EIFF Off

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The EIFF is over for another year.

It’s a shame I never got round to posting fresh analysis and opinion on the films as I saw them but to be honest, my desire to type has been waning of late. It seems like the only thing I’ve done for the last 2 years is type so I thought it best to take a break and regain my thirst for communicating. Via the gift of innocent smoothies and some decent sleep, it seems to be back.

It was a good festival, maybe not as complete an experience as last year due to my work commitments but I got along to a decent amount of stuff and met some cool people.

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The opening film was the new Sam Mendes pic AWAY WE GO which had John Krasinski (star of the US comedy TV show The Office) and Maya Rudolph (Saturday Night Live) in the leading roles. It was a good natured, whimsical start to the fest which neither offended nor inspired me. The dudes at Filmspotting ripped it to shreds but the picture, in my opinion, doesn’t strive to be anything beyond what it is on its surface, 2 people in love trying to find their way after discovering they have a child on the way. Mendes himself came out and introduced the film and his summing up of what we were about to see was in no way weighty or philosophical. And that’s ok by me. You can’t sit and watch PERSONA over and over after all.

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The EIFF wouldn’t be what it is without its weird midnight pictures. Those pictures that may not see the light of day beyond the festival circuit. These are the real finds and it always annoys me that these little gems are what make a festival, but very few people get to see them.

One such example is White Lightnin’.

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The film stars up and coming Brit actor Edward Hogg as Jasco White, a real life character from the deep south of America who has his troubled life dramatised in this picture (Jasco, incidentally, is currently in jail) Hogg does a tremendous job bringing this hardened individual to life. There are moments of striking beauty despite the grimness of the subject and I never once felt that director Dominic Murphy pushed things too far. I loved this film and would say it was the best of my festival. I hope this picture gets a release, if it does it’ll probably run late at night, it’s worth staying up for!

The real highlights for me this year were the In Person interviews. I took in Darren Aronofsky, Bill Forsyth, Roger Corman, Sharmila Tagore and Joe Dante sharing their cinematic views live on stage. It was especially pleasing to see my college tutor Jonny Murray doing a great job interviewing Bill Forsyth. It’s now clear in my mind that Scottish cinema can be funny, insightful and important without having to resort to drab, arbitrary stories of drink, drugs or violence. Our nation has more to offer, we just don’t know how to fund it.

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Kim Newman interviews Roger Corman

I’ll lastly mention the Roger Corman retrospective that was running as a compliment to his In Person appearance. I’ve mentioned Corman a few times on this blog but I don’t think his contribution can be overstated. I had the pleasure of watching THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH, THE INTRUDER and THE RAVEN on the big screen, more on THE INTRUDER soon as I’ve bought it and will dedicate a full post to the flick. People need to get into this guy. The films, although quite rough around the edges in many cases, show an ingenuity, a passion and an energy for story so often lost on glossier, more expensive productions. This freedom, I believe, is now returning thanks to the digital age, how that freedom will be utilised is another discussion altogether.

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