A suspenseful, well-paced thriller, this film benefits from solid performances – particularly those of the two main actors, Jamie Blackley as Mark and Toby Regbo as John, who both won Best Performance awards at this year’s festival – but suffers from poorly-laid foundations.
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Something like a Japanese Woody Allen film crossed with a Japanese Wes Anderson film, this ingenious comedy is a delightful departure from the ever-formulaic, usually convention-bound romance genre. Focusing on the relationship problems of several different couples whose lives all intertwine in some way, it centres on the exploits of soon-to-be-60 novelist Mr Takada. Unable to write since the death of his wife, he meets the much younger, timid and serious Sayo, and thinks he might finally be able to overcome his writer’s block. He does, but not under the circumstances he’d originally envisaged.
Successfully transposing Henry James’ 1897 novel to modern-day New York, What Maisie Knew presents a 6-year-old child’s perspective of her irresponsible parents’ turbulent divorce.
Granted shared custody, party-loving rock-star Mom (Julianne Moore) and distant art-dealer Dad (Steve Coogan) pass Maisie back and forth between each other, almost always missing the allocated pick-up times. Throughout their forgetfulness and rowing, we watch Maisie stoically waiting to see who she’ll end up with at any given time. Involved along the way are Maisie’s nanny, Margo (Joanna Vanderham), who becomes Dad’s new wife, and Mom’s youthful new husband, Lincoln (Alexander Skarsgard), both of whom end up taking more responsibility for the child than her biological parents.
Based on a satirical essay by humourist David Sedaris, C.O.G. falls a little short of the mark in terms of both satire and humour. It has its witty moments, some memorable characters and largely fine performances, but what works on the page for Sedaris can be overblown and obnoxious on screen (let the first lady on the bus to Oregon stand as a shining example), and what is added to the essay’s raw material in order to fill out a feature-length film seems forced into a framework not designed for it – because it wasn’t. Screenwriter and director Kyle Patrick Alvarez would have been better off starting from scratch, instead of awkwardly trying to shape the material into a heartfelt coming-of-age tale.
With a pervasive sense of humour, Stephen Hawking looks back on his life, two-thirds of which he has lived with the threat of death hanging over him – but rather than succumb to the obstacles arising along the way, he has always aimed to make the most of every minute. It’s a touching, inspirational and life-affirming portrait of the famous scientist, offering a personal account of his will to discover and his triumph over a debilitating disease.
I’m not sure star-ratings hold much sway for a film like this – while some viewers are going to find a lot to criticise in the ridiculousness of it all, others are sure to enjoy this element, plus the decent amount of gore and the very impressive monster design. It’s more likely to gain cult status than critical acclaim, but, though it was entertaining, the plot and characters are lacking that special something that would raise its potential as a cult classic.
It seems particularly timely, given the current Edward Snowden situation, that this in-depth documentary about American security and WikiLeaks in general, and editor and svengali figure Julian Assange in particular, should get its UK premiere at this year’s EIFF.
A.C.A.B. is a film about resistance, hope and revolution, a portrait of a city in political turmoil, and the story of one individual’s struggle to find a place within all that uncertainty. Electra, an artist and activist in her early 30s, visits her fiancée in prison, babysits for a living and leaves her question-mark-riddled paintings in random locations on the streets of Athens. The film has merit both as a political statement and as a more personal document – unfortunately, the two strains didn’t always mesh productively, the personal story getting lost in the louder, more overt, political message a lot of the time.
Shanghai sees Vassilis Vassilikos’s Greek political novel, Z, transplanted to an Indian context with powerful effect.
At every film festival you expect to see some very ‘arty’ films. Virgin Forest is one such, so much so that it comes across as borderline spoof.
A hypnotically measured pace and a talented cast of young disabled people make The Swimming Pool an interesting slice of life in modern Cuba.
This gorgeous, complex but unassuming film, featuring a haunting score and beautiful panoramic shots of the Swedish natural landscape, builds slowly and heartbreakingly towards its inevitable conclusion – throughout, we hope in vain that the inexorable tragedy will be postponed, and the father-daughter renegades be allowed their temporary freedom for as long as possible. But when Hella snidely tells her father, ‘We have all the time in the world,’ his curt ‘We’ll see’ rings forebodingly true.
Do you think it would ever be possible to forget your spouse? Your children? Yourself? Alan Berliner's unsentimental documentary explores these questions through the portrait of a man who is virtually without memories due to Alzheimer’s disease.
Just as his home life is imploding, Gerry (Aidan Gillen) finds out that his brother Jon has died, sending him halfway around the world from London to Singapore. There he loses his luggage, meets his brother’s wife and daughter for the first time, and is strongly tempted to step into his brother’s shoes rather than deal with the mess back in the UK.
Inspired by the real life 1970s controversy, when Swedish politicians were implicated in the exploitation of underage prostitutes, Call Girl effectively combines a coming of age story with a political thriller.
The slightly confusing opening scene of this film made me wonder if I was in the right screen. Avanti Popolo is pitched as a story about a man returning to live with his father following his divorce, but this film takes a number of different approaches to the subject, and unfortunately does not seem to know what it wants to be.
Adapted for the screen by the novel’s author, John Banville, The Sea is a beautifully-shot and very moving exploration of memory and grief. Protagonist Max Morden returns to the Irish seaside village where he spent his childhood summers. The bulk of the action takes place in flashbacks to his boyhood days spent in the company of wealthy family, the Graces, and to his final weeks with his wife, before she died of cancer. Not sure exactly why he’s returned, he spends his time drinking and remembering, allegedly working on an art-history book.
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