Is it just me?

I’ve never seen June go so fast before! Is she speeding up or is Corona slowing time down so June just looks to be sprinting away? It’s Friday evening again, last Sunday I was brimming with ideas and good intentions for this week – I’ve got a lot of cramming to do before Sunday bedtime. Umm, can I blame my lack of impetus (aka bone idleness) on the current situation or am I actually this crap but just never noticed before?

Of course, any other year the full Fringe programme would have come out in the last week or so, I should be poring over it page by page, marking up potentials, big squiggles in the top outer corner of any page of note. Any other year I’d be looking forward to the Film Festival imminently starting, if it hadn’t already. Oo, he says after a quick dive into his files, ten years ago today I saw two films in Filmhouse One, The People vs George Lucas (primarily Bud’s choice as a big Star Wars fan), then just time for a quick pee before going back in for Monsters. 

Yeah, having a big Star Wars fan for a friend, I was well aware that many fans were feeling rather disillusioned by Mr Lucas (that was more than a few nights in the pub I can tell you!) Luckily for me, it was a smart, entertaining documentary (so it was a tad one-sided but these were passionate long time fans), enjoyable and thought-provoking (more pub chat!) even for the ambivalent.

Quick aside, Buffy has just come on the telly – it’s the first appearance of Spike and Drusilla!! Oh yay! And on that note….

Monsters but this time of the sci-fi genre. The film is obviously low budget but just how low was not appreciated until the Q&A afterwards, one of the best Q&As I’ve ever been at. Gareth Edwards, the director, writer, cinematographer, production designer and visual effects guy, came across really well with plenty great stories about the making of it; it was filmed in just three weeks in some pretty scary places, often without permission, using any locals hanging around who were willing to be extras. Edwards then spent months in his bedroom on his computer creating all the visual effects using just Adobe software. It all paid off – in 2011 Gareth Edwards was announced as the director of the new Godzilla film.

I saw ten films at the EIFF in 2010, Boy by Taika Waititi being my favourite followed by Monsters, then in third place Evil – in the Time of Heroes a Greek zombie horror film (yup, really!). One of my ticket stubs bears a film title that I have no recollection of whatsoever, nope, nothing.

And back to 2020, where the EIFF and Curzon Home Cinema have come up with #EdFilmFestAtHome, an online festival of cinema. It will run from 24th June until 5th July, there’ll be a new film each day (which then shows for between two and twelve days). I have had a quick look at this year’s selection but nothing stands out on first glance. Mind you, in a full year I may not find many films I wish to see, so I wasn’t really expecting my types to make the cut in such a slimmed down affair. I’m glad that something has been worked out, there’s even going to be live online Q&A after at least one of the films! Modern technology, eh!

Night all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

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!

 

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.