EIFF 2008 running scores
There's still a lot of reviews to be written up from the list of films I watched at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, and a few that have already been done, so I thought I would give you a round up of the films reviewed to date, and some initial thoughts of the films I've yet to review.
I know that there are a few people keen to know what I thought of some of them, so this might keep you appeased in the meantime. There are also my initial comments on Wanted.
The Wave (Die Welle) on Thursday 26 June 2008
The Wave is a superb film and builds tension throughout to a superb conclusion. Although it does race a little, the idea and the execution is superb and it drags you along for the ride.
Elegy on Tuesday 24 June 2008
Stunning film, and for me I think this has been the best of the festival this year, so far that is, I have a few more reviews to go! Superb and subtle performances from all those involved and excellent scripting throughout.
Time Crimes (Los Cronocrímenes) on Wednesday 18 June 2008
Very imaginative film that takes such a huge idea and focuses on a small situation with only a few actors. When I did think about it I found flaws, but watching it you were captivated by what was going to happen next.
Red on Thursday 26 June 2008
You know I am considering pumping this up to five stars because it is such a strong film. A superb performance from Brian Cox in a small film about a man seeking some peace of mind for the wrongs he's been dealt and at the same time trying to save a boy from himself. Brilliant story and brilliant script. It may be promoted yet.
To See if I'm Smiling (Lirot Im Ani Mehayechet) on Monday 23 June 2008
This was a harrowing documentary about female soldiers and their time served in the Israeli Defense Force. Forget the country, the sex, all your preconceptions. This turns out to be how people are affected by serving in any type of battle or war, and it packs a punch.
Donkey Punch on Saturday 21 June 2008
One of the best British horror films for some time and there's no huge comedy element. It does struggle a little later on when it goes to the absurd, but for the most part it's great, and with a strong young cast too.
Unknown musical comedy short on Tuesday 17 June 2008
I still can't remember the name of this short film, but it was comedy gold. The satire was close to breaking point and a couple of moments caused a huge intake of breath followed by a big laugh. A film about an old man chatting up a young girl online for some nefarious purpose isn't supposed to be this good. Oh, and it was the first film of the festival.
Máncora on Tuesday 24 June 2008
An enjoyable road trip film that has some interesting and engaging characters and relationships.
The Kreutzer Sonata on Sunday 22 June 2008
A very interesting film which follows a relationship between two people and how jealousy can corrupt and destroy. Great performance from Danny Huston and a very strong script.
The Appeared (Aparecidos) on Thursday 19 June 2008
An interesting horror/thriller that had some great moments, but I did feel as though it was trying to be and do too many things. Still there are some good moments and still gets the heart racing.
In the City of Sylvia (En la ciudad de Sylvia) on Thursday 19 June 2008
Sorry, but this was dreadful, self indulgent and painful. There was perhaps one scene which showed some promising scripting, but otherwise it was a struggle to get through.
Blood Car on Wednesday 18 June 2008
An interesting idea that was poorly handled and executed.
I was really impressed by this little thriller that concentrates on the characters and delivers some really interesting ones and a good final insightful message. Strong performances all round and Pierce Brosnan really is done with his Bond past. Chris Cooper and Rachel McAdams are excellent and the performances really seem heartfelt.
I might be rating this a bit over highly for some, I know the performances are all from newcomers, but some of them are showing some strong promise and what is best here is how the film portrays the problems of muslims immigrants within Britain, and in particular Scotland. It does an amazing job of bringing the two worlds together rather than presenting a view of the muslim world in Britain. Plenty of laughs too.
Oh dear. I'm really wondering if I'll give this one star, it was terrible. Poor script, stock moments, oh it was bad. What it actually felt like was a film that was pampering to the Hollywood versions of Asian horror. It was dumb, overly explained, and then at times not explained at all.
Death Defying Acts
An interesting idea about Houdini and his brief visit to Edinburgh to try and discover someone who really could hear messages from the dead. It's interesting, but when it opens with McTavish's theatre and really shows a terrible tourist type Scotland, I struggled. It never really inspired or pulled me in, the only really interesting characters were Houdini by Guy Pearce and Timothy Spall, the mother and daughter just weren't likeable.
Standard Operating Procedure
Not as strong as previous documentaries from Errol Morris, and I do not say that because of the content and the material, so don't start shouting about my views on the war. I think the documentary fails to make any point about it all, and while it portrays the terrible events well and shows those involved in an interesting and ambiguous light, it does struggle with showing what the point is, other than these people were blamed for something that the government and army leaders should have been.
Elite Squad (Tropa de Elite)
A very strong and critical view of the police force in Rio de Janeiro, and in particular the methods that the elite force have to employ to keep some form of law and order between the police and the drug gangs. It's a terrible view of life and law there, but a very entertaining one too.
Oh dear, another stinker. This film was terrible. It failed to maintain any sort of suspense or terror on the creature, and it became quite laughable. It also tried too many styles, and there was absolutely no feeling of terror.
Wow, Tarsem Singh delivers another visually gorgeous film, and this one has more engaging characters than The Cell. The girl Alexandria is gorgeous and gives a wonderful natural performance. You really do fall in love with her, and so as the story plays out you're so emotionally engaged with her the story has even more impact. Beautiful closing scenes that really do tug at the heart strings.
Well I was disappointed by this film, sure it is a strong thriller and has some great visuals of the train racing through the snow, and some interesting twists, but some early flaws really bugged me and took me right out of the film. There's a moment where the leading lady is trying to dump something and sees an open bin at the train station, she heads over to it and someone closes the lid. You see the panic on her face as she looks around her and realises that she has to find somewhere else...what? Just because the lid was shut?! There were many moments like this where I wondered why they just didn't get rid of the item in question. However the rest of the film is pretty exciting.
While everyone seems to be raving about how strong this is and it's Pixar's best to date, I feel it's one of their weakest. It's less adult and more child friendly, cut past the space and robot theme and the story has been seen before, and then there's the moral which has the subtlety of a wet brick. You can easily see what I mean if you watch the short beforehand and concentrate on how you felt watching that, then think about WALL-E afterwards. The short is pure Pixar, the film is more Disney.
I was very surprised by this film. Having read the comic books and realising just how far the film differed, I was concerned this was going to hit Hollywood fare and taht Timur Bekmambetov was going to be converted. However I was wrong. This is a great thrill ride with some unique stunts that don't rely wholly on the Watch films. There are also some exciting plot turns, and ones that genuinely had me surprised. I enjoyed it, and I can see another film coming very soon.
So that's where I am so far, enjoy the little update and look forward to a bunch of reviews tomorrow - today and tonight is some well deserved time off for me. Full reviews will follow.