopefully towards
the continuation of this event into the future.

DISTRIBUTION REWIRED is designed
to educate, support, and connect filmmakers with distributors, allowing filmmakers to learn
more about the diverse distribution models, and providing a more coherent overview of a
market which still lacks visibility and transparency.

The campaign will run for 45 days and the money raised will help towards the costs of
securing venues, covering travel and accommodation for invited guests and filmmakers, and
helping to build the profile of this activity to assist the event’s development in years to come.
EIFF will be contributing £10,000 of in-kind costs towards the overall activity.

Perks offered within the campaign include unique experiences at the Festival and exclusive
EIFF materials. Supporters could be treated as a filmmaker guest with our Opening Night VIP
experience or be invited to the annual festival Ceilidh and have a dance dedicated to them by
the band.   
They can bag themselves an EIFF branded bag or t-shirt which are usually only
available to festival delegates or guests. Also available will be one place for a filmmaker who
would like to take part with a feature project in this unique market.

Distribution Rewired will take place on 22/23 June 2015 within the overall programme offered
to industry delegates and filmmakers. The sessions will be dedicated to developing
communication and collaboration between filmmakers, audio-visual content creators and
new/emerging distribution methods. This space will provide attendees with direct access to
key representatives from a variety of companies informing them on diverse distribution
methods including self-distribution, direct distribution and mixed models which combine
conventional sales and distribution with direct distribution. The focal point of the event will 
be the physical marketplace where selected filmmakers can present their films to platforms,
aggregators and other related service providers with the aim of creating new and additional
avenues to screen and promote their films around the world. There will be an open call for
projects in the coming weeks.

The aim is to open up the conversation about how
films can reach their audiences in an evolving and ever shifting marketplace by exploiting
new methods and opportunities.

Mark Adams, the new EIFF Artistic Director said: “EIFF is dedicated to addressing the most
current and relevant events for attending filmmakers and industry professionals each year.
The world of distribution has changed massively in recent years and Distribution Rewired will
create a space that represents the importance of these changes whilst supporting filmmakers
in utilising the new models on offer”.

Miranda Fleming, Head of Film UK at Indiegogo said “Edinburgh has always been held with
much regard and fondness by Independent Filmmakers and Indiegogo is delighted that
Edinburgh International Film Festival has chosen Indiegogo to crowdfund urgent funds needed
to hold their new Distribution Rewired event at this year’s festival. It’s a crucial time for
filmmakers to attend an event like this and to learn about all the new opportunities in the
changing landscape of digital and online distribution. It’s time for film fans and Edinburgh
International Film Festival fans, under the new leadership of Mark Adams, to step up and
support this gem of a festival.

The 69th Edinburgh International Film Festival takes place from 17-28 June 2015.
Delegate registration for this year’s industry programme will open on Wednesday 08 April.
Full details can be found at www.edfilmfest.org.uk/industry/rewired

Campaign Link: http://igg.me/at/distributionrewired
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Cinderella ****

CINDERELLA

 

 

Run Time: 105 mins            Cert: U

Synopsis: Directed by Kenneth Branagh, the movie provides a live action twist on a classic fairytale.

Ella (Lily James) lives on an estate in a quiet kingdom with her parents. Following their deaths, she finds herself living with her stepmother Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett) and her two daughters. Although they treat Ella badly, she remembers her mother’s advice to always be kind and accepts her life until a chance meeting changes things.

Lily James is very pleasant to watch and makes the title character both likeable and interesting. She works well alongside Richard Madden, who plays the prince and they are quite believable as a couple. While Cate Blanchett is more attractive than previous incarnations of the wicked stepmother, her dialogue and facial expressions make Lady Tremaine both entertaining and deeply unlikeable.

The supporting cast also give strong performances, particularly Helena Bonham-Carter as a rather quirky fairy godmother and Stellan Skarsgard as the manipulative duke.

The film is nicely shot and makes good use of CGI. In particular, Lucifer looks very realistic and is a worthwhile addition to the movie. The  transformation scenes have also been well designed and look great on the big screen.

The costume designs used in the film are also impressive, with Cinderella’s blue dress in particular being both flattering and beautifully designed. While Anastasia and Drisella’s outfits are hideous, the designer deserves credit for the imagination used in creating them.

While this version does not really add anything new to the story, “Cinderella” is a very pleasant film that will appeal to viewers of all ages.

Reviewed by Lesley Logan