Showing posts with label eiff 2013. Show all posts
Showing posts with label eiff 2013. Show all posts

20 July 2013

EIFF 2013 - For Those in Peril Review

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Rating: N/C
Review Date (EIFF):
28th June 2013
Director:
Paul Wright
Cast:
Kate Dickie, Michael Smiley, George MacKay

British cinema is great at taking quaint environments and turning them into Hell. We also have a penchant for misery and wasted lives, both of which you’ll find abundantly in Paul Wright’s impressive feature debut For Those in Peril, a keyhole into the social mechanics of a small fishing community in Scotland.

After a tragic accident takes the lives of five young fishermen, Aaron (George MacKay), the sole survivor of the tragedy which also claimed his older brother, is left in a steadily growing state of social detachment as the town around focuses their grief on him.  Mackay shines as a social outcast, a loner before the tragedy and even more so after with little to live for in a town that sees survivors as a constant burning reminder of tragedy. Wright’s choice to include sound snippets of news coverage/interviews with locals helps explore the small town mentality and collective hatred for Aaron, who’s only crime is retaining a childish mind in a place that demands manhood sooner as opposed to later. As the film goes on and Aaron’s actions become slightly more elusive in the face of hatred, the audience starts to see that in treating someone like a monster, especially someone with serious trauma, you can end up making them one. Kate Dickie lends her talents as Aaron’s troubled mother, single-handedly providing a sort of normality bar with which to compare the rest of the town to, she’s also where most of the film’s heart comes from, hers being possibly the most heart-breaking story of all. The relationship between Dickie and Mackay is frankly one of the most impressive pairings in ages.

Aaron’s obsession with a fairy tale around a monster in the sea becomes more vivid as the film progresses, just as the town’s contempt for him does. Wright punctuates an otherwise muted cinematography with moments of vivid colour and crushing darkness to better convey the collapse of Aaron’s reality: as his guilt flares so does his anger at the “monster” and his alienation from family and friends comes full circle so that he descends into a sort of childish dream.

There’s a very honest quality to Wright’s camera and the performances of his stars, nothing out-there, nothing melodramatic, just a well worked story of people and their relationship to the world around them.  At some points the film can maintain a palate too drab and spend too much time following Aaron’s isolated wanderings to the point of angst, but by the end Wright proves he has the vision to deliver an emotionally charged whopper of a finale that allows this quant wee Scottish sea-side affair to rest on more breath-taking grounds.

Not just a run of the mill sombre British piece about rural environments, For Those in Peril is a heart-wrenching narrative of guilt and redemption with a daring final direction and stand-out performances from two of Scotland’s finest.

★★★★

Scott Clark

19 July 2013

EIFF 2013 - Frankenstein's Army Review

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Rating:
15
Release Date(UK):
28 June 2013 (EIFF)
24 August 2013 (Frightfest)
30 September 2013 (DVD)
Director:
Richard Raaphorst
Cast:
Karel Roden, Joshua Sasse, Robert Gwilym
Buy: [DVD]

Over the past few years there’s been a real peak in the impact of fan-boy fantasy on cinema, especially horror. We’ve seen some truly nutty visions being realised on the big screen and, for better or worse, that trend shows no signs of stopping. The recent sub-genre of Nazi zombie films is creatively tackled in first time feature director Richard Raaphorst’s endearingly titled, handheld camera shot, B-movie extraordinaire Frankenstein’s Army.

How, may you ask, is a film set during WW2 shot on hand-held camera? By the genius of a specially selected film student chosen to tag along with a Russian platoon to film some propaganda. This surmises the bonkers logic to most of Frankenstein’s Army. A good section of the film is spent getting to understand the characters and what the Russian involvement in the war was and before we get anywhere near the fateful dwelling of Baron Frankenstein there’s a breadcrumb trail of bizarre carcases to herald that the good doctor has extended his research to animalistic steampunk zombie monstrosities.

There’s a charming sort of referential stupidity involved in how unperturbed most of the Russians seem about finding these creatures. But that’s a key part of the film; it doesn’t take itself too seriously and by doing that makes itself far more effective as a horror film. By slotting the ridiculous alongside the drab hopelessness of the incredible sets and creatures, there’s room for some genuinely horrible moments of tense action and fear. Like the end of Blair Witch meets Silent Hill via Stuart Gordon. Camera handling dwindles sometimes during panic driven moments of fight and flight to unfortunately leave some sections of film messy and nonsensical, which is a shame when such care has been taken to make the visuals so striking.

Even if the film is operating on a budget it appears not to be too hindered, sets have been carefully selected and then dressed up to fit the period and aesthetic, creatures have been formed with a mind to dodging the traditional concept of zombie. This time, Frankenstein’s monsters are exactly the kind of industrial horrors you’d expect from a post WW1 corpse tinker: hulking metal and robotics, grey flesh and black leather, ridiculous appendages for the decimation of allied forces. And Karel Roden’s (Hellboy, Rocknrolla) fantastic turn as a madcap even more oblivious Dr. Frankenstein is nothing short of a hoot to watch.

Everything about this film is pretty endearing.  Once you pull yourself past the student project feel and settle into its carnival of horrors feel, you start to enjoy it for what it is; a Nazi-zombie flick. There’s no pretence here, no whimsical story, just a good old-fashioned monster film with some well-deserved scares, a great effects and set-design department and above all a good eye for humour. Frankenstein’s Army is cult classic material.

★★★★

Scott Clark



Everyone's Going to Die EIFF Review

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Rating: 15
Release Date:
26th June 2013(EIFF)
Director:
Jones
Cast:
Nora Tschirner, Rob Knighton, Kellie Shirley

Melanie (Nora Tschirner) is a young woman living out a dull existence in an English seaside town, her life crawls along until she meets Ray (Rob Knighton in his second feature performance), a recently divorced gangster-type back in town for one last job. Without a doubt the most charming and impressive feature to debut at EIFF this year, one of those films that comes along once in a blue moon and manages to hold its own amongst the vast array of features fighting for the spotlight. It sounds like a screwball gangster flick with a hint of Lost in Translation, which it could be billed as, but you’d be missing the point. Even though it flaunts moments of comedy and does indeed slip in a gangster undertone, it’s so much more.

                Directed by the collective Jones, Everyone’s Going to Die takes a tried and tested formula for British sob-stories and goes back to basics, narratively speaking it’s a simple enough film; Ray and Melanie potter about exploring the tedium of their lives and getting up to mischief. There’s a somber mood clinging to most of the film that is time and time again shattered with Coen brother-style cock-ups or heart-warming scenes between the film’s spellbinding central performances.
                 The opening scenes hark at Less Than Zero, a ruined house the morning after a party shot with virtually no sound in a drab palette of greys, Melanie wandering the halls dressed as Chaplin cutting a, surely iconic, silhouette. Ray is forced into black suit and tie after his enraged wife vandalises the rest of his clothes and turfs him out, forcing the gangster into a dangerously stereotypical but hilariously referential costume.  Ray goes to meet his recently deceased estranged brother‘s family only to find his brother may have reincarnated into a cat. The humour here is right on the mark, the zaniness of the script is one of its strongest features ensuring it doesn’t fade into the background as another exercise in loneliness.  There’s nothing superficial about Everyone’s Going to Die, everything has substance to it.
                The key to the whole show is the relationship between Tschirner and Knighton. Genuine care and love for the characters is inspired through a damaged but reserved performance on both counts. Both are trapped at a still point, a dead end from which they really believe there’s no escaping. The boredom of dead-end lives never transfers to the viewer though, instead the narrative throws the odd couple into bizarre waters; job changes, a reincarnated brother, a wiccan family, the hotel TV stuck on Gay chat lines, the little ridiculous details keep the two ultimately grounded characters on their toes. No matter how ridiculous the situation, Jones put the scene across in such a deadpan manner, the slightest ticks on Ray’s face are all you need to pick up on some of the driest humour put to film recently.
                If one film deserves your attention this year it should be this one. It’s a heart-warming, often hilarious, sometimes heart-breaking tale of loneliness and the human need for companionship. It’s a love film sans love and a gangster film without gangsters. A powerhouse set of performances from the magnificent Nora Tschirner and Rob Knighton ensures the film is never dull or misfired and as for Jones, the stunning look of the film and the genius of the script ensures they are a talent to keep your eye out for.

A gem of a film; bittersweet, concise, thought-provoking, and above all entirely captivating, Everyone’s Going to Die is one of the most impressive British films going about just now.

★★★★★

Scott Clark


18 July 2013

Magic Magic EIFF Review 2

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Rating:
15
Release Date:
25th June 2013 (EIFF)
Director:
Sebastian Silva
Stars:
Juno Temple, Emily Browning , Michael Cera

Tonally speaking Magic Magic hits the nail on the head, achieving from start to finish the truly disconcerting vibe of an oncoming storm. From the word go, things seem to be piling up against Juno Temple’s Alicia, a girl so wrought with anxiety and despair it’s a wonder she was allowed to travel on her own in the first place. It doesn't help that Sarah (Emily Browning) the friend Alicia travels to Chile to visit, has to abandon her for mysterious reasons with her Chilean friends on a lonely island.

When considering psychosis and exotic locations, things never really pan out. The Beach, Lord of the Flies, automatically the situation seems doomed. Mortality and youth, compulsion and human nature seem at the heart of the film, but aren't explored in any particular depth to maximize the impact of the film. This is a film which attempts to show how misunderstandings and over-dramatic, anxious minds can turn even the most innocent actions into purposeful attacks on personal peace. However it’s still a basic attempt at putting across a basically dull story.

                Under all the crossed wires, misunderstood moments, and exaggerated pains, the most unnerving aspect of Magic Magic is how it puts across genuine insanity; Temple does a wonderful job of letting her stability slip away in a way that is understandable yet entirely infuriating. Her unadventurous and cowardly nature are so convincing you’ll pity her more than anything, until she gets a little too kooky.  Special mention goes to Michael Cera’s near-demonic Brink, a creation so utterly loathable you can barely keep yourself from shouting at the screen. He’s prankster, manipulator and quietly closeted to a degree that’s just over the “bromance” line. Together Temple and Cera forge a screen relationship built on unspoken hatred that charges through sinister mannerisms, bird violence, and a different kind of oral rape to what you may have in mind.

Apart from performance and a gloomy aesthetic, not much else can push this slow-burning pscho-thriller into any exceptional ground, even a slap dash race for the voodoo vote. It hits the notes you expect and maintains a level head throughout bar a few brave moments where it musters the courage to show how much an insomniac and a compulsive fool can mess with each other.

★★☆☆☆

Scott Clark


EIFF 2013 - Leviathan Review

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Rating: PG
Release Date (UK):
27th June 2013 (EIFF)
Director:
Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Verena Paravel
Cast:
Declan Conneely, Johnny Gatcombe, Adrian Guillette


One of the most intriguing films of this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival is the experimental documentary piece Leviathan; an abstract look at the relationship between man and nature. It won’t be for everyone, in fact it will probably appeal to a smaller part of the audience who have the patience to endure its 87 minutes of non-linear strangely intense imagery.

                This isn’t the sort of film that offers up its direction with any ease, it’s a slog, a hard slog conveyed by the labours of everyone involved. Filmed on numerous cameras spread over a North Atlantic commercial fishing boat, Leviathan never attempts the perspective that would perhaps make the film easy- and thus inevitably dull- it is no accident that there is a lack of interviews and even general dialogue between the boat workers to ease the audiences viewing. Leviathan is bold on this front, unapologetic for a technique too pretentious for the casual viewer, but it’s this bold use of image and sound, the raw and honest quality of the film, that holds attention at some of the more startling images. The camera angles are carefully selected to give those points of view that are never really considered: the ship’s deck amongst the fish and swill, the merciless process of decapitating fish, an extreme close-up of the net chains as they are pulled too and fro in a storm. Among the catalogue of sequences are some real treasures that seem to offer a true fly-on-the-wall look at one of man’s oldest industries  yet on the other hand there are some too out-there for enjoyment, ensuring long stretches of the film crawl along ensuring attention dithers.

                By the end Leviathan seems unperturbed with relaying any true meaning or opinion on the fishing industry, other than to explore the gargantuan operation that it is and expose the isolated nature of its process. At points the film shows truly wonderful camera work be it the night-time filming of man vs. waves or the flipping of sea and sky,  and at others it starts to unravel itself through sticking to its guns as a varied selection of image and sound recorded on an actual fishing boat. By the end you cant help but wonder what it would have been like with an orchestral accompaniment.

An interesting look at the epic harsh relationship between modern man and the sea, Leviathan uses innovative camera work and a lack of non-diegetic sound to relay an isolated and chaotic atmosphere; however by the end it proves just as arduous a journey for the viewer.

★★★☆☆

Scott Clark


4 July 2013

EIFF 2013 - UWANTMETOKILLHIM? Review

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uwantme2killhim_eiff
Rating:
15
Release Date:
25th June 2013 (EIFF), September 2013 (UK Cinema)
Stars:
Jamie Blackley, Toby Regbo, Jaime Winstone
Director:
Andrew Douglas
Viewers may initially be taken aback when seeing the credits of upcoming British feature uwantme2killhim? What appears as a low-key thriller actually has some big Hollywood names behind it - including Bryan Singer and Bob and Harvey Weinstein. This should serve an indicator as to the promise that Andrew Douglas' (2005's The Amityville Horror) feature shows.

Based on a true story, the film details teenager Mark's (Jamie Blackley) growing obsession with the world of internet chatrooms and the dark, tragic consequences this ultimately builds up to.

The early stages of the film feature Mark on a chat-room speaking to cyber-girlfriend Rachel (Jaime Winston) who asks the teenager to look out for her "weird" brother John (Toby Regbo) who is bullied at school. Mike Walden's narrative may seem somewhat predictable from this description, and ultimately it is not difficult for viewers to work out which direction uwantme2killhim? is heading in. Yet despite this, Walden's screenplay is packed full of turns and erratic twists which makes getting to this outcome all the more fascinating and tragic.

uwantme2killhim? showcases the danger of chatrooms whilst also capturing the psychology of a sixteen year old, with the combination of the two resulting in shocking effects. We view the events from the perspective of teenage Jamie and see him be gradually manipulated on these chatrooms - making him all the more of a tragic hero.  However, as the narrative takes continuous twists at points uwantme2killhim? grows somewhat outlandish - best captured when Jamie begins conversations with Janet, 'a government agent.' I personally do not know of any sixteen year olds who would be so easily duped into thinking they were chatting to an MI6 agent on a web chat-room. However, there is ultimately some truth in this - with Douglas' feature being based on a true story, making the feature seem even more extraordinary.

Douglas crafts the feature with a sense of unease and suspense by reflecting Jamie's chatroom world with a variety of actors playing those he chats with  - from Liz White's Agent Janet to Jaime Winstone's troubled Rachel. We see all through Jamie's perspective with this style perfectly reflecting the somewhat vulnerable psychological mindset of teenagers - especially when manipulated in an online environment. This makes uwantme2killhim? feel like more than simply a British thriller but a tragic study into the teenage psyche and the dangers of the online world.

Jamie Blackley (who also impressed in EIFF's We Are the Freaks) is an outstanding lead, bringing a youthful innocence and likeability to the role of Jamie. The role - alongside Toby Regbo's brilliantly dark performance as John, won the festival's Best Performance in a British Feature Film award.

uwantme2killhim? is a darkly unnerving look at the online world and the dangers that come with it. It may be clear which trajectory the narrative is following, yet this ultimately works in the film's favour adding a sense of tragedy to this thriller.

★★★½

Andrew McArthur


EIFF 2013 – Magic Magic Review

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Rating:
15
Release Date:
25th June 2013 (EIFF)
Director:
Sebastian Silva
Stars:
Juno Temple, Emily Browning , Michael Cera


Sebastian Silva's Magic Magic is perhaps one of the more enigmatic features of this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival, so enigmatic in fact, that many viewers may be left rather unfulfilled by this South American head trip.

Magic Magic follows timid Alicia (Juno Temple), who is sent on vacation to Chile with her friend Sarah (Emily Browning). However after being introduced to Sarah's friends and becoming an object of ridicule by one of them (Brink played by Michael Cera), Alicia's anxiety begins to takeover and she starts to mentally unravel.

Silva's feature is a slow-building one, opening with Alicia's arrival in Chile and her first meeting with Sarah's friends which immediately crafts an aura of uneasiness. When travelling to their lodgings, Silva soundtracks  the group's journey with growling classic blues music and unnerving dog yelping when they pick up then subsequently abandon an ill puppy. This immediately gives an indicator of the frantic, chaotic style that Magic Magic builds towards. However, the main source of this unease is Michael Cera's darkly camp performance as Brink - his actions around Alicia always seem somewhat sinister with suggestions of ulterior, darker motivations.

Silva continues to suspensefully build this unease when the group arrive at their destination - a Chilean beach house. Here Alicia is pressured into diving, attacked by a dog, hypnotised, and comes face to face with (thoroughly underdeveloped) suggestions of voodoo - all leading to her mental breakdown. However, Magic Magic  does seem to lack a clear narrative direction - Silva's feature has a tendency to loosely drift from one sequence to the next - lacking in any solid thrills or anything disturbing enough to merit Alicia's breakdown.  This is best showcased in the conclusion which uses these underdeveloped voodoo elements in a confusing, frenzied and chaotic style.

Juno Temple provides a mentally stripped back performance that feels so authentic  that it proves a challenge to watch at many points.  This can be seen in her encounters with Brink who appears to manipulate Alicia's fragile state for his own pleasure.

This tendency to drift and lack of clear narrative drive - not to mention the lack of a solid conclusion, may make Magic Magic frustrating for many viewers. However, if willing to embrace the unnerving, drifting style and gradual psychological thrills behind the feature - you may find it a slightly more enjoyable watch.

★★★☆☆

Andrew McArthur



EIFF 2013 - A Long Way From Home Review

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Rating: 12A
Release Date: 30th June 2013(EIFF)
Stars: James Fox, Brenda Fricker ,Natalie Dormer, Paul Nicholls
Director: Virginia Gilbert


Virginia Gilbert directs A Long Way from Home, a graceful dramatic feature based on her own short story of the same. Gilbert provides us with a rich palette of fascinating characters and breathtaking locations in this often touching and hugely charming tale of desire in old age.

Long married couple Joseph (James Fox) and Brenda (Brenda Fricker) have retired to the French town of Nimes and live quiet, routine lives. However, Joseph is becoming restless in the banality of this routine - something that is challenged by the arrival of vibrant young couple, Suzanne (Natalie Dormer) and Mark (Paul Nicholls).

Gilbert's feature is a graceful look at desire in old age - seen through Joseph's gradual infatuation by the young Suzanne. However, this is a desire for an emotional connection and sense of enchantment - which Joseph appears to recall (and miss) from his earlier years with Brenda. Nimes makes a staggeringly beautiful backdrop for Gilbert's feature, seamlessly paralleling Joseph's whimsical and enchanted view of Suzanne. The cities ancient temples, vineyards and sun-drenched streets add an elegant sense of the picturesque to A Long Way From Home.

The feature provides us with a palette of well-crafted central characters, magnificently played by the film's key players. James Fox provides a thoroughly impressive leading turn as Joseph, a performance which contains glimpses of sadness behind his refined 'classically British' demeanour. The actor showcases Joseph's transformation as a result of the arrival of Suzanne, showcasing a performance full of warmth - yet shadows of something slightly sinister as Joseph's looks can occasional verge on leers. These ultimately never feel too threatening thanks to the unspoken chemistry between Fox and Fricker - a dynamic which captures a long-married couple who deeply love each other.

Fricker is equally excellent presenting us with a woman who appears slightly scatter-brained yet remains fully in control in a crisis - showcased in a somewhat bizarre sequence where Brenda breaks a dying cat's neck. Brenda's gradual suspicions over Joseph's fidelity adds further dramatic interest into A Long Way From Home. Natalie Dormer is vibrant and engaging as Suzanne, who alongside Paul Nicholls' Mark captures the themes of young love and the initial warmth of a relationship.

A Long Way From Home is a graceful and touching look at relationships in both their early stages and in later-life. Stunning settings and sublime performances ensure that Gilbert's feature is a charming and engaging watch.

★★★★

Andrew McArthur

28 June 2013

Winners of 67th Edinburgh International Film Festival Announced

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The winners of this year’s prestigious Edinburgh International Film Festival awards were announced at the Festival’s awards ceremony, held at Filmhouse today and hosted by Grant Lauchlan, producer and presenter of stv’s Moviejuice. The ceremony took place ahead of Sunday’s Closing Night Gala, NOT ANOTHER HAPPY ENDING, which concludes the 12-day Festival.

The Award for Best Film in the International Competition was presented to Mahdi Fleifel’s A WORLD NOT OURS (Lebanon/UAE/Denmark/UK), which received its UK premiere here at EIFF. The award is given to filmmakers from outside of the UK in recognition of their imagination and innovation. Acclaimed South Korean director Bong Joon-ho chaired the International Feature Film Competition Jury, which also included actress Natalie Dormer and film critic Siobhan Synnot.

The jury citation read: “The International Jury loved this film’s warm regard for the people at the heart of the film. A difficult subject was handled with confidence and humour. We hope that many more people get the opportunity to see A WORLD NOT OURS.”

Mahdi Fleifel said: “I am immensely grateful to the programmers at the EIFF for inviting my film. I have lived, studied and worked in the UK for 13 years, but I've never managed to screen any of my work at a single British film event - not even my short films which were pretty successful internationally. Winning the prize in Britain's No. 1 Film Festival is too good to be true. I hope this will help bring our film to a wider audience in the UK and I would like to thank the jury for this wonderful honour.

The jury also gave a special mention to Elias Giannakakis’ JOY (Greece). The citation read: “The Jury would like to make special mention of Elias Giannakakis’ unique character study in JOY and an outstanding performance by Amalia Moutousi.

The Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature Film went to Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel’s LEVIATHAN (UK/USA/France), which received its UK Premiere at the Festival. A visually stunning documentary, LEVIATHAN wins one of the longest-running film awards in the UK, honouring imagination and creativity in British filmmaking.

The winner was chosen by the Michael Powell Jury, chaired by Iranian director Samira Makhmalbaf and including actor and director Kevin McKidd and film critic Derek Malcolm. The jury described the film “as an original and imaginative documentary which observes the brutal routine of deep sea fishing in a way which completely immerses the watcher in its story.”

Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel said: “We are totally bowled over by the news of this award. All our films have been rejected by every British film festival to date, so it is all the more moving for us! We also admire in so many ways the work of this jury, which makes this award especially meaningful to us both. It also gives us the courage and conviction to continue to keep pushing at the envelope - of cinema, of documentary, of art.”

The jury awarded a special commendation to Paul Wright’s FOR THOSE IN PERIL “for its passionate portrait of a young Scots survivor of a tragedy at sea.”

The Award for Best Performance in a British Feature Film was shared by Jamie Blackley and Toby Regbo for their performances as the dysfunctional schoolboys in uwantme2killhim? The performance awards were voted for by the Michael Powell Award Competition Jury.

Jamie Blackley said: “I felt lucky enough to hear that two films I was in had been selected for the EIFF, so to then win this award is a wonderful shock that I wasn’t expecting and I am proud to share it with Toby. I’d like to thank Andrew Douglas and the cast and crew for making the experience so special for me and to EIFF for making me feel so welcome.”

Co-star Toby Regbo added: "I'm absolutely over the moon. Making this film was so positive: a really interesting story, a great director and a superb actor to work opposite, what more could you want really? I'd like to say thank you to the EIFF for supporting British independent film and young actors."

Reinstated in 2013 after a two-year absence, The Audience Award, supported by Sainsbury’s Bank, went to FIRE IN THE NIGHT (UK) directed by Anthony Wonke for his deeply moving documentary detailing the 1988 Piper Alpha disaster in the North Sea. The film, which received its World Premiere at the Festival, skilfully combines archival footage, audio recordings and interviews with some of the 61 survivors of the disaster, some of whom are interviewed for the very first time.
Voted for by cinema-goers attending public screenings, films were eligible from across the Festival programme at the discretion of the Artistic Director.

Anthony Wonke said: “It’s 25 years ago this July that Piper Alpha exploded and sunk into the North Sea and we hope that with this film the memory of that fateful night that affected so many lives will act as a suitable remembrance. I'd like to thank everyone who voted for FIRE IN THE NIGHT, it really does mean an awful lot to everyone involved especially all the men who took part in the film. I know that they will be incredibly touched and thankful that the public engaged with this film and their story in such a positive way.

EIFF Artistic Director Chris Fujiwara said: “The Audience Award, which we reinstated this year after a two-year hiatus, is not only one of the most significant of EIFF’s initiatives designed to engage audiences with cinema, it’s also one of the most fun. We’re delighted by the enthusiasm shown by our audience members who took part in choosing this award, and we’re grateful for the support and commitment of Sainsbury’s Bank.

GHL by Lotte Schreiber won The Award for Best Short Film in the shorts category. The prize was one of three awards bestowed by the Short Film Competition Jury, which included International Film Festival Rotterdam programmer Inge de Leeuw (chair), film critic Christoph Huber and independent film programmer Ricardo Matos Cabo.

The jury citation read: “The jury unanimously gives this prize for Best Short Film to a visually and rhythmically precise architectural study that doubles as a portrait of current social changes with the ghost of capitalism haunting the space of a popular landmark of communal recreation erected as a socialist utopia in Vienna.

Lotte Schreiber said: "I am very proud to receive this amazing award from this fantastic film festival, which is the most exciting one I’ve ever received! I’m proud of my little team and I want to thank them all for their precious contribution to this little movie: especially Johannes Hammel, who did the breathtaking camerawork and Michael Krassnitzer for his perfect low-key acting. This award makes me sure to keep on filmmaking, even under extremely tough economic circumstances, which will probably become even tougher for all of us independent filmmakers in the next years. But it’s worth carrying on! I want to express my sincere gratitude to the Festival Programme Committee who has selected the Film to be part of the International Competition at EIFF and likewise to the Short Film jury members, who have put their whole confidence into this little Viennese movie.

The Award for Creative Innovation in a Short Film, given for the first time this year, was awarded to DOLL PARTS by Muzi Quawson, as voted for by the Shorts Jury. The jury citation read: “The prize for creative innovation goes to a short that takes an unusual approach to documenting subculture and its protagonists, utilising paradoxical means. The film achieves a sense of drift by focusing on moments of stasis and capturing the energy of touring musicians through surprising ellipses and attention to incidental details.”

Another newly introduced award within the shorts category, The Award for Outstanding Individual Contribution to a Short Film, which celebrates imaginative and innovative work in short cinema, was awarded to Josh Gibson as Director of Photography of LIGHT PLATE, which he also directed.

The jury citation read: “The prize for outstanding contribution to a short film goes to the camerawork of a magical landscape study, capturing a day in the Tuscan countryside with a series of subtle, imaginative and mesmerizingly textured images forged with careful attention to the possibilities and beauty of 35mm films.

Josh Gibson said: "I am honoured and humbled to receive this award and to be recognized along with this small, personal film at such a prestigious international film festival, brimming with work by talented people that I have admired for a long time. Unlike feature films, short films are delicate creatures that owe much to the programming. In shorts programmes the individual films reverberate against one another, sometimes changing fundamentally depending upon the other pieces in the programme. I especially want to thank the EIFF programmers for finding a place for LIGHT PLATE where its particular point of view and visual preoccupations could be acknowledged and admired."

The jury also gave a special mention to three filmmakers whose work holds great promise for the future: Charlotte Rabate for LUCILLE IN THE SKY; Ivan Castineiras for THE BORDER; and Anna Frances Ewert for ENDLESS DAY.

As voted for by the audience, The McLaren Award for Best New British Animation, supported by the British Council, went to MARILYN MYLLER by director Mikey Please and co-animator Dan Ojari. Named after Scottish-born filmmaker Norman McLaren, the McLaren Award is the longest running award celebrating creativity amongst UK animation talent. The award was presented at the awards ceremony by Richard Williams, widely regarded as one of the world's greatest animators.

Mikey Please said: “The team and I are absolutely thrilled to receive the prestigious McLaren Award. We hope that our gonzo, the-rules-are-there-to-break-them approach to filmmaking was very much in a spirit that would have made Norman proud. This was Marilyn's World premiere, so naturally we were very nervous about how she'd be received. To have the warm welcome of an audience vote is wonderful, the best result we could have possibly hoped for.”

The Student Critics Jury Award, supported by Morag and James Anderson, was awarded to CELESTIAL WIVES OF THE MEADOW MARI by Alexey Fedorchenko. The award was determined by a jury of seven aspiring film critics, Lewis Camley, Ruth Swift-Wood, Kathryn Craigmyle, Phil Kennedy, Catarina Mourao, Rebecca Lily Bowen and Vivek Santayana, who took part in a workshop on film criticism at EIFF under the guidance of Kate Taylor (Independent Cinema Office), Gabe Klinger (independent film critic and programmer) and Nick James (editor, Sight & Sound).

The jury citation read: “Bearing in mind what the Artistic Director said, film is reality and also something more. A witty, perceptive and beautiful celebration of folk mythologies”.

26 June 2013

EIFF 2013 - Il Futuro (The Future) Review

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Rating: 15
Release Date: 28th June 2013 (EIFF)
Stars: Manuela Martelli, Luigi Ciardo, Rutger Hauer
Director: Alicia Scherson


Alicia Scherson's third feature-length film, Il Futuro, is a staggeringly impressive watch. Adapted from Chilean novel Una Novelita Lumpen by Roberto Bolano, Il Futuro is a thrilling tale of suspense, eroticism, and intrigue set against a backdrop of vintage Hollywood Gothic noir.

Il Futuro follows two teenage orphans, Bianca and Tomas, who become intertwined with two untrustworthy opportunists from the local gym. These acquaintances persuade Bianca (the eldest of the orphans, played by Manuela Martelli) to infiltrate and rob the home of one of their ex-clients, Marciste (Rutger Hauer) - a blind, former Mister Universe and movie star who has become something of a recluse. However, Bianca's developing feelings for Marciste seem set to compromise her original intentions.
From the onset Scherson's distinct visual aesthetic is apparent - the titles appear in thick gold lettering giving viewers a sense of this tale of Hollywood noir that is about to unfold. The director builds up and impressive sense of intrigue and suspense in the film's slow-burning opening - one of scenes sees Bianca and her brother view the now-mangled car that killed their parents. Scherson films the scene whilst slowly zooming in on the macabre wreckage set against a soundtrack of rumbling unease. This immediately crafts a sense of dark alienation that initially haunts Il Futuro and showcases Scherson's powerful and refreshing directorial style.

The narrative unfolds like a Hitchcockian suspense story with no predictable trajectory and countless enigmas that hit the viewer, from the unease provided by Tomas's untrustworthy gym acquaintances to the truth behind the relationship between Bianca and Marciste. These answers are unravelled throughout Scherson's well-crafted screenplay - although they ensure the viewers brain is continually at work throughout this intriguing feature.

There is a marvellous sense of the Gothic in both the aesthetic of Il Futuro and throughout the film' narrative. Marciste's mansion has echoes of Blanche and Jane Hudson's decaying home from What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? where we see decaying architecture and covered furniture, with remnants of Marciste's film career scattered amongst. Marciste could initially attract comparisons with the Beast from Beauty and the Beast - he is a reclusive, impaired creature whose humanity, warmth and vulnerability begins to show through his time with Bianca. Rutger Hauer is utterly sublime - a true master of his craft, and Il Futuro provides us with his finest performance in recent years.

Il Futuro further shows echoes of Hollywood noir with Bianca and Marciste's romance gradually paralleling those from Marciste's old films - however, viewers will gain a further sense of unease through their knowledge of the darker motivations that have lead Bianca to seek the blind actor out. Martelli's performance is also exceptional - seeing Bianca begin to fall for Marciste makes for a heart-warming romance, however the actress ensures that we still question whether Bianca will steal from Marciste.

Scherson has crafted a fascinating slice of gothic noir that proves to be both sublimely acted and directed. Il Futuro is packed with suspense, heart and nostalgia - resulting in an outstandingly original combination.

★★★★★

Andrew McArthur



EIFF 2013 - We Are The Freaks Review

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Rating: 15
Release Date: 22nd June 2013 (EIFF)
Director: Justin Edgar
Stars: Jamie Blackley, Sean Teale, Michael Smiley, Danielle Bux


Justin Edgar's We Are the Freaks sets out to challenge the conventions of the traditional teen-comedy, and it mostly does so with a cheeky sense of humour and fond nostalgia for the nineties.

We Are the Freaks follows working class Jack (Jamie Blackley) who dreams of going to university yet struggles to get funding. Jack's best-friend Chunks (Sean Teale) who dubs himself a "textbook underachiever" suggests a night-out that begins with gate crashing a party.

The setting of the early 1990s provides an exciting twist on the traditional teen comedy, allowing Edgar to pack his film with a soundtrack including the likes of New Order and The Happy Mondays which certainly adds a distinct and likeable character to the film. This era also means that Edgar can pack his screenplay with gags relevant to the nineties (as well as the usual teen comedy gross-out humour) resulting in a bizarre, yet rather amusing subplot involving Jack's friend Parson's unhealthy sexual attraction to Margaret Thatcher.

Edgar's distinct directorial style makes a refreshing change from what you would find in many other teen comedies. Direct dialogue to the camera is one such method, whilst Edgar's eye for impressive visuals can also be seen - especially in the film's earlier scenes showing Jack's mind at work in a drab office.

Despite being mostly amusing in its first two acts, We Are the Freaks soon takes a darker turn in its conclusion that feels somewhat out of place with the film's prior quirky and light-hearted tone. In building up to this moment it also appears that many of the gags have lost their steam - mainly as the characters hit respective low points.

For the most part the characters are all likeable and amusingly crafted. Jamie Blackley is an up-and-coming talent to watch - delivering a mature performance that is equally perfect when tackling either comedy or more emotional-heavy dramatic scenes. Sean Teale also displays a stellar comic ability, especially in hilarious sequences dealing with Adam Gillen's character Splodger (the brother of his crush, whose personality verges on psychotic).

We Are the Freaks is an amusing and charmingly nostalgic look at the nineties, even if it does seem to run out of steam towards the end.

★★★☆☆

Andrew McArthur



25 June 2013

EIFF 2013 - The Bling Ring Review

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Rating: 15
Release: 22nd June 2013 (EIFF) 5th July 2013 (UK Cinema)
Stars: Emma Watson, Katie Chang ,Leslie Mann, Israel Broussard, Katie Chang
Director: Sofia Coppola


The Bling Ring marks Sofia Coppola's first feature since 2010's outstanding Somewhere and faces the challenge of living up to the quality of this and her previous body of work. Whilst The Bling Ring is an enjoyable watch, it ultimately feels as superficial and shallow as its central characters.

Based on real events, The Bling Ring documents a group of teens who break into the homes of some of America's biggest celebrities.

Coppola's narrative presents us with teens burglarising the homes of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Orlando Bloom simply because they can.  This is handled with a lack of insight or depth which can result in The Bling Ring becoming quite a frustrating watch - it is not clear whether Coppola is making a statement about obsession with celebrity or the lack of direction faced by young people. You could make a case for both (and more) arguments, yet Coppola does not commit to either - she simply portrays these teens committing the crimes through a skewed sense of self-entitlement. Whilst this is always continually watchable thanks to Coppola's distinct aesthetic style, it seems like somewhat of a wasted opportunity that she does not dig below surface depth.

Despite this frustration, there is much to enjoy about The Bling Ring. Coppola's dialogue provides an often amusing look at our celebrity obsessed culture - best presented when Katie Chang's Rebecca's main concern about her crimes was Lindsay Lohan's reaction, or when Emma Watson's Nicki discusses her ambition to lead a country. Leslie Mann's appearance as Nicki's mother also furthers the idea of the cult of celebrity through references to a lifestyle ideal known as The Secret.

There may be little to the characters of The Bling Ring other than their vacuous Californian lifestyle and superficial style and beliefs, yet there are still some solid performances within the feature. Katie Change excels as Rebecca, the careless teen who initiates the first break-ins, whilst Israel Broussard is solid as the more cautious best-friend.  However, it is Emma Watson who makes The Bling Ring - the actress is magnificent as the spoilt LA teen who happens to be the most superficially charismatic of the group.

Coppola's aesthetic is perhaps one of the most redeeming elements of The Bling Ring from the sun-stroked Californian streets to the pulsating nightlife, set to an eclectic soundtrack of contemporary pop and R&B music.

There is a lot to like about The Bling Ring from its clever dialogue, excellent performances and Coppola's distinct glossy aesthetic, but it ultimately feels like an unfulfilling watch with a narrative lacking the depth that it needs.

★★★☆☆

Andrew McArthur


24 June 2013

EIFF 2013 - The Complex (Kuroyuri danchi) Review

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Rating:
18
Review Date:
22nd June 2013 (EIFF 2013)
Director:
Hideo Nakata
Stars:
Atsuko Maeda
Hiroki Narimiya
Masanobu Katsumura


We should know better than to get excited when a once great horror director makes a back to basics comeback. It's happened with John Carpenter (The Ward), George A. Romero (Survival of the Dead), Wes Craven (My Soul to Take), and Dario Argento (Dracula 3D), and now it is the turn of Japan's own Hideo Nakata - the man behind Dark Water and Ringu. In a miraculous feat Nakata has managed to make a film worse than all those aforementioned combined.

The Complex follows a young nursing student (Atsuko Maeda) who moves with her family into a derelict apartment block, which her friends claim is haunted. After being disturbed by eerie noises coming from her neighbour's apartment it seems these claims may have some truth.

Nakata has made some of the most terrifying Japanese horror features in recent years, which makes The Complex and even more disappointing watch. Opening as an old-fashioned ghost story, The Complex sticks pretty close to the conventions of the genre - from strange noises in the middle of the night to shadowy figures appearing every so often. However, these scenes lack any of the tension or originality they deserve - failing to quicken the pace or enhance the horror of The Complex. As the narrative progresses the clichés continue to come thick and fast from dying old men to sinister children - many completely laughable in the bland way they are executed.

When The Complex does deviate from the conventions of the ghost film there are some great concepts to be found in Ryûta Miyake and Junya Kato's screenplay. Traces of de ja vu begin to seep into Asuka's daily life, resulting in a unsettling tone being established. This eventually leads to a look at the effects that grieving can have on the mental state, however, these come secondary to Nakata's preference for traditional genre scares (ie. possessed children).

The main issue that The Complex simply is not scary. It lacks any tense edge of your seat moments or any originality in its set pieces. It's not a terrible film - it is just a case of having seen almost everything before and on a superior level. This can result in The Complex becoming quite a tiresome and immediately forgettable watch.

Despite some intriguing concepts at its heart, The Complex is dull, generic and laughable at points. Sadly this is not the return to form that many thought Nakata would deliver.

★★☆☆☆

Andrew McArthur


22 June 2013

EIFF 2013 - Frances Ha Review

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Rating:
15
Release:
21-22 June (EIFF) 26th July 2013 (UK Cinema)
Director:
Noah Baumbach
Stars:
Greta Gerwig,
Mickey Sumner,
Adam Driver


Chances are the most charming film you will see at this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival is Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha. The feature sees him team up with Greta Gerwig in what serves as a love letter to New York and an amusing glimpse at the crossroads in life that many twentysomethings will undoubtedly find themselves at.

Frances is an amusingly awkward young woman (who her friend dubs 'undateable') drifting between her student-like lifestyle and ever approaching adult responsibilities.

Baumbatch's feature has a real sense of authenticity and addresses issues that many young people will undoubtedly feel after moving on from years of studying. We see Frances' best friend move into a serious relationship, her struggle to make her career as a dancer work out, and her failure to connect with adults. These are showcased through Gerwig and Baumbatch's smart screenplay and Gerwig's immediately likeable and rich performance. Whilst it does have a tendency to drift Frances Ha ultimately works because Frances is a character that simply finds herself drifting through life.

There's a great self-awareness to Frances Ha - it is clear that she is incredibly awkward (hilariously showcased on one scene where she attempts to play fights with someone who does not get her) - yet this is what makes her such a fascinating and undeniably watchable protagonist. There is something admirable about such a lost and aimless character in today's nine-to-five society, but she is also one driven by fun and expression. Gerwig packs her performance with a slight sensitivity and manages to craft a sense of sympathy in a role that may have lacked it in an another actor's hands.

The setting of New York and black and white style immediately echoes the charm of Woody Allen's earlier features, whilst Baumbach appears inspired from the likes of the French New Wave to Lena Dunham's Girls. Baumbach's soft, intimate direction crafts a delicate sense of breezy light-heartedness which makes Frances Ha a very absorbing watch.

Frances Ha's charming aesthetic and amusing yet sympathetic narrative and characters results in a stellar concoction, perfectly channelled through Gerwig's pitch perfect leading performance. Frances Ha is a film viewers will be unlikely to forget.

★★★★

Andrew McArthur



21 June 2013

EIFF 2013 - Shooting Bigfoot Review

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Morgan Matthews' Shooting Bigfoot is likely to be a firm fan favourite of this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival. Matthews' feature is an amusing and occasionally dark look into the world of 'bigfoot hunting' with enough originality and fun to become an instant cult classic.

Matthews' journey sees him shadow a variety of bigfoot obsessives and study the skills they use in their attempts to capture the elusive sasquatch. This is not so much a documentary on bigfoot (obviously, because it doesn't exist) but on the eccentric men who devote their life to finding the creature.

Shooting Bigfoot does not set out to exploit these men and their beliefs in any way with Matthews taking an admirable agnostic approach towards the existence of bigfoot. The bigfoot hunters however, do not take such an approach - they seem to be split into two defined categories, those that hold a genuine believe in the creature and those that seek to exploit the concept of bigfoot for some quick cash. Those in the former are Dallas and Wayne, two working class elderly men who dub themselves 'bigfoot researchers'. Both men seem convinced at the existence of the creature - with Wayne continually howling into the woods and Dallas believing every shadow is the mysterious sasquatch.

However, it is the more morally ambiguous bigfoot hunters who make the most fascinating subjects in Matthews' film. Rick Dyer, a man who attempted to hoax the Bigfoot equivalent of the 1990's alien autopsy - is one of these. Dyer notes he 'has no friends' which is unsurprising from his intimidating behaviour and facetious opinions. Shooting Bigfoot even turns into a terrifying Southern Comfort/Hills Have Eyes style horror when showcasing Matthews' hunting trip with Dyer who conveys a slightly darker side to his personality - resulting in a nerve-shreddingly tense and unsettling conclusion. An encounter with a shifty knife-wielding homeless man and his mysteriously injured dog on the same trip alludes to more terrifying behaviour than anything that a sasquatch could perpetrate.

Many will be most impressed by Matthews' shadowing of Tom Biscardi - a man who could only be described as a dream candidate for anyone wanting to make an amusing documentary. Biscardi is a man with a staggering sense of self-importance (after all he made Bigfoot Lives 2) who leads a ragtag band of hunters including Youngblood - an overzealous tracker and Chico - a bewildered former veteran and fall guy to Biscardi's own stupidity. Highlights include Biscardi conducting an interview with a bigfoot victim who does not want to be named - yet Biscardi uses his name in every sentence - it's Rocky by the way. However, it's the slick hunter's frequent demands and insults that had me in hysterics - such as "Get me a snapple!"and "You ask him for the time and he makes you a damn watch!"

Shooting Bigfoot is a terrifically charming and inherently amusing watch thanks to the host of eccentrics that fill Matthews' stellar feature. The film's sinister undercurrent and genuinely terrifying conclusion also provides a dark edge to the tale, resulting in the feature feeling like a rather substantial watch. Now god damn it, someone get me a snapple!

★★★★

Andrew McArthur

Director: Morgan Matthews
Release: EIFF 21/22 June 2013

EIFF 2013 - Before You Know It Review

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Despite all the big arrivals at the Edinburgh International Film Festival (we've had The Bling Ring, Monsters University, The East etc.), this year's standout features have all been relatively low key documentaries. Whilst these documentaries may not have the star-power or budgets of this Hollywood fare, the impact and heart of the stories they tell could not be paralleled in any fictional work. Before You Know It is just one of these staggeringly powerful documentaries that will leave viewers thinking well after watching the film.

PJ Raval's Before You Know It looks at the lives of three separate gay seniors living in the USA. Each man has lived a very different life and faced their own challenges, yet all are connected through the strength and guts they fearlessly share.

The film opens with widowed Dennis Creamer, who was long married and lives in the conservative South. Before You Know It details Dennis' move to a gay-friendly Oregon nursing-home and the senior's alternative persona, Dee. The least confident of the three men, Dennis's story is a melancholic one as he discusses his thoughts about suicide, detachment from his relatives and his lonely lifestyle. However, there is also a huge element of warmth and likeability to Dennis - seeing him boast the guts to walk down busy streets in drag (even boarding a Pride float in Dee drag) or embark solo on a youth-heavy gay cruise capture how truly brave this former-veteran is. Raval is an unimposing figure, with Dennis and the film's other subjects always appearing at ease and comforted under the lens.

The second of the seniors is Ty Martin an African-American gay activist for SAGE (Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders) living in traditionally homophobic Harlem. We learn how AIDS/HIV killed many of Ty's friends and follow him through the passing of New York's same-sex marriage bill. Ty's story is slightly more upbeat than Dennis's as it showcases changing attitudes to GLBT citizens in Harlem, where we see the activist set a sidewalk stand to promote SAGE and even see him act as best man in his best friend's same-sex wedding.

The third of these inspiring elders is Robert Mainor, proprietor of trashy Galveston gay bar Robert LaFitte's. Robert claims he was "always out" and provides a lot the humour in Before You Know It, especially in sequences showing the camp senior going hunting for Hawaiian shirts at garage sales or bantering with the dragged up staff performing in his bar. Robert's tale is also a sad one - Paval documents how he lost his partners and takes a lesser role in the bar as a result of continual health problems. However, Robert's tale does remain inspiring - seeing how his bar unites the Texas gay community is heart-warming, as is seeing the love between the staff, clients and Robert.

Before You Know It is reminds us that these seniors have and still continue to pave the way for new generations of LGBT youths and the courage they display shows no bounds. These are touching stories packed with warmth, sadness, fun, and most importantly, strength.

★★★★

Andrew McArthur


Director: P J Raval
Release: 29-30th June 2013 (EIFF)

19 June 2013

EIFF 2013 - What Maisie Knew Review

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Taking a classic piece of late-nineteenth century literature and adapting it in a contemporary fashion is a risky move that few filmmakers could convincingly pull off. However, Scott McGehee and David Siegel are two of the directors up to such a task as showcased in their delicately understated and truly touching adaption of Henry James's What Maisie Knew.

Maisie (Onata Aprile) is the child of pushy rock star Susanna (Julianne Moore) and distracted art-dealer Beale (Steve Coogan) - a couple who are in the middle of a bitter divorce. Maisie is pushed to-and-fro between her mother and new boyfriend Lincoln (Alexander Skarsgard) and her father and his fiancé Margo (Joanna Vanderham), Maisie's former nanny.

Nancy Doyne and Carroll Cartwright's delicate, slow-building screenplay captures the challenging effects that divorce can have on a child, especially those whose parents are so career-driven that their parenting style can only be described as negligent. Fiery performances from Moore and Coogan capture this at full force, but both actors display a welcome range in respective scenes which see them bond with Maisie. Doyne and Cartwright slowly build up the heart-wrenching emotional weight that this erratic behaviour has on Maisie, whilst also reflecting a truly warming kindness that she receives from initial outsiders, Lincoln and Margo. Maisie remains relatively contained, yet it is clear the weight and strain of the actions of those around her does begin to challenge the young child.

This is flawlessly showcased in one scene which sees Maisie's mother abandon her to go on tour. The young Maisie is temporarily taken in by strangers where we see the child's fear and heartbreak gradually break through in one understated shot where the young girl lets out a single stray tear. The scene is an agonising watch and represents the delicate directorial style of McGehee and Siegel, where a floodgate of gradual pain is masterfully showcased in one single tear.

Of course, the emotional impact of What Maisie Knew would be sorely less effective if not for young actress Onata Aprile. Aprile is a revelation - presenting a performance so authentically contained and controlled, yet packing such an emotional weight that it truly grounds the feature.

Whilst capturing the challenging nature of relationships, McGehee and Siegel also display the warmth and excitement of new romances through the ever-growing relationship between Lincoln and Margo. This is presented with such a natural tenderness and class that it is a challenge not to warmed - whilst must of this should also be credited to beautifully understated performances from Vanderham and Skarsgard.

What Maisie Knew's slow building screenplay packs a heart-wrenching emotional weight showcased through delicately understated direction and staggeringly authentic performances from Aprile, Vanderham, and their co-stars.

★★★★

Andrew McArthur

Stars: Onata Aprile, Julianne Moore, Steve Coogan, Joanna Vanderham , Alexander Skarsgard
Directors: Scott McGehee and David Siegel
Release: 20th June - 22nd June 2013 (EIFF) 23rd August 2013 (UK Cinema)

EIFF 2013 - The East Review

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You would think a film like The East that details the work of anarchic environmental activists would make a thrilling watch, but unfortunately Zal Batmanglij's film squanders its original and simple premise through a series of crippling misfires.

With a screenplay from lead-actress Brit Marling and Batmanglij, The East details an operative (Marling) from an elite intelligence firm infiltrating an anarchist group who are targeting large corporations. However, her allegiances are challenged as she grows closer to this group of eco-terrorists who call themselves The East.

The East opens with a chilling sequence of crude oil pouring through the vents of a CEO's luxurious home after it's revealed he disposed of thousands of litres of the stuff in American waters. Batmanglij suggests that this will be a dark, subversive piece that sets out to readdress the balance between corporations and those that their greed hurts. Unfortunately excluding one other set piece (when The East elaborately poison executives with their own deadly painkiller) - we rarely see this happen. Instead Batmanglij's screenplay focuses on operative Sarah's growing relationship with the anarchists.

Despite this focus on relationships within The East, we never feel truly intimate or engaged by Sarah or the group. Instead the anarchists feel glazed over caricatures of eco-hipsters - they raid trash cans, feed each other, and jig to folk music, and there is little more to them than that. The screenplay is packed with a variety of inconsistencies like how Sarah could so easily be accepted in a well-established anarchist group or how a corporation could legally sell a drug that damages of the functions of everyone who takes it.

As for the implausible scenes involving the take-down of these corporations, they lack the excitement and drive that this film so sorely needed to kick it up a gear. The pace of Batmanglij's film remains slow, verging on downright tedious - episodes of ABC's Revenge showcase far more originality and tension whilst tackling the similar theme of corrupt corporation takedown (fans may remember Emily's take down of Bill Harmon's investment firm in the first season). This is particularly disappointing as The East boasts such a fantastic initial premise.

The performances also feel equally uneven with Brit Marling faring the worst. Despite previously shining in Arbitrage, Marling's performance feels flat here with the actress failing to display the range that this part needs. Sarah's draw towards The East despite her loyalty to her employers should have showcased an emotional struggle for the character, but Sarah simply seems impartial and unengaged by all of the events that surround her. The equally talented Ellen Page also appears squandered in a role that can simply be described as a whining brat.

On the positive side, both Alexander Skarsgard and Patricia Clarkson are excellent. Skarsgard displays a natural charisma and magnetism, whilst Clarkson packs an icy bite into the role of intelligence honcho Sharon.

Despite initially promising an exciting and subversive concept, The East is simply a flat and tedious look at the lives of unlikeable eco-hipsters that fails to showcase the readdressing of the balance of power between the social classes. It appears greed really is good.

★★☆☆☆

Andrew McArthur

Stars: Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgard , Patricia Clarkson, Toby Kebbell, Shiloh Fernandez
Director: Zal Batmanglij
Release: 20th June, 23rd June 2013 (EIFF),28th June 2013 (UK Cinema)
Rating: 15

4 June 2013

EIFF 2013: Watch The We Steal Secrets:Story Of WikiLeaks Trailer

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Secrets can be precious but most of the time there dirty but when you reveal them  would you be classified as traitor even a terrorist? Julian Assange to some is regarded as a defender of free speech and in Alex Gibney's  We Steal Secrets: Story Of Wikileaks you can decide for yourselves check out the UK trailer below.

Julian Assange an Australian hacker come activist  whose website WikiLeaks a site which has revealed those nasty secrets many governments rather you not know or read about which has seen the Aussie owner found himself locked up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. The question is how balanced will this documentary be and will it tackle 'whistle blowing' as an honorable thing and Assange is the real life Spooky Mulder who knows the truth is out there and it must be told?

Gibney is no stranger to controversy or attacking the capitalist dream or political scandal with Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room,Client 9: The Rise And Fall Of Eliot Spitzer) and Taxi To The Dark Side among his previous exposes. Who is US army private Bradley Manning? To many his Assange's source that has made Assange numero uno with the American government, despite commiting the so called worst breaches of should he be in jail not Assange? Hopefully this documentary may shed some light on this whole affair or will this leave us pondering?



We Steal Secrets: Story Of WikiLeaks is due a UK release on 12th July or catch the UK premier at this months Edinburgh Film Festival on 25th and 26th June.

Synopsis

Filmed with the startling immediacy of unfolding history, Academy Award-winning director Alex Gibney’s WE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS details the creation of Julian Assange’s controversial website, which facilitated the largest security breach in US history. Hailed by some as a free-speech hero and others as a traitor and terrorist, the enigmatic Assange’s rise and fall are paralleled with that of PFC Bradley Manning, the brilliant, troubled young soldier who downloaded hundreds of thousands of documents from classified US military and diplomatic servers, revealing the behind-the-scenes workings of the government’s international diplomacy and military strategy.

In seeking to expose abuse in the corridors of power, Assange and Manning were undermined by forces within and without, as well as by their own human failings. WE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS is a riveting, multi-layered tale about transparency in the information age and our ever-elusive search for the truth

 Source: First Published at The People's Movies

29 May 2013

Edinburgh International Film Festival Reveals 2013 Line Up

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This June all cinematic eyes will be on Scotland's capital as the longest running international film festival announces it's 2013 line up.

Now in it's 67th year, Edinburgh International Film Festival  which will run from 19th until 30th June, will showcase 146 features from 53 countries, including 14 World premieres, 6 international premieres and 10 European premieres.

Drake Doremus Breathe In starring Guy Pearce, Felicity Jones has the honours of  been the opening gala with the world premiere of John McKay's Scottish romantic comedy Not Another Happy Ending starring Doctor Who's Amy Pond, Kate Dickie (Prometheus), Ian De Caestecker (Agents Of S.h.i.e.l.d) and Stanley Webber (The Borgias) Closing the grand old festival.

2013 line up does seem to be leaning more towards independent, arthouse and World Cinema market compared to previous years, which compared to this years  impressive Glasgow Film Festival line up. Risky move we'll soon find out however don't criticise what they have in offer as it's of high standard.

The highlights of this years festival include a chance to Emma Watson  a theme obsessed teen who steals from the rich in Sofia Coppola's  The Bling Ring (UK premiere).Arthouse film fans will get a chance to see Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha as it makes it UK premiere,Zal Batmanglij's Sundance hit The East starring Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgard and Ellen Page as a anarcho terrorist leader will make its UK This Is Martin Bonner, Upstream Color and What Maisie Knows other highlights.
premier.

Horror fans will be keen to see James Wan's eagerly anticpated The Conjuring will make its UK premiere based on true life paranormal husband and wife team Ed and Lorraine Wilson (Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga) face the most challenging and dangerous case of their careers. If we go by Wan's last film Insidious we can expect a night of scares!The master of J-Horror Hideo Nataka (Ring) return to the genre he help create with The Complex.

Sweden and Korea will be the countries on focus a chance to discover some possible gems. most notable are The Berlin File a state of art of  conspiracry thriller from one of Korea's leading thriller directors Ryoo Seung-won. If you admired the visual style of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy you will enjoy Wallander  Mikael Marcimain's Call Girl an explosive story into the 1970's underage prostitution ring amongst Sweden's elite. Stoker/oldboy director Park chan-wook will be one of the judging panel members for the festival.

Below is the official press release the good people at Edinburgh film festival have sent us, before you read on check out the festivals promo reel which shows off some of the highlights festival goers can expect. The People's Movies /Cinehouse Edinburgh based writers Andrew, Scott and Sophie will be attending the festival possibly myself too we will bring the coverage from the festival as well as our views on everything.



Check out the official press release.

Edinburgh – 29 May, 2013 – Artistic Director Chris Fujiwara announced this morning at Filmhouse in Edinburgh details of the programme for the 67th edition of Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF). This year the Festival, which runs from 19-30 June, will showcase 146 features from 53 countries, including 14 World premieres, 6 international premieres and 10 European premieres.

The Festival boasts 125 new features, with highlights including FOR THOSE IN PERIL, the debut feature by Paul Wright, a contender for the Michael Powell Award, starring newcomer George MacKay and Kate Dickie. Alex Gibney’s controversial WE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS screens within Directors’ Showcase. Noah Baumbach brings FRANCES HA to the Festival with co-writer and star Greta Gerwig, as part of the American Dreams strand which also includes Sofia Coppola’s depiction of fame-obsessed teens, THE BLING RING. Special Screenings include FIRE IN THE NIGHT, which receives its World premiere ahead of the 6 July anniversary of the Piper Alpha North Sea oil rig disaster of 1988. JURASSIC PARK 3D and the 1950 landmark Scottish film THE GORBALS STORY are two of the 21 classic titles in the Festival.

EIFF Artistic Director Chris Fujiwara said: “I’m very proud that in my second year at the Festival we’ve again put together a programme that reflects our festival’s commitment to international cinema, while giving our audiences opportunities to discover a broad range of outstanding work from British filmmakers. This year we take the Festival in a number of new directions. In our new “American Dreams” strand we bring the highlights from an exceptionally good year for American independent cinema. In our Focuses on Korea and Sweden, we recognise films that represent the artistic vitality and social commitment of two strong filmmaking nations. Our “New Realities” strand reaffirms our Festival’s continuing support for documentary filmmaking. And “Not Another Teen Movie” is a new section programmed by 15-19-year-olds for their peers. Altogether, our programme is filled with films that I’m sure our audiences will find exciting and inspiring.

British films competing for the Michael Powell Award include 7 World premieres and 6 feature debuts. Among the Michael Powell Award contenders are the captivating Scottish tale of belonging and loss BLACKBIRD by Jamie Chambers; the black comedy EVERYONE’S GOING TO DIE by the two-person collective ‘Jones’; Paul Wright’s FOR THOSE IN PERIL; DUMMY JIM by Matt Hulse; MISTER JOHN by Joe Lawlor and Christine Molloy; and John Hardwick’s SVENGALI, expanded from a YouTube series. A LONG WAY FROM HOME by Virginia Gilbert stars Natalie Dormer, who serves on the International Feature Film Competition jury; while THE SEA by Stephen Brown stars Ciarán Hinds and Charlotte Rampling. A documentary feature competing is LEVIATHAN by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel. Completing the selection are UWANTME2KILLHIM? by Andrew Douglas, based on true events, WE ARE THE FREAKS by Justin Edgar, in which misfit teens go on an all-nighter, and NOT ANOTHER HAPPY ENDING, the Festival’s Closing Gala film, directed by John McKay. The Award for Best Performance in a British Feature Film will be awarded from films within the Michael Powell selection.

The International Feature Film Competition includes a selection of live-action narrative films, animated films and documentaries, highlighting filmmaking from around the world that is imaginative, innovative and deserving of wider recognition. The selection introduces debuts from Mahdi Fleifel with A WORLD NOT OURS, a portrait of family life in a Palestinian refugee camp; Iraqi-Kurdistan-born director Hisham Zaman with BEFORE SNOWFALL a coming-of-age odyssey from East to West; and Argentine director Leonardo Brzezicki, who paints an erotic psychological landscape with sound in NOCHE. The European premiere of JOY by Greek documentary filmmaker Elias Giannakakis competes along with titles such as Alexey Fedorchenko’s CELESTIAL WIVES OF THE MEADOW MARI which focuses on the rites and customs of a Russian ethnic group; a dreamlike allegory set in Tehran, FAT SHAKER by Mohammad Shirvani; and I.D. by writer-director Kamal K.M. based on a real incident in Mumbai. JUVENILE OFFENDER, a gritty story of family neglect in Korea by Kang Yi-kwan, and OF SNAILS AND MEN, a Romanian post-Communist era social satire by Tudor Giurgiu, round out the International Feature Film Competition.

There are a number of Special Screenings across the Festival, including the World premiere of THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES from co-directors James Erskine and Zara Hayes about the historic 1973 tennis match between Wimbledon winner Billie Jean King and retired champion and self-proclaimed chauvinist Bobby Riggs; and, receiving its European premiere, HAWKING, for which filmmaker Stephen Finnigan was given unprecedented access to the world’s most famous living physicist, Stephen Hawking. I AM BREATHING tells the true story of Neil Platt following his diagnosis with Motor Neurone Disease just months after the birth of his son; the film screens in the Festival ahead of MND Global Awareness Day on Friday 21 June. There will also be a chance to see on the big screen the first two episodes of BBC Two’s crime drama PEAKY BLINDERS, set in the lawless streets of post-war Birmingham on the cusp of the 1920s, starring Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory and Sam Neill.

The American Dreams strand includes the European premiere of Scott McGehee’s WHAT MAISIE KNEW, a modern story based on the Henry James novel; Sebastian Silva’s MAGIC MAGIC, which reveals a star turn by Juno Temple; and THE EAST, which stars Brit Marling, who co-wrote with director Zal Batmanglij. International premieres include Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s C.O.G., adapted from humourist David Sedaris’s autobiographical essay; the sci-fi thriller UPSTREAM COLOUR by writer-director and actor Shane Carruth; and THIS IS MARTIN BONNER from Chad Hartigan, in which an unlikely friendship blossoms.

EIFF is privileged to welcome to Edinburgh one of the world’s greatest animators, Richard Williams, to celebrate his work with a retrospective, RICHARD WILLIAMS: 80 ANIMATED YEARS. This screening is in partnership with Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival and charts the development of Williams’s animated career. Williams will also present the coveted McLaren Award, which provides a focus for new British short animation. This year marks a new partnership with the British Council, which will see films selected from the McLaren Award competition for an international touring programme representing the best contemporary British animation. The Festival hosts a further Special Screening of short animations in tribute to Scott Ward, the award-winning cinematographer who died earlier this year. Scott had worked as animation programmer for EIFF for ten years.

The Directors’ Showcase presents work from established auteur directors and emerging talents with 23 films from 17 countries. The selection includes 6 documentaries including Thomas Riedelsheimer’s BREATHING EARTH SUSUMU SHINGU'S DREAM, following artist Susumu Shingu; and actor and director Sarah Polley's intimate family portrait STORIES WE TELL. Narrative films cover a variety of genres and include high-speed Hong-Kong cop film MOTORWAY directed by Pou-Soi Cheang and produced by action auteur Johnnie To, while Dibakar Banerjee takes Bollywood in a new direction with political thriller SHANGHAI. Intimate human dramas are represented with Bruno Barreto’s REACHING FOR THE MOON, about the love affair between American poet Elizabeth Bishop and Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo Soares; Mania Akbari’s FROM TEHRAN TO LONDON, a poetic exploration of the roles of women, during the filming of which Akbari fled to the UK; and THE DEEP, Baltasar Kormákur’s breathtaking drama about an Icelandic fisherman who reluctantly became a national hero.

The World Perspectives strand presents 25 films from 18 countries, offering a spectrum of work from emerging directors. BIG BOY, from the Philippines, was shot on Super 8 by Shireen Seno; DAYS OF GRACE is a breathless triple-kidnapping thriller from Mexican director Everardo Valerio Gout; DIE WELT, set after the 2011 Tunisian revolution, is the feature debut from Dutch director Alex Pitstra; from Li Lou, EMPEROR VISITS THE HELL is a political satire inspired by a Ming Dynasty literary classic; and EVERYBODY’S GONE is an outstanding debut by Georgiy Paradjanov, nephew of legendary master director Sergei Paradzhanov.

With New Realities, EIFF features some of the most interesting documentary filmmakers working today, including Thomas Heise, who observes the routines of a crematorium in CONSEQUENCE; PJ Raval, who reveals the lives and loves of three gay seniors in BEFORE YOU KNOW IT; and first-time director Khaled Jarrar, who follows fellow Palestinians’ attempts to cross the wall separating them from Israel in INFILTRATORS. The enigmatic Scottish maker of salmon flies Megan Boyd is the subject of Eric Steel’s KISS THE WATER; and with LUNARCY! Simon Ennis takes an affectionate look at a group of individuals obsessed with the moon. The strand also hosts the World premiere of DESERT RUNNERS by Jennifer Steinman, an intimate film about competitors in RacingThePlanet’s 4Desert Ultra-marathons, and the European premiere of Jeanie Finlay’s THE GREAT HIP HOP HOAX, the stranger than fiction story of Billy Boyd and Gavin Bain, aka ‘Silibil 'n' Brains’.

Filmmakers and filmmaking is the subject of the Film on Film strand which includes: NATAN, David Cairns and Paul Duane’s moving account of Bernard Natan, a forgotten giant of French cinema; A STORY OF CHILDREN AND FILM by Mark Cousins; and Graham Eatough’s THE MAKING OF US, commissioned by the Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art.

The late-night Night Moves strand hosts the World premiere of OUTPOST 3: RISE OF THE SPETSNAZ, with producer Kieran Parker turning director for the third instalment of the popular Nazi zombie saga; and the European premiere of SHOOTING BIGFOOT, in which British filmmaker Morgan Matthews travels to America and forms uneasy alliances with several Bigfoot trackers. Concept artist Richard Raaphorst directs his first horror flick, FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY, a Nazi v Communist ‘found footage’ horror; while PARIS COUNTDOWN, a high-octane thriller, is director Edgar Marie's debut feature; and the master of Japanese horror Hideo Nakata brings us THE COMPLEX.

EIFF will this year screen 172 short films from 38 countries across 22 programmes. In addition to animated shorts the Festival continues to showcase new work by Scottish, UK and international filmmakers, including DAY TRIP by Park Chan-wook and his brother, Park Chan-kyong. The experimental Black Box strand presents a series of shorts programmes from innovators in the visual art world as well as the World premiere of documentary poem and travelogue ‘10’ from photographer filmmaker Telemach Wiesinger. The Festival enters new territory this year with BLACK BOX LIVE, a presentation of multi-projector expanded cinema artworks performed live by experimental practitioners Nominoë, Sami van Ingen, and Screen Banditas.

The first of the retrospectives previously announced will celebrate the work of French director Jean Grémillon with a programme of features and short films in partnership with the BFI, while the second, presented as part of a wider programme running at Filmhouse, recognises the Hollywood director Richard Fleischer.

As previously announced, this year’s two country Focuses showcase work from Korea and Sweden not previously seen in the UK. The Focus on Korea includes films ranging from the commercial mainstream to independent cinema that show the diversity and vitality of Korean film today. The Focus on Sweden includes feature films from contemporary mainstream and experimental filmmakers, a film by an old master from the silent era, and a selection of shorts.

A new initiative this year has seen a group of 15-19-year-olds with a keen interest in film select films under the mentorship of the Festival. Entitled ‘Not Another Teen Movie’, their new strand includes include quarter-life crisis comedy OLD STOCK by Canadian director James Genn; 7 BOXES, a thrilling chase movie set in the markets of Paraguayan capital Asunción, from co-directors Juan Carlos Maneglia and Tana Schémbori; STRUCK BY LIGHTNING, starring Chris Colfer and Rebel Wilson; Danish coming-of-age drama YOU & ME FOREVER and a collection of short films.

As previously announced, the 67th Edinburgh International Film Festival opens with the European premiere of Drake Doremus’s BREATHE IN with Felicity Jones and Guy Pearce and the Closing Gala is the World premiere of the Scottish romantic comedy NOT ANOTHER HAPPY ENDING, starring Karen Gillan and Stanley Weber. Disney•Pixar’s MONSTERS UNIVERSITY is this year’s Family Gala, screening at Festival Theatre Edinburgh in 3D.

World Premieres

· "10"
· THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES
· BLACKBIRD
· DESERT RUNNERS
· FIRE IN THE NIGHT
· A FLONG WAY FROM HOME
· THE MAKING OF US
· MISTER JOHN
· NOT ANOTHER HAPPY ENDING
· OUTPOST 3: RISE OF THE SPETSNAZ
· THE SEA
· SVENGALI
· UWANTME2KILLHIM?
· WE ARE THE FREAKS

International Premieres

· BEFORE YOU KNOW IT
· C.O.G.
· EVERYONE'S GOING TO DIE
· SANCTUARY (Faro)
· THIS IS MARTIN BONNER
· TRAFFIC DEPARTMENT (Drogówka)

European Premieres

· BREATHE IN
· THE GREAT HIP HOP HOAX
· HAWKING
· INFILTRATORS (Mutasalilun)
· JOY (Hara)
· KISS THE WATER
· LILOU'S ADVENTURE (Lilou No Bouken)
· THE OBSCURED HISTORIES AND SILENT LONGINGS OF DAGULUAN'S CHILDREN
· SHOOTING BIGFOOT
· WHAT MAISIE KNEW


Book Your Tickets or more information including a PDF version of the Edinburgh Film Festival 2013 brochure head over to the festivals official website.