Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Splice - Cineworld - 24/7/10

First things first; "Splice" is not a horror film.

At least, it's not the sort of blood, guts, slasher or torture porn that passes for horror today.

This is intelligent, witty film-making with something important to say and which manages not to be po-faced or preachy.

It's destined for "cult" status which perhaps shouldn't come as a surprise given the fact that director Vincenzo Natali is the man responsible for "Cube", which was another non-horror horror film that had things to say.

Two scientists, lovers, Clive (Adrian Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley), make a name for themselves by producing a new species...a blobby thing that may hold the secret to curing all manner of diseases thanks to its being made from the DNA of all manner of other species. The male and female they create are named "Fred" and "Ginger"...although the dance they perform in the film provides the one moment of blood splattery!

Not content with what they have achieved Clive and Elsa embark upon a new mission..."splicin" human DNA into their new creation. What follows is the birth of "Dren" (NERD backwards...which is also the name of the lab that Clive and Elsa work in). Dren starts "life" as plucked chicken with a big head and quickly evolves into a strangely beautiful young "woman" with strange legs!

I know, I know...this all sounds utterly ridiculous but as it is played with its tongue firmly in cheek it avoids being embarrassing and instead remains playful and fun despite probing areas of science and morality that few other films would dare to breach. Natali has made a "monster" movie that pays homage to the sad and unloved Frankenstein but that is completely fresh and novel. Only in the final act did I lose faith and feel that Natali had made concessions to the traditional Hollywood horror conventions. Overall though this was more interesting and more enjoyable than the eighteen hours of cinema horror that Christopher Nolan dished up with "Inception".

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Inception - Cineworld - 22/7/10

Studio Executive: CHRIS! Baby. Get in this motherfunkin' office. I CANNOT get enough of YOU. Damn it. "The Dark Night"! Holy shit, I cannot tell you how much money you made us with that.

Chris Nolan: Oh, thank you. Thank you so much. I thought it was a really layered piece...

SE: Seriously. We cashed in on that thing. HA! I mean, I personally made so much money from that that I can afford to take a bath IN money. Then I burn it.

CN: Right. So, thanks again, I thought that Heath was...

SE: Who?

CN: Heath. Heath Ledger?

SE: Remind me again.

CN: He played the role of "The Joker"

SE: Sure! The Joker. Right. Whoah, we sold a bazillion lunch boxes with that guys face on. I should call him and say THANK YOU.

CN: Um. Heath died.

SE: He did. Sad. But you're still here Chris. So let's talk MONEY. Batman 3...what's the scoop.

CN: Oh, no. Actually I wanted to talk about this other idea I had.

SE: Another idea?

CN: Yes. It's a blockbuster thriller about...

SE: Lemme stop you there Chris. Does this have any superheroes in it at all?

CN: Well, no but I'm not a genre director. I can do other things.

SE: Sure, sure, of course. You're the MAN Chris. Everyone here loves you. And we love the MONEY you made us with that "Dark Knight" thing. Sure it had a really awful performance from Christian and a ludicrous voice especially and sure the whole two boats thing was just stoopid but damn it YOU MADE US MONEY! So, tell me more...I'm listening.

CN: You didn't think that "Dark Knight" was a unique take on the superhero movie genre? A Kubrickian vision of the tortured soul of the "Batman"?

SE: Chris, I'm gonna level with you. I did not think that. I do NOT think that. I will NOT think that. But, luckily for you lots of critics at the broadsheets did and a whole bunch of kids like seeing shit getting blown up...so everyone is happy. Now, shoot!

CN: Er, well, it's called "Inception" and it's about planting ideas into the dreams of other people and it will be...wait, did you see "The Matrix" and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"?

SE: I did. "The Matrix" also made us a shitload of money. "Sunshine" didn't but Jim is a cash machine so we let him off the rails every now and then, you know what I mean?

CN: Right. Well, I want to make that movie.

SE: What movie Chris?

CN: "The Matrix" meets "Eternal Sunshine..."

SE: Really?

CN: Yes. It will be an intelligent, post-modern, philosophical blockbuster...

SE: What the hell. You made us a load of money before. Go knock yourself out.

12 months later

SE: So, Chris...let's see what ya got for us.

CN: I don't want to be presumptious but I think you are going to really "dig" this. It's VERY clever.

SE: Uh-huh.

What seems like 24 hours later.

CN: Didn't I tell you? Clever right?

SE: Chris. I may have given you the impression during our conversations that I am a moron interested only in making money. That IS true but I also know a bit about movies. Lemme tell you something...and I mean this sincerely Chris...THAT WAS A STINKING PIECE OF PRETENTIOUS BULLSHIT. It was also, and I do LOVE you Chris, BORING as hell.

CN: Ha ha ha ha ha. You kidder.

SE: Chris. I am not joking. You appear to have disappeared so far up your own ass that you are now self-digesting.

Let me add my own voice to that of the studio executive.

Chris Nolan is not, as the Guardian tried to claim, the new Stanley Kubrick. He is, in fact, M. Night Shyamyalamadamadingdong. A man who made one excellent film and is now practising the law of diminishing returns. Honestly, this film was beyond bad. It was simply awful.

I feel sorry for everyone in it and more so for everyone who goes to see it.

The emperors new clothes.

An Interview with Hannah McGill

Hannah McGill.


Hannah McGill.

Artistic Director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival.


Talking with myfilms2010.

Ridiculous isn't it?

Hannah McGill (along with her gifted and talented team) is responsible for the EIFF and has been responsible for taking out of the shadow of the Edinburgh Festival to being a genuinely world class film festival that stands independently. She has brought weird, wonderful, bizarre, moving, shocking, blockbuster and arthouse films to industry and public alike during her time as the artistic director.

As a well known face on the film scene in Scotland (and no doubt further abroad) I started by asking her which character from film history she would like to be able to transform her into in order to avoid being recognised and bothered when she is enjoying some down time?

This would be an excellent superpower to have. I would disguise myself as The Dude, and would sit in the corner of Filmhouse smiling benignly and drinking White Russians. (In fact now I come to think of it I may do that anyway.)

Famously, Gus Van Sant remade "Psycho" without changing anything...if you could remake any film in the same way what would it be and what do you think the point would be?

I really liked that he did that. There is nothing much in cinema that isn't worth trying, and I thought it was an interesting academic exercise on iconic imagery and mimicry and cover versions and how we regard the very familiar when it's interpreted in a different way... I love Gus Van Sant. The film I would remake would be Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, with the lead roles played by Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall.

In Dantes "Inferno" the final layer of Hell finds Judas trapped in ice for time and all eternity, conscious and aware of the magnitude of his sin in betraying Jesus...which film would you force Judas to watch in his layer of Hell and why?

I always thought that was mean, because he kind of had to betray Jesus, didn't he, in order for Jesus to sacrifice himself for mankind and for all that to pan out like God wanted? I mean the whole plan wouldn't really have worked if Jesus had lived a long and happy life, would it? Judas was just playing his part as scripted. However. Accepting the general premise, I think he should watch THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST. That would touch a raw nerve.

What song would you choose to play as the credits rolled on the biopic of your life and why?

Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler, which I adore without the slightest irony.

Finally...which film from your time at the EIFF would you choose to show to someone to let them see what it is about the EIFF that makes it special?

I think something from the Under the Radar strand, which was created in 2008 and which has housed some of my favourite films and directors. Rona Mark's STRANGE GIRLS or Zach Clark's MODERN LOVE IS AUTOMATIC. They are clever and cool and fun, and shocking and dirty and weird, and steeped in film knowledge and technique without being preachy or pretentious... which is more or less how I would like us to be.

There you have it.

That's why Hannah McGill is who she is and why she is where she is.

Genuine thanks to Hannah for taking time to answer these questions at a time when she was VERY busy with events at the EIFF.

Q&A with Boz Boorer

Boz Boorer was a Polecat and has been the only ever present in the musical musings of Morrissey since the end of The Smiths.

He has played in some of the biggest venues in the world from the Hollywood Bowl and Madison Square Gardens to Wembley Arena and the Usher Hall in Edinburgh.

He has also played on more hit singles and huge albums than you could shake a stick at.

Amazingly he agreed to a quick Q&A with Film2010.

God bless him.

MyFilms2010: You have been playing with Morrissey for a long time now...he is, famously, a bit obsessed with certain films. Which of those Morrissey approved films would you choose to show someone who didn't know anything about Morrissey and why?

Boz Boorer: Who's knocking on my door - fantastic performance by harvey kitel

MF2010: If we were making the Boz Boorer Story who would you choose to play the role of Boz Boorer? You can have anyone at all here...alive or, through the miracle of CGI, dead!

BB: James Dean of course!

MF2010: What music would you choose to play over the opening and closing credits of the Boz Boorer Story and why?

BB: Born To Boogie - T.Rex self explanatory
Now My Heart Is Full - same here

MF2010: You've played your fair share of gigs and festivals...which performance do you wish had been captured on film and who would you like to have directing that live performance?

BB: If you lok on you tube, most of our performances HAVE been captured on film, well phone anyway!

MF2010:According to Morrissey there is a place in hell reserved for him and his friends...what film would you choose to play to the residents of hell to torture them for their sinful ways?

BB: Well seeing as i'm going to hell, i wouldn't want to torture my fellow inmates, so i'd have to have Sexy Beast

MF2010: On the flip side of that what is your idea of movie heaven...the one film you could watch for eternity on your cloud?

BB: Sexy Beast - I know it inside out!

Our thanks to Boz.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - DVD - 22/7/10

Warning: This review contains plot spoilers.

So, she's not actually dead.

It was her sending the flowers all along.

Neither of those things actually matter.

"Dragon Tattoo" arrived with much fanfare...five star reviews, "gripping", "electrifying", "compelling" and "rollercoaster" were all words that were attached to it.

The truth is that the one word which would best describe it is; ridiculous.

It is utterly ridiculous.

Totally unbelievable.

Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) is, wait for it, a bisexual, cyber-goth, computer hacker, possessed of a photographic memory who burned her dad to death when she was a child.


That's the starting point for how ridiculous this film is.

Next up we have Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nykvist) is a battered and beaten, world weary left wing journalist convicted of libelling a huge capitalist corporation who, despite his age and wrinkled face, bags naughty nights with Lisbeth after she hacks into his computer and helps him on a case he is investigating.


Throw in an old Swedish family who have connections to the Hitler youth, myriad other dark secrets and a missing niece.

Next up is a serial killing family member who learned his "trade" at the hands of his alcoholic, anti-semitic, serial killing father.

Oh, there's also a rapist parole officer who attacks Lisbeth and comes to a sticky end...almost literally when she shoves something up his arse after knocking him unconscious with a tazer and showing him the secret video footage of his raping her.


I'm not making any of this up.

Author Stieg Larsson did make it up...except the bit about the left wing, battered journalist fighting the big capitalist organisations and Nazis. That was how he made his living before his untimely death and the rest of the story is clearly his own sexual fantasies and conspiracy theories.

Is it any good?


It's fun and it trots along briskly enough for you to be kept entertained but it is far from the "gripping", "compelling", "electrifying", "rollercoaster" of a movie that the reviews would have had you believe it was.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Blue Beard (Barbe Bleue) - Cameo - 20/7/10

Director Catherine Breillat is (in)famous here in the UK for "Anatomy of Hell" which was an adaptation of her own novel ("Pornocratie"). It was one of, if not the, first films shown in UK mainstream cinemas to feature and erect male penis. It told a dark and troubling story of female sexuality, patriarchy and the nature of relationships. It's not one to watch on Christmas day with granny but it is interesting and it has something to say.

This time around Breillat takes the French fairy tale of Blue Beard which in and of itself is horribly disturbing and again manages to create a film that has something to say about grand themes...female sexuality, patriarchy and the nature of relationships again. She does so with an amazing cast of, primarily, child actors and, by the look of things, a miniscule budget.

The original story is simple and macabre; Blue Beard takes a local girl to be his latest bride. Several of his other wives have long since perished/disappeared. The girl agrees to be his wife in order to ease the financial woes of her family who have recently seen the father die. Once she is tucked up in Blue Beards castle it becomes clear that he genuinely cares for her and she develops feelings for him. When he leaves on business he hands her the keys to the castle and tells her that she can go anywhere, open any door...except one. The bride, of course, opens the door to find the rotting corpses of the previous wives and from there has to ensure that Blue Beard doesn't dispatch her in the same manner.

Breillat tells this story through the mouths of two modern day sisters who are reading the story from an old book in the attic of their home. As they read they stop to muse on what is happening and to discuss what love and marriage really mean. The two sisters here are the opposites of the bride in the tale and her sister. The fate that awaits one of them being the opposite of the fate that eventually befalls the bride in the tale.

This is the definition of an arthouse film but that shouldn't put you off looking out for it. It's a great story and the performances of the child actors are brilliant. Breillat isn't a director who is ever likely to be given the reigns of a Hollywood blockbuster and her own films don't lend themselves to big budget remakes...for that we should be thankful. Better a director with something to say than one with nothing to say and too much money with which to say it.

Spoorloos (The Vanishing) - DVD - 18/7/10


Tour de France.





There aren't too many Dutch horror films (I only know one other; Zwart Water) but when you can lay claim to something as sinister, unsettling and classy as this little gem then you can really brag about quality over quantity.

There isn't a "monster" or a "slasher" in sight...no buckets of fake blood, no flesh eating zombie, no things going bump in the night or demonic possessions. What you get instead is the far more terrifying prospect of a real wolf in sheeps clothing as "Raymonde" (played brilliantly by Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu) embarks on his plan to abduct a young woman. He is a family man, he has a funny little beard, he is a little incompetent, he has a job as a school teacher and yet underneath that "normality" lurks a genuinely disturbed and disturbing man...a sociopath.

"Raymonde" selects "Saskia" at a motorway service station and lures her into his car before whisking her away to an uncertain fate. While doing so her partner, "Rex", is waiting for her to return from the vending machine. When she doesn't come back he is plunged into a hellish world of not knowing and he spends the next three years trying to find out what has happened to the woman he loved. After making a television plea for information "Raymonde" contacts "Rex" and offers to let him discover what has happened...but only if he agrees to experience everything that "Saskia" did.

With real life tales from the Moors Murderers to Josef Fritzl teaching us that the greatest evil doesn't come in any other form than that of the "ordinary" a film like "Spoorloos" manages to be absolutely convincing throughout. There is a sense of horror and suspense that starts at the very beginning of the film and doesn't let up until the, genuinely disturbing, end. The idea that something like this could happen to us or someone we know increases the horror and the tension.

Screenwriter Tim Krabbe adapted his own novel (called "The Golden Egg") and the film is filled with references to, amongst other things, eggs and the colour yellow. The eggs may well be a symbol of the fragile nature of the world we all live in...worlds which require minimum impact to shatter, certainly Rex has his world shattered by the single act of one person being removed from him. There may be something too about the idea of killing the goose in order to get at the "golden egg"...maybe Raymonde symbolises the greed and desperate desire to have our passions sated immediately?

Yellow appears time and again in the film...it cannot be a coincidence that there are constant references to the Tour de France (the winner of which receives a yellow jersey) and the fact that Rex wears a yellow jersey himself in the first act of the film, there is a yellow frisbee too at one point.


A chilling tale that is too close to truth for comfort.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Hearbreaker - Cineworld, Edinburgh - 13/7/10

Most of you won't know what I look like but, trust me, I am REALLY good looking.

The sort of good looking that makes womens heads turn on the street.

The kind of good looking that enrages other men and makes them feel insecure around me.

Think of the best looking man you know.

Now make him more good looking.

A bit more.

Bit more.

And...a tiny, tiny bit more...

That's me.

Right there.

That image in your head...that's me.

I'm THAT good looking.

Of course, in order to be able to move freely on the streets and not be accosted by women at every turn I have set about de-beautifying myself through a set of cosmetic surgeries aimed at making me more, well, normal.

So, where once I was THAT good looking now I have the appearance of a short, middle-aged, bespectacled, thick set man. That's how good looking I was...I had to go to these extremes just to make my life comfortable.

Even at my MOST gorgeous though I was never as good looking or as debonair and charming as Romain Duris.

Duris is REALLY good looking.

I'm a straight man and I don't think I've ever fancied someone as much as I fancied Duris in "Heartbreaker"

The shock of curls on top of his head.

His perfectly groomed stubble.

Those eyes.

That mouth.


I'm not sure what the film was about really. I spent most of the time thinking about what life with Romain as my boyfriend would be like. How happy he would make me. How wonderful it would be to wake up every morning and see his tousled hair on the pillow next to mine.


I love you Romain Duris...and I'm straight.

OK, so that's that out of the way and I can get on with the review proper.

"Heartbreaker" is the best romantic comedy you are likely to see this year. It may even be one of the best romantic comedies ever. I know that in a world filled with guff like "Did You Hear About the Morgans" and "Bridget Jones and the Wizards Sleeve" that seems like faint praise but I like romcom and this was WAY above the rest of the herd.

Romain Duris (aaaaaaaah) uses his good looks (did I mention how good looking he is?) to split up couples...which sounds mean but he does it to free women from unhappy relationships so it's a good thing really. He breaks his own rule by agreeing to split up a happy couple. Inevitably he falls for the woman...no bloody wonder given that she is Vanessa (Joe le Taxi) Paradis. What follows is a smart, genuinely funny and sexy comedy.

You should go and see it.

Probably twice because the first time you'll be distracted by Romain Duris!

Telstar - DVD - 10/7/10

British pop music has a long history of gay men influencing, shaping and molding bands, artists and audiences. It also has a long history of overt and covert gay messages and references in songs and style. That's something we should be pleased about and proud of.

One of the earliest examples of all of the above is Joe Meek who scored huge hit singles and pushed the boundaries of pop from the very beginnings of his life in music.

This film tells the hilarious but ultimately tragic story of the pop impresario.

It's a fairly straight (ahem) telling of the story...workmanlike almost but such is the curious nature of the story and the high quality of the performances (especially Con O'Neill as Joe Meek) the film never fails to entertain.

I would recommend that you take a look at this article to get an understanding of the wider significance and importance of Meek.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Rashomon - Filmhouse - 1/7/10



Where do you start?

It's Kurosawa.

That's the best place to start.

Kurosawa is, let us not forget, the director of some of the greatest films ever made.

"Seven Samurai", "Yojimbo", "Ikira", "Red Beard", "Ran", "Kagemusha", "Sanjuro" and "Throne of Blood" are just some of the better known works of this master. Several of them were later remade or served as inspiration for some of the most successful films of all time; "Star Wars", "The Magnificent Seven" and "A Fistful of Dollars" being good examples.

Toshiro Mifune anyone?

An actor who appeared in nearly all of Kurosawas masterpieces and who has more screen presence in his eyebrows than Robert "Twilight" Pattinson has in his whole, pale, body. I'm not even being facetious here...it's a bald fact that Mifune is one of the greatest actors in the history of cinema.

If you are unaware of him then you need to rectify that now.


"Rashomon" is a terrifyingly wonderful film.

It really is frighteningly good.

A simple, but awful, tale of a beautiful young woman and her husband who are attacked by an infamous bandit which is told, and retold, by several witnesses...including, at one point, the ghost of the now dead husband.

As the stories weave in and out of themselves and the plot, almost literally, thickens it becomes increasingly difficult to state with any sort of certainty what has happened. The only things we know for certain is that an attack has taken place and that the husband is now dead. Other than that there are no certainties.

You may not have seen "Rashomon" (yet) but you will have been subject to its influence on a host of other films and directors...remade in 1964 as a Western (as was "Seven Samurai") starring Paul Newman it has also prompted homage from films like "One Night at McCools" to "Vantage Point". Even shows like "King of the Hill" have used its plot structure to tell stories on occasion.

It isn't really possible to be too gushing about this film...it's what cinema was made for.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Third Star - EIFF - 26/6/10

This will soon be clogging up multiplexes and arthouse cinemas around the country.

Some people will try to convince you that it is something other than what it is...they are wrong.

This film is what it is.

Pretentious, pompous, crap.

I hated everything about it and everyone in it.

That is all.

Get Low - EIFF - 26/6/10


If I was a film-maker and I was going into see a studio executive with a pitch for a film there are certain things that would make me feel very confident about the meeting ending positively for me;

1) a good script

2) a great story

Those two things should be enough on their own but we all know the executive is looking at the Benjamins and not the Art.

Imagine though if I was able to go into the pitch with one and two as well as;

3) Robert Duvall.

4) Bill Murray.

5) Sissy Spacek

I would bet everything I had on the executive biting my hand off for my good script and great story on the back of a cast like that.

I mean seriously boys and girls we are talking about acting royalty here.

Robert Duvall?

Bill Murray?

Sissy Spacek?

I would crawl naked over broken glass to see a film with even one of those people in it.

To get all three together is just...well, it's just too much.

You could get the three of these people to star in "Avatar" and it would elevate it from ridiculous, pompous, overblown, cynical cash cow, cinema misery to high art.


Let's look at the type of people we are talking about..."The Road", "The Godfather", "The Godfather Part II", "Sling Blade", "Lonesome Dove", "Apocalypse Now", "Ghostbusters", "Lost in Translation", "Rushmore", "The Royal Tenenbaums", "Broken Flowers", "Groundhog Day", "The Straight Story", "Carrie", "Badlands".

What a list.

When you throw in some of the most beautiful cinematography, a sizzling script and a story that practically bleeds honesty and purity of purpose from its heart then you have a film that deserves to be seen by anyone who has even a casual interest in cinema.

This was, without a doubt, one of the best films I have seen...not this year, not at the EIFF, not in the last few years, just one of the best films I have seen. It oozes class. It's a film that will take its place on "favourites" lists of everyone who sees it.

Duvall plays hermit and local legend Felix Bush, a man with no friends, no family and, apparently, no interest in either. When he comes into town to plan his own funeral with a bundle of dollar bills that could make a rich man jump for joy local funeral director Frank Quinn (Murray) grabs the opportunity to arrange the funeral despite knowing that Bush won't make that easy.

Bush wants to arrange his funeral with one difference...he will be in attendance. He wants to hear what everyone has to say about him, to hear the myriad stories and legends that have sprung up around him during his years of self imposed exile. As the plans take shape it becomes clear that something from the past is haunting Bush and that his real purpose in organising his funeral isn't the one he has presented to Quinn.

A touching and totally convincing relationship between Bush and Mattie Darrow (Spacek) lends emotional depth and deeper tones to a film that is already full of emotion and that has been constructed with love and affection by director Aaron Schneider. When the truth comes out it is achingly painful but also uplifting as we see the tortured soul of Bush freed from the shackles of what has been haunting him.

It isn't possible to say enough good things about a film like this.

See it.

Then go and see it again.

Then take a friend to see it.


The Hard Way - EIFF - 26/6/10

Showing as part of a retrospective of "lost" British films this gritty thriller starring Patrick McGoohan tells the story of Irish hitman John Connor (McGoohan) and his attempts to leave behind his life as a gun for hire.

When gangster McNeal (Lee Van Cleef) approaches Connor to undertake one last hit for him Connor refuses and McNeal is forced to take drastic action to force his hand. What follows is easily the match of the more lauded "Get Carter" and highlights the ability of McGoohan to dominate the big screen with as much ease as he did the small screen in "The Prisoner". The scenes involving Cleef and McGoohan are electric.

With a very realistic feel to it this is a thriller that really does thrill. At one point McGoohan plays cat and mouse with some of McNeals thugs on the moors around his house and the tension is almost unbearable. Only the bizarre talking heads of Connors wife (Edna O'Brien) break up the realism. With some superb cinematography too, provided by Henri Decae (who was also D.O.P on "The Boys From Brazil") and music by Brian Eno it's amazing that this film isn't better known and better loved.

La Pantera Negra (The Black Panther) - EIFF - 26/6/10

One of the great joys of any film festival is taking a chance on something and being surprised.

Trust me "La Pantera Negra" is surprising.

REALLY surprising.

Film noir.









Just, really, really surprising.

Nico is a private eye who wakes from a drunken stupor to the sound of his telephone ringing.

It's a client.


No, really, it's God.

He wants Nico to find the Black Panther.

He won't tell Nico who or what the Black Panther might be only that he does know it's whereabouts.

From there we are plunged into a surreal modern take on noir with femme fatales and all manner of odd characters cropping up and dropping out.

This is the sort of film that reminds you how much fun cinema can be. It doesn't have any pretentions to be being high art or of being some sort of concept film...it's a good story with good performances delivered with just enough humour and knowing winks to make it work.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Soulboy/Soul Boy - EIFF - 25/6/10

Two films with similar names.

Two very different experiences.

Soul Boy (directed by Hawu Essuman and Tom Tykwer) tells the tale of fourteen year old Abila who lives in a slum in East Africa. When he discovers his father lying on the floor of their shack he assumes that he is simply hung over from a nights drinking. What his father tells him is that a local witch has stolen his soul and that he is going to die. Abila heads off to confront the witch and win his fathers soul back.

What follows is an African "Stand By Me" with a bit of voodoo thrown in for good measure.

This film was the result of a project to get African communities involved in making films and "Soul Boy" provides a great example of what can be achieved with a good idea, some guidance and some enthusiasm.

SoulBoy tells the story of the Northern Soul phenomenom that gripped thousands of teenagers in the UK in the nineteen seventies. With an obsessive devotion to rare soul records, dancing and clothes it was the bastard child of the Mod movement of the sixties.

Here Joe (Martin Comptson) falls for Northern Soul girl Jane (Nichola Burley) and in order to impress her makes his way to the Mecca of the scene...the Wigan Casino where the infamous all nighters are held from 2am until 8am. Along the way he discovers a real love for the music and the dancing as well as who it is that he really loves...oh, I can hear you all already giving it big licks about lacking originality and being formulaic. You might have a point but I'm a sucker for British subcultures and the Northern Soul scene is one of the great lost youth movements, it's good to see it getting a run out on the big screen.

Like "Quadrophenia" being spliced with "Billy Elliot" this is a movie with some laughs, some good performances (keep an eye out for Jo Hart who was last seen playing Shauns mum in "This Is England") and some hand clappin', foot stompin', funky butt shakin' music in the soundtrack.

Postales - EIFF - Cineworld -25/6/10

Director Josh Hyde delivers a postcard from Peru in this intelligent and provocative film.

When a wealth American property developer arrives in Peru to finalise a deal to purchase some land he does so with his wife and two adolescent daughters with him. The land he is to purchase is home to an impoverished family who have two adolescent sons. One of the sons makes his money by selling postcards (postales) to tourists and the other by stealing from the beautiful girls he picks up or by mugging tourists.

The lives of the two boys become entwined with those of the girls after the elder boy robs the father (while unaware of who he is) and from there the family is plunged into an emotional maelstrom. On the surface this is a simple tale, well told, about family and adolescence but beneath the surface this is a story about American colonialism and the impact that has on the developing world.

Hyde is to be commended for making a political film that is never "preachy" and is always engaging.