Posts Tagged ‘ Breathe In ’

Edinburgh International Film Festival 2013

 

Edinburgh International Film Festival 2013

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Well that is it for another year then. The A-List stars have departed whilst the opening and closing galas provided a maelstrom of dramatic flourish, flamboyance and glamour to our usual grey days and the momentum of the event provided ceaseless conversations amongst the locals. Except none of the former really happened did it?

 In fact the whole event passed pretty much unnoticed to local residents- and even to me who was a participant- and if pushed for a comment many would even have failed to notice it was actually taking place. Matters weren’t even helped by the fact the weather was remarkably pleasant with sunshine days and warm balmy evenings being the norm. Compare and contrast with last year when it rained torrentially and incessantly.

 The ultimate disappointment though must lie in the choice of movies selected with few of the films making too much of an impression either way. If honest I must admit the best film I saw during the whole thing was the 1971 Richard Fleischer classic, shown as part of a retrospective, 10 Rillington Place starring a suitably creepy Richard Attenborough as serial killer John Christie. It was the only film among the many I attended that held the audience in its spell throughout with a tension which was palpable; a matter confirmed when at a crucial moment I tore my eyes away from the action to observe an almost trancelike state audience caught up in the drama. I witnessed nothing like this sort of effect at the many new films I attended.

Mind you this may be because I attended mainly press showings but everyone knows how cynical a group of film critics can be. I am not sure this still applies to the younger ones who appeared to be barely out of diapers but wore their miserabilist tendencies in plaid with carefully selected geek chic glasses.

 Of the new films premiered the best, in my opinion, were Svengali, The Great Hip Hop Hoax, Oh Boy, We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks and a Russian offering, Betrayal. The latter I haven’t got around to reviewing yet but it is an Almodovar styled film with the vivid colours and fiery passions replaced with Soviet chill to disorientating effect. The plot is highly implausible and relies on the viewer’s suspension of belief, but somehow this works to its advantage as opposed to its detriment.

 The opening film Breathe In starring Guy Pearce and the patriotic, set in Glasgow, closer Not Another Happy Ending with Karen Gillan were slightly underwhelming if the truth be told. As were the opening and closing parties which followed if I am being even more honest. In fact the best party I attended during the twelve day duration down as the most memorable film festival of recent times it is also not the most forgettable was nothing to do with the film festival but was held in an empty art studio with a bunch of non celebrities who could show the organisers of these stilted industry affairs how it should be done

 On the plus side the event was still a step in the right direction away from the low key efforts of 2011 which abandoned all parties and celebrity attendances. It also had the best and most consistent weather of any Scottish festival in recent years and perhaps this onslaught of sunshine distracted from the event as who wants to sit in a darkened cinema when it is sunny outside. Particularly to a nation as deprived of vitamin D as us Scots are.

 Now that it is all over however I must say that the best summary I can offer is that although 2013 will not go!

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JUST AN OBSERVATION

 

Just An Observation Friday June 21st

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 This week I have been mainly kept busy with the Edinburgh International Film Festival which officially started on Wednesday, although I have been attending press screenings since Monday. I must admit I was a little underwhelmed by the choice of opening film, Breathe  In, which starred Guy Pearce as although it was competent enough-the performances and cinematography are quite outstanding- it just didn’t resonate on any real emotional level.

 In some ways it was similar to the opening party held at the NationalMuseum on Wednesday night which despite being a red carpet affair failed to attract any major big names or make it onto the Scottish News. This contrasts with the new Brad Pitt film World War Z which although only filmed in Glasgow and premiered in the same evening as the Edinburgh event managed to secure a five minute news slot despite also having no major stars attending. Personally I thought this was a pretty poor show and someone in PR deserves to have their butt kicked for failing to secure the Festival with some much needed publicity.

 Of the films I have seen Svengali is the one which stands out so far. A pastiche/parody of the rock industry seen through the eyes of a modern day Billy Liar it is extremely acerbic, witty and even when it lapses into cliché and caricature still has something to recommend it. Showing today (Friday 21st) and tomorrow it is definitely worth catching.

 Elsewhere a documentary about growing old on the gay scene, Before You Know It, is also a worthwhile film. Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring is probably one of the bigger films premiering at the festival this year and although I haven’t had time to post a review yet it is a decent film focussing on a bunch of Los Angeles brats whose sense of entitlement to a celebrity lifestyle is so overwhelming they set out to steal it-quite literally- from the celebrities themselves. The East starring Alexander Skarsgard- Eric from HBO’S ‘True Blood’- about the moral dilemmas and questions raised by a group of Eco Terrorists is also worth catching as it is a stylish thriller which leaves many issues unresolved and is all the better for deploying this tactic.

 Other sad news came through this week that the great actor James Gandolfini had passed away at the age of 51. Best known for his role as Tony Soprano in ‘The Sopranos’ which was probably one of my favourite TV shows of all time and Gandolfini was instrumental in its success. Showing a different side to the life of a gangster we were able to empathise with many of his decisions whilst still realising that often the moral implications of what he did were wrong but somehow still justifiable. It also had the best ending to a final episode ever and with Gandolfini’s parting any chance of a revival will be laid to rest alongside him. Tony Soprano may sleep with the Fishes but may James Gandolfini-who went onto give strong performances in many films with The Man Who Wasn’t There, Killing Them Softly and Zero Dark Thirty among them, but it was as Tony Soprano that he secured his legacy- rest in peace.

 That is it for this week as I have to be at the cinema for press screenings later this morning. I must say I have observed that the majority of film reviewers are cut from the same cloth as far as I can see. That cloth being a check shirt, faded denims, converse and geek chic specs with facial hair an optional extra-for both male and female- as well as an overwhelming sense of their own importance. Well at least they are keeping Zara and RiverIsland afloat with their individual sense of fashion.

They also seem to wear a sense of self importance which means that after a film they have to check their phones whilst the credits are still rolling and thus filter out of the cinema without exchanging thoughts or even glances with anyone else as they are so wrapped up in their own  bubbles. When did everyone become so important that they believe that being incommunicado for a mere hour and a half means others must be so desperate to get hold of them? Perhaps the real life brats in Sofia Coppolas The Bling Ring are not so different after all.

BREATHE IN

Breathe In

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Bearing the distinction of being the opening film of 2013’s Edinburgh International Film Festival, Breathe In directed by Drake Doremus is a low key, understated affair which could not be further removed from 2012 opener William Friedkin’s Killer Joe starring Matthew McConaughey.  That film was fast paced, emotionally overwrought with violence and profane language running rampant on a non stop carnage trail. In complete contrast Breathe In buries its emotions beneath the surface and relies instead on lingering looks, nuance and subtlety to create a film which although hardly original in its themes and outcomes is superbly acted and skilfully executed.

 Focussing on  how a high school music teacher’s life and family are turned upside down by the arrival of an English exchange student, Sophie-Felicity Jones- who comes to study and stay with them. Keith-Guy Pearce- and his family –wife (Amy Ryan) and daughter Lauren (Mackenzie Davis)- are meandering along within the confines of a stable but dull life with all of Keith’s ambitions and dreams thwarted by his responsibilities of maintaining the family unit.

 Although it is never stated, he is bored with the mundane routine of his life and has a seething resentment toward both his wife and daughter who he feels have held him back. However he has coasted along quite contentedly until the moment Sophie arrives and within seconds it becomes clear there is an attraction between them. This feeling only intensifies after he hears her perform a difficult Chopin piece on the piano and he realises that not only is she worldly wise, extremely beautiful and intelligent but she is also exceptionally gifted.

 For Sophie’s part the talent she literally has at her fingertips scares her as does her attraction to Keith and at first she is reluctant to expose or reveal either of these things in front of him. Inevitably the feelings intensify and an emotional involvement occurs but not before a personal tragedy envelopes their affair and brings it out into the open.

 To be fair there is nothing highly original in this screenplay to make it stand out from so many others and at times it is all too obvious what is going to happen; the attraction between Keith and Sophie is apparent after they meet at the airport and in the car ride home. The following drama is therefore quite predictable but whilst it affords the external characters- wife and daughter- more depth than usual it is the strong ensemble playing which brings it to life and grants it some kudos of its own.  It is also beautifully shot with lush and muted tones contrasting beautifully against an exquisite soundtrack which allows the plot to unfold against an atmospheric backdrop.

 A strange choice to open a film festival, it is however also  a brave one. Subtle, low key and nuanced are perhaps the best way to describe the work but at least there is little chance of anyone saying EIFF 2013 peaked too soon.

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