Three becomes four…..

So, on to my top three films from this year’s EIFF. Err, actually not quite, see those two South Korean action movies, Unstoppable and Extreme Job? They’re now my joint 3rd place, on reflection I did enjoy them more than The Mystery of Henri Pick, which is not to say it wasn’t enjoyable.

There’s plenty to like about Le mystère Henri Pick especially the TV literary critic character Jean-Michel Douche, pompous, self-important and arrogant, determined to prove to everyone that he knows better. See everyone else accepts that a manuscript found in the “library of rejected books” was written by one Henri Pick, a deceased pizza restaurant owner in Brittany, but Douche is convinced otherwise; having lost his job over comments made about the author he has time to investigate further and forms an uneasy alliance with Henri Pick’s daughter who has her niggling doubts that her father could have written a book. Together they unravel the mystery of who Henri Pick the author really is. An intriguing, lighthearted whodunnit that keeps one guessing til the end. Also, at the end there was a Q&A, yay! Interesting, and amusing  (to me anyway) that of the foreign directors I’ve seen at this year’s EIFF only the french guy has had an interpreter.

I have finally decided that I can’t decide which is my top film this year, so I’m having joint top films! Top End Wedding and Chippa are both too charming and wonderful to pick one over the other.

Top End Wedding is a great Aussie movie. Miranda Tapsell (I remembered her from The Sapphires) not only stars in it as Lauren, she co-wrote it too, so gorgeous, funny and clever! Her boyfriend Ned is played by Gwilym Lee (recently seen playing Brian May in Bohemian Rhapsody); Ned is an unhappy prosecutor, decides to quit his job and propose to his girlfriend. Lauren, just promoted at her job, says yes, but insists they get married in Darwin back where she’s from, her boss gives her ten days off to get it done. Road trip!

Up in Darwin it turns out Lauren’s mum has up and left her dad, who’s taken to shutting himself in the pantry and playing Chicago’s “If you leave me now” on a little cassette player (I guess you have to be a certain age to feel a glow of bittersweet nostalgia for that track and the gadget, whilst I did laugh I felt his pain too). Lauren won’t marry without her mum so calls off the wedding but only to Ned, Ned doesn’t mention this to anyone else, instead, yay, road trip to find mum! I reckon you can figure the rest, it is a romcom after all.

This film is playful and delightful, but also, as Lauren looks for her mum there are deep feelings and issues brought up that are quite touching, almost needed a tissue at times. The road trips were great for showing off Oz, it quite made me want to go back seeing all those places again, the redness of the Outback, Katherine Gorge, Kakadu National Park; oh yes, I visited them many years ago, I paddled my own canoe up Katherine Gorge, you know! I hadn’t heard of the Tiwi Islands before, but if I make it back to Oz I shall pop up, that’s truly Top End!

And last but definitely not the least is Chippa, an utterly charming film from India, set in the streets of Kolkata; Chippa is given a letter from his long-absent father on the eve of his 10th birthday,  unfortunately it is written in Urdu which he cannot read, so after yet another scolding from his great aunt who he lives with, he decides to set out to find someone who can read the letter to him. And so begins his adventure….

It really sets the tone for the nighttime escapade when Chippa sneaks on to the grass garden roof of a taxi and rides it like it’s a magic carpet carrying him through the night. Through the night he meets all kinds of fascinating characters, a taxi driver, a policeman, an old tea seller, a street football game, a band, a newspaper delivery man, oh and a loveable stray pup he befriends and calls Pippa. With each encounter he gets another perspective on life, but does he find out what the letter says? Not telling, but I will say on encountering the policeman again in the morning, he has decided to go home “because life has only just begun”. Almost another tissue moment there.

Chippa is played by the very talented and already charismatic Sunny Pawar, the kid will go far! He was previous in Lion which I didn’t see at the time but I may well now look up. Chippa is set in the area that Safdar Rahman, the writer and director is from, and it’s very clearly a love letter to his home and roots, even before he admitted it at the Q&A after the screening – and what a lovely, charming guy he is!

All in all, a pretty good EIFF this year. I do enjoy seeing so many varied films in just nine days and feeling the buzz around the Filmhouse. Definitely one of my annual highlights and another reason why Edinburgh is a great place to live!

Toodle pip!

 

 

Extreme fried chicken?!

No Bob, that wasn’t a drunk post, I was merely overtired and feeling ranty (my tablet wanted to change that to Randy, yes with the Capital, either way, I wasn’t). Unstoppable was a great action movie, fast-paced and didn’t take itself seriously.

Also from that neck of the woods was Extreme Job, another action film but with plenty comedy helping it along. The plotline was instantly recognisable and I have absolutely no problem with that – they did something really fun with it. Useless team, about to be disbanded, mocked by their fellows, last-ditch try, come out winners; blundering police narcotics team determined to prove themselves, realise the best way to keep surveillance on Mr Big is to take over the fried-chicken shop directly across from one of his “businesses”, becoming successful selling fried-chicken rather disrupts their plan, then, well, let’s say, karma plays a hand, and it all ends happily ever after, after some great fight scenes.

I love that what makes their takeover so successful is the recipe they use for the sticky chicken, which (if I remember correctly) is the nominated chef’s grandmother’s recipe for spare ribs, the only thing he knows how to cook. The looks as they contemplate putting a pork recipe to chicken! It tickles me that there are people who wouldn’t allow such a thing (there are you know, I’ve met them). Necessity once again the mother of invention! Oo, and I do like the idea, sounds very tasty.

From the tasty, to something you’d push around your plate with a fork while asking what exactly it is for the third time. Volcano looked intriguing from the programme blurb, “splendid black comedy” and “a gleeful sense of the absurd”; it was intriguing but as in I was never too sure what was going on. I dunno, I did sort of enjoy it, pondering, some beautiful cinematography, quite Kafkaesque; chap gets misplaced in the border region of Ukraine, is befriended by a local (with a lovely daughter!), tries hard to get back to civilisation without much success. Ah, yes, there was a Q&A after it, the director is more of a documentary maker apparently and like How to Fake a War they used a lot of locals in acting roles. Volcano‘s ending wasn’t with an eruption but a perplexing “I think I know what just happened, but don’t my word for it”. I think I would watch it again if it ever appeared on telly, just out of curiosity.

For those counting, you’ll know there are just three films left!

Toodle pip!

Last orders at the bar, please

It’s late, I should be sound asleep by now, but I’ve poured myself a glass of wine so it would be rude not to drink it. It’s  been a pleasant midweek evening, meal out, a few drinks, catching up with chums. Ah, how summer evenings should be.

I really should be asleep but I’m not. Liam Neeson, really don’t like him, I don’t know why, I just don’t! The voice of Aslan?! Really? That one thing spoilt the Narnia films for me – as a moose brought up on the Narnia books getting Aslan right was very important, they failed. And now Liam Neeson is the big boss of MIB in London? No, didn’t trust him one inch. A moose knows, you know.

Apart from Mr Neeson I did really enjoy the new MIB movie, Hemsworth and Thompson are on fine form together, loved Pawny and I recognised Kayvan Novak from What We Do In The Shadows ( tv show and film are both worth seeing).

Anyways, Liam Neeson, did Taken. The first South Korean film I saw at this year’s Film Festival was Unstoppable, directed by Kim Min-Ho, was very similar, but really fun; it was Taken but better, with humour. Mild-mannered fish vendor (no, not janitor) turns out to be someone not to be trifled with, at least, don’t try to kidnap his wife for your sex-trafficking business. Unstoppable has great comedy and action scenes in it. It does top Taken, sorry but tis so (in my humble opinion). And with that, I bid you,

Adieu.

 

Oh, those Spaniards

Aaaand that’s the Film Festival for another year. I did mean to get back to you before this, but what with work, late nights and a lurgy trying it’s best to lay me low since Thursday, well, you know.

Anyway, I was going to tell you about the Spanish films. Oh boy, to have these films in a section called Once Upon A Time In Spain sums them up, fantastic, surreal, dark tales (thankfully with comedy, very black, very odd comedy). I started with the daddy of them all, Acción mutante……

Wow. I had heard of it and picked up that The Last Circus was by the same director (a film I saw when it first showed at EIFF years ago that’s also in this retrospective), which was a good forewarning. Acción mutante was Alex de la Iglesia’s debut film and he went for it, bonkers, surreal, funny, grotesque, I think I need to see it again. In brief, a terrorist group (made up of disabled people) kidnap a wealthy heiress in the middle of her wedding, escape in their spaceship, crash land on a planet full of crazy sex-starved miners, set up a ransom drop in a bar; a lot of people die.

Bizarrely, the anti-hero of the piece, Ramon, really reminded me of Jason Statham (especially his reaction when the girl develops Stockholm Syndrome), which kinda added to the hilarity of it all. That and the fakest dead siamese twin head I’ve ever seen! (well, it’s the only one I’ve seen, but it makes Zaphod’s second head on the HHGTTG telly series look state of the art). Yes, I need to see it again.

Next Abracadabra, and joys, we got a Q&A with the director Pablo Berger afterward the screening. A woman’s boorish, thuggish husband is possessed by a ghost after taking part in a hypnotist act at a wedding reception. Antonio de la Torre (who was previously in The Last Circus) is excellent as the two men in one body with the ghost taking more and more control over it. His wife, with aid of her cousin, slowly figures out what is happening, but how to stop it? does she want to stop it? Since thinking about the wife’s actions, I’ve spotted a great solution that was overlooked, shan’t tell you what it is as it would give away too much. Mind, my solution wouldn’t have made for such a good ending.

My final Spanish adventure was Timecrimes on at a very late hour the evening the lurgy appeared; so did the plot get totally confusing at the end or was it me? No, I don’t reckon even the good Doctor could explain the last twenty minutes of Timecrimes, he’d just say it’s timey-wimey stuff. Simply, a man keeps going back through time, just within the same day, over and over and over again, in an attempt to sort things out – yeah, that was never gonna end well! Oh, and that man with all the plans is played by Karra Elejaide who appeared in Acción mutante; the director went on to make Colossal in 2016 with Anne Hathaway, I loved that film but seem to think that had unexplained wibbly bits too.

But did you actually enjoy the films, Brucie? Yes, I enjoyed Acción mutante and Abracadabra, erm, Timecrimes, I didn’t dislike it but if it was ever on telly I wouldn’t watch it. And the other two had great endings for me, I at least understood them!

But none of these have made my Top Three.

Next time, peeps.

 

In a darkened room …..

I’ve decided I should record Gotham and fill you in on how my Film Festival is going so far. So far it’s going well, I say well, this evening’s film didn’t really do much for me sadly. Bulbul Can Sing from India is a story about a teenage schoolgirl in rural India; it certainly showed teenagers are teenagers the world over. I did feel for Bulbul and wanted some happiness for her but towards the film seem to meander to a slow stop and I have no idea how Bulbul was feeling or coping at the end. Shame because I wanted to like it more, having said that it was a enlightening insight into a country, culture and life so different from my own, not wasted time by any means.

Back to Thursday evening and my first foray was to see Happier Times, Grumpy from Finland. (A quick pause to hum the old Python tune😊) Ah, that’s done. So, grumpy old man makes his own coffin, self-centred son plans to put him in a home, pregnant granddaughter runs away from her life to hide at grandad’s. There’s plenty more too it, plenty humour, though I wondered about the subtitles at times. I get that it may be a toss up between how much of a literal or colloquial translation is given; a different manner of speech may not make sense when truly translated but neither will it do the original line justice if it’s altered too much. I don’t think the subtitler of this film wanted to commit either way (that or it wasn’t a great script anyway – or again, that may be how they like it in Finland?!) Enjoyable? Yeah.

Bodies at Rest was set in a Hong Kong morgue on a very wet Christmas Eve. I went into the film not remembering any of the blurb in the programme, so on seeing the dark wet night, skeleton staff, morgue, jumpiness, I thought it was going to be a zombie movie (all those cadavers in body bags, fat man being autopsied, I was so convinced one was going to move) turned out to be an action movie. An entertaining action movie, plenty fighting, good comic moments, reasonable plot and a sweet pair to root for against the baddies. Oh wow, just noticed that the director is Renny Harlin of Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger and Cutthroat Island, among others (I am one of the few who loved Cutthroat Island).

Blimey Charlie, it’s rather late, better wrap it up. I shall tell you about my Spanish adventures next time, but I will mention How to Fake a War, an Irish/ Georgian production; rock star gets his PR to fake that a war is still ongoing so that his peace concert can look like it brought about peace between the warring nations. Yeah, some of the plot was really stretching things (like a lame Radio Four comedy) BUT the  Georgian parts and the two female leads were great. Katherine Parkinson was just marvellous (as usual) and Lily Newmark was a joy as her character became more feisty and inventive. And there was a Q&A afterwards with the director Rudolph Herzog and, omg, Katherine Parkinson (looking gorgeous) both very delightful and interesting.

Okay, so if you’ve read previous posts20190622_195852 you’ll know this film is just teetering on the edge of inclusion, but hey, I saw Katherine Parkinson 😆

I was too tongue-tied to speak to her, such a big fan, but being close enough to snap this pic was a thrill ❤

 

 

From Finland to France in 11 days

Yay! I have my film festival tickets, all thirteen. Oo, hope it won’t be unlucky, ummm. Only two are at the dreaded Vue and I’ll have to be sure to leave my ukulele class sharp to make one of my films (yes, I’ve just started ukulele lessons!) but apart from that all’s well.

From Finland to action in Hong Kong, to faking a war in Georgia, to singing school girls in India, a wedding in Australia (not that one), to more action in South Korea, a few trips in amongst to Spain, another tale from India, a surreal comedy from Ukraine before ending with a mystery in France. Phew!

And that’s takes me to the Saturday evening. On the final Sunday there’s the annual Best of the Fest, which is a selection of the best and most popular films of the festival for just £5 a ticket. So, if I spot something else, there’s always the chance it could be on then.

Ah, I’ve just remembered, umm, that unlucky thirteen. The Filmhouse seems to be having a few problems currently with heating and work being done to screen one….. No! I’m sure everything will be ticketyboo in time, yeah, I’m sure.

Toodle pip!

20190603_225241

Please crunch your popcorn quietly!

Hurray! The 2019 Edinburgh Film Festival programme came out on Wednesday and I’ve already sorted which films I want to see. I toodled along in the evening to grab my two copies – same procedure as Fringe planning, one to peruse and refer to, the other to cut out all potentials; then, as it wasn’t a huge diversion, I popped into the Jolly Judge for a couple of ciders and a quick flick through of this year’s offerings.

No showings at Cineworld this year, I take it that’s just because of the huge renovation works still going on there at the moment and not an end to their participation. I do hope so, fewer cinemas means a greater chance I’ll have to see something at Vue in the Omni centre. Huh? I don’t know why, I just really don’t like the Vue cinema at Omni. Yes, I have been in it, twice; it feels “wrong” to me, my fur bristles and I’m ill at ease, odd I know.

I’ve selected thirteen films to see, but this may have to whittle down to eleven. I can guess you’re thinking this will make a sizeable dent in my Fringe Fund, but probably not nearly as much as you’d think. Tickets are generally £12 for new films and £8 for the retrospect (this year it’s A Retrospective Celebration of Modern Spanish Cinema, yay), which is comparable with usual cinema prices; then, add in a discount for seeing more than six films (25% up to nine, then 35% above that) and it’s very reasonable. Those thirteen films will cost me £89.60, bargain! As usual, to be included in my selection, none of my choices are ever likely to be shown at Cineworld – I don’t pay to see films I can see with my unlimited card later.

So once I’ve picked out my choices I have to see if I can fit them round each other, this is the tricky bit! New films are shown twice, retrospects once, with everything crammed into seven weekday evenings and four chock full weekend days (there’s very little in the week day times), so many choices will collide with each other! You think you’ve solved this Krypton Factor puzzle, stroll up to the Box Office and discover one of your definite must-sees is already sold out for the showing you chose!! This can kick everything else, so carefully planned, into touch. As I book early nowadays this is unlikely to happen (he says, touching wood) but I always have my list in order of preference and my mapped out diary with me when I buy my tickets (like a good boy scout I’m always prepared).

Looking at my cutouts I’m quite happy with them, but if I have to let any go, ummm. Oo, one other thing I take into account is that first showings may have a Q&A with the director, the second showing won’t. I say that, though there was the exception of Likarion Wainaina after the second showing of his film Supa Modo last year, which was delightful and very insightful. I haven’t mentioned the names of my choices of films as I don’t want to jinx anything! The tickets went on sale to the masses today so I should get on. Toodle oo.

Just one more thing, those clever peeps at the EIFF have only gone and snaffled a showing of all six episodes together of the new tv adaptation of Good Omens!!! How glorious would that be to see!! Yeah, but those tickets will all be long gone (no doubt within an hour or two) and it was in Vue anyway. Ho hum.

Heroes and Baddies

Heroes need baddies to be heroes, they also need good lines and more than a little wit, in my humble opinion. Why have my thought wondered here? This week I’ve seen Hellboy, Captain Marvel (for the second time) and Shazam. Yes, I know there’s a new Avengers film out, the cinema was crawling with fans, I’ll savour the anticipation a bit longer, plus I wanted to hear Ben Mendelsohn’s antipodean drawl again.

First up, Hellboy, ummm. I do feel sorry for David Harbour, I mean, no matter how much he tried to make it his own, well, Ron Perlman, nuff said. But, if you can cast Big Ron out of your head then David Harbour was good, in an eighties movie way. This is an eighties movie – not brilliant, not as good as it could be, gory, clunky, but fine with popcorn! The soundtrack was fun (its always good to hear Welcome to My Nightmare) and Ian McShane seems to be everywhere these days, no bad thing. It’s no del Toro movie but it’s fun, just a tad clunky.

Next.

Shazam! Nope, still a moose. I do like Mark Strong and he does make a great baddie, but I prefer my baddies wittier than this, more sardonic, he did what he could with it. That aside, another fun popcorn movie with a lot of heart, Zachary Levi was great but the thing I will always remember about Shazam! is how much Billy Batson, played by Asher Angel looks like Arya Stark (Maisie Williams). Honestly, the resemblance is uncanny, I found it distracting at times.

And did you know…

I ❤ Brie Larson. She can be in my army (I’ll tell you about that another time), feisty, funny, fierce, my kinda gal. Yes I know how brilliant she was in Room, but I’d rather watch Free Fire again. And did you know Brie has directed a film? Unicorn Store (she produced, directed and starred in it) I saw it at the Edinburgh Film Festival, not a great film but I enjoyed it. If you check out reviews it didn’t go down well, on the other hand as one reviewer pointed out there were a lot of Brie haters over her Captain Marvel casting, so read with salt to hand! Hell, She got Samuel L Jackson to be in it!

And finally.

Captain Marvel rocks, and Jude Law as the baddie! Brits do made fine villains. Oops, err, spoiler alert?! Well, you should have seen it sooner! Personally I always find Jude Law’s characters on the dubious side, is he good at portraying ambiguously moral characters or is just the way he acts? Watching a second time yesterday it was good to see it knowing the truth, but I rooted for Talos on my first watch, quite clearly he was just misunderstood! Kinda like the Gorgonites in Small Soldiers (god, I love that movie). I could even see myself going a third time before it goes, yes, it really is that good (and a cracking soundtrack).

Now I shall go dig out my Beach Boys 40 Greatest Hits, first track, second side, second disc, I do believe….

Toodle pip!

EIFF 2018 done and dusted

The Edinburgh International Film Festival for 2018 is over and done with, but did Supa Modo stay at No1 or did another film nudge it to No2? Nah! Supa Modo is a thing of rare beauty; there’s so many friends that I think would love it, I do hope it gets a decent release, not just a few arthouse cinemas.

A close second place was homegrown Anna And The Apocalypse, a fun zombie-filled musical set at Christmas (so a December release in cinemas would be great!) Typical teenager, she heads out to school, music blasting in her ears, singing and dancing down the street totally oblivious to everything around her – including that half the neighbours are now zombies attacking the still human half! This film has great songs, teenage angst, lots of laughs, plenty gore and fun ways to kill zombies; and whilst the young’uns were all generally excellent, it was great to see Mark Benton as Anna’s father and Paul Kaye is in blisteringly good form as a tyrannical Headmaster!

Joint third place to Unicorn Store and Humor Me. Unicorn Store, well, it has unicorn in it’s title (automatic points for that alone 😊) and Brie Larson not only stars in it but it’s her directorial debut, directoring no less than Samuel L. Jackson as the Salesman at said Unicorn Store. This is an oddball of a film with just the right amount of quirkiness and some beautifully played surreal and absurd moments. My only niggle was some of Kit’s (Larson) millennial traits, hey, I’m an older generation, they bugged me, ok!

Humor Me (clearly American from the misspelling of humour)  was a very different kettle of fish with the excellent casting of Elliott Gould and Jemaine Clement as father and son, along with great support from the likes of Bebe Neuwirth and Annie Potts (she’s wonderful as Meemaw in Young Sheldon)This is a slow charming film about families, aging and Jewish jokes; it has a well-balanced bittersweetness.

Also seen was Flammable Children by director Stephan Elliott (He did Priscilla Queen of the Desert). I did really enjoy it, just not as much as the above films but probably 4th equal with Blood Fest. It did have Guy Pierce and Kylie Minogue looking like you’ve never seen them before!! It’s an autobiographical look on Stephan’s early film-making career – think The Goldbergs in 1970’s Australia. Ah yes, this had a great Q&A afterwards, we found out he has upset family and friends with it and his sister says the queue outside her bedroom was not that long!

So that’s the Film Festival wrapped up, tomorrow the CAMRA Scottish Real Ale Festival begins at the Corn Exchange here in Edinburgh. Besides an awful lot of beer there’ll be 30+ ciders and perries, heaven 😊

Well, that’s my Film of the Fest found!

Three days since my last post and three more films from around the globe: Mug from Poland, The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond Of Matches a French Canadian film and Supa Modo from Kenya. Sometimes my ‘not getting’ a film is possibly as much to do with a different cultural way of looking at the world, as a film being ‘too arty’ for my tastes (or being just crap). Mug was ok, a very slow and deliberate film, not sure about the ending. The Little Girl …. was ok to odd, at least the ending made sense in it’s bittersweetness.

Sunday afternoon when the sun was blazing outside I hid myself away in the underground warren of the Odeon to see Supa Modo, jackpot!!! This will be, without doubt, my Film of the Fest this year. It had humour, pathos, grief, family issues, hope, defiance and just how amazing people can be when they come together. Jo, her sister Mwix and mother were brilliantly written and portrayed. We could see how the mother only wanted to protect her terminally ill daughter but she couldn’t see it was too much, Mwix’s love and positivity for her little sister was heartwarming and Jo herself just wanted to be a superhero. Just a perfectly formed film, and we even got a Q&A afterwards, despite it being the second showing! Usually there’s only a Q&A with the first screening (if there is one at all) so I wasn’t expecting there to be one.

Some films you hurry out of to avoid the Q&A, some films you wish you’d avoided the Q&A, but 5☆ to this one, Likarion Wainaina the director came across so well, he was interesting, informative and pretty cool. It was the sort of Q&A that makes you want to watch the movie again to appreciate the insights you’ve picked up; hearing about the children’s ward he visited that made him rethink the storyline and how he went back afterwards to show the film to the children; how the filming affected the lives of the people in the community. Yep, besides Best Film I’ll give it Best Q&A too!

There’s more musings on Q&As on last year’s Bruce goes to the movies

Toodle pip!