The Edinburgh Film Festival 2005

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Sir Calumn

Guest
I just got back yesterday from Edinburgh were I went to attend the 59th annual Film Festival. The Edinburgh Film Festival is one of the highlights of the Festival Calender, in the second teir behind Cannes, Venice, Berlin and Sundance and this was the first time I'd ever been, so I didnt know what to expect, but let me tell you it was a fantastic experience.

Unfortunately, due to my AS level results coming on the 18th and me having another commitment tommorow I wasnt able to be there for either the first or last couple of days of the festival which is when many of the best films and events are, but in the time I was there I did see lots of great stuff, including 9 films, 3 live onstage interviews and also shook hands with many of the festivals stars such as Richard E. Grant, Elijah Wood, Gabriel Byrne, Malcolm McDowell and the gorgeous Natasha McElhone.

I missed the best of the interviews, Richard E. Grant, George A. Romero and Anthony Minghella all took place before I arrived, but the ones I did see were very interesting. The best of all was with legend Sir Ken Adam, the most influencial man ever in set design who told fascinating stories of his experiences working on films like Dr. Strangelove, Barry Lyndon, Night of the Demon and 7 of the best class Bond films. I also saw an interview with one of my vary favourite indie directors James Toback who was very insightful, and cinematographer extrodinaire John Mathieson.

But all of that's probably of no interest, however I did see 9 great films which will probably be on selected release in cinemas near you so watch out for them. Here are some short reviews:

Tickets: 9/10

This film is absolutely amazing, one of the best films I have seen in a long, long time. Co-directed by three of the biggest legends of modern arthouse cinema, Emmanuel Olmi, Abbas Kiarostami and Ken Loach, and using mostly ammateur actors, this simple story of three intertwined vingettes set on an Italian train has everything, superbly simple yet gripping storylines full of twists and turns, great acting and amazingly intriquing characters and some of the best camerawork around. The last vingette, directed by Ken Loach, is really hillariously funny and the fact it is in English means that the other two being in Italian shouldnt deter people who dont like subtitles. A must see for anyone with a genuine interest in films.

Guy X: 6/10

Probably the weakest of the films I saw, but still really good, this interesting and unique film begins when an army officer is mixed up with someone else and transfered to a remote base in Greenland. Furthermore, he finds out that the base is no more than a place where the army dumps its most useless and mentally deficiant soldiers. All this leads to alot of comedy, most of which isnt paritcularly funny, until it eventually emerges that the base serves a much more sinister purpose. The storyline is totally rediculous and unbelievable in every way, but there are some great characters and when taken as a satire, this film can be quite entertaining. The acting is strong from the leads and due to the fact that the arctic/antarctic is rarely a location for films there is some interesing and unique camerawork, but the ending is a bit of a let down and the whole film a bit simple without having mass appeal. Worth seeing but not worth going out of your way to see.

Rag Tale: 8½/10

I'm surprised a film like this hasnt emerged earlier, this film deals with a few days amongst the staff of a sleazy British tabloid newspaper. Shot at an extremely fast pace and with a simple yet effective storyline, this film also boasts an excellent soundtrack and an amazing cast including Malcolm McDowell, John Sessions, Simon Callow, Lucy Davis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bill Paterson, Rupert Graves and many more. The camera literally never stays still, and the director tries to be a bit too clever with it resulting in a film which does give you a bit of a headache, but the acting is just as good as the cast suggests and the portrayal of these high level characters, which must be based on Piers Morgan and his Mirror staff, is very gratifying. Also, as the script was written by the whole cast, the film displays some great improvisations and snappy dialogue. The story is good, with a great twist, and all in all, if you can handle the cinematography, this film is really worth seeing.

The Aristocrats: 8/10

The only way to discribe this docufilm is f*cking hillarious. Being in absolutely no way informative or deep, this documentary deals with the story of one joke, the most notorious and filthy joke ever told. It features comedians telling their own version, lots of hillarious spinoffs and other great banter by the interviewed cast of comedians. As I said, there is no story or anything like it, ever single bit is for the one and only purpose of making the audience laugh, and it does, very much. It also manages to avoid getting repetitive very well by leading up to certain moments and going off topic a helleva lot, my only criticism would be that not enough of the comedians's own versions of the joke are shown in their entirety, but if you want to laugh your ass off for 90 minutes, see it. Definately. I am already working on my own version of the joke.

Low Life: 7½/10

This excellent gangster film is the Korean equivilant to Goodfellas, following the descent into and out of crime of a Korean hoodlum during the time of great civil unrest in South Korea. Featuring some awesome sets and camerawork, this film also has a sterling storyling as it cronicles how the protagonist first gets involved in crime and violence, how his attempts to go straight are blocked by what he is and how he is actually a much smaller player than he likes to believe and is often got the better of. The acting is superb and the fact it is subtitled almost unnoticable, though the supporting characters are brought in and out much too casually and the story does flash between the stages of his life much too quickly leaving it hard to follow in places. However, there are some superb fight scenes, some of it is very original and interesting, like when he tries to go into film production, and there is some brutal violence to keep people like me happy. Good sex scenes too if you like asians, this film is definately worth seeing, even if you do have to spend a little time working out exactly whats happening and wishing it would slow down.

The Magician: 8/10

If I was to say one thing about this film other than give you the official description it would totally spoil it for you, I know this sounds weird but trust me, you'll know what I mean when you see it. All I will say is that it is absolutely brilliant and you will be left in awe. I wish I could discuss it more because there is so much to say, but here is the official description: "When Melbourne hitman Ray Shoesmith discovers that his nextdoor neighbour is a film student, he commissions him to document his life - and more specifically, his job, which essentially involves, er, killing people. But Ray is no mere thug."

Tsotsi: 8/10

Likened to City of God, this is an absolutely superb film about a young thug growing up in the vicious slums of South Africa. The camera work is just as good as the Brazilian masterpiece and the brutality could easily be from either film, backing up the portrayal of how lawless life actually is in these places. The cast is all amateur but it doesnt show, superb acting and a very dynamic plot makes the subtitles almost unnoticable and it is only in the simplicity of the plot that this film falls down compared with City of God. The idea of redemption and getting out rings strong, as does that of evil vanquished by innocence, but the evil never truly goes and the central character remains a hatable villain right up to his final good deed. Unfortunately, there are no light moments of let up, but this film is so hard hitting and powerful that that is good thing and there is no happy ending like City of God. Dont expect anything too complex, but do expect something extemely moving, powerful and entertaining. This film won the audience award for best gala film in the festival.

Fingers: 9/10

Kind of cheat this one as it's 30 years old and almost impossible to see it is, nevertheless, a brilliant mob film. Released in a very small quantity, and due to the quality of the one remaining copy that was shown it's easy to see why, you can get it on region 1 DVD from a few sites I think. Harvey Kietel stars in a film written and directed by indie legend James Toback, with a cast consisting of most of the small extra Italian parts from The Godfather films, this concerns the story of a New York kid who is both a highly talented concert pianist and a brutal debt collector for his gangster father. With great comedy and moments of horrible brutality, this film charts a small period of his life where his two lives conflict, trying to fit both debt collections and piano auditions into his busy calender. Keitel is absolutely brilliant, an acting masterclass, and his character is just as strong, a total nymphomaniac whos sexual drive is damaging his prostrate to extreme pain and who takes a tape player with him wherever he goes, playing loud music to entertain him self but to the great annoyance of all around him. The supporting acting is just as good, his father is played amazingly well by the guy that slits his wrists in the bath in the Godfather two, as are the girls of the film and the brutal black pimp. The ending is the highlight of the film, however, powerful and harrowing. You MUST see this film.

The Presidents Last Bang: 8½/10

I've seen a lot of great Korean films lately, but this one takes the cake as the best yet, even better than the monumental Oldboy. Unlike almost all the other Korean films I've seen, this one doesnt deal with brutal revenge but its a political and crime thriller with a strong edge of satire almost unheard of in Korean films. It deals with the assassinaton of tyranical President Rhee, a man who cared more for drink and whores than running his country, and the downfall of those who killed him, all over the period of just 12 hours. The presentation of the presidents last hours, which he spent getting pissed with his friends and hired prostitutes, is very funny and cleverly so, with the side plot of the assassination plan being gripping and tense, and the aftermath of the kill just as exciting. The acting is great from all concerned, except the ladies who are a bit annoying, and the quality of the script and camerawork is razorsharp and superbly watchable. Despite the fact it is fast paced, subtitled and Koreans tend to look the same, there is almost no trouble at all in keeping up with what's going on and this really helps. You will probably never see another Korean film like this, this wont be to everyones taste but if you dont mind foreign films and like the idea of satire mixed with tension then this film is definately for you.

Unfortunately, due to the time I was there, I did miss out on some really good looking films. Check out Wah-Wah, One Night in Mongkok, The Art of Losing, 36 Quai Des Oufevres, The Business and A Bittersweet Life, all of which I will definately try to see if they hit the cinemas. Search for them on the Edinburgh Internation Film Festival official website for descriptions, www.edfilmfest.org.uk

I had a great time and will definately be looking to go back next year, hopefully for the whole event, and would highly recommend it to anyone else who can make it. Edinburgh is a great city, despite containing Denis, and is well worth a visit, plus there is lots of theatre and stand-up comedy on at the same time in the Fringe Festival. I saw Omid Djalili and Dara O'Briein in their stand-up shows and they were pretty damn funny and complimented the film festival great.
 
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Callan

Guest
The Magician was made by a guy who went to my UNI. :)

Haven't seen it but.
 
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Sir Calumn

Guest
Must be a good uni then, its the best piece of student work I have ever seen, if it was filmed as a student which I believe it was.
 
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Callan

Guest
Yeah he was a student, I think he worked two years on it.

Does it look like home video or actual film?

Oh yeah, about my UNI. The two guys who made SAW went there as well. (H)

I don't know any of them but... :(
 

PhiLLer

Fan Favourite
I saw the trailer of The Aristocrats a few weeks ago and it had me interested straight away, can't wait to see it, it looks amazing. Reminds me Coffee & Cigarettes, same style of throwing together a bunch of famous faces and catching them in them being themselves as opposed to acting it out in front of the camera.
 
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Sir Calumn

Guest
Coffee and Cigarrettes was scripted and done as a film, but I know what you mean, the concept is similar and the result equally good.
 
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Sir Calumn

Guest
If you have any real passion for films you will find it absolutely magnificant - one of the only modern films I have seen, and it makes no disguise of its moderness, to rival the great arthouse masterpieces of the olden days.
 
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Virgo

Guest
Sorry to dig up but you didn't happen to catch Serenity would you? It premiered at the festival and opens here on Tuesday.

I'm hesitating to watch it because the trailer looks awful and cheesy but the movie is getting great reviews.
 

Hakeem

Superman
have you seen Firefly? because I think the movie wont work as well if you dont watch Firefly first.

and Sir_Didier_Drogba, I just realized you reviewed Tsotsi here. that movie won the Audience award at the Toronton Film Festival this week (Y)
 
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Sir Calumn

Guest
Nah I didnt see Serenity - it was premiered there but I havent seen Firefly and it didnt look like the sort of film I'd be interested in. I got Adam Baldwin to sign my Full Metal Carlos*et poster though (he was Animal Mother). Apparently it went down really, really well. Came second to Tsotsi in the audience award with a staggering average of 3.9 out of 4, and these are mostly real film lovers. Hence, if you like that sort of film I'm certain it's worth seeing.

To be honest, I didnt think Tsotsi was THAT amazing, a good, good film, but the City of God comparisons are a bit over the top and I thought there were films more deserving of winning at Edinburgh and Toronto that it.
 


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