Filmstalker's recommendations for the EIFF 2010
The Edinburgh International Film Festival 2010 has arrived and I've had a thorough, two night review of all the films on offer, and I've created my wish list of what to see.
As usual I'm going to share it with you, and if I can see all the films I want to, you're going to see a great deal of them reviewed right here. First though, let me tell you what the best films of the Festival are so you can either go and get tickets for them or disagree!
I picked out all the films from the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2010 that I thought were worth a look, and as always to fit them into my schedule (because remember Filmstalker is just me, I'm not a group blog) by prioritising them. So first I'll go through all the number one's in detail, and then you'll see a quick list of the two's, while I'll hold back on all those number three's.
Now here's the list!
22 Bullets (L'Immortel)
EIFF Details: Cineworld 3: 19/06/2010 21:10, 20/06/2010 18:20
Jean Reno. That's a good opener. Now have him playing a retired mobster who is gunned down one night, left for dead with twenty-two bullets inside of him by people who were once his friends. When he recovers there's one thing on his mind, revenge, and that's what I want to be on his mind. Richard Berry co-adapted and directed the novel from Franz-Olivier Giesbert, and with Reno on the revenge path, there couldn't be anything better.
Charly Matteï has turned a new leaf on his past as an outlaw. Since three years he's living a comfortable life and devoting himself to his wife and two kids. However, one winter morning, he's left for dead in the underground parking of Marseille's Old Port with 22 bullets in his body. Against all odds, he will not die.
Cherry Tree Lane
EIFF Details: Cameo 1: 21/06/2010 19:45, 25/06/2010 20:35
The thing that caught me first for this film was the image on the EIFF site. That sets everything up straight away. A gagged man on the floor with a bloody face and a black eye, and a an axe stuck in the floor next to his head. The writer/director who has delivered London to Brighton, The Cottage and The Children, is staying with horror for this film and writes and directs again and with a recognisable cast.
The IMDB blurb has a one-line so here's the EIFF blurb:
Prosperous professional couple Mike and Christine are settling in for a standard evening of wine, TV and low-level marital hostility when a ring on their doorbell changes everything. Turns out their son Sebastian is in a little trouble with some local boys, who are quite prepared to camp out and wait for him to get home... The resulting culture-clash chamber drama is raw, revealing and nerve-splittingly tense.
EIFF Details: Cineworld 7: 25/06/2010 18:30, Cineworld 2: 26/06/2010 17:30
Back when I first caught site of the trailer Robert Duvall, Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek caught my eye to begin with, but it was the trailer that pulled me out through the other end and the performances.
To be honest the IMDB blurb does little to praise the film, neither does the EIFF one. It tells the story of a man who has lived as a hermit for the latter part of his life who has decided to have a very public funeral while he's still alive. The idea is that everyone is invited who can step up and tell a story about him, and the twist? He's got his own story to tell at the end of it all.
The story possibilities are exciting, and the fact that I really don't know how it's going to play out has me even more caught up in it. Plus the trailer does look gorgeous.
A movie spun out of equal parts folk tale, fable and real-life legend about the mysterious, 1930s Tennessee hermit who famously threw his own rollicking funeral party... while he was still alive.
Jackboots On Whitehall
EIFF Details: Cineworld 10: 20/06/2010 15:30, 25/06/2010 17:45
I heard about this film way back in 2006 and was excited, then the blurb sold it as a stop animation film about a change in history, when the Nazi's occupied England and the resistance formed in Scotland and fought from there. It sounded superb, then the cast started to be announced with Ewan McGregor, Rosamund Pike, Richard E. Grant, Timothy Spall, Tom Wilkinson, Alan Cumming, Dominic West, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Richard Griffiths, Richard O'Brien, Pam Ferris, Neil Newbon, Tobias Menzies, Stephen Merchant, and my fingers are getting sore.
A great cast that sees a similar story to that told back in 2006, and with the trailer just coming out it's reinforced my idea that the film is set to be superb. The animation is done with action men type figures and some hilarious scripting from the co-writers and co-directors Edward McHenry and Rory McHenry.
A satirical alternative history of World War II where the Nazis seize London and England must band together to prevent a full on invasion.
EIFF Details: Cineworld 7: 22/06/2010 19:00, Cineworld 10: 24/06/2010 20:45
First up there's a huge disappointment and a slight concern that there's no press screening for this film, perhaps it's just an oversight for the first release of the press screening list, or perhaps it's something more. When there's no press screening for a film being released then everyone gets concerned, it usually means that the film's not good and the studio don't want it seen and it's borne out through the comments after release.
However this film has everything going for it so I just can't see that's the case. Rhys Ifans, Chloë Sevigny, David Thewlis to name just the top three, but there's a ton of other talent involved in the film that tells the story of Howard Marks, adapted from his autobiography.
It's from Bernard Rose, which means ups and downs for me, thinking the lows of Snuff-Movie (Filmstalker review) and then the higher bits The Kreutzer Sonata (Filmstalker review), but then there's the trailer which will have you laughing, and the subject matter. This could be a winner.
The IMDB blurb is short and sweet, so I've turned to the EIFF blurb:
An Oxford physics graduate from the Welsh Valleys who became a drug-runner, dope aficionado, celebrated author and sometime spy, Marks here becomes the engaging antihero of a rollicking cinematic ride, based on his own hit autobiography.
EIFF Details: Cameo 1: 19/06/2010 22:30, 23/06/2010 22:45
Colm McCarthy has directed a lot of television before this point, and in Outcast he's got some strong talent in front of his camera including James Nesbitt and James Cosmo. The film sounds rather interesting and it just might be a cut above the standard horror. If it's got Nesbitt in something other than a romantic comedy then I'm interested.
It tells the tale of Petronella (a Scottish/Romany girl) and Fergal (her mysterious Irish traveller boyfriend). As their doomed relationship plays out, a Beast stalks the estate, killing locals, working its way towards our protagonists. Meanwhile Cathal and Liam, two mysterious travellers from Ireland use ritual and magic on a blood hunt. Mary, Fergal's mother performs ritual and magic of her own. As Cathal comes face to face with Mary in a vicious finale we know one thing: the Beast must die.
EIFF Details: Cineworld 2: 25/06/2010 17:50
Trailer: Apple Trailers
I'm a sucker for documentaries that educate, engage and open your eyes to something that you never knew or had seen before. Some of my favourite films are documentaries that have moved me beyond words or shocked me to the core with things I never realised. Documentaries have the power to cut through to the truth that we rarely see these days, especially in the cinematic news that we have these days.
So when I read that this was perhaps the documentary with the most access to soldiers in the front line I had to add it to the list for we rarely understand what it's really like for the soldiers and what actually happens on the front line. Here is a rare chance to do just that.
Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington's year dug in with the Second Platoon in one of Afghanistan's most strategically crucial valleys reveals extraordinary insight into the surreal combination of back breaking labor, deadly firefights, and camaraderie as the soldiers painfully push back the Taliban.
EIFF Details: Cineworld 7: 20/06/2010 20:00, Cineworld 10: 21/06/2010 19:00
Trailer: Filmstalker and Filmstalker
I had thought that the EIFF this year was going to be a lot more Hollywood, and there are certainly a few more bigger films than normal but it's far from that, and I'm glad. At the same time they've selected some great films from the bigger end of the market, including The Runaways. This is the story of the first all-girl rock band who were hugely successful. Started as a bit of gimmick with a young teenage line-up, manipulated by their manager, suffering all the usual issues associated with a rock band shooting to meteoric fame, they fall apart.
It's based on the book by Cherie Currie, the first woman to leave the band in 1977 when her personal life falls apart, and there's some clever casting with Kristen Stewart playing Joan Jett, Dakota Fanning playing Cherie Currie, and the superb Michael Shannon playing the controlling manager.
The Runaways (Neon Angels) is based on lead-singer Cherie Currie's book 'Neon Angel' - a reflection of her experiences as a rock star, but also delivering a strong anti-drug warning to teens and others. David Bowie's "Space Oddity" serves as a metaphor for the narrative-- a slow countdown, a surreal but spectacular rise to fame, then alienation and burnout - a long long way from home.
The movie chronicles THE RUNAWAYS from 1975 - 1977; formed by teenage girls living near Hollywood, CA., and heavily manipulated by their manager Kim Fowley as 'jailbait rock' (all the girls were 16 or younger when the band recorded their first album). The band ultimately succeeds on their own merits as musicians, becoming the first all-girl rock-band to ever break into the world of arena-filling hard rock acts.
The Secret in Their Eyes (El Secreto de Sus Ojos)
EIFF Details: Cineworld 3: 24/06/2010 21:15, 26/06/2010 13:45
There's a damn good rating for this on IMDB, 11,851 votes and it's sitting on 8.4, making it number 184 in their top 250 films. However that's not why I picked it. The blurb read wonderfully, and I'm a sucker for a good thriller, especially a foreign one. Now you'll probably wonder why that is, but these days I find that foreign film-makers treat their thrillers with so much more respect than in the western world, they build the characters and story so much more carefully and subtly than we tend to. Oh and it won the Best Foreign Language Film of the Year Oscar.
I'm not using the IMDB blurb because it's way too big and perhaps a little too revealing, here's the EIFF blurb:
Careworn ex-detective Benjamin is trying to write his novel. Instead, he keeps being drawn back to an unsolved case from his earlier career: the horrible rape and murder of a young woman. Something in the original investigation just didn't add up… Beautifully performed and directed, with twists and turns that grip the nerves and the imagination.
Toy Story 3
EIFF Details: Cineworld 2: 19/06/2010 18:00, Cineworld 10: 18:15, Cineworld 7: 18:30
Trailer: Filmstalker and Filmstalker and even Filmstalker
Sold out already, would you believe? I think I'll have to get to the press screening early. What's there to say about the third instalment of Toy Story? I won't scream that it's in 3D, that is not the point, the point is that the whole crew are back again for another adventure, and while I originally thought that it sounded more of the same, as the story unfolded I began to believe that there was enough there for another outing with the team.
Now although it's sold out my advice is to keep an eye out, for we've seen in previous years additional screenings appear, and I think Toy Story 3 is a prime candidate. Apparently it had sold out within minutes of opening as a huge queue had appeared at the Filmhouse ticket office.
Unfortunately though, despite the press, it's not an early screening as there are countries galore running with the film before it's shown here, but for us it's our first chance to see what is probably the last outing for the team, but it's not stale, there's plenty of new characters and big name voices to boot.
Woody, Buzz and the whole gang are back. As their owner Andy prepares to depart for college, his loyal toys find themselves in daycare where untamed tots with their sticky little fingers do not play nice. So, it's all for one and one for all as they join Barbie's counterpart Ken, a thespian hedgehog named Mr. Pricklepants and a pink, strawberry-scented teddy bear called Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear to plan their great escape
An unflinching Ozark Mountain girl hacks through dangerous social terrain as she hunts down her drug-dealing father while trying to keep her family intact.
Then there's the EIFF write up which sounds much better...
Set in the desolate Ozark Mountain region of the central United States, this enigmatic thriller follows 17-year-old Ree Jolly (Jennifer Lawrence) on a desperate quest to save the family home from the bailiffs, after her drug dealing father skips bail. Pulled perilously close to a brutal family of crack cocaine dealers, Ree is forced to undergo a series of terrifying ordeals, where death is always a distinct possibility.
Now that is much better isn't it? However you should beware of festival blurbs, for they have to play up every film they're showing, they're not going to say something's rubbish or just average. Yet there's something that caught my eye about this film, the description of the location the enigmatic thriller, and the mention of brutal and ordeals when the leading lady looks so innocent. I'm hopeful of something interesting.
So those are my own top pics, what of the ones that take second place? The ones I still think are worth seeing, but not at the expense of the films above? Well I'll just list them out for you:
A Spanking in Paradise
A film about a man who gets a job running his uncle's brothel in Edinburgh that promises to tell a story about a dirty, dangerous and funny side to Edinburgh that perhaps most people don't know about, never mind see.
And Everything Is Going Fine
Steven Soderbergh film about the writer and performer Spalding Gray.
BAFTA Scotland Interview: Sir Patrick Stewart
Says it all.
A cast of Patrick Wilson, Judy Greer, Chloe Sevigny, Jean Smart, Malcolm McDowell, Cybill Shepard, Billy Dee Williams in a film about a man who has lived a sheltered life who has two life changing moments. It looks interesting, and is pushing to be a number one choice.
Bored to Death: Cinematic TV
Last year the screening of multiple episodes of a few big American television shows turned out well for everyone, and this year it continues with the series Bored to Death.
A look at a Japanese family that sees a war ravaged father and husband return from war in the forties and how his wife and family deal with this very changed man.
The Dry Land
America Ferrera stars in this film, far from the way you might think of her, and she's playing the wife of a man who returns from Iraq.
Evil in the Time of Heroes (To Kako Stin Epochi Ton Iroon)
Greek zombie horror. Done. Plus it looks rather well done.
The Extra Man
A buddy movie from two strong directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini and starring Kevin Kline, Paul Dano, Katie Holmes and John C Reilly. Kline and a curiousness about Holmes originally pulled me to this film.
Family Tree (L'arbre et la forêt)
We don't give slower dramas like this enough time or respect, and this one looks and sounds like it delivers something interesting. A slow burning story about a family gathering at a funeral which stirs up secrets on the way.
A young man is suffering from amnesia and tries to put his life and his memory back together.
Written up as a disturbing and darkly comic psychological drama, this German film sounds rather interesting as it says that a normally nice guy bank employee turns into someone rather darker. Billed with an ultraviolent ending isn't the greatest advertisement for a film, but it's worth a look to see.
Vanessa Paradis stars in the film, and I have to admit that piqued my interest enough to see what kind of an actress she is these days, especially as there's talk of her starring alongside her husband Johnny Depp. The story is about a man who is paid to break up relationships, usually by the victim's parents, and on his latest job he finds his job is not as easy as it has been.
Noel Clarke, Johnny Harris, Oliver Chris, Michelle Ryan, Tamsin Egerton, Thandie Newton provide an interesting British cast in a film that doesn't seem to be Clarke's usual film from the blurb. The buddy comedy circuit film is billed as having a huge amount of cameos.
If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle (Eu Cand Vreau Sa Fluier, Fluier)
A drama from Romania that won the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, and the write up sounds like it could provide for a strong emotional film.
So the film has Edinburgh, and Scotland, as a backdrop but let's not forget that it is a backdrop. The animated story sees a magician travelling from Paris across Scotland doing shows and taking along with him a young girl he meets on his trip. She believes in his magic and him, and the film is described as magical.
The Last Rites of Ransom Pride
Being a big fan of NCIS Cote de Pablo's name caught my eye, but the idea of a woman, Lizzy Caplan, leading the traditional male western was what brought me to it. Then there are some cameos from Dwight Yoakam, Kris Kristofferson and Jason Priestly.
A French comedy turning its attention on the genre of the western with Jean Dujardin, the star of the OSS films where he's already taken the comedy out of the Bond genre.
If I'm being honest, I have no idea why my eye was drawn to this as I have no idea of the film before reading it on the site, but going against my own advice the write up drew me to it.
Another film that drew me to it from the site itself - a road movie and romance bundled into one with the backdrop of massive octopi from space?
My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?
Warner Herzog directing Michael Shannon, Willem Dafoe, Chloë Sevigny, Udo Kier, Michael Peña, Grace Zabriskie, Brad Dourif, Irma P. Hall, Loretta Devine? What more is there to say?
My Words, My Lies - My Love (Lila Lila)
I've seen Daniel Brühl in a few films now and find him particularly engaging on screen, and so for what is described as a German romantic comedy, I'm interested.
A documentary about an orang-utan in a zoo, sounds unusual, the interesting part is that although we're watching her we're hearing the words of the people watching her in the background, the people walking by her enclosure.
Now here's an interesting documentary, following the man who was a bodyguard for Osama Bin Laden, now a taxi driver, and it follows him through a camera sitting in his taxi, listening to his conversations with others.
Ollie Kepler's Expanding Purple World
A British film that doesn't give much away in the blurb but does sound intriguing as it suggests it follows him while he loses his mind.
Dark and edgy with an interesting cast and a love affair that seems to be pushing the leading character towards dangerous ground, sounds interesting.
Police, Adjective (Politist, Adjectiv)
Another Romanian film that follows a cop on the trail of a schoolboy supplying marijuana. I can't begin to describe the blurb as it seems all over the place, but it does sound interesting.
Don't try searching for this film on the EIFF site you'll be wading through every film with an "r" in it! However if you find this it'll be worthwhile as it's getting a lot of praise for the portrayal of a prison drama.
A story of a police officer on the close trailer of an escaped murderer who is playing a deadly game with him, set in a small Australian town.
The Robber (Der Räuber)
Based on the novel of the real life story of the eighties Austrian criminal nicknamed Pump-gun Ronnie, the film is described as a tense thriller about a champion marathon runner who also robs banks.
Scottish Screen Archive Event: Persuasion
An interesting look into Scottish cinema and how Scottish film-makers have portrayed Scotland in film.
Silent Voices (Qu'un seul tienne et les autres suivront)
Here's an interesting idea, a film following three different people who keep crossing paths in the visitors room of a Marseille prison.
Here's a bizarre concept for a film, two men sell their wares as emotional exorcists, who will remove the guilty secrets and dark moments of your past that are affecting your life, however on their latest job they are getting a little emotionally involved.
There are a few of these films that belong on the first list here, and this film is skirting the line between the two. A documentary film-maker sets out to be a superhero. A costume, no powers, and the desire to do good. He even patrols known crack houses with the registered Superhero in L.A. called Master Legend. Bizarre and potentially crazy.
That concludes the list of recommendations for the Edinburgh International Film Festival this year, there are a lot more, in fact on my try and see list I have another twenty-four. It's going to be another big year for films and you can read all about the reviews and news as I post them on Filmstalker. You can also follow my Twitter updates as I flit from screening to screening for instant feedback.
What films are you going to see, and how does it compare to the list above?