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!

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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!

On the fringe of the light fantastic

As a young moose I loved Mary Poppins, I wanted her to take me on magical trips and dancing with penguins. A few evenings ago I fell in love with her all over again, what a gal! I for one thoroughly enjoyed Mary Poppins Returns, so much so, I intend to return to see it again before it leaves town. It’s  a snuggily warm blanket, so whimsical and quaintly British, with lots of little nods to the original, especially in the music with a few notes here and there from the earlier songs. All the cast were terrific, Emily Blunt is spot on as Poppins and Lin Manuel Miranda, well, I may have a bit of a crush on his smile!

And blimey Charlie – David Warner, Angela Lansbury and ol’ Dick too! Who says there’s no parts for old folks? And these are seriously old folk, I did the usual pastime of coming home from the cinema and spending the next hour or so on IMDB and the like checking out just how old they were, etc, and found out some rather interesting facts (well I thought so).

Most Interesting Fact I discovered, Beautiful Briny was actually originally intended for Mary Poppins but was cut, later to be used in Bedknobs and Broomsticks (another old favourite of mine). Angela Lansbury, of course, played the wonderful Eglantine Price; so great to see her again. She’s older that Dick Van Dyke by two months, a fine pair of nonagenarians!

How pleased was I to see David Warner playing Admiral Boom! On IMDB he’s listed as having 223 acting roles, okay so not all classics, but hey, there’s Star Trek, Twin Peaks, Babylon 5, The Omen, Time Bandits, Tron, The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse, and all manner of one-off appearances in tv shows. My college pals and I would always let out a cheer whenever he was spotted on screen, dunno how that started,  just one of those things!

And then there’s Binnacle, Admiral Boom’s man, he looked kind of familiar but I couldn’t place him. Apparently it’s one Jim Norton, first seen in The Face of Fu Manchu back in 1965 (a classic!). I spotted he was in an episode of The Adventures of Black Beauty (who remembers that from the 70s? Personally I preferred Follyfoot) in a long steady list of jobs that went Stateside in the 80s with L.A.Law, Cheers, Frasier, Star Trek Next Gen and even four episodes of Babylon 5! Ah, finally I found it, why he looked familiar – Father Ted’s Bishop Brennan! Of course!

Who’ll be the actors from today who’ll still be popping up in forty, fifty years time? Will this year’s crop of Fringers produce any future stalwarts of our screens?

Toodle pip!

 

The loveliest man on the Fringe

This award I would give to Aidan Goatley, he really is a lovely chap. I first saw him doing his show Ten Films With My Dad at the Voodoo Rooms in 2013. Since then there’s been The Joys of Retail, Mr Blue SkyThe Year of the Goat and this year’s Aidan Goatley is the Vicar’s Husband. Each year he has still also done Ten Films… which I love, it probably helps being a similar generation so the films are very much part of my own cultural references.

There was just one fairly obscure old black and white war film, with a young Thora Hird, that I didn’t know; I took a friend to see the show last year (any excuse to go back again) and she creased up in hysterics as she immediately recognised the film because of the young Thora Hird. On thinking, that same friend also almost ended herself at Year of the Goat when Aidan was slagging off his wife’s hometown, it only turned out to my friend’s hometown too! (she did agree with him)

You will have never seen a rant ranted as politely and so Britishly as Aidan Goatley rants, and I do find myself nodding and in fits of giggling agreement, for example, “street food” – if it’s indoors how can it be “street food”??! Totally with him on that one, a little favourite rant of my own in the last year or two. Oo, and Avatar, don’t get me started!! It’s wonderful to hear someone able to put voice to my own rants with so much eloquence.

I went to see this year’s new show The Vicar’s Husband  at Sweet Grassmarket and thoroughly enjoyed it, and not just because it’s in an air-conditioned room! That, of course, is a bonus, but on the other hand Ciao Roma did have the most sumptious ice cream to aid cooling. This year Aidan is also doing a few Ten Films … as podcasts with a different guest each time to chat about films, but sadly it’s also the last year he’s going to do Ten Films… So for one night only he’s doing Ten Films With You Pricks a look back at some of the horror stories of his time performing it. I have kinda mapped out my last few days of Fringe but, oo, I may have to work some jiggery-pokery to fit it in.

So if you happen to read this in Edinburgh before 25th August 2018, you still have a chance to see one of my favourite ever shows!

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