Archive for the ‘ EIFF 2016 ’ Category

A PATCH OF FOG

A Patch of Fog
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This thriller directed by Michael Lennox is murky in its ambitions and what it is trying to say even if the two central leads Michael Graham and Conleth Hill bring gravitas to their performances which lend the film some kudos and believability.
It is a thoroughly engaging ride which follows the awkward and unlikely relationship between a lonely security guard, Robert (Graham) who vacillates between desperate childlike innocence and psychopathic stalker with comparative ease, and Sandy Duffy( Hill) who, having made a splash with his debut novel which he has been unsuccessful in following up, now teaches creative writing classes and appears on television review shows.
Despite having the trappings of fame and wealth Duffy still needs to shoplift to add an extra thrill dimension to his apparently idyllic life where he is deeply respected and admired.
Matters change when he steals a pen in a bargain shop where Robert works as a security guard and in order to avoid prosecution agrees to go for a drink with him after he is apprehended. Thinking that if he does this once then the matter will be forgotten and Robert will hand over the CCTV footage disc and life will continue pretty much as before.
Robert however has different ideas and is determined that their tenuous relationship will blossom into a deep and meaningful friendship. The situation swiftly spirals out of control however and takes on an ever more sinister aspect as Robert tries to insinuate his way into every nook and cranny of Sandy’s life until eventually it ends in tragedy.
There are several plot holes in this film not least would a minor shoplifting charge for the theft of a pen really throw someone of Sandy’s supposed intelligence and standing into such a tailspin where they would risk so much more by entering onto a path of destruction that is not so easy to back away from once the journey has begun? Surely he would realise his crime is minor to the point of negligible and he is hardly a star of such standing that it would make headline news; so the film is fatally flawed from this perspective alone.
However despite this it is still a gripping and absorbing thriller which never lets up throughout. Graham’s character is particularly hard to read and he carries off his role with a convincing nasty intensity combined with childlike hurt depending on how he wants to manipulate the situation.
All in all despite the flaws in the story the film is a success and the ending when it comes is as unexpected as it is somewhat inevitable.
A Patch of Fog is showing at Cineworld on Monday 20 June at 20.35 and again on Wednesday 22nd June at 20.50
A Patch Of Fog gets a full UK cinema release on July 8thn and a digital online release on July 11th.

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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

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

THE FIRST MONDAY IN MAY

The First Monday In May
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This Andrew Rossi documentary attempts to open up the fashion as art debate as the Metropolitan Museum in New York prepares to host the Met Gala which occurs yearly on the first Monday in May.
Considered a big deal in the fashion world- its very own Superbowl as one observer comments- the film follows the trials and tribulations of the Art’s Costume Curator, the affable Andrew Bolton, as he prepares for 2015’s gargantuan task of creating a Chinese themed event alongside the not quite so affable Anna Wintour of American Vogue renown.
The film offers up a fascinating insight into the organising of a major red carpet event and the fickleness of celebrity-at one point Josh Hartnett is briefly mentioned and even more swiftly dismissed with a curt ‘Has he done much of interest lately? – against the very seriousness of fashion which has emerged from a basement corner of the museum to become a major draw. No longer considered a frivolity it would appear that fashion is now a very serious business in the world of museums and part of the reason it has taken so long to emerge is down to the fact that previously it was considered to be the preserve of women.
As this film shows times have moved and now fashion is of interest to everyone, even if there are still a few doubters resistant within the museum community who are worried that the Look at China exhibition will obscure some of the more traditional artefacts on show in their respective areas.
Bolton’s vision however is quite extraordinary and although she often appears to be auditioning for her own caricature persona in ‘ The Devil Wears Prada’ it becomes clear that Wintour’s haughty disdain and no-nonsense manner is one of the main reasons the whole concept actually comes together. Possibly one of the film’s most amusing scenes is when she visits the new Vogue Offices in the new World Trade Centre and practically demands everything be altered or ripped out within minutes of arriving although I am sure it was not quite so funny for those who stood there as she rubbished their efforts and demanded something else.
As for the stars at the Gala well everyone from Cher to Rihanna, George Clooney to Gaga, Julianne Moore to Naomi Campbel put in a stylish appearance as well as the height of irritation that is Justin Beiber who even made the Kim Kardashian and Kanye West circus look classy.
The real stars of the film however had to be the clothes whether they were by Galliano, Yves Saint Laurent, Jean Paul Gaultier or Alexander Mc Queen. They were all quite something-Bolton was also the mastermind behind the McQueen exhibition which showed to sell out crowds at the V&A last year- and showed that fashion does indeed need to be recognised as an art form and is at home in a museum setting as any other.
The First Monday in May is showing at Cineworld on Friday June 17 at 20.35 and again at Cineworld on Sat 18th June at 13.20

THE HOMECOMING (BLOOBERG)

The Homecoming (Blooberg)
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This light-hearted and subtle Icelandic comedy deals with the very serious topic of incest in a new way where it is almost secondary to the other convoluted relationships which surround the couple at the centre of the maelstrom. Written and directed by Bjorn Hlymr Haraldsson who invests the film with an appropriate sense of comedy and pathos as required which results in a well paced film which despite its taboo subject matter almost seems to normalise the supposedly incestuous couple.
Gunnar , a self-help author who is not entirely at ease with this role, and his wife Disa seem to have settled into middle-aged apathy and despite having been married for many years don’t seem to communicate in any meaningful way anymore. When their son David returns from a trip to Denmark and announces his impending marriage to a girl, Sunna, he met there who is also Icelandic.
Over an introductory lunch to their future Daughter- in- Law Gunnar deduces that his son’s girlfriend is the product of an illicit affair he had early in his marriage and is therefore his daughter although until this moment he has been unaware of her existence. Confusion is overwhelmed by panic and unsure how to approach this potentially dangerous situation he says and does nothing hoping the relationship will simply fizzle out.
Of course this is the opposite of what actually happens as not long after the initial introduction David announces that Sunna is in fact pregnant and Gunnar’s dilemma grows but still he says nothing. Disa remains blissfully unaware of her husband’s cuckoldry and therefore does the socially normal thing of inviting Sunna’s mother for a getting to know you meal not knowing what will inevitably unfold.
What does unfold in-between the awkward small talk and even more awkward silences is a twist which many of the audience will have seen coming for some time although this doesn’t actually spoil the dramatic tension but instead intensifies it.
The Homecoming does deliver as a light comedy and there are several very funny moments cleverly and convincingly interspersed with some emotional travails which ultimately make the film a satisfying whole. Certainly the plot is adventurous yet simultaneously conventional and the subject of incest is treated respectfully andin a non-judgmental manner which is beautifully shot with some great and touching performances. All in all it is a successful movie which pushes boundaries in its own and subtle way thus creating a very enjoyable cinematic experience.

The Homecoming is showing at Cineworld on Thu June 16 at 18.00 and again on Saturday 18th June at The Filmhouse at 13.15

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