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!

 

Late night at the Film Festival

Edinburgh nights in early summer are great, there’s always still that faint bit of light in the sky. It always takes me back to my college days, tipsyly walking back to my digs in Portobello after another night carousing at Grindlay Street Union. It was one such balmy night at one o’clock this morning as I left the Filmhouse, hence the photo!

First off after work I saw The Devil Outside, not horror but  disturbing and it left me with a sense of unease afterwards. An okay film but the ending was somewhat “huh!?!?” and by the end I felt it could have worked better as a tv series to really develop the characters.

Had a simple tea of mushrooms in cream on toast followed by a G&T to wash it down; strange, I don’t like cream per se, no cream cakes or trifle for me, but in recent years I find myself enjoying it in sauces like a little wicked decadence! At nearly eleven o’clock I headed out into the night.

Friday night in the old town has all manner of creatures out roaming. The Cowgate and Grassmarket will already be spawning debaucherous hordes. Spot the hapless family of tourists heading back to their hotel, anxiously trying not to make any eye contact. Despite the Cowgate being closed off to traffic after 10pm there’s always an odd car goes through, maybe a taxi and of course there’s always the pedicabs zooming about (my tablet just tried to turn pedicabs into pelicans, just as well I spotted that 😂!)

I made it to the Filmhouse in plenty of time to grab a drink from the bar to take into the Film. Blood Fest had attracted quite a crowd, and yes, being horror, there was Bob a few rows in front. Bob was a friend of a friend some years ago, I know who he is but he doesn’t know me, at least I don’t think he remembers me. I always see Bob at least once during every Film Festival, it’s a natural law it seems. Blood Fest was great fun, tongue-in-cheek, using all the cliched rules of the horror genre – think The Cabin in the Woods with added cheese!

By 1am on a weekend morning the Grassmarket/Cowgate route is not unlike a horror movie set, so I opted to head home via the Royal Mile. Interesting, another film being shot there by the City Chambers in the wee small hours, I wonder what this one will be. Will it appear at a future EIFF? Hmmm.

Toodle pip!

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On the fringe of St Valentine’s Day

Well I’ve had quite an interesting day, one that reminded me how cheerful and cheery life can be. I’m currently having my lounge decorated (I did strip it myself but the ceiling is quite high for a moose to do a decent job of papering and painting) and this morning I also had an electrician in to replace my old fuse box with a new flickswitch one; a decent chap, he observed that it must be busy in my neighbourhood during the Fringe, ahha a fellow fringer? Indeed, how nice to have an unexpected chat with another enthusiast.

The decorating is coming along nicely and though the telly had to come off the wall for it, I managed to reattach its table stand so each evening I’ve kept up with Babylon 5, just as well, it’s just got to the Whatever Happened to Babylon 4? bit, how great was that tonight? Ok, you’re probably wondering why I don’t just record it all then binge, well, I quite like the old-fashioned way of watching a programme when it’s on and looking forward to the next episode.

And on old-fashioned, I took myself off to the cinema late afternoon to see Early Man, the latest Nick Park creation, another quintessentially British feelgood, hurrah for the plucky underdog, movie. Yes, okay so it’s not on a par with the Wallace and Gromit films, but that’s a very steep peak to scale and they have the advantage of the Pedestal of Nostalgia. I did notice myself making the comparison in the first ten minutes but then, sometime later I realised I’d been well and truly sucked in by it’s humour; the characters all brilliantly voiced, including Hognob (by Nick Park!), a very dog-like wild boar; and a wonderfully daft storyline, but you think back to the Ealing Comedy plotlines, they didn’t much let commonsense stand in the way of a bit of fun! It’s not a film of great belly laughs, but you will chuckle, smile, nod in recognition, guffaw in surprise and leave with a warm, fussy glow – useful in these baltic temperatures just now.

Indeed, even mid afternoon in the bright sunlight it was a cold day. I had plenty of time so took a long detour to the cinema round the redeveloped canal basin area. I rather quite like what they’ve done there, which is not how I often feel about modern developments in Edinburgh!

Well, its now rather late and I am back in work tomorrow, so I’ll bid you good night and sweet dreams,

💘 Bruce x

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Paddington: The Fringe Show.

I just went back to see Paddington 2 for a second time, almost seven weeks after I first went to see it – I guess it’s a success, not many films stay on the big screen that long these days. Once back home I did that thing folk like to do these days, looked up the film on IMDb to see who’s done what where. But what! What! Tim Fitzhigham and Dan Antopolski were both in it and I missed them? Oh, and Cal McCrystal had a cameo besides being the Physical Comedy Consultant. FYI all Fringe favourites of mine.

Justin Edwards and Richard Ayoade were also in it, didn’t miss them, well it would be hard not to spot Richard Ayoade, who, incidentally, was being directed by Paul King (director of both Paddington films) in Garth Marenghi’s Netherhead the first time I saw him at the Fringe many years ago! One last tentative Fringe connection Tom Conti, well, I’ve seen him in town in August – up to see Nina?

In fact the first evening I saw Paddington 2, I saw Justin Edwards twice as he also had a part in The Death of Stalin (oh yes, two films in one evening with a trip to Nando’s sandwiched between them, well, I do have an unlimited viewings card). At the Fringe Justin Edwards had a magnificent creation the children’s entertainer Jeremy Lion, possibly one of my Desert Island Fringe Shows! More on him another time.

It is great when I see folk who I’ve seen in small, sweaty venues on the big screen, guess it reflects how long I’ve been fringing. Both Paddington films are excellent, having all the elements in the right proportions to make cinematic classics, and they came from a guy who first directed at the Fringe. What an inspiration! Crikey, I’ll be singing Circle Of Life next!

Next film I’ll go see may well be Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri by Martin McDonagh, who also wrote the bloodiest play I’ve ever seen, or will probably ever see again, at the Fringe,  The Lieutenant Of Inishmore. See another Fringe connection!

 

 

Inconceivable!

Nah, it’s not really that inconceivable that I haven’t posted for a month, not if you know me – life, huh; but what is inconceivable is the sheer brilliance of The Princess Bride on the big screen, oh I’ve watched it many times, but tonight I saw it in my local cinema for it’s 30th anniversary outing. Wow! Awesome!

It was almost sold out, you could feel the love in the air, the anticipation of favourite lines, THAT sword fight! Memories of first renting the video from Blockbuster so many years ago, Peter Cook exclaiming “Mah-widge!”, the Albino rasping, “You are in the Pit of Despair” to then clear his throat and say it again, oh how we howled with laughter realising it was Mel Smith, but none of us guessed Billy Crystal, though now he doesn’t look that different from Miracle Max. Whatever happened to Fred Savage? (loved The Wonder Years) and the wonderful Peter Falk, perfect as the Grandfather.

This was an “all round to mine for lasagne with plenty of wine” film, my lasagne was rather a hit. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure was another that we discovered in the video store, both became cult classics. I do remember a chum who was a fencing coach waxing lyrical about the swordfight (then he would always go on to the sword fight on ice in one of the Musketeer films – the Michael York et al ones) pointing out what made it so brilliant, usually rewinding it to watch again.

There’s wit and humour, derring-do and pathos, drama and slapstick, and one of my favourite lines ever….

“Hallo, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die!”

💛

 

Never babysit an anxious hound.

Really, don’t! Even in the night I’d be disturbed by my door opening as he checked I was still there. So no fringe shows, just walking and more walking. We did take a brief trip down to Portobello beach for a run on the sand followed by coffee at Miro’s on the Esplanade, ok, so we had cake too. Damn fine coffee, friendly table service, scrumptious sticky toffee cake, just a shame pooch wasn’t one for chilling and watching the world go by. Thankfully he went home this morning, yay.

So from paranoid pooches to good bears – I much prefer a Goodbear! Goodbear are a comedy duo, Henry Perryment and Joe Barnes who are now finely tuned to tweaking funny bones. This is the third year I’ve seen them at the Fringe and they just get better and better. This year the Apres Vie Hotel is the setting for their strange, often rather creepy, creations in sketches which twist in the most unexpected ways. It’s the twists that they do so well and they’re so charming too. I predict great things for both of them.

Also back was Aidan Goatley doing an updated version of his 2013 show Ten Films With My Dad, which was a free show at the Voodoo Rooms, next he moved to the room downstairs at Ciao Roma. TOP TIP – buy some of their icecream if you’re going to a show at Ciao Roma because i) it’s bloody roasting down there, and ii) it’s sooo good, I would recommend a scope of the sea buckthorn with a scope of the mango, heaven in a tub!

Last year Aidan moved on to the paying Fringe, which was ironic as I bought a ticket at the Half Price Hut for £4 – I always give a fiver at free fringe shows! He is an hour of joy and amusement at life’s foibles, there is an occasional slight rant, like last year’s about “street food” on which I am in total agreement with him. This year’s rant was about Avatar and again I find myself supporting his stance, quite obviously a man of intellect and taste. Highlight was his telling of going to Chicago with his Dad, with his synopsis of Escape to Victory a close second. He’s finished his Fringe run for this year, worth remembering his name for next year.

Let’s make this a trio of rib ticklers and mention Sleeping Trees, who have moved to Pleasance Dome this year, once again at the Movies: Mafia, Western and Sci-fi. The live score is superb and adds so much to the show. The physical and verbal comedy of these chaps is outstanding with some surrealism thrown in for good measure. They’re also doing Sleeping Trees and the Chocolate Factory again at the Pleasance Courtyard on Friday and Saturday evenings, it’s not in the Fringe Programme so almost feels like a cosy secret for the fans. Which reminds me I really should get a ticket!

 

Bruce goes to the movies II

So that’s another film festival done and dusted. I was pretty pleased with my choices, two retro, two Russian sci-fi, an Aussie musical, vampires in Hong Kong and crime in Japan and Taiwan, fairly global. EMO the Musical was a delight with it’s typical brusque Aussie humour and biting wit (think Tim Minchin), there’s something wrong if it doesn’t get at least a limited release here.

The two Russian films were subtitled but I think both Attraction and Guardians had dubbed versions. Guardians is superheroes Russian style, which is fairly cheesy but lots of fun with some pretty good special effects. Attraction was much the superior film for me, though I’m not sure the heroine would have been so inclined to help the alien if he hadn’t been such a hunk.

The Mole Song – Hong Kong Capriccio from Japan was my final film today and a fine finale it was. So colourful, crazy and full-on following the exploits of an undercover cop involved with a Yakuza boss and his teenage daughter.

My best film though has to be Time Bandits this afternoon. Daft, dark and utterly brilliant.

Bruce goes to the movies

It’s time once again for the Edinburgh International Film Festival, not that most people here notice it. Really, it doesn’t seem impinge on the consciousness of the Edinburgh public at all. I mention I’m going to see some films at the Festival and it’s “Oh has it come round again? Doesn’t seem like a year”.

Up until 2007 it was on in August, so colliding with the Fringe and International Festivals, as if the town wasn’t busy enough! It was usually over the last ten days of the Fringe, as we wised up to this we started waiting until the Film Festival programme came out before booking ourselves up and missing out on good films. Yeah, my Fringe buddy shared my love of films too and between us we could get the discount deals.

It’s good to go to screening where there’s a Q&A afterwards, even if the film turns out to be awful or dull, in fact that can be more fun watching the Festival guy trying to enthuse about the film with it’s director. Probably one of the most interesting Q&As was with Paul Schrader in 2005 after a showing of Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist. This was his original prequel to The Exorcist before the studio decided to completely refilm it. Was he bitter? Not half! But he did have a great story to tell and he suggested we, if we hadn’t already, should watch the other version. Oo, we did, yikes!! It truly was awful and not just in comparison with Mr Schrader’s work, which, incidentally we thoroughly enjoyed.

That same year we saw the premiere of Tsotsi by Gavin Hood. What attracted us to it? Our keen sense of things to try was as honed for films as for stage shows, wow, it was a wonderful film and we came back again and again to Tsotsi’s fate after the final scene. Watch it and decide for yourself.

2006 saw the first cinematic outing for the Treadaway twins, Harry and Luke, in Brothers of the Head. I spotted this one as a few years before I’d bought a battered old copy of the book, written by Brian Aldiss, at the Meadows Fair. This was a very disturbing tale of siamese twins (with a third dormant head) with exploitation, rock stardom, jealously and rage. The third head doesn’t appear in the film version (I’m pretty sure), there was probably enough to do without that complication.

After the oddity of Brothers the following night was Clerks II by the great Kevin Smith, not the first showing, those tickets would have gone in a trice, but there still a huge buzz to be seeing it.

Mind, the biggest buzz of all my film festivals was the world premiere of Serenity, we queued quite some time for it, all the main cast were there and Joss Whedon, all very happy to meet the fans and not only at the premiere but all the additional screenings,  we saw Adam Baldwin at the fourth! Yeah, so I’m a Whedon fan.

This year? Saw Vampire Cleanup Department late last night, it has the cutest vampire ever and also probably the funniest way for vampires to get about that you’ll ever see. I have my ticket for Repo Man and another bit of nostalgia, not seen on the big screen before, Time Bandits. I do like a good festival.

 

One sleep to go

Where has the time gone already? Tomorrow the full Edinburgh Fringe Programme for 2017 is released. Ooo, I’m looking forward to hours of trawling through it, really it is fun.

I’ve just been going through the Edinburgh Film Festival programme but not a lot is leaping out at me so far. As I save all my spare pennies for the Fringe I don’t have a lot to spend on the Film Festival, and if you think cinema is pricey generally, Film Festival prices are higher still, though the difference is not as much as it was a few years ago. I do like going to the cinema and have an unlimited card for a nearby multiplex, so any film that will get a general release later is not worth paying to see (with some noteable exceptions like Hunt for the Wilder People and Serenity). Then there are the films that will obviously make it back to the local arthouse cinemas, also usually discarded.

The one film that I do intend to go see so far, is in one of the retrospective selections, Repo Man from 1984 directed by Alex Cox, haven’t seen it in the cinema but had it for years on video recorded from moviedrome on BBC2 with an intro from Cox himself. Man, that is one odd film, but like anything with the great Harry Dean Stanton in it, well worth watching.