Archive for June 17th, 2016

ADULT LIFE SKILLS

Adult Life Skills
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This offbeat comedy drama is probably the most enjoyable film I have seen thus far at this year’s EIFF. Both funny and moving in equal measure it crosses the divide between comedy and drama successfully in a way others can only dream about. Written and directed by Rachel Tunnard and a top-notch cast including Jodie Whittaker, Brett Goldstein, Lorraine Ashbourne at the helm but buoyed up by an equally strong supporting cast including promising young newcomer Ozzy Meyers as Clint a troubled young boy that the film’s central protagonist Anna (Whittaker) bonds with in an unlikely alliance.
Unable to cope with her twin brother’s death Anna has retreated into her mother’s garden shed which she now inhabits and spends her time making videos with her thumbs as imaginary characters who articulate her inner turmoil. Refusing to engage with the real world this retreat into a fantasy life causes friction with her mother who is close to the end of her tether.
The return of old friend Fiona briefly restores some of her old persona but eventually even this starts to pall for her while the attentions of the handsome and kindhearted Brendan(Brett Goldstein) also have little effect on her moribund nature.
Assigned the task of keeping an eye on troubled youngster Clint, whose mother is terminally ill, at the child-minding group she works at initially seems as fruitless a relationship as any other she has but over time and getting to realise how she is not alone in feeling troubled an unlikely bond is formed which helps to bring her out of her apathy and able to reconnect with the outer world again.
At times funny and at others sensitive Adult Life Skills cleverly negotiates its way through the divide with clarity, insight and sensitivity. Never does it feel mawkish or forced and the central character is frustrating and sympathetic in equal measures. Definitely a success story for EIFF Adult Life Skills is definitely worth catching.
Adult Life Skills is at Cineworld on Saturday June 18th at 20.45 and again at Cineworld on Sunday June 19th at 15.30

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Maggie’s Plan

Maggie’s Plan
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With her biological clock ticking away and with no partner on the horizon Maggie (Greta Gerwig) decides to deploy a less traditional method in conceiving the much wanted child that has so far eluded her and sets herself a date for going through with her plan. However as the months pass and the date she has set aside approaches she still goes ahead with her plan and engages a suitable donor Guy (Travis Fimmel) but becomes involved with fellow married lecturer John( Ethan Hawke) first as a creative advisor but eventually as a lover.
Supposedly falling pregnant at the very beginning of their relationship, events overtake her and John leaves his controlling, self obsessed wife Georgette and he and Maggie embark on a happily ever after existence which while deviating from her grand scheme seems to suit her anyway.
However before long the idyllic existence begins to pall when Maggie realises that John is every bit as controlling, self obsessed and needy as his ex wife and thus she embarks on another plan to return him to her.
Directed by Rebecca Miller Maggie’s Plan sometimes feels as if it could do with a little more planning itself.
Gerwig lends a certain drollness to her character but sometimes it feels as if she is acting in a different film. Hawke is quite unobtrusive in his role playing John and his understated performance is well suited to the easily manipulated John who seems to do whatever suits him at any particular time.
Julianne Moore, on the other hand, overplays her part as the neurotic Georgette who originates from Denmark and her comedic timing is well utilised making her character the most dominant of them all.
All in all Maggie’s Plan fulfils its role as a comedy drama even if the plot twits are often not very surprising at all. It is an enjoyable film which is quite infectious and it will make you smile even if it is not particularly groundbreaking.
Maggies Plan is on at the Odeon Saturday June 18th at 20.55 and again on Sunday 19th at Cineworld at 20.35

LOST IN FRANCE

Lost In France
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Niall McCann’s documentary focuses on a 1997 trip by Glasgow independent label Chemikal Underground’s trip to Mauron in France using some original footage interspersed by that of a return visit in 2012 with some of the key players of that memorable trip.
Fondly remembered-that is what can be remembered as chemicals and alcohol played a large part in the .proceedings- by several key participants who recall what they can of events for this film including Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite, three quarters of The Delgados-Paul Savage, Stewart Henderson and Emma Pollock-, RM Hubbert and Alex Kapranos who made the journey prior to his Franz Ferdinand days. Grainy video footage provides essential visual confirmation of some recounted events and the graininess effectively presents it as hazy memories thus adding to the mystique and clouded judgment.
All the interviewees give surprisingly accurate and coherent accounts of what they remember but apart from Pollock and Kapranos none of them seem to have been treated too kindly by time. Therefore often the visual appeal of the film lacks the dynamic required for a film about the heady rock and roll lifestyle it so obviously wants to depict. Instead it relies on the articulacy of its contributors and luckily enough they all fulfil this criteria more than adequately with Braithwaite, Pollock, Henderson and Kapranos offering interesting insights and humorous anecdotes.
As stated before the video footage adds an extra dimension and although it is used sparingly and effectively the feeling lingers that perhaps a little more of this could have been included to provide a bit of visual treat as opposed to yet another middle aged man sitting in a bar talking about his misspent youth ‘back in the day’.
The film hinges on a return trip to the town of Mauron where those who made the trip give a repeat performance in a hastily assembled super-group. It is with a rendition of Franz Fedinand’s ‘Jacqueline’ that the film really feels like a rock and roll documentary for the first time and it is telling that it is with the inclusion of a song by a band that hadn’t even been formed on the original trip.
Often it feels as if Kapranos is there as a box office draw as although he was present on the earlier trip he wasn’t a central figure but despite this he is an interesting interviewee with a keen observer’s viewpoint. As the major success story of that scene it is also good to see him acknowledging his roots whilst affording them some respect.
If I am honest I found this film a little self indulgent and I can’t imagine it would hold much interest to a wider audience apart from those with a keen knowledge of the Chemikal Underground roster. Unlike last year’s EIFF offering ‘Big Gold Dream’ which focussed on the Edinburgh post punk scene there is distinct lack of charismatic characters- Kapranos and Pollock are the obvious exceptions- and it tends to drag towards the end. Definitely one for the fans who will no doubt love all the recounting of a mid-late nineties Glasgow scene they played some part in, but if you weren’t there this film is unlikely to make you wish you were.
Lost In France is showing at Odeon 2 on Thursday June 16 at 20.55

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